1° OIB Vacation Work History Theme 4: WW1

Introduction to the final Theme in 1°OIB History – World War One.

Watch this video, entitled ‘Catastrophe’, about WW1. Unusually it combines colorized original footage with interviews of survivors (who have all sadly since died given their great ages’ when this documentary was filmed). Write a blog entry below (of no more than 8-10 lines) before Thursday 9th April in answer to this question: To what extent is this video helpful to you in understanding experiences in WW1 at the start of the conflict in 1914? You will be awarded a Grade out of 20 for the quality of your blog entry regarding the level of justification and explanation in your response.


29 thoughts on “1° OIB Vacation Work History Theme 4: WW1

  1. Please leave your blog entry comment in this section and do not forget to put you name next to each entry so you receive a grade. Best of luck!

  2. Emmanuel de Vitry d’Avaucourt

    This very detailed video offers precision on the very first events which caused WW1. Because I already studied WW1, I knew what to expect. However, we only went over few things so I only had a very small knowledge about this (first major) disastrous event in our history. First of all, I find really well explained the diplomacy mess that led the biggest European powers to declare war to each other. I was, for example, quite surprised that Austria Hungary took one month to declare war to Serbia(in response to Ferdinand’s murder). And even if the historical aspect is without a doubt really important, the idea to integrate former soldiers’ words on their experience is crucial. To see how feelings evolve and the uncertainty they have been through show how tough these 4 years must have been. To end, it is interesting that this documentary reminds us of the arms and territory race there was in Europe at the beginning of the XXth century (and before) and of the terrible situation Russians (except the Tsar family) were going through. The way this documentary explains WW1 is really effective, the melting pot of feelings given by the war veteran and of information given by historians is for sure making this documentary more immersive.

    • I don’t think that it’s fair for you to call this the first major disastrous event in human history. Even if they weren’t as global and documented as this war. There had already been many major disastrous events in our history.
      but that is notghing else than my simple opinion

      • I agree that it is not much more of monstrosity than many events in our History, but in terms of losses, you can’t deny that it was the first time ever so much men and women had lost their lives.

  3. Lana Bezombes

    Because I had never studied WW1 before, this detailed video very much surprised me as I barely knew what had happened, how this war had begun and what pushed it to endure for such a long period of time. I found the video’s explanations both helpful and confusing. As I previously mentioned, I had almost no knowledge of this war prior to this video (except the dates and some of the countries it opposed), I was bound to learn something. Which I did. Although I understood the majority of the documentary, some parts were harder to assimilate than others, but I think that is due to the complexity of the matter at hand. For example, why did Austria-Hungary immediately blame Serbia? Could it not be probable that the assassinator act on his own? How did the rest of the world become involved in the war?
    I think, however, that what shocked me the most was the magnitude of it all. The first 10-15 minutes frightened me, all the death horror, and for a second, I questioned the intelligence of men. I dreaded what I knew had already happened.
    This video has tremendously helped me to understand the tragedy that is WW1, in color.

  4. This video is very not touching, most of all because it puts everything into perspective. it’s often hard to understand the reality of this war in classrooms, since the only things that teachers can teach us are numbers and facts, but the human experience is so much richer that simple statistics and dates. upon seeing the date of birth of some of the men who were giving their testimony, i was shocked, because those who were born around 1898 were 16 in 1914, that’s our age. and the idea that if events were moved to now, a global war would be starting, we probably wouldn’t really understand what’s happening, some of my friends would be enrolling, i might be enrolling (given that the status of the army was the current one where women are allowed to enroll), and people around me would be dying. The current situation already seems surreal, and yet we don’t have to worry about a bomb exploding next to us. the testimony of the veterans is incredibly touching, and i don’t think that it’s simple to convey experiences that were so far away, and because they were able to shows how devastating and life changing some “trivial” events of this war must have been in the experiences of these men.

  5. ven if I already had knowledge about WW1, this video allowed me to understand further this war. As I said, I already knew that the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was considered the principal cause of the war. However, the video really well explained the network of multiple alliances that led a crisis only involving two countries to the biggest Europeans powers and ultimately the world. What was really interesting in this video is that it did not only explained France perspective but each country perspective, which I never learned about. The letters of the soldiers and the one of their family wrote allowed me to understand the violence, the pain, the horror of this war and how it was one of the most devastating events in history. The testimony of soldiers who survived it were extremely touching, especially when you realize how young they were at the moment of the event and that they were not much older than us. By hearing their story, you can tell the marks it leave on the soldiers whether physically, psychologically or both. It also underlines the competition between European powers and how they use this war to show their power. Besides, it is really shocking when you think that the death of one person led to the death of 10 millions people and emotionally and physically impacted 20 millions people. The documentary was helpful to understand the experience of WW1 but will never be enough to illustrate the suffering people have been through this traumatizing event which reinvent war and changed the world.

  6. Considering the fact that I had very few knowledge on the subject of WWI because I had never had the chance to study it, this documentary was a great opportunity to learn about that horrifying though truly interesting war.
    What makes this documentary so special is that it emphasizes the authenticity of feelings instead of just giving us academic facts like dates or countries. I appreciated how none of the shots filmed were production staging, everything we saw actually happened and were completely representative of the violence that soldiers and their wives and children had to endure during that period.
    The interviews with veterans were heartbreaking because I got to see how harmless, kind and unjustly traumatised were those men who were forced to kill dozens of people without ever wanting it. What a nightmare it must be, having your youth an innocence taken away from you to serve such abominable value as revenge…
    The fact that the production read real letters from people who actually lived and suffered the war was again very useful to understand the population’s reaction and psychological state at that time. However I feel like imitating the different accents was unnecessary, since it is obvious that none of the actors actually had the nationality they were assigned to (all of them were British for sure) and it impacted a bit my understanding of where those people came from. I would have prefered that they just displayed on the screen the country of the person who was speaking and just speak with a natural british accent like in the rest of the documentary.
    Besides that the documentary really helped me to tackle this delicate subject by starting with the sentimental aspect of it. Now I feel ready to learn more about it !

    • What a response – though what is more incredible is how you managed to reach 1° without having studied WW1!

  7. Having studied World War I about two years ago, I have to admit that I’ve forgotten a lot of notions concerning the subject. However this documentary was such an amazing way to refresh the memories I have on the latter. Indeed the video is really helpful in understanding experiences in ww1 at the start of the conflict in 1914, in addition to the result of this disastrous war.
    First of all having original footage of old soldiers talking about their experiences during the war, let’s us understand how badly this ww1 has impacted people, not only physically, but also mentally. Listening to these three men was truly saddening as they show that everybody was in a way impacted by the war, whether it’s the women and children in the cities or the soldiers on the battle fields: “I kissed my mom and said goodbye mom, I don’t think I’ll ever see you again”. The visuals in the documentary are also incredibly frightening, especially the ones of the battlefield.
    Second of all, the video permitted us to figure out how the war started, it’s incredible to know that the war started with a Serbian man killing two Austrian royal family members and continued because of all the different alliances in Europe. It’s also amazing to know how the different armies organized themselves to go to war, the different and new weapons that were invented especially for this war (which at the end contributed to many people getting sick because of the air getting polluted).
    Finally it’s saddening to know the conclusion of this war: over 10 million people died and 20 million were hurt either physical or mentally.

  8. We all know about World War One, because teachers tell us the french story of this war and we learn it because it’s our own history which is really important to understand our world and the priority we have to take in our life knowing what happen in the past. Of course, that the story we learn in school it’s important but their is one big thing that the teachers could not learn us with number, fact or consequences that follow this war, because all those stuff are only ‘scientific’ and its the human part of this war. In this videos it’s not from the voice off that we are interested but about the testimony of all the survivor of this war. We listen to those person with admiration because we heard of how awful it is and when it’s someone that lived the moment that tell it it’s not the same understanding. To completely understand our country’s history we need to have the number and tell that gives us academy and also the testimony of the one who lived it, and this is what gives us this video and make it interesting. We need to keep safely this two ways of telling the story which complete them self and every recorded testimony or letter found are important to keep it and communicate with the students and every human being.

  9. The particularity of this documentary is the accurate coloring of all the archived documents, photos and videos, which gives it a more realistic aspect. By discovering the colors, we truly realise their importance. From the dark green/maroon uniforms in the muddy trenches to the vivid color of blood when Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated.
    Additionally, the juxtaposition of the veterans’ testimonials with the colored archives allow you to feel the soldiers’ experiences in an intensified way (65 million soldiers, 20 million injured and 10 million deaths between 1914 and 1918). In my opinion, it feels less as though it is a distant memory, and more so part of our reality, a part that we can emotionally connect with.

  10. T*o what extent is this video helpful to you in understanding experiences in WW1 at the start of the conflict in 1914?*

    One of the main staples of this documentary is the use of colorised versions of original footage from the war, because as the narrator points out at the start of the documentary, it isn’t often we see colorized videos of World War 1, as we are acostumed to the view of it in Black and White. This “reformed” version of the footage gives us a more complete sensation of the colors, mood and look of the battlefield, even if the footage isn’t of the best quality the colorisation makes it stand out more and makes motion more clear in certain cases such as daylight scenes were Black and White can confuse our eyes.
    Another of the staples of this documentary are the interviews, altough they are not shown fully the extracts from these interviews with veterans are used to further our understanding of the mood and scene of the battlefield as they often describe what they tought at specific moments or how the trenches felt or the circumstances, this gives us a more complete and personal version of the facts as they are told by a person that lived under these conditions.

    In conclusion, what makes this documentary special is not it’s pacing or it’s writting, what makes this documentary stand out is it’s use of renewed footage of the war to give us a more real feel of it, and it’s use of first hand storytelling by the veterans that count us their stories as they felt them and not how a historical document might paint it in a distant and unenpatehtic tone.

  11. Just like others, I have studied WW1 in my past years in school. But while watching this video, my eyes opened on some things that I ignored. First of all, I find it amazing to listen to old WW1 soldiers talk about their experiences even tho at a point I had tears in my eyes. It’s frightening to know all the terrible events they went through on the battle field to defend their country and compatriot. it also saddening to know that the war personally impacted not only men but also women and children who lost their husbands, brothers, fathers. The video also helps us understand how the war started. It’s incredible to know that such an event happened because of the assassination of Austrian Heir to the thrown. Can you imagine that because of one man’s death millions followed. This actually makes me mad at humanity. The crisis then got bigger, larger because of the multiple alliances in Europe. Finally, it’s breaks my heart to know that over 65 million people were impacted by this war in which over 10 million people died, and over 20 million of people were hurt physically or mentally.

  12. As long as I remember, when I studied WWI in class, the only sources of information we were provided were documents or videos (sometimes letters) demonstrating the violence and the strength of the conflicts but nothing about the human side. The international points of view enhanced by the marked accents of the voices and accurate data for many of the countries are giving another dimension than just “chaos and destruction”. Spectators can be easily struck by the devastating sights of the battlegrounds as color brings back intensity of the scenes. However, since we are not facing it in reality and considering the epoch we live in, a significant gap still exists between what is perceived and what really happened. It is important to keep in mind that the hardest sight is reality itself, which is a world away from what we see through a screen. What separate us from that time is also the fact that we hardly make any distinction between human lives and statistics; we study facts and barely see figures where soldiers saw human tides of corpses which had lost their last ounce of humanity. On the other hand, maybe such images are today necessary to understand and to remember flaws in our history to reach a brighter future. What staggers me the most are terrible actions asked as simple favors such as shooting dying comrades, knowing that you could implode at any moment; the constant hovering of death over oneself. Despite the fact that it is evident that some alliances do not always lead to good, demonstrations of solidarity are quite emotional beyond the strength of the war and the eternal wounds that it leaves.

  13. As everyone I think we all have already studied World War one during the past. However, this detailed video doesn’t only give us the historian point of view of the war but also the testimony of the soldiers and what they have been through which is very impressive and rich in emotions. It also allows us to have a better perception of the horrible things that took place. What I found quite nice with this video was that we could see image of soldiers and it help us understand even more and visualise the conditions of the war. Not only does this infoirms us on the fact that this was a worldwide war for men but it also informs us that women had a very important role during it too.

  14. To be completely honest, this documentary for me, barely added any knowledge about WW1. Everything that they talked about I had already learned in class or had seen in other documentary’s on the television or in movies. This documentary is meant to show us the POV on a soldier in 1914-1918 to give us a different perspective on the war, yet i felt like i was watching the same thing for the 100th time. the one thing that I learnt from this video was that a pilots life expectancy was only 93 hours.

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