An exhibition has opened in Berlin to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.
The Great War was the deadliest conflict in history, claiming the lives of an estimated 10 million soldiers and leaving another 20 million wounded along with millions of civilian casualties.
The exhibition at the German Historical Museum takes an overall look at the war, both from a European and a global perspective. It examines the escalation of violence, which had a major impact on future conflicts and on 20th century politics.
“This is the only exhibition which takes a comprehensive look at World War One. Many other exhibitions focus on a particular theme, region or area. But we chose to take an overall perspective for this exhibition which includes dozens of items on loan from all over Europe and the United States,” said Alexander Koch, president of the German Historical Museum Foundation.
The exhibition focuses on the escalation of violence through 14 major landmarks of World War One, including famous battlefields like Verdun and Gallipoli.
It also looks at the effect of the modernisation of warfare during World War One, where poison gas was used for the first time (in Ypres, Belgium), and its physical and mental effect on soldiers and civilians.
“The First World War is drawing particular attention this year because of the centenary. There are books, documentaries and exhibitions like this one. It’s clear that it’s a very important event which we need to understand if we want to understand the 20th century as a whole. Because it was during the First World War that the major ideologies of the 20th century were born – communism, fascism, Nazism, all these movements were born during World War One,” explained Andreas Mix, the exhibition’s curator.
‘1914 – 1918 – The First World War’ runs at the German Historical Museum in Berlin until December.