World War One Quotes

Quotes tagged as "world-war-one" Showing 1-30 of 45
Otto von Bismarck
“One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans (1888).”
Otto von Bismarck

Jan Karon
“In World War One, they called it shell shock. Second time around, they called it battle fatigue. After 'Nam, it was post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Jan Karon, Home to Holly Springs

Siegfried Sassoon
“Mute in that golden silence hung with green,
Come down from heaven and bring me in your eyes
Remembrance of all beauty that has been,
And stillness from the pools of Paradise.

Siegfried Sassoon, Counter-Attack and Other Poems

Gilbert Frankau
“Yea ! by your works are ye justified--toil unrelieved ;
Manifold labours, co-ordinate each to the sending achieved ;
Discipline, not of the feet but the soul, unremitting, unfeigned ;
Tortures unholy by flame and by maiming, known, faced, and disdained ;
Courage that suns
Only foolhardiness ; even by these, are ye worthy of your guns.”
Gilbert Frankau

Richard Aldington
“The casualty lists went on appearing for a long time after the Armistice - last spasms of Europe's severed arteries.”
Richard Aldington, Death of a Hero

Vera Brittain
“I had realized that it was not the courage and generosity of the dead which had brought about this chaos of disaster, but the failure of courage and generosity on the part of the survivors… Perhaps, after all, the best that we who were left could do was to refuse to forget, and to teach our successors what we remembered, in the hope that they, when their own day came, would have more power to change the state of the world than this bankrupt, shattered nation. If only, somehow, the nobility which in us had been turned toward destruction could be used in them for creation, if the courage which we had dedicated to war could be employed, by them, on behalf of peace, then the future might indeed see the redemption of man instead of his further descent into chaos.”
Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth

“When Roy’s 32nd Division arrived in France, the Great War had been grinding on for over three years. Though called the “War to End All Wars,” it was the “War that Went on Forever” to those in it. The lines were static, the casualties horrendous, and hope for any breakthrough was fleeting.”
Paul T. Dean, Courage: Roy Blanchard's Journey in America's Forgotten War

Ngaio Marsh
“What do you think, Mr Alleyn? If there's another war will the young chaps come at it, same as we did, thinking it's great? And get the same jolt? What do you reckon?"

"I'm afraid to speculate," said Alleyn.”
Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder

Erich Maria Remarque
“Morning comes. I go to my class. There sit the little ones with folded arms. In their eyes is still all the shy astonishment of the childish years. They look up at me so trustingly, so believingly - and suddenly I get a spasm over the heart.

Here I stand before you, one of the hundreds of thousands of bankrupt men in whom the war destroyed every belief and almost every strength. Here I stand before you, and see how much more alive, how much more rooted in life you are than I. Here I stand and must now be your teacher and guide. What should I teach you? Should I tell you that in twenty years you will be dried-up and crippled, maimed in your freest impulses, all pressed mercilessly into the selfsame mold? Should I tell you that all the learning, all culture, all science is nothing but hideous mockery, so long as mankind makes war in the name of God and humanity with gas, iron, explosive and fire? What should I teach you then, you little creatures who alone have remained unspotted by the terrible years?

What am I able to teach you then? Should I tell you how to pull the string of a hand grenade, how best to throw it at a human being? Should I show you how to stab a man with a bayonet, how to fell him with a club, how to slaughter him with a spade? Should I demonstrate how best to aim a rifle at such an incomprehensible miracle as a breathing breast, a living heart? Should I explain to you what tetanus is, what a broken spine is, and what a shattered skull? Should I describe to you what brains look like when they scatter about? What crushed bones are like - and intestines when they pour out? Should I mimic how a man with a stomach wound will groan, how one with a lung wound gurgles and one with a head wound whistles? More I do not know. More I have not learned.

Should I take you the brown-and-green map there, move my finger across it and tell you that here love was murdered? Should I explain to you that the books you hold in your hands are but nets with which men design to snare your simple souls, to entangle you in the undergrowth of find phrases, and in the barbed wire of falsified ideas?

I stand here before you, a polluted, a guilty man and can only implore you ever to remain as you are, never to suffer the bright light of your childhood to be misused as a blow flame of hate. About your brows still blows the breath of innocence. How then should I presume to teach you? Behind me, still pursuing, are the bloody years. - How then can I venture among you? Must I not first become a man again myself?”
Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back

Erich Maria Remarque
“We are like those abandoned fields full of shell holes in France, no less peaceful than other ploughed lands about them, but in them are lying still the buried explosives, and until these shall have been dug out and cleared away, to plough will be a danger both to the plougher and the ploughed.”
Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back

Michael Morpurgo
“I was once told in Sunday school that a church tower reaches up skywards because it is a promise of Heaven. Church towers are different in France. It was the first thing I noticed when I came here, when I changed my world of home for my world of war. In comparison the church towers at home seem almost squat, hiding themselves away in the folds of the fields. Here there are no folds in the fields, only wide open plains, scarcely a hill in sight. And instead of church towers they have spires that thrust themselves skywards like a child putting his hand up in class, longing to be noticed. But God, if there is one, notices nothing here. He has long since abandoned this place and all of us who live in it.”
Michael Morpurgo, Private Peaceful

“One of the surprising realities about the Western Front was that intense action and peril were surrounded by long periods of having very little to do.”
Paul T. Dean, Courage: Roy Blanchard's Journey in America's Forgotten War

“It was no easy task advancing through No Man’s Land, especially without making a sound. Barbed wire was typically passed through dark paint to keep it from reflecting light and then loosely strung between spaced wooden posts to provide an effective high obstacle. Strung low and tight were alarm traps—wire attached to some noisemaker that alerted the guards to movement. Sometimes, the Americans made wire entanglements by wrapping barbed wire around a long, rectangular wood frame behind the lines. These could be quickly rolled out into No Man’s Land after an artillery barrage had cut a wide hole in the wire. The wire obstacles added to the chaotic and dangerous morass. Due to constant shelling, there was an irregular pattern of shell holes, thick mud, and the rotting remains of men and animals.”
Paul T. Dean, Courage: Roy Blanchard's Journey in America's Forgotten War

“Rats, the only creatures that seemed to flourish in the trenches, were quite brave and were often a foot long (not including the tail), the size of a small cat. They grew fat on the corpses in No Man’s Land and were known to bite sleeping soldiers’ faces and gather around the eating areas. The French left the rats alone. Like a canary in a coal mine, the rats were a warning that gas shells had been fired. At the slightest whiff of gas, the large rats flipped feet up, dead. The Americans hated them too much to leave them alone. They bludgeoned the rats with shovels and rifle butts or shot them with their side arms.”
Paul T. Dean, Courage: Roy Blanchard's Journey in America's Forgotten War

“Newspaper writers and politicians treated the pilots as “knights” of the war. They flew fast and dangerous maneuvers in order to defend critical artillery observation balloons. They battled other pilots either one-on-one or in squadrons, fought like heroes, and died in droves. France alone produced at least 68,000 aircraft, of which 52,000 were lost in battle. The planes reached speeds of over 100 mph and fired machine guns, pistols, or rockets at each other. The winners sped away; the losers spiraled to the earth”
Paul T. Dean, Courage: Roy Blanchard's Journey in America's Forgotten War

“. Leaving the city behind, they entered the wasted countryside. Large shell holes, jagged stumps of full-grown trees, and gas residue clinging to puddles all pointed to the power of modern warfare. No living thing remained. The odor of rotting human corpses filled what was left of the woods: the dead wearing the uniforms of France, Germany, and the US.”
Paul T. Dean, Courage: Roy Blanchard's Journey in America's Forgotten War

“The column swung into single file, with space between companies and platoons. Marching until 3:00 a.m., they stopped in a small forest, put their heavy packs on the ground, and unrolled their packs. The woods were thick. In the blackness, Roy could only see a few feet in front of him in the dark, and there wasn’t any acceptable cover. He had just put his pack down, when it started. A distant set of krumps went off somewhere in the distance and, moments later, the screaming shells descended, men yelled, and wood shrapnel flew from exploding trees. Roy hit the deck, grabbed his helmet, and held the fear back behind his clenched teeth. In the flash of the exploding shells, he saw his comrades and friends lying still, small, some crouched behind trees, some cursing, all helpless. Bigger shells came, shaking the landscape like a freight train speeding past a rickety station. Everything shook with diabolical red flashes and deafening roars. It went on and on, hour after hour.”
Paul T. Dean, Courage: Roy Blanchard's Journey in America's Forgotten War

“While they continued to march toward the sounds of the guns, Roy noticed fear behind the eyes of some of his fellow soldiers. Death and destruction surrounded them. Corpses in the ditches, wounded on stretchers, shell holes were everywhere. They hadn’t even reached the front lines yet.”
Paul T. Dean, Courage: Roy Blanchard's Journey in America's Forgotten War

Hank Bracker
“World War I that ended almost one hundred years ago, following the Armistice on November 11, 1918. The Paris Peace Conference was held to determine the terms under which this devastating war was concluded. A war that was fought for insane reasons and brought devastation to so many families only ended when The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. It had been a war that was brought on by inept bureaucrats and it was “The Treaty of Versailles” that concluded the war between Germany and the Allied Powers. This treaty required Germany to disarm, make extensive territorial concessions, and pay reparations to the Allies. The fact that Germany was required to pay unrealistic reparations during difficult times was the primary reason that the Second World War was fought a little over twenty years later by bringing Adolf Hitler onto the world stage!”
Captain Hank Bracker, "Seawater One"

Erich Maria Remarque
“Because we were duped, I tell you, duped as even yet we hardly realize; because we were misused, hideously misused. They told us it was for the Fatherland, and meant the schemes of annexation of a greedy industry. They told us it was for Honour, and meant the quarrels and the will to power of a handful of ambitious diplomats and princes. They told us it was for the Nation, and meant the need for activity on the part of out-of-work generals!...

Can't you see? They stuffed out the word Patriotism with all the twaddle of their fine phrases, and their desire for glory, their will to power, their false romanticism, their stupidity, their greed of business, and then paraded it before us a shining ideal! And we thought they were sounding a bugle summoning us to a new, a more strenuous, a larger life. Can't you see man? But we were making war against ourselves without knowing it! Every shot that struck home, struck one of us! Can't you see? Then listen and I will bawl it into your ears. The youth of the world rose up in every land, believing that it was fighting for freedom! And in every land they were duped and misused; in every land they have been shot down, they have exterminated each other! Don't you see now? There is only one fight, the fight against the lie, the half-truth, compromise, against the old order. But we let ourselves be taken in by their phrases; and instead of fighting against them, we fought for them. We thought it was for the Future. It was against the Future. Our future is dead; for the youth is dead that carried it. We are merely the survivors the ruins. But the other is alive still - the fat, the full, the well content, that lies on, fatter and fuller, more contented than ever! And why? Because the dissatisfied, the eager, the storm troops have died for it. But think of it! A generation annihilated! A generation of hope, of faith, of will, of strength, ability, so hypnotised that they have shot down one another, though over the whole world they all had the same purpose!”
Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back

Henry Williamson
“When a bullet broke the store-house of the self, inside the skull, how could those myriads of photographs survive, or the personality that they made up? Why should they survive, what use were they to life?”
Henry Williamson, The Golden Virgin

Henry Williamson
“In his mind he was a spirit, feeling the radiant heat of the chalk of the trenches; cooling himself in the flicker-rippling Ancre. O, to be able to see it all again, a ghost world of gun-flashes at night. O to see it all, to grasp all of it, without violence, without pain; to share the marching and the singing of the living that were part of the great dream of life and death.”
Henry Williamson, The Golden Virgin

Alexander    Watson
“The struggle had been a people's war. The suffering and sacrifice had been immense. Those who survived the ordeal were left with the question of what it had all been for.”
Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I

“The job of the terrorists was to penetrate into our subconscious. This had always been the aim of writers, but the terrorists took it a step further. They were the writers of our age. Don DeLillo said this many years before 9/11. The images they created spread around the globe, colonising our our subconscious minds. The tangible outcome of the attack, the numbers of dead and injured, the material destruction, meant nothing. It was the images that were important. The more iconic the images they managed to create, the more successful their actions. The attack on the World Trade Centre was the most successful of all time. There weren’t that many dead, only a couple of thousand, as against the six hundred thousand who died in the first two days of the Battle Of Flanders in the autumn of 1914, yet the images were so iconic and powerful that the effect on us was just as devastating, perhaps more so, since we lived in a culture of images.
Planes and skyscrapers. Icarus and Babel.
They wanted into our dreams. Everyone did. Our inner beings were the final market. Once they were conquered, we would be sold.”
Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book 6

John Vincent Palatine
“History is philosophy teaching by examples.”
John Vincent Palatine, The Little Drummer Boy

Michael Morpurgo
“Here there are no folds in the fields, only wide open plains, scarcely a hill in sight. And instead of church towers they have spires that thrust themselves skywards like a child putting his hand up in class, longing to be noticed. But God, if there is one, notices nothing here. He has long since abandoned this place and all of us who live in it.”
Michael Morpurgo, Private Peaceful

“The ruins of Chief Azul's house can still be seen to the right as your enter the town of Sacaton from the north--a two story structure with the roof fallen in. In front, across the road to the south is a monument which was put up in memory of the first Indian killed in World War One who was a Pima Indian from our tribe.
[page 51, Progress]”
George Webb, A Pima Remembers

Winston Churchill
“The spacious philanthropy which [President Woodrow Wilson] exhaled upon Europe stopped quite sharply at the coasts of his own country.”
Winston Churchill

Geoff Widders
“I cannot understand how this is to come about but come about it must. It seems boy that we move within the confines of our own consciousness, would that I could expand my gaze to become aware of all the activities of my own being.”
Geoff Widders, Flight of the Shaman

A.J.  West
“I had made my own calculations as the years had passed since boyhood, understanding the grim expectations of my sex. It was equally a relief and a surprise to have found myself spared by the giant tread of fate’s jackboot as it had marched towering above me, the monstrous, insensible colossus, leaving those born in my inglorious decade cowering in its path, relieved though somewhat ashamed on a bubble of untrammelled dirt. While all around us men slightly older, and mere months younger, were squashed face first, bones snapped, into the puddled trenches of its staggering tracks. Then, what an extraordinary gift from God, to see little Robert and those of his age spared too, supposing this war ended quickly and the next came late enough.”
A.J.West, The Spirit Engineer

« previous 1