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Germany in the Great War: The Opening Year

Joshua Bilton
In Print
Pen & Sword Military (2017)

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Germany in the Great War: The Opening Year

Archive and Photographs of WWI: Mobilisation, the Advance, and Naval Warfare

184 pages. Over 500 black-and-white photos. Introduction, timeline, bibliography.

This book is designed as a 'pictorial digest' of the first year of the First World War from the perspective of the Central Powers. Curiously, the title refers to 'Germany' but the book actually covers Germany, Austro-Hungaria and Turkey. While the focus of the book is 1914, there are some pre-war and later-war photos mixed in as well.

The book is divided into seven chapters, each of which is titled for some unknown reason in German and English:

  1. Mobilization – Austria and Germany
  2. Western Advance
  3. Advance in the East and Withdrawal
  4. Turkey
  5. The Naval War
  6. The Home Front

Each chapter begins with a two-page summary, followed by the captioned black-and-white photographs. Each photo is numbered for reference, from GWG14_1 to GWG14_558. However, the photos are not always shown in number order, as the page layout sometimes dictates placing a photo out of order. A typical page has four photos. The captions are informational and neutral in tone.

The author does not tell us where the photos are sourced from, but the publisher claims many are previously unpublished. Some of the photos have a crosshatching effect, but otherwise are reproduced sharply with good contrast.

For the most part, the pictures are well selected to cover the different phases of the war in 1914, but the author obviously had to work with what was available to him. For instance, German marines are over-represented. Aviation, on the other hand, is only represented by a single photo of an airship.

The author's intention is to expand the Germany in the Great War series to include another five or six volumes; and this series is planned as only part of The Great War Illustrated anthology.

This book provides a different way of learning about the early part of WWI, showing the progression of the fighting from open warfare to trench warfare, as well as illustrating the differences between the eastern and western fronts. I hope the series continues for many more volumes. Recommended.

Reviewed by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian.