This Photographic Album It never occurred to anyone then that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on the 28th of June 1914 in Sarajevo will lead to a world war that lasted 4 years and took the lives of more than 10 million people and wounded more than 22 million. It also caused the collapse of the Austrian, Russian, German and Ottoman Empires, in addition to major changes in the boundaries of Europe and the Middle East. The biggest other catastrophe, however, was the phenomenal material loss and destruction which disrupted societies and exhausted the world economy. To this day, a hundred years after World War I which involved some 33 countries, many regions are still experiencing the effects of border conflicts and territorial changes enforced by the victorious Allies after the demise of the defeated Empires which were fragmented into numerous smaller states. It may be even argued that World War II and many other regional wars that rage today are essentially rooted in the after effects of the Great War. This photographic album is a faithful documentary record of some of the great battles that took place at various locations involving millions of troops in some extremely difficult terrains, trenches, cities, air, seas and deserts. Civilians suffered in their millions as well. The main objective of showing these photographs again is to remind people of the awful tragedies of wars, all wars. Millions died aimlessly and largely because of the whims of politicians and ideologues. The cruelty and suffering of troops can be clearly seen in these photographs. How else can one explain the happy expressions of the faces of prisoners of war were it not for their fortunate escape from their inevitable death? These photographs are reprinted from a bi monthly pictorial newspaper that was published in London during World War I entitled “al Haqiqa”, meaning “Truth” in Arabic, and covered all aspects of the War. It started in 1916 and ended with the end of the War in 1918 and was printed by ‘Milford Lane’ in London and distributed in the Middle East and the Indian sub continent. It included subtitles in Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Hindu. This newspaper, therefore, represents a very valuable visual resource for understanding the complexities and tragedies of this Great War. The painful images of this exhibition should help raise awareness against the very idea of war and violent destruction as means to resolve disputes. We should fight with ideas of tolerance and fight the root causes of conflict such as poverty, injustice, and fundamentalist ideas that lead to extremist views and terrorism. We should all say no to war.
Saturday, 28 February 2015Saturday, 28 February 2015