In August 1914 the Germans stormed through neutral Belgium to invade France. The first few months of the war on the Western Front were mobile, fast and dangerous, with no place to hide from battlefields swept by machine gun and artillery fire. Casualty rates were higher than with later trench warfare; a quarter of a million German soldiers were killed, wounded or missing in the first month of the war. The German advance through Belgium and into France was brutal. 6,500 civilians, including women and children were massacred by German troops by the end of August.
By the 3rd September the Germans were nearing Paris, but were halted by the Allies at the Battle of the Marne. The Germans fell back to high ground and dug-in. The Allies, unable to break through followed suit. The resulting line of trenches stretched from the Channel to Switzerland. Eleven million civilians lived under German occupation for four years in Belgium and Northern France. Resistance was ruthlessly suppressed and members of the underground executed. The Germans shot British nurse Edith Cavell by firing squad for helping Allied servicemen escape. French schoolboy Yves Congar kept an illustrated diary, documenting with vivid accounts and illustrations the cruelty and hardships of the German occupation. To ensure civil obedience and for forced labor the Germans rounded up thousands of Belgian and French civilians and transported them by cattle truck to concentration camps in Germany.
Category: Education, History
world war one austro-hungary ww1 germany belgium france occupation
Television has tended to look at the First World War through a veil of tears, seeing only a tragic waste of life in the mud of Flanders. This definitive series strips away ninety years of myopia to get back to the reality of the war.
This was a global conflict from the start, involving nations in every continent and people of all classes and races. Using fresh archive footage and specially shot material from authentic locations in 22 countries, the multi-layered series demolishes myths and answers key questions from the origins of the war to its bitter end.
Universally acclaimed as one of the finest documentary series ever made about the Great War. The First World War is a powerful, original and truly comprehensive account of the conflict. It places the war in truly Global military context as never before, exploring many of the little known campaigns, battles and actions as well as the better known conflict on the Western Front. The series combines previously unseen footage from newly accessible archives in Central and Eastern Europe with exclusive film of many of the battlefields as they are today, studies key participants and weaponry, and diary entries and letters home from soldiers, officers and commanders.
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