World War I

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In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row... ~ John McCrae
God would never be cruel enough to create a cyclone as terrible as that Argonne battle. Only man would ever think of doing an awful thing like that. ~ Alvin C. York
During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it. They took their places wherever assigned in defense of the nation of which they are just as truly citizens as are any others. ~ Calvin Coolidge

World War I was a world conflict, raging from August 1914 to the final Armistice on November 11, 1918. The Allied Powers, led by the British Empire, France, Russia until March 1918, and the United States after 1917, defeated the Central Powers, led by the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

Quotes[edit]

Alphabetized by author
  • If I am asked what we are fighting for, I can reply in two sentences. In the first place, to fulfil a solemn international obligation … an obligation of honor which no self-respecting man could possibly have repudiated. I say, secondly, we are fighting to vindicate the principle that small nationalities are not to be crushed in defiance of international good faith at the arbitrary will of a strong and overmastering Power.
    • Premier Asquith, Statement, to House of Commons, Declaration of War with Germany, August 4, 1914.
  • I think a curse should rest on me — because I love this war. I know it's smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can't help it — I enjoy every second of it.
  • No compromise on the main purpose; no peace till victory; no pact with unrepentant wrong -- that is the Declaration of July 4th, 1918.
    • Winston Churchill At a joint Anglo-American rally in Westminster, July 4, 1918, speaking against calls for a negotiated truce with Germany. As printed in War aims & peace ideals: selections in prose & verse (1919), edited by Tucker Brooke & Henry Seidel Canby, Yale University Press, p. 138
  • The Great War differed from all ancient wars in the immense power of the combatants and their fearful agencies of destruction, and from all modern wars in the utter ruthlessness with which it was fought. ... Europe and large parts of Asia and Africa became one vast battlefield on which after years of struggle not armies but nations broke and ran. When all was over, Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves: and they were of doubtful utility.
    • Winston Churchill, From The World Crisis, 1911-1918 : Chapter I (The Vials of Wrath), Churchill, Butterworth (1923)
  • During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it. They took their places wherever assigned in defense of the nation of which they are just as truly citizens as are any others. The suggestion of denying any measure of their full political rights to such a great group of our population as the colored people is one which, however it might be received in some other quarters, could not possibly be permitted by one who feels a responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color. I have taken my oath to support that Constitution. It is the source of your rights and my rights. I propose to regard it, and administer it, as the source of the rights of all the people, whatever their belief or race.
  • Are we virtuous merely because we are restrained by the fetters of the law? We hear men prophecy that this war means the death of Christianity and an era of Pandeism or perhaps even the destruction of all which we call modern civilization and culture. We hear men predict that the ultimate result of the war will be a blessing to humanity.
  • This war, like the next war, is a war to end war.
    • David Lloyd George, Statement, sometimes dated to have been made in 1916, as quoted in Reading, Writing and Remembering : A Literary Record (1932) by Edward Verrall Lucas, p. 296
  • At eleven o’clock this morning came to an end the cruellest and most terrible War that has ever scourged mankind. I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars.
  • In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place
    ; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short day ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.
  • The First World War had begun – imposed on the statesmen of Europe by railway timetables. It was an unexpected climax to the railway age.
  • The First World War killed fewer victims than the Second World War, destroyed fewer buildings, and uprooted millions instead of tens of millions — but in many ways it left even deeper scars both on the mind and on the map of Europe. The old world never recovered from the shock.
    • Edmond Taylor, in The Fossil Monarchies.
  • God would never be cruel enough to create a cyclone as terrible as that Argonne battle. Only man would ever think of doing an awful thing like that. It looked like "the abomination of desolation" must look like. And all through the long night those big guns flashed and growled just like the lightning and the thunder when it storms in the mountains at home.
    And, oh my, we had to pass the wounded. And some of them were on stretchers going back to the dressing stations, and some of them were lying around, moaning and twitching. And the dead were all along the road. And it was wet and cold. And it all made me think of the Bible and the story of the Anti-Christ and Armageddon.
    And I'm telling you the little log cabin in Wolf Valley in old Tennessee seemed a long long way off.
    • Alvin C. York, in his account of 7 October 1918, in the Diary of Alvin York
  • It have been one of the richest experiences of my life...feeling that I was being really useful to the boys on the other side.
    • Unidentified actress about working in a war factory. From an excerpt in Adriane Ruggiero, American Voices from World War I (2003), p. 79–80, citing Norma B. Kastl, "Wartime, the Place and the Girl", Independent magazine (unidentified issue).

External links[edit]

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