Assassination has never changed the history of the world.
- – Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, speech, House of Commons, 1 May 1865
On June 28th 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, while visiting Sarajevo. This one event, this assassination, was the catalyst for four years of war. The First World War, or the Great War, was a dark time in our history and it still manages to produce some of the most profound prose and poetry in history.
Today we have compiled a snapshot of the First World War through significant quotes:
The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand –June 1914
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far.
Don John of Austria is going to the war.
– G. K Chesteron, ‘Lepanto’ 1915
The United States will not join the war – August 1914
No nation is fit to sit in judgement upon any other nation.
– Woodrow Wilson, speech in New York, 20 April 1915; in Select Addresses (1918)
Five Battles of Flanders were fought between 1914 and 1918
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
Scare heard amid the guns below.
– John McCrae, ‘In Flanders Fields’ (1915)
The Bolsheviks overthrow the Russian Government – November 1917
Yesterday there was a tart and there were slaves; today there is no tsar, but the slaves remain; tomorrow there will be only tsars…We have lived through the epoch of suppression of the masses we are living in an epoch of suppression of the individual in the name of the masses tomorrow will bring the liberation of the individual – in the name of man.
– Yevgeny Zamyatin, ‘Tomorrow’ (1919) in A Soviet Heretic (1970)
The armistice is signed and the fighting stops at the 11th hour, 11 November 1918
At eleven o’clock this morning came to an end the cruelest 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.
– David Lloyd George, speech in the House of Commons, 11 November 1918
Quotations sourced from the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations