Les Désastres du XX Siecle
When the soldiers of Europe marched off to war in the late summer of 1914, most expected an adventure that would last mere weeks or months. By the end, in November 1918, millions had been consumed by four years of grinding, mechanized warfare. Casualties, military and civilian, numbered nearly 38 million—more than 17 million dead and 20 million wounded. The psychological and emotional toll was incalculable. Some of the stone carvings capture the enormity of the catastrophe.
This elaborate carving documents the sinking of the French ship, Liberte, in 1917. The translated inscriptions read:
“La Liberte leaving the world”
“Sun of my youth”
“Disasters of the 20th Century”
The work speaks to this soldier’s grasp of the enormity and far-reaching impact of loss during the war.
Photographs by Jeff Gusky