Back from the front

The military casualties of the war numbered 10 million dead and 21 million wounded.

Many of the soldiers streaming home from the fronts could no longer find the homes they knew: they could not integrate into civilian life or find work. Hopelessness and years of unprecedented suffering left their imprint on political life. There emerged ever more radical and violent forces, the representatives of which declared old authorities illegitimate and old values obsolete. As a result, one crisis followed another. Although the so-called “victors” promised that it had been “the war to end all wars”, in November 1918 conflict was far from over. Once back home, millions of soldiers faced a new reality, in which the world they had left for “wartime adventure” had disappeared like a receding fog, and sometimes they found that the country in whose service they had risked their lives no longer existed.


„War had taken hold of them and would never let them go. They would never really belong to their homes again.”
Ernst von Salomon

„History is made in the trenches where under the foolish pressure of war-madness the soldier thrusts his bayonet into the officer’s body and escapes to his home village to set fire to the manor house.”
V. I. Lenin

„Both of my dear Karl’s legs were ripped off at Verdun, but at least he’s alive. He spends his days sitting in the corridor facing the courtyard, smoking his cigars. He never laments, he just snuffles sometimes, saying that his legs hurt.”
Hildegard Storch, 1919

„I miss my fellow soldiers; my wife looks at me as if I were a stranger; there is no work to be found; we are hungry; the only occupation I know is killing.”
Pál Kovács, 1918

„The treaty includes no provisions for the economic rehabilitation of Europe, nothing to stabilise the defeated Central Empires, or nothing to reclaim Russia.”
J. M. Keynes