Two shots rang through the streets of Sarajevo on June 28, 1914; they struck two members of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg family. This marked a great success for the secret Serbian society the Black Hand, but they had no idea taking out Archduke Franz Ferdinand would be the impetus for one of the worst conflicts in world history.
After much debate and attempted diplomacy, Europe's great powers officially entered into a conflict on July 24, 1914. Many in Europe assumed it would be quick. However, over the course of four years, the lives of 9.7 million uniformed men and 10 million civilians were lost. Many were told they were fighting for something greater than themselves and were promised adventure, but those who lived through the horrors were disillusioned by the rhetoric.
There are many records of WWI, including books, news articles, and sketches, but photography from the front lines provides an especially visceral portrayal of those years. WWI photos provide an understanding of the struggles the young men faced in the trenches. They were thrust into situations where there was no guarantee of survival, and these images make the peril ominously clear.