On 27 July, the last day of Tour de France, women cyclists will compete in a one-day race to cross the famous Champs-Elysees finish line first. The event is significant because it will bring a lot of attention to women in the sport.
It is hard to imagine that a little over a century ago, women were discouraged from riding their bicycles. In the late 19th century, medical professionals made up a disease called ‘Bicycle Face’ to discourage women from cycling. The increasing availability of cycles brought women mobility and the independence to travel alone. This of course threatened the male hegemony.
The solution was to scare women into believing that riding bicycles would cause their eyes to bulge, and their chins to jut out due to the strain to keep their balance on the bikes. These were considered undesirable female features.
The women in these late 19th century posters found via Europeana.eu clearly were not suffering from ‘Bicycle Face’!
Imagine a spaceship that is sent on an intergalactic mission. It is unmanned, but there is a little bit of room for an object that represents earth’s shared cultural heritage, in the event that the spaceship is found by an intelligent extra-terrestrial life form. What object would you include?
This question is not actually hypothetical. A golden disc was included on board the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes that were launched in 1977 and 1976 respectively, each containing a carefully selected series of images and sounds that represent human history and culture. In addition, the discs contained instructions on how to play the gold-plated record and a rough indication of earth’s position relative to some notable cosmic objects.
The Sounds of Earth (Public Domain, source: NASA)
The content for the ‘bottle in the cosmic ocean’ was selected by a committee chaired by the late astrophysicist Carl Sagan. The team decided on 116 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder and animals. In addition, musical selections from different cultures and eras were included, as well as spoken greetings in more than fifty ancient and modern languages.
The idea behind the golden record is that intelligent alien life forms that would encounter one of the spaceships carrying the golden record would get an idea about life on our small planet and get a taste of our cultural diversity. In that sense, the mission of the discs is similar to that of institutes such as Europeana – to collect, preserve and disseminate the diversity of culture – on a much smaller, but very intriguing scale.
Voyager 1 (Public Domain, source: NASA)
At the moment, being more than 19,000,000,000 kilometres away from earth, Voyager 1 is currently the most remote human-made object ever. After travelling for nearly 40 years, the spacecraft is now outside our solar system and in interstellar space. However, don’t expect the space probe and its disc to be found by alien life soon: it is estimated that at its current speed, Voyager 1 needs another 40,000 years of flight at its current speed to reach its first star.
The (Army) Lives of WW1 is a new Pinterest board by Europeana to commemorate the beginning of World War One. All the images are sourced from our Europeana 1914-1918 website. Some of it is from people like you who came to our roadshows to contribute to our collection, and some of it is from the great institutions of Europe.
Through these images, we want to honour the memory of the war and the lives that were wasted during it. We would also like to show you unusual photos that throw new light on what it was like to live through the war.
We collaborated with the European Commission (EC) for this Pinterest Board, as we thought it was important to create awareness about the heartache and loss of war, and pay tribute to the indomitable human spirit. The EC also created their own board where they repined many of the images that we surfaced.
Today, the most prestigious cycling race, Le Tour de France, kicks off in Leeds, England on 5 July 2014. Every year, it is watched by audiences in 190 countries. This year, Tour de France participants will cycle through 4 countries to end in Paris on 27 July. What makes it extra special is that for the first time, there will be a women’s edition called La Course by Le Tour de France.
Who do you think will win the Yellow Jersey?
Here are some beautiful vintage photographs of Le Tour participants. Explore thousands of Tour de France related items through Europeana.
By Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen
Saturday, 28 June this year marked one hundred years since 19-year-old Serbian Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, sparking controversy and anger all across Europe and eventually leading to the outbreak of war in August 1914. So what exactly happened, how did it lead to one of the bloodiest wars in history and what kind of film footage relating to the event is available today?
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was commanded by the Emperor of Austria to go to Sarajevo to make an inspection of the Austro-Hungarian troops stationed there. The presence of Austria-Hungary in Bosnia angered the Serbian freedom fighter group, The Black Hand, who were part of a movement to seek independence of the Slavic people from Austro-Hungarian rule. Having attempted the assassination of other Austro-Hungarian officials, seven members of the group seized this opportunity and conspired to kill the Archduke during his visit to Sarajevo.
On the morning of 28 June 1914, everything was set in place. Assassins had been prepared along the route of the procession. When the cars containing the Archduke and his wife passed the first and second assassin, both failed to act. The third assassin along the route threw a grenade at the car but it missed and exploded under the car following the Archduke, injuring about 20 people. The driver of the Archduke’s car, realising what had happened, decided to drive away from the procession and in doing so, passed the other three assassins, but drove so quickly that they were unable to carry out their plans. It seemed as though they had missed their opportunity.
Assassin Gavrilo Princip made his way out of the crowds and contemplated what to do next. In the meantime, the Archduke decided to abandon the rest of the planned procession to visit those who had been injured in the blast earlier that day. The driver, unsure of the way to the hospital, took a wrong turn down the very road along which Princip was walking. The young Serbian could not believe his luck when his target’s car drove straight down the road towards him. He fired two shots into the car and both the Archduke and his wife, Sofia, were killed almost instantly.
This assassination caused an uproar across Europe and set off an accelerated chain of events. Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the attack and sent them an ultimatum, which was supported by Austria-Hungary’s ally, Germany. While Serbia accepted most of Austria-Hungary’s demands, there were some upon which the two countries could not agree and as a result both the Austro-Hungarian and the Serbian armies mobilised for attack. Russia, in support of Serbia, also prepared for war, while Germany refused Britain’s demand to declare support for Belgian neutrality in case of war and also began to mobilise its army. Less than two weeks after Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum to Serbia was issued, Serbia, Russia, and its allies France, Belgium and Great Britain had declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary, and World War One had begun.
EFG1914’s Virtual Exhibition gives an indication of how even films covering the same events can be used to tell their own stories. The page titled ´Same images, different stories’ uses the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife as examples of the way that events can be dramatised and exaggerated for a more impressive cinematic experience, with one reenactment of the event having been released as late as 1968 (Sarajevski atentat: Yugoslavia, 1968).
Other remaining newsreel footage from films such as Das Attentat auf den Thronfolger Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand am 28. Juni 1914 in Sarajevo (Austria-Hungary, 1914)
and Zum Attentat gegen das österreichische Thronfolgerpaar (Germany, 1914)
highlight the paramount significance of the assassination on an international scale, and anticipate the rise of the international newsreel, which would become a dominant mode of European film in the four years to follow.
Saturday marks the day recognised as the beginning of the First World War. The Great War was a conflict on an unprecedented scale that affected the everyday lives of virtually all Europeans and many people living in other parts of the world. The memory of the war, its events and consequences, its victims and victors, all remain very much alive today. It has become part of the individual and collective memory of Europe.
Trying to figure out whether you are allowed to use that fantastic photo you found online the other day of a cat eating pasta without stepping on any copyright toes is quite challenging.
In order to help Google-fiend teenagers understand the different licensing agreements, the National Audiovisual Institute of Poland recently ran the Europeana Video Remix competition for school children in Poland.
Maria Drabczyk from the National Audiovisual Institute, Poland, says, ´In short, Europeana Video Remix was an attempt to bring archival resources closer to the younger generation. Their task was to select one of the four themes of competition, matching them with relevant archives available on the portals associated with Europeana (images, photographs, sounds, videos or other digital objects) and assemble them in a remix.’ They wanted to understand how much (or little) adolescents know about access to online materials with the reality of a teenage user of the archives online.
Results showed that there is still a lot to be learnt about how to re-use stuff you find on the internet. But there were fairly impressive entries. Here are two of the winning videos:
To watch the other entries, click here.
Here’s your chance to participate in an epic two-week journey in search of traces of events that were instrumental in changing the face of Europe. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Europe, a study trip ‘Freedom Express’ will take 20 exceptionally creative individuals aged 18-28 through Poland, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic.
During the trip, the participants will log sketches of their observations, photos, films and audio footage as well as essays that will form the content of a blog, which will cover the successive stages of the trip as it happens. All of this will also contribute to a documentary, showing a creative interdisciplinary dialogue between the young artists and places of memory.
Applications are open for the contest until 30 June 2014. For the application form, terms and conditions of recruitment and programme details, please see www.freedomexpress.enrs.eu. The trip will take place from 29 August-14 September 2014, and will include workshops, lectures, film screenings, meetings with witnesses of the historical events, visits to memorial sites and institutions documenting that era of European history.
Europeana supports the organisers of the event – European Network Remembrance and Solidarity – in their effort to commemorate the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Today the first match of the World Cup will take place in Brazil. An exciting happening for many around the globe. Football is the world’s most popular sport. Its success is in its simplicity. With just some land, goal markers and a ball, anybody can play it. This popular sport is not just a game. To many, it is the stuff of life. In some countries, football is part of the national culture: families, friendships and communities are brought together, or forced apart by it.
The first FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup took place in Uruguay in 1930. Following a 12-year pause due to the outbreak of World War Two, the World Cup resumed in 1958 and is now held in a different country every four years. The tournament is so popular that over 37 billion people watched the France 1998 championship. One of the world’s most famous football matches however, took place between German and British troops in the No Man’s Land of the Western front during the 1915 Christmas truce of World War One.
We have delved into Europeana’s football-related collections for you, and highlight here a selection of historical pictures of the world’s most popular sport below. Want to explore more? Browse through thousands of football-related items here.
Advertisement has been around for many years. Egyptians used papyrus to make sales messages and wall posters. And even in the ruins of Pompeii and ancient Arabia commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found.
In the 18th century advertisements started to appear in weekly newspapers in England. These early print advertisements were used mainly to promote books and newspapers, which became increasingly affordable with advances in the printing press; and medicines, which were increasingly sought after as disease ravaged Europe. However, false advertising and so-called “quack” advertisements became a problem, which ushered in the regulation of advertising content.
Each decade had a spirit, a look of its own, which was reflected in its advertising and magazine artwork: From the start of the Victorian era in England, through the consumerism of 1950s America, to the celebrity obsessed early years of the 21st century. Below we have gathered a variety of amazing ads from different decades. What do you think, art or just ordinary ads?
Explore thousands of historical records related to advertisement through Europeana.
Written by Annette Groschke -
Ninety-nine years ago, RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner, was sunk by a German U-Boat, resulting in the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew and eventually leading to America’s entry into the First World War.
In early 1915 German submarines, or “U-Boats”, began to be used in the German maritime campaign against the British. Initially they were used only to attack naval ships but soon began to attack merchant vessels, though usually in accordance with the Cruiser Rules which stated that “a warship…may not sink or render incapable of navigation a merchant vessel without having first placed passengers, crew and ship’s papers in a place of safety”. However, even with these rules in place it was clear that ships which sailed in the seas around the British isles were at risk of being attacked by German submarines. The German embassy in Washington D.C. even placed a warning advertisement in American newspapers telling passengers travelling to Great Britain that they did so at their own risk. Some passengers were concerned about this warning, but on the whole it was not considered to be a serious threat by the majority of the passengers, and survivors of the disaster have said that the threat of being attacked was taken light-heartedly and was even the subject of jokes on board the ship.
On 7 May 1915 Lusitania had almost reached its destination of Liverpool when she crossed in front of the German submarine U-20, captained by Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger. Schwieger gave the command to fire a torpedo which struck Lusitania on the starboard side. A second explosion occurred moments later which rocked the boat further, and caused the ship to tilt to one side. This meant that the lifeboats on one side of the boat were completely unusable, and as a result only six lifeboats were successfully launched. Some passengers jumped overboard and clung onto rafts, while others were offered refuge when the collapsible lifeboats floated out of the sinking ship. After only 18 minutes, the Lusitania had completely sunk. Of the 1,961 verified passengers aboard the ship, only 764 survived, of whom 128 were American. The sinking caused an international uproar, both in Britain and in America, and this loss of neutral American citizens is widely considered to be one of the reasons that America joined the war in 1917.
There is no actual footage of the sinking of the ship but re-enactments where shot after the tragic event. Examples of these, usually propagandistic productions, can be found on the EFG1914 website, where films and other non-film material relating to the First World War have been digitised and made available by 21 European film archives. The 1918 film, “The Sinking of the Lusitania”, from the archives of the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, was made by American animator Winsor McCay in the style of a documentary and aimed to inspire an anti-German sentiment by describing the incident as “the most violent cruelty that was ever perpetrated upon an unsuspecting and innocent people” and as “the crime that shocked Humanity”.
Similarly, “Lest We Forget”, a 1918 British film from the Imperial War Museum’s archive, stresses the fact that the ship was unarmed and refers to the Germans as Huns who must be stopped. The film also shows an excerpt which appears to be from a German newspaper and reads, “With joyful pride we contemplate this latest deed of our navy”. Here the British are not only condemning the German navy for sinking the ship but portraying the whole nation as cruel and merciless enemies.
Interestingly, however, there is an American film in the collection from the Deutsche Kinemathek which portrays “the German” quite differently. In “The False Faces”, released at some time between 1918-1919, one of the characters is supposed to be the captain of the German U Boat which fired the torpedo at RMS Lusitania. He is seen to be having visions of those who perished on the ship and in the surrounding waters and seems to be driven mad with sorrow and shame for what he did.
Even after almost a hundred years, the Sinking of the Lusitania is considered a controversial international event and there are many theories surrounding it which reject the British Admiralty’s official version of events. It is widely accepted that there were two explosions on RMS Lusitania, based on Walther Schwieger’s eyewitness account as well as countless others from survivors who managed to escape from the ship onto the lifeboats. This, coupled with the fact that the ship took a mere 18 minutes to sink, has led historians to suggest that the ship was carrying military ammunition which created an explosion, which would have meant that the ship was in violation of the Cruiser Rules and therefore that Schwieger’s decision to fire at it was legitimate. However, even to this day the British government have still never confirmed the presence of ammunition on the ship, despite 4 million American-made bullets having been found in and around the shipwreck by divers in 2008, and instead still consider that the German U Boats violated maritime law by firing a torpedo at a passenger cruiser. It has also been suggested that the Lusitania was sunk on purpose by the British Admiralty in order to enrage the Americans and encourage them to join the war against the Germans. Whether this was the case or not, the sinking of RMS Lusitania did act as a very effective propaganda tool against the Germans in both America and Great Britain.
On May 28 1937, the German Labour Front founded Volkswagen, which is now the biggest German automaker and the second largest automaker in the world. Volkswagen is probably best known for its iconic Beetle, officially called the Volkswagen Type 1. The car is certainly part of Europe’s design and engineering heritage, therefore you’ll find many pictures of this quirky car in Europeana!
Although designed in the 1930s, the Beetle was only produced in significant numbers from 1945 on (mass production had been put on hold during the Second World War) when the model was internally designated the Volkswagen Type 1, and marketed simply as the “Volkswagen”. Through time the Beetle has proved to be very popular by millions of people in- and outside Europe, and today early versions of the car can still be seen on roads all over the world, as well as many instances of its 1998 successor, the New Beetle.
The first Volkswagen Beetle to be imported to the Netherlands (featuring Wijnand Pon), CC-BY-SA Archief Eemland (source)
Beetle high in the air, CC-BY-SA Archief Eemland (source)
A batch of Beetles waiting to be shipped, CC-BY-SA Archief Eemland (source)
Military usage of the Beetle in Sweden, public domain Miliseum (source)
Shape and silhouette constantly evolved. During the 1910s the Edwardians became more playful and innovative, taking an interest in asymmetrical draping techniques. Corsets and bodices were now solely for supporting the shape as opposed to changing it. Suits were fashionable for daywear and walking became easier due to a really big fashion happening – the skirt hemline rose from the floor to the ankle!
Explore more fashion related items on Europeana.
Tired of just looking at paintings? Now it’s time to get inside them and to discover art in a whole new way with VanGoYourself. Ever wanted to recreate a version of Vermeer’s Milkmaid in your own kitchen or get together with your friends on a Saturday night out and recreate the scene in Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper? You can now recreate classic scenes from some of the world’s most famous paintings in a contemporary setting, and share your masterpiece online.
How does it work?
First, channel your inner artist. Now pick a classic painting from the selection on the VanGoYourself website. Get together with friends and recreate the famous scene, take a snap and upload it to VanGoYourself. Your master will be twinned with the original artwork, after which it will be ready share online, thus immortalising your artistic talent for all to see!
VanGoYourself features works from Masters such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt – with over 50 paintings from more than 10 collections in seven European countries. Below we highlight some of the beautiful paintings that were selected. Visit VanGoYourself to explore the whole collection and get started. Need some inspiration? Watch this video on BBC.
VanGoYourself is a Europeana Innovation created by a group of people who love museums, paintings and having fun. The participating collections are the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, the Herbert Gallery in Coventry, the Royal Pavilion and Museum in Brighton, the Compton Verney Museum (UK), the Villa Vauban in Luxembourg, the Saarlandmuseum in Saarbrücken and the Stadtmuseum Simeonstift in Trier, Germany.
Adventurers love them, explorers devise them, and everyone uses them – maps.
From cave paintings to ancient maps of Babylon, Greece, and Asia, through the Age of Discovery (15th – 17th century) up until today, people have created and used maps as the essential tools to help them define, explain, and navigate their way through the world.
Many old maps are beautifully illustrated and have been transformed into exquisite works of art. These illustrated maps sometimes help with giving insights into a society or culture, certainly through content and sometimes even through artistic style. European maps from the 13th century for example, used illustrations to show important places linked with Christian mythology and history, as well as other imaginative pictures in less important places.
During the 17th and 18th century printed maps included vignettes, cartouches, heraldry of the social elites, images of monarchs or themes from Greek mythology, religion, or religion geography as illustrations.
Below we highlight some stunning maps with impressive illustrations that look like works of art. Explore more maps on Europeana.
Centenary of the First World War: More than 400,000 sources from national libraries’ collections now online
The story of Walter Flex, war volunteer right from the start of the First World War and one of the best-known writers it produced.
A digital commemoration of the First World War — English subtitles: http://youtu.be/AZ77LvCbFr8
Una memoria digitale per la Prima Guerra Mondiale — sottotitoli italiani: http://youtu.be/20KyR8kvBEY
Ein digitales Gedächtnis für den Ersten Weltkrieg – deutsche Untertitel: http://youtu.be/YxOxnoRwags
Une mémoire numérique de la Première Guerre Mondiale — sous-titres français: http://youtu.be/XVaf2v4yMkc
Ein digitales Gedächtnis für den Ersten Weltkrieg – Trailer: http://youtu.be/Z9jNC0NpI9o
The film narrates the story of Walter Flex, war volunteer right from the start of the First World War and one of the best-known writers it produced. Important documents of his literary remains, which are kept in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, have now been digitised and are freely accessible in the digital culture portal ‘Europeana’. The film looks behind the scenes of the digitisation centre of the Staatsbibliothek and reveals how his letters, manuscripts, photos and personal documents, among them a map with a bullet hole, were put online by the Staatsbibliothek.
These online sources written by and about Walter Flex are part of the world’s largest digital collection of the First World War, which was recently launched. The portal Europeana 1914-1918 combines several hundred thousand objects from the important collections of numerous European libraries, with the digital representations of some 90,000 private memorabilia and 660 hours of moving images.
In the Europeana Collections 1914-1918 project, 10 European national libraries and further partners have digitised since 2011 more than 400,000 objects relating to the First World War, coordinated by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and with support from the European Commission.
100 Jahre Erster Weltkrieg: Über 400.000 Quellen aus europäischen Nationalbibliotheken sind jetzt online.
Der Film erzählt die Geschichte von Walter Flex, Kriegsfreiwilliger der ersten Stunde und gleichzeitig einer der bekanntesten Schriftsteller aus der Zeit des Ersten Weltkrieges. Wichtige Dokumente aus seinem Nachlass, der in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin aufbewahrt wird, sind jetzt digitalisiert und im Kulturportal Europeana frei zugänglich. Der Film wirft einen Blick hinter die Kulissen der Digitalisierungswerkstatt der Staatsbibliothek und erzählt, wie seine Briefe, Manuskripte, Fotos und persönliche Dokumente, u.a. eine von einer Patronenkugel durchlöcherte Karte, von der Staatsbibliothek ins Netz gebracht werden.
Diese Online-Quellen von und über Walter Flex sind Teil der weltweit größten digitalen Quellensammlung zum Ersten Weltkrieg, die gerade freigeschaltet wurde. Das Themenportal Europeana 1914-1918 vereint mehrere hunderttausend Objekte, die aus den bedeutenden Sammlungen zahlreicher europäischer Bibliotheken stammen, mit den Digitalisaten von 90.000 privaten Erinnerungsstücken und 660 Stunden Filmmaterial.
Im Projekt Europeana Collections 1914-1918 haben zehn Nationalbibliotheken aus acht europäischen Ländern und weitere Partner seit 2011 mit Unterstützung der Europäischen Kommission und koordiniert von der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin über 400.000 Objekte aus den Jahren 1914-1918 digitalisiert.
During World War I, soldiers weren’t expected to serve entirely in the front line or in the trenches. They would rotate between the three lines: the front line, the support line, and the reserve line. Fortunately for the troops, they spent a short period in rest, before beginning the cycle again. The time spent in each section varied according to the region. In the busier places of the war, soldiers would spend far longer in the front line than usual, and less time at rest than usual. In a year, only about two months would be spent at rest, and not typically on leave. In a year, perhaps two weeks would be spent on leave – if a soldier was lucky.
One of the highest honors for an artist is to be considered and regarded a master. Artists desire to create artwork that will be remembered forever. We have collected some iconic gems of European art and literature that have transcended time and culture, firmly securing their place in history. To spice things up we’re only showing snippets of each masterpiece and we’re challenging you to name as many of them as possible.
How many do you recognise? Explore Europeana and discover which masters were highlighted below.
Whether they had a message or were a simple form of entertainment, songs were a key part of life in society at this the beginning of the 20th century. The songs which would be churned out for popular consumption hailed from a long tradition, stretching back to the Revolution, taking in songwriters such as Béranger and Jean-Baptiste Clément, and they came in all sorts of forms for all sorts of audiences and causes. Very different in their themes from the traditional religious and children’s songs, the happily-ending romances were the most common on the cabaret stage. Because they were oral by nature, these popular songs were produced and widely heard in the form of very cheap small versions, of which a number took on a new stature from the end of the century by means of illustrations which sometimes bore the signature of great names and which were sold in the street or as a supplement to magazines and daily newspapers. Songs with a social or political message, also lived on, carried by the voices of singer songwriters and contained numerous examples of anticlerical, anarchist and antimilitarist feeling which ran through pre-1914 society.
One may have thought that the First World War, with all its barbarity, might have silenced the songwriters and starved the people of their “thirst for songs”. Not at all. Folks would sing on their way to the front, they would sing in the rear echelons, to stoke up their courage, and despite everything else to entertain themselves. Nevertheless there was a hint, through the new and revisited themes, of the hardship that everyone was experiencing. Out of more than 300 small versions of the songs from the Great War kept at the department of Music of the BnF (French National Library), around 70% (215) came out during 1915 alone, compared to 45 in 1914 and 37 between 1916 and 1918 .
During the two first years of the First World War, patriotic songs enjoyed a major resurgence, similar to that seen after the defeat of 1871. Very popular tunes or lyrics such as the Marseillaise or the revolutionary song, the Carmagnole, were often covered. (La Carmagnole du Kaiser, The Carmagnole of the Kaiser) (La française, sur air de la marseillaise, The Frenchwoman to the tune of the Marseillaise) on the label.
Alongside the national anthems of the allied powers, and the traditional “travelling songs”, very many “patriotic songs” which were aimed at uniting the Nation in a tremendous surge of republicanism, bore witness to the principal military movements, in Belgium then in France; the fall of the bastions of Liège and Namur, the siege of Paris and the requisitioning of the taxis for the Marne were recounted with bellicose and vengeful enthusiasm which portrayed the enemy as something to be demonized and ridiculed. For indeed the “krauts” were accused of being responsible for the worst atrocities throughout the war, such as raping French women and killing children: L’enfant au p’tit fusil de bois, Il est foutu Guillaume!, Gavroche dans la tranchée, Ballade impériale and L’enfant au p’tit fusil de bois
With the war entering a stalemate from the autumn of 1914, the determination and hope for a quick end to the conflict progressively gave way to the harsh reality of the battlefields. References to the dead and wounded would start to appear in the lyrics and on the illustrated covers of the songs which immortalised their contribution to the war.
Whilst at the same time, at the Panthéon the talk was of the heroes of Valmy and the Great Army, and even Jeanne d’Arc, to fill the conscripts with the stomach for battle and encourage the youngest to enlist. Charity work to support the wounded and their families was intensified. From November 1914, with the reopening of the theatres in the rear echelons and the establishment of the army theatres, songs for entertaining started to appear, often full of propaganda or happy sentiments, as an antidote to the boredom experience by the soldiers stuck in their trenches, and as a way of providing them with a form of contact with the rear echelons. The musicians who were called up or posted to the front such as the songwriter Théodore Botrel or the composer André Caplet, author of the famous Marche de Douaumont (March of Douaumont) would use their talent to help out the Army. The rear echelons were treated to performances of “real-life songs” which played up sentimental or comical emotions, in a popular language which was often rich in colour to the point of containing slang taken from working songs. The musical scores which were more often than not written or composed by amateur authors (60% of them would remain anonymous), would be restricted to a melody without any accompaniment, using known lyrics and tunes. In the form of choruses and couplets based on polka or marching rhythms, they would be all about the daily life in the trenches, honouring in turn the different arms and jobs from the “poilu” (infantryman) or the “bleuet” (blue uniformed infantrymen of 1915), to the airmen, not forgetting the “chauffards” drivers, the stretcher bearers, the nurses and the health services. The rear echelons were not to be outdone with their long list of stereotypes: French women reduced once more to their traditional role of devoted mothers, sisters and wives, specialist workers called up to the rear echelons to contribute to the war effort in the “cannon and ammunitions” factories. The bayonet, the machine gun as well as the famous 75mm field gun, which were the soldiers’ faithful companions and the pride of the French army at the start of the war, provided the rhythm to the songs with their noise whereas the love stories and other “three penny romances”, were intended to take the soldiers’ and people’s minds off the horrors of war. The illustrated covers, which were very rarely signed, sometimes set to colour (in the colours of the French flag which was itself very much in evidence) despite these difficult years, were in tune with the language used: the aesthetics just like the melody, which could be serious or for dancing, scholarly or simplistic, rousing or poignant, would fit in with the type of language in the song.
Alongside what was an “easy” repertoire, there were also lyrics with a high literary and musical content, coming from established authors, from often conservative backgrounds (Charles Péguy, for example), and from professional musicians (Claude Debussy) many of whom performed at concerts on the front line. As varied as they were, these edited songs were none the less the tools of the propaganda machine and were subject to rigorous censorship. This was how the song Les héros de Craonne, (The heroes of Craonne) which was written in 1918 as a tribute to the Paquette division which sacrificed itself on 5 May 1917, was claimed to be the reply to the famous Chanson de Craonne. Song of Craonne itself was censured because of its subversive nature with regard to the Nation and whose anonymous author was never unmasked despite the rewards which were promised… Although peace was sometimes mentioned, it was because it was to be fought for in a just war “for freedom and the defence of humanity” in 1914, but the peace which was to be earned through a vast Fraternity movement, which implied the refusal to fight, emerged at the end of 1916:
“After so much pain, the hatred
Will finally give way to Fraternity!
No more bloody fighting, no more pointless slaughter,
So let mankind live in peace from now on!
Let the World
Fight together as one
So that Peace will triumph!”
When Sylvester Howard Roper attached a small steam engine to an cranky iron-frame bicycle near Boston in 1867, one question burned in his mind; How fast will it go? Guillame Perreaux probably asked himself the same thing in Paris that same year, when he also attached a steamer to one of Pierre Michaux’s pedal-velocipedes. However, in the end it was Sylvester H. Roper who was the first motorcycling speed devil.
Below we are showcasing some historical photos of other speed devils, racing along French tracks. Start your race and explore thousands of motorcycle related images through Europeana