World War I in Photos: Introduction

A century ago, an assassin, a Serbian nationalist, killed the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary as he visited Sarajevo. This act was the catalyst for a massive conflict that lasted four years. More than 65 million soldiers were mobilized by more than 30 nations, with battles taking place around the world. Industrialization brought modern weapons, machinery, and tactics to warfare, vastly increasing the killing power of armies. Battlefield conditions were horrific, typified by the chaotic, cratered hellscape of the Western Front, where soldiers in muddy trenches faced bullets, bombs, gas, bayonet charges, and more. On this 100-year anniversary, I've gathered photographs of the Great War from dozens of collections, some digitized for the first time, to try to tell the story of the conflict, those caught up in it, and how much it affected the world. This entry is part 1 of a 10-part series on World War I. In this installment, I hope to give a glimpse of the war's beginnings, and a preview of what is to come.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Wayward Tee, Pollution Pod, Windy Wall

    Christmas lights in New York City, fall colors in Japan, a sandy traffic jam in Miami, the Tactual Museum of Athens, a Santa run in Glasgow, and much more

  • Christian Palma / AP

    Hopeful Images From 2019

    I’ve made it an annual tradition to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year—an effort to seek out and recognize some of the abundant joy and kindness present in the world around us.

  • Ng Han Guan / AP

    2019 in Photos: Wrapping Up the Year

    Time to take a look at some of the most memorable events and images of 2019. Events covered in this essay include protests in Hong Kong, Chile, and Iraq; a toxic sky over New Delhi; an all-female team of spacewalkers; and much more.

  • Cadet Hallie H. Pound / U.S. Army via AP

    2019 in Photos: A Look at the Middle Months

    Time to take a look at some of the most memorable events and images of 2019. Events covered in this essay include the Pan American Games in Peru, a spelling bee with eight co-champions, the testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill, and much more.