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Originally produced in: Deutschland
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1. Photographs: “Enthusiasm for War in Germany and France”

A1. A transport of military forces by railway in August 1914

A transport of military forces by railway in August 1914 Click image to enlarge
Source: Bundesarchiv, picture 146-1994-022-19-A, Oscar Tellgmann.

A2. A transport of French soldiers on August, 8, 1914


In August, 1914, Germany declared war on France. As a result, in both countries soldiers were mobilized for the war. At the beginning, they were still enthusiastic about the war and belived that the defeat was unlikely.


  1. Describe both photographs. What do they have in common?
  2. Try to explain why at first the population hailed the outbreak of war.
  3. What was the role of the railway during the war?

Display teacher's view to find the answers.

Geographical/Historical Context

On August 3, 1914, the German Empire declared war on France. The initial enthusiasm of both nations was visible in the presentation of the war, posters and images glorifying the event and mobilizing the population for war. Soldiers and reservists eagerly and enthusiastically look out of the windows of trains which are to bring them to the front line. The population assumed that the war would be relatively short and would end with the German victory. In order to gather as many defenders of the country as possible, several millions of men, young and middle-aged, were called up in the war. The French nation was ready for the war and prepared to defend their own land, particularly after the declaration of war on August 3.

However, this was not a short, successful war for Germany. The promise of Emperor William II that the soldiers would be back home on Christmas was not fulfilled. The enthusiasm decreased fast. Faced with the announced losses and the prolonging war, the attitude of the population changed. There were anti-war demonstrations in Berlin and other cities.

Answer to the Questions


  • a train compartment with passengers
  • men sitting in the train looking out of the windows eager (joyful spirit; waving their caps and hats to bid farewell)
  • trains seem very full, men crowding at the windows


  • population believed that the war will be short
  • the German victory was taken for granted, because of the propaganda


  • transport of people beyond boarders
  • transport of goods and commodities beyond boarders
  • quick connection