Sunday, March 30, 2014

World War I: German Bicycle Corps

Rotogravure of German Bicycle Corps soldiers WWI

An image from "The War of the Nations" published in 1919, made up of rotogravures taken during World War I from the New York Times. Rotogravures were photographs printed in newspapers using a higher quality process than was typical, producing better results - this comes from a volume published in 1919 after the war was over, a compilation of photographs taken by news photographers.

The photographs in books like this, with minimal (and fairly self-evident) captions, often raise all sorts of questions. Here the soldiers with bicycles are "marching with difficulty over the sand dunes" - one has to wonder, why are they bothering to do this? And why are they heading in one direction while behind them we see a column of soldiers (the same army) heading in the opposite direction? It is noticeable without much examination that the soldiers heading left-to-right seem to all have backpacks, while those heading right-to-left are (mostly) not doing so. And so on. One will likely never know. Not, of course, that it matters.

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