One hundred years ago this week, World War I ended. It took the lives of 18 million people, 10 million in uniform and the rest civilians. In addition to the war's destruction, it “bequeathed” to the world several of the maladies that characterized the twentieth century – Nazism, Fascism and Bolshevism. Many of the Middle East’s conflicts and the constant instability of countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are directly associated with the way the war ended.
World War I was also the first war Jews fought in large numbers, and in a great spirit of volunteerism, on both sides. In some countries, mainly Germany and Austro-Hungary, assimilation and civic equality for Jews were motivating factors to fight. Other Jews – such as many Zionist leaders – pinned great hopes on a British victory in the Middle East, a hope which was ultimately fulfilled.
The war revealed many Jewish heroes. This was also one of the first wars to be intensively documented on camera. The archive of the Museum of the Jewish People (Beit Hatfutsot) has many photographs documenting the Jewish story in what was called The Great War. Here are some of the photos.
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