The First World War: Slaughter and Resistance


  • Megan Trudell


The First World War is much written about and romanticised, both for its horror and its sense of the 'community of the trenches'. Historical accounts of the war has been increasingly of the revisionist variety over the last few years. Recent books include a biographical rehabilitation of Field Marshal Douglas Haig, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to the end of the war and a reconsideration of the Battle of the Somme as a crucial `learning curve' for British officers. In Britain, the Tory government is pushing for a ‘celebration' of the war that captures in the words of David Cameron, 'our national spirit', emphasising national unity and downplaying the horror and the ghastly cost of the war on the human beings who fought it and their families. Above all, the forms of commemoration aim to write out class conflict and revolution which were the central features of the war and which united national and international working classes, despite the divisions of nationalism and war. They posed a critical threat to the system that had given birth to such terrifying slaughter.