First World War

First World War
1 December 2018News

UK peace groups mark 100th anniversary of First World War armistice

Tavistock Square, London, 11 November. Photo: Fay Salichou, conscience

‘We are proud to have broken the power of the military authority…. It matters not whether we were in the Non-Combatant Corps refusing to bear arms, whether we took alternative service, whether we were in workcamps as part of the Home Office Scheme, or whether we were absolutist and remained in prison – all of us shattered the infallibility of militarism.’

100 years after a sick and emaciated Clifford Allen…

1 December 2018Feature

11-day exhibition marks end of PN touring show

The World is My Country exhibition at Hastings Arts Forum. On the left is Wild Man, Wild Woman, Iron Water. Wild Men or Green Men slipped into the woods after the Norman Conquest and resisted.

After four years of touring, PN’s The World is My Country exhibition had its final show in Hastings from 30 October to 11 November.

Emily Johns displayed her powerful posters celebrating anti-war resistance during the First World War – and some other political and war-…

1 December 2018Review

Pluto, 2018; 208pp; £16.99

For an event with such a pivotal role in the history of the 20th century (see PN 2622), the German Revolution of 1918-19 has a very low profile. Indeed, when he asked an upper-level class on Modern European History ‘What was the German Revolution?’ William Pelz received a number of incorrect answers (Hitler’s 1933 burning of the Reichstag, the 1989 fall of the Berlin wall, and ‘something to do with Luther and the Reformation’). But none of his students connected the words with ‘a…

28 November 2018Blog entry

In some ways it is hard to believe it has now been over a century since the guns of the First World War fell silent. The 'war to end all wars' is so deeply engraved on our national consciousness that even now, when there is no living memory of the conflict, people gather to speak, remember and reflect on that awful, bloody war.

20 November 2018Blog entry

The case of Henry Rivett Albrow, a conscientious objector.

It is the case of Henry Rivett Albrow that forms much of the plot of Devils on Horseback. When he is called before the tribunal he is erudite and eloquent in his impassioned defence of his conscience, calling himself a ‘dissident Christian’ – mainly because he cannot reconcile ‘love thy neighbour’ and ‘thou shalt not kill’ with the church’s acceptance of warfare. He is berated mercilessly by the members of the tribunal, with the usual nonsensical questions that are asked of…

19 November 2018Blog entry

31 October – 24 November, Jermyn Street Theatre

Based on the memoirs of a real-life Canadian flying ace, this play charts the rise of the eponymous Billy from under-achiever, to airman, to international celebrity. The latter for the astonishingly high number of air-to-air combat “victories” that he achieved  during the First World War. With a cast of only two, Charles Aitken playing the young Billy, and Oliver Beamish the elder, the play is a simple, but…

16 November 2018Blog entry

A film that uses humour to convey the absurdity of armed conflict.

Sands Films is a unique gem; snuggled up against the south bank of the Thames, it is one of those little secrets that Londoners cherish. Not usually known for their events – it’s normally a fully functional film studio – they felt they couldn’t let the centenary of the First World War Armistice pass unmarked. I’m very glad they didn’t, and judging by the packed house, I’m not alone.

Schwejk (pronounced Sh-wei-ck) is Sands’ own project…

1 October 2018Feature

The unknown history of the German Revolution, 1918 - 1919

‘Enemy Activities – Manufacturing War Material – Noon hour in a German munitions factory, 1917 – 1918’.
Photo: US National Archives and Records Administration [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

'How did the workers' councils emerge in Germany? They emerged from the big strike movements of the last years, in which we – who have always been strong opponents of the war and who have lived with tortured souls for four years given the pressure and the lies the German people…

1 June 2016News

WW1 COs remembered

Peace sign, Cornwall Rd, London N4 4PH. Photo: HFWWPF

In mid-May, peace activists put up signs in 100 streets across the London borough of Haringey in recognition of men who lived there 100 years ago who were conscientious objectors to the First World War.

This was an initiative of the Haringey First World War Peace Forum, local residents who have researched the stories of nearly 350 conscientious objectors in Haringey – which at that time was three boroughs of Hornsey, Wood…

1 April 2016Feature

100 years on from the battle of Jutland, exposing war propaganda

Jack Cornwell first class stamp issued by the royal mail in 2006
as part of a series to mark the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross.

The First World War battle of Jutland, between Britain and Germany, took place 100 years ago, on 31 May 1916. Britain lost 6,000 men and six major and eight medium ships (115,000 tons). Germany lost 2,500 men and four major and seven medium ships (62,000 tons). The result was indecisive and a disaster for both navies but both sides claimed it…

1 June 2015Feature

How Britain's greatest living philosopher lost his sense of humour, but got the last laugh.


'The Banning of Bertie' by Emily Johns On 6 July 1916, Bertrand Russell – Britain's* greatest living philosopher – spoke out against the First World War at a public meeting in Cardiff, declaring that there was not ‘now any good and valid reason why this war should continue to be prosecuted’.

As a result of his talk, Russell was prohibited from residing in or entering any area…

31 March 2015Review

Robert Gerwarth and Erez Manela (eds), Empires at War, 1911 – 1923 (Oxford University Press, 2014; 304pp; £35) Catriona Pennell, A Kingdom United: popular responses to the outbreak of the First World War in Britain and Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2014; 326pp; £24.99)Ann Kramer, Conscientious Objectors of the First World War: a determined resistance (Pen & Sword, 2014; 176pp; £19.99)Jo Vellacott, Conscientious Objection: Bertrand Russell and the pacifists in the First World War (Spokesman, 2015; 326pp; £14.99)Cyril Pearce, Comrades in Conscience: The story of an English community’s opposition to the Great War (Francis Boutle, 2014; 303pp; £15)Ralf Hoffrogge, Working-Class Politics in the German Revolution: Richard Müller, the Revolutionary Shop Stewards and the origins of the council movement (Brill, 2014; 270pp; 109 Euros)Gabriel Kuhn (ed), All Power to the Councils!: A Documentary History of the German Revolution 1918-1919 (PM Press, 2012; 344pp; £20

The First World War centenary has been accompanied by a tidal wave of books. Here we survey seven titles that might interest PN readers.

Gerwarth and Manela’s collection of essays aims to challenge two ruling assumptions of Western historiography: ‘that the war began with the sounding of the “guns of August” in 1914 and ended with the Armistice of 11 November 1918’, and that it ‘was primarily one of nation states and... a largely European affair’.

Instead, they…

31 March 2015Review

Lutterworth Press, 2014; 312pp; £20

An Anglican priest, former chair of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and chair of the Peace Museum in Bradford, Clive Barrett is ideally placed to document Anglican resistance to the First World War.

I was hooked from the opening chapter which shows how militarism was embedded in the 39 ‘articles of religion’ to which all Anglican clergy must assent. Article 37 – ‘It is lawful for Christian Men, at the command of the magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in wars’ – clarified…

31 March 2015Feature

PN recounts some of the achievements of a neglected figure (and movement) from the German resistance to WW1


Richard Müller & the Revolutionary Shop Stewards
by Emily Johns

“How did the workers’ councils emerge in Germany? They emerged from the big strike movements of the last years, in which we — who have always been strong opponents of the war and who have lived with tortured souls for four years given the pressure and the lies the German people were exposed to — were the driving…

1 February 2015Feature

Shout out for PN's First World War speaking tour ...

Emily Johns (Peace News co-editor) and Gabriel Carlyle (PN promotions worker) are ready to tour the UK, speaking about PN’s mammoth project ‘The World is My Country: A Visual Celebration of the People and Movements that Opposed the First World War’.

A year in the making, the 10 posters feature stories from a history of police raids and buried documents, feminist peace initiatives and clandestine printing presses, Maori princesses and striking German munitions workers.