• Showing love: J.G. Gibb, no 21002, C Co., 2nd Highland Light Infantry, BEF, 1916. Jeff Gusky

Showing love: J.G. Gibb, no 21002, C Co., 2nd Highland Light Infantry, BEF, 1916. Jeff Gusky

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Armistice Day story idea: WWI photos of a world frozen in time 100 years ago

editorial & artculture & photo…

10 November 2014
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In honor of Armistice Day, Dr. Jeff Gusky reveals two special new photographs from The Hidden World of WWI collection. The first is the only known surviving graffiti by Polish troops fighting with the Allies. On this boulder, soldiers from three different armies carved their names in stone at three different times during the war.
Americans manned this obscure part of the Western front in the Vosges Mountains during the summer of 1918. In October 1918, the area was turned over to the Polish army, and then on Nov. 11, 1918, now known as Armistice Day, the war ended and the French assumed control. In photo 1, American troops left their mark. Oscar Meurer, from New York City, proudly inscribed "NYC" next to his name. To the right, the Polish Army inscribed their unit number. And beneath the American soldier's inscriptions is the name of a single French soldier who carved the date "11 Novembre" beneath his name.
The simplicity of the second photo needs no explanation. It's a clear, carved statement in celebration of PAIX, French for peace.

"In the thousand of images I captured underground, almost none of them were about war," says Gusky. "The carvings and inscriptions are all about grief, love, spirituality, missing home, beauty and art. They are like messages in a bottle unopened until now that say, ‘I was here, I once existed. I was a living, breathing human being.' And there are thousands of these names inscribed on the stone walls of former underground cities beneath the trenches of WWI that are a direct human link between then and now. We now can glimpse the soldiers' humanity which remained intact despite the horrors of war."