Little was prized higher in pre-WWI Germany than the opportunity to serve the Fatherland. Germany boasted what was by any standard the finest, most efficient, and most technologically advanced military in Europe—as Churchill wrote to his aunt in 1906, "I am very thankful that there is a sea between that army and England."

Becoming an officer in the reserves was considered an absolute must among the social elite of the time. Paintings and posters from the period show not only the overwhelming pride the Germans felt in this fighting force, but also the disdain they held for other nations’ armies. Photos of soldiers from the period indicate the feeling of camaraderie and pride that was present among the troops.

As World War I broke out, fighting quickly demobilized into a series of fixed front lines that remained more or less constant for the next four years. Elaborate trench systems were built into the countryside to defend against enemy attacks, as indicated by photos of the time.

The chlorine attack at Ypres, on April 22, 1915, was prepared with the meticulousness and efficiency that were the hallmarks of the German army. The results of the attack, best represented in different paintings from the era, were a horrifying introduction to modern 20th century warfare.