JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
[Source: National Library of Scotland, First World War Official Photographs, here. My estimate is that there are about 10,000 soldiers in this photo, or about 1/10th of 1 percent of all German POWs of WWI]
At the end of WWI the Imperial German Army was losing battles, and int hose losing battle thousands and thousands of soldiers were killed and wounded, and thousands more were taken prisoner. This remarkable photograph is a tale in itself of the vastness of the undertaking of that war--it is a small section of one large group of German prisoners taken in the battle of St. Quentin Canal, October 2, 1918. Five weeks before the end of the war, and I am sure every German soldier knew the war was lost. Perhaps it was a physical relief to be captured at this point, to be removed from the feed line of death in which millions perished and placed under guard for the remainder of what would be from this point a short end-game. The photograph has a visceral feeling of hope to it, these men now not going to die, their lives saved to short-wait the end of the war, becoming part of the fortunate 35% of the entire German army of 11.2 million who made it out--they were a piece of the million soldiers taken prisoner, and not part of the 6 million comrades who were killed or wounded.
Here's another view of the same mass of men, taken froma slightly different angle, though here many men are looking at the photographer:
From the National Library of Scotland site: