Can you guess who said the famous World War I quotes?

HISTORY

1 PLAYS

By: Nathan Chandler

6 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

World War I was a gut-wrenching conflict that found industrialized war reaching new terrible levels of brutality. It also inspired a lot of famous words. Do you know who created these timeless quotes?

"This is a war to end all wars."

"This is a war to end all wars." Woodrow Wilson meant his words to be encouraging, but in the bloodbath that ensued, the statement seemed utterly ludicrous.

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"As we take stock on the morrow of victory, we shall find that nothing of real value to the human race has been destroyed."

As the horrors of the war unfolded, these lines sound exactly like something a detached politician like Horatio Bottomley would say. "As we take stock on the morrow of victory, we shall find that nothing of real value to the human race has been destroyed. Our dead heroes will have won immortality. Civilization will have gained new vitality. Humanity will have entered upon a richer heritage." In that case, Horatio, you pick up a gun and fight in the trenches.

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"However the world pretends to divide itself, there are only two divisions in the world today -- human beings and Germans."

Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist who knew the war was about to divide the world in ugly ways. "However the world pretends to divide itself, there are only two divisions in the world today -- human beings and Germans."

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"Whoever tries to interfere with my task I shall crush."

When the war began in earnest, everyone took up the cause with earnestness, including German Kaiser Wilhelm II. "I look upon the People and the Nation as handed on to me as a responsibility conferred upon me by God, and I believe, as it is written in the Bible, that it is my duty to increase this heritage for which one day I shall be called upon to give an account. Whoever tries to interfere with my task I shall crush."

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"If the women in the factories stopped work for 20 minutes, the Allies would lose the war."

World War I was largely an industrial war won by superior supplies and technologies. French Field Marshal Joffre said, "If the women in the factories stopped work for 20 minutes, the Allies would lose the war."

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"Against the vast majority of my countrymen, even at this moment, in the name of humanity and civilization, I protest against our share in the destruction of Germany."

Bertrand Russell was a British philosopher (and pacifist) who was adamantly against the war. "Against the vast majority of my countrymen, even at this moment, in the name of humanity and civilization, I protest against our share in the destruction of Germany. A month ago Europe was a peaceful comity of nations; if an Englishman killed a German, he was hanged. Now, if an Englishman kills a German, or if a German kills an Englishman, he is a patriot, who has deserved well of his country."

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"We were bent on doing great, permanent noble things."

Harold Nicolson was a British diplomat speaking after the war. "We were preparing not peace only, but eternal peace. There was about us the halo of some divine mission. We were bent on doing great, permanent noble things."

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"This war is really the greatest insanity in which white races have ever been engaged."

Even the aggressors didn't know why they were fighting such an ugly war. German Admiral von Tirpitz wrote, "This war is really the greatest insanity in which white races have ever been engaged."

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"Don't you think I'll be back?"

Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron, shot down dozens of enemies during the war ... before being killed by a single Allied bullet. Before he left on his last mission, he asked, "Don't you think I'll be back?"

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"I didn't get much peace, but I heard in Norway that Russia might well become a huge market for tractors soon."

Budding car maker Henry Ford attended a peace conference and realized that his new methods of assembly line production would soon be necessary for the war effort. "I didn't get much peace, but I heard in Norway that Russia might well become a huge market for tractors soon."

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"And all this madness, all this rage…"

Philosopher Bertrand Russell saw the war as a rich man's fight. "And all this madness, all this rage, all this flaming death of our civilization and our hopes, has been brought about because a set of official gentlemen, living luxurious lives, mostly stupid, and all without imagination or heart, have chosen that it should occur rather than that any one of them should suffer some infinitesimal rebuff to his country's pride."

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"Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?"

As the Americans took a brutal pounding at Belleau Wood, Sgt. Maj. Daniel Daly leaped into action and told his men to follow, using words that will live forever. "Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?"

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"You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees."

Kaiser Wilhelm II made a false promise to the German soldiers heading to war. "You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees." And he was totally wrong.

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"The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

Sir Edward Grey served as British Foreign Secretary and observed a town becoming dark one evening. He thought of it as a harbinger of war. "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

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"I cannot believe that the British army will refuse to do its share in this supreme crisis."

French military leader Joseph Joffre told an English commander that the British absolutely had to take part in battle. "I cannot believe that the British army will refuse to do its share in this supreme crisis. History would surely judge your absence."

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"In war, the first principle is to disobey orders. Any fool can obey orders!"

Sir John Fisher served as an admiral in the British navy, and he figured that independent, critical thinking was important in the heat of battle. "In war the first principle is to disobey orders. Any fool can obey orders!"

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"In wartime, no soldier is free to say what he thinks; after a war, no one cares what a soldier thinks."

Ian Hamilton was a British commander who understood how little respect most people have for common soldiers. "In wartime, no soldier is free to say what he thinks; after a war, no one cares what a soldier thinks."

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"Whatever you do, you lose a lot of men."

Despair was a common theme during the war. French Gen. Charles Mangin decried the high casualty rate. "Whatever you do, you lose a lot of men."

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“The war was decided in the first 20 days of fighting…"

Churchill was convinced that only the opening salvos of the war really mattered. “The war was decided in the first 20 days of fighting, and all that happened afterward consisted in battles which, however formidable and devastating, were but desperate and vain appeals against the decision of fate.”

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"My centre is yielding. My right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking."

Ferdinand Foch was a French general who gained fame for his bravery and decisiveness, as well as these immortal words: "My centre is yielding. My right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking."

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"War is too important to be left to the generals."

Georges Clemenceau was a French politician who felt that military leaders alone couldn't win a war. "War is too important to be left to the generals."

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"The will to conquer is the first condition of victory."

French Gen. Ferdinand Foch wasn't just a military man. He was practically a philosopher, too. "The will to conquer is the first condition of victory."

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"To fight, you must be brutal and ruthless…"

Wilson's isolationism eventually gave way to full war mode. "Once lead this people into war, and they'll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance. To fight, you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fiber of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street."

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"'It's all a terrible tragedy. And yet, in its details, it's great fun."

English poet Rupert Brooke managed to find some sort of solace in the war ... before dying from an infected mosquito bite in 1915. "It's all a terrible tragedy. And yet, in its details, it's great fun. And -- apart from the tragedy -- I've never felt happier or better in my life than in those days in Belgium.”

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"One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans."

In the 1880s, Otto von Bismarck created these prophetic words. Turns out, he was right. "One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans."

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"No commander was ever privileged to lead a finer force; no commander ever derived greater inspiration from the performance of his troops."

Following the war, U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing was proud of Allied accomplishments. "No commander was ever privileged to lead a finer force; no commander ever derived greater inspiration from the performance of his troops."

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"There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight."

Woodrow Wilson did his best to keep America out of the war. But eventually, he had no choice. "There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight."

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"We are within measurable, or imaginable, distance of a real Armageddon."

Just a week before the war broke out, British Prime Minister Henry Asquith wrote these dire words in a letter, clearly happy to be out of harm's way while other men marched off to their deaths. "We are within measurable, or imaginable, distance of a real Armageddon. Happily there seems to be no reason why we should be anything more than spectators."

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"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."

Poet Laurence Binyon wrote a moving poem to the people who died during the war. "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."

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"This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years."

French Gen. Ferdinand Foch knew immediately that the Treaty of Versailles was a farce. And unfortunately, he was correct. "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years." And just as he predicted, after about 20 years had passed, World War II began.

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