These World War 1 postcards from Buffalo State Archives and Special Collections are interesting yet disconcerting, in part because of how terribly young some of the soldiers look.
It’s unusual that so many of the images are from German postcards. The Germans lost the war, of course, and much of their history from this time period was destroyed.
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This German soldier could pass for 14 years old… and who knows, maybe he was.
This British soldier and sailor didn’t look much older.
Many of the postcards had a longing feel to them.
In the autumn of 1914, enlistment efforts went beyond subtle calls to perform one’s patriotic duty. Sermons were used to urge young men to join up. Men who were not in uniform were often the recipients of white feathers–a symbol of cowardice–which discouraged young women from dating them and made them a target for others.
This postcard from a French husband to his wife has a surviving message on the back.
Translation: Dear wife, I am rushing to write you this letter to wish you a happy day and good luck. May God give us the good fortune to be together again and to be as happy as we were before. May he give you the chance to have a baby, it’d be our happiness. The one who kisses you from the bottom of his heart, your husband forever.