गोविंदराव टेंबे (1881-1955):
"…पण तसे पाहिले असता, गेल्या पाच सहा वर्षापूर्वीचे सर्वच जीवन पुसून गेलेले आहे; मग हस्तलिखित पुसून गेल्याचा विषाद कशाला वाटायचा? भावना, श्रद्धा, संस्कृती, भीती, कला, धर्म इत्यादी, समाजाला स्थिरता व मधुरता देणारी तत्वे नामशेष झाली आहेत..." ('माझा जीवनविहार')
Stefan Zweig (1881-1942):
" When I attempt to find a simple formula for the period in which I grew up, prior to the First World War, I hope that I convey its fullness by calling it the Golden Age of Security. Everything in our almost thousand-year-old Austrian monarchy seemed based on permanency, and the State itself was the chief guarantor of this stability . . . In this vast empire everything stood firmly and immovably in its appointed place, and at its head was the aged emperor; and were he to die, one knew (or believed) another would come to take his place, and nothing would change in the well-regulated order. No one thought of wars, of revolutions, of revolts. All that was radical, all violence, seemed impossible in an age of reason."
Erich Maria Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front", 1929:
“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”
B S Mardhekar (बा सी मर्ढेकर):
"पावसाळे आले गेले;
दोन युद्धे जमा झाली;"
"...Soldiers refer to their own classic books where good is pitted against evil: "Having seen this war, all that has been written in Mahabharat and in the Ramayan is altogether true." The German aeroplanes are compared to Vishnu's mighty eagle, the Garuda, who features in the Ramayana. Soldiers refer to demons, "The name of Germany is breathed throughout the world like the name of Harankash", or to Indian heroes, "The mud is up to a man's knees, and the trenches are full of water up to a depth of about 2 feet. As in the history of Ala [a great Sikh warrior]"..."
Niall Ferguson on the British empire's response to the full-scale insurgency in Mesopotamia in 1920:
"How did the British address the manpower problem in 1920? By bringing in soldiers from India who accounted for more than 87 percent of troops in the counter-insurgency campaign. Perhaps, then, the greatest problem faced by the Anglophone empire of our own time is very simple: the United Kingdom had the Indian Army; the United States does not. Indeed, by a rich irony, the only significant auxiliary forces available to the Pentagon today are none other than ... the British Army. But those troops are far too few to be analogous to the Sikhs, Mahrattas and Baluchis who fought so effectively in 1920."
Santanu Das, The Guardian, July 22 2014:
"...Today, one of the main stumbling blocks to a truly global and non-Eurocentric archive of the war is that many of these 1 million Indians, or 140,000 Chinese, or 166,000 West Africans, did not leave behind diaries and memoirs. In India, Senegal or Vietnam there is nothing like the Imperial War Museum; when a returned soldier or village headman died, a whole library vanished..."
Historian John Keay in his 'India A History', 2000/2010 writes of the start of the First World War:
Many of those Marathi speaking.
Despite that, the war does not figure big in Marathi (मराठी) literature, probably because the participants came mainly from the middle peasantry belonging to non-Brahmin castes.
(The other two big misses of Marathi literature are Second World War except Vishram Bedekar's 'Ranangan' (विश्राम बेडेकर, रणांगण) and the Partition of India.)
As quoted above Marathi poet B S Mardhekar writes:
"पावसाळे आले गेले; दोन युद्धे जमा झाली;" (Monsoons came and went; two wars were done with;)
Critic D K Bedekar (दि के बेडेकर) writes with some indignation:
"...'दोन युद्धे जमा झाली' या चार शब्दांत कोट्यावधी भारतीयांच्या, नव्हे सर्व मानवजातीच्याच वेदनांचे व मृत्यूचे ब्रह्मांड सामावलेले आहे. पण मर्ढेकर परमहंसगतीला पोहोचलेले असल्यासारखे आहेत ! त्यांच्या कालप्रवाहाला मनुष्यांच्या सुखदुःखांचे मोजमाप लागत नाही. नुसते पावसाळे येतात नि जातात हीच कालगणना !..."
('साहित्य : निर्मिती व समीक्षा', 1954 / 2008)
['...Two wars were done with'...these four words contain the whole universe of pain and death of millions of Indians, indeed the entire human race. But Mardhekar is like having attained the enlightenment ! His passage of time is not measured in man's happiness and pain. Monsoons simply come and go is the only time measurement !..."
('Sahitya: Nirmiti va samiksha')]
Not everyone, alive during the war, could afford the luxury of nirvana (परमहंसगती).
Certainly not those Marathi speaking combatants who were trapped in Siege of Kut (7 December 1915 – 29 April 1916).
As the food became almost impossible to come by during the siege, Indian soldiers were offered horse meat. Maratha soldiers thought it was heretical and refused to eat it with a rider, conveyed to the their commanders, that if 'their deity' Rajarshi Shahu (राजर्षी छत्रपती शाहू महाराज) ordered it, they would eat it.
In a most moving letter dated March 23 1916, Shahu-maharaj pleaded with the Maratha soldiers to eat the meat, survive and press on. He wished he could join them in their struggle.
['Rajrishi Shahumaharajanchi Bhashane' (राजर्षी श्रीशाहूमहाराजांची भाषणे), editor-aggregator Bhagvanrao Bapusaheb Jadhav (संपादक-संकलन भगवानराव बापूसाहेब जाधव), 2001/2009, page 177-180]
'He probably spoke Marathi'
Indian army soldier after the siege of Kut (courtesy: Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons)Despite this, Wikipedia informs, "around 13,000 Allied soldiers survived to be made prisoners. 70% of the British and 50% of the Indian troops died of disease or at the hands of their Ottoman guards during captivity."
courtesy: Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College and Slate.com
Artist: Benjamin Schwartz , The New Yorker, January 2014