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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

William Lester King. No-Mans Land, Flanders Field, France, 1919. Panoramic photograph. Print and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (159.00.00)

No Man's Land

By the end of the war many towns across Europe were destroyed and forests reduced to fallen logs and bare tree trunks. Populations were devastated: over 2,000,000 German, 1,000,000 British, 1,700,000 Russian and French soldiers each, perished. Fields were crisscrossed with trenches, pockmarked with craters, and littered with debris. Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern section of Belgium, was the scene of heavy fighting throughout most of the war. This elegiac photograph taken by Ohioan William Lester King, working for the Military Intelligence Division of the U.S. Army, captures that bleak devastation.