Ancient history

The broken jaws

Scars on the faces of the soldiers

We called "broken jaws" the soldiers with faces marked by shrapnel, who failed to end their lives... just. The severity of these wounds was new, since this was the first trench warfare, and the weaponry was different from that of previous wars.
We were coming out of a century of progress, and our goal was to go even further. The Belle-Epoque announced a bright future, but the novelties of science were used to better kill men. The gases, the war machines gave another dimension to the fighting; the tanks seemed indestructible, and the infantry so vulnerable.

The intervention of medicine

After dying for long hours, and having been lucky enough to be rescued – if we can still speak of luck – the soldiers were entrusted to the service of the Red Cross. For some, unfortunately, their wounds killed them some time after receiving them.
For those who survived, medicine tried to give them a face. But the shells were so violent that the victims sometimes lost a whole part of the face that was impossible to reconstruct.

A bad memory that persists

These disfigured faces were also the memory of the Horror of war in the eyes of those who saw them. Society sought above all to hide them from citizens, still in mourning for a husband, a son or a father.
The gravity of these indelible wounds was also a reminder of the violence of this fight. Unlike other people, injured for an unknown or everyday cause, the broken jaws represented the world war that we wish we had never experienced.

Life after Verdun

The post-war period was just as difficult for these young men as the war had been. As they had lost their identity, it was impossible for them to regain the life they had before. Most lost their jobs, fiancées and morale.
Even those whom the war had not killed had lost their lives.