The foundations of the commemoration of World War One were already laid during the war, when the combatant nations established memorial sites, arranged exhibitions, erected museums, and performed national ceremonies on the occasion of particular military events. After 1918, the propagandistic messages of these signs lost or changed their meanings, and a widespread disillusion made its way. Gradually, people became more critical in view of the human and moral costs of the war.
The European film production reflected this development. Many dramas of the early post-war years, for example, featured mentally or physically broken ex-soldiers. In most cases, however, the war served as a backdrop that provided plot opportunities for spy films, romances, and other genre films. From the mid-1920s on, the war increasingly came from the back to the fore: war films and anti-war films directly addressed everyday experiences in the trenches, the suffering and the dying of soldiers. Some of these movies superimposed archival footage from newsreels or propaganda films in order to suggest authenticity.