The Hidden World
of World War I

Hidden under the former battlefields of World War I lie hundreds of forgotten rock quarries transformed into underground cities by armies on both sides.

Cloaked in darkness under private land in the beautiful French countryside, these underground cities are bristling with artifacts, sculptures and emotionally charged “graffiti” created by WWI soldiers a century ago. Frozen-in-time, these cities beneath the trenches form a direct human connection to men who lived a century ago. They make hundred years ago seem like yesterday. They are a Hidden World of WWI that is all but unknown, even to the French.

American medical doctor, fine art photographer and explorer Jeff Gusky was introduced to these underground cities by landowners and dedicated volunteers and their families who fiercely guard the secrets of these spaces with loving care to prevent them from being vandalized and to preserve them for the future.



Under the trenches of WWI lie hundreds of ancient rock quarries transformed into underground cities


They were modern cities with rail, telephones, electric lights, hospitals, chapels, theaters, offices and even street signs. They now exist in complete darkness.


Tens of thousands of soldiers lived there. “Stairways to hell” connected these underground cities directly to the trenches above.


Located on private land in the beautiful French countryside, these cities are bristling with beautiful art and emotionally-charged graffiti inscribed in stone by WWI soldiers a century ago.


The art and inscriptions are a direct human link between then and now. 100 years ago seems like yesterday.


The Hidden World of WWI provides a glimpse into the defiant inner lives of soldiers who refused to be silenced in the face of modern mass destruction.


Men on both sides pushed back against the dark side of modern technology. They expressed themselves as free human beings who could think and feel and create.


Their inscriptions are messages in the midst of the horror stating: “I once existed. I was here. I am a living, breathing human being".


About twenty years before WWI, blind faith in progress and public opinion, amplified as never before by the brand new technology of mass media, led to a gradual, almost imperceptible relaxation of judgment and conscience.


The spectacular achievements of progress allowed people to lose touch with the fragility of their civilization... and their own self-protective instincts.


It took only two decades for the new democracies, intoxicated by progress, to march enthusiastically into a meat grinder… the first modern mass destruction: WWI.


When we lose touch with human reference points and replace them with blind faith in modern progress, we are numbed to conscience and vulnerable to the dark side of progress.


Hope lies in restoring a human scale to modern life.


Human scale allows us to be human, to acquire the self awareness necessary for conscience. Conscience compels us to ask hard questions about what it means to be human in a world of inhuman scale.

About Jeff Gusky

Jeff Gusky is an emergency physician and National Geographic photographer whose career as an explorer and artist began in December 1995 when his intuition first led him to photograph a Nazi-era compound in Poland. This event inspired in him a quest to understand why terrorism continues to threaten us in modern times, and how technology and the inhuman scale of modern life have cut us off from reality and disabled our moral compass. He believes we face a Human Emergency caused by compromises we make that diminish our humanness. His mission is to build a language to describe how modern life affects conscience, and to allow us to become comfortable again about being human and embracing imperfection. His work has reached an international audience through media, books and exhibitions. He is also a TV host, producer, author of three books and a public speaker.