The beginning of World War I, in August 1914, represented, for most of the Western European powers involved, the return to the battlefields of the Old Continent, after 43 years of peace. In the meantime, the armies of some of these powers had been engaged in colonial conflicts of relatively low intensity, which rarely served to effectively predict the kind of difficulties that a new European war would bring to its participants.
The First World War inaugurated a process of mass death never before experienced. The dead soldiers piling up on the battlefields, in no man’s land, were initially buried in civilian cemeteries close to the front, but these rapidly ran out of space and aroused the necessary reaction from the leading forces involved in the war. Rapid steps were taken to regulate and create military cemeteries in order to avoid the conspicuous presence of death, not only because of its effects on the troops’ morale and on deteriorating sanitary conditions at the front, but above all to avoid the return home of that visible mass of bodies.
The Monuments Commission of the Great War (CPGG) (3 December 1921 to 10 November 1936) embodied the phenomena of greatest success of the Republican Government’s intention to hallow the memory of Portugal’s participation in the First World War. A campaign to honour the war effort through intense patriotic propaganda by conceiving a number of ceremonies on the main dates of the war and also perpetuating the commemorative effort through the design of monuments.