Rarely do volcanologist get to watch the birth, growth, and death of a volcano. Paricutin provided such an opportunity. Paricutin is a cinder cone volcano located in the state of Michoacan, in Mexico, close to a lava-covered village of the same name. The volcano erupted on February 20, 1943, and continued erupting till 1952, during which it destroyed the villages of Parícutin and San Juan Parangaricutiro, burying both beneath ash and lava. San Juan Parangaricutiro’s church spire is all that remains of the village, poking out of the now solidified lava rock.
Unlike most volcanoes, Parícutin volcano didn’t exist until that fateful day. This makes the volcano unique because it is one of the very few volcanoes whose birth has been witnessed by man. The volcano is located about 200 miles west of Mexico City, in the Michoacan-Guanajuato volcanic field, that contains about 1,400 volcanic vents. Paricutin is the youngest volcano to form in the Northern Hemisphere.
Today on the Western Front,” the German sociologist Max Weber wrote in September 1917, there “stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Weber was referring to the millions of Indian, African, Arab, Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers, who were then fighting with British and French forces in Europe, as well as in several ancillary theatres of the first world war.
Faced with manpower shortages, British imperialists had recruited up to 1.4 million Indian soldiers. France enlisted nearly 500,000 troops from its colonies in Africa and Indochina. Nearly 400,000 African Americans were also inducted into US forces. The first world war’s truly unknown soldiers are these non-white combatants.