Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - episode #66 - It’s about WW1 THEN - what was happening 100 years ago this week - and it’s about WW1 NOW - news and updates about the centennial and the commemoration.
Today is April 6th, 2018.
101 years ago on April 6th 1917, the United States declares war on Germany which starts us on a path that will change our nation, our people our industry, and our position in the world forever.
[clip from April 6th Event]
On this one year anniversary:
Plus a lot more... on WW1 Centennial News -- a weekly podcast brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library and the Starr foundation.
I’m Theo Mayer - the Chief Technologist for the Commission and your host. Welcome to the show.
Several months ago during a podcast editorial planning session for an upcoming month, it occurred to us that our planning roundtable might be something our audience would enjoy listening to… We tried it - you liked it - and now we do it! So here is the conversation Dr. Ed lengel, Katherine Akey and I had earlier this week… The question on the table was: “so what are the big stories and themes in April 1918… in the War the Changed the World?
Dr. Edward Lengel, Katherine Akey, Theo Mayer
Next, we are going to go to Mike Shuster former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War project Blog….
Mike: Your post is a perfect introduction to the month of April as you dive right into the situation on the ground… for Easter Sunday, April 2nd 1918. What was happening on the front?
Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.
This week for the War in the Sky -- we’re turning inwards with a look at the psychological challenges for those “daring and do” warriors in the sky during World War 1. Joining us is Mark Wilkins, historian, writer, museum professional, and lecturer. Mark is the author of the recently published article in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space magazine called “The Dark Side of Glory: An early glimpse of PTSD in the letters of World War I aces.”
[Mark -- To start with - how did you get the trove of letters you used for your research?]
[How many letters did you go through to start your research?]
[OK.. In WWI malady was equated with physical issues, but your article deals with the psychological stresses of the pilot’s experience. Just a year prior they were executing trench soldier with shell shock on charges of cowardice. How did that play out for the pilots?]
[Look - the stress for these aces makes a lot of sense… To be an Ace you need to fly a lot of missions. The mortality rate of your buddies is off the charts… and unlike foot soldiers - you don’t have the courage of the guys on your left and right to bolster you.. This is a white knuckle, cold sweat, daily solo experience… sounds like traumatic stress is inevitable.. How common was this?]
[What did the men - and what did the command do about this? ]
[So after immersing yourself in this aspect of the war in the sky - what is your biggest take away?]
[We just had a great question come in from our live audience - Frank Krone wants to know: Did Richthoven - Germany’s Red Baron appear to suffer from PTSD]
[You have an upcoming book -- tell us about it -- When is it coming out?]
[Before we wrap up - last December we had filmmaker Darroch Greer on the show about his upcoming The Lafayette Escadrille documentary. Was is your involvement with the project?]
Mark Wilkins is a historian, writer, museum professional, and historical aeronautics expert. You can read his article in the Air Space Magazine, and learn more about his work from the links in the podcast notes.
For videos about WWI 100 years ago this week, check out our friends at the Great War Channel on Youtube.
New episodes this week include:
German Armoured Cars in WW1
The Neutral Ally - Norway in WW1
See their videos by searching for “the great war” on youtube or following the link in the podcast notes!
Alright - It is time to fast forward into the present with WW1 Centennial News NOW -
This part of the podcast focuses on NOW and how we are commemorating the centennial of WWI!
For Remembering Veterans -- a small village hosts a big event this weekend! The Midway Village Museum is a 137 acre living history park located near Rockford, Illinois. This weekend, the Victorian village will host the 6th annual Great War event, featuring over 225 re-enactors portraying soldiers and civilians from the United States and Europe.
Visitors will have the opportunity to enter encampments, tour a reproduction 150 yard trench system, and watch large-scale narrated battle reenactments. It is the nation’s largest public World War One reenactment -- and we’ll get to speak with some of the event’s organizers right here on the podcast in a couple of weeks to hear how it went. For now, especially if you are in the region - visit the link in the podcast notes for a full list of scheduled events at Midway Village Museum near rockford Illinois .
Also this week for remembering veterans -- something I did not know much about --- from the world of sports a century ago. Now, I’ve got clear images in my mind of baseball in the era - I also see leather helmets and pig skin warrior on the football grid-iron -- but today we’re going to be looking at another great American institution that - as it turns out - that made a big splash in France during the WWI -- basketball!
To tell us about it, we’re joined by Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff, a historian, sports writer, consultant, and author. Her website says: Historical Insights
COMMUNICATING GLOBALLY -- Sports - Diplomacy & Storytelling
Lindsay! Sounds like you fit right in here. Welcome to the podcast!
[Lindsay For our non-basketball experts - Like me - could you start us off with a brief history of basketball? When did it first develop, and how widespread was the sport in America circa 1918?]
[Did the Americans bring hoops to France or were they already playing?]
[If Doughboys and the YMCA helped reignite French interest in basketball, was it only in France that this occurred?]
[You’re working on a new book about basketball in France -- how popular is the sport there now?]
Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff is a historian, sports writer, consultant, and author of several books. Learn more about her and her writing by following the links in the podcast notes.
For 100 Cities / 100 Memorials - Today on the anniversary of America’s declaration of war in 1917, the final 50 awardees have been announced. Here is a section from the press release:
CHICAGO, IL, April 5 – On the eve of the 101st Anniversary of the United States entering World War 1, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library announced today the final 50 WW1 Memorials to be awarded grants and honored with the official national designation as "WW1 Centennial Memorials".
All 100 memorials, in all 100 cities have now been designated including such national landmarks as: Chicago’s "Soldier Field", LA’s "Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum", San Francisco’s “War Memorial Veterans Building and Opera House”, Honolulu’s "Natatorium" and Washington, D.C.’s “National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park”. In addition, many smaller local community projects are being recognized such as: Scranton Pennsylvania’s “Col. Frank Duffy Memorial Bridge and Park”, Cape May, New Jersey’s "Soldier and Sailors Monument", Ocean Springs, Mississippi’s "Emile Ladnier WWI Memorial," and North Carolina's NC State University “Memorial Belltower”, to name just a few. The newly-designated memorials are in 37 different states and each will receive a $2,000 matching grant, towards the restoration, conservation and maintenance of these local historical treasures.
Here is John Schwan the Interim President and CEO of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library from the livestream announcement.
So this has been a nearly two year effort to get the 100 memorials designated… But this is not the end of the program - for example, we are going to continue to profile the project on the podcast, we are going to accelerate our Memorial Hunters program to identify and create a national register of WWI memorials around the nation. We are going to continue to encourage and support communities around the country to commemorate their local WWI heroes through their memorials that are all over America - many hidden in plain sight!
As Dan Dayton, Executive Director of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission noted in the press release:
"I am impressed by the community involvement that has sprung from this project. By focusing on restoring these community treasures, local cities, veterans groups, historical society and citizens have come together to remember the community’s heritage - and that was really a key goal of the program."
See a searchable listing of all 100 cities and memorials at ww1cc.org/100Memorials or follow the link in the podcast notes.
Here is our weekly feature “Speaking World War 1” - Where we explore the words & phrases that are rooted in the war ---
When you encounter something that is exaggerated, major, melodramatic, big, HUGE -- ahhh maybe too much!? -- we sometimes describe it as being “over the top”.
Which is our Speaking WW1 phrase this week.
During WWI, as the soldiers sat in the muddy trenches in anxious anticipation… preparing to take the offensive… that dramatic moment when the whistles blew - and the men climbed up and over the berms of the trench, rushing out into no-man’s land facing the enemy, shells, gas and machine gun fire, well that was known as… you guessed it - “going over the top”.
At the time it was a literal, physical description of what you did - but - appropriately remains in our lexicon today as something seriously radical.
“Over the top” - something you might toss off lightly about someone or something - but a phrase with a very heavy history - and this week’s phrase for speaking WW1.
This week for WW1 War Tech -- we turn our attention back to late March and early April of 1918. Paris is under attack as behemoth canon shells -- some weighing as much as 230 pounds fall on the city, killing dozens, creating panic and initially confusing city officials. Where were the guns?
The Paris Guns as they came to be known, were sitting 80 miles away, and were responsible. This German supergun was not meant for the battlefield. It was specifically designed to terrorize and demoralize civilian populations.
It was so massive that it could only be moved around by rail..
It was created by extending a 380 mm naval gun barrel to a length of 112 feet. that and 550 Lbs of gunpowder gave the beasts their extreme firing range. Ed Lengel mentioned that en route to their target, the shells literally arced into earth’s stratosphere 24 miles up -- up there, there is almost no atmospheric drag - again increasing the range.
The weapon began its assault on Paris late March in 1918, continuing periodically for over three months, until early August.
The panic and fear that spread after the initial attacks was short lived and the terror weapon never proved to be much of a threat to French strategy or the population’s morale.
Nevertheless, the Paris Guns proved to be a domestic propaganda hit in Germany, as the ability to strike the French capital directly did much to stem the public’s anxiety over the course of the war.
The Paris Gun -- It was an engineering marvel -- and it was a terror weapon aimed at Parisians one hundred years ago-- and it is the subject of this week’s WW1 War Tech. Learn more, and see images of the mobile monsters, at the links in the notes.
For Articles and posts -- We are going to try something new this week. Many of the new posts are featured in our weekly Dispatch Newsletter… so we are going to give you the highlights from the Dispatch as an overview.
A feature in Politico outlines how president Trump’s parade this year, which looks like it is going to fall on or near Veteran’s Day may have special WW1 meaning. It’s an interesting article and an interesting read.
News about Sgt Stubby -- a follow up on the film’s recent premiere, a street fair honoring the pup in his hometown of Hartford, Connecticut, and a new Sgt Stubby statue planned in Middleton, Connecticut.
Test yourself on your WW1 knowledge by taking a quiz from the National Archives,
Check out a new illustrated battlefield travel guide.
Read a bittersweet story about easter in 1918,
A new exhibition highlights Anglo-American relations during the war -- on view in Bath, England.
Doughboy MIA features Private Edwin C. Kitterman of New Middletown, Indiana
and this week’s featured Story of Service is that of Private Wayne Minor, an Illinois native who was killed in action just three hours before armistice.
Sign up for the Weekly Dispatch newsletter at ww1cc.org/subscribe check the archive at ww1cc.org/dispatch or follow the link in the podcast notes.
And that brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine, what did you pick?
Hi Theo --
A really interesting article popped up on Facebook this week about ordnance from WW1 that continues to surface and pose a threat -- but not in Europe, right here on the east coast of the United States! Listeners may be familiar with the Zone Rouge -- a 460 square mile area of France centered around Verdun that has been determined to be too physically and environmentally damaged for human habitation as a direct result of the Great War. There is even an entire department in France, the Département du Déminage or department of de-mining, that has been tasked with safely disposing of ordinance from the world wars. Since its establishment in 1946, more than 630 members of that force have been killed in the line of duty.
We have no such force here in the US -- so when seven rifle grenades from WW1 were discovered recently on the coast of New Jersey, explosives experts had to be called in to safely dispose of the munitions. So, how did these grenades end up in New Jersey? It turns out, disposing of unneeded munitions by dumping them into the sea was a commonplace practice -- as recently as 1970. As a result, there are an estimated millions of tons of potentially explosive ordinance on the seafloor -- and every once in a while, some makes its way onto shore. Read more about the Zone Rouge and the intermittent discovery of World War weapons on American shores by visiting the links in the podcast notes.
That’s it for this week in the Buzz.
And that is the first week of April for WW1 Centennial News. Thank you for listening.
We also want to thank our guests...
A shout out to our intern John Morreale for his great research assistance.
And I am Theo Mayer - your host.
The US World War One Centennial Commission was created by Congress to honor, commemorate and educate about WW1.
Our programs are to--
inspire a national conversation and awareness about WW1; Including this podcast!
We are bringing the lessons of the 100 years ago into today's classrooms;
We are helping to restore WW1 memorials in communities of all sizes across our country;
and of course we are building America’s National WW1 Memorial in Washington DC.
We want to thank commission’s founding sponsor the Pritzker Military Museum and Library as well as the Starr foundation for their support.
The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn
Or search WW1 Centennial News on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Podbean, Stitcher - Radio on Demand, Spotify or using your smart speaker.. Just say “Play W W One Centennial News Podcast”.
Our twitter and instagram handles are both @ww1cc and we are on facebook @ww1centennial.
Thank you for joining us. And don’t forget
to share the stories
you are hearing here today
about the war that changed the world!
You know ginormous canon that was shooting at Paris - well - man - that was really over the top!
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