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World War I Centennial News


 

Four Questions for Rex Passion

"It is human nature to want to forget the horrors of war."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

MenuJust over one hundred years ago, a young art student in Philadelphia, named Edward Shenton, joined the National Guard. Before he went away to training camp, he stocked up on art supplies, including many canvas-bound sketchbooks. He kept one with him every day for the next two years, and drew in them constantly: portraits of friends, the men building Camp Meade and, his various accommodations, whether a pup tent or a requisitioned chateau. He drew throughout his training and while he was in combat in France, his numerous sketchbooks include pictures of wrecked towns, dead soldiers, cannons, airplanes and warships. After the Armistice, he filled pages with portraits of soldiers and local French citizens. When Shenton returned home, he hoped to share his stories and drawings. But sadly, he found that people only wanted to forget the war, and no one was interested in looking at them. Shelton put his sketchbooks away, and continued his studies. Shenton went on to become one of the premier book and magazine illustrators during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. He had a fifty-year-long career, and passed away in 1977. Shelton's son, Ned, inherited many boxes of papers, sketches, journals, and books. As he looked through the pile left him, Ned Shenton discovered the World War I sketchbooks. Ned knew the value of what they were. With the help of editor/historian Rex Passion, they cataloged, researched, digitized, and edited, the sketchbooks, so their stories could be followed and understood. Now -- one hundred years after they were drawn, ninety years after they were stored away, forty years after the artist's passing -- Corporal Edward Shenton’s lost sketchbooks have finally come to light. "The Lost Sketchbooks, A Young Artist in The Great War" is an assemblage book, published by Komatic Press, and a commemorative partner of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. The project's new web page on the Commission's website has gone live, and we caught up with Rex Passion to find out more about "The Lost Sketchbooks" in print and online came about. 

Tell us about the Lost Sketchbooks. What are they? Who was the artist?

Rex mugRex PassionNed Shenton is a friend of mine. In 2010 he wanted to put up a website honoring his father, who was a major illustrator of books and magazines in the 1930s and 40s, and I agreed to help him. Ned brought over several boxes of his father's papers: book covers and magazine articles that he had illustrated, stories he had written, poetry and drawings. One box was full of old canvas bound sketchbooks. When I opened the book, I saw an amazing pencil drawing of two soldiers lying sprawled in a ditch with their bayoneted rifles pointing skyward. At the bottom was the caption, "Front line trench, evening. Shell-shocked and exhausted men waiting for darkness to be taken out." I was amazed, as was Ned. Although he had this box of sketchbooks since 1977, he had never looked inside; no one had seen them since his father put them away in 1920.

In the spring of 1917, Edward Shenton was an art student at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia. Days after war was declared, he and fifteen of his high school buddies joined Company B of the 103rd Engineers. They drilled at the armory until the beginning of July, then moved to Camp Meade in Maryland to begin their training. Before they left, Ed stocked up on canvas-bound sketchbooks from Wanamaker’s, along with pencils, graphite sticks and a watercolor set.

He drew the world around him every day in Camp Meade and later in Camp Hancock in Georgia. After they left for France in May of 1918, his schedule was more erratic, and he drew whenever he could, but not as regularly as in camp. He drew the "rest camp" in Calais and their training in Cremarest, and the various billets on their trip to the front. When the engineers were called upon to stop the German advance in mid‐July, he drew the "shell‐shocked and exhausted" men in the shallow trench in front of St. Agnan between artillery barrages. In Fismes, the engineers built bridges over the Vesle River at night, and Ed filled a notebook with sketches of their lives during the day. His drawings became fewer when they were repairing roads in the Meuse Argonne, but once behind the lines at Bettencourt, he drew the men enjoying a feast of eggs and rabbit. After the Armistice, he drew constantly, recording a myriad of portraits of soldiers and civilians and of the engines of war.

Read more: Four Questions for Rex Passion

Orem sculptor designs WWI commemorative coin

By Ashley Stilson
via the Deseret News web site

SALT LAKE CITY — The most common mistake beginners make, contest officials told LeRoy Transfield, is adding too much detail.

LeRoy TransfieldLeRoy TransfieldSo the Orem sculptor meticulously planned every detail of his 8-inch plaster masterpiece: a soldier with a crooked nose clutching a rifle, poppies blooming amid twisted barbed wire, and the words "In God We Trust" square to the soldier's face.

After several weeks of work, Transfield's finishing artwork was chosen as the winning design for the 2018 World War I American Veterans Centennial silver dollar.

Coin only"It was really hard to come up with a design," he said, "but in the end, I came up with something I was really happy with.

"When I sent it off, I didn’t know if it was going to do well or not, but at least it was something I could put my name on."

Although he's never sculpted a coin before, Transfield said U.S. Mint officials unanimously voted for his design among 20 other finalists. The final retail product is only 1 ½ inches wide, featuring Transfield's artwork on both sides of the coin.

The commemorative silver dollar will be released in January, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The U.S. Mint plans to strike 400,000 silver coins with Transfield's design.

More than 116,500 U.S. soldiers died in combat during WWI. Another 200,000 were wounded, according to the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission website.

Transfield had two uncles who served in WWI as members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Native Contingent, he said.

Read more: Orem sculptor designs WWI commemorative coin

WWI’s neglected monuments getting spruced up 

By Jennifer McDermott
via the Associated Press 

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — A World War I monument in Rhode Island no longer bears the names of soldiers who died fighting; the bronze plaques were stolen decades ago. A statue of a WWI soldier in New York City has a dented helmet and missing rifle. The wooden rifle stack on top of a monument in Washington State has rotted away. Trees memorializing soldiers from Worcester, Massachusetts, have died.

AP PhotoIn this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 photo, Jack Monahan, member of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, left, views a World War I memorial, which was vandalized about 40 years ago, with Bob Cornett, right, and Edith Fletcher, center, at Miantonomi Memorial Park Tower in Newport, R.I. The tower once featured bronze plaques with the names of WWI soldiers from the area who perished. The centennial of America’s involvement in World War I has drawn attention to the state of disrepair of many monuments honoring soldiers, galvanizing efforts to fix them. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) The 100th anniversary this year of America’s involvement in the “Great War” has drawn attention to the state of the monuments to its soldiers and galvanized efforts to fix them.

Many were forgotten about over time, or no one took responsibility for their care. Some were looked after, but they’re in need of repairs, too, after being outside for so long.

“There are some cases of vandalism, but in general it has been time and a lack of maintenance and really nobody paying much attention,” said Theo Mayer, program manager for the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission’s 100 Cities/100 Memorials program. “Somehow the war slipped into our historic unconscious, and so did the memorials.”

The Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago are helping communities that are restoring and rescuing their memorials. Fifty matching grants of up to $2,000 each were awarded in late September. They’re accepting applications for another 50 grants, to be awarded in April.

The nation owes it to WWI veterans, “lest we forget,” said Kenneth Clarke, president and CEO of the military museum. “They can’t speak for themselves. There’s none of them left. It’s up to us to carry this legacy forward,” said Clarke. “That’s a responsibility we have as citizens of this great country.”

Read more: World War I’s neglected monuments getting spruced up

Four Questions for Michael Telzrow, Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Wisconsin WWI Symposium features top scholars including Sir Hew Strachan

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is hosting “World War 100: A Centennial Symposium” on October 27-28 in Madison. The event is in partnership with the Wisconsin World War I Centennial Commission, the Wisconsin Historical Society, the War in Society and Culture Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation. The symposium is open to the public and will honor the centennial observance of World War I, bringing national and international scholars together to examine the Great War and its legacy. To get more information, we connected with one of the hosts for the event, Michael Telzrow, who is Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, which is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.Symposium logo

- This sounds like a remarkable World War I symposium coming up. Tell us about it. Did we see legendary historian Hew Strachan in there? Who else will be talking, what does the full agenda look like? Also -- is it open to the public?

The full agenda is provided below. This symposium is an activity of the Wisconsin WWI Centennial Committee, and three of its member institutions: Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Wisconsin Historical Society and University of Wisconsin, Madison. John Hall, the Ambrose-Hesseltine Professor of Military History at the UW, and his colleagues at the UW, were instrumental in attracting the likes of Sir Hew Strachan, Bruno Cabanes, Holly Case, Jennifer Keene, Michael Neiberg John Cooper and David McDonald.

The Symposium starts on Friday with gallery tours of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum; followed by a reception and roundtable discussion featuring Hew Strachan, John Cooper, David McDonald and Bruno Cabanes at the Overture Center for the Performing Arts. The evening closes out an abbreviated showing of Dawn of the Red Arrow, a video history of the inception of the 32nd Division.

Saturday includes ten (10) panel discussions and three (3) keynote addresses from Cabanes, Neiberg and Keene. The symposium closes with a reception at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Read more: WWI Symposium in Madison, WI features top scholars including Sir Hew Strachan

New state-level WWI Centennial Commission signed into law in Michigan

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

signedMichigan Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan state Senator Rebekah Warren hold the signed Senate Public Act 97 of 2017, creating a new commission within the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs charged with planning, developing and executing programs and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War I.  Monday, October 9, 2017 was a great day for the veterans of Michigan, as Governor Rick Snyder signed SB 248 into law, officially forming Michigan's World War I Centennial Commission.

Senate Bill 248, sponsored by state Sen. Rebekah Warren, creates a new commission within the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs charged with planning, developing and executing programs and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War I. It is now Public Act 97 of 2017.

Michigan played a huge role in America's efforts during World War I. Many training camps were created across the state, including the famous Camp Custer, and the manufacturing centers of Detroit, Flint, and Lansing provided mass quantities of everything from tanks, to trucks, to artillery shells.

Some 135,000 men and women from Michigan served in uniform during the war, and some 5,000 lost their lives in the war.

The signing was done by a formal ceremony at the state capital that was attended by representatives from the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.

Read more: New state-level World War I Centennial Commission signed into law in Michigan

Texas "100 Years/100 Schools" Veterans Day Initiative

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

logoTexas has a great new Veterans Day 2017 initiative, "100 Years/100 Schools", that is being co-sponsored by the Texas World War I Centennial Commission (TXWWICC), the Texas Historical Commission (THC), and Texas State Historical Association (TSHA).

"100 Years/100 Schools" aims to connect Texas schools who typically have some kind of annual Veterans Day ceremony. By linking these events together, the sponsors will help them to tell the veterans story, and to be a part of the Centennial of World War I.

Telling the story of Texas and Texans in the Great War to school students is a top priority for the World War I Centennial. Over 190,000 Texans served, and 5,171 of them gave their lives during the war.

Texas schools can be part of "100 Years / 100 Schools" by using these steps and suggestions:

Read more: Texas "100 Years/100 Schools" Veterans Day Initiative

Teaching Teachers about WWI

Locations, dates announced for new Gilder Lehrman Education Program

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

tri logoLast month, we announced our participation in “Teaching Literacy Through History”, a great new professional education program presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading American history organization dedicated to K-12 education.

The American Legion and the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission have partnered with Gilder Lehman for a special “Teaching Literacy Through History” program focused on World War I.

The World War I program has been slated to take place in six cities across the country by the end of the current academic year.

This week, those six locations/date are officially announced. They are:

1. Louisville, KY: Saturday, October 21
Site: The McConnell Center, University of Louisville
Scholar: Michael S. Neiberg, U.S. Army War College
Master Teacher: Nathan McAlister
30 registered / 40 seats for the program (sending out a final reminder email to our contacts next week)
Click here for registration information for the Louisville session.

2. Anchorage, AK: Saturday, November 4
Site: Anchorage School District Education Center
Scholar: Kimberly Jensen, Western Oregon University
Master Teacher: Lois MacMillan
Invitation to teachers to go out next week

3. Albuquerque, NM: Monday, December 4
Site: Albuquerque Public Schools City Center
Scholar: Jennifer Keene, Chapman University
Master Teacher: Angelia Moore
40 registered / 40 seats (plus 26 on waitlist -- all APS teachers)

4. San Diego, CA: January/February 2018 (date TBD)
Site, Scholar, Master Teacher TBD

5. Detroit, MI: Saturday, March 17, 2018
Site: Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency, Wayne, MI
Scholar: Christopher Capozzola, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Master Teacher TBD

6. Providence, RI: Spring 2018 (date TBD)
Site: likely the Rhode Island Historical Society
Scholar, Master Teacher TBD

The intent of the program is to help educators better teach the Great War to their students, especially by using primary sources – direct or firsthand pieces or accounts, such as letters, diaries, printed books, newspapers, photographs and more – to bring the era to life, rather than relying strictly on secondary sources like textbooks or other articles written after the fact.

Literacy skills and tools for using these primary sources will be provided; the educators will leave with lesson plans and other resources, and the hope is that this new focus will benefit student understanding and performance.

Read more: Locations, dates announced for new WW1CC/Gilder Lehrman Education Program

United States Mint announces designs for WWI Centennial Silver Medals

ww1 medal release 290x290WASHINGTON – The World War I Centennial Silver Medals are being issued in conjunction with the congressionally authorized World War I Centennial Silver Dollar. This five-medal program features obverse (heads) and reverse (tails) designs that pay homage to each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces active during World War I.

The United States Mint has revealed the obverse (heads) and reverse (tails) designs for five silver medals that will be issued in conjunction with the 2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar. Each medal, composed of 90 percent silver, pays homage to branches of the U.S. Armed Forces that were active in World War I. Design descriptions and the respective minting facilities are below.

World War I Centennial Army Medal - West Point Mint

The Army medal design depicts a soldier cutting through German barbed wire, while a second soldier aims a rifle amid a shattered landscape of broken trees and cratered earth. A shell explodes in the distance. The medal’s reverse design features the United States Army emblem, which was also in use during World War I, with the inscriptions “OVER THERE!,” “CENTENNIAL OF WORLD WAR I,” “2018,” and “UNITED STATES ARMY.”

The obverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Emily Damstra and sculpted by now retired United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart, who also designed and sculpted the reverse.

Read more: United States Mint announces designs for World War I Centennial Silver Medals

Marie Curie and her X-ray vehicles’ contribution to World War I battlefield medicine

By Timothy J. Jorgensen
via theconversation.com web site

Ask people to name the most famous historical woman of science and their answer will likely be: Madame Marie Curie. Push further and ask what she did, and they might say it was something related to radioactivity. (She actually discovered the radioisotopes radium and polonium.) Some might also know that she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. (She actually won two.)

Marie CurieMarie Curie in one of her mobile X-ray units in October 1917.But few will know she was also a major hero of World War I. In fact, a visitor to her Paris laboratory in October of 1917 – 100 years ago this month – would not have found either her or her radium on the premises. Her radium was in hiding and she was at war.

For Curie, the war started in early 1914, as German troops headed toward her hometown of Paris. She knew her scientific research needed to be put on hold. So she gathered her entire stock of radium, put it in a lead-lined container, transported it by train to Bordeaux – 375 miles away from Paris – and left it in a safety deposit box at a local bank. She then returned to Paris, confident that she would reclaim her radium after France had won the war.

With the subject of her life’s work hidden far away, she now needed something else to do. Rather than flee the turmoil, she decided to join in the fight. But just how could a middle-aged woman do that? She decided to redirect her scientific skills toward the war effort; not to make weapons, but to save lives.

X-rays enlisted in the war effort

X-rays, a type of electromagnetic radiation, had been discovered in 1895 by Curie’s fellow Nobel laureate, Wilhelm Roentgen. As I describe in my book “Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation,” almost immediately after their discovery, physicians began using X-rays to image patients’ bones and find foreign objects – like bullets.

But at the start of the war, X-ray machines were still found only in city hospitals, far from the battlefields where wounded troops were being treated. Curie’s solution was to invent the first “radiological car” – a vehicle containing an X-ray machine and photographic darkroom equipment – which could be driven right up to the battlefield where army surgeons could use X-rays to guide their surgeries.

Read more: Marie Curie and her X-ray vehicles’ contribution to World War I battlefield medicine

US Mint unveils design for new Congressionally-authorized coin honoring America's WWI Veterans

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

WASHINGTON, DC — On October 9, 2017, the U.S. Mint officially unveiled their new collectible commemorative coin that marks the 100th anniversary of American participation in World War I.

The unveiling was hosted by the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army, Ryan McCarthy, and took place at the National Meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA), in Washington DC.

DSC 2362Acting Secretary if the Army Ryan McCarthy (left) and Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley unveil the US Mint WWI Commemorative Coin design.At his side, representing the U.S. Mint, was Mr. T.V. Johnson, the Mint's Director of Corporate Communication, along with Mr. Terry Hamby, the Chair of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.

Coin only"This is a great day for the Army, and for the services," McCarthy said. "This coin honors all of the 4.7 million American men and women from the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, the Air Services, and from the Army, who stepped forward to serve 100 years ago".

The obverse design of the new coin is titled “Soldier’s Charge,” and depicts an almost stone-like soldier gripping a rifle. Barbed wire twines are featured in the lower right hand side of the design.

The wire design element continues onto the reverse of the WWI Centennial Silver Dollar in a design titled “Poppies in the Wire,” which features abstract poppies mixed in with barbed wire.

Barbed wire was part of the trench warfare of World War I, and poppies are the symbolic flower of veteran remembrance, a tradition that began during the war.

This new collectible coin was authorized by statute in 2014, via bipartisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) in the House, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) in the Senate.

Rep. Cleaver expressed support for the design. "No war should be forgotten, and no veteran should be forgotten. This new coin will help us to remember the stories, and the lessons, from the people who served in that war. It will help to preserve their legacy".

Read more: US Mint unveils design for new Congressionally-authorized coin honoring America's WWI Veterans

World War I exhibit on display at KYGMC

By Christy Howell-Hoots
via the Ledger Independent web site

Walking into the World War I exhibit at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in Maysville transports viewers to what it may have been like to serve in the military during the war.

59d7dfd55c956.imageA World War I nurse uniform is one of the many uniforms on display at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in Maysville.As the door opens to the gallery, the first thing one may notice is the large trench sitting to the left. There are soldiers boots and weapons sitting in front of the bags. On the inside of the trench are small pieces of paper that gives information about what it was like to serve in the trenches during the war.

One sheet talks about trench foot, which is caused by feet being in a damp, cold area for too long. According to healthline.com, it is estimated that 2,000 Americans died from trench foot during the war.

Before reaching the trench, however, guests will noticed markings along the wall that start with 1914 and end with 1920. The markings are a timeline of the war from beginning to end.

The United States did not enter the war until 1917.

"We're excited about the timeline exhibit. We decided to put this together because this marks the 100th anniversary of the United State's entry into World War I," KYGMC Executive Director CJ Hunter said.

"As you look around, you see items from museum sources and several other sources," he said. "Tandy Nash is the one who put this exhibit together for us. Most of the uniforms in here are ours, but we do have uniforms from other sources."

According to Hunter, the exhibit features no replicas.

"This was produced through the efforts of several people who loaned items for us," he said. "Everything is real. We wanted to give everyone an idea of what it looked like to have lived and served during that time."

Read more: World War I exhibit on display at KYGMC

Symposia on American entry into WWI, and on the Conscience Objector Movement during the War, & program examining the future of American political parties highlight Upcoming Events at National World War I Museum and Memorial

By Mike Vietti,
National World War I Museum and Memorial

KANSAS CITY, MO. – Coming to the National WWI Museum and Memorial will be a pair of symposia, featuring world-renowned speakers, including historian, Sir Hew Strachan. The programs will examine the entry of the U.S. into World War I and the conscience objector movement. There will also be a bi-partisan panel discussion on the future of American political parties featuring former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

eight col Sir Hew StrachanSir Hew StrachanFrom Oct. 19-22, the Museum hosts the symposium “Remembering Muted Voices: Conscience, Dissent, Resistance and Civil Liberties in World War I Through Today.” The event features acclaimed authors and presenters, including New York Times author Michael Kazin and Ingrid Sharp from Leeds University in the United Kingdom. Additionally, author Duane Stoltzfus and Dora Maendel of the Fairholme Hutterite Colony in Manitoba, Canada, will examine what happened to more than 500 Hutterites who protested American involvement in WWI and were later jailed in Washington, Alcatraz and eventually Ft. Leavenworth, where two young men died under suspicious circumstances. Nearly 50 Hutterites from Canada, many of whom are descendants from the 500 people imprisoned at Ft. Leavenworth, will be in attendance at the event. Single day registration ($55) and complete event registration ($125) are available at theworldwar.org/symposia.

The Museum welcomes one of the world’s leading experts on World War I, Sir Hew Strachan, for a special free program in advance of its second symposium at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2. Strachan, former Chichele Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford, will be joined by scholars Jennifer Keene (Chapman University) and Jay Sexton (University of Missouri) for “The Long Road to Peace: Enter the Peace Broker,” which examines President Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to arbitrate the war in December 1916.

On Nov. 3-4, the Museum hosts its second international symposium “1917: America Joins the Fight” featuring renowned scholars from across the world. The event features author David Stevenson, making his only U.S. appearance in 2017 following the release of his new book “1917: War, Peace and Revolution” as well as acclaimed authors Michael Neiberg, Robert Cozzolino, Olga Porshneva, Richard S. Faulkner and more. Early bird registration ($195) is available through Oct. 6 at theworldwar.org/symposia.

Read more: Upcoming Events at National World War I Museum and Memorial

War & Art - American protection of Italian Cultural Heritage during WWI

When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. On April 6, 1917, America entered World War I. When the war concluded in November 1918, with a victory for the Allies, more than 2 million U.S. troops had served at the Western Front in Europe, and more than 50,000 of them died. War & Art: WWI - USA in Italy was created to honor them.

War and Art WWI USA in ItalyOn October 12, the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC will present the catalogue of War & Art: WWI - USA in Italy, followed by a preview of a previously unreleased documentary about the First World War provided by the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento.

Commissioner Tod Sedgwick of the United States World War One Centennial Commission will participate in the panel discussion at the event.

During the First World War even Italy’s historical and artistic heritage became a powerful propaganda tool for the country affected by the war. The art and beauty destroyed during air raids or land battles were further proof of the “enemy’s barbarity.” The planned or accidental destruction of artistic monuments had already been condemned by France on Sept. 19, 1914, following the irreparable damages to Reims Cathedral, and even earlier, on Aug. 25, 1914, by Belgium when the historical library of Louvain was destroyed by fire.

Centuries-old art became an innocent victim of the war’s destruction. Stone sculptures could not survive steel shells.

In Italy, the destruction of culture was considered a cowardly and uncivilized act, a sort of blasphemous sacrilege, much like the violence perpetrated by invading armies against unarmed civilians. The idea that Italy’s national heritage could be used as a successful propaganda tool against the enemy was immediately put into action with photographs that documented the damages of war to paintings, frescoes and churches. Photography was also used to sensitize the population in remote areas far from the front lines since this visual means proved the most effective instrument of persuasion—it could be easily understood even by the less educated members of the population and the illiterate. Newspapers and magazines thus detailed the beautiful artworks in the more famous Italian cities protected and defended against the “enemy’s barbarity.” Thanks to the vital support of the U.S., Italy was able to preserve most of its artistic treasures – and thus its identity – from ruthless annihilation.

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