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Sync Call for Wednesday December 23 at 12pm EST
1915 Christmas Poster
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Help the WW1CC!

  1. Donate! Go to our donations page.
  2. Send a letter to the USPS Stamp Committee! Use this template.
  3. Send us interns! Direct anyone you know who is interested to our Internship webpage.
  4. Help with state and regional organization! Let Andrew McGreal know and he will send you information on how to get involved.
  5. Shop at SMILE.AMAZON.COM! Enter the "United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars" as your charitable organization.
  6. Wear official WW1 commemorative merchandise with pride! Head over to the Commission shop for a full selection.

News and Announcements:

Updates from the States

Volunteer for state outreach. Contact Andrew McGreal if you are willing to help.

New York City Executive Council
Commissioner Libby O'Connell has been leading efforts to stand up a WWI Centennial Committee for New York. We’re pleased to announce that Real Estate Executive Elihu Rose and Broadcaster and Educator William F. Baker have joined the Executive Council this committee.

January 07 State Outreach Collaboration Call
We will hold our third State Outreach Collaboration Call in the new format on Thursday January 7 at 12 pm EST. This call will focus on ‘Organizing a Commemorative Body’ and we will have a panel of experts from several libraries from across the country on the line. This will be a great call for all up-and-coming state commemorative bodies to attend.. Reminders will be sent out the day of the call. The call-in number will be the same as past calls - contact a State Outreach Coordination team member to get on the roster.

State Outreach Webpage
We have a brand new State Outreach webpage set up on the Commission website. It houses the State Outreach Guide and its toolbox of Commission resources, the state outreach status map, as well as the minutes and recordings from our monthly State Outreach Collaboration Calls.

The National WWI Memorial at Pershing Park- Updates

Yesterday, December 22, wrapped up the public display of the 5 finalists of the National WWI Memorial Design competition at the Wilson Building in Washington, DC. The final concepts will remain on the Commission's Stage II Design Development webpage. Read all about the concepts and examine high-definition pictures; post your comments, too.

The jury will deliberate over the winner of the design competition January 5-7 here in Washington, DC. Our formal announcement will coincide with our 10th Commission Meeting on January 25th. We will post more details on this as we get closer.

Please remember that even with the perfect design, we can’t build a memorial without donations. Every dollar donated will be matched by our founding sponsor, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. You can make this memorial a reality by making a donation to the Memorial Fund. Our veterans deserve a memorial. We can build it.

Recent Media Attention for the Design Competition
Design Competition Manager Roger Lewis was interviewed on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on NPR on Thursday December 17. Roger discussed the process for building a national memorial in DC and the challenges that come with that. You can listen to the interview online at the Kojo Nnamdi Show webpage.

Additionally, a C-Span interview with Commissioner Edwin Fountain on the Memorial Design Competition will air on Sunday January 3 at 9:30 pm EST (6:30pm PST) on C-SPAN 3.

Diplomatic Advisory Board

The Commission continues to add former US Ambassadors to foreign countries to our Diplomatic Advisory Board. The role of the Diplomatic Advisory Board is to enhance outreach as we bring together new sponsors and partners for our commemorative activities, and to provide counsel, strategy and contacts in the countries where they served. We've added two new members to the Board:

  • Ambassador James Lowenstein
  • Ambassador Carl Speilvogel
The first meeting of the DAB will be on January 13 in Washington, DC.

Los Angeles Pershing Square Renovation Design Competition

Pershing Square Renew, the non-profit group looking to renovate downtown Los Angeles's Pershing Square, announced the four finalists for creating the public space's new look. These designs, selected from 54 entries, were selected because they “really articulated the opportunity that they saw for Pershing Square going into the future," according to Eduardo Santana, Executive Director for Pershing Square Renew. Anyone interested in checking out the finalist can visit the Pershing Square Renew competition webpage.

WW1 Commemorative Merchandise

The WW1CC merchandise store is open on our website! Go online to get your own fine-crafted piece of WW1 commemorative merchandise and to support the Commission all at once. We have an exciting and varied line of products available for purchase - check it out today!

DISPATCH Newsletter

The Commission publishes a weekly newsletter, the DISPATCH. If you’re not receiving this and want to, subscribe on the Commission's website here to be added to the distribution list.

Shout Outs

Stephen Taber in Massachusetts who has been making major headway in the state, including working with the Governor’s office and MA state senators. Thank you, Stephen!

The DC State Outreach team - which is really picking up steam and growing in size.

 

The Great War Channel

Would you like to see some great videos on YouTube about WWI? Check out The Great War Channel. Posting multiple times a week, ‘The Great War’ shows you the history of the First World War in the four years from 1914 to 1918. The host, Indy, takes you back week by week and shows you what was going on in the past. Please subscribe to see these great posts. Their latest videos are:

Colonial Glory And World War 1 Reality - British Field Marshal John French : WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?Published on Dec 21, 2015. British Field Marshal John French was a soldier through and through and had a glorious career during the colonial era of the British Empire, but all the battles around the world couldn’t prepare him for modern war. His experience in the Boer Wars and in the Mahdist War made John French a rising star in the military. But when he was leading the British Army landing in Belgium in August 1914, neither he or the public were prepared for the new realities of World War 1 with huge casualties and trench warfare.

HBaseball during WW1? What Was the Role Of Bicycle Battalions? : OUT OF THE TRENCHESPublished on Dec 19, 2015. Indy sits in the Chair of Wisdom again to answer your questions about WW1. This time we are talking about Baseball and Bicycle Battalions.

Despair And Mutiny On The Italian Front : THE GREAT WAR - Week 73Published on Dec 17, 2015. The morale of the Italian Army at the Isonzo Front is on an all time low. Catastrophic defeats against the Austrians, bad and broken equipment, unsanitary conditions, no supplies, no front leave and recreation for the soldiers. This week the first troops under Luigi Cardona are mutinying. At the same time the Entente is in real trouble against Bulgaria on the Macedonian Front and the evacuation of Gallipoli is still in the planning phase.

 

The Great War 100 Years Ago

Presented by Mr. Mike Hanlon - WorldWar1.com

100 Years Ago in the Great War: Christmas at the Front – One Year after the Truce

President Wilson and Gen. Pershing on Christmas Day, 1918.

Christmas Truce: Eastern Front 1915

Yes, there were Christmas truces after the famous 1914 event and not just on the Western Front. Above is a photo of German and Russian soldiers celebrating the holiday season on the Eastern Front. In Italy in both 1916 and 1917, there were so many episodes of gift exchanges between Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops – chocolate or bread for tobacco, apples for religious medallions – that by 1918 the Italian Army had imposed a death sentence on fraternizers. Luckily, the war's end precluded testing that regulation.

The original truce and such similar events on other front and in later years of the war were special outgrowths of what was known as the Live and let live approach to life at the front. "Live and Let Live" describes: the tendency of soldiers to avoid unnecessary discomfort and casualties in the trenches by making unofficial rules of conduct and engagement with the enemy.

On the Western Front, there were scattered incidents in 1915 [albeit smaller in scale] one of which was near Fromelles. Lt. Wilfred Ewart of the Scots Guards described it in his memoir, Scots Guards.

What he reports is reminiscent of the events of Christmas Day 1914, with one big exception: the contact between the German and Scottish troops only lasted 10 minutes. Lt. Ewart includes this description of the abrupt conclusion: 

So for ten brief – all too brief – minutes there is peace and goodwill among the trenches on Christmas Day. Then from the trenches of the Ninety-fifth Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment two officers in black accoutrements and shiny field-boots come out, wishing to take photographs of our Tommies, and offering them cigars. Their request is refused; and presently they say: "You will have five minutes to get back to your trenches before our artillery will open fire." And it does. And two or three men are wounded almost at once.
However, he does add: 

1915 Christmas Poster
But for twenty-four hours not a shot is fired, on either side.
The Christmases of 1916 and 17 have few similar reports from the frontlines. However, the high commands made an effort to provide special food and
holiday regalia in the rear areas. Things were different for the troops. As a matter of fact most of the participants of 1914's Christmas Truce were dead or invalided out. The new armies were not the professionals or early enthusiastic volunteers of the early fighting. They were more conscious of being trapped in a death struggle of nations and were also aware of the tremendous casualty lists that had accrued.

This quote from a well-known German soldier, who managed to survive 14 wounds capture this pretty well: 

Christmas and New Year were celebrated by the companies with great festivities at which beer and grog flowed in rivers. There were exactly four men left in the 2nd Company who spent the previous Christmas with me in the line before Monchy....
-Ernst Jünger, German Army, Somme, 1916

The 1914 Truce had one traumatic and impact – it horrified the generals and their staffs on both sides, and they worked hard subsequently at discouraging such fraternizations.

Such friendly gestures across the trenches humanized the opposition much too much. One thing that trench warfare encouraged was snipping, and events like Christmas Truce motivated the staffs to organize systematic snipping operations. This discouraged chatting about war news across no mans land, popping one's head above the parapet to inquire whether anyone was interested in exchanging cigars for pipe tobacco, or, generally, in doing anything to allow a sniper to locate you.

One episode from the post-Armistice Christmas Day is worth mentioning. That day was the only time during his stay in Europe that President Wilson visited the troops. He and Mrs. Wilson took a train to AEF General Headquarters at Chaumont. He was greeted by General Pershing, visited the troops quarters, and after a luncheon conducted a Presidential Review of the 26th Yankee Division.

For More Information:

Of course, the Christmas Truce of 1914 dominates almost all holiday season writings from the war. The best book on the Truce is Stanley Weintraub's Silent Night. On the Internet, Trenches on the Web has a fine compilation of accounts. The work Trench Warfare, 1914-1918: The Live And Let Live System by Tony Ashworth places the Christmas Truces in the context of the Live and Let Live system.

6 January: Withdrawal from Gallipoli

 

Upcoming Events

If you have an agenda item to include, please email Andrew McGreal by the Monday before the next Sync Call.

If you have an event for our calendar, please submit it here.

For a listing of events and exhibits, please visit the Commission Events Page

 

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