Four Questions for Terry Krautwurst
"To remind present and future generations of the sacrifices made"
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
Terry Krautwurst, from LeRoy, New York, is an extraordinary person. In 2015, just before Memorial Day, he walked into his home county's history department, and delivered to them a six-year project that he had just completed. Terry had personally researched and created a biographical profile for every one of the 65 men, and one woman (a nurse), from Genesee County who had died in service during World War One. The project encompassed eight binders, about 100,000 words of biographical text, and newspaper articles and archival documents pertaining to each person. Terry also delivered over 1,200 military documents (Burial Case Files) photocopied over the course of four visits to the National Archives in St. Louis, and two to the World War I Museum’s archives in Kansas City. In his words, it was Terry's way of bringing those soldiers “home,” or at least of keeping their memories alive. "Too often memorials are merely lists of names; I wanted to put some flesh and blood in those names" he said. The entire project, including all eight binders with complete soldier profiles, the 1,200 military file documents from the National Archives, related source documents and unit histories on disc, are available to anyone for viewing at the Genesee County History Department in Batavia, New York. For more information, contact the Genesee County Historian, at the department. In March, Terry will be launching a website and a related blog that will include all the profiles, as well as chronological posts, about Genesee County during the war. The topics will include both the home front, and the native sons and daughters in service. We will post the website link when it becomes available. Terry spent some time with us, and shared his story.
This is an amazing 6-year research project. Tell us about what you did. What did you envision for it?
Terry Krautwurst (left) at the Genesee County (NY) History Department, with his submitted research project. In 2015, just before Memorial Day, I delivered to my home county’s (Genesee County, NY) history department a six-year project I’d just completed about the 65 soldiers and one woman (a nurse) from Genesee County who had died during the war. The project encompassed eight binders, about 100,000 words of biographical text, and newspaper articles and archival documents pertaining to each person. I also delivered over 1,200 military documents (Burial Case Files) photocopied over the course of four visits to the National Archives in St. Louis, and two to the World War I Museum’s archives in Kansas City.
Originally, I was simply trying to learn more about what my grandfather, Stanley Crocker of Le Roy, NY, did during World War I. He seldom talked about it. All I knew was that he’d been in the war, and all I had to start with was an old panoramic photograph of him with the men in his unit, labeled “Battery D, 307th Field Artillery, Camp Dix, NJ” that I’d inherited from him. As kids, we used to point and laugh at some of the men in the photo—there was one with a bulldog face, another that resembled Goofy, and so on. So really, it just started from there.
One thing I learned fairly quickly was that my grandfather, and most of the other 100-plus men in that photo, were all early draftees from my home county and two adjacent counties in western New York—and that within about six months virtually all had been transferred from the 307th Field Artillery, which was in the 78th Division, to other divisions and units. My grandfather ended up serving in France with Company E of the 117th Ammunition Train, 42nd (Rainbow) Division. Others served in nearly a dozen other divisions and engineering units. Soon I found myself researching not only my grandfather’s role in the war, but the parts that all the other men in that photo played, too.
Then I discovered that several of the men who had started out in my Grandfather’s original unit had not survived the war—so I began examining honor roll lists of county casualties that had been published in area newspapers during and just after the war. That’s when the project really grew.
Read more: Four Questions for Terry Krautwurst
World War One — The Quick. The Dead. The Artists.
By Holland Cotter
via The New York Times
PHILADELPHIA — The idea lingers that art can be separated from politics. But it can’t. All art — high, low; illustrative, abstract — is embedded in specific political histories, and direct links, however obscured, are always there. Such links are the unswerving focus of “World War I and American Art” at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a panoramic show that has the narrative flow of a documentary, and the suspenseful, off-kilter emotional texture of live drama.
World War I lasted roughly four years, from 1914 to 1918, with the United States joining the fray in 1917. The brevity of that engagement has led Americans to play down the war, but we shouldn’t. Although politicians at the time spun the conflict — which the public increasingly understood to be a murderous mistake — as the war that would end all wars, it did the opposite. It set the model for World War II, Vietnam, Iraq. And it departed from previous models of war only in ramping up their barbarities with modern technology.
“Gassed” by John Singer Sargent. (Imperial War Museums, London)With World War I, invisibility became a deadly weapon. Submarines turned oceans into minefields. Airplanes, used in regular combat for the first time, killed through stealth and distance. Silent death emerged: poisonous gases enveloped victims, blinding them, eating their flesh, leaving them to drown in their own fluids. Add to these grisly innovations the high-power guns that, dronelike, pulverize bodies outside the range of vision, and you can see how warfare became depersonalized. It felt like a scientific experiment, not a human engagement.
For a long time, the United States watched from afar, as the Allied Powers (France, Britain, Russia) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire) battled each other in Europe. At the same time, America had its own wars of opinion, as citizens, artists among them, lined up on either side of the question of whether their country should stay neutral or gear up for battle.
Read more: World War I — The Quick. The Dead. The Artists.