A pandemic, never-maskers, open-air meetings: Welcome to 1918
By Betty Lou Gaen
Via the Edmonds Beacon newspaper (WA) web site
In October of 1918, the world was still fighting WWI, and although the end of the hostilities was near, censorship of the news still remained. Therefore, it was left to the non-combatant country of Spain to report that civilians in many places were becoming ill and dying at an alarming rate. These circumstances gave rise to the name by which this horrible disease would forever be known—the Spanish flu.
Even back then: In late 1918, a streetcar conductor on the Green Lake run in Seattle informs a potential rider that he can't board the streetcar without wearing a face mask.In late 1918, a streetcar conductor on the Green Lake run in Seattle, is informing a potential rider that he cannot board the streetcar without wearing a face mask. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
After first showing up earlier in 1918, and then seemingly abating, in the fall, the misnamed Spanish flu returned with a vengeance, and Seattle was enforcing regulations to protect its citizens. It was reported on Oct. 5, 1918, that Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson had ordered that every place of indoor public gatherings in Seattle close its doors. That included schools, theatres, motion picture houses, churches and dance halls. The only public gatherings allowed were those in the open air.
In the United States, the disease, first called a 3-day fever, was identified among military personnel in the spring of 1918. Most people recovered after a few days and only a few deaths were reported. However, in October, with WWI winding down and the American doughboys trickling back home from Europe, the disease resurfaced with a vengeance. Some victims died within hours after the first symptoms; others after a few days.
As the virus spread throughout the populated areas of the United States, and even into remote villages in Alaska, doctors, scientists and health officials seemed helpless. In one small remote native village in Alaska, influenza appeared where there seemed to be little contact from the outside, and in five days, 72 out of 80 residents died.
It was unknown where this strain of influenza first originated, but it was determined that it was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin, and even though it became known as the Spanish flu, it was very doubtful that Spain was the source.
Worldwide, it is estimated that about 500 million people became infected with the virus, and it is thought that at least 50 million, and probably more, died. About 675,000 deaths occurred in the United States. A Census Bureau report showed that 1,513 people died in Seattle.
Even though Washington state had a large military and naval presence, it had a smaller number of victims than other states, except Oregon. The death toll seemed highest in the most heavily populated areas of Washington, but touched nearly every community.
From late September 1918 through the end of the year, the disease had killed over 5,000 of the state's residents. More than half the victims were between the ages of 20 and 40.
Read more: A pandemic, never-maskers, open-air meetings: Welcome to 1918
The cleanup of the World War I toxic waste site in the Spring Valley section of Washington, DC. is finally completed. The remains of a World War I chemical weapons testing and disposal site — known as the American University Experiment Station — were discovered in 1993 in the Spring Valley section of Northwest D.C., and the cleanup has been going on since 2012, including the demolishing and removal of the house located on the site.
World War I chemical munitions cleanup ‘is complete’ under former Northwest DC home
By Neal Augenstein
via the WTOPnews radio station web site
The painstaking cleanup of what was once a World War I chemical weapons testing and disposal site, just southwest of the American University campus, is now complete, according to the project’s manager.
Demolition of the stately home at 4825 Glenbrook Road, in the Spring Valley section of Northwest D.C., began in November 2012, almost two decades after a contractor first unearthed buried military ordnance nearby.
For almost eight years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been looking for and removing remnants of potentially dangerous broken glassware and contaminated soil from the site, known as the American University Experiment Station.
“Excavation of all contaminated material is complete,” project manager Julie Kaiser told WTOP.
The cleanup of what the lawyer for the former homeowner called “the mother of all toxic dumps” began after digging and research indicated the likely presence of mustard gas and lewisite — an arsenic-containing blister agent — under the former home.
“We were happy to find that all of the soil and underlying saprolite, which did get sampled, was less than 20 parts of arsenic,” Kaiser said.
Saprolite is the rock under the soil, and the level of arsenic is comparable with naturally occurring levels found in soil, rock, water, and air.
“That was the deciding factor in the last excavation,” Kaiser said.
Read more: WWI chemical munitions cleanup ‘is complete’ under former Northwest DC home
The deadly outbreak that eventually killed tens of millions worldwide had a Kansas connection, and it struck as the Federal Reserve drove funding for World War I.
During deadly flu pandemic, Fed drove vital funding for World War I
By Stan Austin
via the TEN magazine web site, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
A mysterious and lethal virus rapidly spreads across the globe. Hospitals and caregivers scramble to confront a sickness that leaves the public fearful and medical professionals perplexed. Authorities order business and social restrictions to stem the surge.
The year? ... “2020” might be an obvious answer as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. However, that scenario actually describes the “Spanish flu” outbreak of 1918. There are stark similarities between that Great Pandemic and the current one–face masks, social-distancing recommendations and overwhelmed health professionals, for example. However, there are many important differences.
Chief among them, the flu’s staggering death toll – estimated at more than 50 million people worldwide – and America’s involvement in World War I. Historians agree that the country’s frenzied war buildup was a major factor in spreading the virus, as thousands of sailors and soldiers were rushed via crowded ships to join the Allies in Europe. Still, today’s coronavirus pandemic has many people looking back 102 years for parallels.
The Fed responds
From the standpoint of economic stewardship, one constant in the 1918/2020 comparisons is the vital and highly visible role played by the Federal Reserve. This year, the Board of Governors has taken several actions aimed at protecting consumers, helping businesses stay afloat, and revitalizing a national economy battered by COVID-19 shutdowns and historic unemployment.
In 1918, just five years after the central bank was established, the regional Reserve Banks and the Treasury were guiding the Liberty Loan program to help finance the war effort. Aided by a massive promotional campaign involving celebrities, local volunteers and even school children across the country, $20 billion was raised through four Liberty Loan drives and a “Victory Loan” drive that was conducted after the WWI armistice was signed Nov. 11, 1918. Although the flu was still raging, a Federal Reserve System publication the next month captured a sense of optimism about the Kansas City Fed’s region.
Read more: During deadly flu pandemic, Fed drove vital funding for World War I
Global threats like the coronavirus pandemic are transforming the world today. An existential truth has emerged: technological advances are outstripping political capacity and imagination. This is not a new story.
What WWI Can Teach Us About Misjudging Tech and Social Change
By Eugene Scherbakov
via the carnegie.org web site
On an unremarkable day in January just over one hundred years ago, the age of empire in Europe came to an end. The colossal states that ruled over vast, multiethnic territories with supreme self-confidence suddenly ceased to exist. Empire’s end arrived with a bang, not a whimper, to be sure. Though the Treaty of Versailles that came into effect in early 1920 redrew the map of Europe, the great monarchs sealed their own fate when they ambled unwittingly into the fires of the Great War. Their demise demonstrates the cost of miscalculation when the pace and scale of technological and social change outstrip political capacity and imagination. Once begun, the war proceeded according to a brutal logic of bloody and unexpected escalation, culminating in the destruction of the very states that had presided over the rise of modern Europe. As we reflect upon the war a century later, we may be surprised to find that the similarities between our time and that not-so-distant past are more troubling than the differences.
Over the course of the 19th century, scientific and technological progress advanced at such a pace that the governing bodies could scarcely grasp the enormity of the transformation of the very ground beneath their feet. They were lulled to complacence by their own seeming immutability. Changes within their realms were embraced as indications of progress and celebrated in tribute to the greater glory of the states themselves. Writing of the replacement of gas streetlamps with electric lighting, the novel rapidity of horseless carriages, and the newfound ability to soar aloft like Icarus, the Viennese writer Stefan Zweig recounts how “faith in an uninterrupted and irresistible ‘progress’ truly had the force of a religion for that generation. One began to believe more in this ‘progress’ than in the Bible, and its gospel appeared ultimate because of the daily new wonders of science and technology.”
Technological progress in turn-of-the-century Europe may strike modern readers as quaint and innocuous. Today, after all, leading firms compete to achieve quantum supremacy in computing, political leaders darkly intone that mastery of artificial intelligence will lead to global domination, and Silicon Valley billionaires look to the stars — investing immense capital in the production of satellites and spaceships to mine the mineral wealth of asteroids.
Just as in Zweig’s Vienna, however, today’s world leaders are hard-pressed to comprehend the complex networks of social and technological forces that undergird the foundations of modern life.
Read more: What the First World War Can Teach Us About Misjudging Tech and Social Change
Equal Suffrage League of Richmond, Va. in front of Washington Monument, Capitol Square, Richmond. The members of the ESL were promoting the suffrage film, "Your Girl and Mine." (Credit: Adèle Goodman Clark Papers, Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries./Wikimedia Commons)
WWI changed public attitude about women’s suffrage
By Melissa De Witte-Stanford
via the Futurity web site
While American women had been fighting for the right to vote for decades prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, it was not until World War I that their cause for political independence regained momentum, argues legal scholar Pamela S. Karlan.
“Suffragists conscripted rhetorical claims advanced in favor of the war, and pointed to women’s key role on the home front, to bolster their arguments in favor of domestic expansion of voting rights,” says Karlan,. “Times of crisis can be opportunities to make real progress.”
While white women have encountered few legal obstacles to voting since the amendment’s ratification, however, Black Americans have endured persistent racial discrimination—despite the 15th Amendment’s parallel prohibition denying citizens the right to vote on account of race or color.
Here, Karlan discusses what the 19th Amendment accomplished and the challenges that persist today:
Read more: WWI changed public attitude about women’s suffrage
A Spanish Flu victim in St Louis, USA in 1918. Then, as today, an intense debate had ensued over the utility and convenience of wearing masks. Citizens neglected the ordinance, showed defiance, and some also organised protests.
Lessons from 1918 Spanish flu: When mask laws triggered protests in the United States
By Adrija Roychowdhury
via The Indian Express newspaper (New Delhi) web site
In 1918, when Americans were busy aiding the Allied powers in the First World War that was raging across Europe, they were beset at home by a deadly influenza epidemic. The Spanish influenza is recorded to have killed ten times more Americans than were killed by German bombs and bullets in the war.
The Spanish flu arrived in America at a time when mass transportation, mass consumption and warfare had opened up public spaces, where infectious diseases could spread. One of the most widespread and devastating epidemics of the 20th century, the flu had also arrived at a time when medicine had advanced by leaps and bounds. Historian Nancy Tomes, in her article, ‘“Destroyer and Teacher”: Managing the Masses During the 1918–1919 Influenza Pandemic’, explained how the influenza epidemic of 1918 was “simple to understand, but difficult to control.”
The flu was first reported in March 1918, at an army base in Kansas where close to 100 soldiers had been infected. Within a week, the number of cases grew five times. As thousands of soldiers deployed for the war moved across the Atlantic, the flu spread with them. Local authorities rolled out a large number of measures to control its spread including shutting down of schools, banning public gatherings, no spitting, and the like. The one measure that turned into a point of debate, was the mandatory wearing of masks. Then, as today, an intense debate had ensued over the utility and convenience of wearing masks. Citizens neglected the ordinance, showed defiance, and some also organised protests that like today, were politically motivated.
Mandatory masks for all – A first time law during the Spanish flu
The practice of covering nose and mouth as a sanitary practise is traced back to early modern Europe. During the spread of the Bubonic plague, doctors wore a beak-shaped mask filled with perfume. The reason behind wearing this mask was the belief that contagious diseases spread through noxious pollutants in the air or miasma. Perfume-filled masks were believed to be capable of protecting those wearing it. This practise though, began to die out by the 18th century.
Read more: Lessons from 1918 Spanish flu: When mask laws triggered protests
Change coming for segregated Loudoun County, VA WWI memorial
By Nathaniel Cline
via the Loudoun Times-Mirror newspaper (VA) web site
The bronze plaque on the Loudoun County World War I Memorial has stood in the heart of Leesburg for nearly 100 years. Located on the county courthouse grounds, the plaque lists the names of the 30 service members from Loudoun who died during war. Segregated by two engraved lines, on top are the names of 27 white service members; below are three Black men who equally gave their lives for America.
Loudoun County’s World War I monument on the county courthouse grounds in Leesburg.The dividing line may soon be gone.
Loudoun County Supervisor Mike Turner (D-Ashburn) said he plans to propose a new plaque that would alphabetize the names. Turner is aiming to offer a motion to the board in September after the supervisors’ August break. If approved, the Ashburn supervisor hopes a re-dedication ceremony can be held in 2022, the 100th anniversary of the memorial’s installation.
“I knew I wanted it changed, it couldn’t stay the way it was,” Turner, a retired Air Force colonel, said. “I never wanted the memorial removed — that was never my intent. It was always to replace the engraving in a way that reflects the sacrifice of the men who are listed on the plaque and also in a way that reflects justice in America.”
Loudoun County and other localities across Virginia were given the authority by state lawmakers to “remove, relocate or contextualize” war memorials in this year’s General Assembly session. The law went into effect in July.
The controversial Confederate monument in Leesburg, which stood on the courthouse grounds since 1908, was removed last month. The statue was claimed by its owner, the Loudoun Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, after the Board of Supervisors signaled its intent to remove the monument.
The separating line on the World War I monument hits home for Marilyn Thornton, a Washington, D.C.-based author and the granddaughter of war veteran James Edgar Thornton, about whom she wrote a book. Marilyn Thornton is a relative of one of the Black Loudoun County deceased, Samuel C. Thornton. She supports replacing the plaque.
“Can’t you just see people sitting around in a meeting saying, ‘Oh, let’s put the white boys at the top?’” she said in an interview with the Times-Mirror. “It’s just incredible to me that anybody would think to do that.”
Thornton said she saw the plaque for the first time when researching her 2016 book, “Letters From Edgar’s Trunk,” based on accounts from her grandfather in the 369th Infantry Regiment during World War I. The group was commonly known as the Harlem Hellfighters. The author dedicated the book to the Black soldiers listed on the plaque — Ernest Gilbert, Valentine B. Johnson and Samuel C. Thornton.
Thornton said she could not believe the plaque when she first saw it. She called it “ridiculous,” but said she was not surprised. She recalled meeting Supervisor Turner at an event, and she shared her issues with the monument.
Read more: Change coming for segregated Loudoun County, VA World War I memorial
New Jersey family of WWI Army Veteran receives his Service Medals
via the U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) web site
WASHINGTON, DC - On July 27, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) hosted a virtual event on Facebook Live with U.S. Navy veteran and Park Ridge resident Bruce McNamara, grandson of late World War I U.S. Army veteran Harry P. McNamara Jr., and presented service medals Harry McNamara Jr. earned serving in France in WWI.
Above: Congressman Gottheimer (right) with retired Navy veteran and Park Ridge resident Bruce McNamara.Gottheimer’s office worked with the U.S. Army to acquire service medals owed to Harry McNamara Jr., so that the McNamara family could fully honor his service in World War I:
- The World War I Victory Medal with Meuse-Argonne Battle Clasp and France Service Clasp;and
- The World War I Victory Button - Bronze.
“We must always have the backs of those who have had ours: the brave men and women who have served our nation and defended our freedoms. I’m proud to have Bruce join me today to honor his grandfather’s service, and for us to be able to recognize his grandfather with these medals he earned serving our great nation in France during World War I,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Bruce comes from a long family line of service members, including his grandfather, father, brother and uncle. On behalf of the entire North Jersey community, I want to thank the McNamarafamily for their decades of service.”
Gottheimer continued, “If any veteran or family members in the Fifth District have an issue with a federal agency, securing veterans benefits, or service recognitions, please reach out to me — my door is always open.”
Bruce had been attempting to get World War I medals for his grandfather for several years — with no success. He contacted Gottheimer’s office and worked with the constituent casework team, which was able to recover the medals.
Read more: Park Ridge, NJ family of WWI Army Veteran receives his Service Medals
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, right, is shown in this postcard, circa 1920, alongside Tomas G. Masaryk, the first President of Czechoslovakia. (Courtesy Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Collection)
Despite Americans’ Second Thoughts, Czechs Admire Woodrow Wilson
By Natalie Liu
Via the Voice of America web site
WASHINGTON - The legacy of former U.S. president Thomas Woodrow Wilson is going through a harsh re-examination by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, but in at least one country abroad, his place in history is undisputed.
Wilson, who occupied the White House from 1913 to 1921, “is being criticized for his allegedly racist views as far as I know,” said Zdenek Beranek, the Czech Republic’s second-ranking diplomat in Washington.
The Czech people do not approve of any form of racism, Beranek said in an interview with VOA, but “we appreciate what he did for our nation. … Wilson invested his political capital to the independence of my country.”
Wilson, known internationally for his role in reshaping world affairs after World War I, has recently come under scrutiny amid a national movement to remove statues of Confederate generals and other historic leaders accused of having owned slaves or supported racial segregation.
Princeton University, one of America’s leading educational institutions, recently removed his name from its school of public policy because of his support for segregationist policies. In a sign of how problematic his legacy has become, the governor of New Jersey has decided to not sit behind a desk used by Wilson when he held that office.
Wilson, described by some as the most highly educated of all American presidents, served as a professor for many years before rising to become president of Princeton, then governor of New Jersey and then president of the United States.
Until recently, he was best known for his handling of the presidency during the First World War — a period that saw the rise of the United States as a political and military power. In January 1918, as the war was drawing to a close, Wilson announced the Fourteen Points and laid the foundation for the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war.
During the war years, he was influenced by the entreaties of Czech exile Tomas G. Masaryk, a fellow academician-turned-politician who, with Wilson’s crucial help, would go on to help establish the new country of Czechoslovakia and become its first president.
Wilson is said to have been deeply moved when he learned that a document drafted by Masaryk and other leading figures to proclaim the right of the Czech and Slovak peoples to self-governance was modeled after the American Declaration of Independence.
“You could say our very independence was declared on American soil,” Beranek said.
Read more: Despite Americans’ Second Thoughts, Czechs Admire Woodrow Wilson
An enthusiastic crowd greets troops from the 132nd Field Artillery (formerly the First Texas Cavalry) as they arrive at Camp Bowie on April 7, 1919, for demobilization.
Fort Worth’s Camp Bowie teemed with soldiers returning for WWI in the spring of 1919
By Carol Roark
via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper (TX) web site
Communities were abuzz in the spring of 1919.
Hundreds of thousands of United States troops were still deployed across France and Belgium even though World War I had ended in November 1918.
Attention turned toward bringing them home, and the excitement was palpable. Despite the fact that soldiers from other countries had been in the field much longer and suffered unimaginable losses, America wanted to celebrate her heroes and give thanks that the conflict had ended.
Transport ships traveling from ports in France landed on the east coast, disgorging thousands of soldiers at a time. The men were then more or less divided into groups according to where they had lived before the war started (or their original military unit) and quickly put on trains to travel inland.
Military leaders did not want all of the troops to land – and stay – in a few large cities like New York or Boston. Parades scheduled along the train route helped the soldiers to stretch their legs and pace arrivals at the demobilization camps.
Camp Bowie, which had trained regiments of the 36th Division, was a major mustering out point for soldiers from Texas and Oklahoma. At first, troops trickled in, with a few wounded arriving in January and February, followed by brigades that came at the end of March and in early April. Then the would-be civilians arrived in torrents, with most troops reaching Camp Bowie during the first three weeks of June 1919.
No one had more interest in the arriving trains than the families of the returning soldiers. They wore their Sunday best and decorated their cars with American flags. Greeters were deployed, picnics and barbecues planned, baseball games scheduled, and a wild male panther dubbed “Texohoma” was rounded up to welcome returning soldiers.
Read more: Fort Worth’s Camp Bowie teemed with soldiers returning for WWI in the spring of 1919
Soldiers of the 369th Infantry Regiment man a trench in France during World War I. The Signal Corps photograph collection includes every major aspect of the U.S. Army involvement in World War I.
11 facts you should have learned about World War I
By Jessica Evans
via the wearethemighty.com web site
Here's everything you were always supposed to know about the Great War but may have never learned.
1. The first World War was a global war centered in Europe that began on July 28, 1914, and ended on November 11, 1918. The war lasted four years, three months and 14 days.
2. Before WWII, WWI was called the Great War, the World War and the War to End All Wars. During the four years of conflict, 135 countries participated in the conflict. More than 15 million people died.
3. WWI involved some of the most significant powers of the world at that time. Two opposing alliances – the Allies and the Central Powers – were at odds with one another. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his pregnant wife Sophie triggered the start of the war. Ferdinand was the nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary.
4. A Serbian terrorist group, the Black Hand, planned the assassination. The man who shot Ferdinand and his wife, Gavrilo Princip, was a Bosnian revolutionary.
5. Though the assassination triggered the start of WWI, several causes factored into the conflict.
Alliances between countries to maintain the power balance in Europe were tangled and not at all secure. All across Europe, countries were earnestly building up their military forces, battleships and arms stores to regain lost territories from previous conflicts. By the end of the war, the four major European empires – the Russians, the Ottomans, the Germans and the Austro-Hungarian had all collapsed.
Read more: 11 facts you should have learned about World War I
After World War I, the surrendered German U-boat UC-97 was sailed up the St. Lawrence Seaway into Lake Ontario and then Lake Erie and Lake Michigan.
There's a German U-boat at the bottom of Lake Michigan
By Blake Stilwell
via the wearethemighty.com web site
Crewman aboard a ship owned by A and T Recovery on Lake Michigan dropped cameras into the deep to confirm what sonar was telling them – there was a German U-boat resting on the bottom of the Great Lake. Luckily, the year was 1992, a full 73 years removed from the end of the Great War that saw German submarines force the United States to enter the war in Europe. How it got there has nothing to do with naval combat.
In the days before a true visual mass medium, the American people were restricted to photos in newspapers to get a view of what the war looked like. World War I was the first real industrial war, marked for its brutality and large numbers of casualties, not to mention the advances in weapons technology that must have seemed like magic to the people who had never seen poison gas, automatic machine guns, and especially boats that moved underneath the waves, sinking giant battleships from the depths.
So after years of hearing about evil German U-boats mercilessly sinking tons and tons of Allied shipping and killing thousands of sailors while silently slipping beneath the waves, one of those ships began touring the coastal cities of the United States – and people understandably wanted to see it.
The Nov. 11, 1918 Armistice demanded that the German navy turn over its ships to the British but instead of doing that, the Germans scuttled the bulk of their fleet near the British base at Scapa Flow. The submarines, however, survived. Seeing that there were so many U-boats and that German technology surrounding U-boats used some of the best technology at the time, the British offered them out to other nations, as long as the submarines were destroyed when their usefulness came to an end.
The United States accepted one, UC-97, and toured it around the country to raise money needed to pay off the enormous war debt incurred by the government of the United States.
When they successfully raised that money, the Navy continued touring the ships as a way to recruit new sailors. The UC-97 was sailed up the St. Lawrence Seaway into Lake Ontario and then Lake Erie.
It was the first submarine ever sailed into the Great Lakes.
Read more: There's a German U-boat at the bottom of Lake Michigan
British fashion designer Lucile, or Lady Duff Gordone, thought luxury consumerism was a virtue as wartime economies struggled during World War I.
World War I Austerity Couldn’t Stop the Fashion Show
By Livia Gershon
via the JSTOR Daily web site
Modern shoppers can frame almost any purchase in moral terms. Think of all those people getting takeout to support local restaurants during the pandemic. As theater historian Marlis Schweitzer explains, one foremother of this attitude was British fashion designer Lucile, or Lady Duff Gordon. She promoted luxury consumption as a patriotic duty in the face of government-backed austerity campaigns during the First World War.
Schweitzer writes that Lucile claimed to be the inventor of the modern fashion show. Starting in 1900, she hired “glorious, goddess-like girls” to model her dresses at her London showroom, which she decked out like a theater. In 1910, she brought a branch of her fashion empire to New York. After the outbreak of World War I, she moved to the city herself.
When the United States entered the war, authorities adopted a rhetoric of sacrifice for the common good. “This is the time for America to correct her unpardonable fault of wastefulness and extravagance,” President Woodrow Wilson said in 1917. Herbert Hoover, then head of the Wartime Food Administration, called for a “stamp of shame” on “wasteful eating, dressing and display of jewelry.”
Lucile disagreed. She created a new, fantastically opulent show called Fleurette’s Dream, which she toured on the vaudeville circuit. However, Schweitzer writes, she insisted that this wasn’t a fashion show but a war drama. It tells the story of a young French girl dreaming of her former fashionable life in Paris while hiding in her cellar during a German bombing. Lucile grounded the display of extravagant furs and fabrics in the reality of war. A French military officer introduced the show’s debut performance. And Lucile promised that the majority of money raised by the show would go to helping suffering civilians in France.
Lucile wasn’t the only one arguing for spending money as an ethical choice. In June 1917, Theatre Magazine warned that if families stopped buying new clothes or going to restaurants and theaters, “such wide-spread distress would result in the business life of the community that no man can say what the outcome would be, and millions of innocent persons would suffer.”
Read more: World War I Austerity Couldn’t Stop the Fashion Show