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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.

- You also have an exhibits tour. What will people see, what will be the focus?

Michael TezlowMichael TezlowAfternoon exhibits tour at Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Friday, October 27. The Museum will be open for self-guided tours featuring our permanent exhibits highlighting the contributions of Wisconsin veterans, and our new WWI exhibit: Beyond the Trenches: Stories from the Front, featuring the personal accounts of a diverse group of Wisconsin veterans in WWI.

- You will be showing a movie about the famous Red Arrow Division. Tell us about their role in the war. Tell us a little about the film itself -- how did it get made? who are the filmmakers? What was their research process like?

Dawn of the Red Arrow was produced by the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs. The 32nd Division was officially created 100 years ago with the publication of General Order 95 on July 18, 1917. This video examines the build-up of troops and units in Wisconsin, and culminates with the combination of Michigan and Wisconsin's National Guards into the 32nd Division at Camp MacArthur in Texas. The full video will be released in October. Much of the material was taken from the Wisconsin National Guard’s resources, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, the 32nd Division earned their distinctive divisional patch in WWI – the red arrow piercing a red line – symbolizing their ability to break through the German defenses in the summer of 1918.

- The people of Wisconsin played a major role in the US effort during the war, and the war made an major impact on the state of Wisconsin. Tell us a little about that role, and that impact. Are these still felt today?

Wisconsin in WWI – From 1917 to 1918, Wisconsin sent 122,215 men and women to fight the forces of Imperial Germany, and suffered nearly 4,000 killed. Known for their tenacity, leadership, and skill on the battlefield, units like Wisconsin’s 32nd Division — the famed “Red Arrow Division — were some of the most highly regarded fighting forces of the war, but Wisconsin soldiers, sailors and marines served in almost every theater of the war, including Siberia.

Today, the legacy of the 32nd Division may be seen in road signs and markers throughout the state. There’s even a locally-brewed beer named after the division – “Red Arrow” beer! Of course the unit legacy lives on through the present day Wisconsin National Guard members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which recently welcomed the 3-126 Infantry Regiment of Michigan back into its ranks.


Friday, 27 October

2:00-4:45 PM: Gallery Tours, Wisconsin Veterans Museum
5:00-6:00 PM: Reception, Overture Center
6:00-6:10 PM: Introductory remarks
6:10-7:45 PM: Roundtable: “Woodrow Wilson in the World’s Eyes” (Hew Strachan, John Cooper, David McDonald, Bruno Cabanes)
8:00-9:00 PM: Premiere of "Dawn of the Red Arrow"

Saturday, 28 October

7:30-8;30 AM: Breakfast, Wisconsin Historical Society
8;30-9:30 AM: Bruno Cabanes, “« Rights, not Charity ». France, the Great War and the Rights of War Victims”
Wisconsin Historical Society
9:45-10:45 AM: Keynote: Holly Case, “The Great War in the Age of Questions.” Wisconsin Historical Society
11:00 AM-12:15 PM: Panel Sessions I, Pyle Center (6 panels)
12:20-1:40 PM: Lunch, Pyle Center
Keynote: Michael Neiberg "The American Response to the War in Europe, 1914-1917"
1:45-4:00 PM: Panel Sessions II & III, Pyle Center (5 panels/session)
4:30-5:30 PM: Keynote, Jennifer Keene, “What did it all Mean? Americans and World War I”, Wisconsin Historical Society
5:45-6:45 PM: Reception: lobby & reading room, Wisconsin Historical Society

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