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World War I: The Great War

The 100th Anniversary of the War to End All Wars begins in 2014. This libguide provides resources for the study of this cataclysmic event that helped shape the 20th century.

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WWI Education Resource Center

These podcasts were produced by The Macarthur Memorial. The full set of recordings can be found on their podcast directory.

Terror in Sarajevo, The Macarthur Memorial
Otto von Bismarck once predicted that some “foolish” thing in the Balkans would start a major war in Europe – and he would prove correct in this belief. In an age of entangling alliances between nations, unrest in the Balkans would be enough to disrupt and twist the relationships between the major European powers and lead to a world war. The spark that would ignite this awful cataclysm would be a single act of terrorism in the Balkans – the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. (14:58)
Dazzle Painting, The Macarthur Memorial
World War I was a war of production and supply: whoever could feed their populations and soldiers, make the most weapons, and marshal the most resources would win the war. Surrounded by enemies on land, and desperate to break the trans-Atlantic trade and supply lines of the Allied Powers, Germany used submarines during the war to hunt down and destroy Allied vessels. With this German U-Boat campaign threatening Allied supplies and production capabilities, it soon became obvious that something had to be done to counter the U-Boat threat or the Allies would lose the war.

One of the tactics adopted was the use of “dazzle painting” – a jarring, brightly colored paint scheme for ships. Recognizing that it was impossible to make a ship invisible, Norman Wilkinson, the father of dazzle painting, decided to use bright and contrasting colors in geometric patterns to distort the size, speed, and shape of a ship. While the ultimate success of dazzle painting was much debated after the war, it remains an interesting chapter in the history of World War I. (12:53)
RMS Lusitania, The Macarthur Memorial
The sinking of the passenger liner RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915 was one of the great controversies of World War I. Targeted by a German U-Boat as part of a campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare, the Lusitania was carrying 1,266 passengers and 696 crew members. She was also carrying a substantial cargo of supplies for the Allies. She sank in 18 minutes after being struck by a torpedo fired by U-20. 1,191 aboard lost their lives – including 128 Americans. Although the United States remained neutral in the aftermath of the disaster, the sinking of the Lusitania helped move public opinion in favor of entering the war on side of the Allies in 1917. (23:51)
The Red Baron, The Macarthur Memorial
Some of the great heroes of World War I were the “aces” – pilots who were credited with bringing down large numbers of enemy planes. These dashing young pilots captured the imagination of the public and imbued the war with a sense of romanticism. Their celebrity came from the fact that they fought a war of individual heroism in the blue skies – far from the anonymity of the muddy trenches. In terms of casualty rates however, they were just as doomed as the troops in the trenches.

One of the most legendary “aces” of the war was Germany’s Baron Manfred von Richthofen – a man more commonly known as “The Red Baron." Flying a plane painted bright red, Richthofen stood out to friend and foe alike. Killed at the age of 25, he left behind a record of 80 kills. (22:02)
African American Doctors in WWI, The Macarthur Memorial
In this podcast, W. Douglas Fisher and Joann H. Buckley, authors of the book: African American Doctors of World War I, shed light on the little known story of African American doctors who served during World War I. Fisher and Buckley discuss the difficulties these men faced in obtaining medical degrees, their service in a segregated military, and their ultimate return to life in the United States. Why did they serve? What is their legacy? Fisher and Buckley answer these questions and more! (24:05)
Animals in WWI, The Macarthur Memorial
From transportation, to communication, security, comfort and morale, animals have been indispensable human partners throughout history. It is therefore not surprising that animals have played important roles in military conflicts. During World War I, millions of animals were put into service on each side. This war is often remembered for the great human suffering, but millions of animals also experienced the horrors of the war, while bringing their own unique skill sets to the business of war. (17:59)

Interactive websites aggregated by the WWI Education Resource Center

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