tv Jennifer Keene Discusses World War I CSPAN July 16, 2017 5:32pm-6:26pm EDT
of history jennifer keene who chairs the department of history at chapman in southern california in the american military experience of world war i the award winning scholar to the great war and the united states in the first world war also with dozens of articles in contributing to do textbooks the prize for society of military history reference book winning said jack miller center prize in also edits a peer review digital humanities project to find
common ground. on the advisory board of the international society for the first world war studies and we are happy to have her as current president we just had our conference a couple loved ones to go. and then dealing with an african-american experience and from the french and the british soldier joy me in welcoming dr. jennifer keene to norwich university. [applause] >> thanks for coming out to talk about "world war i" and you can see from the title to begin with the idea in
through the american is soldiers experience when wilson declares war what does that mean for the majority of the american and especially of military age? so i was going to begin with a poster that is ubiquitous but in many respects it encapsulates the first big challenge the united states has after wilson makes the decision to bring america into the war united states has been debating and we made very few a cocky -- concrete preparations to understand what would require a total mobilization of the home front.
you can make the argument in 1940 nobody knew if there were getting themselves into. and negotiating peace is over quickly but then there is no more illusions then we understood and so we know we have to raise the vast army quickly. interestingly we only have the armed forces and that is your mandate -- or be a national guard together so we have a challenge. so this is the first challenge and to think about that process of the first world war. we are historians and like to look at evidence with
propaganda posters unfortunately it's a little washed out here bed hopefully you can kind of see that and on which side of the window are you? this is the perfect encapsulation of individual choice. so it is hard to see but he is hiding in the shadows making the decision if he should and must. they are walking together and under the american flag. with the caption here is your choice which side of the window will you be of? -- on? so to have that if
you will go to war so while there are a lot of posters the reality will be very different of the first world war the united states will raise the bulk of the armed forces it is the first time to institute at the beginning of a conflict. suez you cut into the army will be drafted and then you'll not even be allowed to enlist in the army. and there were a few reasons for this. are you sure the american people are behind you? it is a controversial decision. so will men actually join?
but that is not the primary motivation the primary motivation but that is the way to have the least disruption to your home front economy. because by 1917 america understands it is enough to raise 4 billion bin they also need to mobilize the whole front. a and this is after we were dead and reduplicate the french and british experience to learn lessons from that. but often the best and brightest are the first to russia that could be disrupted if the military force and the home front economy so when we think about the adl that everybody
will have the responsibility some people will better serve in the military some will better serve in the home front and it will be of to the individual to decide somebody else will decide and this is where we want to think about where we call the draft in the first world war so what does the government call this? selective service. like to say that is reprinting that encapsulates the philosophy and then to select where you serve on the home front or in the military.
so in this respect everybody has an obligation if we think of how construction - - construction actually works we did have a civil war or actually a drafted during the civil war if you know, anything about your history there were draft riots so these are not popular measures. so we will implement some new lessons the one of those mistakes they had made was that process of the draft so
literally federal agents knocked on the house is asking the man of the house to register but then this made it the individual decision whether not to comply with a lot. so take that out of your hands so now it is national registration day were all draft eligible bin between the ages of 21 and 30 will all registered they will do in public and in front of their friends and neighbors register for the draft. so you can see they have all these guys saying we will have a big party and we will go down and register.
but in this way people could make sure that you actually did. >> and looking at the newspapers announcing the national registration day and you can see where they come from two different communities. so that is the same imagery. and then to be able to hand in the draft registration card to of calcium. all the different glasses and ethnic backgrounds. >> can i apologize for the poor quality but look on the left but that photograph is
of men standing in line to register and then you have that photographic evidence that people are waiting in line to register. community is coming out to serve their country. but i would have 2.0 -- out that in rolling the of liberty are we sold na a nutshell the visit to. so a lot of emphasis is put on compliance. to comply with the lot and this is people registering
gladly. but there were those that glad they did not register for selective service. and so with those tv should rates and perhaps even more importantly what you do in public or private to make a huge deal of those 20 million men who registered. so they went home to fill out a request and these are ways if you had dependents to work in an industry that was considered essential and if he did not pass the physical exam but they got their pictures of their names in the newspaper said a fellow that exemption card
so something jujube and public some are in private but for the most part it was going to be amazingly successful raising the bulk of that military and a way to create a mass army with the selective service system just like what we use from vietnam. so this also of suggest the appearance and the reality they are prolific and if that this construction is to have compliance yet many mandolin and request. but here we have a cartoon
which kind of shows uncle sam registering but you can see as the register they are from all different walks of life and they all look exactly the same starting them into uniform force. so now all of oceanus talking to these men to say they are draft dodgers you will be stoking the poll of those ships going to france so basically pretty numb with non-combat work that you are not patriotic base serving your country so this attitude 1917 is problematic
because the reality 70 percent of men will be drafted the other is that 60 percent of this force will be noncombatant soldiers this is what a modern military looks like in the civil war they were the front-line troops joining the army really did need - - meter high probability would fight the fed to have that military organization that logistics are a part to keep that front line going you will see noncombatant jobs that were still there some that our just need performed because from the very beginning you are suggesting that the non-combat job is punishment and not honorable
so that will create defection to non-combat work with a feeling they're not real soldiers are have not done the job to fight and there is no group that will be more true than and african-americans. some of this is a pitcher of african-american soldiers headed to france then they see the reality where the army at the front cannot do its job without a tremendous amount of resources it may seem mundane that coming from the united states they have to unload the material from the ship and in the united states army which was
completely segregated 80 percent are assigned to those noncombatant positions so this is an interesting picture as it encapsulates justice hall complex that logistical operation becomes as they come off of the ship almost the assembly line system and the of black soldiers doing the heavy lifting and the whites officers supervising over the uniform is work coveralls of the even put on the worker they were not a real soldier.
so bad and that being the reality of their service. so of that image of lower projection going to war vs. reality of those that will serve the war effort but those of the more non-traditional roles. but a positive eight for african americans going to france overall there are 400,000 soldiers drafted or that in list and half of those go to france. one of the images -- ca vintages they have opportunity to have contact with french civilians these are black soldiers held the his own french peasants rebuild their house so there were discouraging parts but the idea that they are still
under light commanded and still has racism but it is mitigated by the relationship they could establish with the french civilians and this is the time they had a friendship with white people you come from jim crow south you go to france though they invite you to dinner? for many people this is never happened before so they begin to have an awareness with their day-to-day action is the way race relations are structured is not how it has to be have pervasively so they come home with very different ideas of the post world much luck so as much as the culture tries to keep those race relations stable
men that had rebated selective service with it goes into movie theaters anywhere large groups of men were congregating and ask them to they have their draft card? and a car that tells them which classification? he is a draft eligible he is sent category number one. had to be on their person to be sure that it was taking
place at the community level that looking at each other to make sure everybody is doing the right thing. we shouldn't think of this as top down let's it doesn't have enough people to major everybody does it those most effective enforcers are your neighbors with tons of letters coming in names being published in the newspaper and now you have these vigilantes' going around and just to give you an example how to advertise the fact here is a little
pin that says exempt to prove that you have actually done everything you are supposed to do and not get caught up in the dragnet so suddenly these pins and cards a year after kerry showed you can comply so in the home front as well there is that same phenomenon that they go to privately produce propaganda posters for us what you can see is the flag hanging in the window so this is a black family the van had is the list did or has been drafted he has the place of honor on the mantelpiece the family is
very proud of their patriotic duty so they are advertising to their neighbors that they have a relative who is serving their country so you have to ask why you have to tell our show your neighbors this is what you are doing if you know you do the right thing is that enough? but with the first world war it was a proliferation of flags every betty literally wears it on their sleeve i will show you i am one of those people who white - - two is complying with the implication that there are people who are not that need to be forced and to create immediate unity because it has been controversial also with this example we know he is still alive because of the blues
star if he had died it would turn to gold that is also something they would fly touche showed they may be an ultimate sacrifice. so what we see and all of this is more than just a way to raise a military there a lot of ways but this creates unity and a sense of purpose and a culture that has been uncertain this was their war to fight not until april april 1917 he said we're fighting the war and the public actin of patriotism becomes a way to unified the community to fight the battles. so how you advertise will
very famous phrases that come from that. and how the president has condemned the country a purpose of the board to explain why we have to do all this and have this mass military and he says we are glad now that we see the facts of pretax about them the openinbeover in peace of the wor the liberation of its people the german people is included. the nation's great and small and privilege everywhere to choose their life so this is the articulation of self-determination they should have the right to choose the kind of government under which they live.
it doesn't occur to people left to their own devices they might choose another form of government. in his view it's only going to be democracy. what it sees and what it is is this why the american soldiers are fighting. what is the war all about. if we see the difference that it represents to them here i have some quotes from the letters and it's an interesting question to
ask how much these ideas match up with what woodrow wilson has said. we couldn't afford to pass up. there is no doubt that for many of the men entering into the military and going to france this was for them the greatest adventureadventure of their liv. they understood that the war as the most that they would live through. but you have to imagine what it's like for most of the men who go into the military most of the working-class men many of them to travel 40 miles from where they are born and they didn't hop on planes and see the world or the united states. getting on a train and going to
the second one is also quite interesting. they won't have to say it. it may send honoring your family and shoving that he'd done the right thing the sense that your community is watching what you do and you can see all the sentiments being articulated in the draft practice process that they are internalizing that as well they have to be able to come home with good stories that show they've been patriotic. the pairings are walking down to the grocery store and a neighbor says what did your son do in the war and the parents said he fixed trucks behind the lines.
the honorable thing to do is fight. when i hear about things like that for the sheer pleasure of brutality the wartime propaganda creates a love-hate and when you get fired upon of course it causes you to hate the enemy anymore and why woodrow wilson might be thinking about it as a way to spread political ideas for a lot of soldiers it is a matter of deceiving the germans to represent a threat to civilization and they need to be put down. the last one is in terms of the poster and all the different things that it's articulating.
they are treating american soldiers to behave properly while they are in military service because that honorable discharge is going to be a reference for you and that is one way that it's very distinct from european military and we see something new became introduced to the concept of military service and it represents a way for you to improve your life that this can be a stepping stone into a better job, into a better socioeconomic position. if this can be something that helps you with not many prospects for education or a career jumps up a step and i can imagine that there's many of you
that understand now the look of military service as a way to improve your life. there will be ways you can improve your conditions and in the first world war when that doesn't prove to be immediately there is dissatisfaction calling the government out of tuesday this is to improve my life and in fact things are worse what's going on because he's unimportant changes on that i will talk about in a second.
it's other important representational aspects of how america goes to war. charles is an interesting guy because he is a german-american and he writes a book after the war about his experiences in the 306 machine gun battalion in the 77th position. and he's an interesting position because as a second generation german-american, you can imagine the kind of suspicion and problems he has in the military when he has when he joins up.
but it's a good moment to kind of point out that america at this moment has undergone a lot of immigration. we had a massive wave of immigration from western europe and south eastern europe so many of them do get drafted into the american military. sometimes you have to teach them english now as well. even the american symbols of patriotism there's a lot of
things that go into drafting so many other foreign soldiers. for charles miner, he's pretty motivated by this that it is the 100% american pto is the weight of that everyda every day that n the military that he knows something else that makes him wonder if his family considered 100% american. they have to register for the post office to have their picture taken and carry around a card showing that they registered and the government can keep an eye on them so he is in the military that his appearancbut hisappearance or cd
traitors to the country. her mother is petrified by the idea that he might accidentally when he gets to the western front. her brother is serving in the german army and his children, he's just petrified because by some accident of fate her son is going to end up being the person that kills her brother.
he says alright, i won't do it. but this puts him in a position because was he loyal at the moment, so he's sort of caught between these two worlds. he keeps his promise until september 29. he's covered in the infantry with italian going forward. her loyalty to comrades has to outweigh my promise to my mother and he actually goes ahead and fires on the german machine gun and they kill the governors who are operating. so then the unit moves forward and he can't help himself, he keeps thinking about what his mother said to him so he walks
over to the machine gun desk and sees them lying face down i have to know. he turns them over and looks at them and writes. i kept thinking of him in the german lines and officer came along and started yelling at me. this is no time for souvenir hunting. i was so heartsick i couldn't talk. and we think that this is a story that we kind of see he appears to be doing the right thing. he wants to prove that he's 100% american. but these personal struggles that he has about what he's doing and is this going to destroy his family don't go away even though on the surface he is a loyal american soldier who was
doing what the military wants him to do and this is the crazy things people do it's actually 40,000 soldiers standing in a hot sun ithehot sun in july in f the statue of liberty. but if we peel it back a little bit we see there's more going on and at the same can be said of one of the most famous soldiers of the first world war. this story seems to suggest the man who overcomes his doubt about serving in the military is highly decorated during the war but is that all this story tells.
do you think h he's a movie star quality guy, so this goes to show how famous he was when they make a movie just about his life so he's filed a petition to be one of the people except for military service and then he filed for an exemption based on his religious beliefs. the claim is rejected and when he gets there he has certain choices he can make even in the
military camp he can refuse any military duty some do noncombat import into some do nothing and they end up going or they can agree to fight and serve in the first world war they make a movie about him in 1941 he agrees to fight and serve and they have these famous moments again where he is credited to single-handedly with 35 machine guns and he receives the medal of honor for this action. what makes him agree to fight and serve he has conversations with his commander. to him it is pretty clear the bible says thou shalt not kill
and he has these conversations at the end his commander is able to convince him with the idea that the bible also says blessed are the peacemakers and if you go back to what woodrow wilson claimed this was a war to end all so perhaps he would be able to actually reconcile his belief in that notion and he does so in a sense this story represents the things we' we like to beliee about how we go to the war that we are reluctant to fight but yet once we are convinced that the cause is righteous we are fantastic at it and we'll d we a good job even if initially we have doubt that if we end the story there, we missed some important elements of what he represents. he is exactly a few months from
his birthday somebody this close to being out of the purview of the government yet he comes from this impoverished community in tennessee and he's not so sure himself that he made the right decision. he dealt his whole life as he builds schools and roads and does good work in the community. he wondered if god would publish them for killing that if he put that behind him the last soldier i want to mention.
for many people at home the idea is one of the soldiers that was able to fight. the hope is by fighting in the front line they would be able to advance the civil rights movement which kind of encapsulates that notion that here is abraham lincoln and showing their patriotism that african-american soldiers with the vehicles through which the civil rights movement would push forward and a lot of times when we talk about the experience and the first world war we think about linking back to the improving civil rights of african americans at home. but it's showing something about putting that label
wholeheartedly on african-american soldiers and he was someone that experienced a tremendous amount of combat. one of the reasons that it's famous for being an infantry regiment as it was in line for 191 days the longest of any american regimen during the world war because they were given to the french. they came out of this unit and their exploits were meant to advance the race. they were going to be the poster children of those that demonstrate the abilities that
he becomes one of the most famous artists out of the race and the paintings for many people are considered some of the best that we have from the frontline soldiers perspective of what it actually meant to fight, so a lot of these represents the way in which combat experience dominated his thoughts even after he came home.
he became famous and was discovered by the philadelphia art community. his paintings were bought in the sense you might think that actually helped him readjust. but in reality, it has never left him. he died in his early 40s of a heart attack and was an alcoholic. in this sense a great feat that we celebrate the 191 days in combat shows the medal and honor of african-american soldiers, and i'm not disputing that also destroyed people's lives. that kind of experience he didn't put behind him so that responsibility put on that unit to be represented and to great things had a great cost to him personally and as you can see at the time there isn't a social safety net to help them come home so visa stories of the
difficulties of what did it mean to go into the military shows how diverse we are in the society that depends where you come from and how you come in and it depends where you get placed in the military on a whole host of thing so i think our best approach is to appreciate its multiple things just as it is today. a moscow