Tag Archive | World Wars

Object: Helmet

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I-0178a
Helmet (pickelhaube)
Prussian
Germany
1904
Materials: leather, brass, lacquer

This object is a helmet, specifically a pickelhaube, from 1904. This helmet is believed to have been worn by the 67th infantry regiment of the Prussian army signified by the eagle shaped plate (or wappen) on the front of the helmet.

Prussian uniforms in 1845. Image via WikiMedia Commons.

The Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm invented this style of helmet in 1842. The original design of the helmet was highly impractical for use when it was first designed – it was much too tall and unbalanced. Soldiers had problems with the helmet falling off and it being much too heavy for use during battle or even drills. In 1856 when King Wilhelm took over from his brother King Friedrich, adjustments were made the helmet so that it was more functional for military use. The height was lessened and the materials adjusted to the style that was kept by the military up until the end of World War I.

The helmet itself consisted of a leather shell with visors on both the front and rear, the latter being used for neck protection. Both visors had brass reinforcement on the trim to help the helmet and visors keep their shape. The leather was covered in a black lacquer that could be polished and kept shiny. Each regiment in the army would have its own wappen, or insignia, in brass or silver on the front of the helmet above the visor. The distinguishing feature of this style of helmet was the spike on the top of the helmet – it was immediately recognizable to everyone at the time as belonging to the the German military.

World War I propaganda poster for enlistment in the US Army, ca. 1917. Image via WikiMedia Commons

During World War I, the image of the pickelhaube was used as propaganda against the Germans, as it was something everyone understood to be distinct to German soldiers. There is an iconic image from World War I of a large gorilla wearing a pickelhaube and carrying a unconscious woman with the words “Destroy this Mad Brute” across the top. It was a propagandist poster to encourage people to enlist in the army. The pickelhaube was the most iconic part of the German uniform and was easily incorporated into the idea that Germans were brutes that needed to be stopped.

Propaganda against Germans spread quickly in America. Suspicion of anyone of German descent grew as the war went on and Americans began to become fearful of the thought of German spies living among them. Any German societies, newspapers, or services of any kind were shut down. There are even records of German-Americans getting lynched.

In 1916, the pickelhaube was replaced with the similarly iconic stahlhelm, or steel helmet, because the pickelhaube was not suitable for trench warfare; it was not durable and was very expensive to produce because of the British blockade of South America, where Germany imported the leather for the helmets. The stahlhelm was made out of a single sheet of steel – it was inexpensive, easy to produce, and provided much better protection for the soldiers in combat. The pickelhaube, however, remains one of the most recognizably German styles of World War I military dress.

Visit the Institute of Texan Cultures today to see an exhibit about Texas in the First World War [Caitlin Bernstein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud].

Additional Resources:

Rankin, Robert H. Helmets and Headdress of the Imperial German Army 1870-1918. New Milford, Conn: N. Flayderman, 1965.

Bowman, J A. The Pickelhaube. Lancaster, England: Imperial Publications, 1989.

Paddock, Troy R. E. A Call to Arms: Propaganda, Public Opinion, and Newspapers in the Great War. Westport Conn. etc.: Praeger, 2004.

Bell, Brian. Wehrmacht Combat Helmets 1933-45. London: Osprey Pub, 2014.

Object: Draft Card

2016_2_1

2016.2.1
WWI Draft Registration Card
American
San Antonio, Texas
1917
Materials: Paper, Ink

This object is a World War I draft registration card for Ernst Fritz Schuchard of San Antonio, Texas. Born in 1893, Schuchard was twenty-four years old when he registered for the draft.

The Selective Service Act, or Selective Draft Act, was passed in 1917 and allowed the President to temporarily increase the size of the military during times of war. After the Act became law, there were three registrations in 1917 and 1918. Schuchard registered on the first registration day which was held on June 5, 1917. This registration day was designated for all “men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one and those born between 6 June 1886 and 5 June 1896.” In Texas, 989,600 men registered for the draft in 1917. Schuchard was later drafted into the Army and served in World War I.

Students protest the Vietnam War and draft

Students protest the Vietnam War and draft. Image by uwdigitalcollections via Wikimedia Commons

The Selective Service Act was cancelled after the end of World War I, but a new version was passed by Congress in 1940 in preparation for the United States’ involvement in World War II. The Selective Service Act was due to expire in 1947, but President Truman and Congress renewed it. During the Vietnam War, the selective service act was met with public resistance and there were nationwide demonstrations against it. Many of the demonstrations were due to the fact that Americans felt the system was unfair. This was due to deferments based on family status and whether or not the person was in college. In order to help with these issues a new act called the Military Selective Service Act of 1967 was passed, but did little to stop anti-draft protests. The Military Selective Service Act expired in 1973, but President Carter reenacted it in 1980 and it is still in effect today. Today, the Selective Service requires all males to register when they reach the age of eighteen, but there has not been an induction through the Selective Service System since 1973.

Registration with the Selective Service has been restricted to males only. Females serving in the military have traditionally been banned from serving in combat roles. In 2015, the department of defense declared that these restrictions would be lifted in 2016. Congress however, is now faced with the decision of whether to change the Selective Service Act to include all females who are eighteen years old. This past June the Senate passed a bill that would require women to register for the draft as well. This bill has yet to be signed into law and further debate is expected as it makes its way through the House.

As for Ernst Schuchard, after his service he returned to San Antonio to work as an engineer at the Pioneer Flour Mill which was founded by is grandfather, Carl Guenther. The Guenther Family immigrated to Texas from Germany. After advancing to the position of Secretary and eventually to President at the flour mill, Schuchard began making detailed drawings and paintings of the Missions in San Antonio. Schuchard was involved in the research and reconstruction of the grist mill at Mission San Jose. Ernst Schuchard became a well-known artist in Texas. He died in San Antonio in 1972 and was buried at Mission Burial Park South. [Kim Grossett, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Baker, Henderson. Women in Combat: A Cultural Issue? Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. Army War College, 2006.

Coffman, Edward M. The War to End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I. Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky, 1998.

Flynn, George Q. Conscription and Democracy: The Draft in France, Great Britain, and the United States. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Schulzinger, Robert D. A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Object: Dog Tag

2015_4_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015.4.1
United States
San Antonio
1940s
Materials: Metal

This object is a metal identification tag also known as a dog tag. This tag was worn by Jose M. Valdespino who enlisted in  Sept 1942 at Duncan Field, in San Antonio. After training, he was assigned as the Ball Turret Gunner in a B-17 with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the the 367th Bomb Squadron, 306th Bomber Group, based in England.  He flew 24 missions with “The Clay Pigeon’s” in a B-17, his missions included the bombing France which was occupied by Germany. Joe’s combat service ended when he was injured in a jeep accident. He was discharged in October 1945. Watch the following video to hear more about his story. 

Identification tags for the military have been used since around the 1850s. The earliest known example where dog tags were used was during the Taiping Revolt in China.  The soldiers fighting in this rebellion wore wooden tags on their belt. The information on the tag included name, age, birthplace, unit and the date they were enlisted. In the days of the American Civil War more than 150,000 soldiers were unidentified. Some knew that if they were to perish in the war there was a possibility that they would not be identified. So many went to great lengths to have some sort of identification on them. Many attached notes to their bodies while others wrote their name on their belts, and some wrote their name on the bottom of their shoes.

Example of a identification tag used during the American Civil War

Example of a identification tag used during the American Civil War. Image via: http://www.ephemerasociety.org

With the high demand for some type of identification tag, merchants started selling metal disks to soldiers. In many periodicals such as Harper’s Magazine there was advertisements for tags called “soldier’s pins” which were made of silver or gold with the soldiers name and unit. By the 1890s dog tags were being issued to the U.S. Army and Navy. By the time the United States entered WWI all soldiers were required to use a identification tag.

During WWII a new type of tag was introduced, this new tag changed in style from a disk to a rectangle tag, known as the M1940. The rectangular tag had a notch at the end like the tag from our collections. It was during WWII that the tags got the nickname “dog tag.” The tags not only had the name of the soldier but also other information such as blood type, tetanus shot information, and religious preference. During WWII however, there was only 3 options for religious preference: Protestant, Catholic, and Hebrew. Since then more options have been added and soldiers even have the option to put “none” or “no religious preference.” Early versions of identification tags included the name and address of the soldier’s next of kin. During the war, the enemy used that information as a tool for psychological warfare, so the practice was discontinued by 1943. Silencers for the dog tags were also introduced during WWII. The silencers were used to prevent the dog tags from making noise when coming into contact with each other.   The M1940 tag was in use until it was replaced by the M1967 which was made of a T304 stainless steel. This type of tag has no notch and is what is used today.

Example of current dog tags issued today with silencers.

Example of current dog tags issued today with silencers. Image via: http://www.armydogtags.com

With technology being so advanced, the future of dog tags looks promising. The U.S. Army is currently developing and testing dog tags that would use RFID, microchip, or USB technology. The dog tags would hold the soldiers medical information as well as dental records, which would make it easier if in identifying them. These dog tags would be worn in addition to the current ones. The Marine Corps is developing dog tags with advanced technology also including RFID and the possibility of even being able to use GPS data to help locate wounded soldiers. [Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Sources:

Braddock, Paul F. Dog Tags: A History of the American Military Identification Tag, 1861-2002. [United States?]: P.F. Braddock, 2003.

Cucolo, Ginger. Dog Tags: The History, Personal Stories, Cultural Impact, and Future of Military Identification. [United States]: Allen House Pub, 2011.

Maier, Larry B., and Joseph W. Stahl. Identification Discs of Union Soldiers in the Civil War: A Complete Classification Guide and Illustrated History. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2008.

Object: Print

I-0364d (3)

 I-0364d
Print
Roy Crane
American
1940s
Materials: Paper, Pen, Ink

Art played a significant role during World War II; it was used in the United States to bring people together against a common enemy and to show Americans what they were fighting for. Posters, comics and advertisements once used to market items or make people laugh started to be used to market political agendas, leaders or causes. Collections of art, most significantly propaganda from the WWII era, are significant pieces of history because one can see what society was like at that time. They expose cultural ideals through how they motivated people to join the war, support their military or even hate the enemy. This object is a pen and ink print of the notable ‘Buz Sawyer’ drawn by cartoonist Roy Crane.  The ‘Buz Sawyer’ cartoon was one of the first of its kind, as cartoons were no longer just for laughs but were meant to talk about the war and depict realistic circumstances.

crane_roy

Cartoonist Roy Crane Image via: Lambiek Comiclopedia

Roy Crane, was raised in Sweetwater, Texas. Son of a lawyer and schoolteacher, he was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago as well as the University of Texas and went on to be a talented cartoonist. His first published piece was the cartoon strip, ‘Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune’. Beautifully crafted the ‘Captain Easy’ story-lines were made to make the viewers laugh. This cartoon strip was published each and every Sunday until Crane felt his artistic nature being stifled by the limitations of the newspaper he was working for.  He eventually left the Sunday newspaper pages of Cleveland for King Features in 1943 and put to paper his own experiences as a traveler drafting ‘Buz Sawyer’.

buz_sawyer_promo

Image via: comicskingdom.com

Crane,  wanted to be the first cartoonist to create realistic plots and depictions of the war. He wanted to animate history and adventure, and believed ‘Buz Sawyer’ would do just that. This character was depicted as a WWII Navy pilot, clean cut and well behaved, a figure of American patriotism, courage and discipline. A more risky character, Rosco Sweeny, the comic relief of the strip, of course accompanied Buz. Roy Crane would influence other artists with the ‘Buz Sawyer’ comic strip to also tell action adventure stories rather than humor alone. As WWII ended so did the adventurous war stories of Buz Sawyer and Rosco Sweeney. Crane would follow the experiences of Americans at the time and as men came home from war so did Buz Sawyer. The strip did not end with Buz’s return home but the story-lines did become more serious and focused on family life after the war.

Cartoons are both history and art made for the public audience. Cartoons such as ‘Buz Sawyer’ can be looked at by historians to examine time and place.  The time in which they are written can be reflected in characters, buildings or clothing. Cartoons even can be used to teach history and current events, they spark conversation and innovation; cartoons are tools to teach the masses, because they are written for them. [Trisha Taylor, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

 

Additional Resources:

Doherty, Thomas Patrick. Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Rhodes, Anthony Richard Ewart. Propaganda: The Art of Persuasion in World War II. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1976.

Scott, Cord A. Comics and Conflict: Patriotism and Propaganda from WWII Through Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2014.

 

Sneak Peek

The Exhibits and Collections staff is busy installing Faces of Survival. This exhibit was developed and curated by University of Texas at San Antonio graduate students, taught by Dr. Kolleen Guy. The exhibit discusses topics of genocide and the holocaust.  The show officially opens on April 15th, but you can get a sneak peek of our progress installing it below.

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This is the blog for our little farm in Skagit county. Here we raise Shetland sheep, Nigerian Dwarf goats, and Satin Angora rabbits. In addition we have donkeys, llamas, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, peafowl and pheasants. The blog describes the weekly activities here.

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