The folks in Kansas City are making sure the Eastern Front is not forgotten during the Centennial commemorations.
|Unknown German soldier on sentry duty in a trench. (The name for the exhibition stems from “Wacht im Osten” written on this soldier’s helmet).|
When the German Army advanced into the western territory of the Russian Empire in the spring and summer of 1915, soldiers encountered a physical and cultural environment quite different from what they previously encountered. Those experiences are told through the eyes of German soldiers in Wacht im Osten: German Encounters with the East in World War I, open between 25 October 2016 and 12 March 2017.
The exhibition’s narrative unfolds mainly through the stories of two German soldiers: Georg Oertel and Friedrich Volkmann. Oertel served as a medic in a field hospital in Poland and once helped deliver a farmer’s baby during the Christmas holiday. Volkmann was a father with two small children who served in the infantry in Poland and was killed there. They are experiences of two soldiers, far from home in a foreign land, caught up in war.
|German soldiers excavating a Japanese 28cm siege howitzer near Grodno, a munitions or spare parts crate sitting to the side.|
“This special exhibition is unique in that we share the stories and experiences of common soldiers tasked with overseeing the occupation of foreign lands,” says Museum Archivist Jonathan Casey. “Through their own personal photographs and diary entries, we’re able to gain an understanding of everyday life for soldiers in those circumstances.”
An example of this is the Belarusian village of Iwje, which is depicted using commercial photo postcards illustrating its diverse mix of religious cultures, including Christian, Jewish, and Muslim.
|Personnel of the Landwehr Field Hospital No. 30 posed around a gramophone with a sign that translates as “Karl Lindstrom’s Field Music.”|
If you have already visited the National Museum, you know what a treasure it is, and I'm sure you are planning to go there again. If you are interested in WWI and have not been to the museum, all I can say is that you are missing one of America's cultural treasures. Remember, too, that their annual symposium is scheduled for 4–5 November. This year's topic is 1916: TOTAL WAR (Details).
Thanks to Mike Vieti for the photos and background.