10 Largely Forgotten First World War Facts

Joris Nieuwint
 
 
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In these centennial years of the First World war, lets look back at some of the more unknown facts about WW1. Were the Generals leading the troops all incompetent fools and is media manipulation really something new? We will take a look at that and more!

1) Guerrilla Media Tactics

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In the first years of the war America wasn’t yet fighting alongside the British and French. In order to draw the US into the fight British agents planted stories in US newspapers stirring up anger against innocent German civilians living in the USA.

2) Enemy Aliens

ALHS_30A German internment camp

During the Great War there were over 250.000 Germans living in the USA which were forced to register at a post office and then carry a registration card with them at all times. Of these, over 2000 Germans were arrested and put in internment camps. Many of the interned were the musicians from orchestras and in one camp they were able to perform a piece of Beethoven.

3) No Condoms for Doughboys

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The only allied power in the first world war that did not provide its soldiers with condoms was the United States. The comstock laws that were being enforced did not allow any birth control devices nor information to be shipped abroad. As a result over 400.000 US soldiers were infected by STDs.

4) The Red Baron Almost Never Took Off

Manfred_von_Richthofen

Manfred von Richthoven who was later to become known as the Red Baron started off in the Cavalry as a lancer but when this unit was disbanded he was transferred to the signal corps. For over a year he spent his days stringing telegraph wires along the western front, even winning an Iron Cross (3rd class) for this. In early 1915 he applied for the Imperial Air Service and became an ace with 80 kills. When he was shot down in April 1918 the British and Australians buried him with full military honors.

5) Truces

Christmas_Truce_1914Christmas truce 1914, British and Germans soldiers

Even though there never was an official truce during the first world war they still happened. The most famous one is the 1914 Christmas truce when the British and German soldiers got out of the trenches and talked to each other in no mans land. There are also reports of smaller truces in 1915 and even 1916. In some trenches the soldiers adopted a “live and let live” strategy trying not to fire on the enemy so they would not fire on them. This was countered by the commanders to rotate their soldiers all over the front and with the use of propaganda.

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