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WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday July 12, 2017 - Episode #28

Mustard gas finds its way into ww1Mustard gas finds its way into WW1 this month

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  • We say farewell to Former Commissioner James Nutter: Dan Dayton |@ 00:30
  • Poland in WW1 - Part 1: The Oath Crisis |@ 01:45
  • Poland in WW1 - Part 2: What you probably did not know: Jan Lorys |@ 03:45
  • The US government federalizes the shipbuilding industry |@ 10:45
  • Women take up the fight in Europe: Mike Shuster |@ 19:15
  • Americans who fought before America’s declaration: Richard Rubin & Jonathan Bratten |@ 23:30
  • President Trump in Paris for Bastille Day WW1 Commemoration |@ 28:45
  • Junior Master Gardener Poppy Project: Lisa Whittlesey |@ 29:30
  • NYC museum exhibit: “Posters & Patriotism” |@ 35:45
  • Utah grant program for WW1 events, research and memorials |@ 36:45
  • “They Also Served” overlooked WW1 participants |@ 37:45
  • Story about Star Spangled Banner widely picked up |@ 40:15
  • The Buzz about gas:Katherine Akey |@ 42:15

And more….


View the PDF transcript


Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - It’s about WW1 news 100 years ago this week  - and it’s about WW1 News NOW - news and updates about the centennial and the commemoration.

WW1 Centennial News is brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. Today is July 12th, 2017 and I’m Theo Mayer - Chief Technologist for the World War One Centennial Commission and your host.


We open today with an announcement from Dan Dayton, the Commission’s Executive Director.

Remembering Former Commissioner James Nutter who passed away this week at age 89. Dan Dayton reads a remembrance of Commissioner Nutter and all he did for us here at the commission.

World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week

[sound transition]

We have moved back in time 100 years ago. Today our wayback machine also crosses the Atlantic to view a crisis that arises in Poland - known as the Polish Oath Crisis!

Poland in WW1 - Part 1

Germany, has been hoping to use Poland’s extensive manpower to help them fight the war,

Jozef Piłsudski,  the leader of the Polish Legion has grown disillusioned with the Central Powers that Germany set up in Poland under the 1916 promise of independence after the war - if Poland sides with her.  

By now, the revolution in Russia has removed the hated Czar and brought in a government that will probably support Polish independence.  Plus... America’s entry into the war makes it even more likely that any Allied-enforced peace will recognize full Polish self-determination, instead of a nominal independence as a German vassal.

Jozef Piłsudski sees his chance to make his objections known this week, when the German installed governor of Poland requires that all the soldiers in the Polish Legion swear a loyalty oath to a “future King” of Poland and to be a “loyal brother-in-arms” to the Germans and Austrians!  

On July 8th, Pilsudski resigns from the provisional government, and instructs the men of the Polish Legions not to swear the oath. The next day, on July 9th most of them agree - and publicly refuse to do so, many throwing down their weapons in protest.

This is does not go over well.  

Polish-Austrian subjects in the Legions are forcibly drafted back into the Austrian army and sent off to the Italian front;

Russian and German subjects who refused to swear the oath are treated as enemy combatants and are arrested as prisoners of war.  

Jozef Piłsudski himself is arrested by the Germans and remains in captivity until the final weeks of the war.

Poland in WW1 - Part 2:

To help us understand the story of Poland and Polish Americans in WW1, we have a special guest with us today.

Jan Lorys, is a historian and the former Director of the Polish Museum of America in Chicago…

Welcome Jan!

[Jan: to begin with, can you put - Poland as an independent people, nation and culture into the context of the time for us?]

[There was a large immigrant wave of pols to the US at the turn of the century, what drove that?]

[Why did so many immigrants volunteer to go back and fight, especially since they might have been up against their own countrymen?]

Thank you for taking the time to join us Jan…

That was Jan Lorys, historian and the former Director of the Polish Museum of America in Chicago talking to us about the Polish experience in WW1.


[sound effect]

US Government Federalizes the Shipbuilding Industry

It is the week of July 8 to July 14, 1917. As we explore the pages of the Official Bulletin - the administration’s daily war gazette published by the order of the President by his propaganda chief, George Creel -

For a theme this week - we are focusing on ships, shipping, and shipbuilding. There are literally a dozen stories about the war on the waves - Here are a few of them… woven into an interesting picture of a whole industry that is simply being taken over by the federal government.

[sound effect]

Dateline: July 10, 1917


This article points out that in May of 1917, President Wilson approves a joint resolution of congress that allows the united states to take possession of any ships in its national or territorial ports, which are owned in whole or part by companies, citizens or subjects of any nation with which the United States is at war.

With that as the basis, President Wilson orders that 87 such ships be appropriated by the US government to be “retrofitted” and put back into service for America.

The cash value of the 87 ships is not given, but with a war planned to be prosecuted an ocean away, these opening “spoils of war”, are a real boon. Those 87 ships easily represent one or more years of US shipbuilding capacity - now - they belong to the federal government with the stroke of a pen!

Speaking of building ships - another headline this week reads

[sound effect]


Secretary of the Navy Daniels states today:

The shipbuilding facilities of the United States navy yards are being expanded so that eventually 16 war vessels may be on the ways at one time, while fully 32 may be in course of construction.

This number does not Include submarines and submarine chasers.

"All this work at navy yards is being rushed, with the men working overtime and in shifts, and in most cases bonuses are being offered for completion of work ahead of the schedule."

[sound effect]


Expanding on a law that Wilson gets congress to pass - giving him great authority over the maritime industries, President Wilson flips that control over to another powerful industry board he sets up - The United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation.

In this article Wilson states:

“I hereby direct that the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation shall have and exercise all power and authority vested in me in said section of said act, in so far as applicable to and in furtherance of the construction of vessels, the purchase or requisitioning of vessels in process of construction, whether on the ways or already launched, or of contracts for the construction of such vessels, and the completion thereof, and all power and authority applicable to and in furtherance of the production, purchase, and requisitioning of materials for ship construction.

Speaking of materials - that is also addressed this very same week!

[sound effect]

Dateline: July 12th, 1917

Headline: Entire output of steel available for war needs

The story reads:

"At the conference this morning between the committee of the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, the Chairman of the Shipping Board, and others, further discussion was had about the prospective demand upon the steel industry  -  for supplies of various steel products for carrying on the war.

The steel men repeated their assurance that their entire product would be available for the need, -- and that they were doing everything possible to stimulate an increased production and speed deliveries.

" The price to be paid for the iron and steel products was left to be determined after the inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission is completed, ---- with the understanding that the price, when fixed, would insure reasonable profits and be made with reference to the expanding needs of this vital and fundamental industry.

The government is not only after the control of the resources but also of the labor

[sound effect]

Dateline: Friday July 18th, 1917


This story talks about how the labor for the expansion is being supported by the government’s civil service commission. It goes on to state:

“The Civil Service Commission is an employment agency on a large scale, but it goes beyond the functions of the ordinary employment agency in that it tests the fitness of every person it certifies as eligible.

Equipped as it is with 3,000 representative agencies — that is, local

boards of examiners—situated in every part of the country, it is eminently qualified to perform the important service of bringing the man and the job together, so far as the needs of the Government are concerned.

Then on Friday - the Official Bulletin reveals the big story -  The - to me - jaw dropping announcement that The administration is going to federalize the entire ship building industry! WHAT!?

[sound effect]

Dateline: Friday July 18th, 1917


The article goes on to read:

“ Because of their varied contracts for shipbuilding, the yards can not carry out this program without the help of the Government; it has, therefore, been decided that the shipbuilding industry of the Nation shall be federalized.

All steel merchant ships now on the building berths will be forthwith requisitioned by the United States, and each yard will proceed to complete such ships under the direction of the general manager of the

United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation and will take on new work only with his consent.


There are a bunch of other headlines but we need to stop here and just review - Remember these headlines are just from articles THIS WEEK!

FIRST - Wilson expands the US maritime fleet by nearly 90 ships - by appropriating all the vessels in US and US territorial ports if are connected to any nation, company or citizen of a nation we have declared war on.

NEXT - Secretary of the Navy Daniels declares that we are pushing the US Navy shipyards into doubling their production capacity.

THEN - Wilson officially empowers an organization called the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation with general control over the industry…

FOLLOWED BY - The steel manufacturers gathering in Washington to agree that their entire output and industry is now at the beckon call of the US government - at a “to be negotiated price”.

The labor force and hiring for the NAVY shipbuilding industry is put under control of the government’s Civil Service Commission

ALL THIS IS TOPPED OFF WITH the announcement on Friday that  - the entire shipbuilding industry NAVY and CIVIL is being federalized and put under the control of the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation.

The bottom line seems to be that 100 years ago this week - the US government literally takes over and federalizes the entire US shipbuilding industry including supply and labor.

That a shocking and almost inconceivable turn of events for a free enterprise, democratic, capitalist nation - Yet it is another part of the war that changed the world.

Great War Project

Our next guest is Mike shuster, former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War Project blog. We have explored Poland, shipbuilding in the US and now Mike takes us to the UK where more soldiers are being freed up to fight - by women! Welcome Mike!

[Mike Shuster]

Thank you Mike. That was Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.


The Great War Channel

To watch videos about WW1 100 years ago this week, from a more european perspective, go visit our friends at the Great War Channel on Youtube.

This week’s new episodes cover:

The destroyed villages of France - Fleury

Turmoil in the reichstag - the Kerensky offensive

German defenses in the Meuse Argonne region - this story is a preview of a region that will become a major battle ground for American soldiers in the near future!

The link is in the podcast notes or search for “the great war” on youtube.



Storyteller and the Historian

They are back! This week: the Storyteller and the Historian talk about the many Americans who served under other flags prior to the US entry into WW1.

[Audio S&H]

That was - the StoryTeller - Richard Rubin and The Historian - Jonathan Bratten talking Americans in WW1 before America’s entry.

A monthly full one-hour journey with these two great raconteurs is now available as a podcast on itunes: Search for Storyteller & Historian in the iTunes Podcast sections

World War One NOW


We have moved forward into the present with

WW1 Centennial News NOW  - News about the centennial and the commemoration.

Commission News

President Trump in Paris

As we mentioned last week, On July 14, 2017 US President Trump and French President Macron will both honor the long and special bond between France and the US during a Bastille day parade in Paris that remembers American troops arriving in France 100 years ago.

It looks like we will not have access to a live stream of the event, however, we will gather videos and pictures for you and post them on our social media platforms on Facebook @ww1centennial and on Instagram @ww1cc.

The commission sees the common recognition of the centennial by the leadership of both countries as a significant moment in the centennial commemoration of the War that changed the world!

Junior Master Gardener Poppy Project

This week we want to introduce you to a new collaboration we are very excited about!  The 4H club and it’s Junior Master Gardener Program. This is an international youth gardening program that engages children in “hands-on” group and individual learning experiences that develop an appreciation for the environment and gardening - cultivating both the ground and -  the mind.

In commemoration of the centennial of WW1, the Junior Master Gardeners are going to work with the WW1 centennial Commission on a Poppy program!

We are so excited about this great initiative that will extend the conversation and awareness about the war that changed the world to the kids.

With us today is  Lisa Whittlesey, Director of the International Junior Master Gardener Program. Lisa - good to have you with us!

[Lisa: I have to start by telling you that I REALLY like your website at jmgkids.us - it’s green and happy and really fun - So let’s start with the JMG program itself - Can you tell us more about it?]

[ Lisa: How does the JMG poppy program work?]

Thank you Lisa!

That was Lisa Whittlesey, the Director of the International Junior Master Gardener Program introducing us to their new WW1 Poppy Program. We will be talking about this more over the coming week. We are setting up a special page for the program at ww1cc.org/jmg. We put that link and the Junior Master Gardener web site link in the podcast notes.

Links: http://jmgkids.us


Activities and Events

[Sound Effect]

From the U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register at WW1CC.org/events - here is our upcoming “event pick” of the week:


New York: Exhibit, posters and patriotism

We mentioned this in passing last week, but if you’re in the Big Apple,  go to the Museum of the City of New York in Manhattan and see their new “Posters and Patriotism” exhibit featuring the work of many New York artists and illustrators that were enlisted to create posters, flyers, magazine art, sheet music covers, and other mass-produced images to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice.

Besides finding this in the  U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register at WW1CC.org/events there is also an interview on the site with show curator Donald Albrecht where he discusses some of his favorite pieces from the show, which includes the James Montgomery Flagg’s “Uncle Sam Wants You” poster.

We put the links to the event and the article in the podcast notes






Updates From The States

[sound effect]

Now for our updates from the states, and we’ll start with a new program from the Beehive state - Utah!


An exciting new opportunity for grants has launched in the state of Utah.

The Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs and the Division of State History are offering grants for World War I-related research, commemorative events, as well as the cleaning and restoration of memorials around the state. The funding ranges from $500 to $1,500 for events and research and up to $5,000 for the cleaning and restoration of WWI memorials. This is a great extension of the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials program if you are in the state!

Gary Harter, executive director of the veterans and military affairs department, states “Even 100 years after it occurred, the impacts of World War I are still felt today.”, He continues with “These grants will assist in allowing the war’s significance to be remembered and those who fought it to be honored.”

Learn more by following the links in the podcast notes.



International Report

Remembering Caribbean and African Imperial Soldiers

In our International Report this week, we head to Birmingham, where the “They Also Served” research project recently held a remembrance service at the New Testament Church of God in with guest speaker Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen. Dr Joe Aldred, from Churches together in England, helped organize.  He said, "There's something about living in the diaspora that means that the major narratives tend to tell the story of the majority community and in that regard the world wars and the participation of African and Caribbean people in the world wars from Britain's colonies - that is no exception. Why are we not represented when it comes time to commemorate?"

They’re not the first to bring into public conversation this issue of overlooked groups that served in the war. Dr. Sashi Tharoor, MP for Thiruvananthapuram, author of 15 books, former Minister of State in India and former Under Secretary General of the United Nations, has spoken about this oversight recently himself. In an interview with Sky News earlier this year:


It is now recognised that over 2 million Africans and 16,000 Caribbeans, not to mention countless Black Britons that joined British regiments, served during the war, a war that is often viewed at a white man’s war but that was truly global. Learn more about They Also Served by visiting the project website, where you can view photos, follow the project’s upcoming events and learn about individuals that served in their blog. Follow the links in the podcast notes.




Spotlight in the Media

Story about Star Spangled Banner gets Press

For our Spotlight in the Media segment - we wanted to update you on the story we ran last week about the Star Spangled Banner and it’s WW1 connection to sporting events.

It was the WW1 Centennial Commission’s public affairs team that sourced the original story and as it turns out with Sports Illustrated pushing out a parallel piece - - so - the whole thing really took off last week and got picked up by media outlets all across the country including ABC, the Chicago Tribune, the Sacramento Bee, Columbus Dispatch and Tucson Arizona Star and a bunch of others all carried the story of the National Anthem and the World Series game of 1918.

One of our key goal is to inspire a national conversation about WW1 and we love it when these stories about WW1 get picked up all over! You’ll find a passle of links the podcast notes.


Original http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/press-media/wwi-centennial-news/2708-cubs-red-sox-world-series-in-1918-key-in-u-s-love-affair-with-national-anthem.html












The Buzz - WW1 in Social Media Posts

That brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine - what do you have for us this week?

Americans Underground

The Smithsonian Channel is airing a new documentary, “Americans Underground” about the tunnels and dugouts that became home to thousands of soldiers during WW1.



The Yellow Cross

A new chemical weapon makes its debut on the front -- mustard gas


Thank you Katherine.  

We also want to let you know that announce each weeks podcast with a post on our facebook page @ww1centennial - This is a great place to comment and discuss the stories you hear - we monitor the post and try to answer your questions, add insight and chat with you our Podcast audience. Check it out this Friday.


And that is WW1 Centennial News for this week. Thank you for listening!

We want to thank our guests:

Jan Lorys, historian and the former Director of the Polish Museum of America speaking with us about the Polish American experience during the war,

Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog and his post about women and their varied wartime roles in the UK.

Richard Rubin and Jonathan Bratten and their StoryTeller and the Historian segment on Americans in Europe prior to the US declaration of war,

Lisa Whittlesey, Director of the International Junior Master Gardener Program, telling us about their collaboration with our Poppy Program

Katherine Akey the Commission’s social media director and also the line producer for the show.

And I am Theo Mayer - your host.

We also want to thank the Pritzker Military Museum and Library our founding sponsor! Visit their WW1 website at www.pritzkermilitary/ww1. There is also a link in the podcast notes


The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn  

on  iTunes, google play, and tuneIn - search for ww1 Centennial News.

Our twitter and instagram handles are both @ww1cc and we are on facebook @ww1centennial.

Thanks for joining us again this week.

So long.



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