Through a Soldier’s Eyes—A Closer Look at WWI

 

 


Mallori Demildt

Prairie High School

Spring 2010


Detail from a letter by Dennis J Sullivan, 1918. 

Dennis Sullivan Collection (AFC/2001/001/28523),

Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center,

Library of Congress.

 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/natlib/afc2001001/service/28523/ph0001001b.jpg

 

“The most persistent sound which reverberates through man's history is the beating of war drums.”  ~Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up.  War has been a part of human history for thousands of years and is still a force in the world today.  While weapons and tactics may change, there are always brave men and women who fight and sacrifice their very lives for their nations.  What is war like for the average citizen soldier?  How can a civilian cope with the horrors of war?  In this unit students will examine World War I from the perspective of a civilian soldier from a European nation.  They will analyze the reasons these men went to war and how they were forever changed by their time as soldiers.

 

Overview/ Materials/LOC Resources/Standards/Procedures/Evaluation/Rubric/Handouts/Extension

 

Overview                                                        Back to Navigation Bar

Objectives

Students will:

·         Describe how international rivalries and nationalism pushed Europe toward war.

·         Explain how the assassination in Sarajevo led to the start of WWI.

·         Describe how technology made WWI different from earlier wars.

·         Analyze different types of propaganda and create a poster that encourages someone from your selected nation to help with the war effort.

·         Explain why a stalemate developed on the Western Front.

·         Describe the importance of the battles of the Marne, Verdun, Somme, and the Gallipoli campaign.

·         Compare and contrast fighting on the Eastern and Western Fronts.

·         Describe how WWI became a total war and how life changed for both the soldiers and those on the home front.

·         Analyze the impact the Russian Revolution had on WWI.

·         Analyze the cause and effects of American entry into WWI.

·         Analyze the cost of WWI in terms of money and lives lost.

·         Describe the issues faced by the delegates to the Paris Peace Conference and examine the goals of each nation who fought in the war.

·         Explain why many people were dissatisfied with the Treaty of Versailles.

·         Develop a map, propaganda poster, and journal that reflect the experience of a soldier from a European nation in World War I using the information gathered throughout this unit.

Recommended time frame

10 days (plus 2 days for a video at the end if desired)

Grade level

10

Curriculum fit

This is a short unit on World War I.  The culminating assessment of this unit will be a journal project that incorporates the information learned throughout this process. 

Materials

Photo analysis worksheet

Political Cartoon analysis worksheet

Document analysis worksheet

Journal rubric and project sheets

WWI map

WWI video

Paper, colored pencils

Access to computers

Iowa Core Curriculum Learning Standards Back to Navigation Bar

 

Iowa Core Curriculum—Social Studies

Understand cause-and-effect relationships and other historical thinking skills in order to interpret events and issues.

  • Interpret actions taken, analyze impact experienced, and evaluate decisions made in history in the context in which they occurred. 
  • Determine the validity and accuracy of primary sources and secondary sources and evaluate them for bias.
  • Predict how different decisions might have impacted the outcome of an event.

Understand the role of innovation on the development and interaction of societies.

  • Identify major technological advancements and evaluate their impact on social, political, and historical events.

Understand how and why people create, maintain, or change systems of power, authority, and governance.

  • Explore how government has reacted to problems in the past, such as social, environmental, political, and/or economic issues and how the government’s actions affected individuals.
  • Evaluate how individuals influenced government actions in past events.

Procedures                                                     Back to Navigation Bar

 

·         Day 1–Introduction to the project

Today students will begin their study of WWI.  We will begin by brainstorming the causes and major people of WWI (which the kids should know a little about).  We will discuss why they know very little about the causes of WWI.  We will then go over the main causes of WWI and discuss the spark (the assassination of Franz Ferdinand) that led to the conflict.  We will describe how some of the major players were pulled into the war.  At this point the students will receive the journal project and rubric, and will be assigned to a country.  If there are a few minutes left, they may begin working on their first entry.

·         Day 2–WWI Recruits

Today we will discuss how and why soldiers entered this conflict.  We will examine 2 pieces of World War I propaganda and complete the political cartoon analysis form.  We will discuss what makes a “good” piece of propaganda and where they have seen propaganda in their modern lives (commercials, etc.).  They will use the remaining time to look up more WWI propaganda posters online and then design their own poster and answer the questions from the project sheet.

 

·         Day 3–WWI Weapons

Today students will look at the new weaponry that forever changed the way war was fought.  Students will begin by brainstorming what types of weapons they had in WWI.  They will then do part of a webquest to search for weapons that were used in this time period.  They will share the information with the class.  After this we will look at some primary source pictures of WWI weapons and the devastation that they caused.  How would you feel if you were a soldier having to use these weapons on other people?  How would you feel when you saw the devastation these weapons were causing all around you?  Students will then have some time to write in their journals.

·         Day 4–Life in the Trenches

Today students will look at what life was like in the trenches.  First, we will discuss why we had to fight in trenches on the Western Front (because of the new military technology).  Students will then do a scavenger hunt for information about WWI trenches posted around the room.  (Included are the questions for the hunt and some of the resources posted gathered from www.schoolhistory.co.uk.)  After they have completed their hunt, we will discuss what conditions were like in the trenches.  Next, the class will be broken into groups of 34 students, and they will be given WWI journals from the resource list to read and summarize.  They will then share an experience from their reading with the class.

·         Day 5–Battles

Today the students will begin looking at some of the major battles of WWI.  They will do this by using the battle webquest located on the other side of the weapons webquest sheet.  When they have finished, we will discuss the events and impact of these battles and map them on our WWI maps.  Students will have some time to work on their journals.

·         Day 6–The Eastern Front and Russian Revolution

Today we will discuss the war on the Eastern Front.  First, we will discuss the conditions in Russia prior to WWI.  Next, we will look at the failed Gallipoli campaign and Germany’s advance into Russia.  We will then discuss the rise of Bolshevism and watch a short video clip (from DE Streaming) on Rasputin and the Romanov family.  Finally, we will explain how the Russian Revolution changed the Russian people and hurt the Allied cause.

·         Day 7–U.S. Enters WWI

Today students will examine why the U.S. chose to enter this conflict.  We will first brainstorm why Wilson would not want to enter this conflict.  Next, we will look at some of the events that drew the U.S. into the war.  Students will use the document analysis worksheet to analyze the newspaper articles about the sinking of the Lusitania and the burial of 66 Lusitania victims.  How would this make Americans feel about the Germans?  Next we will analyze the Zimmermann telegram, also using the analysis worksheet.  How would this telegram push the U.S. toward war?  We will then watch a video from DE Streaming called “WWI—The War in Europe” to see what impact American soldiers and supplies had on the war effort.

·         Day 8–The Armistice and End of the War

Today students will examine Wilson’s Fourteen Points and the Treaty of Versailles.  Students will first brainstorm how the leaders from the major countries of Europe would want the Treaty to be written.  The students will break into small groups and write a short paragraph explaining what provisions their nation feels should be in the treaty.  We will share these with the class and then look at the actual goals of the major nations involved in WWI.  We will then examine Wilson’s Fourteen Points and some provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.  We will analyze why these 2 documents are so different—why was Wilson willing to compromise his beliefs?

·         Day 9–Aftermath of WWI

Today we will look at the impact WWI had on the world.  We will first examine the impact it had on Germany by viewing some political cartoons and analyzing them as a group.  Next, we will look at the financial and human cost of the war.  We will end by discussing what we should learn from this conflict.

·         Day 10–Finish, Edit, and Turn in Journals

Today students will complete their journals and share them with their classmates.  When they have finished this, we will turn in the journals and begin watching the movie “The Lost Battalion” to see how close their journals actually were to life on the front.

Evaluation                                                      Back to Navigation Bar

 

These students will be evaluated both formatively and summatively.  The formative assessments will be the weapons and battle webquests, the Trench scavenger hunt worksheet, and the analysis worksheets that the students will fill out together in groups.  The summative assessment will be the student’s journal project that will be graded on the rubric.

 

Extension                                                        Back to Navigation Bar

 

As an extension, have students look at an aspect of the war on the home front in the country they were assigned to.  What was life like for those left behind as the soldiers went off to war?  After researching this topic, the student will write a letter from a person on the home front to the soldier in their journal.  This letter should incorporate information about what women and children were doing to help the war effort, morale at home, shortages, and any other topic the student may find interesting.  To point them on their way, the students might start at the BBC and look at British History—Home Front: World War I http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/britain_wwone/ or home front information on WWI at firstworldwar.com http://www.firstworldwar.com/photos/homefront.htm. 

 


Primary Resources from the Library of Congress

Back to Navigation Bar

 

 

Image

Description

Citation

URL

np_navigatorView

The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.

The war of the nations: portfolio in rotogravure etching: compiled from the mid-week pictorial,

New York: New York Times Co., 1919.  From the Library of Congress, Rotogravure collection.

sgpwar 19191231
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gdc/
sgpwar.19191231

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/np_item.pl?collection=sgproto&agg=sgpwar&iss=19191231&page=342

 

np_navigatorView

The Lusitania aftermath.  Burying the remains of passengers of the Lusitania66 coffins were buried in one huge grave.

Excerpt from New York Times, May 30, 1915,

New York: May 30, 1915  From the Library of Congress, Rotogravure collection.

sgpnyt 19150530
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gdc/
sgpnyt.19150530

 

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/np_item.pl?collection=sgproto&agg=sgpnyt&iss=19150530&page=7

 

Newspaper article about the new weaponry in use during World War I.

The war of the nations: portfolio in rotogravure etchings: compiled from the mid-week pictorial.  New York: New York Times Co., 1919. Call Number D522 .W28 1919 Repository:  Library of Congress, Serials and Government Publications Division, Washington, D.C. 20540

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/np_item.pl?collection=sgproto&agg=sgpwar&iss=19191231&page=163

Poster showing a Red Cross nurse and a heavily bandaged man.

What are you doing to help? Join your American Red Cross Creator(s): Grant, Gordon, 1875-1962, Date Created/Published: [1919].  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3g00000/3g07000/
3g07700/3g07706r.jpg

U.S. Army recruiting poster showing a soldier standing next to an American flag and blowing a bugle.

The call to duty

Join the Army for home and country. Created/Published: [New York]: Published by Recruiting Committee of the Mayor's Committee on National Defence, [1917]   Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3g00000/3g07000/
3g07500/3g07565r.jpg

 


 

Red Cross recruitment poster showing a nurse on a battlefield with a wounded soldier appealing to a nurse seated at a desk; in the background, soldiers charge into battle.

If I fail he dies

Work for the Red Cross Creator(s): McCoy, Arthur G. Created/Published: Duluth: J.J. LeTourneau Printing Co., c1918.

Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3g00000/
3g07000/3g07700/3g07767r.jpg

Poster showing a woman clutching an infant as a German soldier with bloody hands approaches.

Hun or home? Buy more Liberty Bonds

Creator(s): Raleigh, Henry, 1880–1945  Created/Published: Chicago: Edwards & Deutsch Litho. Co., [1918]  Call Number: POS - US .R35, no. 2 (C size) [P&P] Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3g10000/
3g10000/3g10300/3g10331r.jpg

Monster Guns in use by American forces in the Argonne.

The war of the nations: portfolio in rotogravure etchings: compiled from the mid-week pictorial, Created/Published: New York: New York Times, Co., 1919. Call Number D522 .W28 1919. Repository Library of Congress, Serials and Government Publications Division, Washington, D.C. 20540

 

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/np_item.pl?collection=sgproto&agg=sgpwar&iss=19191231&page=187


 

8-page article with pictures of WWI destruction in Europe.

Excerpt from New York Times, October 4, 1914. Created/Published: New York: October 4, 1914. Repository Library of Congress, Serials and Government Publications Division, Washington, D.C. 20540

 

http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gdc/sgpnyt.19141004

Exhibit poster showing two scenes in which men with double leg amputations are being taught to walk with prostheses.

 

Learning to walk for the second time Date Created/Published: 1919.  Reproduction Number: LC-USZC4-7372 Call Number: POS - WWI - US, no. 34 (C size) [P&P]  Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3g00000/
3g07000/3g07300/3g07372r.jpg

1-page handout about British Army uniforms in WWI.

Soldier’s Equipment submitted by Miss Boughey
and housed at http://www.schoolhistory.
co.uk/gcselinks/wars/firstww
links/trenches_worksheets
.shtml

 

http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/gcselinks/
wars/firstwwlinks/worksheets/soldiersequipment.pdf


 

2-page resource about military divisions in England during WWI.

Soldiers in WWI submitted by Mr. Davies to http://www.schoolhistory.
co.uk/gcselinks/wars/firstww
links/trenches_worksheets
.shtml

http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/gcselinks/
wars/firstwwlinks/worksheets/wwisoldier.pdf

Resource describing how trenches were constructed.

Trench Warfare in the First World War

How the trench system was organized.  Submitted by Mr. Moorhouse to http://www.schoolhistory.
co.uk/gcselinks/wars/firstww
links/trenches_worksheets
.shtml

http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/gcselinks/
wars/firstwwlinks/worksheets/trencheshigher.pdf

2-page resource with personal accounts about lice in the trenches.

Body Lice submitted by Mr. RJ Huggins to http://www.schoolhistory.
co.uk/gcselinks/wars/firstww
links/trenches_worksheets
.shtml

http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/gcselinks
/wars/firstwwlinks/worksheets/bodylice.pdf

2-page resource with personal accounts about rats in the trenches during WWI.

Trench Rats submitted by Mr. RJ Huggins to http://www.schoolhistory.
co.uk/gcselinks/wars/firstww
links/trenches_worksheets
.shtml

http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/gcselinks
/wars/firstwwlinks/worksheets/trenchrats.pdf


 

WWI Outline Map for the Journal Project.

European Alliances submitted by Mr. RJ Huggins to http://www.schoolhistory.
co.uk/gcselinks/wars/firstww
links/trenches_worksheets
.shtml

http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/gcselinks/
wars/firstwwlinks/causes_worksheets.shtml

Zimmermann Note.

Zimmermann Telegram as Received by the German Ambassador to Mexico, 01/19/1917

Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, 1756–1979
National Archives and Records Administration

ARC Identifier 302025

 

http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/
zimmermann/images/coded-message-l.jpg

Translated Zimmermann Note.

Zimmermann Telegram -Decoded Message Record Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, 17561979
National Archives and Records Administration ARC Identifier
302022

 

http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/
zimmermann/images/decoded-message-l.jpg

President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points (1918)

 

President Wilson’s Fourteen-Point speech to Congress.  Click on Transcript to read the section in the middle.

President Wilson's Message to Congress, January 8, 1918; Records of the United States Senate; Record Group 46; Records of the United States Senate; National Archives

http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=old&doc=62#


 

Modern History Sourcebook:
Treaty of Versailles, June 28, 1919

 

Selected passages from the Treaty of Versailles.

From The Treaty of Versailles and After: Annotations of the Text of the Treaty (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1944),  Part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. (c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu

 

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1919versailles.html

Political Cartoon showing how Germany was impacted by the Treaty of Versailles.

Cartoon Artist: Low, David (1891–1963) Published: The Star, 24 Jan 1921.  British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent Reference number: LSE6501

 

 

http://www.cartoons.ac.uk/browse/
cartoon_item/anytext=david%20low%20unlimited%20indemnity?page=1

Political Cartoon about Germany and reparations.

Cartoon Artist: Low, David (1891–1963) Published: The Star, 27 Jan 1921 British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent Reference number: LSE6497

 

 

http://www.cartoons.ac.uk/record-image/standard/LSE6497


 

Audio interview of a soldier being shelled and getting wounded in France.

Audio interview excerpts of Arnold Stephen Hoke, “Arnold Stephen Hoke is Wounded.”  Part of the Veteran’s History Project at the Library of Congress http://lcweb2.loc.gov/
diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc
2001001.31638/#vhp:clip
.

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.31638/audio?ID=d5109e983

Diary of soldier Harry Frieman of his life at training and in World War I.

Typescript diary of Harry Frieman, part of the Veteran’s History Project at the Library of Congress http://lcweb2.loc.gov/
diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc
2001001.23600/

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.23600/


 

 

Rubric

Back to Navigation Bar

 

·         World War I Journal Rubric

 

Handouts

Back to Navigation Bar

 

·         World War I Journal Project

 

·         World War I Trenches Scavenger Hunt

 

·         World War I Webquest Worksheet

 

 

The following can be found at the National Archives:

 

1.      Document Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/

 

2.      Photograph Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/

 

3.      Political Cartoon Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/