War Between Nations

[Generic WWI photo]

[German troops in the trenches during the Battle of the Marne], Sept 1914 (Source: The Heritage of the Great War)  (2)

A Global Conflict

World War I, known as "The Great War," lasted from 1914 - 1918. World War One was one of the most significant conflicts in history, claiming millions of lives, significantly altering the map of Europe, and changing the global balance of power. By the war's end, over nine million people had died in the war and 21 million were wounded.

The Great War introduced trench warfare as a military tactic. Modern weaponry such as machine guns, tanks and chemical weapons were used for the first time in a major war. World War One pitted the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire) against the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, and the United States, which joined in 1917). Fighting ceased on November 11, 1918. The Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919, officially ended the conflict. (3)



[Chicago Exposition 1918]

[Tanks on display at the Chicago Exposition, 1918], J-242, (Source: Benedictine University Archives).

World War I had a profound impact on Chicago. The Great Lakes Naval Training Center in nearby Gurnee (now known as Recruit Training Command Great Lakes), founded in 1911, was the largest training facility in the United States Navy. For the military as a whole, Illinois provided more than 300,000 recruits.

Many in Chicago's German immigrant population (the city's largest immigrant group at that time) sympathized with the Central powers and were vocal in their opposition to the government's growing support for the Allied forces.

Once the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies, German Americans fell under suspicion. German-sounding foods were renamed: sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage,” frankfurters became “hot dogs.” Chicago institutions were modified as well, with the Germania Club becoming the Lincoln Club, and the Bismarck Hotel becoming the Hotel Randolph. (4)


[Welcome home parade]

[Welcome home parade in Wheaton], September 1919  (Source: DuPage Roots, A History of Dupage County, 1985)

This photo shows servicemen marching in a "Welcome Home" parade in DuPage County in September 1919. 25,000 members of the community were on hand to applaud the veterans, likely including many St. Procopius alumni.  St. Procopius College students were probably part of the cheering crowd. (5)