KANSAS CITY, Mo. – War was romantic. War was colorful flags, spiked helmets and flashing sabers. War was an adventure. As soldiers across Europe marched to war in the summer of 1914, most expected to be home in weeks, surely by Christmas. The special exhibition Over By Christmas: August-December 1914 examines these romantic notions colliding with the harsh realities of war and opens Saturday, May 3 at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.
Pistol shots of an assassination in a Sarajevo street on June 28, 1914 ignited the match of the war. Quickly, the growing flames led to threats, armies mobilizing, war being declared and dreadnoughts steaming to sea. This special exhibition, Over By Christmas: August-December 1914, highlights the first five months of the war through specific topics and case studies, including Germany Mobilizes, Germany’s Rush to War, Invasion: Belgium and France and War in the East.
“Over By Christmas presents fascinating events that transpired during the initial period of World War I, “said National World War I Museum Senior Curator Doran Cart. “Most of these items have never been previously exhibited in a museum, so people will have the opportunity to see new objects, while learning about pivotal events during the early stages of the Great War.”
One prominent case study featured in the exhibition stems from the early war in the Pacific with the S.M.S. Cormoran. Waves crashed against the hull of the Russian mail steamer, the S.S. Rjasan in the Straits of Tsushima north of Japan in a rough sea on Aug. 4, 1914. A lurking German raider, the S.M.S. Emden, spotted her as quarry. The Rjasan (originally built in Germany) was captured and soon brought to the German-controlled port of Tsingtao, China and renamed the S.M.S Cormoran. A brass and glass porthole, the lower end of a copper voice tube used to communicate between decks and an engine room steam gauge made by Schaffer & Budenberg in Magdeburg, Germany are among the exhibited items.
“Over By Christmas continues our efforts to learn lessons and derive meaning from the Great War by bringing to life incredible stories and events from those critical first few months of the war,” said National World War I Museum President & CEO Matthew Naylor.
All objects and documents featured in Over By Christmas are from the extensive collection of the Museum. The majority of items have not been displayed before with several recently acquired for this special exhibition, giving new and repeat visitors a fresh viewpoint on the critical first months of the war.
The exhibition showcases objects that represent different aspects of the war including:
The exhibition, located in Exhibit Hall and free with admission to the Museum, runs through March 2015.
To learn more, visit www.theworldwar.org.