Nov. 11, 2018 commemorated 100 years since the end of World War I. Generally referred to as the first “total war,” WWI blurred the boundaries between front and home front, forever changing the face of modern warfare. By its end, the “Great War” was one of the deadliest armed conflicts in history, with the toll of civilian and military casualties reaching 40 million. In its aftermath, the rise of social and political movements in many countries supported suffrage and political activism by minority groups, but also caused a radicalization of nationalist movements. This led to totalitarian regimes in several countries, as well as changes in political configurations on the world stage. Today, representations, reactions and responses to WWI are found in art, film, literature and theatre throughout the 20th century and all over the world.

University of Toledo brought scholars from various disciplines and institutions to discuss and critically examine cultural representations and memories of WWI.

Mike McMaster, Education Program Coordinator, Wood County Historical Society, spoke on “Henry County in the Great War.”

In the spring of 1918, an organization in Napoleon, Ohio called the League of American Patriots of Henry County was formed to reputably stamp out “Pro-German sentiment.” This league, led by Napoleon’s Methodist and Presbyterian ministers, and manned by second rate Republicans, began to conduct Loyalty Trials against Henry County’s prominent German democrats. The League then set its fury on the loyal German Lutheran Churches and parochial schools in Henry County. The apex of the League, and their persecution of the German Lutherans, came to a head at the tiny Henry County hamlet of West Hope, Ohio where a mob of over 500 League men surrounded the parsonage of a German Lutheran minister. In 1918 in Henry County, Ohio, like many other places in the United States at the time, petty religious, political, and personal grudges were exacerbated by the German spy hysteria that gripped America. Patriotism was used as a cloak to settle these scores.

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