Christian History Institute

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items tagged with world war i

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23 Feb 2017

Recommended resources

by the editors | Issue 121

BOOKS

General books about soldiers, the home front, and faith in World Wars I and II (and sometimes other wars) include John Costello, Virtue Under Fire (1987); Gerald Sittser, A Cautious Patriotism (1997); Michael Burleigh, Earthly Powers (2005) and Sacred Causes (2007); Michael Snape, God and the British Soldier (2005) and God and Uncle Sam (2015); David Fromkin, A Peace To End All Peace (2009); Jonathan Ebel, Faith in the Fight (2010) and G. I. Messiahs (2015); and Philip Jenkins, The Great and Holy War (2014). 

Many books tell the...

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23 Feb 2017

Christmas Miracles

by various | Issue 121

During Christmas 1914 spontaneous gestures of goodwill erupted in some places on the Western Front.

On Christmas Eve the firing practically ceased. I think both sides understood we were going to have a day off. Through the night we sang carols to one another. … When dawn arrived we started putting our head above the parapet and waved to each other. On our left was a brewery occupied by the Germans and to our surprise we saw a German come out and hold his hand up; behind him were two rolling a barrel of beer. They came halfway across. …

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23 Feb 2017

World wars Timeline

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 121

The political backdrop of this issue

1914

June 28 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Duchess Sophie, are assassinated by Serbian activist Gavrilo Princip.

July 28 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, officially launching World War I.

1915

[American sailor reading the Bible in World War II—https://www.archives.gov]

April 24 Genocide against Armenians begins in Turkey.

May 7 German U-boat sinks British liner Lusitania .

1916

May 16 Sykes-Picot Agreement divides the Middle East between Britain and France.

July 1 ...

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23 Feb 2017

Service for peace

by Steven M. Nolt | Issue 121

“What’s the matter , Burkholder? Why don’t you answer the judge?” the army major snapped at 22-year-old Paul Burkholder. Perched on a small chair, the young man sat in a semicircle of officers and lawyers sent to Fort Mead, Maryland, in 1918 to question those who refused to don uniforms as soldiers.

The major kept roughing Burkholder up, “until he got me in a position that I couldn’t scarcely talk [and] my voice trembled.” Finally the young man explained that he wasn’t afraid of fighting, but “if I have to take the uniform, I’m identified as...

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23 Feb 2017

Services in leaky tents

by Ronit Y. Stahl | Issue 121

For Baptist minister C. C. Bateman, serving as a military chaplain turned him into “a spiritual sportsman [who] could use fishing tackle or exercise his use of the Gospel gun as a wing shot.” While chaplains did not carry weapons, Bateman’s metaphor was apt, for military clergy had to adapt to new circumstances quickly. World War I forced the military chaplaincy to refashion itself into a new organization: larger, more mobile, and more diverse than ever before. 

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23 Feb 2017

Suffering in the trenches

by Paul E. Michelson | Issue 121

Trench fever was one of the most common afflictions suffered by soldiers during World War I, infecting over 1,000,000 victims in that war ’s filthy trenches. Also known as “pyrexia of unknown origin” or PUO, it was transmitted by human body lice. Bathing and cleanliness were uncommon in the trenches and might have been among the least of soldiers’ concerns. The actual bacterial cause of the infection was not identified until the 1960s. 

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23 Feb 2017

Wittgenstein’s war: A philosopher finds God in the trenches

by Jeffrey B. Webb | Issue 121

The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) served an eventful tour of duty on the Eastern Front in World War I. He fought bravely, won medals, wrote a philosophical masterpiece—and met God.

Wittgenstein came from an aristocratic family of Jewish ancestry in Vienna. Tragedy dogged him and his siblings: three of his four brothers committed suicide, two in the early 1900s and one as a soldier on the Eastern Front in 1918. Ludwig and his surviving brother, Paul, who lost his right arm in battle against the Russians in 1914, both...

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23 Feb 2017

No atheists in the foxholes?

by Kevin L. Walters | Issue 121

In German prisoner-of-war (POW) camp Stalag 4c, a small group of imprisoned US troops gathered for an improvised Christmas Eve worship service in 1944. Since they lacked a chaplain, a young man reluctantly volunteered to lead them in prayer. 

Clarence Swope, who was present at the service, recalled, “It was the most moving religious experience I ever had.” Though they prayed for the safety and comfort of their families rather than their own, Swope described leaving the gathering with an exhilarating feeling of complete faith that all would...

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23 Feb 2017

Inklings at War

by Paul E. Michelson | Issue 121

In March 1916a young British battalion signaling officer graduated from Oxford University, married his childhood sweetheart, and shipped across the English Channel just in time to participate in the hellish Battle of the Somme (July 1–November 18). The very first day of this battle was the greatest bloodbath in English military history: 9,000 British soldiers killed; 36,000 wounded; and 2,000 missing. 

dead faces in the water

Later the young soldier wrote about a scene eerily similar to the devastated no-man’s lands of northern France: 

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23 Feb 2017

“The world must be made safe for democracy”

by Woodrow Wilson | Issue 121

When President Woodrow Wilson ran for re-election in 1916, one of his campaign slogans was “He kept us out of war.” But his inaugural address on March 5, 1917, acknowledged wartime reality.

[Woodrow Wilson—Wikimedia]

The tragic events of the thirty months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back. &hellip

We are being forged into a new unity amidst the fires that now blaze throughout the world. In their ardent heat we shall, in God’s Providence, let us hope, be...

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23 Feb 2017

A sacred Conflict or an unfortunate necessity?

by Barry Hankins | Issue 121

In 1940 , the year before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, America was already inching, if not striding, toward involvement in the war that was raging in Europe. That January Fortune , a major secular magazine, published a scathing editorial against America’s clergy for their failure to support the war. 

Fortune editors pointed out that before World War I, preachers had opposed the evil of war; but during that war they had exhibited a holy war mentality in their anti-German propaganda. Then, after World War I, the editors claimed, clergy...

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22 Feb 2017

Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924)

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 121

Devout Presbyterian preacher’s son Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia. He held a PhD in political science from Johns Hopkins, and his distinguished scholarly career led to his becoming president of Princeton University, governor of New Jersey, and finally the nation’s twenty-eighth president, elected in 1912. 

[Woodrow Wilson—Wikimedia]

Wilson presided over the passage of socially progressive legislation, including the establishment of the Federal Trade Commission and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the...

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22 Feb 2017

Franz Joseph (1830–1916)

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 121

Roman Catholic Franz Joseph served as the emperor of Austria; the king of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia; and the president of the German Federation … all at once. He ruled most of his territories for 68 years. Coming to the throne in 1848 following the abdication of his uncle, he spent his reign fighting wars with Italy and Prussia. 

[Francis Joseph—Wikimedia]

Franz Joseph’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 fueled tensions that eventually led to the assassination of his nephew and heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Princip and his...

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22 Feb 2017

The Crisis of the West

by Jeffrey B. Webb | Issue 121

A wrong turn on June 28, 1914 , plunged the world into war. 

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Sophie, rode through the streets of Sarajevo in Bosnia, a province Austria-Hungary had taken from the Serbs just six years earlier. Unbeknownst to him, seven Serbian nationalists were hiding in the crowd to attempt an assassination. The first try—a bomb—missed, injuring an officer. The rattled archduke kept his scheduled appointments, but chose a different route back, intending to go to the...

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22 Feb 2017

Editor's note

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 121

World War I and World War II, for me at least, have often presented themselves as a series of names: Woodrow Wilson, Alvin York, Corrie ten Boom, Anne Frank, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We all know heroic stories; some of us remember the sagas of specific battles. 

Even more than 70 years after the end of World War II, these wars still form us. Many of our print readers are from the United States, and many online readers hail from other nations that fought in these conflicts. As world wars, they transformed the face of the globe politically and...

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21 Feb 2017

Letters to the editor

by Our readers | Issue 121

Taste and see

Thank you for your leadership of Christian History, which is truly a blessing to me and to many other Christians! The most recent edition—The Wonder of Creation—particularly touched my heart. Your Editor’s Letter was insightful and beautiful… . Please prayerfully consider a future edition of Christian History about food. It would be wonderful to hear the story of how Christians have found Him in food, through the generations.—Edward Joseph James, MD

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21 Feb 2017

did you know

by the editors | Issue 121

The vicar is a pacifist 

G. A. Studdert-Kennedy (1883–1929), an English slum vicar who became a World War I chaplain, developed an unusual way to get the attention of troops—distributing Bibles and Woodbine cigarettes, earning him the name “Woodbine Willie.” Once he put up a post with the sign “The Vicarage.” Soldiers walking by commented, “Look—the bloody vicarage.” Studdert-Kennedy poked his head out and said, “And here’s the bloody vicar.” When he died at 46, he was so famous that King George V sent condolences. Some ex-soldiers sent a...

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