World War I, one hundred years later

Jim Eshleman
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Photo by Jim Eshleman

Local resident and historian Jack Lane speaks on World War I at the Big Horn County Historical Museum on Saturday. He covered a number of points about the war and its aftermath.

The Big Horn County Historical Museum hosted Jack Lane Saturday commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. In his speech, Lane reminded his audience that about 400 area residents served in WWI and 18 died. This figure was quoted from the Hardin Tribune in 1918.

Lane’s presentation not only went over some of the historical facts that led up to the war, but he presented information about some of the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering taking place between Germany, Great Britain, France and Russia.

This included everything from countries meddling in each other’s politics to propaganda methods used. Media and movies at the time impacted public opinion about the war and helped changed the public’s perceptions of people and countries involved.

Lane noted that, at the beginning of the war, the United States went from being pro-isolationist and pro-German to anti-German.

Because of the naval blockade of Germany by Great Britain, Lane said, the Allies were better able to control the information and narrative presented to the United States.

Lane also discussed trench warfare, the use of poison gas and the effects that modern warfare had on civilization.

“While the Germans were using poison gas on the Allies, they were complaining to the Hague in Belgium about the American troops using shotguns,” Lane said. “Germany was claiming that the shotgun was an inhumane weapon.”

Lane also spoke on the war’s end. The Treaty of Versailles, which placed financial responsibility of the war on Germany, Lane said, set the stage for the rise of Adolph Hitler and World War II.