THE GREAT WAR  (WW1) presentation by Arn Kind

by Muriel Simonson

On Saturday, March 11, 2017, a number of people interested in history attended a very enlightening and interesting presentation by a retired History teacher, Mr. Arn Kind.  The youngest attendee was my nine year old granddaughter and all ages on up to and including senior citizens.  Kind presented information beginning with what led up to the start of the war with facts, figures, videos, sound effects, etc. The war was also known as a “family feud” as many of the royal  leaders, kings were grandsons of Queen Victoria.

A young Serbian by the name of  Gavrila Precip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife of Austria/Hungary.   Soon there was war which eventually led to the involvement of  28 countries from six continents.  Germany was prepared.  It took time for a number of the countries to mobilize with men to train, materials, transportation and equipment to secure, and to transport to get all in place. The United States did not enter the war until 1917.  President Woodrow Wilson  practiced strict neutrality, tried to make diplomatic resolutions.  President Wilson requested the declaration of war in April of 1917.

Mr. Kind described the war as a “sacred sojourn”  or “What’s in it for me?”. They all thought they had the strongest weapons. I came to have a better understanding of the 550 miles of trenches. The system had three rows of trenches which were six to seven feet deep, which were connected. The front line trench was in front, the middle one was a support trench, and the third was a reserve trench. They would be relieved from the trenches 45 percent at a time as they would rotate. Of course, many were killed in battle or died before they could be relieved.  There were many rats in the trenches as they moved onto the battle ground where there was death and destruction. 

Hiram Manin invented the machine gun in 1904, which he sold all over the world. They weighed 100 to 150 pounds with the power of 60 to 80 rifles. Chemical warfare was another nasty enemy which led to the gas masks being necessary. The men kept themselves clean-shaven to prevent the gas from leaking through facial hair which would cushion them.  There was chlorine gas, phasogene gas which smelled like hay, then of course, the mustard gas which was odorless and colorless. It not only destroyed the lungs, it also burned the skin.

The tank was the idea of  Winston Churchill.  It was called “tank” as when they transported them, they were in containers marked “water tanks” to disguise what they really were.  They could go across the trenches, but they were also slow and cumbersome.

There was also the war at sea which included the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania, as well as others. Ships and submarines became very  important.

Then there was the air war. Zeppelins were used in bombing raids over London, which caused psychological stress.  Of course, hydrogen being used for fuel made them very flammable.  When the war began, the airplane was less than 11 years old.  We think of the Wright Brothers.  Also, a Dutchman named Fokker sold his invention to the Germans. The E l shot through the propeller. A pilot was considered an ACE when he had succeeded in shooting down ten enemy planes.  American Eddie Rickenbacker was an  ACE of ACES.  Most of the pilots had only five to ten hours of training before being sent into battle!

Mr. Kind had a young student, Grant, come to the front of the room to demonstrate what a young pilot would need to wear and learn to pilot and fight the enemy planes.  He had Grant sit on a chair, put on the clothing that was necessary, and demonstrate all that the pilot would need to concentrate on as he searched for and attempted to shoot down the enemy, all the while trying to avoid becoming a casualty himself! The average time of survival for these young men was three weeks!  The clothing had to be warm as they had to go up to 17,000 feet, which could take an hour.  Of course, it became very cold up there in the open planes, also the atmosphere was a problem.

When the U.S. entered the war in an attempt to make the world safe for Americans, there were many who were still opposed to the war. There were two classes; those who were considered as Americans or those who were considered to be traitors.   The draft registration began in June, then some training before getting into fighting. By the end of the war, many women served in many capacities, as volunteers, nurses, or doing the work here at home as the men were gone. At the same time, they had no right to vote!  (In 1920 the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote)

1,432 Minnesotans died  in this war  The Great War was very brutal, millions of soldiers and civilians died either from the fighting, from disease, or the lingering illnesses that followed many back home. The “War to End All Wars” did not do that, did it?  Fighting is still going on.

This is just a brief report of the two and a half hour program presented by Mr. Kind!  You can find much information on this “Great War” in books and on-line. 


Display at Arn Kind's WW1 Presentation.


Some flags, posters as well as some equipment necessary for the soldiers.


WW1 Posters


WW1 Aircraft


Arn Kind offering more information  and showing a part of a film.


 Demonstrating the fighter plane.


Grant receiving a "flying lesson" from Arn.


Dressed in uniform, displaying and  providing information on several of the guns


Dr. Johnston in the process of trying on a gas mask.


Another audience member putting ont he gas mask.


Helmets & model of tank.