New York Honors the Centennial Anniversary of WWI

Propaganda for the US to fight in France during WWI. Centennial events for WWI in NYC, image from onslows auctioneers

On April 6th, 1917, the United States officially entered World War I. One hundred years later, we honor the Forgotten War.

To pay tribute to this important transitional moment in world history, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the World War I Centennial Commission, and many other associations have organized hundreds of commemorative events and activities across country and internationally. Here are just a few of the New York events honoring World War I in the coming month.


“Time of War: City, Economy, and Politics in WWI and After” Conference

On Thursday, March 30, and Friday, March 31, Columbia University will host a free two-day conference, “Time of War: City, Economy and Politics in World War I and After.” The invitees include distinguished historians and professors, as well as Gérard Araud, the Ambassador of France to the US. The keynote lecture on Thursday evening (5:30pm-6:30pm) and panels throughout the day Friday (9:00am-5:30pm) will focus on the economic and financial role of New York City had from 1914 until the end of the war.

“Selling World War I in New York”

buy_liberty_bondsBeginning Wednesday, April 5 , the Museum of the City of New York will host an exhibition dedicated to war propaganda, “Selling World War I in New York.” Propaganda posters, magazines, pamphlets, and even music, all from New York, will be on display until September. At 6:30pm on April 5, there will be a discussion at the museum between the exhibit co-curator and a panel of notable graphic designers on the influence of political propaganda, and the link between the WWI propaganda and the political images of today.

An Homage to Pianist Paul Wittgenstein

For music-lovers, an homage to pianist Paul Wittgenstein will be held on Wednesday, April 5 at 7:00pm at the Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St.). Wittgenstein, a composer and concert artist, lost his right arm at the Battle of Galicia, where he fought for his native country of Austria-Hungary against Russia. From then on, he played the piano left-handed, and asked famous composers to write left-handed pieces for him (which they did). In his honor, a quartet of musicians will play “Le Tombeau de Couperin” (The Tomb of Couperin), composed by Wittgenstein’s good friend, Maurice Ravel, and “Suite pour deux violons, violoncelle et piano (main gauche), opus 23” (Sequence for two violins, a cello, and a piano (left-hand), opus 23), a piece commissioned by Wittgenstein.

Film Screening: Les Ailes

On Thursday, April 6 at 7:30pm, FIAF will hold a free film screening (with live scoring) of William Wellman’s 1929 Oscar-winning silent film Les Ailes (“Wings”) in Florence Gould Hall (55 E. 59th St.). This full-length feature film follows the love stories of three young Americans, Mary, Jack, and David, around the time of the United States’ entry into WWI. The French string quartet Quatuor Prima Vista will be playing the score simultaneously alongside the film. Register here.

An Exploration of WWI with Veterans

On Thursday, April 6 from 6:30pm-8:00pm, the Library of America will organize a meet-and-greet with veterans and their families at New York University’s Silver Center (100 Washington Sq. East) in Hemmerdinger Hall. Together, the public and the veterans will explore the World War I through the letters and written accounts of American soldiers who left the US to fight in Europe in 1917. The American biographer and Pulitzer Prize winner A. Scott Berg, and bestselling author Sebastian Junger will be present to lead a discussion.

Film Screening: The Great War

At the New York Historical Society, film-lovers can attend a free early screening of the upcoming PBS miniseries The Great Waron Saturday, April 8 at 7:00pm. Through published diaries and letters, this docu-series explores the history of WWI from the perspective of American soldiers, at the time called “Doughboys.” A discussion with director Amanda Pollak, scriptwriter Richard Rubin, and historian Chad Williams will follow. Watch the trailer here.