The Great War Project
The Great War Project
It was called "The War to End All Wars." A century later, we know better. Join us on air and online as we unearth the legacy of WWI.
It was called "The War to End All Wars." A century later, we know better. Join us on air and online as we unearth the legacy of WWI. Read more
About this project
- An American soldier describes the smell of gunpowder and blood in the trenches.
- A veteran remembers the boom of shells exploding in battle.
- A lieutenant tells of fighting both poison gas and mud.
- A nurse writes of tending the wounded only to send them back to the front.
These are stories from World War One, which began 100 years ago this year. At the time, some people called it "the war to end all wars" because they were convinced it would eliminate warfare from human experience. A century later, we know better. The World War, also called "The Great War," devastated much of Europe, killed some 10 million people, ended empires, gave birth to new nations, sparked conflicts from France to Persia and from Russia to the Pacific islands, created the conditions leading to World War II a generation later, and helped make the United States the pre-eminent global power. Yet it settled nothing, and many of the conflicts from Europe to the Middle East and beyond still simmer to this day.
Alex Chadwick, one of our team members, has been thinking about what World War One means for us today and decided to take ask shoppers at his local farmers market what they know about The Great War.
The results demonstrate why we think our project is needed. Take a listen:
We are a group of long-time public radio broadcasters working to bring to life the story of The Great War. And we're not just telling a single story or storyline. We are telling a host of stories from the war:
- Soldiers who endured weeks or even months in the muddy trenches
- The world's first combat pilots
- Sailors who fought some of the biggest naval battles in history
- The men and women who drove ambulances and cared for the wounded
- The generals who led the battles, often from miles away
- The kings and politicians who wanted the war and did not know how to stop it
- The families back home who worried about loved ones in distant places
- The social and political upheavals spawned by the war: the Russian Revolution and women getting the right to vote in Europe and America, among them.
These stories – when heard on the radio – create memorable images in the mind’s eye. Radio has the ability to evoke another time, reveal the emotion in a voice, re-create the sounds that accompanied war.
Our public radio project will dig down into what it was like for those who fought in or lived through World War One – and how the war reshaped the world, including America.
What We Are Doing
Beginning in June 2014, we will tell the stories of The Great War through radio documentaries and in shorter radio pieces, all of which will air on public radio stations nationwide and will be available in podcasts.
Our goal is not to tell the definitive history of the war and all its battles. Instead, we will present many important and interesting stories from the war: those of soldiers and civilians, the military technology, the tactics, the poetry, the politics, the societal consequences.
We will present the vast tapestry of World War One and thereby help all of us understand what happened during that time and how that now-forgotten war helped create – for better or worse – the world we live in today.
In this Kickstarter campaign, we are seeking support for:
- The first of what we hope will be four hour-long radio documentaries, each timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of a key development in World War One. The first documentary will air in late June, marking the event that triggered the war: the assassination in Sarajevo of Franz Ferdinand, the archduke and heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire. If we are able to secure additional funding, the other documentaries will air in early August, mid-October and late December. All of the radio programs will be available for download on our website and as podcasts.
- Creation of a website that will provide a richly detailed picture of the war through stories, diaries, audio and video from the time of the war,photographs, posters, diaries and memoirs, and other material that helps us, today, understand what the war was like for those who experienced it – including our grandparents or great-grandparents.
- Public Radio International has agreed to distribute our stories to hundreds of public radio stations across the United States. We also plan shorter radio pieces about the war that we hope will be aired by public radio programs with some 30 million potential listeners.These include NPR programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and Public Radio International's The World.
To do this, we need your help.
First, of course, we need your funding, which is what this Kickstarter campaign is all about. We need funds to write and produce our radio documentaries, to travel to the places where World War One happened, to interview historians and other experts, to buy equipment, to distribute our stories to public radio stations, and to create and host our website. All this costs money, of course.
Check out our rewards listed on this page. They will enable you to experience our project both while it is underway and once our radio stories are finished.
We also need your help collecting material for our project. We are looking for:
- Letters, diaries, and memoirs from ancestors who lived through the war, whether soldiers in the field, sailors at sea, or worried family members at home.
These are the kinds of documents that tell stories as they happened. Some of them might be buried in an attic, or stored away in some special place in your home or your parents' home. We would love to have copies; not the originals, of course.
- Photographs, memorabilia, posters, war medals: anything that we can use as illustrations on our website.
Again, high quality digitized copies are best.
- Audio or video recordings telling stories from the war.
Maybe your great-grandfather recorded his wartime memories. If so, we can arrange to make a copy and maybe even use some of it in one of our broadcasts.
If you are willing to share these stories with other listeners, contact us at: email@example.com
Thank you for helping us bring the Great War Project to you.
Risks and challenges
Our main challenge is posed by the calendar.
Although we have been planning this project for months, we have a very tight schedule to produce each of our documentaries, particularly the first one to be aired in late June plus a website. We have been collecting information but will need to conduct interviews and site visits and design a website in the next few months. If we run out of time or encounter significant reporting or production obstacles, we'll have to push off when things go to air or we go live with a website.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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