Pinterest and World War I

Pinterest

My most repinned pin–why?–and which side?

I’ve been maintaining a Pinterest board for World War I for three years.

It’s part of the background for a novel I’ve written (but haven’t sold yet) set during World War I.

My novel is a coming of age story about a young woman growing emotionally spiritually and professionally over the course of the war.

Oswald and Biddy Chambers are marquee characters in the novel as well, which is what started me on the research that led to my being contracted to write Biddy Chambers’ biography.

(More about that another time)

But WWI plays a significant role in the novel and so I had to learn a lot about that war.

(Really, who in their right mind would want to learn about it otherwise?)

I’ve written a lot of posts about WWI (and probably will continue to do so), but I needed to see the sites of the story–and thus the hunts through Pinterest.

Pinterest Pinners Choose Sides

In 2013 when I began, almost all the pictures that came up on searches were from the Allied side–England and France, as well as the Anzac countries of Australia and New Zealand. (Anzac stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps).

Russian photos have crept in–usually of the czar–and of course the Americans are all well represented in their pride.

I noticed almost immediately how unbalanced the pin sources were–were no Germans, Italians or even Ottoman army fans pinning on Pinterest?

Manfred von Richthofen on Pinterest

The cursed but popular Red Baron (Wikipedia Commons)

Red Baron fans posted his photos, of course.

Flyers provided plenty of boards with sopwith camels (British airplanes) and the German versions. Zeppelins appeared regularly as well.

The preponderance of books written from Allied side, particularly in English, would explain some of that–to the winners go the spoils and the history books.

(Britain’s Imperial War Museum released photos, videos and masses of documents over the years, making their materials far more accessible to English-speaking scholars, which also added to the flooding of the resources.)

As a former journalist, however, I’m skeptical.

In researching my novel, I learned how much the British government–under the original directions of former journalist/ head of the Navy Winston Churchill–relied on propaganda.

The first thing the British government did once they declared war  was sever the German’s telegraph line to North America. Britain controlled the news–and it never had a good thing to say about the Kaiser’s men.

Perhaps that had something to do with the few German-themed pins on Pinterest 99 years after the war began?

The Axis Pinners finally begin to Pin

That’s still true now.

The majority of pins that I see still come from Allied-army supporters.

Pinterest

The German film crews were there.Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1983-0323-501 (Wikipedia Commons)

But I’m seeing more pins featuring photos of German troops, Italian army men and even an Ottoman or two when the photos are of Gallipoli.

This morning, I saw this article about a German soldier’s photo album that provided plenty of pin-worthy photos.

The soldiers look as young and raw as they do on the Allied side.

Research and my eyes have shown me the Germans built better, more secure trenches. They did not suffer as much as the British and French troops did in the mud.

Some of that is because they tended to have the physical high ground.

The German army had superior training and materials.

Their people suffered just as much as anyone else. The German forces were depleted by 1918 and their people were starving.

War was terrible for them as well.

Objectivity

My grandfather served in the American Army on the side of the Allies–that’s where my heart lies.

But from my journalism training in everything, I seek  objectivity–I want to read and SEE both sides.

So, I welcome pinning photographs from the Axis country’s armies and I’m thankful, so far, Pinterest provides me with another look at a terrible war.

It’s still not pretty, but it’s important.

For the sake of our humanity, we need to know, even on such a medium as Pinterest.

I maintain a number of different WWI Pinterest boards. Here they are:

Doughboy veteran Pinterest

Grandpa in the American army

World War I Shots

World War I Notables

World War I Animals

World War I Fashion

WWI Britain

WWI France

WWI Americans

WWI Egypt

YMCA WWI

Wandering the Somme

WWI Research Books

(My novel covered quite a bit of ground!)

Tweetables

The WWI German Army finally appears on Pinterest. Click to Tweet

Objectivity in war? Not on Pinterest for too long. Click to Tweet

Pinning WWI on Pinterest, the Allies are winning. Click to Tweet

 

 

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