World War I - CSPM

World War I

In 1917, shoemaker Julius Sperber boarded with son Rudolph’s family in the 1000 block of South Sahwatch Street. After the United States entered WWI in the spring of that year, Sperber registered with the police department as an “Alien Enemy.” By that time, the German immigrant had lived in Colorado Springs since at least 1892 – a total of 25 years. On January 15, 1921, Sperber and 11 others passed District Judge Arthur Cornforth’s intense questioning to become naturalized citizens – while four others unfortunately failed.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

World War I truly reached Colorado Springs with the announcement of the creation of Battery C, First Field Artillery, Colorado National Guard on May 25, 1916. At the beginning of June, the National Defense Act of 1916 became law, greatly expanding the National Guard. By the end of June, under command of Captain Victor Hungerford, Battery C went to a mobilization camp in Golden, Colorado. Battery C arrived in Europe in February of 1918. In 1919, three years and one day after the announcement of its creation, news came that Battery C would return home.

Women also supported the war effort on the war front. Sidney J. Walker worked 14 to 15 hour shifts in the surgical dressing department of the Red Cross in Paris. Helen Anderson and her mother travelled to Paris to work with the Y.M.C.A. A Colorado Springs contingent of nurses also went to serve at base hospital No. 29 on the front, including Augusta Browning and Edna Younker.

There was active support of the war effort from Colorado Springs residents. Battery C received food and clothing made for them by local Colorado Springs women while they were in training. There was also a city-wide War Garden campaign that took place in 1917. Despite bad weather the gardening campaign was a success. Local school children organized as garden tenders and worked with professional growers and horticulturists to make the most out of the Colorado Springs climate.
After the entry of the United States into the war in 1917, and on a rising wave of nationalism, Woodrow Wilson passed an executive order requiring German born men who were not naturalized to carry registration cards. There were worries that German spies would try to infiltrate the United States. Many Coloradoans of German ancestry, naturalized or not, experienced prejudice and degradation. Anti-German sentiment crept into every facet of life as German language classes were removed from school curriculum and politicians fell over one another to prove who was the most anti-German. Mesa County residents offered to convert the Teller Indian School into an internment camp for Germans.

Colorado Springs reflected and embodied national sentiments during World War One. The willingness to commit men and women to military service, communally organize to support the war from home, and participate in xenophobic fervor were all federally led efforts that took root and flourished locally.

Submitted by Patrick Lee, CSPM Museum Technician

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