Thinking about WW1 centenary commemorations

I can’t believe the speed at which 2013 is hurtling along, and that 2014 - and with it the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 – will soon be here. Not an anniversary to celebrate, of course, but a time to reflect on the suffering humanity is capable of inflicting upon itself.

Ref: 35-R2163, Anzac parade, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Over 100,000 New Zealanders took part in the conflict, and almost 20,000 lost their lives. Many New Zealand soldiers had their portraits taken before they left for Europe, and Herman Schmidt’s Studio in Auckland’s Queen Street was a favourite place to be photographed. 4,500 of Schmidt’s WW1 soldier portraits have survived and can be seen on the Auckland Libraries’ Heritage Images database. You can also see a virtual exhibition of the Herman Schmidt’s work

Ref: 31-68257, unidentified WW1 soldier, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Many of the soldiers’ faces have been incorporated into an intriguing and powerful gallery of portraits by DigitalNZ’s Chris McDowall.

New Zealand’s first action of the war was to invade German Samoa, an episode that was recorded by resident photographer and former Aucklander Alfred John Tattersall. The photographs were published by the Auckland Weekly News, which has recently been digitised by Auckland Libraries. You can find out more about Tattersall through the Photographers database (simply type in Tattersall, Alfred into the search box).
Ref: AWNS-19141022-41-2, NZers in Samoa, 1914, Sir George Grey Special Collections
But the war was a disaster for German Samoans, men like Gustav Kronfeld, who instantly became 'enemy aliens' and were interned for the duration of the war on Somes/Matiu Island in Wellington Harbour.

Author: Keith Giles, Sir George Grey Special Collections


  1. Digitisation project of WW1 memorabilia held by Archives NZ (please copy & paste this link into your browser):


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