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Experience World War I-Era New Braunfels at the Sophienburg Museum

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As part of the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of America’s role in World War I, the Sophienburg Museum and Archives in New Braunfels presents “War Stories: New Braunfels in World War I,” which will be on display through 2019. New Braunfels was the first Texas colony of German immigrants, established by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, Germany. Settlers first arrived at the point where the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers met, northeast of San Antonio, led by Nicolaus Zink, on March 21, 1845.

New Braunfels’ unique German character compelled its citizens to respond with fervor once America was at war with Germany during World War I.  Over 500 men from the New Braunfels area shipped off to fight in the war. On view in the exhibit are artifacts from the Sophienburg’s rich collections – posters, photographs, uniforms and other historical objects to showcase events, individuals and ideology during 1914 through 1919, as well as touch on the lasting impact of The Great War on New Braunfels and beyond.

First Stop: Visit the Veteran’s Memorial at the Entrance to the Museum

Sophienburg

Photo: Facebook/Sophienburg Museum and Archives

The exhibit begins in a tucked-away corner of the museum where a veteran’s memorial board has been erected. On this board, visitors are encouraged to leave a photo of a veteran from any war – past or present. There are also souvenirs on display in the veteran’s memorial room where visitors can see trinkets and artifacts that soldiers brought home from various wars.

For a veteran, bringing home a remembrance of time spent fighting in the war was an important part of sharing with friends and family back home a bit of their wartime experience. These souvenirs were also an important symbol of the tenacity of the soldiers and a reminder of the good fortune that they made it home…when so many of their fellow soldiers did not.

Experience World War I-Era New Braunfels at the Sophienburg

Cooties at Sophienburg

Photo: Facebook/Sophienburg Museum and Archives

The whole Sophienburg Museum has been transformed into a glimpse of what life would have looked like in New Braunfels during World War I. Visitors will get to see everything from a typical girl’s bedroom, outfitted with letter-writing in progress to soldiers overseas and patriotic decor, as residents participated in the war effort on the homefront. Visitors will also learn about how local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts did their part to fill the void left by the soldiers who were fighting overseas. Local Scouts aided in the war effort by collecting cherry and peach pits to be made into charcoal, which was then used as a filter in the gas masks worn by soldiers fighting in the war.

Gas masks and prosthetic limbs are on display, reminding visitors how the war affected those soldiers who returned home, bearing the mark of a hard-fought war. Mustard gas affected many men from New Braunfels. For years following the war, the effects of the gas exposure were felt in the community as men suffered from pulmonary and respiratory issues in their later years.

Exhibit Open Through 2019

Sophienburg Museum

Photo: Facebook/Sophienburg Museum and Archives

War Stories: New Braunfels in World War I is an insightful exhibit reminding visitors that the World War placed immigrant residents in a unique predicament wherein their patriotism and allegiance to the United States was tested. The town of New Braunfels pulled together and presented a united front at a time when the impact of supporting our country and its military was regarded with the utmost importance.

Plan a visit to the Sophienburg Museum and Archives soon to share this extraordinary time in our country’s history with your family. Find out more about the Sophienburg by visiting their website or follow them on Facebook for the latest news and events.