Natalie Ambrose was kind enough to give the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum a great family collection of pictures, military equipment, and clothes from the World War I era just last week. Included among the items were two large bound volumes of The Amaroc News. This was the newspaper of the American troops that occupied Germany in the period. Printed in the town of Koblenz in the Rhineland, the four-page newspaper covered sports, European news, and events among the troops in camp every day. Oftentimes, there were also comics and jokes included.
The important German industrial zone along the left bank of the Rhine River was declared a demilitarized region in the Versailles Treaty that ended World War I. The treaty imposed fifteen years of occupation by foreign troops to protect France from German hostility and to ensure that reparation payments would be made. In the beginning of 1919, the Third US Army, some 250,000 troops, took part in the occupation, but the American Forces in Germany soon replaced them, and that group was diminished to 20,000 soldiers before the end of the year. The forces of the United States then remained in place until 1923. Eventually, President Harding decided that it did not fit in with his foreign policy to have the army in Germany, so the Americans left, to be replaced by other Allied forces.
Though a few dozen academic libraries have copies of the microfilm that was made of The Amaroc News, print copies are very rare, and hardly any libraries have a run of an entire year like this. The newspaper shows the interests and diversions of the soldiers, including baseball among the soldiers and at home, as well as dance classes. News items often focus on local trivia, but we can see a great concern with what is happening with the Soviet movement in Russia and in places closer, such as Hungary and Bavaria.
Sources like this are great for showing students the details of everyday life centered on an aspect of the American experience that many of them have never heard of before.