African schoolboys may not ordinarily be thought of as the face of World War I, but Cameroon — then a German colony — was fully caught up in a conflict more than 3,000 miles away.
Gustav Nachtigal, to whom The New York Times referred politely as an “annexationist,” had asserted Germany’s claim to the Douala coast in 1884. In the midst of World War I, French and British forces gained control of the land in 1916, imposing their own colonial control. (Independence only came in 1960.) The “First Photographs of the Kamerun, Germany’s Most Beautiful Colony, Now Under French Rule,” were published in the Mid-Week Pictorial on May 17, 1917.
That week, New York City was recovering from the all-out reception it had just accorded to Marshal Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre and other members of the French War Commission. With war preparations well underway, many ceremonies were held to underscore America’s historical alliance with France. Among them was the unveiling of Daniel Chester French’s bold relief sculpture of the Marquis de Lafayette, the Revolutionary War hero, in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Another kind of sculpture was fashioned at City Hall Park in Manhattan by more Boy Scouts than can be counted. And please don’t try. Times Insider is not handing out prizes.
Times Insider is offering glimpses of some of the most memorable wartime illustrations that appeared in The New York Times Mid-Week Pictorial, on the 100th anniversary of each issue: