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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Hillie John Franz, Company L, 34th Infantry Regiment, 7th Division. Wartime diary May 27, 1918 to June 25, 1919. Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (147.00.00)

Hillie John Franz

Hillie Franz, a young Texan of German descent, found a nearly unused German ledger book while serving in France. In spite of his lack of formal education and challenges with spelling words, often done phonetically, his account captures the chaos of the infantryman's life in wartime. During the campaign, he describes the downing of an airplane in battle: it "was hit in a weak spot and the gass [sic] caught fire and hell was up and it got to turning over and over and was coming down."