North Dakota during the Great War

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two is well documented.

Some of them were even kept in Bismarck at what is now United Tribes Technical College.

But what's less known is what was going on here a hundred years ago, as North Dakotans left to fight in World War One.

North Dakota has had a high German population since statehood. Fears of German saboteurs and loyalists causing trouble prompted the government to post troops in North Dakota for security reasons.

"The United States did not enter the war until nineteen-seventeen. Though obviously it was involved because it was an international conflict. Although there were individual people who decided that it was there duty to go off and serve in the war," said Genia Hesser, curator of exhibits for the State Historical Society.

Some traveled to Canada or Great Britain and joined with the allies, but a handful of North Dakotans traveled back to Germany to join the German army. The exhibits can reflect what these men faced on both sides.

"We have some artifacts with battle-damage. A German combat helmet that has a large dent in the side. We have a French combat helmet with a bullet-hole through the temple, and that speaks to the dangers of the battlefield, what was it like to actually be a soldier there. To be there in the mud, getting shot at," said Geoff Woodcox, assistant curator of collections.

North Dakota's archives also hold one hundred year old videos from the war, clips of soldiers training for war.

North Dakota soldiers were on average among the tallest and heaviest in the U.S. Army during that war.

These giants weighed in at 140 Ibs. and were 5'8".

For more information and facts about North Dakota during the war you can go check out the new exhibits at the Heritage Center.