National WWI Museum and Memorial Launches Online Exhibition "Fighting with Faith"

Image: A painting of a red brick mosque with a dome and a minaret. Text in blue and gold: Fighting with Faith: a WWI POW Camp of Propaganda

In 1915, Germany built a mosque in a prisoner-of-war camp – the first functioning mosque ever built on German soil. Along with propaganda-like visits from foreign dignitaries and extra leisure activities directed by the German Intelligence Office for the East, the mosque was part of a German campaign to convince Muslim POWs to change sides and join the Ottoman-German Alliance against the British and French. The camp population was made up of soldiers of diverse militaries, nationalities, ethnicities, and languages who all had one thing in common: their religion.

Fighting with Faith: a WWI POW Camp of Propaganda investigates the Halbmondlager, or "Half Moon Camp," with a close look at the ways in which Germany and the Ottoman Empire fought for the hearts and minds of prisoners. Fighting with Faith complements the onsite exhibition Captured, which is open through April 30, 2023 in the Museum and Memorial’s Wylie Gallery.

“One of the most important things that we do as a Museum is to share the rarely-told stories of those in the margins during WWI,” National WWI Museum and Memorial President and CEO Dr. Matthew Naylor said. “Fighting with Faith is a story that will likely surprise people who didn’t know of its existence. This digital exhibition not only helps us shed light on the stories of those who history may have left in the dark, it is a unique opportunity to explore the effects of misinformation campaigns from the lens of a hundred years in the future. We’re thrilled to continue to expand the meaningful work of the National WWI Museum and Memorial to a global audience of online visitors.”

Online visitors will have the opportunity to see pictures from the camp, listen to authentic audio of instruments being played there and explore the architecture of the space with interactive photos. The exhibition also shows the propaganda used by the German Intelligence Office of the East, including newspapers, educational lectures and visits from Turkish, Tartar and Arab officials to boost morale.

This digital exhibition is sponsored by Lilly Endowment Inc. and made possible in part by the generosity of Museum and Memorial donors. Three items in the exhibition were provided by partner institutions: the State Museum of Berlin, Humbolt University, Berlin and the Leo Baeck Institute – New York.