There’s a quote that goes like this, “Home is where the art is.” Unless you can consider the trenches of WWII as your home, it would be possible to create the spectacular trench art our soldiers made during their free time in the warzone. Not that they considered the trenches their home sweet home, but they were still able to make museum-worthy pieces.
Art in War
It might be quite difficult to believe, but time could be slow while on the battlefield at times, soldiers had to come up with past times. Trench art, for instance, has been practiced ever since the beginning of wars. The prisoners of war created ship models from their rations’ bones. Civil War soldiers would use bullets to carve charms or trinkets. During the Trench Warfare in WWI, the troops would create trench art using a brass cartridge in hours of boredom. In World War II, the more modern tools and artillery gave them better opportunities to produce more of these arts with varied materials to choose from.
Trench artists created not only arts and crafts as souvenirs for their loved ones, like ashtrays or pieces of jewelry. They also created necessary tools and cookwares, sometimes even forbidden things in POW camps such as musical instruments or tools to escape; all while utilizing whatever they had, exhibiting their creativity and resourcefulness.
National WWII Museum
The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has a mission, to tell “the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.” With that, they launched an exhibition featuring 150 pieces of WWII trench art that the war veterans themselves mostly donated. The exhibit also features the background and the origin of these creators.