in

Liberty Day: When New York’s Central Park became home to a German U-Boat submarine and Tanks during World War I

The federal government invented Liberty Day to help finance the massive effort of entering World War I. The government intended that one-third of the war’s funding would be raised through progressive taxation, while the other two-thirds would come from the sale of “Liberty Bonds.”

New York City held Liberty Day on October 25, 1917, and there was a massive publicity campaign to convince the public to buy the bonds. The government organized an impressive display: a three-engine Caproni bomber flew low beneath the skyscrapers, a parade of military motorcycles traveled along Fifth Avenue, and an American flag was draped on the captured German submarine inside Central Park.

Some signs read, “Submarines take lives; liberty bonds save them.” The German submarine SM UC-5 was credited with 29 ship sinkings to its name. Six days after its launching on June 13, 1915, the ship was commissioned into the German Imperial Navy. Ordered in November 1914, it was delivered on June 13.

German sailors struggled to create a strong navy during World War I due to finances, but Germany managed to build hundreds of cheap submarines that cut off the United Kingdom and its supplies from the rest of the world. A UC-5 that ran aground on patrol in April 1916 was towed up and exhibited to the public in London at Temple Pier on the Thames River and in New York. While surfaced, the submarine could operate at a depth of 160 feet and had a maximum speed of 7.47 mph. There were fourteen crew members on board the ship, built by AG Vulcan Stettin.

By the end of the war, twenty million people had bought bonds. Even though there were only 24 million households at the time, that is pretty impressive. The amount raised exceeded $17 billion. Additionally, taxes collected totaled $8.8 billion. Taxes accounted for one-third, and bonds made up almost two-thirds.

There is no doubt that the emotional advertising campaign led to a strong desire to participate in the war effort by way of volunteering.

#1 The captured U-boat SM UC-5 is prepared for display in Central Park.

The captured U-boat SM UC-5 is prepared for display in Central Park.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#2 The British Mark IV tank “Britannia” leads a parade up Fifth Avenue.

The British Mark IV tank “Britannia” leads a parade up Fifth Avenue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#3 The German UC-5 U-Boat submarine.

The German UC-5 U-Boat submarine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#4 “Submarines Take Lives, Liberty Bonds Save Them”.

“Submarines Take Lives, Liberty Bonds Save Them”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#5 Sailors tour the U-boat’s interior.

Sailors tour the U-boat’s interior.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#6 “U-Buy-A-Bond”.

“U-Buy-A-Bond”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#7 SM UC-5 is rechristened as “U-Buy-A-Bond.”

SM UC-5 is rechristened as “U-Buy-A-Bond.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#8 Advertising for the Liberty Day. “Captured German UC-5 Mine Laying Submarine”.

Advertising for the Liberty Day. “Captured German UC-5 Mine Laying Submarine”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#9 A newspaper article titled “U-Boat Street Parade”.

A newspaper article titled “U-Boat Street Parade”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#10 Miss Ray Slater takes a ride in the tank.

Miss Ray Slater takes a ride in the tank.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#11 Emily Louise Stevens Ladenburg, the widow of financier Adolph Ladenburg, goes for a ride in “Britannia.”

Emily Louise Stevens Ladenburg, the widow of financier Adolph Ladenburg, goes for a ride in “Britannia.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#12 “Britannia” drives through the excavation site of the future New York County Courthouse.

“Britannia” drives through the excavation site of the future New York County Courthouse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.