In the spring of 1915, while recovering from surgery, Sgt. Werner Riess wrote an intensely personal memoir of his five months service in the German field artillery, fighting on the Eastern Front in Germany, Russia and Poland.
Dr. Warren Riess, Werner’s grandson and Research Associate Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Maine, inherited it and researched the history of the Eastern Front. He has translated, edited and published the memoir in 2020 as On the Eastern Front 1914: Meine Kriegserinnerungen (My Memory of War) and will present “Discovering the First World War’s Eastern Front” in a Cushing Public Library Zoom talk on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 6:30 p.m.
It is free and open to the public. To register, call Wendy Roberts at 207-691-0833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sergeant Riess wrote the memoir from his diary and letters he sent home while the experience was still fresh in his mind. Most reports of World War 1 concentrate on the Western Front, with its relatively unchanging lines and trenches. Sergeant Riess describes a war of movement, fatigue, weather and the reactions of a single soldier, rather than an analysis of larger strategies. Warren Riess has added to each section historical context as well as portions of his letters, which augment information in the memoir.
Dr. Riess is a maritime archaeologist. He has published extensively on the maritime history and archaeology of Colonial and Revolutionary America, in addition to advising on documentaries. His recent book, The Ship That Held Up Wall Street, 2014, documents his years of excavation and research on an 18th-century ship uncovered in lower Manhattan, the Princess Carolina, the first discovery of a colonial merchant ship. The book won the 2015 John Gardner Award for Maritime Research, sponsored by the Mystic Seaport Museum.