(ABOVE: NY Daily News Photo)
The significance of the date is certainly not lost on those of us in the New York Metro Area.
This Sunday, September 11, the Hoboken Historical Museum will host Howard Blum, author of New York Times bestsellers including Dark Invasion, 1915: Germany’s Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America (HarperCollins, 2014).
The topic for Blum’s discussion on Sunday is “The First Attack on the Homeland,” detailing German sleeper cell activity in the United States leading up to World War I.
Although the United States did not engage until the spring of 1917, the conflict later known as World War I had an enormous impact on Hoboken, a small city with large immigrant communities and a busy port.
As early as July 1916, the war intruded on Hudson County with the explosion of a munitions depot on Black Tom Island near the Statue of Liberty, just off the coast of Jersey City. The explosion obliterated the island, shattering glass for miles around, yet the incident was initially downplayed, to avoid ramping up public support for America’s entry into World War I.
When America formally entered the war on April 6, 1917, Hoboken’s waterfront became central to the war effort as the government seized the German ships docked there and commandeered the piers, which became the Army’s port of embarkation for American troops. Some 2 million soldiers passed through Hoboken on their way to or from Europe. Near the end of the war, General John Pershing rallied the troops for a swift conclusion to the war with the rallying cry, “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken.”
In addition to Dark Invasion, Blum has written Edgar Award–winner American Lightning, plus Wanted!, The Gold Exodus, Gangland, and The Floor of Heaven. Blum is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. While at the New York Times, he was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Blum’s current book, The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure and Betrayal (Harper Collins, 2016) is a New York Times bestseller.
The public is invited to learn more about the “war to end all wars” and its legacy a hundred years later through a series of 10 lectures by visiting authors, scholars and professors, mostly on Sundays at 4 pm, through May 7, 2017. Admission is free.