When a German U-Boat submarine and tanks ended up in New York’s Central Park, 1917-1918

Faisal Azam

The so-called “Liberty Day” was a holiday invented by the federal government to finance the massive effort of entering World War I. One-third of the war’s funding would come from the imposition of progressive new taxes, while two-thirds would come from selling “Liberty Bonds” to the American people.

On October 25th, 1917, Liberty Day was held in New York and the authorities started an unprecedented publicity campaign to convince the public to buy the bonds.

To make things more interesting, the government rolled out a magnificent display: a three-engine Caproni bomber plane flew low among the skyscrapers, a parade of military motorcycles traveled up 5th Avenue, and a captured German U-boat submarine decorated with the American flags inside Central Park.

The submarine displayed signs like “Submarines take lives, liberty bonds save them” and “U-Buy-A-Bond.” The German submarine SM UC-5 was not just a random submarine; it recorded 29 ship sinkings to its name. The boat was ordered by November 1914 and launched on June 13, 1915, commissioned into the German Imperial Navy just six days later.


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