By Norbert Schiller
Photographs and illustration from my personal collection
Donkeys and mules have had a distinguished career in modern warfare. As the main means for the transportation of supplies and equipment in rough terrain, these animals have been indispensable to soldiers. Surprisingly, their role as warriors only became prominent with the invention of the combustion engine at the beginning of the 20th century when other animals, including horses, were being replaced by motorized military vehicles.
This story and exhibition about the unsung heroes of the battlefield coincides with the opening of the Donkey Historical Museum in Mesquite, Nevada. Many of the images exhibited here are also on display at the museum, in a room featuring donkeys in combat. The museum, which opened on 05 November 2022, is “dedicated to chronicling the many contributions of the donkey in the western hemisphere.” My contribution to the museum is not only meant to showcase the role that donkeys and mules played in modern warfare, but, more importantly, to honor their legacy and sacrifice. Here is a short video of the “War Room” at the Donkey Historical Museum.
The photographs and illustrations in the following story and exhibition come mostly from my personal collection. They include original prints, negatives and postcards as well as historical gravures and illustrations.