A Tale of Two Tourist Traps: the Creation of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado

Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver

“We can’t get too much science so am for the park.” And so opened a 1962 letter to the National Park Service from Orson Rice, an Ohio resident who owned a parcel of land near the proposed Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in central Colorado. Finally established in 1969, the fossil beds that make up the monument were created roughly 34 million years ago when nearby volcanoes erupted and the ensuing ash fall worked to preserve an enormous variety of insects, arachnids, algae, leaves, and even whole trees in what was then a large fresh water lake. Our story starts much later however, in roughly 1952 as documented in the National Park Service (NPS) records held at the National Archives at Denver.

Throughout the history of the NPS there have been many proposals for protected sites and despite the time and money invested in the creation of reports, correspondence, and attempted legislation many of these proposed parks never make it to creation. In the case of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument it took nearly 50 years and while the NPS still retains the bulk of the historical records relating to the monument, we do have five folders of correspondence, reports, newspaper articles, maps, and photographs that detail the work leading up to the monument’s establishment.

The story begins in the 19th century when survey expeditions discovered and first chronicled the fossil deposits. By 1920 the area was thought of as a possibility for a park but further research was deemed necessary. Twelve years later the Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, Roger Toll, submitted an “adverse report” concerning the fossil beds park proposal to the NPS director and the idea was shelved until 1952 when Secretary of Interior Oscar Chapman asked for yet another report. In December of that year Edmund Rogers, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent, and Edwin Alberts, Rocky Mountain National Park Naturalist, set out to visit the Florissant area in order to talk to area landowners and visit the two private parks already there; the New/Henderson/Pike Petrified Forest and the Colorado Petrified Forest.

Aerial photograph of the proposed park area with both petrified forest attractions marked.

Aerial photograph of the proposed park area with both petrified forest attractions marked.

Close-up of topographical map also showing proposed park area with both petrified forest attractions marked

Close-up of topographical map also showing proposed park area with both petrified forest attractions marked

Generally speaking, records concerning private tourist attractions are rarely found in the National Archives but much like the insects trapped in the lake so many millennia ago, records of the two privately operated petrified forests are now saved in perpetuity by token of their association with the monument. The Colorado Petrified Forest first opened in 1890 as the Copeland Petrified Forest and in 1926 P.J. Singer purchased the property. Renaming it the Colorado Petrified Forest in 1932, Singer also moved the Midland Railway station from the town of Florissant to his park for use as a museum and office. A half mile away in 1920 the New Petrified Forest, later called the Henderson Petrified Forest, opened. By 1950 the park went through yet another name change to Pike Petrified Forest as it was purchased by T. Dale Miller for around $40,000 (USD).

The section of Rogers and Alberts’ report on the two parks reads in part like a soap opera. Soon after his purchase of Henderson Petrified Forest Miller handed off the operations to John Baird, at which point the feuding between the two parks seems to have escalated with local residents telling the NPS officials it was thought Baird was “trying to develop a nuisance value so that someone will buy him out at an exorbitant price.” The feuding between the similar attractions was noted to include trick signs luring away potential visitors from the other park, high pressure solicitations along area roads, and even lawsuits flying back and forth much to the chagrin of local residents. While gathering these accounts, the NPS officials also duly paid the $0.50 admission at each and documented their visit within their report.

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Rogers and Alberts submitted their findings in January 1953 and once again the fossil beds park idea was dead. The duo recommended no action as they felt there was little active danger to the fossils, the difficulties of park creation with all of the land held in private hands, and that with fossils all over the world this site was about “average interest” and not worth purchase. Singer, owner of the Colorado Petrified Forest, followed up with a letter once again signaling his offer to sell but was rebuffed for the time being.

In the late 1950s interest began once again in the area with more officials and groups changing their perception on preserving the area and so yet another NPS report was ordered. P.J. Singer passed away in 1958 but in 1961, no doubt hearing the rumblings that park creation was back on the table, his widow Agnes began correspondence with the NPS reiterating her willingness to sell.

(NAID 24192501)

Facsimile of letter sent to Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall from Agnes Singer reiterating her late husband’s offer to sell the Colorado Petrified Forest

In April 1962 the newly filed NPS report came to a different conclusion than those compiled within the previous 30 years -the area should be established as a national monument.

(File Unit NAID 24192490)

Section of 1962 NPS report on the proposed monument, showing edits

Requests for copies of the report came in from across the country and spawned letters from a variety of universities and museums agreeing with the conclusion. George Emrick, originally from the area and who had worked as a tour guide at Pike Petrified Forest while a teenager, had since earned a MA in art and even wrote the NPS to offer his design skills for the entrance and markers for the assumed soon to be monument. As a November 1962 editorial headline from the Denver Post stated, the Florissant fossil beds were a “Geological ‘Museum’ Worth Saving” and with housing subdivision soon sprouting up nearby time was of the essence to get the project in gear.

Still bubbling under the surface was the issue that the entire park would need to be acquired from private landowners, a concern seen in a November 1962 letter from Senator Gordon Allot inquiring as to what their reactions were so far. That winter the Regional Chief of Proposed Park Studies and the Rocky Mountain National Park Superintendent travelled back to the Florissant area to meet with all of the landowners and submitted a detailed letter on the meetings. While most of them signaled approval and even enthusiasm for the plan, including Agnes Singer and her son, the one exception was John Baker who along with his parents owned the by then closed Pike Petrified Forest. Described as “somewhat belligerent,” Baker harangued the NPS officials in the four hour meeting over such trivial matters as how he felt the pictures of his attraction in the report were inferior to those of Colorado Petrified Forest. While open to selling, the officials worried the family had an overinflated estimate of the property value and noted that the sale to Walt Disney of a petrified tree stump to be installed in Disneyland several years earlier had given the family a “vision of a goldmine.” In closing they felt “the Bakers will be very hard to do business with” but by March of 1963 the NPS reported that all 13 landowners had signaled “general approval” of the project. There was no mention on how tenuous that approval was.

On the Congressional front things were hitting a snag with Representative Chenoweth asking for yet another study in order to look at shrinking the size of the park. According to correspondence he felt it held little public appeal potential and was too large – but his argument was for naught as he was unseated in the election of 1964 by Frank Evans. Correspondence indicates that NPS officials quickly moved to acquaint Evans with the proposal even before he arrived in Washington, DC in January 1965. By 1966, the monument appears to be nearly a done deal with Representative Evans backing the project enthusiastically and the NPS working on park boundaries and analyzing area visitors, population statistics, hotels, highway plants, and even climate data.

The records in our holdings stop at this point but three years later in 1969 the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was established. If you too agree with Mr. Rice in that “we can’t get too much science,” visit their webpage for more information, or visit the monument itself here in Colorful Colorado.

(NAID 24192502) II

Vicinity Map, found on area topographical map


All documents referenced and quotes come from RG 79 Records of the National Park Service, General Correspondence, 1954-1968 (NAID 651777), Accession NRG-079-99-178, Boxes 37-38

Posted in Civil Records, History, NARA beyond DC/MD, Reference | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hunting Hitler Part II: The Bunker (April 29-April 30)

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park, MD. This is the second blog in a multi-part series.

Around noon on April 29, 1945, the three couriers with copies of Adolf Hitler’s private will and political testament (and one with his marriage license) left the Berlin bunker and headed west.  For those still in the bunker, the day was one of feeling trapped and waiting for Hitler to kill himself.  Although few believed it would happen, some still were hopeful that the German relief forces would break through the Russian corridor around Berlin and save them.[1]

Hitler ate lunch around 2pm, as usual in the company of the secretaries Gerda Christian and Gertrude Junge. Christian later recalled that nothing was spoken about Hitler’s intention to die or about the manner in which this was to take place.[2]

During the afternoon, communications with the outside world were all but broken and the occupants of the bunker increasingly became unawares of what was happening on the various fronts.[3] Sometime, probably around 4pm, General Alfred Jodl was able to get a message to the bunker that in essence said that the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (OKW) knew nothing about the Ninth Army; believed General Wenck’s Twelfth Army was to be near Potsdam; and OKW could only report a hasty withdrawal westwards by Army Group Vistula.[4]

Around 4 or 430pm, at a situation conference, Hitler sent for SS Brigadefuehrer Wilhelm Mohnke, the commandant of the Chancellery, and requested an update on what was happening in Berlin. Mohnke spread out a map of central Berlin and reported that in the north the Russians had moved close to the Weidendammer Bridge; in the east they were at the Lustgarten; in the south, the Russians were at Potsdamer Platz and the Aviation Ministry; and in the west they were in the Tiergarten, somewhere between 170 and 250 feet from the Reich Chancellery. When Hitler asked how much longer Mohnke could hold out, the answer was “At most twenty to twenty-four hours, my Fuehrer, no longer.”[5]

After the situation conference, sometime between 5pm and 6pm, Erich Kempka (Hitler’s chief driver and head of the Fuehrer’s motor pool) visited the bunker.  Outside Hitler’s personal apartment, he stopped to talk.  Kempka said Hitler was composed and completely calm. “Even I, who knew him so well, could not read from his attitude the decision he had already taken to end his life.” In his right hand he held a large-scale map of Berlin. His left hand trembled slightly; a condition in the final months that was virtually permanent.  Hitler asked Kempka about the status of the motor pool.  Kempka replied that the vehicles were in bad condition, destroyed and damaged, but that they were still able to transport the necessary food for the emergency hospitals within the zone of the Chancellery.  Hitler then asked him how he saw things, to which Kempka replied that his men were involved in the defense of the Reich Chancellery in the sector between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz. Hitler asked what did his men think.  Kempka replied that without exception they were maintaining a bearing beyond reproach and waiting for relief by General Wenck.  Hitler responded quickly “‘We are all waiting for Wenck!’”  Hitler and Kempka then shook hands, and Hitler spoke a word of encouragement, smiled and then entered his personal room. Kempka left to join his men.  In 1948, Kempka said that at no time did Hitler say goodbye or farewell. Kempka speculated that probably Hitler had not set the time of the suicide in his mind yet.[6]

At about 10pm Hitler summoned SS-Gruppenfuehrer Johann Rattenhuber, Chief of the Reich Security Service (responsible for Hitler’s protection) to his room and ordered him to gather the leading personnel of the Headquarters and his close collaborators in his reception room.  “I remember,” he later recalled, “that at that moment Hitler looked like a man who had taken a very significant decision. He sat on the edge of a desk, his eyes fixed on one point. He looked determined.”  Rattenhuber went to the door to carry out his order, but Hitler stopped him and said, as far as he could remember, the following:

“‘You have served me faithfully for many years. Tomorrow is your birthday and I want to congratulate you now and to thank you for your faithful service, because, I shall not be able to do so tomorrow…I have taken the decision…I must leave this world’…”

Rattenhuber went over to Hitler and told him how necessary his survival was for Germany, that there was still a chance to try and escape from Berlin and save his life. “‘What for?’ Hitler argued. ‘Everything is ruined, there is no way out, and to flee means falling into the hands of the Russians…There would never have been such a moment, Rattenhuber,’ he continued , ‘and I would never have spoken to you about my death, if not for Stalin and his army. You try to remember where my troops were…And it was only Stalin who prevented me from carrying out the mission entrusted to me from heaven’…”  According to Rattenhuber, Eva Braun came in from the next room and then for several more minutes Hitler talked of himself – of his role in history, that had been prepared for him by destiny, and shaking hands with Rattenhuber asked him to leave them alone. Rattenhuber thought, after him speaking about his mission from heaven, “He had lost his head from fear.”[7]

Shortly after 10pm Rattenhuber gathered up the individuals Hitler had requested.  Among those present for a meeting with Hitler were Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Colonel Nicolaus von Below, Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant.  Under fire from machine-guns and grenade-launchers, General Helmuth Weidling, Commandant of Berlin, reached the Bunker covered in mud.  The atmosphere in the bunker was like that of a front-line command post. All who gathered there for the situation report were in a despondent mood. Hitler, “his face still more pinched, was looking fixedly at the map spread before him.”  Weidling told Hitler that the situation in the city was hopeless, and that the civilian population, in particular, was in a very bad state.  He described the deteriorating military situation.  The Russians, he said, would reach the Chancellery by May 1 at the latest. Weidling suggested the troops in Berlin try to break out.  Hitler replied this was impossible as the soldiers were battle-weary, ill-armed, and without ammunition.  He then suggested that Hitler break out of the city with him and the surviving garrison, but Hitler categorically refused.[8]

Still, Weidling persistently asked Hitler to permit a breakout as soon as possible. Hitler, according to Weidling, with bitter irony in his voice, said “‘Look at my map. Everything shown on it is not based on information from the Supreme Command, but from foreign radio station broadcasts. No one reports to us. I can order anything, but none of my orders is carried out any more.’” Krebs supported Weidling in his attempts to get permission for a breakout. At last it was decided that, as there were no airborne supplies, the troops could break out in small groups, but on the understanding that they should continue to resist wherever possible. Capitulation was out of the question. Weidling felt that although he had failed to get Hitler to call a final halt to the bloodshed, he had managed to persuade him to end resistance in Berlin.[9]

About 1030pm an orderly came into the conference and said he had heard a shortwave broadcast reporting news of that Mussolini and his mistress had been executed by Italian partisans.  He may or may not have learned that their bodies had been hoisted upside down in Milan and that their bodies were pelted with stones by the vindictive crowd.  In any event Hitler had already determined that his own body should be burned to prevent its exhibition.[10]

After the conference concluded von Below met with Hitler.  Earlier during the day von Below had asked Hitler if he would allow him to attempt a breakout to the West. Hitler considered this straightaway and said only that it would probably be impossible. Von Below replied that he thought the way to the West would still be free.  Hitler gave him written authority to go and told him he should report to the headquarters of the Combined General Staff, then at Ploen, and to deliver a document to Field Marshal Keitel.  That afternoon von Below made his preparations and took part in the evening situation conference.  Hitler gave him his hand and said only “best of luck.”   After saying his goodbyes, Burgdorf handed von Below Hitler’s message. It was addressed to Keitel.  In it Hitler stated that the fight for Berlin was drawing to its close, that he intended to commit suicide rather than surrender, that he had appointed Karl Doenitz as his successor, and that Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler had betrayed him.  At midnight, with his batman Heinz Matthiesing, von Below left the bunker and followed roughly the same route as the others (including the three couriers) who had left earlier during the day.[11]

It was apparently after Hitler had said his goodbyes to von Below that Hitler ordered his dog Blondi poisoned.  This was in part because he wanted to ascertain the effectiveness of the poison capsules he had been given and also the desire not to have the dog captured by the Russians.  After the poison had been administered the dog instantaneously died, Hitler came to see the results and to take his leave of the dog.  According to witnesses, Hitler said nothing, nor did his face express any feeling. Afterwards, Hitler returned to his study.  Junge later said that after Hitler had seen his dead dog, “His face was like his own death mask. He locked himself into his room without a word.”[12]

While Hitler was in his room, Frau Junge and Frau Christian were conversing and having coffee with two doctors, when Eva Braun joined them.  She said that Hitler would die when he received confirmation that the documents carried by the couriers had reached the persons they had been sent to.  She also said it would not be difficult to die because the poison had already been tested on a dog, and death would come quickly.[13]

Afterwards, Junge, Christian, and Eva Braun joined Hitler for a bite to eat.  Hitler in a calm and deliberate manner said that there was no other way for him, than to commit suicide, because he wanted never, alive or dead, to fall into the hands of the enemy.  He knew from the example of Mussolini, how he would be treated. He also said he could not fight with his soldiers, because in case he was wounded, there would not be anybody in his surroundings who would give him the mercy-shot, in case he was unable to do that himself.   Hitler repeatedly told them that after he was dead, he wanted to be cremated so that nobody shall find him.  He said the best is a shot through the mouth, death was instantaneous.  Eva Braun was for taking cyanide and pulled a little brass cylinder out of her dress, asking whether it would hurt and stating that she was afraid to suffer.  She added she was ready to die, but it must be painless.  Hitler told her that cyanide causes paralysis of the nervous and breathing system and causes death in a few seconds.  So Christian and Junge, not expecting anything good from the Russians, asked Hitler for an ampoule of poison.  He walked to his bedroom where he got the poison. In handing it to them, he said, “I am sorry that as a parting gesture I cannot hand you a nicer present” and that they were very courageous and he wished his generals would have had so much poise and courage as the women did.[14]

Meanwhile, at 10pm on April 29 the three couriers, Zander, Lorenz, and, Johannmeier, found two boats and pushed out into Havel lake, heading southwards for the Wannsee bridgehead, held by units of the German Ninth Army. In the early hours of April 30 they landed independently, Johannmeier on the Wannsee bridgehead, Lorenz and Zander on the Schwanenwerder Peninsula. There they remained, resting all day in underground bunkers; and in the evening they reunited, and sailed together to the Pfaueninsel, an island in the Havel. From the Wannsee bridgehead Johannmeier had been able to send a radio message to Doenitz, informing him of their position and asking that an airplane be sent to fetch them.  On the Pfaueninsel, Johannmeier and Zander obtained civilian clothing and disposed of their uniforms.[15]

Shortly after midnight of April 29, Hitler began saying his farewells, realizing he would die on April 30.  These goodbyes were with four or five different groups.[16]  They lasted until sometime after 2am.  One group consisted of some 20-25 persons who worked in the Reich Chancellery and lived in its underground bunker.  These included the secretaries, many of them Hitler had never met.  Another group, again numbering between 20-25 persons, included the officers of his escort commando.  In the first instances Hitler shook hands with everybody, thanking each one individually.  With the latter group he did not say anything when shaking hands.[17]

When addressing the second group, Hitler, in a very calm and conversational manner, said that he did not wish to deliver himself to the Russians and that he, therefore, was going to end his life, and that he was now releasing them from their oath.  He thanked them for their services and wished them all the best on our way to the western powers, for it was his wish that they should try to get through to the Americans or British, but that they should not get into Russian hands, on no account.[18]

During these farewells, Junge and Eva Braun watched from a short distance.  The former asked the later if the time had come for her and Hitler to kill themselves.  Eva Braun said no, but that she would tell her when the time had come.  She added that Hitler still had to say goodbye to those closest to him.  At some point in the early hours of April 30, Rattenhuber, who was celebrating his 60th birthday, left his colleagues and their birthday celebration, and joined Junge and Eva Bruan.  They, all from Munich, talked about Munich and Bavaria, and how sad it was to have to die so far from home.[19] Meanwhile, Hitler was preparing to say good bye to those closest to him, knowing for many it would be the last time they would see him alive.


Footnotes

[1] Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 186.

[2] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 131, 132.

[3] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 134, 135.

[4] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 135.

[5] Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 105. Another source indicates Mohnke replying that with the weapons and ammunition he had, he could hold out for two or three days more. Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, pp. 192-193.

[6] Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, Reports Relating to POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) RG 165; [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 25, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, p. 72. Kempka told a reporter in June 1945 that this was the last time he saw Hitler alive and that Hitler appeared quiet and normal. James MacDonald, “Hitler Cremated in Berlin, Aides Say,” The New York Times, June 21, 1945, p. 6.

[7] Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 193.

[8] Manuscript Testimony of General Helmuth Weidling, January 4, 1946, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 234; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 163; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 193.

[9] Manuscript Testimony of General Helmuth Weidling, January 4, 1946, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 234. The airborne supply by parachute on the night of April 29-30 had brought almost nothing: only 6 tons of supplies were delivered, including 8-10 boxes of small arms ammunition, 15-20 artillery rounds and a small quantity of medical supplies. Manuscript Testimony of General Helmuth Weidling, January 4, 1946, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 233; Handwritten Statement by the Commander of the “Adolf Hitler” Division, Chief of the Central Berlin Defense Region, Wilhelm Mohnke, Moscow, May 18, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 174.

[10] Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598); Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 107; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 196.

[11] 032 Civilian Interrogation Camp, 1 Corps District, B.A.O.R., First Interrogation Report, Heinz Hermann Matthiesing, January 25, 1946, inclosure to Memorandum, [signed for] Brigadier, head of Intelligence Bureau, OCG (BE), Bad Oeynhausen to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, United States Forces European Theater, attn: Maj. Alfano, Subject: Death of Hitler, February 5, 1946, File: HITLER, Adolf – XE003655 (NAID 7359097), Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598); Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 192-19; Nicolaus von Below, At Hitler’s Side: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Luftwaffe Adjutant 1937-1945, trans. By Geoffrey Brooks (London: Greenhill Books and Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 2001), p. 241. There seems to be some doubt about von Below’s mission and to the message that he carried. Von Below, At Hitler’s Side, p. 242, n. 25.

[12] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 5, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), RG 319 (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 266; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 194; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 163; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 198-199; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, pp. 105-106; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 132, 134; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, p. 18, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[13] Record of Interrogation of the Reich Chancellery Physician Helmut Kunz, by 4th Section of the Smersh Counter-Espionage Department of the 1st Byelorussian Front, May 7, 1945, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 62.

[14] Written narrative by Traudl Junge, n.d., p. 8, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, pp. 4-5, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude; Interrogation of Hermann Karnau on September 26, 1945, on the subject of burning Hitler’s body, in continuation of previous interrogation reports on the same subject, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 197; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 177.

[15] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 190.

[16] According to one account Hitler went to the rooms occupied by the staff, and shook hands with everyone and said a few words to them all.  To the secretary Frauelein Else Krueger he suggested that she should try to make her escape through the lines, rather than to remain in the bunker. Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, RG 165.

[17] [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, p. 41, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 179; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, pp. 12-13, 14, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University

[18] [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, pp. 16-17, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[19]  Written narrative by Traudl Junge, n.d., p. 9, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 179.

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Milton Caniff Explains “Terry and the Pirates”

In early 1945, “Terry and the Pirates” was one of the most popular daily comic strips printed in U.S. newspapers.

title panel of the comic strip Terry and the Pirates

© Tribune Content Agency, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

The strip, launched in October 1934, and written by Milton Caniff (1907-1988), was a serial action-adventure strip set in China and its environs.  Once World War II began, the action took place within the context of that conflict.  Over time, the strip became one of the most widely read in U.S. history.  It also appeared in overseas newspapers.

comic panel showing the character of Terry

© Tribune Content Agency, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

Caniff created a large cast of characters who moved in and out of the strip over time.  The main characters were the eponymous Terry Lee (above as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces after World War II) and Pat Ryan, who initially go to China searching for a lost mine and then get caught up in a series of adventures and misadventures.  Terry and Pat are ably assisted by two Chinese, Connie and Big Stoop, who, while instrumental in the success and survival of the heroes, also provide comic relief.  Perhaps the most famous supporting character is the Dragon Lady.  Depicted as a glamorous but ruthless pirate leader before World War II, during the war she becomes a resistance leader, only to revert to her old habits once “peace” returns to China.

This is the Dragon Lady.

Drawing of the Dragon Lady

© Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

Given the worldwide popularity of the strip, in February 1945, the Office of War Information (OWI), the U.S. World War II-era propaganda agency, asked Caniff to record a general talk for broadcast in Australia.  An earlier recorded interview with Caniff broadcast there had been well received.  Caniff agreed and recorded his comments on March 17, 1945.

photograph of Milton Caniff

Milton Caniff

While there is no known audio version of the talk, the OWI records include a transcript in which Caniff explains the genesis of the strip and how he prepared it on a day-to-day basis.  The following is an image of the first page followed by the text of the remaining pages.  Punctuation and spelling are from the original.

textual transcription of a talk given by Milton Caniff

Transcript of Talk by Milton Caniff, 3/17/1945

The text continues: 

country.  The advent of swifter means of transportation has widened our horizons but has not diminished our curiosity about people and places over the rainbow.

With this in mind I began in 1934 to prepare a cartoon strip that would appeal to the American liking for roistering adventure.  The locale was to be the Orient generally and China particularly.  Many books have been written on that geographical area, but prior to the Japanese invasion in 1937 the country around Chungking had not become the much documented section it is today.

Primarily, China and its border territory offered a background against which anything could happen.

The characters for my narrative needed to appeal to as many types of readers as possible.  The hero, “Terry”, I decided to make a yellow-haired American boy about ten to twelve years old.  His companion in the initial episodes I drew as a handsome, black-haired Irish-American named Pat Ryan.  The two were to encounter violent physical trials and I did not wish your Terry to be beating villains three times his size in illogical combat, hence the fully mature Ryan was to be the prime belligerent as well as a believable counter for the succession of lovely ladies they were to meet.

As the strip story opened, Terry and Pat stepped from an ocean liner onto the docks of an unnamed city on the China coast.  Their purpose was to find a mine staked out years before by Terry’s grandfather, the map of which the lad had inherited.  As the story progressed the two Americans never did acquire the mine, in fact it was never my intention that they should; the devise was used only to get my yarn under way.  Such riches would have destroyed the possibilities of intrigue and limited the testing of the heroes’ resources, the very marrow of an adventure story.

I shall not retell ten years of continuity, but if the short introduction invokes curiosity in my listeners it will demonstrate the basic premise of the cartoon strip: Suspense.  You in Australia have read the Arabian Nights tales, of how Scheherazade saved herself from beheading by telling a story that never ended.  The technique is much the same as that used in the narrative strip today.

As the story of Terry continued, the pirates mentioned in the title gave way as villains in favor of the Japanese who invaded China during the so-called “incident’ of 1937.  At about this time I found that the models I had been using for characters in the strip (selected after the experimental sketches had been drawn)  were not as colorful as my friends whose exploits in real life were more fascinating than fiction.  I therefore selected a pilot named Frank Higgs with whom I had gone to college and drew him just as he appeared at the time in the uniform of the China National Aviation corporation.  The success of this venture prompted the continued use of such actual people.  Today nearly every figure in “Terry” is patterned after a living man or woman.

Perhaps my friends in Australia would like to know the actual physical preparation of the original writing and drawing that goes into “Terry”: the rectangle on which the pictures are to be produced is ruled in pencil exactly twice the size you see it in print; then the four or more blocks for individual illustrations are indicated.

The first creative step is the writing of the dialog above the heads of the figures to be drawn in later.  I do this instead of typing out the story on separate sheets of paper in order to better visualize the illustrations to come.  I don’t complete one entire strip each day, instead I write all six daily releases, then start at the beginning and pencil the drawings of all six.  Next, with a fine steel pen I trace over my pencil lines to obtain minute detail, finally using a brush to obtain the effects of light and shade.  The ink used is of the heavy black India variety which facilitates the transfer of the drawings to printing blocks by a photoengraving process too complicated to be explained here.

All of this sounds quite casual.  Actually, before a word is written or a line drawn, every detail of background, mechanical objects, uniform details, etc., must be double-checked for accuracy.  Terry has grown from the child of 1934 to a second Lieutenant (corresponding to Pilot Officer in the RAAF) in the United States Army Air Forces.  Consequently each change in military dress, equipment and usage must be accurate enough to please the millions of readers in and out of military service who expect their fictional favorites to be portrayed correctly.

To achieve this authenticity I keep and elaborate file of photographs obtained from many sources.  In addition I interview returning combat soldiers to keep myself posted on the latest turn in slang and usage.  My studio is filled with objects which must be drawn and re-drawn so often that a photograph will not suffice.

My studio is in a large white building which also contains living quarters.  It stands on the side of a low range of mountains not far from the mighty Hudson river in the State of New York and is forty-five miles from the City of New York.

I work at night because the telephone seldom rings during the early morning hours.

If you are interested in the way we in the United States do things, remember we are just as absorbed by everything Australian.  In my particular case, my young friend Terry may lead me into an intensive study of your country.  If a turn of his fortunes brings his aircraft down on Australian soil I must know all I can about you.  Even if I am only an arm-chair globe trotter I must do my best to use my models well.

Terry never made it to Australia, but for those interested in rollicking, if dated, adventures set in the pre-World War II and World War II-era Far East, the Library of American Comics has republished the entire run of “Terry and the Pirates” by Milton Caniff in six volumes (the strip continued from 1947 to 1973 under the authorship of another author/illustrator after Caniff left his cartoon syndicate and began the long-running strip “Steve Canyon”).

During World War II, Caniff also produced a somewhat risqué non-serial strip called “Male Call” for use in U. S. military camp newspapers.

Milton Caniff was a giant of the U.S. cartoonist world.  He served as a founder and president of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) and in 1947 won the Society’s first Cartoonist of the Year Award.  He is an inductee into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.  In 1995, when the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of stamps commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American comic strip, it chose Milton Caniff and “Terry and Pirates” as one of the classic strips to be honored.

image of the Terry and the Pirates stamp

Terry and the Pirates commemorative stamp


Source:  The photograph and text of the talk are from Correspondence with Prominent Persons Regarding Recordings (Entry NC-148 563; NAID 820096), file: “Caniff, Mr. Milton (recorded 3/17/45)”, RG 208.

For more information about Milton Caniff and his influence on American cartooning, see MEANWHILE …: A Biography of Milton Caniff Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon by Robert C. Harvey (Fantagraphics Books, Seattle, WA: 2007).

I appreciate the assistance of Linda Teegen and Julie Brown of The Permissions Group for their help in securing approval to use images from “Terry and the Pirates.”

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Hunting Hitler Part I – The Bunker (April 28-April 29)

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park, MD. This is the first in a multi-part series.

Introduction

On November 10, 2015, the History Channel will begin an eight-part series on the possibility that Adolf Hitler did not die in his Berlin bunker on April 30, but escaped to South America, called Hunting Hitler.  When I learned about the forthcoming television series I remembered that in 2003 the National Archives released the FBI file 65-53615 from the series Headquarters Files from Classification 65 (Espionage) Released Under the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Acts, 1935-1985 (NAID 565806), regarding the multitude of unsubstantiated sightings of Hitler after April 30, 1945.  My curiosity prompted me to take a look at the file and found, as I remembered from a decade earlier, that it consisted primarily of rumors regarding Hitler being in South America.  I then proceeded to a 1945-1949 State Department Central Decimal File (NAID 302021),862.002 (Hitler, Adolf) – and found that it contained similar information, as did the files Hitler, Adolf – XE003655 in the Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054).

Having written a two-part blog on Hitler’s stenographers and their escape from Berlin in April 1945 as well as an article in Prologue regarding Hitler’s personal will, political testament, and marriage license, I thought I would write something about the death of Hitler in the bunker on April 30 and the subsequent search during 1945 for proof of his death.  Thus, this series of blogs.


On the evening of April 28, Adolf Hitler, Germany’s Reich chancellor and President, had a lot on his mind. News had arrived during the day that there had been an uprising in northern Italy; Benito Mussolini had been arrested by the partisans; armistice negotiations were being initiated by some of Hitler’s military commanders in Italy; and there had been an attempted coup in Munich.  Russian forces were only some 1,000 yards from the bunker, and the German Ninth Army, which had been ordered to break through the Russian-encircled capital of the Reich to rescue Hitler would most likely not to be able to accomplish its mission. Still, Hitler held a slim hope that Gen. Walther Wenck’s 12th Army, heading toward Potsdam and Berlin, would succeed.[1]

As the evening progressed, more bad news was received in Hitler’s bunker.  During the night Hitler received confirmation that Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was negotiating with the Western Allies. In response, Hitler ordered Eva Braun’s brother-in-law, SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hermann Fegelein, Himmler’s liaison to Hitler, executed for desertion and treason.[2]

Because of the decreasing hope of rescue by his military, the actual and perceived disloyalty of his subordinates (including Hermann Goering), and the desire not to be captured alive, Hitler knew that he soon would have to commit suicide. Before doing so, he wished to marry Eva Braun, and write his final political testament and private will (NAID 6883511).

Hitler’s secretary, 25-year-old Gertrude Junge, tried that evening to sleep for an hour. Sometime after 11 p.m., she woke up. She washed, changed her clothes, and thought it must be time for the evening tea with Hitler, secretary Frau Gerda Christian, and Hitler’s vegetarian cook Fraulein Constanze Manzialy, as had become a nightly occurrence. When she opened the door to Hitler’s study, Hitler came toward her, shook her hand, and asked, “‘Have you had a nice little rest, child?’” Junge replied, “Yes, I have slept a little.” He said, “Come along, I want to dictate something.” This was between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. They went into the little conference room near Hitler’s quarters. She was about to remove the cover from the typewriter, as Hitler normally dictated directly to the typewriter, when he said, “Take it down on the shorthand pad.” She sat down alone at the big table and waited. Hitler stood in his usual place by the broad side of the table, leaned both hands on it, and stared at the empty table top, no longer covered that day with maps. For several seconds Hitler did not say anything. Then, suddenly he began to speak the first words: “My political testament.” After finishing his political testament, according to Junge, Hitler paused a brief moment and then began dictating his private will.[3]

Hitler’s private will was shorter. It explained his marriage, disposed of his property, and announced his impending death:

Although during the years of struggle I believed that I could not undertake the responsibility of marriage, now, before the end of my life, I have decided to take as my wife the woman who, after many years of true friendship, came to this city, already almost besieged, of own free will, in order to share my fate. She will go to her death with me at her own wish, as my wife. This will compensate us for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people.

Then after describing his possessions and their disposition, he named Martin Bormann as Executor, with “full legal authority to make all decisions.” He concluded: “My wife and I choose to die in order to escape the shame of overthrow or capitulation. It is our wish for our bodies to be burnt immediately on the place where I have performed the greater part of my daily work during the course of my 12 years’ service to my people.”[4]

The dictation was completed.  He moved away from the table on which he had been leaning all this time and said, “Type that out for me at once in triplicate and then bring it in to me.” Junge felt that there was something urgent in his voice, and thought about the most important, most crucial document written by Hitler going out into the world without any corrections or thorough revision. She knew that “Every letter of birthday wishes to some Gauleiter, artist, etc., was polished up, improved, revised—but now Hitler had no time for any of that.” Junge took her notepad and typewriter across the hall to type up the political and private wills, knowing that Hitler wanted her to finish as fast as possible. The room she used was next to Reichs Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels’s private room. [5]

The next item of business was the Hitler-Braun marriage. Once Junge departed the conference room, guests began entering to attend the wedding ceremony.  The ceremony took place probably at some point between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.  The ceremony lasted no longer than 10 minutes.  They then withdrew into their private apartments for a wedding breakfast. Shortly afterward, Bormann, Goebbels, Magda Goebbels, and the secretaries Christian and Junge, were invited into the private suite.

Junge would not come right away as she was typing across the hall. At some point during the party, Junge walked across the corridor to express her congratulations to the newlyweds and wish them luck. She stayed for less than 15 minutes and then returned to her typing.

For part of the time, General of Infantry Hans Krebs, Lt. Gen. Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Lt. Col. Nicholaus von Below (Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant) joined the party, as did Werner Naumann (state secretary in the Ministry of Propaganda), Arthur Axmann (Reich youth leader), Ambassador Walter Hewel (permanent representative of Foreign Ministry to Hitler at Fuehrer headquarters), Hitler’s valet Linge, SS-Maj. Otto Guensche (personal adjutant to Hitler), and Manzialy, the cook. They sat for hours, drinking champagne and tea, eating sandwiches, and talking. Hitler spoke again of his plans of suicide and expressed his belief that National Socialism was finished and would never revive (or would not be resurrected soon), and that death would be a relief to him now that he had been deceived and betrayed by his best friends. [6]

Hitler left the party three times to ask how Junge had gotten in her typing. According to Junge, Hitler would look in and say “Are you ready?” and she said, “No my Fuehrer, I am not ready yet.” Bormann and Goebbels also kept coming to see if she was finished. These comings and goings made Junge nervous and delayed the process, increasing her distress about the whole situation, and she made several typographical errors. Those were later crossed out in ink. Also complicating her task was the need to add to the political testament the names of some appointments of the new government under Adm. Karl Doenitz. During the course of the wedding party, Hitler discussed and negotiated the matter with Bormann and Goebbels. While Junge was typing the clean copies of the political testament from her shorthand notes, Goebbels or Bormann came in alternately to give her the names of the ministers of the future government, a process that lasted until she had finished typing.  Toward 5 a.m., Junge typed the last of the three copies each of the political testament and personal will. They were timed at 4 a.m., as that was when she had begun typing the first copy of the political testament.

Just as she finished, Goebbels came to her for the documents, almost tearing the last piece of paper from the typewriter. She gave them to him without having a chance to review the final product. She asked Goebbels whether they still wanted her, and he said, “no, lie down and have a rest.” The wedding party was ending, and Goebbels took the copies of the documents to Hitler. The documents were ready to be signed. First Hitler signed the personal will, followed by the witnesses Bormann, Goebbels, and von Below. Hitler and witnesses Goebbels, Bormann, Burgdorf, and Krebs then signed the political testament. [7]

At around 6am on April 29 the regular intense Russian artillery bombardment began with the whole area around the Reich Chancellery and the government district coming under fire. Then in the early morning hours the Soviets launched their all-out offensive against the center of Berlin.  Soon the front line was now only some 450 yards from the Chancellery. [8]

Hitler now, in the early morning hours, wanted the three copies of his political testament and private will to be taken out of Berlin and delivered, to Grand Admiral Doenitz and Field Marshal Ferdinand Schoerner (then commander of Army Group Center in Bohemia – who would become the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army by Hitler’s political testament). The first person summoned to serve as a courier was thirty-year old Major Willi Johannmeier, Hitler’s adjutant to the Army. At this point he resided in the air-raid shelter under the new Reichs Chancellery, near Hitler’s bunker.

At about 8am Burgdorf sent for Johannmeier and told him that an important mission had been entrusted to him. Like Johannmeier, Burgdorf’s room was in the shelter of the new Reichs Chancellery.  He was to carry a copy of Hitler’s political testament and private will out of Berlin, through the Russian lines, and deliver them to Field Marshal Schoerner. With him would go two other messengers, bearing similar documents. These were SS-Colonel Wilhelm Zander (an aide to Bormann, representing Bormann) and Heinz Lorenz (an official of the Propaganda Ministry, as representative of Goebbels). These two men would receive separate instructions. Johannmeier was charged to escort the party on their journey through enemy lines. Burgdorf then gave him the documents he was to carry, along with a covering letter from himself to Schoerner:

Führer’s HQ April 29, 1945

Dear Schoerner

Attached I send you by safe hands the Testament of our Fuehrer, who wrote it today after the shattering news of the treachery of the RF SS [Himmler]. It is his unalterable decision. The Testament is to be published as soon as the Fuehrer orders it, or as soon as his death is confirmed.

All good wishes, and Heil Hitler!

Yours,

Wilhelm Burgdorf

Maj. Johannmeier will deliver the Testament.

About the time Burgdorf was meeting with Johannmeier, or perhaps later, Bormann summoned Zander, who, like Johannmeier, resided in the nearby shelter under the new Reichs Chancellery. Bormann gave him his instructions, including that he was to take copies of Hitler’s private will and political testament to Doenitz.  When Zander expressed his desire to stay, Bormann went to Hitler and explained Zander’s wish. Hitler said he must go and Bormann conveyed this to Zander. Thereupon he handed Zander copies of Hitler’s political and private testaments, and the certificate of marriage of Hitler and Eva Braun.  To cover these documents Bormann scribbled a short note to Doenitz: “Dear Grand Admiral,-Since all divisions have failed to arrive, and our position seems hopeless, the Fuehrer dictated last night the attached political Testament. Heil Hitler.-Yours, Bormann.”  After receiving the documents from Bormann, Zander sewed them in his clothing later that morning.

Meanwhile Johannmeier had found Lorenz and told him that a special mission awaited him. Lorenz went to breakfast where he met Zander, who gave him a similar message, and advised him to go to Goebbels or Bormann at once. Lorenz reported to Goebbels sometime before 10am, and was told to go to Bormann and then return. From Bormann, Lorenz received copies of Hitler’s personal and political testaments. Bormann told Lorenz that he had been given this mission because as a young man with plenty of initiative, it was considered that he had a good chance of getting through. On his return, Goebbels gave his Appendix [to Hitler’s Political Testament] to him. Where Goebbels told him to take it is not totally clear. It seems that he was to take them to Doenitz if possible, or failing him, the nearest German High Command, and if all else failed, he was to publish the wills for historical purposes, and ultimately, it appears that the documents were to end up at the Party Archives in Munich.

When Johannmeier went to see Hitler around 9am he had the will in his (Johannmeier) possession. Hitler told him that this testament must be brought out of Berlin at any price, that Schoerner must receive it. Hitler expressed his opinion that Johannmeier would succeed in the task and once again stressed the importance of the will reaching the destination which he ordered.  Johannmeier said they both realized that they would not see each other again and that this influenced the tone in which they said goodbye. Hitler spoke very cordially. Hitler shook his hand. Johannmeier realized that Hitler was going to die. [9]

While Johannmeier, Zander, and Lorenz were getting their instructions, the Russian attack drew ever relentlessly near the bunker. At about 9am the Russian artillery fire suddenly stopped, and shortly afterwards runners reported to the Bunker that the Russians were advancing with tanks and infantry towards the Wilhelmplatz. It grew quite silent in the bunker and there was a great tension among its occupants. [10]

About 10am, SS Brigadefuehrer Wilhelm Mohnke, the commandant of the Chancellery, rang Guensche and informed him that Russian tanks were advancing into Wilhelmstrasse and towards Anhalt station. Guensche reported this to Hitler, who ordered Mohnke to come to him. When Mohnke arrived, Hitler, in the presence of Krebs, Goebbels and Bormann, asked him immediately how long his forces could hold out against the Russians capturing the bunker. Mohnke replied that unless he received heavy weapons, principally anti-tank weapons and sufficient ammunition, he could only hold out for another 2-3 days at most. At this point, according to Mohnke, the mood of all the leaders was gloomy and “all looked to Adolf Hitler and felt doomed.” [11]

Later in the morning Junge went back to Hitler’s bunker, in order to see whether any changes had taken place. She saw messengers from the fronts coming and going, Hitler was uneasy and walked from one room to another.  Hitler told her he would wait until the couriers had arrived to their destinations with the testaments and then would commit suicide.[12]

During the morning General Krebs described to Major Freytag von Loringhoven, his adjutant, the profound disillusionment of Hitler. After the failure of all his effort, Hitler had positively decided to end his life.[13]

At noon, with the Russians closing in on the bunker, Hitler held his situation conference. Joining Hitler were Bormann, Krebs, Burgdorf, Goebbels, and a few others.  During the briefing Hitler was informed that the Soviet forces had begun an encircling attack on the remnants of the Citadel from three sides and resistance could not be maintained much longer. Krebs added that there was no news of the relief Army.[14]

At about noon, Lorenz, in civilian clothes, Zander in his SS uniform, and Johannmeier in military uniform, accompanied by a corporal Heinz Hummerich (a clerk in the Adjutancy of the Fuehrer Headquarters), left the Bunker.  Penetrating three Russian rings thrown around the center of the city, they reached Pichelsdorf (at the north end of Havel Lake) by around 4pm or 5pm, , where a battalion of Hitler Youth was holding the bridge against the expected arrival of the relief army. There they slept till night. [15]


Footnotes

[1] Anton Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler: Legend, Evidence and Truth (London: Cassell, 2000), p. 125; Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, In the Bunker with Hitler: 23 July 1944-29 April 1945 (New York: Pegasus Books, 2006), p. 168; Gerhard Boldt, Hitler’s Last Days: An Eye-Witness Account, trans, by Sandra Bance, (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military Classics, 2005), p. 169.

[2] Erich Kern, “In the Bunker for the Last Battle,” Appendix 1 to Erich Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur: The Memoirs of Erich Kempka, trans. By Geoffrey Brooks (London: Frontline Books, 2010), p. 141; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 125; Joachim Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich, trans. By Margot Bettauer Dembo (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Girousx, 2004), p. 94.

[3] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 3, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, pp. 4, 31-32, 35, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Traudl Junge, Until the Final Hour: Hitler’s last secretary, ed. By Melissa Mueller and trans. By Anthea Bell (London: Phoenix, 2004), pp. 182-183..

[4] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters (NAID 2152314), Publications (“P”) Files, 1946-1951, RG 319; [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, p. 32, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[5] [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, p. 34, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 184.

[6] Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) RG 165; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, p. 22, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 184; H. R. Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947), pp. 174-175, 174, n. 13; Heinz Linge, With Hitler to the End: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler’s Valet, trans. By Geoffrey Brooks (London: Frontline Books and New York: Skyhorse Publsihing, 2009), p. 194; James P. O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker (London: Arrow Books, 1979), p. 188; Henrik Eberle and Matthias Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Hitler’s Personal Aides, trans. By Giles MacDonogh (New York: Public Affairs, 2005), p. 263; Anthony Read and David Fisher, The Fall of Berlin (New York: Da Capo Press, 1995), pp. 443, 444.

[7] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 4, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary (NAID 2152314); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, pp. 34-35, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 184; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 182.

[8] Boldt, Hitler’s Last Days, pp. 172-173; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 264; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 131.

[9] Text of letter from Gen. Burgdorf to Field Marshal Schoerner accompanying Hitler’s Political Testament (Johannmeier’s copy), Appendix to Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine],  File: Johannmeier, Willi – XE013274 (NAID 7359546); Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 4, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319 (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary (NAID 2152314); Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: Johannmeier, Willi – XE013274 (NAID 7359546); Interrogation of General Eckhard Christian and Major Willy Johannmeyer [Johannmeier], Americana Club, Nuremberg, 1330-1830 hours, March 10, 1948, pp. 36, 37, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 187-189; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in V. K. Vinogrado, J. F. Pogonyi, and N. V. Teptzov, Hitler’s Death: Russia’s Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB (London: Chaucer Press, 2005), p. 163; Herman Rothman, ed. by Helen Fry, Hitler’s Will, The History Press (Glocestershire, United Kingdom, 2009), p. 101.

[10] Boldt, Hitler’s Last Days, p. 172; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 265.

[11] Handwritten Statement by the Commander of the “Adolf Hitler” Division, Chief of the Central Berlin Defense Region, Wilhelm Mohnke, Moscow, May 18, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, pp. 177, 178. According to another source, Mohnke said a day at most. Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 265.

[12] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 4, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319 (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624).

[13] Freytag von Loringhoven, In the Bunker with Hitler, p. 170.

[14] Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598); Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 191; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 131.

[15] Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598); Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary (NAID 2152314); Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 189-190.

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I Can’t Believe It’s Not Oleomargarine

Today’s post was written by Jessica Lee.  She was a summer intern in the Archives 1 Reference Section, working with the Civil records team.

During my internship, I have had the opportunity to work with archivists on different kinds of projects. For one assignment, I entered titles of various public and private laws and resolutions into a database. One particular Congressional act caught my attention, so much so that I had to look at it more closely. It was:

Forty-Ninth Congress, Sess. 1, Chap. 840, approved August 2, 1886: “An act defining butter, also imposing a tax upon and regulating the manufacture, sale, importation, and exportation of oleomargarine.”

Using the printed U.S. Statutes at Large, I read the entire eight pages of the law. In it, the act defined oleomargarine as including “all mixtures and compounds of tallow, beef-fat, suet, lard, lard-oil, vegetable-oil annotto, and other coloring matter…made in imitation or semblance of butter,” whereas butter was defined as being “made exclusively from milk or cream, or both, with or without common salt, and with or without additional coloring matter.”

The law also imposed special oleomargarine taxes: $600 on manufacturers, $480 on wholesale dealers, and $48 on retail dealers. It also decreed that oleomargarine must be “packed by the manufacturer thereof in firkins, tubs, or other wooden packages not before used for that purpose, each containing not less than ten pounds.” Additionally, the manufacturer was also required to affix on each package a label that says “Notice.–The manufacturer of the oleomargarine herein contained has complied with all the requirements of law. Every person is cautioned not to use either this package again or the stamp thereon again, nor to remove the contents of this package without destroying said stamp, under the penalty provided by law in such cases.”  A manufacturer neglecting to do so would incur a $50 fine.

An additional tax on the manufacturer included two cents per pound for “oleomargarine which shall be manufactured and sold, or removed for consumption of use.” Imported margarine did not escape notice as it too was taxed fifteen cents per pound, in addition to any import duties.

The consumer, it seems, was also affected. The law stated that someone who “knowingly purchases or receives for sale any oleomargarine” which has either not been branded or stamped accordingly, or for which the manufacturer has not paid the special tax, could be fined $50 and $100, respectively, for each offense.

Oversight fell to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The law decreed that “an analytical chemist and a microscopist” would be appointed by the Commissioner to assist in the policing of oleomargarine.

So what happened to the Federal Margarine Act of 1886? According to a post on the NARA’s “Prologue – Pieces of History” blog, it appears that the “federal margarine tax system came to an end in 1951.” It goes on to say that the “dairy state Wisconsin was the last state to repeal the restrictions on the sale, coloration, and/or manufacture of margarine” which happened in 1967.

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Lithograph Company v. Adolph Coors – a Case of an Unpaid Tab

Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver

142 years ago this fall Adolf Coors, along with Denver businessman Jacob Shueler, recorded a deed of purchase for an abandoned tannery in Golden, Colorado. Within months the building would become home to the Golden Brewery, thus beginning a new chapter in beer brewing history.

Coors was born in Germany in 1847 and by the age of 15 was already an apprentice in a local brewery. Immigrating to the United States at the age of 21, Coors ventured west to Colorado where he worked as a gardener as well as the manager of a bottling plant, saving his money in the hopes of opening his own brewery. Two years after the opening of the Golden Brewery, Coors bought out Shueler and renamed his venture the Coors Golden Brewery. It was only a few years after this point when Adolph Coors found himself in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Colorado, and so is now today found in Record Group 21 Records of District Courts of the United States – Civil Case Files (NAID 721171).

In 1889 Coors had contracted with the Beck and Pauli Lithography Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 5,000,000 bottle labels and 500,000 shipping labels, as well as letterhead, postcards, and advertising showcards discussed in part within these two handwritten letters found in the case file – 3165 Beck and Pauli v. Adolph Coors (NAID 22740465).

The above letter from December, 1889 also references Coors’ displeasure in how the “rock” is depicted in the trademark. The rock in question is Castle Rock, a prominent feature on South Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado and is seen on this letterhead for Golden Brewery from 1889 (NAID 22740512).

letter written on Golden Brewery stationary showing Castle Rock

Letter from A. Coors to Beck & Pauli Lithograph Company, 11/7/1889

Its inclusion in the Coors’ trademark image makes further sense when one sees a photograph of just how prominent the peak is in relation to the brewery. In this close-up of a 1967 Bureau of Reclamation aerial photograph, from the file 154/001-005 Scenic Cities General GP (NAID 23811891), one sees Castle Rock to the right of the Coors plant.

photo of Castle Rock to the right of the town of Golden, CO

Bureau of Reclamation, 1967

After settling on the design, by March of 1890 the company had shipped nearly a quarter of the entire order and with that the problem began. Coors felt that delivery of the order should have been staggered and he was receiving much more of everything than he needed. This bill (NAID 22740516) would be the spark that would ignite the case; Coors refused to pay it.

bill for Coors labels totalling $910.42

Bill from Beck & Pauli Lithograph Company, 3/19/1890

Later that year the lithography company sent an employee out west to Colorado to reason with Coors and attempt to collect on the bill. According to the correspondence, he argued for so long with Coors that the lithography employee missed his train back into Denver and was forced to hire a wagon and team to get back to his hotel. The trip was for naught as Coors still refused to pay. The nearly $1,000 order grew to $3891.64 with interest by November 10, 1894 when the lithography company finally filed suit in Denver.

summons for adolph coors notifying of a case to recover $3891.64

Summons for Adolph Coors, 11/12/1894

The case never made it to trial. While the file itself makes no mention, the court clerk’s minutes from January 16, 1896 in another RG 21 series notes that when the judge called for trial the plaintiff was not ready and so the case was dismissed at plaintiffs cost without prejudice.

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The Monuments Men in September and October 1945: Restitutions

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park

On September 13, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower (the Military Governor of the American Zone of Germany and Commander of U.S. Forces European Theater (USFET)) as part of his program to get the restitution program moving, although there was no formal restitution policies and procedures, directed the sending to Paris by United States vehicles as soon as possible 50 selected paintings from easily identified private French looted works of art.  At the Munich Central Collecting Point, its director Lt. Craig Hugh Smyth, USNR, selected 71 masterpieces looted from French private collections. The group included works by Fragonard, Chardin, Lancret, Rubens, Van Dyck, Hals, and a large number of seventeenth century Dutch masters.  Lt. J. H. Coulter, USNR, who worked with Smyth at the collecting point, was the emissary appointed to accompany the paintings to Paris. On September 20 two U.S. Army trucks left Munich for Paris and the works of art were delivered to the Musee du Jeu de Paume; making this the first formal restitution to the French.

In September Maj. Bancel LaFarge, Chief, MFA&A [Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives] Subsection, USFET, decided that Lt. Thomas C. Howe, Jr., USNR, would return from his cultural property evacuation activities, to USFET Headquarters at Frankfurt as Deputy Chief and that Lieutenants Lamont Moore, Stephen Kovalyak, and another officer, new to MFAA work, were to resume the evacuation of the salt mine at Alt Aussee, Austria.  About this time, before Moore and Kovalyak left, there was another important shipment to be made to Belgium. It was to include the Michelangelo Madonna, the eleven paintings stolen from the church in Bruges when the statue was taken, and the panels by Dirk Bouts from the famous altarpiece in the church of St. Pierre at Louvain. These panels, which formed the wings of the altarpiece, had been removed by the Germans in August 1942.  This shipment to Belgium was the first restitution where the recipient nation came to the Munich Central Collecting Point to collect its property.  Howe, Moore, and Kovalyak loaded it into the truck on September 22, and it was soon on its way.

The Belgians had no sooner left when the French and Dutch representatives arrived.  On September 27, Lt. Col. Alphonse Petrus Antonius Vorenkamp, Royal Netherland Forces (and former professor of art history at Smith College), arrived at the Munich Central Collecting Point to begin his stay as official representative of the Netherlands Government to facilitate restitutions.  Also arriving that day was Capt. Hubert de Brye, a French Army officer, who was to be in charge of arranging transport for future shipments to France, both from Munich and from Füssen/Neuschwanstein.

At the end of September General Eisenhower directed the preparation of the air delivery to the Netherlands, approximately 25 looted Dutch works of art of highest quality.  LaFarge told Howe about the token restitution to the Netherlands, that the Dutch were then selecting items, and that the United States would provide a plane to fly them to Amsterdam.  He wanted Howe to be present for the transfer.  Howe departed Frankfurt for Amsterdam the second week of October to arrange for the transfer.  On October 10, 27 paintings held by the Munich Central Collecting Point, including works by Rubens, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt, that had been liberated by the Third U.S. Army from Hitler and Goering Collections, were flown in a special U.S. Army air transport to the Netherlands, accompanied by Vorenkamp.  There they were transported immediately to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and turned over to the Dutch authorities.  On October 19 the second load for the Netherlands left Munich, transported in Dutch trucks.

During the first week in October Eisenhower authorized and requested as soon as possible a token restitution to Czechoslovakia of stolen cultural objects.  Already, on September 29 USFET had made plans when instructions were issued that a token restitution of stolen cultural materials to Czechoslovakia be made on or about October 9, at Schloss Banz. The famous fourteenth century altarpiece by the Master of Hohenfurt, found in the Alt Aussee saltmine and moved to the Munich Central Collecting Point, and approximately 18 cases of objects from the Army Museum, Prague, then at Schloss Banz, were to be assembled by October 9 ready for transfer to the Czechs. Within a few days 1st Lt. Walter Horn , Chief, Intelligence Unit, MFA&A USFET, left for Schloss Banz to effect the transfer of the looted works to accredited representatives of the Czechoslovakian government. When two military officers from the Czech Ministry of National Defense came to USFET Headquarters the MFA&A officers arranged for them to proceed to Schloss Banz, where they were met by Horn. While the Czech officers were en route, Capt. Edwin C.  Rae, Regional, MFA&A Officer, Office of Military Government for Bavaria, was directed to arrange for the delivery of the Hohenfurth panels to Schloss Banz. He designated Lt. Cmdr. Coulter to transport them from Munich, which he did on October 8. This joint operation was carried out successfully.

In early October the American military authorities pretty much determined that many items at the Neuschwanstein castle could be returned directly by rail to France from Füssen, 2.5 miles west of the castle.  In preparation for the move, at Munich Capt. Edward E. Adams, director of the MFA&A Evaluation Team for Upper Bavaria wrote LaFarge and Rae, that based on interviews with people at Füssen and other places, the road leading to the castle was a narrow winding road but appeared to be passable except in extremely snowy or freezing weather. Adams wrote that the court yard could accommodate four trucks and still provide a turn-around space. He indicated that loading facilities at the castle were very poor. The crates for the pictures and furniture provided adequate protection against breakage but would offer little protection against rain or snow.  He believed that extremely large crates may require special trailer trucks to move them all the way to Paris.  He also indicated that a large number of the crates did not bear the ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg) marking and that a fairly large book collection and a considerable quantity of ceramics, statuary, glass, furniture and carpets were not clearly marked. The crates, he wrote, were scattered throughout the building on several floors, and that all were not clearly marked and many were stacked in deep piles in narrow rooms. These conditions, Adams warned, would cause considerable time to be spent in checking identification marks and arranging the crates in an orderly manner for prompt loading in the trucks.

Adams estimated that approximately 25 railway cars would be required to transport the crated material and approximately 8 additional cars would be required for the uncrated items. Shipments, he suggested, should be made in full trains of 10 cars each, the first movement to depart about October 15.  He expressed the need to complete the operation before the bad weather began and therefore he indicated that it was imperative that all phases of the work be executed in the shortest possible time.

Captain Adams recommend that an experienced evacuation team be put in charge of checking the crates with the Munich Central Collecting Point records, spot checking the crates, supervising the loadings, and arranging the order of shipment.  He indicated that the loading list, which would be an itemized list attached to the final receipt, needed to be prepared at the castle as the trucks were loaded.  Additionally, he recommended that the present movement include only the crated items that were readily identifiable. This, he estimated, would amount to approximately three-quarters of the collection. Questionable items and those requiring crating should be prepared at the castle immediately after the main shipment was made and then forwarded as soon as possible to the proper owners as shipping conditions permit. He recommended that the evacuation team proceed at once to the castle to check the markings on the crates and prepare a list which could be coordinated with the collecting point records. This list could then be used for reference in preparing the loading list and final receipt at the castle.

On October 8 General Eisenhower authorized the Commanding General, Eastern Military District to start the immediate evacuation and restitution direct to France of crated works of art from Schloss Neuschwanstein.  Cases readily identifiable by marking as of French origin were to be loaded without inspection of their contents.  Schedule “A” of authorized receipt form would comprise shipping list of cases numbered in sequence without description of their contents. Additionally, the remaining not easily identifiable cases would be shipped only with concurrence of the three foreign art representatives attached to Office of Military Government (OMG) for Bavaria.

Special evacuation personnel, dispatched to Neuschwanstein by OMG for Bavaria, were charged with the responsibility of crating the remainder and evacuating all objects by railway to France. The evacuation team consisted of Capt. Edward Adams, Lt.( jg) Charles Parkhurst, USNR, and Capt. Brye, the French Army officer at Munich. The latter left Munich on October 19 to Füssen to be present at the evacuation.  On October 16, 2nd Lt. John D. Skilton, Jr. was sent from Würzburg to Füssen to help with the move. He returned to Würzburg on October 26.  During October, a curator from the Munich Central Collecting Point was sent to Neuschwanstein to assist in making a spot check of the crates to determine the accuracy of the records that were being used to identify the property.

At Schloss Neuschwanstein the loading began October 17 and was completed on October 24.  Fifty-two truckloads consisting of 634 crates of art objects were moved from the castle –  over a steep narrow winding mountain road – to the railroad siding at Füssen 4.2 miles away. The first trainload left Füssen for Paris on October 25. The train consisted of 2 personnel cars, a utility emergency car, 17 fully loaded closed cars, and one flat car. The latter car was required to carry one extremely large picture which was packed in a weather proof crate attached to a special scaffold nailed to the floor of the car.  A second shipment, consisting of paintings, small statuary, glass, porcelain, furniture, tapestries, and carpets were then prepared for transport.  Forty-one truck loads, with 446 crates, were moved from the castle to the railroad siding.  The second trainload left Füssen for Paris on November 24, with 15 car trains.  Thirteen cars were fully loaded freight cars and 2 cars for personnel of the French security guard. At the end of November, nine truckloads of 141 crates of cultural property were moved from the castle to Füssen. From there, the third and last shipment of  ERR looted French art objects stored at the castle, left for Paris on December 3, with four fully loaded freight cars and one personnel car for the French security escort.  In all 1,221 cases were returned from Füssen directly to France.

Restitution efforts continued in the American Zone of Occupation.  It was a mammoth undertaking.  By the end of November 1948, the Americans had restituted nearly 1.7 million items to countries outside of Germany and had returned over 1.7 million items to Germans.  At that point there were still hundreds of thousands of pieces to be returned or restituted.  Undoubtedly, the Monuments Men looked back at their work with a sense of accomplishing much, but desiring that they could have done more.

Now, seventy years after the end of World War II, the Monuments Men and their work are being recognized by the United States Congress, when, on October 22, 2015, the Monuments Men will be presented with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow. On September 29 Speaker of the House John Boehner issued a press release stating: “On Thursday, October 22, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate will present a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of the Monuments Men, a group of men and women who protected and recovered historical sites and cultural artifacts during World War II.” He added that “without their efforts, thousands of works of art and monuments of history that created the rich cultural history in Europe would have been lost forever.”  The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. in Emancipation Hall and will be live streamed. Please click here for the press release.


Sources used:

  • File: Netherlands Reports, Subject Files, 1940-1946 (NAID 1537311), Records of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historical Monuments in War Areas, RG 239 (Roll 90 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1944).
  • File: 312.1 Miscellaneous Correspondence, MFA&A Econ Br G-5 USFET 1945 (NAID 7193740), Central Files, 1945-1949, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260.
  • File: 24 Cables, Outgoing, General Records, 1938-1948 (NAID 1560051), Records of Central Collecting Points (“Ardelia Hall Collection”), Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 21 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1941).
  • File: November 1945 Monthly Report on Monuments Fine Arts and Archives Eastern Military District-Third United States Army, Activity Reports, 1945 (NAID 1561462), Property Division, Records of Central Collecting Points (“Ardelia Hall Collection”), Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 32 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1941).
  • File: December 1945 Monthly Report on Monuments Fine Arts and Archives Land Bavaria-Third United States Army, Activity Reports, 1945 (NAID 1561462), Property Division, Records of Central Collecting Points (“Ardelia Hall Collection”), Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 33 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1941).
  • File: 7c [Miscellaneous MFA&A Reports] 1945, General Records, 1938-1948 (NAID 1560051), Records of Central Collecting Points (“Ardelia Hall Collection”), Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 13 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1941).
  • File: Monthly Report: United States Forces European Theater, October 1945-November 1945, Activity Reports, 1945-1951 (NAID 2435804), Records of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 54 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1947).
  • File: Monthly Report: United States Forces European Theater, December 1945-February 1946, Activity Reports, 1945-1951 (NAID 2435804), Records of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 54 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1947).
  • File: 007 1945 (NAID 7248132), General Correspondence (Transition Files), 1944-1946, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260.
  • File: Final Report-Reparations and Restitution (NAID 7492811), Reports and Related Records Relating to Restitution, 1945-1950, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260.
  • Thomas Carr Howe, Jr., Salt Mines and Castles: The Discovery and Restitution of Looted European Art  (Indianapolis and New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Publishers, 1946), pp. 240, 245, 254-256, 260-261, 266, 269-270.
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The Monuments Men in August 1945: The Belgian Treasures

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park

In May 1945, elements of the Third U.S. Army reached and captured the mine at Alt Aussee, Austria, which the Germans had used to store looted cultural treasures. They were quickly followed by Third U.S. Army Monuments Men (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFA&A) specialists), Capt. Robert K. Posey and Cpl. Lincoln Kirstein, who, on May 18, inspected the contents of the mine. It did not take them long to determine that Alt Aussee, contained “the very cream of the ‘loot’ from France, Belgium and the Netherlands.” Shortly thereafter, the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, Third U.S. Army requested the services of Lt. George Stout, USNR, MFA&A, 12th Army Group to assist and consult regarding the German art repositories in the Bad Ischel region, especially those at Alt Aussee and one near Laufen. He departed 12th Army HQ at 9:30am on May 20. At Alt Aussee, Stout learned from records of the German officials what was stored in the mine. From these, Stout reported the contents of the mine consisted of 6,577 paintings; 230 drawings and watercolors; 954 prints; 137 pieces of sculpture; 128 pieces of arms and armor; 79 baskets of objects; 484 cases of unknown objects presumed to be archives in part; 78 pieces of furniture; 122 tapestries; 181 cases of books; 1,200 to 1,700 cases apparently containing books or similar matter; and 283 cases, contents of which were entirely unknown.

Among the mine contents were important and famous looted Belgian works such as the two wings of the Dirk Bouts triptych altar-piece from Louvain (1464-1467); Michelangelo’s sculpture of the Madonna and Child from Bruges (1501), eleven other pictures from the Church of Notre Dame at Bruges; and the huge polytych of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (Ghent Altarpiece, 1432) by the Flemish artists Jan and Hubert Van Eyck from the Cathedral of St. Bavo in Ghent. The Michelangelo Madonna and Child went to Bruges in the early 16th century and remained there until September 8, 1944, when the Germans took it as the Allies approached. They also took eleven paintings belonging to the church. Among them were works by Gerard David, Van Dyck, and Caravaggio. They were all brought to the Alt Aussee mine. In May 1940, the Belgians entrusted the Ghent Altarpiece to the custody of Jacques Jaujard, Director of the French National Museums, for safekeeping. It was stored in the Chateau of Pau together with many important works of art from the Louvre. Next, it was removed to Paris in the summer of 1942 and not long afterwards moved by the Germans to Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, where it stayed until it was brought to Alt Aussee in the late summer or early autumn of 1944.

The restitution issue, which had been raised in mid-May by several countries, was raised again in late June. On June 23, the Chief of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) Mission to Belgium wrote the SHAEF G-5 that it was well known about the Bruges items and other Belgian items being recovered in the mine at Alt Aussee. He wrote that the circumstances surrounding the removal of the treasures to Germany was also known, and that they were clearly the property of Belgium. He noted that the Belgian Government had already requested the return of the treasures, and they had expressed their willingness to assume full responsibility for packing and transport. Therefore, he added, he strongly urged that the treasures be immediately released to the Belgian Government. He stated that by allowing the Belgian Government to fetch their treasures any damage which might arise during the journey could not implicate the Military authorities.

On July 1, the SHAEF G-5 responded that the contents of Alt Aussee were presently being moved to Munich and that it was estimated that the move operation would be completed by the beginning of August. Thus, the earliest date when the handing over of the Belgian treasure could take place was the middle of August. He added that the SHAEF Mission (Belgium) letter would be sent to the United States Group Control Council (Germany) (USGCC) with a recommendation that it should be given sympathetic consideration and that the Belgian Government and Jaujard, to whose care the Belgians originally handed over the Ghent Altarpiece, should be kept informed as to the earliest moment that the release could be made.

The next day, July 2, Lt. Col. Geoffrey Webb, Adviser, MFA&A, G-5 Division, SHAEF reported that in the opinion of SHAEF’s MFA&A Section, it was desirable that Military Government should be relieved of the responsibility for such very important objects [at Alt Aussee] as soon as it was possible without prejudicing future policy on restitution. He believed that the return of the Belgian treasures which were all public and church property and whose ownership was unquestioned could not prejudice the policy of the United States on restitution and would be reassuring to the Belgians. The same day, the Chief, Internal Affairs Branch, G-5 Division, SHAEF wrote USGCC that Alt Aussee was being evacuated to the Munich Central Collection Point and should be completed by August 1. He added that it may require two or three weeks to assemble the objects, and to have them in readiness for the Belgian representatives to receive and pack. In the opinion of SHAEF’s MFA&A Section, he wrote, it was desirable, in view of the great importance of the objects, to return them to the Belgian Government as soon as possible, thus relieving Military Government of the great responsibility of their care.

The Director of the Reparations, Deliveries and Restitution Division, USGCC informed the Deputy Military Governor Lt. Gen. Lucius Clay on July 7 that numerous inquiries had been received from, and conferences held with representatives of liberated European countries on the subject of restitution. “There is,” he wrote, “a growing demand for the early return of identifiable looted objects, especially works of art and equipment urgently needed for economic rehabilitation.”

In mid-July, Monuments Men Lt. Thomas Carr Howe, Jr., USNR and 2nd Lt. Lamont Moore were sent to Alt Aussee to help Stout with evacuation. During the remainder of the month the movement of the contents of the Alt Aussee mine to the Munich Central Collecting Point continued with Howe and Moore helping to pack the items, including the Ghent Altarpiece and Michelangelo’s Madonna from Bruges.

Not waiting for the new restitution policies to be implemented, because of the desire to relieve the Americans of the responsibility of having to deal with valuable cultural properties and to show the Allies that the Americans were serious about restitutions, on August 11, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Military Governor and Commanding General of the United States Forces European Theater (USFET), undoubtedly at Clay’s prompting, requested immediate restitution of the Ghent Altarpiece to authorized representatives of the Belgian Government through USFET Mission to Belgium.

The delivery of the Ghent Altarpiece, consisting of seventeen panels, then in the Munich Central Collecting Point, would be made by high priority plane. Very quickly the Third U. S. Army was directed to fly the altarpiece from Munich to Brussels on August 21. Maj. L. Bancel LaFarge, Chief, MFA&A Sub-section, Reparations, Deliveries and Restitution Section, Economics Branch, G-5 Division, USFET, was ordered by ACS G-5 USFET on August 19 to go to Brussels to assist the United States Ambassador to Belgium, through USFET Mission to Belgium, in making arrangements for the transfer of custody of the Ghent Altarpiece to Belgian authorities and for such official ceremony as might be planned. He arrived at Brussels airstrip on August 21, at 11:15am in an L-5 aircraft. Howe, Moore, and fellow Monuments Man 2nd Lt. Stephen Kovalyak, supervised the loading of the ten precious cases, packed the seventeen panels, and oversaw their transport from the Munich Central Collecting Point to the airport.

The specially chartered C-54 plane with the cases, under the charge of Capt. Robert K. Posey, arrived from Munich at 3pm. The ten cases were unloaded and stored in the USFET Mission building for the night because of the lateness of the hour. At 11am August 22, they were delivered to the Royal Palace, unpacked by Belgian art experts, and laid out on the large table in the State Dining Room for examination. At 2pm the Belgians signed the receipt. LaFarge returned to Brussels at 3:30pm September 2 in the company of Lt. Col. Mason Hammond, Chief of MFA&A Branch USGCC and Capt. Calvin Hathaway, his assistant, for the official ceremony that took place at the Royal Palace on September 3. The painting, reassembled in its frame, was exhibited to the press. This was the first restitution of a major work of art to Belgium and was the first important restitution of a work of art. More important restitutions would be made in the following months, including that of the Michelangelo Madonna and Child from Bruges.


Sources:

  • ETO-Monthly Reports for May and June [AMG-159], MFA&A Field Reports, 1943-1946, (NAID 1537270) Records of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas (The Roberts Commission), RG 239 (Roll 72 of NARA Microfilm Publication M-1944).
  • H Relations, Other Headquarters, General Records 1938-1948 (NAID 1560051) Property Division, Records of Central Collecting Points (“Ardelia Hall Collection”) OMGUS Headquarters Relating to the Central Collecting Points, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 2 of NARA Microfilm Publication M-1941)
  • 24 Cables, Outgoing, General Records, 1938-1948, (NAID 1560051) Property Division, Records of Central Collecting Points (“Ardelia Hall Collection”) OMGUS Headquarters Relating to the Central Collecting Points, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 21 of NARA Microfilm Publication M-1941)
  • 312.1 Miscellaneous Correspondence, RD&R Division USGCC 1945, General Correspondence (Central Files), 1944-1949, (NAID 6923852) Records of the Economic Division, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260.
  • 007 1945, General Correspondence (Transition Files), 1944-1946, (NAID 6923844) Records of the Economic Division, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260.
  • 17.10 Historical Reports-Third U.S. Army, May and June, 1945, Numeric-Subject Operations File 1943-July 1945, (NAID 611522) Historical Section, Information Branch, G-5 Division, General Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 331.
  • AMG 214 MFA&A: General Correspondence, Subject File Aug 1943-1945, (NAID 612714)  Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives Section, Operations Branch, G-5 Division, General Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 331.
  • AMG 232, MFA&A Intelligence: General, Subject File Aug 1943-1945, (NAID 612714)  Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives Section, Operations Branch, G-5 Division, General Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 331
  • SHAEF/G-5/751, Public Monuments-Fine Art, Numeric File Aug 1943-Jul 1945, (NAID 610059) Secretariat, G-5 Division, General Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 331.
  • Thomas Carr Howe, Jr., Salt Mines and Castles: The Discovery and Restitution of Looted European Art (Indianapolis and New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Publishers, 1946), pp. 131, 143, 144, 145, 146, 148-177, 244.
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The Monuments Men in July: The Treasures Stored at Bad Wildungen

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park

In Aachen, Germany, during mid-November 1944, American soldiers found a document from the Suermondt Museum that indicated that the Germans were storing cultural treasures at various locations, including Bad Wildungen, 25 miles southwest of Kassel. The exact storage location in Bad Wildungen was not given. On February 11, 1945, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) issued its first listing of German repositories holding loot and German-owned property. The list included Siegen, somewhere in Bad Wildungen, and the salt mines at Heilbronn and Kochendorf.

On April 2 members of the First U.S. Army reached Bad Wildungen and there found two concrete bunkers, specially designed and built for the purpose of storing cultural property. Once entry was gained the soldiers determined that it contained paintings and sculptures from a number of the finest collections in Western Germany. This and subsequent inspections revealed that the bunkers contained approximately 2,500 paintings, Greek and medieval sculpture, famous musical instruments, and other objects of the greatest cultural and artistic value. Many of the works of art were from Frankfurt’s Städtische Galerie, Freies Deutsches Hochstift (Goethemuseum), and Städelsches Kunstinstitut. There were about 90 uncrated paintings and 9 cases with applied art and smaller objects from the Landesmuseum and Kastner Museum of Hanover. There also were many works of art from Mainz and Kassel. Additionally, the bunkers also contained some of the most valuable church property in Western Germany, including cases of stained glass. Among the church property were 14 choir windows and 9 figures from the high altar from Marburg’s St. Elisabethkirche.

First U.S. Army Monuments Man (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives [MFA&A] specialist) Walker Hancock based in Marburg, during the latter part of April visited Bad Wildungen, thirty miles northeast of Marburg, and determined that the bunkers were ideally adapted for the safeguarding of works of art and therefore he did not believe that the items in the bunkers needed to be moved in the short term. And, at this point, Hancock had little time to deal with most of the repositories in his area of responsibility, including Bad Wildungen. Near the end of April, Hancock, reported to Lt. Col. Geoffrey Webb, Advisor, MFA&A, G-5 Internal Affairs Branch, SHAEF, that the work of checking repositories in his area was hampered by restrictions upon civilian circulation and the meagerness of the transport that could be afforded for this purpose by Military Government Detachments. Webb wrote that the project of dealing with the repositories was a large one and could not be undertaken seriously without some special provision of transport and personnel. He added that:

One MFA&A Officer at headquarters without even the aid of a typist is well nigh powerless in the attempt to cope with the urgent requirements of the situation. Because of the lack of assigned transport it is impossible to make overnight trips which would greatly reduce the time required for visiting a number of sites. In fact, many places are too remote to be visited in one day. Furthermore, in view of the restrictions against traveling alone in enemy territory [and] the lack of enlisted person creates other obstacles in the way of making the required number of inspections.

The trips made, he noted, could be said to amount to no more than a “check.” So frequently, he wrote, that even during these situations had been “encountered demanding immediate action that it may safely be assumed that the dearth of transport and personnel has resulted in failure to prevent much unnecessary damage to works of art and archives.” Hancock suggested that two officers with assigned transport and five enlisted men at Army Headquarters might to some degree keep pace with the demands of the existing situation in regard to MFA&A work. He also suggested that higher headquarters give consideration to the immediate organization of a concrete program within the Allied armies, designed to gather works of art and archives into central depositories for safeguarding. His views regarding central collecting points, shared by other MFA&A officers, would begin to bear fruit by the end of May.

At this point also, Hancock was quite busy trying to get the Central Collecting Point at Marburg up and running, and on May 1 he began dealing with the treasures buried in a mine at Bernterode.

It would not be until July that the Monuments Men returned to check on the status of the contents of the Bad Wildungen bunkers. They were visited on July 6 by Capt. Patrick J. Kelleher and on July 17 by Capt. Hancock, Lts. Sheldon Keck (an art conservator), and Samuel Ratensky (an architect). The three found the condition of contents to be reasonably good, the major fault being the over-concentration of items which they believed, might ultimately cause serious damage to some of the paintings. They made arrangements shortly after their visit for the movement of some of the items to a third, vacant bunker under the supervision of a MFA&A Specialist Officer.

During late July the United States Forces European Theater (USFET) received a request from the British regarding the contents of the art repository at Bad Wildungen. The British were interested in objects that would be returned to their zone of occupation of Germany. USFET asked the Seventh U.S. Army to report which institutions had holdings at the repository. 1st Lt. James J. Rorimer, the MFA&A specialist officer with the Seventh U.S. Army and Lt. Ratensky visited Bad Wildungen on July 28 and several days later the Seventh U.S. Army reported that the repository had been inspected by a MFA&A officer and the holdings were found to be in satisfactory condition and that Dr. Friedrich Bleibaum, the Landeskonservator, under the direction of the Military Government Detachment for Land Hessen-Nassau, was completing inventories of the objects and copies would be forwarded as soon as practicable.

In the latter part of September, Rorimer reported that paintings of the first importance from public German collections at Bad Wildungen included 388 from Kassel; 110 from Hanover; 127 from Mainz; and others from Aix-la-Chapelle. He reported that stained glass, altars, and other ecclesiastical objects of international importance had been brought to Bad Wildungen from many churches. He also noted that private property stored at Bad Wildungen included 1,343 paintings, 63 pieces of furniture, and 23 sculptures. He reported that the two large fire-proof bunkers were very well suited to the safe-guarding of these treasures; that they could be adequately ventilated when the weather outside was less humid than the atmosphere in the bunkers; and that physical security of the bunkers was excellent. Dr. Bleibaum, the Landeskonservator, Rorimer reported, was expected to complete a detailed inventory with photographs by the end of September. With the inventory, Rorimer believed, it would be possible to segregate looted works of art and send them to Marburg for return to the countries of origin; church objects could be returned to the churches; and further decisions about private property would be examined in light of directives which they were to receive from higher headquarters.

During November complete inventories of contents of bunkers at Bad Wildungen were prepared and the return of church art stored at Bad Wildungen was authorized. Very quickly the church property was returned. That month, altar pieces from the Elisabethkirch in Marburg were returned and re-installed in the church.

In the latter part of December 1945, Lt. Col. P. Villemer, French Mission for Restitution, attached to the Office of Military Government, with the Restitution Control Branch, Economics Division, provided the Americans with two inventories covering paintings removed from Mainzer Gemäldegalerie in Mainz (Rhineland): 174 to Bad Wildungen and 33 to Erbach. He requested the Americans to investigate the matter so that return could be made. In short order, Monuments Man Walter Horn, then the MFA&A intelligence specialist with the Economics Division, informed Lt. Cmdr. Thomas C. Howe, USNR, (then acting chief of the MFA&A Section of the Restitution Control Branch, Economics Division), that the bunkers at Bad Wildungen were reported in a Seventh U.S. Army July 1945 report as having the paintings there, but that there was no detailed listing. He recommended that the local MFA&A officer be requested to check the paintings against the list submitted by Villemer. Horn informed Howe that no records showed the existence of 33 paintings from Mainz in Erbach. In early February 1946, Villemer was informed that the Americans were looking into the paintings removed by the Germans from the Gemäldegalerie at Mainz (Rhineland). Of course, since there was no interzonal arrangement made with the French, even had everything been found, it still could not have been returned at this point.

The bulk of the items stored at Bad Wildungen would in March 1946 be transferred to the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point and several months later the return to the original owning institutions and individuals began.


Sources

  • ETO-Wiesbaden Reports: Status of Collecting Point and Consolidated Field Reports for March [1946] [2 of 2] [AMG-385], MFA&A Field Reports, 1943-1946, (NAID 1537270) Records of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas (The Roberts Commission), RG 239 (Roll 80 of NARA Microfilm Publication M-1944).
  • 312.1 Miscellaneous Correspondence, RD&R Division USGCC 1945, General Correspondence (Central Files), 1944-1949, (NAID 6923852) Records of the Economic Division, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260.
  • 35.7 Germany MFA&A, General Records of the Section Chief, 1944-1949, (NAID 1571282)Reparations and Restitution Branch, Records of the Property Division, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 2 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1949).
  • Repositories: Bad Wildungen-List of Contents of Bunker I and Bunker II, Records Relating to Status of Monuments, Museums, and Archives, 1945-1951, (NAID 2435815) Records of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 62 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1947).
  • Repositories: Works of Art and Archives in Germany, Records Relating to Status of Monuments, Museums, and Archives, 1945-1951, (NAID 2435815) Records of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 63 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1947)
  • Monthly Report: United States Forces European Theater, October 1945-November 1945, Activity Reports, 1945-1951, (NAID 2435804) Records of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 54 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1947).
  • Repositories: Oberlahnkreis-Correspondence, Records Relating to Status of Monuments, Museums, and Archives, 1945-1951, (NAID 2435815) Records of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, Records of the Office of Military Government (U.S.) OMGUS, Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 260 (Roll 63 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1947)
  • AMG 292, 12 Army GP, Subject File Aug 1943-1945, (NAID 612714) Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives Section, Operations Branch, G-5 Division, General Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 331.
  • 17.16, Jacket 10, Historical Report-12th Army Group-April 1945, Numeric-Subject Operations File 1943-July 1945, (NAID 611522) Historical Section, Information Branch, G-5 Division, General Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 331.
  • SHAEF/G-5/751, Public Monuments-Fine Art, Numeric File Aug 1943-Jul 1945, (NAID 610059)Secretariat, G-5 Division, General Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 331.
  • Walter Hancock, “Experiences of a Monuments Officer in Germany,” College Art Journal (vol. V. No. 4, May 1946), p. 309.
  • James J. Rorimer, Survival: The Salvage and Protection of Art in War (New York: Abelard Press, 1950), p. 231.
Posted in Archives II, History, Monuments Men, Reference, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The National Archives and Jefferson Davis’ Cloak, Shawl, and Spurs

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park

The Civil War was swiftly coming to an end on April 3, 1865, when the President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, his wife Varina, and their children abandoned Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. On April 9, as General Robert E. Lee was surrendering his Army, Davis was attempting to avoid capture by the Union forces, apparently desiring to eventually make his way across the Mississippi River to lead southern forces that had not yet surrendered. Five weeks later, after traveling through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and into Georgia, on May 9, Davis and his party made camp near Irwinville, believing they were still one step ahead of their pursuers. But the pursuers, members of the First Wisconsin Regiment of Cavalry and Fourth Michigan Regiment of Cavalry, were nearby, ready to pounce on the Davis party the following morning.

Early on the morning of May 10, the camp was awakened by the sound of gunfire and very quickly it was surrounded by the Union cavalrymen. The Confederates did not fire a shot. In a somewhat confusing situation, Davis attempted to escape. In a letter of June 5, 1865 to Montgomery Blair, Varina Davis wrote that when her husband saw the Union soldiers, “I pleaded with him to let me throw over him a large waterproof raglan which had often served him in sickness during the summer season as a dressing gown and which I hoped might so cover his person that in the gray of the morning he would not be recognized. As he strode off, I threw over his head a little black shawl which was around my own shoulders, seeing that he could not find his hat.” She added “He attempted no disguise, consented to no subterfuge.” In his Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881), Davis wrote that as the Union forces arrived he impulsively reached for what he thought was his raglan and threw it over his shoulders, either anticipating that he would need to keep warm if he escaped, or using it to hide his light-colored gray suit against the dark forest. By mistake, he had picked up his wife’s raglan because it was “so very much like my own as to be mistaken for it. As I started, my wife thoughtfully threw over my head and shoulders a shawl.” It should be noted that in the 1860s, both men and women wore shawls. In fact, President Abraham Lincoln often wore one over his shoulders during chilly weather.

Davis escaped into the woods and was quickly captured. Besides seizing Davis’ cloak, shawl, and spurs, the Union soldiers took possession of three of his pistols, a bullet mold, two toothbrushes, a plug of tobacco, and other sundries. Very quickly a story circulated that Davis attempted to escape into the woods wearing his wife’s clothing.

Davis would be imprisoned at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. He demanded a trial as the best forum for proving the constitutionality of secession, and the government requested numerous delays to prepare its case. He was released from custody on bail in May 1867. Bail was posted by, among others, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Horace Greeley, and Gerrit Smith, the radical abolitionist who helped to fund John Brown in 1859. Although an indictment for treason against Davis was finalized in March 1868, the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson further delayed the case.

That summer Congress adopted the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section 3 provided:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

This certainly applied to Davis, who had served as an army officer, member of Congress, and Secretary of War.

The U.S. Circuit Court, Virginia, finally heard preliminary motions in December 1868, when the defense asked for a dismissal claiming that the 14th Amendment already punished Davis by preventing him from holding public office in the future and that further prosecution and punishment would violate the double jeopardy restriction of the 5th Amendment. The court divided in its official opinion and sent the question to the United States Supreme Court. Fearing the court would rule in favor of Davis, President Johnson released an amnesty proclamation on December 25, 1868, issuing a pardon to all persons who had participated in the rebellion.

Most of the items that had been taken from Davis were sent back to him between 1874 and 1880.  He would die in New Orleans on December 6, 1889, most likely of pneumonia.

In 1914, the Davis pistols were obtained by descendants of the former Confederate chief executive. On April 26, 1915, the Army Judge Advocate General responded to a request from the Assistant Secretary of War for an opinion regarding the Attorney General’s opinion of January 7, 1914, whether the War Department was authorized to turn over to Jefferson Hayes-Davis, a shawl, waterproof cloak, and spurs worn by Davis at the time of his capture. E. H. Crowder, the Judge Advocate General, wrote that the articles were in the possession of the War Department and Jefferson Hayes-Davis was the grandson of Jefferson Davis and had requested the return of the articles on behalf of the next of kin of the former owner. Crowder wrote:

In the opinion referred to the Attorney General considered whether the Secretary of War had authority to return to the executor of Jefferson Davis’ estate on the written order of all of his next of kin, a couple of pistols and accessories captured by Union soldiers in June, 1865, and sent to the War Department where they had remained thereafter, and it was held in substance that inasmuch as such property was never condemned and forfeited under the Confiscation and Abandoned Property Acts, the owner retained an interest in them, and that by reason of the President’s proclamation of amnesty and pardon of December 25, 1868, the owner’s title and right of possession thereto were revived and upon the latter’s death passed to his personal representatives, to whom the Secretary of War was authorized to surrender the property.

Crowder wrote that he was unaware of anything indicating that the principle governing the property then under consideration was different. He observed:

I do not think the fact that the shawl, waterproof cloak and spurs were worn by Jefferson Davis at the time of his capture, while such may not have been the case with respect to the other property heretofore surrendered, makes any difference in principle or affects the question of the Department’s authority to surrender them. Accordingly, you are advised that it is the view of this office that under the Attorney General’s opinion of January 7, 1914, the Department is authorized to return to Jefferson Davis’ personal representatives the shawl, waterproof cloak, and spurs referred to.

For whatever reason, the shawl, waterproof cloak, and spurs were not returned. They continued to reside at the War Department. But thirty years later that would change. In May 1945 the War Department offered the items to the National Archives. The National Archives, for some reason, accepted them. In retrospect, the National Archives and War Department probably should have determined, as was the case thirty years earlier, that the articles were private property and should be given to the Davis family. Or, the War Department could have off-loaded the artifacts on the Smithsonian Institution.

Not long after the National Archives received the articles, the Historian of the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy wrote Senator Harry F. Byrd about the Davis shawl, which she believed was in a safe at the War Department and requested that the Virginia Daughters of the Confederacy were desirous of having it presented to them to place in the Confederate Museum at Richmond, Virginia. Upon receiving this request Senator Byrd wrote Robert P. Patterson, the Secretary of War, forwarding the request and asking advice with respect to the matter. Byrd’s letter was forwarded to the Adjutant General who wrote the Judge Advocate General, requesting information on which to base a reply. The Office of the Judge Advocate General informed the Adjutant General that in its opinion the shawl “must be considered to be private property.” They enclosed a copy of the 1915 memorandum and indicated that research had disclosed that no authority existed for the presentation of the shawl to the Virginia Daughters of the Confederacy to place in their museum, in accordance with their desire. With this information in hand, and after informal coordination with the War Department Records Office of the National Archives, the Acting Adjutant General wrote the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of War with summary information regarding the shawl and enclosed a letter for him to send to Senator Byrd advising him that the shawl must be considered the private property of the next of kin of Jefferson Davis and that no authority had been found under which it could be presented to the museum.

At the end of November 1945, the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of War wrote Senator Byrd that the shawl had been delivered to the Secretary of War on May 24, 1865, and had remained in the War Department until May 9, 1945, on which date it was transferred to the War Department Records Office of the National Archives. Senator Byrd was informed that it was the opinion of the War Department that the shawl must be considered the private property of the next of kin of Jefferson Davis, “and for this reason, we do not have the authority to present it to the Confederate Museum at Richmond.”

Jefferson Davis’ private property would remain in the National Archives until the eve of the centennial of the Civil War. On February 9, 1961, the General Services Administration (which oversaw the National Archives and Records Service – the predecessor to the National Archives and Records Administration) announced that the Jefferson Davis cloak, shawl, and spurs would be, at the request of Davis’ heirs, including Jefferson Hayes-Davis, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, turned over to “Beauvoir,” the memorial to the Confederate President near Biloxi, Mississippi. The items now repose there.

In signing S. J. Res. 16 “Restoration of Citizenship Rights to Jefferson F. Davis” into Law (Public Law 95-466) on October 17, 1978, President Jimmy Carter stated:

In posthumously restoring the full rights of citizenship to Jefferson Davis, the Congress officially completes the long process of reconciliation that has reunited our people following the tragic conflict between the States. Earlier, he was specifically exempted from resolutions restoring the rights of other officials in the Confederacy. He had served the United States long and honorably as a soldier, Member of the U.S. House and Senate, and as Secretary of War. General Robert E. Lee’s citizenship was restored in 1976. It is fitting that Jefferson Davis should no longer be singled out for punishment.

Our Nation needs to clear away the guilts and enmities and recriminations of the past, to finally set at rest the divisions that threatened to destroy our Nation and to discredit the principles on which it was founded. Our people need to turn their attention to the important tasks that still lie before us in establishing those principles for all people.


Sources:

This blog is based primarily on records found in File 000.4 Historical (9 Oct 45), Adjutant General Decimal File, 1940-1945 (NAID 895294), Records of the Office of the Adjutant General, 1917-, Record Group 407.

Clint Johnson’s Pursuit: The Chase, Capture, Persecution, and Surprising Release of Confederate President Jefferson Davis (New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2008).

Also useful were:

Michael P. Musick’s “War in an Age of Wonders: Civil War Arms and Equipment,” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, vol. 27, no. 4 (Winter 1995)

“U.S. Will Yield Garb of Jefferson Davis,” The New York Times, February 9, 1961, p. 37

“Memorial to Get Davis’ Clothing,” The Washington Post, February 10, 1961, p. B3.

 

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