Writing to the Interests of the State

Shortly after Adolf Hitler took power in Germany in 1933 his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, a vicious anti-Semite, assembled 300 Berlin journalists to instruct them on the Nazi’s new National Press Law.

From that point on the journalists would have to be a licensed member of Goebbels’ newly formed Reichsverband der Deutschen Presse (press organization) and that they would be disqualified if they had even one Jewish grandparent.

The main purpose of the meeting was to inform the journalists that no editorials would be allowed unless approved by the Nazi Party (Goebbels’ himself).

Joseph Goebbels-Nazi Minister of Propaganda

Joseph Goebbels-Nazi Minister of Propaganda

The reason for the overt censorship was the potential to weaken the power of the Reich, either in Germany or abroad by saying something uncomplimentary to the regime.

Goebbels’ stated:

“I don’t see why you should have the slightest difficulty in adjusting the trend of what you write to the interests of the State. It is possible that the Government may sometimes be mistaken-as to individual measures-but it is absurd to suggest that anything superior to the Government might take its place. What is the use, therefore, of editorial skepticism? It can only make people uneasy.”

Shortly after the meeting the Reich enacted the death penalty on anyone who published “treasonable articles” just in case the journalists thought Goebbels’ advice could be safely ignored.


The source of the above information is The Boys in the Boat-Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

The book was given to me by a friend who knew of my interest in WW2 and history in general. The nine Americans mentioned in the title is a reference to the US Rowing Team that took part in the 1936 Olympics-the same Olympics that a black man named Jesse Owens would win a Gold Medal-an affront to Hitler’s master race baloney.

The quote by Goebbels’ sets up the atmosphere in which the Americans would eventually compete for a Gold Medal in rowing.

The Nazi's sought to make the 1936 Olympics a showcase for Aryan superiority.

The Nazi’s sought to make the 1936 Olympics a showcase for Aryan superiority.

In the last two years or so I’ve made it a point to not discuss politics in this blog unless it was pertinent to whatever historical subject I was writing about. So today I make an exception and may make further exceptions as the situation demands.

The meeting Goebbels’ had with the Berlin journalists ought to chill freedom loving Americans to the bone because if you think it can’t happen here you are badly mistaken.

Just the other day the so-called Department of Justice redacted the transcripts that clearly recorded the Orlando killer’s allegiance to ISIS. Why censor really available transcripts unless you want to control the message?

President Obama has called Radical Islam and references to it as “political talking points” and Josh Ernest, our very own Minister of Propaganda lies with impunity assisted by an accomplice media to such an extent you would think they were threatened by the death penalty for questioning “the Government” who sometimes makes mistakes in regards to measures.

The Department of Justice, the entire Obama administration and the accomplice press are further assisted by a host of ignorant Americans who do not realize or seem to care that their liberty is at stake and that it’s only a matter of time before “the government” further shreds our Constitution and forces us to comply “for the good of the state.” The fact that a majority of American journalists do not seem upset by any of this speaks volumes about their lack of journalistic integrity.

USA Today reports today that the DOJ has backed down and released a unredacted transcript of the Orlando ISIS murderer.




German Postcards WW1

I picked these two repro postcards up at a gun show from a fellow who deals in militaria.

The cards are typical of the type used by most of the major powers in WW1.

The soldier at the front would send one of these to his wife or sweetheart to remind her of his love and how much he missed her. Too often the soldier did not come home. As we can see from the first card sometimes the wife or sweetheart would do the sending.

The second card captures the patriotism and a bit of the romantic notions some soldiers had of the war. By 1918 I’m sure most German soldiers did not entertain such notions.

These two are typical of the German postcards. See the translations by my friend Brittany C. in the mid section.



Standing in the darkness of midnight
So alone during the silent watch
Then I think of my distant love
And whether he remains lovingly true.


And so I will bravely fight
And if I should suffer (experience) death
Then dies a a true (honest) knight (soldier?)

As a side note two soldiers below appear to be Uhlans-German Cavalry.



The Battle of Jutland 31 May – 2 June 1916

Excellent account of the Battle of Jutland

War and Security


On 25 April 1916, whilst returning from the Lowestoft Raid, Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Commander-in-Chief of the German High Seas Fleet (HSF), learnt that U-boats were to conduct commerce warfare in line with prize law regulations until further notice. This decision was made after the USA threatened to cut off diplomatic relations with Germany following the sinking of the SS Sussex with the loss of 50 civilian lives, some of them American. This severely reduced the effectiveness  of U-boats against merchant ships, Scheer decided that it would be better to employ his long range U-boats in co-operation with his surface fleet against enemy warships.[1]

A raid by battlecruisers on Sunderland in the north east of England, supported by battleships. was planned for 17 May but had to be postponed for six days because some battleships developed condenser problems. It was expected that Admiral Sir John Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet…

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A Dying Comrade and the Medal of Honor-Two American Heroes

There is an interesting article in the Spring issue of AARP.

I am not a member of AARP but a friend gave me a copy knowing of my interest in history.

The article features nine short stories from veterans that reflect their personal memories of the conflicts they were involved in from World War 2 to the War in Iraq in 2005. Significant in each story is the remembering of people they served with.

The one titled Chosin Reservoir tells the story of Tom Hudner a Navy pilot who served in the Korean War (1950). Hudner was the wingman of Jesse Brown, the first African-American Navy pilot.

Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner, 1950 as F4 Corsair pilots, Korean War

Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner, 1950 as F4 Corsair pilots, Korean War

They flew F4U Navy Corsair fighter-bombers of WW2 vintage but still effective in the Korean conflict.

F4U Corsair, pic from Wikipedia

F4U Corsair, pic from Wikipedia

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir is famous in Marine Corps history.

After pushing the North Koreans almost to the Chinese border US Marine and Army units found themselves surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Red Chinese who poured across the border to save North Korea from being defeated after the North Koreans invaded South Korea.

The UN forces of which the US Marines and Army were part of were taken completely by surprise and suffered severe losses fighting their way out in sub-zero weather in the mountainous terrain.

Hudner and Brown were flying a support mission for the trapped US forces when Brown’s Corsair was shot down with Brown unable to bail out.

Hudner knew that Brown was still alive and he was determined not to leave him on the mountain side for the Chinese to find or to let the sub-zero weather claim his friend’s life.

Hudner crash landed his own Corsair in an attempt to save Brown stating he knew that Brown would do the same for him.

Hudner found Brown alive, but his lips were turning blue and he was nearly frozen already. Brown’s legs were trapped in the wreckage  and Hudner was unable to free him.

A Marine rescue helicopter did land to extract them but it was not possible to get Brown free. Brown told Hudner to tell his wife that he loved her.

Hudner had to make the agonizing decision to leave his friend for to stay with him would mean certain death. The Marine helicopter had to leave because it could not fly at night in the mountainous terrain.

Hudner told Brown that he would return the next day but reported later he believed his friend to have passed by then.

The Navy later napalmed the crash site of the two airplanes so that the Chinese would not get intelligence from the planes or Brown’s effects. Brown’s remains or effects were never recovered despite a second search made in 2013 by an aging Hudner and a former Marine who served in the Chosin battles.

The second search although approved by the North Koreans was not allowed upon their arrival because of the monsoon season (you think the NK’s would have told them that prior to their arrival).

Never-the-less, Hudner believed the trip a success because he believes it opens the door for another search to made later.

Hudner received our country’s highest honor for his rescue attempt of his friend. He received the Medal of Honor. Hudner retired from the Navy in 1973.

The nine story article in AARP is a composite based on interviews by Andrew Carroll, Michael Dolan and Mike Tharp and is part of AARP’s Memorial Day Tribute. My summation above is based on their interview with Hudner and some of my INET research.

I was intrigued more than usual because Brown was the first African-American to become a Navy Pilot.

The US Armed Services had become fully integrated following World War 2 but it still was difficult for African-Americans to become Navy pilot officers.

Yet Brown persevered breaking down yet another barrier to full integration. His story can be found here (Clarion-Ledger).

The story of Hudner’s second “rescue” can be found here (USA Today).



Before He was “Old Blood and Guts”

I seem to recall a Bill Mauldin cartoon featuring the iconic GIs Willie and Joe making comments as General George Patton passes by.

Willie says, “there goes old blood and guts” and Joe says, “yeah, our blood and his guts.”

I could not find the cartoon I remembered but this one illustrates Mauldin's contempt for Patton and his petty rules for combat soldiers like Willie and Joe.

I could not find the cartoon I remembered but this one illustrates Mauldin’s contempt for Patton and his petty rules for combat soldiers like Willie and Joe.

George Patton is certainly a legend but there was a time when he was relatively unknown-a time well before he became “old blood and guts.”

Life Magazine, July 7th, 1941

Life Magazine, July 7th, 1941

I found the above issue of Life Magazine featuring Patton on the cover at the 100 Mile Rummage Sale along the Mississippi river boundary between MN and WI.

The gal wanted $10.00 but she took $8.00.

Finding Life Magazines from the WW2 years at $10.00 a copy is indeed something rare and this example is in excellent condition.

It’s dated July 7th, 1941 exactly five months prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the US into WW2.

The issue is titled “Defense Issue” and “U.S. Arms” clearly indicating that sooner or later the US would be in the war. The feature article is written in such a way to convey the message and to reassure Americans we were prepared.

The cover features Patton in the turret of a light tank (misidentified in the article as a medium tank). The tank appears to be a M3 or M2A2 Stuart named for Jeb Stuart the legendary Confederate cavalry commander (would not be pc today to name a tank after a Confederate).

Jeb Stuart. At the start of WW2 American tanks were named after Civil War Generals. The "Stuart" was a light tank while the "Lee\Grants and Shermans were medium tanks. Later a tank destroyer was named after Confederate General "Stone Wall Jackson."

Jeb Stuart. At the start of WW2 American tanks were named after Civil War Generals. The “Stuart” was a light tank while the “Lee\Grants and Sherman’s were medium tanks. Later a tank destroyer was named after Confederate General “Stone Wall Jackson.”

At the time Patton was the commander of the 2nd Armored Division which according to the article featured 385 tanks and 1900 other vehicles. Patton is quoted in the article titled “Armored Force” as saying the 2nd Armored Division is “the strongest force ever devised by man.”

The article goes on to say that the point of the US armored forces (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Armored Divisions) is to be a match for the German Panzer Divisions which at the time had just invaded Soviet Russia.

The creation of the armored divisions was only about a year old; no doubt spurred on by the German successes in Poland, the Low Countries, France and the Balkans where blitzkrieg warfare led by the panzers paved the way for victory after victory.

The article goes on to detail a mock war-game between the US 1st Armored and 2nd Armored Division modeled after the German crossing of the Meuse River the previous year.

The article is a 18 page spread of the war-game featuring the tanks, scout cars, armored cars, infantry, airplanes, and artillery; all designed to impress the reader with American power.

The article isn’t so much about Patton as it is bragging about the tank component of the newly formed armored divisions. Below is a YouTube video featuring a war-game with Stuart M2A2 tanks from 1938.

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The British have got Tanks!

“A wounded man from the 7th Company approached us from the right and gasped a few heavily charged words. ‘The British have got tanks!’ A cold shiver ran down my spine; the effect of this information on the morale of my men was plain to see. they. who had just been pouring scorn on the British, saying that they would all be tearing their trousers on our barbed wire, suddenly looked disconcerted. All of a sudden there was a muffled shout from a neighboring sentry post. Everyone, rushed to the parapet and then we saw, looming out of the swirling fog, a dreadful colossus heading straight for us. Every single one of us could almost hear his heart beating in his chest! However, we were seized only momentarily by leaden indecision. With weapons tucked into our cheeks we fired shot after shot at the enemy. Unfortunately, this affected them not in the slightest. Slowly, but unstoppably, they drew closer. Firing also began left and right of us. As I pulled myself up to look over the parapet, I could see a whole chain of these steel monsters advancing toward our trenches. The tank to our front was barely a hundred metres away by now. The light machine gun had fired off its last belt of ammunition without visible effect. What was to be done?” Second Lieutenant A. Saucke, 84th Infantry Regiment, quoted in Peter Hart, The Great War. page 370-71

The British (and French) of WW1 took the development of tanks seriously once it was obvious the Western Front was bogged down in trench warfare. Tanks were thought to be at least part of the solution with the idea being once the trench lines were pierced the attacking army would be free to maneuver once again.

Although the British introduced their MK I tank at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 they were not all that successful given a considerable breakdown rate and the terribly muddy ground the tanks were expected to cross.

Undeterred, the British continued to improve on the MK I and by 1917 in the Battle of Cambrai they had considerable success as illustrated above by the quote from the panicked German officer.

Cambrai made it clear that the tank was a weapon to be reckoned with.

When the US entered the war in April, 1917 our army was tiny and under equipped having zero tanks.

At first this didn’t matter much since most of the American Divisions didn’t arrive in France until the Spring of 1918 and then had to be trained on the spot. By then tanks were common in the British and French armies.

American forces for the most part were equipped by the French as they shared sectors of the front with the French. A few American tank units were formed being equipped with the excellent FT-17 a tank of French design that had a fully rotating turret.

French FT17

French FT17 in the WW1 Museum in Kansas City, MO

The fact that we used French tanks makes the below postcard interesting and worthy of some speculation.

American Tank in Action Brit MkI.jpg

The caption states, “American Tank in Action” and indeed the soldiers standing around the tank are Americans in their famous campaign hats.

The tank however is one the British marks probably a MK I or MK II “female” given the absence of the 6pdr (57mm) cannon on the male Marks.

I think there is a clue on the reverse side of the postcard.

American Tank in Action reverse.jpg

The post mark is dated Nov 25, 1918 and the correspondence reads:

“First to let you know I am transferred to another co (company) arrive soon Co. No.3 replacement camp, Camp Shelby Miss.” The card is to Miss Nina Flora from Sam Flora probably Nina’s brother.

The Great War ended on November 11th, 1918, fourteen days before the card was sent. Sam is in a replacement camp either to be an actual replacement or to be released from service. Camp Shelby would either serve as a training facility as a replacement center or where men were processed out given the postwar date.

I surmise that at that some point early British Mk1 tanks were sent stateside to familiarize American troops with the concept of tanks. Sam simply picked up a postcard, wrote his message to his sister and that was that. The point being the tank is British not American.

The second card is also interesting given that it also features a WW1 tank..

Whippet Tank frontWhippet reverse

The front of the card features a British tank known as the Whippet.

The Whippet was designed to supplement the larger and slower Marks. The idea was that the Whippet Battalions would act as mechanized cavalry exploiting the holes the heavier tanks made in the trench lines.

As can be seen from the postcard the Whippet was an unusual looking tank but it did feature 4 heavy machine guns and when used in some of the final offensives of the war proved to be effective.

The caption reads “Whippet Tank in Action Troops Digging in-France.

The soldiers appear to be British and as far as I know American troops never operated with Whippets. This is speculation but given the peaceful nature of the postcard I’d say the scene represents a training session as the infantry had to learn how to cooperate with the tanks,

Unfortunately, the postmark is covered by a 1c stamp but I do think there is a clue as to when it was mailed.

The correspondence reads:

“Dear Mrs. Hacket, Miss Warme said you could get the strawberry plant any time you wish. Love Friend Mrs. Johnson.

My speculation is that Mrs. Johnson has a Mr. Johnson and Mr. Johnson brought some postcards back from training or sent Mrs. Johnson a pack of unused cards and she utilized this one to send a friend to discuss a strawberry plant. In other words I doubt Mrs. Johnson or Mrs. Hackett had any interest in a British Whippet tank and the card was simply handy and maybe even postwar.

I picked the cards up in an antique shop in Lacrosse, WI. The cards cost more than I like to spend but the subject matter forced my hand. The cards are both published for the Chicago Daily News. J. G. Kavanaugh and both marked War Postal Card Department. Both were mailed to Wisconsin cities, Mauston and Stanly respectively.

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Who was Lincoln’s Lion?

Interesting American Civil War story

The Casemate Blog

La Salle native and 1965 graduate of La Salle-Peru Township High School, James Huffstodt of Tallahassee, Fla., is the author of a recently released biography of one of Illinois’s most heroic Civil War generals who was also a personal protégé of President Abraham Lincoln.

“Lincoln’s Bold Lion: The Life and Times of Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin (1837-1923) by James Huffstodt is published by Casemate Publisher of Philadelphia and Oxford, England. The 440-page hardback, with a 16-page photo section, will be printed in ten languages.

“History was my passion from a very early age,” Huffstodt said. “My interest in the Civil War grew from listening to my maternal grandmother, Celia Baker Sykes of Utica (1876-1965), tell about her father’s experiences as a soldier in that war. Private Martin Baker of Utica served in Co. K, 11th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, raided by General W.H.L. Wallace of Ottawa. Baker was seriously…

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