World War II


Game of Zones: How Austria Unraveled the Iron Curtain

Austria 1.pngI’m thinking of a city, the glittering capital of a German-speaking people. It was the seat of monarchs and dictators before being bombed into submission during World War II. It was divided into four administrative districts by the victorious Allied powers following that war, and so came late to democracy. It was an island of independence and intrigue deep within territory under Soviet control. Adolf Hitler haunted its streets and harangued the crowds from its balconies. Perhaps you've heard of it? Berlin? No, I'm thinking of Vienna, Austria.

At the end of World War II all the pieces were in place for Vienna to suffer the fate of Berlin: a prestigious urban capital; strategic and economic importance; symbolic significance as an exclamation point marking the end of the Nazi program of German reunification. Yet Vienna and Austria were granted independence in 1955, while Berlin and East Germany labored under communism until 1990. Why such different outcomes?

 

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Game of Zones: How Austria Unraveled the Iron Curtain

History Real and Imagined: Russians at War in Art and Life from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995

JPRS Aug 2017 4 sm.pngAmong the many interesting aspects of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, is the inclusion of full-length novels. This month we have such two works by Vasiliy Ardamatskiy, similar in scope and subject matter to Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago.

JPRS Aug 2017 8 sm c2.pngAlongside Ardamatskiy’s fictional accounts of revolutionary Russia we pair historical nonfiction relating to Soviet naval warfare and military communications during World War II. Finally, we’ll add excerpts from a 1972 monograph that requires little interpretation, on the all-too-real technology of ballistic missile launch and control systems.


Vozmezdie [Retribution], by Vasiliy Ardamatskiy; Moscow, Molodaya Gvardiya 1968

Born in 1911, Ardamatskiy was a child of the Russian Revolution who wrote adventure fiction and who was reputed to be linked to the KGB. His career as a radio journalist brought him close to the battle lines during World War II, especially during the Siege of Leningrad.

In Retribution he gives compelling characterizations of the real-life terrorist Boris Savinkov, and of Felix Dzerzhinskiy, head of the feared Cheka, precursor to the KGB. Among other honors, the KGB Prize of the USSR in the field of literature and art was awarded to Ardamatskiy.

History Real and Imagined: Russians at War in Art and Life from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995

‘The Pitiful Plight of the Persecuted Minorities’: Exploring 20th-Century Immigration Policy in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set

On September 21, 1945, Frantisek Jiri Pavlik illegally entered the United States at Boston, Massachusetts, as a stowaway and was immediately taken into custody by order of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. On November 29, 1945, the chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Michigan Representative John Lesinski, Sr., submitted a bill to Congress in which he tells the 25-year-old Czechoslovakian’s story:

He had applied to the United States consul in Prague for a visa to come to the United States but was unsuccessful because the Germans would not permit anyone to leave the country. In May 1939…he smuggled his way into Germany and proceeded to Hamburg in a further attempt to come to the United States. He was again unsuccessful in his efforts and returned to Prague. In 1940, through the means of a prohibited radio, he learned that a Czechoslovak legion was forming in north Africa and again left his home. He was apprehended by the Gestapo and sentenced to be hanged. He was sent to the concentration camp at Dachau and was held there as a political prisoner. He remained there from March 1941 to July 1944, at which time he was transferred to another camp in Germany, and in January 1945 managed to make his escape. He worked himself through the German lines to the American side and contacted American Infantry troops. He was placed under investigation and questioned thoroughly by the United States Army and states he furnished valuable information to them….He fought with the American troops for about 1 month and subsequently was hospitalized, having been wounded twice.

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‘The Pitiful Plight of the Persecuted Minorities’: Exploring 20th-Century Immigration Policy in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

From 1941 to 1996 the U.S. government published the Daily Report of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). FBIS was begun in 1941 as a means of letting the government know what propaganda was being broadcast into the U.S. by the shortwave radio services of the foreign governments involved in the European war.

Broadcasts deemed of potential interest to U.S. government officials were selected for translation into English. Political, economic and war news dominated the first years of FBIS. Broadcasts were either transcribed in their entirety, in part, or were briefly summarized. Every day a Daily Report was published and delivered. After World War II the number of FBIS sources grew, and the size of the Daily Report ballooned. In the early 1970s FBIS Daily Reports began to be delivered in Regional Reports whose names changed over time. Sources now included newspapers and television news shows as well as radio broadcasts.

Graham E. Fuller, a former C.I.A. official, wrote about FBIS Reports in a Consortium News piece entitled, “Value in Reading Others’ Propaganda,” which was published online on September 29, 2015. In this piece Fuller writes:

Indeed there was an entire branch of CIA which monitored and published on a daily basis a thick booklet of selected broadcast items from around the world—available by subscription. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service provided an invaluable service. It is now sadly defunct, the victim of short-sighted budget cutting—an operation which probably cost less annually than one fighter aircraft and offered much more.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

Context Adds Complexity: Before and After the Attack on Pearl Harbor, as Seen in Major American Newspapers in the Pacific Northwest

Chinese Americans were given certificates to show that they weren’t of Japanese origin. (Click to open article in PDF.)Reliving a moment in history through the pages of America’s Historical Newspapers takes the event out of its place on the timeline of history and reinserts it into the messy context of its era. The details of the event aren’t altered, but what surrounds it makes you think, “Oh wow, that was going on at the same time.” Or, “Man, I didn’t know he was involved in this.” Or, “I never knew that happened.”

Sometimes even events that everybody knows about are seen in new ways. The response to the attack on Pearl Harbor is a case in point. One of the odd things is that Pearl Harbor seems to exist almost outside of the wartime context, even though Japan was at war in China. The bombs falling on Hawaii and the sinking of our ships dominate our memory of it, even though it had a greater role in Japan’s war strategy which sometimes seems forgotten.

In the pages of U.S. newspapers, life was going on as usual in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1940s. Sure, there was fighting in Europe and China, but that was there. Front pages had articles about the battles in Europe and the Pacific, but they weren’t solely devoted to it.

Context Adds Complexity: Before and After the Attack on Pearl Harbor, as Seen in Major American Newspapers in the Pacific Northwest

Celebrating Victory: The End of World War II as Seen in America's Historical Newspapers

On May 8, 1945, the United States and Europe celebrated VE day, or Victory in Europe day. The war in Europe had lasted for six years, claiming the lives of over sixty million people. After Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, the surrender of Germany was authorized by his successor, Karl Dönitz. On May 7,1945, Dönitz and the German High Command declared Germany’s unconditional surrender. News that the Europe war had ended was published that same day in many American newspapers, although the official announcement was made on May 8, when the surrender document was ratified.

Church bells rang and the streets resounded with singing and cheering. People flooded to places like Trafalgar Square in London and Times Square in New York City to celebrate, as reported in these papers on May 7:

Omaha Evening World-Herald; Date: 05-07-1945The Greensboro Record; Date: 05-07-1945

Celebrating Victory: The End of World War II as Seen in America's Historical Newspapers

Hitler’s Secret Mistress

Eva Braun (1912-1945)

In his recent review of Heike Görtemaker’s new book Eva Braun: Life with Hitler (New York Review of Books, Vol. 59, No. 7, Apr. 26, 2012), British historian Antony Beevor writes:

Although the American press had strong inklings of Hitler’s relationship with Eva Braun as early as May 1939, in Germany only Hitler’s intimate circle knew of her existence. (p. 26)

Springfield Daily Republican (Dec. 31, 1937). Source: American Newspaper Archives.

As early as Dec. 31, 1937, however, an article in the Springfield Daily Republican of Springfield, Massachusetts, under the title “Hitler Is In Love, His Foes Whisper” with a dateline of Berlin, Dec. 30, begins:

A new anti-Nazi underground organization today circulated through Berlin pamphlets saying Chancellor Hitler has formed a romantic attachment to an obscure German girl. The girl’s name was given as Eva Braun and she was described as an assistant to Hitler’s official photographer, Herr Hoffman. (p. 7)

Hitler’s Secret Mistress

Pearl Harbor: As Reported the Day After

Today is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Here's how four American newspapers reported it the next day on their front pages.  

 

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Pearl Harbor: As Reported the Day After

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