Playing the Field
I enjoyed the article in the last issue about the Allied track and field events in Germany in 1945 (“Let the Games Begin,” July/August 2014). I was in Germany when a league was set up for football teams from the divisions left there.
The diversity of talent on those teams was unbelievable. Professionals; All Americans; players from the PAC-10, SEC, and other conferences; but there were also a number of former high school players playing alongside the more talented ones. My team had two PAC-10 players, our full back had been a rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and our right tackle was first string with the Philadelphia Eagles. Beside him at right guard was a high schooler.
I write this to you because today no one could believe such a league could exist successfully as it did.
Palo Alto, Calif.
Songs of Freedom
In his Time Travel article (“Occupying Paris,” July/August 2014), Alex Kershaw says that Edith Piaf “sang for the Germans and French alike during those dark years.” For those who feel that that phrase implies she was less than loyal to the French, consider that, according to Piaf biographer Carolyn Burke in No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf, the singer, at the risk of her life, used her connections to smuggle identity cards, maps, and compasses to French POWs in Germany. Some of the people she helped were able to escape. Piaf was an active supporter of the Resistance. She was brought before a French “purge panel” which, when they learned the truth, voted unanimously, “No sanction and congratulations.”
“Occupying Paris” by Alex Kershaw contains the incorrect address for the Opéra National de Paris. The Opéra National de Paris has two locations. The original is Palais Garnier located at 8 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris, France; this is the location Adolf Hitler visited.
The location featured in Mr. Kershaw’s article is Opéra Bastille, located at 120 Rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris, France. This building opened in 1989, and was former French president François Mitterrand’s legacy to the city.
Buchanan Book Club
I was shocked to see that you chose to use Patrick Buchanan as the subject of the “Reading List” in your July/August 2014 issue. Mr. Buchanan is far from a mainstream history maven or politician. He has repeatedly shown himself to be a Holocaust revisionist of the worst order.
When John Demjanuk was accused of being a concentration camp guard and his extradition was sought, Buchanan became a champion for Demjanuk. Buchanan also famously questioned whether the Treblinka death camp, where almost a million men, women, and children were gassed, actually had gas chambers capable of killing, and otherwise made a mockery of established facts about the Holocaust. Surely a mainstream and credible historical pub lication like yours could have chosen a better recommender of books than Mr. Buchanan.
While I have never supported Pat Buchanan’s politics and don’t endorse his view of World War II, I applaud you for publishing Buchanan’s “Reading List.” Studying alternative insights such as this is important in developing a comprehensive understanding of the war and hopefully avoiding future ones.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I believe Mr. Buchanan’s views and book selection demonstrate his preoccupation with revisionism, controversy, and playing a “devil’s advocate” role in modifying the prevailing political views on World War II. Politics are interesting, but his comments are vexatious to all the countries that fought and sacrificed so much opposing Nazi tyranny in World War II, particularly the western democracies. In my view, few wars have been fought where good versus evil was so clear.
In mid-1942, as the German saboteurs were being tried in Washington, D.C., (“Nazi Saboteurs at the Supreme Court,” July/August 2014), I was a lead messenger at the Department of Justice. Only parties directly involved and fully accredited to be in the hearing room could enter it. All anyone else saw of the proceedings were prison vehicles bringing the accused into the bowels of the building in the morning and taking them out in the evening—but thanks to my lowly but essential job I did get up close and personal with the event, when a guard recruited me to bring evidence to the hearing room. As I was moving one box, I noticed, emblazoned on its side, the word “DYNAMITE.”
Thousand Oaks, Calif.
(Alvin Thompson wrote “Let the Games Begin,” July/August 2014.)
I write as a long-time subscriber and fan of World War II magazine and want to add a word of correction to the article titled “SS Chieftain’s Private Letters Revealed” under the “WWII Today” section of the July/August 2014 issue. That article closes with the sentence: “Awaiting trial at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity, Himmler killed himself on May 23, 1945. In truth, the Reichsführer-SS—wearing the uniform of a German army sergeant and carrying forged papers—was stopped at a checkpoint in Lower Saxony and handed over to British authorities in Lüneberg for questioning, during which he admitted who he was. He was sent for a medical examination by a British army doctor on May 23. He was made to strip and, when the examining doctor tried to get him to open his mouth during the examination, he pulled away and bit down on a cyanide capsule hidden in his cheek; Himmler died there on the floor of the examining room within a matter of minutes.
Surely a footnote of history, but just to keep the record straight!
I think I spotted a mislabel of a picture in the review of the Russian movie Stalingrad. The four men pictured are some of the stars of the German film Stalingrad from 1993. It is an excellent movie in my opinion and I can’t wait to watch the Russian version. Thanks for the excellent magazine.
Daniel J. O’Lone
Originally published in the December 2014 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.