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By Executive Order 9981 (NAID 300009), dated July 26, 1948, President Harry S Truman ordered the integration of the armed forces of the United States.  Given the stationing of large numbers of American forces overseas after World War II, that move potentially had ramifications for U.S. relations with host countries.  With that in mind, on September 14, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson wrote to Secretary of State Dean Acheson.

Johnson noted that Department of Defense (DOD) policy called for “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the Armed Services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”  He explained that in order to implement the policy in some areas, his Department needed “a formal expression of [Department of State] views” on segregation polices for troops stationed in a number of countries.  Specifically, the Department of Defense needed to know if the Department of State saw “political objections to the stationing of individual Negroes or non-segregated units in”:

  • Azores
  • Bermuda
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • France and French-controlled territories
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Italy
  • Labrador
  • Latin American Republics
  • Libya (Tripolitania)
  • Newfoundland
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Republic of the Philippines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom and British-controlled territories, including the British Zone of Germany

The Department of State responded with the following letter:


Letter from Under Secretary of State James Webb to Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, 10/17/1949

 The Department of State’s suggestion for inter-governmental consultation before sending individual African Americans or integrated units to Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Newfoundland, Bermuda, and British territories in the Caribbean raised concerns in the Department of Defense and the military services.  In order to clarify the situation, Maj. Gen. James Burns, Secretary Johnson’s assistant for foreign military affairs wrote to Deputy Under Secretary of State Dean Rusk on February 13, 1950.  Rusk was known to be in favor of assignment without regard to race.  Burns’s letter noted that “Negro personnel have in fact [already] been stationed in some of those areas [noted in the Department of State’s earlier letter].”  Furthermore, the Department of Defense wanted to follow its normal practice and continue transferring military personnel to the excepted areas “without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Rusk, on behalf of the Department of State, responded as follows:


Letter from Deputy Under Secretary of State Dean Rusk to Maj. Gen. J. H. Burns, 3/1/1950

 Subsequently, Secretary of Defense Johnson issued a policy statement to the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.  He explained that the Department of State “endorses the policy of freely assigning Negro personnel or Negro or non-segregated units to any part of the world to which U.S. forces are sent” and was prepared to support DOD.  It went on to state that since some governments had indicated an unwillingness to accept African American servicemen, before sending such personnel to countries “where no U.S. Negro personnel are now in fact stationed” Johnson directed the services to inform him before beforehand so that the host country could be consulted through the Department of State.


  • Letter from Secretary of Defense to Secretary of State, September 14, 1949, and Letter from Under Secretary of State James Webb to Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, October 17, 1949, file 811.22/9-1449, 1945-49 Central Decimal File (NAID 302021), RG 59
  • Letter from Maj. Gen. J.H. Burns to Deputy Under Secretary of State Dean Rusk, February 13, 1950, and Letter from Deputy Under Secretary of State Dean Rusk to Maj. Gen. J.H. Burns, March 1, 1950, file 711.551/2-1350, 1950-54 Central Decimal File (NAID 302021), RG 59
  • Also see Morris J. MacGregor, Jr.’ Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965, Washington, USGPO, 1981, especially chapter 15.

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

Schloss Neuschwanstein, two miles east of Fussen, a picturesque little town, some 80 miles south of Munich, in southern Schwabe, Bavaria, had been a central Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) repository for looted cultural property. A considerable bulk of this material, including the most important, had since been removed to other repositories, most notably to the salt mine at Alt Aussee in Austria. Still, it contained a large amount of ERR loot which if not the very best was still important – pictures, furniture, a large amount of silver and fine jewels.

Rose Valland, who had kept an eye on the acquisition and disposition of cultural property in Paris by the Germans, made information available to Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFA&A) Specialist Officer 1st Lt. James J. Rorimer (formerly of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City) in a document listing several German repositories for storing looted cultural property. Concerning Fussen, the document, which was entitled “List of Known caches of French Artwork in Germany,” stated:

Fussen-caches in Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, and Augsburg, near Fussen. This group of caches, which has existed since the beginning of 1941, is much the largest. This is where most of the works of art, taken by the Germans during ’40, ’41, ’42, ’43 were brought.

A large number of artworks belonging to the principal collections of Rothschild, David-Weill, and Veil-Picard are kept there.

The archives and inventories of the Rosenberg Department were also drawn up in Fussen.

Valland had also informed Rorimer that at Buxheim, in the vicinity of Memmingen, there were “two repositories activated in 1943 for storing the overflow from Fussen. A considerable number of paintings had been shipped to these repositories.”

While awaiting an opportunity to deal with the treasure locations Valland had identified, Rorimer was busy with handling other protection and salvage matters during the early spring. He would soon be joined by T-5 John D. Skilton, Jr., former curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Skilton had arrived in England in early June 1944 and was assigned to Civil Affairs work on the continent. Finally, in March 1945, he was assigned to MFA&A work with the Seventh U.S. Army, and that same month moved into Germany, where he operated alone for quite awhile until Rorimer showed up. When he joined up with Rorimer they first dealt with the mine at Heilbronn and then moved on to Augsburg.

Shortly before the surrender of Fussen to the Seventh U.S. Army, Rorimer notified the proper authorities to be prepared to safeguard the castle at Neuschwanstein as soon as the troops entered the region. Not long afterwards, on May 1, word reached Rorimer, Seventh U.S. Army MFA&A, that the castles near Fussen (Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau) had been taken.

On the morning of May 3, Rorimer and Skilton prepared to set out for Fussen and the nearby castle at Neuschwanstein. Their first problem was to find some sort of vehicle in which to make the journey from Augsburg. A Red Cross worker placed his jeep at their disposal for a few days. The jeep, marked with red crosses, was an attraction all by its self – wherever they went American soldiers crowded around to ask for coffee and doughnuts. “Our route,” Skilton wrote, “led us through some magnificent scenery in the more isolated sections of Bavaria. Snowcapped mountains, little villages and deep forests stimulated and heightened our anticipation as to what we might find.”

The route from Augsburg took them some 50 miles southwest to Memmingen. There they stopped and learned that a couple of miles away in the Carthusian monastery at Buxheim activities had taken place in connection with shipments of works of art from France and other countries. They set out immediately for Buxheim. 

As they entered the monastery they found an incredible collection of loot. In one of the rooms they found an item marked on the back in red with the collection number of the former owner David-Weill, and just below this in black, the letters ERR, followed by numbers. According to Skilton, this was, as far as he knew, the first time a member of the MFA&A staff had actually seen the ERR marking. The corridors were stacked with pre-19th Century furniture. There were ethnographical materials from Russian museums – Kiev in particular. In one enormous hall there were piles upon piles of oriental rugs, tapestries and textiles. Many bore tags with the names of the original owners. They found 72 packing cases with 158 paintings, including those by Boucher, Nattier, Watteau, Fragonard, Delacroix, Goya, David, Lebrun, Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Renoir. Another apartment was set aside as a complete studio-laboratory for the restoration of works of art. There Rorimer acquired two binders with listings of all the paintings that had come to the ERR main restoration center at the monastery. They went to the Military Government detachment having Buxheim within its jurisdiction and explained the importance of the monastery as a repository of stolen art. They also arranged that the security guard already stationed about the monastery should remain until it was decided what would be done with the stored objects.

The next morning they set out on the 45-mile drive from Buxheim to the “the fairy-like castle of Neuschwanstein.” Planned by Ludwig II, the mad King of Bavaria, the castle, Skilton observed, occupied “the entire summit of a lofty peak rising abruptly from the valley floor like an island in a sea of mist-hung mountains.” At Fussen, they met with the Public Safety officer of the local Military Government detachment and then continued on their way to the castle.

“If we had been astonished at Buxheim,” Skilton wrote, “we were overwhelmed by the stupendous collection at Neuschwanstein.” At the castle, according to Rorimer, “Works of art were everywhere, most of them marked with Paris ciphers. Confusion indicated that this repository was being emptied when the Nazis had vanished a short time before the arrival of our troops.” Besides the confiscated paintings from France, there were 1,300 paintings which had been sent there by the Administration of Bavarian Castles. These were from the Munich museums, the Munich Residenz, and the private collections of the royal Bavarian Wittelsbach family, and had been deposited there before the place was used by the ERR. “In several of the rooms,” Rorimer wrote, “we found the art libraries of Paris collectors. Thrown behind and between the books were rare engravings, drawings, and paintings.” He added: “We were guided to a hidden, thick steel door; this one locked with two keys. Inside there were two large chests of world-famous Rothschild jewels and box upon box of jewel-encrusted metalwork. There were also rare manuscripts and more than a thousand pieces of silver from the David-Weill and other collections.” “There were,” according to Skilton, “rooms and rooms crammed with huge crates which had never been opened. Others overflowed with objects already removed from their case… In some places there were double and triple tiers of shelves laden with objects.”

As Rorimer looked through the castle, he later wrote, “I passed through the rooms as in a trance, hoping that the Germans had lived up to their reputation for being methodical and had photographs, catalogues and records of all these things. Without them it would take twenty years to identify the agglomeration of loot.” Fortunately the Germans did have such documentation and Rorimer and Skilton would find them.

They would find rooms set apart for the conservationists and a photographic laboratory. In one of the rooms of the castle used as an office by the ERR, they found the files of the art-looting task force, as well as an extensive library of art reference books. In filing cabinets they found ERR catalogues and individual records of the 203 private collections from France, including those of the Rothschilds and David-Weill. The private catalogues of the individual collectors, often the only record of their art possession, had been taken with the collections. These books gave the details of the shipments to the other ERR repositories. They also found 8,000 negatives and individual catalogue cards for the 21,903 recorded confiscations.

ERRfilesNeuschwanstein Castle

The Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) File Cabinets in the Castle at Neuschwanstein.

In two coal stoves there were charred documents. Rubber stamps in one stove had not been consumed and were helpful in locating additional information. Rorimer and Skilton discerned that the lettering on the rubber stamps indicated that they were used to indicate the location of other repositories. Works of art were first stamped with the ERR cipher and then with other letters representing the names of the repositories where they were to be stored throughout the war. A corresponding stamp appeared on the card index as well.

After two days at the castle, Rorimer and Skilton left, but not before ensuring for the security of the castle and its contents. Rorimer, after a quick trip to Berchtesgaden to inspect the Hermann Goering loot, returned to Neuschwanstein, accompanied by Lt. Charles Kuhn, USNR, MFA&A, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) and Australian Lt. Col. Aeneas John Lindsay McDonnell of the SHAEF Mission to France. At Fussen, Rorimer acquired from ERR staff member Dr. Gunther Schiedlausky, additional documentation, including summaries of the ERR activities in France and elsewhere, as well as originals and some copies of letters and orders from Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, Alfred Rosenberg, and others.  This documentation would contribute to the better understanding the ERR operations and would facilitate restitution activities. The restitution of the treasures of Neuschwanstein, as will be seen in a future post, directly to France, would begin in October 1945. Skilton would be there to help.

Among the textual records used in writing this blog were ones from the following files:

  • 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, Record Group 260 (Roll 2 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1941).
  • 7c [Miscellaneous MFA&A Reports] 1945, 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, Record Group 260 (Roll 13 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1941).
  • 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, Record Group 239 (Roll 72 of NARA Microfilm Publication M-1944).

Additionally, the following published sources were used:

  • John D. Skilton, Jr., Memoirs of a Monuments Officer: Protecting European Artworks (Portland, Oregon: Inkwater Press, 2008), pp. 81-88, 90-93.
  • James J. Rorimer, Survival: The salvage and protection of art in war (New York: Abelard Press, 1950), pp. 163-164, 181-186, 189-190.

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

On March 31, 1945, the 12th Army Group reported that probably the most important repository in the area immediately ahead of the forces under its command was at or near Siegen, some fifty miles east of Cologne. It noted that information about this repository suggested that it may be an elaborate installation with large holdings from German collections and some loot taken by the Germans in occupied countries.

Indeed, as has been seen in previous blog posts regarding the Monuments Men, the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFA&A) specialist officers had been for quite some time aware of the Siegen copper mine repository. They awaited the opportunity to place it under control and facilitate the disposition of its contents.

On April 1, the U.S. 8th Infantry Division began an attack of Siegen. Within days Siegen would be taken. The first question asked of the then burgomaster of Siegen by the American officer in command of the troops entering the city was “Where are the paintings?”

Captain Walker Kirtland Hancock, the MFA&A officer with the First U.S. Army at the end of March, learned that American troops were preparing to assault the German forces and occupy the whole town. He had Lt. George Stout, USNR, the MFA&A officer with the 12th Army Group (former chief of conservation at Harvard’s Fogg Museum and considered America’s greatest expert on the techniques of packing and transporting), come from Verdun to his headquarters at Bad Godesberg (five miles south of Bonn) to help him explore the repository at Siegen. On April 2, as they were leaving, Hancock received a call from the Civil Affairs Detachment at Aachen requesting that he take Vicar Stephany of the Cathedral of Aachen to Siegen. The Bishop of Aachen had urged that he be sent to ascertain the condition of the cathedral treasure which was hidden in the mine. They met up with the Vicar in Bonn and then their trip was made by a roundabout route, on the only road not under constant shellfire. As they reached Siegen there were still pockets of resistance in the surrounding hills and intermittent small arms fire was audible.

Siegen they found had been solidly bombed for three months and for the preceding fortnight battle had raged in the streets. The debris in the streets made it impossible to drive to the entrance of the mine. They left their jeep and proceeded on foot through the mostly empty and desolate town to the mine entrance which was on a hillside. There they were greeted by people packed together having sought shelter in the mine. As they proceeded deeper into the mine more people were found hiding. As they moved down the passage they were greeted by sulphurous fumes and hot temperatures. The atmosphere was heavy with moisture and water dripped from the ceiling in several places, and the floor was wet. Eventually, after more than a quarter of a mile, they came to a locked door. When they knocked on it they were greeted by a man who knew the vicar and let them in. From there they continued down a passageway that led into another, and were greeted by people who appeared to be the guardians of the treasures. A mechanically secured door was opened and revealed a room that had been walled and vaulted with brick and floored with concrete, the size being about 200 x 30 x 12 feet. Inside were wooden racks, filled with paintings and sculpture that were crowded into every bit of available space in a long brick-vaulted gallery that was divided into fourteen bays. Using lamps for light, they could discern more than four hundred paintings, perhaps as many as five or six hundred. There were works by Cezanne, Cranach, Delacroix, Fragonard, Gauguin, Hals, Lochner, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens (whose birthplace was Siegen), Van Dyck, and Van Gogh. There were also stacks of cases from the museums of Bonn, Cologne, Wuppertal, Essen, and Munster.  Other cases contained church treasure from Essen, Cologne, and Siegburg. There were six cases containing the treasure of the Aachen Cathedral and the Cathedral Metz treasure. Herr Etzkorn, the guardian, told them that the ex-Oberburgermeister of Aachen had tried in mid-March to have the cases removed, but there had been insurmountable difficulties at the last minute before the battle in extricating from the mine the immense, heavy cases containing the wrought gold and silver shrines in which reposed the relics of Charlemagne and the robe of the Virgin. The Aachen cases also contained the beaten-silver bust of Charlemagne which contained part of the Emperor’s skull; the 10th century processional cross of Lothair; a great ancient cameo of Augustus; a 12th century gold and enamel shrine of St. Heribert of Deutz; and various other Gothic reliquaries and medieval vessels. They also saw forty boxes from the Beethoven house in Bonn, one of which contained the manuscript of the Sixth (Pastoral) Symphony. The area also contained the great wooden doors, ca.1065, carved with scenes from the life and death of Christ, from the mid-11th century Romanesque church of St. Maria im Kapitol in Cologne.    

During the visit they found that great damage had been caused by the dampness in the mine. The heating system, designed to reduce the humidity, had been operated from the adjacent factory which had been destroyed by bombing. Many of the pictures and polychromed statues were coated with mold, and they noticed some flaking of paint from the wooden panels. After the inspection they returned to Bad Godesberg by way of Bonn, where they dropped off the vicar, where he was to find transportation back to Aachen. At this point Hancock and Stout could do little about the dampness in the mine nor find more suitable storage areas. Hancock would soon be off to Marburg where he would establish the first Central Collecting Point and Stout would be involved in the excavation of the contents of the Merkers Mine.

The 12th Army Group reported on April 19 that the First U.S. Army uncovered in tunnels of a mine under Siegen the most important repository of works of art known to exist in Western Germany. On April 28 the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) issued a similarly worded report.

On May 1 the Commanding Officer of Military Government Detachment H2E3 informed the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, 75th Infantry Division, that the mine at Siegen had art treasures from Aachen, Cologne, Bonn, Essen, Munster, Metz, and other places. There were, he noted, about 500 paintings, many by noted artists; many wooden sculptures; the original score of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony; and many gold items. Additionally the repository contained the doors of the St. Maria im Kapitol in Cologne; a gold copy of the Charlemagne statue in Aix-La-Chappelle; and, the golden reliquary built to hold Charlemagne’s forearm bones. He indicated that storage area had no electric or steam heat to keep the dampness away from the valuable paintings. He reported that there were a technical expert from the Museum of Aachen and his assistant present to oversee things and that a guard was being maintained by two members of the German police force and a guard maintained by the 440th Anti-Aircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion, attached to the 75th Infantry Division. On May 3 the Detachment H2E3 commander sent the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5 Section, 75th Infantry Division a report on contents in at Siegen. He noted that the art treasures were under the care of Capt. Barrett of the British Army, who requested that a SHAEF MFA&A officer visit the site and supervise the removal of these treasures, as they were rotting due to the lack of steam heat and electricity. Immediately the 75th Infantry Division requested XVI Corps send a MFA&A specialist officer to Siegen. The XVI corps quickly forwarded the request to the Ninth U.S. Army for such action it deemed necessary.

Shortly before VE-Day (May 8) 2nd Lt. Lamont Moore, MFA&A officer, Ninth U.S. Army received a telegram at Ninth U.S. Army headquarters stating that Siegen was his headache. On May 9, Captain Everett Parker Lesley, Jr., MFA&A Specialist Officer, Fifteenth U.S. Army, was informed by Stout that arrangements were being made for the movement of the repository at Siegen. Atmospheric and security conditions at the repository made the movements of the objects imperatively necessary. On May 10 the Commanding General XVI Corps requested removal of the Siegen holdings to more suitable housing. The Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, Ninth U.S. Army asked for Stout’s technical aid in evacuating the repository at Siegen. Stout on May 14 was ordered on temporary duty to Ninth U.S. Army. He left the 12th Army Group on May 16.

In the meantime, on May 15, Capt. Lesley reported that the first plan, of removing the endangered contents of the Siegen mine repository to the fortress at Ehrenbreitstein (on the east bank of the Rhine opposite the town of Koblenz), was abandoned because it would have been very difficult to arrange for the movement and billeting of civilian experts qualified to look after the objects from one administrative area to another.

After inspecting the Siegen repository Stout drew up an evacuation procedure and an estimate of requirements: transport, personnel, and additional equipment such as electric wiring and loading platforms. Details were discussed with Military Government officers, 75th Infantry Division and 291st Infantry Regiment officers, and with the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, XVI Corps. Tentative arrangements were made through G-5, Fifteenth U.S. Army to provide suitable housing for the works near Bonn. Verbal authorization of transport and procurement of other necessary means for the removal was given by Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, Ninth U.S. Army.  Stout left Siegen on May 19, hastened by instructions to proceed to headquarters of the Third U.S. Army for temporary duty to inspect German art repositories in the area of that headquarters, especially that at Alt Aussee, Austria.

By May 20, a supposedly well-designed and equipped bunker at Bonn that had been identified by Capt. Lesley was approved by the Fifteenth U.S. Army as a new repository for the Siegen treasures. The bunker had not yet been inspected (and when it was it was found unsuitable) and in the days following, Moore had determined that the roads from Siegen to Bonn were in such bad condition that it seemed unwise to subject the treasures to the excessive vibration unavoidable on either route to Bonn. The evacuation of Siegen was momentarily at a standstill.

Hancock traveled to Siegen on May 23, arriving there at 6pm. Moore was already there. Over dinner they discussed the possible courses of action. Humidity in the mine had already caused so much damage that the restorer of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum (Cologne), who had come to inspect the art works, estimated that ten men would require ten years to remedy it. They were aware Lesley had identified a bunker at Bonn to receive the works of art, and a working party had been ordered out to unload them. But there were good bunkers above ground in Siegen itself.  They believed if the paintings and other objects were to be moved it should be to a place where there would be light to arrest the mold and room for the restorers to begin their preservation treatment. Above-ground storage in Siegen seemed the best course of action. They called Headquarters and cancelled the order for twenty trucks which were to have come the following day to take the treasures to Bonn. That evening, MFA&A Lieutenant Steve Kovalyak arrived from Weimar to help with evacuation activity. Kovalyak had worked with Hancock and Stout earlier that month in the evacuation of the treasures found at Bernterode.

The following morning, May 24, Hancock, Moore and Kovalyak visited the mine. They met with Etzkorn, the custodian whom they had met six weeks previously; two men from the Wallraf-Richartz Museum; Colonel Stone, in command of the occupying American unit; the engineer officers; and British Military Government officers, then in the process of taking over the administration of the area. They learned that there could be no electric power in that part of the city for a long time to come. Portable generators powerful enough to provide anything more than lighting were unobtainable. No heating or ventilating system could possibly be contrived under the circumstances. Thus installing electric fans as a temporary fix was not possible. They then made the rounds of the bunkers above ground, and found an acceptable one which, however, had entrances too small to admit the larger objects. By dusk they were perplexed about what to do.  Obviously, they believed, the paintings would have to be moved without further delay-somewhere, almost anywhere. But they had given up their transport. Late that evening, Stone told them that somehow 19 trucks with French drivers had arrived to carry art. According to Hancock, the possibility of quickly moving the paintings had unexpectedly reappeared. They believed that at worst they could use the trucks to carry the art to the bunkers above ground in Siegen. Four of them could take the objects that were too large to go through the entrances directly back to Aachen and Cologne where the battered cathedrals would still provide shelter. They determined the largest cases could all be disposed of in one trip. They consisted of the Aachen cathedral treasure, treasures from Cologne churches and the great oak doors from St. Maria im Kapitol. Once they were moved it would be easier to move the other items, provided they could find the men to help them.

On the morning of May 25, Stone informed them that he had received a message that the trucks were to be used for the transportation of displaced persons. Hancock still believed that at least four of the trucks could be used for the art movement, and on this assumption, he had electric lights strung in the mine and a small generator set at the entrance. A work crew of civilians was commandeered and after lunch Hancock had them carry the heavy cases to the entrance preparatory to leaving. He sent Kovalyak to get four trucks. By 5pm, when the civilian labor had to be released, no trucks had arrived. As Hancock dismissed the workmen four trucks drove up.  Against rules of the local military authorities, Hancock put the civilians to work loading the great cases. They worked willingly enough, but only half the cargo was aboard the trucks when the problem of the evening meal had to be faced, so he sent them back to their families, and did not plan on disobeying the rules to have them work at night.There were still two trucks to load. Unless an early start could be made the following morning, Saturday, the weekend would delay them three days- too long to tie up military transport for any reason- especially in view of their questionable right to the use of this transport in the first place. So Hancock turned to Kovalyak to find help for the loading. He returned with the entire Siegen police force, which finished the load. They took advantage of the convoy to Cologne and Aachen to add to the cargo at the last minute some boxes from the Schnütgen Museum of Cologne and a set of modern copies of crowns and other regalia of the ancient Holy Roman Empire.

Their hurried decision and impromptu preparations had not sufficiently allowed for one very essential item of the arrangements. Aachen and Cologne were then in the Fifteenth U. S. Army area. Correct procedure required clearance with the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, of that Army before anything could be brought in from another army. Hancock believed weeks would have been required to get clearance by mail through normal army channels. During the evening of May 25, they attempted to make contact with the Fifteenth U.S. Army headquarters. “We decided,” Hancock later wrote, “there could not now be any turning back and that our departure would take place in the morning despite the consequences.”

On Saturday May 26 the convoy got an early start. They took along a guard in a weapons carrier supplied by Col. Stone. Kovalyak and Etzkorn came with Hancock, but Moore was left behind to struggle with arrangements for the next move. Their trip was halted several times at towns where there were military units that might have telephonic communications with the Fifteenth U.S. Army, but despite these efforts no contact was made and they arrived at Cologne at 2pm. The officers of the Military Government detachment expressed no interest in shrines and Romanesque doors. Their only suggestion was that if they would wait until Monday they might be able to get some help for unloading through the Burgomaster’s office. Hancock had his group drive to in front of the Cathedral, the only building within sight that was completely standing. It contained a bunker where the Cologne treasures could be safely stored. Meanwhile Kovalyak rounded up some local men and boys to help. Hancock did not ask him how he had done it nor remind him of the warning they had received against impressing civilians into work on weekends. The items were unloaded. At dusk they headed out to Aachen, some forty miles away. There they had no trouble finding volunteers to handle the heavy cases, and they were soon installed in the safety of the Hubertus Chapel of the Cathedral.

Page 30-res

“Report on the Evacuation of the Repository in Siegen, Germany” describes the items moved to Cologne and Aachen on May 26, 1945. General Records, 1946 – 1948, RG 260 (NAID 1560051)

A month later a report indicated that the move had been made in an irregular manner by a local official without proper authority. Fortunately, no repercussions were forthcoming. By the time the report was made, Hancock had removed the remaining items from Siegen to the Marburg Central Collecting Point.

Among the textual records used in writing this blog were ones from the following files:

    • ETO-Monthly Reports for May and June [AMG-159], Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Branch (MF&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).
    • 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.
    • Reports: Weekly Summary reports, May 1945-May 1947, General Records, 1945-1952 (NAID 2431774) 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 15 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1947).
    • Public Archives: Siegen Depot, Records Relating to the Status of Monuments, Museums, and Archives, 1945-1950 (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).
    • AMG 214 MFA&A: General Correspondence, Subject Files, 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 292, 12 Army GP, Subject Files, 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, Jackets 10 and 11, Historical Report-12th Army Group-May 1945, Numeric-Subject Operations File, 1944 – 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.

Additionally, the following published sources were used:

    • Walter Hancock, “Experiences of a Monuments Officer in Germany,” College Art Journal (vol. V. No. 4, May 1946), pp. 289-293, 300-306.
    • The American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas, Report of The American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1946), pp. 129-130.
    • Thomas C. Howe, Jr., Salt Mines and Castles, (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1946), pp. 118-119.

Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives in Denver. This is the last part in a three part series. Read parts one and two.

For a president who was only in office a few short years before his untimely death, President John F. Kennedy certainly got around – we hold in our collection photographs detailing official visits to Great Falls and Billings, Montana; Salt Lake City, Utah; Las Vegas, Nevada; Pierre, South Dakota; Pueblo, Colorado; Los Banos, and even Redding, California – where the presidential helicopter made a dramatic landing on the crest of the Whiskeytown Dam. In the interest of space it was difficult to settle on just one image to share, especially with such a photogenic president, so this 1962 Bureau of Reclamation photograph of Kennedy touting the Fryingpan-Arkansas Reclamation Project in Colorado will have to suffice (from RG 115, Photographs, NAID 2525008). Pausing for applause, we see a flowered “key to the city” in front of the podium and the stage is lined with frying pans, a nod to the Fryingpan River which the reclamation project involved. Accounts reported that 100,000 people lined Colorado Highway 50 to see the motorcade while 18,000 braved the August heat to hear the president declare that “a rising tide lifts all of the boats” in that the dam would pay dividends far beyond the arid land of eastern Colorado.

9 JFK  (NAID 2525008, Box 238-res

Dedication of Fryingpan-Arkansas project. President Kennedy receiving applause during his address at Pueblo Colorado, August 17, 1962


Given his outsized western persona, surprisingly enough we have yet to come across any pictures of Lyndon Johnson while he was president in our holdings. His wife Lady Bird makes several appearances, from her 1964 “Land and People Tour” of Utah where she dedicated the Flaming Gorge Dam, to 1966 when she returned to Utah to dedicate the Glen Canyon Dam. The only Lyndon Johnson photograph we have found in our holdings is actually one that dates back to his vice presidential tenure.  On June 6th, 1962, Vice President Johnson delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy and handed out diplomas to the 298 graduates. In this photograph from our RG 461 U.S. Air Force Academy holdings (Construction Project Study Files, 1954-1971, NAID 568045) we see Johnson congratulating several graduates. According to the Chicago Tribune the Vice President was briefly held up in Washington, DC and so was a half hour late arriving; his helicopter landed on the academy parade grounds just as the cadets were getting into formation for the ceremony.

9.2 LBJ (NAID 568045, Box 171)-res

[Vice President Lyndon Johnson congratulates Cadets]

We do not come across another presidential photograph taken in our region until 1993 when President Bill Clinton was joined by Pope John Paul II to address students at the World Youth Day festivities in Denver, the first and only time World Youth Day has been held in the United States. President Clinton and his family greeted the Pontiff at Denver’s Stapleton International Airport and after speaking to the assembled crowd the pair flew to Regis University for a private visit. This photograph, found from the Historical Files (NAID 607674in our Record Group 338 Records of U.S. Army Operational, Tactical, and Support Organizations (World War II and Thereafter) Fitzsimons Army Hospital files, is one of several taken at the airport that day.

9.3 William Clinton (NAID 607674, Box 104)-res

[President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II, 1993]

This summer, choose your own POTUS Vacation with 13 of our Presidents. Your first destination is @USNatArchives on Instagram.


Additional Sources

John F. Kennedy

Remarks at Pueblo, Colorado, 17 August, 1962

When JFK VIsited Colorado

Lyndon B. Johnson

Late for Commencement

Bill Clinton

Pope Meets President Clinton


Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver. This is part two in a three part series. Read Part I.

In 1930 Secretary of Interior Ray Lyman Wilber visited southern Nevada to inaugurate the construction of a long planned dam on the Colorado River. Known until then as Boulder Dam, Wilber announced a new name, one in honor of a man who had been an accomplished engineer in his own right before a long tenure of government service which in part involved advocating for the dam. That man was President Herbert Hoover.

Two years later on November 8, 1932, Hoover lost the presidency to Franklin D. Roosevelt. This photograph found in our Bureau of Reclamation holdings (RG 115, Public Relations Photographs, NAID 562813) was taken only four days later and shows President Hoover’s first, and last, official visit to the dam that bore his name. The ignominy continued when in 1933 the newly installed Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes reversed course and changed the name back to Boulder Dam. It stayed as such until 1947 when President Harry Truman signed a resolution restoring the name we know today, Hoover Dam.

5 Herbert Hooover (NAID 562813, Box 221)-res

BCP 1439 A Boulder Canyon Project, Nevada President Herbert Hoover, and official party in tunnel #2 during inspection tour of Boulder Canyon Project. 11-12-32, Bureau photo by B.D. Glaha

On October 2, 1937, the population of Mason City, Washington swelled as nearly 6,000 cars poured into the town, prompting police to close the highway leading in. The occasion? As seen in this photograph, people were hoping to catch a glimpse of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he toured the Grand Coulee Dam construction site, a project that he had set in motion as President. In his remarks that day:

“There is another phase that I was thinking about this morning. When the dam is completed and the pool is filled, we shall have a lake 155 miles long running all the way to Canada. You young people especially are going to live to see the day when thousands and thousands of people are going to use this great lake both for transportation purposes and for pleasure purposes. There will be sail boats and motor boats and steamship lines running from here to the northern border of the United States and into Canada.”

In 1942 as the dam gates were closed that lake was created – covering 125 square miles and indeed reaching all of the way to the Canadian border. While he was never able to return and see it, five days after his death the reservoir was renamed the Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake in his honor.

6 FDR (NAID 562813, Box 340)-res

 Grand Coulee dam. President’s visit. No caption.

On October 1, 1952, while on a nationwide train tour stumping for the Democratic Presidential ticket, President Harry Truman and his daughter Margaret arrived in Kalispell, Montana to dedicate the Hungry Horse Dam on the South Fork Flathead River in Montana. There are several photographs in our Bureau of Reclamation holdings chronicling the visit but this is one of the more entertaining, a jocular moment which shows the President throwing the switch to signal the start of first power production at the Hungry Horse Power Plant. This was the climax of the dam dedication ceremony held at the Flathead County High School gymnasium. Earlier in the day at the dam site Truman visited with workers and, according to the Missoulian newspaper “showed off his knowledge of civil engineering, asking some pointed questions about the building of the dam.”

7 Harry Truman (NAID 562813, Box 220)-res

Following his dedication speech, President Truman closed a switch on the stage of the Flathead County High School gymnasium to signal operators at the Hungry Horse Power Plant to throw the first generator on the line. Power from the Hungry Horse Plant began flowing into the northwest power pool at 11:35 AM, October 1, 1952. Standing with the President (left to right) are Secretary of the Interior Oscar L. Chapman and Donald C. Treloar, President of the Flathead Valley Citizens Committee which sponsored the dedication program. October 1, 1952

General Dwight D. Eisenhower had a deep Colorado connection, with his marriage to Mamie Doud and birth of son John both occurring here in Denver. Photographs of him show up in several places in our collection: while visiting the Hoover Dam during the 1952 campaign, on a 1954 air tour of reclamation project sites, and during his convalescence at the Fitzsimmons Army Hospital after his 1955 heart attack. But in this photograph, found in our Record Group 461 Records of the U.S. Air Force Academy holdings (Construction Project Study Files, NAID 568045), we see President Eisenhower visiting one of his administration’s lasting accomplishments – the U.S. Air Force Academy.

President Eisenhower signed into law the creation of the Academy in 1954 and five years later he visited the newly constructed campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he spoke to the cadets assembled in the dining hall. In this, one of several images we hold from that day, we see the president arriving in Colorado.

8 Dwight Eisenhower (NAID 568045, Box 170-res

[President Eisenhower arriving at the Air Force Academy, 1959]

This summer, choose your own POTUS Vacation with 13 of our Presidents.  Your first destination is @USNatArchives on Instagram.

Additional Sources