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Archive for January, 2012

Hitler and his Dentist

Drawing of Hitler's upper jaw, March 18, 1946, from the report “Gen. Maj. Waffen SS, Hitler’s Dentist,” RG 319

Today’s guest post comes from Miriam Kleiman of the Public and Media Communications Office.

Before joining the Public Affairs staff, I was a researcher for the “Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group.” I reviewed records of Nazi war criminals, including those recruited by the U.S. intelligence. Needless to say, this was not an upbeat task.

But one day I found a file that was astonishing and entertaining: a file on the arrest and interrogation of Dr. Hugo Johannes Blaschke, Hitler’s dentist.

(In my many years of research, this file was the first and only war crimes–related file that I ever copied and shared with my dentist, who has never mentioned it in subsequent appointments. )

Born in West Prussia and raised in Berlin, Blaschke studied dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania from 1908 to 1911 and was a member of Psi Omega Zeta dental fraternity. Yet Hitler’s Ivy League–educated dentist was arrogant and unbothered by World War II and its aftermath.

During interrogation, Blaschke criticizes Hitler, but not for war crimes. Instead, he blasts Hitler as a frustrating patient who delayed appointments, was careless about dental hygiene, and only called when he was in pain. Blaschke mentions the war as a side … [ Read all ]

Four Patriots from Baseball’s Hall of Fame

World War I Draft Registration Card for Tyrus R. Cobb (ARC 641757)

Each January, as frost and snow cover baseball fields across America, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum provides heartwarming news for fans of our national pastime. This is the season when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elects new members from the ranks of retired ballplayers.

When the Hall of Fame was first established in 1936, its inaugural class of inductees included legendary ballplayers Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Babe Ruth. These were four of the most talented stars of the early 20th century—a collection of hitters and pitchers worthy of Major League Baseball’s highest honor.

And while all four ballplayers are best known for their statistics and individual accomplishments, they also distinguished themselves for patriotic actions off the field.

As World War I drew to a close in 1918, both Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson served in France as part of the Chemical Warfare Service. Commonly referred to as the “Gas and Flame Division,” the unit  combated the virulent effects of German gas attacks.

Throughout the final months of the war, the two ballplayers took part in several dangerous training exercises. “Men screamed . . . when they got a whiff of the sweet death in the air, they went crazy with fear,” Cobb recalled in his 1961 autobiography. The … [ Read all ]

NARA, Wikipedia, and the Day of Infamy

This image of the USS Arizona from the National Archives appeared on the front page of Wikipedia on December 7, 2011. (ARC 5900075)

No, I’m not talking about January 18, when English Wikipedia went dark in protest of the House’s  proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act.

(Just 10 years ago, having no Wikipedia would not have fazed me in the least. We still had a dial-up Internet connection, and I regularly visited a brick-and-mortar library for reference books and articles. How things have changed . . .)

No, January 18 made me think of the original Day of Infamy,  December 7.

Last month, I was contacted by NARA’s own Wikipedian in Residence, Dominic McDevitt-Parks, regarding Wikipedia, NARA, and the events of December 7, 1941. Although we are more than a month past the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Wednesday’s events reiterates the significance of Wikipedia and reemphasizes NARA’s involvement with it.

In commemoration of the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the featured article on Wikipedia’s main page was the “USS Arizona.”

“Not only are there multiple NARA images on the article, it also includes two of the images that were digitized on request by Benjamin Christensen from Still Pictures,” McDevitt-Parks said. “They are the articles lead image, and then the second one down. The first one is really useful because it actually gives … [ Read all ]

Thursday Photo Caption Contest—January 19

Are you ready to return to captioning? Can you rewrite history with a humorous twist? Well, we’re back! We’ve been scouring the digital archives looking for the finest photographs. We’re lining up guest judges. We’re setting aside the wacky, the wonderful, and the wordless images from our holdings.

And we’re looking forward to all your entries! The winner receives a 15% discount to the National Archives eStore and our undying admiration.

Here’s our first photograph for the 2012 caption season—put your best caption in the comments below!

Your caption here!

[ Read all ]

George Clooney and the National Archives: One degree of separation

M. SGT Harold Maus of Scranton, PA, is pictured with a Durer engraving, found among other art treasures at the Merkers Mine. 5/13/45. (ARC 5757194)

Today’s guest post was written by Miriam Kleiman, who works in the National Archives Public Affairs Office.

George Clooney’s next film—which he will write, direct, and star in—is based on holdings from the National Archives! 

Clooney announced last weekend that his number-one priority is to make a film about the “Monuments Men,” a group of cultural scholars and historians who donned Army uniforms to serve the Allies by rescuing, identifying, and trying to return precious artworks looted by Adolf Hitler.

Clooney shared with the press that while the Monuments Men were not trained for combat, they did face live fire and even had to give orders. He offered a possible example: “Don’t aim your tank over there, that’s the Leaning Tower of Pisa!” And it will be a big-budget film, not a small artsy one.

Clooney is now working on the screenplay. The movie will be an adaptation of Robert Edsel’s 2009 book, The Monuments MenAllied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.

Edsel is no stranger to the National Archives. His work is largely based on National Archives records, including those of the Office of Strategic Services Art Looting Unit, images from the U.S. Army Signal Corps, … [ Read all ]