The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy’s Art During World War II
Ilaria Dagnini Brey is the author of The Venus Fixers, an account of the Monuments Officers, who were assigned by the Allies to preserve and protect the artwork and monuments of Europe from looting and destruction. She is the featured Author on the Record for the Fall 2010 issue of Prologue. We invited her to do a guest post on a document from the National Archives that inspired her. Enjoy!
The Venus Fixers
Iliaria Dagnini Brey
I found this photograph one afternoon at the National Archives at College Park after hours of searching through folders, albums and boxes of images. It made my day.
What struck me most about the photograph was the combination of the military and the religious element in it—soldiers in a shrine, albeit an ancient one—and the resulting peaceful atmosphere of the image. The soldiers are intently at work and look almost like school students during study hall. The massive Dorian columns of the Greek temple seem almost protective of their quiet activity.
At first I thought, how clever to set up an office, as it were, in the cool shade of those ancient stones; and I thought how beautiful, that soldiers from overseas could feel so at home among some of the most ancient ruins of Italy’s civilization.
Then I thought, with dread, of the use that Fascist propaganda could have … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 17, 2010, under - World War II, Authors on the Record.
Tags: Allies, art, Authors on the Record, Iliaria Dagnini Brey, Italy, looting, Monuments Officers, the Venus fixers, WWII
Escape and evasion files are firsthand accounts of a military personnel’s escape from behind enemy lines. In World War II, thousands of U.S. troops crashed in Nazi territory and had to evade capture or escape from German prisons. The National Archives recently digitized 2,953 firsthand accounts of escape and evasion during the war.
Each account reads like a Hollywood script, and although each is a gripping tale of perseverance, there are some that stand out as truly remarkable. We here at POH have summarized and linked our 10 favorite tales, including emergency landings into soccer games, fake Nazi salutes, and Boy Scout disguises.
2nd Lt. John Dunbar – It was the Fourth of July in 1943 when Dunbar’s plane was shot out of the sky over La Pallice, France. After receiving assistance from local Frenchmen in the German-occupied territory he marched for 18 days through France dressed as a peasant. For five of those days he had no food. For the rest, he survived off beer and scraps of food that had fallen off carts along the road. Three weeks later he crossed the Pyrenees mountains on foot into Spain, where he was captured by the Guardia Civil and later released.
Posted by Rob Crotty on September 29, 2010, under - World War II.
Tags: 2nd Lt. Jack E. Ryan, 2nd Lt. John Dunbar, 2nd Lt. Robert Laux, 2nd Lt. Wayne Rader, air force, american history, army, Capt. Edgar Williams, escape, Eugene Squier, Francis Murphy, Jin Clark, Lt. Col George Stalnaker, Lt. Philemon Wright, Maj. Donald Willis, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, odd history, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, Richard Smith, Sgt Elton Kevil, Sgt. Abe Helfgott, Sgt. Richard C. Hamilton, Sgt. Rudolph Cutino, Sgt. Thomas Glennan, Sgt. William Davidson, Stanley Miller, weird US history, William Howell, World War II, WWII
Sixty years ago, Boy Scouts were swarming the towns and cities of North America. But they weren’t camping or earning badges. They were working for the Federal Government.
With the men out in the battlefield, women were encouraged to fill positions in factories and fields. They were also faced with other challenges, such as rationed food. To help promote work and cooperation on the homefront, the Office of War Information (OWI) created informative and inspirational posters to be hung in stores.
How could these posters be quickly distributed—and how could the OWI be confident that they would be put up?
Enter the Boy Scouts. In 1942 they had been in existence for 32 years. They were organized, recognizable, and a part of their communities across America.
The OWI quickly took advantage of this network, starting in October 1942 with a poster for Columbus Day. Every two weeks, thousands of new posters were distributed to 2,300 participating communities, and the Boy Scouts made sure they went up.
In 1942, President Roosevelt made the Boy Scouts “Official Dispatch Bearers” for the OWI.
Although the OWI and the poster program had some rocky moments … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on July 19, 2010, under - World War II.
Tags: Boy Scouts, community, Office of War Information, Official Dispatch Bearers, OWI, posters, President Roosevelt, Prologue magazine, World War II, WWII
While June 6, 1944, is best known as the day when Allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied Europe, there was another invasion that took place on almost the same day, just two years prior: the Japanese invasion of the United States.
On June 7, 1942, Japanese forces moved onto the Alaskan territorial island of Attu—an Aleutian Island closer to Japan than to mainland Alaska, setting the stage for the only land battle in World War II that would take place on U.S. soil.
When the Japanese invaded, there were only two non-native Americans on the island, Charles and Etta Jones, and about 45 Aleuts.
According to one account of the invasion, when the Japanese arrived, they came into the Joneses’ home and poked 62-year-old Etta with a bayonet, asking in English, “How many are here?”
“Two,” Etta replied. “How many have you?”
“Two thousand” was the answer.
By 1943, the island population had swelled to over 2,300, all of whom were Japanese soldiers settling in to defend the island, and on May 11, 1943, the Battle of Attu began.
The barren island was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific campaign. American forces landed uncontested while the Japanese dug in at higher ground, and when the attack came, it was brutal: there were 549 U.S. deaths, and 2,351 Japanese deaths. Perhaps more … [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on June 7, 2010, under - World War II.
Tags: Aleut, Aleutian Islands, attacks on US during World War II, Attu, Bonzai attack, Charles and Etta Jones, japanese invasion of US, NARA, national archives, World War II, WWII