Friday, October 12, 2018

April 28 & May 7, 1944: Expiring Visa

Letter from INS to Opa

Transcription:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Immigration and Naturalization Service
70 Columbus Avenue
New York, 23, N.Y.

In replying please refer 
to file 99503/254 ST
NIU
Dear Sir:

The records of this Service show that the time for which you were admitted to the United States temporarily as a non quota immigrant student will expire 6/30/44. If you are going to continue your studies beyond that period, the enclosed application for extension of stay (Form I-535) should be completed in every detail and returned to this office. Your passport or other travel document valid at least to the date to which you seek an extension must accompany the application.

A male noncitizen person within the registration age who is in the United States for more than three months must register for Selective Service unless within three months he has filed with his local draft board an Alien's Application for Determination of Residence, Form 302, and be issued an Alien's Certificate of Nonresidence, Form 303.

If you have completed your studies or expect to do so before the period of your present stay expires and you plan to leave the United States, it is requested that this letter be delivered to an officer of the Immigration and Naturalization Service at the port of departure. Unless you are a citizen of one of the independent countries of the Western Hemisphere, Canada or Newfoundland, or are a British or Netherlands subject domiciled or stationed in the Western Hemisphere departing to a destination in the Western Hemisphere, it will be necessary for you to obtain a permit to depart from the Department of State at Washington. You should also consult your local Selective Service Board regarding the possible necessity for obtaining permission to leave the United States.

If you leave the United States and thereafter desire to return, it will be necessary for you to have in your possession an appropriate visa obtained from a United States consular officer and a valid passport.

Very truly yours,

W. F. Watkins
District Director, New York District

By 
Helen Herckt
Chief, Status Section


Letter from Opa to INS

Transcription:

Miss Helen Herckt
Chief, Status Section
U.S. Immigration and 
Naturalization Service
70 Columbus Ave.
New York 23, N.Y.

99503/254 ST NIU
Dear Miss Herckt:

I received your letter of April 28, 1944, concerning my stay as a non quota student. My studies will be over on May 21, 1944, at which time I shall receive my B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering at Kansas State College. For this reason, I shall no longer be eligible for an extension of my student visa.

Due to war conditions, I am unable to leave the United States at present. Also, more than four years of residence in this country have made me realize that I cannot conceive of a higher goal than to become a citizen of this country. I understand that the ordinary procedure to obtain citizenship would be for me to leave the United States and reenter as an immigrant. Since this is not possible at present,  would appreciate if you will send me application blanks for the pre-examination of my case.

Also, what steps should I take to obtain a legal permit to bridge over the time from the expiration of my present permit (i.e. June 30, 1944) until a decision has been reached in my pre-examination case?

I shall appreciate any advice you can give me.

Very truly yours,

Thomas Walter Doeppner.

I'm always surprised at the short notice that Opa is given when his visa is about to expire. Luckily he has had a fairly quiet time with the INS for a while. 

I don't know if June 30, 1944 was looming in Opa's mind as a date upon which he had to do something, or if he was a little taken aback to get this letter and deadline. My heart kinda skipped a beat when I saw the word "expire." This letter from the INS was very confusing. I have no idea how people navigated this paperwork (then and now) without fluency in English, multiple degrees, and experience in government work. 

From what I could gather, Opa has a handful of options. He can further his studies and extend his student visa. He can go home, if home is in the Western Hemisphere (really, northwestern). He can leave and then come back as a bona fide immigrant (with a quote from a US consulate in a foreign country). 

Then the options get more muddy. He also might need to sign up for conscription with the United States. This part confused me a bit. How is it that a non-citizen visiting for 3 months or more could be drafted into the US military? But that's what it looked like, in fact, it looks like all eligible men have to sign in. There was another option about a certificate of an Alien but I have no idea what that meant. I'm sure someone smarter than I am can decipher.

Opa completely ignored that paragraph altogether. He wrote back to the INS and stated simply that with the war going on, there was no way he could leave America. He cleverly left out his country of origin, and the fact that he no longer had valid travel papers. His German passport was destroyed and his Holland Identification certificate long expired. Opa announced that he would graduate with a BS in Electrical Engineering and had no further education plans, so a student visa was not a viable option. He then declared his love for the United States and wrote that he wanted to become a citizen.

Part of becoming a citizen is coming to the United States as an immigrant (not a visitor or on a special visa like the one he had). The only way Opa could come to the United States as an immigrant was to leave and then come back. Magic happens when you step over the border. All of a sudden, you are a new person when you come back with a different sheet of paper. The problem was he had no country to walk into, and no hope of getting that beautiful piece of paper that would allow him back in. The refugee crisis was temporarily at a standstill, as the war prevented pretty much all movement across borders, particularly enemy lines. I'm not sure if this would have maybe been an opportune time for Opa to apply for an immigration visa. The problem of "where are you from?" is still there, though. Part of the process of leaving the country and coming back as an immigrant interested in citizenship, was that you could get your case pre-examined. Kind of like a pre-approval, but less solid. 

Honestly, I think Opa was trying to buy time. He didn't know when the war would end, what his status would be after the war, and how the rules would change. He might have hoped to buy some time until he got a job, when he might be able to apply for some form of a work visa. 

In all of this, I can't help but wonder, where was Grandmother in this? Did she know that Opa's residency in America hung by a flimsy thread? Did Opa have a plan that he shared with her? Did they know how this was all going to work out? Did Grandmother ever for a minute think she might have to leave the United States to follow her German husband? Or did Opa keep it all hush-hush until he had a plan? 

I have no idea. I know that this INS path is not predictable. I wonder how scared they were about it.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

April 27 & 28, 1944: Elaine Disapproves

Letter from Opa to Grandmother

Transcription:

Margie, dear,

I called Brewster today; he gives you his regards and wants you to get better; and I know some other people who do too. I tried to get your paper today, but your mail box was empty. I assume that the girls got your mail for you.

Do you want me to write to your folks again? I think, though, that you may be able to leave Monday, at least that's what the nurse told me.

This is the first day of nice spring weather; it is going to really clear up for the time you get out. Now don't take a notion to get sicker, for I won't stand for it!

You certainly have a great number of friends on the hill; everybody is inquiring about you. Miss Roberts especially is very concerned.

Tomorrow night, we were invited at Wallen's for dinner before our German lesson. Well, I'll go without you. I know how hard it is for you to skip a German lesson.

Be good and GET OUT!!

tom


Letter from Opa to Grandmother

Transcription:

Honey,

You did pick a bad time for your measles; I just received a wire from Winton saying he will be here tomorrow. I don't know how long he is going to stay, but I don't think it will be more than till Sunday.

This morning, I got scared to death. The Student Health Dept. sent me a notice to come up. I went, expecting to have my temperature taken every morning at half past seven, like Herb had to when I had the measles. It was only a report on my x-ray picture, though, which shows that I may have a chance to live another week or two. My heart, according to the radiologist, is rather small. It didn't use to be; I wonder where the rest of it went??

In that Strength quiz we took yesterday, I got a 95. 5 points were taken off for a question I asked him during the quiz. I am going to shoot that son-of-a-(censored).

Up at the Student Health Dept. I had a nice chat with Dora Lee. She thought she was going to have the measles too, and went up to the doctor all equipped with pinochle cards. I am glad she didn't get them, though, for if she had, you two would never have gotten out of that room.

Helen congratulated me yesterday rather nicely. Elaine Hershey, ordinarily so super-duper friendly, hardly looked at me, though. She is the first one I encountered who did not appear to approve. Well, I agree, we should have asked her consent first. Ruth Achelpohl called me the "guilty victim."

Tonight, I'll go to the Wallens for supper, so I may not be able to come up. If I should, it would be around 5:30, but don't look too much for me.

I wrote a note to Miss Harman. Do you want me to write to your mother?

Bibi,

Tom.

I believe these notes were passed to Grandmother through the nurses to her confinement. I'm not sure if she's allowed visitors yet, but it does seem that Opa has found a way to visit within the rules of her measles containment. 

Opa keeps Grandmother up-to-date with the weather and general daily activity. She's missing a visit from their old friend Winston, and the first days of spring. He is ready for her to join him, but doesn't miss an opportunity to tease her at a distance. He jokes that she would "hate" to miss a German class, and I remember that she said to us that she never could pick up the German language. A linguist she was not. 

I loved Opa's response to Elaine's disapproval: "I agree, we should have asked her consent first." Sarcasm is a family trait for me I guess. 

Opa keeps asking Grandmother if he should write her folks. I imagine he's trying to balance himself between aloof and too much. He wants them to approve of him, but he may have to hang back and give them a little time to adjust. Do they know that they are engaged?? Who knows what Grandmother is writing or doing in the measles contained room.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

April 25, 1944: D-Day Bets

Article in Manhattan, Kansas Newspaper: Mercury Chronicle by Opa

Transcription:

Reporters In Washington Fill Jackpot With Bets on D-Day

Editor's Note:

By Thomas W. Doeppner

Reporters in Washington are engaged in a bet. Each set a day on which, according to him, the invasion will start, and each put a dollar in the jackpot. The one who hits the D-Day on the dot, will receive this jackpot. The way things have been stacking up these last days, it seems as though the winner will be known very soon.

The chances are better than 50-50 that the invasion will start within six to eight weeks at the utmost. There are several reasons for this assumption.

England's restriction of foreign diplomats was a step far more unique and far more radical than many people believe. The freedom which the diplomats enjoyed so far was decided upon during the Congress of Vienna in 1815, at which European powers set rules of international and diplomatic procedure which are kept to this very day.

The freedom of diplomats to send code messages to there government and to travel about as they see fit was one of these rules which has never been broken since by any of the powers participating in that Congress. The fact that England deemed it necessary to break that rule indicates that some very important and secret movements are going on at the present.

Russia Now Silent

Another indication that invasion is just around the corner is the fact that Russia, finally, has become silent about a second front. It is certain that Russia would never have given up demanding one, and also that Russia, even though knowing that invasion will come sometime, insisted that it come immediately. Apparently, Russia is now fully informed as to the time of invasion, and seems to be satisfied with that time. If Russia is satisfied, it will start very soon. These weeks will mark the beginning of decent weather, if not for Kansas, for the Channel and the entire western European coast. Last of April and first of May, storms become rather scarce, and spells of good weather last for a fairly-long period of time. The chances are that no definite day has been set for the invasion, but that it is scheduled to occur at the tie of most favorable weather conditions within a certain number of days or weeks. 

Prestige Enters Picture

Prestige enters into the picture, too. For over a year now, occupied people of Europe have been looking forward to this spring. Rumors had it for a while that the invasion would start in February, but it didn't. If the Allies should, for some reason, have to postpone the invasion again, it will definitely hurt their prestige on the occupied continent. This is a rather important factor, because the aid of these people is definitely being counted upon.

It is possible that, once the invasion has started, the Allies may force a breakthrough at their first major offensive, and finish the war in a hurry. This, however, is very improbable. Even the more optimistic...

(Sorry- the rest of the article is cut off.)

I just realized that I never knew what the "D" in D-Day stood for. Turns out it's just a military way of numbering the days before, on, and after a major event happens. So "D" = Day. D (-1)-Day is the day before, D1-Day, the day of, and so on. This seems weird- but it works for them. The first Day of the Big Day, that's what the reporters are betting on. That's the day that the occupied countries are waiting on. That's the day that Russia has been asking for (as they fight on the Eastern front on their own). D-Day is looming, and there is more speculating than ever. 

Things are becoming eerie, the diplomats are no longer allowed to move freely. The Russians have been uncharacteristically pacified. The weather is clearing. The world is waiting.

I thought about who is waiting. Do the people in the camps have any wind of this news? Are newcomers able to bring any hints to the possibility of a break in their nightmare? Are the people of the underground movements detecting a change in the air? Are they preparing for it, or is their business the same as usual in their resistance? 

Is hope rising? 

Opa talks about prestige, as if the occupied countries care about prestige. I think it may just be a poor choice of words. But like the Polish underground who don't care if Russians or Unicorns come around fighting against the Nazis; the occupied people of Europe are anxiously waiting for their freedom, from occupation, but ultimately, from war. I can't imagine that they are concerned with the prestige and promises- they want effective action as soon as it can happen. 

I watched old reels of the preparation for D-Day on YouTube (isn't technology amazing?!), and the sheer volume of soldiers, ships, airpower, planning is astonishing. In the videos I see the English channel filled with massive ships (which have tanks inside!). I saw the jets, the blimps (had no idea they were still a thing), the smaller boats meant to run ashore, filled to the brim with soldiers like sardines in a tin can. 

I can't imagine the fear of the people preparing, sailing, flying on that day. Not only were they running towards the danger, but the entire world was watching. 

Reporters made a game of putting money in a pot for the right day, just like we make jokes when things get too serious. I knew, but I don't think I understood the extent to which this specific invasion was a make or break moment in the trajectory of the war. A failed invasion would be a massive blow to the Allied morale. It absolutely HAD to be successful.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

April 18-27, 1944: Happy Engage-Measles!

Letter From Opa to Grandmother, April 18, 1944

Transcription:

today.

Measley,

I'll start it. Whether or not I'll finish it, depends on the comparative frequency of library customers. So far, business has been extremely dull, with Art Pryor the only interesting visitor.

In the first place, I think you are advertising your preference for anything German just a little too much. Learning the German language is all right; so is going with a German; however, catching a German man and German measles the same day is just a little too obvious. Your close connection to the term German might be misinterpreted into membership to the Nazi spy ring. I suggest, therefore, that you at least get the German measles over with as fast as humanly -- or with other help -- possible.

I called  Mrs. Rog twice, without luck. Finally I got hold of Rog himself and had him carry the message down to Kappa Phi. I hope he delivered it all right.

Miss Roberts was everything but surprised, but she seemed very glad about it. I also told Art about it and gave hi the 5th cigar. He congratulated me and spent about ten minutes telling me what a nice girl you are. (How does he know so mc about you???!!!)

According to my calculations, computations, and measurements, you ought to be out of that institution by next Monday. If not, do not act surprised if I have my Fuehrer send a Messerschmidt over to bomb the entire building into the air and catch you on the rebounce.

It was a pity that we could not have a little more of a celebration for our engagement. We shall have make it up when you get out. So far, none of the times I gave you a ring have been any too romantic. Be careful you don't get the mumps on our wedding day!

Do you want me to call Brewster, or shall I take care of the kids next Sunday? There is probably no chance at all that you may be out by that time. Also, I would not want you to contaminate the twins, for they are supposed to be in tip-top shape for our wedding.

I assume you wrote to your folks about us. If you want me to write to them too, tell me. I ma even show you the letter before sending it. (May be.) Miss Roberts and I were discussing the question whether your parents would really be reconciled, or whether they just have given up hope for you entirely.

All right, you little monkey tail, get out of that prison as soon as you can, because I am getting just awfully lonesome.

Love,

Tom.


Letter from Opa to Grandmother

Transcription:

April 19, 1944

My poor little sick honey,

The nurse told me you are feeling rather tough; what's the matter? German measles are supposed to be nothing but a good week's rest!

It sees as though the good news is spreading rather fast; I am getting congratulations from all over the campus. Rog came and talked to me for a while; he said he was especially glad that things turned out that way; he would like to talk to you when you get out.

Otherwise, nothing exciting is happening. I wrote a postal card to your mother, just told her about your being sick, though. You better write her yourself about the other news.

I shall try to see you through the window of your hospital room. I tried before this noon, but the nurse won't let me. Do you suppose I shall have to shoot them nurses?

Well, the is just a little bit of a letter. If more happens, I'll write more. If you want to know all of it, you've got to get out of that place.

I'm lonesome for you!

Love,

Tom.

Article Announcing Engagements

Transcription:

Chocolates were passed at Kappa Phi meeting Tuesday night announcing the engagement of Marjorie Sloan and Thomas Doeppner.


Article Mentioning Students in the Hospital

Transcription:

8 Students Confined in College Hospital

Ada McDonald, freshman in the School of Home Economics and Nursing, was taken to the Park View Hospital Tuesday where she underwent an appendectomy. 
The eight students in the College Hospital this week are Glen Thomas, Mary Hodgson, Elizabeth Button, Doris Williams, Erlene Lipscomb, Mary Jagger, Marjorie Sloan and Floyd Beaver.

Article of Announcements in Engineer Publication, 
announcing Grandmother and Opa's engagement

Transcription:

...
After looking over the events of this semester, one is apt to say, "What is this electrical department coming to?" Now this is all with due reason, for the spring term saw the engagement of five of our best boys: Warren Rolf, Norman Graham, John Pollock, Darren Schneider, and Tom Doeppner all passed out cigars to their classmates. We all wish you fellows the grandest of luck and hope the years will smile on you as we know they will.
...

Opa and Grandmother are engaged! The word is spreading like wildfire across campus with chocolates and cigars being shared. The only ones not together in the celebration are.. Grandmother and Opa! Grandmother is locked away in confinement with the measles at the college Hospital. I'm super sure that the article listing the students in the hospital, including the medical procedure one had- is 100% a HIPPA violation. But I'm guessing HIPPA wasn't a thing then. (Short version: HIPPA = Medical Confidentiality.) 

Poor Grandmother! She's missing out on all the fun! 

Opa mentions Grandmother telling her parents, and the discussion he had with Miss Roberts (the librarian) about whether or not they will approve. So far Grandmother's parents have not been wild about Opa and his German-ness. For good reason. The country is fighting a whole bunch of them at this moment, they don't seem to be too nice from what people can read in the news, and Opa in particular doesn't even have a guarantee that he can stay in the United States. What if Grandmother follows him to Europe?! 

Opa lets Grandmother be in charge of contacting her parents... from the hospital. I wonder if word got to them through the grapevine anyway? Everyone on campus knows!

I think it's a little bit funny that Opa keeps writing to Grandmother as if she's on some spa trip. I know it's all tongue-in-cheek meant to cheer her up. It's a good thing she shared the same sense of humor. 

Oh Happy Engage-measles to the both of them!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

April 16,1944: Viva la Resistance!

Article by Opa for the Manhattan, Kansas Newspaper: The Mercury Chronicle

Transcription:

Allie Can Count On Underground Movements For Help

Editor's note: Thomas Doeppner, a student at Kansas State College, was for a short time with the United Press at Amsterdam. He is a German refugee, and his interpretation of developments in the European war theater carries the weight of his internment camp experiences in Nazi Germany, as well as that of previous years of travel on the continent. The Mercury Chronicle each week brings you his interpretation of the war in Europe.

By Thomas W. Doeppner

Without any sign of fatigue or slowdown, the Russian armies are carrying on their fall-winter-spring offensive. Now, it's the Crimea that's on the road back to its people. Whether or not the German retreat in this peninsula is again a "voluntary" one, the fact remains that the Russians seem to be able to strike, and strike effectively, wherever they choose to on their 2000 mile front.

The Red armies advancing into Poland certainly never doubted that they would have to fight it out by themselves. How surprised then was their commander when suddenly, out of the forests and marshes of Poland, there appeared several hundreds of Polish soldiers, carrying their red-white banner and offering their cooperation in the fight against Germany.

Still, the Polish government in-exile in London remained non-committal toward this event which, according to Russian sources, has repeated itself several times. The London Polish government still considers Russia an enemy just as much as Germany and, therefore, is not willing to engage in any cooperation, military or political. Apparently, however, the Polish underground thinks differently.

It was assumed so far that the Polish underground, which is being supplied and fed by its London government by means of parachute loads, would operate under its direct command. Whether this new apparent independence is to be compared to an uprising is not certain; certain is, however, that the Polish underground is more likely to execute the will of the Polish people then a government which no longer has direct contact with the people.

The immediate military help which the Polish underground will give to the Russians is probably negligible. According to Polish estimates the underground has an army of approximately 50,000 to 150,000 men. Poorly equipped and scattered all over Poland, they will not be very effective as a unit compared with the dynamic Russian army. There are, however, two ways in which this action of the Polish underground will help the Allies considerably.

In the first place, it proves that the Polish people are on the Allied side. Since the Poles are fairly representative of the occupied peoples of Europe, this means that Hitler's propaganda of Quisling cooperation will no longer be very effective. Also, in the second place, it gives the Allies a preview of what might be expected from the underground movements as well as in Germany proper in case of invasion.

Poland, geographically, is very close to Germany, and therefore, relatively easy to control. The German garrison is Poland was comparatively stronger than in most other occupied countries. Concentration camps for Poles were filled; executions were daily events. In spite of all that, the Poles were able to organize an underground of such size.

If the Poles were able to do so, it is very likely that other countries were too. In that case, the Allies can just about count on the aid of underground movements in countries like Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark, etc.: undergrounds which probably will not be counted upon to do much actual fighting, but which will be very helpful in locating enemy strongholds, indicating enemy positions, and doing as much grinding damage as a group which is familiar with the territory and people is able to.

The Resistance. Everyone loves to hear about the resistance, myself included. It's the tale of the underdog, a tale of hope that small groups of people can effect change. It's also been proven to be effective over the course of history. So even though resistance is not new, and the successes are not unfathomable, it is always a toss-up which one will succeed. 

Opa begins his article with a quiet praise of the tireless Russians. He's right- they are ridiculously impressive when it comes to war. I may have mentioned the comedian Eddie Izzard's bit about the Russians, when he blitzes through history and highlights that Russia in the winter (and most seasons) is almost unbeatable. He said Napolean went in and said "it's a bit cold!" and ran out. He said Hitler ran in thinking "I've got a different idea... no it's the same idea- bad idea, bad idea!" and ran out. Russia has an unbelievably long border to protect, but with that border they have millions of soldiers (who died in greater numbers than any other country), and a crazy capacity to withstand the freezing temperatures (or at least the willingness to sacrifice soldiers to hold the freezing ground). When Opa says that Russia continues their "fall-winter-spring offensive," I think it's in awe of the length of time and weather conditions that Russia has continued to push back against the Germans. 

The Russians are now beginning to cross into new territory- occupied Polish territory. Quick critique: Opa says that Poland is geographically very close to Germany. It seems odd to say it that way when before the war, Poland was literally surrounded by German territory. At the very least he could have said Poland bordered Germany to the east. I know he knew that. Just seemed a weird choice of words. 

The Russians are getting into Poland and expecting to continue their long-haul offense on their own. Then the movie-scene image comes out: a band of hundreds come out of the woods, raggedy Polish rebels offering their help in the fight against the Nazis. The Russians are shocked and happy to see help: a sign that not everyone in Poland will be their enemy. Opa numbers the resistance in men, but he should know better. Women are fighting too- his sister is playing her part in France (not as militia- but important), as well as other family members across Europe. 

The Polish government, operating in England while their territory is under German occupation, is noncommittal to this underground movement. The Russians are the political enemy as much as Germany. When I read Opa's words that the underground seemed to disagree, I thought to myself how things are so very different when you are in the midst of it. The government cannot fathom what the Polish have experienced at the hands of the Germans. Russia may not be their best friend, but the Germans are enemy #1 for those under occupation. The Polish underground might be assisted by the official government, but when push comes to shove- they're going to do what is necessary. I hope they are rewarded for these actions. 

The fact that the existence (and cooperation) of the Polish underground somehow proves that the Polish are definitively on the side of the Allies seems to me... uninteresting. I kinda thought this was understood. Also, based on my research, every government was aware of underground movements, many even worked to provide supplies and funding. They might have been unable to assess the efficacy of such movements, and maybe that's where Opa is going with his second point. Either way, the general public may have been surprised, in awe and reassurance with the appearance of these rebels, but I am pretty sure that the governments knew a lot more about what was happening in the underground. 

Occupied Europe was definitely not chock-full of Quislings. This term I had to look up- it is a name that is synonymous with traitor, or cooperation with the occupying enemy. The name is of a Norwegian guy who earned the right to have his name used in such a way. Click the link for a brief, Britannica version of the story. I also question that in a previous article Opa mentioned how Hitler's terrible treatment of the occupied countries was a tool of fear that he used to scare the German citizens about any possible loss in the event that the occupied territories would exact harsh revenge. If that is the case, then how could there also be a fear by the Allies that the occupied territories were completely cooperative? We know that there was some cooperation, but I think it's pretty silly propaganda to believe that there was any majority cooperation. Who would believe that lie? (I have been surprised before at what people will believe.)

Opa's makes a solid point that the Polish Underground is a symbol of unbelievable strength and ability under extremely harsh conditions. Poland has Berlin in their backyard, and we know now that Poland was the location of some of the most deadly camps and harshest treatment of occupied citizens. If they can hide a militia- anyone can. Hope abounds.

And you better believe a group adept at hiding under the Nazi gaze is going to have something to offer. Even to the tireless Russians. Viva la Resistance!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

April 12, 1944: Russian Bear

Article Written by Opa for the Manhattan, Kansas Newspaper: The Mercury Chronicle

Transcription:

Full-Scale Bombings Bolstered German Morale to High Point

By Thomas W Doeppner

In these crucial days, which some Englishman called "five minutes before zero hour," much attention is being given to the state of mind of the German people. Their morale might make a decided difference in the upcoming fight inside Europe, especially if this fight should be carried into Germany proper. Their attitude toward the Hitler regime may decide whether the war will have to be fought to the bitter end, or whether the possibility for surrender short of ultimate defeat exists.

Swedish, Swiss, and other neutral correspondents are among the most authoritative sources of information concerning inside Germany. Much knowledge can be gained from German newspapers and German communiques themselves: the way in which they lie is an indication as to what Goebbels wants his people to believe and what he wants them to quit believing or thinking. The total picture obtained from a combination of these sources is still rather dark, but it does reveal a few interesting points.

Reports Questioned 

Apparently, the defeat in the east is hurting the German people deeper than is generally assumed. Goebbels' papers do not let a day go by without repeating the "reasons" for Russia's advance: German voluntary withdrawal in order to shorten lines and to make troops available for anti-invasion defenses. The German people do not believe this any more; the Russian advances are coming too fast and on too big a scale.

Interesting are the comments of neutral correspondents on the Germans' reactions to the fighting in Italy. Cassino, the only place in the present conflict where the Germans have gained minor victories, does not receive as much comment there as here. Germans have become skeptical as to Goebbels' reports. "If we really were victorious at Cassino," the German reader comments, "why did we not throw the Allies out of Italy?" This one incident shows that the German mind is set to take defeat. He no longer believes in the infallibility of Hitler's diplomatic and strategic powers.

Different, however, is the German's attitude toward invasion. Naturally, everybody inside Germany is nervous and jittery. Nobody will be surprised if invasion starts today. However, the Germans believe that there exists a good chance for the Nazis to throw the Allies out of Europe as fast as they come in. The German General Staff, as well as the German people, will use everything in their power to make invasion a failure. No sacrifices will be too great for them, no losses will appear too high: the Nazis know that this is their only chance to still get something out of this war, and they will use it.

Ready For Revenge

Different than first expected was the German people's reaction in the full-scale bombings. Similar to the way the population of London reacted to the Battle of Britain, the population of Hamburg, Berlin, Brunswick, and other bombed cities of Germany have become fighting mad. If the bombings did anything to German morale, they bolstered it to a degree it never before possessed. Now, the populations of cities are in the fight: they do not have much to lose anymore, but are ready for revenge. This is a rather dangerous situation which Allied military leaders are fully aware of. 

The question always arises, why the German people, only a small portion of whom are Nazis, keep backing Hitler to such an extent even now when the odds are against Germany and when defeat stands before the door. There appears to be only one answer to this: The Germans know what they are up against in case of defeat. This, by the way, also gives one of the reasons for Hitler's brutal treatment of occupied countries.

Aware of Situation

After four and five years of terror and cruel dictatorship, the populations of Czechoslovakia, Holland, Belgium, and a dozen other countries are full of hatred against Germany and anything connected with it. The Germans, being fully aware of this situation, will prefer sticking it out under Hitler to having the wrath of these people come down on them with full fury. Hitler, on the other hand, keeps up his cruelties because he too, is aware that it fastens his grip on the German people.

During the last few weeks and months, a change has occurred in the German morale which might be very advantageous to the Allied cause. The Germans are getting scared of the Russian bear, whose growling can be heard at Germany's eastern door. Also, the Germans are sick and tired of the war and want peace probably worse than any other people. On the other hand, if there has to be defeat for them, they much rather face and Anglo-American occupation than a Russian one, and they seem to believe that he who reaches Berlin first, will occupy Germany. If this feeling should hold, the resistance of the German people to invasion, if the first attempt to make it a failure should be unsuccessful, may become very small.

I believe we've been down this road before, but I reject the notion that Hitler was cruel to occupied nations so that the morale of fear would motivate his citizens and soldiers to stick out the fight. Hitler was cruel (and the rest of Nazi leadership) because he was a cruel person. He wasn't try to trick his people into being scared of vengeful Belgians. To say someone is cruel for political gain is missing the point that cruelty is more than just a choice, it's a mindset. Hitler and the Nazi leadership did not have the inclination to be kind and decide to be cruel for political benefit. This same argument could be used to make sense of the opposite action. If the Nazi government were kind and beneficial to their occupants- perhaps they would win them over? Perhaps there would not be a mass-effort for their freedom? It's not a solid argument either way, sorry Opa.

We start to see the war in motion in this article, the Russians on the East, the Allies still struggling in Italy and preparing for a massive invasion to the west.

I do agree with Opa's analysis that the Germans are more fearful of the Russians than the English or Americans. I think that goes for pretty much everyone at this point. I'm not sure if the race to Berlin was always a thing, or if suddenly the Russians locked eyes with the Brits and Americans and it was on. There definitely was some unspoken rule that the first one there had the most say in Germany's occupation. It seems a bit unfair since Berlin is all the way on the east side of the country. Either way, the race is on, and everyone (Germans included) is rooting against the "Russian Bear," at least in the long-run. In hindsight, it's really sad to know how this race to Berlin and division of Germany plays out. 

Opa's final analysis is a little hazy, he sort of contradicts himself in this article. The Germans are fighting mad, and they are ready for the war to be over and prefer us over the Russians. I suppose he was calling out the phases of morale, like phases of grief for the Germans. They would fight to the bitter end out of fear and vengeance, but they also would get pretty tired and be ready to give up- to the Americans- when the time comes. 

One last thought: Opa talks about his sources for this article (the German newspapers and statements from neutral countries), but he never specifically names any of them. I find this odd. I'm not sure if it's just sloppy journalism, or if it was a common practice to name things in general rather than say "the Washington Post said this..." No idea.