Thursday, May 17, 2018

November, 1943: KS Engineer War Time Inventions

The following are scans of the November Issue of the Kansas State Engineer Magazine. The scans are in this order: Cover, Table of Contents, Article about Radar by Opa (3 pages), Article about Automobiles and Gasoline by Opa (2 pages). Below the scans, I transcribe them for the nerdy engineer readers among you. Enjoy!

Transcription (I'm just highlighting the bits about Opa):

Departmental Editors
Thomas Doeppner ...... Copy Editor
Feature Staff
Thomas Doeppner....... Editor


Today the Kansas State engineering graduate is going into industries that are producing directly for the battle that will end in our ultimate victory. Tomorrow these engineers will be producing the materials for a lasting peace. This month's cover depicts a large transport plane flying above a large blueprint. The plane and blueprint represent the future work of the Kansas State engineer in our time of peace and progress.


Loaned to the Kansas State Engineer, the cut show the control room of a broadcasting station. Radio broadcasting is only one of many forms of electronic communication that is constantly serving man. Cut courtesy Westinghouse.



Radar --- Radio Location

Revolutionizing detection and ranging

By Tom Doeppner, E.E. '44

On that so often quoted seventh of December, Private Joseph L. Lockard was scanning the skies over Pearl Harbor with a brand-new aircraft detection device. Even though he was just practicing, at 7:02 he noticed a deflection of the meters which could only be interpreted as the approach of aircraft. The meters also told him the location of the planes, the direction of their flight, and their distance from the shore - about 130 miles. A few minutes later, at 7:20, Lockard reported his discovery to a superior officer, who decided that these planes must be B-17's, expected from San Francisco. At 7:55, the Japanese Air Force hit Oahu. Radar had worked; the human mind had failed.

It has been said that the battle of the Coral Sea had been fought without any ship of either side being seen by its enemies; that it was a battle between planes and aircraft carriers. Maybe the ships and planes could not be seen with the naked eye or with telescopes, they were, however, detected long before their approach. It was Radar that did that job - Radar saw the planes approaching. Radar located the position of the ships. Radar detected their speed. Radar told which way they were proceeding. Radar to a great extent, determined the outcome of this and many other battles of World War II.

If these surprising results and revolutionizing methods of radar had been known or even anticipated by the authorities in the navy and war departments of twenty or even ten years ago, the inventors would have had an easier time and more financial aid. The immediate history of radar does not go very far back. Only in 1922, two scientists of the Naval Aircraft Radio Laoboratory, Dr. A Hoyt Taylor and Leo C.Young, made a fundamental discovery. They transmitted radio aves of ultra-short wave length and noticed the reaction of metal objects like ships on these waves. For several years, no more astounding discoveries were made in the field; however, the N.A.R.L. as well as other laboratories proceeded with careful scientific experiments and investigations in the field of ultra-high frequency. In the thirties, action on the development of radar was stepped up: in June, 1930, L. A. Hyland foresaw the possibilities of aircraft detection in the ultra-high frequency signals. He observed that an airplane which crossed the line between ultra-high frequency transmitter and receiver, caused an interference pattern which indication the plane's presence.

One year later, in June, 1931, the Radio Division of the U.S. Bureau of Engineering asked the N.A.R.L. to investigate the use of radio for plane and ship detection. Now, the ice was broken and even the Senate Appropriations Committee allotted funds for the project. With these aids, progress was made rapidly, and in October of the same year, proposals sent by the N.A.R.L. to the Bureau of Engineering were found to have practical possibilities. In January of the next year, the War Department got interested, and later that year, the Army examined apparatus by means of which planes could be detected at a range of fifty miles. Theoretical military application were outlined in 1933; 100,000 dollars were appropriated in 1935 for laboratory research. Then, as a first climax, on Rear Admiral Harold Bowen's initiative, radio-detective equipment was installed aboard the U.S.S. New York in 1938. 

The tests performed aboard the battleship New York were decisive in the history of radar. If results obtained were poor, the Navy would lose interest in radar for a long time to come. The technical crew which went out on the New York was headed by Robert M. Page. A destroyer squadron had been assigned to make a torpedo attack on the New York after darkness, and radar was to find out the location of the destroyers and the time of attack. From about sunset on, Page and his men stood by their radar set and watched the horizon over an angle of 360 degrees. For several hours, nothing happened. Vice Admiral Alfred W. Johnson, the Atlantic Squadron Commander, appeared in the control room and finally lost his patience. He knew the approximate time of attack and feared that the destroyers might be approaching without being discovered. When Johnson was ready to leave, the first signal came in. "There it is," said the Admiral. The destroyers were discovered, even though still eight miles away. From that moment on, Vice Admiral Johnson was a radar enthusiast and did much toward boosting the development of radar.

The problem now shifted from a scientific one to a commercial one; it became difficult to build radar sets fast enough to supply ships with them and still keep the entire device a military secret.

Naturally, there has been done much research on similar devices in foreign countries as well. The British "Radiolocator" is older than our radar, and the factor it played during the air blitz on England in 1940 did much to stimulate the development and improvement of our radar. 

It had to be expected that the enemy's armed forces would have similar devices, acquired either from American or English inventions, or, which seems more likely, through their own research. The first time that this became evident was in the case of the "Bismarck." After the Bismarck had hit the British cruiser Hood with surprising accuracy, she tried to escape the pursuing British planes. One of the British fighters located the Bismarck and guided other British aircraft in 

for the destruction of the German. This British fighter was fired at and hit from the Bismarck at a time when it was still out of sight above the clouds. This fact can only be explained if the Bismarck was equipped with some sort of radio-detective device.

Details about the functioning of radar are, of course, military secrets which will not be revealed until after victory is won. The fundamental principles of radar, however, have been published many times both by the British and here in the United States. To put it in a nut shell, we owe radar in two qualities of ultra-high-frequency radio waves. The first one is that these waves can be concentrated, similarly to a light beam, in sharp defined beams. The second one is that these waves are reflected, also similarly to light beams, by many kinds of matter.

Refer to figure 1. A directed radio signal of ultra-high frequency scans the skies. At the same time, an observer at point B tunes his receiver for the same frequency. Suddenly, a signal is picked up at it. The antenna which picks up the signal is then rotated to a position at which the signal is strongest. The source of the signal is in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the antenna. From the figure, it is obvious what happened. The beam sent out at A strikes an object, let's say a plane, at P. P becomes a new source of waves, and emits these waves in all directions. Knowing the distance between A and B and knowing the angles which PA and PB make with the horizontal, the operator can easily calculate or mechanically determine the exact position of the plane.

If the distance between receiver B and transmitter A is very small compared to the distance to the object P, as would usually be the case, this method would become rather inaccurate. It is possible, however, to determine the distance between the observer and P by measuring the time which it takes the signal to travel from the transmitter to P and back to the receiver. This internal of time, short as it is, can be measured with surprising accuracy.

One of the greatest difficulties was to secure an efficient tube to generate the extremely short waves necessary. Among the tubes which might possibly be used for these purposes are the magnetron and the klystron. The magnetron, which is the older one of the two, is a rather bulky tube which has the disadvantages of having a comparatively low efficiency, great frequency instability, and very critical adjustments. The klystron, a tube which is widely used in experimental work for the generation of ultra-short waves, had an efficiency of up to 58% and possesses fair frequency stability. Even though large compared with most ordinary electron tubes, it has not nearly the weight or bulkiness of the magnetron. The principle underlying the operation of the klystron is that a rapidly changing electric field tends to collect the electron of a cathode beam in groups. These groups are intensified and peaks and enter then into resonating chambers, where they set up a strong field. The energy which is represented in the electron groups may be derived by the field. The klystron is claimed to be capable of producing 300 watts at 1000 megacycles with an efficiency of 30 to 40 per cent.

The final proof of the radio-detection system was obtained, as mentioned before, during the Nazi air blitz on England. Had it not been for the British radiolocator, the R.A.F. would have needed patrol planes all along the English shore and probably far out into the ocean in order to discover the approach of unwanted visitors. A great part of the Royal Air Force, therefore, would have been in constant use, many gallons of gasoline and oil would have been consumed without the planes eve entering a fight or even seeing the enemy. At the enemy's approach, the flak would have been forced to fire indiscriminately into the sky, because the acoustic detection devices which were in use before the radiolocator, were extremely unreliable. In other words, the R.A.F. would have been forced to cope with a problem which might have been too big. To the great displeasure of the Nazis, the radiolocator, the new "Secret Weapon", had made its entry. Listening posts were set up not only along the coast, but were distributed all over the country. The approach of Nazi planes was discovered long before the planes reached England's shore; in some cases even at a time at which the Nazis were still on the continent. The planes which the English otherwise would have needed for patrol purposes, could now be concentrated at some central location and the be sent out directly to face the enemy. The flak could then fire to kill, since the location of the planes was ascertained with greater accuracy, and the part of the English coast at which no enemy planes were reported, could be left unguarded by planes, since radiolocator kept watch. Thus, the Germans found their newest Blitz to turn out to be a failure.

It would be a pity if an invention as revolutionizing and powerful as radar could be used for the destructive purposes of war only. Fortunately, however, the peace time uses for radar promise to be manifold. The British Air Chief Marshal Sir Philop Joubert made the statement that "radiolocation will be applied to commercial aviation and will aid to safety of flying."

In the first place, radar's ability to "see in the dark" can be used to effectively guide a plane or a ship through fogs. Slow traveling because of ...

Radar--- Radio Location
(continued from page 9)
fog, collisions of ships or planes in fog, will become stories of the past. One of the major applications of radar will be as "absolute altimeters." The altimeters in present-day use are essentially barometers which indicate nothing but the height of a plane above sea level. A pilot must be very well acquainted with the surrounding territory if he can fly a plane in the dark over mountains with no other aid but the sea-level altimeter. The "absolute altmeter" would indicate the position of the plane with respect to the ground right below the plane and with respect to mountains, even towers, in front of it. It would indicate the presence and location of any obstacle the plane might be headed at; it would indicate these early enough to give the pilot time to change the course of the plane.

Blind landing by means of radar has been accomplished already and will certainly be improved upon after the war. The plane follows the direction of an ultra-short wave beam, which it may follow either by audible signals, or by a dot on a fluorescent screen. If the plane gets slightly off course, the pilot can tell whether he is too far to t he left or to the right by the position of the dot on the fluorescent screen. The possibilities for future uses of radar are innumerous and limited only by the imaginative power of the engineers.

Engineering Digest
By Tom Doeppner, E.E. '44
Cut from General Electric (?)
Courtesy Mechanical Engineering Magazine

Automobiles and Gasoline

According to Assistant Petroleum Administrator for War, Ralph K. Davies, the armed forces will require 37.6% of all gasoline produced east of the Rockies in 1944. According to the best estimates today, in 1945 two of every five gallons produced in this area will be required.

A good example illustrating why military needs are as high, are these figures:

More than 500,000 gallons of high-octane gasoline were used to carry 177 B-24 bombers over the Ploesti oil field in Rumania on August 1. An even larger quantity was required for a single raid on Rome, July 19. Altogether, 581,000 gallons of oil were required to send the bombers to Rome and back.

Result of war conditions on the highways is reflected in figures released by the Public Roads Administration. On a nation-wide basis, rural traffic was 52% less in July 1943, than in July 1941. These figures were obtained from 572 recorders on highways in 43 states.

On the brighter side, however, comes news that, aided by a $12,000,000 appropriation from the United States, Costa Rica is blasting out another link in the Pan-American Highway. It is a 72- mile road through Death Pass in the Talamanea Mountains, and includes the boring of tunnels and construction of 770 culverts.

If you want to get your present tires to hold out till you can get the gasoline for a trip along that highway, easy does it! A survey in collaboration with Iowa State College by the Public Roads Administration, conducted in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Wyoming shows that tires do wear out four times as fast at 65 as at 35 miles per hour.

Post-War Lighting 
Among the many fields in which the war has stimulated new developments, is that of illumination. Necessity for blacking out large factories at night has brought forth new and improved methods of interior lighting which result in not only better visibility, but increased production and greater working comfort.

Lessons have been learned regarding the advantages of proper street lighting in dimmed-out coastal areas. In three boroughs of New York City, night-time fatalities exceed daytime traffic deaths in the ratio of seven to one since the dim-out.

Greater economy in the use of light without loss of efficiency is another by-product to be expected of wartime lighting research and is being expedited through the War Production Board's Lighting and Fixtures Section.

On the civilian side, artificial light has passed through the strictly utilitarian stage and may be expected to enter an era where it appeals to the senses, creates or changes one's moods, and provides a more leisurely, healthful life.

Not only will this be accomplished through illumination, but other forms of radiant energy will heat our homes, sterilize the air about us, killing harmful bacteria and possibly provide a suntan and health-giving radiation during the hours of sleep.
About the "Bazooka"

Uncle Sam's new weapon which has made one man into an anti-tank combat unit is now being supplied in quantity to both the American and Allied forces.

Nick-named after Bob Burns' rather unmusical contraption, not much has been said about its actual construction, but already a few interesting stories have made their way back from fighting lines about its effectiveness.

Major General L. H. Campbell, Jr., Chief of Army Ordnance, tells of the small but strong fort that gave considerable trouble to the Americans during recent operations in Africa. One lone soldier detached himself from the landing party and waded ashore, effecting the surrender of the fort with one shot fired from his "bazooka."

The projectile has such a powerful explosive force that after one shot struck a near-by tree, the commander of six enemy tanks surrendered the lot of them in the belief he was being shelled by a battery of 155 mm guns.

Although the weapon is very simple to handle, it is so powerful that one soldier can stand his ground with the knowledge that he is master of any tank which may attack him...

Seeing in the Dark

After being exposed to the dark for about half an hour, the average person is able to distinguish between dark and light objects, to see his way through a forest or a dimmed-out city. It happens often during combat, though, that the exposure to the dark is very sudden and that there is no time left for letting the eyes adapt themselves to the new condition.

Thousands of soldiers are being trained right now to bridge over this period of adaptation by the use of a special kind of goggles. These goggles, so-called "adapter goggles," consist of plastic lenses of a deep red color. They are mounted in a rubber frame and fit snuggly around the eye. With these goggles, it is possible to retain fair vision in ordinary daylight or artificial lighting, but at the same time, the adaptation to darkness is accomplished.

The human eye has two kinds of light-sensitive cells. One kind of cells are cone-shaped and are sensitive to most colors; they give us the ordinary colorful daylight vision. These cones are concentrated in the retina. The other kind of cells have a shape which resembles little rods. The rods have no color sensitivity but distinguish only between light and dark objects. They are very scarce at the center of the retina and do not operate well as long as the cones are in operation.

The rods are lacking in sensitivity to certain colors; such a color is red: the red which is used in the adapter goggles.

When the goggles are worn, all colors entering the retina will be dominated by red. Because of the cones, a person wearing these goggles will still be able to read, but the rods, which are insensitive to red, will start to adapt themselves for darkness. After the goggles have been worn for a period of about 25 minutes, the rods have reached a state of great sensitivity. The wearer is now ready to go out into the dark, take off his goggles, and see as plainly as though he had been out for half an hour. 

"Prestite" Protects Plane Radios

Prestite, a new form of porcelain, is a mixture of clay, feldspar, and flint. Originally, in peace time, it was developed for insulators for electric transmission lines. During wartime, it has been drafted into the air corps. 

It can easily be shaped into intricate designs and is many times stronger than earlier porcelains. Formed into a pencil-shaped bushing, it seals radio transformers against moisture; in disk form, it protects radio tubes from violent temperature changes; it insulates condensers against electrical flashovers. 

One of the qualities of this new porcelain will please the radio fan: it can easily be soldered to metal. It only needs to be painted with a gold-platinum liquid and fired at a certain temperature. The paint then provides a metallic base to which solder will adhere. 

Congratulations if you read this all! I won't write much on top of it. My only thought is that through this entire series of articles, I kept thinking: all this for war. The inventions, the science, the creativity are all so that we could more precisely defeat the enemy. I know in a way that actually saves lives, but ultimately the whole thing is a death engine. 

Imagine if we had that same sense of urgency in peace to save lives, creatively make the world a better place, cooperate and compete to do the most good.

It also makes me sort of sad, how complete is Opa's transformation from Quaker-leaning Berliner to Engineering American all-in on the war. I know, I get it, it's not hard to know how and why he would grow into this iteration of himself. It just makes me a little sad. How recognizable would he be to his family now? Or is this always how young boys grow up? 

Forgive my sadness about war- clearly that has been done before. I just couldn't help but pan back from the details and see how utterly ridiculous this entire enterprise of war is. We as a human species are just not clever enough yet to surpass it without barbaric measures. We think we're so smart when we invent sharper swords and larger bombs, but were still on the same barbaric plane. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

November 24, 1943: Floating Stones

Article in Kansas State Collegian (College Newspaper) 
mentioning Opa's article in "Kansas State Engineer" publication


Post War Plans as 'Engineer' Theme

Teeter Edits Magazine; Radar Article Included

This month's Kansas State Engineer, edited by LeRoy Teeter, features post war planning on the part of K-State engineers. The cover depicts a large transport plan flying above a large blueprint. It shows the control room of a broadcasting station in the background.

Among the many features in this month's issue is an article on tungsten, a critical war material from the High Sierras written by Robert Dawley. Another article written by Tom Doeppner concerns Radar. Another about Kansas State's Student Health Department was written by LeRoy Teeter.

Harold R. Volkmann contributed an article about Army students at Kansas State and the methods and programs used for training these students.

"Floating Stones", an article written by Harold Siegele, is about the manufacture of concrete ships to save metal for war equipment.

Many other articles are included and a page of humorous articles is also included.

The Engineer is a monthly publication issued by the students of the School of Engineering and Architecture at Kansas State. It is issued every month from October until May and is a member of the Engineering College Magazines Association.

This is a whole article advertising for an Engineering Magazine. I wonder how effective it was. It looks like Opa was finally allowed to publish his radar article! I kinda want to read the "Floating Stones" article about the concrete ships. 

It boggles my mind how much Opa juggled, and how prolific he was on top of his regular school work (and actual work). Puts my college career to shame!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

November 22, 1943: Intramural Fighting

Article by Opa in Manhattan, Kansas' newspaper, The Mercury Chronicle


Possibilities Seen For Allied Attack on Balkans

By Thomas W. Doeppner

Something big is in the making in the Balkans. The Turks are on the verge of finally making up their minds. Turkish censors let pass the statement of a newspaper correspondent that "Turkey would be in the war by spring."

Before, the Turkish censorship would not permit any mentioning of Turkey's position, either one way or the other. Franz von Pappen: German ambassador to Turkey, had a long conference at the Wilhemstrasse and is believed to be still in Berlin. British engineers are building airports "for the Turkish air force."

Yugoslavia is doing her best to settle her domestic problems in a hurry. While so far the Chetniks of General Mikhailovich and the Partisans of Tito have been fighting each other instead of the Germans, young King Peter II finally got a statement from his war minister, Mikhailovich, that the Chetniks would fight the Partisans only in defense. The equivalent has been promised by Tito's Partisans. Whether or not these promises will be kept, the next few weeks will tell; at any rate, King Peter suddenly seems to be in a hurry to get things straightened out.

Underground in Greece

A similar situation exists in Greece. The various underground movements, all of different political background from the extreme left to the moderate right, have not been doing much intramural fighting lately, but seem to reorganize their strengths.

The British do not seem to be very much worries about the Nazi victories at Kos, Simi, and Leros, but apparently postpone any action in that sector.

Hull, in his remarks after his return from Moscow, prophesied that the satellite nations may soon follow in the footsteps of Italy.

The Russian drive becomes very accentuated in the region between the Black Sea and Kiev; a front which points right straight at Rumania.

Italy is Stalemate

The fighting in Italy is at a stalemate, at a time when the Allies are known to have at least forty divisions stationed somewhere in the Mediterranean theatre, but not in Italy. The stalemate in Italy may be caused either by the fact that the German troops should be stalled up, or because those forty reserve divisions are to be used soon for something else.

All these facts point very definitely to the possibility of an Allied attack in the Balkan area. An Anglo-American military mission under General Deane is now in Moscow, and the Russians are known not to let much time elapse between talks and actions.

A brief glance over the history time lines tells me this prediction didn't fully come to pass, but Opa can't be right all the time. The war quiets down a little during the winter, a forced lull in the fighting and opportunity for nations to regroup and plot. There is no relaxing, but there isn't much luck or wisdom in trying to do anything big in the winter. 

I kind of chuckled while reading this, thinking, if Opa could guess future plans, wouldn't the Germans be a step ahead too? I imagine the risk of guessing correctly (and thereby giving the enemy something to plan for) was overshot by the sheer volume of guesses and conjecture by the political and war reporters across the globe. A 20-something year old in Kansas likely did not make top billing for Nazi censors and spies to watch for information. It is funny though, because in some propaganda from the war you see posters admonishing Allied citizens to keep quiet, you never know if a Nazi spy is listening! Yet, we can write full length articles about battle plans. 

Opa has a grasp on the world players, the skirmishes in some smaller nations that others may not even think about. Nations like Turkey and Greece are getting their act together, and Opa wonders what for. Where did Opa get his detailed information? What was he reading and listening to that informed his articles? I'm sure he had a knack for it, growing up under the sharp eyes and ears of his journalist father.

My favorite line of this whole article is when Opa comments on the cooperation of normally conflicting parties by saying they "have not been doing much intramural fighting lately." That just pulls into perspective how mammoth-sized this world war is. Those civil wars and political infightings of a nation, those are mere intramural games that are paused to collect and fight the larger battle. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

November 20, 1943: Persuasive Pity

Letter from Opa to Grandmother


November 20, 1943

Dearest Marjorie,

I do not envy you for the terrible decision you have to make. You will lift one of us to the highest heavens, and you will have to hurt the other one tremendously and cruelly. There is no compromise possible; neither of us would want it.

Please do not let any feelings of pity persuade you to do a thing you may later on repent. Be selfish about the deal; your happiness is what we want first. You won't hurt me any more than you would hurt Archer, nor would you hurt Archer any more than you would hurt me. Accept the ring of the one you want closest to you ten or twenty years from now; at a time when the war will be only a horrorful memory, and prejudices will have ceded to good will and understanding.

I cannot and do not intend to be objective; I do think that I have a right to present this letter to you at a time when I would give a fortune to be able to sit and talk with you. In my heart I know for certain that you and I belong together; these last few months have been the happiest of my life, and I believe that you enjoyed them too.

Margie, I do not know what Archer and his folks are doing to you. Regardless of the outcome of your trip, though, I shall never give up, but continue to fight for your love until the very, very end.

Forever yours,


I attached the letter's envelope so you could see that Opa sent this letter TO ARCHER'S HOUSE! It seems to have gotten forwarded, and I love that it is a special delivery. 

Opa has some serious chutzpah. And I LOVE it.

In reading this letter, I have so many different emotions! First, I'm kind of annoyed with Grandmother, what the heck is she doing? She's stringing two guys along, breaking one engagement only to pick up another, and then ponder going back to the original. For those of you just tuning in: Archer (or  Archie) was Grandmother's fiance, her boyfriend from the college she went to before she transferred to Kansas State. She broke it off with Archer when she met Opa, and then Opa popped the question and she said yes.

But here's the background that makes Grandmother seem a little less fickle. She broke up with Archer, after what appears to be a long term relationship. He was the safe "boy next door." Along came Opa, a debonair German boy who didn't even have solid citizenship. He was suave, handsome, and might be an enemy spy. He was worldly, unorthodox, and definitely not from a small town. Opa was a surprise for everyone, especially Grandmother. I think she was swept off her feet and once she had a minute to think outside the fumes of love- she realized just what she was getting into. Here was a man who may not even be allowed to stay in the US, and was (shhh) part Jewish. This was a scandal. Yeah he seems like a nice guy, but what happens when the novelty wears off? What happens if he has to go back to Europe? What would a future hold with a man like this? Do they really have as much in common as she thinks? 

Meanwhile, if her own thoughts aren't giving her enough doubts, she has Archer begging for her to come back, and even his mother is slathering on the guilt (we know this because Grandmother told us about it and how awful she felt). On top of that, Grandmother's own family does not approve of this sweeping romance with a German. And what family would?! 

But here's the kicker, one of the things that Grandmother said to us the night when she finally told us the story about Archer, was that she realized she couldn't marry someone because she felt sorry for them. I understood what she meant, but now that I have this letter in front of me, I wonder how instrumental it was in helping her make her decision. 

All other arguments aside, Opa narrows it down to this: marry the one you want to be with in twenty years, be selfish in this, don't let "pity persuade you to do a thing you may later on repent." This argument shows me that Opa knows Grandmother well despite their short time together. Grandmother was always a woman of conscience, who was deeply concerned with being polite, kind, and not burdening anyone. She would harbor great heaps of guilt if she felt her decisions or actions hurt someone, or if she were a burden to someone. Her decision left her with no easy way out. Opa didn't let her off the hook- he told her that he would be just as hurt as Archie. She doesn't get to feel less guilty with either choice. So her choice must be what she wants.

Oh the drama!! Most of the time in real life- the wise choice is the boy next door. In this case, Opa makes a good argument for the "boy you are in love with." We all know what happens (because I'm calling her Grandmother)- but can you imagine making this choice?!

One more thing before I conclude, I realized that this relationship was a beautiful interruption and saving grace for Opa. I don't know if you've ever been in love or remember those first months of absolute intoxicating bliss that comes with those waves of love and emotions and falling vulnerably for someone. It's so fun and disorienting and consuming! And it is perfect for someone who has his entire family in Europe under Hitler's nose. I think that Love saved Opa in more ways than even I realized. This hurricane of love has given Opa the chance to be happy, to be cheerful, to feel free. I am not sure if he would be able to experience all those emotions without the strong influx of falling in love. 

While my Grandmother seems fickle, and seems less aware of the struggle Opa endures as a refugee with family in danger, she has given him the gift of love, and in the end, she chose him. That's pretty beautiful.

Friday, May 11, 2018

November 18, 1943: Longing

Red Cross Letter from Ella and Aunt Annchen to Opa

18 November 1943
Beloved boy,
We are healthy, happy for your greetings.  Good news from Papa, none from Patti for a while.  Think longingly of you.  
Greet the Shelleys, Frau Herz.

My stomach knots with every letter from Ella. The war rages on, the Nazi death machine gets more morbidly efficient, and Ella's chances for survival decrease with every day. She has survived bombings, she has stayed away from Jewish-seeking Nazis, she has managed to stay sheltered and fed. It is no small task.

She can't send details about her struggles in these red cross letters, but she wouldn't anyway. She is a mother first, and after confirming her own health and news from family, she tells Opa her single emotion: Longing.

Ella has Annchen by her side (the best ex-sister-in-law EVER), hears news from August (who is now in occupied territory, so perhaps communication is a little easier for them. She hasn't heard from Patti (Opa's sister), but Patti is trying to hide a little bit more than everyone else. She is passing as a French person, and living alongside those who resist the Nazi occupation. Patti may not be able to safely get word to her mother. 

Ella gives greetings to Opa's substitute parents in America- the Shelley's. I'm trying to remember who Frau Herz is, I will have to double check that.

But ultimately the most honest and telling line is "think longingly of you." That's all Ella wants: to step on the other side of this nightmare and see her children. How does Opa process these letters? I wish I knew. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

November 14, 1943: War is Hell

Article by Opa in Manhattan, Kansas' Newspaper, The Mercury Chronicle


Nazi Are Masters of Defense Strategy on Several Fronts

By Thomas W Doeppner

Among the things which had to be learned in this war is the surprising power of defense demonstrated by the Germans. The first proof of this was given in Africa. Rommel was beaten as soon as the battle of El-Alamein was finished; Rommel's Afrikakorps retreated almost 800 miles westward, just to make a stand in Tunisia where a defense was put up which cost the Allies more men than the entire previous North African campaign from the time of the invasion on. All this time, Rommel was very probably aware of the fact that his fight would mean nothing but a delaying action.

Something similar happened in Italy. There has not been any news of importance from Italy for several weeks. The defensive measures put up by the Germans have reached here too what might be called a temporary stalemate. It is almost certain that the Allied troops will be in Rome before long, but the amount of men and material lost in this campaign is comparatively large.

Most obvious is the systematic retreat of the Nazis in Russia. Since their puppet offensive last July, an offensive comparable to the August, 1918 German offensive, the Nazis have been beaten back or at least been kept from advancing on all Russian fronts. The Russian troops have been victorious, but it has cost them more blood than during the days of German successes.

The Germans not only set booby traps, and use their artillery to cover their retreat, but many a German soldier shows some surprisingly heroic action in a battle which he knows is lost.

From the experiences during the last war, this seems strange. In 1918, as soon as the German advance was permanently stopped, the morale of the German army fell rapidly. A Stalingrad at that time would very probably have meant the end of the war. Germany never did fight to defend her own soil, but raised the white flag far out in enemy territory.

Myth Exploded Now

What is it that makes the Germans put up such a strong defense now? It is rather improbable that there are many Germans left who still give their lives for Hitler or for the Nazi myth of world domination. The fact that they once did fall for these ideas, though, inflicts the Germans with two kinds of emotions which are cause for severe depression and stubbornness: hate and fear.

They hate the Allies. During the last war, the fighting was done between soldiers, and the German population as a whole did not suffer from but indirectly. This time, the Allied bombings make the German people, civilians and combatants both, a direct target for every kind of war suffering.

The fact that bombings were started by the Germans does not make the slightest difference to the population. That was done in other countries to people whom they did not know. The only effect they see and know of is that 800,000(?) German civilians have been killed and approximately ten times as many have been made homeless by the recent Allied bombings of the cities. (These figures were made public by the British Information Service.) Considering that the population of Germany and Austria is about 80,000,000 in peace time, this means that every tenth person in Germany has been made homeless through Allied bombings. There can hardly be any greater reason for hatred.

Hatred is Keynote

A second reason for the strength and willpower of German defense is a psychological one. The German soldier is fully aware of the terrible cruelties committed by the Gestapo and, on Gestapo's orders, by some parts of the German army, in German-occupied countries. The German soldier is also fully aware of the hatred which exists in these countries against Germany. Germans, and anything that reminds of Germany.

The fear that those feelings of hatred might some day be translated into a terrific revenge is a great contributing factor to German fighting strength. There is a possibility that one of Hitler's reasons for committing these cruelties was this effect it would have upon the German soldier. The more cruelties a soldier would commit against a people, the more he will fear surrender to that people. So it's fear and hatred that makes for the defense of Nazi Germany.

The United Nations have been using some good propaganda techniques to overcome at least the former of one of these feelings. By promising to punish only those responsible for acts of cruelty, they relieved some German soldiers who acted under orders from the consequences of their acts. At present, the United Nations propaganda strategy is directed toward permitting the Allied troops to enter German territory before the occupied people themselves would and could start a revolution, such that law and order could be maintained after the German defeat. Whether or not this propaganda will work depends partly on the way the Axis population is treated in Allied-occupied territory, like Italy and, maybe before too long, Eastern Germany.

Well. I had to read this article a few times to really get a hold on how I felt about it. It is hard to read something in its time without inserting the knowledge of the time after and all the historical analysis of the time before. 

Opa has his finger on the pulse of the German people, though he writes as if he has no connections to the Germans. These are his friends, family, fellow citizens (at least formerly). He has unilaterally rejected all connection to the Nazi reign, but he cannot disconnect completely from his childhood. He knows the trouble of his country after the Great War. He knows the anger, resentment, and despair that came when defeat and financial depression were the primary colors on the landscape of German emotions. Opa grew up with bread lines and rations. He also knew privilege and slight prosperity that came with educated parents and urban living. For many, this never came. 

Hitler was a unifier of a people debased. He brought the downtrodden together and reassured them that not only did they deserve better, they were in their very essence better than everyone else. This meant that they did not have to appease one single person to get what they deserved. They didn't need to ask permission. Music to the ears of someone who felt like they never got their fortune, or at least a chance. Hitler gave them an enemy: the Jew, and anyone else who dared to stand in their way. Then, by a sad series of events, he was given power. In turn, fear and despair were given power to avenge for their rightful life. A life free of hardship, free of anything that stood in their way, free of land constraints, free of niceties and civilities that would hamper their God-given rights. 

So Opa was right about hatred, he knew this hatred well. He knew that if the Germans hated the Allied forces (many of the same enemies in both wars) so much after the first world war when they had not lost as many civilians, than this hatred born of civilian devastation from the same forces- oh boy- that's real hate. Opa knows that the Germans are fiercely for themselves, not noticing or caring that they have inflicted the same pain on other nations (and aren't many countries this way in war?). What matters is what THEY did to US. And the Allies have not been kind.

Let me pause for a minute to say that this war, all war, numbs my mind. When you read "cost more blood" - we normally think in numbers, in swaths of columns moving forward. We don't really think about all the individual lives. The families left behind. War is a decimator of individuality and value. Life is no longer precious on the individual scale, but rather in lump sums and in forgivable sacrifices. This is too much for me to grasp. It is a slashing of humanity every time. I don't understand.

Opa is explaining in this article that the Germans are particularly strong on their defense because of this additional hatred against the Allies. His next hypothesis is that the Germans are fighting so strongly because they fear the revenge of their enemies. Opa connects this to the brutality of the Gestapo and the atrocities carried out by the army. He is careful not to specifically mention the Jewish issue. This is not because he doesn't care, but because he knows many in the US don't care, or might not follow him all the way through if he starts talking about Jewish people. The sentiment in the United States was very sympathetic, but lacked the impetus for action. The US carried its own brand of anti-semitism and Opa wasn't going to open that can of worms when he wanted very much to stay in the US.

I disagree with Opa's argument in the atrocity bit. He treats it almost like a strategy on Hitler's part to keep his soldiers motivated. Opa talks about the atrocities as almost a side thing, rather than a hatred-fueled engine itself. I don't think that the Germans fought hard because they were afraid of the consequences of their atrocities. I think that they fought hard because they didn't want a repeat of the first war. The atrocities were a blip on their conscious. I'm not saying that there weren't Nazi soldiers who were horrified and scared by what they saw their own nation do, some of them were fighting because the alternative was death or a concentration camp. What I am saying is that the atrocities were done by people who did them out of sheer hate and complete disregard for the humanity of the people they hurt. Not for political gain, not for a morale booster, not because they thought the minions would fight harder. They did all that because they bought into the idea that they were better, deserved everything, and that these "others" were not only in their way but not even fully human. 

I think Opa's city upbringing shielded him a bit from the despair and hate of those in rural Germany. I wonder if he was trying to work out for himself some logical explanation for why someone could possibly hate someone like his mother. He could reason for himself that maybe it was just a power trip, and a strategic one. Maybe it was, but it certainly took on its own monstrous character far beyond what strategy necessitated. 

All of this made me think of that iconic photo of the soldier in the Vietnam war who has "War is Hell" written on the helmet.