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Previous Interludes

Portrait Eric Stenger, 1906, Museum Ludwig, Foto (c) Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Portrait Eric Stenger, 1906, Museum Ludwig, Foto (c) Rheinisches Bildarchiv

At the end of one letter, Dr. Erich Stenger writes, “I am up to my neck in work again and often regret that we did not get together more while you were here. There would have been so much more to show and to discuss. The director of the Kodak Museum B. Newhall has announced his visit. And when will YOU be returning to Germany?” (excerpt from 1950 letter from Stenger to Joseph A. Horne)

Erich Stenger (1878-1957) was a noted photographic historian and collector.  He trained as a chemist.  He worked during the early days of photography when photography was viewed more as a science rather than art.  In 1905, he would join the faculty of the Technische Hochschule in Berlin as an assistant instructor in the photographic department.  In the early 1900s, he co-wrote papers on The Fundamental Principles of Three-Colour Photography, and Radiation Sensitiveness of Silver Bromide Gelatin for White, Green and Orange Light.  By 1934, he was named to the chair of photography founded in 1864 by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel, a post he would retain until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1945.  He began building his photography collection as a student and would do so until the end of his days.

Portrait Franz Grainer, 1920er Jahre, Museum Ludwig, FH 2438, Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Portrait Franz Grainer, 1920er Jahre, Museum Ludwig, FH 2438, Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

His collection was diverse, from landscapes to portraits, to decorative framed items to caricatures about photography.  Beaumont Newhall wrote that “At the time of World War II, his collection was said to be the largest in private hands anywhere in the world.”

Hermann Wilhelm Vogel: Dreifarbendruck nach Verfahren: Vogel-Ulrich. Aufnahme nach Ölgemälde und natürlichen Schmetterlingen 1892 Museum Ludwig, FH 10248, Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Hermann Wilhelm Vogel: Dreifarbendruck nach Verfahren: Vogel-Ulrich.
Aufnahme nach Ölgemälde und natürlichen Schmetterlingen 1892
Museum Ludwig, FH 10248, Foto: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Beaumont Newhall (1908-1993), referred to in Stenger’s letter, was a pioneering historian and first curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Self Portrait at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970.

Beaumont Newhall, Self Portrait, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970.

Over his career, he would write five editions of the signature work, The History of Photography.  In 1945-1946, the Roberts Commission would recommend him as a good candidate for the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archive unit.  Paul J. Sachs described Newhall “as one of the best men for library work.”

Newhall’s name appeared on one of the last lists of qualified officer personnel that the Roberts Commission presented to the War Department, indicating that “the only alternative after this is enlisted men.”  Newhall would not be assigned to the unit.  After discharge, Newhall returned to the U.S., continuing his research, lecturing, and curating photography exhibits.  In 1948, he became the first Curator of Photography at the Kodak Eastman House in Rochester, NY and would serve as its director from 1958-1971.

One of those enlisted men who would join the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archive unit was Joseph Anthony Horne.  And as part of that unit, Horne would meet Dr. Erich Stenger and learn of his unique photographic collection. Exactly when and where Horne first met Stenger in postwar Germany is unclear but the friendship they developed, as indicated through correspondence about everything from photography to family, would endure for a decade. That friendship must have stemmed from a mutual love of photography. Horne had been a photographer with the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).

Horne’s MFA&A colleague Paul Vanderbilt, during an Investigation Trip to Interview German Authorities and Inspect Private Papers, reports meeting Stenger in September 1946:

Vanderbilt recommended:

Horne certainly met Stenger at a December 1946 meeting of photographers and photographic scientists “to discuss the present situation of the photographic trade and industry in Germany.” Mr. Horne had been invited to attend by the Berlin Press Photographers Guild.  In his report following the meeting, he echoed Vanderbilt’s recommendations that Stenger be aided in reassembling his photographic collection, a collection spread across a divided postwar Germany.

"Germany occupation zones with border" by US Army - Modified version of http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_map3.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Germany_occupation_zones_with_border.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Germany_occupation_zones_with_border.jpg

Germany Occupation Zones 1946

It is unclear from available records how helpful Horne, Vanderbilt and the other Monuments Men were in helping Dr. Stenger rebuild his collection in a post-war, rapidly becoming Cold War, world. What is clear is that this unit of librarians, archivists and those dedicated to preserving and sharing knowledge, felt strongly about helping this gentleman as much as they could.

As the socio-political landscape of Europe changed, and with it the U.S. presence, Horne prepared to move on to other positions within the U.S. foreign services.  Regardless, he and Stenger stayed in touch, corresponding about family and photography, and perhaps even their shared interest in stamp collecting.  Horne would highlight opportunities for Stenger to exhibit photography, and Stenger provided updates on the health of his collection.

“The day after tomorrow I will be going to Switzerland, where I have been asked to come to deliver a few scientific lectures. I will be back home in mid-November. While in Switzerland, where I used to make annual purchases from merchants who knew what I was collecting, I will once again be on the look-out for my collection. Not having been back in eleven years, most of the merchants won’t remember me. Recently I was able to acquire some very special objects here in Germany; considering the awful destruction, I marvel that here and there something useful still pops up.” (excerpt from 1950 letter from Stenger to Joseph A. Horne)

Henry Traut Porträt, München, Museum Ludwig, FH 11936 1932 Foto: Rheinisches Bildarchiv, rba_d036895

Henry Traut, Porträt, München, Museum Ludwig,
1932, Foto: Rheinisches Bildarchiv

In 1955, Stenger’s diverse collection was purchased by the company Agfa, and today it complements a number of other collections as part of the Photographic Collection of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.  Stenger died in September 1957, and as Beaumont Newhall states in a later editorial, the world of photography lost a foremost historian and collector.

 

 Sources and Additional Readings

The Photographic Collection of the Museum Ludwig

Image Magazine, 1958, incl. editorial on Dr. Erich Stenger

press page about the Stenger Collection

About Beaumont Newhall (International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum)

Beaumont Newhall (Scheinbaum & Russek LTD)

Oral History Interview Beaumont Newhall

More about Paul Vanderbilt

Source of historical military records

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Eleanor Roosevelt arriving at opening of CIO Canteen, by Joseph A. Horne, 1944

Eleanor Roosevelt arriving at opening of Labor Canteen, by Joseph A. Horne, 1944

During World War II, canteens were sponsored nationwide by a wide array of different organizations, their overall goal to provide U.S. servicemen with refreshments, entertainment and good company.  Often the food, entertainment and the company of the hostesses was all volunteer.  The Washington Labor Canteen was sponsored by the Federal Workers of America, Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).  It opened with great fanfare on February 13, 1944.  The party was to start at 8pm, with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt scheduled to appear soon after.

photo by Joseph A. Horne, 1944

Folksinger Pete Seeger, photo by Joseph A. Horne, February 1944

Photographs from opening night show that there was good food, good company, great music and big smiles in abundance.

Folksinger Carlie Tart, photo by Joseph A. Horne, February 1944

Folksinger Carlie Tart, photo by Joseph A. Horne, February 1944

I first learned of the canteen because of my research into the life of Joseph Anthony Horne, where I chanced upon that iconic photo he took of a young Pete Seeger performing before the First Lady.  Horne was one of several photographers at this inaugural event, and so there are many photos capturing the uniqueness of the gathering.

photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine, 1944

photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine, 1944

Unique not so much because of the presence of the First Lady or the musical entertainment, but because of the interracial mix of party guests, having a good time together, as equals.  Operated by the CIO Women’s Auxiliary, the Labor Canteen was the only Washington canteen that was open to servicemen of all races.  Others provided services and entertainment to men of one color only.

photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine, 1944

photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine, 1944

Washington, DC, like much of America, was deeply segregated in the 1940s.  The photos by Horne and the other photographers suggested something special was taking place. In her February 16, 1944, My Day column, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote:  “After dinner Sunday night I went to the opening of the labor canteen under the auspices of the Washington Industrial Union Council.  It was crowded with servicemen and the hostesses were very busy providing entertainment and refreshments.  I think this will be a popular canteen, and I am sure that those who work there will find it very rewarding.”

Canteen Hostesses, photo by J. A. Horne, February 1944

Canteen Hostesses, photo by J. A. Horne, February 1944

Additional research pulled up several articles in a weekly newspaper called the Baltimore Afro-American.   Still in operation today (though in a very different format), it is apparently the longest running African American, family owned, newspaper in the U.S. dating back to 1892.  A February 1944 article in the newspaper highlights Eleanor Roosevelt’s support of the canteen as well as the consternation of others in Washington.

In June 1944, the article Army Jim Crow Hits CIO Canteen described the canteen being denied use of facilities due to “army policy” though the author indicates that the denial had more to do with the canteen’s racial integration.

Agnes Smedley, 1914

Agnes Smedley, 1914

In that same issue, another article stood out with its title A White Woman Tours the South by Agnes Smedley (1892-1950).  I’m not sure how her tour originated but Ms. Smedley, based in New York, had traveled to speak in the deep South.  Afterwards, she wrote in her article, “I am so bitter from experiences… that everything seems dark.”  The ferocity with which she wrote prompted me to look her up.  Quite a story there, but you can read more about her life via the links at the bottom of this post.

By December 1944, there was a new article in the Afro-American newspaper celebrating the 10-month success of the interracial canteen as a “victory for democracy.”  Labor Canteen hostess Miss Dorothy Shatson is quoted:  “The existence of a successful interracial canteen in a Southern city like Washington represents a victory of democratic forces, and the realization of some of the things for which we are fighting.”

A Washington Labor Canteen Hostess, photo by J. A. Horne, Feb. 1944

A Washington Labor Canteen Hostess, photo by J. A. Horne, Feb. 1944

In another newspaper article from March 31,1945, Mrs. Fern Urling, writes that she gives all her spare time to the canteen because she, too, feels it stands for real democracy.  Co-manager of the canteen at the time, she adds, “At first some Southern whites are startled to see the interracial atmosphere but they usually come back and finally get used to it and are just as contented as we are. … It is unfortunate that the Army won’t publish any of our activities in its official bulletin. We have to depend mostly on personal contact to advertise the canteen.”

Marian Anderson, photo by Roger Smith, 1943

Marian Anderson, photo by Roger Smith, 1943

Perhaps most surprising for me was the discovery of an October 1945 article in the Afro-American, The Democratic Labor Canteen Flays Mrs. Truman’s Stand.  In short, the membership of the canteen wanted Mrs. Truman to break her relationship with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), citing as an example the actions of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who had resigned from the DAR after the organization refused to allow Marian Anderson, as a person of color, to sing at Constitution Hall.  The telegram highlights how the the canteen’s two-year success was “living proof” of the fallacies of segregation.

photo by Joseph A. Horne

around a table at the canteen, photo by Joseph A. Horne

So what happened to the Washington Labor Canteen?  With the war’s end, I imagine the canteen closed.  But what a legacy to leave behind.  What seeds of friendship and camaraderie — or maybe just a little bit more respect — were planted in those few years between people who had few other opportunities to positively interact.

 

Sources/Further Reading

Prior Interlude features can be found HERE

Eleanor Roosevelt’s My Day Newspaper Columns

More about the Baltimore Afro-American

Army Jim Crow Hits CIO Canteen in Baltimore Afro-American, 1944

Democratic Labor Canteen Flays Mrs. Truman’s Stand in the Baltimore Afro-American, 1945

What Washington Citizens Are Doing (Fern Urling) in the Baltimore Afro-American, 1945

About Agnes Smedley on Wikipedia and summary from PBS Documentary

Agnes Smedley Collection at Arizona State University

Other famous canteens:

The Stage Door Canteen

The North Platte Canteen

 

 

 

 

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Nearly one-year after U.S. entry into World War II, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would receive a letter from Harlan F. Stone, Chief Justice of the United States.  He shared the concerns of many in the art and architectural fields at the destruction taking place in Europe.

Bombing of Hamburg, 1943

Bombing of Hamburg, 1943

While Germany must, of course, be defeated, Stone and the others were urging the development of an organization charged with the protection and conservation of European works of art. The organization would aid “in the establishment of machinery to return to the rightful owners works of art and historic documents appropriated by the Axis Powers.”

Cordell Hull, U.S. Secretary of State

Cordell Hull, U.S. Secretary of State

By 1943, FDR would establish this American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe, its intent to operate for three years and to cooperate with the appropriate branches of the Army, Department of State and civilian agencies. Secretary of State Cordell Hull recommended that it be headquartered at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Archibald MacLeish, 1944

Archibald MacLeish, 1944

The Commission would include Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress, Paul J. Sachs, Asst. Director of the Harvard Fogg Museum, and Francis Henry Taylor, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Using this group’s networks of former students, colleagues and peers, experts would be sought to volunteer and help the Commission complete two functions:

Even prior to U.S. involvement in the war, efforts had been made to catalog endangered art and historic monuments. Card files were also compiled of scholars and specialists in the Fine Arts, Books and Manuscripts.  All information was considered significant, from scholarly skills to possible political leanings.

Detailed maps were created and/or collected showing areas to be spared, if at all possible, and aerial photographs were taken.

Example of Map Noting Cultural Areas to Protect in France

Example of Map Noting Cultural Areas to Protect in France

By April 1944, recognizing the need to prepare maps for the protection of art and historic monuments in Asia, as well, the Commission’s name would be altered, and the words “War Areas” would replace “Europe.”  In August, Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts would become Commission chair.  Roberts was one of three Supreme Court Justices to vote against the plan for internment of Japanese Americans during the war.  Over time the Commission would simply be referred to as the Roberts Commission.

Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts

Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts

The Roberts Commission would establish the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Unit (MFA&A) within the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies. Eventually numbering over 300 men and women, the unit’s “Monuments Men” included architects, archaeologists, art historians, artists, curators, and librarians.  During the war, they would be assigned in small numbers to Allied troops in the field.

George Stout

George Stout

Monuments Men had to be fluent in the languages of the places where they were to be assigned.  And to appease concerns about shifting manpower away from fighting forces, they had to be older than the age for fighting eligibility, so most were in their thirties or older. Early days for the Monuments Men, as they traveled with Allied troops, were difficult since they had little authority or supports in place.  That would change somewhat over time as Allied leadership including MacArthur in the Pacific and Eisenhower in Europe made clear that cultural preservation was a priority, though never one to outweigh the protection of soldiers’ lives.

American Zone Poster

American Zone Poster

The preservation and protection of artistic and historic monuments would take place differently in the two different theaters of World War II — Europe and the Pacific.  In Europe, even before the war ended, there would be a focus by Monuments Men like Mason Hammond, George Stout and others on recovering the artwork and cultural items taken by Hitler and the Nazis from wealthy Jewish families, museums, university libraries and religious institutions. The goal:  to protect and preserve these cultural assets, and to prevent the Germans from using the stolen loot to fund German war efforts.

As early as 1937, Hitler’s intentions to use art as propaganda had been clear.  Expressionist and modern art was labeled as degenerate.  Those works not sold or destroyed outright were paraded for years in exhibits extolling their worthlessness. Less than a decade later, these same works would be celebrated in the U.S. National Gallery and other museums around the world.

MFAA_Officer_James_Rorimer_supervises_U.S._soldiers_recovering_looted_paintings_from_Neuschwanstein_Castle

MFAA Officer James Rorimer supervises U.S. soldiers recovering looted paintings from Neuschwanstein Castle

But before those works of art and their creators would be celebrated, the war in Europe had to end which it did in May 1945. As the Allied forces settled in, the Monuments Men continued to fan out, recovering art, and beginning the long process of cataloging and restitution.  In the Pacific theater, the war would end in August.

Hiroshima 1945

Hiroshima 1945

On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima. “The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people.”  On August 15th, Emperor Hirohito would announce surrender.

Nagasaki Under Atomic Bomb, 1945

Nagasaki Under Atomic Bomb, 1945

Into this devastated, postwar landscape, Monuments Men like Lt. Walter D. Popham would document damage done by the war and make suggestions for recovery and future protection of cultural assets.  Popham was a noted landscape architect and professor prior to the war.  He’d written books on the gardens of Asia including the tree-lined strees of Tokyo.  George Stout, respected for his work as a Monuments Man in Europe, was especially pleased to learn of Popham’s Japan assignment.  Stout had been one of several Monuments Men to recommend deploying the Monuments Men in Japan after its surrender.

The effort of the Monuments Men in Japan and across Asia is one that remains to be shared more widely.  Peruse just a few of the catalog cards, filed in the National Archives, in which Popham and others describe their perceptions of the postwar Japanese landscape, and their interactions with the populace, it is clear that many stories remain to be told.

With the war’s end, in both Europe and Asia, the role of the Monuments Men would shift.  Governments mobilized to literally rebuild whole nations.  How could one balance (and budget for) the collection, preservation and restitution of artwork while meeting the immediate needs of feeding, clothing and housing millions of displaced peoples?   Former allies were clearly becoming enemies.  What role could art have, if any, in forging new bonds or cementing old ties?

artwork collected at wiesbaden collection point

photographs of artwork collected at wiesbaden collection point

In Europe, by the spring of 1946, three central collection points were firmly established in Germany, in Wiesbaden, Munich and Offenbach.  The Offenbach Archival Depot would specialize in collecting and cataloging Jewish cultural items, books and archives.  The establishment of Offenbach was led by archivist Lt. Leslie Poste.  One of his assistants was Joseph A. Horne.

Joseph A. Horne, 1940s

Joseph A. Horne, 1940s

By February 1947, Horne would become the depot’s third director.  According to the memoirs of Lucy Dawidowicz, his friends called him Tony. “Before the war, he’d been on the staff of the Library of Congress’s photographic division.  Transferred from the MFA&A in Berlin, he was then new to the Depot, having taken over his duties barely two weeks before my visit.  About thirty, very tall, thin, lanky, and blond, he was the only American there.  He was in charge of a staff of some forty Germans.”

His tenure would coincide with one of the worst winters to strike Europe in recent memory.  The Cold War with the Russians was dawning.  The restitution (or not) of artwork and cultural items was to become a strategic tool used by military intelligence and policymakers on all sides.  Individuals, including war survivors as well as surviving relatives of those killed by the Nazis, universities and museums whose collections had been sacked … their demands for restitution and return of art, books and cultural items poured in.  Horne, like many others, would deal with these requests as respectfully as he could even as events unfolded around him that would place Offenbach at the center of one of the most unexpected efforts to return looted cultural items to Jewish communities around the world.

More to follow in July…

 

Sources/Additional Reading

World War II records from the National Archives searchable here

More information about Hamburg photo

Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, History.Com

About George L. Stout

About Mason Hammond, First Monuments Man in the Field 

About Ernst Barlach

About Lt. Leslie Poste

World War II Photography Database

2014 Degenerate Art Exhibit

 

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Read previous Interludes here.

WWII: Europe: France; “Into the Jaws of Death — U.S. Troops wading through water and Nazi gunfire”, circa 1944-06-06, by Robert F. Sargent

WWII: Europe: France; “Into the Jaws of Death — U.S. Troops wading through water and Nazi gunfire”, circa 1944-06-06, by Robert F. Sargent

On June 6, 1944, the Western Allies launched the invasion of Normandy.  It would prove to be a pivotal point in the course of the war as soldiers, by air, land and sea, fought to liberate France from Germany.  Troops landed at beaches all along the northern coast.  As part of the larger strategy, four port cities were identified for capture to facilitate future entrance of Allied troops.  One of these port cities was Le Havre.  Secured in September 1944, the city would then be turned into a major entry and exit point for military personnel and equipment needed at the front.

[Abandoned boy holding a stuffed toy animal amid ruins following German aerial bombing of London, by Toni Frissell, 1945

Abandoned boy holding a stuffed toy animal amid ruins following German aerial bombing of London, by Toni Frissell, 1945

By the end of 1944, the Germans were in retreat.  While an Allied victory was in sight, much of Europe lay in waste.

Polish kid in the ruins of Warsaw, September 1939, by Julien Bryan

Polish kid in the ruins of Warsaw, by Julien Bryan

Caen, 1944

Caen, France

As a new year dawned, the Allies were pressing hard and in great need of reinforcements. Fresh troops were crossing the English Channel into Le Havre.

40 and 8 Boxcar

40 and 8 Boxcar (in this image from World War I)

There they could be transported inland, either by rail or by road, to staging camps where men and machines were made ready for action at the front. On January 17, 1945, in Le Havre, Joseph A. Horne, with the men of the 929th Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company, was supposed to board troop train 2980.  The train was to make its way to a French village bordering one of the largest of the military staging areas, Camp Lucky Strike.  Indeed, the train’s 45 wooden cars, called Forty and Eights, were filled with U.S. personnel including men from the 553rd Ambulance Company, 656th Quarterhead Railway Company, 4th Squad of the 2nd Maintenance Platoon and 1471st Engineers.  And, indeed, the train did depart.  What happened next has been called an avoidable tragedy.

For much of its journey, the train crawled along, sometimes at 10 miles per hour, en route to the train station in St. Valery-en-Caux.  But then something happened. The train picked up speed.  With worn out brakes and no speedometer, there was little the engineer could do.  Packed tight into the cars and unaware of events, the military personnel were at first overjoyed to be moving faster.  They did not know the brakes had failed. The train crashed into the St. Valery railway station. Cars crumpled, piling mountain high.  The reports of the carnage were gruesome. At least 87 people were killed and 150 injured.

Horne and the men of the 929th were not on the train due to “some error on the part of an officer, as a result we rode the 40 miles from Le Havre to Lucky Strike in open trucks.”  Later Horne would take photos of the wreckage.  How do we know that? Because he says so in the caption notes he wrote that accompany the roughly 200 photos he took between 1945-1946 as he served in Germany and France.

His detailed notes, along with prints and negatives, are in a box in the Library of Congress.  They have yet to be digitized. Why he was taking photos with the 929th remains unclear.  Further research is needed.  After having worked as a photographer with the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, perhaps the military or some other arm of the federal government was continuing to utilize his photographic skill.

In any case, photocopies of at least 80 of the photos he took show images taken from January through at least June 1945 of the men of 929th at work, at play, and interacting with locals in France and Germany and of refugees, or “displaced persons”, from several other countries.  They show a war-ravaged European landscape, and they also capture the persevering spirit of people in the midst of war.

Russian girls who work in the kitchen of the 929th, by J. A. Horne

Russian girls who work in the kitchen of the 929th, by J. A. Horne

Former officer in the Russian army, captured by the Germans, and now attached to the Displaced Persons Unit of the 929th, by J.A. Honre

Former officer in the Russian army, captured by the Germans, and now attached to the Displaced Persons Unit of the 929th, by J.A. Horne

Frankfurt Vicinity, Germany. French family on Highway 8 returning home, by J. A. Horne

Frankfurt Vicinity, Germany. French family on Highway 8 returning home, by J. A. Horne

In his notes he describes taking photos from a moving train as the 929th travelled from Camp Lucky Strike to Verdun.  He describes holes in the sheet metal roof of a 929th shop caused by an air attack, and burned out tanks lined up to be salvaged near the shop area.  He describes a local elder, or burgermeister, in a German town pointing out the architectural highlights and history of his home.   The man refused to be photographed but he guided Horne around his city directing his photography.  Horne’s  caption notes, which are quite extensive, end with this statement:  “Other captions on back of prints.  Sorry I can’t do a good job on these captions.  There just isn’t time.”  The notes end around May 1945.

Around this time, the war is effectively ending in Europe.  The final battles are taking place, and soon Germany will surrender to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.  And as German labor camps are secured, the full horror of the war comes to light.

Buchenwald Corpses, 1945

Buchenwald Corpses, 1945

What happens to Horne over the next six to twelve months is unclear.  He later summarizes that period of his enlistment as serving as an education officer.  Somehow, at some point, he comes into contact with the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Unit, the men and women tasked with recovering, preserving and eventually restituting the world’s great art, including the paintings, books and spiritual items that had belonged to the Jewish families of Europe.  By June 1946, he would no longer be enlisted in the Army but be employed with the MFA&A as a civilian.

U.S. soldier in a bombed church, by Toni Frissell

U.S. soldier in a bombed church, by Toni Frissell

He would be reunited with some of the same colleagues with whom he’d worked at the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information.  He would be called upon to utilize his skills with language, especially German, his understanding of photography, and his experience in engaging with other cultures.  And, as he would later describe to his son, there would be the adventures to be had as former allies became enemies.

Stay tuned for further Interludes in June.

 

Sources/Further Reading …

About Cigarette Camps

Russell C. Eustice Recalls the Troop Train 2980 Tragedy at St. Valery-en-Caux During World War II

The WWII 300th Combat Engineers  553rd Ambulance Company

Area Soldier Survived World War II Train Disaster

More about the picture of the Polish boy in the Warsaw Ruins 

More about photographer Toni Frissell and Women at the Front

More about the Monuments Men

Introduction to the Holocaust

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