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tv   Civilians World War II Intelligence Gathering  CSPAN  February 9, 2020 11:00pm-12:01am EST

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>> c-span, your unfiltered view of government. created by cable in 1979 and brought to you today by your television provider. next on "american history tv" university of pennsylvania , history professor kathy peiss talks about her book "information hunters, when librarians, soldiers, and spies banded together in world war ii europe." she details how ordinary citizens collected books, newspapers, and documents to aid u.s. military intelligence. the national archives in washington, dc hosted this event. >> during world war ii, getting the correct information was critical to the war effort. while we might imagine spies,
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sneaking stolen secrets out of occupied countries, much useful information was found in published sources, books, newspapers, and other documents. kathy peiss' latest book explores how the quest for information led to the recruit andibrarians, scholars archivists in collecting and organizing books and documents. they were skilled in collecting and organizing books and documents. their work has left its own archival trail that other scholars and now follow. they sifted through the state department records here at the national archives in college park and the herbert hoover presidential library in iowa. researchers today pursue their missions in research rooms and online relying on the skills of archives and library professionals, and i am proud of our staff at the national archives and the work they do to
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assist the modern information hunters. kathy peiss is a professor of american history at the university of pennsylvania where she teaches courses on modern american cultural history and the history of american sexuality, women and gender. she is the author of chief amusements, working women in leisure at any turn of the century new york, zoot suit, an antibiotic character and extreme -- innate maddock -- an eni gmatic character and extreme style, and hope in a dark, the up america's beauty culture, a finalist for the los angeles times book award, and named one of amazon's 1999 top 100 books in women's studies. peiss is a fellow of the society of american historians and serves on the the executive board. in addition to writing and teaching, she has served as a consultant to museums, archives, and public history projects. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome kathy peiss. [applause]
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prof. peiss: thank you. it is such a pleasure to be here, and i need to give a very strong note of thanks to the national archives not only for inviting me but much more importantly for its collections and extraordinary archivists. i could not have written this book without the national archives, so i am deeply grateful. we know the big stories of world war ii, of combat, courage, death, and destruction. the complex decision-making behind military decisions and foreign relations and the reshaping of global geopolitics after the war. in recent years we have also come to appreciate the unusual alliance between the cultural world and the battlefield during world war ii, especially the american curators and museum specialists who saved art and culture in wartime europe, the monuments men, a unique unit of
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the american military during the war. there are still many hidden stories on the margins of battlefields that shed light on the war and its broad impact on american life. this is one of those stories. it was revealed to me unexpectedly when i stumbled upon a memorial to my father's oldest brother, rubin peiss, who died in 1952 at age 40. i learned for the first time about his surprising life about 16 years ago. he was the eldest son in a jewish immigrant family, received scholarships from trinity college and harvard to study philosophy. he taught in a wpa funded community college in the midst of the great depression and then earned a library degree. and he was a librarian at harvard at the outset of the war when he was recruited into the office of strategic services, the wartime intelligence agency, to acquire enemy publications abroad. at the end of the war, he had a
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-- he headed a mission at the library of congress to obtain all works published in germany and occupied countries for american libraries. i spent many odd hours tracing his life and work not thinking that a book would result from it. the process of uncovering his story was a remarkable one for me. i never met rubin peiss. he died before i was born. but his light became an integral part of mine for many years. his story led me to the information hunters, an unlikely band of librarians, scholars, spies, and soldiers whose more -- war effort centered on books and documents. they gathered enemy publications in stockholm and lisbon, search ed for records and liberated paris, the rubble of berlin. they seized nazi works and
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bookstores and schools, and they unearthed millions of books hidden in german and mines and caves and mineshafts. improvising the techniques of librarians in wartime conditions, they contributed to allied intelligence, safeguarded endangered collections, and restituted looted books. and they built up the international holdings of american libraries. these men and a few women came together in a series of mass collecting efforts that originated in the unique conditions of world war ii, and i think they offer a contrast or a complement to the monuments men, which was a army unit that grew out of a presidential commission dedicated to the cultural protection of heritage in war zones. books i think are less straightforward than our treasures, and many different decision-makers and personnel address the problems they posed and their potential to aid the war effort. so just a word about books.
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it is worth recalling that books serve readers in many ways. they are sources of useful information, they are forms of communication, they are material or physical objects, and a they are a record of cultural heritage. in total war these attributes , became terrains of battle. more than in any previous war, world war ii required the mobilization of knowledge to fight the enemy. the war's ideological confrontations sharply contrasted freedom and fascism, which were played out in the realm of books, propaganda, and mass media. the uprooting, pillaging destruction of culture to armed , -- through armed conflict and the third reich's policies drew new attention to preserving records of civilization in a time of war. so each of these elements brought together american librarians and scholars, soldiers and spies, during the
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war and the immediate postwar period. the story begins with intelligence. so the u.s. government had a limited capacity for foreign intelligence gathering on the eve of the war. the fbi had ramped up its compilation of dossiers on domestic threats, intercepted mail. american embassies reported on foreign developments. the armed services began to ramp up military intelligence. but the u.s. was behind france and germany in intelligence gathering, and as the international crisis mounted, president roosevelt came to believe that the government needed a more robust intelligence capability. 1945 he appointed william donovan, a decorated world war i veteran, boyer, and political operative to build a
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civilian intelligence agency. this became known as the office of strategic services. initially the agency however was called the coordinator of information, and i would just underscore that name. it was this new attention to information that led to these wartime collecting missions. my first focus on the prosaic task of gathering and analyzing non-secret publications and documents, and to do this, donovan enlisted the help of archibald macleish, an unlikely pair who spent a lot of time together. the famed poet, playwright, and at the time, the librarian of congress. mcleish, the library had become a site of a new cultural alliance. he was an ardent interventionist and raised the stakes for librarians. he called on them to not only be custodians of culture, but also defenders of freedom. as he eloquently put it in 1940,
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"in such a time as ours when wars are made against the spirit and its works, the keeping of these records is a kind of warfare, the keepers, whether they so wish are not, cannot be neutral." strangely enough the origins of america's intelligence apparatus might be traced to the meetings of these two men in the summer of 1941. we tend to think of intelligence in terms of the exploits of spies, secret operations, decoded messages. but publicly available information, open sources were always important and of course remain important. donovan and mcleish believed that intelligence could be gleaned from the close analysis of open sources, using the methods and tools of scholarship, which might reveal information useful for the war effort. foreign newspapers, scientific
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periodicals industrial , directories and the like were in great demand. the international book trade was shut down by the war, so other means of acquisition had to be found. and so not long after the attack on pearl harbor, they formed an agency that has a very unwieldy name. the international -- the interdepartmental committee for the acquisition of foreign publications, known as the idc. it was chaired by william langer, a harvard based historian and the head of the research and analysis branch. and it was run by a 28-year-old franklin kilgore who was recruited from harvard library. kilgore in turn recruited my uncle rubin into the oss. he was 90 years old when i had the opportunity to meet him. he was still very sharp and had the habits of an intelligence agent. he had like selective hearing loss when there was a question he did not want to answer.
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the acquisitions committee got off to a very slow start. they failed to acquire a single item in its four months. firstfinally in april 1942, they began to send librarians and scholars abroad to collect material. initially they thought they could get away with just one or two people, but the program rapidly expanded into lisbon, temple,m, london, his kyra -- istanbul, cairo, new delhi. i will talk about the stockholm and lisbon operations. the stockholm operation was headed by the only woman to serve as a field agent in this project. her name was adele tibor. she had an unusual background, she had grown up in hollywood with the family connected to the film industry. but she had a scholarly bent and went to the university of chicago for a phd in medieval
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linguistics, which she earned in 1930. like many women of her era, she was denied an academic career. instead she carried on her own research while employed by senior faculty at chicago to go abroad and either copy or photograph rare books and manuscripts for their scholarship. at the vatican library in 1934, she began to observe scholars rapidly filming their research using small cameras. and she trained herself to do the same. she was in germany when the war broke out. she participated in an air raid drill in nature and library. she left paris just ahead of the german invasion, made her way to lisbon, and then returned to the united states in 1941. march 18 months later, she returned to europe, this time to stockholm, to microfilm enemy publications for the oss. she worked very closely with british intelligence, but she
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also developed her own channels of access through booksellers, through sympathetic librarians, government agencies. and she also engaged in covert acquisitions. she made contact with the danish resistance and the clandestine press. she worked with the british to smuggle periodicals into sweden from germany. there are also our family stories that she was engaged in espionage along the coast of occupied france. i have not been able to prove this in the national archives records. her personal record -- her personnel record in college park contains only a single sheet of paper. so somebody raided it at some point. she is still a woman of mystery. she was certainly the most secretive of the agents. frustrating her bosses, who newsy letterssend and thought she might be overwhelmed by the job. in fact she was the most effective agent in the oss
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acquisitions program, gathering microfilming them and relaying them to london. the other large operation was in lisbon, in neutral lisbon, where despite the dictatorship of antonio salazar, book dealers at -- and news stands did a very brief business in other periodicals from all other europe. lisbon was a magnet for intelligence agents from all of the warring countries. these included some american librarians, including ruben peiss, and ralph carrothers, emmanuel sanchez, who was sent by the library of congress. sanchez arrived first and after shaking off some portuguese undercover agents who were tailing him, he bound up being successful purchasing works on the open market and also gathering secret materials. he was a dashing and popular
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figure at the library of congress, and he wrote these elaborate wonderful letters, , back calling his employer , elsi, and sanchez portrayed himself as a character in a spy novel. his closest contacts were the andrade brothers owners of the , library in portugal, who were ally sympathizers who went with him to franco spain, where they approached german owned bookstores and acquired works that would have been too dangerous for the americans to collect on their own. the oss agents carrothers and peiss competed with sanchez to collect their work, and they made the abounds at bookstores, took buying trips into the hinterland, that photograph on the top left, and they cultivated sympathetic locals to loan secret items or be fronts
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for subscriptions. initially, the oss was given an allotment of 165 pounds a month for air shipments, which was a very limited amount, a limited weight. thehey microfilmed most of material they acquired, camera -- acquired. their camera equipment was located in an out-of-the-way room at the american consulate, and it was going on it day or night. i put on the slide this card that says h. gregory thomas to show you the kind of remarkable sources you can find in the national archives. this is a calling card like a , business card, very small. it was the card of the head of the oss in the iberian peninsula, gregory thomas, which argus, whiche was peiss too reuben
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introduce him to dulles. the spymaster in switzerland. this was buried deep in an accordion file in the field station records. the result was a massive and nearly overwhelming quantity of material. by the end of 1942, their first year, over one million pages had been duplicated and distributed to american government agencies and the numbers continued to grow. operations, kibr e's unit produced 3000 microfilmed periodicals. it is difficult to gauge the intelligence value of these acquisitions. the committee claimed they were very valuable because they were appealing to the bureau to increase their budget. the operational uses of this material seem limited, certainly compared to signals intelligence or code breaking. nevertheless, newspapers, scientific records, technical
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works and the like directly from access in occupied countries could be mined for useful information. they could indicate enemy troop strength. they gave suggestions of new weaponry. levels of industrial production, transportation, and there are even ways to estimate enemy deaths by extrapolating from obituaries. so again the kind of skills and scholarship being applied to these materials. many wartime officials also perceived open sources to be highly important, and they invested considerable energy analyzing them. to make these sources useful, techniques of information management had to be employed to transform the physical object -- in this case microfilm -- into the genre of intelligence. so they extracted useful information. they indexed it, provided abstracts, and they translated
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4% of all materials they are -- they acquired into 42 languages. this was quite an operation. information disaggregated , content, not the publications themselves, were the intelligence product. in a time before computers were not available for this work the , oss hired a small army of indexers and translators, most emigres,ere women and to carry this on. the oss mission into neutral cities became less important after d-day for obvious reasons. at that point the information hunters became integrated into military operations. if they were assigned to documents gathering teams called t forces, added these forces followed behind the allies' armies as they advanced, scouring targets for operational or strategic information.
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they wore army uniforms and they operated under military command. serving as specialists to select archival records and publications often on-the-fly, like instantaneous decisions. although an unlikely role for bibliophiles and scholars, many took to this work. one of them was private max lobe. i don't have a photograph of him. he was a german-born journalist, he emigrated to the united states and became a bookseller in new york city before joining the army and being assigned to the oss. he had the idea of interrogating german prisoners of war in great britain who had worked in libraries and the book trade. his aim was to discover the whereabouts of important collections, and he turned up incredible information that was ultimately of value to military intelligence as well as more generally to people concerned about the fate of
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books. finney agent, ross lee was an avant-garde composer and , music professor at smith college, who you see on the right. he volunteered to do oss acquisitions work. he arrived after the liberation of paris, went from targeted to target, identified on a long list, some of which he created in cambridge. as he wrote his wife, my work involves different methods of acquiring foreign publications than i or anyone in north hampton massachusetts , would use. he learned how to interrogate informants and follow suspicious people. he said i find i am pretty good at sniffing down an aisle and tracing things. and he found massive quantities of printed materials, which he confiscated. i requisitioned a two and a half ton truck today, he wrote. i need a convoy actually. on thanksgiving 1944, he made
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his biggest discovery, a huge cache of patent abstracts, which were sent back to the u.s. the t forces looked for material with immediate intelligence value, research related to weaponry and other war-related materials and records that might be useful in the prosecution of war crimes. there was a degree of mission creep, as there often is. in the final status of war, they seized all manner of works that might later be exploited for some purpose. as max lobe said, as he was engaged in this work there were , so many tempting targets, that even after a successful day, he felt uneasy because there is so much undone. he had seized 1000 books that day and 12 rungs of periodicals. although they were ordered to respect the integrity of libraries, they considered collections that were in the service of nazism to be fair game. for example, there is an
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institute for race studies housed in a university library. that they removed, but not the library's other collections. they took endangered booked as well. as one officer in cologne explained, we felt no qualms about going into bubble which -- rubble which used to be bookstores and removing any items of value because they would have been destroyed. but there is also the sense of having a certain freedom to act prior to the establishment of order in these newly taken communities before the civil affairs officers came in. that, they called the period of the snatch with the really anything goes. it was another story when military government was in place. ae officer went into bookstore in bonn, and the germans were looking at him and he felt too uncomfortable
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seizing this stuff, so he paid cash for the lot. as the investigators dug more deeply, they found vast quantities of books and publications stashed in surprising places. in the wake of bombing raids, german authorities had hidden library collections in caves, mines and other places along with other treasures. gold, artwork, and costumes of the berlin state opera had been up part ofo yielded the precious state library, piled in disarray were 2 million volumes of books and journals , historical maps and other materials, and there was no catalog there. tragically, a fire had burned for several months in the mine. likely set by refugees trying to keep warm, and as one investigator reported the books , were in the process of
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gradual destruction from smoke, fumes and damp. this was one of 25 places where the library had been stored. as the monuments men began surveying all of these areas, they found hundreds and hundreds of locations which contained not art but also libraries and archives. this wartime history laid the groundwork for the treatment of books during the period of allied occupation, mass collecting missions may have ceased or narrowed in scope when the war ended in 1945. yet the opposite occurred. a convergence of needs and interest from the american civilianorld, the government, and military letter to the expansion of librarians' involvement of god. first the war experience and the allied victory spurred research to assume a more prominent global role which they required
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deeper and more extensive international holdings. during the war, the library of congress, top university libraries had committed themselves to a vision of american dominance through a cooperative program which they called the farmington plan, which would involve bringing every -- and archibald mcleish's said he wanted every book in the world. through cooperation, the united states would amass an entire global collection. his successor at the library of congress, luther evans argued , that in these holdings were a matter of national security. at the same time, american libraries competed fiercely with each other. this was not a genteel world that you might imagine when you think about libraries. not at all. now that the war was over, librarians schemed to get back into europe. and the one that was especially successful was the hoover institution, the library of the
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hoover institution, which had been founded by herbert hoover . ater world war i, we sent network of agents are brought collect records of war. here are two journalists that were doing journalism certainly but also engaged in collecting records for hoover. the military increasingly grew concerned about librarians running around former battlefield and devastated cities, scooping up books. so out of this situation, the library of congress proposed in the summer of 1945 to establish a mission to acquire books for themselves and american research libraries. this mission was initially seen as a book purchasing operation. it would fill the wartime gaps. by buying three copies of every publication issued in germany or occupied countries since 1939. this arrangement made the war
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and state department's drew upon the expertise and model of the oss acquisition of publication. reuben peiss was sent to head to the library of congress mission in 1945. a group of american librarians joint him in january 1946. and here is a picture of a the librarians in trench coats in front of the headquarters of the military government. ruben peiss is the man in the middle with the pipe and the elderly gentleman on the right the time he was 70 years old when he made this trip. one goal of the mission was to go to the prewar center of the german book trade to pick up a quarter of a million dollars worth of books that had been
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ordered by american libraries before the war. these had been successfully held in safekeeping, despite bombing damage. now the americans faced a different problem, to get them. become part of the soviet zone of occupation. a long negotiation took place between the american librarians at their soviet counterparts for their release. it was successful despite the increased tensions between the two countries in 1946, beginnings of the cold war. in what became of a legend, peiss and a colleague let a convoy of trucks from berlin, through soviet attack point, the the only incident was they were
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hailed by an autobahn girl on the side of the road, trying to get them to stop. they arrived in the city where they were treated like celebrities. the people hoped that their presence was a sign of an imminent u.s. takeover. they dined and conversed with their russian counterparts, increasingly friends, while the trucks were loaded and returned the next day to berlin with the goods. however, what was initially defined narrowly evolved into something else. the library of congress representatives operated under the auspices of the u.s. occupation government in germany, known as omdus, which authorized them to go into research institutes and libraries, where they examined and at times confiscated materials. they screened and evaluated vast quantities of publications that had already been seized by "t" forces and intelligence units. these are millions of pieces of material that needed to be screened. those that were not needed by the military or intelligence
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were given to the library of congress mission. the librarians were also drawn to documents and ephemera even though this was not really their charge. this, for example, was the detritus of the reiss collection which involved posters, pamphlets, and other materials documenting the nazi era, which ultimately was sent to the library of congress. you can see this became a massive scale program of acquisitions. a crucial dimension of allied occupation policy, which was the denazification of germany, also involved books and librarians. books with nazi and militaristic contents were seized, german bookstores and libraries were closed, objectionable works were put under lock and key. true for schools, bookstores, publishing houses, and many libraries. there were raids called operation tally-ho to remove
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nazi content from these places. this actually turned out to be a vast undertaking because the book trade was very large in germany. everything from academic treatises, to school textbooks and popular fiction. over time, stricter policies were enacted, culminating in an allied agreement known as order number four, to not only seize but destroy all literature and material of a nazi nature. this included works that promoted fascism, militarism, nationalism, anti-semitism, racism, and civil disorder. when word of this directive hit the american press, many americans were outraged. during the war, there were government statements condemning nazi book burnings. books cannot be killed by fire, books are weapons and the war of ideas. order number four seemed like a
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betrayal of democratic values, and the reasons why americans fought the war. to counter this negative publicity, the library of congress mission proposed screening and preserving up to 150 copies of each objectionable work for future research, and as a record of nazi-ism, with the rest off to paper mills for pulping and producing much-needed paper stock. the military and government officials were very upset at headlines like this one, orders nazi books burned. no, we are pulping them, not burning them. the execution of this policy was uneven. we do not know exactly how many books were destroyed, but about 2 million of them made their way to american university libraries, as well as the library of congress. these are just a sample of such books in my own library at the university of pennsylvania. these were popular fiction books
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for the german troops. field post books they were called. the librarians at penn refer to them as junk, as do most librarians. among the wartime missions involving books, the one that remains most meaningful to us today, concerns the restitution of books that were looted from jewish individuals and institutions. millions of these had been seized by nazi looting teams, including those directed by alfred rosenberg to create an institute for research into the jewish question. essentially, preserving these works for study even as the regime killed millions of jews in the holocaust. in april, 1945, american troops discovered approximately 2 million of these looted volumes in a small village called hungen. two months later, a jewish-american
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officer looked up rosenberg's institute in an old frankfurt telephone directory, and went with a colleague to the site. the building itself had been destroyed, but he found scraps of paper with hebrew writing on the ground, which led them into a cellar filled with these books. the photograph on the left is a photograph of one of those cellars. so they had to gather, preserve, and restitutive spokes was an unanticipated problem assigned to the monuments men. some of the books were easily identified and could be returned to their libraries of origin. the issue of restitution in this time period was that restitution was to the country, not to the individual. however, many of these volumes were unidentifiable. their owners were dead, their whereabouts were unknown. initially, they were stored in this library, the rothchild's
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library collecting point, which was a relatively small place. the monuments men were so overwhelmed with the amount of work they had to do, they gave the task to handling them to an american civilian whose name was glenn goodman, whose story i was fortunate enough to learn. goodman had been a student and teacher in germany. he married there, and did not leave when the u.s. went to war. he was a prisoner in a concentration camp. at the end of the war when he was released, he looked for work and to find a way to return home with his wife and family. he found his way to an office of monuments men julius buckman in frankfurt. buckman handed him three old volumes. he said, can you identify these?
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goodman knew two of them, and he bluffed on the third. that was good enough to buckman, who told him to report to the rothchild library and begin to organize these books for restitution. it was an almost impossible job. finally, after many months of uncertainty, two military officers, both jewish americans, were put in charge. first, seymore pomrenze who was a professional archivist and who worked at the national archives before the war, and continued in government service after. and isaac bencowitz, who was a chemist, and a veteran of both world wars. they took over a large warehouse where the books had been relocated called the offenbach archival depot. these administrators found ways to shelter, repair, and identify these looted books. they developed a large-scale book processing plant, designing workflows to make it possible to identify and restitute rapidly. despite the fact that the books were often damaged, and in many different languages, most of which the german workers could
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not read. bencowitz came up with the idea of photographing the book place and stamps in the books, and having the workers memorize a small number of them. when they saw a book with that stamp, they put it into a box with the number. this speeded up the identification process tremendously, and over two years they had returned over 3 million books. even so, there were 360,000 that were orphaned, and needed to be dealt with. ultimately these books were given to the control of a u.s. based international organization called jewish cultural reconstruction. the group consisted of many jewish scholars, lawyers, and religious leaders. it distributed the books to
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israel, the united states, and to smaller numbers to south africa, south america, and a very small number two western europe. so much of what i have described today involves improvised decisions, made quickly on the ground in situations of destruction, danger, and uncertainty. and in which many other considerations had priority. protecting troops, feeding a defeated population and refugees. there were certainly ethical questions that were raised by the librarians involved and that came to be asked in the wake of this activity. i can talk more about that if you have questions about how to think through the ethics of acquisition and restitution in this time period. but by way of
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i want to point to several i want to point to several important legacies of this effort. the war spurred new ways of thinking about fundamental aspects of professional library work. such as reproduction, using microphones, access, and retrieval of printed materials. this wartime program strongly shaped information science after the war, and that can only be realized through computerization. many of the ideas and practices began in this time period. a number of key figures in information science closely involved in this oss program. they include eugene power, who founded university microfilms, which is now the information giant proquest. and fredrick kilgore, who founded oclc, the forerunner of world cat, the world's largest bibliography database. the wartime acquisitions effort also contributed to the global stature and ambitions of american research libraries, and
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gave universities extensive international holdings for the first time. these were often seen as serving the national interest, and necessary for the pursuit of american foreign policy and global influence. at the same time, the war turned some librarians in other directions, including a renewed sense of internationalism, many working for unesco. it led others to reflect upon larger political purposes of their work. issues raised starkly by order number four. and strengthened their commitment to civil liberties and the library bill of rights. finally, the restitution of looted books was a milestone in the evolution of international efforts to protect cultural heritage, and to claim it as an aspect of human rights. at the outset of the war, no one could have foreseen a large-scale government led operation to acquire, exploit, rescue, and restitute books.
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it turned out that the librarians and scholars' skills, expertise, and aspirations aligned closely with american military and political objectives. they felt acutely their duty to win the war, their revulsion of the nazi regime, their commitment to documenting the past and present for the future, and they believed that only america can rescue endangered civilization. as librarians and bibliophiles, they were stirred by the books and documents they found. their mission was bound up with the entire complex of american wartime values and postwar aims, mixing instrumental, strategic, and political concerns to be sure. but also a sense of responsibility to preserve the material records of knowledge and culture, in the wake of so much destruction. thank you. [applause] we have some time for questions and answers.
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if you have a question, would you mind coming down to the microphones on either side. this is being filmed by c-span. >> thank you for your talk. it sounds as if the librarians were turned loose on europe with the carte blanche, whatever expertise they carried with them. would allow them to know which books they might wish to take. but i don't have the sense that there was a shopping list. was there a shopping list? secondarily, what was the military role in trying to shape the actions of these men, apart from the monuments men, apart from the restitution? kathy: yes. great questions. initially, they believed they had the habits of librarians. what librarians do is they have a wants list. it is a list of books that they
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want. they go out, they go to a bookseller or dealer, and secure them. the oss was sending want lists to agents in stockholm, lisbon, around the world. these were important materials that have been asked for. the problem of course was the time lag between receiving that wants list, and how much time it would take to find the material, then microfilm it, and ship it back. this was not always the most effective way to proceed. in many cases, they just microfilmed that and did not particularly put it in any given order. it was very difficult to use. which is why the oss then created indexes to these records.
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they did have some sense of what they wanted, but the events just out ran their capacity to find them. with respect to the library collecting after the war, in the sense of carte blanche, they were told if the book was published in germany or in an occupied country, after 1939, acquire it. that date got pushed back a bit to 1933 to include the nazi regime, in some cases back even further to include the rise of nazi-ism. when i say there is a mission creep here, that is what is happening. the military, not everybody in the military was on board with this. they did not want librarians hanging around. even the librarians in trench coats who were pretty well behaved. this is not for you, this is something the military should be doing.
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because there was an effort to return troops home, to speed up the return of troops back home, they really had staffing problems and the enormity of the material collected was such that they welcomed the library of congress mission, that most of them followed the rules. >> i have two questions. first, was there any coordination at all with the people preparing for the trials? the second question is, i was fascinated by the part of your talk about the new techniques of library science that developed as part of this. i wonder if preservation was part of this at all, or if this was just a turn towards microfilming, and forgetting about the original. it's shocking to see these materials sitting in salt mines. this stuff must've been in terrible shape. were there any preservations
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techniques used? kathy: remind me your first question. >> coordination with the trials. kathy: the t forces, into the fall of 1945, were asked to look for matierial that could be used for tribunals. they did find material that were then used. it wasn't a primary, somebody dedicated to that purpose, they were asked to be on the lookout for material that could be used. absolutely. films too. microfilming was seen as a method of preservation, as well as
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reproduction. i think that probably there are a number of newspapers and periodicals that only exist on microfilm that is inaccessible, and probably unreadable at this moment in time. they had the sense that, we need to do everything we can to preserve this history and yes, it was very important to them to find ways to do that. with the rothchild library, glenn goodman sent many of the books that had worms in them, or other kind of animal infestations. he sent them to the frankfurt city hospital for de-fumigation. and to kill off anything that was living in the books. they found ways to dry the books. they were very attentive to conservation issues, primitive
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because they didn't have a lot of materials. >> the overall importance of this program and mission are really fascinating. individuals are always titillated by juicy anecdotes. were you able to tie any particular acquisitions during the war to a strategic battlefield moment, or something like that? kathy: unfortunately, no. frederick kilgore always claims that among the materials that were found by his group, that there was material related to the atomic bomb, that was useful to american physicists. i don't know that i can confirm that. that was his claim, he made it not only to me personally, but
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also in his budget reports. i can't tie it, i think there is a gap from what they were hoping this material would show, and its actual usability in battle. >> thank you for your talk. i know that your book deals a lot with librarians, library science. for the archival piece, that is what i am concentrating my masters right now, i'm curious if you could talk a little bit about your research, and if there is any focus on the archival side, etc. kathy: because this became a really large project that i didn't want to spend the rest of
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my life on, i had to, i entered into some archival material when it followed logically from the book collecting missions. when i looked at the hoover library, hoover was interested in archives, records, diaries, memoirs, and other materials of that sorts. i write at length about their efforts which were much more focus on unique items that were archival. there is a wonderful book by a german historian called the struggle for the files, which deals very specifically with archives, being brought to the united states, and the efforts to return them to germany after the war. >> two questions. the smaller question is this. books are not like works of art, or jewels.
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what was the motivation of the nazis in looting libraries in the countries that they occupied? more important question, it seems to me extraordinary for the american government to spend government money on books when the attitude was, the war is over, return to normality. who were the people that had such intellectual insight that they could convince the american government to pay attention to the intellectual treasures of civilization? kathy: the first one about looting of books, and why.
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in some cases there were rare book collections. but, in many cases they were seizing the libraries of jewish institutions, ordinary jewish individuals, and the hard thing to wrap our minds around, is they wanted to create the scientific study of the jewish race. they needed all of this, all of these books to put into institutes for advanced studies, where scholars could later go and study what they termed the jewish question, after the population of jews had been killed. it's a strange irony, but that was their motive.
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they had an intellectual interest in understanding jews. obviously it didn't justify genocide, but this became a part of a science, and that's what alfred rosenberg was interested in. the second question. >> who were the people in the government? kathy: it is important to realize that at the end of the war, the united states sees itself as winning the war, and this has been a massive effort on the part of government, military, ordinary citizens, the intellectual and academic world, and i think that there isn't this sense initially of, that is a moment and now it is gone.
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rather, the war opens up a vista of postwar intellectual and political dominance by the united states. it was a great investment by government agencies in scientific research. there is investment in libraries, the librarians are making that case, at least at the end of the war. it is a successful argument, one that at this current moment may seem unusual. to put it mildly. >> i was curious. during the war itself, your uncle and his colleagues in stockholm and portugal, wasn't it suspicious that somebody with an american accent was looking for lots of books in german? kathy: you'd think. they did not have codenames or secret names.
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they went on their own names, their own passports, they were often identified as working for the library of congress. the reputation of the library of congress was very prominent, people said oh yes, of course you want to be here seeking out books. for the most part, and portugal they did not have problems. but there was a lot of caution about going into spain, where franco's regime was more attentive to what this might mean. yes, it conjures up the casablanca image of all the spies in all the same location. there is just a lot of people looking for information in the cities, these librarians were among them. being a librarian is a good cover. thank you all very much. i appreciate it. [applause] you are watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend, on
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c-span three. american history tv is on c-span3 every weekend. the civil war and more. here's a clip from a recent program. >> he was a good co. he had lost so many marines from his company. let me say this, when the flag went up a thousand yards up the beach, we had no idea what was going on. busy in our own realm to be paying attention to what anybody else was doing. may, -- aroundd
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, the marines around mate raised up, jumped up and started firing their weapons into the air. i thought everybody had lost their minds. i cannot figure out what was going on. then, i caught on what was going on. there is old glory, i jumped up and started doing the same think they were doing. -- same thing they were doing. the pistol that i carried on my ashore, ion as i got found a rifle.
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i grabbed an m -- m1. i wondered how any marines we lost in that particular moment. >> you can watch this and other programs on our website, where all our video is archived. that's next, on the presidency, this is the third and last program looking back i george w. bush's 2007 iraq's search decision to increase troop levels. we hear from scholars who responded to previous observations by former bush offial


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