History-world-war-II and travel destinations.

WWII, the Holocaust, history and background for countries visited in Wherever the Road Leads.

Books, Writing, History, and Me

In “Books, Writing, History, and Me” I share my thoughts on travel, cooking, van-life, books, the process of writing, the experiences of an indie-publisher, WWII, the Holocaust, and anything else I feel might be of interest to readers of my books. Please send me comments and let me know what you like and what you want to know more about. Everything in this blog reflects my personal ideas and feelings–a memoir of sorts, it is my perspective and any errors or omissions are mine.

The Muralist and LBJ, a Secret Hero.

        WWII novels always figure importantly among the stacks of books waiting for me to read and summer is a great time for catching up. Maybe your "to read" stack is on your bedside table, or in leaning towers on the floor under your desk, or stashed neatly in boxes in a corner of a little used room. My waiting books are scattered in small horizontal piles atop of the vertical rows of titles in my  bookcases. Many of the books in my stacks are World War II related fiction and nonfiction.  But sometimes I crave a break and want to read a book that has a different slant, and these wait patiently, too.  Thus, some weeks ago, I selected from the stack of waiting books a historical novel about an abstract painter.  I thought it would be a pleasant break to read about another of my interests—art, [...]

2020-02-07T22:51:22+00:00July 11th, 2017|0 Comments

Hitler’s Adjutant – The SS Officer, Richard Schulze-Kossens

         One of the more complicated and controversial minor characters in Immigrant Soldier is SS-Obersturmbannführer Richard Schulze.  I have had several readers comment about the friendship between the novel’s hero, Herman, and this German SS officer.         Most notably I received an email from a second cousin I’d never met who expressed his distaste for Herman’s friendly attitude toward Schulze.   “How could Herman have felt such kinship with Schulze-Kossens?” he wrote.  My cousin took issue with Schulze’s posting as the adjutant of the notorious Theodor Eicke and then added, “For him [Schulze] to be put in charge of the SS Officer’s School (to train officers to be leaders of the most hardcore Nazi units), wouldn’t he have had to have been a full-fledged and hardcore Nazi himself?”         Unfortunately, I no longer am able to ask Herman to explain his relationship with [...]

2020-03-01T00:29:21+00:00October 15th, 2016|0 Comments

World War II POWs in the United States

      In Immigrant Soldier, Herman and his unit captured a young German soldier who hated the fighting and killing.  After Herman interrogated the youth, he sent the soldier to the prisoners’ infirmary.  “He hoped that the boy would be on the next transport to the coast and a ship to the United States. Maybe he would be picking cotton stateside by summer.” (page 300)       Herman and the other interrogators often used a promise of transport to America to entice prisoners to disclose all they knew. True to their word, they wrote notes recommending transport to the United States for cooperative POWs.   The interrogators knew well that life in an internment camp in the US would be better than in the holding camps in Belgium.       During the war years, 425,000 German and Italian military were interned as prisoners in the United States.  They lived [...]

2020-03-01T00:36:39+00:00October 15th, 2016|4 Comments

Camp Ritchie, Maryland – Development of the Intelligence Training Center

The 400 acres that was to become the Camp Ritchie Intelligence Training Center, began life in 1889 as the property of the Buena Vista Ice Company. They created two manmade lakes where winter allowed natural ice to form which could be shipped via the nearby railroad spur to Washington, DC.  The lakes also served as a recreation destination in the summer tourist season.          Recently, I was contacted by the former Post Historian for Fort Ritchie and she agreed to write the following guest blog about the development of Camp Ritchie after it was sold to the Maryland National Guard.  *********************************       Camp Ritchie was founded in 1926 as a training place for Maryland National Guard Troops.         At that time, Captain Robert F. Barrick was approached by the Adjutant General of Maryland National Guard, Milton A. Reckord, to build a camp [...]

2020-03-01T00:49:33+00:00September 16th, 2016|0 Comments

World War II Posters and the War Advertising Council

        When I visited the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda, Florida, last October, I paused in the meeting room after my talk to enjoy their display of World War II posters.  They reminded me vividly of the passion and self-sacrifice the American people were expected to display at that time in our history.  They also started me thinking about the art and effort that went into producing these posters, as well as the radio, newspaper, and magazine ads that infused US citizens with patriotism during World War II.         Most of the iconic war-effort ads of that time were the production of one organization–The War Advertising Council.  This Council was the brain-child of an advertising executive born in 1886, James Webb Young.  The Council itself was founded on February 18, 1942, as an organization that would invest the minds and hearts of Americans [...]

2020-01-12T20:58:46+00:00September 3rd, 2016|0 Comments

World War II slogan, Loose Lips Sink Ships

       The novel Immigrant Soldier is interspersed with letters Herman writes to his mother.  These letters are based on actual correspondence treasured by our family. One of these letters, the one Herman wrote during his Camp Ritchie training, is notable because it is composed on special stationery with the slogan, “Idle gossip sinks ships” printed at the bottom. (Page 218, Immigrant Soldier).        As a child of World War II, I was familiar with a similar slogan, “Loose lips sink ships,” a phrase that has evolved to carry the more general meaning that gossip can cause harm.  Many similar phrases were used on US government propaganda posters in the 1940s. At least two posters show an upended sinking ship and large print saying, “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships” on one version, and “Loose Talk Costs Lives” on the other.  These posters and many others that encouraged self-censorship appealed to [...]

2020-01-12T21:06:07+00:00August 14th, 2016|0 Comments

Camp Young, Desert Training Center, World War II

On Sunday, June 19th, I celebrated Father’s Day as part of a panel of authors of military literature, an event sponsored by the Friends of the San Juan Capistrano Library. The other panel member was Frank McAdams, who wrote the Pulitzer nominated book, Vietnam Roughrider: A Convoy Commander’s Memoir. Before the panel started, the moderator, Pat Forster, also a Vietnam veteran and a contributor to a Vietnam military history book by Keith Nolan, asked me a simple question – “Where was Camp Young?”   I had to admit I couldn’t remember anything about Camp Young. At Pat’s insistence that it was indeed mentioned in Immigrant Soldier, I spent the next few minutes looking through the chapter titled, “Army Time.” Nothing. Then, on page 187, in the following chapter “The Letter,” I found it. “Within a week he [Herman] received orders that his entire battalion was being sent to Camp Young in the Mojave Desert. [...]

2019-12-01T07:21:27+00:00June 23rd, 2016|0 Comments

Marthe Cohn, Behind Enemy Lines

       Last year in the end of December, I was able to attend a talk by Marthe Cohn, holocaust survivor and French spy. A diminutive woman in her mid-90s, she perched on a high chair with her husband by her side. I was part of the audience gathered at the Laguna Beach Chabad Center to hear her recount her story of living in German-occupied France and serving as a spy for the French Army.  We were totally captivated by her personality and what she had to say from start to finish, myself perhaps more than most because she reminded me so strongly of my beloved grandmother, Clara.        Recently I finished reading her memoir, Behind Enemy Lines, written with renowned biographer Wendy Holden and published in 2002.  Easily readable because of the fine writing of Holden, Behind Enemy Lines is a book that should go on the list [...]

2020-03-01T01:00:31+00:00May 17th, 2016|0 Comments

The Battle of Saint-Malo in World War II

Ever since I first visited Saint-Malo with my daughter in 1998, I have wanted to return.  It is a beautiful old walled city on the Brittany coast of France where extreme tides create a dynamic backdrop. However, it was not until last year when I read All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, that I realized this beautiful city was decimated during World War II by Allied artillery and bombs. Why?  Because it was the location of a heavily defended Nazi fort that refused to withdraw. I have just spent three weeks in a village near Saint-Malo and a few days ago I was able to visit the fort, now known as Memorial 39-45. The memorial is located on a hill called Cité d’Alet that commands a superb view of the harbor and the walled city, as well as newer sections of Saint-Malo which were mainly countryside in 1945.  A steel machine gun turret riddled with [...]

2019-12-01T07:16:17+00:00May 5th, 2016|0 Comments

The Rosenstraße Protest In Nazi Germany

The shifting Nazi directives regarding Jews married to Gentile Germans which I wrote about in my previous blog, also resulted in one of the few successful resistance efforts against Hitler’s Jewish policies. By the winter of 1943, the Third Reich was moving steadily toward the Final Solution. As a 54th birthday gift to the Führer who was offended that the nation’s capital was still home to so many Jews, Nazi Party Director for Berlin, Joseph Goebbels, promised to make his city Judenfrei (free of Jews). It is interesting to note that statistically, most of the intermarried Jews in Germany were men whose wives were Aryan Germans. It may be that in the preceding years, when divorce in mixed marriages was encouraged by the government, the traditional family values of the National Socialist Party actually discouraged women from divorcing even Jewish husbands.   Also, legally the head of household was considered to [...]

2019-12-01T07:16:43+00:00March 2nd, 2016|0 Comments
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