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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Military Missives

Roots Television has launched a barrage of military-themed videos in honor of Veterans Day. There's plenty to watch under the "Military Roots" and "Military Features" tabs, but the highlight for me is the interview with Andrew Carroll, founder of The Legacy Project.

Carroll displays handfuls of war letters, and shares some of the fascinating stories they tell. Like the letter written on Hitler's personal stationery by Staff Sergeant Horace Evers as he sat in Der F├╝hrer's "luxuriously furnished apartment" in Munich.

He sat down at Hitler's desk and wrote this letter about the atrocities at Dachau. And, it's interesting as he crossed out Hitler's name—this gold embossed emblem here—and put "S/Sgt Evers." And Horace, who is still alive, great guy, I said, Why did you cross out Hitler's name? He said, I didn't want my parents opening a letter, thinking they were getting something from Adolf Hitler and just scaring them to death.
Sometimes it's not what a letter says, but what it doesn't say.
One letter we have which came as a photocopy—and it's more of a visual thing, but you can imagine it. It began, "Dear Mom and Dad, Here I am in—" and then it cuts out, and the whole middle part of the letter is gone. And then it says, "Well, I hope so too. P.S. They might censor this letter." So I asked the gentleman who sent it in, I said, What did your brother write that was just so secret—did he ever tell you—that the censors cut out the entire middle part of the letter?

And he said, No, my brother would take a piece of paper and write the first line, jump down to the bottom and write the last line, and then say the thing about the censors. And then he would cut out the middle—only because he hated writing letters home, and this was much easier.

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