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People are Saying That Hitler May be Dead

Posted by on March 22, 2014

February 7 & 8, 1943. A couple of letters from Stanley to Dad. Still writing from Oxford, Mississippi on the campus of the University of Mississippi where he us going through training to be an Army clerk, he tells his brother, “I do not expect to hear from you frequently as when you get through drilling and marching and calisthenics you are just about all out of energy to write letters. I know how it was when I was at St Petersburg, Florida. You get so tired that you just feel like lying down and rest for about 2 or 3 hours.”  He continues, “I just had supper and do I feel lousy. I guess I have a cold and that is why. I ate mashed potatoes, sweet peas, liver in gravy, some lettuce, coffee, bread and butter and milk and some vanilla ice cream.” This is quite a contrast from the news of scarcity (difficulty finding bread and meat shortages) that is coming out of Albany.

The day before (on Feb 6th) they had their final exams. It was a 140 question test that they had to complete in 75 minutes. After the test they went to the auditorium where they were briefed on news from the battle fronts. True to his training, Stanley provides no details on what they learned. After that (at about 2PM) they were taken on a 6 mile hike followed by a foot inspection to check for blisters (Stanley has one small one) then they were “quartered over” (told not to leave their immediate area).

He is expecting that the lectures will continue for the rest of the week with some more training films added in for good measure.  He also relays the following news:

In his February 7, 1943 letter, Stanley relays rumors about Hitler’s death and his hopes that the war will end soon.

In his February 7, 1943 letter, Stanley relays rumors about Hitler’s death and his hopes that the war will end soon.

In his letter of the 8th he states that they will start another three weeks of training. He expects that, “These three weeks will be tougher than the previous ones, as we will have problems to work out using our Army regulations.” I’m not quite sure if he means the problems will be tough, or if the difficulty comes from having to solve them using Army regulations.  On a final note, he reports getting a 77 on his final test and that, “I’m glad I passed it, that is all I worry about.”  He closes, “God bless and keep you. I hope this war gets over with quicker so we can go home.”

A political cartoon from the January 26, 1943 edition of the Albany Times Union newspaper.

A political cartoon from the January 26, 1943 edition of the Albany Times Union newspaper.


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3 Responses to People are Saying That Hitler May be Dead

  1. Mike Murawski

    To give some historical context to this (European Theater) .. During January 1943, Hitler was having a very tough month … A couple of key things going on: The Battle of Stalingrad turns firmly in Russia’s favor, and by the end of January, the German generals there have surrendered. Warsaw Ghetto uprising starts. Night bombing of Berlin by the British Royal Air Force, and the beginning of significant air raids by the American Army Air Corps. Timeline follows:

    Jan 1: German 1st Panzer Division withdraws from the Terek River area in southern Russia to prevent encirclement.
    Jan 10: Soviet troops launch an all-out offensive attack on Stalingrad; they also renew attacks in the north (Leningrad) and in the Caucasus. Jan 14: The Casablanca Conference of Allied leaders begins.
    Jan 15: The British start an offensive aimed at taking far-off Tripoli, Libya.
    Jan 16: Iraq declares war on the Axis powers and The Royal Air Force begins a two-night bombing of Berlin.
    Jan 18: The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto rise up for the first time, starting the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (lasted 4 months) and defenders of Leningrad link up with relieving forces.
    Jan 21: Last airfield at Stalingrad is taken by Red forces, ensuring that the Luftwaffe will be unable to supply German troops any further; Hitler still demands that Friedrich Paulus continue the fight.
    Jan 24: The Casablanca Conference ends; Allies insist on unconditional surrender from Germany. German forces in Stalingrad are in the last phases of collapse.
    Jan 27: 50 bombers mount the first all American air raid against Germany. Wilhelmshaven, the large naval base, is the primary target.
    Jan 29: Another two-day bombing of Berlin by the RAF.
    Jab 31 Field Marshal Paulus and his staff surrender in Stalingrad
    February 2: The Battle of Stalingrad comes to an end with the official surrender of the German 6th Army. The German public is informed of this disaster, marking the first time the Nazi government has acknowledged a failure in the war effort

  2. Mike Murawski

    Interesting that communications, rumors, propoganda, etc of the time.. were such that on Jan 30, Hitler gave a speech to thousands in Germany (on the 10th anniversary of assuming power)… but as far as Americans were concerned (second week of Feb 1943) he hadn’t been seen in several weeks, didn’t show at any 10th anniversary Nazi celebrations and possibly committed suicide.

  3. John

    Mike, Thanks for providing the historical context. It provides yet another angle to the story that is developing as we go through the letters. It’s all good stuff. While what’s in the history books provides a good overview to the times, the personal reactions that are coming out in the letters open the window to an even deeper understanding. Keep it coming, It’s nice to see this starting to turn into a collaborative effort.

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