Saturday, August 23, 2014

WWII - Karl Kress: Photographer for the ERR and the Third U.S. Army - A Special Evacuation Team

On June 14, 1945 1st Lt. Stephen Kovalyak, a Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFA&A) officer, came to Alt Aussee, Austria with Lt. George Stout, USNR, another MFA&A officer, with the 12th Army Group, to evacuate the looted art works stored in the mine at Alt Aussee.  Very early on Kovalyak met a German prisoner of war, Karl Kress, who had worked with the Nazi art looting unit, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), photographing looted art works.  Kovalyak, an amateur photographer, was interested in what he could learn about photography from Kress and soon made him his personal prisoner of war.  Shortly thereafter, Kress would be working for U.S. Army as a photographer of recovered looted art.
Kress was born February 6, 1900 at Dotzheim, Kreis Wiesbaden. He served in the German Army from the end of World War I until June 1930, when he became technical assistant to the State Art Collections at Kassel. There his primary duty was that of a photographer.  In 1939 Kress was called to active duty with the Luftwaffe as photographer, and assigned to a photographic unit, with the rank of Feldwebel (Staff Sergeant). The unit was transferred to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in the western suburbs of Paris, in June 1940.
In November 1940 Kress was ordered by his commanding officer to proceed to Paris with three assistants for the purpose of photographing art objects.  These art objects he learned had been confiscated by the ERR and were stored near the Louvre at the Jeu de Paume a museum in the Jardins des Tuileries. The ERR, formed under the direction of Alfred Rosenberg, had originally as its primary function the collection of political material in the occupied countries, for exploitation in the “struggle against Jewry and Freemasonry.”  The Western Office (Amt Westen) of the Rosenberg-headed Ministry for Occupied Eastern Territories became operational in July 1940, with headquarters in Paris.  Amt Westen was directed at the outset by Stabsfuehrer Dr. Georg Ebert, assisted by Baron Kurt von Behr.
Starting in October 1940, on Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering’s instigation, the ERR began taking over almost all of the seized art in France—not only paintings and works on paper, but also antique furniture, carpets, tapestries, objects d’art, and antiquities.  Goering was anxious to enrich his own collections, and could offer Luftwaffe and other assistance for seizure, processing arrangements, and transport, while he manipulated further ERR art-looting operations in France. The initial collections brought to the German Embassy in Paris were moved first to several rooms in the Louvre, but space there was too limited.  By the end of October, the ERR set up shop for processing at the Jeu de Paume.  On November 5, a Goering order issued in Paris extended formally the authority of the ERR to include the confiscation of “ownerless” Jewish art collections, and, thereby altered the emphasis of the ERR mission so as to make such activity its primary function.
When Kress reported to the Jeu de Paume the museum was already full of art objects.  There he met Drs. Gunther Schiedlausky, Hans Ulrich Wirth, and Heinrich Jerchel.  They worked for the Paris Dienststelle of Amt Westen.  This office, in addition to a staff of photographers, consisted of a small group of professional art historians who worked as a unit designated as the Arbeitsgruppe Louvre. The function of this unit was the methodical preparation for transport to Germany of all works of art received through confiscation, and a comprehensive inventory thereof.  At the outset, this group comprised Drs. Schiedlausky, Hans Ulrich Wirth, W. Esser, Heinrich Jerchel, Friedrich Franz Kuntze, and several research assistants.  Schiedlausky, was a leading member of the ERR art staff from November 1940 to December 1941, and chief custodian of the German deposits of the ERR from July 1942 until April 1945.  Wirth, joined the Paris art staff of the ERR in November 1940 as one of the assistants to Schiedlausky. He was responsible for preparing inventories of important collections which had just been confiscated.  Jerchel, who originally served with the Kunstschutz (the Wehrmacht’s Art Protection Office), was transferred to the ERR in November 1940 with duties similar to that of Wirth.  Once situated at the Jeu de Paume, Kress was assigned the task of photographing a large number of paintings that had been confiscated by the ERR.
Kress’ first photographic assignment was to take about forty photographs for Dr. Hermann Bunjes, who was not connected with the ERR.  Bunges, who wore several hats while in Paris, including being the  Director of the German Art Historical Institute, a member of the Kunstschutz, and an advisor to Goering, later told Kress the art works he had photographed had been flown to Germany and given to Adolf Hitler.
Von Behr quickly recognized Kress’ ability as a professional art photographer, and sought to have him transferred to the ERR.  Von Behr was the Deputy Director of Amt Westen, Director of the Paris ERR Kunststab, and subsequently Director of Dienststelle Westen and the confiscated furniture operation, the Möbel-Aktion (M-Action).  As part of the Kress transfer process, in 1941 he was ordered to the Cultural Photographic Unit in the Air Ministry, and then transferred to the ERR.  He was returned to Paris from Berlin, and put to work in the Jeu de Paume. At this time, Kress met and worked under Drs. Bruno Lohse and Friedrich Franz Kuntze.  Lohse was a member of the Paris art staff from February 1941, subsequently its Deputy Director, and special art representative of Goering in the ERR.  Kuntze, both a painter and art historian by profession, was assigned to duty with the ERR in Paris in February 1941. He arrived simultaneously with Lohse and occupied a position entailing research and the compiling of inventories, but appears to have been somewhat more independent than the other research assistants in that he occasionally proposed works of art for exchange and for acquisition by Goering.
In conformity with Adolf Hitler’s order of November 18, 1940, the greater part of the material confiscated by the ERR was sent to Germany for safekeeping and for Hitler’s ultimate disposition. The first shipment of ERR material from France to Germany took place in April 1941.  Between that date and July 1944, 29 shipments were sent into the Reich. The shipments comprised 138 freight carloads, containing 4,174 cases of work destined for six separate protected deposits. These deposits were: Schloss Neuschwanstein (Kreis Füssen); Schloss Chiemsee (Herreninsel, Kreis Traunstein); Cloister Buxheim (Kreis Memmingen); Schloss Kogl (St. Georgen/ Kreis Vöcklabruck); Schloss Seisenegg (Kreis Amstetten); and, Schloss Nickolsburg (Kreis Nickolsburg).
During the summer of 1941, just months after the German invasion and occupation of Greece, Kress was ordered to Salonika to accompany Professor Franz Dölger on an expedition to Mount Athos.  Dölger, a distinguished professor of Byzantine studies at the University of Munich since 1931, was to focus on historical and theological issues.  His expedition was officially sponsored by Alfred Rosenberg in his capacity as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, and was supported by the Wehrmacht.  Kress was to later recall that the purpose of the expedition from his perspective was to make cultural propaganda photographs.  Kress spent six months on the project and subsequently Dölger’s account of his visit to Mount Athos was printed in the book Mönchsland Athos (Munich: 1943).  After completing this mission, Kress returned to Paris in 1942 to resume work under Lohse.
When Kress returned to Paris he found that Luftwaffe corporal Heinz Simokat had been installed by Lohse as the ERR’s chief photographer.  Thus with little photographic work to do, Kress set himself the task of compiling an orderly set of negatives, inasmuch as he had found the files in a state of disorder on his return from Greece.  He also began spending more time in the photographic section of the Amt Rosenberg (Rosenberg’s headquarters) in Berlin than with the ERR in Paris.
At some point, in 1943 or 1944, Simokat, at his own request, was returned to active military duty, and Rudolf  Scholz became the leading ERR photographer, responsible to art historian Dr. Walter Borchers (Obergefreiter in the Luftwaffe) who had become head of the Arbeitsgruppe Louvre.  Rudolf was a nephew of Dr. Robert Scholz – Bereichsleiter (Divisional Director) of the Rosenberg Amt Bildende Kunst (Office for Pictorial Arts), Berlin; and, responsible for the professional conduct of the Paris art staff of the ERR.
Kress, at some point in 1943, was sent to Riga and Kiev on short photographic missions, and also worked in the ERR deposits at Neuchwanstein/Fussen and Chiemsee, in Bavaria.
Meanwhile, ERR shipments continued to be sent to the ERR deposits in Germany and Austria through February 1944, at which time the Reichschancellery (because of the increasing danger from air raids) ordered the major deposits evacuated and their contents brought to Alt Aussee, Austria, for storage in the salt mine there.
Shortly before the heavy air raids on Berlin began in 1944, Kress was given the responsibility of assembling the entire ERR file of photographic negatives and moving it to Neuchwanstein/Fussen for safekeeping.  Subsequently, he was ordered to move the entire file to the ERR center at Schloss Kogl/St. Georgen.  Shortly before the American entry into the area, the files were once again moved from Kogl to Fussen.  The final transfer of material was undertaken by Lohse, acting under Scholz’s orders.
During 1944 Kress made a number of short trips to Paris in order to bring photographic material from the Luftwaffe unit station to Germany.  In addition, he was given the assignment by Robert Scholz of bringing Baron von Behr’s Dienststelle Westen household effects (china, linen, silver, etc) confiscated in the M-Action, to Germany for the use by ERR personnel.
As late as the night of May 3-4, 1945 Scholz and Kress were at Schloss Kogl.  Scholz then sent Kress to the Alt Altssee deposit very shortly before U.S. troops occupied the area.  When the troops captured the mine at Alt Aussee on May 8, Kress, then a Stabsfeldwebel (Master Sergeant) was made a prisoner of war.  He was kept at Alt Aussee to provide information to the MFA&A specialists when they arrived.  They arrived in the persons of Third U.S. Army Monuments Men Capt. Robert K. Posey and Pfc Lincoln Kirstein on May 16.  In his semi-monthly report Posey noted that “All his negatives and equipment from Schloss Kogl also seized and held.”[1]
During the first week of June U.S. Army war crimes investigator Capt. W. A. Rembert, who was at Alt Aussee, had photographs taken by U.S. Army Signal Corps photographers of the mine, buildings, and personnel at Alt Aussee.  Among the photographs are two, taken on June 5, that include Kress:  One is captioned: “German technicians stationed at the mine at Alt Aussee, Austria, prior to American entry, in connection with processing and care and preservation of the art treasures therein. From left to right: Karl Kress, chief photograph for the Einsatzstab Rosenberg; Max Eder, Engineer; Dr. Hermann Michel, chemist; Hans Danner, surveyor; Karl Sieber, painting restorer.”  The other was captioned: “From left to right: Karl Kress, Einsatzstab Rosenberg photographer; Capt. Rembert, Investiogator; Karl Sieber, restorer; and Tec 5 Bauer, interpreter for Capt. Rembert – in Konig Josef Cavern of the mine at Alt Aussee, Austria, in which chamber most of the loot of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg was stored.”[2]

On June 14 Kovalyak came to Alt Aussee with Lt. George Stout, USNR, to help with the evacuation of the art treasures in the mine. This is where he met Kress.  MFA&A officers Lt. Thomas C. Howe, Jr., USNR and 2nd Lt. Lamont Moore arrived at Alt Aussee in July to assist in the evacuation.  They would also meet Kress. Howe would later write that Stephen Kovalyak had made Kress his personal prisoner of war since his arrival at Alt Aussee.[3]  He noted that “Steve was an enthusiastic amateur and had acquired all kinds of photographic equipment. Kress, we gathered, was showing him how to use it. Their ‘conversations’ were something of a mystery, because Steve knew no German, Kress no English.”  In response to a question about how he communicated with Kress, Kovalyak said he used his “High German.”  Howe wrote that:
We came to the conclusion that ‘High German’ was so called because it transcended all known rules of grammar and pronunciation. But, for the two of them, it worked. Steve-stocky, gruff and belligerent-and Kress-timid, beady-eyed and patient-would spend hours together. They were a comical pair. Steve was always in command and very much the captor. Kress was long-suffering and had a kind of doglike devotion to his master, whose alternating jocular and tyrannical moods he seemed to accept with equanimity and understand. But all this we learned later.
Just about the time that Howe, Moore, and Kovalyak were wrapping up their evacuation work at Alt Aussee and preparing to go on their next assignment, the evacuation of the Hermann Goering collection at Berchtesgaden, Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) member Lt. Theodore Rousseau, USNR at Bad Aussee (3 miles south of Alt Aussee) telephoned Howe and inquired whether they were planning to take Kress with them to Berchtesgaden.  Howe told him they certainly were, later writing that “Steve would sooner have parted with his right eye.” Rousseau indicated that they wanted to interrogate Kress before they left and said it might take a few days.  Howe suggested that they start right away, as they would soon be needing Kress themselves.  “Steve,” Howe noted, “was wild when he heard about it. I agreed that it was a nuisance but that we’d have to oblige. The OSS boys came for Kress that afternoon. Steve watched them, balefully, as they drove off down the mountain.”
The ALIU interrogated Kress at Bad Aussee on July 20-21.  After the interrogation, the ALIU compiled Detailed Interrogation Report No. 10regarding Kress.  In the report it was noted that Kress, since his capture, had continued to function as a photographer “under the supervision of G-5, Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Branch, Third U.S. Army.”   In the Summary section of the report ALIU director Lt. James Plaut, USNR, wrote that Kress affirmed that his activity with the ERR was confined wholly to the photographing of works of art in the Jeu de Paume and that he never accompanied ERR personnel to private dwellings, either prior to or in the course of confiscation operations.  Kress claimed, Plaut wrote, that he owned no works of art whatever, and that he engaged at no time in the traffic of objects of art. “Kress,” Plaut noted, “is a ‘little man’ with a weak personality. It is conceivable that he engaged in some petty thievery, but it is not likely that he was involved in any large-scale, illegal transfers of art objects.”  Concluding, Plaut wrote
No action is recommended; however, Kress was released prematurely from interrogation, in deference to G-5, MFA&A 3rd Army, to do urgent photographic work. In view of his close relationship to Utikal and other key E.R.R. personnel, he is wanted for further interrogation by this unit.
Utikal was Stabsfuehrer Gerhard Utikal, who in 1941, replaced Dr. Georg Ebert and was also given complete responsibility for ERR activities in all countries. Simultaneously, von Behr was made responsible for all ERR operations in France.
It appears that Kress was never questioned again by the ALIU.[4] He was, however, on July 25, at Bad Aussee, questioned by U.S. Army war crimes investigator Capt. Rembert.  Kress said that since he worked inside the Jeu de Paume, he did not know who carried out the confiscation of art objects, nor could he say who brought the art objects into the Jeu de Paume.  He did say they were received there by Schiedlausky.  He provided information about Utikal, Scholz, Lohse, and others.  As for von Behr, he observed he “has played a big part in the Einsatzstab and was very much feared.”  He also provided information regarding art dealers Walter Andreas Hofer and Gustav Rochlitz.[5]
While Kress was at Bad Aussee, Howe and Moore went to Berchtesgaden to start the evacuation of the Goering Collecting.  In anticipation of Kress’ arrival they assembled all the paintings that appeared to have suffered recent damage of any kind.  Kress’ first job would be to make a photographic record which they would include in their final report on the evacuation of the collection. They found thirty-four pictures in this category.  When Kovalyak joined them at Berchtesgaden he brought along in their car Kress, “looking more timid than ever” according to Howe.  Kovalyak told Howe and Moore that Kress had had a bad time after they left Alt Aussee:
the boys at House 71 [the house used by the ALIU team] had clapped him in jail and left him there for two days before interrogating him Steve had been ‘burned up’ about it and had given them a piece of his mind. He said contemptuously that he known all along they didn’t have anything on Kress. But he was content to let bygones be bygones. Steve had his man Friday back again.
Besides Kress, Kovalyak had also brought along a 2 ½-ton Army cargo truck that contained all of Kress’ photographic equipment. “There was,” according to Howe, “a tremendous lot of stuff: three large cameras, a metal table for drying prints, reflectors, a sink, pipes of various sizes, boxes of film and paper; and a couple of large cabinets.”  Very quickly Kress was put to work taking photographs.
In mid-August, with the Goering Collection safely deposited at the Munich Central Collecting Point, Howe, Moore, and Kovalyak moved on to their next evacuation mission, that of the ERR records and some art treasures stored at the castle at Neuschwanstein.  They brought Kress with them.  Not only could he photograph the artwork, he also knew the castle and its holdings very well, having worked there in 1943 and 1944.  In the castle they located the two rooms which had been used as a photographic laboratory and Kovalyak arranged to have Kress’ equipment installed there. The Neuschwanstein evacuation operation lasted eight days.
When the evacuation team returned to Munich with what they had collected at the castle, it is not clear whether they brought Kress with them.  Once back at Munich the team immediately became involved in restitution activities that would not have involved Kress.  The last reference to him I located was a note, that indicated as of September 1945, he was under house arrest.  There was no reference to location.  By the end of February 1946, Howe, Moore, and Kovalyak had returned to the United States.  As for Kress, I could not locate any record that explains what happened to him after his adventures with the MFA&A Special Evacuation Team.

[1] Robert K. Posey, Capt., Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives, G-5 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army to MFA and A, G-5 Section, Headquarters, Twelfth Army Group, Subject: Semi-Monthly Report on Monuments, fine Arts and Archives for Period Ending 31 May 1945, File: Third U.S. Army Reports-January thru May 1945, Activity Reports, 1945, “Ardelia Hall Collection” (NAID 1561462), Record Group 260 (Roll 31 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1941).
[2] The photographs are Exhibits 24 and 30 to File 3JA187 of the War Crimes Office of the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Third Army.  The report, captioned “Report of Information of Alleged War Crimes,” was prepared by the Office of the Commanding General of the U.S. Third Army and sent to the Deputy Theater Judge Advocate, War Crimes Branch, on September 4, 1945. United States Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality; Reference Documents Received from American and Foreign Sources, 1945-1946, NAID: 6106845.
[3] All the Howe references to Kovalyak and Kress are from Thomas Carr Howe, Jr., Salt Mines and Castles: The Discovery and Restitution of Looted European Art (Indianapolis and New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Publishers, 1946).
[4] In the OSS ALIU Consolidated Interrogation Report No. 1 regarding the “Activity of the Einstatzstab Rosenberg in France,” there is only brief mention of Kress and his position as a photographer for the ERR. A copy of the report can be found here.
[5] Kress’ statement on July 25 at Bad Aussee to war crimes investigator Capt. W. A. Rembert is Exhibit 12 to File 3JA187 of the War Crimes Office of the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Third Army.  The report, captioned “Report of Information of Alleged War Crimes,” was prepared by the Office of the Commanding General of the U.S. Third Army and sent to the Deputy Theater Judge Advocate, War Crimes Branch, on September 4, 1945. United States Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality; Reference Documents Received from American and Foreign Sources, 1945-1946 NAID 6106845.

AUG 22 War of 1812 Exhibit ‘Defeat to Victory’ Opens for Family Day atWashington Navy Yaard

WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – A map of showing the battles during 1814, a depiction of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Flag of the United States in 1814 greet visitors to the National Museum of the United States Navy as the museum's new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," prepares to open at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – A map of showing the battles during 1814, a depiction of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Flag of the United States in 1814 greet visitors to the National Museum of the United States Navy as the museum’s new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory,” prepares to open at the NMUSN on the Washington Navy Yard. The exhibit’s grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)
By the National Museum of the United States Navy, Naval History and Heritage Command
Please join us at the Washington Navy Yard from noon until 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24 for a Family Day when we commemorate two of the most important events of the War of 1812: the Battle of Bladensburg and the burning of the Washington Navy Yard.
To commemorate these events, the National Museum of the United States Navy will open the new exhibit “Defeat to Victory: 1814-1815” and holding a number of events. From noon to 4 p.m., families can enjoy craft activities including making model ships, pin wheels, and flags. There will also be a chance to get immersed in what the War of the 1812 would really have been like, with an opportunity to look through a sailor’s sea chest and surgeon’s kit, hear music in two special 1812 themed concerts by living history musicians The Chanteyman, and even see an authentic artillery drill!
Pride of Baltimore II will be docked alongside display ship Barry at the Washington Navy Yard until Aug. 25. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford
Pride of Baltimore II will be docked alongside display ship Barry at the Washington Navy Yard until Aug. 25. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford
Joining our celebrations is a visit from Pride of Baltimore II through Aug. 25 with public visitation from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day. This ship is a reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner privateer and her visit will give you a feel of how the Washington Navy Yard looked in August of 1814 when the Yard was bustling with the building, repairing and supplying of ships for the Navy. Visitors can tour the ship from the Riverwalk throughout her visit and on the 24th witness a gun demonstration at 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
A historical hour-long walking tour on the “Burning of the Washington Navy Yard” will happen twice, 7 p.m. on the 22nd and 4 p.m. on the 24th. Learn about this important event with members of the National Museum of the United States Navy, treading where men like Commodore Joshua Barney once walked. Attendees should meet at Building 76 of the National Museum of the United States Navy five minutes before the tour starts. Reservations for the tour can be made by calling 202-433-6897. Guests without U.S .military, U.S. Civil Service or law enforcement identification will need to register. We will need the names of all the adults, 18 years of age and older, as well as their driver’s license number and from which state it is issued. Last minute add-ons can be accommodated as long as they have a military ID/CAC.
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – The swords of U.S. Navy Commodore, Joshua Barney, and British General, Robert Ross are exhibited as part of the National Museum of the United States Navy's (NMUSN) new War of 1812 exhibit, "1814: From Defeat to Victory," on the Washington Navy Yard. Barney and 500 Sailors and Marines faced down more than 4,000 british troops led by Ross at the Battle of Bladensburg. Though ultimately the U.S. was defeated at Bladensburg and an injured Barney was forced to surrender his sword to the British General, he was taken prisoner instead of being killed because of the heroism of his men and himself in the face of battle. The exhibit's grand opening is set for Aug. 24, the anniversary of the burning of Washington D.C. and the Washington Navy Yard, and showcases battles and armaments of the U.S. and British Army and Navy during the victories and defeats of 1814. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)
WASHINGTON (Aug. 19, 2014) – The swords of U.S. Navy Commodore, Joshua Barney, and British General, Robert Ross are exhibited as part of the National Museum of the United States Navy’s (NMUSN) new War of 1812 exhibit, “1814: From Defeat to Victory,” on the Washington Navy Yard. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)
The Family Day on Aug. 24 promises to be an exciting reason to visit the National Museum of the United States Navy. The museum is free, opening Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends and Federal Holidays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Guests without U.S. military, U.S .Civil Service or law enforcement identification must be escorted by a member of their party with accepted ID, escorted by museum staff, or call five working days in advance for a reservation.
On weekdays, all visitors who require escort must enter the 11th and O Street SE gate to obtain a visitor pass and escort. On weekends, all visitors will enter the 6th and M Street SE gate. Those who require an escort will obtain one at the 6th and M Street gate. All adults 18 years of age and older must have current government photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. For questions about access or to make a reservation to visit the Washington Navy Yard, please call (202) 433-6897 or (202) 433-6826. For the most current information on hours, visitation procedures, and more information about the National Museum of the United States Navy, visit our website at, and follow us on Facebook (National Museum of the United States Navy) and Twitter @NtlMuseumUSNavy.
The Washington Navy Yard and the U.S. Navy Museum is accessible by both the Navy Yard (green), Eastern Market (blue and orange) metro line stations and several Metro Bus routes including the D.C. Circulator. Please visit Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metro’s website for more details and service status.
  • Eastern Market Metro Station (Orange/Blue Line)
    Exit the metro station and walk south on 8th St SE for 0.5 miles.
    Weekdays: Turn left onto M St SE for 1 block and turn right onto 11th St. The O St gate is the last gate before the water.
    Weekends: Turn right onto M St SE and continue for two more blocks and enter the 6th and M St SE gate.
  • Navy Yard Metro Station (Green Line)
    Exit the metro station via New Jersey Ave.
    Weekdays: Walk east on M St until you come to 11th St and turn right. The O St gate is the last gate before the water.
    Weekends: Walk east on M St until you arrive at the 6th St gate.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Naval Academy Chief Says No Double Standard for Athletes

AP File Photo
A sign stands outside of an entrance to the U.S. Naval Academy campus in Annapolis, Md., Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. (Photo: AP)
The new superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy said he does not now believe there is "a cultural issue" in Navy sports with the kind of lax oversight of athletes that is being investigated at the U.S. Air Force Academy, but if there is "we're going to take care of it."
Vice Adm. Ted Carter spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since he arrived as the new superintendent in July. Carter said he spoke with the superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy after it launched an investigation this month into its athletic department and demanded greater accountability from coaches due to reports of athlete misconduct, including allegations of sexual abuse.
Air Force Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson told coaches this month to take a bigger role in preventing sexual assaults.
Navy had its own high-profile case last year involving sexual assault allegations against three football players. Charges against two were dropped and a third man was acquitted in March.
"My sense is that I don't have a cultural issue here, even given the headlines that were in the paper last year and, trust me, I'm not coming in here blind. If there is an issue, we're going to take care of it," Carter said.
Congress and the Pentagon are closely monitoring sexual assaults at the Air Force, Army and Navy academies. A Department of Defense report in January said a culture of disrespect permeates the schools and contributes to sexual harassment and assaults. The report identified sports and club teams as an area where the academies needed to expand training.
Carter said he spoke to faculty and staff of Navy's sports teams on Thursday.
"There has to be an understanding," Carter said. "There's no double standard here at the Naval Academy."
The superintendent, who entered the academy just after female students were first admitted in 1976, also noted the growing role of women in the Navy. This year's incoming class is about 25 percent female -- the highest in the academy's history -- compared to less than 10 percent when Carter first became a midshipman as a member of the class of 1981. Carter said he has observed big changes in acceptance of women in the Navy during his career.
"There's a brother-sister mentality in those squadrons," Carter said, referring to Navy personnel he observed while in foreign ports. "That was not that way 35 years ago. It wasn't that way, at least not my observation, when I saw the young, female midshipmen here."
The superintendent also said he has noticed during marathons he has run that the best athletes representing middle America are typically women instead of men, and he noted that there is a higher percentage of women at Ivy League schools.
"So there's no doubt in my mind that women in our country are the rising gender, and we need to pay attention to that," Carter said. "We need to figure out how do we get, just not what the numbers are, but how do we get the right women to want to come and serve their country and come to an institution like the United States Naval Academy, and I know they're out there, so that's something we're going to continue to work on.

Photographs of the 3rd Infantry Division in France During World War I

This post was written by Harry B. Kidd, a volunteer at Archives II, for the volunteer newsletter, The Columns.

In the spring of 1918, the German Army launched a major offensive in the hope of achieving a quick victory before the full weight of American Forces could be brought to the line.  Beginning in May and June of 1918 the Division was moved to the front along the Marne River, east of Paris.  At midnight on July 14, 1918, the 3rd Infantry Division earned lasting distinction.  Engaged in the Aisne-Marne Offensive as part of the American Expeditionary Forces to Europe, the Division was protecting Paris with a position on the banks of the Marne River.  The 7th Machine Gun Battalion of the 3rd Division rushed to Château-Thierry amid retreating French troops and held the Germans back at the Marne River. While surrounding units retreated, the 3rd Infantry Division, including the 30th and 38th Infantry Regiments, remained rock solid and earned its reputation in the Second Battle of the Marne as the “Rock of the Marne.”
These photographs are a sample of the collection volunteers at Archives II discovered as they were processing the textual records of the 3rd Infantry Division, Record Group 120. I scanned them.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


English: Unofficial emblem of the Manhattan pr...
English: Unofficial emblem of the Manhattan project, circa 1946. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb during World War II was among the most highly classified and tightly secured programs ever undertaken by the U.S. government. Nevertheless, it generated more than 1,500 leak investigations involving unauthorized disclosures of classified Project information.

That remarkable fact is noted in the latest declassified volume of the official Manhattan District History (Volume 14, Intelligence & Security) that was approved for release and posted online by the Department of Energy last month.

In several respects, the Manhattan Project established the template for secret government programs during the Cold War (and after). It pioneered or refined the practices of compartmentalization of information, "black" budgets, cover and deception to conceal secret facilities, minimal notification to Congress, and more.

But wherever there are national security secrets, it seems that leaks and spies are not far behind.

During the course of the Manhattan Project, counterintelligence agents "handled more than 1,000 general subversive investigations, over 1,500 cases in which classified project information was transmitted to unauthorized persons, approximately 100 suspected espionage cases, and approximately 200 suspected sabotage cases," according to the newly declassified history (at pp. S2-3).

Most of the 1,500 leak cases seem to have been inadvertent disclosures rather than deliberate releases to the news media of the contemporary sort. But they were diligently investigated nonetheless. "Complete security of information could be achieved only by following all leaks to their source."

In 1943, there were several seemingly unrelated cases of Protestant clergymen in the South preaching sermons that alarmingly cited "the devastating energy contained in minute quantities of Uranium 235" (while contrasting it with "the power of God [that] was infinitely greater"). The sermons were eventually traced back to a pamphlet distributed by a Bible college in Chicago, which was determined to be harmless. Other disclosures cited in the history involved more serious indiscretions that drew punitive action.

"Since September 1943, investigations were conducted of more than 1500 'loose talk' or leakage of information cases and corrective action was taken in more than 1200 violations of procedures for handling classified material," the history said (p. 6.5).

"Upon discovery of the source of a violation of regulations for safeguarding military information, the violator, if a project employee, was usually reprimanded, informed of the possible application of the Espionage Act, and warned not to repeat the violation."

Fundamentally, however, information security was not to be achieved by the force of law or the threat of punishment. Rather, it was rooted in shared values and common commitments, the Project history said.

"Grounds for protecting information were largely patriotism, loyalty to the fighting men, and the reasoning that the less publicity given the Project, the more difficult it would be for the enemy to acquire information about it and also, the greater would be the element of surprise" (p. 6.13).

The only other remaining portion of the official history, Foreign Intelligence Supplement No. 1 to Manhattan District History Volume 14, was also published online last month. It provided an account of U.S. wartime intelligence collection aimed at enemy scientific research and development. Some information in that volume was deleted by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The entire thirty-six volume Manhattan District history has now been declassified andposted online.

Veterans, obelisk honor sailors killed 100 years ago in disaster thatforged bond between city and the Navy

Bennington after the explosion on 21 July 1905...
Bennington after the explosion on 21 July 1905 which killed 66 in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Veterans, obelisk honor sailors killed 100 years ago in disaster
that forged bond between city and the Navy

July 17, 2005

A century ago, on a slightly overcast Friday morning, San Diego
was visited for the first time by catastrophe. A Navy gunboat,
the Bennington, blew up in the bay, and 65 sailors were killed.

The city had known death before, of course, but it was a stranger
to the kind of disaster that makes national headlines and alters
a community's physical and emotional landscapes.

Today, the Bennington is the stranger. Not many people know its
story, or how, amid the horror and the suffering, a bond was
formed, helping San Diego become a Navy town.

A few years after the explosion, a 60-foot-tall granite obelisk
was built on Point Loma to honor the fallen, at what later became
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. The monument was a city
landmark then, discernible for miles and featured on post cards.

But it, too, has been obscured by time and all that has grown up
around it. You have to look for it now.

This Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the Bennington
explosion. Some local veterans have organized a ceremony at the
monument, where 35 of the dead rest beneath simple white
headstones marked with individual names and a shared identifier:
"U.S. Navy."

At 10:38 a.m., the exact time when the Bennington's boilers
exploded, there will be a moment of silence. Then the names will
be read, speeches made, and for a while, anyway, people will

"Never let it be said that we failed to do the obvious and
recognize the souls lost on the Bennington," said Ed Coffer, who
is coordinating the ceremony.

Up the coast, at the private Santa Catalina prep school in
Monterey, a historian named Broeck Oder will be looking at his
watch for the exact moment, too. He grew up in San Diego hearing
tales of the Bennington from his father, a Navy hospital
corpsman, and when he went to the University of San Diego, he did
his master's thesis on the event and its aftermath.

"Proportionally, Bennington is still the worst disaster in San
Diego history, because we're talking about 65 deaths in a town
with about 20,000 people," he said.

"If a proportionally similar accident struck San Diego today, God
forbid, the death toll would be approximately 4,000 people,
greater than the number of souls lost in the World Trade Center
on Sept. 11."

Oder said when he encounters people who know about the
Bennington, they tend to remember certain myths – that the
explosion was caused by drunken sailors, for example. He thinks
that's unfortunate.

So even though work commitments will keep him from attending
Thursday's ceremony, he's glad it's happening.

"For some years, I've thought that just a few of us historians
might be the only ones who knew the centennial of the disaster
was approaching, so I am happy beyond expression that
Bennington's men are now being remembered and honored in the city
which so embraced them."

The Bennington, named after a Vermont town where a key
Revolutionary War battle was fought, was a familiar sight to San
Diegans by 1905.

Commissioned in 1891, the 230-foot-long steel patrol boat made
regular visits here as part of a fledgling courtship between the
Navy and San Diego.

The military wanted a stronger presence in the Pacific and saw
the city with its protected harbor as an ideal place for support
bases and training exercises. City leaders saw commercial

For local residents, the visitors were often a source of
entertainment. They marched in parades and put on impressive
shows with their ships' searchlights. But they weren't really
considered San Diegans.

"It is important to remember that in 1905, Navy personnel, unlike
today, were not always seen as valuable members of the community,
as friends and neighbors," Oder said.

That changed on July 21. The Bennington was anchored about 100
yards off the waterfront near what is now Seaport Village. It had
just arrived from Hawaii and was preparing to head up the coast
to help another Navy ship that had broken down.

Coal was thrown into the furnaces. The commander was gathering
supplies on shore. The decks had been scrubbed.

What happened next was described in the following day's San Diego
Union as "the most terrible accident that has ever happened in
Southern California."

One of the boilers exploded – later investigations blamed poor
construction and maintenance – and shot into a second boiler,
which also exploded. Scalding steam surged through the ship.

People on shore reported hearing the blasts and seeing men tossed
30 feet into the air. Sailors tore at their uniforms and jumped
overboard to escape the heat. Flames spread toward compartments
where ammunition was stored. Water poured into a hole blown in
the starboard side.

Crew members responded with the kind of heroism that earned 11 of
them the Medal of Honor. One, Lynn Gauthier, went down through
the steam to cut free the anchor so a tug could push the
Bennington onto a mud bank, preventing its sinking. He died the
next day from steam inhalation.

San Diegans rushed to the ship's aid. Some in row boats pulled
sailors from the sea. Others helped ferry the injured to
hospitals. "Strong men wept when they heard the pitiful cries of
the wounded or saw their terrible plight," the Union reported.

Residents donated blankets, cots, books, fruit, ice cream. Others
volunteered as nurses or entertained the injured by reading
stories and playing music. Oder said the town essentially shut
down for a week. Events were canceled or postponed, flags flew at
half-staff, and clergymen talked about the Bennington during
their Sunday sermons.

"We did not know any of these men," W.B. Henson, a Baptist
minister, said at one of the services, according to the Union.
"We are all one, down beneath the surface."

Although the death toll would eventually reach 65, on the day of
the public funeral, two days after the explosion, there were 47
coffins. Officials didn't have enough flags to drape the
black-stained boxes, so the call went out for people to donate

The caskets were loaded onto horse-drawn, flower-filled wagons.
It took four hours to make the trek from downtown, around the bay
and up Point Loma to the Army's burial ground at Fort Rosecrans.
The papers called it a "desolate cemetery surrounded by a rude
picket fence."

Hundreds of people joined the procession; the line stretched for
more than a mile by the time the wagons reached the cemetery. A
large crowd was waiting. They had taken boats five miles across
the bay, then hiked some 500 feet up the cliff.

"San Diego was in mourning yesterday," the Union's account said.
The burial trench was 60 feet long and 14 feet wide. Surviving
sailors from the Bennington, working in crews of six, unloaded
the coffins and put them in the trench. It took them more than an

Commander Lucien Young stepped forward and raised a hand to get
the crowd's attention. He turned to the Army officers who were

"I want to commit to your tender care the bodies of our
unfortunate shipmates and patriotic dead," he said. "May their
graves never be forgotten by the hand of affection, and may
marble slabs rise on this, their last earthly resting place, and
may the morning and evening sun playing upon the grassy mounds be
symbolical of their shipmates' affection."

Three volleys of rifle shots were fired. Taps was played. As the
crowd walked away, cemetery workers began filling in the trench.
Wooden markers, numbered 1 through 47, were stuck in the ground,
awaiting more permanent headstones.

San Diegans started talking almost immediately about a monument.
Early plans called for something in a city park. A Union
editorial said, "San Diego has borne a most creditable part
throughout this sad affair. It should not refuse this final
tribute of patriotism."

The tribute was more than two years in the making.
Navy servicemen in the Pacific Squadron, determined to honor
their own, donated the money to erect an obelisk at Fort
Rosecrans. It was built out of 74 granite blocks, carved locally,
and topped by a pyramid-shaped stone.

On the dedication day, Jan. 7, 1908, schools closed at noon so
children could attend. Several thousand people ("of low and high
degree," according to one newspaper account) made their way to
the cemetery.

Rear Admiral C.F. Goodrich gave the main talk. He said the
obelisk "makes no pretense to elaboration of design or of
ornamentation, for it merely commemorates the heroism of simple
men whose sole guiding motive was devotion to duty."

He applauded the city for its "prompt and practical expression of
a sympathy without limit and without qualification," and said,
"So long as there is a navy of the United States, the memory of
these ministrations will be fresh and green in the hearts of all
who go down to the sea in its ships."

A century later, there's still a Navy, of course, and it's made a
home – a very large home – in San Diego.

Oder, the historian, said ties were forged when the city "clearly
saw the Bennington's misfortune as something that had happened to
all San Diegans, and acted accordingly." That bond played a major
role in paving the way for the decades of military growth that
followed: fleet visits, sea bases, training centers, air stations.

Mention the Bennington now, though, and people are more likely to
think of the World War II-vintage aircraft carrier of the same name.

The original Bennington never saw service again, not as a
warship. It was repaired and turned into a barge, carrying loads
of molasses in Hawaii before it was retired in the late 1920s and
sunk at sea.

The obelisk is still at Fort Rosecrans, which became a national
cemetery in 1934. It once soared above the landscape, easily seen
by ships in the bay, but now there are trees nearby that are taller.

(Although 47 coffins went into the ground at the funeral two days
after the explosion, there are 35 markers at the monument now.
Some of the bodies were disinterred and sent to the sailors'
hometowns for burial.)

Oder believes the Bennington's legacy for the city is in the way
it responded to disaster. "It should, without question, still be
a proud hallmark in the collective memory of all San Diegans," he

For the Navy, the explosion highlighted the need for better
equipment maintenance and specialized training, Oder said. "While
the loss of the Bennington remains one of the worst peacetime
disasters in the Navy's history, we can appreciate the fact that
those men did not die needlessly in the long run."

-        -        -
Addreses of photos and their captions -
Officers and crew posed on the Bennington in March 1905. Four
months later, in one of the Navy's worst peacetime accidents,
boilers exploded as the gunship sat anchored in San Diego Bay.
The flag was lowered to honor the dead.
Thirty-five of the Bennington's dead are buried near a large
obelisk at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

It's a big old goofy world. - John Prine

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