On Wednesday, May 22, Rise Above, a traveling exhibition sponsored by the CAF Red Tail Squadron rolled into the New Orleans Lakefront Airport to begin four days of inspirational and historical lessons for local students and the general public.
The main attraction is a 30 minute film that uses the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to inspire young people to “Aim High, Believe in Yourself, Use Your Brain, and Never Quit.” It also details the story of the restoration of an original P-51C Mustang. Groups from local schools like Dibert Community School, The Academy of the Sacred Heart, and Samuel Green Charter School have been able to learn how the Tuskegee Airmen overcame numerous obstacles to fly in combat missions during World War II and earn 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses.
The National WWII Museum’s own Red Ball Express mobile outreach program is on-site at the Lakefront Airport with WWII artifacts, uniform reproductions and children’s activities. Students have the opportunity to wear reproductions of the gear of a Tuskegee Airmen or Rosie the Riveter and pose with a backdrop of iconic propaganda posters.
Vehicles on-site include a fully restored, flight-ready P-51C Mustang and a 1941 GMC CCKW truck. These vehicles honor the service of African Americans both in combat roles and in the vital supply chains such as the Red Ball Express that kept the Allied armies moving forward.
The event is FREE to the public with school visits continuing through Friday and a public day scheduled for Saturday, May 25 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. New Orleans Lakefront Airport is located at 6001 Stars and Stripes Boulevard.
The Lakefront Airport Rise Above event is sponsored by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) of Midland, Texas and The National WWII Museum, and is presented locally by Flightline First.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
6:00 pm – 7:45 pm Film Screening – The Counterfeiters (2007)
The Solomon Victory Theater
Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, The Counterfeiters is the true story of the largest counterfeiting operation in history, set up by the Nazis in 1936.
Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch is the king of counterfeiters. Arrested and imprisoned, Salomon and a group of professionals are forced to produce fake foreign currency under the program Operation Bernhard.
Faced with a moral dilemma, Salomon must decide whether his actions, which could prolong the war and risk the lives of fellow prisoners, are ultimately the right ones.
Free and open to the public. For more information, call 504-528-1944 x 229.
Meanwhile back at the Museum…. we wrapped up our series Hogan’s Heroes Happy Hour, in the line of related programming for our special exhibit, Guests of the Third Reich: American POWs in Europe. Over the course of five weeks, we followed 10 episodes of the television sitcom, which aired from 1965-1971. With over 160 episodes to choose from, it was difficult to select two each week. During its primetime run, Hogan’s Heroes was very popular with children and its slapstick routines brought laughter every time. This proved true also during our month-long series, as one devoted family showed up every week (despite baseball schedules!) for more laughs.
The television show and its comic treatment of the subject of captivity under the Nazis, was and is still highly contested. We heard polar opposite opinions on Hogan’s Heroes and its merit—from the child of a former POW who recalled watching his dad’s favorite show to the child of a former POW who recalled that his dad did not find the show the least bit funny. Regardless of one’s opinion on the show’s value, it is undeniable that the series brought the subject of Allied POW’s experiences in the hands of Germany back into the public eye.
During our Monday night series, we screened ten episodes of the classic series, spanning all of its six seasons. It was tough to pick a favorite. The episodes that we screened are below:
Week 1: “The Informer” and “Hold that Tiger”
Week 2: “Tanks for the Memory” and “Happiness is a Warm Sergeant”
Week 3: Colonel Klink’s Secret Weapon” and “Sergeant Schultz meets Mata Hari”
Week 4: “War Takes a Holiday” and “Monkey Business”
Week 5: “The Pizza Parlor” and “Get Fit or Fight”
We hope to continue this series, weather-permitting outdoors, in the fall. Stay tuned for more from Stalag 13. We have 155 more episodes to choose from.
What are some of your favorite episodes? What episodes would you like to see on the big screen?
Post by Curator Kimberly Guise and Education Coordinator Lauren Handley.
The individual units of the ENIAC were rewired manually in order to run a new program. ABOVE: Programmers Gloria Ruth Gordon (Bolotsky) and Ester Gerston wire the right side of the computer according to the program specifications. Photo: US Army from archives of the ARL Technical Library, courtesy of Mike Muuss.
On May 17, 1943, the U.S. Army signed a contract with the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering to develop a computer for its Ballistics Research Library. Known as the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, or ENIAC, it was the first all-electronic computer, its creation marking the beginning of modern computing.
Unlike its well-known predecessor, the British Colossus built solely for the purpose of code breaking, the ENIAC was the first computer developed for general purpose. Calculations that once took mathematicians three months to perform could now be completed in mere seconds. Although it was finished in 1946, too late for wartime ballistics calculations, the ENIAC was used instead to model nuclear chain reactions during the Cold War development of the hydrogen bomb.
In the 70 years since the inception of the ENIAC, computer science has changed dramatically. Where microprocessors in today’s computers can complete over 177 billion operations per second, the ENIAC could perform just 5,000 simple calculations in one second. Modern microprocessors are tiny and fit in palm of your hand; the ENIAC was a mammoth machine weighing 30 tons and spanning 80 feet. While current microprocessors use about 30 watts of electricity, the ENIAC gobbled up over 170,000 watts and was rumored to dim the lights in the city Philadelphia when it was switched on!
Despite their vast differences in size, speed, energy use, and programmability, the early computers developed for the war effort paved the way for modern computers. The legacy of the ENIAC is evident 70 years later, as the rate of technological innovation rapidly increases and computers are an integral part of daily life. It makes you stop and wonder, where will we be in another 70 years?
As part of the Grand Opening of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, students from every state and the District of Columbia joined a group of World War II veterans in a special procession at the Dedication Ceremony. These 51 students earned their spots by first advancing to the 2012 National History Day Contest and then winning an essay contest asking them to describe their states’ contributions to World War II. Their essays are all available with archival photos at salutetofreedom.org.
While in New Orleans, the students were able to visit the Museum’s exhibits, tour the French Quarter and Garden District and attend the Grand Opening Gala. Every student mentioned that it was meeting their WWII veteran that was the highlight of the trip. Students and veterans exchanged contact information, and the students have been keeping their veterans up to date on college plans, scholarship applications and school projects.
Sixteen of these students advanced to the 2013 National History Day Contest to be held from June 9-13 in College Park, MD. Many of them used their interest in WWII to create projects that emphasized local contributions to the war effort.
The National WWII Museum announces a new opportunity to earn high school service hours this summer!
During the month of July, we are offering high school students the opportunity to work with our Education, Research, Membership, Collections and Volunteer Services departments. Some opportunities include helping to catalog the Collections library, recording WWII veterans’ service information and sharing artifacts with guests. This year we will also be reading the graphic novel Maus as part of our summer high school book club.
If you are a high school student aged 16 or above and interested in more information contact:
The Triple R Kids celebrate their robot's success in retrieving all four tires.
Middle school students from across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas converged on the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center on Saturday for The National WWII Museum’s inaugural Robotics Challenge. Working together over a period of four months, teams designed, built and programmed an autonomous robot using the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robotics platform.
Presented with Home Front-related challenges, the teams scored points on the WWII-themed playing field by completing missions like scrapping metal by placing a tin can in a collection bin, collecting crops from a Victory Garden by moving plastic vegetables and building equipment for the war effort by placing the turret on a Sherman tank model. In addition to building a robot, each team devised a modern conservation public relations campaign based on the scrapping efforts on the Home Front during WWII. Teams created a contemporary propaganda poster, a commercial and a press release to describe their campaign.
The Grand Champion Award was presented to the team who embodied the spirit of innovation and teamwork by excelling in both the Robot Mission and Project. To be eligible for the Grand Champion Award, teams must score in the top 25% for robot performance. One team was selected for the Robot Design Award for utilizing outstanding engineering design and a well-planned strategy to produce an efficient, effective and reliable robot. Robot Performance Awards were presented to the teams scoring the most points during the robot missions. Teams competed in two matches and their highest score was considered. Project Awards were presented to teams who created an engaging, effective and exciting public relations campaign about a contemporary conservation issue.
In May 1943, a 75-page document called the “The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is No More!” was given to SS Chief Heinrich Himmler. The official report, written by Jürgen Stroop, commander of the forces that liquidated the Warsaw Ghetto, chronicled the SS suppression of the April 1943 uprisings. Known commonly as “The Stroop Report,” the book has become one of the most important sources in determining the extent of the death and destruction at Warsaw.
The Stroop Report looked more like a family scrapbook than it did an official government document, filled with photographs with hand-written captions of the operation and bound in black leather. The craftsmanship and attention to detail reveal a great deal about how the persecution of Jews was viewed; Stroop was proud and saw the defeat of the Polish Resistance in Warsaw as a major milestone that he believed would be celebrated for years to come. The photographs of dead bodies, burning buildings and Jews being rounded up at gunpoint were images of a Nazi triumph. The text contains boasting of how many thousands of Jews perished and what weaponry and other supplies the SS managed to secure for themselves. In the first section, which contained all communiqués sent to SS Police Leader East Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger, the burning of buildings to get Jews out is described in detail:
“Our setting the block on fire achieved the result in the course of the night that those Jews whom we had not been able to find despite all our search operations left their hideouts under the roofs, in the cellars, and elsewhere, and appeared at the outside of the buildings, trying to escape the flames. Masses of them- entire families-were already aflame and jumped from the windows or endeavored to let themselves down by means of sheets tied together or the like. Steps had been taken so that these Jews as well as the remaining ones were liquidated at once. During the whole night there were shots from buildings which were supposed to be evacuated. We had no losses in our cordoning forces. 5,300 Jews were caught for the evacuation and removed.”
Select Images from the Stroop Report:
Three copies of the Stroop Report were made, and today are housed in the National Archives in Washington D.C., the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw and the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, Germany respectively. The report was used as one of the key pieces of evidence of war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials.
Stroop was captured in May 1945 in Bavaria. He was put on trial by the U.S. military Tribunal at Dachau, found guilty and sentenced to death, but was later extradited for trial in Poland before his execution was carried out. Throughout his imprisonment, Stroop remained proud of the destruction he oversaw, remembering the burning of Warsaw’s Great Synagogue as “a wonderful sight…an unforgettable allegory of the triumph over Jewry.” In 1951, the Polish court found him guilty and sentenced him to death. He was hanged outside the Mokotow prison in Warsaw, steps away from the former ghetto he destroyed.
Dinner with a Curator – Tom Czekanski presents “Fighting Fit: Restoring the Collection”
May 14, 2013, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Utilizing staff, volunteers and outside contractors, the Museum has undertaken a substantial number of restoration projects since opening in 2000. Restorations include several airplanes, two boats, three armored vehicles and numerous other vehicles and artillery pieces. Director of Collections and Exhibits, Tom Czekanski, will share the unique story of each of these pieces – complete with challenges and triumphs.
Dinner with a Curator is a seasonal series where Museum staff and guests discuss a featured topic related to World War II while enjoying a delicious three-course dinner. All dinners catered by Chef John Besh at the Museum’s American Sector restaurant. Space is limited. Reservations are required.
Today marks the 70th anniversary of a narrowly avoided catastrophe in New York Harbor. On the afternoon of 24 April 1943 the SS El Estero, a Panamanian cargo ship, was being loaded with ammunition at Craven Point, just across the harbor from lower Manhattan, when a fire broke out in her engine room. Making matters worse, El Estero was tied up alongside two fully-loaded ammunition ships at a pier that was also packed with explosives.
A similar event occurred during World War I when the French ship SS Mont Blanc, loaded with TNT, guncotton, and picric acid, caught fire after being involved in a collision in Halifax harbor. Her explosion killed 2,000 people, injured over 9,000 more, and caused massive damage to Halifax and the surrounding area. That damage was caused by a single ship. Had El Estero exploded in New York harbor, she certainly would have set off the explosives on the other ships and the pier. The damage to lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey would have been catastrophic.
SS El Estero after being scuttled by Fire Fighter and John J. Harvey
Firemen from New Jersey, Coast Guardsmen, and the fireboats Fire Fighter and John J. Harvey rushed to put El Estero’s fire out. However, some of the burning compartments were inaccessible, so the decision was made to tow the ship away from populated areas and scuttle her. After El Estero was towed several miles away from the pier, Fire Fighter and Harvey continued to pump water into her hull until she settled to the bottom. The situation was finally brought under control by midnight on the 24th.
The Navy learned a valuable lesson from this near disaster, namely, that it is a bad idea to load ammunition ships in a heavily populated area. For those old salts who ever had to empty their ships on the long pier at Naval Weapons Station Earle in New Jersey, now you know why. The long pier was built as a direct result of the El Estero fire. Unfortunately, the lessons learned in New York Harbor were forgotten in Port Chicago, California, where an explosion aboard SS E.A. Bryan set off a chain reaction that destroyed most of the facility and killed 320 sailors, most of whom were African American.
Fire Fighter shortly after being put into service as a fireboat
It is also interesting to note that the two fireboats that averted disaster in New York Harbor in 1943 also played a pivotal role in Manhattan after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. The towers’ collapse destroyed fire mains in lower Manhattan, so Fire Fighter, which was still on active duty, and John J. Harvey, which had become a museum ship, pumped water into the city for eighty straight hours to help fight fires. Fire Fighter finally retired in 2010 and is now a museum ship herself. I personally had the pleasure of meeting Harvey’s crew when they tied up alongside my old museum ship USS Slater DE-766 in Albany, New York. They put on a great barbecue.
John J Harvey (center) alongside USS Slater DE-766, August 2005
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.