tv Civilians World War II Intelligence Gathering CSPAN February 15, 2020 11:00am-12:01pm EST
>> next in american history tv, university of pennsylvania history professor kathy peiss talks about her book information hunters: when librarians, soldiers, and spies banded together in world war ii europe. she details how ordinary citizens collected books, newspapers, and documents to aid u.s. military intelligence. the national archives in washington, d.c. hosted this event. david: during world war ii, getting the correct information was critical to the war effort. while we might imagine spies, sneaking stolen secrets out of occupied countries, much useful information was found in published sources, books, newspapers, and other documents. kathy peiss' latest book explores how the quest for information led to the recruit ment of librarians, scholars and
archivists in collecting and organizing books and documents. they were skilled in collecting and organizing books and documents. their work has left its own archival trail that peiss and other scholars can now follow. peiss herself has sifted through the state department records here at the national archives in college park and the herbert hoover presidential library in iowa. researchers today pursue their missions in research rooms and online relying on the skills of , archives and library professionals, and i am very proud of our staff here at the national archives in the daily work they do to assist the modern information hunters. kathy peiss is a professor of american history at the university of pennsylvania, where she teaches courses on modern american cultural history and the history of american sexuality, women and gender. she is the author of chief amusements, working women in
leisure in turn-of-the-century jar,"rk, and "hope in a america's beauty culture, a finalist for the los angeles times book award, and named one of amazon's 1999 top 100 books in women's studies. peiss is a fellow of the society of american historians and serves on the the executive board. in addition to writing and teaching, she has served as consultant to museums archives and public history of projects. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome kathy peiss. [applause] prof. peiss: thank you. it is such a pleasure to be here. i need to give a very strong note of thanks to the national archives not only for inviting me, that much more importantly, for its collections and extraordinary archivists. i could not have written this book without the national
archives, so i am deeply grateful. we know the big stories of world war ii, of combat, courage, death, and destruction. the complex decision-making behind military decisions and foreign relations, and the reshaping of global geopolitics after the war. in recent years, we have also come to appreciate the unusual alliance between the cultural world and the battlefield during world war ii, especially the american curators and museum specialists who saved art and culture in wartime europe, the monuments men, a unique unit of the american military during the war. but there are still many hidden stories on the margins of battlefields that shed light on the war and its broad impact on american life. and this is one of those stories. it was revealed to me unexpectedly when i stumbled upon a memorial to my father's oldest brother, rubin peiss, who died in 1952 at age 40.
i learned for the first time about his surprising life about 16 years ago. he was the eldest son in a jewish immigrant family, received scholarships from trinity college and harvard to study philosophy. he taught in a wpa-funded community college in the midst of the great depression, and then earned a library degree. and he was a librarian at harvard at the outset of the war when he was recruited into the office of strategic services, the wartime intelligence agency, to acquire enemy publications abroad. at the end of the war, he headed a mission at the library of congress to obtain all works andished in germany german-occupied countries for american libraries. i spent many odd hours tracing his life and work not thinking that a book would result from it. the process of uncovering his story was a remarkable one for
me. i never met rubin peiss. he died before i was born. but his life became an integral part of mine for many years. his story led me to the information hunters, an unlikely band of librarians, scholars, spies, and soldiers whose more war effort centered on books and documents. they gathered enemy publications in the high-ridden cities of stockholm and lisbon, searched for records in liberated paris, the rubble of berlin. they seized nazi works and bookstores and schools, and they unearthed millions of books hidden in german caves and mine shafts. improvising the techniques of librarians in wartime conditions, they contributed to allied intelligence, safeguarded endangered collections, and restituted looted books. and they built up the international holdings of american libraries.
these men and a few women came together in a series of mass collecting efforts that originated in the unique conditions of world war ii, and i think they offer a contrast or a complement to the monuments men, which was an army unit that grew out of a presidential commission dedicated to the cultural protection of heritage in war zones. books, i think, are less straightforward than our treasures, and many different decision-makers and personnel address the problems they posed and their potential to aid the war effort. so, just a word about books. it is worth recalling that books serve readers in many ways. they are sources of useful information, they are forms of communication, they are material or physical objects, and they are a record of cultural heritage. in a total war, these general attributes became terrains of
battle. more than in any previous war, world war ii required the mobilization of knowledge to fight the enemy. the war's ideological confrontations sharply contrasted freedom and fascism, which were played out in the realm of books, propaganda, and mass media. the uprooting, pillaging, destruction of culture through armed conflict and the third reich's policies drew new attention to preserving the records of civilization in a time of war. so each of these elements brought together american librarians and scholars, soldiers and spies, during the war and the immediate postwar period. the story begins with intelligence. so, the u.s. government had a limited capacity for foreign intelligence gathering on the eve of the war. the fda had ramped up its
compilation of dossiers on domestic threats, intercepted mail. american embassies reported on foreign developments. the armed services began to ramp up some of their military intelligence. but the u.s. was behind france and germany in intelligence-gathering. as the international crisis mounted, president roosevelt came to believe that the government needed a more robust intelligence capability. in july of 1945, he appointed william donovan, known as wild bill, a decorated world war i veteran, lawyer and political operative to build a civilian intelligence agency. this became known as the office of strategic services. initially, the agency however the coordinator of information treated i would underscore that inamed, because it was this new attention to information that led to these wartime collecting missions.
they first focused on the prosaic task of gathering and analyzing non-secret publications and documents, and to do this, donovan enlisted the help of archibald macleish, an unlikely pair who spent a lot of time together. the famed poet, playwright, and at the time, the librarian of congress. under macleish, the library had become a site of a new cultural alliance. he was an ardent interventionist , and he urgently raised the stakes for librarians. he called them not only as custodians of culture, but also defenders of freedom. as he eloquently put it in 1940, quote "in such a time as ours , when wars are made against the spirit and its works, the keeping of these records is a kind of warfare, the keepers, whether they so wish or not, cannot be neutral." strangely enough the origins of
america's intelligence apparatus might be traced to the meetings of these two men in the summer of 1941. you tend to think of intelligence in terms of the exploits of spies, secret operations, decoded messages, but publicly available information, open sources were important and remained important. ish believedmacle intelligence could be gleaned from the close analysis of open sources, using the methods and tools of scholarship, which might reveal information useful for the war effort. foreign newspapers scientific , periodicals, industrial directories and the like were in great demand. the international book trade was shut down by the war, so other means of acquisition had to be found. not long after the attack on pearl harbor, they formed an agency that has a very unwieldy name.
i will only say at once, the interdepartmental committee for the acquisition of foreign publications, known as the idc. it was chaired by william langer, a harvard based historian and the head of the research and analysis branch. and it was run by a 28-year-old franklin kilgore who was recruited from harvard library. kilgore intern recruited my -- in turn recruited my uncle rubin into the oss. he was 90 years old when i had the opportunity to meet him. he was still very sharp and had something of the habits of an intelligence agent. lossd selective hearing loss when there was a question he didn't want to answer. the acquisitions committee got off to a slow start. they failed to acquire a single item in its first four months. finally in april 1942, they began to send librarians and scholars abroad to collect material. initially they thought they could get away with just one or two people, but the program
rapidly expanded into lisbon, stockholm, london istanbul, , cairo, new delhi. i am going to talk about the stockholm and lisbon operations. the stockholm operation was headed by the only woman to serve as a field agent in this project. her name was dealadele keiber. she had an unusual background, she had grown up in hollywood with the family connected to the film industry. but she had a scholarly bent and went to the university of chicago for a phd in medieval linguistics, which she earned in 1930. like many women of her era, she was denied an academic career. instead she carried on her own research while employed by senior faculty at chicago to go abroad and either copy or photograph rare books and manuscripts for their scholarship.
at the vatican library in 1934, she began to observe scholars rapidly filming their research using small cameras, and she trained herself to do the same. she was in germany when the war broke out. she participated in an air raid drill in a german library. she left paris just ahead of the german invasion, made her way to lisbon, and then returned to the united states in march 1941. 18 months later, she returned to europe, this time to stockholm, to microfilm enemy publications for the oss. she worked very closely with british intelligence, but you also develop her own channels of access through booksellers, through sympathetic librarians, government agencies. and she also engaged in covert acquisitions. she made contact with the danish resistance and the clandestine press. and she worked with the british to smuggle periodicals into sweden from germany.
there also are family stories that she was engaged in asp imagine along the coast of occupied france. i have not been able to prove this in the national archives records -- that she was engaged in espionage along the coast of occupied france. i have not been able to prove this in the national archives records. her personnel record in college park contains only a single sheet of paper. so somebody raided it at some point. she is still a woman of mystery. she was certainly the most secretive of the agents. frustrating her bosses, who wanted her to send newsy letters and thought she might be overwhelmed by the job. in fact, she was the most effective agent in the oss acquisitions program, gathering sources, microfilming them and relaying them to london. the other large operation was in lisbon, in neutral lisbon, where despite the dictatorship of antonio salazar, book dealers and newsstands did a very
brisk business in german and other periodicals from all over europe. lisbon was a magnet for intelligence agents from all of the warring countries. these included some american librarians, including ruben peiss, and ralph carrothers, who was a microfilm expert from the new york public library, manuel sanchez who was sent separately by the library of congress. sanchez arrived first and after shaking off some portuguese undercover agents who were tailing him, he bound up being -- he wound up being very successful purchasing works on , the open market and also gathering secret materials. he was a dashing and popular figure at the library of congress, and he wrote these elaborate, wonderful letters, back, calling his employer elsi, and sanchez, of course, protrude himself as a character in a spy novel.
his closest contacts were the ade brothers, who were owners of the library in portugal, who were ally sympathizers who went with him to franco's spain, where they approached german owned bookstores and acquired works that would have been too dangerous for the americans to collect on their own. the oss agents carrothers and peiss, competed with sanchez to collect their work, and they also made inbounds at bookstores, took buying trips into the hinterland, that photograph on the top left, and they cultivated sympathetic locals to loan secret items or be fronts for subscriptions. initially, the oss was given an allotment of 165 pounds a month for air shipments, which was a very limited weight. so they microfilmed most of the material they acquired.
their camera equipment was located in an out-of-the-way room at the american consulate, and it was often going on day or night. i put on the slide this card that says h. gregory thomas to show you the kind of remarkable sources you can find in the national archives. this is a calling card, like a business card, very small. and it was the card of the head of the oss in the iberian peninsula, gregory thomas, whose codename was argus, which he tot with ruben peiss whom, of course thethe head of the oss and spymaster in switzerland. this was buried deep in an accordion file in the field station records. the result was a massive and nearly overwhelming quantity of material. by the end of 1942, their first year, over one million pages had been duplicated and distributed
to american government agencies and the numbers continued to grow. by the end of operations,kiber's unit alone produced 3000 wheels reels of microfilmed periodicals. it is difficult to gauge the intelligence value of these acquisitions. the committee claimed they were very valuable because they were appealing to the bureau of the budget to increase their budget. the operational uses of this material seem limited, certainly compared to signals intelligence or code breaking. nevertheless, newspapers, scientific records, technical works and the like directly from access in occupied countries could be mined for useful information. they could indicate enemy troop strength. they gave suggestions of new weaponry. levels of industrial production, transportation.
and there are even ways to estimate enemy deaths by extrapolating from obituaries. so, again, the kind of skills and scholarship being applied to these materials. many wartime officials also perceived open sources to be highly important, and they invested considerable energy analyzing them. to make these sources useful, techniques of information management had to be employed to transform the physical object -- in this case microfilm -- into the genre of intelligence. so they extracted useful information. they indexed it, provided abstracts, and they translated 4% of all materials they are -- acquired into 42 languages. this was quite an operation. information, disaggregated content, not the publications themselves, were the intelligence product. in a time before computers were not available for this work, the
oss hired a small army of indexers and translators, most of them were women and emigres, to carry this on. the oss mission into neutral cities became less important after d-day for obvious reasons. at that point, the information-hunters became integrated into military operations. they were assigned to documents-gathering teams, called t forces. they followed behind the allied armies as they advanced scouring , targets for operational or strategic information. they wore army uniforms and they operated under military command. serving as specialists to select archival records and publications often on-the-fly, like instantaneous decisions. although an unlikely role for bibliophiles and scholars, many of them took to this work.
one of them was private max lobe. i do not have a photograph of him, unfortunately. he was a german born journalist, he emigrated to the united states and became a bookseller in new york city before joining the army and being assigned to the oss. he had the idea of interrogating german prisoners of war in great britain who had worked in libraries and the book trade. his aim was to discover the whereabouts of important collections, and he turned up incredible information that was ultimately of value to military intelligence as well as more generally to people concerned about the fate of books. another agent, ross lee finney, was an avant-garde composer and music professor at smith college, whom you see on the right. he volunteered to do oss acquisitions work. he arrived after the liberation of paris, went from targeted to
-- target to target identified on a long list, some of which he had created in cambridge. as he wrote his wife, "my work involves different methods of acquiring foreign publications than i or anyone in north hampton, massachusetts would use." he learned how to interrogate informants and follow suspicious people. he said, "i find i am pretty good at sniffing down an aisle and tracing things." and he found massive quantities of printed materials, which he confiscated. i requisitioned a two and a half ton truck today, he wrote. i needed a convoy actually. on thanksgiving 1944, he made his biggest discovery, a huge cache of patent abstracts, which were sent back to the u.s. the t forces looked for material with immediate intelligence value, research related to weaponry, error not ask and other war-related materials and -- aeronautics and other
war-related materials and records that might be useful in the prosecution of war crimes. there was a degree of mission creep, as there often is. in the final status of war, they seized all manner of works that might later be exploited for some purpose. as max lobe said, as he was engaged in this work, there were so many tempting targets, that even after a good and successful day, he felt uneasy because there was still so much undone. he had seized 1000 books that day and 12 rungs of periodicals. although they were ordered to respect the integrity of academic and public libraries, they considered collections that were in the service of nazism to be fair game. for example, there is an institute for race studies housed in a university library. that they removed, but not the library's other collections.
they took endangered booked as well. as one officer in cologne explained, we felt no qualms about going into the rubble, which used to be bookstores and removing any items of value because they would have been destroyed. but there is also the sense of having a certain freedom to act prior to the establishment of order in these newly taken communities before the civil affairs officers came in. that, they called the period of the snatch, when the lid is literally off, and almost anything goes. it was another story when military government was in place. one officer went into a bookstore in bonn, and the germans were looking at him and he felt too uncomfortable just seizing this stuff and lking off, as he put it, so he paid cash for the lot. as the investigators dug more deeply, they found vast quantities of books and publications stashed in surprising places. in the wake of bombing raids, german authorities had hidden library collections in caves, -- relocated and hidden state archives and library collections
in caves, minds and castles for safety, along with books and other treasures. gold, artwork, and costumes of the berlin state opera had been , the location also yielded up part of the precious state -- of the prussian state library. piled in disarray were 2 million volumes of books and journals, historical maps and other materials, and there was no catalog there. tragically, a fire had burned for several months in the mine. likely set by refugees trying to keep warm. and as one investigator reported, the books were in the process of gradual destruction from fumes, smoke, and dampness. this was one of 25 places where the library had been stored. as the monuments men began surveying all of these areas, they found hundreds and hundreds of locations which contained not only works of art but also libraries and archives.
this wartime history laid the groundwork for the treatment of books during the period of allied occupation. mass collecting missions may have ceased or narrowed in scope when the war ended in 1945. yet the opposite occurred. a convergence of needs and interest from the american library world, the civilian government, and military letter led to the expansion of librarians' involvement abroad. first, the war experience and the allied victory spurred research libraries to assume a more prominent global role which they believed required deeper and more extensive international holdings. during the war, the leaders of the major libraries, new york public library, the library of congress, top university libraries, had committed themselves to a vision of american dominance through a cooperative program which they called the farmington plan, which would involve bringing
and archibald macleish said he wanted somewhere in the country, every book in the world -- so through cooperation, the united states would amass an entire global collection. his successor at the library of congress, luther evans, argued that these holdings were a matter of national security. at the same time, american libraries competed fiercely with each other. this was not a genteel world that you might imagine when you think about libraries. not at all. now that the war was over, librarians schemed to get back into europe. and the one that was especially successful was the library of the hoover institution, which had been founded by herbert hoover after world war i, which sent a network of agents abroad to collect the fugitives' records of war. here are two journalists that were doing journalism certainly , but also engaged in collecting records for hoover.
the military increasingly grew concerned about librarians running around former battlefields and devastated cities, scooping up books. so out of this situation, the library of congress proposed in the summer of 1945 to establish a mission to acquire books for themselves and american research libraries. this mission was initially seen as a book-purchasing operation. it would fill the wartime gaps. by buying three copies of every publication issued in germany or occupied countries since 1939. this arrangement made with the war and the state department juror upon the expertise and model of the oss acquisition of publications. reuben peiss was sent to head to the library of congress mission in 1945. a group of american librarians joint him in january 1946. and here is a picture of the librarians in trench coats in
front of the headquarters of the military government. reuben peiss is the man in the middle with the pipe, and the other legitimate on the right is harry ladenburg, former head of the new york public library, one of the leading lights in that library field in the 20th century. at the time, he was 70 years old, when he made this trip. one goal was to go to like slick , to pick up a quarter million dollars worth of books -- leipzig, to pick up a quarter million dollars worth of that had been ordered before the war. successfully held in safekeeping despite considerable damage to leipzig. now the americans faced a different problem to get them. become part of the soviet zone of occupation, so a very long and delicate
negotiation took place between the american librarians and their soviet counterparts for their release. it was successful despite the increased tensions between the two countries in 1946, or the beginnings of the cold war. in what became something of a legend, reuben peiss and a colleague, jacob zuckerman, led a convoy of trucks from berlin to leipzig, or waived through soviet checkpoints. the only incident was that they were hailed by a so-called audubon girl by the side of the road, trying to get them to stop. they arrived at the city, where they were treated like celebrities. the people hoped their presence was a sign of an imminent u.s. takeover, which of course, it was not. they died and conversed with their russian -- a dined and conversed with their russian counterparts increasingly , friends, while the trucks were loaded, and returned the next day to berlin with the goods. however, what was initially
defined very narrowly evolved into something else. the library of congress representatives operated under the auspices of the u.s. occupation government in germany, which authorized them to go into research institutes and libraries where they examined and at times confiscated materials. they screened and evaluated the vast quantities of publications that had already been seized by "t" forces and intelligence units millions of pieces of , material that needed to be screened. those not needed by the military or intelligence were given to the library of congress michigan mission. the librarians were also drawn to documents and ephemera, even though this was not really their charge. tirtus of thede
collection, which involved materials from the nazi error, which was ultimately sent to the library of congress. this became a massive scale program of acquisitions. a crucial dimension of allied occupation policy, the do not -- the de-nazification of germany. except not the content were seized, german bookstores were closed. objectionable works were put under lock and key. this was true for schools, bookstores, publishing houses and many libraries. calledere these raids operation tally ho, to remove nazi content from these places. this actually turned out to be a vast undertaking, because the book trade was very large in germany. everything from academic treatises to school textbooks and popular fiction. over time, strict policies were
enacted, accommodating in an -- culminating in an allied agreement known as order number but destroyly sees, all literature and material of a nazi nature. including works that promoted fascism, nationalism anti-semitism, racism, and civil , disorder. when word of this directive hit the american press, many americans were outraged. during the war, as you can see from this poster, there were government statements condemning nazi book burnings. fire,cannot be killed by books are weapons in the world ideas. so order number 4 seems like a betrayal of democratic values, and the reason why americans fought the war. to counter this negative publicity, the library of congress mission proposed screening and preserving up to 150 copies of each objectionable work for future research and is naziism, with
the rest sent to paper mills for pumping and producing much-needed paper stock. the military government officials were very upset at headlines like this one. burned." zi books they said no, we are pulping them, not burning them. the execution of this policy was uneven. we do not know exactly how many aboutwere destroyed, but 2 million of them made their way to american university libraries , as well as the library of congress. these are a small sample of such books in my own library at the university of pennsylvania. these were popular fiction books for the german troops. field post books, they were called. and the librarians at penn refer to them as a junk, as did most librarians, but they saved them. among the wartime missions involving books, the one that remains most meaningful to us today concerns the restitution
of books that have been looted from jewish individuals and institutions. millions of these had been seized by nazi looting teams, including those directed by alfred rosenberg, to create an institute for research into the jewish question, essentially preserving these works for study even as the regime killed millions of jews in the holocaust. in april, 1945, american troops discovered approximately 2 million of the looted volumes in a small village called hungen. later, a jewish american officer looked up rosenberg's institute in an old frankfurt telephone directory and went to with a colleague to the site. the building itself had been destroyed, but they found scraps of paper with hebrew writing on the ground, which led them into a cellar filled with these
books, and the photograph on the left is a photograph of one of ellar.c the photo on the left is a -- how to reserve and rescue these books was an unanticipated problem assigned to them ottomans men. some of the books were easily identified and could be returned to the library's of origin. the issue of restitution was that it was to the country and the nation, not to the individual unit however, many of these volumes were unidentifiable. their owners were dad and their whereabouts unknown. initially, they were stored in this library, the rothschild library, collecting point, a relatively small place, about 2 million were crushed into this place. the monuments men were so overwhelmed with the amount of work they had to do at this point that they gave the task of handling them to an american civilian whose name is glenn goodman, whose story and was fortunate to learn in an
unpublished memoir. goodman had been a student and teacher in germany. he married there and did not leave when the u.s. went to war. he was imprisoned in a concentration camp. then at the end of the war, when he was released, he began to look for work and find a way to return home with his wife and new family. he found his way to an office of julius buckman in frankfurt. there, buckman handed him three old volumes. and he said, can you identify these? goodman knew two of them and bluffed on the third, and that was good enough for buckman, who told him to report to the rothschild library and begin to organize these books for restitution. it was really an almost impossible job. finally, after many months of uncertainty, two military officers, both jewish-american, were put in charge.
the first was seymour pomerantz, a professional archivist who worked at the national archives before the war and continued in government service long after. and isaac bankewitz and they took over the offenbach archival depot. these administrators found ways to shelter, repair and in some ways, identify these looted books. in some ways, they developed a large-scale book processing plant, designing workflows to make it possible to identify and restitution rapidly. despite the fact that the books were often damaged and in many different languages, most of which the german workers there could not read. benkowitz came up the idea of photographing the bookplates and stamps in the books, and having the workers memorize a small number of them. when they saw a book with that stamp, they put it into a box
with the number, as you can see the number on the side. this speeded up the identification process tremendously. years, they had returned over 3 million books. even so, there were 360,000 that were still orphaned and needed to be dealt with. ultimately, these books were given to the control of a u.s.-based international organization called jewish cultural reconstruction. the group consisted of many jewish scholars, lawyers, and religious leaders. its executive secretary was hannah arendt. the bookstoreed is earl, the united states, and smaller numbers to south africa, south america, and a very small number to western europe. so much of what i have described today involved improvised decisions made quickly on the ground in situations of
destruction, danger and uncertainty, and in which in many other considerations, with good reason, had priority -- protecting troops, and feeding a defeated population and refugees. there were ethical questions raised by the librarians that came to be asked in the wake of this activity. i can talk more about that if you have questions about how to think through the ethics of acquisition and restitution in this time . but by way of conclusion, i want to point to several important legacies of this effort. the war spurred new ways of thinking about fundamental libraryof professional work, such as reproduction using microfilm, access and retrieval of printed materials. wartime program strongly
shaped information science after the war, and that could only be realized through computerization. but many of the ideas and practices began in this time period. a number of key figures in information science were closely involved in this oss program. they include eugene power who founded university microfilms, now the information giant proquest. and frederick kilgore, who founded oclc, the forerunner of worldcap, the world's largest bibliographic database. the wartime acquisitions effort also controverted to the global stature and ambitions of an american research library, and it gave universities extensive international holdings for the first time. as i said, these are often seen as serving the national interest and necessary for the pursuit of american foreign policy and global influence. at the same time, the war turned some librarians in other directions, including a renewed
sense of internationalism. many working for unesco, for example, and it led others to larger political purposes of their work. issues raised starkly by order number 4, and strengthen their commitment to civil liberties and the library bill of rights. finally, the restitution of looted books was a milestone in the evolution of international efforts to protect cultural heritage and to claim it as an aspect of human rights. so at the outset of the war, no one could have foreseen a large-scale government-led operation to acquire, exploit, rescue and restitution books. to --ted yo rested you rescue and restitute books. it turned out the libraries and scholars skills, expertise and aspirations aligned closely with american military and political objectives. they felt acutely their duty to win the war, the revulsion at the nazi regime, they're commitment to documenting the past and present for the future,
and they believed that only america could rescue endangered civilizations. as librarians and bibliophiles, they were stirred by the books and documents they found. so their mission was bound up with the entire complex of american wartime values and postwar aims, mixing instrumental, political and strategic concerns with a sense but also a sense of responsibility to preserve the material records of knowledge and culture in the wake of so much destruction. thank you. [applause] >> we have some time for questions and answers. question, would you mind coming down to the microphone on either side? since this is being filmed by c-span.
>> thank you for your talk. it sounds as if the librarians were turned loose on europe with carte blanche, whatever expertise they carried with them , or which books they wished to take. i do not have the sense there was a shopping list. was there shopping list? secondarily, what was the military role in trying to shape the actions of these men, apart from the monuments men and apart from restitution? prof. peiss: great question. initially, they had the habits of librarians. so what librarians do is they have that what they call a want list, a list of books that they want. they go out to a bookseller or dealer and they secure them. the oss was sending want lists to the agents in stockholm, lisbon, around the world. these were important materials that had been asked for. the problem, of course, was the time lag between receiving the
want list and how much time it would take to find the material and then microfilm eight and ship it back. so this is not always the most effective way to proceed, and in many cases, whatever they .ound, they just microfilmed it they didn't put it in any particular order. so it was very difficult to use, which is why the oss created indexes to these records. but they did have some sense of what they wanted. outranw, the events just their capacity to find them. with respect to the library -collecting after the war, there sense of carte blanche, they were told that if the book was published in germany or in an occupied country after 1939, acquire it. that date got pushed back a bit
to 1933 to include the nazi regime, and in some cases back even further to include the rise of nazism, so when i say there is a mission creep here, but is what is happening to some extent. , not everybody in the military was on board with this. they did not want librarians hanging around. [laughter] even the librarians in trenchcoats who were pretty well behaved. some people thought, this is not for you, this is really something the military should be doing, but because there was an effort to return troops home, to speed up the return of troops back home, they really had staffing problems. and the and or midi the materials that had been collected was such a bad they welcomed the library of congress's mission in particular that more or less not all of
them follow the rules, but most of them did. >> i have to do questions. first is, was there any coordination at all with the people preparing for the trials? second question is, i was fascinated by the part of your talk about the new techniques of library science about developed as part of this. i wonder if preservation was all, or ifrt of this at this was just a turn toward micro-filming and forgetting about the original. it is shocking to see these materials sitting in salt mines. offenbach also. they must have been in terrible shape. were there any preservation techniques used? "t" forces, so the 1945, whichl of included people like max loeb
were asked to look for material that could be used for tribunals. they did find a number of were then used. it was not a primary -- it wasn't like somebody dedicated to that purpose, but they were asked to be on the lookout essentially for material that could be used. yes, absolutely. too, not simply textural materials, but films as well. was seen as a method of preservation as well as reproduction. i think that probably, there are a number of newspapers and periodicals that only exist on microfilm that is inaccessible and probably unreadable at this moment in time, because it hasn't been preserved. but they had the sense that we need to do everything we can to preserve this history.
and yes, it was very important to them to find ways to do that. with the rothschild library, for example, glenn goodman sent many of the books that had worms in them or other kinds of animal infestations, he sent them to the frankfurt city hospital for de-fumigation. anything thatf was -- to kill off anything living in the books. the found a way to drive books, so they were very attentive to preservation, kind of primitive because they didn't have the materials, but they were very attentive to it. >> the overall importance of this program and mission are clear, but frankly, individuals are always related by specific, anecdotes.
were you able to tie any of the acquisitions during the war to a specific battlefield moment or something like that? prof. peiss: unfortunately, no. claimedk kilgore always that among the materials that group, there his was material related to the atomic bomb that was useful to american physicists. i don't know that i can confirm that. that was his claim, and he made it not only to me, personally at age 90, but also in his budget report, that there was a rocketry and other kinds of weaponry, and that information was useful. but i can't really tie it. i think there is a gap between what they were hoping this material would show, and its actual usability in the mist of battle. >> thank you. battle.e midst of
>> thank you. >> i want to thank you for your talk. i know that your book deals a lot with librarians, library for the archival piece, that is what i am concentrating my masters in right now, so i am curious if you could talk a little bit about your research, and if there is any focus on, particularly the archival side, the roberts commission, etc., etc.. prof. peiss: yes. because this became a really large project that i did not want to spend the rest my life on, i had to, i mean i entered into some archival material when it followed logically from the book-collecting missions. when i looked at the hoover library in particular, which was a really interesting story hoover was interested in , archives, records, diaries, memoirs and other materials of that sort. so i write at length about their
efforts, which were more focused on unique items that were archival. there is a wonderful book by a german historian astrid eckert "the struggle for the files" that deals specifically with the archives being brought to the united states, and then the effort to return them to germany after the war. >> two questions. the smaller question is this. books are not like works of art or jewels. what was the motivation of the nazis in looting libraries in the countries that they occupied? and more important question is this, it seems to me for the american government to spend government money on books, when the
attitude was, the war is over, return to normality. who were the people who had such intellectual insight that they could convince the american government to pay attention to the intellectual treasures of civilization? prof. peiss: great questions. nazifirst one about looting of books, and why -- in some cases, there were rare collections of books that they seize because they were rare treasures. in many cases they were seizing the libraries of jewish institutions or ordinary jewish individuals. and the hard thing to wrap our minds around is that they wanted -- the scientific
study of what they would call the jewish race, and they needed all these books to put into institutes for advanced studies, essentially, where scholars what later go and study they termed "the jewish question ," after the population of jews had been killed. whoas one of the people write about this at the time says, it is this strange irony, but that was their motive, and they had an intellectual .nterest in understanding jews obviously, the to justify genocide, that this became part of a science. that is what alfred rosenberg, for example, was interested in. the second question -- i forgot
this remind me? >> who are the people? prof. peiss: of the people in the government, yes -- it is important to realize that at the end of the war, the united states sees itself as winning the war, and this had been a massive effort on the part of government military, ordinary , citizens, the intellectual and academic world, and i think that there isn't this sense initially of, ok, that is a moment and now it is gone. up a thise war opens stuff of postwar intellectual -- a vista of intellectual and political dominance by the united states. inis a great investment government agencies in scientific research. there is investment in libraries and the librarians are making that case at least at the end of the war, and it is a successful may, again,e that
at this current moment may seem unusual. [laughter] prof. peiss: to put it mildly. one more? yes. i was curious, during the war uncle andur colleagues in stockholm and portugal, for today suspicious that somebody with an american accent was looking for lots of books in german? prof. peiss: you would think. they didn't have good names or secret names, they went on their own names on their own passports and they were often identified as working for the library of congress. of course, the reputation of the library of congress was very prominent. people thought, yes, of course you would want to be here seeking out books. so for the most part, they did not have problems. they didn't have problems, but there was a lot of caution about going into spain, where franco's regime was far more attentive to what this might mean.
but, yes, i think that it kind of conjures up the casablanca image of all the spies in the same location. and there is just a lot of people looking for information in these cities and these librarians were among them. being a librarian is a good cover, is what i have been told. [laughter] thank you all very much, i appreciate it. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy, visit ncicap.org] >> this is the panhandle of texas, they say it is the only place you can watch her dog run away for two weeks. >> the majority of the towns and cities in the panhandle wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the railroad. ♪ . [country music] ♪
[laughter] announcer: the c-span cities tour is exploring the american story. this weekend, we travel to amarillo, texas. >> it is in the center of the texas panhandle. we call ourselves the capital city of the texas panhandle. i really think our superpower here in the city of amarillo is that we think regionally. ♪ announcer: with the help of our cable partners, we learn about the history and literary life of the city and the surrounding areas, as we talk with local authors and visit historic sites. >> the state park today is a lot like it has been for thousands of years. all of a sudden, you come across this huge drop. it is the second largest canyon in the united states after the grand canyon. twice.lived here
between 1912 in 1914 she was teaching in the public school system of amarillo. then in 1916101918, she came back and got a faculty position here. some artists don't write, but o'keefe wrote prolifically. this book can teach us so much more about this artist. she is struggling with just the things you can imagine yourself struggling with. she is so relatable. she is not this grant the figure. announcer: join us today at 5:30 p.m. on c-span2's "book tv." then on sunday at 3 p.m. on tv,an3's american history as c-span cities tour takes you to amarillo, texas. >> next on the presidency, this is the third and last program looking back at president george w. bush's 2007 a rack surge decision -- iraq surge decision to increase american troop
levels. we hear from a panel of scholars who respond to previous observations by former bush administration officials and who offer comparisons to similar military decisions by other presidents. the center for presidential history at southern >> so, without further ado it's my pleasure to introduce the chair of this panel who is the executive director of the center at the university of texas at austin and he has not unique but certainly dual perspective of being a person who has studied decision-making in the white house and been a part of decision-making in the white house. he was an invaluable member for underlying factors that make the project work. i thank you for that and i turned the microphone over to you. [applause]