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tv   Cold War Anti- Communist Trading Cards  CSPAN  August 5, 2022 10:38am-11:22am EDT

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or shoot five or six rounds, and what was left, they would come out. we used flame throwers, of course, against aids ville, because back. sergeant riley, as a matter of fact, eventually ran 45 yards got behind aids ville, given some squirts and nothing happened. a couple more of squirts and nothing happened. he was about to give up, and all of a sudden he heard a bang. and a flash, but it happened was the gas had gotten inside your ammunition. and it blew it up. . they came up pretty fast after that. >> you can watch this interview in its entirety, along with other oral histories, at c-span dot org slash history. communism trading cards.
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these thank you all for inviting me to talk about the fight the manus children's crusade against companies it isn't trading curves these are some of my favorite teaching tools at any level. i really appreciate the support of the gilder lehrman institute of american history and all of you. so, thank you so much for having me. i wanted to start with the box, because that's how the children would start. they would see the box of cards as they entered a typical store to buy trading cards. children are often regarded as, perhaps, the most important symbolic guarantee of a nation's future, according to historians. thus, we do need to study them. these cards indeed draw on, reflect and even foreshadow aspects of early cold war culture. and, and even later periods and events and rhetoric. i look at the images first and then the
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text. and, indeed, the importance of this, but the importance of this combination can be seen in an interview with a collector and someone who remembers the cards in his youth. he wrote, if you showed that card ghost city, card 20, three figure two, which was used to promote this talk, if you show that card to a kid in the 50s, they would probably say, yeah, that's what i dream about at night. that's when i have nightmares about. in 1951, the bowman company released a collectible card set sold with bubble gum, entitled the children's crusade against communism, fight the red menace. the question is, what are trading cards for those of us who don't know? a consumer
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object to be sold as a small and non expensive mass produced primarily marketed to children. most of us know them as sports cards. in the post war period, after 1945, as historians have studied, consumerism, which was linked as it is through much of american history, with it isn't. our consumerism is tied with citizenship. and, in the cold war, particularly the rapidly growing realm of suburbia, where homeownership and rising purchases of domestic appliances, cars, refrigerators, kitchens, as a means of keeping up with the proverbial joneses. the ability to buy and especially to choose what one thought was seen as an important facet of the american way of life. and of american superiority over the communists. we see this again and again, throughout cultural
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history in the cold war. the cards were sold as a popular children's commodity, which draws them into this form of citizenship. the fight the red men's cards feature full color images, with even numbered cards depicting the united states an of numbered cards showing red or communist activities. each card is numbered and titled and carries a short paragraph of text relating to the image on the card. above the copyright information at the bottom of the card is written fight the red menace, red being the sign of the soviets. so, fight the red menace was in navy blue because the united states, represented by blue, it is
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fighting. and ran minutes and read. the red and white stars depicted on the box a repeated alongside the text in the first words on the first card, reds invade south korea, explain them as follows. the red star of communism and the white star of democracy are a life or deal struggle around the world. there's a heavy emphasis on korea, because of the korean war, which well go into. earlier, began a 1950. themes include western military heroes, communist leaders, common people, military hardware, the geography of the cold war. or how the cold war can become hot. atomic war, race and the united nations. and it includes pictures and text, as i've said. but unlike disney, as we'll see, or cartoons like
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duck and cover that teach children how to survive nuclear attacks, these cards were quite dark. textual analysis becomes key to understanding the promise and threat of the cold war. as historians, young historians, we can use tactics from material culture, art history, history of the cold war, childhood, the senses, propaganda. in addition to all the topics that are mentioned on the cards themselves. the bowman company intimated that the cards were intended to be educational. quote, we decided that children would be interested in the anti communist series and we think it is good for them. we try to tell children the difference between our way of life and the communist way, by putting out a series of 48 full color picture cards, they said. bowman's claim to having educational goals is supported by the fact that an earlier set of tires by bowman, called the horrors of war, with similar themes, was
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created in the belief that through the cards could be directed a favorable attitude, interestingly, towards peace. i show here the fight the red menace gum wrapper. so, we start out with cold war and containment, this is an early picture of truman, president truman, with churchill and joseph stalin. the world leaders, global leaders at this point. looking pretty happy at the end of the war, although we knew trouble was brewing, certainly, before the end of the war. george cannon wrote the long telegram, a famous document studied, and it's worth studying many times over. he wrote it from russia and
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it's called the long telegram because, indeed, it's very long for a telegram. spanning soviet culture and other issues, it became the basis for what was called the containment theory of dealing with the soviets. in other words, if you contained the soviet union, because of the nature of the people, indeed, the entire culture and political system would implode. so, it was known as the containment theory. however, if we read the document there's lots of information about culture, about people. and even about the threats to americans via women, religious organizations, labor unions, all of which we see in these cards. so, truman articulated what was called the truman doctrine. which he announced and was key, announced that it
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was the duty of the united states to uphold global freedom. and that communism must be contained. that national security depends on nuclear power, a strong military and civilian preparedness to mobilize in defense of peace. in this, in 1950, he initiated the federal civil defense administration, which was charged with creating a national civil defense program. and the first directors spoke enthusiastically of a new home front for the cold war, propelled by a growing consciousness of the need for civil defense. message of the early fcda propaganda prove relatively simple. if americans embrace the concept of civil defense, they could survive a
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nuclear war. while the new u. s. military experimented with a variety of indoctrination projects to sculpt the perfect nuclear soldier, the fdca arrived at this for the civilians. the organization launched a range of leaflets, tours, short films, hoping to mold the civilian into a new theater of conflict. but it was operating within a constraint budget, as things often are in the united states. so, in order to sell civil defense to the u. s., the fcda use partnerships with corporations, i. e. bowman. it increasingly turned to corporate alliances such as these. it used a strategy of cooperation, in quotes. in this, the first director of the organization added that we are
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grateful for the wholehearted cooperation and support of the many private industries associations and institutes. for example, the booklet survival under atomic attack in 1951, concurrent with the launch of the bowman cards, preached, you can survive. highlighting, your chances of making a complete recovery from an atomic attack are much the same as for every day accidents. another thing that was very important about the long telegram and this theory of containment was the idea of a religious cold war. the soviet atheists where versus the religious and righteous
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americans. and indeed, truman said, in our quest for righteousness, we must put on the armor of god. so, there was a religious bent to this cold war. and the containment theory. in 1947, we have the berlin airlift. and we have here, 1947 to 48, milk becomes a new weapon of democracy. here, we see children are becoming very important in those cold war fight. and indeed, the famous candy bomber. as the soviets cut off food and supplies to west berlin, a cold
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war hot spot, children, the united states along with its allies brought in food and supplies on airplanes. one of the pilots decided to put parachutes on her she candy bars. famously, that children waited for the plane to come through, to receive the candy bars. of course, with russia having the atomic bomb, so much changes and these programs of indoctrination and the idea of atomic war becomes more and more prevalent and important.
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with the korean war, of course, this all comes to the fore because the cold war has become hot. going back to this idea of the cold war potentially becoming hot, globally, but also feeding into the important theme of the religious cold war, we have the launching of a private initiative. private husband quotes. called the crusade for freedom. it was known as a private organization, although it was heavily funded by the newly established central intelligence agency. and dwight d. ads and how, or who was then known as the famous general from world war ii and was not yet president, he launched a campaign to raise funds for radio programming, books and other projects, quote, to fight the big lie of soviet communism with the big truth
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brought by america in eastern europe, under the banner, the crusade for freedom. although heavily subsidized by the central intelligence agency, it was billed as sponsored by private american citizens. much like a religious crusade, the idea was that this propaganda, that is funded by the american people, with men saying sure, i want to fight communism, but how? and women saying, you mean i can fight communism? and being encouraged to have meatless dinners, in order to give their grocery money to the crusade for freedom. it was heavily, heavily subsidized by the government. here we have other advertisements. again, bringing in the religious. give us this day our daily truths, the crusade for freedom funded
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radio free europe and radio liberty. which blasted programming from news to jazz into soviet bloc countries and you can see his television spot, asking people to donate to the course -- crusade for freedom. here are examples of billboards,
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post currents, fight communism with truth dollars. with truth dollars, one penny would buy one minute of radio truth. they had little envelopes that you could see at the bottom of the screen, where you could put your truth dollar and send it off. and send it off, stamps and the promotional activities where many. this highlights this cooperation of the fcda between government and private corporations. and private foundations, some of which were not so private. included in the promotional activities of the crusade for freedom was wonderful tour of the liberty bell, which arrived in berlin, as we recall, the site of the berlin airlift. hundreds of children donated pennies in order to send the liberty bell
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to their cohort across the sea, the children of germany and berlin. west germany and berlin, west berlin. the other thing that the crusade for freedom did was it launched balloons that we see here. and those balloons were filled with many things, and there were many ideas for what could go into those balloons. leaflets carried political messages but there was also an idea that american foods could be put into these balloons and dropped, although 14 pounds of food might not be a good idea. bibles were put into the balloons, they were called bible balloons. many, many things were put into these balloons. and launched from germany, they would float, given weather patterns, into soviet bloc you countries and distribute their wares. understand these balloon
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campaigns were heavily supported by boy scouts and children in the population in america, and here you see examples of a freedom balloon and two different types of freedom balloons that were distributed these items in eastern europe. this happens to be in colorado. one of the most important things with the atomic explosions was this idea of fear and fear management. one historian writes, officials hope exposing citizens to selected images of atomic war would inoculate them, getting them accustomed to horrible sites so they would not run around screaming when the bombs came. indeed, nuclear anxiety
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had to be finally tuned. indeed, too much emphasis on danger would panic assistance or drive them to fatalism, while two little could fail to stir the apathetic. the f c d a thought that without an american experience with the atomic attack, planners needed to create a vivid but not a horrific snapshot of what one would look like in a nuclear attack. so, there was something called operation q, which indeed came later, where private corporations worked with the governments to create a town in las vegas, nevada, just outside the town. it included mannequins, household items, jcpenney, television, furniture, general electric kitchens, food, and then they blew up the town. they showed pictures of jcpenney used in an
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advertising campaign, food companies used in their advertising campaigns to show that indeed, clothing and other items can survive a nuclear bomb, and pictures like this were distributed. also, these ideas were distributed to children, famously, the duck and cover video, which is also in your list of resources, with bert the turtle hums and things of the coming of the bomb and children are taught to duck and cover under their desks. adults are to duck and cover, women are to help their children learn to duck and cover. the other thing that was marketed towards children were cereals, comic books, and the like. this is an exhibit from the national museum of nuclear testing, which you should go see if your effort in las vegas. this is,
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this is a smattering of many different items they have there. but to me, this is very interesting, this serial. so, you literally woke up in the morning to the bomb, and this is the box of cereal and indeed, the kix cereal came, if you sent some box tops and some pennies, you could get a toy from eating enough of the kix cereal. when you received the nuclear bomb ring, pictured on this slide, in about mail, you could make it explodes somehow. the company advertised, you'll see brilliant flashes of like
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in the ink new darkness inside the adam chamber. these frenzied vivid flashes are caused by the released energy of atoms. it's perfectly safe, we guarantee that you can wear the kix atomic bomb ring with complete safety. the atomic materials inside the ring are harmless. again, this is making literally, bringing the bomb into the home first thing. there are also atomic fireball candies and a sweet treat, and atomic boys. this is an energy lab, and it came with four types of uranium or, and all sorts of other tools for the enterprising young boy too play with nuclear energy. what's about girls? this tended to be more and more what girls were taught to do. obviously, the
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kitchen, going to nixon and khrushchev's famous kitchen debate, with other talks, here's a girl using technology, she's on the phone. there was an idea that girls could be scientists, and certainly nurses, but this was more likely what you find when you look as a promotional advertisement for a girl's toy. indeed, this fits right in with the fcda, which promoted that a domestic threat source essentially one of many household hazards. the suburban housewives could deal with these. famous for optimistic speeches, the deputy director catherine howard of women worth
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studying who's often forgotten in history, she promoted the housewife as homemakers of the land and as save years of the nation, keeping the house clean and tidy served as a way to avoid burning it down in the event of nuclear explosion. and this continued to go into technology. by 1962, one center sponsored the house of the future at an expo, which featured and adams for a living kitchen, complete with a microwave and ultrasonic dishwasher. but the idea was that the woman, if the woman
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took care of the home and later on, the bomb shelter, then she would save the nation. here, we have for both young men and young women, and also their parents, disney and the cold war. although later on, disney made some promotional films about the atom, this is concurrent with bowman trading cards, and i left the link to this cartoon in your resources. this is a cartoon called cold war, with goofy, and here he is with his own home atomic bomb, which is actually a solution, a potential solution, for his cold. so, the trading cards. what are they? they are a group activity, but they are also individualistic. they foster competitive spirit, they teach capitalism, biking and selling,
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they include that's all important sweet treat, and embed the idea of religion and in god we trust, which becomes an american motto. so, the first thing you the boys would do, they would go into the local candy shop, which i, recall looked something like this, and you would buy the cards and you trade on your fortune. you go in, you buy your box of cards, and you open them up. you get a range of cards. you don't get them all, you gets a few. and what's the card company would do is say with prince more of one in fever of another and the idea is that you were supposed to collect all 48, but you only got a select number in your box with your piece of gum. so, there was chants. you started out with you get what you get when you're born, and you can make your fortune. you can collect all 48 if you trade well with your friends. then,
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you would sit down with your friends who also got the carts, and he would start to trade. you would build on your community and take the crusader pledge, which was on the outside of the box. and you would say, i believe in god, and the god given freedom of man. i believe in the united states of america and the united nations. i believe in government of the people, by the people, and for the people. i am against any system which enslaved man and makes them merely tools of the state. i pray that they may be delivered from oppression. i pledge my face, loyalty, and zervos into the cause of freedom for all mankind. in this pledge, we see many themes from the cold war that or a stab list play out. the united nations was very important in the korean war, because in theory, it was the united nations that waged war
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to fight communism and support democracy, not the united states. and by the people and for the people, a familiar phrase, and the idea of enslavement and a system that makes people tools of the state. this is obviously important, because here you are trading as a free person, setting the markets, deciding whether to have a card or three is worth 48, and you are free to make your deck, and i pray that they may be delivered from oppression. in other words, it's not the people of the soviet union who are bad or evil, it's the leaders. again, this is the entire theme of containment. if you understand
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the russian people and you understand the culture, you'll understand that this is a bad system. the people will rebel if you just contain them. so, you haven't even opened the box at this point. the topics that i go through that i noticed on the cards, obviously, korea. other themes that i identified and i literally, you could jiggle and juggle themes of these 48 cards however you wish, but i felt specific categories. military hardware with a theme. obviously, atomic warfare. geography and the cold war. if the cold war had turned hot in korea, where next? berlin, which we saw from the berlin airlift. it's a city or a
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country or? biography, we have big man american history, and behind the iron curtain, and drawing a new curtain. who are those leaders who are going to make communism and other countries? workers, african americans, there's one card that addresses the issues -- such a huge issue given the constant trope of slavery i pointed out, and then the common, man, woman and child. these are the three cards identified as relating to korea. again, we see this important idea of the forces were from the united nations, and we see men on the battlefield and specific
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battles that people could learn from. the idea was if you had card 32, you had a counterattack, and you if you had two of those, but you really wanted bridging a stream under fire, you would say to your friends, all give you my un counterattack if you give me bridging a stream under fire. number eight. the idea is you see these cards, you experience them, you pat them hands to hands, you're going to read a text. at some point, probably, but you're certainly going to look at these very dramatic, really, quite frightening, ask the interviewer said, nightmarish pictures of war. and as bowman said, in theory, edging people towards creating peace. military hardware was
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one of the biggest themes, and this is in order to engage young minds with the idea of technology, with might, with power and people like. atomic warfare, we saw this card earlier as the advertisements for this top. ghost city. this ardent idea of what a atom bomb could do to a great american city. you see pictures of nagasaki and hiroshima and other towns, they would probably look a lot worse than this. again, this is a fear management. we are growing stronger by realizing that this could happen to us. we are
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working to make america stronger date by day, week by week. we must consider to work for peace through the united nations and every possible way. but america is fully prepared to defend itself. but in america, it's not likely to be attacked. the reds understand this language. and here we are doing their part in the apocalypse, as i call, this part of the atomic subject. and we have the every man fighting the war. geography is very important. people think of the cold war as a battle between the soviet union and the united states, but even in 1951, the creators of children's cards for, the creators of cards for children knew this was very much a global cold war. of course, we have where referred to and came to be referred to as the dominant nations, which were in asia. if one nation fell, all the others would. that's the idea behind korea. if they fell, there goes japan and all the rest. but there are
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other cards here that we must pay attention to. greece. turkey. alaska. the netherlands. finland. it's a geography lesson. the one continent that's not covered as africa. so, the other question we ask of these cards is, why these particular countries? i had a student right an entire term paper on the masters level about the finland card. only the finland card. but we could also ask what's not there. so, african nations and the middle east are clearly absence. berlin it's an important thing to look at. berlin was divided at the end of the war in the east and west. it became known as the cold war hotspots. as we
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saw with the berlin airlift, it was becoming increasingly important, and that is where the wall went up. it's became the staging grounds for many standoffs. here's the berlin airlift card. you see here, bringing in food very different from the pictures, for the children. here, we have people bringing food and essential commodities. there was also the idea of kidnapping people against their will when taken across berlin from the west to the east. of course, at this, point that wall had not yet gone up. biography is a big topic, and here we call this as big man history. we have eisenhower on the right, who will become president, but many others you could learn about. these are the american leaders,
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but we also have to war heroes, and i call them it could be you. the generals on the ground and thought kind of every man soldier. and then we also have the marchers behind the iron curtain, and in a very important case, they've highlighted the oppression of religious freedom and also got into the idea of psychological warfare and brain manipulation, drugging of people to make false confessions. and here, the men who make iron curtains, this is the one big man, thought war maker, mao zedong, who is depicted as rather ghoulish and green. this is very important theme because workers in the soviet union are depicted as slaves. they don't
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get to have the fruits of their own labor. they can't earn money. the states directs their work. and here is a fascinating work. and here is a fascinating card on african americans that someone could easily write an entire paper on this. there are people who have written papers on the idea of race, not only in employing the idea of african americans and looking at this car, but how race is depicted in other cards. this is the common man, woman, and a child. as we see, the common man is threatened, kidnapped in four lynn, visited by the police. the police state, one if you look at the back side, this turns out to be hungry, but you wouldn't know this if you didn't to be hungarian. and the women and children, indeed,
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i picked this card to look at more closely because it's the only card that features women and children. this is the only card in the trading deck and the trading game of four boys that features women. the other cart about nuclear armageddon has women in its, but a man is in the foreground. and so here we are. but women, the koreans fleeing from the chinese reds, the soviets. they have even braved the ocean in small ships to get to america. they are celebrated in this. isn't that an interesting thing to consider in today's world? in america, a man may choose his work and his friends, in other words, they are getting on
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boats as they should get away from the communists. he enjoys freedom of speech, again, religion, he may come and go as he likes. americans will never exchange their freedom for red slavery., here, how is this idea of red slavery speak to the card on slave labor? again, we are not going back to that card on african americans, because that was the achilles heel of the united states. here, the slave laborers are soviet citizens. what is very interesting about this card is this is where i go down the proverbial rabbit hole of research. if we read it through the card, in parentheses, after they are forced to do slave labor under conditions of
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cruelty, if your parents would like further information about this, they could find it in the states department bulletins for september 25th, 1950, which is the united states government publication. bowman trading card is working with the state department to educate america on the goings on, and indeed, what one can do. they could search on the internet for the department of state bulletin, which can be found, and read september 25th 1950, and see what parents would learn about, which is this idea of slave labor week before the un revolution that every man should work for his own wages, that he and she should have
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freedom, and this bulletin goes on and on and encompasses a truly global cold war in its reach with the united nations. i have to give a big shout out to david langford, who is the archivist at the states department, because i went looking for the department of state bulletin and i was going around the internet, looking, looking, looking on the national archives website, couldn't quite finds it, emailed to national archives, he emailed back within hours with a link to all department of state bulletins, which are a fascinating study in and of themselves, and then, a record group that he had found. indeed, there are files on all the companies who, in the early 50s, cooperated with the united states government in these projects, and there is a box to be seen in washington, or in college park, maryland, or the
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national archives set. once covid ends, there is a box titled bowman trading cards in the u.s. archives. much at least six presidents recorded conversations -- [inaudible] and 100% unfiltered. the main thing is it will pass, my heart goes out to those people with the best of intentions, we're overzealous, but i'm sure you know, i'll tell you if only i could have spent a little more time as a politician


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