Friday, March 17, 2017

April 20, 1849, Washington D.C., Description and Specification,

April 20, 1849, Washington D.C., Description and Specification, Of the manner of executing and finishing the work of the two Wing Buildings proposed to be attached to the Patent Office Building, agreeably to the original design, and which are further explained by Drawings made for that purpose. Robert Mills, Architect and Superintendent

Tariff of Prices,


Of the manner of executing and finishing the work of the two Wing Buildings proposed to be attached to the Patent Office Building, agreeably to the original design, and which are further explained by Drawings made for that purpose.


Each wing building will extend from each end of the present building east and west, 70 feet, with an entire depth or length of 290 feet. The architectural order in the exterior of these buildings will be the same with that in the present building, which is the Greek Doric, composed of a series of antæ (pilasters), raised on a high basement, running the whole circuit of the exposed walls, and surmounted by their regular entablature, corresponding in its details with that of the celebrated Parthenon. For particulars, reference can be had to the facades of the present building. The whole height of the order, from the foot of the pilasters to the top of the cornice of the entablature, is 46 feet; the height of the base is 13 feet, the blocking over cornice 3 feet, making the total height 62 feet. The interior arrangement of these wings will be—on the east, the height into three stories above the basement, divided into large office rooms, spacious corridors, and stair-cases, all groin arched and made fire-proof in every part; the windows in each story are to correspond with those in the present building. The wing to the west, being for the special accommodation of the Patent Office, will, in the two stories above the basement, be disposed in one entire room, or divided into large halls, for the reception of models, &c., all groin arched, springing from pillars, and made fire-proof. In the upper story, a gallery will extend round the entire room, supported by columns, and the walls prepared for the reception of works of art, to be lighted from above. With both of these wings, on every floor, a communication will be opened with the present building, so as to constitute it one for the transaction of the business of the Department which shall occupy it. The basement story of the west wing, from the sudden fall of the ground or street here, will be about three feet higher in the pitch of the rooms, and the windows will be higher than those in the present building on this floor.

The facing of the exterior walls of these wings will be white marble, and the roof covered with copper, as in the present building.


Dig out so much of the area of the wings as may be directed by the architect, to a depth which will be designated by him, and level off the same. Dig out for the footings and piers perfectly level at such depth as may be designated by the architect, not exceeding one foot, and before any masonry is laid, ram or pound the earth in the trenches very compact. Cart away all the earth, so excavated, not required to fill up irregularities within the square.

Construct the footings of the external walls with large stone from the Potomac quarries, having level beds, not less than 9 inches thick, and from 3 to 5 feet long—the first course or footing of said walls to be 5 feet thick, the second course 4 feet thick, and the residue of the wall, to the height of the basement story, 3 feet thick, including the thickness of the cut stone facing. Great care must be taken to bond the stones composing these walls in the strongest manner, every layer being well bedded in cement mortar, composed of stone lime, compounded with coarse and sharp river sand, in proportions of four of the latter to one of the former, in an unslacked state, or in such proportion as the architect may direct, and after the mixing of the mortar, and before using, one-fourth of the hydraulic cement (1 barrel of cement to 4 of lime) to be thoroughly mixed with the mortar: care must be taken that no more cement is mixed with the mortar than can be used within an hour or two. The joints of the stone masonry must be flushed and well bedded in mortar, and settled down with large wooden mallets.

The interior walls and piers for the arches within, must be built in the same careful manner, of the thickness and heights designated on plans. Where openings occur and piers intervene, the jambs of the same may be formed of blocks of hard free stone, and the arches of good red brick.

For the disposition of these walls and piers, see the Drawings.


Construct all the walls, behind the cut-stone work above the basement, of brick, laid and well settled down in cement mortar, compounded on stone lime, and sharp river sand, with a portion of hydraulic cement as may be directed by the architect—the latter to be mixed in as the mortar is required, as noticed under the head of masonry. The thickness of these walls not to exceed, with

Of the different kinds of work proposed in erecting the Wings of the Patent Office Building; to determine the value of the same by measurement of the work when finished and in its place.TARIFF OF THE PRICES, For the Cut Stone work, measured in the wall, marble included. 
P. S. Reference to be had to the same kind of work in the present building.

Image 1 of Description and specification of the manner of executing and finishing the work of the two wing buildings proposed to be attached to the Patent-Office building, agreeable to the original design, and which are further explained by drawings made f, Description and specification of the manner of executing and finishing the work of the two Wing Buildings proposed to be attached to the Patent Office Building, agreeably to the original design, and which are further explained by Drawings made for that purpose. GENERAL DESCRIPTION. Each wing building will extend from each end of the present building east and west, 70 feet, with an entire depth or length of 290 feet.
Contributor: Mills, Robert Date: 1849

Image 2 of Description and specification of the manner of executing and finishing the work of the two wing buildings proposed to be attached to the Patent-Office building, agreeable to the original ...2 the cut-stone work, 2 feet. Construct all the partition walls 2 brick in thickness, with 1½ brick piers, in angles, to all the large rooms from which the groin arches will spring. Construct 9 inch groin and other arches, in all the rooms and passages, from the basement to the roof, according to drawings, with the best quality red brick, laid in the ...
Contributor: Mills, Robert
Date: 1849

Image 3 of Description and specification of the manner of executing and finishing the work of the two wing buildings proposed to be attached to the Patent-Office building, agreeable to the original ...3 the framing of these roofs suitable openings for sky lights, in such positions as the architect may direct. Construct also lantern lights around and over the same as may be directed by the architect. Construct over the arches of all the rooms a flooring of ⅝ yellow-pine plank, laid on heart-pine sleepers, resting on the arches, &c., free from knots and shakes, the ...
Contributor: Mills, Robert
Date: 1849

Image 4 of Description and specification of the manner of executing and finishing the work of the two wing buildings proposed to be attached to the Patent-Office building, agreeable to the original design, and which are further explained by drawings made f

About this Item
Title Description and specification of the manner of executing and finishing the work of the two wing buildings proposed to be attached to the Patent-Office building, agreeable to the original design, and which are further explained by drawings made f
Contributor Names Mills, Robert
Created / Published Washington, 1849.
Subject Headings - United States--District of Columbia--Washington
Genre Leaflets--District of Columbia--Washington
Notes - U. S.- Patent office.-
Page Order: Leaflet- Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile page images and as full text in SGML.- 2 duplicate copies- Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 199, Folder 21.- Copy scanned: 1 Medium 4 p.; 23.5 x 20 cm.Call Number/Physical Location Portfolio 199, Folder 21
Source Collection Broadsides, leaflets, and pamphlets from America and Europe
Digital Id

Monday, March 06, 2017

September 25, 1877, The Daily Chicago Tribune, page 5, Scorched and Soaked; The National Capital a Scene of Great Excitement Yesterday, A Fire Discovered In the Roof of the Patent-Office Building

September 25, 1877, The Daily Chicago Tribune, page 5, Scorched and Soaked; The National Capital a Scene of Great Excitement Yesterday, A Fire Discovered In the Roof of the Patent-Office Building; It Increases In Magnitude Until the Top Story Is Enveloped; Making Serious Havoc Among the Models deposited There; Several Thousand Of Which Are Licked Up By the Flames; The Other Floors of the Edifice Badly Drenched By Water; Land-Office Documents Suffer Simeon From the Latter Element; In Washington, The Patent-Office Burned,

....and before those who lived within a square or two could reach the place the tongues of fire were breaking the glass in the windows of the two upper stories, and the flames were bursting from the roof.

The roof of the west wing fell in before the Fire Department was fairly at work. The windows were long gone before, and inside of this fiery furnace could be seen the models, cases of records, and tons of paper struggling with the flames.

Before these precautions were taken it is said that there were a few people mean enough to steal some valuable papers.

The act of that year appropriated $108,000 to begin the building, which, in the language of the act, was to be fire-proof

The long recess has enabled the Department to get its routine work well in hand, and the absence of Congress for three weeks to come will make it possible to recover from most of the derangement of the fire before the rush arr ending the assembling of Congress begins.

In addition to the models mentioned as destroyed, the following classes of models are lost: All agriculture implements, metal-working and wood-working; all models in every department of mechanics; all engines and mills; all carriages and wagons; all hydro license and pneumatic, and many other minority classes. Among them was The Original COTTON COTTON-GIN INVENTION, which has made the cordon product of the South valuable as an industry. The models of sewing machines and lamps were much damaged by water, and the very valuable model of the original Howe sewing-machine was saved just as it was being carried off by some parties who entered to steal it as a relic.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

February 1958, American Heritage Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 2, Unwanted Treasures of the Patent Office, by Donald W. Hogan,

February 1958, American Heritage Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 2, Unwanted Treasures of the Patent Office; Thousands of products of Yankee genius, in miniature models, have survived a British invasion, three jires, and a sale at Gimbels, by Donald W. Hogan, Archived,

While the British were busily engaged in putting the torch to Washington on the evening of August 24, 1814, Dr. William Thornton, superintendent of the Patent Office, stood aghast by a window in Georgetown watching the Capitol, of which he was the chief designer, go up in flames. But the next morning, when he learned that the Patent Office too was threatened with fire, he mounted a horse and dashed back into the city, one of the first Americans to return.

Quickly he approached a Colonel Jones, who had been assigned to burn that part of the city, and begged that Blodgett’s Hotel, which a few years before had become the Patent Office and museum for its models, be spared from the flames. According to his own report, he stood amid the smoldering ruins of the city and successfully overwhelmed the Britisher by charging that the destruction of “the building … which contained … hundreds of models of the arts … would be as barbarous as formerly to burn the Alexandrian Library for which the Turks have since been condemned by all enlightened nations.” Blodgett’s Hotel was the only government building spared in the razing of Washington.

This seems to have been the high point of the federal government’s concern for its collection of patent models, which since that time has been decimated by three other fires, two federal economy waves, three auctions, a bankruptcy, and a sale at Gimbels.

Seven weeks before the last of the thirteen original states ratified the Constitution, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of War Henry Knox, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph became the Patent Commission. When they opened for business on April 10, 1790, they immediately established the requirement that a working model of each invention, clone in miniature, be submitted as part of the application.

This requirement was kept in force until 1870, when a change in the law was made necessary by quarters so bulging with models that there was no room for examiners, and the submission of a model was made discretionary with the commissioner of patents. By 1880 the requirement was dropped altogether with the wry exception of flying machines—for which the requirement was also dropped after 1903 and Kitty Hawk. (But the Patent Office still demands physical proof of the pudding before it will issue a patent lor a perpetual motion machine.)

From the very start the models—the idea for which sounds like a Jeffersonian notion—became a tail that wagged the dog. Their number and bulk dictated the division’s move in 1810 from an office in the Department of State to Blodgett’s Hotel. Congress had appropriated $10,000 to purchase the hotel and $3,000 to renovate it, insisting that the two larger of four rooms assigned to the Patent Office be devoted to displaying the models. The rest of the building, except for two smaller rooms, was given over to the General Post Office.

Congress would brook no untidiness in the exhibition. A committee reported within three months of the appropriation that “although many models have already been deposited in their new quarters, the manner in which they are placed tends to confusion and to sink the establishment into contempt. It is hoped that habit will not operate to make this perpetual.”

The chiding was effective, and Blodgett’s Hotel, which had originally housed the United States Theater, the first in Washington, regained and even surpassed its earlier fame as a point of interest for travelers to the capital. Foreign visitors were shown the models as a proud demonstration of American inventiveness, and on Sundays it became a local custom to stroll through the rooms and see what was new.

But, even though the models were the focal point of interest in the Patent Office, no record of their kind or number appears to have been made until January 21, 1823, when, for no apparent reason, a clerk at least attempted a listing.

His catalogue showed a nation still more concerned with agriculture and building pursuits than with industrial development. It listed 95 nail cutters, 66 pumps, and 65 plows as against 45 looms, 28 spinning machines, and 3 boring machines. Of “propelling boats” there were 38; of carding machines, 8; of threshing machines, 20; and of winnowing machines, 25. There were 13 bridges, 26 sawmills, 17 water mills, 7 windmills, 14 steam mills, 26 water wheels, 56 presses, 3 stocking looms, 10 fire engines, 1 machine for making barrels. 6 flax-dressing machines, 6 file-cutting machines, 16 cloth-shearing machines, 10 straw cutters, 12 locks, and 2 guns. The specific listings came to 635 and evidently so exhausted the cataloguer that he lumped the remaining 1,184 models as for “various other purposes” and gave a total of 1,819 models in all.

This was the only listing of the models ever made—with the exception of one which was paid for in 1908 but which, when it was sorely needed in 1925, could not be found.

After 1823 the number of patent models at Blodgett’s Hotel increased until by 1836 there were about 7,000 of them, lodged against more than 10,000 patents issued. A committee of Congress reporting on the need for a new building declared that “a great number of them, supposed to be 500, from want of room, have been stowed away in a dark garret.” (It was an ominous precedent.) In July, 1836, a law was passed allowing for construction of the new building. Ground had hardly been broken, six months later, when at three o’clock on the morning of December 15 fire was discovered in the Post Office section of Blodgett’s Hotel. Within a matter of hours the building was burned to the ground, and with it went every record and every model owned by the Patent Office.

Describing the calamity, a Senate investigating committee spoke ruefully of “a pride which must now stand rebuked by the improvidence which exposed so many memorials and evidences of the superiority of American genius to the destruction which has overtaken them.” And Congress, perhaps impressed by this rhetoric, promptly appropriated $100,000 for restoration of “3,000 of the most important [models] … which will form a very interesting and valuable collection.”

At first Patent Commissioner Henry L. Ellsworth worked diligently both at having the burned models restored or rebuilt and at outfitting the showrooms of the new Patent Office. Shortly, however, he complained to the secretary of state, under whose department his office came, that many inventors had failed to co-operate and that it was impossible to remake the models without their help. This was particularly true of such inventions as the plow with cannon for handles to fight oft sudden Indian attack—of which the burnt model was the only one ever made.

But if Ellsworth was thwarted by the apathy of inventors when it came to restoring models, he was overcome by their enthusiasm for submitting new ones. The new Patent Office building at Seventh to Ninth between F and G was only partially completed by 1844, but already the Commissioner was forced to complain that unless the job were hurried the collection of models would force the working stalf out onto the street. “The increase of models renders daily the transaction of business more difficult,” Ellsworth wrote in his annual report. (In fact, he was so discouraged by the influx of new models that he managed to spend only $25,588.91 of the $100,000 appropriated for restoration of the old ones.)

By 1856, however, three wings of the new building were completed. Its great halls, the east and west wings, were fitted out as showrooms, and the building again became a tourist attraction, a display of national ingenuity.

Then came the Civil War. Invention was fantastically stimulated. Models, which had been coming in by the hundreds every year, now arrived by the thousands. Several of them came each day to each of the twenty examiners and were thrown on shelves until papers were completed and issued. Then, just as quickly, the models were tagged with basic information and carted to the galleries, unclassified, where higgledy-piggledy they were tossed’ into a case or onto another shelf. An army shoe would land next to a drill; a corset beside a sword.

By 1876, William H. Doolittle, acting commissioner of patents, reported that the building was so clogged with models that the public had been barred from seeing them for lack of room.

He estimated that 175,000 models had been crowded into the galleries and that they were increasing by 10,000 to 14,000 a year. “Immediate relief,” he said, “is necessary.” Even though a law of 1870 had made the submission of models discretionary, it appeared the Commissioner had not wanted to take upon himself the responsibility for rejecting them. But neither could he function in their midst.

Temporary relief came on September 24, 1877, when fire again broke out in the Patent Office. Although the blaze was confined to the west and north wings, and neither of them was destroyed, 160 cases of models, estimated to contain 76,000 in all, were ruined.

Some of these were replaced through a $45,000 appropriation, and still new ones poured in. Finally the law had to be changed again, this time to prohibit the sending of a model unless demanded by the Patent Commissioner.

But still no record was made of how many models had been restored or even how many were in the Patent Office, and estimates varied by as many as 25,000, depending on whether the guesser was a patent examiner tripping over them while trying to do a day’s work or a congressman looking to save the price of renting some place to put them. It is known, however, that 246,094 patents had been issued by 1880 and that perhaps 200,000 of them were represented by models. Added to these were thousands of models which had accompanied applications that were never completed.

By 1893 the Patent Office estimate appears to have won out, for that year Congress allowed the renting of the Union Building at G Street between Sixth and Seventh streets, N.W. No attempt was made to arrange the models for display in the Union Building. They were simply stored in fantastic disarray throughout the building, even though Congress was under the impression it was paying for an exhibition hall.

This folly was not discovered until 1907, when the owners of the Union Building attempted to raise the rent and thus precipitated a congressional investigation. The annual number of visitors, it came out, was none. In retaliation, without thought as to why there were no visitors, Congress in 1908 decided to sell all the models, first giving the Smithsonian Institution six months to pick out those it wanted. The Smithsonian managed to find only 1,061 worth keeping. At a public auction, 3,000 models of inventions that had failed to receive patents were sold for $62.18.

During the next two decades those remaining unsold, amounting to 155,939, were carted about repeatedly—back to the Patent Office, to a leaky basement under the House of Representatives, to the basement of the District of Columbia’s Male Work House, and at last to an abandoned livery stable. Finally, in a congressional economy wave in 1925, it was found that more than $200,000 had been spent for storage and moving since 1884; rather than squander any more money on museums, Congress again elected to sell. An act was passed on February 13, 1925, appropriating $10,000 for the sale and creating a three-member commission to again select important models for the Smithsonian and other recognized museums.

By late November, the Smithsonian had selected about 2,500, and 2,600 more were taken either by other museums or by inventors. Another 50,000, which had been unpacked, so crammed the floor space that an immediate auction was ordered, and on December 3, 1925, they went for $1,550. Thomas E. Robertson, patent commissioner, reported to Congress that “this was thought to be a good figure.”

The buyer of the 50,000 models was never officially identified; the General Supply Committee kept scanty records. Circumstances, however, point to Sir Henry Wellcome, who in 1926 came back to acquire the remaining 125,000, cases and all, unopened, without even the formality of a public auction. He paid $6,540.

Sir Henry began life in Wisconsin in frontier days—his earliest memories were of holding the basin while his doctor-uncle dressed the wounds of pioneers who had been battling Indians—but he had become a British subject during World War I. He founded Burroughs, Wellcome & Co., a large and successful drug house, and was knighted by George V for his services to medicine and pharmaceutics. Given to offbeat causes (he once endowed a trust to provide translations of textbooks for Chinese medical students), Sir Henry decided to start a patent-model museum and to store his new acquisitions at the Burroughs, Wellcome plant in Tuckahoe, New York, until he could get around to building it.

When Sir Henry died ten years later, at the age of 82, the models were still there, packed in their original cases, unopened. The trustees of his estate, after lengthy consideration of what to do with them, finally decided to sell. It took them two years, but they got their price—$50,000.

Their customer was Crosby Gaige, Broadway producer and gourmet, whose collections to date had been limited to books on eating and cooking and to laboratory equipment for making his own tooth paste.

Gaige brought the models to Rockefeller Center with the kind of fanfare usually reserved for the circus. Without delay he cracked open the first few cases. Then, on August 8, 1938, he managed to entice several representatives of the press into being present while an expert locksmith twirled the dial of a model crystallized-iron safe.

The tumblers clicked; the door swung open. Inside was a paper. The writing was faint, but the signature was legible—A. Lincoln. The paper was a petition for a patent on a flatboat with air chambers for floating it over shoals, invented by Lincoln in 1849. Flash bulbs popped and the models were page one news.

Within a few more days, Gaige plucked from the cases the original model of the Gatling gun, the first dentist’s chair, and the first egg beater (Timothy Earle, 1866). He also had a long list of bedazzled customers, and by early October, 1938, he and his silent partner, Douglas G. Hertz (fight manager, movie actor, mule trader, survivor of the Lusitania, and former owner of the New York Yankees football team), had retired with a neat profit from speculation in Americana by selling out to a group of businessmen for $75,000. The Lincoln paper, its purpose served, disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived.

The new owners also had money-making ideas but lacked Gaige’s theatrical imagination. They incorporated under the name of American Patent Models and unpacked 25,000 models, a tiny part of the collection, amid mutterings to the press that it was an outrage the government had ever sold them. The vast remainder, about 2,600 full cases, was shipped to the Neptune Storage Warehouse in New Rochelle, New York. Some 500 of the unpacked models were then fitted into special crates and sent out in three separate caravans across the country, to be displayed in department stores and other showrooms for a fee. The rest were kept at Rockefeller Center.

Between 1939 and 1941 the models, uncatalogued, unclassified, and on public display, proved to be no more of an attraction than they had been years before. Neptune Storage filed a lien of $7,954 for warehousing the unopened crates. Rockefeller Center wanted its rent. American Patent Models, in a desperate effort to raise money, reduced prices on all models to $1 each and for quick cash sold a collection of Civil War ordnance to an unnamed buyer. An unlisted number of other models went in the same manner. Then came bankruptcy. In 1942 a court ordered the company dissolved and the models auctioned for whatever they would fetch over and above Neptune’s bill (which had grown to $10,814) and another $800 to warehouses in Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Oakland, California, where the traveling exhibits were stranded.

At this point O. Runclle Gilbert, an auctioneer, learned of the models. Gilbert brought in several partners and shortly, in exchange for $2,100 plus the storage charges, they were the owners of about 200,000 patent models. Seventy-five huge trailer truckloads later, the models were in Gilbert’s barns at Garrison, New York, but their adventures were far from finished. Gilbert’s partners, eager for profit, insisted on a new auction, and when more than 3,000 persons came to see a display of 2,000 models which opened at the Architectural League in New York City on April 14, 1943, they were confident of success. But despite great spectator interest only three actual bidders showed up on the day of the sale. Among them they bought 400 models. Back to Garrison went the remaining 1,600; the round trip, display, and other costs had exceeded the gross by $3,000.

Gilbert then began systematic unpacking. Soon, with the help of his wife and three hired hands, Gilbert was delving into boxes which presumably had not been opened since 1908 and which the Smithsonian Commission of 1925 had not had a chance to examine.

Slowly, as the models were unpacked, identified, and classified—for the Gilberts believed they would sell best in groups describing the complete development of a particular item—they were moved into a stucco house on the estate, where they filled fourteen rooms. The rest of the house was rented to a young couple and their children.

Identification was easy in the case of models which bore labels; some of them were stamped with dates prior to 1836 and evidently were among those reconstructed after the fire of that year. But many of the models were without any identification at all and these were set aside for further research.

One group of models, including farm equipment and an early baseball mask, was sold to the Farmer’s Museum and the Baseball Museum at Cooperstown, New York. By Spring, 1945, several other groups, including one which traced the entire history of the sewing machine, were also ready for sale. There were perhaps 20,000 models in the stucco house at Garrison—close to 3,000 of them various forms of bolts and nuts—when fire broke out. The young couple and their children were saved, but nothing else.

Stunned, the Gilberts decided to leave the remaining 2,000 unopened cases in the barns until they felt better. Then, some four years later, the idea of a museum of their own began to intrigue them. As a start they purchased a vast barn in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, and moved in about 1,000 models chosen at random. They started charging 25 cents, 50 cents, then $1, and found that, no matter what the price, Center Sandwich was good for 75 visitors a day. They also found that sometimes people who stopped could help them decide what some of the objects were. One man told them they had the model of the first rotary press; another found the first Mergenthaler typesetting machine, which he promptly took apart but never returned to put back together again.

Others guessed that some of the models, with their fine tooling and hand workmanship, must have cost more than $1,000 to make. When word of this reached Gilbert’s partners in 1950, the pressure was on again for another sale.

This time the idea was to invade Gimbels, a proposition which the department store welcomed with open arms. “Gimbels is nuts over patent models. You’ll be nuts over them too,” cried their advertisements.

Hastily, without time for classification, the Gilberts ripped open 200 or 300 more cases in the Garrison barns and shipped the contents to Gimbels in New York and Philadelphia. Among them were the “Bretzel bending machine” invented by a Mr. Bretzel, who formed his crackers in the shape of a B (the public quickly decided a pretzel was easier to pronounce), and such novelties as a hen house which, when the chicken went out for scratching, dropped down a sign saying, “I am out. You may have my egg.” There were also an 1825 plug of navy chewing tobacco and an 1869 parlor bathtub. In one lot was some powdered milk patented in 1863; Mr. Gilbert added water, tasted it, and pronounced it “sweet as ever.” The prices ran from $1 to $1,000, the latter tag attached to the Gatling gun.

Again there were thousands of spectators but few buyers, with the exception of Gilbert, who took advantage of his partners’ disappointment to buy them out at cost. He shipped the 5,000 or so models which had been stranded at the two Gimbels stores (about 600 had been sold) to his museum at Center Sandwich, where they remained until 1952, when he purchased as a new museum an abandoned hospital at Plymouth, New Hampshire, and moved the entire display there. But in his barns at Garrison, still unopened, unseen since 1908, there are cases which contain anywhere from 100,000 to 120,000 more models.

Gilbert calculates that with the new museum he has put well over $85,000 into the models since acquiring them fifteen years ago, and he does not intend to invest any more. Those that are still packed will stay that way until he sees a good reason to open them. Sometimes he wishes the government would buy the collection back and put it someplace—Ellis Island, for instance. In the meantime he operates the Plymouth museum every summer. And when he and Mrs. Gilbert are at their home in Garrison, they occasionally go over to the barns and look at those rows on rows of boxes.

Donald W. Hogan is assistant city editor of the New York Herald Tribune. A free-lance writer whose major interest is American history, he has contributed articles to several national magazines.

Oft-Encountered Inquiries Into a Hidden History Behind the Development of the Steamboat

My God! Can Eli Whitney be far behind?

n.d. [1st web capture July 12, 2012] The Rumseian Society, Oft-encountered Inquiries,

Devoted to the History and Inventions of James Rumsey

The steamboat is so pretty, why don’t you run it? And while you’re at it , take me for a ride?

Most people who went for a ride with us spent a lot of time waiting for us to go…

Bill Hunley gave us a great design for the hull, and it really does look like it should be on the water, chugging around. But even launching the boat is a major undertaking, and the engine is too unreliable, too under-powered, and too exhausting to run for fun. Since we couldn’t change it into something else, after 20 years we had to stop. We were tired!

We are trying to come up with a Rumsey steamboat that’s more fun, using his rotary engine design. He never built it, so we have more flexibility with the details of this project.

Why do we hear about Robert Fulton, but not James Rumsey?

Fulton was successful with his steamboat, Rumsey was not. It wasn’t just because Fulton’s boat was better; with a bit of development Rumsey’s would have worked well enough, and his was not the only one. There were at least eight steamboats proposed before Fulton’s 1807 debut. Some were built, a couple worked quite well , and none were a financial success. Fulton could indeed import a state-of-the-art Boulton & Watt engine from England for his boat, which saved him much time and trouble. But his most significant advantages over the previous inventors were not technological; he was well-connected politically and socially, had a good amount of his own money and had the strong financial backing of the richest man in New York, Robert Livingston. He also knew that a steamboat didn’t just have to fill a need; it needed to have a good market, and he chose to set up operations on the Hudson, a very good river on which to run a passenger boat, where sheer banks and hilly terrain hindered competition from coaches.

Think of Fulton as being a little like Henry Ford; Ford really brought the automobile into the world as a standard form of transportation, Fulton did the same for the steamboat.

Did Fulton ever meet Rumsey?

They were both in England around the same time and were both friends of Benjamin West, so they likely knew of each other. Fulton was indeed quick to take other people’s ideas when it suited him, and before building his own, he doubtless researched Rumsey’ s as well as John Fitch’s and William Symington’s boats, perhaps also Jouffroy d’Abbans’ in France. But there’s no evidence that Fulton worked for Rumsey. Fulton’s steamboat, once built, had really none of Rumsey’s steamboat in it, either. With Symington, though, it’s another matter. Symington’s 1788 steamboat had both a paddlewheel and a modern steam engine, and ran quite successfully, and was well-known ( even Rumsey commented on it – negatively- he thought jet propulsion was better). Fulton’s boat also had a modern steam engine and a paddlewheel, like Symington’s, and even Matthew Boulton noted that the engine Fulton had ordered from his company was identical to Symington’s in the important dimensions.

Still, by the 1830’s, the legend in Shepherdstown was that Fulton had gotten his ideas from Rumsey. In the three decades after Rumsey’s death, Shepherdstown changed his story from one of simple tragedy ( an inventor dying early , before his ideas are brought to fruition)- to one of tragedy and injustice- ( an inventor dying early, his work successful but unnoticed, and his profitable steamboat idea stolen by others). It was only Ella May Turner’s biography of him that dispensed with the folklore.

Was Rumsey’s the first steamboat?

There are so many words that have been wasted over this seemingly simple sentence! It was not just Shepherdstown’s oral tradition that made steamboat history a partisan matter , the steamboat itself really began that way. Rumsey had a rival, John Fitch. The affair is complex, but it does not really fit the popular plot of hero vs. villain. Telling it could fill a book: we’ll try limit it to three careful paragraphs, here.

Fitch said later that he’d thought of making steam power a boat in the spring of 1785. He then began fundraising for a company to build his steamboat the following summer, began building sometime the following winter , demonstrated his steamboat in Philadelphia, in August of 1787. Rumsey wrote George Washington to say he’d completed his plan for his steam- and poleboat in the spring of 1785, and began building that fall. His first public demonstration was December 3rd, 1787 in Shepherdstown, three months after Fitch’s. Rumsey advocates have often claimed he had a working steamboat earlier than this, by interpreting his 1786 river trials in a very hopeful way. Rumsey also cast those trials in a somewhat hopeful light, but he himself never claimed his steamboat actually worked before Dec.3rd ( his pamphlet detailing those claims even included affidavits from witnesses who said the steamboat machinery was “incomplete” on Dec. 3rd). So, if you wish to think of it as a race and want to know who crossed the finish line first, Rumsey himself would have said, John Fitch.

Rumsey would have also said, however, that the dispute was not about a race; it was about owning his ideas. Fitch had obtained broad monopoly patents from several states that gave him rights to his own and any other steamboat, once he had a working steamboat of his own . A monopoly offered investors a safer bet, and it was not unheard of for a government to grant one to boost a project: but usually it was for something completely new. Rumsey’s claim was that , since he’d started building before Fitch, and because his design was completely his own and unlike Fitch’s , it was unfair to give Fitch the rights to it, just because Fitch had built his own boat. But though George Washington had told Fitch of Rumsey quite early on, in the fall of 1785 (and had told Rumsey of Fitch, as well), Fitch claimed Rumsey was a spoiler, who labored in secret and emerged late to upset Fitch’s project just when he was about to reap the monopoly he deserved--and to which some states had already agreed. Because Fitch felt he had the law firmly on his side to do what he liked with Rumsey’s ideas, and Rumsey valued all his intellectual property very highly , arbitration efforts by Philadelphia businessmen to create a joint venture failed. The dispute was finally adjudicated a few years later, in 1791, when a patent system was created for the entire ( and recently formed) United States. New and inexperienced, and perhaps distracted by other worries ( one member, Thomas Jefferson , was serving as Secretary of State) the patent commission awarded both inventors ill-defined and overlapping design patents that clarified little about their rights. Fitch felt the Commission had been stacked with Virginians, who sided with the Virginian Rumsey, and there could have been a bias ( all the records of the Commission burned in the great Patent Office fire of 1839, so it is hard to say). But Rumsey himself was equally furious with the result, so both inventors felt they’d lost. He had gone overseas to England early in the dispute; the patent decision contributed to his decision to stay there, where he died in December 1792. After being denied both his monopoly and a real patent, Fitch abandoned his steamboat work in Philadelphia, and eventually died , destitute, in Kentucky about five years after Rumsey. Historian Brooke Hindle has said the botched patent ruling was instrumental in halting steamboat development in the US for the next twenty years.

A great difficulty with this, is the sources are partial, biases, or missing. Fitch, for example, left a detailed and captivating memoir, which is the sole surviving source for some important events, like the Patent Commission Hearing. With his very complete story, Fitch is easier to write about. But this complete narrative is also biased, written in part to settle scores with the many people Fitch felt had treated him unfairly. Whatever similar papers Rumsey might have written vanished with his death, and his few letters contain little or no biographical information. With much less of Rumsey’s side of the story to use, Fitch has gotten more attention from authors, Rumsey less.

What ever happened to Rumsey’s steamboat, after 1787?
After two demonstrations in public in December, Rumsey pulled the machinery off the boat and in March of 1788 sent it to Philadelphia, to begin his dispute with Fitch. Fitch visited Shepherdstown in May of 1789, and found the hull of the boat upside down in a pond, abandoned ( this visit by Fitch would, in later years, be recast by Shepherdstown as happening five years earlier, with Fitch actually spying on Rumsey’s work). The boat engine almost certainly stayed with the Rumseian Society in Philadelphia, but very likely sometime after Rumsey’s death in December of 1792, it was disposed of, likely sold for scrap…though some smaller pieces might have been kept as souvenirs. Of these, the sole possible survivor is a length of machine chain, quite well-forged and finished, acquired by Alexander Boteler likely sometime in the 1850’s and donated to the Smithsonian in 1866 . It is too good for mundane purposes, could well have connected a working beam to an air pump or steam cylinder. Boteler also had a fragment of iron pot, which supposedly Rumsey used in his 1785 engine boiler , the boiler which Rumsey quickly discarded as inadequate. Boteler donated the scrap to the Franklin Institute, but has now disappeared. Admittedly, it didn’t much look like an artifact a museum would want to keep.

Did Rumsey build another steamboat?

Yes, in England. It was called The Columbian Maid, another jet boat. We don’t know too much about it, but if it had the engine pump shown in Rumsey’s 1790 patent, it would have been complicated and difficult to make, and Rumsey died in December of 1792, before it could be finished. The Gentleman’s Magazine reported that it ran on the Thames the following February, and made four knots. But nothing more is known of what became of it; likely it was simply sold off by Rumsey’s partners and creditors, perhaps just for scrap metal.

Botelers Drawing of the fragment of the “pot” boiler

Possibly the engine for the Columbian Maid. Rather than having a working beam operating all the pumps of a steam engine, Rumsey made them nest within each other, as hollow pistons. Very compact and light, but difficult to build and still not thermally efficient

9 responses to “Oft-encountered Inquiries”

Steam at Harper's Ferry
July 8th, 2012 at 1:29 PM

I was just reading about the tugboat “Rumsey” which was “accoutred for running the Rebel batteries at Vicksburg” in Harper’s Weekly, May 30, 1863. I found references to a stern wheel steamboat named “John Rumsey” built in 1859 captained by Nathaniel Harris and Joseph Biggs (in 1863). Is this tug related at all to James Rumsey?

July 11th, 2012 at 8:52 PM

I don’t have any knowledge of a John Rumsey. James Rumsey’s two daughters, his deaf-mute son, and at least one of his brothers, Edward, moved to Kentucky after James’ death, and they and their families got to see steamboats become the most important commercial transport in the South. A grandson, James Rumsey Skiles, did a lot to develop Hopkinsville, and even founded a town, which he named Rumsey, in honor of James. The family tried to get material compensation for James’ work from Congress, submitting a memorial in 1839--which was rejected in 1848 ( like many memorials). But, anyway, there were a fair number of Kentuckians , if not others on the Mississippi, who would still know the story and like the name put on a steamboat in the 1860’s. Any notion where the tug was from?

That it was a Union boat is interesting. By the 1830’s, there was a belief in Shepherdstown that James had had a working boat sometime in 1785, if not earlier, and that both Fulton and Fitch had stolen the idea of a steamboat from him. As stated elsewhere in this blog, neither Fulton’s or Fitch’s designs owed anything to Rumsey’s, so really the most that could be claimed is they heard something about him. But the political strife of the next few decades added a patriotic edge to the question. When A.R. Boteler ( later Confederate colonel and congressman) began to write about Rumsey, in the 1850’s, he had an evident pride in Rumsey being a Virginian ( “to Virginia belongs the honor…”). Fulton and Fitch were both Yankees. Putting the name Rumsey on a steamboat in the war, you might think, could have been thought to be a Southern poke in the Northern eye. But apparently not here.

Steam at Harper's Ferry
July 12th, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Thank you! You make some very interesting points. I will do a little more digging around. What I thought was interesting was that there was so little additional information about the tug in the article. Almost as if everyone knew about this steamboat. It may require more investigation …
Thanks again!

September 29th, 2012 at 4:48 PM

My maiden name is Rumsey and I grew up hearing that we are related to James Rumsey. My father, John Rumsey, grew up in West Virginia before his family moved to Washington DC. at some point during the first half of the 20th century. I’ve tried tracing my lineage through to see if my family is indeed related to James Rumsey, but have been unsuccessful. Does anyone know how I might find out, once and for all, if I am a descendant of James Rumsey? Thanks for any and all help!

October 2nd, 2012 at 2:16 PM

James Rumsey himself had no male descendants, his brother Edward had quite a few and moved to Kentucky. We have not worked up a geneology of the Rumsey family, and consider it a low priority. However, we do have a file that we keep on the family, welcome additions to it. If you can track your family back to a Rumsey circa 1850, we might have something. But most of the file is earlier than that.
Nick B.

Charles Dawson
January 6th, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Has it never been known at which shipbuilder in Dover, Kent, England, COLUMBIA MAID was built?

January 13th, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Rumsey wrote his brother Edward in March 1789 and said, “a gentleman here has undertaken to furnish me with a vessel to try my experiment upon. She is now building at Dover, 72 miles from London. She is large enough to go to the East Indies. The engine is making for her and I expect to make the trial in May”. In a later letter from London he described the ship as being “burthen 101 and 45/95 tons”, but though another letter, to Th. Jefferson, was posted from Dover no shipbuilder’s name in either of these is mentioned, nor does it appear elsewhere in Rumsey’s few surviving letters.

Mike McGinness
August 31st, 2016 at 3:35 PM

I’m related to him as well. My great grandfather was named James Rumsey Crenshaw. It’s complicated to try to explain, but I’ve traced it back via and it checks out.

October 29th, 2016 at 9:12 AM

Sorry for the late response.
We don’t concentrate on geneology, unlike many historical societies, but we do get inquiries and so have a file on the Rumsey family and welcome additions to it. There’s fairly little on family members past 1850, especially those not descended from James’ brother Edward, who had many children. If you have a spare moment and would like to send us what you’ve found, we’d be grateful. You can email it here, or post it to The Rumseian Society PO Box 1787 Shepherdstown, WV 25443.
many thanks
Nick Blanton

Friday, February 17, 2017

DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP (Report on a two-day visit, 1-2 May)

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    Mr Crossman 

  • 12 May 1945. 
  • Personal File 
  • DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP (Report on a two-day visit, 1-2 May) 

  • 1. INTRODUCTION The purpose of the visit to Dachau was to obtain documentary and photographic material directly after liberation for a motion picture on German atrocities to be shown in Germany. The material presented here, gathered in the disordered conditions of the second and third days of liberation, should therefore be read only as a preliminary report. 2. DACHAU'S SIZE AND PLANT The Dachau penal and correctional institution consists of a main camp (STAMMLAGER) surrounded by several subsidiary or work camps (UNTERLAGER), all situated on land owned or leased by the SS. The central Dachau compound, about ten acres in size, encloses some twenty-five semi-permanent prisoner barracks buildings, a permanent block of prison cells, an isolated barracks (known as the EHRENBUNKER) for special political prisoners receiving preferential treatment, kitchens, warehouses, guard rooms, special rooms used for corporal punishments, tortures, and medical experiments on prisoners, and a three-acre yard. In a special stockade outside the compound proper are the crematory, gas chamber, and war-dog kennels. A complex of SS and Waffen-SS administration buildings and warehouses abutts on the camp. 3. NUMBER AND TYPES OF INMATES At the time of liberation, about 65,000 prisoners were being carried on the Dachau roll, of whom 32,000 were housed in the main compound. Although the largest single national representation was Polish, men from every European state were present, including 5,660 Germans. Highly conflicting statements on the ratio of criminal to political prisoners were obtained; a United States officer assigned to the Camp Review Board explained that numerous non-German convicted criminals, on having refused the invitation to join the Wehrmacht had been transferred to the status of political prisoners. At the other end of the scale, among the inmates interviewed on 1 and 2 May were several Canadian paratroop officers, a Czech newspaper and motion-picture editor (Paul HUSAREK), the former Berlin correspondent of the Havas Agency (M. RAVOUX), a German Communist organizer who had spent twelve years at Dachau (George BIEBER), an Austrian aristocrat (Count LODRON), an Albanian Cabinet member (Ali KUCI), the former Polish Consul General in Munich (GRABINSKY) and a British Naval Officer (Lieut. Comdr. Patrick OREARY). The French General DELESTRAINT, also an inmate, had reportedly been executed two days before Dachau's liberation. A group of especially well-known prisoners, including Martin NIEMOELLER, formerly quartered in a special barracks, had been removed late in April to the camp at Innsbruck. About 450 women were at Dachau, also quartered apart. Among these was stated to be the widow of Field Marshal von WITZLEBEN. 4. LIVING CONDITIONS It was stated that the Dachau main compound, now holding 32,000 prisoners, had been designed to house a maximum of 10,000. Overcrowding had been aggravated during April by the arrival of some 15,000 evacuees from the Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and Kaufering camps. The bread ration CONFIDENTIAL

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    2. CONFIDENTIAL formerly consisting of 1/4th and later of 1/5th of a loaf of black bread per man per day, had been reduced during this period to 1/8th of a loaf. Housing facilities at Dachau are as follows : each barracks building is subdivided into four units, each of which consists of a bunk hall about 50 feet square, a mess hall about half as large, a washroom, and a latrine. In Dachau's early period, it is stated, these units accommodated about 100 men each. As observed on 1 May, however, the units were housing 300 to 400 men each. Sleeping accomodation was provided in three-tiered bunks about six feet wide, each sleeping from three to five and six men to a tier, and with less than two feet of head room above the top tier. The variations in density of population reflected a distinction between the "upper-class barracks" (NOBLEN BARRACKEN) which housed somewhat more favored prisoners, and the run of common barracks for the mass. Even in the NOBLEN BARRACKEN, however, sanitary facilities appeared to be hopelessly overtaxed. In the louse-infested poorer barracks, prisoners were observed eating their meal in the stench of latrines. In one of these units alone, more than a hundred bed-ridden cases were observed, the chief sicknesses being spotted typhus, dysentery, and diarrhoea (the latter being classed by the inmates as a fatal disease, in view of the impossibility of obtaining diet changes). Corpses were found in the bunks, and before the barracks door. 5. MEDICAL CARE A special barracks - not, however, isolated from the others - had been reserved as an infirmary (KRANKENREVIER). Several prisoners stated that for long periods the infirmary had been without the services of a doctor, and had relied on medical orderlies alone. This circumstance, to which was added the fear of being turned over by the orderlies to the medical experimental station for guinea-pig purposes, appears to have dissuaded many prisoners from answering sick-call. A prisoner in charge of the Dachau muster role reported that on 1 May, 3,900 prisoners were being carried on the infirmary list. According to estimates made by American medical officers on the same date, however, a total of 8,500 Dachau inmates were bed-ridden. Although the German authorities had made an attempt to isolate several of the regular barracks for typhus cases, typhus was by no means restricted to these. As an exception to the general medical picture, prisoners admitted that the German authorities had carried on an effective de-lousing campaign during the last months by means of a newly invented ultra-shortwave process. 6. DEATH RATE AND DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD The following figures on deaths during recent months were obtained from prison records : January 1945 2,888 February 1945 3,977 March 1945 3,750 Prisoners stated that these figures did not include certain executions and "disappearances". The prevalent method of disposal was to remove all clothes from the body and, after attaching an identification tag to its foot, to cart it to the crematory. At times when the four furnaces of the crematory were overtaxed, or when coal was short, bodies were dumped in a pit in the back of the camp. The clothes were turned over to the local agency of the DEUTSCHE TEXTIL- UND BEKLEIDUNGSWERKE, G.m.b.H., a private corporation whose stockholders were SS officials, which reclaimed and repaired the garments (with the use of unpaid prison labor), and then re-sold them to the camp clothing depot for the use of other prisoners. CONFIDENTIAL

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    CONFIDENTIAL 3. 7. PUNISHMENTS AND EXECUTIONS Routine punishments, as reported by prisoners who had undergone them, were : for having leaned on one's shovel while at work in the quarry, one hour's suspension by the hands from a ring attached to the wall; for having smoked a cigarette during work hours, twenty-five lashes at the whipping post. A special punishment, reported by several witnesses, was that of making the entire camp population stand at attention in the yard all night long, in expiation for the escape of a prisoner. The first of these NACHTSTEHEN, during which prisoners were forbidden to wear caps, coats, or gloves, took place during the cold and rainy night of 23 January 1939, on the order of the Schutzhaftlager-fuehrer, SS Obersturmfuehrer HOFFMAN. An unusual form of torture was that of ordering a prisoner to climb to the top of a tree, and then ordering a second prisoner to chop the tree down. The use of dogs to attack naked men who had been trussed up in the crematory yard appears to have been frequent. A gas chamber with sixteen nozzles served for executions. Prisoners reported (without giving details) that in the period from early 1942 to early 1943, anywhere from 200 to 300 Russian military and political prisoners had been shot each day, and that their bones had been used to pave streets. They also reported that during the week before the arrival of American troops, executions by shooting numbered about 30 per day. 8. DACHAU AS A PROFIT-MAKING INSTITUTION The cost to the SS of maintaining a prisoner at Dachau (including food, clothing, and amortization) was stated to be RM 1.70 per day. All prisoners other than the bed-ridden and those needed for essential camp services were put to work on projects that brought in to the camp administration an income well in excess of its outlay. Receipts for the labor of convict engineers, carpenters, clerical workers, etc., who had been farmed out under guard to manufacturers in Munich and Dachau ranged from RM 4 to 6 per man per day. Other prisoners were put to work in the SS-owned quarry at Ueberlingen. About 1400 prisoners were kept working at DIE PLANTAGE, a large farm near Dachau specializing in medicinal herbs. Ownership of the farm was vested by the SS in a private corporation among whose chief stockholders reportedly were General der Waffen-SS POUL and Hauptsturmfuehrer VOIGT. The work of reclaiming the clothes of dead prisoners for the account of the DEUTSCHE TEXTIL- UND BEKLEIDUNGSWERKE was shared by Dachau prisoners with those at Oranienburg and the women's camp at Ravensbrueck. Between sixteen and twenty Dachau women prisoners were employed as prostitutes inside the camp (their establishment being visited only, prisoners stated, by criminal and "asocial" elements); and it is believed that the SS deducted a share of their earnings. 9. MANAGEMENT Administration of Dachau and its subsidiary camps fell under the authority of the Inspector of Death's Head Units of the SS. Management was vested in a Camp Commandant aided by an immediate staff of 32, a subordinate staff of 212, and about 3,300 guards, matrons, trusties, etc. The last Camp Commandant was SS Sturmbannfuehrer WEITER (who was captured by troops of the American 45th Division). His executive officer inside the stockade was the Camp Leader, RUPPERT. Other officials named by prisoners were SS Oberscharfuehrer BONGARTZ, head of the crematory and chief executioner; SS Oberscharfuehrer EICHBERGER, an administration officer who was present at executions; and SS Oberscharfuehrer BACH, who in spite of his low rank was the camp's Chief Investigator (VERNEHMUNGS-FUEHRER), and as such was reported to be responsible only to the SS Central Office. Internal supervision of camp discipline and labor was placed in the hands of trusties (KAPOS) selected by the SS officials from among the prisoners. The men chosen were generally criminals or CONFIDENTIAL

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  • such political prisoners as could be lured by the prospects of favored treatment or power into turning against their fellows. No evidence obtained at Dachau suggested that members of any particular political group or party were predominant in KAPO ranks. The most powerful and hated trusties during the final period of the camp were WERNICKE, a veteran SA man (believed to hold Party badge # 202) who had been convicted of profiteering and whose post was that of LAGERPOLIZEI-KAPO, and the Senior Prisoner (LAGERAELTESTE), an Armenian named MENSARIAN. 10. THE FINAL WEEKS AT DACHAU Prisoners state that in mid-April the SS Central Office decided that the Camp Commandant, WEITER, had "gone too far" in his methods, and ordered a reorganization. The SS High Court (OBERSTGERICHT) came to Dachau to investigate and at the same time to seek to exonerate the Central Office from what had happened there. Its decision was to remove the camp leader, RUPPERT, and to arrest the trio of BACH, WERNICKE, and MENSARIAN, who had bossed and terrorized the compound. The Inspector-General of all concentration camps, WEISS (himself a former commandant of Dachau) was sent down to oversee WEITER. WEISS had barely started on this work, however, when on 24 April he was ordered to evacuate all concentration camps and, it is stated, "to see to it that none of the prisoners arrived at their destination". Preparations for the evacuation of Dachau began that same night. Twenty-one hundred Jewish prisoners were given a quarter of a loaf of bread apiece and placed in railroad cars for shipment southward. For three days the train waited in the yard for a locomotive. During that period, prisoners state, 300 of the evacuees died. On the evening of the 26th, about 5,000 more prisoners were evacuated from Dachau, carrying four days' bread rations and some cheese. Meanwhile, Dachau was itself the scene of an influx of prisoners from camps to the north. Of a column 480 strong which had left Auschwitz on 24 April, on foot and wearing thin clothing, 120 survivors arrived. On 25 April, 1,600 survivors of a convoy of 2,400 prisoners from Buchenwald reached camp; more than 100 of these died within the next twenty-four hours. On 28 April a mixed train of passenger and freight cars arrived after a slow trip from the camp at Kaufering, and hundreds of bodies were found among the living. (This is the famous "death train" which was found standing on a siding beside a public thoroughfare in Dachau, still littered with corpses, when American troops arrived). On 27 April, rumors spread through the camp that other prisoner convoy which had started out from Buchenwald had been exterminated entirely en route. When General Assembly was sounded on that day, therefore, many prisoners went into hiding or played sick. A round-up of the camp was ordered, but the SS guards needed for the carrying out of this order were just then absent from the camp, standing by to meet a possible American paratroop attack for which they had been alerted. Prisoners state that this paratroop alarm had been spread by their own underground confederates operating in the countryside around the camp, in order to distract and confuse the guards. It is also stated that a band of prisoners - most of them veterans of the Spanish International Brigade - broke out of the compound and exchanged fire with the SS guards, as a result of which three of their own number were killed. Since the guards and panicky trusties were unequal to the situation inside the camp, evacuation was put off another day. Next morning, WEISS disappeared. RUPPERT and BACH, now out of arrest took over control of the compound, and prisoners feared that they might order a general massacre. That afternoon, however, RUPPERT and BACH fled, along with the administrative and commissary officials, leaving behind only an outside guard of 200 SS men. This guard did not venture into the compound, and organized prison life at Dachau thus came to an end. CONFIDENTIAL

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    5. CONFIDENTIAL Early on 28 April each national group of prisoners had met to elect representatives. Toward evening these men, organized as the International Committee, took over the internal management of the camp. The chief trusties, WERNICKE and MENSARIAN, were placed under guard. Since the camp food stocks had come to an end, all available Red Cross food parcels were opened and their contents divided throughout the camp. During 29 April the prisoners were left quite to themselves, save for one attempt by several hysterically shouting SS men on motorcycles to stampede them into the electrically-charged stockade wires. At 1730 hours, American troops reached the camp gates, and the SS guards surrendered without a fight. About forty of them were shot out of hand or killed by the prisoners, and with them were WERNICKE and MESARIAN. 11. DACHAU'S PLACE AMONG CONCENTRATION CAMPS Prisoners who had had experience of other camps in Germany were unanimous in stating that conditions at Dachau were generally superior. Several divided Germany's camps into three classes : first and best, camps like Dachau; second, "hard-labor" camps like Ohrdruf and Ueberlingen; third and last, "death camps" (VERNICHTUNGSLAGER) like Mauthausen. The greatest fear of many prisoners was that they might be transferred to Mauthausen; of 1,600 Dachau inmates who had been thus transferred in the fall of 1939, it was stated that 900 died before the following spring. WILLIAM HARLAN HALE, Deputy to Assistant Chief of Division for Directives & Current Propaganda

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

December 1, 2015, Time Magazine, Photography: The Forgotten Images of One of America's Greatest War Photographers, by Dante A. Ciampaglia,

December 1, 2015, Time Magazine, Photography: The Forgotten Images of One of America's Greatest War Photographers, by Dante A. Ciampaglia,

“Sometimes they got the picture nobody had asked for,” LIFE’s editors wrote in a Nov. 5, 1945, tribute portfolio to the 21 staff photographers who served as correspondents in World War II. But in a lineup that included Robert Capa, Margaret Bourke-White, George Rodger, and W. Eugene Smith, that statement perhaps applied most acutely to John Florea.

The subject of an exceptional exhibition at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City, John Florea: World War II, on view through Dec. 19, Florea was a LIFE staffer from 1941 to 1949. He photographed celebrities in Hollywood before being drafted after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Pacific from 1942 to 1943, then moved to Europe where he contributed some of the magazine's most important, unexpected images: massacres and executions, atrocities and degradation. His work was so monumental that he received a full page in the Nov. 5 portfolio; Bourke-White, Rodger, and Smith all had to share theirs.

But today he’s all but forgotten. Anais Feyeux, curator of the exhibit at the Kasher Gallery, thinks it’s because, unlike Capa or Bourke-White, Florea wasn’t a war photographer. He was a photographer who, like most Americans who went off to war, had a job to do, did it, then came home. “Some people, like Robert Capa, knew before what war was. Not John Florea,” Feyeux says. “You can feel it in the photos. It was a terrible shock to him.”

His first assignment was aboard the aircraft carrier Essex. He shot bombs scrawled with messages from servicemen to the Japanese, broken-up planes on the deck and aerial pictures of the November 1943 invasion of Tarawa. “There’s just the sea, there’s no real battlefield. It’s very abstract,” Feyeux says. “In the Pacific, in the beginning, even the soldiers still have some humor. It’s a kind of innocence he totally lost when he arrived in Europe.”

Florea’s introduction to the Western Front was the Battle of the Bulge. He found himself, quite suddenly, in the thick of the fighting. As he slopped through mud and took cover from incoming bombardments, his photography became raw and kinetic, intimately capturing the fear, confusion, and brotherhood of soldiers running from bombs, considering an overturned tank or burying their dead.

On his march through Europe, Florea also documented war’s impact on civilians: a hardened German woman sitting atop all her possessions in the rubble of a bombed-out Cologne, or German children peeking around a ruined wall as American jeeps roar through town. It was during this time that he made one of his most arresting photographs: an image of a 15-year-old German soldier crying after being captured. It is an image that sits at the intersection of war’s wholesale destruction of the individual and Germany’s specific brand of wartime depravity.

Indeed, Florea witnessed some of the war’s worst crimes, not least of all the Malmedy Massacre, where 84 unarmed American prisoners were murdered by German troops on Dec. 17, 1944. Florea’s photographs of the carnage—bodies strewn in the snow, their arms up in an act of surrender, their faces hollowed out by pecking birds—are as wrenching today as they were 71 years ago.

“Have you ever really gotten hit in the gut hard and lose your breath and fall to your knees? You know how that hurts,” Florea told fellow LIFE photographer John Loengard in 1993, reflecting on his time as a war correspondent. “I felt someone had hit me so hard—I actually cried.”

It only got worse from there. In April 1945, Florea and the First Army freed American prisoners of war from the notorious German prison camp Stalag 12-A. The men they found had only been there for three months, yet they looked more skeletal than human. Florea’s photo of the bony body of a man named Joe Demler stretched out on a hard wooden bed, as well as a haunting portrait of an unnamed man whose penetrating gaze bored through the camera’s lens, would later prove to be two of the most indelible images of the war.

The scope of Nazi atrocity was realized a few weeks later with the discovery of the Nordhausen concentration camp. There, Florea and the troops found the ground strewn with bodies, warehouses stacked full of corpses and a pit filled with the ashes of 60,000 people. Florea tried to capture the incomprehensible by shooting not only numerous photos of the dead, but also the genocide’s impact on the living. One triptych shows a man and his son, survivors, burying their wife and mother. In the end, LIFE chose to run just one of these photos: a vertical shot of 3,000 bodies arranged side by side, stretching from the front of the frame to the horizon.

After two harrowing years in Europe, Florea returned to America and, like so many servicemen, to his life. “I think when he comes back, he’s a civilian,” Feyeux says. “Some people disappear because they do something else.”

In Florea’s case, that was television. After a falling-out with LIFE executive editor Wilson Hicks that cost him his job, Florea gave up photography for TV. He directed episodes of hit shows like Highway Patrol and Sea Hunt in the late 1950s and worked steadily in the industry through the mid-1980s, directing and producing episodes of CHiPs, V and MacGyver.

“I got into an environment that I enjoyed,” Florea told Loengard. “But I’ll never be remembered for that. The only thing I’ll be remembered for is what I had done for LIFE magazine.”

With the work Florea accomplished during his time with the magazine, that’s a legacy worth reclaiming.,

(279) The US weekly magazine Life (21/05/1945, page 36), comments: ‘The bodies of almost 3,000 slave laborers being buried by US soldiers. These dead worked in underground factories in the manufacture of V1 and V2 rockets.

In actual fact, these dead were the victims of the US terror attack on Nordhausen on 4 April 1945. Although the war was almost over, German cities continued to be bombed. Thus, the city of Nordhausen was bombed and almost totally destroyed on 4 April (2 days before the evacuation of the camp to Bergen-Belsen), also destroying the Boelke barracks in which the inmates were being housed. (From the series of publications from the Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, number 21, Stuttgart page 194, Prof. Martin Broszat).


The high-resolution image above shows the bombing's devastation to camp facilities. Life magazine published a cropped version---what Time magazine called "a vertical shot" of 3,000 bodies.

The video below contains a newsreel clip shot and narrated by the U.S. military unit that liberated Nordhausen, stating the 3,000 political prisoners died at the "brutal hands of SS troops and hardened German criminals who were the camp guards." Moreover, the American official describes Nordhausen as a  "a depository for slaves found unfit for work in the underground V-bomb plants, or in other German camps and factories." (Apparently they hadn't yet got the memo asserting anyone unfit for work was immediately selected at the railway siding and sent to a gas chamber.)

It's difficult to tell from the image above if the dead consist solely of men, but it seems probable, given the American assertion that the camp held political slave laborers who were too ill to work. This makes Time-Life's claim that Florea had  photographed  "a man and his son, survivors, burying their wife and mother,"  seem highly unlikely. And even with a high rate of starvation and tuberculosis amongst the living and dead, military officials knew what had caused the vast majority to perish within this great sea of unburied dead---and that was the United States Army-Air Forces' terror bombing campaign days earlier.

at 12:44

Nordhausen Concentration Camp,

The slave labor Camp at Nordhausen, liberated by the 3rd Armored Division, 1st Army, at least 3,000 political prisoners died here at the brutal hands of SS troops and hardened German criminals who were the camp guards. Nordhapartyusen had been a depository for slaves found unfit for work in the underground V-bomb plants, or in other German camps and factories. Amid the corpses are human skeletons, too weak to move. Men of our medical battalions worked two days and nights binding wounds and giving medications, but for advanced cases of starvation and tuberculosis there often were no cures. Survivors are shown being evacuated to Allied hospitals

You Tube

March 26, 1945, Bombed city of Cologne in Germany during World War II, HD Stock Footage, 0:59
Posted by Critical Past, [Original Source]

A snippet of much longer footage shot in color by American military to government authorities. Sign board displayed saying "S. Project # 186, X 16-McCord, March - 26," which adds another name to the list of authors working after the U.S. took control of the city.

British terror bombing - Cathedral of Cologne hit by seventy bombs, 1:02, German Newsreel Film,
Uploaded by by silvan500, on December 28, 2011,

F. Liszt - Tasso, Lamento credited onscreen, [Thanks given to user BlitzWotan]
(In German, with English subtitles; Transcript below)
The Cologne cathedral has been hit hard by the bombs of the British terrorist pilots. Made, according to their own admission, almost invisible by a dense cloud cover, the British terrorists bombarded the Hanseatic town on the Rhine, with its venerable monuments and unique art treasures.
The bombs broke through the vault, causing havoc inside the cathedral. Built over a period of six and a half centuries and considered sacrosanct by the entire civilized world, the cathedral was destroyed by the British air-raid barbarians in just a few minutes.

Destroyed building of Cologne Cathedral after Allied bombing in Cologne, Germany. HD Stock Footage,. 1:03
(Portugese Newsreel) Published by CriticalPast on May 4, 2014

Street Fighting in Cologne, March 26, 1945, 2:40
Published on Audie Murphy American Legend, February 9, 2013,

Pershing vs Panther Cologne 1945, 2:59
Uploaded by Rammjaeger83 on Dec 14, 2007,
(History Channel)

The Ruins of Cologne - (Köln) after the 2nd World War., 3:00
Uploaded by Fritz Schone, on Jul 2, 2008

(German proper place-names throughout the city on screen)

Cologne's Fate - No Sound, 3:32
Published by British Movietone, on July 21, 2015,

B & W aerial footage that mostly focuses on burned-out industrial areas and transportation network on the outskirts of Cologne proper., and as such, seems politically motivated. Ends with an interesting short of the interior of the Cologne cathedral, with the camera panning up to show the roof intact. Undated, but likely taken in the first weeks or months after the fires had cooled. Barring an "AP" logo, maybe the corporate stepchild of British Movietone,

The Americans capture Cologne, 3:42
Uploaded by johnsatyricon, on Jun 26, 2008

Panther v's M26 Pershing The Battle of Cologne (Köln), 3:54
Uploaded by spottydog4477 on October 6, 2009,

Cologne Captured (1945) / Köln wird besiegt (British Pathe), 3:56
Published by British Pathé on Apr 13, 2014

3rd Armored Division in Cologne, World War II,4:03
Uploaded by 3rd Armored Division on March 27, 2008,

✠Panzerschlacht in Köln✠ tank battle cologne HD 1080p, 4:02
Published by Feldgrau on May 10, 2014,

The Battle For Cologne; Bombing of Cologne in World War II, 5:30
Published by afterthewar1945 on May 28, 2012

Transcript of the narration:
First narrator (Importuning) a person's life when their training, talent and heart are tested in the extreme. Jim Bates's finest hour was during the battle for Cologne. For a veteran combat photographer, it was an opportunity to test all his skills as a soldier, and as a photographer. It was his success in Cologne that earned him the Bronze Star.
At 0:24 Second Narrator (From the original 1945 newsreel soundtrack)
The German tank is found and the T-26 hits its mark. The German tank is hit squarely and as the gunner tries to escape, the second shell cuts off his leg. The driver and assistant clamber to escape as another shell is fired. Burning alive, the gunner lies over the edge of his coffin on wheels, while his companions run for cover, and the concussion from the 90-millimeter gun is so great, camera steadiness is impossible
At 0:55 Third Narrator (Jim Bates, a cameraman, giving a modern-day disquisition)
By this time we had a new T-26, the T-26 was ah---had a 90-millimeter with a cuts....cuts-compensator on the front of it. It was an amazing piece of machinery, it was heavily armored, it was was a far cry...ah....the Germans who saw it really never lived to bring back the story because, it---that was it, (giggle). They never lived long enough to take the story back as to what this tank was about. It was just so far ahead of the old Shermans it was unbelievable.

So the fellow, the commander of the T-26, Jimmy, said, ah...¨let's go down and see what we can see on that tank,,¨ and he says, ¨I don't know what we're going to run into, we may never get back, but he said [audio elided] ¨...there, when I stop, I'm ready to fire.¨

So the tank commander---of the tank, who I knew very well of course---ah, ah...of the T-47 left and went back up to his tank and I sat there, and it seemed like it took forever and a day for them to get started, but of course they had to get all of the mathematics and every...[audio elided] and the very second he stopped --- I was shooting by that time, and in the film you can see the armor-piercing shell going through the bottom of the picture on the still shots. The first shot went in and cut the legs off the tank commander, in the Tiger, The second shot---and immediately the driver and the gunner...the trapdoor...the doors...the trap doors flew open, and they climbed out., but the second shot, the shrapnel had got them too. Ah, one fellow fell over a bicycle that was laying there on the ground, the remains of an old bicycle, and he died right there. But the driver got around to the backside of a building and he died right there.

The...the...gunner...the tank commander that had...ah...his legs cut off, of course, just laid on top of his tank and burned up right in front of the camera there. It was just unbelievable---that thing was burning even the next morning, after it was all over, there was still smoke coming out of it because it had so much ammunition and whatnot in it. The ...[audio elided] ...and..the ...Heroes...General Hereos Hospital in Denver, the veteran's hospital, is named after him
At 3:20 Returns to the period newscaster from the 1940's newsreel:
A very tired and silent crew it was that dealt the death blow to the German tank, to help prove to a nation crazed with power that its men and cities could be dealt with in the same manner as it had previously dealt with Poland and Russia when the war was going its way. But tall spires of Cologne cathedral will mark only the grave of a dead and battle-torn city.

Battle of Cologne, 6:51
Uploaded by PPLDTV, on February 12, 2008

Combat photographer Jim Bates talks about his experiences filming a tank battle during the Battle of Cologne in March of 1945.

January 20, 1944, Film - DWS 698 - Abwehr eines US Bomberangriffes am 11. 01. 1944, 8:21
uploaded by 1DeutschesLand, on Jun3 16, 2013,

Cologne March 1945: Duel at the Cathedral - The lost human stories, 9:31
Published by Filmschatze Aus Koln - Vom Rhein - Weltfilmerbe, on March 2, 2015

HD Stock Footage WWII Lest We Forget R7 - Ruhr River, Battle of Cologne, 9:56
Published by Buyout Footage Historic Film Archive on March 23, 2013,

Battle for Cologne - Tank Duel, 9:59
Uploaded by anicursor on January 9, 2010,

WWII. The battle for Cologne. Tank duel at the cathedral, March 6, 1945. The US army, 3rd AD, enters Cologne. Chronic and analytical presentation of the famous tank duel at the Cologne cathedral. See the fascinating original film with descriptions. 10 minutes of interesting film scenes show the destruction of a Sherman tank, the destruction of a Panther tank and the escaping crew members. 5 presentation parts show different analyses. Original film scenes show injured persons. Some of the subtitles are very short. The time where I published the video (2010) there was a 10 min. limitation for youtube videos, so I had to create fast subtitles to have more time for the action. More detailed information about this incidents here: Special - tank duel at the cathedral (1),

Street Fighting In Cologne, 10:47
Uploaded by COALMONK5 on Mar 4, 2010

On 6th March 1945 elements of the 3rd Armoured Division and U.S. 1st Army fought their way into the German city of Cologne. The following footage was taken by Sgt. Jim Bates of the 1st Army Signal Corps. (Warning- some graphic content).

Cologne, 3rd Armored Division Street Fighting H1573-05 | Footage Farm, 12:16
Published by footagefarm on November 19, 2014,

If you wish to acquire broadcast quality material of this reel or want to know more about our Public Domain collection, contact us at WWII - 1945, Germany, 3rd Armored Division Street Fighting, Cologne, 06Mar45] LIB 3754
Street fighting in Cologne (?); tank crew on tank looking tired.
13:02:23 Slate: Rosenmann, 05Mar45 Cologne. Troops & tanks past rubble lining both sides of street; tank firing, infantry firing rifle; other tanks move up. Tank firing. Explosions.
13:03:31 Smoking truck w/ body laying outside open door; tank past & firing down street towards Cathedral towers. Infantry firing.
13:04:37 German soldier surrendering. Views of tank firing machine guns. Tank hit & burning in street. GOOD.
13:05:43 CU tank turret turning; wrecked / destroyed buildings. Tank firing beside park.
13:06:10 Infantry running up behind; officer giving instructions, on field telephone by jeep as infantry advancing.
13:06:44 LIB 3753. Slate: Camera Bates. 06Mar45 Cologne.
13:06:49 Advancing tank watched by infantry. GIs w/ rifles firing from on top of debris. Tanks advance. Men firing machine gun from top of pile of bricks. Intersection w/ debris & car; car leaving w/ tracers fired at it.
13:07:51 MS Tank in street catching fire as crewman climbs out, runs off as flames grow & tank burns. Tilt up spires of Cathedral.
13:08:58 Infantry along street past rubble. Explosion & GIs running across street w/ Cathedral in background.
13:09:35 Pan across German illustrated propoganda poster to infantry behind corner of building. GOOD.
13:09:50 Smoke filled street, explosions. Tracers towards man crossing street who runs. GIs kick door in, run up street; CU knocking in door w/ axe. Infantry moving forward, running along street; past destroyed buildings. Tank moves pst; firing, tracers seen fired & hitting building. Cathedral past twisted steel.
13:12:16 Slate. Same. Infantry in doorways, tank slowly moving, firing. Explosion at end of street, front of building collapses into street. Infantry past wrecked cars & buildings. Searching car beside street; tanks behind. Investigate body of young woman in car. Coat put over body outside car. WW2 Fighting; Battle; City; NOTE: Good coverage & action.

M4 Sherman Tank - Crew tell how shocking it was, 12:53
Uploadedby spottydog4477 on Sep 18, 2011

Köln 1945 in Farbe - Cologne 1945 in color, 15:22,
Kommentar von Heinz Meichsner, Filmschatze Aus,
Köln -- Von Rhein,- Weltfilmerbe,

Battle for Cologne Tank Battle 1945, 17:09
Published by Ebol Evedo on February 22, 2016

Battle of Cologne 1945 - A young woman between the frontlines - U.S. first time release, 18:04
Published by Filmschätze Aus Koln - Vom Rhein - Weltfilmerbe, on November 23, 2015,

Battle Of The Peace - Post-WWII Cologne Germany Part-1, 18:47
Army-Navy Screen Magazine: 1945 - Issue 66
Date: 1945
Duration: 00:18:47
Sound: Yes
Color: Monochrome
Type: Public Domain
Language: English
Location: Germany
Cologne Germany 1930, brief scene of German Dictator Adolf Hitler, the WWII-era destruction of Cologne Germany with bombed out ruins and it rebuilding by the new American occupation forces and U.S. Military Government from espousing Democratic ideals to rebuilding of infrastructure.
Shot List:
r1:00:00:42;14, City of Cologne Germany before WWII
r1:00:01:14;04, German Dictator Adolf Hitler and ironic prophetic statement "Give me five years and you will not recognize Germany"
r1:00:01:27;08, Post-WWII Cologne Germany in absolute ruin and rubble
r1:00:01:51;04, Bombed out building and destroyed infrastructure
r1:00:02:37;11, Ceremony of U.S. Military Government MG taking over the day-to-day affairs of running Cologne Germany
r1:00:03:45;20, German citizens gather to listen to the first orders from the new Military Government
r1:00:04:12;12, Pesticide DDT powder is used to delouse the German population to kill lice and quell a Typhus epidemic
r1:00:04:43;19, German is discovered as being part of the infamous SS when his SS tattoo is discovered during check-up by U.S. Army medic
r1:00:05:12;14, Long lines of Germans waiting to be interviewed by the Military Government to weed out hard-core Nazis and determine those who will help rebuild the city
r1:00:06:24;17, Group of German citizens become the first local police force for Post-WWII Cologne Germany and given armbands labeled M.G. - Police
r1:00:07:12;22, Worker on ladder takes down Nazi Eagle and Swastika
r1:00:07:19;19, Nazi propaganda items removed and replaced with Military Government Democratic ideals and rules
r1:00:07:44;03, Demolition of bombed out building begin with help of reconstituted Fire Department
r1:00:08:07;03, German citizens with Nazi affiliations are formed into press gangs to clear rubble
r1:00:08:38;16, Food is distributed to German citizens under the watchful eye of the Military Govt.
r1:00:09:03;04, Germans both young and old farm food outside the city
r1:00:09:30;15, Former slave labor to the Nazis now displaced persons gather for ration coupons at U.S. MG

Battle Of The Peace - Post-WWII Cologne Germany Part-2, 9:06
Army-Navy Screen Magazine: 1945 - Issue 66 Reel-2
Post-WWII Cologne Germany with its bombed out ruins and its rebuilding by the new American occupation forces and U.S. Military Government.
Date: 1945
Duration: 00:09:06
Sound: Yes
Color: Monochrome
Type: Public Domain
Language: English
Location: Germany
Shot List:
r2:00:00:12;15, Former slave labor to the Nazis now displaced persons gather for ration coupons at U.S. Military Government
r2:00:02:00;19, Coal production begin to operate again; coal brickettes produced
r2:00:03:34;13, Printing of U.S. Army German-Language newspaper; German citizens reading the newspaper
r2:00:04:01:20, Corpus Christi celebrated in front of the Cologne cathedral
r2:00:04:13;17, German-Jews gathering for temple
r2:00:04:37;10, Dedication ceremony for marble monument in a Cologne park marking concentration camp victims
r2:00:05:27;15, Scenes of Military Government court and trial system
r2:00:06:45;05, Convicted German criminals sent to former Gestapo prison now Military Government prison
r2:00:07:44;15, German children playing outside, using sewing machine outside, knitting, making crafts
r2:00:08:20;05, German children throwing Nazi Swastika symbols, flags and propaganda posters on to a bonfire

Köln 1945 - Nahaufnahmen, 16:26
Jetzt in voller Länge ansehen in Full HD als Video on Demand: ►► oder als erweiterte Special Edition auf Doppel-DVD:
This video shows a section from my documentation: Cologne 1945 close-ups, which first appeared in 2008. On March 6, 1945 Katharina Esser, a 26-year-old with a private car on the Kaiser Wilhelmring, gets caught between the fighting units and is fired on from both sides. In front of a running US film camera, the car remains in the middle of the battle zone and is exposed to an inferno.
After the fights seem to fade away, the film camera shows the young woman, who is wounded, but apparently alive and able to recover. During my ongoing research, I met two surviving soldiers who had fought against each other on March 6, 1945 in Cologne. Both told me before a running camera that they had shot at this young woman and probably hit her. I too, of course, knew the film pictures of the young woman who had been treated by US medical men on the Christophstrasse.
But also the many other terribly distorted dead, who lay down there at the entrance to the inner city of Cologne for days in the streets. After the two conversations with the army members Clarence Smoyer and Gustav Schäfer, I went on to search for more. They succeeded in finding the young woman's family. But the vague hope that she had left this place of horror alive could not be fulfilled. The horror news made me realize with a rare force what war really meant.
To date, the relatives did not know that Katharina was filmed in her most dramatic hour. The pictures went around the world at the time - not infrequently with the comment that you had a Nazi car caught. So sad is the fate of Katharina Esser, so fascinating are the research results that were still to be found after such a long time.
Köln 1945 - Nahaufnahmen: Eine junge Frau zwischen den Fronten. DVD/VoD

The first 1,000 bomber raid by the RAF was codenamed Operation Millennium, Cologne was chosen as the target and the raid took place on the night of May 30-31, 1942.
Operation Millennium war der Deckname für die Bombardierung Kölns in der Nacht vom 30. auf den 31. Mai 1942, bei dem die Royal Air Force (RAF) erstmals über 1000 Bomber gleichzeitig einsetzte, weshalb er auch als erster 1000-Bomber-Angriff bekannt ist.
[Operation Millennium was the cover name for the bombing of Cologne on the night of May 30th, 1942, when the Royal Air Force (RAF) used 1000 bombers at the s

For the first time in English: March 1945 - Duel at the Cathedral,
Cologne is the largest city in the world. Nazi propaganda has declared the city to be defended to the last cartridge. Witness the US troops first hand on their advance from the outskirts of the Rhine and the fascinating research of the Cologne journalist and film historian Hermann Rheindorf.
Cologne, Germany, the famous Cathedral city in March 1945.
Eight months after D-Day, the US troops are now on the cusp of a long-awaited milestone, the crossing of the Rhine. The impending battle has been dominated by the headlines of the world press for days.
Dozens of correspondents, photographers, and cameramen have followed the US troops in order to report in detail on the event. Some of the shots taken by the cameramen of the US World War II. The battle for cologne ends with a final, dramatic tank duel at the base of the cathedral. The film footage makes the engagement the most famous tank duel in the world. However, the people in these scenes were still remain unknown.
Based on several years of research into the background and contemporary witnesses, this documentary reconstructs the advance of US troops into cologne and shows critical moments of the battle for the city in March 5 -7, 1945.
Featured eyewitnesses:
Andy Rooney (correspondent " The Starts & Stripes ",
Clarence Smoyer (3rd Armored Division),
Francis Wilber (104th Infantry Division),
James Bates (US Signal corps cameraman),
Robert Ziller (RAF-cameraman),
Engelbert Bockhoff (9th Panzer Division),
Gustav S. Häfer (Panzerbrigade 106),
Günther Müller (360 Volksgrenadier-Division) and many others.
Now available as VoD on
Watch the new 2015 english language version here,
This research was mostly done in 2006/7 by the Cologne based journalist Hermann Rheindorf and first published in 2008. Get the updated 2015 special english language edition: Trailer:
Watch the full documentary in HD on Vimeo-VoD/Downlad:
Also available on DVD for the first time in the US.