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I Must be a Part of this War

A German American's Fight against Hitler and Nazism

Patricia Kollander

Publication Year: 2005

Kurt Frank Korf's story is one of the most unusual to come out of World War II. Although German-Americans were America's largest ethnic group, and German-Americans-including thousands of native-born Germans-fought bravely in all theaters, there are few full first-person accounts by German- Americans of their experiences during the 1930s and 1940s.Drawing on his correspondence and on oral histories and interviews with Korf, Patricia Kollander paints a fascinating portrait of a privileged young man forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1937 because the infamous Nuremburg Laws had relegated him to the status of second-degree mixed breed(Korf had one Jewish grandparent).Settling in New York City, Korf became an FBI informant, watching pro-Nazi leaders like Fritz Kuhn and the German-American Bund as they moved among the city's large German immigrant community. Soon after, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in Germany as an intelligence officer during the Battle of the Bulge, and as a prisoner of war camp administrator. After the war, Korf stayed on as a U.S. government attorney in Berlin and Munich, working to hunt down war criminals, and lent his expertise in the effort to determine the authenticity of Joseph Goebbels's diaries. Kurt Frank Korf died in 2000.Kollander not only draws a detailed portrait of this unique figure; she also provides a rich context for exploring responses to Nazism in Germany, the German-American position before and during the war, the community's later response to Nazism and its crimes, and the broader issues of ethnicity, religion, political ideology, and patriotism in 20th-century America. Patricia Kollander is Associate Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University. She is the author of Frederick III: Germany's Liberal Emperor. I Must Be a Part of This Waris part of her ongoing research into the experiences of some fifteen thousand native-born Germans who served in the U.S. Army in World War II. John O'Sullivan was Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page

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pp. iii-

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Many people helped bring this project to fruition. Dr. Christopher Keller of Davidson College and Louise French of the U.S. Military History Institute in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, helped locate valuable information on the ethnic backgrounds of soldiers who...

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Preface

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pp. xi-xii

During the summer of 1999 I was called to the office the History Department chair, Professor John O’Sullivan. He had a box of documents on his desk from the World War II period. He explained that they were to be donated to the Special Collections division of our...

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xviii

In August 1942 a German-born U.S. Army private, Kurt Frank Korf, wrote to his mother in Germany: Now the arms of madness [of Nazism] are stretching across the Atlantic, and they are gripping us with the fingers of those men and boys who were...

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Chapter 1: From Patriot to Outcast: 1909–1937

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pp. 1-23

In November 1907 a very extravagant wedding took place in Berlin. The bride was Margarete Mossner, daughter of the prestigious publisher Curt Mossner, and the groom was Franz Korf, an inspector with the royal postal service. The reception took place in the posh...

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Chapter 2: How to Become an American: 1937–1942

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pp. 24-54

On 3 February 1937, a cool and sunny day, the SS Paris arrived in New York Harbor. Korf nervously waited in line to enter the country. Finally his turn came. When the immigration inspector asked him the purpose of his trip, Korf replied that he was on a business...

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Chapter 3: A German in the U.S. Army: 1943–1944

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pp. 55-87

On a chilly November morning in 1942 Korf packed a small suitcase and reported to Pennsylvania Station. He soon found himself in a crowd of men as the names of future soldiers were yelled out and tickets distributed to them. Finally, Korf boarded the train and it...

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Chapter 4: Into the Abyss: 1944–1945

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pp. 88-126

The Battle of the Bulge began on 16 December 1944, when the German army staged a surprise attack against the weakest section of the American front, which stretched for fifty miles between Monschau, Germany, and Echternach, Luxembourg. The focal point of the...

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Chapter 5: The Hunt for War Criminals: 1945–1946

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pp. 127-151

Shortly after VE day Korf and his men were ordered to move west. No destination was announced. They stopped at Schloss Seehof, an ornate seventeenth-century castle built on the outskirts of Bamberg, a town about sixty miles north of Nuremberg. The men looked...

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Chapter 6: From World War to Cold War

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pp. 152-176

In late January 1946 Korf was sent to Regensburg by his commandant. Koref drove him. The skies were overcast, and visibility was poor. As they drove into Regensburg the two discovered an overturned jeep. The driver, an American officer, was lying in the snow...

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Chapter 7: The Goebbels Diaries

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pp. 177-194

Without question, the highlight of Korf’s tenure with the Overseas Mission—if not his entire career with the Justice Department—was his investigation into the diaries of Hitler’s propaganda minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbels. His search for evidence took him through all...

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Conclusion

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pp. 195-203

The comfort and security that eluded Korf and members of his immediate family during the Nazi era were provided for them in the United States. Korf’s mother, Margarete, came to the United States in 1947 and lived with her son and daughter-in-law. When Frank...

Notes

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pp. 205-237

Bibliography

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pp. 239-248

Index

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pp. 249-254


E-ISBN-13: 9780823247967
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823225286
Print-ISBN-10: 0823225283

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2005

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Subject Headings

  • German Americans -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • German American soldiers -- United States -- Biography.
  • Korf, K. Frank (Kurt Frank), 1909-2000.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, German American.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Military intelligence -- United States.
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