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History > Military History > World War II

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Hitler's Man in Havana Cover

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Hitler's Man in Havana

Heinz Luning and Nazi Espionage in Latin America

Thomas Schoonover

When Heinz Lüning posed as a Jewish refugee to spy for Hitler’s Abwehr espionage agency, he thought he had discovered the perfect solution to his most pressing problem: how to avoid being drafted into Hitler’s army. Lüning was unsympathetic to Fascist ideology, but the Nazis’ tight control over exit visas gave him no chance to escape Germany. He could enter Hitler’s army either as a soldier . . . or a spy. In 1941, he entered the Abwehr academy for spy training and was given the code name “Lumann.” Soon after, Lüning began the service in Cuba that led to his ultimate fate of being the only German spy executed in Latin America during World War II. Lüning was not the only spy operating in Cuba at the time. Various Allied spies labored in Havana; the FBI controlled eighteen Special Intelligence Service operatives, and the British counterintelligence section subchief Graham Greene supervised Secret Intelligence Service agents; and Ernest Hemingway’s private agents supplied inflated and inaccurate information about submarines and spies to the U.S. ambassador, Spruille Braden. Lüning stumbled into this milieu of heightened suspicion and intrigue. Poorly trained and awkward at his work, he gathered little information worth reporting, was unable to build a working radio and improperly mixed the formulas for his secret inks. Lüning eventually was discovered by British postal censors and unwittingly provided the inspiration for Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana. In chronicling Lüning’s unlikely trajectory from a troubled life in Germany to a Caribbean firing squad, Thomas D. Schoonover makes brilliant use of untapped documentary sources to reveal the workings of the famed Abwehr and the technical and social aspects of Lüning’s spycraft. Using archival sources from three continents, Schoonover offers a narrative rich in atmospheric details to reveal the political upheavals of the time, not only tracking Lüning’s activities but also explaining the broader trends in the region and in local counterespionage. Schoonover argues that ambitious Cuban and U.S. officials turned Lüning’s capture into a grand victory. For at least five months after Lüning’s arrest, U.S. and Cuban leaders—J. Edgar Hoover, Fulgencio Batista, Nelson Rockefeller, General Manuel Benítez, Ambassador Spruille Braden, and others—treated Lüning as a dangerous, key figure for a Nazi espionage network in the Gulf-Caribbean. They reworked his image from low-level bumbler to master spy, using his capture for their own political gain. In the sixty years since Lüning’s execution, very little has been written about Nazi espionage in Latin America, partly due to the reticence of the U.S. government. Revealing these new historical sources for the first time, Schoonover tells a gripping story of Lüning’s life and capture, suggesting that Lüning was everyone’s man in Havana but his own.

Hitler's Secret War in South America, 1939–1947 Cover

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Hitler's Secret War in South America, 1939–1947

German Military Espionage and Allied Counterespionage in Brazil

Stanley E. Hilton

Published first in Brazil as Suástica sobre o Brasil, this examination of the rise and fall of German espionage in that country spent months on the best-seller list there and generated a national furor as former spies and collaborationists denounced it as a CIA ploy. Here, for the first time, are the colorful stories of such German agents as “Alfredo,” probably the most important enemy operative in the Americas; “King,” who was decorated for his daring exploits but who carelessly mentioned the real names of his collaborators in secret radio messages; the bumbling Janos Salamon; and the debonair Hans Christian von Kotze, who ultimately betrayed the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence). Eminently readable, Hitler’s Secret War in South America resembles, but is not, fiction. It describes in detail the Allies’ real battle against the Abwehr, a struggle highlighted by the interception and deciphering of German radio transmissions.

Holocaust versus Wehrmacht Cover

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Holocaust versus Wehrmacht

How Hitler's "Final Solution" Undermined the German War Effort

An innovative and thorough history of how Hitler's war to eliminate Europe's Jews and the Wehrmacht's war versus the Allies were in conflict with each other to the detriment of the latter.

The Home Fronts of Iowa, 1939-1945 Cover

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The Home Fronts of Iowa, 1939-1945

Lisa L. Ossian

As Americans geared up for World War II, each state responded according to its economy and circumstances—as well as the disposition of its citizens. This book considers the war years in Iowa by looking at activity on different home fronts and analyzing the resilience of Iowans in answering the call to support the war effort.
            With its location in the center of the country, far from potentially threatened coasts, Iowa was also the center of American isolationism—historically Republican and resistant to involvement in another European war. Yet Iowans were quick to step up, and Lisa Ossian draws on historical archives as well as on artifacts of popular culture to record the rhetoric and emotion of their support.
Ossian shows how Iowans quickly moved from skepticism to overwhelming enthusiasm for the war and answered the call on four fronts: farms, factories, communities, and kitchens. Iowa’s farmers faced labor and machinery shortages, yet produced record amounts of crops and animals—even at the expense of valuable topsoil. Ordnance plants turned out bombs and machine gun bullets. Meanwhile, communities supported war bond and scrap drives, while housewives coped with rationing, raised Victory gardens, and turned to home canning.
            The Home Fronts of Iowa, 1939–1945 depicts real people and their concerns, showing the price paid in physical and mental exhaustion and notes the heavy toll exacted on Iowa’s sons who fell in battle. Ossian also considers the relevance of such issues as race, class, and gender—particularly the role of women on the home front and the recruitment of both women and blacks for factory work—taking into account a prevalent suspicion of ethnic groups by the state’s largely homogeneous population.
            The fact that Iowans could become loyal citizen soldiers—forming an Industrial and Defense Commission even before Pearl Harbor—speaks not only to the patriotism of these sturdy midwesterners but also to the overall resilience of Americans. In unraveling how Iowans could so overwhelmingly support the war, Ossian digs deep into history to show us the power of emotion—and to help us better understand why World War II is consistently remembered as “the Good War.”

Hoover's Secret War against Axis Spies Cover

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Hoover's Secret War against Axis Spies

Hoover's Secret War against Axis Spies

The story of Hoover's numerous wartime battles against Axis, American, and British adversaries, and how they transformed the FBI's culture and intelligence gathering capabilities, helps us understand why the Bureau occupies its powerful position in the national security apparatus today.

How Was It Possible? Cover

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How Was It Possible?

A Holocaust Reader

Peter Hayes

As the Holocaust passes out of living memory, future generations will no longer come face-to-face with Holocaust survivors. But the lessons of that terrible period in history are too important to let slip past. How Was It Possible?, edited and introduced by Peter Hayes, provides teachers and students with a comprehensive resource about the Nazi persecution of Jews. Deliberately resisting the reflexive urge to dismiss the topic as too horrible to be understood intellectually or emotionally, the anthology sets out to provide answers to questions that may otherwise defy comprehension.
 
This anthology is organized around key issues of the Holocaust, from the historical context for antisemitism to the impediments to escaping Nazi Germany, and from the logistics of the death camps and the carrying out of genocide to the subsequent struggles of the displaced survivors in the aftermath.
 
Prepared in cooperation with the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, this anthology includes contributions from such luminaries as Jean Ancel, Saul Friedlander, Tony Judt, Alan Kraut, Primo Levi, Robert Proctor, Richard Rhodes, Timothy Snyder, and Susan Zuccotti. Taken together, the selections make the ineffable fathomable and demystify the barbarism underlying the tragedy, inviting readers to learn precisely how the Holocaust was, in fact, possible.

Hump Cover

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Hump

America's Strategy for Keeping China in World War II

By John D. Plating

Hungary in World War II Cover

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Hungary in World War II

Caught in the Cauldron

Deborah S. Cornelius

The story of Hungary's participation in World War II is part of a much larger narrative-one that has never before been fully recounted for a non-Hungarian readership. As told by Deborah Cornelius, it is a fascinating tale of rise and fall, of hopes dashed and dreams in tatters. Using previously untapped sources and interviews she conducted for this book, Cornelius provides a clear account of Hungary's attempt to regain the glory of the Hungarian Kingdom by joining forces with Nazi Germany-a decision that today seems doomed to fail from the start. For scholars and history buff s alike, Hungary in World War II is a riveting read.Cornelius begins her study with the Treaty of Trianon, which in 1920 spelled out the terms of defeat for the former kingdom. The new country of Hungary lost more than 70 percent of the kingdom's territory, saw its population reduced by nearly the same percentage, and was stripped of fi ve of its ten most populous cities. As Cornelius makes vividly clear, nearly all of the actions of Hungarian leaders during the succeedingdecades can be traced back to this incalculable defeat.In the early years of World War II, Hungary enjoyed boom times-and the dream of restoring the Hungarian Kingdom began to rise again. Caught in the middle as the war engulfed Europe, Hungary was drawn into an alliance with Nazi Germany. When the Germans appeared to give Hungary much of its pre-World War I territory, Hungarians began to delude themselves into believing they had won their long-sought objective. Instead, the final year of the world war brought widespread destruction and a genocidal war against Hungarian Jews. Caught between two warring behemoths, the country became a battleground for German and Soviet forces. In the wake of the war, Hungary suffered further devastation under Soviet occupation and forty-five years of communist rule.The author first became interested in Hungary in 1957 and has visited the country numerous times, beginning in the 1970s. Over the years she has talked with many Hungarians, both scholars and everyday people. Hungary in World War II draws skillfully on these personal tales to narrate events before, during, and after World War II. It provides a comprehensive and highly readable history of Hungarian participation in the war, along with an explanation of Hungarian motivation: the attempt of a defeated nation to relive its former triumphs.

Hunting Nazis in Franco's Spain Cover

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Hunting Nazis in Franco's Spain

David A. Messenger

In the waning days and immediate aftermath of World War II, Nazi diplomats and spies based in Spain decided to stay rather than return to a defeated Germany. The decidedly pro-German dictatorship of General Francisco Franco gave them refuge and welcomed other officials and agents from the Third Reich who had escaped and made their way to Iberia. Amid fears of a revival of the Third Reich, Allied intelligence and diplomatic officers developed a repatriation program across Europe to remove these individuals and return them to Germany where occupation authorities could further investigate them. Yet, due to Spain's longstanding ideological alliance with Hitler, German infiltration of the Spanish economy and society was extensive, and the Allies could count on minimal Spanish cooperation in this effort.

In Hunting Nazis in Franco's Spain, David Messenger deftly traces the development and execution of the Allied repatriation scheme, providing an analysis of Allied, Spanish, and expatriated Germans' responses. Messenger shows that by April 1946, British and American embassy staff in Madrid had compiled a census of the roughly 10,000 Germans then residing in Spain and had drawn up three lists of 1,677 men and women targeted for repatriation to occupied Germany. While the Spanish government did round up and turn over some Germans to the Allies, many of them were intentionally overlooked in the process. By mid-1947, Franco's regime had forced only 265 people to leave Spain; most Germans managed to evade repatriation by moving from Spain to Argentina or by solidifying their ties to the Franco regime and Span-ish life. By 1948, the program was effectively over.

Drawing on records in American, British, and Spanish archives, this first book-length study in English of the repatriation program tells the story of this dramatic chapter in the history of post--World War II Europe.

I Must be a Part of this War Cover

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I Must be a Part of this War

A German American's Fight against Hitler and Nazism

Patricia Kollander

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.

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