Monthly Archives: April 2011

History Programs Face Major Cuts

This article is from The National Coalition for History, April 2011:

On April 12, the House Appropriations Committee released a list of proposed cuts in federal programs for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. Nearly every program of interest to the historical and archival communities was reduced. However the fact that some, such as Teaching American History grants, survived is a testament to the dogged lobbying efforts of the National Coalition for History, its constituent organizations and allies in civics education.

The House and Senate still need to pass the budget bill (H.R. 1473) by the end of this week when the current continuing resolution (CR) expires. While there remains dissatisfaction on the right and the left in Congress with the deal worked out by the House and Senate leadership and the White House, the bill is expected to pass.

As noted above, the Appropriations Committee only released a list of reductions with no details and the bill language does not provide clarification in every case. Usually a conference report is issued along with an appropriations bill, giving agencies instructions on how funding should be allocated. However, it is unclear at this time whether or when a conference report will be forthcoming and what discretion agency heads will have at the programmatic level if it is not issued.

Teaching American History (TAH) grants (Department of Education):

The Teaching American History Grants program sustained a cut of $73 million
(-61%) down from $119 million in FY ’10 to $46 million. While this is disheartening, throughout the budget process House Republicans had repeatedly targeted the program for elimination. The Administration as well had zeroed out TAH for FY ’11 and proposed consolidating history education in a new Well Rounded Education program where it would have competed for funding with arts, music, foreign languages, civics, economics and other subjects.

So the fact that TAH survived at all is a major victory. Had the TAH program been eliminated it would have been nearly impossible to resuscitate it in the upcoming FY ’12 budget process and down the road in the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

One question is whether the $46 million will be enough to fund new FY ’11 TAH grants. At a public forum earlier this year, Department of Education staff stated continuing grants would have priority in receiving FY ‘11 funding and any remaining funds would go to new grants.

In FY ‘08, the Education Department awarded three year TAH grants, but provided the option for the grantees to apply for additional funds for a fourth or fifth year. The FY ’08 grantees have been required to file detailed progress reports with the department and they are being evaluated to determine whether they merit additional funding.

The application deadline was April 4. However, there is no way of knowing yet how many FY ‘08 grantees applied for additional out-year funding and if they will qualify. As a result, given the limited amount of funds available, conceivably there could be no new TAH grants made this year.

National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC):

The NHPRC was cut $6 million from $13 million in FY ‘10 down to $7 million this year. While this is a significant reduction, the House in a previous CR had cut the NHPRC to a $4 million level and there were House Republicans pushing for outright elimination of the commission.

In FY ’10 the NHPRC received $8.5 million for grants. An additional $4.5 million was set-aside to fund a project to digitize and make the papers of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington available on-line. While the Founding Fathers Project is on-going, that funding was always intended as a one-time allocation to jump start the initiative.

Thus, the practical reality is that the amount of grant funding available to the NHPRC in FY ’11 was reduced by $1.5 million.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH):

The NEH budget was reduced $12.5 million (-7.5%) from the FY ’10 level of $167.5 million down to a level of $155 million. There had been a series of amendments to previous CRs in the House that would have imposed more draconian cuts in the NEH budget which were fended off by the advocacy efforts of the National Humanities Alliance.

National Park Service:

While no programmatic details are available concerning the Park Service’s history-related programs, two preservation programs were eliminated in one of the short term CR’s passed earlier this year. They had been targeted for elimination under the Administration’s proposed FY ’11 budget.

  • Save America’s Treasures program–eliminated (-$14.8 million): These funds are used to make small one-time grants for specific local historic preservation projects to preserve a building or artifact which might otherwise be lost.
  • Preserve America program—eliminated ($4.6 million): This program provides small grants to local communities in support of heritage tourism, education and historic preservation planning activities.

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS):

The IMLS budget was reduced $44 million down to a level of $238 million. In FY ’10 the IMLS received $282.3 million, $16 million of which were congressional earmarks. The $44 million reduction includes the amount of those earmarks plus $28 million of cuts in programmatic funding. There is no breakdown available yet as to how the money will be divided between museum and library programs.


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Titanic’s Unknown Child Given Proper Identity

Story from, April 26, 2011:

Five days after the passenger ship the Titanic sank, the crew of the rescue ship Mackay-Bennett pulled the body of a fair-haired, roughly 2-year-old boy out of the Atlantic Ocean on April 21, 1912. Along with many other victims, his body went to a cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the crew of the Mackay-Bennett had a headstone dedicated to the “unknown child” placed over his grave.

When it sank, the Titanic took the lives of 1,497 of the 2,209 people aboard with it. Some bodies were recovered, but names remained elusive, while others are still missing. But researchers believe that they have finally resolved the identity of the unknown child — concluding that he was 19-month-old Sidney Leslie Goodwin from England. [Photo of Sidney Goodwin]

Though the unknown child was incorrectly identified twice before, researchers believe they have now conclusively determined the child was Goodwin. After his recovery, he was initially believed to be a 2-year-old Swedish boy, Gösta Leonard Pålsson, who was seen being washed overboard as the ship sank. This boy’s mother, Alma Pålsson, was recovered with the tickets for all four of her children in her pocket, and buried in a grave behind the unknown child.

The effort to verify the child’s identity using genetics began a little over a decade ago, when Ryan Parr, an adjunct professor at Lakehead University in Ontario who has worked with DNA extracted from ancient human remains, watched some videos about the Titanic.

“I thought ‘Wow, I wonder if anyone is interested or still cares about the unidentified victims of the Titanic,'” Parr said.

A name for the unknown child?

In 2001, with permission from the Pålsson family, the unknown child’s remains were exhumed from Fairview Lawn Cemetery, one of the Halifax cemeteries where Titanic victims were interred. Parr had hoped to investigate the identities of other victims as well, though decomposition interfered. Two of the coffins held only mud, and only a 2.4-inch-long (6 centimeter) fragment of an arm bone and three teeth remained of the unknown child. But this was enough.

From these remains, Parr and his team extracted DNA from a section of mitochondria (energy-producing centers of the cells) that rapidly accumulates mutations, called HV1. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to offspring, so the team compared the unknown child’s DNA sequence with samples from the maternal relatives of the Pålsson child. These didn’t match.

They broadened their search to include five other boys under age 3 who had died in the disaster. Alan Ruffman, who became involved in the project as a research associate of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, ultimately tracked down the maternal lines of all six children (including the Pålsson child) with help from genealogists, historians, Titanic researchers, translators, librarians, archivists and members of the families.

By comparing the unknown child’s HV1 with these other young Titanic victims, the researchers eliminated all but two of the boys — Eino Viljami Panula, a 13-month-old Finnish boy, and Sidney Goodwin. [History’s Most Overlooked Mysteries]

An expert analysis of the child’s teeth put his age somewhere between 9 months and 15 months — seeming to eliminate Goodwin, who was older. So, the researchers concluded the boy was Panula and, in 2004, published their results.

A second try

But doubts remained. Ultimately, a pair of leather shoes recovered from the unknown child and held in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic caused the researchers to question the identification.

The shoes had been saved by Clarence Northover, a Halifax police sergeant in 1912, who helped guard the bodies and belongings of the Titanic victims, according to the museum’s website. A letter from Northover’s grandson, Earle, recounts how the victim’s clothing had been burned to stop souvenir hunters. Clarence Northover couldn’t bring himself to burn the little shoes, and when no relatives claimed them, he put the shoes in his desk drawer at the police station. In 2002, Earle Northover donated them to the museum. These shoes were too large for a 13-month-old to wear.

Parr and his team attempted the identification again, this time with the help of the U.S. Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

They looked at another, less mutation-prone section of the mitochondrial DNA, where they found a single difference that indicated that Goodwin might actually be the unknown child. The Armed Forces lab confirmed this when they found a second, single difference in another section of the DNA.

“Luckily, it was a rare difference, so that is what gives you 98 percent certainty the identification is correct,” Parr said.

The loss of a family

Before he died, Sidney Goodwin was traveling on the Titanic with his parents, Frederick and Augusta, and five siblings from England to Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Carol Goodwin, a 77-year-old Wisconsin resident, heard about the ill-fated family from Frederick Goodwin’s sisters, one of whom was Carol’s grandmother.

“I can’t say that it really startled me or amazed me,” Carol Goodwin said of the news that the unknown child was her relative. “I guess maybe it had been so long in coming.”

As a child, she learned about Frederick Goodwin’s family by eavesdropping on conversations between her grandmother and her great aunt.

“They didn’t talk about the children that much,” Carol Goodwin told LiveScience. “It was their brother who was a favorite brother, how kind he was to them growing up.”

Goodwin’s interest in family history didn’t spark until her 13-year-old granddaughter Becky saw a Titanic exhibit and wrote an essay for school. When her teacher wanted to submit the article to the magazine “Junior Scholastic,” Goodwin wanted to check the facts first.

Now Goodwin is working on two books on the subject, a smaller one about the unknown child and a larger book she has titled “The Goodwins Aboard the Titanic: Saga of a Third-Class Family.” (The family was traveling third class.) And, in a year, she and her husband plan to take a centennial cruise in memory of the Titanic. [Titanic Versus the Lusitania: Time Determined Who Survived]

On Aug. 6, 2008, relatives of the Goodwin family held a memorial service in Fairview Lawn Cemetery where they now believe Sidney Goodwin was buried under the unknown child’s headstone. A cousin read the names of about 50 children who had also perished when the Titanic went down and a bell was rung for each, she said.

A soft, drizzling rain began to fall as the first name was read, and stopped when the list was finished, she recalled. Ultimately, the family left the headstone and the grave as it was.

“The tombstone of the unknown child represents all of the children who perished on the Titanic, and we left it that way,” she said.

The  remains of the rest of the Goodwins family have never been recovered.

“From those (unidentified bodies) that were buried in Halifax, I have read the coroner’s reports for each of them, and nothing fits,” she said.

An article describing the genetic analysis that led to the final identification of the unknown child’s remains is scheduled to be published in the June 2011 issue of the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics and is already available online.


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WWI Gallipoli Site Surveyed

Story by Christopher Torchia for The Associated Press, April 23, 2011:

The World War I battlefield of the Gallipoli campaign, where throngs gather each April to remember the fallen, is a place of lore, an echo of ancient warfare that took place on the same soil. Now researchers are mapping dugouts, trenches and tunnels in the most extensive archaeological survey of a site whose slaughter helped forge the identity of young nations.

Armed with old maps and GPS technology, the experts from Turkey, Australia and New Zealand have so far discovered rusted food cans, unused bullets and their shell casings, and fragments of shrapnel, Ottoman-era bricks with Greek lettering, ceramic rum flagons of Allied soldiers and glass shards of beer bottles on the Turkish side. They announced early findings ahead of annual commemorations on the rugged peninsula on Sunday and Monday.

The chief aim is to gain a detailed layout of a battlefield whose desperate trench warfare, with enemy lines just a few dozen meters (yards) apart in some places, has been recounted in films, books and ballads, acquiring a legendary aura in the culture of its combatants.

“It will hasten a broader understanding of what went on at Gallipoli,” Richard Reid, a researcher and author of the book “Gallipoli 1915” said of the government-funded investigation. “It will help us as nations that are always interested in trying to preserve what heritage we have.”

There is heightened interest in the battle, especially among Turks who are showing more pride in their past, buoyed by economic and diplomatic advances after decades of internal strife. Australia and New Zealand mark the occasion with a national holiday on Monday, holding dawn services and closing off downtown areas for marches of veterans of all conflicts.

Before dawn on April 25, 1915, an Allied expedition under British command landed at Gallipoli on the Aegean Sea in a bid to reach Istanbul and open a sea route to Russia, an ally whose troops were wilting on the eastern front. But Ottoman armies, allied with Germany, dug in and forced their adversaries to withdraw after a nine-month campaign.

About 44,000 Allied soldiers died, and at least twice as many perished on the Turkish side. Hundreds of thousands more were wounded or suffered debilitating fever, diarrhea and dysentery.

For Turkey, the terrible losses are central to the staunch nationalism that underpins its regional ambitions today, and the battle made a hero out of an Ottoman army officer who led Turkey to independence in 1923. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk imposed a secular vision that gave the state authority over Islam, a legacy that dominates the divisive politics of modern Turkey.

“I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die,” the steely commander is said to have told a regiment that was eventually wiped out. “In the time which passes until we die, other troops and commanders can take our place.”

During the battle one night, local lore says, the light of a star and the crescent moon shone on the blood-soaked ground, forming the design of what became Turkey’s red and white national flag.

In recent years, some of Turkey’s founding “myths” have been undercut, among them the idea of a tight-knit Turkish identity that ignored the existence of ethnic Kurds and other minorities, said Kerem Oktem, author of “Angry Nation: Turkey since 1989,” a book about the country’s erratic transition from military to democratic rule.

“Gallipoli remains “one of the important, overarching, big, symbolic moments,” he said.

For that reason, Oktem said, neither the current Islam-based government nor secular nationalists who oppose it want to “devalue or challenge” the idea that Gallipoli was a glorious victory, despite debate about its military significance.

Australia and New Zealand regard Gallipoli with equal reverence, noting the bravery and loyalty of soldiers whose British commanders considered troops from the former colonies to be untested and of poorer quality. It forged a self-image of determination, irreverence and “mateship” that is referred to as the Anzac spirit, after the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.

The fighting happened near the mouth of the Dardanelles strait, part of a conduit between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. The Turkish military occupied the strategic site until 1973, when it became a national park. Memorials and cemeteries at the site discouraged thoughts of potentially disruptive fieldwork.

The new study does not involve excavation, instead using satellite-based technology to map battle positions over gullies, dense vegetation and limestone cliffs.

“Forestation had changed the natural geography of the battlefield, even of trenches and pits,” said Mithat Atabay, a history professor at Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University and one of five Turks on the 14-member team. In 1994, he said, “a huge part of the forest burnt down, and the zone suffered further damage.”

In October, the researchers mapped four kilometers (2.5 miles) of trenches, many of them barely visible, at locations including Johnston’s Jolly and Quinn’s Post, names bestowed by Allied troops. They inspected Turkish positions known as Kirmizi Sirt, or Red Ridge.

“The war on the surface was only one element of the struggle,” the team said in a report. “A constant underground battle developed; tunneling became a major preoccupation on both sides of the line, for both offensive and defensive reasons.”

Mapping data is entered in a digital database that can be compared with information from other sources, including maps used in the 1915 landings and Ottoman-era documents. Fieldwork resumes in September, and is expected to continue, with the help of ground-penetrating radar and aerial photographs, until the campaign centenary in 2015.

Charles Bean, an Australian journalist who covered the conflict and surveyed the battlefield just after the war, wrote about the grudging respect that was said to have developed between the underdog enemies. In an early 1916 dispatch, he recalled a memorial built by an Australian.

It was, he wrote, “a little wooden cross found in the scrub, just two splinters of biscuit box tacked together, with the inscription ‘Here lies a Turk.’ The poor soul would probably turn in his grave if his ghost could see that rough cross above him. But he need not worry. It was put there in all sincerity.”

The remains of the ancient city of Troy lie near the Gallipoli peninsula. Alexander the Great led an army through the region. So did Persian emperor Xerxes I. The Greek historian Herodotus referred to the place in his chronicles.

“The Allies were really the last, I suppose, military expedition to try to take this particular strip of land,” said Chris Mackie, a classics professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and one of the Gallipoli surveyors. “But there were plenty before them.”

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National Latino Museum Plan Faces Fight

Kate Taylor for The New York Times, April 20, 2011:

Seven years after opening its National Museum of the American Indian, and four years before the scheduled unveiling of its museum of African-American history, the Smithsonian Institution is being urged to create another ethnic museum on the National Mall, this one to recognize the history and contributions of Latino Americans.

A federal commission has spent two years asking Latinos what they would want in such a museum, and next month the commission will report its findings to Congress, which would have to approve a new museum.

Though the creation of such an institution has support from members of Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and celebrities like Eva Longoria, building it faces significant obstacles, including budget pressures and a feeling among some in Washington that the Smithsonian should stop spinning off new specialty museums and concentrate on improving the ones it already has.

“I don’t want a situation,” said Representative Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, “where whites go to the original museum, African-Americans go to the African-American museum, Indians go to the Indian museum, Hispanics go to the Latino American museum. That’s not America.”

In Washington, where politics infects all matters, there is wide acknowledgment that the 50 million Latinos who live in this country have become an increasingly important constituency. But even supporters of the museum acknowledge it faces a battle. “The atmosphere is not friendly at all,” said Estuardo V. Rodriguez Jr., a lobbyist with the Raben Group who has worked pro bono on the museum proposal, citing the economic pressures and what he described as anti-immigrant sentiment.

The idea for a Smithsonian Latino museum was born in the mid-1990s when a task force said the Smithsonian had largely ignored Latinos in its exhibitions and should create at least one museum to correct that imbalance.

The panel’s report, entitled “Willful Neglect,” found, for example, that only 2 of the 470 people featured in the “notable Americans” section of the National Portrait Gallery were Latino.

Since then the Smithsonian has set aside money for Latino exhibitions and created an internal office to promote them. It agreed that a Latino heritage museum in San Antonio, which opened in 2007, be designated as an affiliate. Called the Museo Alameda, the institution is allowed to borrow materials from the Smithsonian, but is not financed by it.

There are dozens of other museums across the country that focus on the heritage or culture of Latinos, whose population in the United States grew by 43 percent over the last decade, according to 2010 Census figures. But supporters of the national museum say it is imperative that there be a similar presence in the nation’s capital.

While the commission is not expected to make specific proposals about content, the museum would probably try to cover a wide swath of history, from the role of the Spanish conquistadors to the work of Latinos in the labor and civil-rights movements. It would include culture, from popular music to visual arts, and would try to feature people and traditions from all Hispanic countries.

Lisa Navarrete, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization, said it was unfortunate that Latino children who now travel to the Mall cannot see “their community and history and legacy reflected.”

She said that a museum that accomplishes that is particularly crucial now because discussions of immigration issues have created a “toxic” environment for Latinos. “It’s even more important to show other Americans that our roots go back centuries on this continent,” she said.

Though legislation to authorize a Latino museum commission, known formally as theNational Museum of the American Latino Commission, was first introduced in 2003 by Representative Xavier Becerra, a Democrat of California, it did not pass until 2008, as part of an omnibus budget bill.

The economy and the balance of power in Congress have changed much since that vote, with Republicans now holding a 49-vote majority in the House of Representatives.

Federal money for the museum would not appear to be an option, members of Congress say, as it was for the African-American and Indian museums. The National Museum of African American History and Culture has a $500 million price tag, half of which is being paid by the federal government. The government paid for two-thirds of the Indian museum.

Commission leaders chose in recent days not to speak about their report before they brief Congress, in the first week of May. But it is anticipated that the panel will suggest that should a museum be authorized by the government, most of the financing could be raised privately.

Smithsonian officials have said they are open to the idea of including a Latino museum in their network, though some concede that it would be difficult to raise money for such an institution from the private sector while they are still committed to raising $250 million to finish the African-American museum.

Supporters of a national women’s history museum are also currently seeking Congressional approval to locate a new institution on federal land across the street from the Mall.

Opposition to the Latino museum at this point is muted, and with the commission not yet having presented its report, few in Congress beyond the group of ardent supporters have focused on the issue.

Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican of Georgia, said in an interview that he supported a Latino museum as long as it was not financed with federal money, and as long as he was assured that the museum would not become “an interest group’s platform to advance political agendas.”

Representative Devin Nunes, a California Republican who is a member of the Republican-controlled Congressional Hispanic Conference, has in the past expressed ambivalence about the idea of a separate Latino museum, saying that he preferred the idea of a museum dedicated to all immigrants.

A spokesman for Mr. Nunes, Andrew House, said in an e-mail that Mr. Nunes still supported the idea of a museum of American immigrants, provided it is privately financed.

The Latino museum commission envisions a 310,000-square-foot building, roughly the same size as the African-American museum. As of last summer it had narrowed its list of desired sites to four, all of them on the National Mall.

Three of the options would entail additions to existing buildings — including, in one case, the vacant Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building.

But any construction on the Mall can be controversial. Judy Scott Feldman, the president of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, said her group opposes any construction on the mall until a new master plan is created to guide development.

“What’s happening is we just keep jamming things into the limited space,” she said.

When the Latino commission started its work in 2009, supporters predicted the museum might be up and running in a decade. Today Mr. Rodriguez, the lobbyist, said, the path looks longer. He said he hoped to persuade politicians with large Latino constituencies of the merits of the proposal and build from that.

“I was in a conversation with a colleague of mine the other day,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “I said, ‘You know, the African-American museum was in process for some 25 years,’ and they said, ‘No, actually, 75 years.’ ”

Mr. Rodriguez paused in his recollection, and added, “We don’t want to get to that position.”

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Bill Aims to Honor Jewish Chaplains at Arlington Cemetery

Story by Eric Tucker, Associated Press, April 20, 2011:

Vera Silberberg was almost 4 when her father, a military chaplain, was killed in a plane crash in Vietnam while flying to observe Hanukkah with Jewish soldiers.

She grew up reveling in stories about him: Morton Singer, the weight-lifting Orthodox rabbi who loved cars, rock ‘n’ roll and his faith.

He was serious in his commitment to help American soldiers worship in wartime. Yet his name _ and those of 12 other Jewish clergymen _ is absent from monuments at Arlington National Cemetery that honor more than 240 other fallen military chaplains.

A new congressional effort backed by Jewish groups and survivors of the chaplains aims to change that.

“From his daughter’s perspective, I think it would have been important for him _ not really for his own namesake but so everyone who has perished and passed away, they should all have their names equally there,” said Silberberg, a dentist who lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

There are already three monuments at Arlington for chaplains: one for those killed in World War I and one each for Roman Catholic and Protestant chaplains who died in various 20th century conflicts, including Korea and Vietnam. The three sit side-by-side in an area known as Chaplains Hill, not far from President John F. Kennedy’s burial site. They were erected and dedicated by different groups of benefactors, so no one blames Arlington for the absence of a Jewish monument.

A resolution sponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner and Sen. Charles Schumer, both New York Democrats, calls for a new plaque, similar in size and style to the existing three that would honor the late Jewish chaplains.

The 13 died between 1943 and 1974, though not all were killed in overseas combat.

They include Rabbi Alexander Goode, one of four chaplains who died aboard the USAT Dorchester, a troop ship torpedoed by a German U-boat as it carried hundreds of American soldiers across the frigid waters of the North Atlantic in 1943. The chaplains, as the story goes, gave up their life preservers and gloves to the shivering soldiers and offered comforting hymns even as the ship went down. More than 600 died. The names of the three other chaplains are all memorialized at Arlington.

Then there’s Irving Tepper, who died in action in France in 1944 after seeing combat in Tunisia, Morocco and Sicily; Louis Werfel, known as the “Flying Rabbi,” who died in a plane crash in North Africa; and Herman Rosen and his son, Solomon, who died in a drowning accident and air disaster, respectively, five years apart.

Ken Kraetzer, a bank marketing consultant and son of a World War II Army officer, noticed the lack of a monument for Jewish chaplains while researching the stories of late chaplains from his alma mater, Providence College. Though not Jewish himself, Kraetzer said he was startled by the apparent oversight. He alerted the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council, which has helped lead the effort.

“I don’t consider it a Jewish cause, per se. I consider it an honor the veterans cause. This is a chance to honor chaplains, past and present,” Kraetzer said. “This group just happens to be Jewish.”

Cemetery officials told the organizers they could move forward with a monument provided they raised the money themselves and could produce a complete and accurate list of the dead Jewish chaplains. They did that by cross-checking research from the Jewish Historical Society with records from the chaplain corps of each branch of service.

Sol Moglen, who conceived the idea for a Sept. 11 memorial in Brooklyn and helped develop plans for the Arlington monument, helped lead fundraising. Organizers say they have raised about $50,000 _ more than enough, they say, to cover the costs of the work.

The monument would stand about 7 feet tall, with a bronze plaque mounted on a granite slab listing the 13 names as well as a Jewish proverb _ “I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders” _ and an inscription with the Star of David. There would be space at the bottom for future chaplains if needed.

The plans hit a hurdle after a leadership change at Arlington, when organizers said they learned for the first time that a new monument at the cemetery would require a resolution from Congress.

The resolution has widespread bipartisan support, officials say, but getting it through Congress has been arduous.

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Civil War Sites Forgotten in the North

Story by Russell Contreras for AP News, April 17, 2011:

The gravesite of a Union Army major general sits largely forgotten in a small cemetery along the Massachusetts Turnpike.

A piece of the coat worn by President Abraham Lincoln when he was assassinated rests quietly in a library attic in a Boston suburb. It’s shown upon request, a rare occurrence.

A monument honoring one of the first official Civil War black units stands in a busy intersection in front of the Massachusetts Statehouse, barely gaining notice from the hustle of tourists and workers who pass by each day.

As the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, states in the old South — the side that lost — are hosting elaborate re-enactments, intricate memorials, even formal galas highlighting the war’s persistent legacy in the region. But for many states in the North — the side that won — only scant, smaller events are planned in an area of the nation that helped sparked the conflict but now, historians say, struggles to acknowledge it.

“It’s almost like it never happened,” said Annie Murphy, executive director of the Framingham History Center in Framingham, Mass. “But all you have to do is look around and see evidence that it did. It’s just that people aren’t looking here.”

Massachusetts, a state that sent more than 150,000 men to battle and was home to some of the nation’s most radical abolitionists, created a Civil War commemoration commission just earlier this month. Aging monuments stand unattended, sometimes even vandalized. Sites of major historical events related to the war remain largely unknown and often compete with the more regionally popular American Revolution attractions.

Meanwhile, states like Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri not only established commissions months, if not years ago, but also have ambitious plans for remembrance around well-known tourist sites and events. In South Carolina, for example, 300 Civil War re-enactors participated last week in well-organized staged battles to mark the beginning of the war.

To be sure, some Northern states have Civil War events planned and have formed commemoration commissions. Connecticut’s 150th Civil War Commemoration was set up in 2008 and has scheduled a number of events and exhibits until 2015. Vermont, the first state to outlaw slavery, started a similar commission last year to coordinate activities statewide and in towns.

And some Massachusetts small non-profit and historic groups are trying to spark interest through research, planned tours and town events.

But observers say those events pale in comparison to those in the South.

That difference highlights Northern states’ long struggle with how to remember a war that was largely fought on Southern soil, said Steven Mintz, a Columbia University history professor and author of “Moralists and Modernizers: America’s Pre-Civil War Reformers.” For Northern states like Massachusetts, Mintz said revisiting the Civil War also means revisiting their own unsolved, uncomfortable issues like racial inequality after slavery.

“We’ve spent a century and a half turning (the war) into a gigantic North-South football game in which everybody was a hero,” Mintz said. “In other words, we depoliticized the whole meaning of the war. And insofar as it was captured, it was captured by the descendants of the Confederates.”

Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group open to male descendants of veterans who served in the Confederate armed forces, boast 30,000 members across the Old South.

The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War has 6,000 members.

Kevin Tucker, Massachusetts Department Commander for the Sons of the Union Veterans, said some Northern descendants don’t even know they’re related to Union veterans. “I found out after my father did some research and discovered that my great-great-grandfather had collected a Union pension,” said Tucker, of Wakefield. “Until then, I had no idea.”

Mark Simpson, 57, South Carolina commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans, said his family knew for generations about his great-great-grandfather’s service in the Confederacy. “I visit his gravesite every year and put a flag down,” Simpson said. “He is real to me.”

Mintz said the North has another factor affecting its Civil War memory: immigration from Italy and Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century. He said those populations, and more recent immigrants, sometimes struggle to identify with that war compared to more contemporary ones.

Then, Mintz said, after the Civil War a number of Northerners moved West — and to the South.

History buffs with the Framingham History Center in Framingham, Mass., a town where residents say “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was first sung, said they are using the sesquicentennial to bring attention to long-forgotten local Civil War sites and personalities. Included in a planned event is a celebration at Harmony Grove, site of many anti-slavery rallies where abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison famously burned a copy of the U.S. Constitution and called it a “pact with the Devil.”

Today, only a small plaque in front of a house announces the historic site now surrounded by industrial lots, train tracks and a motorcycle shop.

Volunteers also hope to raise around $1 million for Framingham’s dilapidated Civil War memorial building to repair its cracked walls and leaky ceiling. The building houses a memorial honoring Framingham soldiers killed in the war and an American flag that flew over the Battles of Gettysburg and Antietam. (Murphy said the flag was discovered in the 1990s after being forgotten in a case for 90 years.)

Fred Wallace, the town’s historian, said that more importantly, volunteers wanted to bring attention to General George H. Gordon, a long-forgotten Union hero from Framingham who was a prolific writer and organizer of the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. “I don’t understand how this man was lost to history,” said Wallace, who has researched Gordon’s life and is now writing a biography on him. “He was in the middle of everything.”

During a recent afternoon, Murphy took a reporter and photographer to Gordon’s gravesite, which she said would be included in a planned walking tour. But Murphy couldn’t locate the site and a cemetery official needed to comb through maps to find it.

Murphy said putting the pieces together of Gordon’s life is part of the fun, even when it surprises residents.

“When I was told that I lived in what used to be a barn of Gen. Gordon’s horse,” 81-year-old Ellen Shaw said, “I was like … General who?”

Since then Shaw has joined history buffs in searching for what they believe is a marker announcing the gravesite of Ashby, Gordon’s horse in many battles. She hasn’t located it on her property.

“I hope I find it one day when I’m just walking around outside,” Shaw said. “Then I can say, ‘Glad to meet you. Sorry we forgot about you.'”

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Germany Tried to Influence Eichmann Trial

Article from The Telegraph, April 20, 2011:

The German government tried to influence the Adolf Eichmann trial, fearful that his testimony would implicate former Nazis who held high office in post war Germany, new research has disclosed.

Konrad Adenauer, Germany’s chancellor at the time of the 1961 trial, personally dispatched one secret agent to Israel as part of a sensitive and classified operation to influence Eichmann’s Jerusalem trial and suppress any embarrassment for the West German state.

The agent, working undercover as a journalist, was tasked with monitoring the trial and establishing ties with the prosecution in order to keep the names of other former Nazis, who now had important posts in the German establishment, out of court.

Of particular concern to the German government was the status of Hans Globke, director of the federal chancellery and one of the Mr Adenauer’s closest aides, who, in Hitler’s Reich, had contributed to the infamous and racist Nuremberg Laws that targeted Germany’s Jews.

In documents declassified by the German intelligence services and researched by the news magazine Der Spiegel, a German foreign ministry official wanted to prevent “leading public figures in the Federal Republic” from being incriminated in the trial of the bureaucratic mastermind behind the Holocaust.

He added that Germany had to demonstrate that only a “small group of individuals” had implemented the Holocaust and that those who “were not directly involved could not have had any knowledge of it.”

The documents also disclosed that in July 1961 an aide to a “co-ordination meeting at the Federal Chancellery” noted the government wanted to make it clear “that Eichmann had worked as a henchman of the Himmler-SS machine and not as an agent of the then German Reich.” This, the aide argued, would make it impossible to link West German officials with Nazi pasts “to Eichmann’s misdeeds.”

Such was the German desire to limit the influence of the trial the defence minister also threatened to end arms deals with the young and vulnerable state of Israel if the trial reflected badly on Germany.

To the Bonn government the Eichmann trial also had a pressing Cold War dimension with fears that stories of former Nazis holding high-ranking posts in West Germany could provide communist East Germany with a propaganda coup, and damage the credibility of the West German state in the eyes of its Western allies.

Evidence of the geopolitical dimension the trial assumed was an offer from an unnamed American general to use his CIA connections to “soften the impact of the trial”.

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