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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  June 5, 2016 10:00pm-10:36pm EDT

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each week, american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. up next, we travel to new orleans. this program begins with the june 6th 1944 d-day invasion. of thetinues the story european theater to the fall of the third reich. hour --n the first [indiscernible] keith huxen: we are actually in the normandy landings gallery, a very special gallery for us because our museum was founded in the 1990's as the national
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d-day museum by a congressional charter. we were charged with telling the story of the entire american experience in world war ii. white was fought, how it was capitowon, what it means today. in this gallery, we get to the big moment where the united states and her allies had to win this particular day. d-day, june 6, 1944. narrated is our film by tom brokaw, which gives our visitors the overarching story of d-day normandy. but next to me over here on the left, a very special exhibit. this is an exhibit case dedicated to ernie pyle's long thin line of anguish column. ernie pyle actually walked the beaches at normandy where the
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american forces landed, and he everything left over from war by the troops coming ashore on the beach. what we have in this case is actual artifacts and sand from utah and omaha beaches. pyle writes about what he found. you can see he talks about shoe polish, diaries, bibles, hand grenades, toothbrushes razors. he particularly singles out in his column writing paper. he talks about how young men who normandyr lives at intended to write a lot of letters back home. the other thing that they had an awful lot of was cigarettes. he said that packs of cigarettes had been handed out to the troops before the landings began, and he made the comment that a line of cigarettes up and
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down the beach marked the high water of this sacrifice there at normandy. it is a moment for our audiences after the film to pause and reflect about what was going on in the world d-day, june 6, 1944. it was the date that hitler could have driven our forces back into the waters of the english channel. he failed and from that point forward, we were on our way to the road to berlin and ending the third reich. >> a few miles down the beach -- keith huxen: on this wall, we have the civilian, military, and political leadership reaction to the normandy landings starting with ann frank, of course. a young jewish girl hiding in an attic in holland where she writes in her diary, could it be true that forces have landed and we would be liberated.
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dwight eisenhower weighs in, the supreme commander, saying we have landed and the hour of liberation is approaching. but winston churchill, the prime minister of great britain, as the sobering note that although we had a successful landing, in fact, we had a very long way to go. we are better than 700 miles away from berlin itself. as you can see by this map here, we have managed to achieve a toehold on the peninsula in france. we are along the beaches, that we are also facing a very hard, serious fight trying to move through northern france before we can start to get traction on defeating nazi germany. we are now in the race across
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france galleries in which we tell the story of the allied advance across northern france up to operation cobra in july of 1945. we were bottled up in the hedgerows. behind me, you can see how these wooded hedgerows across the fields of france held up our military advancement. were so thick, there for thousands of years, that you could have a german soldier on one side of the hedgerows three feet away, and the two wouldn't know that they were there. tanks, in fact, could not go through these hedgerows until we the frontpers on to of the tanks, american ingenuity, that allowed us to start busting towards the liberation of france. the liberation of paris is the second chapter in the race across france. then at the end of the gallery,
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we tell the story of operation market garden. our daring attempt to try and end the war before christmas of 1944 through a parachute drop that comes up one bridge too short in holland. to my right over here as we move through the gallery, we have some artifacts very interesting. , a young french woman in normandy was a member of the french resistance. she was spying on the germans. so, here we have a german typewriter that she used to write notes to send information to the allies as well as a crystal radio receiver next to it. which she used to send out illegal messages or i should say bbc,r listen to the illegal radio broadcast, in legal under the nazi regime.
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we have an interesting piece in here as well. you may notice this pink and red liberation sash. there was given to an american lieutenant in september of 1944 . it symbolizes the outpouring of joy that the french people had as the allies began to move through their country and liberate them from nazi rule. but down here on the end is a special artifact that we have. it is the medal of honor that was awarded to walter eelers. he was a friend of this museum. he passed away by a year ago. he was the last, at the time, medal of honor recipient from the normandy landing. he received his medal of honor for actions that took place about three days after the
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initial landings. and then, besides the medal of honor, is a photograph of his mother that he carried in his backpack. he came from a very religious family in kansas. he promised his mother he would not drink or curse while he was over here. he is going to be moving through france a day after he had been involved in a terrible incident when one of his comrades was shot and to protect him, walt is going to go and try and rescue him. the germans shot at him and the bullet went through the portrait of his mother that he was carrying in his backpack. and despite this, he was able to fight off the germans and basically carry his comrade to safety. so, for those actions, quality
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given the medal of honor. however, i need to mention that walt had a brother who also landed at normandy on june 6, 1944. while he was performing, heroic actions, his brother never made it to the beach at normandy. his brother was killed when his boat coming into the beaches was hit by a shell fire. walt did not know that at the time. he found this out some days later. and so, this was of course, a terrible experience for him. very bittersweet. over here in this case, we have items that are dedicated to the average g.i.'s experience in france and the european theater. some of this is material that i think the public would expect to
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see such as gun cleaning kits, oils and so on. , when you think about it, there's all kinds of other things that you need. such as sewing kit. things such as prayer books, razors, old spice matches, , cigarettes, all are in here. what do you do for entertainment? we have things that are simple as tickets for hot coffee, free hot coffee at the officer's club. you can see as well in this case something that's a little interesting. item number 26 is a can opener. unlike most can openers most people have probably seen this , is something specifically designed for the field. you can see in the case, of course, cooking equipment that troops would use as they move d through advancing against the nazis. in the race across france, after
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operation cobra, united states and allied forces are going to liberate paris in august of 1944. this was a high point for a lot of people who thought that the end of the war might be drawing near. maybe we would be able to get all the way to berlin by christmas time. however in this case over here, we have a little artifacts that -- a little artifact that reminds us that things get lost along the way. dog tag of john mack. an african-american man, was from centreville, louisiana. not too far from us near in new orleans. he was a member of the red ball express. the red ball express basically was a convoy of supply trucks. army, have got a moving you need to be able to keep up with them food and gasoline. john mack lost his dog tags on the beaches of normandy when he
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came ashore as part of the red ball express. over 70 years later, just a couple of years ago, his dog tags were rediscovered by a farmer in france who then sent them to the secretary of state's office here in louisiana. and he presented us with the dog tags. so, in a sense, john mack and his dog tags came home 70 years later. here in the case as well, you can see the red ball express' badge they wore on their uniforms. we are now moving into a bunker. a bunker that is supposed to be a german bunker. basically, after the failure of market garden in september of where we famously came up one 1944 bridge too far, too short , from being able to invade in northern germany, people still
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hoped that the war might be over by christmas if not a little later. some of these people included omar bradley and dwight eisenhower. unfortunately, this was a terrible misjudgment. as we got closer to the german border, basically, resistance stiffened. in this german bunker, we learn the story of the battle of forest. a brutal, nasty affair that held us up and should have let us know that things were not going swimmingly. >> [indiscernible] keith huxen: on top of the bunker, concrete here, you can see a fabrication of church steeples and buildings. what the germans used to do from the bunkers was actually use chalk and markers to write out the distances of these various landmarks in the landscape around them.
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this is how they would zero in and use their artillery and weapons to fire on advancing forces. over here in the bunker, we have a map used by the third armored division. so, this particular map was the property of lieutenant dalton -- belton cooper, who went on to write a memoir about what it was like to fight in tanks. his memory was entitled "death traps." and so, you get an idea of the terrain and the fast moving advancement that the allied forces were making through tanks with tanks and through the war up until this point. as i mentioned, we were slowing up on the german boarder at this point, and things were about to get a lot worse.
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in december of 1944, adolph hitler is going to launch a last ditch effort to try and win the war for nazi germany. his strategy was to launch an offensive against the american and british forces on the western front. this map depicts that attack. hitler thought what he could do would be to divide the british forces to the north from the american forces to the south. you can see the goal of this offensive by the dotted red line and the port all the way to the north. if hitler could break up into the english channel, he thought that the americans and the british would be forced to come to a political solution, a political agreement to end the war. in this battle, the largest that has ever been fought by the
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united states army in its history, better than 600,000 americans were engaged. you can see our lines famously bulged, but they did not break. however, george patton is when to come up and save bastogne from the south after they had been surrendered. this is what americans recognize from the film "patton" where the commanding officer was asked by the germans to surrender and he famously said to them, one word, "nuts." so, in this case here, you get a sense of how logistics are so important in war. particularly with things like gasoline. up here we have a german gas
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, tank where you can see the sf -- ss markings on the side. germans were running out of gasoline. we, however, not only have to deal with moving mechanical vehicles, tanks and trucks around, but also more importantly, probably, men, troops. and you can see in this case as well, tankers boots. these were worn by major corbyn during the battle of the bulge. in the end, we are going to prevail. as i mentioned, our lines bulged but they do not break. however, it comes at a tremendous cost in blood. over 19,000 americans are killed in this fighting that goes on for six weeks. and so, one last item i thought i would point out in this case here is a souvenir nazi flag that was captured by members of
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the 101st airborne division. some of the airborne members signed their names to it. you can see in particular sam jewel on here from kennett, members. and other where they managed to hold out patton is going to be able to , come in and provide them relief. and we are going to push the germans back towards germany. we're now headed into the heart of the battle of the bulge gallery here at the national world war ii museum. you can see around me, we have and environment once again that is very hostile to our forces. 30 degrees below is the weather. snow all over in this forest. one of the things that made
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fighting in the forest rather dangerous was that the germans would shoot artillery into the trees. not aiming for american troops which they knew were under the trees but to create shrapnel. ,the tree branches would shatter and come down. if you were unfortunate enough to not be close enough to the tree, you would probably be killed by pieces of woods, splinters flying around. in the battle of the bulge as we present this story in various video screens, we tell the stages of the battle. >> [indiscernible] coming in from belgium. the surprise german attack has broken through the american lines. [indiscernible] thousands more have been taken prisoner. keith huxen: one of the thing we show is americans being captured. we haven't mentioned p.o.w.'s. i wanted to point this out.
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here is the prison of war i.d. tag of benjamin cohen. he was with the 423rd infantry regimen. he is going to be captured early on in the battle of the bulge. one thing i will mention of , it was bettert to be a prisoner of war of the nazis than it was of the japanese. better than 40% of american p.o.w.'s of the japanese per ished in these camps. the germans were concerned that the allies would give the p.o.w.'s to their own tended to respect the rules of the geneva convention which the japanese refused to sign. i wanted to point that out, that not everything in war is necessarily victorious. sometimes you wind up on not just the losing side but in the enemy's hand.
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so, overhear here one other thing i wanted to point out was the famous prayer card that general george patton asked his chaplain to come up with to basically guarantee good weather during the battle of the bulge. and basically, when the chaplain made the prayer, the weather cleared up, patton credited this with having an influence on the battle. in truth, the chaplain had written the prayer sometime before the battle. this prayer card was delivered to all of the troops and it became part of the legend of the battle of the bulge. here in our battle of the bulge gallery, we do have a german sedan. this was one of the cars used by the german officers to go back and forth and transport
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themselves back and forth to the front. here you can see all of the camouflage that they used in these type of winter conditions with branches and things like that to try and blend into the landscape when they might be sprayed by aircraft or run into some other dangerous situation. >> [indiscernible] keith huxen: we're now entering our last gallery, into the german heartland. as you can see by this map, by early 1945 after the battle of the bulge, united states and her allies french forces and british , forces, flanking american forces in the west as well as forces from the soviet union, basically crushing germany in
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the east. the war is in its end game stages as we are converging on berlin. now, in this gallery, we have basically the story of how berlin falls even though american troops never actually quite make it to berlin itself. however, people could see the handwriting on the wall by april 25th. in this gallery up here, we have at worn by one of the soviet troops when those troops met with the americans in april 25, 1945. this hat was given to a lieutenant by the name of george taulbee. from that point forward berlin , was surrounded. the soviets are going to go
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ahead and crush hitler and the forces in berlin over the next week or so. by may 2, the battle of berlin is over. in this gallery, what we want to remind people of, even as we move into germany and are getting closer and closer to our goal of victory, the violence continues to escalate and it has real human costs. we tell the story of curtis ritter. he was a private in the american army. here, you can see a letter he wrote to his wife ellen in 1944. he was killed in late 1944 on the way into germany. you can see in the case that the hometown newspaper is going to bring news of his death to his
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hometown and public. you can see condolence letters, about half a dozen of them that , are going to be written to his family from various sympathizers, neighbors, friends, and family members who knew curtis ritter. down here in the corner, we have is coveted combat infantry badge with the blue background and the rifle on it. a badge that was an honor. it was given only to those who faced the enemy in direct combat. in this conclusion gallery to the road to berlin, what we want to show the public is the immense devastation that went on as we move towards berlin. you can see our representations. zedically, the allies ra
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about 60 german cities on the way into berlin, and the germans refused to give up. hitler committed suicide in a bunker in berlin. formally nazi germany surrendered to the allies. in this case, we have silverware and a teapot without of hitler --with adolf hitler's initials on them that were captured by american troops in munich, where hitler had begun his political career. found in nazi headquarters buildings, not the administration buildings, in nazih the mesh nazi -- administration buildings, in munich. basically, with the elimination of adolph hitler, we then have the opportunity to try and sum up what this war in europe
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meant. we do so with a film that tells what the entire cost of hitler's nazi germany meant to the world. in terms of death, it was something that had never been seen before. in terms of destruction, culture , entire communities, the holocaust of the jews as well as others, political prisoners, so on. many others perished in hitler's concentration camp systems. we try and give people what -- a sense of what the allied troops were fighting for. what it meant to extinguish that from the world. at the end of the road to berlin after we try and summarize the cost of the war for our public, we have an ending quote by general dwight d. eisenhower. this came from a letter that the
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supreme commander of the allied forces wrote in april of 1943 to his son john. words theo put in his meaning of a conflict that he was so central in trying to prosecute. he said, no other war in history has so definitely lined up the forces of arbitrary oppression and dictatorship against those of human rights and individual liberty. to eisenhower, this is what the war was about. this was his great achievement as general and military leader. later on, it made him the president of the united states and leader of the free world. >> they cannot believe their eyes. patton halts the tour, unable to
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anymore. the g.i. replied we are fighting to free from the idea that you are a master race. >> this program was part two of a two-part visit to the road to berlin visit. you can see part one and all other american history tv programs online at c-span.org/ history. all weekend, american history tv is featuring las vegas, nevada. the renowned las vegas strip is located just outside the city limits. staff recently visited many sites showcasing the history of las vegas. here onre all weekend american history tv.
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[running water] >> when you talk about the history of las vegas and this area, there are tours that define our history. water is what brought the earliest travel through year. the other is transportation. this area is in the middle of nowhere. transportation has always been an issue here. water is something that when you are in the desert is more precious than anything else. when you are traveling through mules,ert, leading pack you had to carry enough water for every animal you had. you might not have had water, but your animals had to have water. otherwise, they would die. you would not get your goods to market. your entire train would not work. hear what they found was running artesian wells. they found a running stream.
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it was an area that became known to the mexican travelers through s, which means medoadow. las vegas is "the meadows." this was a description of this wonderful spot in the middle of the desert. the first actual settlement in the vegas valley was in 1855. that is when the mormons came into this area. they were sent down here by brigham young in order to create a settlement here. the idea was to help solidify the area he saw as the state of deseret. california,ern pieces of arizona, colorado, and wyoming. this was part of what they were looking as part of the state of deseret.
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the problem was the settlement only lasted two years. by 1857, the settlement was unsuccessful. the settlers applied to be able to go back to salt lake city. the church fathers allowed that. the first settlement here was abandoned. they moved back to salt lake city. we were basically unoccupied for a number of years after that. after the mormons were in this what next happened was prospectors coming into the area. not the valley, but near the valley. in the case of a couple of those prospectors who were better at ranching than prospecting, they came into the vegas valley. , you had70's, 1880's six ranches in this area. we are only talking 20 or 30 people at this point in this entire valley.
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it was not a heavily settled area in the 19th century. named williamsow andrew clark, decided he would hold a railroad from los angeles to salt lake city. he had to have a watering stop in the desert. the only place that had enough water was this valley. he came over here. his employees negotiated with helen stewart, who had the rancho at that point, and bought the rancho and brought the railroad through here. they had a big auction sale of lots. the las vegas townsite was created. that is when las vegas gets started. las vegas is a 20th century town. one of the interesting things in the history of las vegas is that most people know las vegas from the movies.
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they know las vegas as it is today, so they think las vegas has always been focused on gaming and entertainment and the service industry. and it wasn't. one of the people that did more damage to the history of las vegas than anyone else was oliver stone. he had this guy show up in the middle of the desert and say let there be flamingo, and everything grows out of the sand. the result a community here. that community had been built by a lot of workers who had come in here and initially with the railroad. later on with building the dam in the 1930's. in the 1940's, what we had was a lot of federal spending because of magnesium, the airbase, the gallery school. we had a lot of things going on well before gaming became as big as it was. when you look at our history,
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the real misunderstanding is that there is a history. it is a much longer one and much different than what we are today. our staff recently traveled to las vegas to learn about its rich history. learn more about las vegas and other stops on our two at /citiestour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on cspan3. >> the first vice president once said about his position it was the most insignificant office ever conceived. next, joel goldstein talks about the history of the vice presidency and argues the office has grown in importance, especially for the last six men who have held the position.

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