14 March, 2012

14 March 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
14 March, 1945      0930
Germany

Dearest sweetheart –

0930 of late seems to be the time to write you. I’ve been less often disturbed at that hour than at any other time – but the military situation has a great deal to do with it.

This spot is still as comfortable as ever – but I guess people are very queer and nothing will ever change with them. Here we’ve been without modern conveniences for so long a time – and then we strike this place. Last night – for some unexplained reason – the lights went out in the evening – and we were positively annoyed. We still had a good house, warmth, running water and a place to sit around in – but we didn’t like the fact that we had no lights. Of course – for months now – we’ve got by with flashlights, candles and kerosene lamps. Anyway, dear, the lights came on after about two hours and everybody was happy.


Yesterday I visited Charlie battery – Pete’s – but he was out on reconnaissance and I didn’t see him. I do get to see him or he – me – on the average of about once a week – but we never can spend much time together – these days. I then went on a little sight-seeing tour into the center of a large town. What a mess the air force made! You have only to picture a city the size of Boston laid waste about 85% – to get the picture. The true picture, though, is that the center of the city is 100% down, and a little of the outskirts has some buildings with walls. Well – we tried several different ways to get to one particular spot I wanted to get a snapshot of – and in each case – the road was impassable. We heard that Margaret Bourque-White was in the area – also trying to photograph the same place – apparently for Life Magazine. We didn’t run into her – and if she got her pictures – I’ll bet it wasn’t yesterday – because – the city suddenly got kind of hot and we made a beeline out of town – but not before we had a flat tire and had to sweat out a change.

Cologne - Steeple of Cathedral in Distance
14 March 1945

The Rhine at Cologne showing remains of Hohenzollern Bridge.
We got his close by accident and got out fast because the Germans
were on the other side. We were shelled (mortars) shortly afterwards.
14 March 1945

Gate and wall to inner city - Cologne
14 March 1945

Severinstor Today
One of three medieval city gates still remaining
This photo belongs to Letícia F. Terra's Flickr photostream

Near Cologne - A little better - March 1945
Note Germans and cart - Evacuating - We had just moved in.

When I got back I found a V-Mail and an air-mail (28 February) from you – and an old letter – from Dad A. Your V-Mail was undated – dear – but must have been of a recent date because it sang of the Spring – ah – the beautiful Spring! Your air-mail had an enclosure in it – the note from Betty Levine. I didn’t hear from her directly, but I got a V-mail from Stan the other day – thanking us for the gift. I don’t remember whether I mentioned that to you or not.

In a V-mail from you the other day – you mentioned hearing from Shirley Feldberg. I’ll bet you were surprised hearing from her after a lapse of time of months – I guess. I wonder if you’ve seen her yet – I suppose she must know about Stan’s marriage. I liked Shirley; she has a good head on her – she proved that by not getting tied up with Stan. That’s not a very fair thing to say about a guy that was once one of my closest friends – but the fact is – he wouldn’t have been marrying her for love – and I guess she was smart enough to sense it. Every now and then I think back to the days when I first met you – and the days when I first left the States – and I get very angry at Stan – all over again – for the way he acted behind my back, – and I wonder how we’ve managed to remain friends. What I should have done is to have written him what I thought of him and let it end right there. Anyway – I know I’ll never trust him again. I remember your telling me your father’s opinion of him – and I thought your father must have been all wet. He wasn’t.

Well – the hell with that subject. Here it is about time for me to be getting back to work – and I haven’t even talked about us – about you and me and our own world! That’s what we’ll have some day, sweetheart, our own world, and do you know what we’ll use to generate power in it? Love! Of course – plenty of strong concentrated love. I can hardly wait –

I’ll really have to stop now, darling and get on my theoretical horse. I hope everything’s O.K. at home and that Mother B is feeling steadily better. Love to the folks, dear – and
All my everlasting love
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White
American Photographer and Documentary Photographer

From Wikipedia comes this:
Bourke-White was born in the Bronx, New York, to Joseph White, a non-observant Jew from an Orthodox Jewish family and Minnie Bourke, the Protestant daughter of an Irish ship's carpenter and an English cook. She grew up in Bound Brook, New Jersey, but graduated from Plainfield High School. Her father was a naturalist, engineer and inventor. His work improved the four-color printing process that is used for books and magazines. Her mother, Minnie Bourke, was a "resourceful homemaker." Margaret learned from her father perfection, from her mother, the unabashed desire for self-improvement." Margaret's success was not a family fluke. Her older sister, Ruth White, was well known for her work at the American Bar Association in Chicago, Illinois, and her younger brother Roger Bourke White became a prominent Cleveland businessman and high-tech industry founder.
From Combat Camera's web site comes this bio of Margaret-Bourke White:
She is most famously known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take picture of Soviet Industry, the first female war correspondent (and related, the first female permitted to work in combat zones) and the first female photographer for Henry Luce’s LIFE magazine, where her photograph graced the first LIFE cover.

Fort Peck Dam, Montana
Credit: Margaret Bourke-White

Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent and the first woman to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II. In 1941, she traveled to the Soviet Union just as Germany broke its pact of non-aggression. She was the only foreign photographer in Moscow when German forces invaded. Taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy, she then captured the ensuing firestorms on camera.

Kremlin Bombardment by German Luftwaffe
Credit: Margaret Bourke-White

As the war progressed, she was attached to the U.S. Army Air Force in North Africa, then to the U.S. Army in Italy and later Germany. She repeatedly came under fire in Italy in areas of fierce fighting. The woman who had been torpedoed in the Mediterranean, strafed by the Luftwaffe, stranded on an Arctic island, bombarded in Moscow, and pulled out of the Chesapeake when her chopper crashed, was known to the LIFE staff as "Maggie the Indestructible." This incident in the Mediterranean refers to the sinking of the England-Africa bound British troopship SS Strathallan which she recorded in an article “Women in Lifeboats”, in LIFE, February 22, 1943.

Photo from "Women in Lifeboats," LIFE, 22 February 1943
Credit: Margaret Bourke-White

In the spring of 1945, she traveled through a collapsing Germany with General George S. Patton. In this period, she arrived at Buchenwald, the notorious concentration camp. She is quoted as saying, “Using a camera was almost a relief. It interposed a slight barrier between myself and the horror in front of me.” After the war, she produced a book entitled Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly, a project that helped her come to grips with the brutality she had witnessed during and after the war.

Buchenwald
Credit: Margaret Bourke-White

To many who got in the way of a Bourke-White photograph — and that included not just bureaucrats and functionaries but professional colleagues like assistants, reporters, and other photographers — she was regarded as imperious, calculating, and insensitive.” She had a knack for being at the right place at the right time: She interviewed and photographed Mohandas K. Gandhi just a few hours before his assassination.

Ghandi (1951)
Credit: Margaret Bourke-White

Eisenstaedt, her friend and colleague, said one of her strengths was that there was no assignment and no picture that was unimportant to her.

Also from Wikipedia:
During the 1950s, Bourke-White was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. She had just turned 50 when she had to slow her career to fight off the disease, initially with physical therapy, then with brain surgery in 1959 and 1961.

She wrote her autobiography, Portrait of Myself, which was published in 1963 and became a best seller, but she grew increasingly infirm and increasingly became more isolated in her home in Darien, Connecticut. Her living room there "was wallpapered in one huge, floor-to-ceiling, perfectly-stitched-together black-and-white photograph of an evergreen forest that she had shot in Czechoslovakia in 1938." A pension plan set up in the 1950s "though generous for that time" no longer covered her health-care costs. She also suffered financially from her personal generosity and "less-than-responsible attendant care."
She died in Connecticut of Parkinson's Disease at the age of 67, nearly 18 years after she developed her first symptoms.

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