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Joseph W. Eaton papers

Document | Accession Number: 2009.401.1

The Joseph W. Eaton papers document Eaton’s service in the Psychological Warfare Division of the 12th United States Army Group from 1943 to 1945. They include photograph albums and Allied and German press photographs; reports on the latter stages of the war and the postwar situation in Germany; correspondence regarding concentration camp survivors, displaced persons, and other matters of interest to Eaton; subject and research files on topics such as German cities, concentration camps, displaced persons camps, Camp Ritchie, the Psychological Warfare Division, and Radio Luxembourg; newspaper articles and clippings written by Eaton and/or published by the American press in postwar Germany; and printed materials including Allied leaflets, German propaganda, postcards, pamphlets describing concentration camps, and Jewish publications. Name lists can be found among the reports and the subject and research files.

Photographic materials include three albums of Eaton’s wartime snapshots and photographs, some of which are supplemented by notes added by Eaton in later years, as well as allied wartime press photographs released for publication, and German press photographs including Nazi propaganda photographs and late war and postwar press photographs collected by Eaton. The photo albums contain snapshots and postcards taken and collected during Eaton’s time in Europe. Most of the photographs were taken in Germany, but there are also some from England, Paris, and Luxembourg. The second album also contains Christmas cards from American military units. The third album is accompanied by scans, loose photographs, annotations by Eaton, and supplementary reference material. Allied press photographs dated 1944‐1945 come from American military sources (the U.S. Signal Corps, the Psychological Warfare Division’s Office of War Information, the Office of War Information, and US Information Service), American civilian sources from the War Pool (the Associated Press, Acme Newspictures, International News Photos, and Life magazine), British military sources (Air Ministry, War Office, and Admiralty), and British civilian sources (Pictorial Press and Planet News). Most of these photographs are accompanied by descriptive information including dates, locations, titles, and sources. The collection also includes press photographs with German titles and descriptions. Some of these photographs date from the Nazi period, and their anti‐Semitic, anti‐American, anti‐Soviet, or pro‐ German compositions and descriptions reflect their propaganda purpose. Sources include Weltbild, Presse‐Büro R. Sennecke, Scherl‐Bilderdienst, and Presse‐Illustrationen Heinrich Hoffmann. Later photographs, dating from 1944‐1945, depict a broader array of subjects, and their descriptions are more neutral. These are not sourced.

Reports in this collection include many written by Eaton in his official capacity describing cities and towns in Germany as well as the mood and experiences of German civilians. Eaton also wrote unofficial reports based on his interests, such as the situation of German Jewish Holocaust survivors in occupied Germany who were being treated as enemies as well as the situation of Jewish displaced persons who preferred to emigrate to Palestine rather than to return home. The collection includes additional reports on similar topics written by other authors, such as US military personnel, representatives of Jewish groups in Western Europe, and Eaton’s brother, Shlomo Eitan, writing as Shlomo ben Yaakov. The unsigned reports on similar topics in this series may have been drafted by Eaton. Four reports include name lists.

Eaton’s correspondence files include letters regarding concentration camp survivors, displaced persons, and matters of interest to Eaton. They include correspondence with relatives and friends of displaced persons and a memorandum from the 12th Army Group. They also include copies of his letters to family members describing the status and whereabouts of liberated Buchenwald inmates as well as a copy of a letter from a death march survivor. They further include letters written to Eaton by family member of liberated prisoners at Theresienstadt to thank him for providing them with the first news they had received from their loved ones. This series also contains general correspondence dating from 1943‐1945 documenting Eaton’s interest in of topics including the situation of German Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and displaced Jews wishing to emigrate to Palestine, as well as later correspondence addressed to the director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, to a Berliner about his experiences in Germany during the war, and to the directors of the American Jewish Committees in New York and Pittsburgh.

Subject and research files contain World War II era records created or acquired by Eaton while he was in Europe as well as later materials created or acquired through Eaton’s subsequent research. Subjects cover a variety of topics including German cities, Hitler’s birthplace in Austria, Theresienstadt, and the displaced person camp at Deggendorf. The materials also include through a Camp Ritchie Poem, the lyrics of a Psychological Warfare Division song, Radio Luxembourg scripts, Eaton’s military orders and commendations, and poems by a survivor identified as Ruth Krüger. Three subject files include name lists.
Newspaper articles and clippings include 1944 and 1945 articles written by Eaton in and published in German and Hebrew newspapers, as well as articles he wrote in English in later years; clippings and newspapers sections from German‐language, Hebrew, and American newspapers dated 1944‐1945 as well as from German‐language and American publications from later years; and a binder of clippings from Allied publications created in Germany to replace the Nazi press.

Printed materials primarily include materials acquired by Eaton in Europe. They include allied propaganda, Frontpost, Feldpost, German propaganda, postcards, pamphlets describing concentration camps, and Jewish publications. Allied propaganda leaflets include undated leaflets in German and French describing the course of the war and encouraging German soldiers to surrender. Frontpost was an Allied propaganda newspaper created by the Psychological Warfare Division and airdropped over Nazi‐occupied Western Europe and then over Germany from August 14, 1944 through April 20, 1945. Feldpost was an abbreviated version of Frontpost and was fired via artillery shells across German battle lines. German nationalistic propaganda includes a photocopy of a brochure citing Hitler and Goebbels urging the fight to continue, National Socialist philosophy lessons for German company commanders, soccer images, and a cartoon booklet mocking the Allies. German anti‐Semitic propaganda includes a pictorial booklet mocking American Jews and a booklet purporting to offer quotations about World Jewry in politics, culture, and economy. Postcards depict German cities and the burial of Holocaust victims. The series also includes a picture pamphlet describing Buchenwald, Bergen Belsen, Gardelegen, Nordhausen, and Ohrdruf and a second pamphlet describing the horrors of the concentration camps. Jewish publications include a photocopy of a brochure on a cooperative farm, two issues of picture magazine on Palestine published in Berlin, and a brochure titled "Open the Gates of Palestine!", described as a Bergen‐Belsen newspaper.

Date
inclusive:  1932-2011
Extent
9 boxes
2 oversize boxes
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joseph W. Eaton
 
Record last modified: 2021-11-22 17:02:54
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn42329