- Brief Narrative
- Extremely large Nazi banner with a swastika and gold stripes retrieved by 21 year old Joseph Thacker, an American soldier, from the wall of a Nazi Party building in Berchtesgaden, Germany, the location of Hitler's retreat, the Berghof, in the Bavarian Alps. It was the last of several war trophies that Joe sent home to his parents and he told them that he removed it from a wall at Hitler's headquarters. Berchtesgaden had a complex of buildings, including an SS barracks and residences of other influential Nazi leaders. The complex was secured on May 4 by the 7th Infantry Regiment who permitted French troops and the 101st Airborne access late that afternoon. Joseph was deployed in France in October 1944, and rose to staff sergeant in the 80th Infantry Division. The Division moved through Germany to Austria in April-May 1945, but was not officially engaged at Berchtesgaden. After Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, Joseph was placed on occupational duty.
approximately 1945 May
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Joan Lanier
Joseph A. Thacker
Joseph (Joe) Thacker was born on October 4, 1923, in Washington DC, to Lee and Cora Thacker, both native Virginians. Lee was a real estate broker. Joe had two older brothers: Aubrey and Carl. The family moved from Virginia to DC before Joe was born. Joe graduated from McKinley High School in DC and worked in the Navy Yard.
On December 8, 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II. On June 24, 1944, Joe enlisted in the US Army, as had his two older brothers. He was assigned to the 80th Infantry Division, Third Army, under General Patton. He obtained the rank of staff sergeant. In October 1944, Joe entered combat in France, and that winter, the 80th fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Joe's combat history is not known in detail. The history of his unit includes the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp on April 11, 1945, and of Ebensee forced labor camp, a subcamp of Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. After Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, the 80th was placed on occupational duty in Austria.
In January 1946, the 80th Division returned to the US and was inactivated. On April 29, 1946, Joe was discharged from the Army. He married Betty Lou Fluharty (1924-2007). The couple lived in Annapolis, Maryland, where Joe owned a car dealership, Thacker Cadillac. Joe, age 69, died on April 28, 1993, in Annapolis.
- Object Type
- Physical Description
- Very large, rectangular, red cotton banner with a 5 foot wide white circle sewn into the upper third of one side. Printed within the circle is a large black swastika with a handsewn, narrow, metallic gold ribbon border. Surrounding the circle is a 1.5 inch gold ribbon border. There are 2 metallic gold ribbons, the outer one wider, handsewn along the long edges. The banner hangs vertically and has 16 dark red cloth ties hand stitched to each side of the upper edge. The banner is made from 3 long sections of cloth with selvage edges, and top and bottom hems. The cloth is stained throughout.
- overall: Height: 186.625 inches (474.028 cm) | Width: 102.500 inches (260.35 cm)
- overall : cotton, thread, ribbon, ink
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Keywords & Subjects
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The flag was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Joan Lanier, a friend of Joseph Thacker.
- Funding Note
- The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
- Record last modified:
- 2023-08-25 17:22:29
- This page:
Also in Joseph A. Thacker collection
The collection consists of a Nazi banner and a photograph relating to the experiences of Joseph A. Thacker during World War II, when he served as a solider in the 80th Infantry Division of the United States Army in Germany.
Date: 1945 May