New Acquisitions

New Acquisitions

New Acquisitions

Our collection of more than half-million artifacts, letters and documents grows as fascinating and important material from the War surfaces.  Each new acquisition, be it an object owned by a leading figure in the war or a telling piece of ephemera, adds to the comprehensiveness of the Museum’s collection.  Through this material culture, we continue to layer the Museum’s narrative of the War.

These are some new and exciting additions to the collection.

March 17, 2017

Surrender Demand Letter

 Original typed letter from “The German Commander” to “the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne” requesting the “honorable surrender” of the American troops as, “There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation”. The German Commander offers a two hour window – “The order for firing will be given immediately after”.

On December 22, 1944 at approximately 11:30 am a small group of German soldiers approached the American troops near Bastogne. The Americans were members of the F Company of the 137th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division under General Anthony McAuliffe. The Germans demanded to see the Commanding Officer. The Americans blindfolded the German soldiers and brought them to the F Company Command Post. The message was read to Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe in his sleeping quarters adjacent to the communications center. McAuliffe’s reply was, “nuts”. In fact, McAuliffe originally asked if the Germans were wanting to surrender. Chief of Staff, Lt. Col. Ned Moore corrected him that the Germans were asking the Americans to surrender. McAuliffe’s typed reply read, “To the German Commander, NUTS!  The American Commander.”

This encounter occurred during the Battle of the Bulge, December 16, 1944 – January 16, 1945, in which the German Army attacked Ardennes as well as Bastogne where McAuliffe was a Commander. Bastogne was the ultimate goal of the German offensive as it controlled many access and through roads. McAuliffe and the 101st Airborne Division was able to hold Bastogne and is considered one of the supreme accomplishments of the American Military.

The surrender request was typewritten on two sets, one in English and one in German. This is the English version. Accompanied by an envelope, “United Sates Forces / Official Business / handwritten in pencil, Original of Bastogne surrender demand.” Dimensions: 11.62″ x 8.25″. Provenance: Estate of General Anthony McAuliffe thence by family descent.

March 17, 2017

Harry S. Truman Signed Potsdam Proclamation

Original mimeographed period copy of the mechanically printed document, the Potsdam Proclamation, signed by President Harry Truman with Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek’s names added in Truman’s hand, dated July 26, 1945. Of note, the draft version as held by the Truman Library does not contain the date.

This disregarded copy was collected by Secret Service Agent Elmer R. Hipsley, which was a customary procedure for unattended documents. It was hidden in an accompanying map of Berlin in a storage box until it was discovered while clearing out his estate. Copies of associated photographs and identification are shown in the lot as supporting documentation and a video of the event showing Agent Hipsley at the scene.

Also included is a “Throughway Plan of Berlin”, third edition, photolithographed by War Office, 1945. During World War II, the Potsdam Proclamation called for Japan’s unconditional surrender and threatened “prompt and utter destruction” for noncompliance with the terms.

The Proclamation was dismissed by the Japanese and the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima the following week. Provenance: Secret Service Agent Elmer R. Hipsley who was present with President Truman, thence by family descent.

February 04, 2017

Anne Frank’s Copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Signed by Her

The evocative piece, a 1925 German edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Aus Grimms Märchen), signed on the title page by Anne Frank, was acquired by the Museum at an auction in New York City in May. Anne signs her name and her sister’s name, “Anne Frank en Margo Frank,” in the upper right portion.

The book is accompanied by a 1977 letter written by her father, Otto Frank, explaining that the book had been left behind in the family’s apartment in Amsterdam, before they went into hiding in the secret annex.

Kenneth W. Rendell, the Museum’s Founder and Director, said that genuine signatures of Anne Frank are extremely rare. This is only the third time that something signed by Anne Frank has been sold. “Anne Frank is a human symbol of the Holocaust,” says Rendell. “Her diary is read by students everywhere in the world. Seeing this book, which belonged to her, with her handwriting on the title page, is as direct a personal connection as we can have with her. It is a dramatic reminder that Anne Frank was only 16 years old when she died in a concentration camp.”

Although the Museum has one of the most comprehensive and important collections of Holocaust artifacts, including letters by Anne Frank’s father about getting her diary published, her grandmother about how she died, and others surrounding her, until now, there was nothing of Anne Frank herself.

Founding Education Director Marshall Carter says, “This poignant reminder of Anne Frank will profoundly move students. So many young people who visit the Museum read her diary, and now they can come so near to a book that was Anne’s very own. That closeness with history reminds us today, that Anne was real, she had a childhood, and she knew the stories, the fairy tales, we ourselves know.”

Anne Frank’s diary is on permanent display at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Only three other museums have examples of her handwriting.