Monday, July 18, 2011

Letters Home: Vous sortez du secteur américain

July 18, 1953
Dear Mom, Dad and all,
I finally found time to answer your letter. I am over in the French Zone driving for an officer. [1] Some other outfit over here is having maneuvers and they are umpires.[2]
I got Marylou's letter answered finally too. Bonnie sent a letter but I haven't answered it yet. [3] It was a bad trip over here. It rained all the way and when it rains the roads are as slick as ice. Cobblestone roads.
I am sending some pictures along this time. That one of me standing by the bear was taken at a carnival.
This is Sat night and I am just laying around doing nothing.
Did you get that card I sent. I know this is a short letter but there is just nothing happening. Bye for now.
Love, V.

[1] After the Second World War, the French were understandably vindictive, just as they had been after the First World War. Many, Charles de Gaulle included, were perfectly willing to recreate a Weimar Germany or see Germany vanquished altogether. The draconian Monnet Plan would surely have weakened the nascent Western German economy. The Dutch, also eager to seek reparations from the Germans, proposed their own version called the Bakker-Shut Plan.

The US, meanwhile, had its own plan called the Morgenthau Plan, proposed by FDR's Treasury Secretary (see his signature under the blue seal in the photo below). Designed to neutralize any German resurgence, the Morgenthau Plan was harshly criticized and ultimately rejected.  Herbert Hoover, still active in politics, wrote in March 1947:
There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a 'pastoral state'. It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25,000,000 people out of it.
To our credit, the US eventually rejected all these retributive schemes because they all risked letting a weakened Germany move further to the Soviet sphere. The "Stalin Plan" was already in force in the Eastern sector.

Our Marshall Plan trumped them all.  Interestingly, an evolved version of the Monnet Plan eventually became the seed of the EEU, which eventually became the EU.

Click to enlarge. US Silver Certificate, series 1935
[2] These were tank maneuvers.
[3] His older and younger sisters.


  1. Like wealth, nothing is distributed evenly among siblings, either.

    Both Japan and Germany had to rebuild. And, this depended on the strength of the components. Japan's were better than the german's ... because some germans became snipers.

    Neither group had kind words for the jews.

    But one thing Morganthau KNEW ... You couldn't rebuild without bankers.

    And, once you've got markets ... you need to sell your merchandise.

    The advantage to germany? Half was split off and given to the soviets. And, the Western part THRIVED! A barb-wired wall, plus cement blocks, kept german cousins from visiting each other. So, the curse of intermarriages was stopped.

    For germany, the harms came at reunification!

    But this is not discussed openly.

    Japan, meanwhile, hired Americans who could speak Japanese. And, they became the intermediaries. In a market selling "junk."

    In 1974, with an American ripoff designed by OPEC, Japan got a toe-hold in the American auto market. So terrified were they of their reputation, they named the car" A Datsun." So if it failed, it wouldn't take any known auto maker down with them.

    Instead, Detroit failed.

    And, you'd see Americans with new cars in their garages. The Fiat? No. Because it was just an Italian sardine can. But the Mercedes. The Volkswagen. And, the Nissan.

    Americans are a class act. We respect fine engingeering.

    The unions? On par with East Germany. A shackle worn around the neck ... Idiots united.

    (PS: I have some of those Silver Certificates in the vault. When I go back I'll look and see Morganthau's signature. Something I never noticed on my own. So thanks.)

  2. Morgenthau was not a Keynesian. He was FDR's Sec. of Treasury during his whole term, so I assumed that he was, but he wasn't.

    Geithner is no Keynesian either but I'm afraid that Bernanke is.

  3. What's the plan about Germans who bore you at the breakfast table?

  4. What's the plan about Germans who bore you at the breakfast table?

    That would be called the Morgenbrau Plan followed by hitting the pool.


  5. @Carol HermaN:

    I got the Tom Sawyer CD and started listening!

    What a delight! Thank you so much!

  6. You know, there's a "trilogy." Mark Twain wrote "Tom Sawyer, the Detective." And, "Tom Sawyer Abroad."

    Anyway, it is a wonderful way to hear books. As if you're a kid, again. And, you're being read to by an adult. This never goes out of style.

  7. You know, there's a "trilogy." Mark Twain wrote "Tom Sawyer, the Detective." And, "Tom Sawyer Abroad."

    I guess I kind of sort of knew that. Why did only the first one imprint so indelibly?

    I was planning on moving to "Huckleberry Finn" next, and then, as you suggested, the autobiography.

  8. Because the other two sucked.

    Of course, Mark Twain was a weaver of tales. At the time he wrote the "detective" ... I'm sure Sherlock had just hit the xcene.

    And, the one abroad ... had Tom Sawyer sending Huck Finn ... back on the balloon ride ... to pick up his corn cob pipe.

    No wonder General MacArthur smoked one of those.

    But the 'art' got lost ... in the retelling.

    The tape you have is the best one.

    And, then, of course, there's Huck Finn. (Seems Twain gave Huck a big boost in his Tom Sawyer story.) But THERE'S MORE! THERE'S MORE!

    Twain was such a 'pack rat' with all of his writing ... he dictated every day ... (And, then kept 'folders' ... where he'd pluck here and there) ...

    Coming up with yet other variations ... never really passing the age of ten.

    Which is why Tom Sawyer, and Huck Finn, work their magic. (That's when cutting school also let you be smarter than the kids who didn't meet at the swimming hole.)

    By the way, I bought mine because the set is read by Grover Gardner. I'm in love with his reading voice.

    If you get hooked? Go for the "new" autobiography ... which Twain's will forbade being published for 100 years. You know our government funded this (40 year undertaking) project. Too fully detailed in disk #1. But the whole thing is just a feast! Believe it. Or not.

  9. I'm glad you've got "listening" to the autobiography on your list.

    I think Twain invented a style of writing.

    Plus, back in those days, he TOURED. So, within the autobiography ... you'll pick up on these tours, too.

  10. I just downloaded "Winds of War" on my kindle, the old Herman Wouk book about WW2 with cameos by FDR, Hitler, Churchill and all the rest.

    A good read. Your series reminds me of that.