George R. Allen collection of World War II memorabilia
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
George Allen was born in 1919 and was educated in the public schools in West Philadelphia. Following the death of his father, William Allen, in 1935, his mother, Anna Detweiler Allen ran his father's bookstore, with occasional help from her children. In 1940, Allen graduated from Haverford College, where he studied Latin, Greek, French, German, and Hebrew; and following his graduation, he joined his mother in business. In 1943, Allen was drafted into the United States Army.
During the Second World War, Allen served with the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army as an interrogator of prisoners of war. As the war drew to a close in 1945, the Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC), which was entering upon the task of rounding up former Nazi officials in German territory, was sorely in need of individuals who spoke German. Because of his knowledge of German, Allen was assigned to the CIC detachment of his division. The detachment had the task of finding and interrogating Nazis in the areas to which they were assigned. In May, Allen's CIC detachment was sent to Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps, the site of a favored retreat of Hitler and a key site in Nazi operations.
Allen arrived in Berchtesgaden on May 5, 1945. Over the next several months the Germans who were questioned by Allen and his colleagues included a number of figures from Hitler's immediate milieu, such as his sister, his half-sister, his chauffeur, one of his personal secretaries, and his personal physician. The interrogations yielded information about the last days of Hitler, including his suicide and the events around it; the assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944; the death (also by suicide, as it was revealed) of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in October 1944; the structure of the Security Service ( Sicherheitsdienst) of the SS; and the movements and actions of the German High Command Operational Staff (Wehrmachtführungsstab) in the last months of war.
After George Allen's discharge from military service in November 1945, he returned to the family bookstore and headed it until the end of his life. He died on 20 November 1998. An obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer (25 November 1998) described Allen as "the dean of Philadelphia booksellers."
This collection of World War II memorabilia consists of newspapers, leaflets and booklets, ephemera, and photographs; and largely documents the propaganda efforts of the Allied Forces during the last two years of the conflict.
Series 1. Newspapers consists of eight titles; seven of which were produced by the Allies. The majority are in German and generally provide news of the progress of the Allied Forces in the war. These newspapers are arranged alphabetically by title.
The second series, Propaganda leaflets and booklets, comprises the bulk of the collection. These booklets and leaflets, again, largely produced by the Allies, and in particular the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (PWD/SHAEF), are mostly in German. Leaflets were air-dropped or artillery shelled to the German troops and provide information regarding the success of Allied maneuvers, the futility of continuing to fight a war that the Germans had essentially lost, and how to surrender. In fact, most of the Allied leaflets provide instructions for how to safely surrender to Allied troops, as well as ensuring Axis soldiers that they would be treated well. It appears that some of the Allied leaflets in this collection were not physically distributed, but instead were collected from the PWD. These particular leaflets accompany the German leaflets, but are in English and are mocked-up for publication with an empty frame where a photograph was eventually inserted. The Allied leaflets are arranged by the leaflet code located on the leaflet which indicates the organization which produced the leaflet. There are also Axis propaganda booklets and leaflets, most of which are in English. These are arranged alphabetically by title or first phrase on the leaflet.
Ephemera consists of a group of World War II, and largely Axis power, ephemera such as a bookplate from Gretl Braun (sister of Hitler's mistress, Eva Braun); armbands, epaulets, and insignia pins from Nazi uniforms; and money from occupied territories. Of particular interest is the National Socialist German Workers' Party membership book of and letter from Joachim von Ribbentrop (1893-1946), Hitler's Foreign Minister who was executed for war crimes following the Nuremberg Trials.
The final series, Photographs, consists of fifty photographs, mostly of Nazi officers and leadership. While some of these photographs are labeled on the back, the labeling is often unclear and abbreviated. There are fair number of photographs of Hitler shaking hands or speaking to officers and a few of Hitler speaking to groups or attending events, such as the signing of the armistice with France on June 22, 1940. There are several photographs of Hitler and his officers visiting his headquarters in Rastenburg (now Kętrzyn in Poland) shortly after the July 20, 1944 attempt to assassinate him. Individuals identified in photographs include: Karl Dönitz, Hermann Fegelein, Joseph Goebbels, Arthur Kannenberg, Wilhelm Keitel, Heinz Linge, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Erwin Rommel, Ferdinand Schörner, General Rudolf Schmundt, Albert Speer, and Vice Admiral Hans-Erich Voss.
Gift from George R. Allen, 1988 November 6
Two books are included with this gift but not housed with it: Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts by Alfred Rosenberg, inscribed by Hermann Goering, and Friedrich der Grosse by Franzisco Agramonte with an Adolf Hitler bookplate.
- Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei
- Allied Forces. Supreme Headquarters. Psychological Warfare Division
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Aleth Tisseau des Escotais
- Finding Aid Date
- 2014 May 8
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use. At the time of his gift, George R. Allen stipulated that this collection should not be used for promotion or glorification of Nazism.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.