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Native Americans in World War II – Radio Feature

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A little while ago, I was contacted by Markus Harmann, freelance journalist, to discuss Native Americans’ contributions to World War II. Harmann had learned of a West German independent researcher in local history who held a number of war letters from German soldiers during the battle of Huertgen Forest in 1944/45. The letters frequently mention “Indians” among the American soldiers who sneak up to German lines at night to raid German positions and kill unsuspecting soldiers.

source: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

This anecdote was a great opportunity to discuss Native contributions to the war, as well as expectations the Native soldiers faced among both Germans and American troops regarding their abilities to fight. Harmann and I looked into what Tom Holm called the “Indian Scout Syndrome” and detail statistics and particular anecdotes. Harmann also interviewed Charles Norman Shay (Penobscot), who participated in the D-Day landing as a medic.

The full-length feature (in German), “Wie American Natives halfen, Hitler zu besiegen“, is broadcast at Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), series “Neugier genügt”, on 6 June, the anniversary of the D-Day landing.


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