Honoring Our Nation’s Heroes on VE Day

May 8, 2017

May 8th is the 72nd anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, a day in which cities in Great Britain, the United States, and formerly occupied territories in Western Europe, put out flags and banners to rejoice in the victory of the allied forces.

On May 8, 1945, German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms, ending the European theater of World War II.

Pockets of German soldiers would continue the confrontation with the Soviets into the next day. On May 9, the Soviets would lose 600 more soldiers in Silesia before the Germans finally surrendered.

Because of that, VE Day was not celebrated until the ninth in Moscow, with a radio broadcast salute from Stalin himself: “The age-long struggle of the Slav nations…has ended in victory. Your courage has defeated the Nazis. The war is over.”

In 2006, the House of Representatives passed H. Res. 195 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VE Day and the liberation of Western Bohemia. On govinfo.gov you can also find several announcements in the Congressional Record recognizing heroes and survivors of WWII:

The U.S. Government Publishing Office’s (GPO’s) Catalog of U.S. Government Publications offers access to a wide variety of related publications and resources from across the Federal Government about WWII and VE Day. Here is just a small sampling:

Inside GPO, we have a Veteran’s Memorial honoring all of those who worked at GPO and answered their Nation’s call to defend democracy and freedom during WWII, but sadly never returned.

If you’re interested in learning more about WWII and the sacrifices our soldiers made to protect freedom around the world, visit the GPO bookstore and pick up a copy of Command Post at War: First Army Headquarters in Europe, 1943-1945. It shows the army headquarters of WWII, the First Army headquarters, in the European theater from its activation in October 1943 to V-E Day in May 1945. It depicts the command as a complicated organization with functions ranging from the immediate supervision of tactical operations to long-range operational planning and the sustained support of frontline units during the war.

Also, the GPO bookstore has United States Army in World War II, Pictorial Record, War Against Germany: Europe and Adjacent Areas. The book is a collection of photographs and text written by Kenneth E. Hunter and edited by Mary Ann Bacon. It deals with the European Theater of Operations, covering the period from the buildup in Britain before the D Day invasion throughout the war to include V-E Day.


Click on the Links: For the free resources, click on the links above in the blog post.

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Scott Pauley is a Writer and Editor in GPO’s Library Services and Content Management office.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 8, 2014

Seventy-three years ago this month, the historic attack on Pearl Harbor took place. On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched the surprise military attack of the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This landmark event in history led to the United States’ involvement in World War II. Over 350 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes attacked the base. 2,403 Americans were killed, and another 1,178 were wounded. U.S. Navy battleships were severely damaged, some sunk; cruisers, destroyers, and other ships were extremely damaged or destroyed; and almost 200 U.S. aircraft were destroyed. This pivotal moment changed the course of U.S. history. The next day, on December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.”

GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) provides free access to a number of Government documents related to Pearl Harbor:

These are just some of the many examples of Federal Government documents that reference the historic Pearl Harbor attack. Explore FDsys for other examples from collections such as: Congressional Bills, Congressional Reports, Public Papers of the Presidents, United States Court Opinions, and more.

Another great resource for documents produced by the Federal Government on Pearl Harbor is GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

View an incredible publication from the Center for Cryptologic History at the National Security Agency called, “Pearl Harbor Revisited: United States Navy Communications Intelligence, 1924 – 1941.”


First Army photo of the bombing of Hawaii, 7 December 1941; the battleship USS Arizona in background is on fire and sinking.

Another interesting read is also from the National Security Agency’s Center for Cryptologic History is called, “West Wind Clear: Cryptology and the Winds Message Controversy: A Documentary History.” This documents the history behind the theory that the “winds message” was received by the United States as a warning that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor.

Also of interest is a document from the Combat Studies Institute Press, “Staff Ride Handbook for the Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941: A Study of Defending America.” The publication allows for study of the battle, not only in context of the Japanese attack, but also in the context of the issues that are relevant to the global war on terror. It is available from GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications as parts 1 and 2.


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941 USS West Virginia (BB-48) afire forward, immediately after the Japanese air attack. USS Tennessee (BB-43) is on the sunken battleship’s opposite side.

Another publication of note is, “7 December 1941: The Air Force Story,” from the Pacific Air Forces Office of History. This was published for the 50th anniversary of the attack and details the Air Forces’ story from that fateful day.

To learn more about visiting Pearl Harbor historic sites, visit:

You can also learn more about the attack on Pearl Harbor here:

Shop the GPO online bookstore World War II collection here.

How can I access these publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal Government books available to check out as well as Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to digitally download through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program.


Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

June 4, 2014

Friday June 6 is the 70th anniversary of D-Day when 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France and successfully began to turn the tide of World War II against Nazi Germany. The World War II generation is aging and passing on and with them goes a first-hand account of history. Soon, we will have to rely on books, documentaries, and other secondary sources as the official account of history. Luckily, the federal government is a repository of information with publications relating to World War II. Commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day with these federal titles:

D-Day The 6th of June PosterD-Day: The 6th of June: A commemorative two-sided, full color historical map/poster with accompanying graphics and chronology of the World War II Normandy Invasion on the coast of France on June 6, 1944 from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Normandy Air Campaign Historical MapNormandy Air Campaign: Historical Map: A colored map of fighter patrol areas on D-Day featuring the assault area and the main shipping route in Normandy, France from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Omaha BeachheadOmaha Beachhead (June 6-13, 1944): A historical narrative focusing on American military operations in France during the month of June 1944 including D-Day in Normandy from the Department of Defense Center of Military History Armed Forces in Action Series.

Normandy The US Army Campaigns of WWIINormandy: The U. S. Army Campaigns of World War II: Part of a series of 40 illustrated brochures that describe campaigns the U.S. Army troops participated in during the war with a focus on strategic setting, tracing the operations of the major American units involved, and analyzing the impact of the campaign on future operations from the Department of Defense Center of Military History Armed Forces.

United States Army in World War II European Theater of Operations Cross-Channel AttackUnited States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations, Cross-Channel Attack: The first volume of the European Theater of Operations set covering the prelude to the June 6, 1944 assault and combat operations of the First U.S. Army in Normandy until July 1, 1944 from the Department of Defense Center of Military History Armed Forces.

Command DecisionsCommand Decisions: A book analyzing decisions reached by chiefs of state and their military subordinates during World War II with a focus on important political, strategic, tactical, and logistical questions, including the invasion Normandy as well as the use of the atomic bomb, the capture of Rome, the campaigns in the western Pacific, and the internment of Japanese-Americans from the Department of Defense Center of Military History Armed Forces.


Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs.

Fighting Enemies or Disease, Asian Americans Offer a Rich Heritage

May 1, 2013

As Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month kicks off, and the anniversary of WWII’s VE (Victory in Europe) Day approaches (May 8), it’s a good time to talk about a major contribution of Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans.

Japanese Americans’ Battle of Wits with the Japanese in WW II

Nisei-Linguists-CMH_70-99-1The book Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII published by the Army’s Center of Military History is an excellent starting point to examine that history. When the United States entered WWII in 1941, the War Department knew that their intelligence efforts would not be successful without understanding of Japanese language and culture. However, few Americans other than the 300,000 or so Japanese Americans living mainly on the West Coast and Hawaii had such knowledge.

The War Department tapped the talents and skills of the second generation (Nisei) Japanese Americans. The Western Defense Command chose sixty Nisei soldiers for Japanese language training at the Fourth Army Intelligence School at the Presidio in San Francisco. The school moved to the Midwest after Pearl Harbor, first locating it in Camp Savage and later in Fort Snelling. The program, renamed the Military Intelligence Service Language School, ran until 1946. Nearly six thousand military linguists graduated from the school to enter the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).


Image: Nisei linguists undergoing training at MIS Crissy Field.

In addition to telling the story of the program and school, the book also describes how the Nisei served with every major unit and headquarters in the Pacific theater. It is testimony to the Nisei’s loyalty and smarts that it took the War Department only two years to get the Nisei military intelligence program up and running. The Nisei braved considerable prejudice to work for U.S. military intelligence, and there is no doubt their participation in American intelligence efforts made the war end earlier.

No one told the story of these linguists for years after WWII, and it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that people began to talk about their experiences with the program. Finally in 1994, Senator Daniel K. Akaka and some other Congressional members asked the Secretary of the Army to publish an official history of the Nisei linguists. This book is the result of that request.

Learn more about the Nisei language intelligence program by picking up a copy of this fascinating volume at the GPO Online Bookstore in Paperback edition or as an eBook.

Asian Americans Battle Disease Today

Epidemiologic-Profile-2010-Asians_coverHaving turned our thoughts to how Asian-Americans contributed to the care of our nation, it’s also a good time to think about how we care for the Asian-American and Pacific-Islander American portion of the United States population. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published Epidemiologic Profile 2010: Asians and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.

According to the CDC, “This Epidemiologic Profile is the first compilation of infectious disease-specific data in a single report that focuses on two racial groups in the United States: the Asian population and the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population.” The volume includes a chapter in which the Census Bureau contributes to the description of the Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations who reside in the United States.

The report tracks the involvement of Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in cases of endemic disease. Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders make up a disproportionately large number of cases in some diseases (tuberculosis and hepatitis B), and in others, a smaller percentage of cases than their representation in the U.S. population (STDs and HIV). The report examines specific disease statistics, the challenges of public health education, treatment and disease risk factor mitigation for these populations.

Any public health official, student, social worker, or government employee who works with these populations would definitely want to read this book.

GPO has cataloged a record for the FREE electronic version that Federal depository libraries got in the April 2013 record load.

How can I access the records to both these publications?

How can I purchase Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII?

Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). (Article is adapted from an original  post in the FDLP Community site.)

GPO, FDR, and The Malta Citation

March 4, 2011

On March 4, 1861 – exactly 150 years ago today – the United States Government Printing Office opened for business. On such an auspicious occasion, Government Book Talk examines a unique Federal Government document. Ordered by the President on the tightest possible deadline for a purpose of international importance, only one copy was created by GPO. It is also, as far as I know, the only GPO product ever reproduced in its entirety on a postage stamp. Here’s the story of the Malta Citation.

From 1940 to 1943, the British Crown Colony of Malta endured prolonged and brutal air attacks launched by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Axis was determined to bomb or starve the people of Malta into submission  to deprive Great Britain of a vital naval base and, in so doing, dominate the Mediterranean. Despite saturation bombing and near starvation conditions caused by submarine attacks on British supply convoys, the Maltese people carried on with exemplary courage until the Allied invasions of North Africa and Sicily ended this threat. To honor their resistance to Nazi aggression, King George VI awarded the George Cross to Malta and its people in recognition of an entire nation’s collective valor. In November 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided that America also should salute the people of Malta. He decided to visit the islands after the “Big Three” conference with Churchill and Stalin in Teheran and present the Maltese people with a citation that expressed the sentiments that Malta’s defense had inspired in the American people. The text was composed at the White House, but it fell to GPO to transform that text into an appropriate form.

The order for the Malta Citation was forwarded to GPO from the White House on November 15. Delivery was required not later than 3 p.m. on November 24 to meet the deadline for transport halfway around the world. The President suggested that the citation should be about 16 by 24 inches with lettering resembling that of medieval illuminated manuscripts. The details of color and design were left up to GPO. A complicating factor was secrecy. For reasons of security, the President’s visit to Malta could not be allowed to leak out. This combined need for speed, secrecy, and artistic excellence made the Malta Citation one of GPO’s most exacting and unusual wartime assignments.

The Malta project was assigned to GPO’s Division of Typography and Design. Its Director, Frank H. Mortimer, was given complete responsibility for the design and execution of the Citation. Because of the need for secrecy, and because only one copy was required, Mortimer decided to do the job by hand rather than experiment with type faces. He chose to work with genuine sheepskin parchment, feeling that its qualities of endurance and its capacity to retain freshness of lettering in both black and colored inks made it the most logical choice. He used steel and crow quill pens, drawing letters in the gothic style he had selected. Two sketches were prepared and submitted to the President, who chose the simpler version. Once the design was approved, Mortimer set to work. He used red and black inks for the 1-page text, with initials illuminated in blue, red, and gold. Pure gold leaf was used in the surrounding border, along with two fine lines of blue and red on the outside. An ornamental design consisting of the shield of Malta with the flags of the United States and Great Britain, all superimposed upon an aerial contour map of the main island, was placed above the text.

 To house the Citation, GPO’s Carpenter and Paint Shop produced a specially constructed case of solid, highly polished walnut, lined with royal blue plush. It was designed so that the right half contained the text while the left served as a cover. A weight to hold the parchment flat when the case was closed was placed inside the left half. This was produced in the GPO Bindery and consisted of laminated wood covered with dark blue morocco leather trimmed with lines in gold leaf and faced with the shield of Malta. Public Printer Augustus E. Giegengack personally delivered the completed citation in its case to the White House at 2:45 p.m. on November 24, beating the deadline by 15 minutes. On December 18 he received a letter from the President containing this tribute: “I wish to congratulate you and your craftsmen on the splendid workmanship displayed on the scroll which was presented by me to the people of the Island of Malta. It was very beautifully done, and I am sure we can all be proud of this product of our Government Printing Office.”

And the postage stamp? In 1956, Malta issued a stamp (left) that reproduced the Citation’s text, documenting  its importance to the Maltese and serving as a reminder of the huge variety and high quality of work that GPO has produced for the last century and a half. Happy birthday, GPO!

On the Greenland Patrol

September 10, 2010

A few posts back I blogged about a booklet that told the story of the U.S. Coast Guard beach patrol and corsair fleet during World War II. The Coast Guard and the Greenland Patrol, another booklet in the same series, recounts another forgotten episode that pitted the Coast Guard against the perils of the Arctic and marked the only U.S. capture of a German surface vessel during the war.

When the German Army occupied Denmark in 1940, the fate of Greenland, a Danish possession, loomed large in American strategy. Greenland was a major source of cryolite, a mineral used in the extraction of aluminum, its largely frozen land mass lay athwart a major air route used to ferry Lend-Lease aircraft to Great Britain, and was of great value in establishing weather stations. Two Coast Guard cutters equipped as icebreakers, the Northland and the Modoc, conducted a lengthy survey of Greenland’s coastal waters in early 1941, in the course of which the Modoc stumbled into a British air attack on the German battleship Bismarck!

Although the U.S. and Germany were not yet at war, tensions were high as America moved aggressively to defend the hemisphere. During June and July 1941, the Northland and the Modoc, joined by other Coast Guard and Navy vessels, were organized into the Greenland Patrol with the missions of supporting the Army in establishing bases in Greenland, defending Greenland from Germany, and preventing German operations in northeast Greenland.

The first mission involved escorting troop and supply ships, breaking the ice to get them to port, and, especially after the declaration of war against Germany, defending them against attacks by U-boats. The duty included “cold weather, ice, fog, snowstorms, and plenty of hard work…cooped up in that little tub month after month, in bad weather, wet to their skins…” It was tough and unglamorous, but vital in keeping the northern sea and air lanes open.

On several occasions, Coast Guard cutters captured German ground personnel and vessels intent on establishing clandestine radio stations in northeast Greenland. One German trawler scuttled itself after a lengthy pursuit, while another, the Externsteine (left), surrendered after the new Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind fired three salvoes alongside its icebound hull – the only American capture of a German surface ship in the course of the war.

As you can tell, I’m totally taken with this fascinating story – Arctic gales, secret enemy weather stations, and “snow ice cream” (“Take two bowlfuls of snow, add sugar to taste, then throw in a dash of fruit juice or extract for flavor. The result isn’t bad.”). You can read all about it here or find it in a library here.

War on the Beaches

August 23, 2010

Spending time at the Jersey shore, as I have since I was a kid, always conjures up my parents and the things they talked about back then. For example, they remembered walking on the beach during the early days of World War II and seeing Coast Guardsmen on patrol amidst the debris of torpedoed ships. I think of those men often when I walk the beach, especially at night, when it’s easier to imagine the cold, loneliness, and boredom they endured as part of their contribution to the war effort.

After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Coast Guard continued its pre-war beach patrols – usually one man armed only with flares – to spot enemy submarines and watch for saboteurs who might be landing from those subs. All of that changed after June 13, 1942, when Seaman 2nd Class John C. Cullen was approached by a stranger on the beach near Amagansett, Long Island. The men and his companions were Nazi agents (an extremely incompetent group, fortunately) freshly landed from the German sub U-584. Their discovery and subsequent capture turned the Coast Guard beach patrol into an armed force that used men, dogs and horses (left) to patrol America’s shoreline for the balance of the war.

The Beach Patrol and Corsair Fleet, one of a number of booklets produced by the Coast Guard to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II, tells the little-known story of this aspect of the war. Although saboteurs never amounted to much of a problem, the patrol performed its most important service in its traditional role of lifesaving. A particularly dramatic rescue occurred off the coast of Washington State in 1943, when the Soviet freighter Lamut struck the rocky ground below a sheer cliff near Teahwhit Beach. Guardsmen hurled a makeshift heaving line from the cliff top to the freighter so the crewmen could ascend hand over hand, “Hanging between the black clouds above and the snarling, crashing breakers below…One slip on the wet line would have meant instant death.” Wow!

The Corsair Fleet, complete with a Donald Duck logo (left), was a motley conglomeration of yachts and smaller craft offered to the U.S. Navy by the Cruising Club of America for emergency U-Boat spotting off the East Coast in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The Navy refused the offer until an avalanche of bad publicity forced its hand and it gave the Coast Guard permission to organize the Coastal Picket Patrol, more commonly known as the Corsair Fleet. During much of 1942, these ships and their amateur crews patrolled in all kinds of weather and spotted a few U-Boats before being eliminated as an economy measure in 1943. Shades of Ernest Hemingway’s private submarine patrols off Key West!

You can read this fascinating little booklet here or find it in a library here.

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