Author Robert K. Sutton will be joined in conversation with Michael Bell, PhD, Executive Director of the Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy to discuss his book Nazis on the Potomac: The Top-Secret Intelligence Operation that Helped Win World War II. The book is the first full account of the crucial work done during World War II at Fort Hunt, Virginia, where the highest-level German prisoners were interrogated and captured documents analyzed.
Now a green open space enjoyed by residents, Fort Hunt—located about 15 miles south of Washington, D.C.—was the site of one of the highest-level, clandestine operations during World War II.
Shortly after the United States entered the war, the US military realized that it had to work on exploiting any advantages it might gain on the Axis Powers. One part of these endeavors was to establish a secret facility not too close but also not too far from the Pentagon, which would interrogate and eavesdrop on the highest-level Nazi prisoners and also translate and analyze captured German war documents.
That complex was established at Fort Hunt, known by the code name PO Box 1142. Many of the American servicemen who interrogated German prisoners or translated captured German documents were Jews who had escaped Nazi Germany as children and were perfect for the difficult and complex job at hand.
This is the first book to describe the intelligence operations at PO Box 1142 and their part in that success. It will never be known how many American lives were spared or whether the war ended sooner with the programs at Fort Hunt, but they undoubtedly made a difference. Moreover, these programs gave the young Jewish men stationed there the chance to combat the evil that had befallen them and their families.
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A reception will precede the event from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sutton will sign copies of his book following the presentation.
You can pre-order your copy of the book here.
Robert K. Sutton recently retired as Chief Historian of the National Park Service, which culminated a 33-year career in the service. On his first day in this position, he met with the team interviewing the veterans who served at Fort Hunt during World War II. He encouraged the group in their efforts and was able to subsidize travel to complete the interviews. National Park Service historians did an absolutely masterful job of tracking down surviving veterans and capturing their stories. The author is writing this book with the belief that it should be a vehicle to share these stories with as wide an audience as possible. In addition to this volume, the author has published a number of books, articles, and reviews on various public history topics.