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To Brigadier General Adna R. Chaffee
December 20, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
I had thought of sending Major Black1 on a brief tour to several stations, Knox among others, to discuss with regular officers the impressions he gathered during the first months of the war; but I find that it is not advisable to initiate these discussions at the present moment. The information which Black obtained will be made available to you in convenient form as quickly as possible.
Confidentially, Black made statements to the press that have produced a violent Jewish reaction; so, for the present, we are not advertising him.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Major Percy G. Black (U.S.M.A., April 1917), assistant military attaché in Germany from February 1937 to November 1939, had witnessed the capture of Warsaw in late September 1939. “He had been allowed to accompany the German army in Poland, where he had had an exceptional opportunity to view the usage of the German mobile mechanization,” Chaffee had written to the chief of staff. The Fort Knox commander had requested Black for an overnight visit so that his staff could hear firsthand about German operations in Poland. (Chaffee to Marshall, December 11, 1939, GCMRL/G.C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. “I do not believe any of the atrocity stories,” declared Black when he landed in the United States in November 1939. He claimed that German soldiers had fed the demoralized women and children of Poland’s capital at soup kitchens. He believed that German morale was high despite acute food shortages in some areas. “I think reports of internal dissension in Germany are largely exaggerated. Remember, any people who go to war feel their cause is just and that they are being attacked. The German people from the top to the bottom are more afraid of another Treaty of Versailles than of anything else.” (New York Times, November 30, 1939, p. 11.) Marshall changed his mind about Black in 1940 and sent him to visit various commands. (See Marshall to James G. Harbord, February 17, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-127 [2: 161–62].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981– ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 120.