For Germany, Economic Development Has Trumped Disastrous Wars

Stanley Kramer’s 1961 film about the trial of Nazi war criminals, Judgment at Nuremberg, featured some of the best actors working in Hollywood, including Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Spencer Tracy and Maximilian Schell.

By Jim O’Neal

The 34th Academy Awards ceremony was held on April 9, 1962, to honor films from 1961. West Side Story dominated the field with 11 nominations and 10 Oscar winners.

Another strong contender was Judgment at Nuremberg with 11 nominations, including two for best actor: Maximilian Schell (winner) and Spencer Tracy for his portrayal of Chief Judge Dan Haywood, a fictionalized character. Many moviegoers (and probably others) naturally assumed this was the extent of post-war judicial actions. In fact, the film only represented the third (“The Judges’ Trial”) of 12 trials for German war crimes.

Even before Germany surrendered, the Allies had planned to establish courts to try Nazi military and political leaders for their actions during the war. On May 2, 1945, President Harry S. Truman selected Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson to organize the proceedings and represent the United States.

Judge Jackson started by developing the London Charter, which established the International Military Tribunal and trial procedures. It was agreed to hold the trials in Nuremberg, where the Nazis held their annual rallies. Much of the city was damaged, but the huge Palace of Justice and a prison remained intact.

On Nov. 20, 1945, the Nuremberg Trials began.

“The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.” – Justice Robert Jackson, November 1945

In the first trial, 22 Nazis faced one or more charges of war crimes, crimes against peace or crimes against humanity. The defendants included Luftwaffe Commander Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess and the Fuhrer’s successor Admiral Karl Donitz. (Martin Bormann was tried in absentia and Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler had committed suicide.)

Over the next 10 months, prosecutors offered evidence of propaganda movies, vivid films of concentration camp liberations and damning testimony from many eyewitnesses. The evidence was so overwhelming, the 250 journalists attending the trial were often heard weeping in the courtroom or sobbing in the hallways.

On Oct. 1, 1946, the court handed down the verdicts.

Twelve high-ranking men, including Goering, were sentenced to death by hanging. Three more were sentenced to life sentences in prison. Four got prison sentences of 10 to 20 years and three minor political figures were acquitted.

The Nazi leaders had been tried in courtroom 600 of the Palace of Justice, where all proceedings were recorded. Some were broadcast in radio reports. Many people still claim it was the first time they learned of Nazi atrocities, the concentration camps or the gas chamber horrors (“The Final Solution”).

What is interesting, at least to me, is just how much more the Germans have accomplished through economic development than they ever did with guns, planes and tanks. Just ask the Greeks.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

History Tends to Overlook the Man Who Originated Gerrymandering

John Trumbull’s famous painting The Declaration of Independence adorns the reverse of the current $2 bill. Somewhere in the group is Elbridge Gerry.

By Jim O’Neal

“If everyone here was a Gerry, the Liberties of America would be safe against the Gates of Earth and Hell.” – John Adams, July 15, 1776, letter to James Warren, the Second Continental Congress

Adams was praising Elbridge Gerry. Anytime the delegates from the middle colonies started to waver over the issue of independence, Gerry was there to persuade them that such a provocative action was needed to secure the future of America.

Elbridge Thomas Gerry was only 12 years younger than George Washington and was admitted to Harvard College at age 13. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees. He then divided his time between the family garment business and both state and federal governance.

Gerry served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the first and second Congresses (1789-1793). Earlier, after being elected to the Second Continental Congress, he signed the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence, but was one of three men – in addition to George Mason and Edmund Randolph – who refused to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Gerry was stubbornly adamant that it should include a Bill of Rights to provide protection to individuals.

History proved him correct and our current Bill of Rights is foundational for many of the freedoms we now take for granted.

Then as governor of Massachusetts (1810-12), he approved a redistricting plan that ensured Democratic-Republican domination of the state. The shape of one of the new districts resembled that of a salamander, prompting Benjamin Russell, editor of the Boston Gazette, to coin the term “gerrymander.” This has entered our political lexicon to signify redistricting for political advantage.

Thomas Jefferson had been elected president in 1800 and again in 1804. Aaron Burr was VP during his first term and George Clinton (the first governor of New York) served as VP in the second term, 1805-09. Clinton was also elected VP in 1808 with James Madison and thus became the first VP to serve two presidents (John Calhoun would later match this feat). However, Clinton died on April 20, 1812, before the election and there was no provision to replace him.

When James Madison was nominated for his second term in 1812, the Democratic-Republican party selected the old reliable Elbridge Gerry to be his running mate (after John Langdon declined). They were both elected, however Gerry died in November 1814 after serving only about 21 months.

Thus James Madison earned the dubious distinction of being the only president to have two vice presidents die in office. No one particularly cared due to the nature of the job and its insignificance.

Elbridge Gerry was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. He is the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to be buried in the nation’s capital. He had married a much younger woman – Ann Thompson (James Monroe was best man) – and she holds the distinction of being the last surviving widow of any signer of the Declaration.

Today, gerrymandering has become an art form and voting districts are sliced and diced by ZIP code to create discrete groups of like-minded voters. Political junkies are in broad agreement that this results in major advantages to incumbent officeholders and significantly limits challengers from opposing parties.

Despite Mr. Gerry’s name now only remembered as a tactical political activity, a few avid paper-money fans (including moi) know that Elbridge Gerry is included in John Trumbull’s famous painting The Declaration of Independence that adorns the reverse of the current $2 bill (1976-), with Thomas Jefferson on the obverse. There are several earlier $2 bills with both Hamilton and Jefferson, as well as a National Bank note known as a “Lazy Deuce” due to an odd design.

The Trumbull painting is sometimes confused with the signing of the Declaration when in fact it depicts the five-man drafting committee presenting it to Congress on June 28, 1776. Oddly, there are only 42 of the 56 attendees depicted. But Elbridge Gerry is there for sure.

Now you know.

P.S. One theory is that John Trumbull could not get good resemblances of the 14 missing attendees. Good enough for me.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

‘Miracle on Ice’ was More Than a Hockey Victory for the United States

1980 Mike Eruzione The Miracle on Ice Game Worn USA Olympic Hockey Jersey
Mike Eruzione’s 1980 “The Miracle on Ice” game-worn USA Olympic Hockey jersey realized $657,250 at a February 2013 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

“Eleven seconds, you’ve got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

This was broadcaster Al Michaels’ famous verbatim commentary … now as famous as the game … when the USA Olympic Hockey Team skated off the final seconds of a shocking 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union in the semifinal game of the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y.

One day before the match, Dave Anderson of The New York Times had written: “Unless the ice melts, or unless the U.S. team performs a miracle, the Russians will easily win the Olympic Gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments.”

In 1981, Anderson won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary on sports … go figure.

Anyway, two days later, Team USA beat Finland 4-2 to win the gold medal!

According to Team Captain Mike Eruzione (Boston College), Coach Herb Brooks (University of Minnesota) said to the team just before the game, “If you lose this game, you’ll take it to your f—ing graves!”

Al Michaels was named “Sportscaster of the Year” in 1980 for his coverage of the event. (He was only there because he was the only one at ABC who had ever called a game!)

Due to the time-zone difference in Moscow, ABC decided not to broadcast the game live in most of the USA. Instead, the midday game was taped and rebroadcast in prime time. Most people (including moi) thought they were watching in real time.

Sports Illustrated named the game the Greatest Sports Moment of the 20th Century and there have been several movies (one featuring Karl Malden as Coach Brooks) and TV specials about it.

The whole country acted like we had won the Cold War … and maybe we did.

P.S. A little-known fact: In the very first game against Sweden, Team USA scored with only 27 seconds left to tie 2-2 by pulling goalie Jim Craig as an extra attacker. Without this single goal, the Soviets would have won the gold medal due to an obscure rule regarding a higher “goal differential.”

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

American Resolve at the Battle of the Bulge Changed Course of WWII

Illustrator Dan Brereton completed this original cover art for Sgt. Rock Special #2 (DC Comics, 1994) commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. It went to auction in October 2002.

By Jim O’Neal

A monumental military engagement took place on the European western front between December 1944 and January 1945. It was one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of World War II. It involved 500,000 German, 600,000 American and 56,000 British troops. The American casualties of 82,000 made the “Battle of the Bulge” the costliest U.S. engagement of the entire war.

Beginning in early June on D-Day (the invasion of Normandy), the summer of 1944 was long, hot and weary for the German army. Then in July, the Allies broke out of Normandy and two German armies were forced back toward their homeland. On the eastern front, a massive Soviet offensive shattered the Germany army there, while two more German armies were forced up the Italian boot by American forces.

But by September, the Allied offensive came to a grinding halt after moving so fast that they ran out of fuel, ammunition and spare parts. As the Allies paused, the Germans stopped their retreat. On Dec. 16, 1944, much to the American’s surprise, the Germans started counterattacks in France.

The surprise German bombardment involved 600 light, medium and heavy guns, as well as the Nebelwerfer (multiple rocket launchers), followed by the German 6th Panzer Army in the north and the 5th and 7th Panzer divisions in the south. A thousand paratroopers were dropped behind Allied lines to cut off any support.

This massive German counteroffensive against the U.S. Army in the Ardennes was the brainchild of Adolf Hitler. “I have come to a momentous decision. I shall go over to the counterattack.” He had spotted an opportunity to divide the American armies and force them to sue for peace, which would allow the Germans to focus all their forces on the Soviets.

It almost worked.

But the Americans dug in at Bastogne, under the command of a tough, no nonsense officer, General Anthony McAuliffe. Despite little ammunition (10 rounds per day for each soldier) and some troops without guns and winter clothing, they repeatedly repulsed the German attacks.

However, they were gradually surrounded by German armored troops and on Dec. 22, four men carried a note to General McAuliffe asking for his “honorable surrender” or they would totally destroy Bastogne. McAuliffe’s quick reply is now legendary:

To the German Commander,


From the American Commander

The next day, the skies cleared, American reinforcements started pouring in and General George Patton’s tanks forged a narrow corridor to Bastogne. The Germans began to pull back on all fronts, so skillfully, in fact, that the Allies didn’t realize they were gone.

With very few reserves – and the Russians pressing from the east – it was now just a matter of time before the Allies secured the total defeat of Germany!

Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

What Can Rome Teach Us About the End of Empires? Plenty

This Roman coin was minted A.D. 477-480 in the name of Emperor Julius Nepos, who ruled near the end of the Western Roman Empire. It realized $12,925 at an April 2014 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

The Roman Empire was established around 510 B.C. and by the third century extended across millions of square miles … to the Rhine and Danube rivers in the south, Spain in the west and beyond Constantinople (Istanbul) in the east.

Throughout this vast territory, they paved roads, constructed towns/cities, built aqueducts to water them and, importantly, provided Roman governance.

The city of Rome itself had public baths, sewer systems, glorious buildings, flourishing arts and poetry, and literally was the center of Western civilization. Our Western system of law, cultures and languages derive directly from Ancient Rome.

Yet in A.D. 476, Rome ended up being ruled by a 12-year-old boy – Romulus Augustus – and a downward spiral accelerated. The minting of coins fell dramatically. The famous Roman pottery stopped being made. Local economies declined as did the population of Europe.

The Dark Ages, which would last until A.D. 1,000, had begun.

The 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon wrote a famous masterwork, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that describes in fascinating detail the many events that contributed to this remarkable ending. It includes the Visigoths, the Vandals, the Huns (including Attila) and the Romans themselves. They had become lazy, content, self-satisfied and they made a fatal mistake. They started using mercenaries for protection, forces that were prone to corruption and available to anyone willing to pay more.

Later historians write that the fall of the Romans and their empire was “noiseless” and that the power of Rome was lost due to prolonged strife, and war was too widespread and relentless to control … especially for a series of weak leaders who had grown too inept to govern.

Gibbon’s book is a wonderful read for those with the time and patience to pore through. It contains valuable lessons for current and future leaders of the United States and others who naively believe “it could never happen here.”

All one has to do is contrast the England of 1900 with the Great Britain of today to see the result of slow rot.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

DeWitt Clinton’s Canal was Crucial to Our Nation’s Success

This hand-painted Stobwasser snuffbox picturing DeWitt Clinton sold for $5,312.50 at a December 2016 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

At the end of the American War of Independence in 1783, New York City was at a big disadvantage. First was the issue of loyalty due to the number of people who had maintained relationships with England during the war. This created a natural tension between the citizenry.

Second was its modest size. By 1790, the population was only about 10,000. Philadelphia, Boston and even Charlotte were all busier port cities.

However, New York state had a potentially important advantage: an opening to the West through the Appalachian Mountains. This mountain chain ran roughly parallel to the Atlantic Ocean and stretched about 2,500 miles.

Surprisingly, these modest hills and mountains had almost no usable passes, which created major trade and communication barriers to the lands west. Some even speculated that the people living there might decide to form a separate nation strictly out of necessity.

It was cheaper for farmers to ship their produce to New Orleans by using the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and then by sea around Florida and up to Charlotte or other eastern Atlantic ports. This was a 3,000-mile journey, but still less expensive than a direct route of 300 miles over the mountains that did not exist (yet).

This is when our old friend DeWitt Clinton, mayor of New York City and later governor, devised his plan for the Erie Canal, and in 1817, he received approval from the legislature for construction.

The Erie Canal not only secured the economic primacy of New York within the United States, but quite possibly the United States within the world. Without it, Canada would have undoubtedly evolved into the powerhouse of North America, utilizing the Saint Lawrence River to the Great Lakes region and the rich lands beyond.

The financial dominance of NYC would come later, but only due to the groundwork formed by the Erie Canal. DeWitt Clinton deserves to be elevated in our history of people who made significant contributions to our nation’s success.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

You Can Credit (Blame?) Taste Buds for Europe’s First Large-Scale Economic Network

Mendes Pinto left Portugal in 1537 in a fleet commanded by Vasco da Gama’s son, journeying for two decades before returning home. A rare first English edition of his journal, The Voyages and Adventures of Fernand Mendez Pinto, went to auction in March 2009.

By Jim O’Neal

After Columbus’ failed attempt(s) to find a new route to the Spice Islands, Vasco da Gama in 1497 (sailing for Portugal) decided to try a route around the bottom of Africa, despite winds and currents that prevented ships from simply following the coast line.

This route forced da Gama far out into the Atlantic Ocean and his ships were out of sight of land for as long as three months. Europeans had never sailed this far before and their first discovery was scurvy!

Two other bad side effects were the spread of syphilis to Asia (five years after Columbus’ crew apparently introduced it to Europe) and Gama’s infliction of extreme violence. Everywhere he sailed, he abused or slaughtered the people he encountered to the point where the whole Age of Discovery was marred by brutish violence.

Vasco da Gama never got to the Spice Islands. Like others, he thought the East Indies were just a little east of India, when in fact they were way beyond India. However, he was the first European to reach India by sea, thereby linking Europe and Asia for the first time by an ocean route.

Da Gama’s discovery was significant and paved the way for the Portuguese to establish a long-lasting colonial empire in Asia. It would take another century before England, France and the Netherlands could break this monopoly, but when they did, it opened an entirely new era of European imperialism in the East.

Spices never had the allure of gold and silver or the commercial potential of tobacco, indigo or sugar. The English and Dutch both struggled for control of the Spice Islands, but spices gradually faded from European cuisine because of changing tastes and the plethora of new foods introduced from Mesoamerica.

However, their decline should not obscure their role as the primary basis for the first large-scale economic network and the driving force behind the first expansion of Europe.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Yes, Some Pitchers Were Sluggers, Too

Warren Spahn’s 1950 game-worn Boston Braves jersey realized $33,460 at a July 2015 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

As baseball season gets under way, let’s look at pitchers who’ve been excellent sluggers.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Wes Ferrell holds the Major League season record for most HR by a pitcher … nine in 1931. Ferrell also holds the career record with 38 (one as a pinch hitter).

Don Drysdale led the NL twice with seven HR in 1958 and 1968 with the L.A. Dodgers. Teammate Don Newcombe also hit seven in 1955. However, Warren Spahn has the NL career record with 37.

Jim Tobin, a pitcher for the Boston Braves, hit three HR in one game in 1942 against the Cubs.

Rick Wise is the only pitcher to pitch a no-hitter and hit two HR in one game, June 23, 1971. (He also played in both the Little League and Major League World Series.)

Pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm hit a home run in his first Major League at bat on April 18, 1952 … but never hit another one in a career that spanned 21 years and 1,070 games. (He was the first relief pitcher to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.)

Dave McNally is the only pitcher in Major League history to hit a grand slam in the World Series … game three in 1970. The bat and ball are in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Somme Offensive was a Disaster for British, French Forces

A collection of 175 photographs relating to the ground campaigns of World War I went to auction in February 2016.

By Jim O’Neal

The Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, in the Civil War was the bloodiest day in American history, with more than 22,700 killed or wounded.

However, it pales in comparison to the Battle of the Somme in WWI. The Somme is a river in northern France that travels through a gentle valley to the Bay of Somme in the English Channel. “Somme” is a Celtic word for tranquility.

The Battle of Somme was anything but.

In 1916, northern France was a prime battleground where French and English armies ran headlong into the Second German Army. With superiority in numbers, the French planned a battle of attrition. But, a massive attack by the Germans at Verdun shifted the planning to the British.

The British launched an offensive with 20 Divisions of English plus seven Divisions of French troops attacking along a 10-mile-wide front, expecting an overwhelming triumph. A critical flaw in their strategy was an over-reliance on their artillery.

From June 24 to July 1, 1916, over 3,000 British and French guns bombarded the Germans with such ferocity that the 750,000 allied troops in the trenches facing west were confident that there would be little opposition when they “went over the top” to attack.

The only issue was that the shelling warned the Germans what to expect next and, critically, the damage to their forces had been amazingly minimal.

When the Allies did attack, it only took a few minutes for the slaughter to begin. But, when it did, it changed British history and attitudes about war forever.

The Germans had not only built just trenches, but heavy dirt and concrete bunkers so deep that no amount of shelling could damage them! So when the Allies finally charged, in tight lines, German machineguns methodically mowed them down. “We didn’t even have to aim.”

The casualties were staggering.

From July 1 to Nov. 16, the Somme became the costliest battle in the history of the world. On the first day (alone), the British Army lost 57,450 troops – 20,000 of them dead. The combined total for the British and French was 1,250,000 dead and wounded.

So much for tranquility and English military planning.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

In the Early 1960s, Ohio was the Home of College Basketball Royalty

Oscar Robertson and the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship in 1971. Robertson’s game-worn Bucks jersey from that season realized $65,725 at a February 2013 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

The “Big O” Oscar Robertson had a remarkable record during the three years he played for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. He set a bevy of NCAA scoring records, including most career points (2,973), most field goals (1,052), most free throws (869) and the highest average per game (33.8).

One thing that eluded him (and UC) was a national championship, although they did make the Final Four in 1959 and 1960.

Oscar Palmer Robertson from Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis (the losing team in the 1986 movie Hoosiers) went on to the NBA and set a record that still stands. In 1961-62, he averaged a triple double for the entire season, with 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists!

So it seemed unlikely that in 1961 the Cincinnati Bearcats (without their star) could accomplish something they had been unable to do when he played on the team. However, that year, with an undefeated team at Ohio State ranked No. 1, the Bearcats upset Utah in the semifinals and were suddenly up against Ohio State and their 34-game win streak for the national championship.

As the final buzzer sounded, the two teams were tied at 61-61. In overtime, Cincinnati took command and outscored the Buckeyes 9 to 4. A shell-shocked Ohio State team from Columbus had been upset by their unfriendly neighbors from Cincinnati!

Then in 1962, for the first time in history, the same two teams met again to decide the national championship. They both had something to prove as Ohio State was determined to prevent another upset, while the Cincinnati team wanted to show their championship was not a fluke.

Again, Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the nation, while Cincinnati did not look as strong, despite the play of star center Paul Hogue. Also, this was UCLA’s first ever appearance in the Final Four and they provided a glimpse of what was coming very soon.

With three seconds to go in the semifinals and the game tied at 70, Cincinnati’s Tom Thacker drained a desperation jumper. Final score, UC 72-UCLA 70.

So once again it was the two great Ohio teams battling for the national championship and Cincinnati prevailed again for the second year in a row – 71 to 59.

Cincinnati would make it back to the championship again in 1963, but this time as the tournament favorite after an undefeated season. Most thought they were a shoo-in for an unprecedented third consecutive national championship. However, it was not to be as they lost to the Loyola Ramblers in overtime, 60-58, and the dominance of the Ohio teams ended as well.

UCLA was lurking on the sidelines and poised to win 10 of the next 12 championships, including the never-to-be-matched seven in a row.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].