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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  June 15, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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>> now on booktv cate lineberry former europe editor and staff writer for "national geographic" magazine recounts the emergency landing of a military transport plane carrying 26 american army and air force medics and flight nurses into nazi occupying albania in november of 1943. this is about an hour. [applause]
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>> hi, good evening. it's a pleasure to be here tonight in my hometown of raleigh. i would like to start off by thanking claridge books for hosting the event as well as thanking everyone they came. i know we have a lot of nurses in the audience and i so wanted to give them a special thank you as well for coming. i will begin by setting the stage for how the 30 americans arrived in albania across the adriatic from italy in north of greece. i will then discuss the daring rescue read a small section from the book share some photos and we can end with any questions you have. in early november 1943, 13 flight nurses and 135 medics ordered to see 53 transfer plane with a four-man flight crew. the nurses and medics were traveling from their headquarters on the island of sicily to bari italy in the north where they were scheduled to pick up wounded patients from a different lines and the front lines and transfer them to more fully equipped hospitals around the mediterranean.
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bad weather had plagued the area for the past three days and patients had piled up. though the weather was sunny and clear when the plane took off that november day the aircraft soon encountered a violent storm that pushed the plane off course. the flight flight crew managed to avoid dangerous waters spouts that formed around them but they were surrounded by the weather, headlines can indication with their destination and their instrument panel was not functioning. after several hours in the air and not reeling realizing they had crossed the adriatic they decided the best chance of survival is to land the plane. they sign their field with german planes that look like they had been abandoned as so many had during the war but when they attempted to land the plane suddenly came to life and the americans were under fire. the pilots quickly took the aircraft only to find themselves in the path of two german fighter planes. the routine two-hour flight had turned into a five-hour journey and the pilots were not dodging enemy planes without any weapons to defend themselves.
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they ducked in and out of clouds in an attempt to update the fighter planes and eventually found a small patch of land near a lake nestled between rugged mountains where they could land. as the plane careened along the ground still saturated with water the landing gear slowly sank in the mud until it was completely submerged. it brought the plane to a violent stop. the foursome that of the plane's nose in in the marshy land in the fuselage hovered upright for a few seconds before falling to the ground and a belly flop. the crews chief who is in the back of the plane and not buckled in as the other passengers were for severely injured in the crash. the passengers tried to get their bearings and eventually exited the plane to found they were sounded by rugged terrain. within minutes a group of armed men dressed in uniforms came out of the woods and surrounded them. this began the americans month long journey, months long journey in which they faced a barrage of life-threatening
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incidents, had very little food for weeks on end and were forced to hide at night with villagers who are risking their lives to help them. during one german attack which occurred within a week of the crash landing three of the nurses were separated from the others in the group. not knowing if the three women were alive or dead the rest of the party had no choice but to wander through rugged terrain tired hungry and ill looking desperately for a way to escape. for weeks they were led through one village after another by albanian partisans who are members of the resistance group in albania have found them food and shelter. at times the americans weren't sure they could trust these partisans who seem to be using them as propaganda for their cause rather than helping them escape. meanwhile the army air force had scrambled to find out what it happened to the plane and its passengers. the army air force and that search planes throughout the mediterranean but there were no signs of them anywhere. the stranded americans quickly learned that albania was a small country about the size of maryland which had changed
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little over the last several hundred years. german troops that occupies albania after italy's surrounded the allies in 19432 months before and thousands of abandoned italian troops many of whom would not survive the brutal war still wandered the countryside. the americans also learned that tensions between two albanian resistance groups to partisans in the valley contour had erupted into civil war and that was as much of a threat to them as were the germans. after 22 days the american men and women finally located the british officer who escorted them through the camp but the americans didn't know it at the time, the man at the camp worked for the klan destined special operations executive for soe which was churchill's secret army. soe have been granted control of albania when says the office of strategic services which is the american equivalent carve the world into zones controlled by one of the other or shared by
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both. the majority of the british officers had received the same type of training as other soe officers but -- so the basic course recommend the same as those taught in britain. there were some specialty courses offered such as climbing and meal management in a mountain warfare school in lebanon. one officer found the management class was the most useful course. instead of being working in other countries these men wore uniforms that could withstand the harsh conditions of the mountain caves in which they operated criminal warfare. some including curley told slippers or fesses the battle dress with standard. the first handful of men had arrived in april 1943 to help the resistance groups fight the italians. to them it's growing frustration the resistance were -- than
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anything else. by october 1940 3a month before the americans crash landed, 24 british special operations men were in the country and organizing the seventh small missions. all of which traced constant danger. the first 50 men sent into the country, 16 of them were eventually captured and killed. the british agreed to -- wary from three weeks of walking soon contacted soe headquarters in cairo who relayed the information to american officials in the in the end the american oss that the party was safe and in their care. oss has sent its first minute talabani to assist the british a few weeks earlier after setting up a headquarters in bari italy which is where the plane was originally headed. having men in albania allow them to establish a communications link critical in the rescue mission now needed. oss device in which involved sending in an often are sooner to get them out.
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that man would be 24-year-old oss officer lloyd smith. smith the bin station in egypt for almost a year and then promoted to captain recruited by oss in cairo in early september september 1943. an oss recruiter promised smith because his brother clayton was headed overseas to serve as a pilot on that the bee 26 bomber. smith later wrote unless i get something more exciting than ordinance that would have trouble living with him after the war. soon after smith arrived at oss headquarters to bari italy his commanding officer said to him we have a priority job. how should like to volunteer to go to albania? though smith knew little of the trainer language he agreed to locate the stranded americans and bring them to the coast for evacuation with a three-hour -- under his belt. smith received his orders on november 30 and by the evening of december 2 yesterday made two attempts to cross the adriatic by the vote another port cities
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southeast of bari. when a second attempt had been canceled that day because of the discovery of german minds in the port he decided to go back to the oss officer and wait until the officer was cleared. he had just arrived when the germans unleashed a massive air attack on the harbor three blocks away that would later be known as the second pearl harbor. smith was fortunate to be heard. at least 1000 people including civilians were killed and countless before injured in 17 allied ships were destroyed. ozma's final attempt to reach the coast of albania took a british motor fishing vessel under the cover of darkness wearing the uniform of a captain in the the captain and the aaf to support his cover story as a downed pilot if the germans captured him. the treatment of the prisoner of war was far better than that of the spy particularly with hitler's commando order in place. they ordered all allied men copied kind lines was policy
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that -- the former dennis from california in the united states navy reserve to service the chief of oss airtime. taylor was not only secretly delivering smith he was also bringing in desperately needed supplies some of which eventually landed in the hands of the americans. around 11 that evening the captain was able to safely anchor a half hour off the albanian coast and the crew brought supplies to the nearshore. with the black shadows of the mountains winning over him smith hiked 800 feet on the switchback trail to reach a series of caves overlooking the adriatic that allowed sle and oss deliver and evacuate personnel, bring weapons and supplies into the country and pass on intelligence material. filled with lies and lack scorpions hewitt was the temporary home of soe personnel. an officer with mi-6 britain's secret intelligence service as
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well as to americans with the oss. conditions were -- in the day of the day was long. one officer had been evacuated days before said we were desperately waiting to go for we were rapidly running out of food and water. the meals that carried the wireless that dying for the week that we were there this was the only meet lee eight. there was no water and they would have run out there for very fortunate storm one night after that are only meager supply was will we could collect from puddles and rocks with a sponge. the situation become worse when a local appeared and tried to convince the men he owned the cave and if they didn't pay him a sovereign day he would turn them into the germans. after five days of waiting for information about the location of the american party that had come over the wireless from bari and cairo smith decided to do what he could discover on his own. with a 45 caliber handgun at
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compass and map and accomplice a map and a shepherd to guide him smith set out on his mission. while smith search for the americanamerican s the soe in coordinatcoordinat ion with oss assigned to men to escort the americans to the coast for a see evacuation. after a day at camp at the soe headquarters the party left with sergeant herbert bell. duffy has dark hair slight build and clark able mustache gave them a distinguished appearance and made them look over then -- older than his 24 years led the group along with with sergeant herbert bell a baby faced a man with blond hair who would be the wireless operator. it was december 7, the second anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor. they spent days walking and americans were more exhausted and ill than they have ever been. on monday december 20 the americans 43rd day in albania they learned they would have to start fact-checking because the
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nearby fighting between the germans and the partisans. it was too much or some including the american pilot who asked about the british wireless operators to send a message on his behalf asking for air evacuation. carrboro received a message and forwarded to the army air forces. the americans camped out for several days in the same villages hoping for an air rescue. with that i will read the prologue which takes place in the morning of the attended air evacuation. on a chilly overcast december day in 1943 galvin gary duffy at 24-year-old special operations with the networking for britain. through his binoculars through the cover of an albanian hillside and watched in frustration as waves of german troops and tanks moved through the steep and winding roads in the town on the valleys other side. the town was per type of an abandoned airfield where american rescue planes were scheduled to land that morning and a risky and dramatic mission to evacuate a group of stranded
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men and women. the party had now been missing for 52 days and barely surviving the treacherous winter landscape while abating while abating captured by the nazis that has to be watched activity across the valley three german trucks and one armored car drove from the town and partner the main road that ran in front of the airfield. now he was certain and the team would be rescued pair with no way for them to communicate with the pilot duffy's plan had enough signal that it was safe to land by laying out out yellow orange parachute panels from the supply draft to make a large map on the field. now that the germans had gone there was nothing he could do but wait for the others and watch. his party of exhausted of ill men and women riddled with lies and worn out from weeks of traversing the rugged terrain while eluding the enemy stood near duffy and his wireless operator is cold wind cut through theirs till the tattered uniforms and malnourished bodies. they were so weak from hunger sickness and despair that the several miles in their village
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hideouts in the rugged mountain that morning to meet the planes had turned into a slow and grueling journey. some of the men who had volunteered to help duffy give the signal to the planes nervously fingered their parachutes. the others continued a silent vigil. then at half past noon the sidebar of multiple planes filled the air. seconds later three lockheed t-38 lightning fighters and four tailed devils by the germans flew so well over the airfield that the wary group huddled in the fields could see the pilots faces. vickers wellington one of britain's most famous and durable bombers as machine guns hoisted fraction suddenly. as well enough but don't airfield ready to provide cover for this t. 47th of all time. not only were the americans right into the rescue desoer the british. more p3 eight's came until 21 planes filled the gray sky. the men and women so transfixed by the food's huge huge display
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their power. his most glorious i've ever seen none of them had expected have expected so many planes encircling not duffy. they were amazed at the ever being made to save them but they are even more affected by the stark reality that they couldn't signal the planes to land. with each passing second their hope hope to rescue there hope to rescue her being shattered and they were overcome with feelings that became inescapable frustration loneliness and heartache. it would be many more days and many more obstacles overcome before the oss completed their mission and rescued 27 of the 30 americans. oss officer lloyd smith eventually located the party being led by soa officer duffy after smith -- excuse me. after smith search for a month and face life-threatening our chips. as the highest-ranking officer smith reorganized the group putting slow and sick in front to allow them -- and together --
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and together they made an extraordinary push to get to the coast all while avoiding german patrols. during an all-night marc smith asked the group whether they should vote to stop and rest setting a date to their journey and keep going. the vote was unanimous. american women and men would do whatever they could to escape. by the time they reach the coast the party of 27 had walked more than 600 miles. weeks later lloyd smith returned to albania to rescue the three nurses who had been trapped after german attack 327-year-old marine corps gunnery sergeant from ohio was the wireless operator. he arrived in 1943 in the same boat as british anthony quayle who was working -- he traveled with smith while in the run from the germans during rescue efforts for the three nurses. it was coo kit to send the signal arrived at the evacuation point some four months after the nurses landed in the country.
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for his heroic efforts lloyd was nominated for distinguished service medal but was not awarded the distinguished cross. his citation reads for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy from december 7 to march 21st first, 1944. captain smith resolute conduct in the face of great peril throughout an extended period and the successful accomplishment of extremely hazardous and difficult missions exemplified the finest traditions of the armed form is -- armed forces. duffy was awarded the military cross in recognition of the contrary gallantry for his work in albania including the rescue. of his journey with the americans he wrote for the party in general they did splendidly. the courage and faith were a tonic to the people escorting them on what might offend the disastrous journey. my tribute to be paid to kevin smith who did magnificent work
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in the latter part of the journey. attribute should be paid to the people of the village through which we pass most of them are extremely hospitable even when a reprisal by the germans was the price to be paid. everything courage of these men and those involved in the rescue was extraordinary and is what inspired me to write the story of the past two years. and now i'd like to switch a little bit and show you some of the photos that will bring the story to life. i think we have a connection.
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[background sounds] [applause] >> all right. here, can you see that okay? no. i'm not sure we can do that.
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okay. the nurses and medics in the story were part of the medical arafat gration transport squadron. they were from the 807th and the atf's. i was an innovative program that had been started in late 1942 and in the course of the war it transported over 1 million wounded or sick soldiers with 46 died in flight so it was revolutionary. in fact by 1945 the general of the army dwight d. eisenhower deemed air evacuation as important as other medical evacuations of world war ii including penicillin and sold the drugs. this is a photograph of of the 807th atf send all the enlisted men as well as the nurses. the group was made up of 90 personnel including 25 nurses in that included their head nurse as well as 24 medics. they came from across the
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country and did receive special training at bowman field in louisville, kentucky. plus some of the medics volunteered for service of course others had been drafted. all of the nurses were volunteers of course. an interesting note about the nurses is some had been stewardesses before the war and at the time airlines required stewardesses to be nurses so it was an easy transition for them to make. this is a photograph of harold hayes who at the time of the crash landing was 21 years old. today he is 91. he lives in medford oregon and works very closely with me on the story. he has an incredible memory which helped a lot and very willing to share all of his experiences. he was one of 13 medics onboard the plane. all 12 of them were from the 807th but one from this
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802nd was catching a ride to try to pick up his paycheck and bari italy. [laughter] and he ended up getting more than he bargained for. harold is actually the only living member of the group of 30 stranded in american still with us. this is a photograph of harold showing me the route they took throughout dania. he tracked a lot of -- i used reports from the air force historical research agency as well as harold's memory and other reports i was able to find through various archives to re-create most of the villages. i think we got all but three of them that they had traveled and they went through dozens of villages during their time. these are some of the nurses who were involved in the crash landing. there were 13 nurses on board the plane including all the ones in the photo and what was
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interesting to me is part of the m.a. e.t. as the nurses had to be between the age of 21 and 36, weigh between 105 and 135 pounds and stand between 62 in 72 inches tall. the nurses ranged in age from 23 to 32 while the medics ranged in age from 19 to 36 so there was a very wide range of ages. this is the flight crew on the far left is the copilot and second from the left is the pilot who was actually only 22 at the time. he was the senior officer on board the plane. he had just been per motor to first lieutenant the month before so he outranked everyone on the plane. next is the radio operator and then on the far right is the crew chief and he was the one who was injured in the plane, in the crash landing. this is a photograph of the p.
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47, the type of plane they were in was the c. 53d which is very similar. the c-47 was nicknamed the goony bird and it was almost identical to the c. 53 except for the door. that was different. the c. 53 was designed specifically to carry paratroops so it lacked the large cargo door. here is just a brief shot from that time period giving you a sense of albania's rugged terrain. most of the area they ran looked a lot like this for the months that they were there. they came across a few towns but most of the time they were in villages. most of the homes in albania at the time lacked running water and did not have electricity and the main mode of transportation was by a mule. this is the town of rot one of
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the largest towns they pass through. it had a population of about 10,000 this was actually the town that on their fourth morning the americans wrote to the german attack and forced 27 of them to flee for their lives and the other three in nurses hid in homes and ended up being stranded for several extra miles. this is 1945 and with him is his wife who is still living today. she is 101 and lives in italy. unfortunately he did help the americans and lead them through many miles of rugged terrain and found them food and shelter but the americans were very suspicious of him at various times because they felt like he was leading them away from the coast, their ultimate destination and in fact after he parted ways with the americans was tortured for several days when he returned to his hometown and was eventually executed for
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helping with the allies during the war. this is a telegram that harold's family received alerting them that he was missing. as you can see it's very prepared it says regret to inform you report received that your son harold hayes missing in the bar north african area since a november. a further details or information are received you will be promptly notified. his family ended up getting two other telegrams in the course of the experience and without any clear answers. this is the british officer gavin duffy, soe officer receiving thank you kisses from two of the nurses. this was when they were in the hospital where they were quarantined basically for several days while the military figured out what they did and did not want them to say.
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this is the american officer, oss officer lloyd smith and he is the one who returned to albania for the second mission on his own and retrieved the three nurses. this is a map that shows their exact route. they started up here and the crash site is up here. they were trying to get here but this is the way they were taken. when they were debriefed when they got back to italy the intelligence officers told them they had probably traveled anywhere from 300 to 500 miles but given the terrain you could double or triple that. with that, i will take any questions that anybody has.
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[inaudible] >> they were eventually taken briefly to italy. then to berat and two headquarters in sicily but they were only there for a few days and actually thought that they would all be back together again in kentucky. they knew they probably wouldn't stay in italy in the mediterranean just because a favor had another crash landing they would be considered spies and shot immediately so they anticipated seeing each other again. what happened was a few of them got back and they were all sent to different places and carried out the war. most of them were in the united states. one nurse went to france and serve their but they wouldn't see each other again until they had a reunion in 1983. they had two reunions in the 80s. of course not everyone was living at that point. they had lost two in the group.
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>> according to the picture here it says 1948 was executed for having collaborated with definite. why in 1948 and who did the execution? >> after the war for for the partisan during the war as was staff became the dictator and for unknown reasons he killed most of his friends as well as anyone who he says it events of thread that included anyone who had worked closely with allies so he had done the same thing. i have a picture in the book of him standing next to duffy who was the british officer. why he did it and the story is very sad. his wife who is still with us, she begged for them to let them go. he had been imprisoned for several months and she finally had been told he would not be executed if he would serve 100 years or something like that. she baked a cake and asked her 14-year-old son to deliver it to the guard. when he got there the guards
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told him that they had executed his father that morning. the partisans were communist. their rivals were the dk and they were anti-commonest and anti-monarchist said they were basically fighting to see who would control the albania after the war. did any of the team expressed regret that despite their grueling experience they didn't get to work on their mission at all and did and he gets to participate in rescuing soldiers? >> in the medical air evacuation? they arrived in october so they only had a month of effectuating troops but some of them ended up training several of the nurses ended up training so they trained a new flight nurses coming in so i think they felt like they were actually doing that in a different kind of way but i know that some of them
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would have liked to have been there and avoided the whole albanian situation. [laughter] >> what prompted you to write this book lacks. >> i was working on an article, another world war ii article for the "smithsonian magazine" and i came across a historic news article about the account. i had never heard the story before but you hear a lot of stories about downed airmen finding their way back. the idea that they were 13 women as part of this really interested me. i thought you know it change the dynamics of the group and i wanted to know exactly what they were doing when their plane crashed. so i started investigating it and there were two memoirs written. one was by one of the nurses in 1999. she was 85 years old. she published her memoir and one of the medics who passed away in the 80s, his son found his
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father's long-lost memoir itself published it. so i had those documents as well and then i started doing archival research but what made me decide to pursue it as a book with once i found harold hayes the living survivor of the group and being able to ask someone all the questions that aren't written in the memoirs or have come up in the research, and so much of what harold told me i was able to validate of the information i could corroborate proved to be true so he is at very accurate memory and is very careful not to embellish which is a very important thing to have as a source. >> did any of them marry each other? >> no, they didn't. that's a good question. the nurses were all second lieutenant so they actually outranked most of the men who are enlisted men. what was interesting to me in researching the story is finding out that the nurses held relative rank which meant though
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they were given second lieutenant rank their pay was half that of what a second lieutenant would make. so there was, there was that office are enlisted break between them when they started so even though they were all in the 807 together when they boarded that plane that morning a lot of them were strangers. the nurses were friends with each other in the medics were friends with each other but there wasn't a lot of -- so as time went by without dania i think a lot of that was forgotten. but duffy the british officer was asked the question. he was actually the first one to speak when they got back. they were all told not to say anything about what had happened and then the british officer and a tough talking. someone asked about romance on the adventure and he said if you have been there he would know there was no romance. it was a grueling process and they did not bathe for weeks on and.
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did you encounter any resistance from the u.s. government in wanting to tell the story or did they assist you in any of that or where they involved at all? >> they were really involved. i did meet with the u.s. embassy when i was in albania. actually is one of the highlights of the whole experience. harold wrote a letter of thanks to the albanian people that i deliver to the albanian president when i was there and it was covered in the media that the u.s. embassy sent someone. but i think the real reason it was kept secret during the war was to protect any downed airmen who would need rescuing. it was also to protect the people who had helped them but then when communism took over that was when everyone in the group continued to hold their silence because they felt like they were still going to jeopardize those people. if their names were known, who helped them. >> after the war they continued
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to protect those people? >> correct. did any of them have long-term health effects that lingered later on into life so maybe they died sooner than they may have? >> he actually continued to have a limp for the rest of his life but i talk to a lot of the children of the group and several of them told me that their parents had tried unsuccessfully to get benefits for significant health problems they have had and were not fortunate enough to do that. but most of them, harold says his only fallout was he wouldn't be cornbread which was a staple while they were there for probably 40 years, so he was very lucky.
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did the group offering a medical assistance to the people people in the village's? >> when i first crash landed they were at one village for a couple of days and while a group of the men went back to the plane, because of the time of the crash landing it was raining and they were also fearful of needing to get away and they knew the germans were low so they didn't think about it. when i went back the next day they decided to go back and burn it so while they were doing that some of the people were looked at by the nurses according to a couple of articles i found in which the nurses were interviewed at later times. but i don't think they were doing a lot of that during their time there. i think they were really looking for help and the next place where they could find places to sleep. harold told me that he was certain that there were many days of the that the people who gave them food in the villages went without when they gave them because there is just a little to share.
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it's really extraordinary. here is a story to me of the oss and the soa but also course the -- people. >> what was the other article you were working on? [laughter] i have done a lot of articles on women's lives during world war ii and that intrigued me. virginia hall was a fascinating oss officer during that time and i believe i was working on that piece of the time. [inaudible] smead. >> "smithsonian magazine" on line. i was there web editor. [inaudible] >> there are so many heroes and in fact last sunday i spoke at the oss societies annual meeting. there's a surprising number of people who are still with us that were with the oss. that was such an honor to be among them. their stories are just
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incredible and there are so many of them. a lot of them have been documented already but when julia child's career is one of them that is just fascinating to me. >> hi cate. i know your mother. i want to know something about your visit with the albanian president and how that went and how you were received and if it's not classified. [laughter] >> it's not. they were very gracious. i was actually in contact with the albanian embassy and they recommended the former ambassador had a particular interest in the story and so i got in touch with him and he was actually the one who arranged the meeting with the president. harrods love -- harold's letter was so moving and it meant so much of the president who had never heard the story there and a lot of the albanian people have not heard the story. the albanian media was very
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interested in it but it was a lovely meeting and adjust you now as an author it made me feel like i was really having an impact on getting the story out there. so is very meaningful to me and i think was meaningful to harold. he asked it wanted to travel with me to albania and you know we ended up deciding it was just not, his health isn't good enough for that. but i sent him pictures and he felt like he was almost there. >> i trust he has read your manuscript now so what did he say to you about it? >> i actually was with him on launch day of the book and i felt like that was very important because we work so closely together and this was primarily the story of the 30 people. i feel honored to have told it. he said when he gave some remarks that day he said he learned a lot more than he ever knew about medical air evacuation because i was able to
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supplement a research through the historical research agency and archives that he living it just didn't know so that was fun to be able to share that with him but also when i first contacted him he wasn't sure how much interest there would need and i think when he he saw it in the final book he is really proud of it. so it's very meaningful to me. >> has the united states government ever recognize any of the albanians, formally recognize the albanians that assisted them? >> i don't believe they have. >> where was the launch of the book? >> it was in medford oregon. oh, it was in medford. it was his retirement community. oh, okay. it's a beautiful area.
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>> were you able to get anything from the german side of it like archives after the war from the german army and how they were fueling this? >> that's a great question. i was really hoping i would find this incredible you know story of one officer going after the group and to really flush that out. i did hire a researcher in germany. i don't speak german, to go through the archives there and he spent many days doing it. we found a few things. the germans did find the burned plane which is interesting. they were not able to use anything from it. it was exactly what the americans hoped would happen if they found it. we also know from the archives that in berat the land where they all fled when there was a german attack there was a german soldier who was a prisoner of the partisan and berat and he actually reported back to his officer when he escaped from the partisans that he had seen
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americans in berat and saw them fleeing the attack. that was interesting to me, how much the germans were pursuing the americans isn't completely clear from the archival record. yes. >> stefa played a key role in shepherding them from the -- but why did americans distrust him? what was he doing that lost their confidence? >> they knew that they wanted to get to the coast and their plan was to find a boat that would take them all there. that was the best plan at the time before they met up with the british and they kept yelling like he was taking them east instead of west where the coast was in every time they would talk about it and ask him he would say oh no don't worry, don't worry or as a partisan he would not go into bk territory said he would say he was trying to avoid that and at one point when the group is on the run,
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the group scattered from the attack and separated into two groups they hear some rumblings from one of the villagers saying don't trust that man. i think that kind of put a seed in some of their minds but i think ultimately stefa was doing everything he could to help them while also being a loyal partisan and for him it was taking the americans around. they really wanted the americans , the american and british to help them win the war and they had a group of americans in their hands so i think they thought, why not use them as propaganda? yes? >> is the english-speaking? >> stefa? yes. the red cross set up a school in albania that was very prestigious. a handful of young men went to it. stefa was one of those as well as gina who was the first man who greeted them when they plane
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crash landed. >> why did they take such a roundabout way to get to the coast? >> they were in the hands of the partisans and they were trusting them to guide them so some of it was they were being led further away intentionally. i think some of it was that there was fighting that would break out in particularly once they met with the british then the british providing them to the coast. there were some german fighting close by with partisans and the british officer really wanted to get them as far away from that area as possible. so it was a mix of things. >> what efforts since the book takes place in europe and evolves to european countries, and the publishing companies market over there, what do you think the reception is going to
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be especially since britain was so actively involved. do they even know it has come out? >> yeah. we are hoping to get an albanian publisher. there seems to be a lot of interest from albanians. the beauty in today's society you can find anyone on the internet so you will find a lot of relatives of the partisans who helped them so we are actually going to have a reunion in november of a lot of the families including the partisans. excuse me. so i think based on those families reactions and albania is a small country of 3 million, i think there's a lot of interest there as well as in britain but i don't know. >> the nurses that were hiding in the houses, there were some german shoulders -- soldiers but
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evidently they must not have reported to the others. can you comment on that part because evidently they didn't really know. >> sure. the second day the nurses were in the home in berat the german troops came in, two of them and saw them sitting in a basement. the nurses actually never knew why they didn't report them. i was able to find a man who was just seven years old living at the house at the time and berat and explained to me that his uncle who he lived with was actually a winemaker and had a lot of local connections. [laughter] so when these german should soldiers came and he convinced them to look away and not report the women and it saved their lives. in fact, batman still has the
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instrument panel from the original claim that the nurses had taken and kept it with them. when they made their escape they left it behind and he had kept it all these years. >> were you able to travel in the countryside? >> i spent some time in toronto which is the capital which feels very modern but if you go outside the capitol into some of the villages i don't think they have changed much since the americans were there in some ways. so we actually were able to find a couple of people who actually remember the americans. we found the oldest people in the villages and would ask questions and some of them remembered, which was a real treat for me. they were so surprised that an american had shown up to ask them questions him questions about something that happened so many years before in this very small village.
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>> there is one memory of harold that stuck out the most, any one single experience or memory? >> i think one of the hardest things for him was knowing that his family didn't know where he was, that they probably assumed he was dead. he was very emotional about that and whenever he talked about his family not knowing where he was that was a very poignant thing for him. one little anecdote was he started dreaming a lot about the mishmash potato pie, one of his favorite meals. they were all fixated on food but to the time because they were so hungry. there were days when they had maybe a small piece of cornbread and that would be a. that would be it.
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>> i would like to thank you for writing this look. so many of them passed on so many stories that will go unknown and thank you for bringing it to everybody's attention. what's next on your list? >> i will have to figure that out. i'm researching right now but hope to do another book. i think that is one thing i took away from this experience is when i talked to various family members they said you know i always knew my mom was in albania and i knew my dad was there but i never asked him many questions. some of them are just delighted that i did the research to piece together this story because they have such a sketchy outline of what had happened in their family. others, particularly the children of the nurse who wrote the memoir, because she was writing a memoir they actually traveled to albania together. they were able to talk a lot about it with her and i know they treasure those moments.
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it's a great thing to be able to talk to people and ask them the questions when you have the opportunity. >> where their family members, parents or grandparents? they never really want to talk about it and they never say it's a story that needs to be told. >> i think that generation just didn't talk as much as we talk about everything today. harold's daughter whom i met did not know much about the story at all and in the process, these extraordinary because he is 91 and he e-mails and scans pictures. i was very fortunate to have that. we communicated almost on a daily basis in addition to me visiting him in person several times but you know getting that kind of information from him has been really helpful. he is starting to get more of it now.
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>> outside of the memoirs he memoirs you are the only one that has tackled this subject that are. >> correct. >> so that is a gem that only comes along once in a while. >> thank you. it was such a fascinating story to me so i am honored to have been able to tell it and delighted to have so many family members open up you know when talk to me. these were their loved ones and i took that very seriously in the process of writing the book. their parents and their grandparents and i wanted to portray it as accurately as possible. >> from start to finish how long could the whole process take? >> it took between about a year and a half to two years. it was a bit rushed. but it was a fun experience. i really enjoyed it. >> did you have a publisher before you wrote this book? >> i did a book proposal so i
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was working with an agent and we submitted a proposal to publishers and little brown bot that. i have the time to her, but that typically i think what happens with nonfiction versus fiction the book is complete and you submitted to publishers. [inaudible] >> right, go to albania exactly. actually albania was on lonely planets 2011. they recommended it as one of the best places to go because it is still very cheap but it's actually very beautiful. it's right on the mediterranean and we really had a nice time. the food is excellent. any other questions? >> did oss evolve into the cia? >> i believe that was in the 50s. after the war there was a lot of
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talk about whether the oss should stay as one. it was our nation's first intelligence agency. weather should stay as one agency or be divided into others and i'm certainly not an expert in that but i believe that is what happened. and i think the oss decided, a lot of people don't know what the oss is sent it's an important part of our country's history. because they were really groundbreaking in what they did. >> i don't know if you can talk about this or not but. [inaudible] >> i hope so. [laughter] that's a good question. i spend a lot of time casting in my mind but that would be a fun thing to do. i just think it has movie potential and let's hope that happens.
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[inaudible] >> i will be in d.c. speaking at politics and prose there and then also speaking in d.c. this summer. a few other things lined up here and there. thank you very much. [applause] for more information visit the author's web site cate >> the american booksellers foundation for free expression has joined the aclu and over 80 other organizations in signing an open letter to members of congress to protest the national security administration's surveillance of americans internet and phone records. chris pine instated booksellers librarians and other members of the publishing community have been trying to amend section 215
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of the patriot act for years because it threatens the privacy of bookstore and library records or the fact that msa is collecting phone records of every verizon customer in the united states demonstrates the threat to our privacy is very real. you can read the open letter on the american booksellers foundation's free expression web site. stay up to date on breaking news about authors oaks and publishing by liking us on facebook at or follow us on twitter at a tv. you can also visit our web site, and click on news about books.
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>> the first book on my summer reading list is something i feel guilty i haven't written already. it is the victory lap by sasha is a berkin it's about out political campaigns are run and how they use analytics to make their decisions. it's how the campaigns work in terms of communications and this is the hidden side of the doings that happened and i think it's important book to read. that's the first thing on my summer reading list. the second book on my summer reading list is another book a biography of tip o'neill by john farrell a former colleague who is a traffic writer. it's an older book but i cover congress that seems like the perfect thing to read since tip o'neill was supposed to be a terrific book.
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a third book on my summer reading list is lean and by sheryl sandberg from facebook. it needs no introduction and it's about how women in the workplace should succeed and it's an important book to try to read. as a huge baseball fan i can go without reading a baseball book one of which is the art of fielding. if you're reading a novel he might as well have these ball stories inside of it. and the fifth book is sort of guilty pleasure reading that i haven't done yet and have put off which is game of thrones which is a popular tv show and a huge book series. my big fear is once you start reading the books i'm told you have have to read all of them so i have to carve out quite a bit of time that but i may try to tackle the first one this summer.
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fully the responsibility of mao and the communist party. it's about fifty minutes. [applause] >> it's an honor to be here tonight, and to have the opportunity to interview mr. yang about the remarkable book. we're going talk for a little bit between the two and a half of us, the three of us. [laughter] and then we're going to open it up to your questions, so as we are talking up here, have in mind questions


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