Imitation Archiving Angeles (IAA): Patton On Parade

I look forward each Friday to Jason Burns’ regular deliveries of the pictorial history of Los Angeles, and his authentic one will be along in about an hour or so. But in the meantime, I happened upon the following photo yesterday and couldn’t resist filing my own (click to triplify):

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It is June 9, 1945, a month after Germany’s surrender and Angelenos have lined South Broadway to cheer and welcome home the San Gabriel Valley native who played such a large part in securing an allied victory over the Third Reich: “Old Blood and Guts” himself, General George S. Patton, seen here in part of what may very well have been his only large-scale public appearance. Acknowledging the throngs as the parade motorcade has just crossed 5th Street and heads north past the old Silverwoods Department Store, Patton would be dead six months later, at age 60, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Germany. He is buried in Luxembourg, but a monument stands at San Gabriel Cemetery adjacent to the church where he was baptized.

Photo courtesy the National Archives and Records Administration. More information via the George S. Patton Wiki page about the general’s Los Angeles visit, after the jump.

Largely overlooked in history is the warm reception he received on June 9, 1945, when he and Army Air Force Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle were honored with a parade through Los Angeles and a reception at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before more than 100,000 people that evening. The next day, Patton and Doolittle toured the metropolitan Los Angeles area. Patton spoke in front of the Burbank City Hall and at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. He wore his helmet with a straight line of stars, chest full of medals, and his two ivory-handled, nickel-plated pistols. He punctuated his speech with some of the same profanity he had used with the troops. He spoke about conditions in Europe and the Russian allies to the adoring crowds. This may be the only time in America when the civilian people, en masse, heard and saw the famous warrior on the podium.

This was also the time when he quietly turned over an original copy of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which he had smuggled out of Germany in violation of JCS 1067, to San Marino’s Huntington Library, a world-class repository of historical original papers, books, and maps. He instructed physicist Robert Millikan, then the chairman of the board of trustees of the Huntington Library to make no official record of the transaction, and to not make the materials available for public inspection during Patton’s lifetime. The Huntington Library retained the Nuremberg Laws in a basement vault in spite of a legal instruction in 1969 by the general’s family to turn over all of his papers to the Library of Congress. On June 26, 1999, Robert Skotheim, then the president of the Huntington Library announced that the Library was to permanently loan the Nuremberg Laws to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where they are currently on display.

4 Replies to “Imitation Archiving Angeles (IAA): Patton On Parade”

  1. What a photo. The Greatest Generation had V-E Day and Patton’s parade. Our generation has The Codpiece and “Mission Accomplished.” Have far we have come.

  2. It was a different generation than today. I don’t expect you could have a parade like that, safely, in the contemporary cultural climate. The “tricksters” of the area would no doubt jump in on it, like — well, you can imagine the possible metaphors.

    I think that our patriotism is far more subdued, today. I think I can say little more than that, safely.

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