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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Code Breakers WW II

Hello All:

The recent discussions about African American patriots or their careless obliteration from Civil War history inspired me to share the enclosed with you.

I've always been interested in military intelligence especially when I learned that family friend Elmer Spyglass was a translator at the I G Farben War Crimes Trial. His intelligence work in the de-nazification of Europe is part of my family research. Art Thomas and Bennie will proudly tell you that Elmer was a Native Son of Yellow Springs, Ohio.

My research uncovered another fascinating story about African Americans' participation in the War effort.

"The Invisible Cryptologists: African-Americans, W.W.II to 1956." by Jeannette Williams and Researcher Yolande Dickerson adds another page to our military service. If you've seen the British films," Enigma" or "Breaking the Code" the photo of rows of African Americans bent over their desks is reminiscent of the workers at Bletchley Park. The true Enigma's code breaker was Alan Turing, a genius and unfortunately for him a homosexual. It's hard not to draw a parallel between the "long after the fact recognition" of Turing's contribution and the contributions of African Americans in all wars. The British embarrassment and reluctance to place Turing front and center as a hero in WW II had All to do with his homosexuality. The American reluctance to place Blacks front and center in its history has all to do with race.

The story of America's early black cryptologists once again underscores our military service. I am very sure that the nameless men and women who provided invaluable strategic intelligence to the Union Army would have been proud of Jeannette Williams and Yolande Dickerson for remembering a generation that followed them.


K Wyer Lane

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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