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tv   Women Spies of World War II  CSPAN  April 10, 2021 9:09am-10:01am EDT

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-- confederate government incentivizes this type of sabotage. in 1864, the confederate congress authorizes the rebel government to pay naval guerrillas up to 60% of the damage. if you can prove you have destroyed a boat, you will get paid. we have evidence of boat burners that were captured in memphis, that were former police officers that turn into naval guerrillas. they have a list of all of the boats traveling and what their value would be if destroyed. so we know that they are motivated economically. >> watch the full program today on "the civil war" at 6:00 p.m. eastern, 3:00 p.m. pacific on american history tv. >> josephine baker, virginia hall, and muslim pacifist noor khan were reported as -- recruited as prize -- spies
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during world war ii. janelle neises and professor elizabeth baer discuss the important role these women played and how they were able to use prejudice and sexism to their advantage. this was hosted by the u.s. holocaust memorial museum and they provided the video. janelle: good morning -- edna: good morning and welcome to another episode in our facebook live series. during each program we just -- we explore an aspect of holocaust history and its relevance in the world today. in the united states the month of march is women's history month and today we will be discussing stories of the spies they never saw coming. josephine baker was the toast of wartime paris. virginia hall, a wealthy young woman from baltimore lost a leg in a hunting accident and noor khan was a muslim pacifist. the three of them were the most unlikely spies all working in a
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dangerous environment of german occupied france. please join me in welcoming today's guest. janelle is the deputy director of the central intelligence agency museum and elizabeth baer is a professor of holocaust studies as well as a volunteer in our museum's senior historian's office. hello, we are glad that you are here. janelle: good morning. edna: during the show, please send us questions in the comment section and we will get to as many of them as we can. janelle, let us begin with a woman who grew up in baltimore, maryland, virginia hall. she had a significant physical disability as a result of an accident. how did she become a spy? janelle: to really understand how someone like virginia hall became a spy and why she was so successful at it you need to go back to her youth and how she grew up. this was a woman that from a very young age did not fall to
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the trappings of societal norms. she definitely knew who she wanted to be and what she wanted out of life. you need courage to be a spy, and virginia hall was courageous through her entire life. she was born in baltimore to an affluent family, and having a little bit of wealth allowed her to have experiences that came in handy later in life while she was serving during world war ii. she was able to travel abroad and study. she studied in france, paris. while she was there she was able to learn the language and became fluent, but when you spend a significant amount of time in the country you understand the culture. and when you are going in undercover, having an idea of cultural norms in a specific city or come -- country is helpful. this made her more effective. virginia always knew that she wanted to have adventure, so she wanted to be a foreign service officer.
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she decided to apply to the state department and she became a clerk in multiple cities. while she was stationed in turkey she had a hunting accident. virginia growing up a little different than young girls, her father how to -- taught her how to shoot weapons. she would hunt on her family farm. when she was in turkey she was hunting and she tripped and accidentally shot the lower part of her leg and foot. by the time they got her to the hospital, gangrene had set in and it had to be amputated from the knee down. now virginia has a prosthetic, but this is virginia hall and that will not let that stop her. to the point where she accepted this and she named her prosthetic cuthbert and it became her lifelong companion. this was not going to stop virginia. she went back to working for the state department and wanted to be a foreign service officer but at that point in history the state department had a rule that if you were missing a major limb
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they would not accept you into the foreign service. she decided to quit and went to france on her own and wanted to be a part of the action and help the people of france, who she cared about. she became an ambulance driver during the beginning of the war each is a very rough job. when it became too dangerous she actually fled and went to the u.k.. edna: really, an audacious spirit and does not take no for the answer. janelle: she it was the exact right person. she was a woman so she could use the nazi sexism to stay under the radar. as i mentioned she spoke france -- french and german fluently and she had just been in france so she had the ground truth, the term used by the caa, when you know exactly what is going on in one place at one time. edna: she is eventually recruited by the british, and they recognize that she has a unique set of skills.
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where there limitations given to what she could do as a secret agent? janelle: she went through all of the intention training -- intensive training through the british version of the cia, churchill's secret army. they put her through everything and a lot of people did not pass, but virginia did. she did hand-to-hand, she shot weapons they would wake her up in the middle of the night and interrogate her in french. they put her face underwater, and they would scream at her trying to see if she would divulge any information or if she would break her cover, if she would start talking in english or forget her name or where she grew up, all of which were important for her cover story. she went through all of that and managed to pass. the one thing that they spared her was she did not do the jump class, she did not have to learn how to parachute because the british knew that they did not need to sneak her into the country. they actually wanted to send her and with a paper trail because
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she was going in as an american journalist. so she was able to get in by train or plane. they did not have to have her parachute, which was something that helped her push through this because that was one of the limitations that she would have had with her prosthetic. this training was so important to her success, because unlike a lot of other spies she was in france for 15 months for the british. and then almost another year for the americans. while she is there she is recruiting this incredibly diverse set of people to work with her. she is recruiting prostitutes at brothels, nuns at convents and a doctor to prevent -- to provide lodging for pilots or to provide information and cover. she is working with these people and at the same time she is arming resistance forces, scouting drop locations for personnel and ammunition, and also scouting to see where are
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the pressure points for the germans, the nazis as far as how are they getting in people and supplies themselves so they can conduct sabotage missions and blow up bridges, roads, and railways. she really wasn't outside of the box thinker in so many ways. when she would help allied pilots out of france there was a line that said "it is easier to build a new plane than to train an effective pilot." so she would help them get out safely, but while she did that she made sure to send them back with anything of present day, so things like ration books, money, intelligence, so -- and clothing was important so that they could send them back with this pilot so that when new agents came in, they had everything essential to look like their cover and be in a safer situation. edna: what an exceptional persian -- person of any scales. it sounds like little scared
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her. there was a line of her cover identity was that she was in france as a reporter for "the new york post" and a recent story about her in 2018 they said "virginia hall did everything that the fictional james bond would do except in real life and with one leg." and that is not poetic license, that is just true. janelle: it is. edna: i want to pause to acknowledge that we have people watching us from all over the country and the world, that morning and thank you for joining us. from pittsburgh, pennsylvania, santa fe, mexico. minnesota, chattanooga, tennessee. roscoe, illinois. tallahassee, chicago, phoenix, and pompano beach. we are glad to have viewers from watching around the world in london, oxford, and in holland. thank you for being with us today and please send your questions for janell and
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elizabeth. the three covert agents that we are discussing, obviously faced gender bias, but paradoxically the low expectations were an exit -- an advantage that they could rep -- weaponize as a useful form of camouflage. this was clear the -- clearly the case of noor khan. tell us about how she became -- overcame significant obstacles to become a courageous wartime agent. prof. baer: noor khan was born to an american mother and an indian father in moscow in 1914. her father was a sufi mystic, use addition, and a leader within his form of islam, and he traveled widely, so they happens to be in moscow when noor was born. her father taught her faith in
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action as a principle to live by, which is to say, be of service to others. she embraced gondi's nonviolent -- ghandi's nonviolence really -- nonviolent beliefs and believed that passage of -- fascism should be crushed. she volunteered for the british women's auxiliary air force and was trained in that program in 1940. in 1942 the british decided to recruit her to become a spy, to learn how to be a radio operator in order to convey messages from france, as it turned out, back to england and she learned a lot about airplanes that were bombers and worked with the pilots for those planes. some of her trainers were a little dubious about whether she
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could carry out her work as a spy. they thought she was small of stature when she went through mock interrogations such as janelle mentioned that virginia did. she sometimes froze up and sometimes she even disclosed personal information. one of her trainers called her clumsy, unsuitable for physical activity, and scared of weapons. unlike virginia. and, they were also worried about her spiritual beliefs, although they served as a source of strength for her. they felt that it might prevent her from making the kind of quick and courageous decisions that are required in espionage. edna: in the end none of the concerns that you outlined for us prevented the british from dropping noor into occupied france to gather intelligence.
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what did she do, and did she make it? this was very dangerous. edna: indeed. so, june, 1943 she is flown into an airfield in the country in france, takes the train to paris, gets to a safe house. she is always carrying her leather suitcase which contained her radio messaging equipment. and, she had developed a good fist, because this is how you would operate the radio messaging system. she went undercover, her codename was madeleine. she both conveyed crucial information back to england and organized spy rings within paris. she survived a series of mass arrests that the nazi made
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shortly after she arrived in the british called her back to london and felt that it was no longer safe for her to be in france, but she refused. she continued her radio transmission work, and continued organizing a crucial -- crucial missions within france. despite the fact that the average amount of time that a radio operator would survive in occupied france before being arrested by the gestapo was only six weeks, noor lasted for four months in france. edna: really extraordinary and she was only 29 years old. prof. baer: correct. edna: a brave person. we have a question, judy is asking whether noor survived the war. prof. baer: thank you. sadly, no. there is a long list of women spies. the other two that we are
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talking about today, virginia hall and josephine baker both supply. -- survived. the atkins survived, but noor did not. here's the story of what happens to her. she was betrayed by a woman who was contact -- you contacted the does -- the gestapo and knew how to find noor and demanded a large sum of money and the gestapo paid her, and she betrayed noor. she was arrested in her apartment and was taken to a posh parisian -- prison in paris where she was treated well and interrogated but never disclosed any information. she tried to escape twice. when the nazis arrested her, they managed to find her codebook and her radio transmitter in the apartment. and, this proved to be very bad
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because once they had those two things they could continue to send transmissions to england as if they were noor, using the codes and her radio equipment, and in this way they got responses from england with lots of confidential information, which enabled them to arrest other people. after noor tried to escape twice , she was put on a train and sent to a more secure prison in germany. and, she was seen as an escape risk, she was bound with chains on her hands and feet. and, she languished in isolation for about 10 months. and then with a couple of other women operatives taken to dock out and -- dachau and executed
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by gunshot to the head. it was said her last word was liberte, and she was only 30 years old when she died. edna: what a heroic figure. i had not heard of her before we prepped for the show, and she made the ultimate sacrifice by giving her life to defend people outside of herself. really selfless and brave. virginia was also in danger after her network was breached. i heard that clouse, -- klaus the notorious butcher of lyon became obsessed with capturing her. how did she come to his attention? janelle: because she was good at her job. when you are very successful you draw unwanted attention. the fact that a woman was disrupting plans was upsetting, the fact that he -- a woman could be so effective.
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he became obsessed with her and there were wanted posters all over the area with a likeness of virginia hall. she became the most wanted woman in the country. he before -- referred to her as the limping lady, something that she was bothered by. she thought that she had hidden her limp. so, probably knowing what i have gained knowledge about virginia, that probably lit another fire inside of her, the fact that he referred to her as the limping lady. it was too dangerous to stay in france. decides him coming after her, she needed to figure out what to do with the people in her ring or network that started going missing. like noor, virginia was betrayed by a priest. he had infiltrated her ring and it was something that she was upset about because she was good at reading people. and, she did not trust him from the beginning and send
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communication to headquarters and they said that he was to be trusted. it turned out that he was actually the reason that all of her ring was being dismantled and her people started going missing and were being sent to prison. she knew she needed to get out of the country. and, given what was happening she had to find a way of doing that without taking the train or getting on an airplane. edna: i think this dovetails nicely with a question we have from a viewer named pat. pat says that she always wanted to be a spy and wanted to know what virginia's scariest time and place were on a mission. what came next would be up there. janelle: correct. everything that i have read or people i have spoken with said that she wrote that her hike over the pyrenees, which was what her escape route was was the only time she truly felt vulnerable during her work. she had to flee france in november. this is not hiking through the
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pyrenees in nice weather, this is sometimes when there is three feet of snow which is hard for anybody -- any able-bodied person. virginia has a prosthetic leg and when you walk through snow you have to pick your leg up and over and she was not able to do this so she had to drag her leg behind her. by the time they were able to get to a safe house her stump, the edge of where her real leg met the prosthetic she would wear a sock to prevent -- to from friction. she had blisters, so the woman at the safe house gave her a new sock. but i will say that she wrote that the men were complaining more than she was. but it was truly the time that she felt the most vulnerable and scared that she might not make it. she ascended 8000 feet through the pyrenees and into spain. at the safe house she made a communication saying that cuthbert was giving her trouble, and so the british responded
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back, if cuthbert is giving you trouble, have him eliminated. they had no idea that cuthbert was not a real person. they did not know that virginia hall had named her leg. edna: cuthbert was or prosthetic. janelle: correct. edna: we have a comment from someone on twitter whose handle is expatmom. she writes "thank you for including a woman with a disability. i have medical issues with my right leg and it is uplifting to have -- to read about someone who had a disability. clearly, virginia hall was not deterred as she made her way to spain, which was officially neutral. she walked there over the mountains. now, despite having escaped to safety or relative safety, she did not stay out of the game long. it was not in her nature. how did the americans snapper up
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as a spy? janelle: when virginia got back to london she wanted to go back into france but the british said that it was dangerous, that she was wanted and people had an understanding of what she looked like. again, like the state department not letting her be a foreign service officer, she quit, and she joined the oss, office of strategic services, the predecessor to the cia. we wanted to send her back in and this is a woman with ground truth who had been in france and had been very successful. we knew that she had a lot of skills that would help the allied forces on the american side. one thing that virginia did when she got back to the u.k. is she made a point of telling the british that sending in one wireless radio operator was not a good idea. the germans were driving around with detection devices. they arrest them, put them in
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jail, or kill them. now you have the rest of the group are agents who are dead in the water when it comes to certain ways of communicating because the wireless operator is gone. when she got back, she pushed them to train anyone -- everyone to send an wireless radio. while she was waiting to figure out her next plan, she was training in wireless so this was another thing the americans could take advantage of. we did not want to put her in as virginia hall. so, we disguised her as an old woman. she grew up doing theater and she was really able to pull on her past and truly live all of the aspects of her cover. she wore lairs of clothing to hide her figure and she developed a shovel. one of the things is an actor when you take on an active -- when you take on a character you take on a different gait. to hide her limp, she looked
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similar -- she created a shuffle that looked similar to arthritis in her hip. she went so far as to actually find a dentist to file down her american dental work and to have it look more european. that is intense on a whole different level, but she wanted to make sure that she was exactly what her cover needed to be. we put her back in by boat and she was very effective for the americans. her cover allowed her to take cows from one pasture to the next and doing this may have drawn attention if you were looking around without cattle. but she was able to take that cover to scout locations for drops. personnel, supplies, ammunition, and explosive devices were being dropped in in the dead of night. the explosive devices were very important because one of the things she did effectively was scout locations to pick up sabotage operations.
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they were blowing up bridges and railroads that the nazis were using to bring people and supplies in and out of the country in advance of d-day. jr. was to -- virginia was too important to go on sabotage missions, but everything we have read said that she was too important to lose so she would teach them how to use the explosive devices and she would teach the french resistance where they needed to do -- what they needed to do and where to do it, but she would stay behind. she also did wireless. it is important because it is dangerous, added to the list of what she was doing for the americans and allied forces. there is a painting in the cia, we have an intelligence art gallery depicting virginia hall in a barn. you will see in the picture that she actually has a bicycle, and you are wondering what is this doing. virginia was so good at thinking outside of the box and really
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looking at a situation that might be very difficult and finding a way to do it. that was something of importance of oss officers in france or cia officers today. you have to find ways to get things done. so she needed power so she rigged up a bicycle to power her radio. the entire time she was there she sent over more than 20 communications, again, very important, that one of the things that people do not realize because she comes across as this james bond character is virginia hall was very scared. she saw traumatizing things and she was in danger every moment she was there. she could have been caught at any moment. one of the things that i think is the most inspiring is how long she stayed because she did not have to, but she cared so much about the french people and was so disgusted by what nazi germany was doing was that she -- so she kept being focused and
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kept with her job. edna: she really was clearly quite attack vision and strategic thinker. and -- the tactician and strategic thinker. eventually she came to head a network of 1500 french resistance. janelle: with being women's history month, some of those men had a hard time taking orders from an american women and she told them if you want weapons, suppose of devices, if you want to win you need to follow me. and they have writings from saying that some of the men would have followed virginia to hell and back. edna: incredible. elizabeth, we have not talked about the one woman on her list who is the closest to a household name, a very famous performer, josephine baker. for those who do not know about her, tell us more and what motivated her to become a spy. prof. baer: josephine was born
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in east st. louis in 1906 into a family of entertainers, but she grew up in very impoverished situations. by the age of eight she was performing on the stage, and by 16 she was actually on broadway. on broadway, she was not a glamorous figure such as we saw in the photograph. instead she was made to wear oversized clown shoes to perform in stereo typical ways, to cross her eyes, and really in many ways to perform in a fashion that was demeaning to her. three years later when she was 19 in 1925 she got the opportunity to go to paris with an african-american troop. it was not long before she was an absolute sensation in paris, the toast of paris.
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and, yes, occasionally she would wear a banana skirt as part of her act, but she also wore beautiful satin dresses and sequins, and glittering jewels. she would sometimes change clothing 12 times in one of her acts. she was recruited to become a spy by the member of the french -- by a member of the french espionage in 1939. and, when he approached her, she had no hesitation. she said the parisians have given me their hearts, and i am willing to give them my life. and, she remained steadfast as a member of the espionage rings in france, and portugal until the end of the war. the nazis saw josephine baker as
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a racial threat. she was not only african-american, but she was openly bisexual. and she was also married to her third husband, a jewish man. in 1940 when the nazis occupied paris, she knew that she had to leave. she could be arrested just on the basis of being a black woman. and she put her several pets and a couple of belgian refugees into a car and headed out of paris with a huge train of cars that were french people leaving the capital. and, josephine being josephine, she knew that she would need extra gasoline along the way. she was smart and kept her head in emergencies so she filled champagne bottles with gasoline to surprise -- to disguise what they were and made it safely to
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her chateau in the south of france. she rightly perceived nazi ideology as a racist ideology, and this was one of her strongest motivations for becoming a spy. edna: as you describe, she quite literally embodied watch -- what nazis labeled as degenerate. after the german occupation she vowed not to sing until france was free, what i think we should have a listen to her extraordinary voice, and we have a clip of her entertaining troops and she galvanized so many french people and gave them hope and inspiration. >> [seeing in foreign language -- singing in foreign language]
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prof. baer: wonderful. we could see the adoration of the french soldiers, on their faces, and she is singing what became her signature song translated into english it says "i have two loves, my country and paris and the french." so she had this double love, and you can see how easy, and how fluidly she moves on the stage. she was invited to parties, to after theater events, to the italian and japanese embassies, and so it was very easy for her
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to innocently ask a leading -- ask leading questions of the nazis whom she encountered in these situations and she would actually write on her hands and arms the information that they gave her, which then she could convey to jacques which went on to the british. the germans radically underestimated josephine baker. they just saw her as a woman of color, someone low on the racial hierarchy that the nazis established with aryans at the top and jews at the bottom. she was a very valuable spy. edna: she was able to exploit this underestimation to her advantage. nevertheless she had a limitation in that she was easily recognizable, easily one of the most famous people in paris. while virginia and noor were
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undercover, that was not an option for josephine. how was she able to operate in plain sight? prof. baer: it seems counterintuitive to think that she had this double identity and she was so well known. but her celebrity status made everybody eager to meet her and talk with her. in this way she was able to gather a lot of information. there came a moment when she and jacques needed to convey all of this information that she had gathered back to the british, and what they did was to devise a tour to portugal with jacques disguising himself as her ballet master. josephine took all of the information she had gathered and wrote it in invisible ink on the back of her music sheets, and, on the back of photographs that had been taken of installations and so forth which she hid in her clothing. because of her celebrity status
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she just waltzed across the border and she was not searched by the nazi's guards because they assumed that she was just an entertainer and did not have a brain in her head. so, she was very successful in this portuguese mission, and the documents got transferred to the british. edna: what else made josephine's efforts so unusual? it was not that she would get away with being searched, but she did a tremendous amount of important work, right? prof. baer: absolutely, despite the fact after world war ii a lot of people in france claimed that they had been involved in the resistance, only about 2% were involved in the resistance, others were bystanders. it is telling that the two american women we have talked about, virginia hall and
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josephine baker devoted themselves to spying in france because of their love of france and the french people, and both were highly successful. she raised more than 3 million francs for the free french army through entertainment and tapping wealthy people that she knew. and, her bravery was honored by an appointment to the women's auxiliary of the french air force. and, she was given a uniform with various decorations, which she wore for the rest of her life very proudly. it was almost a form of french citizenship for her. after the liberation of paris in 1944, josephine became aware that many people in paris were suffering because of food shortages and coal shortages.
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she took many of her valuable possessions, her jewelry and sold it in order to get money to provide food and coal to the citizens of paris, so a very selfless gesture after all of the other work she had done successfully as a spy. edna: not only a very courageous person, but a true humanitarian, clearly her heart was in everything. we have a number of questions coming in from viewers. a comment from someone named merle who who writes about the women who knitted in -- intelligence into their knitting while the nazis were in plain sight. does this ring true for you? janelle: it doesn't, but during the revolutionary war we have
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evidence that the women used quilting groups to listen in on things and the cia now we have a group of people who make quilts called the undercover quilters in honor of what women were doing during both the revolutionary and civil war. edna: along those lines, a woman named melanie asks "how does these work -- how to the work of these women help the women spies of today?" janelle: i think the legacy of virginia hall is strong at the cia today. she is an inspiration for many officers especially in the directorate of operations. jr. hall was the first paramilitary cia -- virginia hall was the first paramilitary cia officer. people do not realize how much the women who come before the present day really matter as far as breaking the glass ceiling. in the case of virginia hall,
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she created the foundation on which our current female leaders stand. in 2020 made history having our first female director and every single -- in every single directorate in our organization was led by a women and we could not have done that by people like virginia hall. edna: was she formally recognized for her achievements? janelle: she was awarded by the british and the french, but in the united states became the most highly decorated female civilian of world war ii. in this picture you will see general donovan, the head of the office of the strategic services is giving it to her, and that is because in true virginia hall fashion she said no to the president of the united states and i love that about her. the president wanted to give virginia hall the cross at the white house, but she wanted to stay in the shadows, she wanted to remain anonymous encase she had an opportunity to work in
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the covert world again so she said no, and asked that donovan give the award to her in her office with only her mother present. that was the only person she invited. in that plate to virginia's advantage. she did not want attention, and because of that she was able to still work in the covert world and she came to the cia. edna: she was an agent, and a spy or at least in that mindset until the end. janelle: she stayed with the cia until mandatory retirement age and probably would have stayed longer if they had let her. edna: amazing. what about josephine baker, what happened to her after the war? prof. baer: both noor and josephine were awarded significant civilian awards by france and england, of course noor's was tossed humanist. baker wore her french air force
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uniform to the march on washington in 1963 where she was one of the few women to speak from the podium. i think it is worth noting that these two women, noor and josephine, both women of color broke barriers resisting nazi -- ideology, it and ideology of racism and hatred, brought dedication to their adopted country and to the power of love, both of them believe very strongly in the power of love, and i think it is worth noting that they were immigrants to france who made an enormous difference, which is a lesson for our global community with the refugees and immigrantss= today -- immigrants today. edna: we have a question from a viewer who said that noor helped her service -- hope her service would aid in indian pride, did
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that help? -- did it help? prof. baer: sad to say, she was ignored in her country after many years -- after her death for many years. in the early 21st century, some recognition came through the indian government, but, hindu nationalism has prevented proper recognition of her. edna: nonetheless, she is honored in england with her official honors and with a bust that we are seeing that was unveiled in 2012, recognizing her contribution to the british war effort. we have a viewer named alexandria, a graduate of the same baltimore school that virginia hall attended and she writes "virginia could have had such a cushy life of privilege had she just stayed home. virginia can be proud." i think that is true of all
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three women. this is something they opted to do and it just adds to the sense of gratitude that they have -- that we have. jeffrey writes "where is the cia museum located and as it open to the public? " janelle: that is my favorite question, the cia museum is not open to the public because it is inside our headquarters building which has guards and other things and you cannot get in. what we do is we really try to get our collection out to the public via our website, so the website has a great collection of artifacts that you can learn more about, and we partner with our office of public affairs at the cia and do artifact of the week and we use twitter and facebook and things of that nature so that the collection can come alive to people in the public. edna: we hope that you will check that out and research all three of these women. kimberly from farmington,
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connecticut -- not enclosing. i want to give a special thanks to virginia hall's niece who gave us permission to use these photographs and also peggy in france for acquiring the footage of josephine we used in our program. now, kimberly from farmington, connecticut has written to say thank you for this conversation. learning about powerful, courageous women learning from these knowledgeable hosts is so empowering and inspiring. i have two angry that i wasn't -- i have to agree that i was inspired. thank you for teaching us. prof. baer: it has been an honor. janelle: thank you for having us. >> american history tv, 48 hours of people and events that documents the american story. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> 60 years ago on april 17 1961 a force of 1500 cia trained
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cuban exiles launched an invasion on the bay of pigs on the southern coast of cuba. their goal was the overthrow fidelity castro who had taken power two years earlier in the cuban revolution. next saturday, american history tv in washington journal be alive to look back at the failed invasion and its consequences. joining us is nicholas, who will take fewer calls and tweets. -- viewer calls and tweets. tonight in "lectures in history" joseph campbell teaches a class about the cronkite moment arguing about the in-kind -- the impact of his comments has been vastly overstated and is a media myth. here's a preview. >> cronkite closed his program that night, his special report with a pessimistic assessment saying that the united states military effort was "mired in
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stalemate" and suggested that a negotiated settlement might offer a way out down the road. i'd the white house johnson was supposedly watching the program and upon hearing the remarks he leans over and snaps off of -- snaps off the television set or tells an aid "if i lost cronkite, i have lost middle america" supposedly. this report supposedly, at least historians have said that it shook the nation and that it swung public opinion from favoring the war in vietnam to opposing it, a dramatic shift caused by the cronkite program. other presumed effects were that according to one journalist, a prominent american journalist who wrote the book "the powers that be," he writes that cronkite's program about the war in vietnam marked "the first
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time american -- in american history a war had been declared over by an anchorman." but what really happened that night? we know that johnson did not see the program when it aired. we know that public opinion had begun shifting against the war in vietnam well before cronkite's program. we know that stalemate to characterize the war as a stalemate was hardly a novel or original characterization in 1968. and we also know that version -- version variability, a marker of media myths imbues the suppose reaction of the president. >> watch the full program tonight at 8:00 a stomach -- eastern and 5:00 p.m. pacific. this week we are working -- looking back to the state in history. >> vietnam is far away from this
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quiet campus. we have no territory there. nor do we see kenny. the war is dirty, brutal, and difficult. and some 400 young men, born into an america bursting with opportunity and promise have ended their lives on vietnam's steaming soil. why must we take this painful road? why must this nation has her itsy -- hazard its ease, interest, and power for the sake of a people so far away? we fight because we must fight, if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny, and only if such a world -- in such a world
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will our own freedom be finally secure. >> follow us on social media at c-span history for more this day in history clips and posts. >> it is customary for a new elected president to address a good -- a joint session of congress. president biden has not scheduled his. sunday we will feature two of his predecessors. >> our nation needs a clear strategy to confront the threats of the 21st century, threats that are more widespread and less certain. they range from terrorists who threaten with bombs to tyrants in rogue nations intent on developing weapons of mass destruction. to protect her own people, our allies, and friends, we must develop and deploy effective missive to -- missile defenses. [applause]
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as we transform our military we can discard cold war relics, and reduce our own nuclear forces to reflect today's needs. [applause] a strong america is a world's best hope for peace and freedom, yet the cause of freedom rest on more than our ability to defend our friends and allies. freedom is exported as we shipped goods and products that improve the lives of millions of people. free-trade brings greater political and personal freedom. each of the previous five presidents has had the ability to negotiate far-reaching trade agreements, tonight i ask you to give me the strong hand of
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presidential trade promotion authority and to do so quickly. [applause] >> watch the full program sunday 8:00 eastern and 5:00 p.m. pacific on american history tv. tvs american artifacts visits museums and historic places located at the foot of capitol hill the united states botanic garden was first proposed by president george, washington in a 1796 letter next a visit to the grounds of the oldest botanic garden in north america to learn about the history of this plant museum. my name is ari novy. i'm the executive director of the united states botanic garden. we're standing on what's currently called union square which is the end cap one could say of the national mall on the east side just before you arrive at the united states capitol. '


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