A new exhibit at the Eisenhower Presidential Library tells the forgotten stories of the many smaller Allied countries during World War II. “Be Ye Men of Valour: Allies of World War II” explores the important victories, defeats and causes associated with these lesser-known nations and resistance groups.
This free exhibit is located in the Library building second floor gallery and serves to complement the “World War II Remembered: Leaders, Battles & Heroes” exhibit located in the Museum. Both exhibits strive to mark the significant 70th anniversaries of WWII and share lesser-known stories in a personal format. The title of the exhibit comes from Winston Churchill’s first radio broadcast to the British people as Prime Minister on May 19, 1940.
Thanks to the generosity of 16 museums and individuals throughout the country, the exhibit presents a wide range of artifacts to introduce visitors to the cultures, people and histories of the 19 nations whose contributions to the Allies is seldom studied in the United States.
For example, artifacts from the Polish Mission Museum, Orchard Lake, Mich., featured in the display include a concentration camp inmate jacket and a uniform worn by a Polish resistance fighter during the Warsaw Uprising. The American Latvian Association, Latvian Museum in Rockville, Md., provided several significant artifacts including a series of identification cards belonging to a Latvian refugee and a hand-sewn purse and comb case belonging to General Janis Balodis, Latvia’s Minister of Defense from 1931-1940.
“Our goal was to create the exhibit in such a way that the stories would come to life and create a personal connection with the viewer. We are always looking for a way to make history relevant for the younger audience to really connect and get involved. I believe our team was successful and I couldn’t be more pleased with their efforts,” states Karl Weissenbach, Director.
The programs and exhibits are only made possible through private donations to the Eisenhower Foundation. The World War II Remembered exhibit has a number of extremely generous sponsors including the Emma Balsiger Foundation, Dane G. Hansen Foundation, and the William T. Kemper Foundation. A complete list of exhibit donors and information on how you can be a sponsor can be found on www.eisenhower.archives.gov.
Story by Samantha Kenner / Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum