The words in the title of this post are familiar to many of us boomers who had parents who lived through WWII. It was the slogan on a war era (1942-45) poster cautioning the Americans at home not to discuss things related to the ongoing battles in Europe and in the Pacific with anyone. The enemy has ears everywhere was the message.
I suppose if I thought about this at all, I thought that sure you’d have to be careful in big cities, on the coasts, if you lived near any military installations or factories that supplied the military or especially if you had family members serving in different parts of the world that you communicated with. If anything I suspect I thought that the government overemphasized this threat in order to impress it on the few people who might be in a position to make this mistake.
There was a rumor of Nazi spies here in Maplewood that I had heard from several folks, notably Tom Bakersmith. I hadn’t found any evidence of this kind of activity but I had made a post about it and it occupies a short chapter in my new book, Maplewood History – Volume Two. What follows is the first page from that chapter.
I wanted a few examples of posters that had carried warnings of situations like this one for this post. I was surprised at how many of them could be easily found. The National Archives has a huge collection.
Those are just a few but you get the idea. Realizing now that the threat once existed at the end of my block makes me much more appreciative of how massive the problem must have been.
The war had just begun. The many atrocities of the Third Reich were not yet known. Undoubtedly there were many German immigrants in the United States with sentiments favoring their homeland. So far I have found no information on what happened to the folks involved in this incident in Maplewood. Why did they have a powerful shortwave radio receiver? This was a time of war. Surely that was a very serious infraction.
I just can’t tell you how exciting it was to me to find those articles. That was another sort of Holy Grail of Maplewood History. Newspapers.com is amazing.
Doug Houser August 14, 2020