November 20, 2001
General Dwight D. Eisenhower's Official World War II Diaries Discovered
1944 and 1945 desk diaries of World War II Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. The center mage shows entries from June 4 and June 5, 1944, written by Kay Summersby.
Abilene, KS. . . Dan Holt, director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, National Archives and Records Administration, announced today that the library has acquired and made available for research the 1944 and 1945 desk diaries of World War II Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. The diaries had been in the possession of Ms. Barbara Wyden, author and ghostwriter of numerous books including a memoir by Eisenhower's wartime secretary Kay Summersby.
In making the announcement, Mr. Holt said, "These handwritten diaries capture the wartime drama surrounding Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower and his staff. They provide scholars and the general public with a first-hand view of the war in Europe and are a very important addition to our collection. The National Archives is very grateful to Ms. Wyden and Mr. Woodman for their generosity and their commitment to the preservation of vital historical records. "
In June of this year Ms. Wyden's brother, Mr. Richard Woodman, notified the Eisenhower Library that the diaries had been found among his sister's personal materials when she moved recently from her Connecticut home. Ms. Wyden and Mr. Woodman, keenly aware of the diaries' historical significance, donated the items to the Library.
The 1944 volume is bound in a dark blue leather cover that carries the inscription, "Diary," in gold letters. "Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower," also inscribed in gold lettering, distinguishes the tan leather cover of the 1945 diary. Although Kay Summersby, the General's secretary, wrote and maintained the desk diaries, Eisenhower made 38 handwritten entries in the 1944 volume. Summersby penned all of the entries in the 1945 diary.
The diaries served as logs of appointments, meetings and trips as well as journals where Eisenhower and Summersby recorded their candid observations on wartime events and personalities. Planning for the invasion of NAZI-occupied Europe, D-Day operations, the Allied breakout in Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and the surrender of Germany in May 1945 are just a few of the major events documented. Winston Churchill, General Bernard Montgomery, General George Patton and King George VI are among the historical actors who march across the diaries' pages.
The diaries remained in Ms. Summersby's possession until 1973 when she collaborated with Ms. Wyden on the writing of her second wartime memoir. Ms. Summersby safeguarded the diaries for thirty years, taking them from the Frankfurt headquarters to her new office in Berlin. When Summersby moved to the United States in the fall of 1946, she brought the diaries home with her. She then used the diaries in writing her first wartime memoir, Eisenhower Was My Boss, published in 1948. When Ms. Wyden began to assist Summersby in 1973 on a second book, Summersby gave Wyden the diaries as research material. Summersby died in January 1975. The following year, Simon and Schuster published Past Forgetting.
Entries in the diary include observations such as, on May 4, 1945, as the German military machine disintegrated, Summersby made the following notation: "Call from P.M. [British Prime Minister Winston Churchill] - He is much disturbed over the fact that the Russians are landing in Denmark. There is supposed to be a large communistic element in Denmark . . . Call from Monty [British General Bernard Montgomery, commander of the Allied First and Ninth Armies], 7 pm, the Germans are surrendering, North, West, Germany, Holland, Denmark including Norway . . . . the news of the surrender was announced at 8 o'clock on the BBC . . . . "
Due to the fragile condition of the original diaries, color-scanned copies have been made available for research at the Eisenhower Library. The Library has also prepared a printed transcription of Eisenhower's entries.
The Library is located at 200 SE 4th Street, Abilene, Kansas. Contact the Library for specific terms and conditions of use of the materials. For further information, please contact: Martin M. Teasley Assistant Director Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, KS 67410 (785) 263-4751 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.