American military history museums give a glimpse into the hardships of war and what life was like for the many American soldiers who fought in them.
Amidst the hardship, soldiers did what they could in order to keep their morale up and stay focused on the job at hand, finding a little humor in things from time to time.
Such is the story about the Easter eggs for Hitler, a tongue-in-cheek joke among some soldiers who “decorated” some World War II artillery shells on Easter Sunday in 1945.
Easter Eggs for Hitler - Staying Motivated During the Worst of Times
Immortalized in a photograph taken on March 10, 1945 during the Battle of Remagen in Germany, Easter Eggs for Hitler turned into a way, at least for one day, for artillery soldiers to humorously state their dislike of the enemy before shooting those shells.
The photo, curated by the National Archives, has become an important artifact at many World War II living history museums as it is significant in other ways as well.
It depicts two members of the 969th Field Artillery Battalion, Technical Sergeant William E. Thomas and Private First Class Joseph Jackson showing off a basket of artillery shells, each one with the words “Easter Eggs for Hitler” written on them and holding up a sign inscribed with the same.
The Historical Importance of Black Battalions in World War II
Both African American men, Thomas and Jackson were originally a part of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion, one of the first all-black American units that actually saw combat in the war.
Until then, black soldiers were usually restricted to other more menial duties for the troops, so the formation and deployment of the 333rd Battallion was significant in American military history and African American history.
The 333rd Battalion would actually go on to play an instrumental role in the Battle of the Bulge, considered the biggest and worst group of battles in the entire war.
After suffering great casualties, surviving soldiers from the 333rd Battalion joined the 969th, leading up to that Easter Sunday when its members decided to have a little fun with their world war II artillery shells.
Though they were anything but actual “Easter eggs,” these artillery shells helped to illustrate not just the way that soldiers handled the stress of what they were doing, but also the dedication of the numerous battalions of black soldiers who were strong, willing, and dedicated to the U.S. Army and its efforts in spite of how they were treated earlier.
These battalions were the start of the change in opinion that black soldiers would not do well in battle, proving that African American soldiers were just as skilled, smart, and resilient as any other soldier.
It was another critical turning point in black American history.
See Restored World War II Artillery Up Close
Easter Eggs for Hitler were large shells shot from heavy ground artillery during World War II, equipment that has been updated and is still in use today.
Among our impressive collection of war vehicles and artillery, visitors to the Museum can see an M3 Anti Tank 37mm gun on an M4 carriage, a 75 mm Pack Howitzer on an M8 Carriage, and an M2A1 105mm Howitzer, all of which were in use during WWII.
Interested in seeing artillery, military vehicles, war reenactments, and other memories from wars past while learning about important military history?
See Restored World War II Artillery and Much More!
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