THE STRANGE BUT TRUE STORY OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S NAZI BELT BUCKLE

BY TOM SANDERS

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  My interest in this subject  began during a stroll through a flea market in Germany when  I noticed a 'Gott Mit Uns' buckle  on a seller's table.  This was rather unusual in that display or sale of such Nazi relics is  against the law in Germany. I recalled mention of the buckle in several Hemingway biographies and memoirs.  At this point a journalist's curiosity took control. I decided it might be an offbeat subject to pursue.   While my objective was to research the history of the Hemingway buckle and find the previous owner, this is really the story of my journey and of the unusual and sometimes strange paths this quest has taken me.  

Based upon almost a decade of research, it is my belief that Hemingway’s Gott Mit Uns buckle, which today is stored with other personal effects of the author at the JFK Museum in Boston, was bloodstained on two occasions; when Hemingway shot and killed the teenage German soldier who was wearing it; and when Hemingway took  his own life.  In the course of my research,  I  have come to the realization that some questions likely will never be answered.  It has been 45 + years since Hemingway killed himself .  It as hard to separate fact from fiction even when he was alive. Many of those who might know are themselves dead, I have endeavored for credibility’s sake to select and  identify my sources carefully, to separate fact from conjecture, and to clearly identify the latter as my own.

This is the story of my Quixotic search for a literary Holy Grail of  sorts, Hemingway's Gott Mit Uns.    Read on...

 

CHAPTER ONE   PAPA, GOD AND ADOLF HITLER

 

In 1944, Ernest Hemingway acquired a German soldier's belt and buckle with the Deutsche words 'Gott Mit Uns' (God Is With Us) inscribed on a crest that included the German eagle and Nazi swastika. He wore it for the rest of his life. Numerous pictures and biographical references attest to the fact that the buckle and belt was a favorite of Papa's casual wear; fishing aboard the Pilar, drinking at the Floridita Bar in Havana, on safari in Africa, and hunting in Idaho.  He wore it for the rest of his life.  Perhaps, it was to remind himself of his own mortality and as Hemingway himself put it ‘immortality, or the lack of it’.

 

The Good life

 

EH aboard the Pilar wearing Gott Mit Uns buckle & belt, drinking wine from A Spanish bota. Off North coast of Cuba - 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hemingway was wearing his usual old blue-and-white checked shirt, khaki Bermuda shorts and the Gott Mit Uns belt he had removed from a dead German soldier on the Western Front in 1944.

 Ernest Hemingway Rediscovered-Fuentes-Sotolongo...aboard the Pilar off the North Coast of Cuba 1954.

 

 

Hemingway arrived a little late. He was wearing khaki pants held up by a wide old leather belt with a huge buckle inscribed GOTT MIT UNS, a white linen sports shirt that hung loose, and brown leather loafers without socks. P.6…. Papa Hemingway - A.E. Hotchner Floridita Bar Havana 1948

  

 

EH feeding the cats at the Finca Vigia, Cuba 1949 

Actually, Ernest's attire was very restricted, and, in a manner of speaking, constituted a uniform; the leather vests, the knitted tan skullcap, the GOTT MIT UNS leather belt which had been appropriated from a dead Nazi and was religiously worn with all raiment (it was too wide for the loops of any of his pants, but he wore it anyway outside the loops).

Papa Hemingway - A.E. Hotchner New York 1949 

 

 

 Poolside at LaConsula, Malaga, Spain, the morning of his 60th birthday - 1959

 

  "Listen Kitner," Ernest said to Mary, his voice even and serious, ''my Kraut belt has disappeared. I know I had it when I hit here and they cleaned me out fast."

"I'll look for it lamb, Mary said. "I'm sure it's around.''

"That's what the sheriff said when he got the news about Judge Crater.'' Ernest replied.

Papa Hemingway  - A.E. Hotchner 

 

 

 Entertaining friends in Ketchum, Idaho - 1960
 

 

 

 

 

 

A BIT  OF GOTT MIT UNS HISTORY - World War I buckles bore the same 'Gott Mit Uns' (God is with us) inscription. When Hitler came to power, the crest was replaced with the Nazi swastika and eagle. The religious  inscription remained. 

 

Hitler had not consolidated power.  He needed the support of the Christians.  It is one of the ironies of World War II that Nazi storm troopers jack booting their way across Europe, invading other countries, killing millions of people,  wore belt buckles proclaiming God's endorsement.

 

 These buckles were made of such metals as aluminum and steel, brass for parade dress, and were issued to enlisted men (EM) and noncommissioned officers (NCO's).

 

                                                                              

 The Hemingway buckle is made of aluminum with a pebble design. It has a maker mark N & H on the back, and was manufactured in Ludenscheid, Germany, by Noelle & Hueck KG. It is now among Hemingway's personal effects archived in the Hemingway Collection at the JFK Library in Boston. His fourth wife Mary Welsh Hemingway donated it to the library after his death.  

 

 

  The Belt

 

The original leather belt is at the Finca Vigía, Hemingway's home in Cuba, now the Museo Hemingway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Jack Hemingway                  

A young officer in the OSS, Ernest's oldest son parachuted into the Rhone Valley of occupied France in 1944. ( In the best Hemingway tradition, Jack, an avid fisherman, jumped with a fly rod concealed in his gear.)  While fighting alongside French resistance fighters, he was wounded and captured. His childhood nickname was Bumby, and in a stroke of luck that may have saved his life his German interrogator turned out to be the boyfriend of Tiddy the woman who had been his babysitter years before on a visit to Austria.  Jack was hospitalized at a POW hospital in Ludwigsburg, Germany. He was liberated, recaptured, and sent to Stalag Luft III near Nuremberg from which he was released in 1945. 

 

Hauptman Haas

 A captain in the German military, Haas was Chief of Security at the POW complex in Ludwigsburg where Jack Hemingway was imprisoned. Hemingway said in his autobiography that Hauptman Haas was directly responsible for the death of one seriously ill prisoner who Haas forced to stand at attention during a surprise night inspection. The prisoner died later that night. Hemingway gave testimony to that effect when he was debriefed by OSS counterintelligence after his release.

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Buck' Lanham

"The officer whom Ernest Hemingway called "the finest and bravest and most intelligent regimental comander I have ever known." "As a Colonel, he led the 22nd Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, which spearheaded the Normandy breakout, entered Paris, attacked the Siegfried Line and held a key salient in the Battle of the Bulge. The Regiment won two Unit Citations and he ultimately won 17 decorations. During the Battle of the Hurtgen Forrest, Hemingway made his base as a reporter in Lanham's command post. They became close friends and kept up a steady correspondence for seventeen years.  Hemingway's Colonel  Cantwell, the primary character in  Across the River and Into the Trees," is based in large part on Lanham. 

 

 

 

 THERE ARE TWO CONFLICTING VERSIONS OF HOW ERNEST HEMINGWAY ACQUIRED THE GOTT MIT UNS BUCKLE AND BELT

 

 

CHAPTER TWO  BUMBY'S BELT

 

 

The belt and buckle was a gift from his son Jack.   According to Jack Hemingway's autobiography, MISADVENTURES OF A FLY FISHERMAN (pub 1986, Chapters 14-15 p.165-199) liberated prisoners at the POW Hospital in Ludwigsburg choked Hauptman Haas to death. They used a belt with a 'Gott Mit Uns' buckle. They sent the belt and buckle to Jack who was then in Washington. Jack recounts in his autobiography that he gave the belt and Gott Mit Uns buckle to Ernest when he visited Cuba after the war.  

'It (the belt and buckle) had the 'Gott Mit Uns' buckle and was of beautiful leather, and of large size, so I later gave it to Papa.'                              - Jack Hemingway-  

 

Jack Hemingway wrote a second autobiography. A LIFE WORTH LIVING was published shortly after his death in December 2001. The first section relies heavily on excerpts from MISADVENTURES OF A FLY FISHERMAN.  The story of the Gott Mit Uns belt has  been deleted, and there is no mention of Hauptman Haas.  Correspondence with the publisher led me to the conclusion that Jack Hemingway made the decision to delete the segment.

With the able assistance of Frau Ingeborg Grafmüller, my interpreter, researcher, and friend, we began the search for Hauptman Haas.  Not an easy task.  Haas is a common name in Germany and a lot of them were captains in the military during World War Two.  We had no first name, no date of birth.   The German archives are a big bureaucracy with records stored in repositories all over the country.  Many records were destroyed by allied bombing.  Some records were destroyed by the Nazis' themselves as it became apparent Germany was going to lose the war.   


After researching numerous false leads, we  found the war records of the Haas we had been seeking. His forename was Karl.  Hauptman Karl Haas was Commander of the Ludwigsburg Prison Hospital from September 1943 until the war ended in April 1945. He was then imprisoned by American forces until his release in December 1945. German records show that Haas died at the age of 86 in 1979 in Stuttgart which is, of course, a
contradiction of Jack’s statement that the belt was used to strangle Haas to death in 1945.  Furthermore, Haas' son Dieter was alive and willing to talk with us about his father.  

 

  We met with him at his home in the little village of Bodneg.  Herr Haas was surprised that his father had been vilified  by the son of the famous author Hemingway , and even more so by the report of his death by hanging. Dieter Haas was helpful and responsive to our questions, but could tell us little more.  His father had  arrived home a tired and broken man after his release from prison. According to his son, he never mentioned any belt, attempt on his life, etc,  He simply did not talk about the war.

As we sat at his  dining room table looking at his father's scrapbooks, one photo reminded me of a passage from Jack's biography.

'I heard Haas's loud command to enter, then stepped into the office, coming to attention in front of the captain's desk, and reported, saluting and announcing my name and rank.  There was another captain with infantry insignia sitting in the chair next to the captain's desk. Haas asked me calmly what I wanted and- I explained that I was an Oberlieutenant and that at the payday I had only been paid the pay of a Lieutenant and  I had come to insist that I be paid the difference. His face turned beet red and he exploded in a stream of invective which I did not understand but the meaning of which was quite clear and it ended with the familiar 'raus',  which means get out!  I remained at attention as the enraged officer ran out of breath, I ventured in English to the other captain, "After all, you too, Herr Hauptman will surely insist on your rights when you become a prisoner," to which he chortled while Haas roared on. Finally, the security chief seemed to calm down, the pressure lessened by the stream of invective, and he sighed. . . yes, sighed. . . then sputtered, "Ach, you Americans. Such fools."

~

Jack admits in his autobiography that his recollection of what happened during World War II is somewhat hazy.  He was after all seriously wounded and a prisoner of war.   That said, there are numerous inconsistencies in Jack's version of the Gott Mit Uns story.    Hauptman Karl Haas would not have been wearing a Gott Mit Uns belt.  Such belts were worn by enlisted soldiers.  Haas was a senior army officer.   And of course, Hauptman Karl Haas was not strangled to death.  Either Jack's fellow prisoners embellished the story when they sent Jack the belt, or he embellished it when he recounted the story in his autobiography.

I found some answers when I visited the Finca Vigia in Cuba.    There are in fact two Nazi World War II belts and buckles.  Resting atop a bookshelf in Ernest's bedroom is a German officer's belt with a standard double claw buckle.  I am convinced it is Hauptman Haas' belt.  Next to it is a leather enlisted man's belt.  (The Gott Mit Uns buckle is at the JFK library in Boston. )  Ernest's waistline increased considerably as he grew older, and I think it reasonable to assume he used the Gott Mit Uns buckle with other belts when he could no longer fit the original belt around his waist.

Jack did give Haas' belt to his father.  It just was not the Gott Mit Uns belt.  And Ernest did wear the Haas officer belt and buckle from time to time as is clearly shown in a photograph of Ernest sitting in front of a Henry Streeter painting. 

  In Dieter Haas' scrapbook there is a picture of his father in his officer uniform.  It is in an informal setting, a back yard, and I believe it was taken after Haas returned home upon his release from a POW camp.  The one uniform accessory missing is an officer's belt normally worn outside the tunic.

These pictures tell the story.

 

 

There is yet another rather sinister possibility, albeit extremely unlikely.   In the course of searching German, British and American war records for Hauptman Haas, captain of the POW camp where Jack Hemingway was a prisoner,  I came across bits and pieces of information about other Hauptman Haas's in the German military.  Haas is a rather common German surname. One of them, a Luftwaffe officer named Hauptman Joachim Haas, was a POW at Shap Wells POW camp in Cumbria UK.  He died in an ambulance transporting him for emergency treatment at a British Hospital.  He is buried in an unmarked grave in Cumbria and there is no 'cause of death' indicated on his death certificate.  Could it be that the friends who sent Jack the belt took revenge on the wrong Haas?

Certainly , that is very unlikely.   However, despite the fact that Jack was an army officer in the OSS - which today is known as the CIA, and that he made specific reference to an OSS debriefing in London after his release as a POW,  I have been unable to find any paper trail whatsoever.  Both NARA in the USA and British archives tell me 'no such records exist.'   These massive records repositories also advise there are no records on Karl Haas or Joachim Haas or Jack Hemingway.

It is possible that Jack alone knew the truth and took it with him with him to the grave.

 

 

 CHAPTER 3    THE DEATH  FACTORY  

 Ernest took the belt and buckle from the body of a dead German soldier when he was a war correspondent with the 22nd infantry . 

This version is  corroborated in a letter from Colonel Charles Lanham to Hemingway biographer Carlos Baker. In correspondence with Hemingway scholar and Professor Rose Marie Burwell, I have learned that…     

'Lanham, who played a major role in collecting Hemingway's letters and in supplying his own memories of the period after 1944, tells Baker in one of those  letters that Hemingway took the belt buckle from a dead German soldier. No date for the acquisition or further identity of the donor is given.'

 

 

The battle of Hurtgenwald

That little patch of woods we’re fighting for ain’t any good to anybody. No good to the Germans. No good to us. It’s the bloodiest damn ground in all Europe.”

Soldier Swede Henley quoted in a Life Magazine article by Journalist William Walton

~

Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure didn’t even make a whistle stop here. There are no tourist shops selling Hemingway t-shirts, and no look-a-like contests.

Many residents in this rural village of Grosshau have never heard of Hemingway. But most everyone knows of the horror that happened here 60 years ago. The graveyards serve as a reminder.

The Battle of Hurtgen Forest (Hurtgenwald) lasted 19 days, and claimed 60 thousand casualties, a grisly war record for slaughter of human life.  Ironically it is little remembered other than by military historians and those few still alive who fought there.

 Hemingway is but a brief footnote in most texts about the battle,.  In addition to war dispatches to Colliers, Hemingway used what he experienced in Hurtgenwald in one novel Across The River and Into the Trees, , and several poems he wrote to Mary Welsh.

They are among the few recordings of Hemingway reading his work, and reflect an obvious preoccupation with death.

 While those days in November and December 1944 were only a brief chapter in Hemingway’s life,  they also were among the most intense. No one who went into those woods expected to come out alive.

The Hurtgen Forest is located along the border with Belgium. In 1944 It was part of the Siegfried Line of defence against invasion of the

Siegfried Line of defence against invasion of the fatherland. The Germans were dug in and well-fortified. The terrain, steep hills and gullies was ideal for defence. Tree-high artillery bursts, spewing thousands of lethal splinters, made movement on the forest floor difficult. Armour had no room to manoeuvre.  It was dead of winter and the worst possible weather conditions; snow, sleet, and rain.  A muddy quagmire slowed jeeps, tanks, trucks and troops trying to make it to the front, and added to the hell that was Hurtgen. 

This was an infantryman’s battle, up close and sometimes hand to hand. Bunkers provided protection for German mortars and artillery to rain down deadly accurate fire on the advancing allied troops.

In German, these woods are known as the Hurtgenwald. The Americans called them The Death Factory.

 

 

 


  • 'It was a place where it was extremely difficult for a man to stay alive even if all he did was be there. And we were attacking all the time and every day.'

                  Ernest Hemingway - Across The River And Into The Trees


    In World War I, fearing rejection as an army volunteer because of poor eyesight ,  Hemingway made it to the Italian front as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross . Severely injured by shrapnel in a bomb blast, he went home to Oak Park a decorated war hero.  He earned his journalist credentials as a front-line correspondent in the Spanish Civil War.  When World II broke out, he outfitted his fishing boat Pilar as a sub chaser and patrolled the Gulf stream in search of Nazi U-boats. He could read a terrain map, had a thorough knowledge of military history and battle tactics.  According to soldiers who were there with him, Hemingway was calm and fearless in dangerous situations.


  • The general asked Ernie why he had come to the war when he didn't have to. Oh." he said, " I got war fever like the measles."

    - John Carlisle - The True Gen    

  •  

    drawing ©2005/2006 Kay Whittaker & Humdrumming ltd.


     

     

    Now 45 years old , Hemingway was in the midst of a less than amicable parting of ways with Martha Gelhorn. He had already selected wife number four, Mary Welsh from the ranks of the London overseas press corps. For Whom The Bell Tolls  had been published to wide acclaim. It was a popular read among soldiers and Hemingway was pleased to autograph their copies.

     

    It was Hemingway's good fortune to find himself attached as a war correspondent, to the 4th Army's 22nd Infantry Regiment, a seasoned, well-trained and disciplined fighting force which spearheaded the Normandy breakout.  Commanded by a feisty irreverent West Point graduate, Colonel Charles Lanham, Ernie and 'Buck' became friends right from the start.  Theirs was a strong friendship that  would last until Hemingway's death,  It was Lanham who Hemingway immortalized as the fictional General Cantwell in Across The River And Into The Trees .  And it is Lanham's correspondence with Hemingway Biographer Carlos Baker that provides much of the detail of the events of those days in the Hurtgen forest, The Death Factory, where the regiment suffered 80-percent casualties in eighteen days.  

     

    "A brisk fire fight was going on. Men were firing and advancing and dropping and firing, ...  And then I saw EH who had not yet reached our C.P.  He was standing bolt upright watching the fight with intense interest.  He was moving with the moving wave but I never saw him hit the ground. And this time there was no question at all that he was armed and using those arms."         

          - Charles 'Buck' Lanham-


    Hemingway's weapon of choice was a Thompson Submachine gun,  the same type of weapon he kept aboard the his fishing boat  Pilar to kill sharks. This time, the target was attacking Nazi soldiers trying to overrun the 22nd's command post.  Hemingway kept a notebook.  It is from a scribbled reference that I came to the conclusion that he shot and killed one German as he started across the Kall trail.  


    "I was in back of the pillbox and I shot the one in back of us across the road about 15 yards.    I had to shoot at him three times before he stopped.   He was lying in the middle of the road, and when the  Dl (?) came up he sort of scrounged up and it went over him and flattened him out."

    -Ernest Hemingway-


    In fact, Hemingway crossed the line from reporter to combatant a number of times. Exactly how many German soldiers he killed is open to debate.  William E. Cote, a professor at Michigan State University,  completed a detailed study on the subject and came to the conclusion that it was impossible to confirm an accurate body count. 

    'According to Hemingway himself, he killed either twenty-six or 122 men.'

    Professor William Cote

    'He was a storyteller.  He didn't know when the truth and fiction stopped.'

    - William Walton - friend and fellow war correspondent

     

     

     



    -

     I went to Hurtgenwald to see where this firefight happened in the hope it might lead me to the origin of EH's Gott Mit Uns Nazi belt buckle.  I knew Hemingway took it from the body of a dead soldier.  But when and where?  Did he take it from someone he killed? Was it Hurtgenwald, or months earlier at Rambouillet in France and what were the circumstances? 

    Taking war souvenirs was common in World War Two.  Footlockers in attics all over the USA and the UK are filled with them.  Hemingway's house in Cuba Finca Vigia has brass shell casings, Nazi daggers, war medals and such in shelves and on tabletops all over the place.

    The belt buckle was more than just another war souvenir to Hemingway.  It had a special significance, and that was what I was really seeking.  The search to find the identity of the previous owner was simply the pathway I took to accomplish my objective.

     

    I made four trips to Hurtgenwald, including visits on the anniversary dates of the battle trying to experience as close as possible the weather conditions as they were in 1944.  My first stop after checking in to the Schloss Hotel was the military museum in Vossenack.  I am indebted to Manfred Klinkenberg who gave me full access to files and exhibits, and to Arne Esser who volunteered to take me into the forest and help me find where the 22nd Infantry Regiment command post was located on November 19, 1944.

    It wasn't difficult and it didn't take long. The battle is well documented and maps are accurate down to finite detail.  Herr Esser is a teacher, amateur historian, and a fan of Ernest Hemingway's  novels and short stories.  He has lived in the area all his life.  He can read a terrain map,  and he knows his way around the Hurtgenwald.  

     

     Infantry Regiment's command post  had unknowingly been established  near a series of bunkers  still occupied by Germans soldiers of the 275th Volksgrenadiers bypassed by the Americans during the initial assault.  The fire fight happened when they tried to breakout. Arnie checked his  map, climbed  a nearby hill, and there it was, depressions in the earth , the remains of  the bunkers where  German soldiers had reined down mortar fire on the  22nd headquarters below. 

      

     

     

      

     

    " ...the cough of a  giant mortar to be followed by the silken whisper of a mortar shell as it plunged  night after  night toward our little clearing."  - Charles 'Buck' Lanham-

          

     

     

                                               


     

     

    We hiked out of the forest that day along the route taken by the 22nd Infantry Regiment. Their objective was Grosshau, by all appearances a rural 'potato' village.  it was in reality a heavily fortified section of the German defense line.  Basements had been converted into bunkers.  Artillery, mortars and machine guns placed carefully to rein down fire on the advancing Americans.

     


     

    '...they were soldiers, so most of them got killed in those
    woods and when we took the three towns that looked so
    innocent and were really fortresses.' 

     

                                                    Ernest Hemingway - Across The River And Into The Trees

     


     

     

     

    © photo-Tom Sanders  

     

           

    Grosshau was almost completely destroyed.  By the time the Americans gained control the only building standing was the village church.  It was rebuilt and today looks much like it did before tithe battle.  I walked through Grosshau several times.  It seemed to me unusually quiet, very few people on the streets, almost deserted.  Brick sidewalks, brick buildings, the building blocks laid with precision...everything just so, everything in place. 

     

     I recalled what Hemingway had witnessed 60 years earlier.

     

    'We had put an awful lot of white phosphorus on the town before we got in for good, or whatever you would call it. That was the first time I ever saw a German dog eating a roasted German kraut. Later on I saw a cat working on him too. It was a hungry cat, quite nice looking, basically. You wouldn't think a good German cat would eat a good German soldier...'  

    Ernest Hemingway - Across The River And Into The Trees


    There is a story told of a villager who took it upon himself when the war ended to remove the dead bodies from the forest. Every day he would wrap the human remains in sacks and carry them out on his back so that they could receive a proper burial. It took him two years. Remains of those who fought and died there are still being found today.

    The Hurtgen Forest is haunted. I don’t have a degree in parapsychology. I am not particularly superstitious. But I tell you with certainty that these woods are haunted.

    Perhaps this explanation will help. When you do some rough math, body count divided into square feet, you quickly realize that within arms reach a few feet of where you are standing, the odds are that a soldier died.

    ~

    Hurtgenwald is one big tree farm. That is also what it was in 1944. Perhaps by coincidence, the tree growth during my visit was about the same as it had been during the battle. I realized that when I compared photos I had taken with battle photos.

    © photo-Tom Sanders

    Toward the end of our hike I excused myself from my companions, went alone into the woods near Grosshau where there had been especially heavy fighting and casualties. Sitting there quietly I would not have been the least surprised, had some soldier stumbled out of the artificial twilight.

     

     


    Author'note -  While researching photos for the Death Factory Chapter  I came across this  photo that convinces me Hemingway had already acquired the Gott Mit Uns belt and buckle before he arrived in Germany in November 1944.  In this photo he is wearing the belt and buckle and he is dressed in a summer uniform.  The  key is the uniform.  I believe  the photo was taken  earlier during the summer of 1944 during the allied advance through France.  Which brings me to...

     

     

     

     

     CHAPTER 4     AMBUSH AT A  PLACE CALLED RAMBOUILLET

     

    (writing in process)

     

     

    CHAPTER 5     THE LAST SUNRISEE

        ....man's awareness of death is one of the guiding forces in life.  Beneath every surface activity, then, is the awareness of death.  There is also the notion that conventional and traditional ways of coping with the fact of man's mortality are based on romantic illusions which cause one to avoid thinking about the central fact of existence: that one must evetually die.  It is with man's attitudes toward life in the presence of death that Hemingway is most concerned.  The surfaces of his stories, the tips of the icebergs, most often show individuals whether in war, in the bullring, in a big-game hunt, or in some other life-threatening situation--dealing either gracefully or in a cowardly way with death or nada.
            What evolves, then, over the course of Hemingway's forty-year career as a writer is a comprehensive code for living which acknowledges death as the end point in life.

        Bryant Mangum, "Ernest Hemingway," in Critical Survey of Short Fiction,"

        ~

         

         

        One avenue of biographical exploration may be the consideration of how Hemingway's postwar psychological state affected his claims of having killed Germans.  Many things...no doubt contributed to the depression, paranoia, and delusions that ultimately led him to take one more life, his own.'

        - Professor William  Cote

         

     

     

    Early on the morning of July 2, 1961,  about the time the sun was rising above the nearby mountains, Ernest Hemingway took a shotgun and killed himself in the foyer of his Ketchum home.  He was wearing pajamas and his dressing gown,  his red 'emperor's robe'.  The robe is mentioned in the Carlos Baker biography and  details are from  interviews Baker conducted with Don Anderson  and Chuck Atkinson, friends who were among the first to arrive at the death scene.

      It was Hemingway's habit to cinch  his robe at the waist with his Gott Mit Uns belt and buckle. His friend  and personal secretary Valerie Hemingway makes specific reference to this  when she was traveling with him  in Spain  a  few months before he committed suicide.

    " The  three of us were sitting in his suite when Hotch walked in.  Nursing his infected kidney, Ernest was lying on the bed; his dressing gown was tied at the waist by his German 'Gott Mit Uns' belt.  Annie and I were sipping glasses of wine.  Hotch wrote later, "Worry hung in the room like black crepe."  - Running With The Bulls - Valerie Hemingway...Suecia Hotel  Madrid -October 2, 1960

    Mary Hemingway was worried about the shotgun falling into the hands of souvenir hunters.  A few days after Hemingway's suicide, Chuck Atkinson  took a torch, cut the shotgun into pieces and buried it in the woods.   Mary kept the Gott Mit Uns buckle, and later gave it and other personal affects to the JFK Library. 

    (The investigation of  Hemingway's death was cursory.  There are no records to be found in Ketchum police or Blaine County Coroner archives.  There was no inquest.  .  The death certificate reads 'death by self-inflicted gunshot wound'.)

     

    ~

        "Atoms can't dream, Gig, " I could hear him say.  "No use deluding yourself old pal." 

        Papa, A Personal Memoir by Gregory Hemingway

         

     

    his story is illustrated with World War Two pictures that I have gathered from the internet.  Some of the photos are mine and are copyright as is the text. (excluding quotes and excerpts where attribution noted.   Many of the pictures are courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration and the JFK  library.  Any use of copyrighted images is accidental, and any such material will be promptly removed from this site upon notification from the copyright holder. 

    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    BOOKS

    Allen, William               THE NAZI SEIZURE OF POWER

     Angolia, John                BELT BUCKLES & BROCADES OF THE THIRD REICH

    Baker, Carlos                HEMINGWAY, THE WRITER AS ARTIST

    Baker, Carlos                HEMINGWAY, A LIFE STORY

    Brian, Denis                   THE TRUE GEN

    Davis, Brian                   GERMAN ARMY UNIFORMS & INSIGNIA

    Evans, Bob                    TTHIRD REICH BELT BUCKLES

    Hemingway, Jack           MISADVENTURES OF A FLY FISHERMAN

    Hemingway, Jack           A LIFE WORTH LIVING

                         

    Hemingway, Mary           HOW IT WAS

    Hemingway, Valerie        RUNNING WITH THE BULLS

    Hotchner, A.E.                PAPA

    Myers, Jeffrey                HEMINGWAY, A BIOGRAPHY

    Plath, James &

    Simmons, Frank             REMEMBERING ERNEST HEMINGWAY

    Rush, Robert Sterling     HELL IN HURTGEN FOREST

    Whiting Charles              HEMINGWAY GOES TO WAR

    MAGAZINES

    Walton, William M.    A GLOOMY GERMAN WOOD TAKES ITS PLACE IN U.S. HISTORY BESIDE THE WILDERNESS AND ARGONNE - LIFE MAGAZINE  January 1945    

    HEMINGWAY SPEAKS HIS MIND     PLAYBOY     January 1960

    Kelly, Richard lt Cmdr      SPY WORK AHEAD -  BLUE BOOK MAGAZINE August 1947

    OTHER

    Cote, William E.          CORRESPONDENT OR WARRIOR, HEMINGWAY'S MURKY                WORLD  WAR II COMBAT EXPERIENCE'  THE HEMINGWAY REVIEW - FALL 2002

    Herr, Ernest A.     THE WORST OF THE WORST - THE BATTLE FOR THE HUERTGEN FOREST

     Mangum, Bryant"Ernest Hemingway," in Critical Survey of Short Fiction,"