Henry Ford Was One of Hitler’s Favorite Americans


Henry Ford was the author of “The Eternal Jew” a viciously anti-Semitic book which was said to be the only book Hitler kept on his desk at his office in the headquarters of the Nazi Party in Munich.




At a ceremony in Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford is presented with the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle on his 75th birthday. Henry Ford was the first American recipient of this order, an honor created in 1937 by Adolf Hitler. This was the highest honor Nazi Germany could give to any foreigner and represented Adolf Hitler’s personal admiration and indebtedness to Henry Ford. The presentation was made by Karl Kapp, German consul in Cleveland, and Fritz Heller, German consular representative in Detroit.

photo and caption courtesy

Motor Gun Boats Royal Navy

Motor Gun Boats of the Royal Navy, World War Two


MGB 107 (FL 16316) Underway at speed. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


Royal Navy “Motor Gun Boat” or MGB 107 underway at speed. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

These were motor torpedo boats which had their torpedoes removed and guns mounted in their place. They were primarily used to defend coastal convoys from raids by German torpedo boats known to the British as “E-Boats.” E=enemy.



MGB 66 at speed with the crew at action stations, off the coast at Fort William, Scotland.    25 March 1942

(official Royal Navy photo courtesy of IWM)

London: 40,000 Tons of Coal per Week


THE MERCHANT NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (HU 3349) View from on board a collier of an East Coast Convoy: merchantmen, mostly colliers, steaming in line in the North Sea. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

 View from on board a collier of an East Coast Convoy: merchantmen, mostly colliers, steaming in line in the North Sea. Courtesy of Imperial War Museum. Copyright: © IWM. 

By 1939, London required 40,000 tons of coal per week to generate the electricity and coal gas to power the city. Because London was the economic and industrial center of Great Britain, as well as the capital, ensuring the city received sufficient coal from coal fields in the northern part of England and Scotland was critical.

Convoy routes for colliers were designated before the war. Just a few days after war began on 3 September 1939, hundreds of ships large and small were compelled to steam up and down the Channel coast (or east coast) of England in narrow channels which were swept for mines on a daily basis.

There was no “phony war” or “bore war” for the colliers, their crews and the Royal Navy escorts which endeavored to protect them. German plans began to bomb and strafe these ships from 29 September 1939 onward.  German U-boats and aircraft sewed mines up and down the coastal waters and by May 1940 these mines had accounted for most of the 114 ships sunk in British coastal waters.

Source:  Coastal Convoys 1939 to 1940: the Indestructible Highway  by Nick Hewitt

US PT Boats WW2

PT was the US Navy abbreviation of “patrol torpedo” boats in World War Two.



Navy Gunners firing their 50 caliber guns, send their bright stream of tracers aloft at a Zero as another Zero dives in flames into the lagoon.

Numerous prototypes for patrol torpedo boats were designed and built with each one having its on flaws. Nonetheless, they were easy and quick to build but were hell to be on in a heavy seaway. Their hulls had a very difficult time taking the pounding they received in rough weather. While the plywood they were made of was itself made from mahogany and braced with solid mahogany, PT boats could exceed a speed of 40 knots.

(Drawing, Charcoal on Board; by Griffith Baily Coale; 1942. Courtesy of the US Navy History and Heritage Command)

PT boats underway off Attu Island during occupation.

US Navy PT boats underway off Attu Island during the Japanese occupation.

Japanese troops landed on Attu and Kiska 3 June 1942. These are part of the Aleutian Islands which came into possession of the United States after we bought Alaska from the Tsar of Russia in 1867. We bought the entire state for $7.2mm. Secretary of State Seward was ridiculed over paying such a ridiculously large amount of money for what was assumed to be nothing more than a frozen wilderness. I think we got the better of the deal.

Given the remoteness of the islands and the forbidding climate, it took more than a year of planning and transporting supplies before US and Canadian troops re-took the islands from the Japanese.


Photograph above from the US National Archives shows PT boats returning to base after operations off Leyte Island in the Philippines in December 1944. Note twin mounted .50 cal. machine guns. On 20 October 1944, US troops had landed on Leyte. This commenced the American campaign to drive the Japanese out of the Philippines. The fighting was intense and and US troops took heavy casualties.


US Navy PT Boats make high speed runs, during maneuvers off The Panama Canal Zone, circa 1943.

(photo and caption courtesy of US Navy History and Heritage Command)


Admiralties Operations, March-April 1944. PT boats bombarding Pityilu Island, Seeadler Harbor, prior to landings there by the Army’s First Cavalry Division, 30 March 1944. Note 37mm & 20mm guns on these boats. (Photo and caption courtesy of US Navy History and Heritage Command)

“Admiralties Operations” above is a reference to part of the larger New Guinea campaign to regain control of these islands from the Japanese. The Admiralty Islands had originally been a colony of Imperial Germany. After Germany’s defeat in World War One, the League of Nations gave Australia a mandate to rule the islands. The Admiralty Islands are an archipelago group of 18 islands in the Bismarck Archipelago, to the north of New Guinea in the South Pacific Ocean.


PT boats in New Guinea. Zero hour nears as darkness descends on New Guinea. Boats of the PT squadron warm up as they prepare to roar out on another dangerous mission.

In the beginning of the naval war in the Pacific, the US Navy had not achieved the mastery of fighting at night which had been achieved by the Imperial Japanese Navy and until new fighting doctrines were developed, the US Navy suffered significant losses in night battles with the Japanese especially in a series of engagements off Guadalcanal.



U.S. Navy PT boats crossing the English Channel on D-Day, 6 June 1944  during the Normandy Invasion, as twelve B-17 bombers pass overhead. Note the twin .50 caliber machine guns on the boat from which the photograph was taken.

(caption and photo courtesy of U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

Although the vast majority of US Navy PT boats were deployed in the Pacific, a handful were sent to Europe as seen in the photo above. I have never understood why the US Navy felt the need to do this. We must have felt we just wanted a handful of our own PT boats instead of having a squadron of Royal Navy Motor Torpedo Boats assigned to the US fleet.


 A ship in New York Harbor loaded with Elco 80 foot Patrol Torpedo Boats (PT Boats). 

Photo taken in 1942 and courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum

Approximately 600 PT boats were built for the US Navy, almost all of them either built by the Elco Company or Higgins in New Orleans.

Nazi Flak Towers

Many an Allied bomber was shot down in flames by anti-aircraft fire from one of the handful of Nazi Germany’s Flak Towers

(If you have forgotten: the technique of firebombing used so successfully against many German cities was developed by the German Luftwaffe for their long campaign or aerial firebombing of London in the early years of the war)


Reichsgebiet, Alarm auf Flakturm

Fliegeralarm! Running to their action posts on the Zoo Tower 1944.

Most of these young gunners were fifteen or sixteen and were known as the kinderflak



This is one of the surviving towers in Vienna. You can clearly see how massive these buildings were.

The main function of the towers was less shooting down individual Allied bombers, although that was important, but more to put up such a mass of anti-aircraft fire as to hinder bombing attacks on the area immediately around them. Flak, a word used by both sides, is the abbreviation of the German word “Fliegerabwehrkanone,” which translates as “air defense cannon”.

The batteries fired pre-set “box barrages” to create a curtain of flak which British Royal Air Force or US Army Air Force bombers would have to fly through on their bomb run. Shells were set to explode at different heights usually above 20,000 feet. The strategy was to force the bombers higher since the higher they were when they dropped their bombs the less accurate the bombing. (Although under the best conditions bombing was rarely accurate).

Additionally, while these photographs were all taken in daylight, the British Royal Air Force bombed at night. So the other reason to force the bombers above 20,000 or so feet was to put them in the path of German night fighters. When a spotlight caught a bomber, the point was to illuminate the bomber for the night fighters. Nonetheless, various anti-aircraft batteries in Berlin, for example, would open up. This often led to German flak batteries shooting down their own night-fighters.

German Fighter Command made regular complaints to the anti-aircraft command to stop doing this and toward the end of the war demanded that the gun captain of any battery which fired above its mandated ceiling be tried and shot.

Exterior of flak tower in Vienna now used as a climbing wall.

Three such towers were built in Berlin, three in Vienna, and two in Hamburg. Each tower actually consisted of two towers: the very large gun tower known as the ‘G-Tower’ and a smaller fire-control tower located nearby known as the ‘L Tower’. The fire control tower transmitted the targeting values to the gun tower by wire – that is telephone/telegraph wire – that was buried deep below ground in a concrete tunnel to protect the wires from being severed.

Another of the surviving towers in Vienna.

In addition to serving as platforms for anti-aircraft guns, each G Tower had a large bomb shelter for civilians. These shelters were designed to accommodate thousands of civilians, a hospital, workshops of various sorts, and Wehrmacht command posts. Each tower had an independent supply of electricity and water as well as barracks and offices for the Luftwaffe personnel who operated the tower and the guns. In the Third Reich, all anti-aircraft defense was the responsibility of the Luftwaffe.

ADN-Zentralbild/Archiv II. Weltkrieg 1939-1945 Schwere Flak in Feurebereitschaft auf dem Flakturm des Berliner Zoo-Bunkers, eine der wenigen großen Schutzanlagen aus Eisenbeton. Aufnahme: Pilz April 1942

April 1942. One of the main gun platforms of the Zoo Tower, most famous of all the flak towers. Shells were kept in the heavy steel ready-use ammunition locker at right and carried to guns by a squad of men as seen above and right. Because the gunners were out in the open on the platforms without protection from bomb splinters or the shrapnel from their own anti-aircraft shells casualties were often heavy.

The Zoo Tower was the first one to be built and was located by the Berlin Zoo in the center of city and was meant to protect the key government buildings. The tower was destroyed by the British in 1946. It was located in what is now the aviary section of the Berlin Zoo.

Although the zoo was destroyed during the war with most of the animals being shipped to other cities or shot by the army, it was rebuilt in its original location which is very close to where the Kurfürstendamm ends at the Tiergarten.

(Photo from: German National Archive.  Schwere Flak in Feurebereitschaft auf dem Flakturm des Berliner Zoo-Bunkers, eine der wenigen großen Schutzanlagen aus Eisenbeton. Aufnahme: Pilz April 1942)


The towers were almost indestructible with the walls on each tower being 2.5 meters thick or 8 1/2 feet of solid concrete. The towers could – and often did – survive direct hits by Allied bombs. Because these were such massive structures, many of them remain since no one can figure out how to dismantle them without wrecking an entire neighborhood. I think the surviving towers are an important part of the history of WW Two and should be preserved.


Flak tower in Hamburg

The best, and to my knowledge, the only book devoted to the towers is The Flak Towers: In Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna 1940-1950 by Michael Foedrowitz. The book was translated from the original German. The research is impeccable. The author worked almost exclusively from primary sources as well as interviewing the leading expert on the towers. Four stars.

Retirement Acronyms Stage a Jail Break: Part 2

Retirement Acronyms Stage a Jail Break: Part 2

by Charles McCain

A Conversation with Larry Divers

The second part of our series begins with this comforting statement by Chief Buttonwood of the SEC Retirement Police. “I’m pleased to report that we closed the barn door just after the acronyms ran out and I think we did a darn good job of it.”

Maybe not. Fortunately, with Cannon EVP and Retirement Services Expert Larry Divers as temporary Senior Investigative Agent, the acronyms which remain on the lam shall be caught, he tells me. That very moment something catches my eye. “Larry! The Roth IRA just ran past!”

We give chase. Larry says we must capture the Roth IRA because if it mixes in with traditional IRAs—either deductible or not deductible— there will be lots of problems.  “Remember”, Larry yells, “there are many different types of Individual Retirement Accounts and they are not the same. You can’t take money from a Roth IRA and put it into a traditional IRA without converting it.” (Note: this is not a religious ceremony. It is a taxation ceremony).

Moments before Roth tries to mix with traditional IRAs, which would create a taxable event, Larry tackles the acronym.  We drag it to his car and lock it in the trunk. Unfortunately, the other IRAs and IRA-based account acronyms have run away.

“You live in Washington, DC,” Larry says to me, “where would they go?”

I don’t even have to think about it. “To O’Neil’s, it’s an Irish pub on Capitol Hill where lobbyists hang out. I’m certain all the IRAs ran there to see if they could get their contribution limits increased or better tax treatment.”

“Let’s get the more complicated ones first,” he says. We jump into Larry’s car and he drives through DC traffic like a madman, which means we are going ten miles an hour. We pull up to O’Neil’s and burst in. There they are:  a SEP, a SIMPLE, and a SARSEP sitting at a table drinking beer with a dozen lobbyists.

What’s important to know is these three miscreants were established by the Federal Government as variations on a standard IRA to serve different purposes. According to the Internal Revenue Service, there are three of these plans.

The first is “A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan which provides business owners with a simplified method to contribute toward their employees’ retirement as well as their own retirement savings. Contributions are made to an Individual Retirement Account or Annuity (IRA) set up for each plan participant (a SEP-IRA).*

The second says the IRS, is “A SIMPLE IRA plan [which] provides small employers with a simplified method to contribute toward their employees’ and their own retirement savings. Employees may choose to make salary reduction contributions and the employer is required to make either matching or non-elective contributions. Contributions are made to an Individual Retirement Account or Annuity (IRA) set up for each employee (a SIMPLE IRA).”**

The third plan is a SARSEP, or Salary Reduction Simplified Employee Pension Plan. Because the SIMPLE IRA replaced the SARSEP, this last isn’t as common since it had to be established before 1997.  But you could easily run across such a plan for the following reason. According to the IRS, “Employers who established SARSEPs prior to January 1, 1997, can continue to maintain them and new employees of the employers hired after December 31, 1996, can participate in the existing SARSEPs. ***

Because they don’t go away or convert automatically to a SIMPLE IRA, they sit in the tax code ready to trip an unsuspecting FA. The most important thing to remember about all three of these plans is that they are just variations on a traditional IRA and the IRS says the plans must follow “the same investment, distribution, and rollover rules as traditional IRAs.”

However, Senior Investigative Agent Larry Divers points out that there is a different regulation which applies to a SIMPLE IRA that doesn’t apply to the others. If you make an early withdrawal within the first two years after you establish a SIMPLE IRA, the IRS levies a 25% early withdrawal penalty plus regular income tax.  With the other IRAs the early withdrawal penalty is 10%.

“Friends,” Larry says, “when working with different types of retirement accounts, you need to remember how dangerous retirement acronyms can be.




To learn more about this topic, register for our Retirement Plan Services I  course.

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COMMENT FROM CHARLES McCAIN: Cannon Financial Institute is the “gold standard” for wealth management training, development and consulting. I worked at the firm for many years and my colleagues were the most talented people I have ever worked with.  Last year the firm sought me out to write articles for them which I started doing in January of  2016. After a hiatus of nine years, I am pleased to report that my colleagues continue to be the most talented people I have ever worked with and it is a pleasure to be working with them again.  I take them directly from the Cannon website and the links work.  I will posting the articles I write for them on my blog after they appear on Cannon’s website.