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To Lieutenant Colonel Darryl F. Zanuck
July 17, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Colonel Zanuck:
Your suggestion for educational and semi-historical courses is far from presumptuous;—as a matter of fact, I think the observations which prompted your recommendation are entirely accurate.1
To be perfectly frank, I believe the state of bewilderment which you have noted is the result of a very apparent lack of unity of thought throughout the country, and not a fault of training. Our difficulty lies in the fact that we are bound to avoid controversial or political subjects, or any attempt to control the views of our men on such matters. We can, and do, instruct in the obligations of citizenship and of military service, but this is about as far as we can go under present conditions.
If the situation crystallizes we can do much more, and then I think your educational courses could be pushed to the limit. Would it not be possible to do this better by motion pictures than in any other way? Give this some thought and let me have the benefit of your ideas.
The news reel did turn out well and you are to be congratulated.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. In mid-June, Zanuck had met with various arm and service chiefs and with General Marshall regarding his training film production activities. While in Washington and since returning to California, he had talked with officers recently stationed at cantonments throughout the nation. He was disturbed because the officers had reported that the majority of the draftees and newly enlisted men, were “not fully aware of the causes and the reasons for our present foreign policy.” The men were “confused and bewildered by the tommyrot constantly dished out by Lindbergh and the America First Committee. I do not for a moment suggest that the United States Army delve into propaganda or exploitation, but I do recommend that educational and semi-historical courses be delivered in every camp throughout the nation, so that draftees or newly enlisted men may be told the truth and the facts about our present foreign policy.” (Zanuck to Marshall, June 25, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. In his letter, Zanuck did not indicate which newsreel he had shown to Marshall. Most of the newsreel companies had begun production of films depicting various aspects of army life, and the Bureau of Public Relations hoped to use these extensively in public theaters. (Lieutenant Colonel A. D. Bruce Informal Memorandum for Lieutenant Colonel Mickelsen. March 7, 1941, NA/RG 407 [General, 413].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 568-569.