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The Overseas Weekly Story - by Dr. John Provan

The Overseas Weekly - die europäische Version

1950 - Another newspaper that began during this period that would be a long time competition to the "Stars & Stripes"; was the "Overseas Weekly" (OW). It was first published in 1950, in Frankfurt, with offices located at Schiller Str. 19.

An enterprising young American woman, by the name of Marion von Rospach, started the paper. Her only journalist experience had been, being editor of the Stanford University daily newspaper. Amongst the early staff and owners, was Air Force Captain Jim Ziccarelli, who worked in Wiesbaden.

He managed to make a contract, on March 9, 1950, with Stars and Stripes, for the printing, distribution and sales of the new paper.

After the first issue on May 14, 1950, Mothers' Day, Ziccarelli applied for release from Air Force, only to be turned down because of the manpower shortages, due to the war in Korea.

In 1951, he was reassigned to Phoenix, Arizona, and sold his shares of OW. Ziccarelli hired Dexter Freeman as OW's first manager, later he would work for S&S, as cable editor.

Besides Mrs. Rospach, her husband Cecil had a share in OW, as did Katherine Garnett, the wife of a Sergeant that worked for Ziccarelli and Sgt. Lawrence F. Oswalt.

Anthony Biancone, S&S circulation manager at the time, acquired a 14% interest, he would later quit "Stripes" and work full-time for OW. Over for the following years, these individuals were bought out by Mrs. Rospach.  

The OW paper reached out to the GI readership

The "Overseas Weekly" soon became a part of military life in Europe, amongst an Army that had been for the most part, drafted into service. The OW paper reached out to the GI readership, with legitimate news, sports, and always a pretty girl on the front page.

The paper was sensational (to say the least) and often confronted topics that the Stars & Stripes did not or would not touch.

Such topics as drugs, regulations on hair length, race relations, the devalued dollar, the Vietnam war, and many other topics, to which the military Chain of Command was not willing to take a stand, could be seen on the pages of the "Overseas Weekly".

The U.S. military had never faced such problems before and was having considerable trouble dealing with such topics.

Amongst the more graphic stories was that of an ex-GI, who emerged from a sex-change operation in Denmark, with the new first name of Christine. Back in the 1960s and 1970's, this was a socially upsetting topic.

Storys - von der Army unter den Teppich gekehrt

The OW often took on stories that were being swept under the carpet, especially by the Army. Such was the case in the summer of 1955, when a 13-year old Austrian girl, by the name of Gertie was brutally raped and killed in Salzburg, by a USFA soldier.

The Austrian newspaper turned it into a major story, mainly because military authorities would not let local police or judicial officers participate.

The problem was complicated by the fact that the soldier in question was a barely literate 18-year old Black soldier.

Eine ganz "heiße Kartoffel"

The military trial was held in an Austrian civilian court building, simply because of the massive request for seats by the European Press. Stars and Stripes as well as the BDN (Blue Danube Network-basically AFN in Austria) were told by the United States Forces Austria (USFA) Command, to basically ignore the story, since it was considered a "hot Potato".

Only the OW was present and covered the event fairly accurately, while the Soviets attempted to place more racial implications into the trial and to create political problems.

As the trial progressed, the European Press relied more and more upon the stories provided by the OW reporter. The soldier was convicted, sentenced to death and transferred to Fort Levenworth. After years of appeals, PVT John Arthur Bennett, was put to death by hanging, on April 13, 1961. *1)

Bennett was the last former soldier to die by military execution and was the only soldier put to the death for rape, during peacetime.

Alle Gnadengesuche abgelehnt

Although Bennett's lawyers made every attempt, including sending a wire to the White House, where the newly elected President John F. Kennedy was watching as the Soviets successfully put a man into space.

The White House answer was quick and simple, NO. Considering the fact, that his original trial took only four weeks and the jury deliberated only 25 minutes to come to their verdict; guilty.

During the period of time, in which Bennett sat on death row, the U.S. military hanged six other Black soldiers for crimes committed, while all four White soldiers on death row, many of whom were multiple murderers, were spared.

The hanging is not always a fast means of dieing, and for Bennett it took 16 minutes and 5 seconds to die. This makes clear the explosive nature of the topic, the crime, and the trial; and significance this had during a period of social un-rest in the United States, international relationships with Austria, the Cold-War fight with the Soviet Union, the upheaval with the U.S. Military and the Black power movement. *2)
It also demonstrated the problematic situation for the Stripes newspaper.

Die Wahrheit war nicht gefragt und wurde unterdrückt

An "Overseas Weekly" reporter got a tip, that a battalion Commander in Wiesbaden was punishing soldiers for minor infractions by confining them to a screened attic room in the barracks. The "Goon Platoon" was forced to wear a white armband. The reporter and a photographer were smuggled onto the base. Sure and behold, they managed to take photos of the allegations.

When the Commander was ask to respond, he said: "No, that would never happen here" and promptly the reporter answered, "That's strange, because I have these photos." The officer became pale and ordered the reporters to leave the installation.

Die Russen durften im PX und Commissarry zu US-Military-Preisen einkaufen

The paper kept track of the Soviet Mission *3) representatives that could often be found buying American items in the PX in Frankfurt or Berlin. It was a most interesting situation, since American civilians living in Germany were not authorized the same privileges.

One could often watch the Soviet "Ziv" limos pull up with Communist bigwigs and their wives, to load their cars with the "fruits of capitalism".

In another incident, the MPs or CIC had not been able to obtain a photo of the newly arrived Soviet Mission Commander in Frankfurt.

The "Overseas Weekly" was approached and asked if they could obtain such a photo. OW photographer, Hans Leitermann and AFN DJ Jim Anderson, went to the mission, rang the door bell and ask if he could get an interview with the new Commander.

The Soviet Officer opened the door, shook their hands, when suddenly the two men pulled him outside, with Hans taking a photo. It was then printed in the Overseas Weekly. *4)

Overseas Weekly war für viele Reporter das Sprungbrett

MG Walter Kerwin Jr, Commander of U.S. 3rd Armoured Division was once quoted: "Greatest little paper you ever saw. Any time I wanted to spread the word in the Division, I told the Overseas Weekly."

Robert S. Stokes, was originally a writer for the OW, working in Saigon. He later joined Newsweek and has since written several novels and screenplays.

John Dornberg also started at OW, later becoming  Newsweek's Bonn Bureau Chief. Curtis Daniel, a former OW editor, later opened a German-English translation service for legal papers.

Lee Romero, a photographer, later joined the New York Times as a staff photographer. Tom Lucey would eventually join the newly created "Off Duty" magazine.

Mike Pavich documented one of the more interesting stories, of how GIs using military vehicles, smuggled East German refugees out of East Germany for payment.

Und natürlich wurde die Politik aufgemischt

Naturally, such stories would have caused considerable political friction and Marion von Rospach canned the story, since she deemed it too inflammatory. *5)
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Ann-Bryan-1975-in-Saigon
  • Anmerkung :
    "
    The paper" (die Zeitschrift "Overseas weekly") was founded in 1959 in Germany by Marion von Rospach, a graduate of Stanford University. (Mrs Marion C. Morrow von Rospach (1926-1969)) - She had worked for the Army publication "Stars and Stripes" for many years and had grown frustrated with reporting official stories spoon - fed by information officers. She realized the real story - what was happening on the ground - could only be learned from the GIs who were there.
    Read more here : https://www.vvaveteran.org/39-1/39-1_annbryan.html - The Overseas Weekly pioneered narrative journalism.

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"Als Studentin in Berkeley habe ich gelernt, daß Zeitungen noch nie die Wahrheit geschrieben haben."

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  • I had learned as a student at Berkeley that newspapers did not print the truth at all. Things I had seen with my own eyes - peaceful demonstrations for free speech - were not covered, while one-off crazies burning police cars were on the front page as “Student Riots.”

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The paper also ruined some relationships, most notably, that between Elvis Presley (who was stationed in Germany between 1958 and 1960) and the attractive 17-year old Margit Bürgin, a stenograph who lived in Frankfurt.

The relationship had made headlines of the paper, by December 1959. Margit wanted to use this popularity to start a modelling career and one day her picture was used as a "Pin-up". Elvis disliked this so much, that the two never saw each other again. *6)

Es gab noch mehr Ärger

Of course, the paper also got into trouble. OW reporter Siegfried Naujocks was sued for slander (Verleumdung) by MG Edwin A. Walker (ein US-General-Major) in a German court on September 22, 1961.

In the article, he wrote that Walker exposed (verteilte) his troops to propaganda from the John Birch Society (rassistische Propaganda-Artikel). Although MG Walker was relieved (abgelöst / entlassen) of Command of the 24th Inf. Div. and transferred (versetzt) to USAREUR HQ in Heidelberg; *7) (und auch hier : https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Anderson_Walker)

Naujock was fined 1,200 Marks ($300) and 30 days in jail. After four years with the paper, he quit. Representative Fisher, D-Texas, asked the Defense Department to investigate the Overseas Weekly, and GEN Lauris Norstad, Supreme Allied Commander Europe presented the Pentagon a report in March of 1962.

After the investigation, the Defense Department permitted the OW to continue to be sold on military installations.
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Ab 1964 eine Vietnam edition

The Overseas Weekly - die Vietnam Version

Between 1964 and 1975, there was also a Vietnam edition. Apparently, Klaus Heymann had gone to Hong Kong to run this operation. It is totally unclear why the paper went out of business.

Apparently, the "Overseas Weekly", no longer offered at military newsstands, was failing finically and therefore sold to "cheapo" operators which led the paper into it's final demise.

Beginning in October 1966, a Pacific OW edition went on sale in Saigon, at first only at privately owned newsstands, since military authorities at first did not permit the sale, due to lack of available space within the post exchanges.

The paper's editor stated: "It's because the "Overseas Weekly" prints hard facts. It steps on toes. It backs the little guy against the impersonal machine." *8)

A short time later, the paper was once again allowed, to be sold within military installations. The paper's layout was prepared in Frankfurt, with films being made of the completed pages that were flown by commercial airlines to Thailand, South Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, where it was then printed in Hong Kong.
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Overseas Weekly war unabhängig von den US-Commanders

Many soldiers at the time felt that the Overseas Weekly, kept the military and the U.S. Government honest, a noble goal of all reporters. This paper had it somewhat easier than S&S, since there was no Chain of Command that would attempt to dictate policies.

Die Personalprobleme eskalierten

The problems of the OW were mounting (der Text-und Bilder-Satz). Curtis Daniel was fired and replaced by James Ziccarelli, a founding member of OW, as mentioned earlier.

Less than three months later, James was also fired. A young, Bill P. Jobes, only 25 years old, was hired as new editor, but apparently he never arrived.

Curtis Daniel, was re-hired in February 1970, only to be fired a second time, nine months later in May. Eric Meskauskas became managing editor and he too quit after less than a year.

The management problems, which apparently arose from the fact that Joseph Kroesen was overly hot headed. The "Overseas Weekly" was experiencing problems that left its mark on the editorial value of the paper.

In June 1971, the paper moved it's operations to Oakland, California, in an attempt to also produce a U.S. edition.

In August 1971, John Peterson, OW correspondent in Saigon, entered the drug withdrawal center at Cam Ranh Bay, without permission. The Army intended to press charges against the writer. The paper remained in business until sometime in 1975. The overall quality was going down hill. *9)

Die gleiche Zielgruppe angesprochen

The "Overseas Weekly" was not only a competition in the readership figures, but apparently the staff of both papers enjoyed a friendly game of softball on regular occasions. On 13 April 1958, the first such game was played. But besides the lighter sides of life, both papers influenced the same military readership.

"Overseas Weekly" wurde 1970 verkauft

Joseph B. Kroesen, owner of Richter Enterprises Inc., acquired the "Overseas Weekly", after the untimely death, apparently in a bathtub accident (vorzeitiger Tod in der Badewanne) of Marion Morrow Rospach in 1970. Mrs. Ethel Morrow, the mother and heir to the company (Erbe der Firma) was forced to sell, having no experience in the journalist field.

Kroesen's first move was to fire Dagmar Rios (General Manager) and Ludwig Burkhardt (Business Manager) and announce that the "Overseas Family", a 25-cent weekly paper directed towards military wives and dependents, would be converted to a free monthly paper, to be distributed within military housing areas. The first "free" edition (about 1971) saw a circulation of 60,000 copies. But by 1985, it reached a circulation of 8,220,000 copies annually (aber im Jahr).

Das "Off Duty Magazine" wurde gegründet

Dagmar M. and Walter B. Rios, who apparently both had worked for the Overseas Weekly, would strike out on their own, after the owner, Marion von Rospach had died, to form the "Off Duty Magazine", which began in September 1970.

1970 - Sehr problematische Jahre

These were troubled times, that year, four students were killed at Kent State (4 Studenten der Kent State University wurden bei einer Demo ohne Waffen von der Ohio National Guard, der State-Police, erschossen, 9 weitere verwundet), the Beatles broke up, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix both died from drug overdoses and "Patton" was the winner of the best movie Academy Award.
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Das auf und ab von "Off Duty"

Headquartered in Frankfurt, "Off Duty" remained in business until 1998 (nicht korrekt, es war bereits 1997). From these humble beginnings the magazine expanded quickly, throughout the military community worldwide.

A Pacific edition was added by June 1971, as well as a Hawaiian and Alaska edition in 1974. 100,000 were soon being sent to Vietnam. By 1976, "Off Duty" went nation wide.

"Off Duty magazine" never attempted high journalist goals, rather strictly provided TV & radio program information to its readers. It was a color, glossy, monthly magazine which provided U.S. soldiers and their families, travel information, dates of concerts, things and places to go and naturally the AFN schedules.

It kept the reader informed about technical developments in HiFi equipment, speakers, etc. . It was a specialized niche, which included an annual "Off Duty Welcome Guides", which covered such areas as Guam, Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Singapore and naturally Germany.

Several editions were produced including a "family" and a "soldier" version for both the European and Pacific areas. Although the texts were much the same, the advertisements were designed for the different readership. The other editions covered Hawaii, an Off Shore (Alaksa, Panama, Caribbian) and an American version (for within the States).
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Noch ein Magazin mit Namen "Overseas"

Another magazine which was produced for U.S. soldiers in Europe, was simply called "Overseas".

It resembled the "Off Duty Magazine" in many ways, covering all the latest developments in sound system and camera equipment, but a lovely lady was always pictured on the front cover, to awaken the interest of GIs.

The monthly magazine was published by "Military Consumer Today Inc.", starting in May 1973, with an editorial office on the Bismarck Str. 17, in Heidelberg. W. A. Demers was Editor. It is not clear, when the magazine went out of business, but probably by the late 1980s, with the fall of the Berlin wall.
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Und noch ein Magazin "Fight Back" ......

There were a number of other political newspapers being printed in Europe, often underground and/or by minority groups, which attacked the U.S. Army establishment, it's role in Vietnam, the draft, long hair, treatment of Blacks and countless other topics popular in the 1970s. Amongst these was "Fight Back" (apparently printed in Baumholder), but these never obtained the status of "Overseas Weekly" or "Stars & Stripes"; and normally failed to exist for any length of time.

Hier die Verweise aus dem laufenden Text :

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  • *1)     Information provided by Alan MacQuoid, BDN 1954-1955 and AFN 1955-1956, 22 August 2010.

  • *2)     Information provided by Alan MacQuoid (BDN 1954-1955)

  • *3)     The Soviet Military Liaison Mission (commonly referred to as SMLM- pronounced Smellum) Since it was not authorized to follow Soviet representatives, the U.S. military in Europe created a system., in which every American soldier was given a card, which depicted the Soviet licence tags, uniforms, etc. along with the proper telephone number to report any spottings of such representatives. The caller would receive a card, "Thanks for being a SMLM spotter" postcard.

  • *4)     Story provided by Jim Anderson, AFN Berlin 1958-60.

  • *5)     Information provided by Benny Brown (AFN)

  • *6)     Gordon Stoker; "Elvis - Seine Jahre in Deutschland (1958-60)", Heel AB, Schindellegi, Schweiz, 1994, pages 76-77.

  • *7)     Apparently MG Walker had lost his mental capacity and was suffering from a brain tumor.

  • *8)     Stars & Stripes: October 23, 1966, "OW is Sold on Saigon Stands".

  • *9)     A fairly complete set of OW can be found at the German National Library in Frankfurt / Main. It is the only known set to exist.

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The Overseas Weekly- Ein Artikel von Dr. John Provan Kelkheim.
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