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Riding in Hitler’s Car

January 17, 2017

My mom has worked at IHS for more than 30 years with the image collections. Conversations while driving downtown or dinnertime discussions often recalled stories from IHS collections to my mom’s mind. Some have to do with buildings now long gone but still seemingly in living memory because of images, and others have to do with stories of travels far and wide available to us through letters or diaries.

You may know my mom from her love of Larry Foster here, here and here. She’s had so much fun going through the acetate negatives and creating the Larry Foster digital collection after the negatives are scanned by her department. Not long ago she came across an image taken by Larry Foster with a car, a caricature of Hitler and a sign that said “Hitler’s Personal Car.” You don’t need to be a historian to be curious about an image like that, do you?

Because all the images in our digital collections contain metadata, the information provided below the image, Archives and Library staff will try to find out as much about an image as they can in order to make the researcher’s job a little easier. Mom just had to find out more about Hitler’s personal car.

Enter newspapers.com where she found an article from Nov. 23, 1945, entitled “Girl Reporter Gets Thrill Of Her Lifetime Riding Hitler’s Car To Victory Bond Rally” in The Indianapolis Star. The night before, Hitler’s car had been on display at a bond rally at the Cadle Tabernacle. Sue Mellett describes her trip from Knightstown to Indy in the car.

The 101st Airborne Division captured Hitler’s sport roadster in May 1945 at Berchtesgaden, the same area of his mountain retreat, the “Eagle’s Nest.” Mellett keeps a light tone, poking fun at Hitler throughout, saying “The custom-built 1938 Daimler-Mercedes-Benz is just the thing for a jittery fuehrer.” The car, a blue and silver convertible, weighed in at two-and-a-half tons. It was completely armor-plated and the windows did not roll down. Oddest of all, the car “has no axle, but all four wheels are independently suspended.”

Mellett said “it’s quite a car the soldiers won’t deny the Germans build good machines.” Lt. Cox drove her from Knightstown to Indy but wouldn’t let her drive the car. She only got to touch the steering wheel. “Some nonsense about ‘orders from Washington'” (wink, wink) prevented her from being allowed to drive the car.

If all Mellett’s articles are written like this, I’d love to search through The Indianapolis Star from those years and read more. You can do this by going to the Indiana State Library where they have this and other Indiana newspapers on microfilm and provide access to newspapers.com. Here in our library, we provide access to newspaperarchive.com.

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Chelsea Sutton is communications coordinator at the Indiana Historical Society. She started drinking coffee at age 3 with her dad and always stays up too late reading.

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