Friday, January 24, 2014

How polygamy killed Hitler

I once read that every thing we do has repercussions on everything around us, like the way dropping a rock into a pond creates a series of ever-expanding ripples. If you toss two rocks into a pond, both of them make ripples and eventually those ripples intersect. Life in general is like that.

In this post, I'm going to explain how polygamy and Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, helped to crush the Nazis and actually kill Adolph Hitler. Bear with me, it is sort of a long story.

I'm not going to get into the background of how the Nazis came to power and took most of Europe by force. If you are that naive about world history, you probably wouldn't be reading this in the first place. If you are, buy a book. Let's just skip to the part after June of 1944 when the Allies (specifically the Americans) were on the scene on mainland Europe and kicking Nazi butt.

These GIs were armed with some awesome weapons. As a small arms junkie, I have examples of many of them in my collection. Let's talk about some of the US weapons for a minute.

I don't have one of these, but the M2 .50 caliber machine gun is STILL in use today. It is affectionately known as "Ma Deuce" by soldiers and collectors. The M2 was used in all sorts of ways during the war. It was mounted on a tripod and used as an infantry weapon, it was attached to a different mount and used for anti aircraft applications, it was mounted on  trucks and Jeeps, it was mounted in airplanes and on ships. What else can I say about Ma Deuce other than that she fought everywhere in WW2?

The 1919 series of machine guns were just as common. There were different variations of them, but they were all more or less the same. They fired a .30-06 round, just like the Garand and 1903 bolt action rifles. The 1919, however, was an air cooled belt fed. Like the M2, it could be mounted different ways for different applications. The 1919a4 was the infantry version. The 1919a4 mounted on a tripod and could be fielded with a small crew. Sure, it only takes one person to fire it, but someone has to carry the 30+ pound gun, the tripod, and cans and cans of ammo. In the Historical Shooting Inc collection, we have a 1919a4 and a 1919a6.

The most famous pistol carried by US troops during the war was the 1911a1. It was a .45 caliber semi auto. The big .45 caliber round outclassed any of the pistols carried by the Axis forces. The design is now over 100 years old and although it is no longer the standard issue pistol of the US military establishment, it is still going strong in the hands of collectors, competitive shooters and people who carry a weapon for personal protection. Let's just say that if something goes bump in the night in my house, a 1911a1 magically appears along with the flashlight.

Another iconic WW2 weapon is the M1918 BAR. It was a select fire rifle that also fired the .30-06 round. The BAR was light enough to be carried and used by one man. Sure, it was heavy, but it could chop it's way through a cinder block wall with a 20 round magazine of .30 caliber bullets. The downside was that it a big, heavy rifle. I knew a guy who issued one to carry it in WW2 because he was the new guy (a replacement) and a big farm boy at that. He didn't mind because he liked it, and when we discussed it 40 years later he STILL got that "glow" when talking about firing it. He's been dead for a while now, as that "Greatest Generation" of Americans is quite elderly now and quietly disappearing. I miss him very much.

In a related story, the same WW2 vet in the 1980's still proudly carried as his personal protection weapon a M1935 Belgian made HiPower pistol that he took off of a dead German officer after "hosing him down" with his BAR. The HiPower was never a US issued weapon, but it was used by British Commonwealth troops AND the Germans. I have one in my collection that was made in Canada for the Chinese to defend themselves against the Japanese. It has a removable buttstock and a 13-round magazine. The HiPower name comes from it's large capacity magazine as compared to the 7 or 8 round mags that were typical of it's day. The HiPower is still produced today.

Another oft encountered pistol issued by the US to officers are the Colt 1903 and 1908 pocket pistols. While I don't have one, I wouldn't turn down a good deal on one. They fired the .32acp and .380acp cartridges, respectively.

On the Axis side, one of the famous guns to come out of that era was the Walther PP and PPK. Introduced in 1929, they are still in production today. The PP series is a semi automatic, double action pistol. It was very advanced for it's day. They are classy little guns, fictional secret agent James Bond even carried one. The PPK fired a .32acp round. In my pocket as a curio I have a .32 acp bullet that I fished out of a pork shoulder when butchering because it is the type of gun I kill livestock with. The bullet is only slightly deformed after passing through the pig's skull and deflecting down into the front elbow joint.

On the subject of killing pigs, it was a Walther PPK in .32acp that Hitler shot himself in the head with on April 30th, 1945, effectively ending the war in Europe. All of those American M2s, 1919s, BARs, 1911a1s and British HiPowers had beaten the German war machine back to the fatherland and with the Soviets driving in from the East, there was no escape possible so the pig...I mean Hitler...committed suicide in his underground bunker by sticking a cyanide capsule in his mouth and putting his Walther to his temple.

What on earth does any of that have to do with Joseph Smith and polygamy? Here's the twist of fate, where events converge like ripples on a pond when you throw two rocks.

In 1823, Joseph Smith had a vision of an angel when living in upstate NY. Out of this, a new version of Christianity sprouted that would come to be known as Mormonism. To make an epic long story short, Smith attracted a large following and went west to build a new Zion in the American West. (I'm leaving a TON of stuff out here: massacres, mob violence, murder, lynchings, private armies, and a story any American history buff really needs to look into)

Along the way, Smith converted a guy, a gunsmith named Jonathan Browning, to the new religion. He was a crafty dude, having invented several types of early repeating rifles that didn't catch on (look up the "harmonica gun" to see why). Browning was born in 1805 during the flintlock era and embraced percussion technology as the wave of the future. While serving as a judge, he came in contact with many Mormons and befriended them, ultimately converting to the new faith. This caused him to be ostracized by his community, so he moved west to Nauvoo, IL with the westward migrating Mormons. In Nauvoo, he built his gun shop that is preserved as a museum today. Things got bad in Nauvoo and the Mormons found themselves walking westward again. This time to Council Bluffs, IA. (unrelated trivia: my great grandparents lived in Council Bluffs for a while at the turn of the century and had a child there before coming back east to settle in MA). Eventually Browning ended up in Utah.

In the 1830's Smith started preaching that people should live in a polygamous society. It had to do with creating a large family or "increase" for the afterlife and is one of the main reasons the Mormons were rejected and demonized by 19th century society and driven out of everyplace they tried to settle. Well, there is much more to the story than that because anti-Mormon folks always waited until the Mormons had greatly improved the land, started farms, built modern cities with good irrigation etc before they suddenly became intolerable and had to be chased off, but I don't want to stray too far from my story because those ripples are getting closer to each other!

Jonathan Browning ended up marrying four wives. His first wife was Elizabeth Stalcup whom he married in TN is 1826. Then came Polly Rippy. Then in 1854 came Elizabeth Caroline Clark and finally Sara Ann Emmett in 1858. Browning died in 1879 at Ogden, Utah.

What does this have to do with WW2 and Hitler? Keep an eye on those ripples...

The man who invented the M2 & 1919 machine guns, the BAR, the 1903, 1908 and 1911 pistols, whose unfinished design was continued after his death and became the HiPower, who designed the .45acp cartridge, the .32acp cartridge (the one that killed Hitler) and .380acp cartridge and who filed an incredible 120 patents on firearms and ammunition was a brilliant man named John Moses Browning.

The ripples on the pond converged on January 23rd, 1855 when John M. Browning was born to Jonathan Browning and his third wife, Elizabeth Caroline Clark. Yes, I know making babies involves different sorts of body fluids converging, but just roll with my "ripples on a pond" analogy, it's classier.

And that, dear readers, is how Joseph Smith and the polygamists killed Hitler and won WW2.


Blogger God's child said...

I like the way you wrote this post. It's like a little ride through history.

12:27 PM  
Blogger MVTCoPete said...

Thank you for the kind words!

5:23 PM  

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