Abstract: Personal papers of Edwin A. Shanke, a Marquette alumnus (B.A. '32, M.A. '37) who served as a foreign correspondent in Europe for the Associated Press from 1937-1976. Most notably, Shanke worked in Berlin, Germany, from 1937 until the outbreak of war between Germany and the United States.
Biographical Note: Edwin Anthony Shanke was born to Albert and Louise Shanke in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 28th 1910. He graduated from Marquette University High School in 1928 and then attended Marquette University’s College of Journalism, receiving his B.A. in 1932 and M.A. in 1937. Shanke had one sibling, a younger sister named Bernice, who also graduated from Marquette University (B.A. '42).
Edwin Shanke began working for the Associated Press (AP) in Wisconsin in the mid-1930s. In 1937 the AP assigned Shanke to be a foreign correspondent at its Berlin office. He arrived in Germany on September 11, 1937. Except for brief transfers to the Budapest, Hungary office (November 1938) and the Bern, Switzerland office (January 1941), Shanke remained stationed in Berlin up to the outbreak of war between Germany and the United States. On occasion, Shanke travelled to other cities in Europe to report on specific events. He helped to report on the Nazi annexations of Austria and the Sudetenland. In September 1939 Shanke participated in a journalistic tour of Poland in the wake of the German invasion. The following year, he made a similar trip through the Maginot Line area and Alsace-Lorraine. Annually during this period, the AP offered its foreign correspondents a month-long vacation--six weeks if they planned to make a return visit to the United States. Shanke vacationed in Europe in 1939 and 1940. In 1939 he toured southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The following year, he spent his vacation sightseeing in Switzerland. In 1938 and 1941 Shanke returned to the United States for his vacation.
On December 10, 1941 German authorities took Shanke into custody. Soon he was interned at Bad Nauheim Camp with other journalists and members of the United States Embassy. During Shanke’s five month captivity, the Germans prohibited him from having any contact with the outside world, including correspondence with his family. Shanke was released in May 1942 as part of an exchange of journalists and diplomats between Germany and the United States.
Following his exchange, Shanke worked at the AP’s London office until being transferred to its new office in Sweden in December 1942. In 1943 Shanke began dating a Swedish-born woman named Florence. They married in May 1944. The AP appointed Shanke its Stockholm Bureau Chief in February 1945. Shanke returned to Berlin with Florence in July 1946 to report on the Nuremberg trials. In November 1948 the AP reassigned Shanke to its London office. The couple remained living in England for nearly 20 years during which the AP sent Shanke abroad to report on important events, such as the Helsinki Olympics (1952), the Suez crisis (1956) and the Lebanon crisis (1958). Shanke returned to Stockholm in 1967 where he became Chief of Scandinavian Services, a post he held until his retirement from the Associated Press in 1976. In 1968 Shanke received the By-Line Award from Marquette University’s College of Journalism.
Although Shanke would visit the United States, he never lived there again after moving to Germany in 1937. Eddie and Flory had no children. Avid travelers, they remained living in Sweden following his retirement. Edwin Shanke died in Stockholm on December 1, 2004, at age 94.
Restrictions: Access to these records is unrestricted; however, copyright for some of the photographs in the collection and all of the wire copy belongs to the Associated Press (AP). The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright which may be involved in the use of these records. Consult an archivist for further information.
Scope and Content: The collection consists of three kinds of documents: Correspondence, Photographs, and Wire Copy.
Correspondence: Shanke remained in contact with his family in Wisconsin through a long-running correspondence. He began writing regularly to his parents from Germany in 1937. At first, Shanke wrote separately to his sister Bernice, but later he combined the efforts into a single stream of letters that he addressed affectionately to "Mom-Ber-Dad." Shanke continued this correspondence after the war ended. Following his mother's death in 1960, Shanke addressed the letters to his father and Bernice. After their father's death in 1976, he addressed his letters just to Bernice, and then later to Bernice and Hal, following his sister's marriage to Hal Greiveldinger in 1980. The collection also contains Florence Shanke's long-running correspondence to Edwin's family in Wisconsin. Also included with the collection are a handful of miscellaneous letters, most notably two postwar letters written in German to Edwin's mother from Maria Volmer, the widow in whose Berlin home Eddie lived before the war. In general, the correspondence in this collection became increasingly mundane over time, focusing more on travel, leisure activities, and health, with less commentary on historical events or places. The most interesting letters are those Shanke mailed home from Berlin from 1937-1942. They document daily life in Germany and often contain accounts of his travels around Europe.
Photographs: The collection contains three (3) photographic albums assembled either by Shanke or his family, filled with photographs dating to his service in Germany from 1937-1941. The first contains a mix of Shanke's own snapshots as well as Associated Press prints that came into Shanke's possession. The second album holds photographs of Shanke's vacation in May 1939, when he toured Bavaria, Austria, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, and Albania. The third photo album contains three different groupings of photographs. The first grouping accounts for two-thirds of the album and depicts Shanke's vacation in Switzerland in September/October 1940. The second grouping consists of snapshots taken during Shanke's tour through the Maginot Line area and Alsace-Lorraine in August 1940, with many pictures of bomb damage and the aftermath of French defeat (e.g. abandoned equipment, prisoners of war). The last grouping of photographs depicts Shanke's transatlantic voyages when he visited the United States for vacation in spring 1941.
Wire Copy: These are AP news stories--typed and then sometimes edited by hand--sent out on the wire to be used by newspapers. Except for a few stories from his early service in Wisconsin, all wire copy dates to Shanke's service in Berlin from 1937-1941. Shanke saved these wire copy pages and presumably gave them to his family in Wisconsin for safekeeping. Shanke wrote the vast majority of the wire copy in this collection. Shanke explained the procedure surrounding the wire copy and its nomenclature in a letter he wrote home on January 9, 1938. The AP office in Berlin was dependent upon German authorities for much of the information it received, and so the wire copy often reflected German reports on events. During slow news periods, Shanke researched and wrote his own longer pieces, focusing primarily on Church-State relations and youth in Germany.
Arrangement: The collection is arranged by record type. The correspondence is arranged chronologically by recipient. The photographic albums reflect the arrangement Shanke imposed when he put the albums together. The wire copy is arranged chronologically by month, if known.
Digital Collection: Selected materials from the Shanke Papers have been digitized and compiled in an online collection titled Edwin A. Shanke: AP Reporter in Germany, 1937-1942. Attached to this collection is a Timeline highlighting events during these years.
View Inventory. This is a folder-level inventory of the entire collection. Visitors can view the contents of select folders of correspondence as well as the collection's three photograph albums. These are parts of the Shanke Papers scanned and published for the digital collection.