Thursday, March 4, 2010

"To Roosevelt! To Stalin! And To Studebaker!"

Ambassador John Beyrle at the Russian Museum
in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 18, 2010

Wandering around the web looking for info on Joseph Beyrle, I found a story about an exhibit of his exploits in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, which opened on February 18th. Here's a quote from the story:

The ambassador said Russian soldiers were grateful for billions' worth of Allied military aid sent to the Soviet Union during the war — including U.S. Studebaker trucks.

He said he and his sister asked their father if he ever drank vodka with the Russians. "'Yes, we drank vodka,' he would reply. 'And here is a toast we had: To Roosevelt, To Stalin, To Studebaker!'"

The exhibit includes his boots, uniform, decorations and the telegrams notifying Beyrle's parents of his capture. The exhibit moves to Moscow on May 6th.

Man, I would LOVE to see that! With his son now the ambassador, I wonder if the Smithsonian could borrow that exhibit?

Ambassador Beyrle said that when he was studying Russian in the old Soviet days, a lot of Russians were suspicious or hostile until they heard his name. Then they would ask, "You aren't by any chance related to Joseph Beyrle, are you?" Apparently his father is a well-known "footnote character" from the Great Patriotic War (as the Soviets called WWII) and just about every Russian has heard of him. Sorta like being related to Betsy Ross or Lafayette. So his father's name was a great ice-breaker, and he spent many days and nights as the honored guest of ordinary Russians.

No comments: