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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 43
TELEGRAM TO THE U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE CONCERNING A CHAMPAIGN MAN CONDEMNED TO DEATH IN SPAIN
September 3, 1937



Explanation

Harold E. Dahl (1909-1956) was one of some 2,800 Americans who had volunteered to defend the democratically elected Spanish Republican government against the insurgent Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco. The Nationalists were aided by the Germans and by the Italians, particularly in terms of air support.

Of the Americans who served some were committed to the Republican cause, some were after adventure, while others were in it for the money. Dahl fit into the second and third categories. His salary was $1,500 a month with a bonus of $1,000 for each enemy aircraft he destroyed. Harold Dahl had been credited with up to five kills. He himself was forced down and captured in 1937. Franco spared him execution due to appeals from the U.S. State Department and his wife and mother. Dahl was released from imprisonment early in 1940. His colorful life ended on February 14, 1956 when the DC-3 he was piloting crashed into the Alaskan bush.

Points to Consider

What was Governor Horner asking the U.S. secretary of state to do?

Locate Champaign on a map.

Who were "Spanish Insurgents" in 1937?

Why had Harold Dahl been in Spain at this time?


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