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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


Illinois at War, 1941-1945

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 43
COMMUNICATION FROM THE ST. PAUL'S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH CONCERNING A NEON CROSS
March 9, 1945



Explanation

The Allied advance in Europe was dealt an unexpected setback beginning on December 16, 1944 when the Germans launched a counteroffensive through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. Although this bold move was checked by December 30 when U.S. forces regrouped and launched a counterattack of their own, military as well as civilian leaders were shocked out of any senses of complacency they might have had. The American army suffered 77,000 casualties in this action.

James F. Byrnes, head of the Office of War Mobilization, reacted to the Battle of the Bulge by ordering austerity in civilian fuel consumption. Cities across the country were instructed to close most stores at dusk and all dining and entertainment establishments at midnight. Neon signs were forbidden and street lighting was reduced. Coastal cities had enforced dimouts since mid-1942 to prevent city lights from silhouetting U.S. merchant ships and thereby making them vulnerable to enemy submarine attack. But for inland cities like Chicago the dimout, which lasted from late December through the spring of 1945, was a novel experience. There residents experienced a certain eeriness at night when they walked down a darkened Randolph Street where motion picture houses were barely discernable because their elaborate signs and marquees were blacked out.

Governor Green replied to this inquiry on March 14 in part as follows.

The dim-out order was issued by the War Production Board of the Federal Government and not by State administration. For this reason, I regret that I am unable to be of assistance to you.

Appeals from the dim-out order should be sent to the district office of the War Production Board, one of which offices is located in Chicago, Illinois.

Points to Consider

Why did Adolph Jungthon want his church's cross lit?

Why was this church's neon lighted cross not allowed to be lit?

Why had a nationwide dimout been instituted at this time?

The leadership of this Lutheran Church belonged to which ethnic group?

See Related Document: 49


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