Homeland Security, WWII Style

The amount of time, effort, and money the U.S. has spent since 9/11 preparing for or protecting against improbable and sometimes even impossible threats to the “homeland” are incalculable. No matter how bizarre or improbable the perceived potential threat is, Uncle Sam has spent hard-earned tax dollars to better defend against – or at least clean up after – the movie-plot threat of the week.

Turns out, preparing for highly improbably threats isn’t a terribly new course of action.

A buddy of mine collects historical law-enforcement ephemera, particularly old handbooks and manuals, and recently loaned me a fascinating little bit of WWII history – a Minnesota Office of Civil Defense “Auxiliary Police Handbook” from 1942:

Much of the manual was probably lifted, almost verbatim, from similar British guides that would have been in existence at that time, and much of the first half of the booklet is interesting, but unremarkable, mainly having to do with the duties, responsibilities, and organization of the Volunteer Auxiliary Police. From there, however, things get technical – and fascinating:

Ever been in, or owned, a house whose attic was painted with some chalky white stuff? Hey, look, mystery solved!

The booklet makes a great deal of effort to trivialize the horrors of war, and includes little random bits of nationalistic propaganda strewn throughout:

Aside from the attic-fireproofing instructions (which also suggested covering the attic floor with several inches of sand), I found these instructions for covering window glass interesting:

Does anyone know anything about these “special varieties” of “liquid composition” for covering glass? Were there actually such things marketed in this country during WWII, or was this a UK leftover?

Despite the large amount of advice and instruction of questionable utility – you don’t want to see the section on dealing with gas attacks, trust me – the booklet ends with a bit of advice that is still as pertinent today as it was sixty-seven years ago:

“…it is better to go out and help others than to stay at home and fret.”

I couldn’t put it better myself.

Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on February 11th, 2009| Comments Off on Homeland Security, WWII Style

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