Diary of Recorded Historical Lies
Author Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS
The Ancestor Investigator
© 5 February 2022
World War II kept my Grandfather busy. No he never enlisted but his younger brother did. This younger brother was a Gunner and Platoon Leader who grievously watched his whole platoon perish before his eyes. My Grandmother swore that her brother-in-law showed up at that very moment, in the old homestead where she was ironing clothes on the other side of the world and disappeared as quickly as he had arrived. Grandma took this spiritual appearance in stride. Shortly after, her brother-in-law, returned home, like many lucky soldiers, with war medals he would later throw out, along with stories he buried deep inside him. Upon enlistment many soldiers took up smoking cigarettes and engaged in drinking to numb the terrible experiences they were exposed to overseas. This younger brother was not immune to this and later passed away from a heart attack while shoveling snow, at the age of 75 years old; possible contributing factors of stress, cigarettes and alcohol. Noting he is fondly remembered as kind, loving and gracious with always a pleasant smile on his face when greeting others.
During this time my Great Uncle was overseas fighting the good fight, my Grandfather stayed back to work as a Pharmacist and raise four boys with my Grandmother. Grandpa was truly interested in current events, as well as history. Books satisfied the latter and radio news broadcasting seemed to fulfill the former. Grandpa got it into his head that it would be a grand idea to keep a diary of all the news broadcast reports he heard on the radio regarding the progress of the war effort. Each day he would listen to the radio news broadcast on what the allies and enemy were up to, then he would diligently record these news reports in a diary he had purchased for this task; he was proudly recording history as it was happening or so he thought.
Once the war was over, Grandpa tucked away his diary, turned history book, amongst his other history book collection on his office shelves. He was quite proud of himself and thought how clever he had been to record history as it was happening. It would not be until many years later that he would discover that everything that he had recorded from those radio news broadcasts were all lies. Not one report was true. Their excuse was to keep the enemy from knowing what was truly going only. Needless to say Grandpa was so upset and disgusted by this revelation that he admitted to the desire to throw the book of lies, his diary, in the garbage. Somehow he held onto his book of historical lies and when I found out I offered to take the book of lies off his hands for posterity; I never thought beyond the idea of just preserving my Grandfather’s dream of recording history that turned out to be lies.
After spending years in the genealogical field scouring through various record groups, I learned to keep the book of lies, Grandpa’s diary of WWII, in the forefront of my mind when I am examining documents for their truth value. We are taught as Professional Genealogists to analyze our findings, look for correlations and discrepancies and to come to a sound flexible conclusion. How plausible is the information relative to the truth? That is a whole other article that could be written on this research methodology that can be saved for another time. Suffice it to say, we must always be skeptical of what we are presented with, be that various family history documents, oral history or news broadcasts. We must instinctively dig deeper for the whole truth, the two sides of a story and all the details in between. If we do not strive to be so discerning, we are risking the real truth of events to be buried, which could lead us to conclusions that could have unexpected and unwanted consequences. Take care to seek the truth and nothing but the truth in those documents and stories so as not to be bitten by it; remember the truth is supposed to set you free!