A Word From the Director
After months of renovations the Hall of Sate will reopen just in time for the State Fair. Although many of the renovations included infrastructure work- new HVAC, roof work, plumbing and wiring-there are new UV light panels in the Great Hall protecting the wonderful murals.
Just as exciting as the completion of the renovations is the opening of the DART Green Line with a special stop at Fair Park. The DHS is thrilled that now visitors from all over the metroplex can visit the HOS with ease and comfort. Check it out at www.dart.org
As the Hall of State reopens and the DHS ramps up again, start looking for announcements about special programs as well as special "member only" events for an enhanced membership experience.
Thanks to all for your support of the Dallas Historical Society and come visit the Hall of State during the State Fair- September 25-October 18.
The Dallas Historical Society
Secret Agent and Patriot - Dallasite Harold F. Volk
-By Ed Owens
A few months ago the Dallas Historical Society was given a large number of artifacts concerning the history of the Harold F. Volk family. If you are of a particular age, like I am, you probably shopped in one of the Volk Brothers department stories. The Volk stores carried only top quality goods and, like Neiman-Marcus, Volk Brothers was a Dallas institution for many years.
The DHS was delighted to accept these items, but it really was not until we started cataloging them that we discovered what a treasure of information we had been given. The collection includes hundreds of paper documents, several artifacts, and two diaries. The first diary was written around 1906 when, as a boy, he went to Europe with his parents. The second, written in 1918 while he was an officer with the 90th Field Artillery in France during WWI, contained much.
Harold Volk spent the rest of his life working for our community. In addition to serving as president of Volk Brothers, he was also president of the Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund and on the Board of Development for SMU. He was on many other boards including the Dallas Symphony Society and Dallas National Bank.
Educated at Terrill School, Andover Academy, Yale University and the Sorbonne in Paris, Mr. Volk had already served his country in the Great War but, like so many people of his generation, when World War II started, he wanted help again. He had traveled to Europe many times between the wars and was fluent in German and French. In 1939, he had even met top Nazi officials who mistakenly thought he was part of the American Nazi organization, the Bund. When the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) was formed in 1943, he was a logical person to ask to join and he did so without hesitation. Though he was a civilian, he commanded a special, 500-person multi-national unit called the Field Consolidation Team.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower was commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) and headed all Allied forces in northwest Europe from late 1943 until the end of the war. The OSS worked under SHAEF.
Mr. Volk's team was responsible for what was then called psychological warfare operations. He was so highly regarded that he was one of a handful of people who knew the plans and time table for the D-Day invasion.
When the invasion came, he and his team landed on Omaha Beach and followed the troops across France. In a letter to a friend he described how the American forces took over French and German newspapers and radio stations to get information to the French Underground and to spread disinformation to German troops. He also interviewed French civilians and collected stories of Nazi atrocities. This information was later used at the Nuremburg War Crime Trials.
When the Germans were finial driven out of France, Mr. Volk detached from the OSS and returned to this country. With the approval of the OSS, he spoke to groups all over the country about the dangers of Communism and the real threat that Russia posed. This was harder than it sounds because so many Americans believed that, since the Russians had been our allies during the war, that they were our friends.
After the end of WWII, the OSS was disbanded but General Donovan, original founder of the OSS, tried to keep the agency together to be prepared if a national emergency should arise. The general asked Mr. Volk if he would represent him in the state of Texas, which he did until the C.I.A. was formed two years later.
Harold F. Volk represents so much of what is great about Dallas that I am a little surprised that he is not more renowned. Would it not be better if our city was associated more with real people like Harold F. Volk and less with fictional characters like J. R. Ewing?
Company Town to Ghost Town
Saturday, October 10, departs 9 a.m.
Built as a coal mining town by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company, Thurber, Texas later became a center for brick factories. The Depression of the 1930s closed the factories, leaving Thurber a ghost town. Today, it is home of the W. K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas. Come explore Thurber and Texas' industrial past. Lunch at the Smokestack Restaurant.
DHV & Dallas Historical Society Members: $55
If we may be of service to you in the future with discovering our past feel free to contact, visit or join the DHS.
Sincerely,The Dallas Historical Society