“A Führer Arises Over Cronkite’s Piece of Potty Humor,” by Daniel Huang. The Wall Street Journal, 10/7/2015.
In the summer of 1970, Walter Cronkite gave to his friend, historian Cornelius Ryan, a piece of ceramic mounted on a walnut plaque with the inscription underneath, “Hitler Stood Here.” In an accompanying letter, Cronkite claimed it was a piece of urinal he had picked up from the ruins of Hitler’s private bunker, the Wolf’s Lair, immediately after the war. Taking souvenirs was forbidden and guards were all around, he says, but he managed to sneak it into his bag.
No one actually believes this. There is no record of Cronkite visiting the Wolf’s Lair. Cronkite and Ryan were long-time friends and often went out of their way to josh each other. This would be typical of Cronkite’s sense of humor. He says in his letter, “It seems appropriate that this memento of perhaps the only happy moments the Führer spent in his declining days should reside with you, one of the great historians of that great war.” Sounds like tongue-in-cheek humor to me.
The plaque has found its way into Ohio University’s museum (not the better-known Ohio State) where it has been drawing record crowds. (Crowds for them. The two guys in the photo are the crowd.) At first they thought of rejecting it, but decided to display it along with Cronkite’s letter and let the visitors decide on its dubious authenticity for themselves.
I would go myself if I was in the area just to stand in front of it for a minute or two, hat in hand (or something in hand).