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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

Jan 15, 2024

During World War 2, opportunities for female reporters were scare, to say the least, as was respect for them. One intrepid reporter named Virginia Irwin, however, would not let that stop her. She decided to go after her ultimate story, which took her behind Russian lines, and put her in danger.  She broke a few rules along the way, but ultimately prevailed, and she even earned the respect of the legendary publisher, Joseph Pulitzer.  Just press play to hear the whole story. ----- 

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Podcast Transcript:  I’m Katie Moon, Exhibits Manager at the Missouri Historical Society, and Here’s History on eighty-eight-one, K-D-H-X. ———

Post-Dispatch staff writer Virginia Irwin dreamed of a bigger life, witnessing significant events, and reporting world news as it happened. By 1943, she was desperate to get a first-hand view of the war in Europe, but the newspaper refused her requests to make her an official correspondent, because she was a woman. Instead, she took a leave of absence to volunteer for the Red Cross in England, where she continued to send articles to the paper, and eventually they began printing them. Her human-interest stories struck a chord with readers and became quite popular. ———

By July of 1944, Virginia had maneuvered her way to France, literally to the front lines of battle, and most definitely to a place where she wasn’t supposed to be. But despite her disregard for rules and regulations, the Post continued to publish her stories, with her editor, Joseph Pulitzer encouraging her to continue. ———

By April of 1945, Virginia had her sights set on the ultimate story—reporting from inside Berlin as the Russians attempted to seize control over the city that had become the center of operations for the Nazis. ———

She was supposed to get official permission from the Army to travel, but instead, she convinced an Army sergeant to drive her and another correspondent to Berlin in the middle of the night. Although they started out with a map, once they made it behind Russian lines, the map was useless,and they guessed at their route. They finally got to the city on April 27th, the first Americans to arrive and witness the battle between the Russians and Germans for control of the city. ———

After 2 days, they returned to base camp, and were promptly suspended for their actions. Because of her suspension, Virginia’s stories weren’t submitted to the Post Dispatch until several days later, and finally published by the Post-Dispatch on May 8, and her risky trip made the front page. ———

Stripped of her credentials, she was sent home, seemingly in disgrace, only to discover upon her return that her reporting was hailed by the both the public and her boss, Joseph Pulitzer. In fact, he was so impressed that he paid her an extra year’s salary. ———

Here’s History is a joint production of K-D-H-X and the Missouri Historical Society. I’m Katie Moon, and this is eighty-eight-one, K-D-H-X, St. Louis.