History Professor Featured As Expert For World War II Documentary

April 6, 2005

by Haley L. Wright

Baylor University history professor Eric Rust recently contributed to the World War II documentary "Dayton Codebreakers." The documentary chronicles the work of Dayton, Ohio native, Joe Desch, who was responsible for code-breaking work that allowed the Allies to read the messages of the German naval Enigma cipher until the end of the war. In celebration of the documentary's completion, Rust will travel Friday, April 15, to the University of Dayton to attend the premiere and discuss the film immediately following it's presentation.

Produced by Aileen LeBlanc for public television, "Dayton Codebreakers" pieces together the fragments of a story that has remained untold for nearly 60 years. LeBlanc joined with Desch's daughter, Debbie Anderson, to uncover the mystery of her father's work. Anderson has personally invested more than 12 years in research, visiting libraries and speaking with veterans in order to reveal the truth of Desch's incredible contribution to the outcome of the war.

Rust supplied the German perspective for the documentary through on-screen interviews and worked as an adviser behind the scenes. Additionally, he reviewed the entire script for historical accuracy. Rust said, "The result is both instructional and powerfully moving as Joe Desch's achievements, however spectacular, were not without a tragic dimension."

Rust has researched the history of the German navies in modern times for the past 25 years. He has focused on the experience of German submarines, and on the men who sailed and died in them. His father was an officer in the German Naval Air Force before he was captured by the Allies and forced into Canadian captivity for the remainder of the war.

Rust's current research includes a book-length project on Lt. Oskar Kusch, the only German U-boat commander in World War II to be executed by the Nazis for comments critical of Hitler's regime. Appropriately, his first documentary interview was for a piece titled, "Wolfpack--German U-boats of World War II," produced for the History channel by Tony Long of Greystone Productions.

Rust has taught courses at Baylor ranging from survey courses in Western Civilization to graduate courses in European history. He also has been named the fall 2005 program director for Baylor in Maastricht.

For more information on "Dayton Codebreakers," visit the web site at http://www.daytoncodebreakers.org . For more information on Rust, contact the department of history at 710-2667.

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