Harry Jacob Anslinger World War I & its Aftermath

Assignment: Europe

Army Ordnance Department Poster. Ca. 1915.

At the outbreak of World War I, Anslinger volunteered. Due to an eye injury he did not pass the physical to become an active duty soldier, instead working in the Army Ordnance Department. In 1918 he became a Second Lieutenant in the Ordnance Reserve Corps. Anslinger soon joined the diplomatic corps of the State Department.

In the closing days of World War I, Anslinger was instructed to make contact with the Kaiser and his entourage to encourage the Kaiser not to abdicate the throne. Based in The Hague at the time, Anslinger traveled to Amerongen and made contact with the Kaiser’s court counselor to relay the message and serve as an intermediary between the U.S. government and the Kaiser’s staff.

From 1921 to 1923 Anslinger worked as Vice-Consul (Clerk) to the American Commissioner to Berlin, located in Hamburg, Germany. According to Anslinger, Hamburg at the time was a worldwide distribution center for illicit drugs. It was his first exposure to the international problem of narcotics.

In 1923 Anslinger married Martha Denniston and adopted her 12 year old son, Joseph.

Making Contact with Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, 1918

Amerongen Castle, the Netherlands. Date unknown.

Harry Anslinger was the American Commissioner to Berlin, located in Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg City Hall, Germany. Date unknown.

The Anslinger Family Pose in Dutch Costumes, The Hague, Netherlands, Circa 1923

The Anslinger family pose in Dutch costumes. Left to right are Harry, Joseph, and Martha. The Hague, Netherlands. Ca. 1923. 

Luggage used by Anslinger when he served on the American Ligation to The Hague between 1918-1921 and during his extensive worldwide travels over his career. Anslinger saw the job of enforcing America’s drug laws as an international effort.

Suitcases Belonging to Harry Anslinger

Tan leather suitcase with brass fittings.  Remnants of shipping label printed Delegation of the United States. Manufacturer unknown. Early Twentieth Century. 

Suitcases Belonging to Harry Anslinger

Lockable brown composite suitcase reinforced with wooden ribs. Stenciled H.J. Anslinger American Legation The Hague. Manufactured by Schutz Marke. Early Twentieth Century. 

Anslinger also collected historical materials in Europe.

Wardrobe Label, Wardrobe His Majesty the German Emperor and King of Prussia, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, 1918

Kaiser Wilhelm bookplate. Ca. 1896.

Uniform Buttons Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, 1918

Uniform buttons on top of a wardrobe label belonging to Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, 1918

A fluent German speaker, Anslinger joined the diplomatic corps of the State Department in 1918 and was assigned as an Attaché with the American Ligation to The Hague. Obtained during his time with the Kaiser’s staff at their castle at Amerongen, Netherlands, were items from the Kaiser’s field utility kit, used at the Kaiser’s headquarters on the battlefront.

The label translates as “Wardrobe / His Majesty the German Emperor and King of Prussia.”