History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


Alfred M. Gruenther

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Gruenther, as Chief of Staff of the

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe,

signs a copy of the SHAPE insignia

Alfred Maximilian Gruenther, 18991983.  General, United States Army; SHAPE Chief of Staff; NATO Supreme Commander.  Document Signed, Alfred M. Gruenther, General U.S. Army, Chief of Staff, SHAPE, one page, 5¼" x 8¼", no date [MarchApril 1953].  With original mailing envelope.

Gruenther, a brilliant staff officer during World War II, signs an embossed printed card bearing the insignia of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) as the Chief of Staff.  He has signed in black and added both his rank and title.  The accompanying original mailing envelope bears a SHAPE post mark from Paris dated 4-3-1953—April 3 if the postmark used American dating, which presumably it did, but March 4 if it used European dating.

In 1951, Gruenther became the youngest four-star general in U.S. Army history.  He served as chief of staff of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, the capacity in which he signed this item, from 1950 to 1953.  He left to become the Supreme Commander of NATO, a position that he held until he retired from the Army at the end of 1956.

Gruentherʼs colleagues called him "The Brain" because of his analytical ability.  He could see the big picture but was also a master of detail.  During World War II, therefore, he became an advisor and planner under the Armyʼs senior commanders in the European theater.  He was chief of staff of the 3rd Army for two years, 19411942, before he became deputy chief of staff to General Dwight D. Eisenhower in London in 1942–1943.  He then served as chief of staff of the 5th Army in Italy, 1943–1944, and chief of staff of the 15th Army Group under General Mark W. Clark, 1944–1945.

After Gruenther left the Army, he became president of the American National Red Cross, a post he held from 1957 until 1964.  He also served on the boards of various corporations and on various governmental advisory commissions.

This piece is in fine condition.  It is printed on light weight card stock in black and green.  The  SHAPE emblem is beautifully embossed, and the printerʼs name is blind embossed in the lower left blank margin.  Gruenther has signed in black fountain pen and added his rank, General U.S. Army, and position, Chief of Staff, SHAPE, beneath his signature.  The card has a few creases at the lower right, two of which go through part of Gruentherʼs signature and his handwritten rank, but they are not particularly noticeable.  The accompanying envelope is toned at the spot where the embossed SHAPE insignia was positioned inside.  The envelope is torn at the top, the stamp has been cut away, and there are stray ink marks on the front.  It is in poor condition but nevertheless establishes the provenance and date of the piece.  

Unframed.  Click here for information about custom framing this item.


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