2015 Press Releases

National Archives Meets Hollywood: Shares Records Behind THE IMITATION GAME and UNBROKEN!
Press Release · Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Washington, DC

Free screening, document display, and article highlight National Archives’ connection

The National Archives meets Hollywood in two of the hottest feature films this season: THE IMITATION GAME and UNBROKEN.

Learn the real story behind THE IMITATION GAME
The new film THE IMITATION GAME shows how Alan Turing and other British code-breakers worked to crack the Enigma code system used by Nazi Germany, a feat generally credited with helping the Allies defeat Hitler. Read the real story behind this astounding achievement in “Alan Turing, Enigma, and the German Machine Ciphers in World War II.” This article in Prologue magazine, the National Archives’ flagship publication, was written by retired archivist Lee Gladwin, based on extensive research using National Archives records. Peek into National Security Agency records to read Turing’s “Treatise on the Enigma” in its entirety.

Special free screening of UNBROKEN
Tuesday, February 10, at 7 PM, William G. McGowan Theater
Join us for a free screening of the film UNBROKEN (2014; 137 minutes; trailer), based on the 2010 book by Laura Hillenbrand, UNBROKEN: A World War II Story of Survival Resilience and Redemption. The film, a World War II action drama, was produced and directed by Angelina Jolie and stars Jack O'Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, and Domhnall Gleeson. Presented in partnership with NBCUniversal and in conjunction with the UNBROKEN Featured Document display, February 5 through March 4, 2015.

Register online or call 202-357-6814. Theater doors will open 45 minutes prior to start time. Walk-ins without reservations will be admitted 15 minutes prior to start time, depending on available seats. Attendees should use the Special Event entrance on Constitution Avenue and 7th Street, NW.

UNBROKEN Featured Document Display*
February 5 through March 4, 2015, National Archives East Rotunda Gallery
The National Archives welcomes UNBROKEN with a special display of Olympian Louis "Louie" Zamperini’s wartime service records and his Purple Heart, which he gave to UNBROKEN author Laura Hillenbrand. The display is free and open to the public at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW.

On May 27, 1943, Army Air Force bombardier Louis “Louie” Zamperini’s B-24 airplane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Louie survived 47 days at sea, only to be taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese. His fate unknown, Louie was declared dead a year and a day after his plane went down. His family received a condolence letter from President Franklin Roosevelt and a Purple Heart medal for “wounds that resulted in his death.” Against all odds, Zamperini survived and was liberated at the end of the war. The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Documents” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation.

Display highlights include:

  • Letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Zamperini Family after Louis was mistakenly declared deceased, May 28, 1944.* National Archives at St. Louis
  • Certificate awarding the Purple Heart medal to Louis Silvie Zamperini after he was mistakenly declared deceased, October 12, 1944.* National Archives at St. Louis
  • Purple Heart medal awarded to Louis Silvie Zamperini, ca. 1944. Courtesy of Laura Hillenbrand, author "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption," who received it as a gift from Louis Zamperini.

Online resources: Zamperini’s Paper Trail at the National Archives
The National Archives holds hundreds of millions of records created or received by the U.S. Government during World War II, including the original records of hero Louis Zamperini. See:

  • Air Crew Report on the disappearance of the Green Hornet, Zamperini's B-24 plane.
  • Smithsonian.com “Deep Dive” on the Air Crew Report that includes an interview with archivist Eric VanSlander.
  • National Archives blog post “Louis Zamperini: The Story of a True American Hero.”

The East Rotunda Gallery and William G. McGowan Theater are located in the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. Metro accessible on Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. To verify the date and times of the programs, call the National Archives Public Programs Line at: 202-357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online.

* Please note: a July 12, 1973, fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO, destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) of Army and Air Force service members, including Zamperini’s file. In reconstructing his service record, official copies of these original records were incorporated into Zamperini’s OMPF by the National Archives.

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