History Colorado

At History Colorado, we believe in making Colorado’s history accessible and in creating opportunities that connect people to Colorado and our past to cultivate an informed future. We are Colorado!

Resources from History Colorado


Object
History Colorado

German Mauser K98k bolt action rifle

This is a Mauser Karabiner Modell 98k, also known as a K98k or Mauser rifle. It was manufactured in 1944 by Waffenwerke Bruenn AG at their Bystrica facility in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. The rifle has numerous signs of late-war manufacture, including machining marks on the receiver, inconsistent bluing below the rear sight, rough weld marks on both bands, and a stamped (rather than milled) floor plate and trigger guard. This rifle is a "bolt mismatch," wherein the rifle is original to itself with all matching components save for the bolt, which was taken from another rifle. This is usually explained by surrender protocol, wherein German soldiers piled rifles and bolts separately to make them temporarily unusable. GIs then "reassembled" their trophy rifles from these piles with no regard for matching numbers. Over 14,000,000 of these rifles were produced for the German armed forces before and during World War II. The basic design and operation mirror the earlier Mauser Gewehr 98, which had been the standard issue battle rifle for German troops during World War I. The K98k was shorter, lighter, and had an improved rear sight that allowed for quicker target acquisition. A leather sling would have originally been attached to the left side of the rifle. The stock has been heavily sanded. The sanding pattern near the bolt suggests the rifle was used after the war by its new owner, presumably as a target or hunting rifle. The rifle was donated by 1LT Earl Ervin Clark, formerly of 1st Battalion Headquarters, 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division. He offered no details on the origins of the rifle, but did donate numerous other German souvenirs he presumably brought home from Italy. The initials "T. W." are carved into the stock on one side, which suggest he may not have been the original owner, but obtained it from another soldier.
Object
History Colorado

Virginia Castro

Virginia Castro’s mother, Lola Cruz, was born in Mexico and came to Colorado’s Western Slope with her family around 1925. Her maternal grandfather was a migrant worker who scraped together enough money to buy land in Silt, where Virginia was born at home. Virginia was essentially raised by her maternal grandmother, who spoke only Spanish. “The only history that I remember her telling me is that Emiliano Zapata had come to their village. And that was it as far as the history.” Virginia faced discrimination and bullying at school, a situation worsened by the fact that her family was one of only two Hispano families in the area. When Virginia was 12, her father got a job at a steel mill in Pueblo and moved the family to the predominantly Hispano neighborhood of Salt Creek. She continued to experience adversity, especially because of her family’s low income. After her parents split, Virginia spent time both in Pueblo and visiting Glenwood Springs as an adolescent. She met Richard Lucero in Rifle and, before she graduated high school, she’d married him and had her first son. At her husband’s urging and now with three sons, the couple moved to Denver to be with his family. They lived with seventeen people in a house on the Westside before moving out on their own; the birth of another child followed—this time a daughter. But when Virginia decided she wanted to attend Emily Griffith Opportunity School, it signaled the end of her first marriage. She was selected for a competitive nursing program at Denver General Hospital, which encouraged her to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Metropolitan State College of Denver. That is where she first learned about the El Movimiento. Virginia was a central player in El Movimiento. Influenced by both the Chicano Movimiento and the Women’s Liberation movement, she was particularly inspired by Colorado grape boycott leader Juanita Herrera. She helped organize students to picket against a Spanish teacher who was treating the native Spanish speakers in her class unfairly. Although she was fluent in Spanish, she didn’t know much about her heritage. She says that learning history was an important part of El Movimiento: “You need to learn your history, because if you don’t know your history, who are you?” She felt the pressure to learn; she remembers going to the library and being surprised to discover so many books that had been written by authors with Spanish names. She and her fellow Chicano/as organized a United Mexican American Students organization at Metro, which spread to colleges throughout the Southwest. And, when Metro was planning its move to Auraria, Westside community members asked her and her fellows to help build relationships with the people living there. They ended up advocating to reimburse residents for their forced displacement.
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