John F Kennedy’s diary sells for $898,500

John F Kennedy’s wartime diary has realised an astonishing $898,438 at RR Auction.

It dates to 1945, when JFK was working as a reporter for Hearst Newspapers in Europe.

He covered the aftermath of the second world war, travelling the length of the continent.

Kennedy diary RR

Kennedy's diary records his impressions of post-war Europe 

This was a formative time for the future president. The sight of Europe in ruins would greatly inform his later governance.

As his friend, the journalist Hugh Sidey would later write: “If I had to single out one element in Kennedy’s life that more than anything else influenced his later leadership it would be the horror of war.”

It includes a prescient passage on US-Russia relations, at a time when the US was the sole superpower: “The clash may be finally and indefinitely postponed by the eventual discovery of a weapon so horrible that it will truthfully mean the abolishment of all nations employing it.”

Kennedy would see this theory tested almost to breaking point less than 20 years later, when the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of thermonuclear war.  

In another passage Kennedy writes of the feeling he had after making trips to Hitler’s bunker and his Eagle’s Nest holiday home.

He appears shaken and awed by the experience: “…Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived...

“He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him.

“He had in him the stuff of which legends are made.”

The diary is now the second most valuable piece of Kennedy memorabilia ever sold.

The desk on which he signed the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty holds the record, selling for $1.4m in 1999.

We have this original poster from JFK’s 1960 presidential campaign for sale.

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