Experience Studs Terkel's Pulitzer Prize-winning
Oral History of World War II!
A "Good War because...
"It was not like other wars. It was not fratricidal. It was not, most of us profoundly believed, "imperialistic." Our enemy was, patently, obscene: the Holocaust maker. It was one war that many who would have resisted, supported enthusiastically. It was a "just" war.
OUR VETS REMEMBER(click here)
The Importance of Sharing these Memories!
"World War II is an event that changed the psyche as well as the face of the US and the world. The disremembrance of this war is becoming disturbingly profound. We seem to be suffering from a National Alzheimer's in our country. No one remembers the Great Depression anymore. Soon we will not remember World WarII. It's important for younger generations to hear the Vets' stories and learn from them.
The telling of stories, "oral history" was the only history to exist before the printing press. I try to fill the role with the tape recorder. Anything to keep these memories alive. Each memory is a precious memory. In the "Good" War, I wanted to focus on ordinary people rather than on celebrities, on ordinary people who do extraordinary things - to show what it was like for them and their families to live at that certain moment in history.
The title of this book was suggested by a World War II correspondent. It is a phrase frequently voiced by men of his and my generation, to distinguish that war from other wars. Quotation marks have been added simply because the adjective, "good" mated to the noun, "war" is so incongruous. World War II was a war that had to be, but not "good". No war is good. War is insane. By the very nature of war, you are sending out kids to kill a stranger. A stranger = an enemy. Decent kids don't know this. War was a learning experience for them. I wanted to talk to people who had been kids at the time, to hear how they first experienced war and death.
This is a memory book, rather than one of hard, precise fact. I have not changed my mind about people. All people are capable of change. As for war, there has to be another way. But what?
Like your Internet group - strangers coming together to learn more about one another. That's what it is all about to end war. Fewer strangers, fewer enemies. Keep the memory alive!"
Studs Terkel is the author of the Pulitzer-prize winning, The "Good" War, an Oral History of World War II.
|The "Good" War||by Studs Terkel||
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I am looking forward to sharing and reading.
And Ella, Joan, all of you with vivid memories, yes, you too simply must come back and share in this discussion. Counting on you to make it really special!
1 - I'm sure there are those who went through more horrendous experiences than I did and could contribute to this. I would suggest "advertising" this new discussion group in as many other groups as possible.
2- This Senior Net is for us "elders" and we don't encourage young people to sign on. Yet I would submit that most of the young folks these days think of us as "ancient history" and not relevant. How can we pass on what we are about to discuss to these younger generations?
Those German spies landed near Southampton and actually took the Long Island Railroad to New York City before they were apprehended. But what does that have to do with the dishes in your cabinet falling out?
Cecelia: Is life passing by without my realizing it? I wasn't aware I was one of the few veterans left of World War II. I thought there were still a lot of us.
In normal times, West Pointers graduated with the rank of second lieutenant after four years of college. When war came, there were not enough second lieutenants, so special 90-day courses were set up and after completion, the grads were now second lieutenants.
Keep in mind that all ranks obtained during the war were temporary ranks. 90-day wonders were temporary second lieutenants. West Point grads were permanent second lieutenants. West Point grads looked down on 90-day wonders as did some of the non-coms and enlisted men but an officer was an officer and had to be obeyed.
I remember, too, the huge piles of scrap and paper behind our school and the huge clothes piles in the church basement where my brother and I played games while our parents sorted for the European refugees. And the war stamps sale every month when we lined up in the school auditorium to buy and paste them in our stamp books later to be traded for a bond.
My dad rode the streetcar to work so that he could save his gas stamps for a little travel now and then, in our '31 Model A Ford! Very little travel, up to Anderson and Kokomo to visit family and over to Union City to visit more family at the Ryan farm.
My mother learned to knit at the downtown department store and because my brother wasn't in school yet, he went along with his own knitting bag and learned also. We would all sit around knitting in the evening(it must have looked like the "home" when you walked in) but not much of what we made went anywhere except Mother's which made it to the Red Cross. She must have been making sweaters and socks but I can't picture any particular things.
I am in the middle of this book and its an eye opener.
I remember switching from playing cowboys to playing war. The boy down the street had a real helmet and when my brother asked for one, my dad fashioned one for him from a steel mixing bowl. Needless to say, this lasted about one afternoon with the kids teasing him to death!
We also had a victory garden which was about a half acre in a huge field about 2 miles from us. We had to water by hand and my mother canned every August and September. In our neighborhood there was only one krautmaker(not those Krauts!!silly) and we all bought or harvested our cabbage and waited our turn for having it. You were only allowed so many days and then it had to be passed on to the next one on the list. Like sharing a canner.
I seem to remember my mother volunteering at the ration board where you went to get your gas cards, meat tokens and ration stamps. And also helping out at the Red Cross office. I think that was the last time we, as a country, were working together. Too bad it took a war to get us to do that and then after it was over, back to the same ol,same-ol. In fact, I think we became more separated after the war than we were before. This book really makes you think as each person's perception was very different.
Gladys, yes please come back, I know you will have many memories to make this discussion come alive. See you all here Thursday?
Now - as to the duties of the host. You may have noticed that many of the hosts are genial people offering coffee, tea, cookies, brownies, etc. in the discussion groups. Well, forget it!! However, I am not completely selfish so I will have available for you an assortment of K-rations and C-rations. There will also be coffee (such as is found in a package in the K-ration). My "favorite" - you realize the word is relative - was the K-ration that had the cheese and cookies but let me know your preferences and I'll see what I can do. Those of you who subsisted on other kinds of foods can tell me about it and we'll work on it.
OK gang!! Let the memories pour out. If you have some comments about Studs Terkel's book, we're all here to listen. Otherwise just talk to us about what this "good war" meant in your life.
Gladys, you saw it all. What a terrible time for you. My husband and I visited the Museum of London in '94 and they have an extensive exhibit on WWII. When we were at St.Paul's, we went back behind the main altar to an area dedicated to the Americans who died trying to protect England. For some reason, I started to cry and couldn't stop until we left there. It was spookie!
We had a few servicemen stay with us, on their way to a new assignment. Cousins. One was taken prisoner early in the war and spent the rest of the time in a prisoner of war camp in Germany. We all thought he had died as he was listed as "MIA". It was just overwhelming to all of the family when he returned to us. Two of his sisters were in nursing school in Indy and spent weekends with us. The oldest one joined up, went into the WACS and was helping to bring the wounded out. They flew in gliders to do this. Another relative, Aunt Betty, was a public health nurse and she also joined up and ended up in Persia and Siam and then in Italy. She spoke Polish so spent lots of time talking to the wounded Polish men. They were so happy to have someone who could understand their wants and needs. She was even asked to make some kind of speech to them for what I don't know.
My dad became very depressed over being labeled 4-F as he had spinal arthritis. He tried several times to enlist. But, he was 33, married with 2 children plus not that well. I don't think he ever got over it. He died 2 years after the war was over at the age of 39. Heart attack. It just bothered him horribly that he couldn't help in the service of his country.
So many young people today make every effort to stay out of the service and here was your Dad, Ann, who became derpressed because he couldn't enlist. I wonder what percentage of the younger generation can understand the patriotism we felt then - as you quoted one of the Andrews Sisters, like "holding hands."
Something just occurred to me while reading these memoirs... Studs is not one to spend time on-line, just like so many men his generation. Listen to the man:
"You're talking to a guy who's totally illiterate. I'm just learning to use the electric typewriter and I broke it, I'm very bad at it. I'm not a Luddite, but I'm close to it.When gathering the information for this book Studs flew all over the country to interview people. And now here we are, using his book and the internet to reach people all over the world, without leaving the computer screen. How do we reach the many who participated in WWII to share their precious memories with us? Do you think that each of us "techies" could find one Vet, interview him as Studs would, and bring those memories right here? We would preserve them with the other Vets' up in the heading...did you notice that clickable? Let's get the Vets! Each one get one! These are precious memories - we can't afford to lose them to time!
I'm in favor of refrigerators, don't get me wrong. Where else am I going to freeze my martini glass? And I'm in favor of washing machines. I don't want to see women slapping clothes against the rock. So I'm horsing around a little.
But the computer, we know, does things much quicker -- information, info-mation -- but I'm worried about one thing: the effect on the person. Even though we're in touch with other people, are we really in touch? There was a writer years ago, Wright Morris, he once said, "We're more and more into communications and less and less into communication."
So you walk into a newpaper today -- go to the city desk, you're going to visit someone -- in the old days, and I don't want to romanticize, but there was noise, there was the human voice. Today you walk in and it's silent as a tomb. And they're looking into -- terminals.
No question, advances have been made, but I think there are dangers here. One danger is to the personality. There's something impersonal.
You realize I'm exaggerating because I'm non-technological. But I do see things happening, even in comical ways. When I want to call Charlie Andrews, an old friend -- in the old days someone would say, "Charlie Andrews is not in. Can I take a message?" A human voice. Or nobody's there. OK, now it's good, you got voicemail, you get messages you never got before, but you don't hear the human voice. If you call at a business, if you want so-and-so, "Dial 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 -- " By the time I get to six, I forget who the hell I was calling or what I called about.
There is something that happens to people when they get accustomed to mechanical voices. You become mechanical. Even language may become roboticized. That's what worries me. I talk to old-time teachers -- progressive teachers. They tell me a big difference is happening in language. It's more disjointed..."
It is so true that our generation, all of us, was greatly influenced by this war. Some a great deal more than others, of course. I spent my childhood moving around, being a "camp follower" as my father was transferred to this and that army base. I doubt I would ever have lived a year in Florida, a year in Oklahoma, a summer in Pennsylvania, had it not been for that war! I still tend to be a restless, rolling stone sort of character with few "old" friends! Indeed, WWII had a lasting effect on so many...
Joan, Robby, this is a super discussion! Guaranteed to hook a whole generation! I may even read the book!! [Tried Studs once; did not much like--don't even remember which book!]
Ah Britta! Shallow roots but I hope enjoying life in beautiful North Carolina! I have just moved again [in January] and find myself rather hoping NOT to have to do it again, maybe EVER! Exciting as it is, I think I'm getting too old for all the darn work that's involved!
My other friend remembers her mother hurrying them(her and a younger brother, probably around ages 4 and out of Munich in an old baby buggy. Pushing them along the road with many other people doing the same thing. They were trying to escape to the country, away from any of the fighting or bombing. Nothing to eat for days. Her father was killed on the eastern front in 1940. She later married an American soldier and came here.
I have never been able to abide what we did to the Japanese who were American citizens. To have been here for generations and helping to build this country and then to lose everything you have worked for, was just too much for them. And, it happened to them in Canada,also. There is a book, "Obisan" which details the lives of a Japanese family in Canada during the war. True story. Written by the Poet Laueate of Ontario, I believe. True story, and so sad! The other book that comes to mind, about the Japanese situation, is "Snow Falling on Cedars" by David Guitermann. I believe it is fiction. I was able to find two good copies in paperback of this book, on Bibliofind. Will give one to my brother for his birthday this month. He enjoys reading nonfiction the best and was around at the time of the war, also. Younger than me, by two years. I wonder what he remembers? I will quiz him next week when he is here.
My husband should be commenting here,too. He was in the Air Force during the Korean conflict and we lived at three different bases, during the early 50's. I remember being not trusted by the townfolk. They didn't want to rent to service people. We were not stable, according to them. Our lives changed too quickly for them. It took some gutsy talking, on my part, to get a man to rent us a decent apartment, off base. They also didn't understand why we were friendly with all the races, who were in the squardron with us. This was in Texas. I didn't know a thing about segregation until I moved there. Quite a shock to a Yankee! Separate restrooms, water fountains, schools and rooms in the train station,sit in the back of the bus. Of course, we had it up here, but it wasn't quite the same or maybe it was, but we didn't own up to it. I don't know!
Jackie: I wasn't aware of the conformity insisted upon in the internship camps. I had thought (naive me) that they had just lived there with the sole difference being that they could not leave. Thank you for sharing this important piece of information.
Ella: Thanks for trying to find a veteran who can join us here. I'm sure we are all interested in learning if veterans really consider that war a "good" one.
Ruth: You said you found "The Good War" interesting because it told of the experiences of the soldiers. What were some of the experiences that struck you more forcibly?
I would be interested in the responses from anyone to Joan's third question. In what ways do any of us feel that we are now still being affected by World War II.
I can still remember the blank looks in their faces - and the children - oh, the children!! - they had no idea what was going on. They would rush up to us GIs asking for "choon gum" not knowing that we were supposed to be the enemy. And I can say without fear of anyone disagreeing with me (especially if there are any GIs reading this) that the Allied soldiers were the kindest and most generous soldiers on the face of the earth. True, we had it and could give it but we gave anything we could find in our packs - oranges, chocolate, and C-rations, even jackets which we weren't supposed to be giving away. I will never again see a truly displaced (not just homeless but displaced) person again without remembering the looks in their eyes. To be displaced means that you have lost EVERYTHING.
I should think most of us would have felt the same during WWII if we'd had the maturity to think at that time! I was just a child, grade school age; to me, it was just a bad thing that happened somewhere else, even when my father was overseas. Something all the grownups talked about whilst I played paper dolls! Unreal. I admit feeling quite relieved, though, when Daddy was finally home for good, safe and sound. I knew there was a chance he'd not return...
Little did I know that my family, twice bombed out in Berlin, had caught the point of hundreds of thousands of East Prussian and Pomeranian refugees near the port city of Stettin. They had been settled by a surprisingly well-functioning nazi organisation into farms south of Hamburg. Thus when I got home I found the place deserted. Home was then a castle belonging to an English woman who had married a German baron in 1938 - but that's another story. I filled two suitcases with linen and jars of cherry preserves - my favorite and then, thanks to the suggestion of the ever faithful gendarme who had stayed behind to "look after things...", and who was also mayor domo of the estate - made my way towards Hamburg in an almost empty train. My papers were thoroughly inspected since I was in uniform and actually traveling away from the front, ie., in a westerly direction. The SS officer scared me into a stutter and I could hardly bring myself to explaining why I, with only a head wound (just a nick from shrapnell), but a clean bandage, was on my way to look for my family. A few hours later the train screeched to a sudden stop in Pasewalk, a place made famous by the guy who had started it all: A.Hitler. He had spent time there in an army hospital during WW.I. I quickly grabbed the heavy bags, put them on the station platform and just had time to throw myself under the carriage as an Allied fighter came screaming at the train, almost hugging the ground, and firing all his weapons. My sole protection was the six inch high steel rail. When we were whistled back into the train, I found that one of the bags had been hit by a 50 mm slug. It was all I could do to pick some of the chards of glass from among the now purple linen and wipe my hands on my uniform since there was no water in the WC.
On arrival in Hamburg I dragged the bags to a Red Cross window with a big "V" over it and stood in line with dozens of those sharing my initial. All of us were looking for loved ones and here we hoped to be directed to wherever they had been ordered to seek shelter. Suddenly an elderly lady in front of me turned and began screaming that this young man is wounded and should go to the front of the queue. One must understand that "standing in line" is one of the things one does with grace and patience, even when one's compatriots are engaged in legal killing in their "good war" for whatever ideology. People in the neighboring lines chimed in and I was forcibly shoved to the window without knowing why.
It was the cherry jam (and maybe a little bit the white bandage under my cap)! Within minutes I was on a train south, towards the Lueneburg Heath, for a reunion with a family who had already received notification that I was MIA on the Oder River on February 2, 1945. As the good son, I was mortified that all of the beautiful sheets and pillow cases I intended to bring as a surprise and reminder of the luxurious life we had once shared, had been dyed. My mother couldn't understand that such a frivolous detail should be my worry at this precious moment of reunion.
Less then three months later I was a member of the British Army, but that also is another story....
I had just been promoted and before reporting to my new assignment in Upper Silesia, an area under constant bombardment by Super Fortresses in the fall of 1944, I was given a week off to spend with my family near the Baltic port of Stettin. My mother and my four siblings had been invited to live in relative splendor in a baronial castle of an English friend after we got bombed out twice in Berlin in 1942 and then again in 43. She was married to a German colonel serving in the Afrika Korps, who was safely out of the war in a POW camp in Canada.
After dinner that first evening she told me how she had met the colonel in London before the war, oblivious to the possibility that one day she would be ruling this huge estate near the Baltic by herself. She hadn't been able to talk to anybody in her own language for several years and it was quite a while before I became conscious that my family also had a claim on some of my time.
My great love for the English language finally paid off. I had studied it harder than any other subject starting about the fifth grade. After the short leave I had quite a crush on a woman twice my age and I went to the war zone, then about to become the Eastern Front, as a flaming anglophile. I never saw her again but I found out years later from my sister, who had married a Londoner in the fifties, that Eileen had been far more than “her ladyship” of a Pomeranian estate, namely a spy for her country. She had befriended high ranking German officers and often became privy to valuable information which she relayed to London by radio.
Just after New Year’s Day 1945, the two women, with six kids between them, all between four and nine years of age, were able to escape the Soviet juggernaut as it began its bloody steam roller through the northern German plains, flattening refugee columns of thousands of Poles and Germans from the Danzig Corridor and East Prussia.
Later the communist government of the GDR confiscated all her holdings and the Soviets used the manor as a regimental HQ until the late eighties. Eileen went back to London after divorcing the father of her two boys, both of whom became officers in Her Majesty’s armed forces.
Personally, I am very pleased at the way this folder is going but this is because of the various stories each person is sharing, not because of my comments.
Hi Bestest. I hope you are resting up for your trip. Try not to get your kn*****'s in a knot.
So why was it "good". I'll quote Studs here, for those of you who do not yet have the book.
"It was not like other wars. It was not fratricidal. It was not, most of us profoundly believed, "imperialistic." Our enemy was, patently, obscene: the Holocaust maker. It was one war that many who would have resisted, supported enthusiastically. It was a "just war."
The first Book begins with Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Joe Garcia was 16, a pipe fitter apprentice at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. What memories he has of that day! Can you imagine!!! Where were YOU that day?
Welcome to you too, Bill. You bring up the fact that German-Americans were not interned. That goes for Italian-Americans as well. Could it be, as you say, that the color of the skin made the difference? What do the rest of you think?
What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad
I learned about the great ones we have had
We fought in Germany and in France
And I am someday to get my chance.
Are there any of us in this discussion group who believe that the youngsters of our generation (both boy and girl) are about to get their chance to be in combat?
I hope you come back and share some of your Navy experiences. As you said, you enlisted early - just one week after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Do I sense that there was a rush to join the navy, rather than to be drafted into the army? John Garcia and then Dennis Keegan(his memoir is available under the Excerpt button above) and others seem to indicate that.
Dennis Keegan, Major Bradley and Ron Veenker describe the bedlam, bombing and suspicion of all Japanese, including long-time Japanese-Americans at the time, especially in California I guess I can understand that after reading their memories.
I was also particularly impressed at John Garcia"s description of our sailors in Hawaii shooting their 5" guns at Japanese planes. At first it seemed so futile, but then there was the rest of his story...these guns had a 10 mile range...some shells landed in Honolulu. One killed his girlfriend as she was leaving for church.
This reminds me of all the casualties resulting from "accidents" such as this in wartime...how dangerous for everyone!
It occurs to me that the Japanese-Americans were safer in the internment camps, than if they had been mixed with the hysterical crowds, after reading these stories. Was that one of the initial reasons for rounding them up? Besides suspicion? Yes, I think it was their physical appearance that put them in danger at the time, as they were easily identifiable - in contrast to the German citizens...
Britta, please stay with us as your point of observation is invaluable!!! What do you remember of the bombing of Pearl Harbor? What was the reaction from "over there"?
Ella, I believe it was you who asked what Dennis Keegan meant when he said, "we had the Oriental Exclusion Act". I found this which you might find helpful. If you scan all the way to the bottom of the article, there is another clickable to a huge site on the Japanese Internment.
EXPOW: Despite "man's inhumanity to man" in many areas of the world, it's wonderful to hear stories from time to time of loving kindness such as was shown by your German nurse.
If you click above you will be able find other discussion groups which have special interests, eg women or children. In this group we are comparing our personal memories with those expressed in Studs Terkel's book, "The Good War." We would hope that you remain here and share in those other discussion groups as well.
Gail: No apology necessary. Your comments were definitely relevant. Many of the veterans in Terkel's book gave their views as to why the war was being fought.
We are discussing Studs Terkel's book, The "Good War." The book begins with memoirs of those who experienced the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the hysteria that followed, the internment of Japanese-Americans. That is why you are hearing so much discussion of these events at this time. I am going to emphasize that you are encouraged to introduce yourselves into the discussion, and where you were during the war at any time during the discussion. If you have Studs' book, you will see that it is divided into four sections - four "books". It is in Book II that you will find interviews, memories of those who endured the war in Germany, England, etc. There is where you will find what is familiar to you and the discussion here will concentrate on that.
I want to show you something we have been working on for Chapter II. It is not yet complete, but I feel it is necessary at this point to show you that we are taking your posts very seriously. This will appear up in the heading with an appropriate graphic ( as soon it's ready. I will put it up there today right now, just for you (look for it next to boogie woogie bugle boy). You must know how important your memories are to us. Again, I repeat, it is not yet complete, but I want you to see that we are working on preserving your memories in this discussion.
And do drop in to the new permanent (World War II Memories).
She is the one who has been compiling all the postings of the Vets and has incorporated them into the clickable "Our Vets Remember." She is the one who has been compiling all the postings of those folks who were overseas at the time and has created the new clickable "Overseas." THANK YOU, JOAN!!
So at the risk of embarrassing Joan, let's give her a big hip-hip-hooray for making this folder the success it has become. And Joan, don't you dare come back with "oh, it was nothing" because all of us here know that takes a tremendous amount of time and effort.
Was it Pearl Harbor that caused the rush to join? Was that the straw that broke the camel's back, that caused us to enter the war?
In Peter Ota says some pretty interesting things...he tells us that his father wasn't angry after his confinement in the Internment camps. Was this the attitude of most of the Japanese at this time? Did they understand the suspicion? Did they actually feel safer in the camps than they would have felt in the general population. I sure wish we had some of Japanese descent here...they could probably tell us a thing or two! The next memories are from Yuriko Hohri, a young girl who lived in the camp at the Santa Anita race track in California...she talks of getting out because her family had a "sponsor" who moved the whole family to Iowa. I had never heard of sponsorship before.
Was it you, Ella who asked about the "Oriental Exclusion Act", mentioned in the early pages of the book? I found this site, which seems to be saying that there was concern about the growing numbers of Janpanese in Honolulu within the government some twenty years prior to the war. What do you make of this?
ps Robby, that is so sweet...but we both know that questions are only as good as the answers and the posts to date have been supurb...and make this discussion outstanding, even if the questions are totally ignored. Also, let me add, that I get lots of help with the "production" from my friends downstairs!
My oldest brother was drafted as soon as the war started. My two next brothers joined the Navy...the younger one when he was 17. He tried to go ealier, but the Navy kept sending him letters that said "Men make the Navy". Finally my parents signed a permission slip for him to go. How awful that must have been! They all came home safely, but sobered by the experience! They were no longer the innocent young farm kids from northern Wisconsin.....they had seen the world.
Harold, glad you have joined Britta in sharing stories. What an amazing coincidence in seeing your brother! Please share some more of your memories.
Welcome, Harry632: What effect do you think the Chinese Exclusion Act on the subsequent World War II events?
War bond buying by civillians is not unheeded by those in the armed forces, who are deeply appreciative of the efforts on the home front to aid in bringing victory to the United States and its allies.
That sentiment is expressed by Corp. Troy E. Hoover of the army engineering depaartment at Percy Jones General hospital, Battle Creek, Mich. to Mrs. Agnes Wright 622 W. Jefferson Boulevard, Mishawaka, Ind. who devotes 100 per cent of her pay at the Studebaker corporation automative division to the purchas of war bonds.
"While passing through South Bend I noticed the article in the paper on your turning your entire pay check into war bonds," Corp Hoover wrote.
" News like this is much more welcome to us than news of strikes. It makes us feel we really are fighting for something after all. Therefore, I cannot help but take to write this little note of thanks and appreciation for your unselfish conduct.
"Until the day when furture homes become something more than a dreams. I will say Thanks and keep it up
ginger her daughter
Those kamikaze experiences must have been terrible! If your husband is up to it, he might want to do some sharing with us.
Does anyone know of internment camps elsewhere in the country?
It is my wish that some of those so affected will come forward before we are through here. Am certainly glad that Studs was able to come up with Peter Ota and Yuriko Hohri.....
Virginia, your mom gave 100% - You have a right to be so proud of her. What a legacy! I think this is a true example of the overwhelming support for the war effort back then. Does anyone remember demonstrations against the war?
As far as I can see, war on the planet has never ended. We called WWI, "the war to end all wars" and that was a joke. We have never stopped fighting. Look at us now! The US has been lucky in that we have never had the battles here in the states.At least, not since we finished the Civil War.
We had a choice as to how and when to get involved in the Kosovo situation, where atrocities were being committed, (though nothing as bad as they are now, since we started the bombing!). We had no choice getting involved win World War II...not after Pearl Harbor!!!
Prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, there was much resistance to our involvement...Charles Lindbergh's "America First" movement as an example. When would we become involved? To what extent? Resistance! Then came Pearl Harbor, and there was no question about it...we were in, and it seems that everyone knew it was something we had to do! Hitler and his allies threatened our continued existence.
But this? We are already in, but there is much resistance to any more involvement. There was an article in today's Washington Post by Charles Krauthammer...I'm sure you've read many similar...the last paragraph seems relevant to our discussion here...
"This is not humanitarianism, This is cynicism: fighting not to win, not even to save, but to feel righteous.
He who does not will the means, does not will the ends. If the commander in chief does not have the courage to send soldiers to die, he has not business getting into this or any other war."
Are we ready to do that with our own sons and daughters for this? If they came and said to you I am going to sign up for this war...or worse, I've been drafted to go to fight in Yugoslavia, would you be as overwhelmingly supportive as the parents of the young people who went into WWII?
In Terkel's book, Yuriko Hohri tells of her being interned in a horse stable at Santa Anita. And then she shows Terkel her internee record which she had saved over the years. At the bottom of the sheet, in large print, it said: "KEEP FREEDOM IN YOUR FUTURE WITH U.S. SAVINGS BONDS." I consider that obscene!
I remember watching long caravans of captured German soldiers on the Autobahn being "guarded" by just one jeep in front and one jeep in back with GIs having nothing but carbines. The soldiers were so relieved that they were being captured by us rather than the Russians.
I really didn't talk to this man beyond what he told us one busy day. He was as American as you or I. And so were his parents. Not right! But, we panicked and there we were!
I had a cousin who was at Normandy Beach and many of these stories are the same as his. At the time, he told these, I thought(being muuuuuch younger) he was making it up. Couldn't believe that our soldiers were afraid. I was too young to understand war and its horrible consequences.
As to what is happening in Kosuvo, I am in agreement with Krauthammer but wish we hadn't ever entered into this mess. After reading this book, I find it so horrible that these people who run the countries use the young for cannon fodder. Its all about greed and power. At the time of WWII, I think calling it a "good war" was that it was justifiable because we had been attacked and the whole world wanted us to respond. Did you know that there is a section of Florida, down towards Miami,where they had "blackouts" and were worried about being invaded as German warships were spotted out in the Atlantic? I was just amazed when I heard this. I knew from California friends that they lived in terror of being invaded by the Japanese. We have a friend who was an air raid warden on the coast, up on the Palos Verde Penninsula.And another one, who says that there was a group of Japanese loyalists in Santa Monica and they were caught signaling ships out in the Pacific. I don't know whether any of this is true and would like to hear from anyone who knows. Makes you stop and think that we may almost have been under siege,too. We have been so lucky that the North American Continent has not been bombed except for up in the Aleutians.
You are a precious treasure trove of memory, Robby!. Yes, I understand that most Germans were hoping to be captured by the GIs rather than the Russians! I see from one of the memoirs "du jour" - I think it's Robert Rasmus...says the same thing...
that they (the Russians) had taken great losses, that they had "broken the back of the German army" on the eastern front and took out much of their resentment on their captives. Rasmus goes on to say that he didn't hear any "anti- Russian" talk among the Americans...but he added something else I thought interesting. He says, "I think we were realistic enough to know that if we were going to fight them (Russians), we would come out second best." They had masses of armies, and their "willingness to sacrifice millions of troops. We were aware that our leaders were sparing our lives...would try to pummel the enemy with artillery and tanks and overpower them before sending the infantry in. If that were possible."
Did you read today's paper - that NATO has agreed yesterday to rebuild tomorrow what is being bombed today?
The Japanese signaling from Santa Monica, (if true), or even the rumor would be enough to cause widespread paranoia and hysteria and suspicion of all Japanese. I don't think this is racism, Robby, but I don't know what else to call it. You were there...where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed? What do you remember of that day and the weeks immediately following? Did you know of the Japanese internment camps? Were you as appalled then as you are now? Were the camps anywhere else in the country - besides California and Hawaii?
You mention the fear...no, you say the soldiers in combat were terrified . the same horror Rasmus describes in his memoir in Studs' book - What touched me most in his account:
"The reason you storm the beaches is not patriotism or bravery - it's not wanting to fail your buddies.".You know, the more I think about it, the more I think that's both bravery and patriotism!
As to "luck," I would say that the closest I came to being killed was when I wasn't even there. I was in a Regimental Headquarters Company where the communication center was located (radio switchboard, phone lines, etc.) At one point after being at the front for a while, I was granted a three-day pass to Paris. When I returned, I learned that the enemy artillery had found our communication center where ordinarily I was located. If I had been there, I wouldn't be writing this now.
Here's a clickable to an article from the book section in the Wash. Post...(we might be able to present your piece like this. Britta)...
I suppose these articles and book reviews are going to be jumping out at us from every direction as we become immersed in this topic!
I came back home on a Liberty Ship. They were not built for speed, neither were they built for comfort. We would stand in the prow of the ship watching it rise up on the crest of a wave. The wave would disappear leaving a space and the ship would crash downward making the whole vessel shudder throughout its length. The scuttlebutt was that the Captain told someone who told someone else that he intended to resign upon arriving at port - that he would not continue to guide a "death ship." We found it ironic that we had survived a horrible war in the name of freedodm and now might die on the way home in a ship whose name symbolized liberty.
Then the announcement came from the Captain over the public address system. We were going to land in New York Harbor. New York! America! Home! Who was the person who coined that ridiculous statement: "I hate to see a grown man cry"? Have you ever seen a thousand men cry? All at the same time? And no one ashamed? No one on that ship had been home for under two years. On that ship were men who had not seen their wives, children, family members or girl friends in that period of time. There were also men who had received "Dear John" letters letting them know that they had former wives and sweethearts and that there might be no one waiting for them. Nevertheless America would be waiting for them and for this they were grateful.
GIs gathered in knots on the deck and below talking about nothing else. Because we were landing in New York, they knew we would pass the Statue of Liberty, the emblem that symbolized all for which we had been fighting. We were going to let out a cheer such as you wouldn't believe.
The day arrived. We entered the lower harbor and faintly in the distance the Statue of Liberty could be seen. Our speed slowed and as we approached the statue, everyone (repeat everyone) gathered topside. The deck was a mass of brown uniforms, all their wearers looking in one direction. Now the moment for cheering had come. We were slowly passing under the statue.
There we were, thousands of battle-hardened, some wounded, ordinarily foul-mouthed veterans standing on the deck, looking upward - - - and not a sound. Not a sound! It was possible to hear the rush of the water past the ship. I looked around me and saw war-wrinkled faces with tears straming down them. I say "saw' but it was most difficult because of my own tears. Ever so slowly as the ship passed the statue, individual soldiers slowly drifted away to the own hammocks and into their own thoughts. No talking. Just an eerie silence as the ship moved into the mouth of the Hudson River.
RobbyWhat a spine tingling description of that day when you returned to America. Since we were just in that very harbour last December, I could picture the whole scene and certainly it brings tears to all who read it. Whew!
When Rasmus describes the countryside and then the battle noise and destruction, I can see why he felt schizophrenic.
And, now we are destroying similar sites in Kosuvo. Have we learned nothing from the past wars? Are we doomed to repeat and repeat the violence of war? Do we think this is the proper response? Have you been reading the rules of war, in the newspaper? Ludicrous! It sounds like a gameplan. Reminds me of when my children played D&D.Did anyone see on CSPAN over the weekend, the interview with Milosevic? Quite interesting but I did filter his comments with the reality that comes through with the other interviews that have been shown.
JoanThe book was written in 1984 so some of these older vets might not be around but I certainly think its worth checking. My sister,Mary, has a hard time reading as she is ADD so last night, she called to tell me that she has the audio tape of the book and just might get online with us when time permits as she is also getting much from it.
After reading these posts and the memories in Studs' oral histories, I am beginning to understand why so many of our Vets are reluctant to talk about the war and what they witnessed!
In this section of the book, Tales of the Pacific E.B. Sledge describes the "wasted lives on a muddy ridge." The Japanese theatre certainly differed from the European...a huge difference between the bloody battlefields and the savage atrocities in Japan. Am still trying to understand it!!!
We gave a constant "show of force" - marching through the streets of the various town and cities, wielding our rifles and other armament and letting the populace know, in one way or another, that there were a lot of us and that we were not about to accept any resistance on anybody's part, be it male or female, adult or child. There were few males in the various communities and these were elderly.
The children were another story. We cannot say they were naive to war. They knew bombings, they knew shellings, they knew starvation, but they had also learned about GIs. Inside every hardened American solder was a soft heart and inside his pockets were oranges, chocolate, and chewing gum which, if the officers were not looking, were surreptitiously passed along to the five and six-year old tots skipping alongside the "parade", not realizing that this was supposed to be a show of force and that the chewing gum giver was an enemy.
Yes, we were not bred to kill but one changes very quickly when it is a case of survival. I don't remember cases of pulling teeth or cutting ears. American soldiers, by and large while not necessarily polite to the prisoners, at least treated them according to the code of the Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, this did not always result in the prisoners giving us the vital information needed to capture additional troops. When this happened, we would pass the prisoners across to the French Maquis which accompanied us as we moved forward.
The Maquis were French civilians turned unofficial soldiers who, in their native France, had been part of the underground resistance through the war years. Many, if not most, of these Frenchmen had been through harrowing experiences themselves or had families who had been hurt in one form or another by the Germans. They hated the Nazis with a passion. The Geneva Convention meant little to them.
When we were unsuccessful in obtaining information from the prisoners, we moved to the other side of the field which was the "holding pen" and the Maquis moved in. In a short time we would hear screams and shortly after that an officer of the Maquis would come over to announce to us that the Germans had rconsidered and were now very willing to talk. We, the Americns, had not hurt the prisoners in any way. In war time, ethics somehow went by the board.
May I ask that those reading the postings in this discussion group share with us your experiences or knowledge of others' experiences whether you were with the Allies or in the Japanese forces. Let us look at this war through each others' eyes.
Yes, I think if I were angry enough about being treated cruely or seeing a friend or relative(especially one of my children) that I could retaliate. At least, I thought I could when I was younger. My body and spirit are not the same now. Older? Wiser? Probably a little of both. Thought I was Wonder Woman and the Avenger all wrapped up in one package when I was younger! Was always defending my little brother and sister. I know better today. Gives me a headache to contend with both sides of me!! Tee hee!
Robby is right, we need more input from those involved in the Japanese front. I think we were fortunate that Studs was able to contact the number that he did for his "oral histories". I think we need to learn a lot more about this too. My uncle (deceased) served in Japan. I have wonderful photographs of him...but he would never talk about it. I should call my aunt and see what she knows of that. I'm certain that we will hear more from other posters about Japan as we progress.
Your posts are really thought-provoking! These issues of cruelty, of loss of innocense play such an important part in understanding what war is all about. And to learn anything at all from history, we have to know what we are asking of our young men and women when we send them to the "arena" of war.
I think we would all like to think that we would never act savagely, beastly, cruelly, even in war...perhaps that is what is meant by "innocence"....thinking that we remain who we are, who we were brought up to be - when on the battlefield. Only those who were there can say what happens. War is hell. These vets went to hell and back. They saw hellish atrocities, unspeakable savagery...and may have responded in ways they never dreamed they would. Perhaps that's why so many can't speak about the war, or even think about it much...except in nightmares... No more innocence, never again!
The next two merchant seamen, Bill Bailey and David Milton seem to be expressing a different feeling about the A bombing of Hiroshima...other than that the "big beautiful bomb" ended the war...
I would be real interested in knowing how it was viewed both at home and in the military at the time.....
This may seem like a ridiculous question but why would someone who was born and raised in England have felt resentment toward the Japanese? The Germans bombed England and I can understand your feelings in that direction but we, the Americans, were the ones who were attacked by the Japanese.
My goof should be all the more reason why we need to hear the sharings of those who have stories to tell of the war in the Far East.
Losing your cousin in that manner was so sad. After the armistice was declared in Europe, each soldier was given a number of points determined by length of time in service, length of time overseas, combat time, medals earned, etc. and those with the lesser number of points were eligible to move on to the Pacific Theater of Operations. Especially sad in his case as he had experienced the Battle of the Bulge.
Please share with us some of your memories of visiting the servicemen in the hospital.
Girt, I bet you have something to say about the women's histories from this week's Rosie pages...were women as cynical as these ladies sound? How did women view the bombing of Hiroshima at the time?
Somewhere in the book, I thought that I read that Japan was already discussing going to the arbitration table when we dropped the bomb. Am I mistaken or have you seen that quote? Also, one of the scientists on the bomb mentions that the reason we dropped two bombs was "because they were there to drop". Of course, all of us plus the people in the book are coming from our own perspective so we all see things so differently.
I talked to a lady from Russia yesterday and she says that their history books contained all the horrors of WWII including the Leningrad siege. I believe someone mentioned that the German and Japanese school history books gave WWII short shrift.
I wonder what our kids know today about WWII. Haven't seen a school book in ages. One thing I have seen lately is the ad for having a WWII Memorial built since there is not one anywhere. I believe that was mentioned on the History Channel which we watch often.
Joan, I believe that one of the interviewees mentions the fact that we knew that there was going to be a Cold War. With us and the Russians on opposite sides. And, he said, that this was before WWII ended. Wonder if that is true.
Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union at 2:41 A.M. French time today (This was at 8:41 P.M. Eastern Wartime Sunday.) The surrender took place at a little red school house that is the headquarters of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The surrender, which brought the war in Europe to a formal end after five years, eight months and six days of bloodshed and destruction, was signed for Germany by Col. Gen. Gustav Jodl. General Jodl is the new Chief of Staff of the German Army . The surrender was signed for the Supreme Allied command by Lieut. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff for General Eisenhower. It was also signed by Gen. Ivan Susloparoff for the Soviet Union and by Gen. Francois Sevez for France.
General Eisenhower was not present at the signing, but immediately afterward General Jodl and his fellow delegate, Gen. Admiral Hans George Friedeburg, were received by the Supreme Commander. They were asked sternly if they understand the surrender terms imposed upon Germany and if they would be carried out by Germany. They answered Yes.
After having signed the full surrender, General Jodl said he wanted to speak and received leave to do. "With this signature," he said in soft-spoken German, "the German people and armed forces are for better or worse delivered into the victors' hands. In this war, which has lasted more than five years, both have achieved and suffered more than five years, both have achieved and suffered more than perhaps any other people in the world."
I don't seem to have too much memory of VE Day except that I always know the date since it was my brother's 8th birthday. I do remember VJ day as we given permission by my mother to go downtown with some of our neighbors and we rode around and around the circle of Indianapolis where soldiers and sailors and other citizens were jumping into the fountains and running and jumping and cheering! It was very exciting! I was ten in 1945!
Werner,what a fascinating story about Krystal Nicht(sp)? And the caring of your mother for those two ladies.I think that was part of the times in most of the world. We did have much respect and love for our older citizens and were careful of them. I think you summed it up for most of us during that time when you said that people were either kids or old.
Did anyone happen to see the Rosie the Riveteer program which PBS put on about ten years ago? It was just fascinating to hear those different women's opinion of their foray into the working world in WWII and how many of them found that they could do so many things. One lady remained an iron worker for the rest of her working life. One became a riveteer in California and after the war found a job in the shipyards in Seattle but said it was very hard because of being a women. I would like to view that show again since we are discussing the women's part in the war.
Now, a comment to all: I wasn't a bit bothered by those laughs in Terkel's book and thought they were most apropos. It was only when I read your comments that I realized they could be taken differently. They were what could be called sardonic laughs. In the military, especially in combat, we often laughed at things that were not in any way funny - such as: "well, we lost another ten men today." What do you do when you get news like that - break down and cry? The laughing was sort of "well we got the s*** thrown at us again, didn't we?" And please notice that in a few instances Terkel records that a person laughs and cries simultaneously. Think a bit about your own life. Haven't you at times laughed when something not at all funny happened. Multiply that a thousand times in warfare.
Also mentioned here is:AARP Online on AOL(keyword:AARP) will host a chat,featuring WWII historian Roger Cirillo and Michail Conley of the American Battle Monuments Commission,May 20,8:30-9:30pm EDT.
Just thought y'll might be interested in this.
We'll be officially announcing our WWII area around Memorial Day.
We are very pleased that our books clubs selected THE GOOD WAR for discussion. This discussion is a wonderful "companion" to our WWII Memories discussions. I have been reading all of the messages as they are posted each day and I agree with those of you who have said that we certainly rival the griping and thoughtful stories in THE GOOD WAR.
SeniorNet has been in touch with the American Battle Monuments Commission and will have some information from them on our site which we are still constructing at http://www.seniornet.org/ww2.
Scriptor, is this your first time with us? You are very welcome, a source of precious memories! Please stick around! I have two questions I'd like to see answered by those who remember - before the discussion is over. And then we'll do Tom Brokaw's book just in case there are still unanswered questions, okay? My questions:
* Did the average American on the home not know anything of the concentration camps as Peggy Terry says? How about the military, did they know? It seems to me that if people knew of the atrocities of the camps, that would be strong motivation to get to the end of the war...
How did folks on the homefront respond to the bombing of Hiroshima? Happy because it ended the war - or as Peggy Terry says, "horrified...a terrible thing bombing working people, women and children, not military targets?"
Scriptor: I remember the Occupation Marks very well but those who were "in the know," including the Germans, wanted American dollars. While I was in the Occupation Army in the latter part of 1945, the Army sent me to Paris to be a student at the Sorbonne (Univ of Paris) and I remember the flourishing black market there too, the main area being on the sidewalk outside of Notre Dame.
Lonex: Amazing as to who knew or did not know of the concentration camps. And please remember there were many small ones as well as the notorious large ones. It was not unusual for some of the Germans after the war to tell us they knew nothing of such camps although they were situated just a few miles down the road.
Lonex, I am going to assume you know of the criticism of the Pope...was it Pius XII? He is criticized for turning from the atrocities of the war and doing nothing. I don't remember anything more. What could he have done? Did he and the clergy know of the camps? That would explain how the nuns knew and others did not, wouldn't it? Robby didn't soldiers express great shock at war's end when finding the camps...if those in command of the military had knowledge of them, you'd think they would reveal that to every single soldier! What would be the purpose of keeping such a thing secret? Did everyone believe that ethnic cleansing was going on, by rounding up and assigning captives to labor camps, but that nobody had knowledge of the gas chambers until war's end??? Such a well-kept secret and so people being killed!!!
I sense so much cynicism in these Rosie pages...perhaps I got caught up in the war propaganda put forth in Hollywood productions. I find it hard now to listen to these war brides - particularly those like Sarah Killingsworth and Dellie Hahne ("I met my future husband...didn't much care for him, but the pressure was so great to marry" and "Right after I got out, I divorced him...you weren't in love in the first place...") Tough stuff!!!
Jaywalker, images of that tattered French letter being moved from one wallet to another all those years stays with me.......
And Foley, how long is your piece about your German-Jewish friend? Do you still have it?
Another thing that frightened me for a summer was the movie, "Bataan". I saw the strung up soldiers shadowed on my bedrooom wall for months. Of course, it was the front yard tree with a street light shining through it.
I also, remember Ernie Pyle's column vividly as he was in our newspaper everyday,writing from the Pacific theatre. We were paper carriers,my brother and I, and very interested in the war.
"On January 7, 1945, Air Force General Curtis LeMay arrived on Guam to take charge of the 21st Bomber Command. He had abandoned the idea of precision bombing in favor of terror attacks on civilians. 'I'll tell you what war is about,' he said, 'you've got to kill people, and when you've killed enough, they stop fighting.'
He deployed the new M-69 projectile, a fiendishly effficient six-pound incendiary bomblet developed by Standard Oil chemists which spewed burning gelatinized gasoline that stuck to its targets and was virtually unextingishable by conventional means. He trained his pilots in low-altitude attacks. He experimented with bombing patterns and with mixes of explosive and incendiary bomb loads. His goal was to create firestorms like the ones that had consumed Hamburg and Dresden, conflagrations so vast and intense that nothing coul survive them - thermal hurricanes that killed by suffocation as well as by heat - the flames sucked all available oxygen out of the atmosphere.
LeMay launched 334 Superfortreses from the Marianas on the night of March 9. They began to lay their clusters of M-69s over Tokyo, methodically crisscrossing the target zone to create concentric rings of fire that soon merged into a sea of flame. Rising thermal currents buffeted the mile-high B-29s and knocked them about like paper airplanes. They left behind them a million homeless Japanese and nearly 90,000 dead. The victims died from fire , axphyxiation, and falling buildings. Some boiled to death in superheated canals and ponds where they had sought refuge from the flames.
In the next five months LeMay's bombers attacked sixty-six of Japan's largest cities, destroying 43 percent of their built-up areas. They demolished the homes of more than eight million people, killed as many as 700,000, and injured perhaps one million more.. Hiroshima and Nagasaki survived to be atomic-bombed only because LeMay's superiors removed them from his target list."
So much for the good war.
Will get up the heading for the next chapter right now...
Britta: I clicked on to the web page you gave re the Holocaust and was amazed at the various bits of info I didn't know! I didn't know the part the Treasury Dept played under Henry Morgenthau. I didn't know the part that Will Rogers played and certainly hadn't known that he committed suicide in later life. We comment now on Clinton's bad choice in the Yugoslavia situation. As we look back, how about FDR's bad choice in the Jewish situation until his hand was forced.
Hi Britta! I'm really looking forward to reading the PBS site. Just tried, but got a message that the server might be down. Will try again on Sunday pm...off for a graduation weekend (the second of three this year! Will probably cry at "Pomp and Circumstance" again too...) I think it's important to know just how much people knew about those camps during the war...and to know the public reaction to the bombing of innocent people in Hiroshima...in order to really understand what happens to human response, to moral indignation... during wartime. If we don't have any historical memory of what war does to numb the collective conscience, we've learned nothing from this war and will get involved in future wars without considering this dreadful aspect! I'd like to think that we have learned the lesson ...that "all people are human beings", as Mike Royko says we learned from the war in this chapter. Perhaps this is why we react the way we are doing here right now? I hope so!
The next section, Neighborhood Boys sure fits in with the discussion of racial discrimination- I didn't realize that there was such anti-Jewish sentiment in this country too! And the "Irish need not apply!" Add this to the discrimation we find in this section against Japanese, Mexicans, blacks...and we see a country quite divided...much more so than now, we hope? The message in this chapter seems to be sounding a hopeful message - that WWII brought us together and great progress was made in this area...this would have to be one of the "Good" outcomes of the war, right?
Ella mentions Paul Pisicano and I think his memories of the Italian-American community, before and after the war is a great example of how WWII brought the Italians into the mainstream of American culture. In fact, Paul seems to feel that it wasn't a particularly "good" thing...this loss of ethnic identity! Interesting!
I was the First Sergeant of a Regimental Headquarters Company. Our I&R (Intelligence and Reconnaissance) Sergeant was a very fine soldier named Martin Shapiro. He was also a veteran of the Spanish Civil War where he had been a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. As capable and friendly as he was, numerous members of the company disliked him solely because he was Jewish. Shortly before Christmas Day he came to me and said that he and the other Jewish fellows wanted to volunteer to handle all the necessary details on that day so that non-Jewish soldiers could really enjoy their holiday. I was convinced he was sincere and allowed them to do it. They handled everything from morning to night - guard detail, servicing the vehicles, cooking and serving the Christmas meal, KP afterward, and in general allowing the rest of the company to lounge around.
Needless to say, he and the other Jewish soldiers were looked at through different eyes from then on but it was a shame that they had to take that first move in order to receive the respect due them in the first place.
I am reading another book at the same time with this one, "The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw and I must say that I like "The Good War" better due to the way its presented with first person quotes. Makes a much more significant impact on me. Am looking forward to reading the next chapter.
I'm curious, in referring to Joan's fifth question, as to everyone's reaction regarding prejudice in this nation going on while simultaneously men were dying in Europe and Asia on behalf of freedom.
And so, as I look back I see the military in which I served as a cross section of society as it was then. Do the rest of you see a military to which one is drafted (as in war time) better or worse than the volunteer military that we have now?
I am overwhelmed at your experiences, insight, your respect for others' views when they differ from your own!!! I have never learned so much about the past, or the present from any one place as I am learning here! I am honored to share the memories with the great brave men - and women - who actually fought in this war - and to be able to thank them personally! This discussion is breaking new ground. Please don't ever feel you are straying from the book ...the book serves as a skeleton...the book stimulates discussion through the memoirs presented...and your comments pick up and fill in the gaps in our understanding of what it was like back then and what it all means to us now...Thank you all for what you are doing! You dazzle
"There never was a good war or a bad peace" --Benjamin Franklin
Virginia: You and others often use the words "thank you" in referring not only to those who fought but those who supported the war effort in other ways. The feeling of gratitude is often there. Did that feeling of gratitude exist during and after the Korean and Vietnam conflicts?
I decided to go back to the place of our meeting and if possible (in my mind) to the time of our first knowing each other. It was not my intention to bring my miseries of 1964 to the people I knew in France but to bring 1945 back to me. I arrived in Paris on July 15th, the day after Bastille Day. The city was extremely quiet but this was normal because at that time of the year, most Parisians have left on extended holiday. Paris looked much the same as it had in 1945 except for construction cranes all over the city. In front of my very eyes was the Paris of centuries past on its way toward looking more like America. This depressed me.
I took the train for Rennes, noticing that in the 18 years I had been gone the destruction of the rural areas had given way to reconstruction. I was trying very hard to look at the scene with 1945 eyes but there were no cows lying on their backs with their legs straight into the air, no electric lines lying across roads, and farm houses seemed in good shape.
The Rennes railroad station had been spruced up but I was able to see the broad interior area across which I had first seen that beautiful face. I immediately had a strong memory of my first view of her. Following a map I located her house where I had spent so many hours with that wonderful girl whom I was trying to conjure up in my mind while simultaneously trying to put aside thoughts of the 1964 woman in america. People I had known in 1944 were still in Rennes and I had the opportunity of meeting them again. They were most cordial. I went to see the grave of my wife's mother. I stood for a long time at the graveside asking: "Qu'est-ce qu'il est arrive entre ta fille and moi?" What happened between your daughter and me?
I took off from Paris on July 28, 1964 arriving home on the same day. As I flew back I was acutely aware that a chapter of my life had come to an end. My marriage was over.
Welcome to our group! Hope to see further postings from you. You are absolutely right. There were the gung-ho guys who enlisted right away, who rushed off to fight, and many of them were killed. But, as you say, there were many who grabbed every possibility to escape the draft. You have brought up a good point that the younger generation needs to understand that we were all human beings in the same way that our children and grand children are. The difference was the world situation.
In 1994 there were nearly 8.6 million veterans 65 or older (32% of the total veteran population), about 4% of whom were women.
Because of the aging of World War II veterans, the number is expected to peak by the year 2000, whern there will be about 9.3 million elderly veterans (38% of the total veteran population). In 1996, 76% of civilian males aged 70-74 years were veterans, reflecting U.S. particicpation in World War II.
In addition to the veteran statistics above, life expectancy for women is now 80 and for men 73. I am now 78 so if you are going to post me anything, you'd better do it rapidly!
Yes, there were conscientious objectors at the time...their stories are coming up next! No, they were not looked upon very favorably! "Yellow bellies" was the usual term for them......we'll get into all that next week...
We were not church-going people but after my father was reported killed in action in 1942, we had a sudden visit by a Lutheran minister who tried his best to help my family. We all attended a military and state funeral with more silver and gold stripes than could have been fitted on Cleopatra. Honors up to here for a colonel who had done his duty. Only many years after the war did we find out that he had died in the KZ (German for conc. camp) in Oranienburg/Berlin. As a member of the staff of Adm. Canaris, the aging counterpart of Bill Donovan (OSS), my father was suspected of being involved with those who were plotting against the dictator (July 20,1944). Field Marshal Rommel's funeral and those of many others followd a similar pattern of deceit. In many of my studies about that era I have come across accusations that the Vatican turned a blind eye, but there are more credible reports that both Popes worked incessantly trying to ameliorate the suffering caused by the regime.
Some blame for Hitler's rise also falls on the gullible Lutherans whose prime mover, one Dr. Mueller, U-boat hero of WWI., was so taken with Hitler's ability to turn back the effects of the Treaty of Versailles, that he leant his prestige to the party - at great cost to himself when he realized the error of his ways. The actions of the Catholic Church are much more closely guarded to this day than our atomic secrets and we'll never know the truth in ten lifetimes.
To me the adjective in Stud's book refers to the righteousness of our (the Allies'!) reasons to intervene in the war, albeit belatedly.
Please stick with us.....
Yes, Pat, the plan is to move on the the Brokaw book next!!!!
Pat G., I look forward to your reaction to "Neighborhood Boys"...to Mike Royko & Dempsey Travis in particular. I hope some of you can find time to reread these two before we move on to "Machissmo"?- they are important, I think!
Oh, you might be interested in this...recent development in the new World War II memorial site planning scheduled for the mall in Washington DC.
Ella, a thought-provoking post! I'll agree that great progress was made toward integration as result of WWII in that it put racism (against all peoples) on center stage, finally forcing the acknowledgement that all races are human beings first. It also planted seeds of racial equality at home in America...leading to the revolt against segregation. This revolt, whether through peaceful demonstrations or bloody riots, was to come after the war, but it was the war that served as the catalyst. This has to be counted as one of the "good" effects of the war, I think.
The last and final chapter of Book One continues with other major human issues brought into focus by this war. I've been thinking hard about why Studs included these three tales under the heading Reflections on Machismo...There's John Abbott, the Conscientious Objector; Roger Tuttrup, the kid who wasn't going anywhere with his life, who wanted to join the marines to become a man, a hero; and Ted Allenby, the closet homosexual, who joined the Marines!!! What brings them together here? What do they have in common? I can't wait to hear what you think! It is puzzling to me.
But I am glad to be back. This was the final in a series of 17 intensive workshops on the subject of Psychopharmacology held over a four year period. Those of us who completed the 300 hours in this subject were part of a "graduation" ceremony and the coordinating committee decided that the fomer locations (NYC and Los Angeles) were not glitzy enough. Each of these 17 workshops ran from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. They were extremely challenging but I enjoyed them tremendously. So most of Friday consisted of the long flight from Virginia to Las Vegas with a layover in Phonix and coming back I left Las Vegas at 11:30 p.m. last night and arrived in Baltimore 8 a.m. this morning, drove four hours from Baltimore to my house and now here I am - exhausted but immediately going to the computer. Incidentally, I didn't put a single coin in any one-arm bandit or play any of their games. Others may enjoy that but it's not me.
And now - back to the subject at hand! (Which you handled very well without me but thanks for thinking of me.)
WELCOME HOME, ROBBY!
That sounds like some trip! Get your rest, as Ella advises...those "Macho" guys can wait one more day.
Britta, it's funny you should mention the Time article, as I just finished reading my May AARP Bulletin and was going to add something it said about "Good Wars"...When I saw your post, I remembered something else from the same article by Arthur Schlesinger Jr.:
"There is a change. For a long time after victory, WWII seemed to slip away, almost as if there were a conspiracy of silence. Veterans rarely talked about the experience of war. Returning GIs instead picked up the broken threads of their lives...Farley Mowat, the Canadian writer, spoke for most of us when he said about the war;
'I kept the deeper agonies of it wrapped in the cotton wool of protective forgetfulness.'
And from the same article, about "the Good War", AS Jr. had this to say,
"Few thought of World War I, the "Great War", as a "Good War" No one thought of the Vietnam War as a "Good War" either...Of course no war is any good. Yet occasionally, very occasionally, a few like the American Revolution, the Civil War and the Second World War, are necessary. War remains hell, but a few wars have been driven by decent purposes and produced beneficial results. Compared to the rest, they qualify as "Good Wars." And the last "Good War," the war of 1941-1945, evidently fills some psychic void in the Amrerican soul a at the end of the 20th Century."I think Studs would agree - how about you?
Now, about the three in Reflections on Machismo...have you read their memories yet? I'm beginning to think that the common thread of all three stories lies in their post war reflections on their own macho motives for entering the war. See if you agree.
We missed you, Dr. Robby!
I'm sure you have lots of opinions (and possibly memories) on those subjects. And - oh yes - as a discussion leader who was also in the military I'm supposed to "run a tight ship," right? So may I suggest that we try not to wander off the theme of this discussion group (which I know from my personal experience is not easy) and stay with the World War II theme.
There are still so many memories and thoughts in our minds. Let's share them with each other.
Ella, I'm understanding John Abbott saying that the Quakers...and the Brethren, the Mennonites...protested the war on religious principles, so they were classified as Conscientious Objectors...and given a 4 E classification. The draft board was trying to determine if Abbott belonged in this religious group. If he told them he did not believe in God, they'd have a hard time putting him in this category, in the camps with the religious objectors. What were some of the other classifications? We read here that 4F was the designation for homosexuals What if there existed a physical or medical handicap? What was the designation for that? 4 F too, right?
I'm guessing that since the draft board had no category for objectors like Abbott he was assigned to the 4E Classification. What would be the alternative? Jail? What do they do with those who refuse to be drafted during war time? They lock them up, right? Right?
I was looking for the PBS program on Rosie the Riveter that I saw many years ago and came up with an interesting site named"What Did You Do In the War,Grandma?" Its worth a peek, people. Here's the clickableWhat Did You Do In The War, Grandma?
This is an oral history of Long Island women brought to us by a Brown University student project.
Ella: My memory tells me that WWII was, indeed, accepted by most of the people and that there was a "popular uprising" in response to our being attacked. As to your question about religion, all of us as we entered the service were asked our religion - not "did we have one" but "what was it." Our dogtags were then imprinted with P or H or C. Those fellows who weren't sure usually said "Protestant." The purpose was to be able to call the "proper" Chaplain if we suddenly had the need. In actuality, such an action was usually not possible during combat and if it appeared someone was dead or was dying, any Chaplain was called (if available.) All Chaplains were trained to be able to deal with men of all persuasions and, if I am correct, were authorized to give final rites in the name of any religion.
4-F, if I am correct (I am not an authority here), meant "not fit for active duty" for various reasons. It could be physical or mental. There were sub-divisions of this but I don't know what they were.
I don't remember anyone being refused for reasons of homosexuality. In fact, I don't remember the topic even being discussed. Everyone was in the closet in those days. As basic training progressed, we got to know (or suspect) who was homosexual but it only seemed to make a difference during training, and then to the "macho" guys. As soon as we entered combat, it became a non-issue.
World War II was, in my opinion, the dividing line and those of us in our generation have lived in two different times. We now question what was taken for granted in 1935.
I believe (I told you I would be getting philosophical!) that we, as a society, are better now than before World War II. We learned the value of freedom through going through bitter times. Witness the subsequent civil rights movement, the feminist movement, homosexuals coming out of the closet - all in the name of freedom. I related in an earlier posting the experience of thousands of silent crying soldiers passing below the Statue of Liberty.
Don't get me started, Ella, I'm supposed to be the Discussion Leader!
So again we, as a society, have that "struggling and floundering" that Ella mentioned - struggling to hold the moderation between complete permissiveness and the uttler lack of freedom that Hitler would have given us. We fought him for the right to do anything we want and now must fight ourselves to keep from doing anything we want.
Democracy -- isn't it wonderful!
I don't think that the KKK is a religion or that they had any right to be marching in a Jewish neighborhood. And when they did, they were given the license not the freedom. I do remember that time and also remember being angry about it.
I had a similar reaction to that CO? in Terkel's book. To object to war as a pacifist is quite different from objecting to everything else that you don't approve of. I think that the Friends members are always against war and that is part of their religion but its hard for me to believe that this guy even had a religion. Probably objected to organized religion,from what I can glean from the written word here. If I had a son now, he would not be drafted for this Kosuvo debacle! I would buy him a ticket to some place peaceful(if there is such a place). I did not want my sons in the Vietnam mess either! Bad decisions, both wars!
Your posting was most analytic and I have a number of reactions to your thoughts but will wait (as a good Discussion Leader should!) to hear from others who I am sure will enter with their own ideas regarding Conscientious Objectors.
Good to hear from you again! You are right - those are true Conscientious Objectors, aren't they? They could very well have been killed as they removed the shells. How did you happen to meet them?
Would you expand on that? John Abbott was a college student when war broke out. Had he decided to rush into service, could you have said, "I won't permit that?" If all boys were called to report to the draft board, would you have said, "I won't permit that?"
Ann would have financed a trip across our borders, rather than have her son go to war. Would he have gone if she demanded he leave the country? I think we are thinking Vietnam now, and not understanding the World War II mentality. Young men were trying to enlist, even when they were underage. There was a surge of patriotism that did not comprehend the conscientious objectors... except perhaps for the pacifist religious groups...
Were there many objectors like John Abbott? What was the law regarding his form of pacifism? We read here of one train car full, treated with disgust as "yellow"? It seems that the draft board did not have a clear plan for those like John Abbott - you were either objecting for religious principles, or you were jailed as a threat to the war effort. Am I right? Robby? Did you know of CO's like him?
So, what is the situation today. The draft is not in force, but all high school boys, once they turn 18, receive the draft form in the mail, and must fill it out and return it to the draft board in case of National emergency. Mine all did. I shivered, but it's the law. Ella??? Would you not permit it? I think that was a registration for the draft.
So what happens? If there's an emergency, the draft is reinstituted? After all this time, you do expect that the forms would look different than they did prior to WWII. I would love to know how the law reads regarding Conscientious Objectors. Do you think it is the same? Religious principles, only? How can we find out?
What if a draft becomes necessary? How do you think CO's should be handled? You seem to be saying not on religious principles...then what? The draftee simply says "I'm a pacifist, and I'm not going to serve"??? What happens to those who refuse to report to the draft board? Anything? Prison? What?
I came in here to prepare for Book II, but perhaps we should continue this chapter, Reflections on Machismo for a few more days. There are still some important issues to discuss.
Why did Studs put these three in this chapter under "Reflections on Machismo"? Do I understand you to be saying that they all three had second thoughts about fighting wars upon 'reflection' after the war?
And what was the thinking behind the second atomic bombing - of Nagasaki? Did anyone question this at the time...? Was it necessary? Was there a public outcry?
Ginny, I'll agree, the press holds frightening power over the public...just as it did during WWII. Everything is "spin"...which is why I like my news from CNN - straight-up reporting - unlike the mainstream press...
I think with you, Joan, that we should hold off a bit on getting to Book II. We are on a sensitive subject at the moment and there are others who I am sure want to give their views.
The couple who run the peace center were delightful. We had a great conversation with them at lunch time and were so impressed with their attitude and their true commitment to non-violence.
If this was your story, I do remember your saying wistfully, that things were never quite the same after that! It seems that WWII changed a lot of things for everyone - there is no going back to the way it used to be, is there?
Somehow, I can't imagine the draft getting reinstated without massive resistance - and not for religious principles this time... What do you think?
I didn't mean that I would not have my sons enlist during WWII because I do think it was a just war but I would have sent them somewhere else when it comes to Vietnam and Kosuvo. Neither is justifiable to me.
To me, peaceful or not, we must think of the Jewish people in that neighborhood. It was slap in the face to them. And, again, the KKK is not a religion. Well, at least, they say they are not. The things that they pulled in the Georgia when we lived there made me wonder. They are still trying to rid the world of people that they Hate. The Jews, Catholics and other races. Especially the blacks! There was a shop dedicated to the KKK right in our town and it was awful! Their newspapers were put out for everyone to read, right on the sidewalk. They were pretty hatefilled. Shocked those of us from other states where that sort of thing isn't occuring. No,peaceful or not, I would not have let them march. In my opinion, common sense and empathy for the Jews in that neighborhood should have been used in that decision. What about their rights?
ps. You just became a member of this forum, Gail!!! WELCOME!!!
Britta: "Despicable people" are entitled to be that way. That's the wonder of this great nation that our founders created. We can argue with them or walk away from them but we can't in a republic (we are not a democracy) jail them, or torture them, or kill them. They have the Constitutional right to "flaunt their views." You and I might hate the very look of their face but that paper under glass in Washington, DC says they can spout any view they wish so long as they don't advocate violent overthrow of the government. The key word is "violent." All of us every four years or less take action to overthrow the government but not in a violent way.
You asked why Communism was forbidden. To my knowledge, it never was. There were lots of riots in the streets between those who advocated it and those who didn't but "The Daily Worker" was regularly published in NYC and was protected by the First Amendment. As to your comment about "too much freedom," I participate in so many forums that I lose track of where I said something but I remember commenting somewhere about "freedom" vs "license" which is an excess of freedom. And even that is protected - witness the "adult stores" in various cities which are closed and then open again.
Gail: Lynching, murder, burning and those other items you mentioned are definitely violent and there we have illegality. As to undermining the government, here again the key word is "violent." If someone engages in Clinton bashing, he is trying to undermine the government. Only when he tries to scale the fence at the White House is he arrested. Marching is non-violent. We may protest but we may not prohibit.
Of course I didn't have thoughts like these when I was in a foxhole - that was survival time. But back in the quiet of the States, I know that this is why I was over there. In an earlier posting I related the reaction of the soldiers as they passed under the Statue of Liberty while arriving home. They weren't just glad to be "home" in the sense of house and loved ones. They were glad to be arriving at the "home" that Lady Liberty was symbolizing.
Gert and Joan: Here in the small town where I live Poppies are still sold. This morning the VFW was out in force selling them. And every holiday I put out my flag. Incidentally, it is the flag that was draped over the coffin of my father who was a totally disabled World War I veteran.
Finally, keep in mind folks, I am the person who does not like to read long postings!
I remember Lew Ayres and reading about his being a CO but still serving in the medical corps. He was a very brave person and so were all the CO's who served in the same capacity. No weapon except their own compassion.
Happy Memorial Day to All of You
And Happy Birthday, Joan!!!! Now we have more than one reason to display our flag!
Robby, we love to read your posts, no matter the length! Will put out our giant flag today and think of you - and your dad as I do so!
I have suddenly become aware of so many references to WWII...were they always so... ubiquitous?
This is a review of an upcoming Masterpiece theatre production which deals with children who remember war-time bombing...
A Child's View of World War II
Here's the colorful site I found for all of you concerning the history of Memorial Day:
Thanks for your birthday wishes, you all!! I really got a kick out of it...and it's not even my birthday yet!!!!!!
A saluting gun battery, positioned on the grounds of the Washington Monument, began firing volleys that resounded at one-minute intervals over the entire city. Twenty jet fighters and delta-winged fighter bombers flew overhead -- one plane symbolically missing from the lead formation. A carillon commenced playing "Nearer My God to Thee," and "Rock of Ages." An Army band sounded ruffles and flourishes. The Marine Band played the National Anthem.
Major General Ryan, chief of army chaplains, delivered the invocation. The Army choir sang "American, the Beautiful" with the audience joining in. Then came a twenty-one-gun salute, five seconds betweeen rounds. Three volleys were fired and the bugler sounded "Taps." The interment flags were then presented to the President.
41 years ago today.
On CSPAN Book TV, today, there will be a repeat of the book review that someone here mentioned. It is titled "A Few Small Candles" by Larry & Lena Gara and will be on at 12:30pm. I watched author Greg Orfalia talk about his book on his father's battalion,"Messengers of the Lost Battalion", which is the story of the 551st Paratroopers. Very moving stories. He has researched this story for 14 years. I will be reading it if our library gets it.
Our Decoration Day or Memorial Day used to start with the 6am alarm ringing for my sons who were in the local high school band(different years, separated by 9yrs). The band went to the two or three small cemeteries in our small town and played a memorial salute to the Vets from here. It was very moving and their band director always made sure that the band members understood what had happened to these Vets and why we honored them. Since we just moved back to this town last year, I was wondering yesterday if that tradition has lived on since that band director is no longer at the school and attitudes have changed so much. My youngest boy's last attendance at that ceremony was 16 years ago, just before he graduated from high school. By the way, when he bacame 18 the previous December, he did register for the draft and was very proud of himself. He is a sincere patriot of the US. And, his brother served in the USAF earlier. As did his father. During the Korean conflict. My husband was a B-29 gunner who was preparing to ship out to Japan when the Korean conflict ended. He was then retrained to be an inflight refueling specialist. Over 30 years later, he was involved in the reinventing of an inflight refueling system for the armed services. So, with the wars, conflicts and being married to an aero engineer,I am very aware of our need to defend our country.
" War hasn't become bloodless, of course. People are suffering and dying in the one going on now, and Americans may too, in time. But for now this conflict is remote from the everyday lives of most in this country. The stresses and hardships of the Armed Forces and their families are borne by a small part of the population. The long absences at sea, the overworked flight and carrier crews and the troops living in tents in the Balkans are all distant concerns for the great majority in this country................................. M emorial Day (Washington Post Editorial page)
That division will be reflected to some extent in today's activities: speeches, wreath-layings and parades in some places, picnics, pool parties and Memorial Day sales in many more. This doesn't mean the country's war dead are in danger of being forgotten; their families and friends will remember them for a long time to come. What does seem to be fading is a common appreciation of the example they set -- some understanding, as we celebrate by the millions each year on these perfect 80-degree afternoons in late May, of how young men full of the promise of life resolved to face the possibility that they would never see another such day."
In the first chapter of Book II of The "Good War", both Admiral Gene Larscave and General William Buster, high ranking officers of World War II are decidedly against the concept of sending young men to war..."old men send young men to war"..."we kill them" What does this attitude say about U S involvement in any war? What did they learn, what can we learn of the gravity and horror of war on this Memorial Day?
1) We thank you when you also answered your nation's call. No veteran of any particular war is any more or less patriotic than the vet of another war.
2) We thank you for reminding us that, although we fought to help preserve democracy, our way of life is tenuous, cannot be taken for granted, and must be preserved vigilantly.
3) We remember that a preponderant number of Viet Nam vets were non-white and that they fought for rights which were (and are) constantly denied them at home.
4) We remember that although the political reasons for conducting the war were not always sound that this had no connection with the valour of our "boys and girls" who deserved to have the same rousing "Welcome home!" that we received.
5) We remember and continue to benefit from the GI Bill and other vet benefits and ask ourselves if the same benefits (on the same scale) are being offered Viet Nam vets.
The common term used by soldiers addressing each other in both World War I and World War II was "buddy." Here's to you, Buddy!
Marys son, Eric, has a picture of the WALL hanging in his room and this spring when he visited us, he said that is his favorite picture and when he was visiting the WALL, he just put his hand on it and the tears welled up in his heart and eyes. He is so proud of his father!! We just can't say enough to our veterans. They have been so faithful to this country.
By the way, you expressed best for all of us our thanks to the Viet Nam Vets as well as all Vets yesterday, Robby! Thank you!!!
And Scriptor!, if you do ride into town with Rolling Thunder next year, you must let me know...I'll be there with my camera ready to roll!!!!!
So, after all the memories of those who lost their lives in wartime, what are your reactions to the first chapter of BOOK II???
Both Admiral Gene Larscave and General William Buster, high ranking officers of World War II are decidedly against the concept of sending young men to war..."old men send young men to war"..."we kill them" What does this attitude say about U S involvement in any war? What makes them feel this way? Both men re-upped, and served in Viet Nam after World War II....(I think...I know they stayed in the service...)
"We are unique in the world, a nation of 30,000,000 war veterans. We're the only country in the world that's been fighting a war since 1940."
Joan, I already have Fly Girls bookmarked but this morning, I looked at The Good War chapters and realized that we had already covered the women earlier.
Oh, Ann, everything in me wants to deny that greed is enough reason to risk lives!!!!!!!!!
I think that our officers are right...since World War II, we regard ourselves as peacekeepers of the world...and think we can achieve that peace with military force.
I think it is sobering to read about Admiral Larscave"s counsel to young men to stay at home, not join the navy. Both of these men of high rank seem embittered...and anti-war, don't they? What is the message here? What are they saying about our fighting the battles of the world? They seem to be saying that the lives of our young men are too high a price to pay for military policy enforced by old men. Are they recommending that we scale back our military involvement, a more isolationalist policy?
Please don't get the impression that I am downplaying the importance of our armed forces...in any way! I am however, questioning our "habit" of becoming involved in peacekeeping with military force!
Here are some questions I'm sure someone can answer:
Why did we send that second A-Bomb to Nagasaki? How long after the bombing of Hiroshima? Did the Japanese still refuse to surrender after Hiroshima?Ann, more stories from the women of WWII are coming...save the PBS pages, okay?
Why did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor in the first place? Was it a declaration of war? Did they think we would then enter the war?
How closely allied to Hitler's Germany was Japan? Did Germany know - and approve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Did Germany actually want us to get involved? !!!!!!!
Admiral Larocque in the book says: "Our military runs our foreign policy. The State Department simply goes around and tidies up the messes the military makes. The State Department has become the lackey of the Pentagon. Before World War Two, this never happened. You had a War Department; you had a Navy Department. World War Two changed all this."
I read an article today, relating to China's possession of advanced military technology (and North Korea's, Iran's, Iraq's, India's, Pakistan's...")
"...the West no longer holds a monopoly on modern military power..."
"...the West's military superiority can no longer go unquestioned"
"...any outside country must think twice about moving forces there in a crisis - or for any political purpose that crosses their interests."
The Admiral and the General tell us that World War II taught us to regard ourselves as the peacekeepers of the world, that our military might ensures world democracy. What do you think of our role in the scheme of things today?
It's all ego. I have a higher rank than you. I have a higher federal grade than you. I met this morning with the Secretary of -----. I spoke before Congress yesterday. These are the people that Laroque says are, in effect, telling the State Department what to do. And people at the Pentagon just LOVE euphemisms - like "collateral damage" for killing civilians or "wasting" for killing. We have armed soldiers in various places overseas and we call them "peacekeepers." For those who have read Orwell's "1984." let me say that the era of "doublespeak" is now here.
I would hope that the participants in this forum would carefully read what Admiral Laroque is saying beginning on Page 189.
I saw a repeat of a Press Club on CSPN on Saturday, a talk by a general and Tom Clancy. The general said that the Vietnam War was run by the White House or Congress, not the generals and that's why we were unsuccessful in it.
Today, by the way, is the anniversary of three events. On June 4th in 1940 the Allied military evacuation from Dunkirk, France, ended. Perhaps there might be some people in the Senior Net who remember or who was part of that. How about you folks from the U.K. or France?
Also, on June 4th in 1942 the Battle of Midway began. Any Pacific Theater of Operations veterans who would like to speak to that?
And finally, on June 4th in 1944 the U.S. Fifth Army entered Rome, beginning the liberation of the Italian capital. Perhaps some memories might come forth from that.
I am glad to see that I am not the only one who is reading another book or books on this war. I understood what he said on Saturday but I am still befuddled by the complaints that I hear from others, that Congress was running the war, that the White House was running the war. What difference does it make since we spent many of our boys lives trying not to expand the war? Does this sound familiar? Like Kosuvo explanations today? I thought when the first few days of this debacle in Serbia were being explained, that we were back in the '60's. Scary!!! And, then, tonight, I hear that we are trying not to expand the war!! Spare me!
I understand what you mean by your answer regarding my question on denazifying. Can you tell us something about the method of gradually moving over control by the Occupation Army to civilian control?
It is also the anniversary (1947) of the speech given by Secretary of State George Marshall at Harvard University in which he outlined an aid program for Europe that came to be known as the Marshall Plan. What do some of you think might have happened in Europe without the Marshall Plan?
I was thinking of you earlier while reading John K. Galbraith's statement in the next chapter, The Bombers and the Bombed, when he says, "the bombing of Dresden was unforgivable." There is so much in this chapter it will take quite a while to sort it all out. If you have the book, I hope you will take some time to read or reread these pages. Galbraith was part of an independent civilian commission formed by President Roosevelt in 1944. Does anyone remember this commission or its rather controversial findings? It must have been quite sensational if it was publicized!
Scriptor you are a font of information on the Occupation troops! This new chapter also includes some of these American Occupation troops, described by a Japanese boy as "well fed, well dressed and healthy." My uncle was part of the Occupation army in Japan after the war. Robby, were these "fresh troops" as opposed to battle-weary soldiers? Tell more about your experience, please? How long did you stay after the war was officially over?
I can't help but think of the many years of rebuilding and peacekeeping we face in Kosovo. I can't see us leaving...ever! - considering that this war between the Albanians and Serbs has been going on for centuries...can you?
In November I left for Paris to attend a two-month course at the Sorbonne (University of Paris) in French Language and Civilization with the plan that I would return back to my unit. However, there was an opportunity for another two months, the 29th Division was leaving for home and I opted to remain in Paris on "detached service." My experiences in Paris are also stories in themselves. In the latter part of March I left for home with other detached soldiers and was discharged April 9, 1946.
Here's an excerpt from the Washington Post as it appeared on June 6, 1944:
The Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II was perhaps the most important event of the century, saving Europe, and possibly the world, from Axis domination. Over 150,000 troops landed on five beachheads, opening the way for the liberation of Europe. The victory came at a tremendous cost, however, with many thousands killed and wounded. An excerpt from The Post of June 6, 1944:
Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, June 6 (AP).- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's headquarters announced today that Allied troops began landing on the northern coast of France this morning strongly supported by naval and air forces.
Text of the communique:
Under the command of Gen. Eisenhower Allied naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France.
"Fierce fighting against Allied forces in the Caen area," 10 miles inland from the Normandy Coast and 30 air line miles southwest of La Havre, was reported by the Germans.
Caen is near the base of the Cotentin or Normandy Peninsula. Cherbourg is at the tip of the peninsula.
"Considerable parts of the parachute units on the Normandy Peninsula and on the river mouths were wiped out," Berlin said. ...
The River Vire empties into the Atlantic 30 miles southeast of Cherbourg, indicating that the reported landing was occurring all along the northern side of the Normandy Peninsula stretching along the bay of the Seine between Cherbourg and Le Havre ...
Another Berlin "flash" said the "first center of gravity is Caen," the big city at the base of the Normandy peninsula.
Caen is 120 miles west-northwest of Paris.
A second announcement by SHAEF said that "it is announced that Gen. B.L. Montgomery is in command of the army group carrying out the assault. This army group includes British, Canadian and U.S. forces."
The Allied bulletin did not say exactly where the landing was taking place, but Berlin earlier gave these details:
Allied naval forces, including heavy warships, are shelling Le Havre. "It is a terrific bombardment," Berlin said.
Allied parachute troops floating down along the Normandy coast were landing and being engaged by German shock troops.
Other Allied units were streaming ashore into Normandy from landing barges.
In a special order of the day issued to all soldiers, sailors and airmen under his command, General Eisenhower said:
"We will accept nothing except full victory."
Eisenhower told his men they were "embarking on a great crusade toward which we have striven these many months," and warned them that they were facing a tough, well-prepared enemy. ...
Huge troopship armadas slipped out of English ports in the darkness and sped toward Europe where four years ago almost to the day Britain brought back the last battle-worn defenders of Dunkerque. ...
The German radio gave the first reports of the invasion while correspondents were hurriedly summoned from bed to Supreme Press Headquarters and locked in a press conference room until the communique was released several hours after the landings were made.
It was made known at start that the supreme command felt it necessary to yield the initiative in the war of words to the Germans in order to retain the initiative on land and keep German high command in the dark as long as possible.
The McConnell statute provides for the punishment of anyone who "destroys or damages" a flag in three circumstances. First, it allows for the punishment of a person who "destroys or damages" a flag when such behavior is intended, and is likely to "produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace." Second, the statute allows punishment of a person who "intentionally destroys or damages" a flag belonging to the United States. Finally, it allows punishment of a person who "intentionally destroys or damages" a flag stolen from another person when that behavior occurs on federal property.
I remember COMIN IN ON A WING AND A PRAYER.
I wonder what it takes to be a bomber pilot. John Ciardi tells us he was never a killer, that he did not bomb Tokyo out of patriotism, but out of loyalty to his "crew". He has some chilling things to say about his feelings when other planes went down.
My brother-in-law flew 100 bombing missions over VietNam. He won't ever talk about it, though his best friends today are fellow pilots. I wonder if they can talk about it to one another. I treasure the interviews Studs was able to get from these men, don't you?
Do you feel that the time, money, effort, and lives spent in World War II was wasted?
But now an invisible transformation had taken place. I was still in the same clothes but now I was GI (Government Issue), an official member of the United States Government, responsible to its every demand, and not able to move about at my own whim. It was necessary for the officer to give us three days passes to go home and make preparations.
I put the pass in my wallet, got on the subway, and headed for the Long Island Railroad and home. The passengers on the train annoyed me. Couldn't they see that I was now a soldier? They looked at me in my civilian clothes as if I were the same peson that I been two hours before. I was almost hoping that an MP would challenge me so I could produce my pass.
Robby, that very real feeling of patriotism you felt as you enlisted in the "cause", remembered so clearly after all those years (and so well portrayed!) - echoes the same sentiments we are reading from all of these World War II Vets! It was a "good" cause everyone believed in - good enough to march right in and risk lives for!!!
Ginny, your teaching experience, passing kids to keep them from being drafted into the Viet Nam war, reminds me of my own. My job at that time was to fly around to different colleges, teaching a six-week study skills course to young draft-age boys(who hadn't planned on college until the war) so they wouldn't flunk out and get drafted! How very different in the World War II situation...where they were leaving school to enlist! Some even lying about their age to get in!!!
Another common thread...these World War II Vets are coming out of the war with the realization that the enemy is part of the human race - and that many innocent human beings, including the enemy, lost their lives in a horrible way. They all seem to come out with the feeling that war is not "good."
John Ciardi was another unlikely volunteer for war. but like Robby, he felt there was "cause"...'as an American I felt very strongly I did not want to be alive to se the Japanese impose surrender terms on us'
And at war's end, he concludes, 'I had a longer view. It's anyone's universe. Anyone has as good a right to it as I have. Who am I to want to go out killing people.'
I am very interested in hearing from the Vets on this one. How did your post-war feelings about war compare to what you felt when you enlisted - Compared to what we are reading here?
Ginny, John Ciardi died in 1986, two years after this book was published. Your post made me do a bit of research on his life following the war. I found reams! Will put it in another post, as there is so much...he seems to be speaking right to us, the folks in dear old Books & Lit!
Discussing your memories and thoughts in the context of THE GOOD WAR book is providing the opportunity to reflect at perhaps a more "integrating" level. The posts here are a wonderful supplement to the anecdotes and stories in the other World War II Memories discussions.
Thanks to all of you for participating here.
Although he is widely known for his translation of Dante, and his humorous children's poetry, John Ciardi is a very quotable fellow.
Some quotes from his works;"
You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.
A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.
A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students.
Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves that they have a better idea.
There is nothing wrong with sobriety in moderation.
And finally, his BOOKS message...this is from an address, scroll down for Another School Year, Why?
"When you have read a book, you have added to your human experience. Read Homer and your mind includes a piece of Homer's mind. Through books you can acquire at least fragments of the mind and experience of Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare the list is endless. For a great book is necessarily a gift: it offers you a life you have not time to live yourself, and it takes you into a world you have not time to travel in literal time. A civilized human mind is, in essence, one that contains many such lives and many such worlds. If you are too much in a hurry, or too arrogantly proud of your own limitations, to accept as a gift to your humanity some pieces of the minds of Sophocles, of Aristotle, of Chaucer and right down the scale and down the ages to Yeats, Einstein, E.B. White, and Ogden Nash then you may be protected by the laws governing manslaughter, and you may be a voting entity, but you are neither a developed human being nor a useful citizen of a democracy.
I think it was La Rochefoucauld who said that most people would never fall in love if they hadn't read about it. He might have said that no one would ever manage to become a human if he hadn't read about it."
The "scuttlebutt" that we, in the 29th Div, had at the time (and scuttlebutt is all the lowly GI gets) was that the 30th Div was nearby and we had to spread out in order to allow the 30th Div to move. We spread out so much it was scary. German tanks could have driven between our individual riflemen with no trouble whatsoever but of course they didn't know that.
This was "holiday" season and my company (Regimental Headquarters Co) was billeted in the cellar of a house. All the night chores had been done and I had cozily zipped up my sleeping bag preparing for some well earned rest. Some time during the night all of us simultaneously heard that familiar sound of tanks and we knew that our side didn't have any tanks nearby. I reached to zip open my bag and it was caught. In one continuous movement, I stood up in the bag and, with a strength I didn't know I had, rammed my elbows outward, ripping the bag open. To this day, I don't remember the details of that night which undobtedly contained firing by our cannon company. I m still here so I would assume the tanks either left or were destroyed. War has been described as long periods of boredom interrupted by brief moments of terror. This was another example of brief moments of sheer terror.
It adds another dimension to our conversations.
Perhaps we all are not writing a "great book" here, but all those who are contributing their memories and thoughts are contributing "a piece of our mind" to the human experience.
That is an awesome thought!
Ed, Jim? I'm still trying to understand why we used the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. How long after Hiroshima? Days? Why? Was it because there was no surrender after Hiroshima? Really?
Ed, who are the "sob-sisters"? Those who say we needn't have used the bomb?
Thousands of GIs were in the position of just lying around waiting for orders and thinking of -- you guessed it - girls. The French girls were just as eager to get close to the Americans as the GIs wanted to be close to them. In a few days the medics began to see signs of sexually transmitted disease. They reported this to General Gerhardt who "solved" this in a very military way. He had his Military Police round up a bevy of willing girls, had them examined for disease, and set up the healthy ones in an empty house. MPs kept the GIs in line as they slowly filed into the house and everyone seemed happy.
Everyone, that is, except the 29th Division Chaplain. The scuttlebutt was that he complained bitterly to General Gerhardt who let the chaplain, only a Brigadier General, know in no uncertain terms that he, General Gerhardt, ran the division and this was the way it was going to be. The Chaplain, however, was not to be outranked and he reported this to the Corps Chaplain, a Major General. In a fairly short time the house was closed and life returned to its previous routine except that strict bed checks were now enforced.
The division had three regiments - 115th, 116th, and 175th. I was in the 175th. Although I was part of later combat, I arrived as a replacement after D-Day and escaped the terrible experiences there.
The Fall of Paris
When German troops entered Paris during World War II, French Premier Paul Reynaud wanted to fight on, but many of his generals and cabinet officers believed theirs was a lost cause. Reynaud resigned and the new French government signed a truce with the Nazis a week after the fall of Paris. Under the terms of the armistice, Germany occupied the northern two-thirds of France and a strip along the western coast. The town of Vichy became the capital of unoccupied France, which largely cooperated with the enemy. Two years later, Germany took over all of France. Excerpts from The Post of June 14, 1940:
By the Associated Press
The German army is "inside the gates of Paris," Ambassador William C. Bullitt informed the State Department early today.
"The city was quiet," Bullitt's message said. He telephoned Ambassador Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, United States envoy to the Polish government now at Tours, France. Biddle relayed the message to Washington.
Bullitt, who has remained at his post in Paris, sent the notification at 7 p.m. Paris time, but it was nearly 1 a.m. Eastern standard time before Biddle got word to the State Department.
Bullitt gave no indication of what he meant by "inside the gates."
`Call to the World' By the Associated Press
Tours, France, June 13- Premier Paul Reynaud made a "final" appeal tonight to President Roosevelt for "clouds" of aircraft and challenged Americans to "declare themselves against Nazi Germany."
"We know what a high place ideals hold in the life of the great American people," he said in a broadcast to his country while the German invaders struck down on both sides of Paris.
"Will they hesitate yet to declare themselves against Nazi Germany?"
In announcing his second plea to Mr. Roosevelt for aid-the first, asking all aid short of an expeditionary force having been made public today-the premier declared:
"It is necessary that clouds of airplanes come from across the Atlantic to crush the evil power that has descended over Europe.`
[President Roosevelt received press and radio reports of the appeal and White House Secretary Stephen T. Early authorized this statement:
["The text of Premier Reynaud's statement has not yet been received here. But everything possible is being done to forward supplies to to France."
[Beyond this statement, there was no comment.
[It appeared to indicate, however, that Mr. Roosevelt feels the United States has gone to the aid of the Allies as far as it can under the circumstances. ...]
"We wait with hope in our hearts," Reynaud said. ...
"France's soul is not broken. The world must know it. Every free man must know that France's army, the vanguard of liberty, has sacrificed herself."
He explained that his final appeal to the United States was for "all legal aid."
"It is France's life which is at stake," the premier went on.
"The fighting is getting more painful, but we have the right to hope that the day will approach when our cause will prevail.
"The day will come and must come."
"Please remind your readers about the 21 days from June 14(Flag Day) to July 4(Independence Day) that Congress has set aside as a period to honor America. During this period, we should display our flags and pledge allegiance every day. One of the ways to honor America is to help the handicapped and the aged, and encourage the young to understand the opportunities and responsibilities inherent in our constitutional system. Through such positive action during these 21 days, Americans can celebrate the Fourth of July with a feeling of accomplishment."
One of the ways to honor America is to help the handicapped and the aged, and encourage the young to understand the opportunities and responsibilities inherent in our constitutional system. Through such positive action during these 21 days, Americans can celebrate the Fourth of July with a feeling of accomplishment."
Just thought this would be appropiate here as I do know that we have this freedom to honor our flag due to our Veterans who fought for this right. On our local PBS station today, they are playing many American tunes. Quite tear inducing! Things such as Grand Old Flag, American, Over There. Makes you stop and appreciate the incredible freedom that we, as Americans, have. Also, being played are people talking about their experiences during WWII. The recordings are like someone reading "The Good War" out loud. A recording named "The Victory Collection". Three CD's put together by the Smithsonian.
Putting it another way - why were we veterans fighting overseas in World War II?
The whole quote was there as a letter from a gentleman--Jack Fleisher,Sports Coordinator,Honor America- to Ann Landers. Maybe, if we were helping the handicapped Veterans or the aged Veterans plus letting our young people know what the Veterans have done for us--that's what he was aiming at in his comment.
What were you fighting for? How about to keep the freedoms that we have in America? How about to keep "bizarre ideas" like Hitler's from becoming a world reality? How about to keep the war from spreading to our continent which it had already done in the Aluetians, in Hawaii plus the Florida coast plus the California coast? Sounds like we had the Germans on one side of us and the Japanese on the other. According to some other reading that I have been doing, these things happened and I am sure that we were just trying to do the best that we could with the information that we had at the time. I think that is true for many situations in life. I am aware that many more things came into our decision making at the top but the gist of it always seems to me that we were there to stop Hitler,in Europe, and the Japanese,in the Pacific, from taking over the world.
Before we move on from this chapter, which includes much on air warfare, I'd like to make an observation, which is probably more of a question. And Ann, your comment, "we were just trying to do the best that we could with the information that we had at the time" is very important to keep in mind as we read this chapter.
First of all, I understand that each individual memory here is just that - one person's recollection of his/her own experience. So there is some danger in generalizing from them.
Do I detect a negative chorus in this chapter concerning the bomber forces of this war? If so, this is in direct conflict with all my previous conceptions...have always been (and still am) in awe of the risks involved in air warfare - going down in flames, bailing out over hostile enemy territory...
I am not referring to the a-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki here, although John K. Galbraith's report does say that peace negotiations were already underway at the time, but that Washington did not know that yet. That must have been quite a hair-raising assignment, delivering those bombs - an assignment requiring super-human nerves of steel!
Consider Eddie Costello(where have I heard that name before?) He tells us he was on a ten-day leave, and though he had never been on a bomber plane before, he went "joy-riding", (while drunk) and "bombed the hell out of Frankfurt." Was this unheard of? Unusual, or what?
Do we have any Vets looking in who were involved in the air? I think it's necessary to understand the air war which John K. Gallbraithdescribes as a "military dynamic which was out of control and had no relationship to military needs."
And there is more from Gallbraith's independent civilian commission appointed by Roosevelt in 1944. He concludes:
"the bombing of Germany both by the British and ourselves had far less effect than thought. Gemany could have survived the bombing attacks. It was the ground troops that ended the war, with help from tactical air power,
the fire-bombing that leveled Japanese cities was not a decisive factor in ending the war on that front- the war in Asia was won by the hard, slow progress up from the south and across the Pacific."
I was sad to read Galbraith'sfinal words on this and thought of Britta in Dresden at the time:
"All of war is cruel and unnecessary, but the bombings made this especially so. The destruction of Dresden was unforgivable. It was done very late in the war, as part of a military dynamic which was out of control and had no relationship to any military needs."
Ok, let me have it...but take it easy on me because I'm trying to understand what these people are telling us in this chapter! How did Galbraith's report go over at the time? Or was it not widely publicized?
It seems to me that no matter why the individual enlisted, he quickly found himself part of a corps whose common goal was to destroy the enemy. The fact that you were willing to do that, to risk your lives to protect your country - that's P*A*T*R*I*O*T*I*S*M, no matter what the initial motivation!
self-defense - get the enemy before he gets you
self-improvement/adventure - Post-depression America was not offering much opportunity
Patriotism - to keep the enemy from our shores
Here's a question for you...Had Pearl Harbor never been attacked, would we have seen such a rush to enlist? Would patriotism have reached such a unified, national, feverish pitch? Would there be hesitation to get involved in a war beyond our borders? Was there another reason for involvement...such as to come to the aid of those already in the hands of the enemy?
I find the accounts of the children of the war-the innocents caught in the path - reassuring in some strange way. In the next section, we'll hear from children who lived in England, Japan, Germany, Russia, France and California during the war...echoing what we have been hearing from Britta, Gladys, Foley and others - the magical resilience of children. Is this the the secret, the key to the survival of mankind?
We have friends who were on many of those bombing missions but I haven't ever heard of anyone going drunk? Can't imagine the pilot letting him on board. Did I mention that my husband was a gunner on the B-29 during the Korean conflict? He has many hours in that old tin can. Reading the Ciardi interview brought many memories back to me, because when my husband was studying to take his gunnery tests, I spent much time helping him learn all that stuff and of course, I do remeber a lot of those terms like CFC, ring gunner,the blister,tracking targets and all that stuff.
Gail: Yes, in many cases we taught our children not to fight but in many cases they went out and did it anyway.
I'll repeat the question about Pearl Harbor...would there have been such an outburst of patriotism and rush to enlist if Pearl Harbor had not been bombed? In other words, did the urge to defend the country stem from self-preservation, self-protection? I know, it did happen and it's hard to say what "might have been", but those of you who were ready to go, before Pearl Harbor, what do you remember? Was there a strong desire to go over and subdue the enemy, liberate the oppressed?
What did we learn from that war? Have you had a chance to read the accounts of the children who experienced the war first hand yet?. Foley believed that there would never be another war after what she had been through.
These chapters tell us of children of the war who believed the same as Foley did - they grew up in France, England, , Russia, Japan and Germany.
Consider what children learn from parents. Yasuko Kuachi in Japan and Werner Burkhardt in Germany, heard there parents saying things like war is crazy, ridiculous, stupid...and even though their countries lost the war, they were greatly relieved when it was over, happy to see the Americans enter their towns.
I really don't hear any desire for revenge or hatred or thirst for war in listening to these young people (they were 18-19 yrs. old during the interviews. ) So, is thirst for war taught, or genetic, instinctive, or provoked? Read these kids' stories. You'll be surprised!
-A song by Tom Paxton, 1962 (from the front pages of the Good War)
Cash and carry armaments, 50 old destroyers traded for Caribbean bases and a modest hard fought lend-lease bill was the extent of measures to help England. The majority thought Hitler had for all practical purposes won.
What was the effect and sentiment after Dec. 7th? As if in one voice the country was united, not to kill, destroy or conquer, but to DEFEND our independence and freedom. The only initial revenge or hate I recall was to pay the "Japs" back for their dastard attack. Also, remember that Germany and Italy declared war on us. Otherwise we would only have been at war with Japan!
This then is that Dec. 7th Sunday -- so ordinary as I remember it until coming to my dorm room from lunch to find my roommate glued to the radio. He enlisted the next day. I waited for the draft.
When I saw that song about the child looking forward to his turn to go to war, my first reaction was...an American song,written in the early 60'-pre-VietNam - an American child reading about the glories of war, watching the glorified war movies...a child who never experienced the horror of war.
"Perhaps there is some kind of selective memory in children so that when they grow up any horrors of war that they had experienced (if they had) were repressed and they thought only of the "glories."Robby, I'd like to believe that! Where's Britta when we need her? I'm going to go over and read again the discussion, "Children of the War" and look for signs of such repression and selective memory. Do you think the little one with the flag, wandering all over Japan looking for her parents ever had a chance at a normal life? I hope so! Somehow, I can't be too optimistic and think that selective memory can compensate for her loss. I suspect that the children who "played" through the war and are able to repress bad memories are those who came out of the war with intact families. And there weren't too many of those in war-torn countries.
She came here when she was 21; for 16 years she could not go back. Her father died before she could go home. She received a letter etched in black -- those were dark days.
Now for the last 10 years she was able to go home every other year to see her Mother. Her Mother died two years ago at age 96, but never stopped looking for her son to come home. That is just a taste of what she has shared with me.
She said until you live it you just don't know....she cries for the people of Kosovo. It has brought back some horrors to her, she really hates with a vengence.
Welcome to our group and thank you for sharing. Did your girl friend share with you any of her personal experiences which prevented her from going back to Germany?
Those men are the present day grandparents of the men who are doing all those atrocities. I cannot believe that the men who were in our prison camp would not have influence over the young Serbs of today. Like in Hitlers time, a bad leader can persuade people to do a lot of nasty things. The Serbs doing the atrocities should be punished but I do not think that we should assume that all Serbs are bad. They cannot have all gone bad in one generation.
Thank you for sharing that detailed and emotional experience with us. It helps us to round out the entire event that was called World War II. I hope you will continue to share with us.
Foley has written a touching story of a young German-Jewish woman she knew as a teenager who went back into Nazi Germany, never to be heard from again. So strong is the desire to be with family, no matter the circumstances! I'll try to get it here before going to work. It brings to mind a statement from Marcel Ophul in this week's chapter, "A longing nostalgia for
Germany is a German Jewish syndrome"...
Once the USAF entered the picture, we were two years older and understood the serious demeanor of our elders cowering along the brick walls of the cellar. On days following air raids on our borough, we could be seen on the walk to school with our eyes glued to the sidewalk. Finding a flak shrapnell and "sharing" it in class propelled us instantly into celebrity status. Later we had a regular trade going, two small fragments for one large one - no baseball cards for us! A genuine bomb fragment entitled the finder to name his own price, but there were few "sellers". Our building was hit once in 1942 by incendiaries and then destroyed in '43 by a buzz bomb. It was the only one for blocks around - even in May 1945.
Number 30 of Suarezstrasse is no more! Just a public phone on a pole in its place...
Thank you for that clickable on the GI Bill.. It brought back lots of memories to me as I am sure it will to other veterans. It was difficult for many of us returning veterans who had not only been overseas for an extended period of time but who had been through traumatic experiences. And the purpose of the GI Bill, as it stated, was "to help the members of the Armed Forces adjust to civilian life after separation from service."
As far as the additional purposes were concerned, it certainly (as I indicated in an earlier posting) gave me a chance to get a higher education. It helped me by giving me a loan guaranty for a home. Another purpose, as stated, was to furnish unemployment pay of $20 a week for up to 52 weeks. (For you young folks, that was enough money in those days to live fairly well.) I was anxious to get back to some kind of activity - I went back for a while to the advertising agency I had left but shortly after that enrolled in college and so I didn't take part very long in the famous "52-20" club as it was labeled. I have a hunch the majority of veterans didn't go for the full year.
I hope everyone gets to read your story we have here...just click No Lives Untouched up above in the heading...with Britta's.
Britta, be well! Your comments offer some hope for those little faces we see on TV of the Kosovar refugees! So do yours, Gunther! "...so our reasons for being
together blurred into a lark." You sound like John Baker from Studs' pages - "the war was like growing up in an adventure story". I suppose you have to be quite young, as you say. Later, you realize the danger. Yet, you both sound as if you came through the experience relatively unscarred! Adrienne on the other hand, does remember the noise and the fear... perhaps because she was separated from her family, and you were not?
Hey, Gunther - do you still have any shrapnel or bomb fragments?
"Recovery from trauma generally involves three phases:
establishment of safety
remembrance and mourning of losses
return to everyday life"
This morning's news tells us about former Seaman Freddie Meeks, now 79, who is engaged in a legal battle over what he calls the "legacy of segregation." After the accident, black sailors were ordered to resume loading ammunition onto ships. Fifty refused, were court-martialed, found guilty of mutiny by an all white panel and imprisoned. Lawyers for Meeks have filed a petition for a Presidential pardon. They say the sailors, most of them teenagers, were simply afraid that they, too, would become victims of a careless Navy that used only black sailors to load munitions and gave them no training. At Port Chicago (as it was known then) white officers directed black crews and black survivors of the blast said the officers sometimes had their crews compete to see which could load explosives faster. The National Park Service which handles a memorial at that site has put out a brochure which says "In 1944 the Navy did not have a clear definition of how munitions should best be loaded."
Said Meeks: "We did not commit mutiny, and we were charged with that because of our race." Thurgood Marshall represented the men two decades before he was named to the Supreme Court. He said: I can't understand why, whenever more than one Negro disobeys an order, it is mutiny." The 1994 Navy review did acknowledge that prejudice had influenced work assignments in World War II, when the Navy was just beginning to change its tradition of using black sailors primarily as laborers and mess attendants..
At that time Secretary of Defense Perry said: "Sailors are required to obey the orders of their superiors, even if those orders subject them to life-threatening danger." Some veterans have said that the men had not been subjected to any greater danger than sailors and soldiers who fought in the war, and should have followed orders. Seaman Meeks said, in testimony at that time, "I will go to the front if necessary, but I am afraid to load ammunition."
What do you folks think?
I've got to get some coffee, but will be back with some thoughts on the Port Chicago mess. Found this in a quick search:
Adrienne: What is the name of the movie about the Port Chicago story?
"But, over time, many of the men simply accommodated themselves to the work situation by discounting the risk of an explosion. Most men readily accepted the officers' assurances that the bombs could not explode because they had no detonators."Was that true? Weren't detonators necessary to cause an explosion of such magnitude? Or was this truly a bomb test? I simply can not believe the government would "plan" this loss of men, of any color! Would prefer to believe it was an awful accident, due to ignorance!
We are moving into the next chapter, D-Day and All That, which brings us right to the front and the worst accounts of loss of life I've ever read! And how topical! It also includes the racial prejudice against blacks at the start of the war. If you have the book, please read Charles Gates and Timuel Black's experiences (pages 254 - 297). Studs asked Charles Gates if he experienced prejudice during the war and he answered "during the first 2-3 days - after that no time for prejudice" He rose to Captain of the "incomparable" all black 761st
Timuel Black describes the two different US armies - blacks had own sleeping quarters, mess, even had to go to separate towns when on leave!
But by the end of the war, much of the stereotyping was lost (according to these accounts) and those boys like Elliot Johnson who had never met a black person before the war, came out with a different attitude and understanding. I was all set to say that improved racial relations should be classified as one of the good effects of the war.
But Robby, you've jumped 100 pages for this example and so I'd better wait to decide whether things had improved much by the end of the war. This dreadful liberty ship explosian took place in 1944. I think this is the movie, , which Adrienne saw on TV: Mutiny
Are there any of you who were "there" who can shed light on racial relations in 1944 or earlier? I wish we had some black soldiers here to question ...but we do have these two. Read Timuel Black's account!
As for any comrades being scarred by war experiences, I found only a few. Without exception they grew up behind the Iron Curtain where it was a crime to discuss WW.II. in any context whatsoever. Thus my surviving buddies in former East Germany, whom I found only recently, thanks to the Internet, had been so brainwashed as adults that they don't even remember the names of classmates who lost their lives when we participated in the ground war on the Russian front in January, 1945. The oldest among us was a month older than myself. He had to borrow a shaver from one of the regulars. We considered it an affectation, until he, too, was killed in action. I was sixteen on June 17, 1944 and celebrated with Christmas trees, dropped by pathfinders near our flak position outside Hamburg. Last week all I had were the real ones around my house, a darn sight less menacing, to be sure.
The only time I saw blacks while I was in combat in Germany was when shower battalions came forward and later when black truck drivers came roaring down the Red Ball highway taking ammunition and other necessities to the front. They moved, let me tell you, and nothing (absolutely nothing) was allowed to get in their way. Keep these stories coming, folks, it turns out that we are learning more about our own selves.
Welcome to our group!
Please tell this old GI foot slogger, what is a "pink" 24 Liberator. Boy, did you ever get around! While you were "visiting" Europe I was trudging along muddy roads mile by mile with an M-1 over my shoulder. Please come back and tell us more.
And you certainly do have a lot of memories. These are especially relevant to me because they tell me what life was like in the States while I was "doing my thing" on foreign shores. Please continue to post more of your thoughts with us.
In the closing days of World War II in 1945, American troops of the 90th Infantry Division entered Eichstatt, a German town. Tossing grenades as they moved down a building stairway, the soldiers found a vault containing a package marked with the wax seals of the Third Reich. Inside were four sheets of typewriten paper dated Sept. 15, 1935. the papers - the original text of the Nuremberg Laws, which legally excluded Jews from German life and were a critical step in initiating the Holocaust - were signed by Hitler and other German leaders.
Within weeks of their discovery the papers were given to Gen. Patton who presented them to the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, on June 11, 1945. The three Nuremberg Laws were drafted at a hastily assembled meeting of German leaders at a police station on Sept. 14, 1935, and became law the next day. The laws prohibited marriage, cohabitation and relations between "Aryans" and Jews, and define a citizen of the German Reich as being of "German blood."
"This is not a theoretical document", said the direcctor of the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, "It's a blue print for what became the death camps." The next big step, he said, was Kristallnacht in 1938, then the wearing of yellow stars, followed by deportations and finally the camps."
I ask the veterans and their families here - is this why American soldiers fought or was it solely because Japan attacked us?
Quoting you: "Control of seaports, land, raw material, power - the root of all wars."And so, to segue from there to your next theme: "We have the worse butt-insky syndrome."
If we can draw an analogy and transfer that national personality to a personality of individuals, could we say that "our family" (nation) does things, in our opinion, the "right" way and so we want the rest of the families in our community (world) to do things the same way we do. Our parents (founders of nation) struggled to create a profitable business (U.S.A.), left us with this wealthy inheritance for which we did not have to struggle and hardly remember or care about our parents' struggles,. All we know is that we see people down the street on welfare (poor nations), blame them for their own miseries, and because of our power in our community, either hand them a dole or take it away from them, telling them that they must now do things our way (war). In the process of this we take away their house and grounds (their nation), saying we know how to better handle them, knowing within us that we will demolish their house and erect an industrial plant there.
Our smug self-righteousness and selfishness (forgetting that the wealth - moral as well as financial - came from our parents not just our own efforts) comes to the fore never remembering that in these short 225 years we made a lot of mistakes to come to where we are.
Does this kind of analogy as to why the U.S.A. finds itself often in war make any sense?
What benefits did I receive?
1 - I met the French girl I married (yes, there was a divorce many years later but there were many happy events).
2 - I received intensive leadership training.
3- I saw many areas of Europe that I wouldn't have seen. Demolished, yes, but the countryside was still there.
4 - I had a chance to perfect my French by talking to the French people themselves.
5 - I learned a lot about our own Americans who came from other areas of the nation and who were from different backgrounds.
6 - I received four free months at the Sorbonne (Univ of Paris) studying French Language and Civilization in French under Sorbonne professors.
7 - I gained a tremendous appreciation of America by being away from it for two years.
8 - I received a BA in Psychology given under the GI Bill.
9 - I bought a house under the GI Bill.
Would I be willing to go to war again to obtain additional benefits? As they say, "are you out of your cotton-pickin' mind?"
The great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was thrice wounded in the Civil War. Two of his wounds nearly killed him. He had no romantic illusions about war. But he recognized that war has its role in the psychic economy.
"War when you are at it," Holmes wrote, "is horrible and dull. It is only when time has passed that you see that its message was divine. Some teacher of that kind we all need. In this snug, over-safe corner of the world we need it, that we may realize that our comfortable routine is no eternal necessity of things, but merely a little space of calm in the midst of the untamed streaming of the world. Even while we think that we are egotists we are living to ends outside ourselves."
From induction to the present, we are getting closer to the reality that was the war. Note the pattern from idealism and patriotism, then awareness of shocking realities, to the present. What did we learn from this war? Greed? Or responsibility?
"First and foremost, we were asked(inducted) to fight for OUR COUNTRY." Suntaug
We had visions of making it a better world and felt we were all united in a noble cause." Jim O.
"We didn't know about the politics of the times or of the holocaust. We knew of atrocities but not against individual such as the Jews."
"It was, up to my first mission, adventurous, exciting until I saw the first ME-109 and B-24 both go down with 'chutes all around and the flak bursts surround us and then came the dawn - they are trying to kill us!" Suntaug
"One of the worst race riots our country has ever seen was in the summer of 43 in Detroit."
"I wondered if what I was fighting for was really what we were all fighting for."
" I first discovered the repulsion of southerners (U.S.) to blacks during the war.Foley
"I learned a lot about our own Americans who came from other areas of the nation and who were from different backgrounds."Robby
"We have the worst "butt-insky" syndrome I have ever seen" galaxias
"Our smug self-righteousness and selfishness (forgetting that the wealth - moral as well as financial -came from our parents not just our own efforts) comes to the fore never remembering that in these short 225 years we made a lot of mistakes to come to where we are."Robby
From Studs' book...D-Day...an account I can't get out of my head - this idealistic kid, trained to get the enemy - when like Suntaug, he is faced with the very real possibility that he may die, they are shooting at him!
Elliott Johnson's story:
In a Chinese restaurant in Portland Oregon. Someone bursts in with a portable radio. Pearl Harbor attacked! Furious...he and three friends immediately went to marine recruiting headquarters...Where were you when Pearl Harbor was attacked over 50 years ago? It's probably a date you will remember what you were doing for the rest of your life! Elliott Johnson's reaction and desire to serve was not motivated by anything but the desire to do something to protect his country! That's patriotism! Nothing political! No greed - no desire to extend borders or grab valuable resources and no political maneuvering...just an immediate reaction! I believe that his reaction represents the country's response. And the belief that the enemy could be stopped!
But I can't get out of my mind the picture of this idealistic young kid on D-Day!"I was on an LST...300 feet long...I remember going up to the highest part of that ship and watching th panorama around me unfold. In my mind's eye, I see one of our ships take a direct hit and go up in a huge ball of flames. There were big geysers coming up where the shells were landing, and there were bodies floating, face down, face up.
.....This...my education: recognizing our body as finite."
And the young black kid, Timuel Black, fighting the same war, for the same country, two days later - Utah Beach:We're getting ready now for the main battle. It was a weird experience. Young men cryin' for their mothers...What happens when you finally get off the LST? All you know is you wade into that beach. You hear the big guns. We were direct targets..We lost a lot of fellas.
Elliott Johnson told Studs he had only known one black person in his life back in Portland before the war. I believe that one of the real benefits, the positives - to come out of this war was the bringing together Americans of different races under the one banner. Even the ugly bias, military discrimination, prejudice! - it was finally out in the open forever - and things would never be the same again!
I was - am - so moved by the accounts of these boys waiting to storm the beaches, watching their own take direct hits, knowing their turn is minutes away. The desperation! It's a wonder anyone made it! What an unholy sacrifice and loss of life! There's got to be another way, folks!
Robby is scheduled to be on the show on June 29 to talk about his WWII experience and involvement in our discussions here in the World War II Living Memorial.
I am told that I will be given a tape of the broadcast but I guess Marcie will have the answers as to who else can get a tape and how.
You are astute. As a veteran who went through it, I would agree entirely with your post 758.
Gail, your posts brings up another question concerning the number of enlistees (and draftees) for World War II - after Pearl Harbor. Has anyone seen such figures anywhere?
In one of this week's accounts - I think it was Elliot Johnson, he tells of sprinting down to the marine recruiting headquarters to enlist right after hearing about Pearl Harbor - only to be told by a Marine that he should step out of line because his draft notice was in the mail - (it arrived the next morning!)
Let's read the tiny chapter, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Maxine Andrew's account, to finish up Book II, okay?
I thought of you singing to the troops, "Number 22"...trying to hold back tears while singing to the very wounded...
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (click)
"He was a famous trumpet man from out Chicago way,
He had a boogie sound that no one else could play, He was top man at his craft.
But then his number came up and he was called in the draft.
He's in the army now ablowin' reveille.
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B."
Don't compliment me too early! As you have suspected, I am a shy introvert, am already shivering in my boots, will probably freeze up, remember nothing, and instead of my 20 minutes they will have to play 20 minutes of martial airs.
Speaking of bugler boy, I may have already mentioned this - it's hard to keep a record of what has been said - but after arriving at Ft. Dix shortly after my enlisting, they looked at my Form 20, found I could play the trumpet, and sent me home on pass to get it. For a few weeks, I had to get up earlier than the others, and march in the band back and forth in front of the barracks to waken the new recruits who weren't used to reveille. I was at Ft. Dix longer than most because of my trumpet playing ability.
Then when I was sent to 76th Division in Ft. Meade as a new Company Clerk (because I knew how to type), the Company Commander saw my trumpet and made me company bugler. No other company in the regiment had one. As a former Scout I knew all the calls so on the trumpet I played First Call and Reveille each morning, To the Colors when the flag was raised in the morning and lowered at night, Taps at night, and other calls during the day such as Mess Call. Because I had these odd hours, I was allowed a certain flexibility and privileges others did not have.
I have often thought about war as a means of leveling out the population, in addition to famine and plague. Without leaning toward any religious reasoning, I get the feeling that nature knows what it is doing. Sort of a homeostasis. We mere mortals think we are running the show.
After moving into our marshalling area (Falmouth) the plan for the invasion began to shape up. Phase one was our fond farewell to home station. All communication had been frozen from about the time you received my last telegram. We broke camp in the dead of night. My unit was considerably broken up...rather somber for all of us - this farewell, as it was made quite plain to us that the next time we would see each other woud be....somewhere in France - unless.
Our battalion is a crack outfit. It got a particularly hazardous job in the initial stages of the assault. As my job is not so vitally tied up with actual firing, I'm more of a firing data preparation expert, I was excluded from this party...we were forced to wait in the channel a day or so until the situation warranted landing. It went off without a hitch, the giant LST was going hell bent for election at about 5mph to previously selection position...
The beach really was that crowded. I must regretfully report that there were evidences of a great and bloody struggle at the spot where we landed. All day previously we had lain offshore and watched the operations through glasses. Sort of like grandstand seats at the biggest show on earth. Only the price of admission ran sort of high. The beach was cluttered with abandoned military debris. But for every piece of equipment that had fallen because of the Boche's defenses or fire, it seemed as though three had gotten ashore and been set up for business.
It seemed strange there were more bulldozers and road making equipment ashore than shooting pieces. All these construction engineers working with the aplomb of a chain gang..did not stay on the beach too long. following a strict path through the mine fields, my gang, survey and communications soldiers, soon contacted a battery messenger who guided up to our position. I ran into a schoolmate (from Princeton) on the beach.
Great cries of reunion, then plenty of work. The battery had been getting some good licks in the night before but conditions under which we had been forced to set up shop were so dangerous that all efforts were being made to effect a displacement...
And so John finished that letter. A newspaper reporter in real life, he wrote well, tongue in cheek and tried not to scare me too much. On Aug 8, on top of a very high hill in France, he wrote - Je crois que les Boches sont vaincus completement. But that was before the Battle of the Bulge!
What a well written but horrifying story - "grandstand seats at the greatest show on earth"! And he gives so much deserved credit to the construction engineers. Without them, there would have been no forward movement. Makes me think of our infantry regiment moving forward to cross some of the rivers only to find that that the combat engineers had been there already and built a bridge!
I want to give kudos also to the "combat" MPs as differentiated from the regular MPs. The regular MPs had white markings on their helmets - the combat MPs had yellow markings. They were the ones who stood out there on the roads while the shells were falling and directed our trucks in various directions. And you had darn well better obey them or else! Not that we didn't want to - it meant our life!
A stute is something like a skance.
Now that I got that out of the way -- you call war "man made" but that is my very point. Are famines from natural forces? One might say that a famine could have been prevented but I wonder. Sometimes yes; sometimes no. The same thing with plague. Could we have prevented AIDS? And so with war. While we may "think" that we human beings have taken certain actions causing forces on one side to start killing people on the other side, is it possible that some "natural" force has moved us toward that? Can the lemmings stop rushing into the sea? Why is it that during war time more boy babies are born than girl babies. And if the day comes that as many women will be killed in combat as men, will that change that birth phenomenon?
I am a firm believer in cycles. We like to think that we cause financial depressions and stock market upturns but as one reads history, the cycles are evident. Is cyclic war and peace nature's way of keeping a balance? I suppose this discussion should really take place in the group discussing philosophy but if we look at it that way, is it possible that WWII was really a "good" war? Out of the Revolutionary War came a great nation. Was it a "good" war?
I'm not trying to make a point and I would like to hear the comments of others on this. After all, this is what we are discussing, as I see it, not just Terkel's book but also his suggestion that it was a "good" war."
Do you remember sitting in movie theatres at home, watching the newsreels? And the daily publication of names of those who didn't make it? Our local names were read on the Post Office steps for some reason! I know many didn't make it off those beaches, but many did. I'd love to hear how they would characterize that war...and how they feel about the draft and sending young men to fight like that again....
Lou, the next pages in the book, Sudden Money deal with those who made out very well financially during the war... I'm sure they would call this one a "good war" too. I can understand after reading these pages why it's been said that Americans really don't understand war because we haven't experienced it right in our own backyards...
Before we move on to that discussion, can anyone fill me in on the Battle of the Bulge?
In this chapter, Joe Henley, Dr. Alex Shulman and Timuel Black regard the Battle of the Bulge- and the order to retreat - "madness." Can you explain what happened there? Was all that blood shed in vain?
As a former infantryman, I still would rather be in the mud than "way up there" with a life expectancy of 8 missions. I want to feel my feet on the ground even if it is oozy. Each to his own!
I'm with you, Robby! Terra Firma! Except in the Battle of the Bulge!!! Can anyone provide information about what went on there? Please?
You have to understand that individual GIs may have been very close to the battle and yet not know the particulars until time had past. Everything was very secret at that time.
Most of us had radios we had liberated from houses and listened to whatever was available. This was my first experience with heavy jamming, the constant annoying warbling noise that drowned out the allied programs the enemy didn't want us or their own people to hear. Coming in loud and clear, however, was Axis Sally. Speaking perfect American-style English, she gave us the Axis propaganda, playing all our favorite Big Band music and telling us how much fun our girl friends and wives at home were having with other men. She also gave us the latest news as to troop movements, seeming to know exactly where we were located. Except for those GIs who were emotionally upset, we tended not to believe most of what she said but did enjoy her music. I learned years later that her name was Mildred Gillars and that she was a failed American acress who agreed to broadcast pro-Nazi messages over Radio Berlin.
Every week was a replica of the previous week - that is, more boredom and more terror - until December, 1944, when word came that the Germans had broken through our lines somewhere near the 29th Division sector. Extraordinary events began to happen. We were warned that men in American uniforms speaking perfect English were not necessarily GIs. Apparently German paratroopers, fluent in American style English and wearing our uniforms, were dropping behind our lines during the night. The usual method of identification, especially at night, had been to ask for the password and then give a counter password in return. This method was no longer sufficient. If an unfamiliar face was noticed, we were to ask typical American questions, for example: What is the name of the ball field in Brooklyn and who plays there? Who did Harry James marry? Where was the Revolutionary Tea Party held? What is Old Faithful? More than one genuine GI was brought in at the point of a rifle because he didn't know the answers to questions like these.
We hadn't yet heard the phrase, but this was the start of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler's last gasp. It was the 30th Division, I believe, which had been fighting at our flank and it was moved over to bolster the troops defending the breakthrough. Units of the 29th were spread farther apart to cover what had previously been the 30th Division sector. Thankfully, the enemy never learned of the great distances betweeen individual 29th Division soldiers on the front line and between whom they could have driven tanks with no difficulty at all.
He is convinced that were it not for World War I, there might not have been World War II. "The First World War was a tragic and unnecessary conflict," he writes. It "ended the lives of 10 million human beings, tortured the emotional lives of millions more, destroyed the benevolent and optimistic culture of the European conflict" and led directly to World War II. "Bolshevism and Fascism would have been minor movements and Hitler might have lived out his life as a Viennese dropout."
The next chapter, Sudden Money deals with life back here in the states while the war raged abroad. Lee Oremont tells how easy it was to make a lot of money at home; Elsie Rossio tells of her whole town of Seneca, IL - booming because of the presence of the war plant which built LSTs! I'm beginning to understand why I don't recall much hardship growing up during the war...other than the rationing, something about margerine, saving for war bond stamps...
I'd been wondering (and feeling sort of guilty) about how my father was able to build our beautiful new house on the lake during those years...how his advertising agency could have possibly done so well to comfortabley support our large family - until I read these pages!
And now finally I understand the repeted statements that Americans don't really understand what war is like, because we have not experienced it in our own backyards. It hasn't really touched us...unless of course, of course, we have lost someone fighting in the war! I think that's why this discussion is so important!
I will be interested in hearing your reaction to these pages - and how your family fared at home during the war!
Robby has just passed along this information:
Today (Sunday, July 4th) the Michael Feldman show will be on WAMU (88.5 FM) between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On today's show Michael will interview Studs Terkel.
Thank you for your clickable on "Battle of the Bulge." So many memories came back and I read names of Generals I hadn't thought of for years. As was indicated, that was one of the major battles of WWII. The Germans lost it and we spent the rest of the time from Jan/45 to May/45 chasing across the Rhineland. Please keep in mind that there were still battles to be fought and that the winter was BITTERLY cold!
Regarding the Michael Feldman show - WAMU broadcasts out of Washington, DC and the time listed is EDT.
It turned out (I didn't know this in advance and the announcement hadn't told us this) that this program was a repeat of a couple of years ago. Apparently WAMU thought it would be a good program to repeat for July 4th but Feldman interviewed Studs about one of his earlier books. From our point of view it was not of any help.
I spoke for 20 minutes and, to be honest, don't remember the items I covered because they tend to mingle in my mind with items I share here. The program was taped, I will be receiving a copy and I guess copies can be obtained from Ann Wrixton or Marcie Schwarz.
I suggest you ask Joan Pearson or Ginny Anderson or Marcie Schwarz or Ann Wrixton about listening to the tape. I just don't know what facilities they will set up so this can be done.
The captain was court-matialed and found negligent of duty, even though the commander of the sub that sank him testified that there was nothing Mcvay could have done to avoid the sub. It was obviously a Navy cover-up!
During the war, John F. Kennedy's torpedo boat was run over by a Japanese destroyer at night! Now a destroyer is much bigger, and noisier, than a PT boat. Kennedy was hailed as a hero, yet Mcvay was court-martialed! The war was good for those with political connections, I guess, but not for most others!
Welcome to our forum! You have probably read some of the earlier postings where we discussed the Omaha Beach invasion and everyone agrees with you concerning how terrible it was.
Please come back and share some more of your thoughts with us.
Though employed to broadcast pro-japanese propaganda, her outspoken support of the Allies off-mike (while cleverly concealing it within her message and delivery on-air) resulted in numerous arguments and even fist fights at work, and continual harrasment at home and elsewhere. She literally cheered in the streets as U.S. Gen. Doolittle's Raiders flew over Tokyo, and cheered yet again when the first American B-29's appeared over Tokyo in the fall of '44 (the first one was a BR-29 reconnaissance craft named "Tokyo Rose").
Yet Ray Wax one of the war survivors says in an interview with Studs Terkel this week, ""the
guys came home with a good feeling they had accomplished something." Now if those who fought in the war felt this way, who are we to say otherwise?
Foley, it would be great if you could get Harlan to shed some light on the Mcvay/Navy issue which Lou has brought to our attention. Thanks Lou! Hi!
Ginny, (and everyone else too young to remember much about the war), can you ask family members what living in the US was like during the war? I don't remember much, but I do know we were living very comfortably, even though some things were rationed.
We had just come through the depression, and suddenly there were all sorts of jobs for everyone. And more money that most families had in years. Prosperity as we hear from Elsie Rossio, Charles Page, Lee Oremont, Georgia Gleason in this weeks pages of Good War? Prosperity for everyone? Or just for a minority of entrepreneurial types? Did others feel a financial hardship? What of your own family?
More information can be found at www.usindianapolis.org/main.htm. The surviving crew, to a man, support this action!
(A bill was presented in congress last year, but got nowhere. A joint resolution has a much better chance of being enacted). I feel we, as people who lived through that period, should do this little bit to help correct a great injustice!
Ginny, Thanks for God Bless America.
Both of these things are very special to me.
Can you tell us any more of the details of that tragedy that Harlan related to you? On the one hand, not pleasant to remember but, on the other hand, beneficial to the rest of us here and historians in the future to know the type of events that took place.
But Lou, I can't find anything at the site you give above...I was going to put it here as a clickable and come up empty handed! Will you check it and see if you can find out what I'm doing wrong?www.usindianapolis.org.
OK, that's two more-Eileen and Jeryn who remember living fairly well here at home during the war, just like the folks in this chapter, Sudden Money. Some of you remember the rationing. My husband just told me that even that was not necessary in many cases, but was imposed to give people the feeling they were part of the war effort.. I'd like to know more about that! Will hunt around for some more information on rationing!
I have to tell you, I am confused. Was there an economic "good time" at home during the war - for the population in general? My husband says "yes" and he knows lots about everything! I have read ahead in Good War and will go ahead and post from the next chapter tomorrow - especially John K. Galbraith's explanation about what went on here economically. I think he clears up the mystery. Have you read it?
ps. Hi there, Virginia - happy to see you back!
Ella, sooo good to have you back! More on rationing tonight...running late! (What's new?)
"The following message has been transmitted to foreign workers in Germany by the International Council of Mining, Metallurgists and Transport unions. THE MOMENT THAT YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR SUCH A LONG TIME HAS ARRIVED.
Some German generals have liberated themselves from Hitler's power. A rival authority has established itself. The German soldier and the German people now have the proof that their military chiefs have abandoned their last hope of conquering...
Foreign workers in Germany! The workers from your country, from all occupied Europe and from the free world count on you. We know that you will not fail!"
The other type of Russian I met were the Russian soldiers near the end of the war. If the Americans came into town and needed to set up a headquarters, they would stop at the chosen house and in a generally friendly tell the occupants that they wanted this house and please be out by tomorrow. It was not unusual for Russians to come up to a chosen house, kick in the door and say: "Raus! Everybody out now!" and then take over the house and sometimes took over the daughter as well. They were often drunk while this was happening.
#1 and #3 may interest those in this discussion. I'd be intersted in your responses.
#1 Who was the most outstanding American leader of the 20th century?
#3. What single event most shaped the 20th century?
I think a good starting point for this discussion is Ella's question...
"Has anyone ever heard anything bad said of Roosevelt?"Ask some of the New Dealers from this chapter! When did Roosevelt change from "Dr. New Deal" to "Dr. Win the War"? What persuaded him to change his direction after having just been elected on his domestic New Deal platform to alleviate the unemployment stemming from the Depression?
#2 The bombing of Pear Harbor.
Yes I have heard some things about FDR, I do not know if they are true, so I will not repeat them.
I do not know why FDR changed unless it was because we were bombed, so will be watching for all of your replies.
I know that world war two was a very bad thing in this respect there were men on both sides did not want to kill each other but it was kill or be killed as is in any war, such as the battle of the north and south in this country, brothers against brothers that had to be very hard on the men, and so is your answer to post #600. Some day you may ask why #2 war was the good war, If so it is because of it that we now have freedom other countrys do not..If the other side had won we would not have the privilage to even discuss it openly let alone talk about it on a world wide net. I for one would not hurt anyone unless i was threatend and it was so for this country at the time of world war # 2. GOD BLESS AMERICA. ginger
To answer your question about "single event," I would broaden it a bit more than Virginia and would call World War II the "single event that shaped 20th Century." I tend to think of things as "before the war" and "after the war." And I never specify which war. It is always THE war.
I thought Panjandrum was a negotiating city in Korea.
And yet I got the picture from talking to some British people that Churchill was not the hero to them that he was to the Americans and that they couldn't wait to get him out of public life.
Ginger, your true feelings come forth loud and clear. Well stated! I started a little charting below to keep track of the preferences as they come in - will work it into the heading when I get back this afternoon. Somehow I knew the feelings of this group when I first read the questionnaire. This week's chapter (The Big Panjandrum) dwells on Franklin Roosevelt before and during the war and I couldn't resist putting the question to you. It will be interesting to see the results of the AARP questionnaire to be published in September!
|Pearl Harbor (1) |
|World War II (2)|
|FDR (2) |
I tried to be funny and I failed miserably. The name of the Korean city is Panmunjom.
And lo and behold, we are doing it now. Instead of cementing stronger ties with Yeltsin and pro-democratic circles in Russia, we are thinking of NATO on one side and Russia on the other. I realize that this is a forum for discussing World War II but we seem to be ignoring the lessons we should have learned at that time. World War II was, in part, created by a lack of foresight during and after World War I. Are we letting World War II also be a huge event with no meaning?
I have not read any literature on the subject and wish I had the time to do so. It is just from decades of reading and listening to the daily news and doing some thinking on my own. Back there, we got so caught up in seeing a Communist under every bush that we neglected to think of the every-day Russian who, like us, was born, lived, loved, and died and did not hate us Americans unless he/she listened too much to the Soviet propaganda. Witness how quickly the average Russian turned back to the church and also turned to learning English where possible. I believe we are making a grave mistake if we go back to our old type of "thinking."
I use your last sentence as a key sentence: "the cold war ended as the Communism heirs fell."
I hold no brief for any dictatorship whether Nazi, Communist, or any of the existing dictatorships in the world today. When I use the term, Russia, I refer to the land and to the people. I am not naive; I realize that governments have to deal with governments but there are other channels, eg non-governmental agencies, business corporations, private contacts, artistic channels, etc. My warning is that we not tend to look at all the terrible actions of the past which you have just enumerated and look at the tricky actions the Russian government is pulling at the moment and say: "forget about working with them." Let us remember that our government (all governments for that matter) can be and are tricky.
Let us see what we can do (and believe it or not I am still on the subject of warfare) to strengthen people to people relationships and not say: "Oh, that's Russia."
I never heard an older German admit it either. I have often wondered what we Americans would do if a dictatorial type of person promised us all the goodies we wanted. Would we put him in the White House and would we be willing to give up some of our freedoms to get those goodies?
Foley, thanks for the definition of "panjandrum" - a pretentious official or powerful
person. Now that makes sense as all the people in this chapter were in very powerful positions of responsibility. (Robby, your attempt at humor didn't fail...I did! I'm always the last person in the room to get a joke!)
Here's what the big Panjandrum had to say about Stalin and the Russians:
Tommy Corcoran(White House New Dealer): "The British couldn't hold Hitler. That's why we took the Russians in. No matter how bravely they handled it, there wasn't enought power left in Britain to handle Hitler, unless he were diverted by the Russians.There's more, but dinner waits. The general feeling seems to be that FDR could have kept negotiations going (Averell Harriman). He says Stalin was afraid of Roosevelt - and his influence in the world. However, he does say "There's a myth that Roosevelt gave Stalin Eastern Europe. At Yalta...FDR was determined to stop Stalin - he thought they had an agreement on Poland. Before FDR died, he realized that Stalin had broken his agreement."
Joe Kennedy used to say at that time, that the British should have made a deal to preserve their empire. Let Hitler get rid of the Russians. Let him take over Europe if he was gonna. Somehow we could have dealt with German totalitariansism in some way. We could have assassinated Hitler, but we can never do businiss with Russian totalitariansim. I was always a little afraid of Joe.
I was always suspicious of the Russian link. I had no doubt that we'd eventually win the war, but I always wondered what the Russians were gonna do."
Joe Marcus (New Deal economist)"Roosevelt dies. The seeds of the cold war had already been planted. Part of the Lend-Lease was supposed to go to the Russians... Five percent of machine tools were to go to the Russians under Lend-Lease. This was violated again and again... Shortly after the end of the war, the question of a loan to Russia came up. Generals and ambassadors were all sending cables...don't do it. the underlying antagonism, that these guys were bastards, that we're gonna have to tangle with'em. Oh I felt that cold war coming in my bones.
First casualy of the cold war...the debate on foreign policy. It was eliminated. IT was simply assumed that the Soveit Union is the enemy. We knew all the answers. We were in charge."
Poland has got to be one of the reasons we broke agreements with Russia!
Would you give us a few more details about the Russian occupation marks sent home in GI black marketing. How did the GIs obtain them; how did that work?
Imagine what one of those little Mickey Mouse watches from Switzerland would be worth today! Although $800 (1945 dollars!) would be quite hard to beat, I do admit!
In the book, Joseph Rauh tells of all the $$$$$$, the buying power of the returning Vets as well as the American public on the whole - and the shortage of goods. He says it was a real mess, and until the war plants could be converted, there were no building supplies. And he brings up something else that would affect the converted plants after the war.
The last two memories in this chapter of Studs' book touch on another important outcome of the war. In June of '41, Rauh was a New Dealer in the Lend-Lease program in Washington. He says that at that time no blacks were being hired anywhere in the country in any of the defense factories going up. One night he received an order from Roosevelt to write up an executive order - Order 8802 saying that no government contractor could practice discrimination. "This was the first real executive blow for civil rights and the war caused it".(Rauh) It seems that two men, A. Philip Randolf and Walter White, the director of the NAACP, were organizing a march on Washington and Roosevelt wanted to avoid this. Roosevelt wanted national unity above everything else.
Earl Dickerson, a black lawyer, was appointed to the first Fair Employment Practices Committee, travelled the country, visiting GM plants, Lockheed, etc. to enforce E.O. 8802. He says that Roosevelt wanted to go slowly in the move against discrimation, but that:
"It was in World War II - because it was against Hitler - that blacks began to measure the rights they had against the rights the whites were given - and the measuring will never end until they have the rights that others have."We've touched upon discrimation in the Armed Forces a few times in the past in this discussion. Do any of you have any experiences where you saw it up close. I remember Foley relating the impression the American soldiers' racial prejudice made on her at the time. I gather that E.O.8802 of '42 and the Fair Practices Committee only pertained to the war plants at home, and not the Armed Forces!
But when the black Veteran returned home, E.O.8802 was in place to assure him a job!
Today's the day to tack on the next short chapter,Flying High. Interestingly enough, it follows the two memories of the discrimination practices at home in the war plants and the Executive Order against it.
Lowell Steward's story, has to make you wonder just how much progress was made during WWII to overcome the bigotry in this country. The Executive Order in "41" forbade discrimination hiring practices in war plants at home. The Fair Practices Committee was set up to enforce this order. But what was going on in the military?
Steward starts out by saying that his war time experience was not pleasant and anti-everything he ever stood for. Growing up in LA, he had never been exposed to bigotry..until he signed up with his friends for the Air Force. His friends were enlisted right away, but he was sent to an all-segregated base in Tuskegee, Alabama.
There was tremendous pressure from the NAACP and the black press to overcome the prevalent notion that blacks could not fly airplanes - which is why this base was established in Alabama. He tells of top-notch caliber candidates assembled there - All-star athletes, doctors, lawyers...screened and super-screened. "Unquestionably the brightest and most physically fit young blacks in the country."
Steward became one of the Lonely Eagles of the 332nd fighter group, - so named because they were not readily accepted ...says the War Department would not allow mixing. Even tells how the white American soldiers were antagonistic to black soldiers dating black girls!!!
He was quite confused by the fact that they were over there fighting fascism, while racism ran riot!
He spent the war escorting long-range bombers to the front lines, protecting them from enemy attack.
Despite his stellar war record, he returned home, highly decorated, with some savings and found that because of his color, he was unable to purchase a house, or get a job! Did I mention that he also had a college degree and teaching credentials?
Lowell Steward concludes by saying that blacks make great strides during every war, that World War II had a tremendous impact on blacks, but that after the war, the country returned to bigotry.
Now, I'd like to believe otherwise...that things were never the same again after the war and that Mr. Steward was not in a position to see the whole picture. What do YOU all think?
Welcome to our group. Hope you partcipate here often. What was it about military life that you found lonely?
Glad you "stumbled" in here. Stay around and talk with us a bit.
Isn't there a movie about our involvement in China before we entered into WWII? Look at what is happening now in Formosa(Taiwan?) with the Chinese wanting to take over that island and us not wanting that to happen. I looked at the maps of the China Sea and came to the conclusion that the reason China wants to control Taiwan is to control the oil reserves around the China Sea.
I loved the "washee washee" story. Are you sure that you didn't stay just for little sponging! And the "money laundering" reference? Where did that phrase come from anyway?
Did anyone see the biography of Henry Kaiser last week? Mentioned here in Tommy Corcoran's interview, Kaiser built the Liberty ships faster than anyone else and in the process, he decided that his people needed better health care, starting with checkups for well people. He started the Kaiser Permanente Health System just for his employees. Our first HMO? Oh, dear! <Speaking of our readying the country for war, what else should they have done? Seems that if Roosevelt knew that we would be getting into the fray, that he had get industry involved before the fact. I think this type of decision making goes on behind the scenes in all of these things. Its necessary! What if he hadn't consulted with the leaders in industry? He needed to know what could be accomplished in the building of war supplies, planes and ships.
Did anyone hear that John Kennedy,Jr. and his wife are missing this morning? Their plane was supposed at Martha's Vineyard last night and it has disappeared. That poor family is hexed!
I wasn't referring to combat veterans. I was referring to folks left at home. As an infantryman combat veteran myself, I obviously understand what war is.
Sort of like King George's famous remark in his diary on July 4, 1776? "Nothing much of importance happened today."
They are of our Aunt Betty Penizek Cowles who passed away this summer. She was 86 years old.
Aunt Betty was a first generation American of Polish descent. She was very proud of her service in the Army Nurse Corps during WWII. She was mostly in Persia (now Iran) where she did a lot of interpeting for the Polish troops in the hospitals there. She also spent a lot of time in North Africa, France and England.
The reason that I sent both pictures that were taken at her funeral is the presence of her American flag (given to families of dead war veterans) plus her Volunteers pink jacket from the hospital where she volunteered right up to her death, in the upper pic. The lower one is a closeup of the first one and contains her Army Nurse Corps books. There were over 30 members of the hospital volunteer group present at her funeral.
Leo Marks of London became a code maker at the age of 22 for the British Government. Churchill gave the code center on Baker Street (yes, the famous Baker Street) the mandate to "set Europe ablaze" with sabotage. Mr. Marks had a genius for his assinged task which was to make codes and also find new methods to protect agents if they were captured by the Germans. The basic code system was based on poetry with each agent choosing five words from a poem. Mr. Marks wrote many of the poems himself, leading him to say later: "I hadn't thought that writing poetry would be my contribution to Hitler's downfall."
The series of codes were transferred to a piece of silk. Each code would be used to send only one message. Then it would be cut from the silk and burned. In this way, an agent "could not be tortured" because he would not know the actual one until he used it. Marks stated later, however, that agents were "tortured by the thousands" and that the code makers "experienced" the torture with them.
When asked if his code work actually helped win the war, he said: "It helped preoccupy the Germans and waste their valuable time and he mentioned Operation Gift Horse, deliberately making the codes look easy to break, giving the enemy all the clues they were looking for and hoping to waste their time.
A very touching story! How sad that you do not know now where they are located and how wonderful that you were able to relate to the girls in a way so different from those GIs trying to demonstrate their manhood. Please continue whatever thoughts you wish to share with us.
and Jim, that was such a beautifully written story! You were such a gentleman to befriend these lovely girls...I had to scroll up to the top to check your age at the time...19! 19! You make me proud of our boys over there!
The next chapter, Up Front with Pen, Camera, and Mike is crammed full of stories that should jar your memories! These memories come from journalists, film makers...and they kept notes!!!
Another unsettling story of racism in the military, this time it includes murder in the 369th Engineer regiment! Robby, is this the story you referred to several weeks ago? I can't understand how it remained covered up for so long....
Alfred Duckett was a free-lance journalist during the war. He tells us something we've been hearing in these memoirs..."The military did not want blacks in combat in World War II."
Apparently racism was widely reported in the black press. Why didn't more of you/us know about it? Or did we know about it, but not regard racism in the US as anything unusual? Come on, the murders? If you/we had heard about that, we would have reacted, wouldn't we?
Well, we know about them now. We know that it was wrong. This national blind eye will never turn from such injustices again! Isn't that a good outcome of this war?
Do you know if we are aiming any messages at the poor battle-scarred Balkans? And how about Africa? I realize that this question is not related to WWII but the VOA is the product of WWII, I believe, and I wondered if anything good has come out of the "good" war.
I agree, let's put VOA of our good list of World WarII! It was either John Houseman or Henry Hatfield who described the growth of VOA...first a "jealously guarded" civilian agency and "an extension of the voice of FDR", but with our War involvement, it was under military command for security reasons, and then after the war, it went under the State Department auspices. Is the right, Foley? Is it still under State?
Did you see what Henry Hatfield had to say about Dresden? How many of those Studs interviewed have commented on that needless destruction? Can anyone speak to the reason that was done?
This is a "hello-good-bye post" this morning...my computer went down on Monday night...and it is right now only a shadow of its former self! No sound! That's what bothers me most. No Communicator browser! No address book! No MAIL! If you've written and haven't heard back, please understand what happened. And I can't tinker with it for some time, as summer vacation beckons! I will miss you all! But really do need this vacation!!!
In Caniff's interview, I thought it was extremely interesting and humorous that he was able to keep one step ahead of the government when he drew Terry and the Pirates. But the FBI were suspicious anyway. I had heard the Happy Valley story somewhere else. Surprised that they let him continue.
Bill Mauldin was interviewed during the WWII commemoration in 1994 and he just broke down and cried over the war and the injured soldiers. Very emotional interview.
I have trouble with the black soldiers being shot for just speaking with the French girls. Racism races its ugly head once again.
And, if you recall, the GI Bill was a good result of the war. Perhaps somewhere down the line we ought to start listing all the good things that came out of the war, and we might end up being pleasantly amazed.
It is hard to call any war "good", regardless of the necessity for it. I doubt if the list of good things will "pleasantly" offset the loss.
It's certainly hard to place a human price on the later benefits, isn't it? Do you suppose the majority of the technological and educational advances we now have would have come into being if the war had not existed?
When we were in the Air Force in Texas, the engineer on my husband's crew had been on many of the air raids on Germany. He still had nightmares about it. The description of the flights by Canadian airmen on this site fits his memories perfectly. Especially the part about the searchlights and the flak. What a nightmare!
Thank you. It's good to know that we are beaming our message all over the globe - especially if it is unbiased.
Has anyone seen the PBS-TV story of the black pilots, women and men, from Chicago who offer their services to Roosevelt after the war started? It was extremely interesting. These people learned to fly in the '30's before the war was even mentioned
I am still amazed at Garson Kanin being told of "Overlord" a year before it happened. Does this kind of thing happen in all wars or is WWII an anomoly?
I don't have the statistics. Please help us by looking it up.
"The Rose of No Man's Land": There's a rose that grows in no man's land, and it's wonderful to see....it's the one red rose the soldier knows.) It's a tribute to the Red Cross nurse.
"'Til we meet again": (Smile the while I kiss you sad adieu; when the clouds roll by I'll come to you; then the skies will seem more blue; down in lover's lane, my dearie; Wedding Bells will ring so merrily, every tear will bring a memory; so wait - and pray - each night for me. 'Til we meet again.)
"Over There": (Over there, over there, send the word, send the word over there; that the Yanks are comin', the Yanks are comin', their drums rum-tummin' everywhere; So beware, say a prayer, send the word, send the word over there. That the Yanks are comin', the Yanks are comin', and we won't be back til it's over over there.)
"Paree": (How ya gonna keep them down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?)
"Tipperary": (It's a long long way to Tipperary)
"Long long trail": (There's a long long trail awinding, into the land of my dreams, and the nightingales are singing, and a white moon beams; There's a long long night of waiting, until my dreams all come true, til that day when I'll be coming down that long long trail to you.)
There are more and the words and melody come back as I write out the words but perhaps you understand what I mean when I don't believe WWII had songs like that.
Yes, Foley and Ella, that was a memorial to all women in the wars fought. In the picture of my aunt(the one that PatS. put up), there is to the left of her picture, a memorial program from that dedication in D.C. I can't remember when it was built or actually where. But, I do know that she was there and very proud of her participation.
Ella, I have watched the bit on Willa Brown and the founding of the Tuscgegee(sp?) Aviation Institute. I only have half of the program taped so only get to the part about the fact that in 1936, Chicago was the United States' center for black aviation and that Willa Brown Coffey pressed for black pilots-men and women- to be made part of the civilian pilots' taining program. I believe it was 1939 when that bill was passed and Sen.Harry Truman was the person who encouraged the Congress to pass it. There were 30 pilots in Chicago,at Harlem Airport-located at 87th & Harlem Ave. Their heroine was a black lady, Bessie Coleman, who earned her pilot's license in 1922,in France and then returned to the U.S. to give air shows all over the states. She is buried in Chicago and the black population still honors her memory every year.
About those old songs, Robby, you bring a lot memories to me with your great remembrance of all those words. My grandmother could play all of those old WWI songs on the piano(she was self taught) and did so often while we all sang along. She knew all of the words. She knew the ones that we sang for WWII,too. What about "I'll Be Seeing You" , "I"ll Be Home For Christmas" , "Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning" ,"I Saw the Harbour Lights" and "This Is The Army,Mr.Jones"? I have an old piece of music with an ad on the back for a songbook titled "Legion Airs" for $1.00. The song titles look like WWI songs. "Where Do We Go From Here", "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag", "Goodbye Broadway, Hello France" and so on and so on. Boy, don't I wish someone in my family had ordered that book. What a special book that would be to have today!
I had forgotten "Pack up Your Troubles" and "Goodbye Broadway, Hello France." Thanks for reminding me. I harmonized "Pack up Your Troubles" with my father too. As I said in my earlier posting, these are more "war" songs than the songs we remember from WWII. I didn't feel I had any "war" songs I could have taught my children.
Yes, you have already described that horror in this forum and no one would expect that you write about it again. Those who are interested can scroll back. It's time to live in the "here and now."
That was in the New York Times.
I felt so sorry for this fellow. He didn't desert in the sentence that we think of desertion. He was just a poor peace loving homesick fellow who went on pass to see his family and took much too much time to get back to his unit. I pleaded his case to the Company Commander and he received only a company reprimand. However, he may have done this twice; I forget the details. I was a soft-hearted fellow (how I ever got to be a Top Kick is beyond me; I would swear like a trooper in front of the company) and when I visited him, he would cry. The unit ultimately moved on and he remained in the stockade so I don't know what happened to him.
But as I say, the soldiers I was with were white and, according to tales told in Terkel's book, the percentage of black soldiers who went AWOL and were convicted compared to white was high.
Soft-hearted Top Kick
I thought that the Englishman just had to pledge alegiance to the US and they took him into the American Army. Maybe he considered that "being drafted" but I also thought that he wanted to fight in our army. Right? Wrong? I must return to the book!
And I had such a great vacation, knowing that you were all in such good hands with Robby, Ella and Ann leading the way and keeping things going!
I spent a good hour reading your posts and have to admit that I still don't understand the rationale behind the bombing of Dresden, although I now know a lot more about the decision. Was Dresden a key city, a major city? Britta, I understand how you feel. It is a terrible memory for you. In the next chapter, Olga Nowak, a Polish labor camp survivor tells us that it was an unbearably sad experience to return to Auschwitz years after the war, and concludes that you can't look back but must live in the future to survive. I respect your desire to remain detached from the reasons for the bombing. There is something within me that is demanding an explanation however.
I also need to know more about the execution of so many our soldiers during the war...and the official version of only one. Is it possible that Eisenhower only knew of Eddie Slovik? From the clickable provided by Jim I read:
He was buried in France, in a secret cemetery with 94 American soldiers executed for the crimes of rape and murder.Were you shocked that executions took place at all? I mean, if desertion, going AWOL was so terrible a crime, requiring a death sentence, why weren't these men sent home for a trial? What was the official report of their deaths? What were their families told?
Many surprising incidents of POW treatment in these pages. Hope that expow will be able to share his experience with us...
Good to be back! Looking forward to hearing from you!
Going AWOL did not ask for a death sentence but desertion did if the Court Martial so decided. There is the rub. Why do and did Courts Martial think a certain way? Desertion in war time, especially if on a mass scale, can mean the loss of a battle. On the other hand, this was a citizen Army made up of men who were not regular soldiers and wanted only one thing - to get home. The dilemma of the top officers was to balance the two.
This section of the book has many interesting and different stories. I particularly thought that one about the two sailors, one from US and one from Germany was very nice to read. The fact that they were each of the opinion that sailors don't care what country you are from, they will always try to rescue another sailor. And, the way they all talked to each other after the rescue of the German crew. Makes you appreciate the human race a little more.
You certainly present a novel idea. I never stopped to think of the "hardware" differences between WWI and WWII! And now you suggest the difference between WWII and future wars (I can't bring myself to say WWIII) will be "software"! Nuclear war would definitely cancel out the human contact, the interaction that we see in this chapter between the POW's and their captors. Nuclear war eliminates all chances of learning the lessons of humanity we see coming out of WWII, I think. Nuclear war is an "old men's war" - decisions made by old men to wipe out whole populations. Is that better than decisions made by old men to send young men to fight (and maybe kill) young men, I wonder?
Ann, the camp wedding on Mt.Hood was a hoot! No fauna! An occasional chipmunk... What's more, no <<<bugs>>>!!!!
I agree, the relationship between Hans Gobeler, the sailor on the German U-Boat and James Sanders, the flight officer who was on the USS Guadalcanal carrier that sank it - was heartening! By the way, Studs tells us that same U-boat, U-505 is in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago...in case you're in there in November!
There are more POW experiences related here...and they all have a similar message concerning their captors and concerns about future wars... I am very interested to hear from former prisoners of war or their families to learn if they experienced the same humane treatment and personal relationships with their captors as those related in these pages...
And you're right, Foley, I probably will!
Ella, I have searched for mention of such executions to no avail! Tommy Bridges was an MP during the war and says he was present at such executions in England...I had assumed the bodies were shipped home for burial until I read of the secret burial plot in Jim's clickable on Eddie Slovik. Maybe I'll do a search for more on Eddie this afternoon. Was he executed at home or overseas, do you remember?
Do any of you Vets recall instances of court martials with the death penalty? For murder, I can understand. For desertion, rape, stealing government property - that seems extreme. Was this kept secret? Did the military court really have such authority to be executing enlisted men overseas? Were their families informed? 94 executions in a three year period! Quite high to go unnoticed!
You know, I've been thinking about execution as punishment for desertion in the context of this chapter, where we read about the humane treatment shown toward our war prisoners, such as the mate on the German U-boat, Hans Gobeler. This was our enemy and he was treated well, and is living a long productive life...we see him here attending a reunion in 1982 of most of the surviving members of the crews of both vessels. And yet we executed deserters? I need to understand the thinking of the time! I do understand that desertion was a serious problem. But execution! There is a distinction between AWOL and desertion, as Robby points out, but look at Eddie! He got back late! He was AWOL, he was executed! How many others? Where can we find out?
Foley, have a grand trip with the grands! Lucky you!
Burkett's book, written with noted Texas writer Glenna Whitley, bodes to shake up the nation's beliefs on more than the Vietnam War. Though centered on that conflict, it exposes myths about other wars that have long been accepted as gospel.
One example is the Pvt. Eddie Slovik myth. As a result of a much-touted television movie about him a few years back, most Americans think he was the only GI executed by this nation in World War II.
To the contrary, demonstrates Burkett, there "were almost 1,000 GIs condemned to death during World War II for atrocities against civilians and other crimes. More than 100 of them were actually executed. Most are buried in a cemetery in France. ... It's an embarrassment; it's a disgrace. It never became part of the history of World War II. But it's there, and I can prove it."
Burkett has some other deflating facts to reveal about what many call our "last good war." Men did not "line up on Dec. 8, 1941, to enlist," he notes. "That's just a figment of Hollywood's imagination. The bulk of World War II vets didn't start coming into the service until 1943 and 1944. The draft was in place, and there were millions of guys of draft age who were exempt due to defense (industry) deferments."
He contrasts that war - in which a surprisingly low 33 percent enlisted and 67 percent had to be drafted - with the Vietnam War, in which the figures were completely reversed with 67 percent volunteering. And even of the Vietnam draftees, he notes, 10 percent volunteered to be drafted.
Much more upsetting to the "good war-bad war" believers are sure to be his revelations about the behavior of some of our revered troops in that former war. The 101st Airborne Division was trapped in the famous Battle of the Bulge, he says, because "everybody on their flank quit fighting. There were 20,000 GIs AWOL in Paris the day the Battle of the Bulge started."
By contrast, he notes, "In Vietnam, we never surrendered. The concept of surrender didn't exist in Vietnam."
DESTROYING MYTHS Burkett, the son of an Air Force colonel, is hardly likely to be accused of any lack of patriotism for such revelations. His purpose is not to belittle or demean the less-than-heroic actions of a relatively few World War II veterans. Rather, he seeks to once and for all destroy what he considers the insufferable myth of the Vietnam War being an ugly stain on our military, not in any way to be compared with those noble days of World War II.
"The men and woman who served in Vietnam were heroes, not the victims society and the media would have us believe," the mild-mannered Burkett says with some emotion. People like me who grew up in the military, and were the sons of the World War II generation, wanted to follow in the footsteps of heroes. When we were told that because we went to Vietnam we would be relegated to second-class status, that we were unworthy, I said to myself this is just false, absolutely false. I had to do something about it."
From this site -
War stories are easily affected by propaganda put out by the government, by rumors passed around, and by the innate desires of the population to believe "what they want to be true." I consider our discussion group on The Good War most important because it consists primarily of stories told by those who have been through it and are not affected by propaganda, rumors, and desires. It is a true historical source.
Jacques Raboud was a French POW and has horror stories of his treatment at the hands of the Russians - they almost killed him...he weighed 80 lbs. when liberated. Charlie Miller relates that the Germans hated the Russian POWs...and really maltreated them. He felt sorry for all of them. Erich Luth, a foreman in a German sewing-machine plant, made up of many slave laborers and prisoners of war, was interviewed by Studs - and speaks of the poorly dressed, poorly fed Russian laborers ...says the German women felt sorry for them and fed them when they could.
I admit to being puzzled by the Russian army...didn't we read before that they were formidable - one GI went so far as to say that if the Russians fought the US, they'd win! Here they seem so pitiful. Perhaps there were such large numbers of them, that Russia could not really do much for the needs of the captives?
But why did the Germans treat their American POWs better? DID THEY?
Ella, there are two steps I use to copy and paste articles into a post. First ( and most important) put the word blockquote in between two brackets - <>. At the end of the article, remember to put /blockquote between <> to close it.
Then to break it up so it doesn't all run together like one big paragraph, use br between <> and then P between <> at the end of each paragraph. I put the words, blockquote, br and P in italics here......you don't do that...Let me know how you do! It works well.
You have shared one of those stories which ought to be told more often. Not only does it tell the bravery of someone like Bader but in telling of the Germans asking for another artificial leg, it tells of the respect a true soldier has for another soldier even if they are on opposite sides. I'll bet that your memory of dancing with Bader will remain with you for the rest of your life!
This business of the respect that one fighting man has for another reminds me of the surrender of Gen. Lee at Appomatox. As I understand it, as the Confederate soldiers tramped by between lines of Union soldiers, the Union soldiers stood at attention and at times saluted in respect for the valor and strength the Confederates had shown for what they believed whas right.
Please share any other stories or thoughts you may have.