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Archive for the 'USH: World War Two' Category

What Americans thought of Jewish refugees on the eve of World War II

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

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published in the Washington Post, 2015


Nuremberg Trial Bore Witness to the Nazis’ Worst Crimes

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Rebecca West, the acclaimed British writer, covered Nuremberg for the New Yorker. In August 1946, as the case entered its 10th month, she wrote, “[T]he courtroom is a citadel of boredom. Every person attending it is in the grip of extreme tedium.” How could a trial for some of the most ghastly and massive crimes ever committed—crimes that continue to horrify and fascinate us—be dull? The answer lies in a most deliberate prosecutorial strategy, one to which we all owe a debt of gratitude today.

How Thousands Of Nazis Were ‘Rewarded’ With Life In The U.S.

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

In his new book, The Nazis Next Door, Lichtblau reports that thousands of Nazis managed to settle in the United States after World War II, often with the direct assistance of American intelligence officials who saw them as potential spies and informants in the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

Lichtblau says there were whole networks of spy groups around the world made up of Nazis — and they entered the U.S., one by one.

Photosessay — World War II After the War

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

This is Part 20 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II) [45 photos]

The Debate Behind U.S. Intervention in World War II

Friday, September 20th, 2013

73 years ago, President Roosevelt was mulling a third term, and Charles Lindbergh was praising German air strength. A new book looks at the dramatic months leading up to the election of 1940.

How Hollywood Helped Hitler

Friday, September 20th, 2013

In devastating detail, an excerpt from a controversial new book reveals how the big studios, desperate to protect German business, let Nazis censor scripts, remove credits from Jews, get movies stopped and even force one MGM executive to divorce his Jewish wife.

Drawing on a wealth of archival documents in the U.S. and Germany, he reveals the shocking extent to which Hollywood cooperated and collaborated with the Nazis during the decade leading up to World War II to protect its business.

Indeed, “collaboration” (and its German translation, Zusammenarbeit) is a word that appears regularly in the correspondence between studio officials and the Nazis. Although the word is fraught with meaning to modern ears, its everyday use at the time underscored the eagerness of both sides to smooth away their differences to preserve commerce.

The Chilling History of How Hollywood Helped Hitler

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

In devastating detail, an excerpt from a controversial new book reveals how the big studios, desperate to protect German business, let Nazis censor scripts, remove credits from Jews, get movies stopped and even force one MGM executive to divorce his Jewish wife.

Color Footage of Hiroshima, Rebuilding from the Rubble

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

This video, taken at the direction of the US Air Force in March 1946 and now held in the National Archives, shows Hiroshima seven months after the bomb, when the city was under U.S. occupation and in the process of rebuilding.

After the war, General MacArthur ordered that the results of the air campaign against Japan be documented.

But these seventeen silent minutes, once classified along with the rest, aren’t at all grisly. Rather, they show the tasks of daily life in a city reduced to ruin.

After WWII, Europe Was A ‘Savage Continent’ Of Devastation

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

In the introduction to his book, Savage Continent, Keith Lowe writes:

Imagine a world without institutions. No governments. No school or universities. No access to any information. No banks. Money no longer has any worth. There are no shops, because no one has anything to sell. Law and order are virtually non-existent because there is no police force and no judiciary. Men with weapons roam the streets taking what they want. Women of all classes and ages prostitute themselves for food and protection.

This is not the beginning to a futuristic thriller, but a history of Europe in the years directly following World War II, when many European cities were in ruins, millions of people were displaced, and vengeance killings were common, as was rape.

Here is Lowe interviewed on Fresh Air

Ghost Army: The Inflatable Tanks That Fooled Hitler

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Blass and his cohort were members of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, an elite force whose specialty was “tactical deception.” They’re now better known, though, as the “Ghost Army” — a troop of soldiers that doubled, in Europe’s theater, as a troupe of actors. (The unit was the brain child, one report has it, of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) The 23rd were, essentially, the Trojan Horse builders of World War II.

Except that their wooden horses took the form of inflatable tanks. And rubber airplanes. And elaborate costumes. And radio codes. And speakers that blared pre-recorded soundtracks into the forests of France.

These props — “advanced technology” as advanced technology — wereamazingly effective, doing what all good theater props will: setting a believable scene. The Ghost Army, some 1,100 men in all, ended up staging more than twenty battlefield deceptions between 1944 and 1945, starting in Normandy two weeks after D-Day and ending in the Rhine River Valley. Many of those performances — “illusions,” the men appropriately preferred to call them — took place within a few hundred yards of the front lines.

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A 93-pound inflatable tank, of the kind used by the Ghost Army (National Archives)

And they relied on what the Ghost Army termed, awesomely, “atmosphere” — creating the overall impression of an omnipresent military force. Soldiers in the Ghost Army were Potemkin villages, personified. They pretended to be members of fellow units (units that were actually deployed elsewhere) by sewing divisional patches onto their uniforms and painting other units’ insignias onto their vehicles. The Army would dispatch a few of its members to drive canvas-covered trucks — sometimes as few as two of those trucks — in looping convoys that would create the impression (sorry, the “illusion”) of an entire infantry unit being transported.