Easter in Nazi Germany
April 13, 2017
In a 1939 census of Nazi Germany (including annexed Austria), 54% of Germans considered themselves Protestant, 40% Catholic, 3.5% gottgläubig (non-sectarian believers in God) and 1.5% as non-religious. In the spring of 1936, Der Angriff, Berlin’s Nazi paper founded by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, proclaimed that the egg trade, one-fourth Jewish before the Nazis assumed power, was now Judenrein—free of Jews. _______________________________________ Although some Nazi leaders (including Martin Bormann, Joseph Goebbels, Alfred Rosenberg, and Heinrich Himmler) were distinctly opposed to Christian churches, some such as Hans Kerrl, the Minister for Church Affairs pushed for a unique Nazi form of "Positive Christianity” which rejected the Old Testament and Jewish origin of the religion. The small pagan Deutsche Glaubensbewegung (German Faith Movement), which worshipped the sun and seasons, supported the Nazis. Hitler’s plan to create a unified Protestant Reich Church failed, with strong resistance from Martin Niemöller, Dietrich Bonhöffer and members of the Confessing Church (Bekennende Kirche). Although a 1933 Concordat between the Third Reich and the Vatican promised to respect Church autonomy, all Catholic institutions whose functions were not strictly religious were closed and many Catholic clergy, nuns, and lay leaders were arrested over the ensuing years. Jehovah's Witnesses, Bahá'í Faith, Salvation Army, Christian Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, astrologers, healers and fortune tellers were all banned in Nazi Germany. Source: Religion in Nazi Germany
Was Hitler High?
April 3, 2017
A new book by Norman Ohler makes sensational claims that not only Adolf Hitler, but much of the civilian population of Nazi Germany, was high on drugs. While there is evidence that methamphetamines (e.g. Pervitin)  were extensively used by the armed forces, it is dubious that this was the case of ordinary citizens. Hitler was given an unusual (and inappropriate) amount of  injectable drugs such as vitamins, testosterone, other hormones, phosphorus, and dextrose by his personal physician Theodor Morell for symptoms including stomach pains, headaches, nausea, shivering and diarrhea. Hitler also apparently received IV oxycodone (Eukodal) and Pervitin on occasion, but the suggestion that he was an addict, high on drugs, during the last phases of the war seems to be hyperbole-and certainly no excuse for his evil behavior.  
The German War
February 27, 2017
Using German archival records and letters and diaries of both civilians and soldiers during WWII, The German War - A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945  by Nicholas Stargardt is a fascinating book that illustrates the strong civilian support for Germany's armed forces right up until the end of the war. At the same time, the book shows how the ordinary German (civilian and soldier) rationalized atrocity and genocide as necessary for the good of the nation. For a several decades after WWII, the myth of "good" Germans vs. the "evil" Nazis was maintained in post-war Germany. It wasn't until the mid-1960s that the next generation began seriously questioning their parents about their role in the war. Finally, at the turn of the 21st century, a traveling German exhibition regarding the role of ordinary soldier (Wehrmachtsausstellung) showed beyond doubt the culpability of the ordinary soldier (not just the SS) in atrocity and genocide. In 1985 the German President Richard von Weizsäcker delivered a speech to the Bundestag acknowledging WWII Germany's evil deeds and proclaiming May 8, 1945 as the day of Germany’s liberation from despotism rather than surrender and occupation. Subsequently, reluctance to examine the facts about the Third Reich faded and critical inquiry expanded. In my view, Japan has yet to come to similar realization regarding the terrible atrocities committed by its armed forces on enemies and civilian populations all over Asia. (Part of this fact may have paradoxically been due to the fact that much of Imperial Japanese history was skipped over in new textbooks during the reconstruction of the Japanese educational system by America educators after the war). It was true that Western imperialism had abused and hobbled many Asian countries before the war. And certainly the decision to firebomb most Japanese cities in 1945 and ultimately drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki left powerful moral questions about targeting civilians in wartime. But Imperial Japan's assertion that it was acting as a "big brother" to lead Western-colonized nations into the light of freedom was patently disingenuous. Imperial Japanese occupation of Asian countries was uncommonly cruel and rapacious.
Nylons & WWII
November 17, 2016
In the 1930s, silk was the preferred material for women's stockings. But they were expensive and not very durable. When DuPont began manufacturing nylon in 1939, most American women switched from silk to nylon stockings. High demand brought shortages in 1942 after the United States joined the war. Because nylon used in the manufacture of parachutes, tents, ropes, and tires, was critical to the war effort, worn-out nylon stockings were collected and recycled for military use and many women began applying a foundation on their legs ( liquid stockings) to give the illusion of hosiery.  Nylon stockings survived for another two decades after the war, then virtually disappeared when DuPont invented stretch-fit Lycra, and pantyhose came into fashion.          
WWII Spies
November 3, 2016
                  Although its importance has been emphasized through books and movies, in The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939-1945  the historian Max Hastings concludes that information gained from espionage was relatively unimportant in the outcome of WWII. Rather, Hastings states, careful analysis of open-source material proved far more useful than secrets uncovered by daring Allied and Axis spies.          
Food Rationing Germany
July 18, 2016
  Rationing was introduced in Germany shortly before the outbreak of war in 1939. Initially, clothing, shoes, leather, soap and most foodstuffs were rationed. Many homes and apartments were heated with steam radiators that required coal burning hot water heaters. Kitchens often had cast iron stoves fueled with coal or wood. Color-coded ration stamps were issued to all civilians for: sugar, meat, fruits and nuts, dairy products, eggs, oil, grains, bread, marmalade and ersatz coffee. Food stamps were also required to purchase meals in restaurants. During the war, various imitation food products were developed including; margarine, rice patties cooked in fat as ersatz meat or mixed with onions and fish oil as ersatz fish. Flour was augmented with ground chestnuts, pea meal, potato meal, and barley. Salad spreads were made of herbs mixed with salt and red wine vinegar. Nettles and goat’s rue were used as spinach substitutes or additives to soup. Despite shortages, nearly anything was available on a thriving black market for those with money or valuables to barter. In the early years of WWII, Germans were well fed by food seized from occupied countries. However, by the winter of 1944, as occupied countries were lost, food rations were severely cut. The situation steadily deteriorated into severe shortage as the Nazi regime collapsed in 1945.
June 20, 2016
Images often evoke powerful emotions of times past.  As a writer of history-inspired fiction, I create visual story boards of locations and characters from which I write scenes. On my Pinterest site, I have collected a number of photographs, drawings and posters evocative of the WWII era. Here are a few examples.              
Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
March 14, 2016
In 1923 Britain assisted Japan in the development of aircraft carriers. Throughout the 1920s, instructors from Germany trained fledgling Imperial Japanese Navy pilots in obsolescent foreign aircraft. But in the early 1930s, incorporating advanced modern technology, Japan secretly began building its own aircraft.  Apparently, shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack, U.S. military strategists still assumed that Japan had only a few hundred relatively obsolete aircraft, copied from older British, German, Italian and American designs. In reality, at the beginning of the Pacific War, Imperial Japan had the finest naval aviation corps in the world. Japanese aircraft (e.g. the legendary Mitsubishi Zero fighter) were equal or superior to any Western model. Additionally, well-trained Japanese pilots had gained valuable experience since 1937 in the Second Sino-Japanese War. During the first six months of the Pacific War, Japan achieved a stunning succession of victories. Then came the Battle of Midway where the Imperial Japanese Navy lost >300 pilots and four aircraft carriers in a battle from which they never fully recovered. "“In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain, I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.”         Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto Despite Yamamoto's warning, Japan had no contingency plans for a long war. Most of the operational types with which Imperial Japan began the Pacific War in December 1941, were still front line aircraft when the war ended in August 1945. In contrast, the Allies were able to accelerate the replacement of obsolete aircraft with new improved designs. At the beginning of the Pacific War, Japan made the decision to deploy all of their most experienced pilots in battle. In contrast, after a brief period of deploying their most experienced pilots very early in the Pacific War, the Americans deliberately retained their best pilots as flight instructors and invested heavily in training facilities. The result was initial Japanese air superiority that soon dwindled with the loss of men and aircraft. Ultimately, Allied aircraft production vastly outpaced Japanese ability to keep up.
March 7, 2016
https://youtu.be/3_lEXliZSPY The Panzerlied (tank song), was adapted from a German sailor's song in June 1933 by Oberleutnant Kurt Wiehle of the Wehrmacht.  Since Germany, in defiance of the Treaty of Versaille, was clandestinely developing an armored force at the time, the Panzerlied might be considered as praise for German re-armament.   Original Panzerlied Version from 1933-1945: First stanzaOb's stürmt oder schneit, ob die Sonne uns lacht,Der Tag glühend heiß, oder eiskalt die Nacht,Bestaubt sind die Gesichter, doch froh ist unser Sinn, ja, unser Sinn.Es braust unser Panzer im Sturmwind dahin. (x2) Whether it storms or snows, or the sun smiles on us,The day burning hot, or ice cold the night.Dusty are the faces, but our spirits are high, yes, spirits are high.Our tank bursts through there in the storm wind of the assault. (x2) Second stanzaMit donnerndem Motor, geschwind wie der Blitz,Dem Feinde entgegen, im Panzer geschütztVoraus den Kameraden, im Kampfe stehn wir allein, stehn wir allein.So stoßen wir tief in die feindlichen Reih'n! (x2) With thundering engines, as fast as lightning,Towards the enemy, sheltered in the tank,Ahead of our comrades, In the fight we stand alone, yes stand alone.So we push deep into the enemy lines! (x2) Third stanzaWenn vor uns ein feindlicher Panzer erscheint,Wird Vollgas gegeben und ran an den Feind.Was gilt denn unser Leben für uns'res Reiches Heer? Ja, Reiches Heer.Für Deutschland zu sterben ist uns're höchste Ehr'. (x2) When before us a hostile tank appears,Full throttle is given and we close with the enemy.What does our life matter for the Reich's army? Yes, Reich's army.To die for Germany is our highest honor. (x2) Fourth stanzaMit Sperren und Minen hält der Gegner uns auf,Wir lachen darüber und fahren nicht drauf.Und droh'n vor uns Geschütze versteckt im gelben Sand, Ja, gelben Sand.Wir suchen uns Wege, die keiner sonst fand. (x2) With obstacles and mines the foe slows us down,We laugh about it and don't drive on them.And cannons threaten hidden in the yellow sand, yes, yellow sandWe search for ways, that no one else found. (x2) Fifth stanzaUnd läßt uns im Stich einst das treulose Glück,Und kehren wir nicht mehr zur Heimat zurück,Trifft uns die Todeskugel, ruft uns das Schicksal ab, ja, Schicksal ab.Dann wird unser Panzer ein ehernes Grab! (x2) And if we are abandoned by treacherous luck,And if we don't return home again,If death's bullet finds us, and fate calls us away, yes, us away.Then our tank shall become an iron grave! (x2)  
March 3, 2016
The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was a paramilitary aviation organization formed in 1943 from the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS). During WWII, over 1000 female WASP pilots flew military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF). Of ~ 25,000 female applicants with civilian pilot's licenses, <1,900 were accepted as WASPs and trained to fly at the USAAF Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas.  After four months of military flight training, >1000 became the first women to fly American military aircraft. Although their basic flight instruction was similar to male aviation cadets, WASPs were not trained for combat. While learning maneuvers needed to recover from any position, WASPs received no gunnery training, and little formation or aerobatic flying techniques. WASPs, stationed at 120 U.S. air bases across the U.S., assumed numerous missions, that relieved male pilots for combat duty. WASPs flew from aircraft factories to ports of embarkation and military training bases, towed targets for anti-aircraft practice, simulated strafing missions, and transported cargo. WASPs flew most types of USAAF aircraft during WWII. A few exceptional women pilots tested rocket or jet-propelled planes and worked with radar-controlled targets. 38 WASPs died in WWII accidents - eleven during training and 27 on active duty. But, because they were not considered active military personnel, a dead WASP received no posthumous awards for bravery nor traditional military honors. It was even forbidden to place an American flag on the coffin of the fallen WASP! In December 1944, with Allied victory in sight, the WASP was disbanded and female pilots were sent home without official recognition of their service. Not until 1977, were WASPs granted veteran status. In 2009, they received the Congressional Gold Medal.   In 2002, the Army granted WASPs military funeral honors (playing Taps, a rifle salute, an American flag for the family) and affirmed they were eligible to have urns buried at Arlington national Cemetery. However in March 2014, citing lack of space, permission for a military WASP funeral at Arlington was rescinded. Now, pending several bills in Congress to remedy the situation, these gallant women pilots have once again been abandoned.   Read more: Female WWII Pilots WASP on the Web WASP Museum  
February 29, 2016
In January 1942, the United States War Production Board (WPB) began rationing food, gasoline and other resources deemed important to the war effort. In addition, many American factories converted to production of war materials. In March 1942, the WPB issued an order prohibiting the production of toys that contained critical materials (iron, steel, zinc, and rayon) that made up more than 7% of their weight. In compliance with the WPB order, toy manufacturers began producing items such as paper dolls, puzzles, board games and hobby sets with military themes. For example, the Lionel Corporation (famous for toy electric trains) produced a freight train made entirely out of heavy-duty paper stock. Read more: Toy Production during World War II Wood & metal children's toys made before 1945 Growing up in wartime The toy Fuhrer model that was made for German children Nikudan Sanyushi:  Human Bullets, 3 Brave Warriors
Umi Yukaba
February 1, 2016
https://youtu.be/IXnxnc0o9zQ This rather eerie military song (軍歌 gunka)  Umi Yukaba  海行かば was based on an ancient 和歌 waka poem by Ōtomo no Yakamochi and put to music by Nobutoki Kiyoshi in 1937. Popular throughout WWII, Umi Yukaba was sung by departing Kamikaze pilots (神風) during the last stages of the Pacific War. If I go away to the sea, I shall be a corpse washed up. If I go away to the mountain, I shall be a corpse in the grass. But if I die for the Emperor, It will not be a regret.
Welfare Japan
January 18, 2016
Beginning in the 1920s, the Imperial Japanese government enacted a series of welfare programs, based mainly on European models, to provide medical care and financial support. After the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938, the Ministry of Health and Welfare was created with special emphasis on children and younger citizens in response to needs for a physically and mentally fit population capable of successful warfare. During the Pacific War the Imperial Japanese government expanded health care to the entire nation and introduced various pension plans. Unfortunately, Japanese wartime welfare work neglected individuals such as the elderly, mentally-ill and disabled who did not constitute valuable human resources for military-industrial mobilization.  
Winterhilfswerk Welfare
January 14, 2016
The National Socialist People’s Welfare Organization (Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt) conducted an annual winter drive (Winterhilfswerk) with the slogan "None shall starve nor freeze." Although the program was established before the Nazi's rise to power, Hitler claimed credit for the program. Providing food, clothing, coal, and other items to economically disadvantaged Germans, the program ran from from  October through March until the end of the war. Similar initiatives were started in other countries in German-occupied Europe.
All the Light We Cannot See
January 11, 2016
This superbly written, often lyrical, WWII novel about a blind French girl and a young German soldier is excellent reading. “I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads."                    Read the NY Times review.  
January 4, 2016
I am currently reading this excellent book by Max Hastings. Not only is it detailed, balanced and well-referenced; it is superb writing. Before dawn next morning, "a warm, damp, rather hazy day," American and Japanese pilots breakfasted. The Yorktown's men favoured "one-eyed sandwiches" - an egg fried in a hole in toast. Naguno's fliers enjoyed rice, soybean soup, pickles and dried chestnuts before drinking a battle toast of hot sake. At 4:30 a.m. seventy-two Japanese bombers and thirty-six fighters took off to attack Midway Island...
Christmas in Germany
December 28, 2015
U-Boat Milchkuh Resupply
October 29, 2015
Researching material for a history-inspired novel I am writing about the Battle of the Atlantic, I came across the fascinating story of the Type XIV Milchkuh (milk cow) submarine tanker. In early 1942, German U-Boats hunting Allied ships along the U.S. East Coast, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean had to sail all the way back to port in occupied France to be re-supplied with fuel, armament, food and other necessary supplies. However, with deployment of the Milchkühe in April 1942, U-Boats could be resupplied in Mid-Atlantic. But the Milchkuh success was short-lived. By early 1943, with increasing awareness of their presence and advances in radar technology, the Allies began systematically sinking the Milchkühe. All ten of the Type XIV submarine tankers put into operation were sunk by 1944.
WWII Pacifism
October 1, 2015
In the 1930s, the Great Depression and bitter memory of losses in WWI shifted American public opinion toward isolationism. However, support for isolationist groups such as the America First Committee rapidly declined with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, although several smaller religious and socialist groups continued their opposition to war. British philosopher Bertrand Russell, taking a position of relative pacifism, argued that defeating Nazi Germany was a unique circumstance in which war was the lesser of possible evils. Former British pacifist writers such as E. M. Forster, Leonard Woolf, David Garnett and Storm Jameson endorsed war against Nazism. Albert Einstein wrote: Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them! British pacifists Reginald Sorensen and C. J. Cadoux likewise urged their fellow pacifists not to obstruct the war effort. Pacifists within territory occupied by Nazi Germany such as the German  Carl von Ossietzky and Norwegian Olaf Kullmann were imprisoned or executed. During World War II, pacifist leaders like Dorothy Day and Ammon Hennacy of the Catholic Worker Movement urged young Americans not to enlist in military service. The U.S. government allowed sincere objectors to serve in noncombatant military roles. However, those draft evaders who refused any cooperation with the war effort were often imprisoned. REFERENCES: WWII and the Pacifist Controversy Pacifism in WWII - Wikipedia World War II: Pacifism and Isolationism The Civilian Public Service Story
Slave Labor – Nazi Germany
September 17, 2015
  Like Imperial Japan, many corporations in Nazi Germany also used slave labor. Although modern Germany has done much better than Japan in discussing Nazi era atrocities and use of slave labor, there appear to be certain groups that would like to keep the matter closed.                
September 14, 2015
Did WWII vets have less PTSD? We all know the stereotype. Veterans of the Greatest Generation fought for a noble cause and had few after effects when they returned to civilian life. Although “shell shock” and “combat fatigue” had been identified in previous wars, the syndrome of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) characterized by intrusive recollections, avoidance/numbing behavior and hyperarousal, had not yet been conceptualized. PTSD symptoms were often present in combatants immediately after WWII, declined for several decades, then recurred. Frequent diagnoses given included anxiety, depression or personality disorders. For many WWII vets, PTSD symptoms became prominent in later life, suggesting that factors such as divorce, deteriorating health, retirement and death of significant others may have been a factor. It seems therefore likely that the 6-31% lifetime prevalence of PTSD is similar in combat veterans of any war. Why then did WWII vets play down their symptoms? Some possible explanations include: “inoculation” against deprivation and trauma while growing up amidst the Great Depression returning home in victory to a thriving economy, deterred reporting negative experiences and their after effects a powerful negative stigma regarding mental illness in the culture the use of alcohol to deal with emotional pain was widely accepted and somewhat romanticized    
Allied War Crimes
August 13, 2015
A search for evidence of Imperial Japanese or Nazi war crimes turns up a lot of information. In contrast, the results of a search for Allied atrocities is rather thin. Even documentation of the barbaric and vengeful Russian invasion of eastern Germany at the end of the war is scant compared with records of the holocaust or Japan's China campaign. There is no question that the Axis powers committed numerous terrible atrocities in WWII. Imperial Japan did not sign and completely ignored the rules of war as designated by the Geneva conventions. Nazi Germany systematically murdered large civilian populations. But the Allies were not always boy scouts, fighting clean and hard. Although the number of documented Allied atrocities was relatively small compared with the Axis powers, the Allies also committed war crimes. The myth of a chivalrous and honorable war is fantasy. War produces atrocities on all sides.  And the axiom rings true: the victor gets to write the history. Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_war_crimes_during_World_War_II ttp://www.spiegel.de/international/world/the-horror-of-d-day-a-new-openness-to-discussing-allied-war-crimes-in-wwii-a-692037.html http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/jun/03/humanities.highereducation
Nazi Medical Experiments
August 10, 2015
Nazi Germany also performed dreadful medical experiments on many adults and children in concentration camps. Most victims were Jews, but the Nazi doctors also experimented on Romani, Sinti, ethnic Poles, Soviet POWs and disabled Germans. The notorious "death angel" Dr. Josef Mengele, an SS captain at Auschwitz, "rescued" certain prisoners slated for execution for his own medical experiments. Although Mengele had previously performed legitimate twin research under his mentor Dr. Otmar von Verschuer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics, and Eugenics, his work at Auschwitz was demonically unfettered.  Maiming or killing his subjects, Mengele performed a broad range of agonizing and often lethal experiments with Jewish and Roma twins, most of them children. Read more:  Nazi Medical Experiments https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/nazi_experiments.html http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/holocaust/experiside.html
Fanta and the Nazis
July 27, 2015
  Due to a trade embargo imposed in 1941, Nazi Germany was no longer able to import Coca Cola syrup. Coca-Cola Deutschland (Coca-Cola GmbH) decided to make a new product for the German market, using ingredients available in Germany at the time - sweetened whey and apple fiber residues. The name of the new soda drink (Fanta) was reportedly derived from the German word Fantasie (fantasy).  After the war, Fanta production was discontinued when the parent company was reunited with the German branch. But when the Pepsi Corporation began marketing competing soft drinks in the 1950s, Coca Cola relaunched Fanta in 1955 and marketed it in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.
Crystal Meth – Nazi Germany
March 16, 2015
When the German pharmaceutical company Temmler Werke released a methamphetamine compound  in 1938, a Wehrmacht (German army) physiologist recognized its potential application in wartime.  After a study demonstrated that the drug increased productivity in sleep-deprived university students, the military began distributing millions of the tablets to pilots and soldiers on the front (who dubbed it Panzerschokolade- tank chocolate). After long-term use, however, many soldiers became addicted to the stimulant. Side effects included sweating, dizziness, depression and hallucinations. Reports emerged of soldiers dying of heart failure or shooting themselves during psychotic breaks. Despite efforts by some Third Reich health official to limit distribution of the drug, it's use continued throughout the war. In the 1960s, both East and West German armies continued the use of stimulant pills. Not until the 1970s did West Germany's Bundeswehr remove the drug from its medical supplies. The communist German Democratic Republic followed suit in 1988. Today, methamphetamine is a major drug of abuse. Taken orally, smoked, snorted, or injected in a water or alcohol solution, methamphetamine is an extremely addictive drug. The drug increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine (involved in reward, motivation, pleasure, and motor function) in the brain. Repeated use often leads to addiction - a chronic, relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use. Long-term users may experience anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances and display violent behavior. They may also show symptoms of psychosis, such as paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions. Long-term methamphetamine use has many negative consequences for physical health, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), and skin sores caused by scratching.
Axis Sally
December 12, 2014
Axis Sally was the generic nickname given to female radio personalities who broadcast English-language propaganda for the European Axis Powers during World War II. Mildred Elizabeth Gillars, nicknamed "Axis Sally," was an American broadcaster employed by Nazi Germany to proliferate propaganda during WWII.  In 1949, she was convicted of treason by the U.S.government. Rita Luisa Zucca, also known as "Axis Sally,"  was an Italian-American radio announcer who broadcast Axis propaganda to Allied troops in Italy and North Africa. Because she had become an Italian citizen before beginning her broadcast work, she could not be tried for treason by the U.S.  at the end of the war.  
Lord Haw-Haw
December 8, 2014
https://youtu.be/yI3IjZ5Ut9g Lord Haw Haw broadcast Lord Haw-Haw was a nickname applied to William Joyce whose Nazi propaganda broadcasts began with "Germany calling. Germany calling." Joyce spoke in a nasal, simulated upper-class British accent with a  sarcastic and often menacing tone. Although several other English-language propagandists from Germany were given the same nickname, Joyce was the main character identified in these broadcasts. The British produced a great satire https://youtu.be/ZZz48paS-2Q
Signal Magazine
November 24, 2014
SIGNAL magazine, published in 20 languages by the Nazi Germany's Wehrmacht, was widely circulated in occupied Europe and neutral countries during WWII. In 1943 circulation of SIGNAL peaked at 2.5 million. With high quality color photos, extensive reviews and little anti-semitic diatribe,  SIGNAL intended to depict Nazi Germany and its New Order as the great benefactor of European peoples and of Western civilization in general.
WWII Propaganda Posters
November 19, 2014
Here are a few good sites for WWII propaganda posters: http://www.pinterest.com/wolflaw/allied-wwii-propaganda-art/ Digital Posters (U.S. Produced WWII Posters) at the Virtual Library of The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County. http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/powers_of_persuasion/powers_of_persuasion_intro.html
WWII Participants
September 3, 2014
Most countries in the world participated in WWII.   The leading Axis powers were Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Empire of Japan. The major Allied Powers were the United Kingdom and France and their colonies, China, the Soviet Union and the United States. Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland remained neutral.  Among the neutral nations, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland aided the Allied Powers by supplying "voluntary" brigades to Great Britain.  Spain, recovering from a calamitous civil war, generally favored the Axis Powers. Ireland generally favored the Allies.      
Purple – Decrypting Japanese Code
May 23, 2014
  Purple was a cipher used by Imperial Japan during WWII to encrypt diplomatic messages sent to embassies throughout the world. The Purple machine consisted of two electronic typewriters separated by a plugboard and a box containing the cryptographic elements in s series of relays within an intricate network of wiring. After creating a "shadow Purple machine" in 1939, the U.S. Navy Interception Center was able to decode Purple messages well before the onset of the Pacific War. Although much important information regarding Japanese military plans plans and attack locations was obtained, no specific information about the attack on Pearl Harbor was recognized. After the U.S. entered the war,  decoding efforts were increased for all types of intercepted information to determine the position of the Japanese fleet and where it was headed. In 1942, many purple messages forecast an attack at "AF." U.S. cryptanalysts knew the meanings attached to a number of geographical designators, and presumed that "AF" stood for Midway. The definitive answer was obtained when Admiral Chester Nimitz ordered a message to be sent in a code that Japan had already broken: Midway is out of water. Hours later a PURPLE cipher reported  "AF is out of water." Nimitz subsequently positioned his fleet at Midway and surprised the arriving Japanese fleet. The U.S. victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942 was one of the most decisive battles of war, as Japan's offensive power at sea was nearly destroyed. Until 1943, when the Japanese stopped using Purple (a code they believed was indecipherable) , the United States made various surprise attacks on Japan due to the knowledge they had from Purple ciphers.
Ghostly Images WWII-Present
May 13, 2014
This post is haunting. View:   26 Ghostly Images Of World War Two, Blended With The Present.
WWII Helmets
March 31, 2014
Nazi Concentration Camps
March 17, 2014
Auschwitz 1942; Wikimedia Commons Beginning in 1939, small groups, targeted for political or racial reasons as dangerous to Nazi Germany, were murdered in German concentration camps. During 1939–1942, as Germany occupied most of Europe, the SS established new concentration camps for increasing numbers of political prisoners, resistance groups, and groups deemed racially inferior, such as Jews and Gypsies.  In January 1942, the Wannsee Conference, held by the SS-Reich Main Security Office in a Berlin suburb, completed plans for implementation of the "final solution" in which most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to Poland and exterminated.     Auschwitz - Wikimedia
Generation War – Germany
February 24, 2014
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=TmyGPX23px4 The German TV mini-series “Generation War,” now presented as a feature film in the USA, follows five friends from 1941 through WWII.  Although the film has received mostly favorable reviews, some critics balked, describing it as a continuation of “the self-deceiving lie” that the average German was a victim of Nazi rule, a “work of apologia" or a film projecting a “strange queasy zone between naturalism and nostalgia.”    
Changing Front Lines WWII
January 20, 2014
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e_AZ3j2LbY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUUXqYwTCR6R3Wr-FkLTD4AQ This very interesting animated map site shows changing front lines of World War II in both the European and Pacific Theaters.  
WWII Enemies – Home Front
January 15, 2014
Images used with permission from:  born1945  and Remembering the USA in the 1940s
Germany & Russia Invade Poland
January 4, 2013
Citing an attack on a German radio station in Upper Silesia (actually staged by the Nazis), Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. With Russian forces invading from the east, Poland was ultimately divided into two sections. Russian troops invading Poland - Wikimedia Commons The cascade of events that followed began WWII.   
Neutrality – USA
December 31, 2012
In response to the Nazi threat in Europe, the 1939 Neutrality Act amended earlier legislation and permitted all belligerents to be supplied on a "cash and carry" basis. It also forbid U.S. vessels from entering combat zones, and citizens from sailing on belligerent vessels.
Tientsin Incident
December 28, 2012
In June 1939, the Imperial Japanese Army blockaded foreign concessions in the northern China port of Tientsin because of British consulate refusal to hand over four Chinese accused of assassinating a Japanese customs official. Japanese soldiers strip-searched anyone entering or leaving the concession, blocked importation of food and fuel, demanded all Chinese government silver reserves in British banks, forbade anti-Japanese radio broadcasts, banned certain school textbooks, and ended local fapi currency. Humiliation of its citizens by Japanese troops resulted in inflammatory British newspaper reports that fanned emotions and prompted calls for military action. All out war was avoided when Japan dropped its more extreme demands in return for the four Chinese fugitives (who were later executed). Read more 
Baseball in Wartime Japan
December 26, 2012
Star pitcher Eiji Sawamura - killed in action 1944   (Wikimedia Commons) In a January 1942 "green light" letter to the baseball commissioner, FDR said "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going (during the war)."   In Japan, baseball, jazz and other western customs were discouraged by the military government in 1940.  But the sport (played in the country since 1870) was so popular that Japanese Baseball League games continued until the firebombing of Japanese cities in 1945.  One of the first things authorized by General MacArthur during the occupation was the resumption of professional baseball games.  
Lou Gehrig’s Farewell
December 24, 2012
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp3F51gtaZA Lou Gehrig, "the Iron Horse", was a beloved New York Yankee first baseman who set major league records for consecutive games played and career grand slams. Gehrig's career was shortened  by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Lou Gehrig's farewell speech
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum
December 21, 2012
Set in 1895 Japan, this Kenji Mizoguchi film about a Kabuki actor, his adopted son and a wet nurse has been highly acclaimed for its mise-en-scène (visual theme) compositions and extreme long takes.  
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
December 19, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=PSZxmZmBfnU In 1939 MGM's The Wizard of Oz was a popular technicolor fantasy  starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan.
Aircraft Carriers Hiryu and Shokaku Launched
December 17, 2012
The Japanese aircraft carriers Hiryu and Shokaku were launched in 1939. These two carriers, along with four others (Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Zuikaku) carried 420 planes and were escorted by  two battleships, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, eleven destroyers, eight tankers and twenty-three submarines to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
World’s Fair Chicago
December 14, 2012
The 1939 World's fair prophesied a future world of automated highways and large suburbs.
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
December 12, 2012
https://youtu.be/_mYXrriDwLc At the height of military engagement with Japan in the far east,  the USSR signed a pact of non-aggression with Nazi Germany. The pact would allow the Soviets to concentrate on the  border war with Japan and Germany to subsequently invade Poland without Soviet response. Wikimedia Commons
USA Terminates Commercial Treaty With Japan
December 10, 2012
via Japan's Economy in the 20th century As Japan proceeded to expand military operations in Asia (and endanger U.S. citizens, rights and property in China), diplomatic relationships with the USA deteriorated further. In July 1939 the U.S. Government gave notice that the 1911 commercial treaty with Japan would be terminated in six months, removing any legal obstacle to imposition of an export embargo.
The Royal Visit
December 5, 2012
Since American independence from England in 1776, the relationship between the two countries was often strained. But, perceiving the need for cooperation with the threat of war looming in Europe, President Franklin Roosevelt invited Britain's royal couple to visit the USA. Despite some opposition, the vast majority of Americans welcomed England's royalty in Washington D.C. on June 8, 1939 with exuberant delight.
Marian Anderson & Eleanor Roosevelt
November 28, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAONYTMf2pk&feature=player_detailpage When Marian Anderson was denied the opportunity to sing at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR and arranged for Ms. Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial.
Soviets Defeat Japanese in Mongolia
November 26, 2012
Throughout the late 1930s, Japan and the USSR clashed repeatedly. In 1939,  along the Mongolian border at Khalkin Gol - Nomonhan, the Soviet Army under General Georgy Zhukov defeated a large Japanese force. Japan subsequently abandoned plans to invade Siberia and in 1941 concluded a neutrality treaty with the USSR.
Inside Asia – John Gunther
November 23, 2012
In the late 1930s, John Gunther's popular "Inside" series described the national characteristics of Europe and Asian nations through personal anecdote, biography of important individuals and overall analysis.
Map of Imperial Japan 1939
November 21, 2012
Pan Am Crosses the Atlantic
November 19, 2012
On May 20, 1939, after years of political and economic opposition (while dirigibles flew regularly across the Atlantic), Pan American’s B-314 Yankee Clipper flew the first trans-Atlantic mail service from New York to Lisbon.  
Imperial Japanese Army Tank Corps
November 16, 2012
By 1937, Japan fielded 1,060 tanks designed primarily for infantry support. Without a tank designed to combat other tanks, the Imperial Japanese Army suffered significant defeats at the hands of Russians on the Mongolian border in 1939 and against Allied tanks later in the war.
Pre-WWII America
June 8, 2011
Population: 123,188,000 in 48 states Life Expectancy: Male, 58.1; Female, 61.6 Average salary: $1,368 Unemployment rises to 25% Car Sales: 2,787,400 Food Prices: Milk, 14 cents a qt. Bread, 9 cents a loaf Round Steak 42 cents a pound Lynchings: 21

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