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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 stanza Ob’s stürmt oder […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 create 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 […]
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 beca
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 http://www.trumanlibrary.org/museum/posters/slideshow.htm
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 [&hel
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 […]
This post is haunting. View: 26 Ghostly Images Of World War Two, Blended With The Present.
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 […]
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 […]
This very interesting animated map site shows changing front lines of World War II in both the European and Pacific Theaters.
Images used with permission from: born1945 and Remembering the USA in the 1940s
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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
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.
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.
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.
The 1939 World’s fair prophesied a future world of automated highways and large suburbs.
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.
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 […]
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, […]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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