Unfortunately, this cartoon, released in April 1944, can no longer be found online in its entirety. Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips, portrayed classical Western racist stereotypes of the Japanese – short, buck-toothed people wearing thick eyeglasses and talking jibberish. At one point in the cartoon, Bugs hands out ice cream bars saying: Here’s yours, bow legs Here, one […]
By the end of 1943, with no prospect of joining forces with its German allies who were being pushed out of Africa, and American forces penetrating its defensive ring, Imperial Japan was having great difficulty maintaining its distant holdings in the Western Pacific. The tide of the Pacific War had turned. On the home front, […]
Ironically, Bing Crosby’s elegant Toluca Lake mansion was virtually destroyed by fire. The culprit was none other than the family Christmas tree. ______________________ Want to hear the top hits of 1943? Check this out: Jukebox 1943
Christmas 1943 Poem written by an un-named German soldier, subsequently lost in the battle of Leningrad. Irgendwo in Russland zünden wir zur Nacht die Kerzen an. Und so wird Euer Herz mich finden, da ich nicht bei Euch sein kann. Stumm und ungesprochen bleiben alle Worte, die von mir mit Sternen heimwärts treiben […]
Heart-breakingly ferocious, the Battle of Tarawa, an atoll in the Gilbert Islands the first American offensive in the central Pacific region, reminds me of Walt Whitman’s Civil War poem: __________ The moon gives you light, And the bugles and the drums give you music, And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans, My heart gives […]
On July 24, 1943, following the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Italian fascist Prime Minister Benito Mussolini was arrested and a provisional Italian government, under Marshal Pietro Badoglio was established. Opposed to the alliance with Nazi Germany, Badoglio signed an armistice with the Allies. With King Victor Emmanuel III and Marshal Badoglio in command, the Royal […]
Excerpts from the diary of Tamura Yoshikazu. Wewak New Guinea March 1943 When I hear birds of paradise sing, I remember cuckoos back in Japan. They live among tropical coconut trees. I don’t know what they are saying, but they make very weird cries that sound like “keukoh, kiou, keukoh, kiou.” A mate of mine received a […]
Zoot suit attire consisted of baggy legged, narrow- cuffed, waist-high pants, a short tie over a buttoned shirt, suspenders, a long coat with wide lapels and padded shoulders, wide-legged, pegged trousers, flashy shoes and either a fedora or a tando hat with a feather of varying lengths. In the summer of 1943, Zoot suit riots broke out between predominantly black […]
Seeking combat duty in February 1943, Lt. John F. Kennedy was assigned to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 2 at Tulagi Island in the Solomon Islands. On August 1, 1943 PT-109, commanded by JFK, was rammed and sunk by the Japanese Cruiser Amagiri. Two of PT-109’s crew were killed and several others badly injured. JFK saved […]
Country % of Total War making Potential United States 41.7% Germany 14.4% USSR 14.0% UK 10.2% France 4.2% Japan 3.5% Italy 2.5% Seven Powers (total) (90.5%) Even in the midst of economic doldrums, wartime USA still had: Nearly twice the population of Japan Seventeen time’s Japan’s national income Five […]
Although prohibited by the U.S. military in WWII, a few servicemen kept secret personal journals – of particular note: U.S. Marine Eugene B. Sledge, author of With the Old Breed, and U.S, Navy sailor James J. Fahey, author of Pacific War Diary, 1942–1945, The Imperial Japanese military apparently had no such restrictions. Allied forces advancing across the Pacific found many Japanese diaries, which […]
Bombing Rome, the “Eternal City” and capitol of Catholicism, was a controversial WWII act for many Americans. Although both Allied and Axis bombers made an effort to avoid attacking the Vatican, Vatican City was bombed once by the British and once by the Germans. In July 1943, despite Pope Pius XII plea to have Rome declared an open city, 500 American […]
In June 1942, Japan seized Attu and its neighbor Kiska, establishing garrisons on these remote U.S.-controlled Aleutian Islands. Barren, and mountainous with extreme weather, the islands may have been taken to divert U.S. forces away from the planned attack on Midway Island in the central Pacific. A toehold on these islands also prevented a possible U.S. force buildup closer to mainland Japan. The Battle of […]
In July 1943, the Allied amphibious and airborne Operation Husky captured the island of Sicily from German and Italian forces. With Axis forces removed from the island, sea lanes in the Mediterranean were opened for Allied merchant ships for the first time since 1941.
This 1943 movie featured the first screen appearance of Batman played by Lewis Wilson. With J. Carrol Naish playing the evil Japanese agent, the film is almost laughably crude and racist.
Although Japan had become an industrialized nation in the early 20th century, it remained resource poor. Prior to WWII, limited efforts were made to raise agricultural production, but land reform that would increase tenure for the peasantry was firmly resisted by the right wing government. Important food imports included salt, sugar, soy beans, and rice. Because Japan was not self sufficient […]
This WWII government film, with very explicit recommendations, emphasizes good nutrition as a weapon of war. “Eventual victory in this war may depend on what we eat.” Although rationing was imposed in the USA, food insecurity was never an issue for Americans during WWII. As we shall see in the next two posts, this was not […]
Eternity (万世流芳), a controversial collaborative film effort between Japanese and Chinese filmmakers, was made in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in 1943. Relating the story of Lin Zexu and the Anglo-Chinese First Opium War, the film was a Japanese attempt to produce an anti-Western film that would appeal to the occupied Chinese. At war’s end, the film was considered a propaganda tool of the enemy, and many of […]
Although this video relates some disputed statistics, and seems skewed toward Germany’s aces, it is an interesting overview of this important battle that effectively ended the German offensive on the Eastern Front. The Battle of Kursk between German and Soviet forces took place 280 miles southwest of Moscow during July and August 1943. The German […]
From June 1940 until May 1943, major campaigns were fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The Allied North African war effort was dominated by the British Commonwealth with American assistance beginning in May 1942. The North African campaign began in June 1940 with the Italian declaration of war and a series of cross-border battles in Libya […]
The 7.2 Richter scale Tottori earthquake had an epicenter offshore from Ketaka District (now part of Tottori). Tottori city, with many antiquated buildings was the hardest hit with ~80% of its structures damaged or destroyed. As the earthquake struck in the evening when most kitchens were preparing the evening meal, fires broke out all over the city. 1083 people were killed, including […]
Recognition of the Japanese Zero Fighter was a 1943 film produced by the United States Air Force to instruct pilots in the Pacific theater how to recognize enemy aircraft at long distances and avoid “friendly fire” incidents. Emphasis was on recognizing difference between a USAAF P-40 Warhawk and a Japanese Mitsubishi Zero.
What’s My Line – 1954 Ted Williams won six batting titles and led the American League in on-base percentage seven straight years and 12 times overall. His .482 career on-base percentage is the best of all time. He led […]
In 1942, the Nazi policy of forced coordination (Gleichschaltung) unified Universum Film AG and its competitors (Tobis, Terra, Bavaria Film and Wien-Film) together with several foreign film production companies into one corporation (Ufa-Film Gbmh) with its headquarters in Berlin. Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels ordered the production of the 1943 technicolor comedic fantasy Münchhausen to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the […]
This 1943 documentary, produced by the Office of Strategic Service (OSS) is surprisingly sympathetic to many aspects of Japanese culture. Composed of apparent movie clips with mildly condescending narration from a Western point of view, the film actually provides an excellent overview of many aspects of Japanese culture: discipline, order, ceremony and hierarchy. The film evokes […]
This somewhat quirky propaganda film, working the concept of ‘no exceptions’, is worth watching to feel the level of concern on the American home front in 1943.
Now… for the second year of this great war, there are fresh graves on Guadalcanal, on New Guinea, in North Africa. In them are buried the hopes, the laughter, the enthusiasms of young men who were not weary of life. The sea is the deep grave of others whose burial place cannot be marked. And […]
This 1943 Looney Tunes cartoon mocks an imagined Japanese documentary film. With Mel Blanc supplying all the voices, the film contains many silly stereotypes and racial insults typical of the era.
At the beginning of WWII, British daylight strikes against Germany soon resulted in unacceptable losses and the Royal Air Force (RAF) turned to night time ‘thousand bomber raids.’ When these strategic nocturnal strikes against military targets proved relatively inaccurate, the RAF began razing urban areas (carpet-bombing) in an effort to destroy civilian morale. These night attacks continued for […]
The facts regarding the USS Wahoo (SS-238) January 1943 attack on the Japanese troop ship Buyo Maru remain highly controversial. The Wahoo, under the command of Lt. Commander Dudley W. “Mush” Morton, attacked the Buyo Maru, one of the four ships in a Japanese troop convoy off the northern coast of New Guinea. After ~1,000 Japanese troops abandoned shop […]
After the entry of the U S. into WWII, many manufacturers such as the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company de-emphasized the sale of their products and services in their advertising campaigns in favor of demonstrating their support the war effort. Advertising was presented as an aid to help the public understand why some products were no longer available for purchase because the manufacturer was now producing […]
Private Snafu was a WWII US Army cartoon character in a series of War Department short subjects produced from 1943-1945. The films were intended to teach military personnel about security, sanitation, booby traps etc. and to boost morale. The Private Snafu series, directed by Chuck Jones and other prominent Hollywood animators, featured the voice of the voice of Mel Blanc as Private Snafu. It […]
Darkness came to the jungle like the click of a camera shutter. Then the Japanese crept close to the American lines. They attacked with bloodcurdling screams, plastered bivouacs with artillery and mortar barrages, crawled silently into American foxholes and stabbed or strangled the occupants. Often they cursed loudly in English, rattled their equipment, named the […]
On July 25 1943, following a 5-month air campaign against Germany’s industrial Ruhr district, the RAF began a 10-day series of air raids on Hamburg known as Operation Gomorrah. Due to unusually hot and dry weather, the July 27 raid on the city’s working class districts produced a swirling vortex of superheated air that ignited […]
In June 1943 a race riot erupted in Detroit Michigan, a city brimming with ~400,000 wartime migrants competing for jobs and housing. Fueled by false rumors of racial attacks in both black and white communities, the rioting continued from June 20 until June 22 when 6,000 federal troops were ordered to restore peace. 34 people were killed (25 […]
The Japanese government disposed of “dangerous animals” (not only carnivores but also herbivores, such as elephants) in zoos and circuses during WWII, including those in Japan and occupied Korea, Taiwan, and Manchuria. While some European zoos also destroyed their animals, no country conducted as nationwide and systematic a disposal of captive animals as Japan. Some claim […]
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was organized on March 23, 1943 when 2,686 Japanese-American volunteers from Hawaii and 1,500 from the U.S. mainland received basic training in Camp Shelby, Mississippi. In May 1944, the 442nd, attached to the 5th Army under the command of General Mark Clark, drove German forces north in the heavily defended mountainous […]
In the summer of 1942, German SS and police units deported ~ 265,000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to to the Treblinka killing center and ~11,600 to forced-labor camps. More than 10,000 Jews in the ghetto were murdered during these deportation operations. While ~35,000 Jews were granted permission to remain in the ghetto (with another 20,000 […]
In January 1943, two months after the Anglo-American landings in French North Africa in November 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in Casablanca, Morocco. Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, engaged in the decisive battle of Stalingrad, did not attend. At the Casablanca Conference, FDR and Churchill agreed to: concentrate efforts against […]
Der Fuehrer’s Face, an animated Walt Disney propaganda film released in 1943 by RKO Radio Pictures, features a nightmare in which Donald Duck works in a factory in Nazi Germany. The film, intended to promote the sale of war bonds was scored with original music by Oliver Wallace which included “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, released earlier by Spike Jones. Der Fuehrer’s Face won the 1943 Academy Award for Best Animated Short […]
Victory Through Air Power was a 1943 Walt Disney animated documentary feature film based on the controversial 1942 book Victory Through Air Power by Alexander P. de Seversky. De Seversky maintained: rapid expansion of both range and striking power of military aircraft meant the U.S. would soon become vulnerable to air attack (as was Britain at the time) the U.S. must begin preparing […]
The directorial debut of the famed Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, 姿三四郎 (Sanshiro Sugata) was released in March 1943. Based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita (the son of a prominent Judo practitioner), the film follows a youth who travels to the city to learn Jujutsu, but discovers a new form of self-defense known as Judo. The main character is based on Saigō Shirō, one of […]
The term Kinderlandverschickung (KLV) was first used in the late 19th century to describe the foster care relocation of sick and underprivileged children to the countryside. At the outbreak of WWII, although there were no large scale civilian evacuations as in Britain, the National Socialist People’s Welfare (NSV) organized the relocation of mothers with very young children, […]
In June 1942 Japanese infantry invaded the Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu and established garrisons. In May 1943 American forces retook Attu; in August Americans retook Kiska.
Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels‘ speech on February 18, 1943 at the Berlin Sportpalast is often considered his most important of the war. Unlike previous Nazi propaganda that claimed incontestable German victories, the Sportpalast speech acknowledged, for the first time, that Germany was in danger and the war would be long and difficult. Calling for total war, Goebbels exhorted the entire […]
While the most infamous was the 1937 Rape of Nanking, the Japanese Army also committed many other atrocities throughout Asia during WWII. The Changjiao Massacre, a four day rampage carried out by the Japanese China Expeditionary Army in May 1943, involved the murder of ~30,000 Chinese civilians. It is highly likely that all armies have some soldiers who commit atrocities in wartime. […]
In September 1942, the German Sixth Army under General Friedrich Paulus was on the outskirts of Stalingrad, expecting to take the city within a few days. But Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, realizing the loss of Stalingrad would allow the Germans to advance into the Caucasus, committed significant reinforcements and supplies for defense of the city. The […]
“Monsoon-soaked wilderness, debilitating heat, impassable mountains, torrential rivers and disease-infested swamps – New Guinea was a battleground far deadlier than the most fanatical of enemy troops.” – James P. Duffy In January 1942, overwhelming Japanese forces captured Rabaul at the northeastern tip of New Britain Island. Although frequently bombed by the Allies, Rabaul went on to […]
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, a few hours before his death, saluting Japanese naval pilots at Rabaul, April 18, 1943 – Wikimedia Commons “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, […]
Before the Pentagon was built, the United States Department of War, a civilian agency created to administer the U.S. Army, was spread out in temporary buildings in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. With the onset of the European conflict in 1939, the War Department rapidly expanded in anticipation of U.S. entry into WWII. Designed by the architect […]
The battle for Guadalcanal was the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan. I wrote a short piece about a woman waiting on the home front for her husband who would never return from Guadalcanal. By the end of 1942, all attempts by the Japanese army to recapture Henderson Air Field on […]
This rather eerie Japanese wartime cartoon features Momotaro the mythological Peach Boy fighting alongside several different animal species (representing East Asians) in an attack against the demons on the island of Onigashima (Americans and British).
The Monuments Men is an enjoyable and interesting film, filled with great actors. Still, just like the Japanese and Germans, American film makers usually produce WWII films that make American soldiers seem almost too “honorable” to be true.
Although the United States did conduct some preliminary tests with the highly toxic compound ricin at the end of WWI, the development of biological weapons, felt to be impractical, was not emphasized in the inter-war period. As late as 1942, the USA had no biological weapons capabilities. However, by November 1943 a biological weapons facility was opened at […]
Born in Hawaii of Japanese immigrants, Daniel Inouye joined the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 1943. He lost an arm in Italy while leading an assault on German machine gun positions. After receiving the Medal of Honor, Inouye completed law school and served in the U.S. Senate for nine terms. Daniel Inouye died December 17, 2012.