https://youtu.be/rfzHg9wEXV0 Bảo Đại, the last of the Nguyễn dynasty, was the Emperor of Annam (a protectorate within French Indochina) from 1926 to 1945. After the Japanese ousted the Vichy-French administration in March 1945 Bảo Đại was named ruler. He soon renamed the country "Vietnam". When the Viet Minh seized power in August 1945 after the Japanese surrender, Bảo Đại held an advisory role as “Citizen Prince Nguyen Vinh Thuy.” Finding no role with the Viet Minh, and distrustful of the French, Bao Dai fled to Hong Kong in 1946 where he led a frivolous life. In 1949 the French accepted the principle of an independent Vietnam but retained control of its defense and finances. Bao Dai became temporary premier, but left the affairs of state to pro-French Vietnamese appointees and was known as the “Playboy Emperor.” In 1955, criticized for being too closely associated with France, Bảo Đại was ousted by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm in a fraudulent referendum vote.
Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972) was the 33rd President of the United States from 1945–1953. A WWI veteran, Truman assumed the presidency upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt in April 1945. Some of his accomplishments include implementing the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, integrating the armed forces, promoting establishment of the Truman Doctrine and NATO as a bulwark against Soviet and Chinese communist expansion, and intervention in the Korean War. 'Truman by David McCullough ,the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for books about John Adams and Truman, is an excellent finely-detailed biography of Harry Truman's entire life.
North & South Korea
This rapid-fire video is an excellent summary of Korean history since the 19th century. The division of Korea between North and South occurred after WWII, ending the Empire of Japan's 35-year rule over Korea in 1945. The United States and the Soviet Union occupied two parts of the country, with the boundary between their zones of control along the 38th parallel. With the onset of the Cold War, negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union failed to lead to an independent, unified Korea. In 1948, UN-supervised elections were held in the US-occupied south only. The anti-communist Syngman Rhee won the election while Kim Il-Sung was appointed as the leader of North Korea by Joseph Stalin. This led to the establishment of the Republic of Korea in the south, which was promptly followed by the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north. The United States supported the South, the Soviet Union supported the North, and each government claimed sovereignty over the whole Korean peninsula. Are North and South Koreans really one people who have been arbitrarily divided by external political forces? Here is one opinion: "The political events forcing Koreans to live in either the North or South of the country were not only brutal but destroyed the previous cultural and linguistic homogeny of a people that were previously part of a single empire and living as family members, friends, neighbours or colleagues." - Commisceo Global (a cross-cultural blog)
Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh, born in 1880 into the family of a poor country scholar as Nguyen Sinh Cung (also called Nguyen Tat Thanh or Nguyen Ai Quoc) attended grammar school in Hue, taught school in Phan Thiet, and was apprenticed at a technical institute in Saigon. In 1911 Ho became a cook on a French steamer and visited African and American ports as a seaman for several years. From 1915-1917, he lived in London, then moved to France where he worked for six years as a gardener, sweeper, waiter, photo retoucher, and oven stoker. In France (1917–23) he became a socialist using the name Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the Patriot). In 1919 Ho's demands for equal rights among Indochinese subjects and their French Colonial rulers was disregarded by great power representatives at the Versailles Peace Conference. Ho later joined the Communist Party and helped establish the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930 and the League for the Independence of Vietnam (Viet Minh) in 1941. At the end of WWII the Viet Minh seized Hanoi and declared a Democratic Republic of Vietnam in North Vietnam. During WWII the United States supported the Viet Minh in resistance against the Japanese and American President Roosevelt was adamant that French colonialism should not recur after the war. However, with the death of FDR and the rapid onset of the Cold War, a Communist regime in Vietnam became unacceptable to Western powers. Ho Chi Minh served as president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam for 25 years throughout prolonged conflict--first with the colonial forces of French Indochina and later with the anti-Communist regime of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, or South Vietnam) which was aligned with the strongly anti-Communist United States.
We were the War Children 1945 When all the soldiers came marching home Love looks in their eye -Van Morrison Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, “the cry of the baby was heard across the land,” as historian Landon Jones later described the trend. 3.4 million babies were born in 1946, 20 percent more than in 1945 and more than ever in the past. Ultimately, the “baby boom” of 1946-1964 produced 76.4 million new Americans, ~40 percent of the nation’s population. GENERATIONS The Baby Boomers compose the generation born immediately following WWII up to the mid-1960s. Generation X (Gen X) followed the baby boomers. Demographers typically cite Gen X as early-to-mid 1960s to early 1980s. Millennials (Gen Y) were born in early to mid-1980s to mid-1990s or early 2000s. (In 2016, 77 million Millennials surpassed 76 Baby Boomers as the largest birth cohort in the USA) Post-Millennials (Generation Z) compose the cohort born after the Millennials. Demographers typically cite the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.
George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm, published in 1945, described his book as an allegorical account of events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. George Orwell was the nom de plum of Eric Blair, a British political novelist and essayist. As a young socialist, he fought in the Spanish Civil War. But in the 1930s, as he became aware of the cruel realities of Soviet dictatorship under Joseph Stalin, Orwell became critical of both capitalism and communism. The 1945 book Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was conceived as an allegory that used English farm animal characters to describe the evolution of Soviet communism. Certain animals were meant to portray important Russian Communist Party leaders (e.g., the pigs Napoleon and Snowball represented Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky, respectively). Plot Overview
COLD WAR BEGINS
After the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, most Americans viewed Communism as a threat to the Western democracies. Communist rhetoric envisioning the overthrow of capitalism was common in Depression-era America. Before WWII, both American and Soviet propaganda.viewed the other side's system of government as evil. However, joining forces with the USSR to defeat the Axis powers in WWII caused a change in American propaganda that portrayed a heroic image of communists fighting Fascism as depicted in the Hollywood film The North Star. When the war ended in 1945, American warmth toward the Soviet Union soon faded and Communists throughout the world were again seen as an evil force. The Cold War had begun.
Ancient Korea Gojoseon, Korea's legendary first kingdom, was founded in 2333 B.C.E. After its collapse, several small kingdoms coalesced into the Three Kingdoms Period (Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla) around the year zero C.E. Gradually assuming power, Silla consolidated rule over the Korean peninsula in 668 C.E. In 935 C.E. Silla fell to Goryeo. In 1392 C.E. Joseon conquered Goryeo and ruled the peninsula until the Japanese annexation of 1910. - Source: New World Encyclopedia Japanese Colonial Rule in Korea 1910-1945 Initially, Imperial Japanese colonial rule of Korea by military force was very harsh and dissent was ruthlessly crushed. After a nationwide protest in 1919, some freedom of expression was allowed. In 1939, >80% of Koreans were pressured to assume Japanese names. With the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, and throughout the WWII War in the Pacific, Koreans were forced to work in Japanese factories and were conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army. Also, thousands of young Korean women were forced into sexual slavery as “Comfort Women” for Japanese soldiers. - Source: Asia for Educatorshttps://www.enemyinmirror.com/japan/japanese-comfort-women/ Post WWII Korea In 1945, with agreement that Korea should be unified and independent, the USSR and USA occupied Korea, north and south of a boundary line along the 38th parallel. U.S. Troops in Korea Unfortunately, with onset of the Cold War, negotiations regarding a unified state of Korea failed. In 1948, U.N. elections, held only in South Korea, resulted in the establishment of the Republic of Korea. Soon after, with the the support of the USSR, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was formed in the north. Here is an alternate history promulgated by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Vietnam After WWII
French Indochina was formed in the late 19th century by combining three Vietnamese regions (Tonkin, Annam and Cochinchina) with Cambodia, Laos and Guangzhouwan. With the fall of France in 1940, the control of the colony shifted to the Vichy French who allowed military occupation by Imperial Japan. With a weakened French position in Indochina, Thailand waged the Franco-Thai War in 1940-41 to reclaim previously-lost territories. A peace treaty brokered by Japan granted disputed border lands in Cambodia and Laos to Thailand. From March-August 1945 Japan assumed complete control of French Indochina. At the conclusion of WWII, the French tried to reassert control over the region but were opposed by the Viet Minh, a coalition of nationalists and Communists led by Nguyen Sinh Cung (later named Ho Chi Minh). The Viet Minh launched a lengthy guerrilla war from 1946-1954 known as the First Indochina War.
You and the Atomic Bomb
Just months after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, George Orwell published an essay entitled You and the Atomic Bomb in the London Tribune. The first one to use the term "cold war," Orwell outlines in the prophetic excerpt below a rationale that would become a tenet of the mutual deterrence strategy employed by the the USA and USSR in the years to come. ... For forty or fifty years past, Mr. H. G. Wells and others have been warning us that man is in danger of destroying himself with his own weapons, leaving the ants or some other gregarious species to take over. Anyone who has seen the ruined cities of Germany will find this notion at least thinkable. Nevertheless, looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery. We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham's theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications — that is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of ‘cold war’ with its neighbors. Had the atomic bomb turned out to be something as cheap and easily manufactured as a bicycle or an alarm clock, it might well have plunged us back into barbarism, but it might, on the other hand, have meant the end of national sovereignty and of the highly-centralised police state. If, as seems to be the case, it is a rare and costly object as difficult to produce as a battleship, it is likelier to put an end to large-scale wars at the cost of prolonging indefinitely a ‘peace that is no peace’.
COLD WAR DAYS
Image: Wikimedia Commons Dear valued reader - With posts about the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials, we draw our Enemy in the Mirror website coverage of WWII to a close and embark on what would become known as the Cold War. I began this website as I dug deeply into the literature and travelled to Japan, researching my first history-inspired novel Enemy in the Mirror: Love and Fury in the Pacific War. Hakodate, Japan Researching the war against the U-Boats off the East Coast USA, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean for my soon-to-be-published second novel The Osprey and the Seawolf ~ The Battle of the Atlantic 1942, I visited Germany, Cuba, Yucatán and Florida. Lübeck Germany Havana Cuba Mérida, Yucatán Jacksonville, Florida As I learned fascinating cultural and historical information about America and her enemies during the years leading up and into WWII, I began to post it here. Born in 1942, I find myself drawn to write about America's wars that have occurred in my lifetime. As I prepare to publish my second WWII novel The Osprey and the Seawolf ~ Moonlight Warriors 1942, I am beginning to research the years 1945-50 that lead up to the Korean War - the topic of my third novel. As always, I will share interesting cultural and historical information I encounter on this website. I would like to encourage readers to share comments and links to additional information and analysis pertinent to the topics discussed. In an attempt to know you better and promote dialogue, I pose this question: What topics interest you most about this website? You can enter other topics and suggestions or copy & paste topics from this list into the comments box below. historical events world politics military & political leaders battles military equipment & tactics emotion home front culture - customs, religion, arts, literature, music Home Front...
From 1945-46, judges from Great Britain, France, USSR and USA presided over the Nuremberg trials of 24 prominent Nazis charged with war crimes. Charges included: crimes against peace—defined as participation in the planning and waging of a war of aggression in violation of numerous international treaties war crimes—defined as violations of the internationally agreed upon rules for waging war crimes against humanity—including murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war; or persecution on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated. LEADING NAZI OFFICIALS INDICTED FOR WAR CRIMES included: Hermann Goering (Hitler's heir designate) Rudolf Hess (deputy leader of the Nazi party) Joachim von Ribbentrop (foreign minister) Wilhelm Keitel (head of the armed forces) Wilhelm Frick (minister of the interior) Ernst Kaltenbrunner (head of security forces) Hans Frank (governor-general of occupied Poland) Konstantin von Neurath (governor of Bohemia and Moravia) Erich Raeder (head of the navy) Karl Doenitz (Raeder's successor) Alfred Jodl (armed forces command) Alfred Rosenberg (minister for occupied eastern territories) Baldur von Schirach (head of the Hitler Youth) Julius Streicher (radical Nazi antisemitic publisher) Fritz Sauckel (head of forced-labor allocation) Albert Speer (armaments minister) Arthur Seyss-Inquart (commissioner for the occupied Netherlands) Martin Bormann (Hitler's adjutant) was tried in absentia OCTOBER 1, 1946 VERDICTS AT NUREMBERG: death sentence for Goering, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Kaltenbrunner, Rosenberg, Frank, Frick, Streicher, Sauckel, Jodl, SeyssInquart, and Bormann life imprisonment for Hess, economics minister Walther Funk, and Raeder prison terms ranging from 10 to 20 years for Doenitz, Schirach, Speer, and Neurath acquitted were Hjalmar Schacht (economics minister), Franz von Papen (politician) and Hans Fritzsche (head of press and radio) The death sentences were carried out on October 16, 1946, with two exceptions: Goering (committed suicide in his cell) and Bormann (remained missing, but was later proven to have committed suicide to avoid capture) the seven major war criminals sentenced to prison terms were remanded to the Spandau Prison in Berlin Although the legality of the Nuremberg trials remains controversial, many feel they set an important precedent for dealing with genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Our Job in Japan
Our Job in Japan, a training film for American soldiers assigned to occupation forces in Japan, begins with a description of the Japanese brain that has been duped by military leaders. The film details Japanese barbarity during the war and advises taking no chances with "tricky" Japanese today while helping the "honest" ones to recover from the war and accept democracy. After revisions, apparently demanded by the Supreme Command of Allied Powers (ASCAP) occupying Japan, the film ends on a more optimistic note, showing smiling GIs interacting with women in kimonos and small children. When exposed to the truth long enough, the film suggests, the Japanese brain can comprehend modern, civilized sense. In September, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur became the Supreme Command of Allied Powers (SCAP) and assumed the task of rebuilding war-torn Japan. Initial Allied efforts (~1945-47) emphasized punishment of war crimes, reforms of the Japanese government and society, revival of the economy and establishment of a formal peace treaty and alliance. The Imperial Japanese Army was disbanded and war crimes trials were convened in Tokyo. Land reform policies, designed to benefit tenant farmers formerly under the control of rich landowners were instituted. Efforts were made to weaken large Japanese business conglomerates (zaibatsu) and establish a free capitalist market. SCAP censorship of all Japanese media, banned topics including: Criticism of SCAP Criticism of Allied policy Imperial propaganda Defense of war criminals Praise of “undemocratic” forms of government Discussion of the atomic bomb Black market activities Discussion of allied diplomatic relations In 1947, Allied "advisors" drew up a new constitution for Japan that downgraded the emperor to a figurehead and placed power within a parliamentary system. Women were granted increased rights and privileges. Eliminating all non-defensive armed forces, Japan's new constitution renounced the right to wage war.
After the War
September 1945 - the war is over! ...You'll never know how many dreams I've dreamed about you Or how empty they all seem without you So kiss me once...and kiss me twice And kiss me once again It's been a long...long time It's been a mighty, mighty long time WWII caused >60 million deaths - approximately 3% percent of the 1940 world's population. After the war, Allied powers worked to reduce the potential military power of conquered Axis nations and prosecute those accused of war crimes. Millions of Germans and Japanese were forced to leave territories they had colonized (e.g. in Eastern Europe, Korea, Taiwan and Manchuria). Tension between Western Allies and Communist Russia became particularly heated in Germany and the Korean Peninsula, resulting in the ultimate creation of East and West Germany and North and South Korea. WWII:After the War: Click this link for 45 fascinating photos from The Atlantic October 30, 2011
Allies Occupy Germany
Your Job In Germany was a short film shown to US soldiers embarking on post-war occupation duty in Germany. Produced by the United States War Department in 1945, the film was made by a military film unit directed by Frank Capra and was written by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. The film exhorts occupying American troops to realize they are in hostile territory. Trust no one. Always be on the alert. There is an inner German lust for power. Be cautious. And enter into into no personal relationships.
Burmese Harp / Grave of the Fireflies
Adapted from the novel by Michio Takeyama, this 1956 film directed by Ichikawa Kon, involves a company of Japanese Imperial Army troops who finally surrender in the last desperate stages of the Burma campaign. When their company commander begins to lead them in songs from their homeland, they discover renewed energy and the will to survive. After they surrender, one of the men, a harp player, fails to convince another group of soldiers holed up in a cave to surrender. Disguised as a Buddhist monk, he escapes to systematically bury dead Japanese troops scattered about the countryside. The film is very powerful and touching. You don't have to know Japanese to understand this film trailer. ____________________________________ Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 animated film adapted from the 1967 short story of the same name written by Akiyuki Nosaka. Based on his own experiences during the firebombing of Kobe in 1945, the book was written as a personal apology to his younger sister Keiko who died of starvation under his care after the bombing.
Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd The concept of a nuclear chain reaction reportedly came to the physicist Leó Szilárd as an epiphany while waiting to cross a London street in 1933. “...It suddenly occurred to me that if we could find an element which is split by neutrons and which would emit two neutrons when it absorbed one neutron, such an element, if assembled in sufficiently large mass, could sustain a nuclear chain reaction.” With his theory rejected by prominent physicists of the time, Szilárd, a Hungarian Jewish refugee, pursued his own research experiments. When, in 1939, German physicists bombarded uranium with neutrons, causing it to split in two and release extra neutrons in the process, Szilárd realized the scientific and military implications. Concerned that Nazi Germany might first develop a nuclear weapon, Szilárd composed a letter U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and convinced his celebrity friend Albert Einstein to sign it instead of him. FDR responded with interest and the Manhattan Project was ultimately born in 1942. But with the defeat of Nazi Germany looming in the Spring of 1945, Szilárd co-authored the Franck Report that warned of a possible nuclear arms race or war with Russia that would cost more lives than might be saved by using the atomic bomb against Japan. On the 4th of July, 1945, he sent this petition to fellow scientists. July 4, 1945 Dear... Inclosed is the text of a petition which will be submitted to the President of the United States. As you will see, this petition is based on purely moral considerations. It may very well be that the decision of the President whether or not to use atomic bombs in the war against Japan will largely be based on considerations of expediency. On the basis of expediency, many arguments could be put forward both for and against our use of atomic bombs against Japan. Such arguments could be considered only within the framework of a thorough analysis of the situation which will face the United States after this war and it was felt that no useful purpose would be served by considering arguments of expediency in a short petition. However small the chance might be that our petition may influence the course of events, I personally feel that it would be a matter of importance if a large number of scientists who have worked in this field went clearly and unmistakably on record as to their opposition on moral grounds to the use of these bombs in the present phase of the war. Many of us are inclined to say that individual Germans share the guilt for the acts which Germany committed during this war because they did not raise their voices in protest against these acts. Their defense that their protest would have been of no avail hardly seems acceptable even though these Germans could not have protests without running risks to life and liberty. We are in a position to raise our voices without incurring any such risks even...
After the bombing of Hiroshima, some members of Japan’s supreme war council favored acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, but the majority resisted unconditional surrender. Things grew worse when the USSR declared war against Japan. Then, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. About midnight on August 9, Emperor Hirohito convened the supreme war council. After a long, emotional debate, the council obeyed his order to accept the Allied peace terms. On August 12 the United States replied: “The authority of the emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.” After two days of debate within the council, Hirohito ignored the nuances in the text and ordered the Japanese government to prepare a surrender message. During the night of August 15, 1945 a military coup, the Kyūjō incident was attempted by a faction led by Major Kenji Hatanaka. The rebels seized control of the imperial palace and burned Prime Minister Suzuki’s residence. Shortly after dawn the coup was crushed and the leaders committed suicide. At noon, Emperor Hirohito went on national radio for the first time to announce the Japanese surrender. In court language, unfamiliar to his subjects, he said: “We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.” 終戦の詔書 Emperor Hirohito Rescript at WWII end, English Translation Japanese citizens in front of the Imperial palace on August 15, 1942. (dailymail.co.uk) President Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur to head the Allied occupation of Japan as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. The site of Japan’s formal surrender on September 2, 1942, was the seasoned battleship USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay along with 250 other Allied warships. THE JAPANESE SURRENDER DOCUMENTS - WWII: (1) - We...agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war. (2) - ...determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist. (3) -The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan... (4) -The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue...or whether she will follow the path of reason. (5) Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay. (6) There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world. (7) Until such a new order is established AND until there is convincing proof that Japan's war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we...
President Harry Truman approved but did not specify the dates for use of atomic bombs.The Target Committee identified the targets and determined the best opportunities for attack based on logistics and weather. After the bombing of Hiroshima produced no Japanese response, the decision was made to proceed with plans to bomb Kokura. Nagasaki was a seaport in southern Japan that produced military ordnance, ships, equipment and war materials. Most buildings in the city of 263,000 people were built with timber in old-fashioned Japanese style. Because its geography made it difficult to locate at night, the city had not been firebombed. In the early hours of August 9, 1945, a B-29 named Bockscar, flown by Major Charles W. Sweeney, carried the 10,000 pound atomic bomb Fat Man, toward its primary target Kokura with Nagasaki as the secondary option. With clouds and smoke from a nearby air raid obscuring the aiming site at Kokura, Major Sweeney made three unsuccessful runs over the city before heading for the secondary target, Nagasaki. At 11:01, a break in the clouds over Nagasaki allowed Bockscar's bombardier to sight the target. The Fat Man weapon, containing a core of plutonium, exploded 47 seconds later at 1,650 ft over the city's industrial valley. Because the bomb dropped almost two miles northwest of the intended hypocenter, a major portion of the city was protected by the intervening hills. With the release of ~21 Kilotons of energy, the temperature within the fireball reached ~7,050 °F. Winds were estimated to be >620 mph. Although casualty estimates for immediate death varied, at least 35,000–40,000 people were killed and 60,000 others injured. Following the explosion, more people died from delayed effects of the bomb. By the end of 1945, total deaths due to the attack are variably estimated to be 39,000-80,000. The touching 2015 Japanese film Nagasaki: Memories of My Son is about a widow who lost her husband and eldest son in the war and her youngest son Koji during the bombing of Nagasaki. Living alone with only her midwifery to keep her occupied, she is visited by an apparition of Koji. Read the New Yorker article: Nagasaki: The Last Bomb
Operation August Storm 1945
On August 8, 1945, after refusing to mediate a Japanese surrender with the United States and its allies, the USSR declared war on Japan. On August 9, 1945, Russian troops invaded the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo in Operation August Storm. On August 14, 1945 a Soviet armored division and some Chinese troops massacred ~1500 Japanese civilians near Gegenmiao Manchuria. Japanese refugees (mostly women and children) were reportedly shot, run over by tanks or trucks or bayoneted after they had raised a white flag in surrender. Soviet and Mongolian troops soon ended Japanese control of Manchukuo, Mengjiang (inner Mongolia), South Sakhalin Island (Karafuto), and the Chishima (Kuril) Islands and northern Korea.
In April-July 1945 Japanese forces inflicted Allied casualties totaling nearly half those suffered in three full years of war in the Pacific. In late July, Japan’s militarist government rejected the Potsdam Declaration demanding unconditional surrender or total destruction. For the new U.S. president Harry S. Truman, the Empire of Japan appeared ever more deadly when faced with defeat. General Douglas MacArthur, along with General Dwight Eisenhower, some Manhattan Project scientists and senior U.S. military commanders recommended a continuation of conventional bombing followed by a massive invasion of mainland Japan. Informed that the invasion would cost up to a million U.S. Casualties, President Truman opted to use the atomic bomb, hoping to conclude the war swiftly. Hiroshima, a manufacturing center of some 350,000 people located about 500 miles west of Tokyo, was selected as the first target. Hiroshima before the atomic bombing On Tinian island, a ~ 9,000-pound uranium-235 bomb was loaded aboard a modified B-29 bomber named Enola Gay (named after the mother of its pilot, USAAF Colonel Paul Tibbets. At 08:45 in the morning on August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped "Little Boy," the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima. Parachuting down, the bomb exploded 2,000 feet above the city with a blast equal to 12-15,000 tons of TNT. 90% of the city (five square miles) was destroyed and 80,000 people were killed instantly; tens of thousands died later from radiation exposure. A Reporter at Large New Yorker Magazine ~ August 31, 1946 Issue Hiroshima - Open link to read the entire story By John Hersey City Ravaged by Flames - Sadako Kurihara (1912-2005) Amid rubble /ravaged by flames/the last moments /of thousands: /what sadness! / Thousands of people,/tens of thousands: /lost/the instant/the bomb exploded./ silent, all sorrows/unspoken,/city of rubble/ravaged by flames:/autumn rain falls.
Unfortunately, this clunky film doesn't do justice to the fate of the USS Indianapolis crewmen and or its scapegoated captain. On July 30, 1945 the USS Indianapolis, after delivering A-Bomb components to Tinian Island for the atomic bomb used against Hiroshima, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea. The Indianapolis sank in 12 minutes. Three hundred of 1,196 crewmen went down with the ship. The remainder were left floating in shark-infested waters with no lifeboats, most without food or water. The U.S. Navy failed to notice the ship was missing, and when it was finally spotted by a routine air patrol four days later, only 316 men were still alive. The remainder had succumbed to exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning or shark attacks. It was the worst naval disaster in US History. Despite the recommendation of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, Admiral Chester Nimitz that the ship's Captain, Charles Butler McVay III, was at worst guilty of an error in judgment, but not gross negligence, naval authorities in Washington, including Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal and Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations ordered court-martial proceedings against McVay. A veteran of the naval battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Captain McVay was subsequently convicted of "hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag," despite strong evidence the Navy had carelessly placed the ship in harm's way, failed to note its absence, and testimony that zigzagging would have made no difference. In 1946, in response to a request from Admiral Nimitz, who had become Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary Forrestal remitted McVay's sentence and restored him to duty. McVay served in the New Orleans Naval District until retirement in 1949 with the rank of Rear Admiral. In 2000, the United States Congress passed a resolution exonerating McVay for the loss of the USS Indianapolis. In 1968 McVay killed himself with his service pistol while holding a toy sailor he had received as a boy for a good luck charm.
Final Strikes on Japan
Instead of battleships, fleet carriers became the primary striking force of the U.S. Navy in late 1944. The Fast Carrier Task Force operated in Pacific waters from January 1944 until the end of WWII in August 1945. After the conquest of Okinawa, the next invasion was scheduled to be in October 1945 with Operation Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu. While the U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet returned to Leyte to resupply and rest, a series of fast carriers operations against industrial plants, infrastructure and airfields from Hokkaido to Kyushu were planned. In July 1945, carrier-launched air raids attacked the cities of Aomori and Hakodate and severed the car and rail ferry link between Honshu and Hokkaido. Eight of the twelve ferries carrying Hokkaido's coal supply to the vital industries on Honshu were sunk, two were heavily damaged, and two beached. 400 passengers were killed. Excerpt from my book Enemy in the Mirror: Love and Fury in the Pacific War Hakodate, Hokkaido ~ July 1945 ...A little after four o’clock Fumiko and Miyoko boarded the tram back to the harbor. As was the custom, most of the passengers were sitting quietly, not making eye contact. Miyoko stood and offered her seat to an elderly woman carrying a large bundle. Fumiko looked about the car discreetly. Several young men in summer white uniforms were quietly conversing in the rear. A young child with half-closed eyes leaned against her expressionless mother. Just past the Red Cross Hospital, the tram suddenly lurched to a stop. For a moment, the startled passengers looked at one another quizzically, then the air raid sirens began to moan. The conductor opened the doors and calmly directed everyone to get off the tram. Knowing that rail lines were often the target of marauding airplanes, the passengers quickly ran away from the tracks. Fumiko and Miyoko ran across the street as flashes of light and the sound of explosions came from the harbor. There was no air raid shelter in sight, so they huddled against the wall of a concrete building. Cars and trucks were abandoned by the roadside and a lone bicyclist peddled frantically up the street. The continuous drone of aircraft engines was interspersed with decrescendo whistling, muffled booms and machine gun fire. Clouds of black smoke flecked with flashing red ash were beginning to billow over the western part of the city. Fumiko drew the terrified Miyoko to her and squinted into the distance. A gray haze permeated with the smell of petroleum, burning wood and cordite was advancing toward them. Then a black shadow, emitting hyphenated ribbons of white light, broke out of the swirling cloud of smoke. Streaking low over the rooftops, it soon became a silvery blue color. White stars in blue circles were stenciled on its wings and fuselage. From photographs she’d seen in the newspaper, Fumiko recognized the Grumman Avenger. Bullets ricocheted off the pavement and riddled the abandoned tram in the middle of the street. Fumiko could see the crew of the torpedo bomber...
Unlike the treatment of German POWs in the USA, the Allied treatment of German military prisoners in Europe at the end of the war is quite controversial. With titles like Eisenhower's Death Camps, The Real Holocaust, The Last Dirty Secret of WWII and Eisenhower Mass Murderer, many online posts and videos claim the Allies, under General Dwight Eisenhower's direction, intentionally mistreated and starved ~ one million German prisoners of war after Germany's surrender in 1945. Other Losses published by Canadian writer James Bacque in 1989, claims General Eisenhower intentionally caused the deaths by starvation or exposure of ~a million German prisoners of war in internment camps following the surrender of Germany in 1945. A perhaps more circumspect view, published by the historian Stephen Ambrose in the New York Times, acknowledges that General Eisenhower hated the Nazis (particularly after viewing the horror of their concentration camps) and there was indeed widespread mistreatment of German prisoners in the spring and summer of 1945. Ambrose states: "Men were beaten, denied water, forced to live in open camps without shelter, given inadequate food rations and inadequate medical care." Food shortage throughout Western Germany was a serious problem for the occupation forces. >3.5 - 5 million German soldiers became prisoners >two million slave laborers were liberated millions of civilians fled from the East to West Although required by the Geneva Convention, Eisenhower maintained the Allies could not afford to feed German prisoners at the same level as U.S. troops. Therefore the prisoners were assigned the designation of "Disarmed Enemy Forces" instead of POWs. Field commanders were ordered not to feed the D.E.F.'s more than German civilians. In the 3-4 months after the end of WWII, thousands of people died of hunger, exposure, and neglect; and hundreds of thousands barely survived. Millions of soldiers were still imprisoned for many months after the war was over.
B-25 Strikes Empire State
A U.S. Army Air Force B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the Empire State Building on Saturday July 28, 1945. Fourteen people were killed. Flying from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to LaGuardia Airport in New York City, with two pilots and a passenger aboard, the B-25 encountered heavy fog over the New York metropolitan area and was instructed to land at Newark Airport instead. The altered flight plan crossed over Manhattan; and the crew was specifically warned that the Empire State Building was not visible. Seeking improved visibility, the B-25 flew relatively low. Seeing the Chrysler Building in midtown, the pilot swerved to avoid the building but flew straight into the north side of the Empire State Building, near the 79th floor. The plane’s jet fuel exploded, sending flames all the way down to the 75th floor and leaving an 18 x 20 foot hole the in the building’s side. One engine from the B-25 crashed through the building, landing in a penthouse across the street. Other debris struck nearby buildings. The second engine snapped an elevator cable - an emergency auto brake saved a woman from crashing to her death. Because it was the weekend, relatively few workers were in the building. In addition to the B-25 pilot, copilot and passenger, eleven office workers died by fire or violent ejection from the building by the the crash.
https://youtu.be/xQuQ38XgdI0 In July 1945, USSR Premier Joseph Stalin, the new American president Harry S. Truman, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain met in Potsdam Germany in the last Big Three meeting of WWII . At Potsdam, the Big Three leaders demanded unconditional surrender from Japan, although privately they agreed to allow the emperor to remain in place as a figurehead. An Allied Control Council was established for military administration of Germany. Nazi institutions that controlled the economy were decentralized, and it was agreed that the entire German nation would be treated as a single economic unit. War criminals would be brought to trial. The USSR was allowed to define the Polish-German border, transferring land east of the Oder and Neisse rivers from Germany to Poland. Regarding reparations, the Big Three reached a compromise, based on an exchange of capital equipment from the Western zone for raw materials from the East. Unfortunately, resolution of this issue set the precedent of managing the German economy by zone rather than as a whole. Truman received word of a successful American atomic bomb test soon after he arrived at Potsdam. He told Churchill the news but only mentioned ‘a new weapon’ to Stalin, continuing to solicit Soviet assistance against Japan.
Under the Sand
From 1940-1943, the Danish government pursued a course of cautious cooperation with the occupying forces of Nazi Germany. However, in 1943, with increased turbulence and sabotage by the underground resistance movement, the Germans imposed a state of emergency and disbanded the government. Many arrests and executions followed. By 1945 Denmark was besieged by shortages of goods, generalized fear and unrest. At the end of the war, Danes seethed with anger against Germans. During its occupation of Denmark, Nazi Germany planted hundreds of thousands of land mines on the west coast beaches of Denmark. Although it violated the Geneva Convention prohibition against making prisoners of war do dangerous work, at war's end >2000 German prisoners were forced to deactivate them. Many of them died. The joint Danish-German film Land of Mine (Danish title: Under Sandet), directed by Martin Zandvliet, depicts the ethical tension between justice and vengeance in a taut, powerful drama about a team of teenage German POWs under the strict supervision of a bitter, Danish Non-Commissioned officer, filled with rage at his country's former conquerors. The film is shocking, moving, violent, tender, heart-breaking and powerful.
Operation Downfall Japan
Operation Downfall, the proposed Allied plan for the invasion of Japan, would have been the largest amphibious operation in history. It was planned in two phases on the few beaches that were adequate for a massive landing force: Operation Olympic, to be launched from Okinawa in November 1945, would capture the southern third of the island Kyūshū, which could then be used as a base for air attacks on other targets in Japan. Operation Coronet would be launched in the spring of 1946 near Tokyo, on the island of Honshu. The Japanese reportedly planned expending the majority of their defensive efforts on the island of Kyūshū, leaving little reserve for other operations. Some American military planners advocated the use of chemical weapons in the invasion of japan - although it had been outlawed by the Geneva Convention, neither the U.S. nor Japan had signed the agreement. Casualty predictions varied widely, but were extremely high and dependent on the level of resistance by Japanese civilians. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated that casualties from Operation Olympic would cost ~456,000 men, including 109,000 killed. With the addition of Operation Coronet, the estimate was 1.2 million casualties, with 267,000 deaths. Admiral Chester Nimitz staff calculated that America would suffer 49,000 in the first 30 days of the invasion General Douglas MacArthur’s staff estimated ~125,000 casualties after 120 days General George Marshall estimated 31,000 in 30 days after landing in Kyushu Admiral William Leahy estimated that the invasion would cost 268,000 casualties U.S. Navy Department estimated that the total losses to America would be between 1.7 and 4 million with 400,000 to 800,000 deaths. They also estimated ~10 million Japanese casualties
23 May, 1945 — President of Germany Karl Dönitz and Chancellor of Germany Count Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk are arrested by British forces at Flensburg. They are respectively the last German Head of state and Head of government until 1949. 23 May- Heinrich Himmler, former head of the Nazi SS, commits suicide in British custody. 24 May - Field marshal Robert Ritter von Greim commander of the Luftwaffe in the last days of the Third Reich, commits suicide. 29 May- German communists, led by Walther Ulbricht arrive in Berlin. 5 June- The Allied Control Council, military occupation governing body of Germany, formally takes power. 1 July - Germany is divided between the Allied occupation forces. Source: Wikipedia This cynical training film for American occupation forces reflects the bitterness and suspicion felt at the end of the war with Nazi Germany.
For the Japanese, Okinawa was the last stepping stone before the invasion of the main islands of the Empire of Japan. The ferocious Battle of Okinawa lasted 82 days. Many analysts believe that Japanese military leaders, realizing the war was lost, hoped to inflict such heavy casualties on Allied forces that a negotiated peace would seem preferable to a bloody invasion of the home islands. Instead of attacking, Japanese forces focused on defensive maneuvers that resulted in many casualties for the American invaders. Using pillboxes, caves, and ancient castles, they deployed a series of defense lines across the island which they were able to maintain for many weeks. With the addition of multiple Kamikaze air attacks, the Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest and most difficult of the entire Pacific campaign. And, since the island was heavily-populated, civilian casualties soared to ~100,000 ( a level approximately the same as the Japanese army). Although the island was declared "secure" by American forces on June 21, 1945, many Japanese troops continued fighting. During "mop-up" operations, 8,975 Japanese soldiers were killed. Battle of Okinawa Statistics Americans: Marines go North to secure the mountains, Army goes South to capture Shuri and Naha. Of the 400,000 Okinawans who lived on Okinawa at the time of the Battle, 150,000+ were lost or killed. AMERICAN INVASION FORCES Area Commander: Admiral Chester Nimitz Commander, Division Force: Admiral Raymond Spruance C.G., 10th Army: LtGen Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. 10TH ARMY COMPONENTS XXIV CORPS 7th Division 96th Division 27th Division (later) 77th Division (later) III AMPHIBIOUS CORPS 1st Marine Division 6th Marine Division 2nd Marine Division CASUALTIES Killed: 12,250 Wounded: 36,361 30 Ships Sunk 223 Ships Damaged JAPANESE DEFENSES C.G. LtGen Mitsuro Ushijima C.G. LtGen Isamu Cho Sr. Operations Officer: Col. Hiromichi Yahara 32ND ARMY COMPONENTS 62nd Imperial Infantry Division 24th Imperial Infantry Division NAVAL FORCES 44th Independant Mixed Brigade Kamikaze Planes TACTICAL OBJECTIVE Destroy U.S. 10th Army STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE Cripple U.S. Navy GOALS Prevent invasion of mainland Japan CASUALTIES Killed: 109,629 (estimate) POWs: 7,821 Yamato (ship) sunk; 3,500 kamikazes destroyed
Nazi Germany Surrenders
On 20 April 1945, as the Nazi regime collapsed around him, Hitler appointed Grössadmiral Karl Dönitz as his successor, President of the Reich, Minister of War and Supreme Commander of the armed forces. After Hitler's suicide on 30 April, Dönitz began negotiations for surrender with the Allies. Grössadmiral Karl Dönitz As Nazi troops were being defeated in Berlin and throughout Germany, Dönitz was forced to accept the terms of unconditional surrender. On May 6th he ordered Wehrmacht Chief of Staff General Alfred Jodl to represent him at the signing ceremony in General Dwight Eisenhower’s temporary schoolhouse headquarters in Reims France. General Alfred Jodl For protocol reasons, Eisenhower remained in a nearby room and did not attend the ceremony. General Dwight D. Eisenhower Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith represented Eisenhower in the ‘war room’. Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith After an interpreter read the terms of surrender, General Jodl addressed those in the room: “I want to say a word. With this signature the German people and the German armed forces are for better or worse delivered into the victor’s hands. In this war, which has lasted more than five years, they both have achieved and suffered more than perhaps any other people in the world. In this hour I can only express the hope that the victor will treat them with generosity.” No one answered nor saluted Jodl. After the Germans left the room, those remaining in the ‘war room’ drank champagne from mess tins.
Ezra Pound Arrested
Ezra Weston Loomis Pond (1885 – 1972) was one of the most controversial, major literary figures in the 20th century. Early in his career, Pound promoted Imagism, a modernist movement, derived from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry, that emphasized clarity, precision and economy of language. The tree has entered my hands, The sap has ascended my arms, The tree has grown in my breast - Downward, The branches grow out of me, like arms. Tree you are, Moss you are, You are violets with wind above them. A child - so high - you are, And all this is folly to the world. Ezra Pound Throughout his career, Pound was devoted to advancing the art of poetry and maintaining his aesthetic standards in the midst of extreme adversity. Additionally, he strived to promote many other writers (including T.S. Eliot, James Joyce. D.H. Lawrence, Robert Frost and Ernest Hemingway). His best-known works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) and the unfinished epic, The Cantos (1917–1969). Pound moved to fascist Italy in 1925 and became attracted to the energy and promises of monetary reform by the dictator Benito Mussolini. During WWII he remained in Italy and broadcast a series of controversial radio commentaries that attacked Franklin Roosevelt and Jewish bankers that he (and Adolf Hitler) held responsible for the war. In May 1945 he was imprisoned by the U.S. Army in an outdoor cage (illuminated at night with floodlights) near Pisa, Italy. Eventually judged to be mentally incompetent, Pound was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. After Robert Frost led a successful effort to free him in 1958, Pound returned to Italy where he lived the rest of his life. Ironically, while imprisoned in Italy, Pound completed the highly-acclaimed "Pisan Cantos," that won the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1949. What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage Excerpt from The Pisan Cantos
Marriage & Death of Adolf Hitler
For ~12 years, Adolf Hitler tried to keep his relationship with his mistress Eva Braun a secret. His personal valet Heinz Linge reported that Hitler once said: "Fräulein Braun is ... too young to be the wife of one in my position. But she is the only girl for me. So we live as we do. But one day..." On April 29, the day before their double suicide, Hitler married Eva Braun. On April 30, 1945, both Hitler and his new wife Eva swallowed cyanide capsules after testing their efficacy on his beloved dog Blondi. Hitler then shot himself with his 7.65 mm Walther pistol. Their bodies were cremated in the chancellery garden and reportedly later recovered in part by Russian troops. Despite many conspiracy theories (perhaps some promoted by Stalin) and claims that Hitler had actually survived somehow, in 1956 a German court finally officially declared Hitler dead.
In Nordic Mythology Ragnarök refers to a prophesied war among various beings and gods that ultimately results in the destruction and renewal of the world. In Richard Wagner's four opera adaptation of Nordic myth Ring des Nibelungen, the final opera was entitled Götterdämmerung (twilight of the Gods). Wagner was one of Adolf Hitler's favorite composers and his music was performed at many party rallies and functions. In April 1945, with the Allies closing in on all sides, the Third Reich was in great disarray. April 23 - Hermann Göring (ensconced in the Obersalzburg in Bavaria) sent a radiogram to Hitler's Berlin Führerbunker, asking to be declared Hitler's successor. Although he had issued a secret decree in 1941 naming Göring his successor, Hitler reportedly flew into a rage, convinced that Göring was attempting a coup d'état. Hitler's personal secretary Martin Bormann then ordered the SS to arrest Göring for treason. April 28 - Hitler learned that the Reichsführer of the SS and Chief of German Police Heinrich Himmler was attempting to discuss surrender terms with the Allies. He ordered Himmler arrested and his SS aide at the Führerbunker in Berlin shot. April 1945 - Responsible for carrying out the Demolitions on Reich Territory Decree issued by Hitler in March 1945, Albert Speer convinced Nazi generals and Gauleiters to ignore the order. Later known as the Nero Decree this scorched earth order stated: All military transport and communication facilities, industrial establishments and supply depots, as well as anything else of value within Reich territory, which could in any way be used by the enemy immediately or within the foreseeable future for the prosecution of the war, will be destroyed.
Japanese Hospital Ship Sunk
In April 1945, the Awa Maru was a Japanese ocean liner requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese navy, sailing under the protection of the Red Cross with 2004 passengers and crew. After delivering Red Cross supplies to Singapore, the Awa Maru took on stranded merchant marine officers, military personnel, diplomats and civilians and departed for Japan. In accordance with an agreement with the Allies, the Japanese disclosed the route the ship would take back to Japan from Singapore. Under the 1929 Geneva Convention (which Japan signed but did not ratify) the ship was to be given safe passage through the war zone. Late on the foggy night of April 1, 1945, the Awa Maru was torpedoed in the Taiwan Strait by the American submarine USS Queenfish (SS-393), which reportedly misidentified the liner as an Imperial Japanese destroyer. All 2,004 passengers and crew, save one, went down with the ship. Commander Charles Elliott Loughlin of the USS Queenfish was subsequently convicted of negligence in obeying orders and given a Letter of Admonition from the Secretary of the Navy. USS Queenfish
Bomb Kills Oregon Picnickers
Radiolab just broadcast an excellent, detailed account of the Japanese balloon bomb incident at Bly, Oregon LISTEN: http://www.radiolab.org/story/war-our-shore/ My history-inspired novel Enemy in the Mirror: Love and Fury in the Pacific War includes a fictionalized account of the event that killed a minister's wife and five adolescents on a church group outing in May 1945.
WARNING: This post contains many graphic images. The motto "Jedem das Seine" displayed over the entrance to the Buchenwald concentration camp, is an old German proverb derived from the Latin phrase "suum cuique" meaning "to each his own" or "to each what he deserves." Built in the woods of Thuringia, above the municipality of Ettersberg, Buchenwald was one of the largest concentration camps established within the old German borders of 1937. By 1938, prisoners from all over Europe and the Soviet Union, mentally ill and physically-disabled people, gypsies, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses, recidivist criminals, homosexuals, prisoners of war and ~10,000 Jews were interned in the camp. Buchenwald inmates were deployed in forced labor, treated with extraordinary cruelty and frequent summarily executed by SS-Totenkopfverbände guards. SS Totenkopfverbände Colonel Karl Otto Koch, the commandant of Buchenwald, with his wife, Ilse. Medical experiments performed on the prisoners included infecting them with contagious diseases such as typhus, typhoid, cholera and diphtheria in order to determine vaccine efficacy. In January 1945, as Soviet forces advanced across Poland toward Germany, more than 10,000 prisoners (most of the Jews) were force-marched from Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen camps in Poland to Buchenwald. In early April 1945, as U.S. forces approached, the Germans began to evacuate ~28,000 prisoners from the main camp and several thousand more from the sub-camps of Buchenwald. About a third of these prisoners died from exhaustion or were shot by the SS. Underground resistance leaders who held some administrative jobs within the camp were able to obstruct Nazi orders and delay the evacuation of many prisoners. On April 11, 1945, in expectation of liberation, starving prisoners stormed the watchtowers and seized control of the camp. Some guards were killed and the remainder forced to flee into the woods. Later that day, Patton's 6th Armored Division arrived to liberate the camp, One of the first American soldiers to enter the camp described the experience: "We were tumultuously greeted by what I was told were 21,000 men, and what an incredible greeting that was. I was picked up by arms and legs, thrown into the air, caught, thrown again, caught, thrown, etc., until I had to stop it. I was getting dizzy. How the men found such a surge of strength in their emaciated condition was one of those bodily wonders in which the spirit sometimes overcomes all weaknesses of the flesh. My, but it was a great day!" - Captain Frederic Keffer From 1937 to April 1945, the SS imprisoned ~250,000 persons in Buchenwald. Since camp authorities never registered a significant number of the prisoners, mortality figures are only estimates: but at least 56,000 male prisoners (~11,000 Jews) were murdered at Buchenwald by the SS. After liberation of the camp, villagers of Namerin were forced to file past bodies of victims murdered by the SS on the forced march.
This propaganda film was produced by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1945 in an effort to promote War Bond sales. My Japan might be described as a heavy-handed attempt to elicit angry responses from American citizens regarding Japan's audacity as well as contempt for their own materialistic values. Although it now seems ludicrous with a Caucasian narrator made up to look and sound stereotypically Japanese, it is interesting to note the emphasis on hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, austerity and the need to support the war effort financially.
Nazi Child Soldiers
In 1936 participation of boys and girls in Nazi youth groups became mandatory. At the onset of WWII older Hitler Jugend (HJ) boys were conscripted into the armed forces while younger boys functioned as air raid wardens and anti-aircraft gun assistants. Also you... Girls in the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) offered refreshments to departing troops on railway platforms, cared for wounded soldiers in hospitals, helped in kindergartens and assisted households with large families. Starting in January 1943, anti-aircraft batteries were officially manned solely by Hitler Youth boys. After a raid, Hitler Youth also assisted in neighborhood cleanup and the relocation of bombed-out civilians. As military manpower dwindled in 1943, 16-17 year-old volunteers were recruited for the 12th SS Panzer HJ Division. In the summer of 1944, Hitler ordered Hitler Youth as young as fifteen to be trained as replacements and sent to the Russian Front. On D-Day June 6, 1945, the Hitler Youth Division was deployed in Normandy.By the end of its first month in battle, 20% of the HJ Division had been killed and 40 percent wounded or missing. By September 1944, only 600 HJ had survived. The diminished HJ Division continued to exist for the duration of the war, as even younger volunteers were recruited along with a mixture of conscripts. In September 1944, anticipating the invasion of the Fatherland, every able-bodied male aged 16 to 60 was incorporated into the Volkssturm (People’s Army) and trained to use the Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon. Hitler Youth reportedly fought against the Allies with fanatical and reckless behavior, often fighting until there were no survivors. Many committed suicide rather than being taken captive. Toward the end of the war, in addition to participating in major battles, they were deployed as guerrillas, spies and saboteurs in territory occupied by the Allies. In the end, as Russian forces were nearing Berlin, Hitler made the disgraceful decision to order all German youth to fight to the death in a hopeless cause. In April 1945, just ten days before his death, Hitler came out of his Berlin bunker to decorate twelve-year-old HJ soldiers with Iron Crosses for their heroism in the defense of Berlin.
After being freed from an Italian prison by German special forces in 1943, Benito Mussolini established the Italian Social Republic in northern Italy. Although he claimed autonomy, the republic Mussolini ruled for 1 1/2 years as Head of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs, was essentially a puppet state of Nazi Germany. During his rule of the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini orchestrated the executions of several fascist leaders who had betrayed him, including his own son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano. In 1945, Mussolini combined his memoirs with his autobiographical writings published in 1928 in a book entitled My Rise and Fall. In April 1945, with Allied forces approaching, Mussolini, disguised as a Luftwaffe officer, attempted to escape to Switzerland. He and his entourage were stopped by Italian partisans at Dongo, Lombardy. On April 28, 1945, close to the northwestern shore of Lake Como, Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci were summarily executed in Giulino, Como. Their bodies were subsequently taken to Milan where they were desecrated by an angry crowd and hung upside down.
Home Front USA
In the spring of 1945, with much of Europe and the Pacific in ruins, the end of the war was in sight for Americans. While total U.S. military deaths exceeded 400,000 in the European, North African and Pacific theaters, mainland USA never became a significant site of battle during WWII. By mid-1945, the United States had produced 80,000 landing craft, 100,000 tanks and armored cars, 300,000 airplanes, fifteen million guns, and forty-one billion rounds of ammunition. It had also produced the world’s first two atomic bombs. WWII brought a return of prosperity to the USA after the Great Depression of the 1930s. In addition to promoting the growth of big business and the military-industrial complex, permanent demographic changes involving women and minorities occurred that at times promoted social and economic gains. Americans also learned to expect federal government involvement in problems previously managed at the state or local level. Additionally, the role of the president grew more powerful than ever been before. While basic American values endured, a more attractive, stable and secure future now seemed possible. WWII restored the self-confidence lost during the Depression and convinced many the American dream was alive and well. For many Americans this was to be recalled as "The Good War" fought by the "The Greatest Generation."
In April 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato, the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy and heaviest battleship in the world, was dispatched from Japan with nine other warships on a suicide mission against Allied forces attacking Okinawa. Before reaching Okinawa, the task force was heavily damaged by American carrier-borne aircraft. The Yamato and five other Japanese warships were sunk. Of Yamato’s 3,000-man crew, only 269 survived. The loss of the Yamato was a tragic blow to Japanese morale. Viewed as the supreme symbol of naval power, many citizens believed that Imperial Japan could never fall as long as this great warship was still in action.
The Battle of Okinawa (April 1-June 22,1945) was the last and largest of the Pacific War. Intending to establish bases for the invasion of mainland Japan, 287,000 troops of the U.S. 10th Army attacked 130,000 soldiers of the Imperial Japanese 32nd Army on April 1, 1945. The Japanese devised a defensive strategy on Okinawa that differed from their previous tactics of resisting invasion forces on the beaches. Instead, they employed a series of strategic lines across the island with pillboxes and strongpoints within caves and even ancient castles. Interlinked defensive positions were able to survive intensive artillery fire and air strikes, enabling a fierce defense for several weeks. In the bloody battle that ensued, Allied forces had to extinguish each defensive position one by one, often using dynamite or flamethrowers. In addition, the Japanese made massive suicidal attacks against Allied ships with “Special Attack Force” aircraft (Kamikaze) and deployed their gigantic battleship Yamato to be sacrificed in the battle. ____________ At the end of the campaign on June 22, casualties were staggering: >77,000 Japanese soldiers dead >65,000 Allied casualties (including 14,000 dead) ~100,000 civilian casualties The American general Simon B. Buckner was killed by artillery fire The Japanese general Ushijima Mitsuru committed suicide ____________
Ernie Pyle Killed
Before he became a WWII correspondent, Indianan Ernie Pyle wrote a popular syndicated column for the Scripps-Howard newspapers about the lives and hopes of typical American citizens in the 1930s. In 1942, Pyle went overseas as a war correspondent where he covered the North Africa campaign and the invasions of Sicily, Italy and Normandy. Rather than focusing on the battles he saw, Pyle wrote about the experiences of ordinary enlisted men. D-Day was described as “... a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.” In 1945, after being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished correspondence, Pyle traveled to the Pacific to cover the war against Japan. On April 18, 1945, Ernie Pyle was killed by Japanese machine gun fire on Iejima island. Ernie Pyle Quotations: “They were young men, but the grime and whiskers and exhaustion made them look middle-aged. In their eyes as they passed was no hatred, no excitement, no despair, no tonic of their victory—there was just the simple expression of being there as if they had been there doing that forever, and nothing else.” “It would be wrong to say that war is all grim; if it were, the human spirit could not survive two and three and four years of it. … As some soldier once said, the army is good for one ridiculous laugh per minute. Our soldiers are still just as roughly good-humored as they always were, and they laugh easily, although there isn’t as much to laugh about as there used to be.” “The most vivid change was the casual and workshop manner in which they talked about killing. They had made the psychological transition from their normal belief that taking human life was sinful, over to a new professional outlook where killing was a craft. No longer was there anything morally wrong about killing. In fact, it was an admirable thing.” “A soldier who has been a long time in the line does have a ‘look’ in his eyes that anyone who knows about it can discern. It’s a look of dullness, eyes that look without seeing, eyes that see without conveying any image to the mind. It’s a look that is the display room for what lies behind it—exhaustion, lack of sleep, tension for too long, weariness that is too great, fear beyond fear, misery to the point of numbness, a look of surpassing indifference to anything anybody can do. It’s a look I dread to see on men.” “They seemed terribly pathetic to me. They weren’t warriors. They were American boys who by mere chance of fate had wound up with guns in their hands, sneaking up a death-laden street in a strange and shattered city in a faraway country in a driving rain. They were afraid, but it was beyond their power to quit. … And even though they...
Dietrich Bonhöffer Executed
Together with theologians Karl Barth and Martin Niemöller, the German pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer was a founding member of the German Bekennende Kirche ( Confessing Church), a Protestant movement that opposed Nazi attempts to unify all Protestant churches into a single pro-Nazi Deutsche Evangelische Kirche (Protestant Reich Church) Writing about Christianity's role in the secular world, Bonhöffer was widely influential. His 1937 book Nachfolge (The Cost of Discipleship) is considered a modern religious classic. Bonhöffer was also a staunch opponent of Nazi euthanasia and genocidal persecution of the Jews. Arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo, he was imprisoned for 1 1/2 years before transfer to a concentration camp. After being associated with the Operation Valkyrie plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was convicted and hung on April 9, 1945. Dietrich Bonhöffer Quotations: Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear ... Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself. We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.....We must not.....assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God. The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
B-29s Blast Japan
First deployed in 1944, the B-29 was a new generation bomber that carried more bombs, and flew higher, faster and farther than any other WWII bomber. It also introduced remote controlled turrets for defense and pressurized crew compartments that allowed them to forgo heavy cold weather clothing. B-29 SPECIFICATIONS Wingspan: 141 ft 3 in Length: 99 ft Height: 29 ft 7 in Weight: 141,100 lbs (loaded) Max. Speed: 358 mph Service Ceiling: 31,850 ft Range: 4,100 miles Engines: 4 Wright R-3350-23 radial, 2,200 horsepower each Armament: 12 .50-caliber machine guns, 1 20 mm cannon, 20,000-pound bomb load Crew:11 ___________________________ Like the United States, Japan improved it's fighters throughout the war. Japanese fighters became faster, were heavier armed, had self-sealing fuel tanks and some armor protection for the pilot. The Japanese Kawasaki Ki-61 had a number of B-29 kills. Kawasaki Ki-61 Specifications Length: 29 ft 4 in Wingspan: 39 ft 4 in Height: 12 ft 2 in Gross weight: 7,650 lb Powerplant: 1 × Kawasaki Ha40 inverted liquid-cooled V-12 piston engine, 864 kW (1,159 hp) Maximum speed: 360 mph at 16,000 ft Range: 360 mi Service ceiling: 38,100 ft Guns: 2× 20 mm Ho-5 cannon; 2× 12.7 mm Ho-103 machine guns Bombs: 2× 550 lb Crew: 1 ________________________________ The Kawasaki Ki-100 only entered service in the last months of the war but was considered an excellent fighter by the U.S. The Mitsubishi J2M, the Nakajima Ki-44 and the Nakajima Ki-84 could out perform the American P-51D Mustang and P-47D Thunderbolt at certain altitudes. The Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero and Nakajima KI-43 were still in service toward the end of the war, but were little improved over the 1942 versions. Although some Zeros were specifically modified to attack B29s, none of these fighters had the high altitude performance necessary to effectively battle the B-29. ______________________________ In March 1945, when the US began escorting B-29 flights over Japan with P-51 Mustang fighters from Iwo Jima, Japanese defenses against the B-29 became relatively ineffective. P-51 Mustang P-51 Mustang Specifications ENGINE: Rolls Royce Packard built V-1650-7 Merlin 12 cylinder liquid cooled power plant-1490 HP MAX SPEED: 505 mph WINGSPAN:37' 0" LENGTH:32' 2" HEIGHT:13' 8" MAX GROSS WEIGHT:12,300 lbs. MAX CEILING:41,900 RANGE: 2,080 miles with two 110 gal. drop tanks ARMAMENT: 6 X .50 caliber Browning machine guns _________________ In 1945, Imperial Japan had inadequate numbers of aircraft and anti-aircraft guns to adequately defend their home islands. Additionally, most Japanese aircraft and ground artillery had difficulty reaching the B29s high altitude. Fuel shortages, loss of experienced pilots and inadequate pilot training, and a lack of effective coordination between defense units compounded their problems. Japanese firefighters lacked training and equipment, and few air raid shelters were constructed for civilians. In 1945, B29s wreaked havoc on Japanese cities with the loss of comparatively few American aircraft. (Read interesting commentary on B-29 losses) U.S. Casualties and losses 614 aircraft lost 2,691 killed Japanese Casualties and losses 4,200 aircraft lost ~333,000 killed and 473,000 wounded.
Health and Medical History of FDR President Roosevelt's medical records were closely guarded during his lifetime and surviving documentation is incomplete. But it's clear he had persistently severe high blood pressure in the 1940s. In late 1943 he apparently had congestive heart failure (CHF) and his health declined significantly. In April 1944 his blood pressure was recorded as extremely high (218/130). Unfortunately at that time (unlike today) no medications were available to effectively treat hypertension. The only recommendations were to avoid stress and vigorous activity, eat a sensible diet and avoid tobacco use. In the summer of 1944, during the campaign for an unprecedented 4th term, several physicians collectively reported that FDR was in good health. One of them however, Frank Lahey of Boston, wrote a confidential memo that suggested the president might not survive another four years. The public never learned of his assessment, and in April 1945 Roosevelt succumbed to a stroke just three months into his fourth term.
On March 9, 1945, with the code name “Operation Meetinghouse,” 334 B-29 bombers under the command of Colonel Curtis LeMay, took off from USAAF bases in the Mariana Islands. Shortly after midnight on March 10, the B-29s flew over densely-populated areas of Tokyo at the relatively low altitude of 7,000 feet. Prior to the raid, U.S. Army engineers at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah had tested the firebombing technique on a mock-Japanese village constructed of wooden houses. As predicted, ~1600 tons of napalm-filled incendiary bombs released over Tokyo in the next 48 hours initiated enormous firestorms that engulfed 15 square miles of the city. Although estimates vary, between 80,000-130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history. Several times that number of civilians were injured and more than a million people were left homeless. The death toll of the Tokyo raid was the highest of any air raid during the entire war, including Hiroshima (estimated 70-80,000 deaths) and Nagasaki (estimated 60,000 deaths). Although many people today are more aware of the bombing of Dresden than Tokyo, the bombing of Dresden a month earlier resulted in an estimated 18- 25,000 deaths.
Anne Frank Dies
Anne Frank was a teenage writer who hid in Amsterdam with her family for two years during the Nazi occupation of Holland. She chronicled her feelings and experiences in a diary that became renowned after the war. She was 15 years old when the location of the family was betrayed and they were sent to the camps, where she died. Her work, The Diary of Anne Frank, has since been read by millions worldwide. Last diary entry August 1, 1944: "... Believe me, I'd like to listen, but it doesn't work, because if I'm quiet and serious, everyone thinks I'm putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I'm not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be ill, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can't keep it up any more, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be and what I could be if ... if only there were no other people in the world." Yours, Anne M. Frank
In May 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had recently died and the war in Europe was winding down. ___________________ The origin of Memorial Day is attributed by most scholars to the ladies of Columbus, Mississippi who decided to decorate both Union and Confederate graves with flowers on April 25, 1866. Francis Miles Finch commemorated the occasion with the poem "The Blue and the Grey; the last stanza read: ...No more shall the war cry sever, Or the winding rivers be red; They banish our anger forever When they laurel the graves of our dead! Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgment-day, Love and tears for the Blue, Tears and love for the Gray. "DECORATION DAY" was officially proclaimed after the Civil War in 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of a Union Civil War Veterans group known as the Grand Army of the Republic: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions (which occurred on different days) had merged, and Memorial Day was celebrated on the last day of May to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. __________________ Inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields, written by John McCrae in 1915 during what was known then as the "Great War," poppies have traditionally been worn in honor of America's war dead on Memorial Day.
Iwo Jima is a rocky island in the volcano islands archipelago of Japan,~760 miles south of Tokyo. It is only 5 miles long and from 800 yards to 2.5 miles wide. Located mid-way between the Marianas and the Japanese mainland, Iwo Jima provided a base for Japanese fighters to intercept U.S. bombers attacking the home island. Japanese airfields on the island were also used to launch attacks against American bases newly established in the Marianas. After months of naval and air bombardment, ~70,000 U.S. Marines invaded Iwo Jima where ~18,000 Japanese defenders were dug into bunkers deep within the volcanic rocks. In a little over a month, ~7,000 U.S. Marines were killed and another 20,000 were wounded. Only 216 Japanese soldiers were captured; the rest were killed in action. Iwo Jima was the only battle in the Pacific War where total U.S. Marine casualties exceeded those of Japanese forces. _________________ Japanese forces on Iwo Jima were commanded by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi. Refusing to order costly Banzai attacks, Kuribayashi developed an insurgent style of defense that eventually became the Japanese standard: "We are here to defend this island to the limit of our strength. We must devote ourselves to that task entirely. Each of your shots must kill many Americans. We cannot allow ourselves to be captured by the enemy. If our positions are overrun, we will take bombs and grenades and throw ourselves under the tanks to destroy them. We will infiltrate enemy's lines to exterminate him. No man must die until he has killed at least ten Americans. We will harass the enemy with guerilla actions until the last of us has perished. Long live the Emperor!" Based on his letters home, the book So Sad to Fall in Battle by Kumiko Kakehashi is a fascinating account of this unique warrior - part-time writer, haiku poet, diplomat and General of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. ________________ Clint Eastwood, deciding to narrate the Battle of Iwo Jima from both the American and the Japanese point of view, directed the two excellent films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima.
The month-long Battle of Manila (February-March 1945), pitted American and Philippine forces against Imperial Japanese occupiers in the most brutal urban fighting of the Pacific War. In addition to massive loss of civilian and military lives, much of the city's architectural and cultural heritage was destroyed. Casualties from the Battle of Manila Allies:1,010 killed. 5,565 wounded Japanese: 16,000+ killed 100,000 Filipino civilians killed The most shocking events during the battle of Manila were the unfathomable atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers as it became clear they were losing Manila. After the war, Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita (the "tiger of Malaya" and commander during the Palawan massacre) was convicted and executed for the Manila massacre and other atrocities committed by soldiers under his command.
They Were Expendable
Starring: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed While the 1945 cinema in Nazi Germany re-lived historical victories and the Imperial Japanese turned toward animation to inspire their citizens, American films touted valor and victory. Nominated for two Oscars, They Were Expendable was named one of the top films of 1945 by the New York Times. A dramatized account of the role of the American PT Boats in the defense of the Philippines, the film is based on a book by W.L. White about Motor Torpedo Squadron Three during the Battle of the Philippines (1941–42). With enthusiastic support from the Navy Department, the film was shot in Key Biscayne and the Florida Keys, a region chosen to simulate the Pacific War zone. Actual U.S. Navy 80-foot Elco PT boats were used throughout the filming.Based on actual characters and events, the film has lauded for its verisimilitude. Stars: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed
Das Volk Steht Auf
THE PEOPLE STAND UP In January 1945, as the Allies were closing in on the fatherland from the east and west, the director Veit Harlan released the historical film Kolberg to motivate Germans not to give in to the Allies. The film, based on the autobiography of Joachim Nettelbeck, mayor of Kolberg in western Pomerania, depicts the successful defense of the besieged fortress against Napoleon's troops in 1807. Gross Deutschland (Greater Germany) in 1937. In March 1945, after two weeks of fierce German resistance, the city of Kolberg was taken by Russian and Polish forces.
Momotaro the Sea God Soldier
This scene from Momotaro the Sea God Soldier (桃太郎 海の神兵), the first Japanese feature-length animated film, was directed by Mitsuyo Seo. Commissioned by the Japanese Naval Ministry, the film, released in 1945 by the Shochiku Moving Picture Laboratory, was a sequel to Momotarō no Umiwashi, a film released in 1943 by the same director. Plot Summary paraphrased from Wikipedia: The film begins with animal sailors (a bear cub, monkey, pheasant, and puppy) rescuing a child from being swept downstream. Later, they clear a forest for an air base on a remote Pacific island with the help of the primitive jungle animals and teach them the alphabet by singing, washing clothes, giving military training and loading weapons onto warplanes. Preparing for the invasion of the Indonesian island of Celebes (Sulawesi) , the monkey, dog and bear cub become parachute jumpers while the pheasant becomes a pilot. The paratroopers ambush a halftrack and invade a British fort whence panicked British soldiers agree to surrender to Japanese rule. A brief epilogue depicts children pretending to parachute onto a map of America drawn on the ground. A notable musical scene in the film is the alphabet song AIUEO (アイウエオの歌) where Japanese soldiers teach the local animals how to speak. _______________ I am impressed that North Korea today uses children in their propaganda posters and heroic animated characters in film - much in the same way as their oppressors of Imperial Japan did during WWII.
In February 1945, the "Big Three" President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin met at Yalta in the Crimea to: demand the unconditional surrender of Germany discuss the security and self-determination of liberated countries in post-Nazi Europe discuss the conditions under which the USSR would enter the war against Japan Although the European war against the Axis powers was coming to conclusion, the war in the Pacific was still raging. Consequently, the USA and Britain agreed that, in exchange for Soviet participation in the Pacific, the USSR would be granted a sphere of influence in Manchuria (including southern Sakhalin, Port Arthur and the Kurile Islands). While Stalin initially agreed to allow free elections in Eastern Europe after the war, these agreements were soon cast aside with the onset of the Cold War. Although the People's Republic of China ultimately gained control of Manchuria, the Kurile Islands remain in dispute between the USSR and Japan. Controversy: Did the West sell out Eastern Europe at Yalta?
From February 13-15 1945, British RAF and American USAAF heavy bombers dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive detonation bombs and incendiary devices on the city of Dresden. The bombing and resulting firestorm destroyed most of the city center and killed ~22,700 to 25,000 people (although inflated casualty figures have often been cited). Nazi propaganda following the attacks (claiming up to 200,000 casualties) and post-war discussions have seriously questioned whether or not the raids represented justifiable military action. A 1953 USAF report justified the bombing, noting that Dresden was a major rail transport and communication centre, and housed 110 factories with 50,000 war industry workers. Critics of the bombing claim it was indiscriminate area bombing of a cultural landmark with little strategic significance. Dresden before the firebombing of 1945 A central event in Kurt Vonnegut's satirical book Slaughterhouse Five is the American POW protagonist's survival during the Allied bombing of Dresden. Apparently, the description of the event in the novel is semi-autobiographical. Excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five : “It wasn’t safe to come out of the shelter until noon the next day. When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke, The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead...So it goes...”
In January 1945, 511 emaciated Allied soldiers (mostly survivors from the fall of Bataan and Corregidor) and a few civilians were held at a Japanese prison camp, near Cabanatuan on the Philippine island of Luzon. After 33 months of brutal captivity, the majority of these POWs were severely emaciated. After receiving reports that the Japanese intended to murder or move them as the Allies advanced, a daring raid behind enemy lines was carried out by U.S. Army Rangers accompanied by elite Alamo Scouts and Philippine guerillas. ~ 523 Japanese were killed or wounded in the successful raid at cost of two Rangers killed, and seven injured. All but one of the 511 American and Allied POWs were rescued.
The January 1945 massacre of ~60 German POWs near the Belgian village of Chenogne by American troops was one of the war crimes committed by both sides during the bitter Battle of the Bulge. Carried out shortly after the German SS massacre of U.S. troops at Malmedy, the events were initially covered up and none of the perpetrators were prosecuted.
Battle of Luzon
From January-August 1945 the Allies fought a land battle against Japanese forces on the island of Luzon. Although the Allies had control of all strategically and economically important locations of the island by March, pockets of Japanese resistance held out in the mountains until the unconditional surrender of Japan in September 1945. The Battle of Luzon resulted in ~200,000 Japanese combatants dead (mostly from starvation and disease), 10,000 American combatants killed, and between ~130,000 Filipino civilians and combatants killed.
Execution of Pvt. Slovik
This haunting scene from the 1963 film The Victors depicts the Christmas Eve execution of a GI deserter modeled after Private Eddie Slovik. Private Eddie Slovik was the first American soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion. A draftee, Slovik was originally classified 4-F because of a prison record (car theft), but later reclassified 1-A when draft standards were lowered to meet growing army needs. In August 1944, trained as a rifleman, Slovik was sent to France with the 28th Infantry Division, a unit which had suffered massive casualties in France and Germany. Lost in the chaos of battle as he approached the front line, Slovik was was turned in to U.S. military police by a Canadian unit. Reunited with his 28th Division in Belgium, no initial charges were brought, as replacements getting lost was not considered unusual. Slovik, however, claiming he was too scared to be a rifleman, ran away. When he subsequently returned, he signed a confession of desertion and submitted it to an officer who advised him to rescind it, as the consequences could be dire. But Slovik refused and was confined to the stockade. Refusing a deal offered him to return to combat immediately and avoid court martial, Slovik was convicted of desertion and sentenced to death. A last appeal to the Supreme Allied Commander came, inopportunely, during the Battle of the Bulge and Eisenhower upheld the death sentence. Private Slovik was then executed by a 12-man firing squad in eastern France. The Execution of Private Slovik was written by William Bradford Huie in 1954. Broadcast on TV in 1974, as Americans were confronting their withdrawal from Vietnam, The Execution of Private Slovik, starring Martin Sheen, Gary Busey and Ned Beatty, became one of the most-viewed made-for-TV movies in American history.
Colonel Curtis Emerson LeMay designed and implemented an effective, but highly controversial incendiary bombing campaign against Japanese civilians in the final stages of the Pacific War. In December 1944, LeMay was transferred from China to assume command of the USAAF XXI Bomber Command. Given frequent cloudy weather and the powerful jet stream over the Japanese islands that often blew bombs off target, LeMay was convinced that high-altitude precision bombing was ineffective. Japanese cities, largely constructed of combustible materials such as wood and paper, were highly combustible. LeMay therefore advocated high-altitude tactical bombing only when critical targets were not vulnerable to area bombing. Because daytime raids below the jet stream were extremely perilous, LeMay finally emphasized low-altitude, nighttime incendiary attacks on Japanese targets. LeMay subsequently ordered massive incendiary attacks by B-29 Super fortresses on 64 Japanese cities. The most commonly cited estimate of Japanese casualties from the raids is 333,000 killed and 473,000 wounded.
This film, about a conscientious objector who actually saved 75 lives as a medic in the midst of a terrible battle on Okinawa, was directed by Mel Gibson. As might be expected, it's a little corny and extremely violent. But the WWII verisimilitude, both on the home front and in the Pacific War, is outstanding. Caution: the battle scenes are particularly horrific–a bit like Saving Private Ryan on steroids. Overall I, like most of the audience, was moved and inspired by the story of this true WWII hero. Here is an interesting analysis by the NY Times reviewer A.O. Scott
Dietrich Bonhöffer (1906 –1945) was a German Lutheran theologian and founding member of the Confessing Church that arose in opposition to government-sponsored efforts to permeate German Protestant churches with Nazi doctrine. An outstanding academic theologian, Bonhöffer obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Tübingen, a Doctor of Theology and an additional Doctorate of Habilitation (the highest degree available) at the University of Berlin. In 1930 Bonhöffer completed postgraduate study and a teaching fellowship at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Bonhoeffer voiced staunch resistance to the Nazi euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of Jews. Arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo, he was imprisoned for one and a half years before being transferred to a concentration camp. Accused of being an accomplice in the plot to assassinate Hitler, he was executed in April 1945. Since his death, Dietrich Bonhöffer's thoughts on the role of Christianity in the secular world have been widely disseminated. His book The Cost of Discipleship is considered by many to be a modern classic. "In “Strange Glory,” Charles Marsh, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, renders Bonhoeffer’s life and thought in exquisite detail and with sympathetic understanding, and in the course of more than 500 pages, we see Bonhoeffer’s transformation from pampered scion and theological dilettante to energetic churchman and Christian martyr, all against the backdrop of cataclysmic changes in Germany..." - NY Times August 8, 2014
Firebombing of Tokyo
On March 10, 1945 more than 100,000 people were killed, a million made homeless, and 16 square miles of Tokyo were burned to the ground by a single American firebombing raid. Why do most people today know about the horrors of Hiroshima and Dresden, but are surprised to learn the appalling statistics of the Tokyo raid? On March 10, 2015, in a Tokyo temple filled with floral wreaths and chrysanthemums, Japan's current nationalistic Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made faintly ambiguous remarks: "With the lessons of the atrocities of war etched deeply in our hearts, we must humbly face the past and do our utmost to contribute to world peace." read more: Japan and the past: Undigested history | The Economist.
Rise of Japanese Nationalism
The motion picture 永遠のゼロ。(The eternal Zero) released in December 2013, was adapted from a novel about a young man searching for information about his grandfather's WWII special forces duty. The ultraconservative author of the novel, Naoki Hyakuta was recently appointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the governing board of the public broadcasting network NHK. Recent nationalistic remarks by the Japanese government have further increased tension between Japan and the USA.
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. Randall Jarrell-1945
THE STATISTICS 54,770,000 — total deaths in WWII 38,573,000 — civilians died in WWII 292,131 — Americans died in WWII 3,393 — Americans died on D-Day 6,603 — casualties (including deaths, wounded and prisoners) on D-Day 7,000 — Americans died on Iwo Jima 12,000 — Americans died on Okinawa 51,983 — Americans died in the Pacific 1,140,429 — members of the Japanese military died during WWII 700,000 to 10,000,000 (variously estimated) — Japanese civilians died in WWII via Peace in the Pacific - The End of World War II | 60 Years.