Archive for March, 2010

FDR asks for a declaration of war

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Infamy Speech
December 8, 1941

This speech was given before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war with Japan. Go to this link to actually HEAR a recording of the speech ( Follow along as you listen.

How does this speech compare with Churchill’s speech before the House of Commons below? How are the circumstances similar or different?

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.


The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounded determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

Vocabulary for this post:

Churchill’s Famous “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” speech

Churchill’s First Speech as Prime Minister
May 13, 1940 to House of Commons

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. When he met his Cabinet on May 13 he told them that “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” He repeated that phrase later in the day when he asked the House of Commons for a vote of confidence in his new all-party government. The response of Labour was heart-warming; the Conservative reaction was luke-warm. They still really wanted Neville Chamberlain. For the first time, the people had hope but Churchill commented to General Ismay: “Poor people, poor people. They trust me, and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time.”

Pay special attention to how Churchill uses alliteration, parallel structure, and vocabulary to give his speech special force and to rouse the English people to the fight.

What was going on militarily at the time for the English? What did Churchill mean by “nothing but disaster for quite a long time?”

I beg to move,
That this House welcomes the formation of a Government representing the united and inflexible resolve of the nation to prosecute the war with Germany to a victorious conclusion.

On Friday evening last I received His Majesty’s commission to form a new Administration. It as the evident wish and will of Parliament and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties, both those who supported the late Government and also the parties of the Opposition. I have completed the most important part of this task. A War Cabinet has been formed of five Members, representing, with the Opposition Liberals, the unity of the nation. The three party Leaders have agreed to serve, either in the War Cabinet or in high executive office. The three Fighting Services have been filled. It was necessary that this should be done in one single day, on account of the extreme urgency and rigour of events. A number of other positions, key positions, were filled yesterday, and I am submitting a further list to His Majesty to-night. I hope to complete the appointment of the principal Ministers during to-morrow. the appointment of the other Ministers usually takes a little longer, but I trust that, when Parliament meets again, this part of my task will be completed, and that the administration will be complete in all respects.

I considered it in the public interest to suggest that the House should be summoned to meet today. Mr. Speaker agreed, and took the necessary steps, in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by the Resolution of the House. At the end of the proceedings today, the Adjournment of the House will be proposed until Tuesday, 21st May, with, of course, provision for earlier meeting, if need be. The business to be considered during that week will be notified to Members at the earliest opportunity. I now invite the House, by the Motion which stands in my name, to record its approval of the steps taken and to declare its confidence in the new Government.

To form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations, such as have been indicated by my hon. Friend below the Gangway, have to be made here at home. In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, “come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”

Images of the Great Depression and World War II home front

All of these images were from the Library of Congress’s American Memory project at

A “hobo jungle” along the St. Louis waterfront:

A sharecropper mother in Louisiana teaches her children the alphabet:

As the “Okies”  abandoned their farms in the Great Plains, they traveled along Route 66 to the West Coast. Here is a gas station in New Mexico that catered to refugees from Oklahoma. You could even get Oklahoma newspapers inside:

Migrant children in a preschool program run by the WPA eat lunch. The camp was run by the Farm Security Administration in California. The emphasis on early childhood education and nutrition by the government was groundbreaking:

On the home front, one’s patriotic duty included collecting old tires (given that Japan had seized most of the places in the world that produced rubber) and scrap metals such as iron, steel, and aluminum. These were turned in to be recycled by the Civil Defense for the war effort. This image is from Chicago in 1942:

The Munich Pact

Agreement concluded at Munich, September 29, 1938,
between Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy

GERMANY, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, taking into consideration the agreement, which has been already reached in principle for the cession to Germany of the Sudeten German territory, have agreed on the following terms and conditions governing the said cession and the measures consequent thereon, and by this agreement they each hold themselves responsible for the steps necessary to secure its fulfilment:

(1) The evacuation will begin on 1st October.
(2) The United Kingdom, France and Italy agree that the evacuation of the territory shall be completed by the 10th October, without any existing installations having been destroyed, and that the Czechoslovak Government will be held responsible for carrying out the evacuation without damage to the said installations.
(3) The conditions governing the evacuation will be laid down in detail by an international commission composed of representatives of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Czechoslovakia.
(4) The occupation by stages of the predominantly German territory by German troops will begin on 1st October. The four territories marked on the attached map will be occupied by German troops in the following order:
The territory marked No. I on the 1st and 2nd of October; the territory marked No. II on the 2nd and 3rd of October; the territory marked No. III on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of October; the territory marked No. IV on the 6th and 7th of October. The remaining territory of preponderantly German character will be ascertained by the aforesaid international commission forthwith and be occupied by German troops by the 10th of October.
(5) The international commission referred to in paragraph 3 will determine the territories in which a plebiscite is to be held. These territories will be occupied by international bodies until the plebiscite has been completed. The same commission will fix the conditions in which the plebiscite is to be held, taking as a basis the conditions of the Saar plebiscite. The commission will also fix a date, not later than the end of November, on which the plebiscite will be held.
(6) The final determination of the frontiers will be carried out by the international commission. The commission will also be entitled to recommend to the four Powers, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, in certain exceptional cases, minor modifications in the strictly ethnographical determination of the zones which are to be transferred without plebiscite.
(7) There will be a right of option into and out of the transferred territories, the option to be exercised within six months from the date of this agreement. A German-Czechoslovak commission shall determine the details of the option, consider ways of facilitating the transfer of population and settle questions of principle arising out of the said transfer.
(8) The Czechoslovak Government will within a period of four weeks from the date of this agreement release from their military and police forces any Sudeten Germans who may wish to be released, and the Czechoslovak Government will within the same period release Sudeten German prisoners who are serving terms of imprisonment for political offences.

Munich, September 29, 1938.
ADOLF HITLER,                              NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN,

Excerpts- Nuremburg Laws

Excerpts from the Nuremburg Laws
The Reich Citizenship Law of September 15, 1935

(To see a picture of the “ideal German,” go to

THE REICHSTAG HAS ADOPTED by unanimous vote the following law which is herewith promulgated.
ARTICLE 1. (1) A subject of the state is one who belongs to the protective union of the German Reich, and who, therefore, has specific obligations to the Reich.
(2)  The status of subject is to be acquired in accordance with the provisions of the Reich and the state Citizenship Law.
ARTICLE 2. (1)  A citizen of the Reich may be only one who is of German or kindred blood, and who, through his behavior, shows that he is both desirous and personally fit to serve loyally the German people and the Reich.
(2)  The right to citizenship is obtained by the grant of Reich citizenship papers.
(3)  Only the citizen of the Reich may enjoy full political rights in consonance with the provisions of the laws.
ARTICLE 3.  The Reich Minister of the Interior, in conjunction with the Deputy to the Fuehrer, will issue the required legal and administrative decrees for the implementation and amplification of this law.
Promulgated: September 16, 1935.  In force: September 30, 1935.
First Supplementary Decree of November 14, 1935

On the basis of Article III of the Reich Citizenship Law of September 15, 1935, the following is hereby decreed:
ARTICLE 1.     (1)  Until further provisions concerning citizenship papers, all subjects of German or kindred blood who possessed the right to vote in the Reichstag elections when the Law came into effect, shall, for the present, possess the rights of Reich citizens.  The same shall be true of those upon whom the Reich Minister of the Interior, in conjunction with the Deputy to the Fuehrer shall confer citizenship.
(2)  The Reich Minister of the Interior, in conjunction with the Deputy to the Fuehrer, may revoke citizenship.
ARTICLE 2.     (1)  The provisions of Article I shall apply also to subjects who are of mixed Jewish blood.
(2)  An individual of mixed Jewish blood is one who is descended from one or two grandparents who, racially, were full Jews, insofar that he is not a Jew according to Section 2 of Article 5.  Full-blooded Jewish grandparents are those who belonged to the Jewish religious community.
ARTICLE 3.  Only citizens of the Reich, as bearers of full political rights, can exercise the right of voting in political matters, and have the right to hold public office.  The Reich Minister of the Interior, or any agency he empowers, can make exceptions during the transition period on the matter of holding public office.  The measures do not apply to matters concerning religious organizations.
ARTICLE 4    (1)  A Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich.  He cannot exercise the right to vote; he cannot hold public office.
(2)  Jewish officials will be retired as of December 31, 1935. In the event that such officials served at the front in the World War either for Germany or her allies, they shall receive as pension, until they reach the age limit, the full salary last received, on the basis of which their pension would have been computed.  They shall not, however, be promoted according to their seniority in rank.  When they reach the age limit, their pension will be computed again, according to the salary last received on which their pension was to be calculated.
(3)  These provisions do not concern the affairs of religious organizations.
(4)  The conditions regarding service of teachers in public Jewish schools remains unchanged until the promulgation of new laws on the Jewish school system.
ARTICLE 5  (1)  A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews…
(2)  A Jew is also an individual who is descended from two full-Jewish grandparents if:
(a)  he was a member of the Jewish religious community when this law was issued, or joined the community later;
(b)  when the law was issued, he was married to a person who was a Jew, or was subsequently married to a Jew;
(c)  he is the issue from a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the coming into effect of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor of September 15, 1935;
(d)  he is the issue of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, and was born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.

ARTICLE 6. (1)  Insofar as there are, in the laws of the Reich or in the decrees of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and its affiliates, certain requirements for the purity of German blood which extend beyond Article 5, the same remain untouched….
ARTICLE 7.  The Fuehrer and Chancellor of the Reich is empowered to release anyone from the provisions of these administrative decrees.

Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health:
Breeding the “Aryan Race”

July 14, 1933

Article I (1.) Anyone who suffers from an inheritable disease may be surgically sterilized if, in the judgement of medical science, it could be expected that his decendants will suffer from serious inherited mental or physical defects.
(2.) Anyone who suffers from one of the following is to be regarded as inheritably diseased within the meaning of this law:
1.   congenital feeble-mindedness
2.   schizophrenia
3.   manic-depression
4.   congenital epilepsy
5.   inheritable St. Vitus dance  (Huntington’s Chorea)
6.   hereditary blindness
7.   hereditary deafness
8.   serious inheritable malformations
(3.) In addition, anyone suffering from chronic alcoholism may also be sterilized.

Article II.    (1.) Anyone who requests sterilization is entitled to it.  If he be incapacitated or under a guardian because of low state of mental health or not yet 18 years of age, his legal guardian is empowered to make the request. In other cases of limited capacity the request must receive the approval of the legal representative.  If a person be of age and has a nurse, the latter’s consent is required.
(2.) The request must be accompanied by a certificate from a citizen who is accredited by the German Reich stating that the person to be sterilized has been informed about the nature and consequence of sterilization.
(3.) The request for sterilization can be recalled.

Article III.   Sterilization may also be recommended by:
(1.) the official physician
(2.) the official in charge of a hospital, sanitarium, or prison.
Article IV.    The request for sterilization must be presented in writing to, or placed in writing by the office of the Health Inheritance Court.  The statement concerning the request must be certified by a medical document or authenticated in some other way.  The business office of the court must notify the official physician.
Article VII.   The proceedings of the Health Inheritance Court are secret.
Article X.     The Supreme Health Insurance Court retains final Jurisdiction.

Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor

September 15, 1935

Thoroughly convinced by the knowledge that the purity of German blood is essential for the further existence of the German people and animated by the inflexible will to safe-guard the German nation for the entire future, the Reichstag has resolved upon the following law unanimously, which is promulgated herewith:

1.  Marriages between Jews and nationals of German or kindred blood are forbidden.  Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they are concluded abroad.
2.  Proceedings for annulment may be initiated only by the Public Prosecutor.

Relation outside marriage between Jews and nationals for German or kindred blood are forbidden.

Jews will not be permitted to employ female nationals of German or kindred blood in their households.

1.  Jews are forbidden to hoist the Reich and national flag and to present the colors of the Reich.
2.  On the other hand they are permitted to present the Jewish colors.  The exercise of this authority is protected by the State.

1.  A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of section 1 will be punished with hard labor.
2.  A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of section 2 will be punished with imprisonment or with hard labor.
3.  A person who acts contrary to the provisions of section 3 or 4 will be punished with imprisonment up to a year and with a fine or with one of these penalties.

The Reich Minister of the Interior in agreement with the Deputy of the Fuehrer will issue the legal and administrative regulations which are required from the implementation and supplementation of this law.

The law will become effective on the day after the promulgation, section 3 however only on 1 January, 1936.

In the news this week!

First, it’s the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima…..;_ylt=Aiqh5oH60tW6_2kEFB.vuNGs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNsYTRpMW01BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwMzAyL2FzX2phcGFuX2l3b19qaW1hBGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDNwRwb3MDNARwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX2hlYWRsaW5lX2xpc3QEc2xrA21hcmluZXNsYW5kbw–

Then there’s controversy over a book about Hiroshima…;_ylt=AmX7Uof.GbwG8R1ii8Eu16ys0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTN0anJ0ZXM2BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwMzAyL3VzX2F0b21fYm9tYl9ib29rX3B1bGxlZARjY29kZQNtb3N0cG9wdWxhcgRjcG9zAzEwBHBvc

Anti-Nazi propaganda from Walt Disney

Before there was Beauty and the Beast, Walt Disney did his part for the war effort.