Archive for March, 2012

Stereotypes about women’s roles in the 1950s

First, this is from an actual movie. Yikes!

And then, there’s a video about whether you are ready for marriage, circa 1950…

And how to deal with incompetent women in the workplace, since they won’t go home where they belong. This was made for McGraw Hill, a major educationa; company.

1 50 Megaton explosion from the Soviets

Video: The Truman Doctrine

President Truman announces his Truman Doctrine.

John Lewis Gaddis on the start of the cold war

The End of the Alliance

John Lewis Gaddis, excerpted from The Cold War: A New History


John Lewis Gaddis is a professor at Yale University who is one of the foremost American historians of the Cold War era. Below is an excerpt from one of his several books on the subject of the Cold War. In this excerpt, Professor Gaddis describes the situation between the US and Soviets in the waning days of World War II:


“Had there really been an alien visitor on the banks of the Elbe in April, 1945, he, she, or it might indeed have detected superficial resemblances  in the Russian and American armies that met there, as well as in the societies from which they came. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had been born in revolution. Both embraced ideologies with global aspirations: what worked at home, their leaders assumed, would also do so for the rest of the world. Both, as continental states, had advanced across vast frontiers: they were at the time the first and third largest countries in the world. And both had entered the war as a result of surprise attack: the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which began on June 22, 1941, and the Japanese strike against Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which Hitler used as an excuse to declare war on the United States four days later. That would have been the extent of the similarities, though. The differences, as any terrestrial observer could have quickly pointed out, were much greater.


“The American Revolution, which had happened over a century and a half earlier, reflected a deep distrust of concentrated authority. Liberty and justice, the Founding Fathers had insisted, could come only through constraining power. Thanks to an ingenious constitution, their geographical isolation from potential rivals, and a magnificent endowment of natural resources, the Americans managed to build an extraordinarily powerful state, a fact that became obvious during World War II. They accomplished this, however, by severely restricting their government’s capacity to control everyday life, whether through the dissemination of ideas, the organization of the economy, or the conduct of politics. Despite the legacy of slavery, the near extermination of  native Americans, and persistent racial, sexual, and social discrimination, the citizens of the United States could plausibly claim, in 1945, to live in the freest society on the face of the earth.


“The Bolshevik Revolution, which had happened only a quarter of a century earlier, had in contrast involved the embrace of concentrated authority as a means of overthrowing class enemies and consolidating a base from which a proletarian revolution would spread throughout the world. Karl Marx claimed, in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, that the industrialization capitalists had set in motion was simultaneously expanding and exploiting the working class, which would sooner or later liberate itself. Not content to wait for this to happen, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin sought to accelerate history in 1917 by seizing control of Russia and imposing Marxism on it, even though that stat failed to fit Marx’s prediction that the revolution could only occur in an advanced industrial society. Stalin in turn fixed that problem by redesigning Russia to fit Marxist-Leninist ideology: he forced a largely agrarian nation with few traditions of liberty to become a heavily industrialized nation with no liberty at all. As a consequence, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was, at the end of World War II, the most authoritarian society anywhere on the face of the earth.


“If the victorious nations could hardly have been more different, the same was true of the wars they had fought from 1941 to 1945. The United States waged separate wars simultaneously—against the Japanese in the Pacific and the Germans in Europe—but suffered remarkably few casualties: just under 300,00 Americans died in all combat theatres. Geographically distant from where the fighting was taking place, their country experienced no significant attacks apart from the initial one at Pearl Harbor. With its ally Great Britain (which suffered about 357,000 war deaths), the United States was able to choose where, when, and in what circumstances it would fight, a fact that greatly minimized the costs and risks of fighting. But unlike the British, the Americans emerged from the war with their economy thriving: wartime spending had caused their gross domestic product almost to double in less than four years. If there could ever be such a thing as a “good” war, then this one, for the United States, came close.


“The Soviet Union enjoyed no such advantages. It waged only one war, but it was arguably the most terrible one in all of its history. With its cities, towns, and countryside ravaged, its industries ruined or hurriedly relocated beyond the Urals, the only option apart from surrender was desperate resistance, on terrain and in circumstances chosen by its enemy. Estimates of casualties, civilian and military, are notoriously inexact, but it is likely that some 27 million Soviet citizens died as a direct result of the war—roughly 90 times the number of Americans who died. Victory could hardly have been purchased at greater cost: the UUSR in 1945 was a shattered state, fortunate to have survived. The war, a contemporary observer recalled, was “both the most fearful and the proudest memory of the Russian people.”


“When it came to shaping the postwar settlement, however, the victors were more evenly matched than any of these asymmetries might suggest. The United States had made no commitment to reverse its long-standing tradition of remaining aloof from European affairs—Roosevelt had even assured Stalin, at Teheran, that American troops would return home within two years after the end of the war. Nor, given the depressing record of the 1930s, could there be any assurance that the wartime economic boom would continue, or that democracy would again take root beyond the relatively few countries in which it still existed. The stark fact that the American and the British could not have defeated Hitler without Stalin’s help meant that World War II was a victory over fascism only—not over authoritarianism and its prospects for the future.”

Practice MC for World War II

1. The main reason why a majority of women left the workforce at the end of World War II was
A. union demands.
B. employer demands that they quit.
C. male discrimination on the job.
D. government requirements to hire veterans.
E. family obligations.

2. Shortly after Hitler and Stalin signed a non-aggression pact,
A. Britain and France signed a similar agreement.
B. the Soviets attacked China.
C. Germany invaded Poland and started World War II.
D. Italy signed a similar agreement with the Soviets.
E. the Germans invaded Finland.

3. The US military refused to bomb Nazi gas chambers such as those at Auschwitz and Dachau because of the belief that
A. bombing would kill the Jews kept there.
B. the military was unsure of the gas chambers’ location.
C. such attacks would not seriously impede the killing of the Jews.
D. the US believed the assurances of Hitler that the camps were for legitimate penal purposes only.
E. bombing would divert essential military resources.

4. The 1941 lend-lease program was all of the following EXCEPT
A. another privately arranged deal, like the trade for destroyers.
B. a direct challenge to Axis dictators.
C. the point when the pretense of American neutrality was abandoned.
D. the catalyst that caused American factories to prepare for all-out war.
E.  a focus of intense debate between internationalists and isolationists

5. In the Quarantine speech, what does FDR propose we quarantine?
A. lawless nations                                   
B. economically depressed nations           
C. Saddam Hussein
D. our allies
E. Italy and Spain as fascist countries

6. African-Americans did all of the following during WWII EXCEPT
A. fight in integrated combat units.
B. move north in large numbers.
C. move west in large numbers.
D. form a militant organization called the Congress for Racial Equality.
E. support the “Double-V” campaign.

7. The conquest of the island of Guam in the ___________ chain was especially important to US success in the Pacific, because from there the US could conduct round-trip bombing raids on the Japanese home islands.
A. Guadalcanal                                   
B. Wake                                               
C. Okinawa
D. New Guinea
E. Marianas

8. According to your textbook, the main reason given by the top command in Washington for placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps was that Japanese-Americans
A. might act as saboteurs for the Japanese government in case of invasion.
B. had colluded in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
C. had no loyalty to the US.
D. were more suspect than German-Americans, since they had no Anglo-Saxon heritage.
E. lacked Christian values as most were Buddhists.

9. The major consequence of the Allied conquest of Sicily in August 1943 was
A. a modification of the demand for the unconditional surrender of Italy.
B. the overthrow of Mussolini and Italy’s unconditional surrender.
C. the swift Allied conquest of the Italian peninsula.
D. a conflict between Churchill and General Eisenhower over the invasion of the Italian mainland.
E. the threat of a Communist takeover of the Italian government.

10. At the Tehran Conference,
A. the USSR agreed to declare war on Japan within three months.
B. the Big Three allies agreed to divide postwar Germany into separate occupied zones.
C. the USSR agreed to allow free elections in Eastern European nations that it occupied at the end of the war.
D. plans were made for opening a second front in western Europe.
E. it was agreed that the Big Five powers would have veto power in the united Nations.

Military Basics and rank and insignia chart

The current organization of the US military has been basically unchanged since the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. This law created a separate Air Force out of the Army Air Corps and changed the name of the War Department to the less-aggressive sounding Defense Department, among other things.

There are FIVE branches of the US military: Army (June 14, 1775), Navy (October 13, 1775), Marines (November 10, 1775), Coast Guard (July 17, 1790), and Air Force (September 18, 1947), in the order that they were created.

The Coast Guard is unusual in that it was, until the last few years, under the Department of the Treasury, not under the Defense Department; instead it was controlled by the Department of Transportation. It was recently transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, along with other government agencies which help protect our home territory and waters, such as the Border Patrol. The Coast Guard is, nevertheless, a military service, and in times of war the president can (and usually does) transfer all of its operation to the Navy for the duration of an actual war.

There are three kinds of categories for military personnel: there are enlisted men and women, warrant officers, and commissioned officers.

Enlisted personnel enlist, or volunteer, for the US military in peacetime. They perform the basic jobs of the military. Enlisted personnel are specialists– they are infantrymen (foot soldiers), artillerymen (shoot big guns), sailors, and so on. In peacetime they serve for an active term that varies according to the service from two to four years. As enlisted personnel move up in rank, they may become “noncommissioned officers,” (such as sergeants) where they command squads or platoons under the supervision of a commissioned officer. In the Navy noncommissioned officers are called “petty officers.”

Warrant officers are very specialized military personnel. They were originally civilians, but after World War I they were moved into the military structure. Here is a valuable link to explain the history of warrant officers.

Below are links to charts that explain military rank (called rate in the navy) and insignia:

Enlisted ranks and insignia –by the way, the letters and numbers at the extreme left of the chart indicate pay rate or grade (E for enlisted, 1, etc., for step on the pay scale). This is useful, because the NAMES of the ranks change across service lines, but the pay rates remain the same.

Warrant Officer rank and insignia

Officer rank and insignia

A good general site to explain the ranks and insignias is here.

Below are a few World War II era posters to help civilians during the war recognize and understand the uniforms they were seeing on the streets:
US ARMY WWII insignia

Here are the Navy insignia for World War II:

Weblinks about the Holocaust

“Righteous Persons” (sometimes called “Righteous Gentiles”) were those who risked their lives saving Jews from Hitler’s evil “Final Solution,” which is also referred to as “the Holocaust” or “the Shoah.” This site gives brief stories about some of the Righteous: and there are some numbers broken down by country of the Righteous here:

Yad Vashem is the Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Israel. Here is a link to a pictorial archive showing photos from the lives of some of those who perished at tha hands of the Nazi regime: You can search for the names of victims here: Yad Vashem also has its own YouTube channel:

Links from class discussion 3/7

Holocaust Timeline that we used in class:

Color depiction of the perfect Aryans:

Norman Rockwell’s paintings of the Four Freedoms:

And some interesting videos:

Chamberlain declaring “Peace in Our Time!:

And Walt Disney gets into the war against fascism!

Donald Duck finds out what it would be like to live under Nazi rule. Can this be real? Watch out for the really… rude racial stereotypes)


Donald Duck is urged to pay his taxes in the middle of World War II:


And Dr. Seuss did his part:




Art and Literature and the Spanish Civil War

Considered Pablo Picasso’s greatest work, Guernica, dealt with the bombing of a town in the Basque region of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso refused to explain the symbolism he used in this painting, so it is more open to interpretation:

Here’s the Story of Picasso’s painting:

W H Auden wrote this poem in 1937, entitled “Spain.”

W. H. Auden, “Spain”

Yesterday all the past. The language of size
Spreading to China along the trade-routes; the diffusion
Of the counting-frame and the cromlech;
Yesterday the shadow-reckoning in the sunny climates.

Yesterday the assessment of insurance by cards,
The divination of water; yesterday the invention
Of cartwheels and clocks, the taming of
Horses. Yesterday the bustling world of the navigators.

Yesterday the abolition of fairies and giants,
the fortress like a motionless eagle eyeing the valley,
the chapel built in the forest;
Yesterday the carving of angels and alarming gargoyles;

The trial of heretics among the columns of stone;
Yesterday the theological feuds in the taverns
And the miraculous cure at the fountain;
Yesterday the Sabbath of witches; but to-day the struggle

Yesterday the installation of dynamos and turbines,
The construction of railways in the colonial desert;
Yesterday the classic lecture
On the origin of Mankind. But to-day the struggle.

Yesterday the belief in the absolute value of Greek,
The fall of the curtain upon the death of a hero;
Yesterday the prayer to the sunset
And the adoration of madmen. but to-day the struggle.

As the poet whispers, startled among the pines,
Or where the loose waterfall sings compact, or upright
On the crag by the leaning tower:
“O my vision. O send me the luck of the sailor.”

And the investigator peers through his instruments
At the inhuman provinces, the virile bacillus
Or enormous Jupiter finished:
“But the lives of my friends. I inquire. I inquire.”

And the poor in their fireless lodgings, dropping the sheets
Of the evening paper: “Our day is our loss. O show us
History the operator, the
Organiser. Time the refreshing river.”

And the nations combine each cry, invoking the life
That shapes the individual belly and orders
The private nocturnal terror:
“Did you not found the city state of the sponge,

“Raise the vast military empires of the shark
And the tiger, establish the robin’s plucky canton?
Intervene. O descend as a dove or
A furious papa or a mild engineer, but descend.”

And the life, if it answers at all, replied from the heart
And the eyes and the lungs, from the shops and squares of the city
“O no, I am not the mover;
Not to-day; not to you. To you, I’m the

“Yes-man, the bar-companion, the easily-duped;
I am whatever you do. I am your vow to be
Good, your humorous story.
I am your business voice. I am your marriage.

“What’s your proposal? To build the just city? I will.
I agree. Or is it the suicide pact, the romantic
Death? Very well, I accept, for
I am your choice, your decision. Yes, I am Spain.”

Many have heard it on remote peninsulas,
On sleepy plains, in the aberrant fishermen’s islands
Or the corrupt heart of the city.
Have heard and migrated like gulls or the seeds of a flower.

They clung like burrs to the long expresses that lurch
Through the unjust lands, through the night, through the alpine tunnel;
They floated over the oceans;
They walked the passes. All presented their lives.

On that arid square, that fragment nipped off from hot
Africa, soldered so crudely to inventive Europe;
On that tableland scored by rivers,
Our thoughts have bodies; the menacing shapes of our fever

Are precise and alive. For the fears which made us respond
To the medicine ad, and the brochure of winter cruises
Have become invading battalions;
And our faces, the institute-face, the chain-store, the ruin

Are projecting their greed as the firing squad and the bomb.
Madrid is the heart. Our moments of tenderness blossom
As the ambulance and the sandbag;
Our hours of friendship into a people’s army.

To-morrow, perhaps the future. The research on fatigue
And the movements of packers; the gradual exploring of all the
Octaves of radiation;
To-morrow the enlarging of consciousness by diet and breathing.

To-morrow the rediscovery of romantic love,
the photographing of ravens; all the fun under
Liberty’s masterful shadow;
To-morrow the hour of the pageant-master and the musician,

The beautiful roar of the chorus under the dome;
To-morrow the exchanging of tips on the breeding of terriers,
The eager election of chairmen
By the sudden forest of hands. But to-day the struggle.

To-morrow for the young the poets exploding like bombs,
The walks by the lake, the weeks of perfect communion;
To-morrow the bicycle races
Through the suburbs on summer evenings. But to-day the struggle.

To-day the deliberate increase in the chances of death,
The consious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder;
To-day the expending of powers
On the flat ephemeral pamphlet and the boring meeting.

To-day the makeshift consolations: the shared cigarette,
The cards in the candlelit barn, and the scraping concert,
The masculine jokes; to-day the
Fumbled and unsatisfactory embrace before hurting.

The stars are dead. The animals will not look.
We are left alone with our day, and the time is short, and
History to the defeated
May say Alas but cannot help nor pardon.


English author and socialist George Orwell (real name: Eric Blair) fought on the Republican side.

In the film Casablanca, it is asserted that the main character, Rick Blaine, “ran guns to Ethiopia and fought in Spain on the Loyalist side.”

From the American side, Ernest Hemingway agreed to report on the Spanish Civil War and wrote his masterpiece For Whom the Bell Tolls about the experiences of an American in the war.

By the way, here is a link to the archives for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade:

The “Quarantine” Speech

As you read, consider:

1. Roosevelt blames much of the problems threatening the world on about what percentage of the world’s population?

2. What effect does his use of a medical analogy have upon the potentially hostile actions that might be proposed to “quarantine” a threatening country? Are some of these actions actually considered to be acts of war?

Roosevelt’s “Quarantine” Speech, 1937

Some fifteen years ago the hopes of mankind for a continuing era of international peace were raised to great heights when more than sixty nations solemnly pledged themselves not to resort to arms in furtherance of their national aims and policies. The high aspirations expressed in the Briand-Kellogg Peace Pact and the hopes for peace thus raised have of late given way to a haunting fear of calamity. The present reign of terror and international lawlessness began a few years ago.
It began through unjustified interference in the internal affairs of other nations or the invasion of alien territory in violation of treaties; and has now reached a stage where the very foundations of civilization are seriously threatened. The landmarks and traditions which have marked the progress of civilization toward a condition of law, order and justice are being wiped away.
Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air. In times of so-called peace, ships are being attacked and sunk by submarines without cause or notice. Nations are fomenting and taking sides in civil warfare in nations that have never done them any harm. Nations claiming freedom for themselves deny it to others.
Innocent peoples, innocent nations, are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy which is devoid of all sense of justice and humane considerations….
The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those violations of treaties and those ignorings of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality.
Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice and confidence may prevail in the world. There must be a return to a belief in the pledged word, in the value of a signed treaty. There must be recognition of the fact that national morality is as vital as private morality.
A bishop wrote me the other day: “It seems to me that something greatly needs to be said in behalf of ordinary humanity against the present practice of carrying the horrors of war to helpless civilians, especially women and children. It may be that such a protest might be regarded by many, who claim to be realists, as futile, but may it not be that the heart of mankind is so filled with horror at the present needless suffering force could be mobilized in sufficient volume to lessen such cruelty in the days ahead. Even though it may take twenty years, which God forbid, for civilization to make effective its corporate protest against this barbarism, surely strong voices may hasten the day.”
There is a solidarity and interdependence about the modern world, both technically and morally, which makes it impossible for any nation completely to isolate itself from economic and political upheavals in the rest of the world, especially when such upheavals appear to be spreading and not declining. There can be no stability or peace either within nations or between nations except under laws and moral standards adhered to by all.

International anarchy destroys every foundation for peace. It jeopardizes either the immediate or the future security of every nation, large or small. It is, therefore, a matter of vital interest and concern to the people of the United States that the sanctity of international treaties and the maintenance of international morality be restored.
The overwhelming majority of the peoples and nations of the world today want to live in peace. They seek the removal of barriers against trade. They want to exert themselves in industry, in agriculture and in business, that they may increase their wealth through the production of wealth-producing goods rather than striving to produce military planes and bombs and machine guns and cannon for the destruction of human lives and useful property.
In those nations of the world which seem to be piling armament on armament for purposes of aggression, and those other nations which fear acts of aggression against them and their security, a very high proportion of their national income is being spent directly for armaments. It runs from thirty to as high as fifty percent. We are fortunate. The proportion that we in the United States spend is far less– eleven or twelve percent.
How happy we are that the circumstances of the moment permit us to put our money into bridges and boulevards, dams and reforestation, the conservation of our soil and many other kinds of useful works rather than into huge standing armies and vast supplies of implements of war.
I am compelled and you are compelled, nevertheless, to look ahead. The peace, the freedom and the security of ninety percent of the population of the world is being jeopardized by the remaining ten percent who are threatening a breakdown of all international order and law. Surely the ninety percent who want to live in peace under law and in accordance with moral standards that have received almost universal acceptance through the centuries, can and must find some way to make their will prevail.
The situation is definitely of universal concern. The questions involved relate not merely to violations of specific provisions of particular treaties; they are questions of war and of peace, of international law and especially of principles of humanity. It is true that they involve definite violations of agreements, and especially of the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Briand-Kellogg Pact and the Nine Power Treaty. But they also involve problems of world economy, world security and world humanity.
It is true that the moral consciousness of the world must recognize the importance of removing injustices and well-founded grievances; but at the same time it must be aroused to the cardinal necessity of honoring sanctity of treaties, of respecting the rights and liberties of others and of putting an end to acts of international aggression.
It seems to be unfortunately true that the epidemic of world lawlessness is spreading.
When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease.
It is my determination to pursue a policy of peace. It is my determination to adopt every practicable measure to avoid involvement in war. It ought to be inconceivable that in this modern era, and in the face of experience, any nation could be so foolish and ruthless as to run the risk of plunging the whole world into war by invading and violating, in contravention of solemn treaties, the territory of other nations that have done them no real harm and are too weak to protect themselves adequately. Yet the peace of the world and the welfare and security of every nation, including our own, is today being threatened by that very thing.