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: