World War II
World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a worldwide military conflict; the amalgamation of two separate conflicts, one beginning in Asia, 1937, as the Second Sino-Japanese War and the other beginning in Europe, 1939, with the invasion of Poland. It is regarded as the historical successor to World War I.
This global conflict split a majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. Spanning much of the globe, World War II resulted in the deaths of over 70 million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.
- 1 Origins of the War
- 2 Start of the War
- 3 The Eastern Front
- 4 Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor
- 5 The United States Fights Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy
- 6 The War in Europe: The Holocaust
- 7 The United States Fights Imperial Japan
- 8 Japan on the Offensive: The Fall of the Philippines (December 1941- May 1942)
- 9 Japan’s Offensive Halted: The Battle of Midway (June 1942)
- 10 Turning the Tide in the Pacific
- 11 America's Amphibious Advance in the Pacific
- 12 1943-1945
- 13 The Battle of Monte Cassino (Italy 1944)
- 14 Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- 15 Aftermath
- 16 War Aims and the Diplomacy of War
- 17 The War at Home
- 18 Women in the War
- 19 The War at Home: Japanese-Americans
- 20 The War at Home: African-Americans
- 21 Misattributed
- 22 Sources
- 23 External links
Origins of the War
- Du bist nichts; Dein Volk ist alles.
- I shall live only a country where civil liberty, tolerance, and equality of all citizens before the law prevail.
- The National Socialist regime in Germany is really based on a program of ruthless force, which program has for its aim, first, the enslavement of the German population to a National Socialist social and political program, and then to use the force of these 67 million people for the extension of German political and economic sovereignty over South-Eastern Europe — thus putting it into a position to dominate Europe completely.
- It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.
- Haile Selassie I after the end of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, as quoted in ""The Lion is Freed" in TIME magazine (8 September 1975)
- Thus, by every device from the stick to the carrot, the emaciated Austrian donkey is made to pull the Nazi barrow up an ever-steepening hill.
- Winston Churchill, "The Rape of Austria," letter (July 6, 1938), in Churchill, Step by Step, 1936–1939 (1939), p. 262. This volume is a compilation of the fortnightly letters he wrote from 1936–1939, mainly on foreign policy and defense.
- Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced to rape their daughters, and sons their mothers, as other family members watched. Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced, such as hanging people by their tongues on iron hooks or burying people to their waists and watching them torn apart by German shepherds. So sickening was the spectacle that even Nazis in the city were horrified.
- Peace in our time.
- I believe there is sincerity and good will on both sides. My main purpose has been to work for the pacification of Europe.... The question of Czechoslovakia is the latest and perhaps the most dangerous [problem]. Now that we have got past it I feel that it may be possible to make further progress along the road to sanity.
- Prime Minister Chamberlain, defending his actions — including giving German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia to Germany -- at the Munich Conference (October 3, 1938).[specific citation needed]
- How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war.
- Neville Chamberlain, national broadcast, London (September 27, 1938); in Chamberlain, In Search of Peace (1939), p. 174. He was prime minister at the time.
- Many people, no doubt, honestly believe that they are only giving away the interests of Czechoslovakia, whereas I fear we shall find that we have deeply compromised, and perhaps fatally endangered, the safety and even the independence of Great Britain and France....
I foresee and foretell that the policy of submission will carry with it restrictions upon the freedom of speech and debate in Parliament, on public platforms, and discussions in the Press.
- What a shambles! If only our enemies knew what a mess we have made of it! Beneš was a fool not to fight!
- Walter von Reichenau on October 3, 1938, in the Park Hotel in Karlsbad after the annexation of the Sudetenland territory of Czechoslovakia into Germany. As quoted by Leonard Mosley in On Borrowed Time: How World War II Began (1964), p. 78.
- The frontier of America is on the Rhine.
- Attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt, by a member or members of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, meeting in executive session at the White House (January 31, 1939); in Whitney H. Shepardson and William O. Scroggs, The United States in World Affairs (1940), p. 104. Reports of this remark caused an outcry by American isolationists and in the German press, while they gave courage to the British and French. Roosevelt vehemently denied the remark, calling it a "deliberate lie" at his press conference on February 3. The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1939 (1941), p. 113. Representative John A. Martin referred to this in remarks in the House during a discussion of building military airplanes: "A controversy has been raging over an alleged private remark of the President that the frontier of America is on the Rhine. Whether he said it or not, the frontier of America has been on the Rhine, and beyond. An American Army has trod the soil of Germany. The American frontier has been on the coasts of Europe, of Africa, and of Asia, when those coasts were vastly more distant from ours than they are today". Congressional Record (February 14, 1939), vol. 84, p. 1394.
- Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard... leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned to a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the administration.....
In the course of the last four months it has been made... possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power... would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.
This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable — though much less certain — that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove too heavy for transportation by air...
In view of this situation you may think it desirable to have some permanent contact maintained between the administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America.
- Letter dated August 2 (one month before the start of World War II) from physicist Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt, warning him of the danger that Nazi Germany could develop an atomic bomb. This led to two later developments:
(1) Roosevelt’s efforts to aid all countries at war with Nazi Germany, to help them defeat Germany before it could develop an atomic bomb, and
(2) the top-secret "Manhattan Project" in which the government did in fact work together with "the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America" to develop an atomic bomb.
- Letter dated August 2 (one month before the start of World War II) from physicist Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt, warning him of the danger that Nazi Germany could develop an atomic bomb. This led to two later developments:
- There is a hush over all Europe, nay, over all the world…. Alas! it is the hush of suspense, and in many lands it is the hush of fear. Listen! No, listen carefully, I think I hear something—yes, there it was quite clear. Don't you hear it? It is the tramp of armies crunching the gravel of the paradegrounds, splashing through rain-soaked fields, the tramp of two million German soldiers and more than a million Italians—"going on maneuvers"—yes, only on maneuvers!
- Winston Churchill, "A Hush over Europe", broadcast to the United States from London (August 8, 1939), in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 6, p. 6150.
Start of the War
- The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
- Winston Churchill, speech during the Battle of Britain, House of Commons (August 20, 1940), in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 6, p. 6266.
- We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."
- Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons (4 June 1940); It has been noted that the most famous passage, beginning "We shall fight on the beaches ..." and ending "… we shall never surrender," consists entirely of words derived from Old English (Anglo-Saxon), except for the word "surrender" — which is derived from Old French.
- What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."
- Winston Churchill, speech, House of Commons (June 18, 1940), in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 6, p. 6238.
- France has lost a battle, but France has not lost the war.
- I followed the German Army into Paris that June... and on June 19 got wind of where Hitler was going to lay down his terms for the armistice.... It was to be on the same spot where the German Empire had capitulated to France and her allies on November 11, 1918: in the little clearing in the woods of Compiègne. There the Nazi warlord would get his revenge.... Late on the afternoon of June 19 I drove out there and found German Army engineers... pulling the [railroad] car [where the war ended in 1918] out to the tracks in the center of the clearing on the exact spot, they said, where it had stood at 5 A.M. on November, 1918, when at the dictation of [French Marshal Ferdinand] Foch the German emissaries put their signatures to the armistice.
And so was that on the afternoon of June 21 I stood by the edge of the forest at Compiègne to observe the latest and greatest of Hitler’s triumphs....
I look at the expression in Hitler’s face. I am but fifty yards from him and see him through my glasses as though he were directly in front of me. I have seen that face many times at the great moments of his life. But today! It is afire with scorn, anger, hate, revenge, triumph.
- American war correspondent William L. Shirer, in his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960).
- Hitler is striking with all the terrible force at his command. His is a desperate gamble, and the stakes are nothing less than domination of the whole human race.
If Hitler wins in Europe -- the strength of the British and French armies and navies is forever broken — the United States will find itself alone in a barbaric world — a world ruled by Nazis, with ‘spheres of influence’ assigned to their totalitarian allies. However different the dictatorships may be, racially, they all agree on one primary objective: ‘Democracy must be wiped from the face of the earth.’...
There is nothing shameful in our desire to stay out of war, to save our youth from the dive bombers and the flame throwing tanks in the unutterable hell of modern warfare.
But is there not an evidence of suicidal insanity in our failure to help those who now stand between us and the creators of this hell?
- Newspaper advertisement from the Committee to Defend America, whose ideas were identical with those of President Roosevelt.[specific citation needed]
- All aid to the Allies short of war.
- President Roosevelt's redefinition of neutrality.
- We must be the great arsenal of democracy.
- President Roosevelt, on the need to provide weapons to the British after the Germans defeated France in May-June 1940.
- First they were too cowardly to take part. now they are in a hurry so they can share the spoils.
- Hitler on the Italian declaration of war on France and Great Britain, June 10th, 1940.-Martin Gilber, the Second World war pg. 90.
- On this tenth day of June 1940, the hand that held the dagger, has struck it into the back of its neighbor.
- Franklin Roosevelt on the Italian decleration of war on France and Britain, June 10th, 1940.-Martin Gilber, the Second World war pg. 90.
- I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.
- Statement by President Roosevelt during his re-election campaign.
- The butchering may continue as it will, it shall remain the historical guilt of the Western powers that they did not promptly provide the sharpest preventative measures against the continued attack-politics Germany undertook. Possibilities existed for this, but no measures were seized upon.
- Friedrich Kellner, German Chief Justice Inspector, diary entry of May 29, 1940.
- Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.
- Winston Churchill, radio broadcast, London (February 9, 1941), in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 6, p. 6350.
- Our spirit of enjoyment was stronger than our spirit of sacrifice. We wanted to have more than we wanted to give. We tried to spare effort, and met disaster.
- Philippe Pétain. Attributed to him in a caption, which said, "Frenchmen … heard Marshal Pétain pronounce this requiem over a lost France". The caption accompanies an article, "Danger: Men Not at Work!" by Hatton W. Summers, Nation's Business (May 1941), p. 15.
- The Lend-Lease policy, translated into legislative form, stunned a Congress and a nation wholly sympathetic to Great Britain. The Kaiser’s blank check to Austria-Hungary in the First World War was a piker compared to the Roosevelt blank check of World War II. It warranted my worst fears for the future of America, and it definitely stamps the president as war-minded....
Never before have the American people been asked or compelled to give... so completely of their tax dollars to any foreign nation. Never before has the Congress of the United States been asked by any President to violate international law. Never before has this nation resorted to duplicity in the conduct of its foreign affairs. Never before has the United States given to one man the power to strip this nation of its defenses....
Approval of this legislation means war, open and complete warfare. I, therefore, ask the American people before they supinely accept it — Was the last World War worthwhile?
If it were, then we should lend and lease war materials. If it were, then we should lend and lease American boys. President Roosevelt has said we would be repaid by England. We will be.... Our boys will be returned — returned in caskets, maybe; returned with bodies maimed; returned with minds warped and twisted by sights of horrors and the scream and shriek of high-powered shells.
- I know I will be severely criticized by the interventionists in America when I say we should not enter a war unless we have a reasonable chance of winning.... We are no better prepared today than France was when the interventionists persuaded her to attack the Siegfried Line....
It is not only our right but it is our obligation as American citizens to look at this war objectively and to weigh our chances for success if we should enter it. I have attempted to do this, especially from the standpoint of aviation; and I have been forced to the conclusion that we cannot win this war for England, regardless of how much assistance we extend.
- Joint declaration of the President of United States and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty’s government in the United Kingdom....
First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other.
Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.
Third, they respect the rights of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live.
Fourth, they will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment of all states, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world.
Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field....
Sixth, after the final destruction of Nazi Germany, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries....
Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance.
Eighth, they believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force.... They believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential.”
- The Atlantic Charter, written by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, meeting on two warships off Newfoundland in August 1941.
- When I warned them [the French] that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, "In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken." Some chicken! Some neck!
- Winston Churchill, speech to a joint session of the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, Canada (December 30, 1941), in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 6, p. 6544.
The Eastern Front
- We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.
- Adolf Hitler, on the proposed invasion of the Soviet Union.
- There is no doubt that the absence of a second front in Europe considerably relieves the position of the German Army, nor can there be any doubt that the appearance of a second front on the Continent of Europe—and undoubtedly this will appear in the near future—will essentially relieve the position of our armies to the detriment of the German Army.
- Joseph Stalin, radio address from Moscow (November 6, 1941). Vital Speeches of the Day (December 1, 1941), p. 102.
- .... Comrades, Red Army and Red Navy men, commanders and political instructors, men and women guerrillas! The whole world is looking to you as a force capable of destroying the brigand hordes of German invaders. The enslaved peoples of Europe under the yoke of the German invaders are looking to you as their liberators. A great mission of liberation has fallen to your lot. Be worthy of this mission! The war you are waging is a war of liberation, a just war.
- Not a step back! (Russian: Ни шагу назад! / Ni shagu nazad!)
- Order No. 227, Issued by Joseph Stalin, July 1942.
- What place does the possibility of a second front occupy in the Soviet estimates of the current situation? A most important place; one might say a place of first-rate importance.
- Joseph Stalin, letter to Henry C. Cassidy, representative of The Associated Press in Moscow (October 4, 1942); in The New York Times, October 5, 1942, p. 1.
- Two break-throughs, Comrade Stalin, two break-throughs.
- There are two kinds of mines; one is the personnel mine and the other is the vehicular mine. When we come to a mine field our infantry attacks exactly as if it were not there. The losses we get from personnel mines we consider only equal to those we would have gotten from machine guns and artillery if the Germans had chosen to defend that particular area with strong bodies of troops instead of with mine fields. The attacking infantry does not set off the vehicular mines, so after they have penetrated to the far side of the field they form a bridgehead, after which the engineers come up and dig out channels through which our vehicles can go.
- Attributed to Georgy K. Zhukov by Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (1948), p. 467–68. Eisenhower added, "I had a vivid picture of what would happen to any American or British commander if he pursued such tactics, and I had an even more vivid picture of what the men in any one of our divisions would have had to say about the matter had we attempted to make such a practice a part of our tactical doctrine. Americans assess the cost of war in terms of human lives, the Russians in the over-all drain on the nation".
Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor
- In the future if we want to control China, we must first crush the United States just as in the past we had to fight in the Russo-Japanese War. But in order to conquer China we must first conquer Manchuria and Mongolia. In order to conquer the world, we must first conquer China. If we succeed in conquering China the rest of the Asiatic countries and the South Sea countries will fear us and surrender to us. Then the world will realize that Eastern Asia is ours and will not dare to violate our rights. This is the plan left to us by Emperor Meiji, the success of which is essential to our national existence.
- The Tanaka Memorial (July 27, 1927), the long-term strategic plan of Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Gi-ichi.
- It has been 20 years since the Navy signed the humiliating Washington Naval Treaty. During [that] time we have whetted our swords to stab [the] US.
- A Japanese officer.
- The Empire will... crush America, British, and Dutch strongholds in East Asia and the Western Pacific... and secure major resource areas and lines of communication in order to prepare a posture of long term self-sufficiency. All available methods will be exerted to lure out the main elements of the US fleet at an appropriate time to attack and destroy them.
- Tai Bei-Ei-Ran-Shou Senso Shumatsu Sokushin-ni Kansuru Fukuan (A Plan for Completion of the War Against the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Chiang Kai-Shek [of Nationalist China]), action plan adopted at a meeting of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and the Cabinet (November 1941).
- Nii Taka Yama Nobore 1208. (Execute the Hawaii operation on December 8 [Japanese time]).
- Message sent by Japanese Imperial Navy Headquarters to the carrier fleet approaching Pearl Harbor (2 December 1941).
- Tora! Tora! Tora!
- (Translated: Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!'); signal at 0730 (local time), 7 December 1941 from Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, leading the first wave of the attack, to the carrier fleet that his "tigers" succeeded in their surprise attack at Pearl Harbor.
- 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 attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost....
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always we will remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it my 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....
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, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, address to a joint session of Congress asking that a state of war be declared between the United States and Japan (December 8, 1941); in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941 (1950), p. 514.
- I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
- Attributed to Isoroku Yamamoto, a Japanese admiral in World War II, in the motion picture Tora, Tora, Tora. Twentieth Century Fox, Tora, Tora, Tora; Dialogue and Cutting Continuity (1970), reel 18, p. 16. The screenplay was written by Gordon W. Prange, based on his unpublished material, and by Ladislas Farago, who had published The Broken Seal in 1967. The sentence is not in Farago's book, nor did it appear later in Prange's book, At Dawn We Slept, published posthumously in 1981. No evidence exists that these words were Yamamoto's. However, in a letter to Ogata Taketora, dated January 9, 1942, Yamamoto wrote, "A military man can scarcely pride himself on having 'smitten a sleeping enemy'; in fact, to have it pointed out is more a matter of shame". Hirosuki Asawa, The Reluctant Admiral, trans. John Bester (1979), p. 285.
- Both America and Britain... have aggravated the disturbances in East Asia.... These two powers, inducing other countries to follow suit, increased military preparations on all sides of our Empire.... They have obstructed by every means Our peaceful commerce, and finally resorted to a direct severance of economic relations....
Patently We waited and long have We endured, in hope that Our Government might retrieve the situation in peace. But Our adversaries, showing not the least spirit of conciliation, have unduly delayed a settlement.... Our Empire for its existence and self-defense has no other recourse but to appeal to arms and to crush every obstacle in its path.
- Japanese Emperor Hirohito, stating Japan’s reasons for attacking the United States and Great Britain (December 8, 1941).
The United States Fights Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy
- I don't see much future for the Americans ... it's a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities ... my feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance ... everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it's half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold together?
- Adolf Hitler, Statement in conversation, 7 January 1942, as quoted in Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer p. 895, from transcripts published as Hitler's Secret Conversations, 1941–1944 (1953). These should not be confused with later publications such as "Hitler's Secret Book" (1961) from transcripts of 1928, nor the widely known hoax of the Hitler Diaries.
- The time has come when we must proceed with the business of carrying the war to the enemy, not permitting the greater portion of our armed forces and our valuable material to be immobilized within the continental United States.
- George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff, as reported by the Washington, D.C., Times-Herald (March 3, 1942), p. 1.
- Why am I fighting?
Not, certainly, ‘just because I was drafted’ — the cynical, easy retort of the half-believer. I was a draftee, yes — because circumstances prevented me from joining up when I should have liked. I envy and honor the boys who enlisted — the ones who, seeing their country’s need, acted upon it without waiting to be called — or compelled.
Not just because of Pearl Harbor. That’s an immediate reason, yes,... [b]ut Pearl Harbor, or some other harbor, would have come sooner or later; indeed, might have come too late....
Not to “force our ideas on the rest of the world”.... I am fighting for the right of peoples to say how they shall be governed. If they like our form of government, fine. If not, let them have another — but let the choice be theirs, not something handed down to them by a self-styled “Leader” — or a yoke laid on them by an invader....
For what, exactly, are we fighting?...
Well, it goes a long way back.
It goes back to the taproots of America. Back beyond the World War, with its simple slogan of fighting to make the world safe for democracy. Back beyond ‘98, when we fought to set Cuba free. Back beyond the Civil War when we fought to make and keep America a nation of freemen. Back beyond 1812, when our cry was freedom of the seas. Back even beyond the Revolution that saw our forefathers pledge ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor’ that the colonies might be freed from the yoke of the Hanoverian king. Back to the Bill of Rights, back, back to the Magna Carta seven hundred years ago — that first great landmark of man’s history-long effort to be politically free.... Freedom of the individual to rule himself, to make his laws, to have his say in council, to set his course and follow his star!
Fine words you say; but what do they have to do with fighting a Germany whose chief concern was Europe, a Japan whose ambitions were — perhaps — only Oriental?
I say they have a lot to do with Japan and Germany.... Nazism dominant in Europe and Asia would result... In the emergence and ultimate dominance of the Nazi principle in American life.
Men (some, not all — but alas! Enough) would have looked at each other in confusion and alarm and doubt. They would have said, fearingly, ‘Democracy has failed in Europe. We thought it was the best way, but how can it be, if it is so weak? Maybe the Nazis have something. Maybe... maybe...’ So the whispers would have started....
That’s why I am fighting.... I’m trying to kill Fascism now, before it has a chance to eat in its ugly way at the American vitals.... I’m fighting because the world, like our own America, ‘cannot exist half slave and half free.’ I’m fighting because I think China has a right to live as a nation, not exist as a vast puppet state....
I’m fighting because I want to be able to look my children in the face some day and say to them that America wasn’t afraid to fight once again for an ideal, the ideals that have made America great. I love peace, but I hate war for the shocking waste of everything that it is; but even war is preferable to supine acquiescence in international murder, not merely of the body, but of the spirit.
- Sgt. Henry C. Nelson, “To Be Able to Look My Children in the Face,” in Why I Fight, published by the U.S. Army.
- The mightiest bomber ever built.
- I fail to detect a spirit of sacrifice in the group gyrations before Congress. Neither does it indicate that we have a spiritual grasp of our threatening fate when we sell bonds to help finance a war of survival or extermination on the promise of profitable monetary returns on the investment. I see no fundamental grasp of our predicament in anti-union employers who sabotage production committees for fear that industry will be sovietized, nor in labor union leaders who are so concerned about the competitive position of their own little groups as to examine the war with regard to how their own puny fortunes will be affected if labor unity is achieved or jurisdictional lines are eradicated.
I think our insufferable and materialistic pride has rendered us incapable of realizing fully that in German nazism we are fighting a monstrous thing that started out as a god-man complex, and now is fighting to the death whether that god-man complex still exists or not, in the desperate realization that nazism and the deluded fools who are backing nazism cannot survive if they do not win and exterminate their victims.
- It is difficult to go anywhere in London without having the feeling that Britain is now Occupied Territory.
- They’re overfed, overpaid, overdressed... and over here.
- Common complaint of British people, as American troops were shipped to Britain to prepare for the invasion of German-occupied Europe.
- We are out to win the war in the quickest and most economical way.
- Gen. George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff.
- In the magazines war seemed romantic and exciting, full of heroics and vitality.... I saw instead men... suffering and wishing they were somewhere else.
- War correspondent Ernie Pyle.
- People of Western Europe: A landing was made this morning on the coast of France by troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force. This landing is part of the concerted United Nations plan for the liberation of Europe, made in conjunction with our great Russian allies.... I call upon those who love freedom to stand with us now. Together we shall achieve victory.
- Radio address by U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander of allied forces, on "D-Day", the start of the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, beginning with the landing in France on June 6. Note: “D-Day” is the term used in military planning that specifies the date that an amphibious (ship-to-shore) invasion occurs.
- Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
- Speech given by Dwight D. Eisenhower to the troops on D-Day before the allied invasion.
- We saw the bomb explosions causing fires that illuminated clouds in the otherwise dark sky. We were twelve miles offshore as we climbed into our seat assignments on the LCAs [amphibious landing craft] and were lowered into the heavy sea from davits. The navy hadn’t begun its firing because it was still dark. We couldn’t see the armada but we knew it was there.
Prior to loading, friends said their so longs and good lucks.... All of us had a letter signed by the Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, saying that we were about to embark upon a great crusade. A few of my cohorts autographed it an I carried it in my wallet throughout the war.
The Channel was extremely rough, and it wasn’t long before we had to help the craft’s pumps by bailing with our helmets. The cold spray blew in and soon we were soaking wet....
As the sky lightened, the armada became visible. The smoking and burning French shoreline also became more defined. At 0600, the huge guns of the Allied navies opened up with must have been one of the greatest artillery barrages ever.... I could see the [battleship] Texas firing broadside into the coastline.
Bomm-ba-ba-boom-ba-ba-boom! Within minutes, giant swells from the recoil of those guns nearly swamped us and added to the seasickness and misery. But one could also see the two-thousand-pound missiles tumbling on their targets. Twin fuselaged P-38 fighter-bombers were also overhead protecting us from the Luftwaffe [German Air Force] and giving us a false sense of security. This should be a piece of cake....
A few thousand yards from shore we rescued three or four survivors from a craft that had been swamped and sunk....
About two or three hundred yards from shore we encountered artillery fire. Near misses sent seawater skyward and then it rained back on us....
About 150 yards from shore, I raised my head despite the warning, ‘Keep your head down.’ I saw the boat on our right taking a terrific licking from small arms. Tracer bullets were bouncing and skipping off the ramp and sides as the enemy zeroed in on the boat which had beached a few minutes before us. Had we not delayed a few minutes to pick up the survivors of the sunken craft, we might have taken that concentration of fire.
Great plumes of water from enemy artillery and mortars sprouted close by. We knew then this was not going to be a walk-in. No one thought the enemy would give us this kind of opposition at the water’s edge. We expected A and B Companies to have the beach secured by the time we landed. In reality no one had set foot in our sector. The coxswain [boat driver] had missed the Vierville church steeple, our point to guide on, and the tides also helped pull us two hundred yards east.
The location didn’t make much difference. We could hear the ‘p-r-r-r-r, p-r-r-r-r’ of enemy machine guns to our right, towards the west. It was obvious someone was... getting chewed up where we had been supposed to come in.
The ramp went down while shells exploded on land and in the water. Unseen snipers were shooting down from the cliffs, but the most havoc came from automatic weapons....
When I did get out, I was in the water. It was very difficult to shed sixty pounds of equipment, and if one were a weak swimmer he could drown.... Many were in the water, and drowned, good swimmers or not. There were dead men floating in the water, and live men acting dead, letting the tide take them in....
I crouched down to chin deep in the water as shells fell at the water’s edge. Small arms fire kicked up sand. I noticed a GI running, trying to get across the beach. He was weighed down with equipment and having difficulty moving. An enemy gunner shot him. He screamed for a medic. An aidman moved quickly to help him and he was also shot. I’ll never forget seeing that medic lying next to that wounded soldier, both of them screaming. They died in minutes.
Boys were turned into men. Some would be very brave men; others would soon be very dead men, but any who survived would be frightened men. Some wet their pants, others cried unashamedly. Many just had to find within themselves the strength to get the job done. Discipline and training took over....
I took off my assault jacket and spread out my raincoat so I could clean my rifle. It was then I saw bullet holes in my jacket and raincoat. I lit my first cigarette; I had to rest and compose myself because I became weak in the knees.”
- Bob Slaughter, 29th Infantry Division, who landed on Omaha Beach at Normandy, where 3,500 Americans and 700 Germans were killed on June 6, 1944, in the battle of the beachhead.
- [The assault units] were disorganized, had suffered heavy casualties and were handicapped by losses of valuable equipment.... They were pinned down along the beach by intense enemy fire.... Personnel and equipment were being piled ashore... where congested groups afforded food targets for the enemy.
- An American officer at the landing beach at Normandy, June 6, 1944.
- Sure, we all want to get home. We want to get this thing over with. But the quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards. The quicker they’re whipped, the quicker we go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin.
And there’s one thing you’ll be able to say when you get home. When you’re sitting around your fireside, with your brat on your knee, and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you won’t have to say you shoveled shit in Louisiana.
- General George S. Patton, Jr., speech to his Third Army before it was sent to join in the Battle of France (July 1944).
- Any commander who fails to obtain his objective, and who is not dead or seriously wounded, has not done his full duty.
- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., instructions to the Third Army.
- Austin White, Chicago, Ill., 1918 and 1944. This is the last time I want to write my name here.
- Inscription found near Verdun, France by a reporter for Yank magazine (a magazine for the soldiers). Yank Magazine
- The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 3 a.m., local time, May 7, 1945.
- Message from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, SCAEF (Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force) to the Combined Chiefs of Staff (the command of British and American forces), on the signing of the surrender by German delegates at Eisenhower’s headquarters at Rheims, France.[specific citation needed]
The War in Europe: The Holocaust
- When we got off the cattle truck, they ordered, ‘Men right; women, left.’... I went with my father. My little sister, Esther, she went with my mother. Esther was only eleven. She was holding my mother’s hand. When they made a selection of the women, Esther clung to my mother. My mother wouldn’t give her up.... They went straight to the gas chamber.
- Account of Moritz Vegh, sent to the Auschwitz extermination camp with his family at age 13. He worked as a slave laborer and was the only survivor from his family.
- In another part of the camp they showed me the children, hundreds of them. Some were only 6 years old. One rolled up his sleeves, showed me his number. It was tattooed on his arm. B-6030, it was. The others showed me their numbers. They will carry them till they die.... I could see their ribs through their thin shirts.
- CBS news correspondent Edward R. Morrow, reporting from a Nazi concentration camp, (April 16, 1945).[specific citation needed]
- I want every American unit not actually in the front lines to see this place.... We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now, at least, he will know what he is fighting against.
- Comment of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, after visiting a Nazi extermination camp, where bodies were stacked in the barracks the smell of burnt bodies came from crematoria.
- For months, for years we had one wish only: the wish that some of us would escape alive, in order to tell the world what the Nazi convict prisons were like..... There was the systematic... urge to use human beings as slaves and to kill them when they could work no more.
- Concentration camp survivor Marie Valliant, in testimony at the Nürnberg War Crimes Trials.
- What makes this inquest significant is that these prisoners represent sinister influences that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust. They are living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power.
The United States Fights Imperial Japan
- While you may have your initial success, due to timing and surprise, the time will come when you too will have your losses, but there will be this great difference. You will not only be unable to make up your losses, but will grow weaker as time grows on, while on the other hand we will not only make up our losses but will grow stronger as time goes on. It is inevitable that we will crush you before we are through with you.
- Admiral Harold Stark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, speaking to the Japanese ambassador before the war.
- In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.
- Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, planner of the attack on Pearl Harbor, to Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe.
- Tennōheika banzai! (May the Emperor live ten thousand years!)
- Shout made by Imperial Japanese troops in attack.
Japan on the Offensive: The Fall of the Philippines (December 1941- May 1942)
- We're the battling bastards of Bataan;
No papa, no mama, no Uncle Sam;
No aunts, no uncles, no nieces;
No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces....
And nobody gives a damn.
- Sung by soldiers defending the Bataan peninsula, on the northwest of Manila Bay, the last major force holding out against Japanese invaders of the Philippines.
- Suppose you’re a sergeant machine-gunner, and your army is retreating and the enemy advancing. The captain takes you to a machine gun covering the road. ‘You’re to stay here and hold this position,’ he tells you. ‘For how long?’ you ask. ‘Never mind,’ he answers, ‘just hold it.’ Then you know you’re expendable. In a way anything can be expendable — money or gasoline or equipment or most usually men. They are expending you and that machine gun to get time.
- William L. White, They Were Expendable, his account of the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese in early 1942.
- The sun beat down upon my throbbing hear.... Along the road the jungle was a misty green haze, swimming before my sweat-filled eyes.
The hours dragged by, and a great number of prisoners reached the end of their endurance. The drop-outs became more numerous. The fell by the hundreds in the road....
There was the crack of a pistol and the shot rang out across the jungle. There was another shot, and more shots, and I knew that, straggling along behind us, was a clean-up squad of Japanese, killing their helpless victims on the white dusty road.... The shots continued, goading us on. I gritted my teeth. 'Oh, God, I've got to keep going. I can’t stop. I can’t die like that'.
- Sergeant Sidney Stewart, a survivor of the Bataan Death March of April 1942, when the Japanese sent 70,000 American and Filipino prisoners 60 miles from the Bataan Peninsula to their prison camps. About 10,000 prisoners were killed by gunshot, bayonet, or starvation during the march.
- The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary objective of which is the relief of the Philippines.
I came through and I shall return.
- General Douglas MacArthur, remarks to reporters in Australia after he had been ordered by Pres. Roosevelt to leave the fortress on the island of Corregidor in Manila Bay before it fell to the Japanese (March 30, 1942). Reported in Representative Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (1964), p. vi; Senate Doc. 88–95.
- God have mercy on us!
- General MacArthur, on learning of the state of Australia’s lack of preparedness to meet an attack by the Japanese.
Japan’s Offensive Halted: The Battle of Midway (June 1942)
- [The Doolittle Air Raid on Tokyo in April 1942] ended the debate... as to whether Midway was to be attacked.
- Admiral Yamamoto, Commander, Japanese Fleet.
- There is no choice but to force a decisive fleet encounter. If we set out from here to do that and we go to the bottom of the Pacific in a double suicide, things will be peaceful on the high seas for some time.
- Admiral Yamamoto to the Japanese Naval General Staff before Operation Mi, the attack on Midway Island.
- Surprise was paramount because we believed that the Japanese did not know of the presence of our carriers.
- Commander Joseph Worthington, Commanding Officer of the destroyer USS Benham, on the US Navy’s planning for the Battle of Midway, which relied on the breaking of the Japanese code.
- Within five minutes all her [Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi's] planes would be launched. Five minutes! Who would have dreamed that the tide of battle would shift completely in that brief interval of time?... The first Zero fighter gathered speed and whizzed of the deck. At that instant a lookout screamed, 'Hell divers [U.S. Navy dive bombers]!' I looked up to see three black enemy planes plummeting toward our ship. Bombs! Down they came straight toward me!
- Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, a Japanese officer on the Akagi, in Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan. In the Battle of Midway (June 3-6, 1942), the U.S. Navy stopped the Japanese advance on Hawaii and sunk four of the enemy’s aircraft carriers. The U.S. forces would advance without letup in the next years of the war in the Pacific.
Turning the Tide in the Pacific
- No army has ever done so much with so little.
- Douglas MacArthur, as reported by The New York Times (April 11, 1942), p. 1. He referred to the fall of Bataan.
- [My forces are] unable to control the sea in the Guadalcanal area.... The situation is not hopeless but it is certainly critical.
- Admiral Chester A. Nimitz, commanding U. S. Naval forces in the Guadalcanal Campaign (November 1942).
- Once Japan is destroyed as an aggressive force, we know of no other challenging power that can appear in the Pacific…. Japan is the one enemy, and the only enemy, of the peaceful peoples whose shores overlook the Pacific Ocean.
- Jospeh C. Grew, address for United China Relief, Carnegie Hall, New York City (October 10, 1942); in The Department of State Bulletin (October 10, 1942), p. 798. Grew was the U.S. ambassador to Japan, 1932–1941.
- I look upon the Guadalcanal and Tulagi operations as the turning point from offensive to defensive, and the cause of our setback there was our inability to increase our forces at the same speed as you.
- Japanese Admiral Osami Nagano, Chief of Naval Staff, to American officers after the war.
- Bataan is like a child in a family who dies. It lives in our hearts.
- Douglas MacArthur, reflection on the first anniversary of the fall of Bataan, April 9, 1942, as reported by The New York Times, April 9, 1943, p. 9, which added, "It was the first time General MacArthur had mentioned the name Bataan publicly" since the day after the fall.
America's Amphibious Advance in the Pacific
- A landing on a foreign coast in the face of hostile troops has always been one of the most difficult operations of war. It has now become much more difficult , almost impossible, because of the vulnerable target which a convoy of transports offers to the defenders’ air force. Even more vulnerable is the process of disembarkation in open boats.
- British military writer Captain B. H. Liddell Hart, in The Defense of Britain (1939).
- The outstanding achievement of this war in the field of joint undertakings was the perfection of amphibious operations, the most difficult of all operations in modern warfare.
- Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, in The War Reports of General of the Army George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, General of the Army H. H. Arnold, Commanding General, Army Air Forces, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander-in-Chief, US Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations (1947).
- [The campaign objective is to obtain] positions from which the ultimate surrender of JAPAN can be forced by intensive air bombardment , by sea and air blockade, and by invasion if necessary.
- Commander in Chief Pacific Ocean Areas (Admiral Nimitz), Campaign Plan Granite (January 15, 1944).[specific citation needed]
- If Saipan is lost, air raids on Tokyo will take place often.
- Message sent by Emperor Hirohito to encourage the Japanese forces defending Saipan.
- Our ships have been salvaged and are retiring at high speed toward the Japanese fleet.
- Admiral William F. (“Bull”) Halsey, radio message following Japanese propaganda broadcasts about most of his Third Fleet had been lost on the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 1944).
- People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil…. The hour of your redemption is here…. Rally to me! As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike. Strike at every favourable opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way. Follow in His name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory.
- The Navajo Code Talkers have proved to be excellent Marines, intelligent, industrious, efficient.
Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.
- Comments about the "Code Talkers", Navajo Indian soldiers and Marines, who communicated on radio using their native language, which could not be understood by any Japanese who were listening.
- To be avoided, and if necessary ignored, were gung-ho platoon leaders who drew enemy fire by ordering spectacular charges. Ground wasn’t gained that way; it was won by small groups of men, five or six in a cluster, who moved warily forward in a kind of autohypnosis, advancing in a mysterious concert with similar groups on their flanks.
- Sgt. William Manchester, USMC, reflections on ground combat in the Battle of Okinawa, in his personal history of the Pacific War, Goodbye Darkness.
- Aboard a Fast Carrier in the Forward Pacific Area, May 11 (Special-Delayed) -- Two Japanese suicide planes carrying 1,000 pounds of bombs plunged into the flight deck of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher’s own flagship today,... transforming one of our greatest flat-tops (aircraft carriers) into a floating torch, with flames soaring nearly 1,000 feet into the sky.
For eight seemingly interminable hours that followed the ship and her crew fought as tense and terrifying a battle for survival as had ever been witnessed in the Pacific, but when dusk closed in, the U.S.S. Bunker Hill — horribly crippled and still filmed by wisps of smoke and steam from her smoldering embers — was plowing along under her own power on the distant horizon, safe. Tomorrow she will spend another eight terrible hours burying at sea men who died to save her.
From the deck of a neighboring carrier a few hundred yards distant I watched the Bunker Hill burn. It is hard to believe that men could survive those flames or that metal could withstand such heat.
One minute our task force was cruising in lazy circles about 60 miles off Okinawa without a care in the world and apparently without a thought of an enemy plane. The next the Bunker Hill was a pillar of flame. It was as quick as that — like summer lightning....
For the first time in a week, our own ship had secured from general quarters an hour or two before... and those men not on regular watch were permitted to relax from the deadly sixteen-hour vigil they had put in at battle stations every day since we had entered the battle area.
So it was on the Bunker Hill. Exhausted men not on watch were catching a catnap. Aft, on the flight deck, 34 planes were waiting to take off. Their tanks were filled to the last drop with highly volatile aviation gasoline. Their guns were loaded to the last possible round of ammunition....
Just appearing over the horizon were the planes returning form an early mission.... Then it was that a man aboard our ship caught the first glimpse of three enemy planes and cried a warning. But before general quarters could be sounded on this ship, and before half a dozen shots could be fired by the Bunker Hill, the first kamikaze had dropped his 550-pound bomb on the ship and plunged his plane squarely into the 34 waiting planes in a shower of burning gasoline....
But before a move could be made to fight the flames, another kamikaze came whining out of the clouds, straight into the deadly anti-aircraft guns of the ship....
Minutes later a third Jap suicider zoomed down to finish the job. Ignoring the flames and the smoke that swept around them, the men in the Bunker Hill’s gun galleries stuck to their posts.... It was a neighboring destroyer, which finally scored a direct hit on the Jap and sent him splashing harmlessly into the sea....
For more than an hour there was no visible abatement in the fury of the flames.... Crippled as she was she plowed ahead at top speed, and the wind that swept her decks blew the flames and smoke astern over the fantail, preventing the blaze from spreading forward on the flight deck.... Trapped on the fantail itself, men faced the flames and fought grimly on; with... no way of knowing how much of the ship remained on the other side of that fiery wall....
After nearly three hours of almost hopeless fighting, she had brought the fires under control, and though it was many more hours before they were completely extinguished, the battle was won and the ship was saved.
A goodly thick book could not record all the acts of heroism that were performed aboard that valiant ship today....
[A]t the cost of three pilots and three planes today the enemy killed a probable total of 392 of our men, wounded 264 others, destroyed about 70 planes and wrecked a fine and famous ship. The flight deck of that ship tonight looks like the crater of a volcano.... But the ship has not been sunk.... As it is the Bunker Hill will steam back to Bremerton Navy Yard under her own power and there will be repaired.... But within a few weeks she will be back again, sinking more ships, downing more planes, and bombing out more Japanese air fields.
Perhaps her next task will be to cover the invasion of Tokyo itself!
- Phelps Adams, "Kamikazes: An Eyewitness Account", from Masterpieces of War Reporting: Great Moments of World War II, ed. Louis Snyder (1962), pp. 487-494. The "Kamikaze" or "Divine wind" in Japanese: referred to suicide pilots who would fly their bomb-laden planes into American naval ships. The USS Bunker Hill was repaired in Bremerton, Washington and returned to the Pacific Fleet in September. The ship remained in the Navy until it was sold for scrap in 1973.
The Battle of Monte Cassino (Italy 1944)
- Meantime, the French forces had crossed the Garigliano (River) and moved forward into the mountainous terrain lying south of the Liri River. It was not easy. As always, the German veterans reacted strongly and there was bitter fighting. The French surprised the enemy and quickly seized key terrain including Mounts Faito Cerasola and high ground near Castelforte. The 1st Motorized Division helped the 2nd Moroccan division take key Mount Girofano and then advanced rapidly north to S. Apollinare and S. Ambrogio. In spite of the stiffening enemy resistance, the 2nd Moroccan Division penetrated the Gustav Line in less than two day’s fighting. The next 48 hours on the French front were decisive. The knife-wielding Goumiers swarmed over the hills, particularly at night, and General Juin’s entire force showed an aggressiveness hour after hour that the Germans could not withstand. Cerasola, San Giogrio, Mt. D’Oro, Ausonia and Esperia were seized in one of the most brilliant and daring advances of the war in Italy, and by May 16 the French Expeditionary Corps had thrust forward some ten miles on their left flank to Mount Revole, with the remainder of their front slanting back somewhat to keep contact with the British 8th Army.
For this performance, which was to be a key to the success of the entire drive on Rome, I shall always be a grateful admirer of General Juin and his magnificent FEC... The 8th Army’s delay made Juin’s task more difficult, because he was moving forward so rapidly that his right flank---adjacent to the British---constantly was exposed to counter-attacks.
- General Mark Clark describes how the French Expeditionary Corps (FEC) under the command of Marechal Juin broke through the Gustav Line in May of 1944; in Mark Wayne Clark, Calculated risk (1950), p. 348.
- For me, it has been a deep source of satisfaction to see how the vital part played by the French troops of the Fifth Army throughout our Italian campaign against the common enemy has been universally acknowledged. During these long months, I have had the real privilege of seeing for myself the evidence of the outstanding calibre of the French soldiers, heirs of the noblest traditions of the French Army. Nevertheless, not satisfied with this, you and all your people have added a new epic chapter to the history of France; you have gladdened the hearts of your compatriots, giving them comfort and hope as they languish under the heavy and humiliating yoke of a hated invader. The energy and utter disregard for danger consistently shown by all members of the C.E.F., along with the outstanding professional skills of the French army officer, have aroused admiration in your Allies and fear in the enemy. From the banks of the Garigliano where your first successes set the tone which was to characterize the whole offensive, then pushing on to Rome through the mountains, crossing the Tiber and pursuing the enemy relentlessly to Sienna and to the hills dominating the valley of the Arno, France’s soldiers have always accomplished everything that was possible and sometimes even that which was not...With my deepest gratitude for the tremendous contribution that you have made to our joint victories, my dear General.
- In a letter to Marechal Juin, General Mark Clark, paid tribute to the soldiers of the French Expeditionary Corps.
Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Please, for God's sake, stop sending our finest youth to be murdered in places like Iwo Jima.... Why can't objectives be accomplished some other way?
- Letter written to the Secretary of the Navy.
- National Resistance Program.[Quote?]
- Japanese plan for using all males, ages 15 to 60, and females, ages 17 to 40, in combat roles in the expected Allied invasion of the Japanese home islands, planned to begin with Operation Olympic on 1 November 1945. Postwar analysis of Japanese documents showed that "sacrificing 20 million Japanese lives" was expected.
- [Japanese defenses threatened] to grow to [the] point where we attack on a ratio of one (1) to one (1) which is not a recipe for victory.
- Major General Charles Willoughby, G-2 (chief of intelligence) on General MacArthur’s staff, on the buildup of Japanese forces in the zone of the planned Operation Olympic assault.
- When I saw a very strong light, a flash, I put my arms over my face unconsciously.... The whole city was destroyed and burning. There was no place to go.
- Michiko Yamaoka, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945).
- Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT....
With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces....
It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East....
Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.
We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.
- President Harry S Truman, radio address to the American people, following the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan (August 6).
- You think of the lives which would have been lost in an invasion of Japan’s main islands — a staggering number of Americans, but millions more of Japanese — and you thank God for the atomic bomb.
- Comment of one Marine in the Pacific.
- Would it not be wondrous for this whole nation to be destroyed like a beautiful flower.
- General Anami, Japanese War Minister, at a meeting of Japan’s Supreme Council for the Direction of the War (August 9, 1945).
- We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war.
- Koichi Kido, aide of Emperor Hirohito.
- [The atomic bombings were a] gift from heaven.
- Mitsumasa Yonai, Japanese Navy Minister, who argued that the bombings caused the collapse of the power of leaders who favored continuing the war.
- The atomic bomb was a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war.
- Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief cabinet secretary in 1945.
- We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandisement. But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone -- the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people, the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest. Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
- Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain death... men everywhere walk upright in sunlight. The entire world lies quietly at peace. The holy mission has been completed. And in reporting this to you, the people, I speak for the thousands of silent lips, forever stilled among the jungles and the beaches and in the deep waters of the Pacific which marked the way....
As I look back on the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear, when democracy was on the defensive everywhere, when modern civilization trembled in the balance, I thank a merciful God that He has given us the faith, the courage, and the power from which to mold victory. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exaltation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.
- General Douglas MacArthur, commander of allied forces in the Pacific, radio address on V-J Day, September 2, 1945, when Japanese representatives signed the surrender agreement on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay.
- Your name is unknown. Your deed is immortal (Russian: "Имя твоё неизвестно, подвиг твой бессмертен"/Imya tvoyo neizvestno, podvig tvoy bessmerten)
- Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Moscow).
- Merely to name my principal supporters in the Canadian, French, American and British forces, is to present a picture of the utmost in efficiency, skill, loyalty, and devotion to duty. The United Nations will gratefully remember Teather, Montgomery, Spots, Bradley, Bilat, Crere and many others.
But all these agree with me in the selection of the truly heroic figure of this war. He is G.I. Joe, and his counterpart in the Air, the Navy, and the Merchant Marine of every one of the United Nations. He has braved the dangers of U-Boat infested seas. He has surmounted charges into desperately defended beaches. He has fought his teagest patient way throught the ultimate in fortified zones. He has endured cold, hunger, fatigue. His companion has been danger, death has dogged his footsteps. He and his platoon commanders have given us an example of loyalty, devotion to duty, and indomitable courage that will live in our hearts as long as we admire those qualities in men.
- General Dwight Eisenhower, V-E Day Speech, 1945.
- In the Second World War every bond between man and man was to perish. Crimes were committed by the Germans under the Hitlerite domination to which they allowed themselves to be subjugated find no equal in scale and wickedness with any that have darkened the human record. The wholesale massacre of by systematised processes of six or seven millions of men, women, and children in the German execution camps exceeds in horror the rough-and-ready butcheries of Genghis Khan, and in scale reduces them to pygmy proportions. Deliberate extermination of whole populations was contemplated and pursued by both Germany and Russia in the Eastern war. The hideous process of bombarding open cities from the air, once started by the Germans, was repaid twenty-fold by the ever-mounting power of the Allies, and found its culmination in the use of atomic bombs which obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We have at length emerged from a scene of material ruin and moral havoc the like of which had never darkened the imagination of former centuries. After all that we suffered and achieved we find ourselves still confronted with problems not less but far more formidable than those which we have so narrowly made our way.
- Winston Churchill, The Second World War: Volume 1: The Gathering Storm, p. 14, 1948
War Aims and the Diplomacy of War
- America must choose one of three courses after this war: narrow nationalism, which inevitably means the ultimate loss of our own liberty; international imperialism, which means the sacrifice of some other nation’s liberty; or the creation of a world in which there shall be an equality of opportunity for every race and every nation. I am convinced the American people will choose, by overwhelming majority, the last of these courses. To make this choice effective, we must win not only the war but also the peace, and we must start winning it now.
To win this peace three things seem to me necessary — first, we must plan now for peace on a worldwide basis; second, the world must be free, politically and economically, for nations and for men, that peace may exist in it; third, America must play an active, constructive part in freeing it and keeping its peace....
This cannot be accomplished by mere declarations of our leaders, as in an Atlantic Charter. Its accomplishment depends primarily upon acceptance by the peoples of the world.... The Four Freedoms will not be accomplished by those momentarily in power. They will become real only if the people of the world forge them into actuality.
- Wendell Willkie, the 1940 Republican candidate for president, in One World.
- Before this year is out, it will be made known to the world — in actions rather than in words — that the Casablanca Conference produced plenty of news; and it will be bad news for the Germans and Italians — and the Japanese....
In an attempt to ward off the inevitable disaster, the Axis propagandists are trying all of their old tricks in order to divide the United Nations. They seek to create the idea that if we win this war, Russia, England, China, and the United States, are going to get into a cat-and-dog fight....
To these panicky attempts to escape the consequences to their crimes we say — all the United Nations say — that the only terms on which we shall deal with any Axis government or any Axis factions are the terms proclaimed at Casablanca: ‘Unconditional Surrender.’ In our uncompromising policy we mean no harm to the common people of the Axis nations. But we do mean to impose punishment and retribution in full upon their guilty, barbaric leaders.
- President Roosevelt, fireside chat after returning from the Casablanca Conference with Prime Minister Churchill.
- The establishment of order in Europe and the rebuilding of national economic life must be achieved by processes which enable the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of Nazism and Fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice.
- State Department report on the Yalta Conference, in which the Big Three met in February 1945 at a resort in southern Russia, to finalize plans to defeat Nazi Germany and to begin the reconstruction of Europe.
The War at Home
- [The attack on Pearl Harbor showed] the seriousness of the challenge confronting us and our very souls became so inflamed with righteous wrath, so fired with patriotism, that our differences and divisions and hates melted into a unity never before witnessed in this country.
- Rep. John Flannagan of Virginia.
- Loose lips sink ships
- Wartime slogan that urged people to keep quiet because spies could always be listening.
- In time of this grave national danger, when all excess income should go to win the war, no American citizen ought to have a net income, after he has paid his taxes, of more than $25,000 a year.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, message to Congress (April 27, 1942); in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1942 (1950), p. 221.
- Eat more corn, oats, and rye products — fish and poultry — fruits, vegetables and potatoes. Baked, boiled and broiled foods.
- Eat less wheat, meat, sugar and fats to save for the army and our allies
- Text of a wartime conservation poster.
- The need is urgent — War in the Pacific has greatly reduced our supply of vegetable fats from the Far East. It is necessary to find substitutes for them. Fat makes glycerine. And glycerine makes explosives for us and our Allies — explosives to down Axis planes, stop their tanks, and sink their ships. We need millions of pounds of glycerine and you housewives can supply it.
Don’t throw away a single drop of used cooking fat, meat drippings, fry fats — every kind you use. After you’ve got all the cooking good from them, pour them through a kitchen strainer into a clean, wide-mouthed can. Keep it in a cool dark place....
Take them to your meat dealer when you’ve saved a pound or more. He is cooperating patriotically. He will pay you for your waste fats and get them started on their way to war industries.
- Federal Government pamphlet getting civilians involved in the war effort.
- Dr. New Deal... [has been replaced by] Dr. Win the War.... The overwhelming first emphasis should be on winning the war.
- President Roosevelt, on the change in the priorities of the Federal Government.
- The honest-minded liberal will admit that the common man is getting a better break [now] than he did under the New Deal.
- A New Deal administrator.
- To harden home-front morale, the military services have adopted a new policy of letting civilians see photographically what warfare does to men who fight.
- Newsweek magazine on the War Department’s policy of letting photos of American troop casualties be shown in order to reverse the public’s overconfidence.
Women in the War
- Days and nights were an endless nightmare, until it seemed we couldn’t stand it any longer. Patients came in by the hundreds, and the doctors and nurses worked continuously under the tents amid the flies and heat and dust. We had from eight to nine hundred victims a day.
- Eunice Hatchitt, Army nurse serving on Bataan in the Philippines.
- To be doing something towards winning the war, to be making some money, to learn a trade, men and women have been pouring into the city [of Mobile, Alabama] for more than a year now.
- Observation of novelist John Dos Passos.
- I was an eager learner, and I soon became an outstanding riveter. At Rohr I worked riveting to boom doors on P-38s.... The war really created opportunities for women. It was the first time we got a chance to show that we could do a lot of things that only men had done before.
- Winona Espinosa, an aircraft worker.
- Something is happening that Adolf Hitler does not understand..... It is the miracle of production.
- Time magazine, on American industry’s production of immense numbers of planes, ships, and tanks. Actually, German military intelligence DID correctly estimate what the U.S. could manufacture, but Hitler chose to ignore the report and declared war on the U.S.
- Instead of cutting a cake, this woman is cutting a pattern of aircraft parts. Instead of baking a cake, this woman is cooking gears to reduce the tension in the gears after use.
- Narrative in a news video showing women working in an aircraft factory.
- There is nothing in the training to prepare you for the excruciating noise you get down in the ship. Any who were not heart-and-soul determined to stick it out would fade out right away.... And it isn’t only your muscles that must harden. It’s your nerve, too.
- Woman shipyard worker.
- You had better be careful how you talk to me ‘cause I have developed a big muscle in my right arm and a good strong one in my left, so take it easy, kid.
- Margaret Hooper, age 20, in a letter to a friend in the Pacific Fleet. Margaret was working as an incoming materials inspector at an aircraft plant in San Pedro, California.
- “Rosie the Riveter”
- Name of the tough, patriotic, fictional woman cartoon character made to rally women support and help during the war.
- It gave me a good start in life. I decided that if I could learn to weld like a man, I could do anything it took to make a living.
- Nova Lee Holbrook, on how her experience in war work was invaluable.
The War at Home: Japanese-Americans
- The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that action will be taken.
- War Department report on Japanese migrants and Japanese-Americans on the West Coast after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
- Despite the color of our hair and skin, despite the shape of our eyes, the U.S. was our country. I remember how my parents reminded us of that fact. Just before our family was evacuated, my father... said, "No matter what happens, this is your home."
- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, taken as a child to an internment camp.
- During the bleak spring of 1942, the Japanese and Japanese-Americans who lived on the West Coast of the United States were taken into custody and removed into camps in the interior. More than 100,000 men, women, and children were thus exiled and imprisoned. More than two-thirds of them were American citizens.
- These people were taken into custody as a military measure on the ground that espionage and sabotage were especially to be feared from persons of Japanese blood. The whole group was removed from the West Coast because the military authorities thought it would take too long to conduct individual investigations on the spot. They were arrested without warrants and were held without indictment or a statement of charges.... Despite the good intention of the chief relocation officers, the centers were little better than concentration camps.
- If the evacuees were found ‘loyal,’ they were released only if they could find a job and a place to live, in a community where no hoodlums would come out at night to chalk-up anti-Japanese slogans, break windows, or threaten riot. If found ‘disloyal’ in their attitude to the war, they were kept in the camps indefinitely — although sympathy with the enemy is no crime in the United States (for white people at least) so long as it is not translated into deeds or the visible threat of deeds.
- There were no lights, stoves, or window panes.... We slept on army cots with our clothes on. … The barbed wire fence which surrounded the camp was visible against the background of the snow-covered Sierra mountain range.
- Karl Yoneda on conditions at the internment camp for Japanese migrants and Japanese-Americans at Manzanar, California.
- After all those years, having worked his whole life to build a dream — having it all taken away.... He died a broken man.
- Peter Ota, whose family was interned at a camp in Colorado.
- We must accord great respect and consideration to the judgments of the military authorities who are on the scene and who have full knowledge of the military facts.... At the same time, however, it is essential that there be definite limits to military discretion.... Individuals must not be left impoverished of their constitutional rights on plea of military necessity that has neither substance nor support.
- Supreme Court Associate Justice Frank Murphy, one of three justices dissenting in Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944). The Court's six-judge majority supported the interning of Japanese and Japanese-Americans.
The War at Home: African-Americans
- This is a war to keep men free. The struggle to broaden and lengthen the road of freedom — our freedom — here in America — will come later. That this private, intra-American war will be carried on and won is the only real reason we Negroes have to fight. We must keep the road open....
The very fact that I, a Negro, can fight against the evils in America is worth fighting for. This open fighting against the wrongs one hates is the mark and the hope of democratic freedom.
- From J. Saunders Redding, “A Negro Looks at This War,” American Mercury (November 1942), pp. 585-592.
- My own opinion was that blacks could best overcome racist attitudes through their achievements, even though these had to take place within the hateful environment of segregation....
The... war represented a golden opportunity....
We owned a fighter squadron — something that would have been unthinkable only a short time earlier. It was all ours.... Furthermore, we would be required to analyze our own problems and solve them with our own skills.
- Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 21-23
- Marechal Juin, Mémoires, Fayard, 1959, p. 355