World War II: Crash Course

World War II: Crash Course



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Only a couple of decades after the end of the First World War—which was supposed to be the War that Ended All Wars—another, bigger, farther-flung, more destructive, and deadlier war began. Today, you'll learn about how the war in Europe progressed, from the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the invasion of Poland, to the Western and Eastern fronts, to VE Day and the atom bombs used in Japan.

Sources

-Hunt, Lynn et al. Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2019.
-Kotkin, Stephen. Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941. New York: Penguin, 2017.
-Mazower, Mark. Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe. New York: Penguin, 2008.
-Overy, Richard. Russia’s War: A History of the Soviet Effort, 1941-1945. New York: Penguin, 1998.
-Smith, Bonnie G. Europe in the Contemporary World, 1900 to the Present, 2nd ed. London: Bloomsbury, 2020.
-Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Hitler between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books, 2010.


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In which John Green teaches you about World War II, and some of the causes behind the war. In a lot of ways, WWII was about resources, and especially about food. The expansionist aggression of both Germany and Japan were in a lot of ways about resources. There were other reasons, to be sure, but the idea that the Axis needed more food can't be ignored.

Citation 1: Lizzie Collingham. The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food. Penguin. New York. 2011. p 30
Citation 2: Collingham. p 102

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Hi, I'm John Green, this is Crash Course World History and today we're gonna talk about World War II. But we're not gonna look at it as a battle between good and evil, but instead as a war for resources, particularly a war for food.

Past John: Wait, Mr. Green, Mr. Green! What about like Rosie the Riveter and Pearl Harbor and Nazis and Hitler?

Yeah, Me from the Past, I mean if the question is "Was Hitler evil?" then. yeah. But evil people generally can't, like, cause massive world wars on their own so instead of talking about uh you know, the personality-driven model of history, I wanna talk about resources, specifically my favorite resource: food.

So the story of World War II is commonly told as a narrative of good vs. evil, and it is, but we can also look at the Second World War through the lens of resource allocation, and I think if we do, it tells the story of both causes of the war and one of the ways that it impacted both soldiers and civilians.

The presence or absence of food affected everyone involved in World War II. In the most stark terms, the absence of food led to the deaths, directly or indirectly, of at least 20 million people during those years, as compared to 19.5 million military deaths.

Now of course both the Nazis and the Japanese were militaristic and expansionist in the 1930s, and they were both definitely motivated by nationalism, but they were also seeking something called autarchy.

You can remember this term by conjuring the feeling one gets near Thanksgiving: "Ahh, turkey." You can also remember it by thinking about the collapse of the Ottoman Empire: "Aw, Turkey."

Anyway, autarchy is a form of self-sufficiency in a world where increasingly people were reliant on world trade, and that made nations more and more dependent upon each other to meet basic needs.

Both Germany and Japan lacked the resources within their borders that they needed to build their growing industrial states, and the resource that concerned them most was food. And this is a big part of what motivated their imperialist expansionism, like Hitler talked all the time about expanding German territory to acquire Lebensraum, or "living space." But what this meant, of course, was agricultural land to feed Germans, that's what "living space" is really about on Earth. And most Germans at the time remembered the blockade during World War I, which had led to acute food shortages.

For the Nazis, to quote Collingham, "Lebensraum would make Germany truly self-sufficient and immune to blockade and this would eventually enable Germany to challenge British and American hegemony."

Meanwhile, in Japan, the need for food was also spurring imperial ambitions. If anything, Japan's limited space created a sense of crisis and made colonies seem necessary. Like Japanese colonies in Korea and Formosa, taken in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894 and 1895, provided 20 percent of the Japanese domestic rice crop by 1935. And then the Great Depression and Japan's growing population made the situation appear even worse and probably led to the decision to annex Manchuria after 1931.

So the Germans' plan was to open up Poland and eventually parts of Russia to German farmers. The Japanese plan was to resettle farmers in Manchuria to provide food for the homeland. So if the desire for more food was one of the initial causes of World War II, it also shaped the actual strategy of the war. This was especially true with one of the stupidest decisions of the war: Hitler's decision to invade the Soviet Union.

A German agronomist named Hans Backe put forth something called the Hunger Plan, and in doing so, convinced Hitler that in order to become self-sufficient, Germany had to invade the Soviet Union. And everyone knows that you cannot successfully invade Russia unless you are the Mongols!

Anyway, the plan was that Ukraine and western Russia would be transformed into a huge breadbasket that would feed both the German armies and German civilians. This was never fully implemented, because, y'know, the Nazis could never successfully nail down all of the territory, but Collingham argues that it was a primary motive for Hitler's disastrous invasion of the U.S.S.R.

And then on the western front, the so-called Battle of the Atlantic was largely about shipping arms, material, and food from the U.S. to Britain. This was incredibly important in the opening years of World War II, like Winston Churchill once said that "The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome." In short, it was Britain's dependence on other parts of the world that ultimately made it stronger than Germany's attempts at self-sufficiency.

Starvation never became an issue for the Brits, but fear of running out of food, especially of running out of food for the troops, led to policies that made starvation a reality for many people in British colonies. In British Africa, for instance, colonial policy forcing production for the war instead of for domestic food consumption meant shortages that were only made worse by wartime inflation crop failure in Rhodesia in 1942 meant widespread hunger and famine and in an echo of what happened at the end of the 19th century, World War II and British colonial policies spelled disaster for India. Japan had seized Burma in early 1942, cutting off 15 percent of Bengal's rice supply, and when harvests failed later that year, hunger turned to famine. Now the British could have alleviated the suffering, but they were afraid to use supply ships that might be needed for the war effort to bring food to starving people in India. When you take into account hunger-associated diseases, between 1.5 and 3 million Indian civilians died, more than the total number of Indian combatants killed in World War I and World War II combined.

In the United States, meanwhile, there was no starvation, but there was some rationing. And this was especially relative to most recent American wars: some shared sacrifice Americans gave up coffee and chocolate so that the troops could be well-fed. So Americans and Britons hardly suffered from hunger, neither did the Germans, actually, where memories of World War I made feeding the civilian population a top priority. Of course, millions of civilians weren't being fed because they were being murdered or worked to death in concentration camps.

But in Britain, World War II might have actually improved people's diets. Now Britons largely despised the wholemeal national loaf of bread, but it was much more nutritious than white bread, and its flour took up less cargo space. It's amazing to think that British people would dislike good food when there's so much of it in their country. Stan, this is the part where in the comments all the British people say, "We are not a country! We're four separate countries!"

The Dig for Victory campaign encouraged ordinary people to plant gardens and so they ate more vegetables. Full employment and higher wages meant that working class people also had access to more nutritious foods. Also, y'know, they had the benefit of Canada growing like a gajillion acres of wheat.

Although both the British and the Germans saw an overall reduction in caloric intake, it was nothing compared with what was happening in the U.S.S.R., Japan, and China. In Russia, daily caloric intake by the end of the war was half of what it had been in 1940. And I'll remind you that things were not great in 1940 in Russia, because Stalin. The daily caloric ration for Japanese women workers fell to 1476 calories, which was bad, but in China, where the corrupt Nationalist army was known to sell rice to the Japanese for profit, a famine in Guangdong claimed the lives of as many as 1.5 million peasants. And without doubt, much of the civilians suffering in the war was related to the massive amounts of food needed to keep soldiers fighting. Let's go to the Thought Bubble.

In World War II, the U.S. and Britain made a massive effort to make sure that their soldiers were well-fed, and for the most part it paid off, even though the food that they got was sometimes pretty gross. The British World War I diet of biscuits and bully beef eventually gave way to the appetizingly named "composite ration."

American soldiers may have complained a lot about their infamous "C and K" rations, but they were the best-fed soldiers in the world, receiving a whopping 4,758 calories per day, including meat at every meal, because you know, America.

As you can probably guess, Soviet soldiers did not fare so well, especially when the Germans invaded because it was their policy to live off the land, which meant scrounging as much food from the Russian countryside as they could. German troops weren't as well-fed as the Americans or Brits, but they still managed to scarf down a respectable 4,000 calories per day.

No combat soldiers were as consistently hungry, however, as the Japanese. Japanese soldiers were expected to feed themselves and were not provided with field kitchens. Often this meant that Japanese soldiers were fueled by little more than rice. And as the war turned against them, it became more and more difficult for Japanese troops to feed themselves. On Guadalcanal, the Japanese attempted to resupply their troops with floating barrels dropped from passing ships, but by December 1942, between 120 and 130 soldiers were dying of starvation every day. The Japanese commander there estimated that while 5,000 of his soldiers died in combat, 15,000 starved to death. Overall, it's estimated that more than 1 million of the 1.74 million Japanese military deaths were caused by starvation or malnutrition.

Thanks, Thought Bubble. So a quick look at the history section in your local bookstore or an IMDb search will tell you that there are hundreds if not thousands of ways to tell the story of World War II. And this is just one history of the war, certainly not a definitive one. But examining the role of resources, especially food in the Second World War, tells a story that has at least one advantage over the narrative of the triumph of Allied good over Axis evil, because it helps us to see that the war was not only about the soldiers fighting it. It gives us a window into the way the war affected everyone who lived at the time.

It also allows us to see World War II from a global perspective in a way that focusing on strategy or tactics or pivotal battles doesn't. Like, very little fighting went on in sub-Saharan Africa or most of India, but these places were deeply affected by the war in ways that don't often make it into history books.

Also, we live today in a thoroughly globalized world, but so did the people of the 1930s, and it's very interesting to see some of their responses to it. That hyper-nationalist idea that we can take care of ourselves and don't need help from outside (as long as we annex a lot of territory that's currently outside of us)--that idea, it is a response to globalization. But I think history shows us that it's a horrible response. It's a dangerous business when humans imagine others as less when they think that their land needs to become our land so that we can feed our people, and in that sense, at least, you can't separate ideology from resource allocation, and as long as we live in a world of finite resources, the potential for conflict will always be there. Knowing that hopefully will help us to avoid it. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next week.

Crash Course is filmed here in the Chad and Stacy Emigholz Studio, and it's made with the help of all of these nice people and also with the help of our Subbable subscribers. Subbable's a voluntary subscription service that allows you to contribute directly to Crash Course so we can continue its mission of keeping it free for everyone forever, so thank you for making Crash Course possible. Thanks for watching, and as we say in my hometown, don't forget to be awesome.

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You can directly support Crash Course at https://www.patreon.com/crashcourse Subscribe for as little as to keep up with everything we're doing. Free is nice, but if you can afford to pay a little every month, it really helps us to continue producing this content.

In which John Green teaches you about World War II, a subject so big, it takes up two episodes. This week, John will teach you how the United States got into the war, and just how involved America was before Congress actually declared war. John will actually talk a little about the military tactics involved, and he'll get into some of the weaponry involved, specifically the huge amount of aerial bombing that characterized the war, and the atomic bombs that ended the war in the Pacific.

Hey teachers and students - Check out CommonLit's free collection of reading passages and curriculum resources to learn more about the events of this episode. Americans entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/the-attack-on-pearl-harbor
A call for soldiers led to an early civil rights victory, the Tuskegee Airmen: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/tuskegee-airmen
America led the invasion of Normandy that would end the war, and American troops helped to liberate surviving Jews from Nazi concentration camps throughout Europe: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/liberation-of-nazi-concentration-camps

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Mr. Green! Mr. Green! Finally we get to the good stuff like Patton and Rommel and Churchill and Eisenhower! Stalingrad! Gomer Pyle!

Aw, I'm sorry to disappoint you me-from-the-past but while Patton and Eisenhower were Americans, Rommel was a German (or General Monty Montgomery's dog). Regardless, they were both from the green parts of not-America. Also no Americans fought at the Battle of Stalingrad. Although we did talk about that in Crash Course World History. And Gomer Pyle was a television character played by Jim Neighbors. I believe that you mean to refer to journalist, Ernie Pyle.

So here at Crash Course we like to focus on causes and effects of wars rather than strategy and tactics. But given the importance that World War II has in the American imagination, we're gonna discuss those a bit to today.

We're gonna defy Maria von Trapp and start before the very beginning because America's ideas about foreign policy were shaped by two things: The Great Depression and World War I.

After the experience of World War I it's not surprising that Americans were just a smidge gun shy about involvement in foreign affairs. Seriously Stan? A gun pun? Now? No.

Now America actually came out of World War I stronger than ever but man did a lot of people die for not much change. I mean, I guess the Treaty of Versailles sort of remade Europe but it didn't make it better. And the League of Nations was a flop. And generally there was a lot of disappointed idealism. The period of time between 1920 and the U.S. entry into World War II has been called an Age of Isolationism, although that isn't 100% accurate. I mean, for one thing the U.S. sponsored a series of arms reduction negotiations that resulted in the Washington treaties limiting the number of battleships that a country could possess. But of course those negotiations led to a fat lot of nothing because the idea of a nation limiting it's battleships was a bigger joke even than the League of Nations which I will remind you we invented and then did not join.

Another way that the U.S. was less than isolationist was our pursuance of the Good Neighbor policy with Latin America. So called because we were not a good neighbor. Our idea was to be less intrusive in Latin American politics and we did remove troops from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which was something, but good neighbor is a bit of an exaggeration. I mean, we continued to support repressive dictators like Samosa and Nicaragua and Batista and Cuba. You know, we've never really been great neighbors. However we were isolationist in the sense that the United States was much less involved in world trade. Largely because of the Depression. You know, that meant that there wasn't much world trade. But also because of tariff policies. But there was also something isolationist about the formal actions of Congress, like after Europe and Asia began to become belligerent in the 1930s with Japan's invasion of China and Italy's invasion of Ethiopia. And the rise of fascist dictators in Spain and of course Germany, Congress responded by passing a series of neutrality acts which banned the sale of arms to belligerents. Even if they were really nice, tea drinking belligerents who we were pals with. And that points to another reason why people tend to regard this as a time of isolationist sentiment, our old friend Eurocentrism. We were generally neutral in terms of foreign intervention when it came to Europe. Popular groups like America First with celebrity members from Charles Lindbergh to E.E. Cummings cautioned against involvement in foreign affairs. But they mostly meant European affairs. The U.S. didn't officially get involved in the war until two years after Hitler invaded Poland. But America was deeply in the European war before we actually sent troops. F.D.R. really wanted to help the allies, especially the Brits, who after the French surrendered in 1940, were the only ones actually fighting the Nazis until 1941 when there were a whole lot of Russians also fighting them. Even Congress recognized that the Nazis were a threat and in 1940 it agreed to allow cash and carry arms sales to Great Britain.

By the way, Cash and Carry is the name of a liquor store near Stan's house. But anyway, the sale of arms were cash sales meaning that they were not paid for with loans or IOU's and the carry part meant that the British would carry their own arms over you know, to Britain.

It's the difference between buying a pizza at a grocery store and getting it delivery except it's not like that at all and. I just want pizza.

Then in September 1940, Congress created the nation's first peace time draft taking the next step toward involvement and that was a huge deal because you know, you don't muster an army with no desire to eventually use it. By 1941, in spite of all our neutrality FDR had pretty clearly sided with the Allies. America became the arsenal of democracy with the Lend Lease Act authorizing military aid to countries that promised to pay it back somehow after the war we promised we'll figure it out. So this essentially gave billions of dollars&rsquo worth of arms and war materials to Britain and after the Nazis invaded in June of 1941 to the USSR as well. And the US also froze Japanese assets here and basically ended all trade between America and Japan. But of course the event that pushed us fully into the war happened on December 7th, 1941 when Japanese pilots attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. 187 aircraft were destroyed 18 naval vessels were damaged or destroyed and more than 2,000 American service men were killed. FDR asked Congress for a declaration of war which they granted voting 477 to 1 and the day after that Germany declared war on the United States and World War II officially became a world war.

We almost always start the American story of World War II in Europe because, you know, Hitler. So I'm gonna start in the Pacific where until 1944 there were actually more American personnel deployed than in Europe. Things didn't start well in the Pacific. Let&rsquos go to the thought bubble.

Perhaps worse than Pearl Harbor was the surrender of 78,000 American and Filipino troops at Bataan. This was the largest surrender by American troops in history and it resulted in thousands dying on the Bataan Death March to prisoner of war camps where thousands more would die. But in May 1942 we protected Australia from the Japanese fleet by winning the battle of the Coral Sea and then in June we won a huge victory at Midway Island, midway between Hawaii and Japan I guess, and probably named by historians. The US strategy in the Pacific has been called Island Hopping and it involved taking Japanese controlled islands one at a time to be used as bases for bombers that could then be used against Japan itself. It was a slow process and the fighting over these jungle-y South Pacific islands was fierce and extraordinarily costly. The battle at Guadalcanal went from August 1942 to February 1943 and they didn't freeze like in Stalingrad but conditions weren't much better and now let&rsquos switch to the European theatre. We call this the European war because we were fighting against Europeans and it ended in Europe but the first US to fight against Nazis actually did so in North Africa so it's kinda a misnomer. American weaponry was pretty poor but after our initial invasion in North Africa in 1942 we got into it and by 1943 we and the British defeated Rommel in the desert and we were ready to invade Europe which should have made Stalin happy because up to this point Russians had been doing the bulk of the dying in the war. But Stalin wasn't happy. First because he was a mean and nasty person and those kinds of people are rarely happy and secondly because rather than invading France and striking at Germany more directly the Allies invaded Sicily and Italy where we fought for most of 1943 and much of 1944 until finally on June 6, we joined some Brits and Canadians in invading Normandy on D-Day. And that was the beginning of the end for the Nazis. Thanks Thought Bubble.

Oh it's time for the mystery document already? Alright. The rules here are simple. I read the mystery document and usually I get it wrong and I get shocked.

"They seemed terribly pathetic to me. They weren't warriors. They were American boys who be mere chance of fate had wound up with guns in their hands, sneaking up a death-laden street in a strange and shattered city in a faraway country in a driving rain. They were afraid, but it was beyond their power to quit. They had no choice. They were good boys. I talked with them all afternoon as we sneaked slowly along the mysterious and rubbed streets, and I know they were good boys. And even though they weren't warriors born to the kill, they won their battles. That was the point."

Man that is some good writing Stan, by famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Pchkow! That was me being a warrior. Pchick! Pchick! I can't even make finger guns. That's how much of a not warrior I am. I'm a worrier. I knew it was Ernie Pyle for two reasons. First he's talking about cities so it's the European theatre. Secondly he's the best European theatre American writer in World War 2, by far.

So while Americans did liberate Paris and were part of the final assault on Germany and also liberated a number of concentration camps, Russians did most of the fighting in Europe, losing at least twenty million people and in the end it was the Russians who captured Berlin. Although the Nazis never really had a chance to win the war after they started fighting the Russians and the Americans entered into it. It didn't actually end until May 8th or 9th, 1945. Depending on when you got the news. And the war in the Pacific continued until August. Japan surrendered unconditionally after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6th and Nagasaki on August 9th. We don't celebrate the end of World War 2 in the United States and I guess this is because we would have to decide whether to celebrate the end of the war in Europe or in Japan or maybe it's just difficult to celebrate the use of atomic weapons.

Atomic bombs were developed through the Manhattan project so called because the bombs were partly invented in Chicago and then built and tested in New Mexico, trickery. That was the sort of covert thing the US used to do really well before we developed the internet. Although we weren't that good at it. Since the Soviets did steal our technology and build a nuclear bomb like three years later.

The two atomic bombs that were eventually dropped were the most destructive weapons the world had ever seen. The one dropped on Hiroshima killed 70,000 people instantly, and by the end of 1945 another 70,000 had died from radiation poisoning. The bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki also killed 70,000 people in fact, the death toll from those two bombs was greater than the number of American fatalities in the entire Pacific war. And that leads to one of the most hotly debated questions in recent history. Was the use of atomic bombs justified or ethical? Those arguing against their use often point out that the Truman administration had good evidence that Japan would surrender if they were allowed to keep their Emperor on the throne. And some also point out that the primary targets were not military, although there were 40,000 troops stationed in Hiroshima. Others argue that the real reason the United States dropped the bomb was to threaten the USSR and prevent them from taking more territory in the East. And then there's the argument that using such a destructive weapon was morally reprehensible because it was so destructive as to be qualitatively different from other weapons. For a couple centuries our weapons had had the theoretical capability of eliminating all humans, but never before had it been so easy.

But other reply that dropping the bombs helped save American lives, some of Truman's advisers worried that invasion of Japan would result in 250,000 American deaths, and at least that many Japanese deaths. And that's important to note because if there was one thing truly horrible innovative about World War 2, it was bombing. Sure there was radar and jets, but they weren't nearly as significant as aerial bombardment and by the time the A-Bombs dropped the idea of precision bombing only military targets, wasn&rsquot an option in part because incredibly risky to planes and pilots. And by 1945 it was an acceptable and wide spread strategy to target civilians as part of a total war. In World War 2, perhaps 40% of the estimated 50 million people killed were civilians. Compare that with World War 1 where it was only 10%. We should be horrified that 140,000 people were killed in Hiroshima but we should be horrified by all the civilian attacks in World War 2. 25,000 people died in Dresden, more than 100,000 died in the firebombing of Tokyo in March of 1945.

Thinking about Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs is important because it forces us to consider our understanding of history. Part of why we say that using atomic bombs was worse than conventional bombing, is because we know what came after the Cold War, the threat of nuclear annihilation. From the present the dawn of atomic warfare is indeed terrifying. But people living at the time were living amid a different kind of terror, and they couldn't have known that there would be a nuclear arms race that threatened all of humanity. The Japanese didn't look like they were going to give up, and people on both sides were dying every day. So before we pass judgment, let's try to put ourselves in the shoes of both the soldiers who were fighting who didn't have to fight on mainland Japan and the civilians who were killed by the bombs.

There's no answer to be found there but the opportunity of studying history is the opportunity to experience empathy. Now of course we're never going to know what it's like to be someone else, to have your life saved or taken by decisions made by the allied command. Studying history and making genuine attempts at empathy helps us to grapple with the complexity of the world not as we wish it were, but as we find it. Thanks for watching, I'll see you next week.

Crash Course is made through the combined efforts of all of these nice people, and it exists because of you and your support through subbable.com. Subbable is a voluntary subscription service that allows you to support Crash Course directly so that we can keep this show for free forever for everyone. You can check out our Subbable by clicking right there or there's also a link in the video info. There are lots of great perks, but the greatest perk is knowing that you are making this show possible. Thank you so much, Thanks for watching and as we say in my hometown. Don't forget to be awesome.

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Crash Course World History is now available on DVD! Visit http://dft.ba/-CCWHDVD to buy a set for your home or classroom.

You can directly support Crash Course at https://www.patreon.com/crashcourse Subscribe for as little as to keep up with everything we're doing. Free is nice, but if you can afford to pay a little every month, it really helps us to continue producing this content.

In which John Green teaches you about World War 2, as it was lived on the home front. You'll learn about how the war changed the country as a whole, and changed how Americans thought about their country. John talks about the government control of war production, and how the war probably helped to end the Great Depression. A broader implementation of the income tax, the growth of large corporations, and the development of the West Coast as a manufacturing center were also results of the war. The war positivelychanged the roles of women and African Americans, but it was pretty terrible for the Japanese Americans who were interred in camps. In short, World War II changed America's role in the world, changed American life at home, and eventually spawned the History Channel.

Hey teachers and students - Check out CommonLit's free collection of reading passages and curriculum resources to learn more about the events of this episode. At home in America, everyone joined in the war effort, with everyone contributing to American industry: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/how-american-industry-won-world-war-ii
But America had its fair share of shame, such as when the country turned away Jewish refugees on the St. Louis who would die in the Holocaust: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/jewish-refugees-on-the-st-louis
During World War II, there was also a painful period of Japanese relocation and internment throughout the country: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/japanese-relocation-during-world-war-ii

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Hi, I'm John Green, this is Crash Course U.S. History and today we're going to discuss how World War II played out at home and also the meaning of the war.

Mr. Green, Mr. Green, so is this going to be, like, one of the boring philosophical ones then?

Oh, me from the past, I remember when you were idealistic. I remember a time when all you cared about was the deep inner meaning of-- mostly girls. But you've changed, me from the past, and not in a good way.

Theme Song

So anyway World War II brought about tremendous changes in the United States, in many ways shaping how Americans would come to see themselves and how they would want to be seen by the rest of the world. Some of these ideological changes were a continuation of the New Deal. Others were direct results of the war. But one thing we can say is that by the end of the war, the country was very different.

For starters, World War II strengthened the Federal Government of the United States. This always happens when a country goes to war, but World War II brought about even more governmental intervention and control than we had seen in WWI. It was like the New Deal on steroids, like federal agencies like the War Production Board, War Manpower Commission, and Office of Price Administration took unprecedented control of the economy.

There was massive rationing of food, and supplies, entire industries were completely taken over by the government, the federal government fixed wages, rents, prices, and especially production quotas. Like, if you're looking to buy a 1942 Model Ford or Chrysler, good luck, because there weren't any. The government told those car makers not to create new models that year.

So basically FDR was president for life and controlled all the industries I mean HOW DID THIS COMMUNIST END UP ON THE DIME? Well, the answer is that while it might have sucked not to have a 1942 Ford, most people were happy just to be working after the Great Depression. Unemployment dropped form 14% in 1940 to 2% in 1943. Of course 13 million Americans were serving in the military in some capacity so that helped employment.

But in general the war kicked the American economy into overdrive, like, by 1944 American factories were producing an airplane every five minutes and a ship every day. US gross national product went from 91 billion to 214 billion during the war.

Why did this happen? Well that's controversial, but primarily because of federal spending. Government expenditures during the war were twice the amount they had been in the previous 250 years. Combined. Although a lot of this was financed with debt, much of the war was paid for with taxes. Like the federal government began the practice of withholding taxes from paychecks, for instance, a practice that I became familiar with when working at Steak N Shake discovering that instead of being paid like I don't know a hundred dollars a week I was being paid -30 dollars a week because I had to declare my tips. Because my dad made me.

Before WWII only 4 million Americans even paid federal income taxes, but after the war, 40 million did. Also big business got even bigger during the war because of government contracts. Cost-plus contracts guaranteed that companies would make a profit and the lion's share of contracts went to the biggest businesses. So by the war's end the 200 biggest American corporations controlled half of America's corporate assets.

And all of this government spending also spurred development. Like, defense spending basically created the West Coast as an industrial center. Seattle became a shipping and aircraft-manufacturing hub, and California got 10% of all federal spending. And Los Angeles became the second largest manufacturing center in the country, meaning that it was not in fact built by Hollywood, it was built by WWII.

All of this was pretty bad for the South, by the way, because most of this industrialization happened in cities, and the South only ha two cities with more than half a million people.

And organized labor continued to grow as well, with union membership soaring from around 9 million in 1940 to almost 15 million in 1945. besides union-friendly New Deal policies, the government forced employers to recognize unions in order to prevent labor strife and keep the factories humming so that war production would not decrease.

And, from a human history standpoint, one of the biggest changes is that many of the workers in those factories were women. You've probably seen this picture of Rosie the Riveter and while there wasn't actually a riveter named Rosie, or maybe there was, but- SHE'S AN AMALGAM. But my 1944 women made up 1/3 of the civilian labor force in addition to the 350 thousand who were serving in the military. And the type of women who were working changed as well. Married women in their 30s outnumbered single women in the workforce.

But the government and the employers both saw this phenomenon as temporary, so when the war was over, most women workers, especially those in high paying industrial jobs, were let go. This was especially hard on working class women who needed to work to survive and had to return to lower paid work as domestics or in food services or, God forbid, as teachers.

Mystery Document

Oh, it's time for the Mystery Document?

The rules here are simple. We use primary sources for learning as this is a serious show about history and then if I guess the author wrong, I get shocked. Okay, what do we got today? Let's take a look.

"Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world. For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple.

They are: equality of opportunity for youth and for others, jobs for those who can work, security for those who need it, the ending of special privilege for the few, the preservation of civil liberties for all."

I mean, that's some pretty hardcore New Deal stuff right there. And, uh, the biggest New Deal-er of all was FDR, BUT I remember last time when I guessed FDR and it was actually Eleanor Roosevelt. So. You wouldn't do Eleanor Roosevelt twice. Or would you? Hm. no. It sounds more like a speech. FDR. (dinging noise) YES!

End of Mystery Document

So I mentioned at the beginning of this video that WWII was an ideological war, and nothing better encapsulates that idea than FDR's 'Four Freedoms,' which were: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

During the war the National Resources Planning Board offered a plan for a peacetime economy based on full employment, an expanded welfare state, and a higher standard of living for all. In 1944 FDR even called for a new Economic Bill of Rights that would expand governmental power in order to create full employment and guarantee an adequate income, medical care, education, and housing to all Americans.

As FDR put it, 'True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.' But that didn't happen, largely because Southern Democrats in the House and Senate didn't want it to because it would have meant a larger role for unions and also extending greater equality to African Americans, and they weren't about to let that happen. I mean, their jobs were literally dependent upon African Americans not being able to vote.

But, Congress did pass the GI Bill of Rights, officially the Serviceman's Readjustment Act, to attempt to prevent widespread unemployment for returning soldiers. It worked amazingly well, and by 1946 more than 1 million former soldiers were enrolled in college and almost 4 million got assistance with mortgages, spurring a post-war housing boom. Levittown and all the towns since that look like it came after the war.

So, we talked about FDR's Four Freedoms, but big business added a fifth freedom- free enterprise. Advertisers helped on this front, trying to make the war about consumption, telling Americans that they were fighting to "hasten the day when you. can once more walk into any store in the land and buy anything you want," according to an ad for Royal Typewriters.

And FDR's vision of extending freedom wasn't limited to the US, like Henry Luce, the publisher of Time Magazine, published a book called the American Century claiming that the war had thrust upon the US the opportunity to share with all people their "magnificent industrial products"that's a quote, and American ideas like 'love of freedom' and 'free economic enterprise.'

The struggle against Nazism also helped re-shape the way that Americans thought of themselves. Like, because the Nazis were racists, Americanism would mean diversity, and tolerance, and equality for all people. The federal government supported this version of America. FDR claimed that to be an American was a 'matter of mind and heart,' not 'a matter of race and ancestry.'

Of course it wasn't a matter of race and ancestry we'd already killed 95% of the indigenous population.

This was also, not coincidentally, the period where American intellectuals began publishing books debunking the supposed 'scientific' basis of racism.

Now this didn't mean that Americans suddenly embraced equality of all people. Anti-Semitism still existed and contributed to the government's not doing more to help the Jews who perished in the Holocaust. In fact, only 21,000 Jewish people were allowed to come to the US during the course of the war.

And white people's fear over minority groups contributed to race riots in Detroit and the Zoot Suit Riots against Mexicans in Los Angeles in 1943. Not just a song by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, also a tragic moment in American history.

The war years saw a dramatic increase in immigration from Mexico under the Bracero program, which lasted until 1964. And about 500 thousand Mexican American men and women served in the armed forced during the war, as did 25 thousand American Indians although Indian reservations being largely rural, didn't really share in the wartime prosperity.

Asian Americans are probably the most glaring example of the failure to be adequately pluralistic. Although things did improve for Chinese Americans because America couldn't keep restricting the immigration of its ally in the war, Japanese Americans suffered horrible racism and one of the worst violations of civil liberties in America's history.

Executive Order 9066 in February 1942 expelled all persons of Japanese descent from the west coast. 70% of Japanese Americans lived in California and as a result of this order more than 110 thousand people, almost 2/3 of whom were American citizens, were sent to internment camps where they lived in makeshift barracks under the eyes and searchlights of guards.

A man named Fred Korematsu appealed his conviction for failing to show up for internment all the way to the Supreme Court, where he lost in yet another horrendous Supreme Court decision.

Thought Bubble

Okay, let's go to the Thought Bubble.

The group that experienced the greatest change during WWII was probably African Americans. They still served in segregated regiments in the armed forces, but more than 1 million of them answered the call to fight. And just as important, continuing the Great Migration that had begun in the 1920s, 700 thousand African Americans left the south, moving to northern and especially western cities where they could find jobs, even though these mass migrations often led to tensions between blacks and whites and sometimes these tensions exploded into violence.

WWII also saw the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. Angered by discrimination in defense employment, black laborer A. Phillip Randolph threatened a march on Washington demanding access to defense jobs, an end to segregation, and a federal anti-lynching law. He didn't get all of those things, be he did get Executive Order 8802 which banned discrimination in defense hiring and created the Fair Employment Practices Commission. The FEPC couldn't enforce anti-discrimination but as a compliance agency it helped African American workers obtain jobs in arms factories and shipyards. By 1944 more than a million black people were working in manufacturing, and 300 thousand of them were women.

The rhetoric of fighting a war for freedom against a racist dictatorship wasn't lost on African Americans, and many saw themselves as engaged in the double-V campaign, victory over the Axis powers abroad and over racism in the US.

The war saw ending segregation and black equality become cornerstones of American liberalism, along with full employment and the expansion of civil liberties. Eventually even the army and navy began to integrate, although the full end to discrimination in the military would have to wait until well after the war.

End of Thought Bubble

So if America was isolationist before the war- and I've argued that it actually wasn't really- after the war it certainly wasn't. FDR took a very active role in planning for a more peaceful and prosperous post-war world. And conferences at Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam clarified war aims, and established the idea that Germany would be divided and Nazis tried for war crimes.

These conferences also laid the foundation for the Cold War in allowing Soviet influence in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, so that wasn't such a good thing.

But, the 1944 conference Bretton Woods in beautiful, freedom loving New Hampshire, established America's economic dominance as the dollar, which again would be backed by gold, replaced the pound as the main currency in international transactions. It also created the World Bank to help rebuild Europe and also to help developing countries and the IMF to stabilize currencies.

How well that's worked is debatable, but this isn't- the US became the financial leader of a global capitalist order. the US also took the leading role in establishing the United Nations at the Dumbarton Oaks in 1944. Why do we not have a UN commission on improving the names of historical events?

The goal of the UN was to ensure peace, and the US's position as one of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council signaled that it intended to take an active and leading role in international affairs. And we had to, because by the end of the war only the US and the USSR were powerful enough to have any influence.

So WWII ended the Depression and transformed American economy. It cemented the new definition of liberalism defined by the New Deal and opened up opportunities for diverse groups of Americans. It also transformed definitions of freedom both at home and abroad. I mean, even before the US entered the war it issued the Atlantic Charter along with Britain affirming the freedom of all people to choose their own government and declaring that the defeat of Nazi Germany would help to bring about a world of "improved labor standards, economic advancement, and social security".

At home and abroad WWII became a war that was about freedom, but was also about what Gunnar Myrdal called the American Creed- a belief in equality, justice, equal opportunity, and freedom.

I want to be clear that we have done a terrible job of living up to the American Creed, but the story of American history is in many ways the story of ideas pulling policy, not the other way around. American history is an economic and political and social history, but it is also a story about the power of ideas. and WWII helped clarify those ideas for America and for the world.

Thanks for watching. I'll see you next week.

Credits

Crash Course US History is made by all of these nice people [John Green, Stan Muller, Raoul Meyer, Rosianna Halse Rojas, Stan Muller, Meredith Danko] and it exists because of you and your support through Subbable.

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World War II: Crash Course - History

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In which John Green teaches you about World War II, aka The Great Patriotic War, aka The Big One. So how did this war happen? And what does it mean? We've all learned the facts about World War II many times over, thanks to repeated classroom coverage, the History channel, and your grandfather (or maybe great-grandfather) showing you that Nazi bayonet he used to keep in his sock drawer and telling you a bunch of age-inappropriate stories about his harrowing war experiences. So, why did the Axis powers think forceful expansion was a good idea? (they were hungry). So why did this thing shake out in favor of the Allies? HInt: it has to do with the fact that it was a world war. Germany and Japan made some pretty serious strategic errors, such as invading Russia and attacking the United States, and those errors meant that pretty much the whole world was against them. So, fins out how this worldwide alliance came together to stop the Axis expansion. All this, plus Canada finally gets the respectful treatment it deserves. Oh, and a warning: there are a few graphic images in this episode. Sensitive viewers may want to use caution, especially around the 9:15 mark.


World War II: Crash Course - History

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The logic behind AI by tracing its history and examining how it’s being used today.

Crash Course Artificial Intelligence

Shini Somara introduces us to the ideas of motion in a straight line.

Motion in a Straight Line: Crash Course Physics #1

Get to know host Phil Plait and begin with answering a simple question: what is astronomy?

Introduction to Astronomy: Crash Course Astronomy #1

Welcome to school without the Classroom! YouTube.com/CrashCourse More More

Welcome to school without the Classroom! Crash Course is part of the PBS Digital Studios network on YouTube. For more videos like this, check out and subscribe to their channel: Youtube.com/crashcourse

Welcome to school without the Classroom! Crash Course is part of the PBS Digital Studios network on YouTube. For more videos like this, check out and subscribe to their channel: Youtube.com/crashcourse

The logic behind AI by tracing its history and examining how it’s being used today.


U.S. Airmen Made Up Nearly One-Quarter of U.S. Deaths

Overall, about 100,000 U.S. airmen died in World War II, representing nearly one-quarter of total U.S. fatalities. The material costs of maintaining an air force were likewise astronomical, with the United States losing almost 100,000 of its 300,000 planes produced during the conflict.

The U.S. Eighth Air Force, which bombed German-occupied Europe from 1942 onward, bore a particularly heavy burden. More than 26,000 of its men, fully one-third of its total aircrew, died in combat. “There was no big battle but just a slow attrition as they flew out night after night,” Overy says. 𠇊 few bomber pilots managed to survive perhaps 50 missions but that was extremely rare. Usually a pilot who survived was pretty burned out after 30.”

A portrait of the officers of the USS Finback and some U.S. Navy pilots and crew rescued by the Finback. Kneeling second from the left is George Bush.

© CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Yet as bad as it was for the United States, it was even worse for other countries. Britain’s Royal Air Force Bomber Command, for example, lost almost half its aircrew in World War II, whereas, on the Axis side, hundreds of thousands of German and Japanese airmen were killed. Overy explains that Axis air casualty rates were especially high toward the end of the conflict, when the Allies dominated the skies.

For all countries in the conflict, Overy says, about 25 percent of pilots would be killed or seriously injured each month in peak combat, and in some battles the loss rate reached as high as 40 percent.

George Bush was nearly one of these casualties. Enlisting in the Navy’s flight training program fresh out of high school, he then flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific, first seeing action in May 1944 at the head of a three-man Avenger torpedo bomber. “He was the leader,” Kinney says, “responsible for making the team operate efficiently.”

Bush and his crew first ran into trouble that June, when anti-aircraft fire forced them to make an emergency water landing. (A U.S. destroyer rescued them minutes after the crash.)


World War II: Crash Course World History #38

Myth, Legend, Folklore, Ghosts Apollo and the Greek Muses Updated July 2010 COMPREHENSIVE SITES ON MYTHOLOGY ***** The Encyclopedia Mythica - SEARCH - Areas - Image Gallery - Genealogy tables - Mythic Heroes Probert Encyclopaedia - Mythology Gods, Heroes, and MythDictionary of Mythology What is Myth? MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHOLOGYThe Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ Sumerian Mythology FAQ Sumerian Mythology Sumerian Gods and Goddesses Sumerian Myths SUMERIAN RELIGION Mythology's Mythinglinks: the Tigris-Euphrates Region of the Ancient Near East Gods, Goddesses, Demons and Monsters of Mesopotamia The Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ More info on Ancient Mesopotamia can be found on my Ancient River Valley Civilizations page. GREEK MYTHOLOGYOrigins of Greek MythologyGreek Mythology - MythWeb Greek-Gods.info (plus a fun QUIZ)Ancient Greek Religion Family Tree of Greek Mythology Greek Names vs. VARIOUS FAIRIES, ELVES, UNICORNS, MERMAIDS, & OTHER MYTHICAL TOPICS HERE BE DRAGONS!

The Wicker Man (1973 Edit Storyline Sgt. Hell in the Pacific One of the most bitter battle arenas of the Second World War, Pearl Harbor represented the trigger that led America into the greatest conflict ever recorded and the eventual liberation of the people of Asia and the Pacific. On the 7th December 1941 Japan launched surprise attacks across the Pacific region, setting battleships ablaze in Pearl Harbor, then routing the British in Malaya and capturing Singapore itself: the greatest humiliation in British war history. The Japanese now seemed unstoppable and after being at war with China for a decade, and shocking the world with atrocities like the Nanking Massacre, they believed their destiny was to rule Asia under the Emperor, for them, a living god. Inferno - Dec, 7th 1941 and Japan launches attacks across the Pacific region, killing thousands in Pearl Harbor and capturing Singapore - a vicious and bloody battle ensues. Purgatory - The plight of those who fell into Japanese hands during WWII.

EyeWitness To World War Two The Beginning of World War II, 1939 "What now?' asked Hitler with a savage look. " Hitler's interpreter describes the reaction of the Fuhrer and his henchmen to an ultimatum from Britain and the beginning of World War II. London Goes to War, 1939 Prime Minister Chamberlain's radio announcement of war was made at 11:15 AM - the air raid sirens began wailing at 11:27. Blitzkrieg, 1940 Did the CIA test LSD in the New York City subway system? On Nov. 28, 1953, Frank Olson, a bland, seemingly innocuous 42-year-old government scientist, plunged to his death from room 1018A in New York’s Statler Hotel, landing on a Seventh Avenue sidewalk just opposite Penn Station. Olson’s ignominious end was written off as an unremarkable suicide of a depressed government bureaucrat who came to New York City seeking psychiatric treatment, so it attracted scant attention at the time. But 22 years later, the Rockefeller Commission report was released, detailing a litany of domestic abuses committed by the CIA. The ugly truth emerged: Olson’s death was the result of his having been surreptitiously dosed with LSD days earlier by his colleagues.

HomeschoolScientist Upload TheHomeschoolScientist.com Subscription preferences Loading. Working. HomeschoolScientist World War II for Kids: Causes of WW2 History >> World War 2 for Kids Please note: The audio information from the video is included in the text below. There were many events throughout the world that led to the beginning of World War 2. In many ways, World War 2 was a direct result of the turmoil left behind by World War 1. Below are some of the main causes of World War 2. Treaty of Versailles Family tree of the Greek gods Greek cosmological entities Essential Olympians and Titans The essential Olympians' names are given in bold font. See also List of Greek mythological figures Notes

drawstuffrealeasy Upload ShooRaynerDrawing Channel Subscription preferences America's Flag Proportions 100% woven, spun Polyester, this is the most durable flag material ever created. With the look of cotton, this material was designed and engineered especially for industrial, commercial or institutional use or wherever severe climactic conditions exist. Brand Names: Tough-Tex, Koralex II, Champion, Polywavez, Poly-Max, PolyExtra. Old School Television Upload Subscription preferences Loading. Working. S. Korea Prepares to Evacuate DMZ Citizens After Threat South Korea is preparing to evacuate more than 800 residents along the demilitarized zone after North Korea threatened to fire on activists planning to send balloons across the border carrying leaflets critical of its regime. While no orders to leave are currently in place, authorities have been preparing citizens residing within the civilian control line to evacuate if any signs of a possible attack emerge, Park Kwang Hae, an official at Paju City Council, said by telephone today. The threat of an attack against activists is the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un succeeded his father Kim Jong Il in December. South Korea has not sighted any unusual troop movements north of the border today, said a Defense Ministry official, who could not be named due to military policy. The activists are pushing ahead with their plan to send 200,000 leaflets at 11 a.m. today, according to Park Sang Hak, leader of the Fighters for Free North Korea, one of the organizers.

Physics Community Afire With Rumors of Higgs Boson Discovery | Wired Science One of the biggest debuts in the science world could happen in a matter of weeks: The Higgs boson may finally, really have been discovered. Ever since tantalizing hints of the Higgs turned up in December at the Large Hadron Collider, scientists there have been busily analyzing the results of their energetic particle collisions to further refine their search. “The bottom line though is now clear: There’s something there which looks like a Higgs is supposed to look,” wrote mathematician Peter Woit on his blog, Not Even Wrong. According to Woit, there are rumors of new data that would be the most compelling evidence yet for the long-sought Higgs.

Fantastic!, thanks so much for the contribution! by tfkempo Apr 7

This video will give a "crash course" on World War II. This is great for individuals who want a refresher on what happened in World War II and will be beneficial for understanding certain components of this presentation. by browkath Apr 7


World War II: Crash Course - History

For history teachers, videos can be a powerful tool to contextualize events that seem intangible, or too far distant in the past. When it comes to World War II, specifically, this collection of videos put together by YouTube Education's Angela Lin, bring a variety of perspectives for students to consider. In the mix, the topics cover the geopolitical significance of the war, as well as personal lives affected in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

For more tips on ideas for using videos, check out the MindShift Teacher's Guide to Using Videos.

This video is one of the many fabulous educational creations John Green creates about all things history. Here, Green explains why World War has made such a lasting impact on the world and what lessons can be learned from its tragedy. It's the war sped up and is about as funny as war can be.

Created by the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum, this video is the touching story of Sol Finkelstein, a Polish Jew separated from his father at a concentration camp just days before liberation. Not knowing what became of his father and guilt for not protecting him have plagued Finkelstein until his son and the museum helped find some answers.

This BBC Worldwide video remembers the horror that the atom bomb caused when it was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Often the battles fought in the Pacific during World War II are overshadowed by the horrific stories of Nazi concentration camps. This video brings the people who became collatoral damage to the forefront.

The Library of Congress' video on how the war changed U.S. labor relations is an important part of the World War II narrative. The video takes a look at the iconic Rosie the Riveter image that's become synonomous with women's war work, breaking down the myth. What's left behind is the beginning of a real change in the country's women who were no longer content to be housewives.

Allen Packwood, the Director of the Churchill Archives at the University of Cambridge dissect's the famous speech Churchill gave in 1940 to prepare the British people of the long, hard days of war to come. The audio and photos reveal how much care Churchill took with this speech and its power to move people.

A piece of war time propaganda, this War Stories video reminds Americans why they must ration their food and how important American farming is to the war effort. It features an appearance by the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service who pleads with Americans to eat properly to maintain health, but also be willing to sacrifice. An interesting artifact and great teaching tool for analyzing government messages to citizens during war.


World War II Plane Crashes in National Parks

During WWII, more than 7,100 air crashes involved US Army Air Force (USAAF) aircraft occurred on American soil. Collectively these crashes resulted in the loss of more than 15,599 lives (Mireles 2006). Many of these military aircraft accidents occurred in remote, often mountainous, areas managed by the National Park Service.

Channel Islands National Park

On July 5, 1943, a Consolidated B-24E Liberator crashed into Green Mountain on San Miguel Island, California, during low overcast conditions (Macha and Jordan 2002 Mireles 2006). The aircraft impacted the ground at cruising speed and the wreckage was widely dispersed and burned (Macha and Jordan 2002). Twelve airmen died in the crash. The accident site was not located until March 19, 1944. A second incident involved a United States Marine Corps (USMC) Grumman F4F, which crashed on Anacapa Island on an unknown date during the WWII (Macha and Jordan 2002).

Death Valley National Park

On August 1, 1944, six B-24 Liberators took off from Muroc Army Air Field for training in gunnery and formation flying. One B-24J collided with, and sheared off the tail of, a B-24D which immediately plummeted. Gunnery student Private Newton J. Steven was thrown from the B-24J and was able to parachute successfully. All the other eight aviators in the B-24J perished along with all eight airmen on the B-24D (Mireles 2006). Scattered debris from the crash is still visible in the park (Macha and Jordan 2002).

On March 29, 1945, an AT-11 crash-landed on Devil’s Golf Course, and the pilot survived (Farabee 2005). The remains of WWII Navy Goodyear FG-1, including machine guns and remains of its pilot, were discovered in the park by a hiker in 1967 (Macha and Jordan 2002). The exact date of this crash is unknown. On September 2, 1945, the last day of the war, a USMC Grumman F6F-5 crashed in Death Valley. The wreckage was not discovered until June 13, 1957 (Macha and Jordan 2002).

Excavation in December 1944 of crash site of C-47 Skytrain at Denali National Park

Denali National Park

On September 18, 1944, an Army C-47 left Anchorage for Fairbanks with a civilian pilot from Northwest Airlines, and 18 servicemen on board. The aircraft struck a mountain (now named Mt. Deception) 16 miles east of Mt. McKinley (Figure 1). Forty-four men traversed over twenty miles of rugged terrain to reach the crash site on November 10, to find the plane buried in ten feet of snow. They were unable to locate any bodies (DNPP, n.d. Farabee 2005).

El Malpais National Monument

A USAAF Consolidated 0A-10 (Army designation for Navy PBY-5A Catalina) was on route from Amarillo, Texas, to Mather Field, near Sacramento, on August 1, 1945. The aircraft crashed after having feathered one propeller (indicating an engine failure), killing all six crewmen (C. Fuller, pers. comm. Mireles 2006).

Contemporary photograph of wreckage of PBY-5A Catalina at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1945.

Courtesy of Stephen Haller

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Shortly after noon on May 4, 1945, a PBY-5A Catalina left Alameda, California, with a crew of eleven, and four depth charges. Barely five miles from Alcatraz Island, the aircraft encountered bad weather and the plane crashed on a hillside a few minutes later. Two of the crew, Aviation Machinist’s Mate Harold R. Doyle and Aviation Ordnanceman Henri C. Tondreault, miraculously survived, but sustained third-degree burns (GGNRA, .d. C. Fuller, pers. comm.).

Grand Canyon National Park

On June 20, 1944, a B-24 with a five crew members was 24,000 feet over the Grand Canyon, Arizona, when all four engines died. The pilot ordered his crew to bail out, and three men exited through the bomb bay into the night. As suddenly as they stopped, the four engines restarted and the two pilots were able to nurse the plane to Kingman Army Air Field. All three crew members who jumped from the plane survived: Engineer Corporal Roy W. Embanks was uninjured Lieutenant Charles Goldblum (bombardier) slid down a steep slope and his parachute snagged on the rocks and Flying Officer Maurice J. Cruikshank, Jr. (navigator), hit a steep slope and broke bones in his foot. Cruickshank, with a makeshift crutch, was able to meet up with Goldblum in the morning, and eventually they found Embanks. Supplies were dropped to them by air, and they were finally led out of the canyon after 10 days (Ghiglieri and Myers 2001 Farabee 2005).

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On Monday, January 31, 1944, A UC-78 left Char lotte, North Carolina, on route to Nashville, Tennessee, with four on board, including an Oak Ridge scientist. Witnesses reported a low flying aircraft with a sputtering engine over the mountains. Despite immediate and subsequent searches, no trace of the aircraft was ever found (Wad ley and McCarter 2002).

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

On December 23, 1943, a Boeing B-17G took off from Roswell Army Air Field in New Mexico, with three senior flight instructors on board. The aircraft was flying in poor isibility, about 200 feet above a paved road, and struck the eastern slope of Guadalupe Peak. Engineer Private Nick A. Mardesich was in the radio compartment at the moment of impact, was able to exit the burning wreck, and was the sole survivor. Some wreckage is still visible (GMNP, n.d. Mireles 2006).

On the last day of 1943, a Consolidated B-24D left Biggs Field in El Paso, Texas, on an in strument training mission, and struck a hill west of Pine Top. The accident was attributed to icing, and all five members of the crew were killed. Extensive wreckage exists at the site today (GMNP, n.d. Mireles 2006).

Joshua Tree National Monument

On Independence Day 1944, three Consolidated B-24Js left March Field for gunnery and bombing raining. Two of the aircraft collided in flight, shearing off the tail section of one (Farabee 2005 Mireles 2006). Second Lieutenant George B. Smallfield was thrown from his aircraft, and managed to attach and deploy his parachute in free fall, but the remaining nine members of his crew perished (Farabee 2005 Mireles 2006). The pilot from the other plane, Second Lieutenant Gerald Solheid, ordered his crew to bail out. Seven airmen parachuted to safety, however, one was seriously injured. Subsequently Solheid and his co-pilot managed to land their aircraft at Palm Springs (Farabee 2005 Mireles 2006).

Lake Clark National Park

On June 1, 1942, a B-18 with a four man crew crashed into the 11,000 ft Mt. Redoubt, Alaska, which is now within Lake Clark National Park. Seventeen days later, two of the crew, Sergeant Don Harris and Sergeant Charles Michaelis, had made their way to Anchorage. Both the pilot, Lt. Ed Clark, and co-pilot, Lt. Joe Donaldson, sustained injuries, but were eventually rescued from the remote site (Farabee 2005).

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lieutenant Laurence E. Wernberg was flying one of five new Vultee BT-13 Valiants to be delivered to Kelly Field, in Texas. On the first leg to Winslow, Arizona, on August 11, 1940, the aircraft developed engine trouble over Lake Mead. Wernberg glided towards the lake surface, but hit a cable and plunged into the water, near Hoover Dam (Farabee 2005).

Olympic National Park

Early on the morning of September 9, 1941, a Douglas B-18A was on a night navigation training flight when it collided with a cliff on Mt. Constance, in Olympic National Park. The entire crew of six was killed on impact. The wreck was not discovered for several weeks after the crash (Mireles 2006).

Saguaro National Park

At least four WWII military plane crashes are documented in Saguaro National Park. On July 30, 1943, a Consolidate B-24D Liberator hit the Tanque Verde Ridge in Saguaro National Park, and nine airmen lost their lives. Much of the wreckage was removed in 1960, under a Special Use Permit (SNP, n.d. Farabee 2005 Mireles 2006).

An AT-6 crashed north of Paige Creek, just inside the park boundary, on December 28, 1942. An exchange officer from the RAF was killed in the incident. Very little debris remains at the site (SNP, n.d.).

On December 24, 1944, a Cessna UC-78B Bobcat took off from Yuma Army Air Field to fly to Deming, New Mexico, with a pilot and two passengers. The aircraft crashed into the base of the Rincon Mountains at an elevation of 6,400 feet, in a rainstorm with icing conditions. The engines and some fuselage pieces were retrieved by the Pima Air and Space Museum in 1979 (SNP, n.d. Mireles 2006).

On January 20, 1945, a North American B-25D Mitchell struck Wrong Mountain at about 6,500 feet. The impact sparked a 510-acre fire, and the five crewmen on board perished. Most of the scattered wreckage remains because of the remoteness of the location (SNP, n.d. Farabee 2005 Mireles 2006).

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Several WWII military plane crashes have been documented in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. On October 24, 1941, 19 Curtis P-40 Hawks of the 57th Pursuit Group left March Field at Riverside, California, to fly to McClelland Field, in Sacramento, California. A short time after takeoff, the aircraft encountered heavy overcast conditions, and many of the aircraft became separated. Four planes went down in the area of Kings Canyon, resulting in one pilot being killed, and three pilots parachuting to safety. First Lieutenant Richard N. Long was killed in a crash near South Guard Lake.

Second Lieutenant John Pease bailed out, after losing oil pressure, north of Lake Isabelle, and he was rescued relatively quickly. First Lieutenant Leonard C. Lydon and Second Lieutenant Jack C. West both bailed out near Barton, California. The two pilots found each other, and were spotted several days later by a B-18 (Farabee 2005 Macha and Jordan 2002 Mireles 2006).

On November 18, 1942, a Beech AT-7 Navigator from Mather Field, near Sacramento, struck the Mendel Glacier in Darwin Canyon. The wreck site was not located until 1947. The partially mummified bodies of two airmen were found in 2005 and 2007, but the remains of the other two crewmen have yet to be found (Farabee 2005 Mireles 2006 Stekel 2010).

On December 5, 1943, a Consolidated B-24E disappeared over the Sierras on a celestial navigation flight with six crewmen on board. Investigators speculated that adverse weather may have been encountered. On July 7, 1960, the wreckage was found at Lake Le Conte. The aircraft had apparently struck the mountain near the top of a 12,500 feet ridge, then slid down into the lake.

For a decade, the father of the 23-year-old co-pilot (Second Lieutenant Robert M. Hester) searched for the site of the crash. In December 1960 the lake was renamed Hester Lake (Macha and Jordan 2002 Farabee 2005 Mireles 2006).

A USMC Curtiss-Wright R5C-1 (incorrectly identified as a C-46 by Farabee [2005]) crashed during a winter snowstorm near Mt. Whitney, at about 11,000 feet, on February 2, 1945. It was five months before the wreck was found and the bodies of the eight crewmen were recovered. The almost intact wreck was removed by USMC helicopters in the summer of 1974 at the request of National Park Service (Macha and Jordan 2002 Farabee 2005).

Shenandoah National Park

On October 17, 1943, four P-47Ds were practicing high altitude formation flying when one was seen to enter a dive at 32,000 feet. The aircraft exploded on impact, seven miles southwest of Elkton at an elevation of 2,000 feet, and the pilot was killed (Mireles 2006).

Current condition of wreckage of B-24D Liberator on Atka Island, Alaska, in WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument .

National Park Service. Courtesy of Janis Kozlowski

WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument

The only combat-related aircraft loss reported herein is from WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, and involves a B-24D Liberator that crash landed on Atka Island, Alaska. The B-24D participated in 18 bombing missions in the Aleutian Islands. On December 9, 1942, the aircraft was involved in a weather reconnaissance flight (such flights were considered combat missions). Bad weather prevented the B-24 from returning to Adak, and so it was forced to crash land in Bechevin Bay, on Atka Island. There was only one minor injury among the crew. The well-preserved plane is still fairly intact (Figure 4), and it was recently designated a distinct unit of WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument (NARA, n.d.).

Yellowstone National Park

Just after midnight on May 23, 1943, a B-17F en route from Marysville, California, to Lewiston, Montana, crashed four miles south of West Yellowstone. Bad weather conditions prompted an order to bail out. Bombardier Second Lieutenant William F. McDonald immediately exited through the nose hatch, but the remaining crew and one passenger went down with the aircraft. McDonald was found by rescuers three days after the crash. The wreck was discovered in 1988, as a result of the fires in Yellowstone (Farabee 2005).

Yosemite National Park

On April 13, 1944, a USAAF Douglas P-70A from Hammer Field at Fresno, California, was involved in a radar training flight with another aircraft. The target aircraft had to return prematurely, and it lost track of the other plane, which subsequently crashed at Given’s Creek (Farabee 2005 Mireles 2006).

Just a few months later on August 28, 1944, another USAAF Douglas P-70 (P-70B) from Hammer Field crashed into the summit of Quarry Peak, 15 miles west of Mono Lake. Three airmen were killed in the accident. The cause of the crash was never determined (Mireles 2006). Wreckage was scattered over a 500 foot area, and is still in place (Macha and Jordan 2002).

This information is taken from the white paper WWII Military Aircraft Incidents in National Park Service Units: A Preliminary Inventory submitted to the George Wright Society by:


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