Posts Tagged ‘World War II’
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese military conducted a bombing raid on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In the wake of that attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on February 19, 1942, signed a document that would itself live in infamy and have lasting consequences for Japanese Americans. Executive Order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War to prescribe “military areas” which would confine persons who were restricted from living in or traveling to coastal areas, mainly the West Coast of the United States. As a result of the Order, the Western Defense Command began the removal and detention of tens of thousands of residents of Japanese ancestry, mostly from California. (Anti-Asian prejudices had existed in California since the mid-1800s, beginning with Chinese immigrants. Anti-Japanese movements became widespread in California around 1900.) Within six months after FDR signed the Order, some 122,000 men, women and children were involuntarily taken to assembly areas. They were then moved to and confined in relocation centers, or, internment camps, that were isolated, fenced-in behind barbed wire and under military guard.
Entire communities of Japanese Americans were uprooted. The U.S. government made no official charges against them, nor could they appeal their relocation and incarceration. Most of those relocated were American citizens. All lost their personal liberties; many lost their homes and personal property. There were ten relocation centers in remote areas in six western states and Arkansas: Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Tule Lake and Manzanar in California; Topaz in Utah; Poston and Gila River in Arizona; Granada in Colorado; Minidoka in Idaho, and Jerome and Rowher in Arkansas. For the next two-and-a-half years, Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment. Several prisoners used the legal system to challenge the government’s actions. Fred Korematsu, a U.S. citizen of Japanese descent, refused to go to an internment camp and was arrested, tried and convicted in federal court. He challenged FDR’s executive order, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Justices upheld Korematsu’s conviction on the grounds of military necessity.
These Japanese Americans were not allowed to return to their homes until January 2, 1945. In an ironic twist of history, during the course of World War II, only ten Americans were convicted of spying for Japan, and not one of them was of Japanese ancestry. In 1988, calling the internment of Japanese Americans “a grave wrong,” President Ronald Reagan signed a bill authorizing that each surviving internee receive a check for $20,000 along with an official apology from the United States government.
You can find out more about this important topic in U.S. history by searching eLibrary. Here are just a few related resources:
With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Japan. Seventy-five years ago tomorrow Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii Territory. The surprising assault came in the early hours of a tranquil Sunday morning, and it hastened the United States’ entry into World War II. Over 2,400 servicemen and civilians lost their lives that day. For the Greatest Generation, Pearl Harbor was their September 11th.
The attack at Pearl Harbor was a pivotal moment in American history. Until December 7, 1941, the United States’ policy regarding World War II was one of isolation. The provocation by the Japanese that day transformed America from the once fourteenth-ranked military power to the world’s leading superpower. It moved the United States to be more involved on the world stage.
Very few, if any, American military and government leaders thought Pearl Harbor would ever be attacked. It was believed to be “the strongest fortress in the world” and too far from Japan. The Philippines was a more likely target. Two waves of Japanese Zero fighters, more than 350 in total, launched from six aircraft carriers within 300 miles of the Hawaiian islands took aim at Battleship Row and Hickam Airfield where over 300 American warbirds stood tip to tip. Japan’s goal was to prevent the United States from hindering its military actions in Southeast Asia by neutralizing the U.S. Pacific Fleet. In just 90 minutes, Japan devastated the American forces at Pearl Harbor. The attack was a great tactical victory for the Japanese.
The numbers were staggering: 2,403 lives lost, 1,178 wounded, five battleships sunk and almost 200 planes destroyed. The sight of the sunken USS Arizona remains one of the most iconic images of that day. To this day, 1,177 men lie at rest in her remains on the harbor floor.
The numbers of World War II veterans dwindle each day and their personal accounts go with them. To read their stories and learn more about the attack at Pearl Harbor, search eLibrary and its vast resources of timely newspapers, magazine articles and primary source materials.
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It is almost Thanksgiving, so it’s a good time to be thankful that we don’t have to deal with Nazis. Seventy years ago this Friday (November 20, 1945) marked the beginning of “the greatest trial in history.” The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals held in Germany by the Allies (U.S., Soviet Union, England and France) after a hard-won World War II. The best-known of the Nuremberg trials was the Trial of Major War Criminals, held from November 20, 1945, to October 1, 1946. Conducted by the International Military Tribunal, Allied prosecutors sought indictments against 24 high-ranking political and military leaders of the Third Reich who planned, carried out, or otherwise participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes. Missing the festivities were Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels, all of whom had committed suicide in the spring of 1945.
By the end of the first and most famous trial, the Tribunal found all but three of the defendants guilty. Twelve were sentenced to death, and the rest were given prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison. The death sentences were carried out October 16, 1946, by hanging. Hermann Goering, Hitler’s designated successor, committed suicide the night before his execution with a cyanide capsule. The Nuremberg Trials are now regarded as a milestone toward the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court, and it set an important precedent for handling future instances of genocide and other crimes against humanity.
On a lighter note, you can enjoy, either on DVD or Blu-ray, the fine 1961 film “Judgment at Nuremberg,” starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell and Montgomery Clift, among others. It was directed by Stanley Kramer and has been selected for preservation in the United States Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Educators and librarians can use eLibrary resources, as well as the 1961 film, to enhance classroom discussions about this important end-of-World War II topic.
August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945 saw the only times a nuclear weapon has been used during war. It was on these dates the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. The mass destruction killed nearly 138,000 Japanese men, women and children in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki, but the death toll would continue to rise in later years as the effects of radiation became known. Hiroshima and Nagasaki lay in ruins and World War II with Japan effectively ended.
A military base and city of 343,000, Hiroshima was the primary atomic bomb target. The bomb was dropped by the Enola Gay around 8:15 a.m. What followed was “a blinding flash in the sky, and a great rush of air.” Within two minutes 60 percent of the city was destroyed. Radio in Tokyo described the scene as one of ruins and with so many dead there would be no way to count all of them.
Nagasaki was an industrial port city and had a population of approximately 258,000. It became the second city ravaged by nuclear warfare when the atomic bomb was dropped at 11:00 a.m. on August 9. The scene was described in colorful terms as a flash of “bluish-green light” and “pillar of purple fire.” Nearly 74,000 were killed and the same number injured.
The reason for using the bomb, according to President Truman, was to end the war with Japan swiftly and more importantly to save the lives of American service members. While that argument has been debated, the impact of the bomb did lead to the Japanese surrender on August 15.
It’s that time of year: awards season. The Golden Globe Awards have been presented recently and the Academy Awards, the 87th to be exact, will be given on February 22. Cinephiles will gather round televisions to root for their favorite movies and actors just as Patriots and Seahawks fans did two days ago. The Oscars are Hollywood’s “Super Bowl.”
The race for Best Picture this year is particularly noteworthy. Of the eight nominees, four are biographical—two Americans fighting for country in different ways and two British scientists making strides and becoming leaders in their fields.
The movie Selma stars David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and focuses on his leadership during the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches in 1965. These marches helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Signed into law by President Johnson on August 6, 1965, the Act barred racial discrimination in voting.
American Sniper is the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most productive military sniper in US history with 160 confirmed kills. Bradley Cooper portrays Kyle who served four tours of duty in the Iraq War. Sadly, Chris Kyle was shot and killed in 2013 by a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder whom he was helping.
Stephen Hawking is widely known for his work in cosmology. In The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne depicts Stephen Hawking’s romance, marriage and life with his first wife Jane as well as his education and work in astrophysics. All the while, he struggles with onset of motor neuron disease (Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS) which he continues to battle to this day.
Alan Turing may be the least known of those whose stories have been put to screen this year. Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Imitation Game as the man who would become known as the Father of Computer Science. Turing’s work at Bletchley Park breaking the German Enigma code during World War II helped save countless Allied lives and was influential in the development of modern computer science.
To learn more about these remarkable men, look no further than eLibrary. A great jumping off point for your research is Research Topics. You can easily find these by clicking on Find your Research Topic here on the Basic Search page.
“The only thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at you, he doesn’t seem to be living until he bites you. Then those black eyes roll over white, and then you hear that terrible, high-pitch screaming. The ocean turns red and in spite of the pounding and the hollering, they all come in and they rip you to pieces.” This monologue from the 1975 movie Jaws was the first many Americans ever heard about the horrible ordeal endured by the crew of the USS Indianapolis near the end of World War II.
Early on July 30, 1945, the ship was on its way to Leyte in the Philippines from Tinian after delivering components for the atomic bomb that would later be dropped on Hiroshima. It was hit by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. The ship sank quickly, taking a quarter of the crew with it, and nearly 900 men went into the sea. Because of Navy errors, the ship was not known to be missing, so for more than four days, the men floated in the water, suffering hypothermia, madness from drinking salt water and shark attacks. By the time they were accidentally discovered, nearly two-thirds were gone. Ultimately, 317 survived.
The Indianapolis’ captain, Charles McVay, was later court-martialed and demoted for failing to take evasive maneuvers, and in 1968 he committed suicide. His crew lobbied for years to clear his name, but it took a high-school student’s history project to get the job done. Hunter Scott dug up numerous pieces of evidence pointing to McVay’s innocence, and he doggedly pursued justice for the captain. An astrophysicist, using precise calculations, even agreed with the sub’s commander (who had testified in McVay’s trial) that the ship was doomed because the light of the moon made the ship easily visible.
To find information on the USS Indianapolis and related topics, follow the links above and below to see some of the great resources in eLibrary. Remember that you can use basic and advanced searching and browse subject headings to discover articles, photos, websites and more. Also, look for our Research Topics pages to give you a quick start on your research. They are returned with regular results when there is a close correlation to your search terms.
Subject browse sections (Click on underlined words to widen or narrow the scope and click on “View Results” to see eLibrary resources. Items with stars next to them will display Research Topic pages.): World War II, Pacific and Asian Theater, Military History, Armed Forces History
Saturday, December 7 will mark the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. In honor of this solemn occasion, here are five interesting facts—plucked directly from the extensive resources of eLibrary—that can help provide historical context and promote general knowledge about that fateful day.
- Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the principal architect of the attack, had initially wished to avoid hostilities with the United States. However, when the political climate in Japan made war with America inevitable, Yamamoto insisted on a lightning-fast strike against the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, believing it the best way to neutralize the U.S. and ensure Japan a free hand in the Pacific.
- The attack consisted of two waves of bombing aircraft and utilized over 350 planes. It began at around 7:50am on Sunday December 7 and lasted for 110 minutes.
- Kazuo Sakamaki became the first Japanese prisoner of war captured by the United States after his submarine, HA-19, was seized. After the war, he was denounced by many Japanese who felt he should have committed suicide rather than allow himself to be taken prisoner.
- The attack took place before any formal declaration of war had been issued by Japan—but this was not Admiral Yamamoto’s intention. He originally stipulated that the attack should not commence until thirty minutes after Japan had informed the United States that peace negotiations were at an end. In fact, Tokyo had transmitted the information in a 12-part, 5,000-word notification to the Japanese Embassy in Washington, but transcribing the message took too long for the Japanese ambassador to deliver it in time.
- When Japanese airman Shigenori Nishikaichi crash-landed on the island of Niihau, he was relieved of his pistol, maps and other documents by a native Hawaiian. Nishikaichi subsequently enlisted the support of three Japanese-American residents in an attempt to recover the items. During ensuing struggles, Nishikaichi was killed and a Hawaiian civilian was wounded. The apparent ease with which the local ethnic Japanese residents went to the assistance of Nishikaichi became a source of concern for many, fueling the sentiment that local Japanese could not be trusted.
For an overview of this event, check out eLibrary’s Research Topic on Pearl Harbor.
Anne Frank was born June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. She died in the German concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen in 1945. Through her diary that she kept from age 13 until August 1, 1944 (age 15), Anne expressed her innermost feelings and her perceptions of the world around her during the Nazi regime. This diary, which was later published by her father Otto Frank after World War II ended, is known by the title, “The Diary of a Young Girl.” SIRS Discoverer brings Anne Frank’s life and the lives of those who knew her to the forefront through historical photographs, websites (including Anne Frank the Writer), newspaper articles, magazine features and reference books, making her story accessible to children and teens. Otto Frank was the only member of his immediate family who survived the Holocaust. Anne and her sister Margot died from Typhus, and their mother Edith died from starvation in the Auschwitz concentration camp. While Anne’s life was short-lived, her father’s perseverance in getting her diary published has given people around the world the ability to see the Holocaust, and life before it, through the eyes of a young girl.