World War II

Roosevelt Asks Congress To Declare War On Japan – 12/8/1941

When your average person looks back in history, some would say they wish it was them who had invented something famous or lived in a time where there was no such thing as an atomic bomb. However, would any wish they were the President of the United States during a time of world crisis? Would anyone wish they could be President Franklin Roosevelt right after Pearl Harbor was bombed?  While we have the luxury of not having to be in his shoes, Roosevelt would have to decide very quickly on how to respond to such a devastating attack on a U.S. naval base. So, President Roosevelt made his decision on December 8th, 1941 to stand before Congress and ask them to declare war against the nation responsible for the attack; Japan. Perhaps the most memorable and most important address of his presidency, he declared the action committed by Japan a “deliberate deception” and the speech was responded with a thunderous applause from Congress. Shortly after his address, the United States stated officially it was entering World War II. Japanese pilots had attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor by bombing it on the day before Roosevelt’s speech. The surprise attack decimated most of the U.S. warships in the Pacific Fleet as well as the majority of Navy aircraft and Air Corps stationed on the island of Oahu. The bombing raids resulted in wounding almost 1,200 individuals and killing 2,403 people that included 68 civilians.Roosevelt and those advising him were notified of intelligence reports suggesting an imminent assault by Japan days earlier; however, he hoped that American and Japanese diplomats that were in Washington negotiating on what was hoped would be a peaceful solution. Roosevelt was enraged when realizing that while Japanese and American diplomats were trying to resolve their issues regarding recent military actions by Japan not only in China but in other areas in the Pacific; aircraft carriers from Japan were traveling to Hawaii with the purpose of attacking it. His words on December 8th expressed his personal fury and indignation.Previously, he had demonstrated his oratorical abilities when his “fireside chats” during the Great Depression raised the morale of the nation. He already had said memorable things such as “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” stated with equal conviction that the United States “would never forget the character of Japan’s onslaught against us.” Roosevelt had also vowed that the “unbounding determination of our people… will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.”Regardless, the motivating address was hardly necessary as millions of Americans and Congress, who already had heard in the news the details of the assault, shared the president’s anger and commitment to defending the nation. The next day, young men swarmed to armed forces recruiting stations while both the Republicans and Democrats immediately declared war against Japan; there was only a single vote of dissension.

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World War II

The Attack On Pearl Harbor – 12/7/1941

On the island of Oahu, out of the clouds suddenly appeared a Japanese dive bomber and on its’ wings could be seen the red picture of the Rising Sun of Japan at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time. Suddenly, descending on the U.S. naval base stationed at Pearl Harbor was 360 Japanese war planes and began a vicious assault. The U.S. Pacific fleet suffered a critical blow as a result of the unexpected assault on December 7th, 1941 and would eventually influence the United States to enter World War II.President Franklin D. Roosevelt along with his advisers realized that a Japanese assault was not only probable but could happen at any time; yet, the important base at Pearl Harbor showed no signs of increased security. Lots of military personnel on Sunday morning had been granted passes to go off the base to attend religious services.  Although two operators watching radar viewed big groups of aircrafts at 7:02 a.m. approaching from the north to the island, they were ordered not to sound the alarm due to the United States had arranged for a flight of B-17s to arrive at the island at that time. Therefore, it was a disastrous shock to the naval base when the assault from Japanese aircrafts started. Most of the fleet in the Pacific was rendered useless as over 200 airships were demolished as well as five of the eight battleships, three destroyers and seven additional vessels were severely damaged or sunk. While trying to valiantly attempting to stop the attack, many of the 1,200 got injured as a result of this and 2,400 in total Americans had perished. Japan’s losses were less than 100 men, roughly 30 aircraft and five small submarines. The United States would have had more losses but fortunately out on training maneuvers at sea were all three Pacific fleet carriers. However, revenge would be dealt by these huge aircraft carriers six months later against Japan at the Battle of Midway; their stupendous victory against what was thought of as an invincible Japanese navy reversed the tide of the war.President Roosevelt appeared in front of the joint session of Congress the morning after Pearl Harbor was attacked and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” After a forceful and quick speech, he implored Congress to agree to a resolution acknowledging the state of war between Japan and the United States. The vote was 82 to 0 in the Senate to approve of going to war against Japan while the vote was 388 to 1 in the House of Representatives to approve of going to war. The only dissenter was a devout pacifist, Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, who ironically had done the same thing by voting against the U.S. from participating in World War I. Italy and Germany would declare war against the United States three days later in which the U.S. government responded accordingly.Although the contribution by America to the Allied war effort was successful, it would take four long years and the total of American lives that were lost exceeded 400,000.

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World War II

Erwin Rommel Is Born - 11/15/1891

Today marks the birth of German Commander Erwin Rommel, born in Heidenheim, Germany, who is popularly known as the "Desert Fox" for his craftiness in launching surprise attacks on the Allied forces in North Africa during World War II. Born to a family of teachers, however, Rommel decided not to follow his family's profession and chose a military career for himself. In 1910, he was recruited into the German army as an officer cadet. While serving as a lieutenant in the First World War, he was decorated for bravery and recognized for his leadership skills. Instead of following the path, which other young officers took by settling for paper pushing positions, he chose to stay in the infantry as a frontline officer, teaching at different military academies and even publish a textbook on infantry strategy. Following the breakout of the Second World War in 1939, Rommel was given the appointment to command the Seventh Panzer Division in the invasion to France. Having no prior knowledge of the armored warfare, Rommel was quick in grasping the potentials and advantages of the new machine, which helped him winning most of the battles in France between May and June 1940.A year after his victory in France, Adolf Hitler chose him as the commander of the German divisions deployed to Libya to help the already defeated Italian army. On getting to Libya, it was obvious that the British commanders stationed in Libya were not up to his standard. By May, Rommel had won back most of the lost territory lost by the Italians to the Allied forces. This audacious style made the Allied forces tagged him the Desert Fox because he was good at manipulating and deceiving his enemies. This made Hitler to promote him to the rank of field marshal.In March 1943, Rommel was summoned back to Europe to defend the invasion of northern France from Allied forces before the Axis forces eventually surrendered in North Africa. Unfortunately, on June 6, 1944, the Allied eventually gained a strong foothold at Normandy.Back home in Germany, there have been rumors of a plot against Hitler among his generals who sensed that the Fuller was leading the country to destruction with his iron hand. This made the conspirators to approach Rommel and told him of their plan. He did agreed to their plan, but made sure he had no active role in the planning of Hitler's assassination. In addition, it was rumored that after Hitler's death, Rommel will become Germany's head of state.Rommel narrowly escape death when British a warplane attacked his car three days before the attempted coup, he was badly injured and admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, on July 20, Hitler manage to escape another bomb explosion, arrest were made and the plotters (after been tortured) confessed that Rommel was involved in the planning of the failed coup. Immediately, Hitler send two of his generals to Rommel who was still in the hospital recovering from the head injuries he sustained and offered him two choices, which was suicide or trial. Rommel decided to go for the former and on October 14, he poisoned himself. After his death, Rommel was buried with full military honors.

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World War II

Nazis Commence Kristallnacht – 11/9/1938

 It was on November 9th of 1938 gave birth to an event that would launch what would be known as the Holocaust of Jewish people throughout the world. Nazis German’s create a campaign of terror where they singled out people of Jewish descent, their businesses and their dwellings in Austria and Germany. The horrific violence that occurred and continued throughout the next day was later officially named “Kirstallnacht,” which means “Night of Broken Glass.” The name was appropriate due to the large number of broken windows of establishments owned by Jewish people, roughly 100 Jews were left for dead, a total of 7,500 businesses of Jewish-owned were damaged and hundreds of graveyards, synagogues, schools and homes ended up being vandalized. Shockingly, an estimated number of 30,000 men of Jewish-faith ended up being arrested. Then, a large amount of them were tragically placed in concentration camps for several months until they were released; however, each had to promise they would have to Germany. This event was the creation of Adolf Hitler and escalated his plan that started in 1933 to force the Jewish population out of Germany and was the year he became chancellor. The Nazis were able to use the murder of a low-level German diplomat that was in Paris that was committed by a Polish Jew that was only 17-years-old as the catalyst for the attacks on Kristallnacht. Two days prior to the infamous attacks, Ernst vom Rath was shot while outside the German embassy by a young man named Herschel Grynszpan because he craved vengeance due to his parents being forced to leave Germany and having to go to Poland. Also, it was due to tens of thousands of other Jews that were Polish being forced to leave Germany. Joseph Goebbels, who was a Nazi propaganda minister, used vom Rath’s murder to their advantage by carrying out destructive riots by “spontaneous demonstrations” that were committed by disguised storm troopers against Jewish people. Adding to the mayhem was the fact that fire departments and local police were told to look away and not to offer assistance. Sadly, some Jewish people, who included whole families, committed suicide as a result of the destruction that happened.The Nazis accused their Jewish citizens for the aftermath caused by Kristallnacht and were told to pay 1 billion marks (the 1938 equivalent of $400 million dollars) for the diplomat’s murder. The government used as payment insurance money belonging to Jewish citizens as well as seized property. The Nazi government carried out more policies of discrimination that basically isolated Jews from public life; this was done in an attempt to give birth to a master Aryan race. Kristallnacht also led to over 100,000 thousand Jewish people fleeing from Germany to other safer countries. Although other countries expressed their condemnation for what happened on those two destructive days, the worst thing that happened was the breaking of diplomatic relations with Germany. Since the Nazis had not suffered anything harmful to their cause, this led them to think there would be no repercussions for committing mass murder on a scale of approximately 6 million European Jews dying and would be later known as the Holocaust. 

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1930s

Hitler Escapes An Assassination Attempt - 11/8/1939

Today been the 16th anniversary of '"The Fuller" Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch, a bomb exploded right after he had delivered his speech to a group of his loyalist. Luckily, Hitler left the place injured. The anniversary is a yearly ritual of his infamous 1923 coup d'états, (been Hitler's first touch of power but resulted to his arrest and led to the extinction of his National Socialist party). Therefore, on this day in 1939, Hitler was addressing his old party members, soldiers and loyalist of his fascist party, and entertaining them with his dreams and ambitions however, twelve minutes when he left the hall with some Nazi's leader who were present at the occasion, a bomb exploded behind the podium, leaving seven people dead and 63 wounded. Following the incident, the Nazi official newspaper called "Voelkischer Beobachter" did not hesitate to blame the British secret agents and even accuse British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for the attack. Although it was a plot to stir up the German people to go into war and develop hatred for the British. However, the Nazi inner-Party members were aware that the move was propaganda, believing the murder attempt was probably the work of an anti-Nazi German military conspiracy.Using a clever means to put the blame on the Britain, while in actuality closing up on the perpetrators, Gestapo chief, Heinrich Himmler decided to send a junior officer called Walter Schellenberg to Holland in order to make contacts with the British intelligence agents. The plan of the meeting with the British agents was to have the strong backing of the British government in the case an anti-Nazi coup succeeded. Not aware of the original plot, the British agents were willing to gain all the inside information they could about anti-Hitler's movement going on in the German military camp, while Schellenberg who was disguising as a German general called Major Schaemmel was after every information the British intelligence may have gathered on such a conspiracy within the German military.Nevertheless, Heinrich Himmler desired more than talk or pieces of gathered Intel, what he wanted was the British intelligence agents themselves. Therefore, on November 9, secret service agents in Holland kidnapped two British agents Payne Best and R.H. Stevens with the help of Schellenberg, and drove them across the border into Germany. On arriving Germany, Himmler announced to the German people that he had captured the British conspirators alongside the man who planted the explosive upon their request named Georg Elser, who is a carpenter and a member of the German communist movement.Certainly, it was Elser who planted the bomb, but the masterminds behind the crime is to this day a mystery, whether it is the German military or British intelligence. Payne, Stevens and Elser (the three official conspirators) were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In addition, Gestapo murdered Elser on April 16, 1945; therefore, history could not get his own part of the story. On the other hand, Hitler did not have the courage to hold a public trial because the loopholes in the story were just too much.

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World War II

The United Nations Is Born - 10/24/1945

Today in 1945, the United Nations became effective and ready to promote international cooperation. The organization begins its duty as the supreme governing body of all countries in order to foster world unity. The charter had already been adopted and signed on June 26, 1945. With the ongoing World War II, it became a necessity for the Allies, (United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union) to formulate the United Nations Declaration that was signed by 26 nations in January 1942 as a means to opposing the Axis Powers i.e. Germany, Italy and Japan. The main objective of the organization is to ensure world peace, settling of conflicts between nations in a manner that is far better than the ineffective Old League of Nations. Before the birth of the UN, there were numerous international treaty organizations and conferences created to regulate conflicts among nations, which includes International Committee of the Red Cross, Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 among many others. Because of the huge loss of life in WW1, the League of Nations was created at the Paris Peace Conference to maintain world peace. The new organization was able to resolve some international disputes and establish international structures in areas such as aviation, regulating opium etc. Nevertheless, the League of Nations failed is some major aspect such as failing to act against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and China in 1931 and 1937 respectively, and to curb Adolf Hitler's quest for expanding Germany that eventually led to World War II.On April 25, 1945, the principles of the United Nations was formulated by the Allied Big Four (U.S. Britain, China and the Soviet Union) at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. The meeting, which was attended by 50 government delegates and a number of non-governmental organizations, and presided over by the United states of America President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill OF Great Britain and Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union. To maintaining world peace, the conference created a structure for a new international organization in order to prevent future conflicts, to reestablish fundamental human rights, promote social and economic development, improve the standard of living of living, and provide humanitarian assistance.After the war ended, it became the responsibility of the United Nations Security council, which consists of 15 member states and 5 permanent members (United States, Britain, France, China and the Soviet Union) to negotiate and maintain world peace. In addition, each member of the Security Council has veto power over the other.The headquarters of the U.N. is located in Manhattan, New York City, and other main offices sited in Geneva, and Nairobi. It is financed by assessed and voluntary donations from its member states. Presently, there are now 193 member states as opposed to the initial 51 founding members.  

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