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17 August 1941

17 August 1941

17 August 1941

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Mediterranean

RAF bombs Syracuse (Sicily)

Diplomacy

Churchill visits Iceland



German Bishop Condemns The Killing Of People With Disabilities

On August 3, 1941, the Bishop of Münster, Clemens August Count von Galen, delivered a sermon protesting the Nazi program to kill people with mental and physical disabilities.

Frame Your Search

von Galen, Catholic, Bishop, Muenster, Munster, euthanasia, mercy death, insane, invalid, unproductive, incurable, Ich Klage an, I Accuse, Leonardo Conti

The " euthanasia " program (code named &ldquo Operation T-4 &rdquo) was Nazi Germany's first program of mass murder. In the fall of 1939, Hitler signed a document on his own private stationery which empowered physicians to grant a &ldquo mercy death &rdquo to &ldquopatients considered incurable according to the best available human judgment of their state of health.&rdquo The intent of the so-called &ldquoeuthanasia&rdquo program, however, was not to relieve the suffering of the chronically ill and disabled. Its aim was the mass murder of the mentally and physically disabled, thus &ldquocleansing&rdquo the &ldquoAryan&rdquo race of persons considered genetically defective and a financial burden to society.

Public health authorities encouraged parents of children with disabilities to admit their young children to one of a number of specially designated pediatric clinics throughout Germany and Austria where specially recruited medical staff murdered their young charges by lethal overdoses of medication or by starvation. The killings rapidly expanded to include adult patients in public and private hospitals, mental institutions, and nursing homes for the chronically ill and aged. Beginning in January 1940, patients were transported to one of six gassing installations for killing and cremation. According to T-4&rsquos own internal calculations, 70,273 people were killed at the six gassing facilities between January 1940 and August 1941.

A handful of church leaders, local judges, parents of victims, and some physicians protested the killings. Most famous, perhaps, was the Bishop of Münster , Clemens August Count von Galen , who protested the T-4 killings in a sermon on August 3, 1941 . Thousands of copies of the sermon were printed and circulated. Galen himself was not punished because Hitler did not want to clash openly with the Catholic Church, although a number of lower level priests who read his homily from their pulpits in the following weeks were persecuted. In the sermon, Bishop von Galen exclaimed to his congregants:

&ldquoIf you establish and apply the principle that you can kill 'unproductive' fellow human beings then woe betide us all when we become old and frail. it is only necessary for some secret edict to order that the method developed for the mentally ill should be extended to other 'unproductive' people&hellip.&rdquo

In response to such pressures, Hitler ordered a halt to Operation T-4 on August 24, 1941 . Despite the official halt to Operation T-4, however, &ldquoeuthanasia&rdquo killings continued under a different, decentralized form throughout the German Reich. In all, at least 250,000 people with mental and physical disabilities were murdered from 1939 to 1945 under the T-4 and its auxiliary programs.

Dates to Check

Typically, daily newspapers reported news the morning after it occurred. However, some papers were printed in multiple editions, including evening news. If you are using an evening paper, begin your search on the same day as the event being researched.

September 27, 1941 - October 12, 1941 News articles about Bishop von Galen&rsquos sermon protesting the systematic killing of people with disabilities in Germany. The United Press and Associated Press wire services distributed stories on October 6 and October 10 respectively.

October 1941 News articles, editorials, opinion pieces, letters-to-the-editor, and political cartoons regarding Bishop von Galen and his protest against the killing of people with disabilities in Germany.

Learn More

Bibliography

Aly, Götz, Peter Chroust, and Christian Pross. Cleansing the Fatherland: Nazi Medicine and Racial Hygiene . Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

Burleigh, Michael. Death and Deliverance: "Euthanasia" in Germany c. 1900-1945 . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Friedlander, Henry. The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.


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Brownwood Bulletin (Brownwood, Tex.), Vol. 40, No. 291, Ed. 1 Sunday, August 17, 1941 , newspaper , August 17, 1941 (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1062781/: accessed June 20, 2021 ), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu crediting Brownwood Public Library .

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Antarctica


Beginning in 1955 Seabees began deploying yearly to the continent of Antarctica. As participants in Operation "Deep Freeze," their mission was to build and expand scientific bases located on the frozen continent. The first "wintering over" party included 200 Seabees who distinguished themselves by constructing a 6,000-foot ice runway on McMurdo Sound. Despite a blizzard which once destroyed the entire project, the airstrip was completed in time for the advance party of Deep Freeze II to become the first to arrive at the South Pole by plane.

Over the following years, and under the most adverse conditions, Seabees added to their list of accomplishments such things as snow-compacted roads, underground storage, laboratories, and living areas. One of the most notable achievements took place in 1962 when the Navy&rsquos builders constructed Antarctica&rsquos first nuclear power plant at McMurdo Station.

During the "Cold War" the Seabee undertook a number of other missions, including constructing the Distant Early Warming (DEW) system in the artic. Again operating often under extreme conditions, the Seabees successfully completed every mission assigned to


Captain America was punching Nazis in 1941. Here’s why that was so daring.

IF THERE’S one superhero character whose rise might be most tied to the events of World War II, it is Captain America, who emerged from the minds of legends Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and sprung forth from an iconic 1941 debut cover on which Cap smacks Hitler right in the kisser.

Captain America is so identified with his victories over the Third Reich, in fact, that it proved controversial last year when Marvel debuted Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz’s tales of “Steve Rogers: Captain America” by having Cap utter two unthinkable words: “Hail Hydra.” Since then, Spencer has launched Marvel’s “Secret Empire,” in which the rule of Cap’s villainous group Hydra provides parallels to the Nazi Party’s rise in 1930s Germany.

Amid the violence in Charlottesville last weekend, one participant in the white-supremacist rally was spotted wearing a “Hydra” T-shirt and some wore Captain America helmets, reports Bleeding Cool. But equating Captain America with Nazis marks a 180-degree ideological turn from everything Steve Rogers stood for back when Simon and Kirby dreamed up the character while at Marvel predecessor Timely Comics.

It bears remembering that even having Captain America deliver a haymaker to Hitler, nearly a year before the United States had even entered the war, was a bold stroke at the time.

“Putting Adolf Hitler, a still-living world leader, on the cover of a comic book as the villain was definitely a daring and even dangerous move,” Marvel editor Tom Brevoort tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “Apart from Bundists and supporters of the Axis cause, there was a strong isolationist feeling in America.”

“We’ve lost some context over the years because of the passing of time,” he continues. “Most people today, including myself, only know Hitler from history, and our view of him and the Nazis has been shaped very heavily by the popular culture that he was featured in, which lampooned him.”

To illuminate just what Simon and Kirby were attempting, Brevoort uses a contemporary parallel:

“Today, this would be like putting Vladimir Putin or somebody on a comic-book cover and vilifying him,” the editor says. “Hitler was then a standing world leader with an impressive military machine behind him and a number of sympathizers in the U.S. So make no mistake about it: Had this been something that genuinely angered the real Hitler, he most likely possessed some apparatus to strike back against Simon and Kirby, and even Timely as a whole.”

Brevoort, as a true Marvel historian, notes that Timely boss Martin Goodman wasn’t simply pursuing creative heroism, let alone pushing anti-isolationist politics. Even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, depicting the Third Reich in comic books sometimes proved to be popular American fare.

“Goodman had already published comics on whose covers the Nazis were depicted as enemies,” the editor says. “The cover to Marvel Mystery Comics No. 4 was the first. It depicts the Sub-Mariner saving a woman menaced atop a Nazi submarine, and manhandling enemy sailors. But putting Hitler himself on as a character was taking things to a whole other level.”


A Couple of Wranglers, Quarter Circle U Ranch, Montana, August 1941

Is that raw selvedge denim on the left? Dude's going to get some sick fades.

They look like Levi's to me (not saying they aren't raw selvedge, just pointing out the brand). The pockets look like Levi's.

Lyman Brewster talking with a Cheyenne Indian who wants to buy one of his horses. In the corral at Quarter Circle U, Brewster-Arnold Ranch Company. Birney, Montana Marion Post Wolcott, photographer, Quarter Circle U Ranch, Montana, August 1941

Library of Congress Image

Fantastic job. Posts here are few and far between but people like you definitely make it worth while.

I'm a bot, bleep, bloop. Someone has linked to this thread from another place on reddit:

If you follow any of the above links, please respect the rules of reddit and don't vote in the other threads. ( Info / ^Contact)

Give us more of the western stuff, awesome.

From my time in Wyoming on a ranch.. this could have been taken today

That is so great to hear. It is my goal to bring image color up to the current day. Thank you!

Those guys sure seem to like that fence alot.

We usually do work with public domain images that are no longer under copyright. The @2015 copyright applies to my work. I can't copyright the BW image of course, nor would I presume to. The colorization work that I (and others here) do on an image fall under our own copyright. Colorization is considered a derivative of an existing image.


Persia & Iraq 1941 - 1947

The United Kingdom maintained significant interests in the Middle East following the end of the Great War in 1918. This war led to the dismembering of the former Ottoman Empire, with one of the countries being created out of the chaos being Iraq. A new government for Iraq was formed in November 1920, with Emir Feisel being proclaimed King of Iraq on 23 August 1921. The United Kingdom signed a treaty with the fledgling country in October 1922, to define the relationship between the two nations, but this treaty imposed limitations on the sovereignty of Iraq and protected British interests, particularly in relation to oil. In 1925, the oil-rich area around Mosul was ceded to Iraq from Turkey.

In 1930, the United Kingdom relinquished the mandate it had held over the country since the end of the Great War, leaving Iraq an independent country. The U.K. signed a new treaty with the Iraqi government securing the use of two airbases in the country, one near Basra (Shaibah) and the other to west of Baghdad (Habbaniya). the Royal Navy was also allowed access up the Shatt-al-Arab waterway.

Planning had been conducted by India Command on behalf of the British government in the early years of the Second World War, in case it was necessary to secure Iraq to guarantee oil supplies to the British Empire. A coup d’etat in April 1941 led to these plans being invoked. The Indian Army provided the troops and commanders for this operation, which led to the country being secured within two months.

British and Indian troops from Iraq were used in the invasion of Syria in June and July 1941, and then Persia (now known as Iran), an independent sovereign country, was invaded in August 1941.

Persia and Iraq developed as a base for a supply route to Russia, through which millions of tonnes of aid flowed to support the Soviet forces. In early 1943, the rapid German advances through southern Russia threatened Persia and Iraq, so to guard against German invasion, British forces were built up in Persia and Iraq. This threat subsided in early 1943, so British forces were gradually run down during the rest of the war.


17 Historical Events Every American Should Know About (But Probably Doesn't)

It's Hispanic Heritage Month. From the first explorations into North America nearly a century before Jamestown to the banning of Mexican-American Studies in Arizona, here's 17 Latino historical events that every American should know.

What Happened: Hispanics, including mestizos, indigenous and Afro-descended people from the area today known as Mexico, explored North America almost a century before the British first founded Jamestown.

Why It Matters: Hispanics aren't foreigners in this country. Latinos, particularly those with Mesoamerican roots, have deeper roots in North America than those with other European backgrounds.

What Happened: A group of Spaniards, Afro-Latinos, indigenous people and mestizos setting out from colonial-era Mexico traveled into California and founded the city of Los Angeles.

Why It Matters: As of July 2014, Los Angeles is the city with the country&rsquos largest Hispanic population, at nearly 5 million.

What Happened: Poet, revolutionary and Cuban nationalist José Martí spent four years in New York City, where he wrote for both English- and Spanish-language newspapers, developing ideas that would influence his thinking about the often tense relationship between the U.S. and Latin America.

Why It Matters: Martí was one of Latin America's greatest intellectuals, earning him a statue in front of Central Park in Manhattan.

What Happened: Perhaps not for the most altruistic of reasons, the United States extended both citizenship and, shortly after, military conscription to Puerto Rico in 1917, as World War I raged on in Europe.

Why It Matters: Puerto Ricans are American just like anyone born in the 50 states.

What Happened: Octaviano Larrazolo of New Mexico became the first Hispanic elected to the U.S. Senate. As a politician, he pushed to boost Hispanic representation so that the political system would reflect the state's population. He also helped write portions of the state's constitution guaranteeing that people of Mexican descent wouldn't be disfranchised.

Why It Matters: Because score Team Latino!

What Happened: Before Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the courts ruled it unconstitutional to segregate students of Mexican heritage into inferior schools. The plaintiff, Sylvia Mendez, sued after being turned away from a "whites only" public school in California.

Why It Matters: The 1947 decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals helped pave the way for Brown v. Board of Education and played a key role in making school segregation illegal. This undated image provided by the U.S. Postal Service shows a 41-cent postage stamp, to be released Friday, Sept. 14 in Santa Ana, California, commemorating the 1946 court decision, Mendez v. Westminster School District, that paved the way for the nation's school desegregation.

What Happened: Private Felix Longoria was killed in the Philippines as World War II came to an end. When his body was recovered and returned to his hometown of Three Rivers, Texas, the director of the funeral home forbad the family from using the chapel because he feared white residents would disapprove.

The G.I. Forum, a civil rights organization led by Hector P. Garcia, organized a campaign that caught the attention of then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon Johnson. He arranged for Longoria to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Why It Matters: This repudiation of anti-Mexican-American sentiment stands as a milestone in the march toward the guarantee of Latinos' civil rights.

What Happened: Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and its sharp leftward turn within the next two years, Fidel Castro established a Communist government that remains in place today.

Why It Matters: More than one million Cubans left the island as the Revolution became more radical, with most of them settling in Miami, Florida, a city they transformed. Subsequent waves of Cubans migrated to the United States in the 1980s, with the Mariel boatlift, and the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union upended the island&rsquos economy.

What Happened: In 1965, Filipino and Latino farmworker unions joined in a strike, and later a boycott of grapes in the Delano area of California to protest poor conditions. The five-year campaign ultimately succeeded in forcing the grape producers to sign union contracts.

Why It Matters: This early victory helped secure the place of the United Farm Works and its leader Cesar Chavez, all of whom were key players in the Latino civil rights movement.

What Happened: In the 1940s, tensions in California rose between Chicanos and the Anglo sailors living there. Authorities viewed many young Chicanos, who favored baggy zoot suits, as criminals. Sailors went around beating them up. The tensions eventually erupted into a week of rioting in June 1943, when some 200 sailors descended upon Los Angeles and severely beat several "pachucos," at times stripping the suits from their bodies. The violence was met with indifference from police.

Why It Matters: The Zoot Suit Riots stand as a prominent example of the discrimination faced by the Mexican-American community that offers context for the Latino civil rights movement.

What Happened: During a riot in 1970, police shot prominent journalist Ruben Salazar with a tear gas canister while he was drinking a beer at the Silver Dollar Bar and Cafe in Los Angeles, killing him.

Why It Matters: Salazar was one of the great Mexican-American journalists of his time, who covered local politics with the same vigor as he covered foreign wars. His killing is viewed by many as a symbol of the injustices committed against the Chicano community in California.

What Happened: A champion of black and Hispanic rights who began his career before the end of segregation, Roberto Clemente was the first Latino in professional baseball to reach 3,000 hits. He played in two World Series, winning MVP in the 1971 games.

"My greatest satisfaction comes from helping to erase the old opinion about Latin Americans and blacks," Clemente said toward the end of his career. He died in a plane crash in 1972 while delivering supplies to Nicaragua after an earthquake.

Why It Matters: The trailblazing Puerto Rican-born ballplayer not only built a stellar career, but also acted as politically conscious representative of the Latino community at a time when professional sports included few Hispanics. Score Team Latino!

What Happened: In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed an immigration reform into law that legalized the status of some 3 million people.

Why It Matters: It proves that passing comprehensive immigration legislation is possible.

What Happened: Mexico, the United States and Canada signed a free trade agreement in 1994 that reduced trade barriers between the three countries.

Though money was allowed to cross borders more freely, people were not. Millions of Mexican farm workers lost their jobs as cheap U.S. imports put Mexican farms out of business. Many of those migrants eventually wound up in the United States.

Why It Matters: Many Americans think that Latinos leave their countries of origin in order to pursue the American dream. In fact, economic policies that dry up Latin American jobs drive illegal immigration more than the intangible lure of a foreign lifestyle.

What Happened: California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) championed this draconian referendum that would have made it illegal to provide public services, including schools and hospitals, to undocumented immigrants. Challenged in the courts, the law never went into effect.

Why It Matters: Prop 187 paved the way for a long series of anti-immigrant legislation championed by nativists generally allied with the Republican Party. These laws, that many Latinos view as an attack on their communities, help to explain why the GOP consistently underperforms among Hispanic voters.

What Happened: Following allegations that an experimental Mexican-American Studies curriculum in Tucson, Arizona politicized students, Republican politicians passed legislation to shut it down. Under pressure from state officials, the local board of education dismantled the program, credited by independent researchers with boosting student achievement and fostering critical thinking skills. A lawsuit challenging the legislation has been appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Why It Matters: There are those in this country who feel so threatened by Hispanics that they refuse to let us learn our history.

What Happened: Last year, Latinos became the largest ethnic group in the state of California, overtaking non-Hispanic whites.

Why It Matters: Latinos constantly deal with the misperception that we're somehow more foreign than the other immigrant-descended people who live here. In fact, about two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics were born in this country. In places like California or New Mexico, where Latinos are the largest ethnic group, it's become increasingly impossible to deny that Latinos are as American as everyone else.

What happened: Working class Puerto Rican women were used as human guinea pigs for the birth control pill during the late '50s. Many of them were not told the pill was experimental and were unaware of the potential negative side effects. Additionally, their symptoms were often ignored or thought to be psychosomatic. Three women who participated in the trial died. No investigation was ever conducted to see if the pill had caused their deaths.

Why it matters: The pill is a birth control method most widely used by white women, women in their teens and twenties, never-married and cohabiting women, childless women and college graduates, reports the Guttmacher Institute.


Rediscovering the Wisdom in American History

Wilfred M. McClay is the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Professor in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma. He received his Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University. He has also taught at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Tulane University, Georgetown University, and Pepperdine University, and he served for eleven years as a member of the National Council on the Humanities. His books include The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, The Student’s Guide to U.S. History, and Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story.

Let me mention three distinctive themes that run through the book, themes that are hinted at in the book’s title and are instructive about America’s character. First, there is the theme of America as a land—not just an idea, but also a people and a nation a nation with a particular history, connected to a particular piece of real estate. To understand our nation, it’s not enough to understand principles such as equality and liberty, as important as those are. We also have to understand how those principles were put into action, how they were developed, how they came to be forces in our national life. American history, to be sure, is inseparable from America’s principles and ideals, but America is not simply those things. It is a place with a venerable history created by men and women to whom our veneration is owed. Think of those who lie in Arlington National Cemetery and of countless others in the long history of such sacrifices made on behalf of our country. These things bind us to the land in visceral ways that go beyond ideas or principles. Second is the theme of hope. The idea of America as a land of hope shouldn’t be misinterpreted as signifying a saccharine or sentimental view of America’s past, but rather as taking into account history’s spiritual dimension. We are creatures with free wills and aspirations, not merely tumbleweeds at the mercy of large historical forces. Hope is a quality of soul, something that’s not quantifiable or explicable in strictly material terms. It is a consistent characteristic of this country that we have always sought to rise above or move beyond the conditions that are given to us at birth—something not true of every people. To be an American is to believe that the status we are born into is never the final word. We have a spirit of striving, a spirit of hope that goes back to our very beginnings. Third and finally there is the theme of story. Our narratives large and small are an essential part of the way that we Americans make sense of the world. As I write in the book,

The impulse to write history and organize our world around stories is intrinsic to us as human beings. We are, at our core, remembering and story-making creatures, and stories are one of the chief ways we find meaning in the flow of events. What we call “history” and “literature” are merely the refinement and intensification of that basic human impulse, that need.

The word need is not an exaggeration. For the human animal, meaning is not a luxury it is a necessity. Without it, we perish. Historical consciousness is to civilized society what memory is to individual identity. Without memory, without the stories by which our memories are carried forward, we cannot say who, or what, we are. Without them, our life and thought dissolve into a meaningless, unrelated rush of events. Without them, we cannot do the most human of things: we cannot learn, use language, pass on knowledge, raise children, establish rules of conduct, engage in science, or dwell harmoniously in society. Without them, we cannot govern ourselves.

Nor can we have a sense of the future as a time we know will come, because we remember that other tomorrows have come and gone. A culture without memory will necessarily be barbarous and easily tyrannized, even if it is technologically advanced. The incessant waves of daily events will occupy all our attention and defeat all our efforts to connect past, present, and future, thereby diverting us from an understanding of the human things that unfold in time, including the path of our own lives.

The stakes were beautifully expressed in the words of the great Jewish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer: “When a day passes it is no longer there. What remains of it? Nothing more than a story. If stories weren’t told or books weren’t written, man would live like the beasts, only for the day. The whole world, all human life is one long story.”

Singer was right. As individuals, as communities, as countries: we are nothing more than flotsam and jetsam without the stories in which we find our lives’ meaning.

Of course, there are stories and then there are stories. French writer André Malraux once wrote, “A man is what he hides: a miserable little pile of secrets.” That’s one way of thinking about a man’s life, but it’s a reductive and simplistic way. We’ve all read biographies like that. But where in this approach is an account of a man’s striving, his ambitions, his ideals, his efforts at transcendence? Is it a fair and accurate account of a man to speak only or even mainly of his secrets and failings? Similarly with a nation’s history, it must be far more than a compilation of failings and crimes. It must give credence to the aspirational dimension of a nation’s life, and particularly for so aspirational a nation as the United States—arguably the most aspirational nation in human history. A proper history of America must do this without evading the fact that we’ve often failed miserably, fallen short, and done terrible things. We have not always been a land of hope for everyone—for a great many, but not for all. And so our sense of hope has a double-edged quality about it: to be a land of hope is also to risk being a land of disappointment, a land of frustration, even a land of disillusionment. To understand our history is to experience these negative things. But we wouldn’t experience them so sharply if we weren’t a land of hope, if we didn’t embrace that outlook and aspiration. To use a colloquialism, we Americans allow ourselves to get our hopes up—and that is always risky.

Land of Hope’s epigraph is a passage that has long been a source of inspiration and direction to me. Written by John Dos Passos, a man of the radical left in his youth who later moved to the sensible right, it is from a 1941 essay, “The Use of the Past,” and it is uncannily relevant to the present:

Every generation rewrites the past. In easy times history is more or less of an ornamental art, but in times of danger we are driven to the written record by a pressing need to find answers to the riddles of today. We need to know what kind of firm ground other men, belonging to generations before us, have found to stand on. In spite of changing conditions of life they were not very different from ourselves, their thoughts were the grandfathers of our thoughts, they managed to meet situations as difficult as those we have to face, to meet them sometimes lightheartedly, and in some measure to make their hopes prevail. We need to know how they did it.

In times of change and danger when there is a quicksand of fear under men’s reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present and get us past that idiot delusion of the exceptional Now that blocks good thinking. That is why, in times like ours, when old institutions are caving in and being replaced by new institutions not necessarily in accord with most men’s preconceived hopes, political thought has to look backwards as well as forwards.

Isn’t that marvelous? There’s so much to unpack in it, but of special relevance today is his rather rough denunciation of “that idiot delusion of the exceptional Now.” This phrase expresses something that nearly all of us who teach history run up against. It’s harder than usual today to get young people interested in the past because they are so firmly convinced that we’re living in a time so unprecedented, enjoying pocket-sized technologies that are so transformative, that there’s no point in looking at what went on in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To them the past has been superseded—just as our present world is forever in the process of being superseded. While this posture may be ill-informed and lazy, a way to justify not learning anything, it also represents a genuine conviction, amply reinforced by the endless passing parade of sensations and images in which we are enveloped—one thing always being succeeded by something else, nothing being permanent, nothing enduring, always moving, moving, moving into a new exceptional Now. But it is a childish and disabling illusion that must be countered, in just the way that Dos Passos suggests. Even in confronting the challenging questions of American history, most notably the existence of slavery, there are deep lessons to be learned. By the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the institution of slavery had become deeply enmeshed in the national economy, despite all the ways that its existence stood in glaring contradiction to our nation’s commitment to equality and self-rule as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Hence there was real bite to the mocking question fired at Americans by British writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” How, we wonder today, could such otherwise enlightened and exemplary men as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have owned slaves, a practice so contradictory to all they stood for? As I write in the book:

There is no easy answer to such questions. But surely a part of the answer is that each of us is born into a world that we did not make, and it is only with the greatest effort, and often at very great cost, that we are ever able to change that world for the better. Moral sensibilities are not static they develop and deepen over time, and general moral progress is very slow. Part of the study of history involves a training of the imagination, learning to see historical actors as speaking and acting in their own times rather than ours and learning to see even our heroes as an all-too-human mixture of admirable and unadmirable qualities, people like us who may, like us, be constrained by circumstances beyond their control. . . .

The ambivalences regarding slavery built into the structure of the Constitution were almost certainly unavoidable in the short term, in order to achieve an effective political union of the nation. What we need to understand is how the original compromise no longer became acceptable to increasing numbers of Americans, especially in one part of the Union, and why slavery, a ubiquitous institution in human history, came to be seen not merely as an unfortunate evil but as a sinful impediment to human progress, a stain upon a whole nation. We live today on the other side of a great transformation in moral sensibility, a transformation that was taking place but was not yet completed in the very years the United States was being formed.

A related lesson of history is that acts of statesmanship often require courage and imagination, even daring, especially when the outcome seems doubtful. Take the case of Lincoln. So accustomed are we to thinking of Lincoln in heroic terms that we forget the depth and breadth of his unpopularity during his entire time in office. Few great leaders have been more comprehensively disdained, loathed, and underestimated. A low Southern view of him, of course, was to be expected, but it was widely shared in the North as well. As Lincoln biographer David Donald put it, “Lincoln’s own associates thought him ‘a Simple Susan, a baboon, an aimless punster, a smutty joker.’” Abolitionist Wendell Phillips called him “a huckster in politics, a first-rate, second-rate man.” George McClellan, his opponent in the 1864 election, openly disdained him as a “well-meaning baboon.” For much of that election year, Lincoln was convinced, with good reason, that he was doomed to lose the election, with incalculable consequences for the war effort and the future of the nation. To quote the book again:

We need to remember that this is generally how history happens. It is not like a Hollywood movie in which the background music swells and the crowd in the room applauds and leaps to its feet as the orator dispenses timeless words, and the camera pans the room full of smiling faces. In real history, the background music does not swell, the trumpets do not sound, and the carping critics often seem louder than the applause. The leader or the soldier has to wonder whether he is acting in vain, whether the criticisms of others are in fact true, whether time will judge him harshly, whether his sacrifice will count for anything. Few great leaders have felt this burden more completely than Lincoln.

In conclusion, let me suggest that the story of the ending of the Civil War in April 1865 might hold a lesson for those of our fellow countrymen today who seem to regard America’s past with contempt:

On April 9, after a last flurry of futile resistance, Lee faced facts and arranged to meet Grant at a brick home in the village of Appomattox Court House to surrender his army. He could not formally surrender for the whole Confederacy, but the surrender of his army would trigger the surrender of all others, and so it represented the end of the Confederate cause.

It was a poignant scene, dignified and restrained and sad, as when a terrible storm that has raged and blown has finally exhausted itself, leaving behind a strange and reverent calm, purged of all passion. The two men had known one another in the Mexican War, and had not seen one another in nearly twenty years. Lee arrived first, wearing his elegant dress uniform, soon to be joined by Grant clad in a mud-spattered sack coat, his trousers tucked into his muddy boots. They showed one another a deep and respectful courtesy, and Grant generously allowed Lee’s officers to keep their sidearms and the men to keep their horses and take them home for the spring planting. None would be arrested or charged with treason.

Four days later, when Lee’s army of 28,000 men marched in to surrender their arms and colors, General Joshua L. Chamberlain of Maine, a hero of Gettysburg, was present at the ceremony. He later wrote of his observations that day, reflecting upon his soldierly respect for the men before him, each passing by and stacking his arms, men who only days before had been his mortal foes: “Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured? . . . On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!”

Such deep sympathies, in a victory so heavily tinged with sadness and grief and death. This war was, and remains to this day, America’s bloodiest conflict, having generated at least a million and a half casualties on the two sides combined, [including] 620,000 deaths, the equivalent of six million men in today’s American population. One in four soldiers who went to war never returned home. One in thirteen returned home with one or more missing limbs. For decades to come, in every village and town in the land, one could see men bearing such scars and mutilations, a lingering reminder of the price they and others had paid.

And yet, Chamberlain’s words suggested that there might be room in the days and years ahead for the spirit of conciliation that Lincoln had called for in his Second Inaugural Speech, a spirit of binding up wounds, and of caring for the many afflicted and bereaved, and then moving ahead, together. It was a slender hope, yet a hope worth holding, worth nurturing, worth pursuing.

We all know that it did not turn out that way, due in part to Lincoln’s death at the hands of John Wilkes Booth. But the story is illustrative nonetheless. If Chamberlain’s troops could find it in their hearts to be that forgiving, that generous, that respectful of men who had only days before been their mortal enemies, we certainly ought to be able to extend a similar generosity towards men in what is now, for us, a far more distant past. Lincoln himself said something similar, at a cabinet meeting on April 14, the very day of his assassination:

I hope there will be no persecution, no bloody work after the war is over. . . . Enough lives have been sacrificed. We must extinguish our resentment if we expect harmony and union. There has been too much of a desire on the part of some of our very good friends to be masters, to interfere with and dictate to those states, to treat the people not as fellow citizens there is too little respect for their rights. I do not sympathize in these feelings.

That was good counsel then and now, and it is an example of the wisdom that the study of history can provide us. May such wisdom be an impetus for us to rediscover such a humane and generous example in our own times.


WI: Hitler and Mussolini Killed at Brest August, 1941

Hitler and Mussolini visited Brest Fortress in August 1941. Supposedly some Soviet stranglers were still holding out in the city. So a Soviet soldier, perhaps hiding in that tank, leaps out and kills both Hitler and Mussolini. What happens in the aftermath? How does this impact the war?

Deleted member 1487

Given how insanely effective Hitler's security was I think its almost ASB. He was so neurotic about it that before going into Vienna during Anschluss some 8000 bodyguards secured every inch of what he was supposed to visit.

But assuming there was a lapse Italy would probably be somewhat less inclined to keep fighting and probably try and drop out sooner if they could, while Goering would take over in Germany and probably wouldn't be as bad as Hitler in terms of long term strategy. From what I can gather out of a bio of him it seems like a lot of his bad decisions IOTL were made from a position of trying to please Hitler, almost like a boy trying to please his father. With Hitler dead Goering would probably be a more rational politician, as he was generally in private of more sound strategic thinking, like not wanting to go to war over Poland, nor invade the USSR, nor DoW the US. He would defer to Hitler's judgement always and do ANYTHING to please him, like initiate planning for the Holocaust or promise the impossible like the Stalingrad airlift. Without seeking Hitler's constant approval Goering, assuming he doesn't delegate to idiots for political reasons, would probably not make as many of the worst mistakes of Hitler from that point on, but then again Goering might well appoint idiots to various positions for political reasons. of course much of him doing that IOTL in the 1930s was the result of political infighting to ensure loyalty, if he is Führer he has less need to be fearful of bureaucratic infighting impacting his position because he's top dog now and there really isn't anyone to replace him.


Watch the video: WildEarth - Sunrise - 17 August 2021 (January 2022).