tv Open Phones with Keith Huxen Part 1 CSPAN November 7, 2015 11:30am-12:01pm EST
from that crash site. been missing. -- his plane had been named after his wife and son, who he would never meet. today, there is a monument in france commemorating his ultimate sacrifice and bravery for going ahead, when he could have gone home, but volunteering for one last mission in support of the cause for which he had to give his life. the key to this gallery is that starting in march 1944, we begin to wrestle the control of the affe.way from the luftw gain control of the air can we launch the normandy invasion on d-day. we do not yet know what day that will be, but it will turn out
to be three months to the day after march 6, 1944. >> that road to berlin to exhibit, one of many exhibits on display at the world war ii museum in new orleans. our c-span buzz is parked right outside the c museum where historians and curators will be joining us to talk about the end of the war that occurred 70 years ago, 1945. joining us live now on board, gentlema we saw to cement myth ago, keith huxen. thank you ray much for being with us -- thank you very much
for being with us. your museum is part of the 21st-century model where you it waso experience what like. it is much more than artifacts and display. how did that come about? mr. huxen: are museum exley has a great investment in the museuml narrative -- our actually has a great investment in the personal narrative, the men and women who fought in the war. that tradition goes back to our founder, stephen ambrose, who incorporated history into his book. the approach of the personal narrative, and trying to bring things to life for people on a personal level, really began 's work.rose when you hear those
descriptions from people, i think ou overall approach grew out of that organically. me take up something that you talked about on the road to berlin exhibit. take us back to the early 1940's. the japanese had attacked us and december 19 41, and yet, the u.s. and its allies freely had an approach that would allow the troops to go to germany first. explain the military strategy behind that. mr. huxen: we were, as dr. miller pointed out, and isolationist nation. we were trying to catch up with preparation for war when the japanese attacked pearl harbor. we were a long way away from being prepared to win the war. it.g what it takes to win we knew from a military standpoint that the only way to win the war, as i like to put it -- the strategy is we're going
to go to berlin and kill adolf hitler. in order to do that, hitler controlled the cotton of northwest europe. the only way to really make that happen was invade from southern england, somewhere on to the continent. we wind up going into normandy. this would be a tremendous operation, it would have to be. hitler, beginning in 1942, realizes that we will perform across channel invasion. he was evil man, but not a f ool. he begins to build his atlantic wall of defensive all along the northern coast of france and north western europe. to overcome this, we are going to have to put together a german force.ed -- a tremendous george marshall looks at plans to going to france as early as
1942 after pearl harbor. the problem was basically an economic one. we did not have the material resources, or the troops. you have to train troops if you are going to be successful in this. from a political standpoint, franklin roosevelt understood this. imagine if we tried to launch across channel invasion from 1943, when we2 or knew that we do not have the economic resources or the military resources doubt a to have al -- successful commission. imagine if we got pushed back into the ocean, and it was a failure. it was understood that a lot of democratic support would fade away. people would say, it is too hard to defeat hitler, let's leave him with his foils. there was a lot riding on that
invasion. we had to get right. that dictates our strategy. we realize we cannot invade and 1942. in 1943, we realize, it will take another year before we are ready to launch and operation that will be successful. in the meantime, we do have to try to take some pressure off of our soviet allies. the soviets were in a struggle on the eastern front with nazi germany, and basically we have to relieve some structure on them. we find some stress point in africa, and then sicily and italy. host: let me welcome our viewers and listeners, and remind them that they can send us a tweet. also, our phone lines are open.
we are dividing them regionally. was the u.s. prepared for what happened in germany during the buildup of the arsenal? the warnings came from our allies, but was the u.s. repaired for what was going to happen? mr. huxen: no, the united states was not prepared for what was going to happen. we had had a bad experience with the first world war and its aftermath, and as a result, a lot of americans thought that we pacific and atlantic oceans that would naturally protect is at this time. we tried to stay out of war, passing a series of neutrality acts in the 1930's. we thought that the defense of democracies should really be up to britain and france. after all, germany was in their backyard. britain and france collaborated on a policy of appeasement in
the 1930's, where the idea was that they felt guilty about the results of the versailles treaty and the end of world war i. he thought, let's give the germans what they want, let's he wants, inhat hopes of buying them off. this was not a good strategy for ,nyone who had read mein kampf and taken it seriously. hitler states very plainly that his intention, should he come to power, build this massive german empire. while the warning signs were there, franklin roosevelt, for example in 1937, gave what is known as a core and speech, where he did not mention any country specifically, but when he put forward this idea that we aggressorrantine nations, there was a german is public.n the american
he basically had to pull back from that position a bit. we were not prepared for when war broke out in europe in the .nd of 1939 really, we do not start to prepare until after the fall of france in may-june 1940, when the french started to fall apart . this was a great big warning signs, alarm bell, going off in the white house. george marshall, our chief of staff of the army went to frank the roseville and said, , if thet, at that time germans landed five divisions in the united states, he could not stop them from going anywhere they wanted. ,ost: our guest is keith huxen a native of louisiana, and has been with the world war ii museum for the last four years. he is joining us onboard the .-span bus tommy is joining us from massachusetts. go ahead, please. , you do a, steve
great job. i love c-span. read on the have internet about an alliance between hitler and the muslims in the middle east. ?s there any truth to that i also read that the muslims encouraged hitler to exterminate the jews. any truth to that? mr. huxen: i do not think hitler needed much encouragement on this. i know this has been in the news recently with prime minister netanyahu. hitler did have a visit with the , ind musky in jerusalem believe, in 1941, where they discussed the issue of the jewish problem, as hitler referred to it. the nazis actually had a long history of to this point of looking for solutions on what to do with the jews, including things like sending them all off .o the zanzibar
the final solution really comes about through hitler's desire empire in eastern europe. as i said, i do not think he needed much encouragement on the idea of eliminating the jews. , when theya group invaded the soviet union, to .lear out racial undesirables this was jews, but also june gypsies, homosexuals, and a number of others. god help you if you were a soviet soldier who was captured by the nazis at this time as well. the problem that came about was cost money. this was an efficient way to do the racial cleansing and killing that hitler believed was necessary on the eastern front. the final solution came about in
january 1942. , to try to more directly answer your question, i do not think you can basically say that the muslims in the really were a determining factor in hitler strategy. there is a lot of racial hatred there, and certainly, it appears encouraged and ideas that he was already leaning towards, in my opinion. host: send us a tweet. we will get your calls and just a moment. also, the question with regard to the soviet union. you made that reference. this is from robert. he says, why do we fail to recognize that the ussr won the war with the help of australia, the u.k., the u.s., and france?
your comment? mr. huxen: our congressional charter is to tell the american story, the american experience in world war ii. white was thought, w how it fought, howwas .t was won basically the united states, great britain, and the soviet union were all necessary to defeat adolf hitler. had the soviets not had as as allies, they would have lost, i believe. the quick answer to this -- the british actually came up with this, i think -- the world is one with british brains, american production, and soviet blood. there is a lot of truth to that. twice 7 million soviets were soviets- 27 million
were killed during the war. of course, they were doing this with an awful lot of equipment provided by us, and basically, every nation -- this is my personal observation -- remembers the war in its own way. i have been to russia and seen their museums. i will simply point out that they do not mention that the war was going on anywhere else than the eastern front. if you study the history of the war, keep in mind, the soviet union was allied with adolf hitler from 1939-1941. britain fought alone in 1940. beat churchill. had hitler be churchill, we would be living in a very different world. history is very complex. when you get into the question of the far use going into the war in 1939, a lot of people
don't know that the japanese and the soviets had a clash in august 1939, that we believe influenced stalin's decision to ally himself with hitler. the japanese and the soviets actually signed a neutrality pact in april 1941. this kept the soviets out of the far east. it was a global war. the idea that only the eastern front mattered -- 20 million chinese were being killed by the japanese at the same time. we tell the story from the american perspective, as i said, per our congressional charter. we do mentioned these parts of f the story in our timeline and exhibit, but we do not do it in the permanent exhibit, as much, but we do handle these subjects through our travel programs, our
international conferences, and other programs that the museum sponsors. senioreith huxen is researcher in history at the world war ii museum. , this is from the fdr library for veterans day. you can send us your tweets and questions. mike is joining us from crowley, louisiana. thank you for your call. caller: my, and question would be the influence -- i know the muslims were with hitler -- the catholic aspect, the pope, and what coverage did it the church give him as a religious rite to do his exploits. i want to hear from you. mr. huxen: i'm not as familiar of the issue of becoming church's role in world war ii. we did recently have a speaker,
a professor from brown university, he just won a pulitzer prize for his book on mussolini and his role with the catholic church. this is really a prewar story in the 1920's and 1930's in which the catholic church does cut .ome political deal basically, it isn't an easy sort of situation. thatruth of the matter is the catholic church, as well as protestant churches in germany are suppressed by adolf hitler as he rises. hitler did not brook any interference from any sort of temporal power or power ahead of the state. he, like stalin, believe that might makes right.
in the end, from a military standpoint and political strongint, once he was enough to launch the war, there was very little, i think, that the catholic church, or other philosophical, or religious types of people could do to influence what was going to happen. we had to defeat hitler militarily. defeat might with might, to basically have religious life and freedoms prevail in the world. host: 12 million soldiers world war ii. you have an estimate of how many are currently alive today? mr. huxen: yes. basically it was 16 million who actually served over the course of the war. 12 million was our high point in a single war. 16 million world war ii veterans, men and women.
the veterans administration keeps statistics on this. we have less than one million world war ii veterans still alive and with us. i believe that the last number i fall for this year was 855,000 d are left. we are losing about 500 per day. i believe the last vegan will pass in 2035. host: lorenzo is joining us from the bronx, new york. caller: hello, sir. how are you? i would like to make a very quick comments. i seem to hear these questions over and over again concerning the muslim involvement as it relates to the extermination of the jews. i might remind people that anti-semitism was not a muslim
and mention in fact, it was invented and practice by christians throughout europe for a long time before world war ii. the golden age of left -- when they when the muslims were left out of spain, the jews went with them. when they went to the middle east where they resided with the muslims, the jews call this time the golden age, when they were given jobs, allowed to partake in politics, given freedoms, and practice who they were without restrictions. while in europe and spain, they were treated as animals. this tension that we have, and by the way, the concept of amphetamines is him, as i said, was not invented by muslims, but invented by christianity. it can be found, its basis, in
the book of matthew. host: we will get a response. do you want to respond? mr. huxen: ok. i'm notjust say that certain if there was a question and there, but certainly, the history of anti-semitism predates world war ii by about time. in fact, it goes back before, i would argue, potentially the advent of christianity, i suppose. even probably find antecedents for this in the old testament. i'm not a biblical scholar. a professorat recently wrote a rather large history of anti-semitism that i forrstand is respected, those interested in the subject, you might want to read that. of militaryms
strategy, why was north africa so critical for the allies ? mr. huxen: north africa was critical because we needed to get in the fight in the european theater. basically, we hit hitler where he was weekend at the time. we were not going to go into the teat of northern france. we needed to do something. north africa, basically to clear the germans out of north africa, we could begin to bomb europe from north african airbases. we are going to have trouble , theng nazi germany itself heart of nazi germany, from north, due to the limited ranges of the planes that we had. we are going to have a better time of hitting northwestern europe and germany from britain through our eighth air force.
north africa did take pressure off of our soviet allies in 1942. earlyn mind that 1942 and 1940, the battle of stalingrad, where things started to turn around on the eastern front for the soviets. they had been basically holding on ever since the invasion in 1941 by the skin of 13, as they say. north africa is important because we start to bleed pressure away, and it also logically leads to the next up in our strategy, which becomes -- where do we go next? it will be sicily and italy, what winston churchill called the soft underbelly of europe, the idea that we could reach germany through a southern bout. it is not turned out that way at all because italy turns into, as
we like to say, along bloody -- a long bloody saw. we do take out hitler's ally, mussolini, through these actions. host: historians point out that had hitler not invaded poland, the situation may have been different, we may have avoided world war ii. why did hitler feel compelled to invaded poland? mr. huxen: his vision was to create a racially pure empire in eastern europe. he believed that 80 million germans needed living space and the east.- in his idea was he was going to go and invade the lands of eastern europe and ultimately take over ukraine and parts of soviet
union that had tremendous amounts of natural resources, oil, but also, were great for farmland. hitler had this idea that what he wanted to do was take over these lands, expand the germination from 80 million to basically use the people on those lands for slave labor, or if they were racially limited thema altogether. once he invaded poland, keep in mind, he had an alliance with joseph stalin. he had firmed up his border with the soviets. tried to honor the packed as much as he possibly could because he feared hitler, and thought that hitler would probably come after him at some point. once he got into this packed, he t, hehe could -- pac
felt he could be a good ally. roosevelt, churchill, and stalin's own spies or tim that this would not be the case. the reason hitler ultimately launched this invasion into the soviet union was three things. he was fighting a war against britain by himself. he thought, strategically in the moment of -40-1941, if he could invaded the soviet union, this britain's last los .ope of having an ally he would get his living space to the ease, and on top of this, when he took those lands, he would in fact have control of two thirds of europe's jewish population, and that he could eliminate them to create his
racially pure empire. all of these factors together made the invasion of the soviet union virtually irresistible to hitler, on what he thought of as the strategic and ideological grounds that he was fighting for. host: and just a couple of minutes we will have part two of the road to berlin exhibit now national world war ii museum, located in the center of new orleans. time for one more call, diane, joining us from tulsa, oklahoma. ifler: i wanted to know hamilton junior, who was going to fly one more mission, was he buried there where he was killed, or did they ship's body back home? of course, a lot of the men who got killed were buried overseas. i'm just wondering, i guess his found out about
his father, his bravery, and everything, i'm just wondering about that. mr. huxen: i believe augustus hamilton was actually done in terms of he had flown his number of missions, and he did volunteer to fly this mission. he was killed, unfortunately. thebody was lost with wreckage of the plane, when it went down. the plane was lost. we did not nowhere was for something like 50 years after the war before the wreckage and the remains were discovered. his remains were of course part of the crash site. i do not know whether he was buried in europe, or whether his family brought the remains back to the united states.
i don't know that. i do know that the people in france, where the crash site was discovered, put up a monument there to honor his bravery and sacrifice. we only haveuxen, one minute left, but why was 1943 a turning point? mr. huxen: at the end of 1943, we are having a terrible time fighting the germans in the air. whereve a number of raids we are getting shot out of the sky. 1943 is going to be a point where we have to gain control of the air, and do it soon. it is executed to take place in 1944. this was the big turning point because we knew, in 1944, we
were going to invade normandy. to do that, you had to have control of the air over those beaches before any invasion could succeed. host: we will learn more about the origins of the world war ii museum, located in new orleans, 'sd stephen ambrose influence there. with usxen will be back in about half an hour. we will continue with the road to berlin exhibit on display in new orleans. mr. huxen: we are actually in the normandy landings gallery. a very special gallery for us here. because our museum was originally founded back in the 1990's as the national d-day museum. by a congressional charter, we