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tv   Democracy During World War II  CSPAN  December 31, 2016 10:25am-11:56am EST

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c-span3. >> next, a panel of historians discuss the influence of american democracy after world war ii in a session called "america: democracy's bastion." topics include the growth of america's government during the war and it includes relief , provided for displaced jewish refugees from poland. ais 90 minute talk is part of multi-day conference at the national world war ii museum in 1946: years titled " zero, triumph and tragedy." >> robert citino: this session is entitled "america: democracy's bastion." we have three very fine scholars that will give fine presentations. in order from my immediate right, james t sparrow is an associate professor of history at the university of chicago, the author of "the age of big government" which received an -- in 2011 and received
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honorable mention for the frederick jackson turner award in 2012. he is currently working on a sequel to "warfare state" tentatively titled "leviathon." arrow's right iser allida black is research professor of international affairs at the george washington university. the founding editor of the eleanor roosevelt papers project which highlights the former first lady's writings and pronouncements on human rights and democracy. she is a widely published author including "casting her own shadow: eleanor roosevelt and the shaping of postwar " and a new and expensively reedited edition of "tomorrow is now." she has worked on human rights education in numerous countries particularly in post-conflict societies.
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this is going to be an interesting presentation on deed. to dr. black's right sarah , cramsey, a newly minted phd at berkeley and stanford. a professor of jewish studies at tulane university. a professor of practice at -- of jewish studies -- fulbright fellow and a foreign scholar. she will be a research fellow at the vienna institute for holocaust studies. she has received research funding from the mellon foundation, and i am to be asking her for gra writing advice because she obviously has that nailed. without further a do, let us begin with dr. james sparrow. the warfare state, world war ii americans in the age of big government. [applause]
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dr. sparrow: thank you. we live in a time defined by an abiding distrust of government. recently, we have entered a moment in which even the most basic assumptions about the proper role of government, namely those pertaining to national security and national interest, have become unsettled and bitterly contested. dr. sparrow: the growth of the
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government was more striking on the military side of the ledger. over the course of the war, the armed forces mobilized 60 million men and women in a nation that numbered 130 million in 1940. through just one program, lend lease, the federal government sent approximately $50 billion in guns, tanks, and other aid to the allies. comparing that to the just $40 billion that was spent on all emergency welfare measures under the new deal in the previous decade and it gives you a sense of what we mean when we talk about big government. the warfare state was much larger and more capacious than the welfare state. to pay for it all, congress instituted a mass income tax that reached 10 times as many taxpayers as the new deal had in
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is taxpayers as the new deal had itshe 1930's and increased borrowing capacity even more dramatically making structural deficits permanent and in a fashion that keynesian new dealers would never have dreamt much less attempted. this chart is showing the proportion of taxpayers in american society and how drastically that changed in the few years of the second world war. mess income taxation, shall troll deficits a peacetime draft , and a standing army to go with it not to mention entangling alliances. these were profound and lasting departures from the american political tradition, yet during the war, there were no tax revolts, no government shutdown over the budget, no draft and after the war these foundational structures of big government remained in place , funding internationalism rather than a retreat to isolation. however popular -- our popular memory of the second world war chalks this up to the fact that
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it was a good war fought by a society united to defend american independence and liberty in a war threatened by the global aggression of axis powers. while this view is not wrong, it is absolutely right, it takes too much for granted. lend lease, the selective service act, the arsenal of democracy, all of these policies were hard-fought accomplishments of taint despite strenuous political political headwinds that filled the sails of neutrality for half a decade prior to the war. domestically, the roosevelt administration had been back on its heels since the core packing -- court packing fight and the rise of the conservative coalition in congress thereafter. how did the roosevelt administration manage to mobilize a nation that had become so wary of big government by 1941? to simply say pearl harbor is again, to take too much for
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granted. while the will to avenge that surprise attack on questionably galvanized american public purpose, it did not determine how the u.s. would wage the war that it entered. think only of the frustrations of the china lobby, for example, who were unhappy with the roosevelt administration's grant strategy focused on europe. in order to decide how and why normal americans would comply with the effort. legitimacy was the central challenge. it was a hard constraint on the mobilization for total war. much as one might reference -- retrofit automobile factory to produce bombers, roosevelt and his speechwriters retooled their ideological framework in the late 1930's and 1940's portraying confrontation with fascism as an international extension of reform principles a , new deal for the world. the atlantic charter was part of
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that effort on the domestic scene. not all americans swallowed the new deal line whole but most of them did identify powerfully and intimately with roosevelt. as part of that process of identification, they began to adopt a rhetoric of rights and freedoms and adapted to their own lives. propaganda in the office of war information and other war agencies soon learned that the most effective appeals were the ones that personalized government messages while downplaying the overly -- overtly ideological statements. the most common strategy used to accomplish this was a rhetorical approach that the historian george roeder termed the homefront analogy. this was the point of valuation of every conceivable aspect of lives. most often by tracing the battlefront consequences of ordinary decisions at home.
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rhetorical universe, defense workers were promoted to soldier to production. home gardens became victory gardens and young women willing to socialize with soldiers were called victory girls. roosevelt understood the need to personalize the war ended so relentlessly in his fireside chat. on january 11, 1944 he promised his 60 million listeners an economic bill of rights that the gis and the american people had earned as their due in a war caused not only by aggression , but also by want and also by desperation. these rights included rights to employment, education, housing, health care. it was a comprehensive list. but what has been largely forgotten however was that this promise of economic rights was tied to fdr's insistence on a plan for national service, compulsory and universal in which civilians contributions would be directly related to if not conflated to the gis facing
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battle overseas. for nationallans service followed a personal a stick -- personalistic logic. i am going to read from you, i am sorry if it is too soon, from his fireside chat that was broadcast on national radio. "i know that all civilian workers will be able to say many years ahead to their grandchildren that i was in service in the great war. i was on duty in an airplane factory and i helped make hundreds of planes. the government told me that in doing that, i was performing my most useful work in the service of my country." david kennedy's talk made clear that americans, especially civilians, experienced very little absolute sacrifice relative to other nations participating in world war ii. those charts really said it all. in the process of mobilizing millions of workers, consumers,
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taxpayers and enlistees the , government had to convince the citizenry that it must embrace unprecedented sacrifice. the scene was not always as uplifting as fdr's language might suggest. you can imagine the guilt and sense of obligation that images and messages might have produced. there was the symbol of self-sacrifice, this symbol the , combat soldier, that provided the master key to work and political culture. the g.i. was a culture hero whose name stood for government issue and a joking reference to the standardized nature of the military in which he served. he personified the new ideals of a changing social order. his ordinariness and his common touch conveyed the democratic and the humane nature of the american war effort as opposed to the regimentation and hierarchy of the wehrmacht and the fanaticism of the japanese dive bombers.
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g.i.'s were everywhere. everyone knew someone that served and this reinforced a personalization of the war effort. while the image of this new culture hero was fairly uniform and verged on being universal, the ways in which americans responded to it were not. if we focus on three kinds of citizens, fiscal citizens, taxpayers and bond workers, war workers and servicemen, we can , see how divergent they were. specialoup deserve attention because without them, the american war effort would have grounded to a halt. researchers certainly recognize this and they found that intangible differences in morale could produce results that were all too concrete. for example, the average time delay was 76 days where in a south portland yard, they required seven days on average
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-- required 207 days on average to put out the same sort of vessel using the same kinds of workers. there was high morality and low morale. explain the difference. similar findings explain why one person bought more war bonds than the next and explained how troop cohesion could be strengthened or undermined. i will spare you the details of the mountains of studies that these government researchers produced. a summary could have been used as a weapon of mass boredom. wmb against the axis. the findings were quite significant. i will touch on them in what follows. bondholders and taxpayers posed a special challenge because most americans were unaccustomed to paying income tax or owing the government debt. which had mostly been the preserve of the wealthy or upper middle class who were subject to the taxation.
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-- subject to the class taxation in the 1930's but world war ii brought mass taxation. for all the talk about soaking the rich, the new deal fiscal regime was a feeble and repressive jerry built structure that was insufficient to finance total war. the second world war regime extracted vastly greater revenues on an order of a roughly -- order of magnitude greater. taxpayers had to learn how to file and pay on time. it was just as aggravating and difficult then as it is today and it was not made much easier by the fact of the new withholding scheme because people still had to file forms. before the war, the number of taxpayers could have fit into the borrower of brooklyn, roughly 4 million. you can imagine the change there. similar change happened in war finance in the ownership of debt with 85 million men, more than that, the government stopped counting.
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85 million men, women, and children who bought war bonds over the course of the war. to meet the challenge of guiding and motivating these tens of millions of new fiscal citizens, the treasury developed a strategy centered on personalizing obligation. often, the most successful initiatives were the most literal-minded and concrete. this kind of advertisement campaign was incredibly popular. individual children and families could buy equipment for family members that they knew in the service, small school districts might pitch together and raise money to buy a jeep. larger metro districts purchased aircraft carriers. the treasury was also quite savvy in enlisting the talents smith,a stars like kate whose rendition of "god bless america" made her both famous and beloved.
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smith constantly evinced a personal obligation to the g.i. in her public appearances. she conducted a radio marathon in september of 1943 that raised a record-breaking $39 million. it does not sound like much to us now. one of her callers rang in with a moving pledge. mying "i would anything, all life for my money to buy my boy back from the war but i am afraid i cannot do that now. i got a telegram from washington this morning and my boy is not coming back." from that point on, the new pledges surged in making it a record-breaking event. it gives you a sense of how intensely that personal connection was felt by so many americans. that is what war bonds are to us kate smith concluded. , a chance to buy our boys back. 85 million americans agreed. as they paid their taxes and bought their bonds, they also
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learned to make a claim on the government to begin expecting that the claim would be returned by the federal government. is my tax dollar, was something virtually everyone could say once the victory tax was implemented and mass taxation had been instituted. industrial production like fiscal policy was mission-critical to the american war effort. as the taxpayers and bondholders, it was not guaranteed that workers could be persuaded to comply. in the half decade prior to the war, union levels had tripled from 3 million to 9 million. militancy a wave of unleashed and tactics such as the sitdown strike that had shut down general motors plant in flint, michigan over the winter of 1936 into 1937. although union leaders signed a no strike pledge soon after pearl harbor rank and file , discontent led to wildcat strikes that crested from 1943 until the end of the war and
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then again after the war in 1946. worker morale, could make or break the arsenal of democracy and the roosevelt administration knew it. it turned out that the war workers took their images of the soldiers of production there very seriously. this kind of poster captured quite vividly the worker's sense that they were intruding to the war, just like taxpayers and bondholders. they took this role very personally and conceptualized objectifying what they created on the shop floor every day. this powerful sense that they were fighting alongside the combat soldier linked the home front and fostered a rising sense of entitlement to national citizenship guaranteed by the
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federal government. women and black workers pushed the government to honor its promises of fair employment. they did not get it, for the most part during the war. a generation of civil rights unionism and labor feminism emerged from the war anyway. white, ethnic workers enjoyed more immediate gains as overtime pay, seniority rights were built into the war economy with lasting consequences for the postwar period. working-class americans joined the affluent society in the 1940's viewing their upward mobility as a fitting reward. ,inally, we turn to the g.i.'s the third group. without millions of them it would've been impossible to --end the continental denied united states, much less win a war on opposite sides of the globe at the same time. in their case, the challenge of motivation had the highest stakes possible.
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walking, talking proof that the last thing you want to be in a time of war is a living symbol of national soccer eyes. as everyone in this room knows well, military service implicated a deep sense of national commitment that remains a defining aspect of the war generation's outlook through the postwar period. but this was not to be taken for granted going into the war. efforts to instruct the soldiers on why we fight had mixed results -- but war propaganda did succeed in providing a clear image of the fascist enemy to be defeated. if gis were of many minds of what they were fighting for, they were largely of one mind when it came to what they were fighting against. that was because, beneath the buried political commitments ran
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deeper obligation to their buddies fighting next to them, to their families get home, and that made mistakes -- the stakes of war quite personal. we can see this in the palpable hunger that serviceman expressed for any news of home. this is a photo of a navy bomber squad on new georgia island in the solomons in february of 1944. you can just see the intensity with which these men reach out for their mail. when after more than three years of slogging through it all, these soldiers finally got to stop reading about home and they returned to it, newly minted veterans could claim a new set of benefits in the g.i. bill of rights this amounted to a new . this amounted to a new kind of national citizenship. was less universally applauded than the g.i. bill of rights, which i think this
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postwar advertisement captures the sense of citizenship and homecoming that the g.i. bill represented, the marshall plan was less universally applauded. it was supported and with stained over a long period of time and revealed legitimacy's that the war effort had bestowed on big government. while the truman administration's breakneck demobilization quickly liquidated many of the war agencies, it did not bring military budgets or personnel down to even the peak levels of to defense period prior pearl harbor which was higher than most of the new deal. although the public clamor to bring the boys back home was quite pronounced it did not , produce a return to the hemispheric insularity of the earlier years. indeed, quite the opposite was the case.
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the human face of the new commitment to international obligations was known to everyone from photos of friendly american gis trading cigarettes, candy bars, and other rations with europeans desperate for food and the basic rule of law. we know from historical research that not all aspects of american occupation were friendly or even welcome, but the american people on the whole were not privy to that information. what they got was a benign vision that the g.i. represented. and this was a form of internationalism that americans could get behind. yet there was a mounting, if hidden, price to be paid for all of this. what the war was about meant too many different things to citizens whose interests could not always be reconciled. taxpayers chafed at taxes that cut into the higher standard of living that roosevelt had promised and provided. at the same time, they began to resent paying for the higher wages enjoyed by war workers particularly when they went out on wildcat strikes. workers denounced the high salaries of management.
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in the cost-plus contracts of big business. soldiers bristled at the mere suggestion that they were being played for suckers by coddled civilians. this is a sensibility that found violent expression in the zoot suit riots. soldiers mutinied in the winter of 1945 into 1946 when the truman administration changed their discharge formulas in order to keep troop levels from falling too dangerous lows. to pursue the global anguish and -- global ambitions the united , states needed the government to sustain the legitimacy that it had earned in wartime. that government was capable of projecting american power across the world but only to the extent , that it fostered a personal sense of national mission among its citizenry that proved fractious in the long run. over decades, it only became more difficult to agree on what national citizenship demand and who can claim it. the stronger the united states
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grew, the less its citizens could agree on the beneficiaries or even, eventually, the basic purposes of the powerful government they had created. the crisis of legitimacy in which we live today has been a long time in the making. thank you. [applause] dr. black: i am short. [laughter] hello everybody. i am very grateful that you stayed on a saturday afternoon. as i am watching all of these phenomenal posters, i cannot help but give a shout out to the franklin d roosevelt presidential library and museum where i am a proud trustee and plead with you all with a full heart to make the trek to hyde park to see our new permanent
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exhibit and our new visitor's center. i think it will amplify the conflicting and disparate messages unified by defiance that i think i have heard so far today and i would also very much like to give a shout out to constance, who did emergency travel planning for me last night when i missed my flight. the first time that has happened to me in 64 years. but as you can tell from my hacking through jim's talk. i beg your indulgence. i have, as my mother would have said a honking sinus infection. , with that plead for indulgence, i will ask you to suspend everything you have talked about so far for the past three days. i want you to think not about
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military strategy, not about who won the war, not about the geopolitical outcomes of the war, or the war's economic consequences. what i want you to get in your heart and your gut is the ricocheting, emotional ping-pong ball, in context that america , and the world is going through at the end of the war. we ricocheted from unbridled fear to almost unbridled relief. underneath all of that is a palpable uncertainty of what kind of nation we will become, what america's role in the world will be, and how we will manage
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a world not only bifurcated by ideology, but an america that is ripped apart by anxiety and fear. fdr has died. we have an untested president. who by the middle of 1945, will have poll numbers that make herbert hoover look like a rock star. we have the horror of the holocaust to which we have become anesthetized, haunting us every day. the best motion picture, academy award-winning film that year was "the best years of our lives," an extraordinary film which if you do not own, shame on you who are interested in the war. we have incredible heightened
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racial tensions in the united states. we have wildcat strikes. we have an untested president disregarding his poll numbers, but who cannot seem to manage the economy. he lifts rent controls while he keeps the controls on wages. he lifts food prices and puts controls back on rent, but still keeps controls on wages. we have massive dislocation in the united states. as many people as left home to work in the defense industries as went overseas to fight the war. we have new communities, multiracial communities that were trying to figure out how to develop. and europe has 60 million displaced refugees. that is 60 times the amount that
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europe is dealing with now. 60. we have the start of the cold war. we have the start of the atomic arms race still to become the nuclear arms race. we have a heightened international guerrilla warfare campaign that will give rise to terrorism. does this mean that hope evaporates? no. i ask you, how many in this room have been in an immediate post-conflict situation? please raise your hands. just going to shape what i am going to say. i have been in 14. my conversation is rooted in my
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soul crunching, soul lifting experience around the world and within the united states of people just trying to define in their own minds what human rights mean. when we begin this conversation, i don't want you to narrow it and put it in a box like it is the united nations. it is the united nations' responsibility and our responsibility. we are beginning, at the end of the war as we are today, a new world order. we are trying to get away with trusteeships and mandates and how to manage unstable but hopeful postcolonial democracies.
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people are demanding change, but at the same time, they are confronting the paralysis of fear. we could make an argument in 1945 all the way through 1948 just as we can make an argument now around the world, and especially in the shadows of the election, that we are a world adrift and america is trying to find its voice. in 1948, the u.s. political system is fractured. republicans and democrats have equal numbers and equal weight. at state level and at the federal level. they are also being challenged horrifically and effectively from within. dixiecrat's, strom thurmond, progressives up harry wallace, the republicans trying to find their way and what
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moderation means with dewey and you have the democrats who are desperately clinging to harry truman. the overarching theme of all of those four parties, all of america and existing political institutions, as in the u.n. itself, is, how are we going to deal with economic and social insecurity? the u.n. is untested. fdr hoped to lead it. he is dead. as eleanor would say, the boys have taken over and are concerned with the bomb. they totally discount the refugee crisis in europe which will become the first defining crisis that the u.n. has to address. the second is rebuilding the european economy and how do we transition from the u.s. economy
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that, as jim so clearly showed with his graphs, that is totally defied to a wartime economy to a peace time economy in the cloud the overarching dark tornado , cloud of the great depression. short, it is not an easy time to negotiate. witness eleanor roosevelt, who had four years of school. four. i am not talking postdoc, i am not talking graduate school. i am not talking all the stuff that everybody up here is want. i am talking four years of self educated school but taught herself six languages and was conversant with every major religion in the world. she was placed on the american delegation solely for one reason.
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by september 1945, she had raised her voice against harry truman. his polling numbers were in the toilet. he, in let's put eleanor on the delegation, get her out of the country, and we can have franklin's widow going to the first meeting of the general assembly. when he first called her, she said no. her secretary looked at her and said, are you crazy? you have met all the leaders of the world. you are the only head of state who has actually traveled to conflict zones. you lost your hearing on a military aircraft. you spent six weeks in the pacific. after the bombing of london, you
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were in london for five days and what were you doing, not staying with the king and queen but staying in the bomb shelters in the metro tubes. you have some experience of war, not to mention your experience in the battleground in postwar france right as the war came to an end. the guys did not know what to do with her so they put her on committee three. eleanor says, thank you so much. have the material sent to my state room rather than saying, why don't i get to pick? committee three, as you know, is the committee for social humanitarian and cultural concerns. what was the most pressing issue
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of the u.n. -- the exact same most pressing issue now in europe, only 60 fold. what are we going to do with the refugees? the soviets want to repatriate them to rebuild the 40 million citizens that were lost in the war. none of the american delegation, vandenberg, austin, new how to debate the chomsky. -- eleanor roosevelt wrote 4 words on an envelope -- out-debates so much that it makes the front page of a newspaper. after that, the conversation within the united nations turns to, how will they execute a sentence in the preamble charter to the u.n.? which says, we must reaffirm
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faith in fundamental human rights. people are clueless on what human rights mean, like people are clueless on what democracy means. we have an idea, but we do not have an inkling of the hard work and the sacrifice that it takes to build local institutions from the ground up. we talk about rights. we do not talk about responsibilities. and, the charter says that we must find words to respect the dignity and worth of each human person, the rights of men and women and nations. think about this for a minute. this is not politically correct language. we are in the shadow of the most horrific war the world has ever seen.
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even though the 51 nations who formed the united nations only have one thing in common, and that is that by god, they beat the germans. we still have to figure out what this means. so, it is a two-year debate that lasts more than 300 sessions, more than 3000 hours of conversations across two oceans. initially, 18 nations who have nothing in common, as i said, other than they beat the germans. they do not share the same currency, they do not believe that currency exists, they do not share the same god, they do not believe that god exists, they do not share the same government, they do not share the same concepts of citizenship, they do not share the same concepts of nationality.
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the only thing they have in common, even among our allies, is that we beat the germans. the united states has grave concerns. oh, my god, what are we going to do about socioeconomic and cultural rights? are we going to give everybody a job? the soviets go, oh, my god, what are we going to do about the right to vote? great britain is worried about their empire. india is secretly sabotaging the negotiations as they go along. india is trying to figure out how to create a vision that is not a gandhi-esque ideal vision but a nation that is at war within itself and at war with its occupying nation in terms of
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what they will fight for. they are awakening the fight for palestine and israel. the war in southeast asia is beginning. so, what do we know from this? i was so struck by the cartoon that you put up there of what to do do today for freedom? eleanor roosevelt carried a prayer in her wallet with her that i continue to carry in mine, even though i am an agnostic. this is the prayer. dear lord, help me to remember to ask -- sorry. my drugs are kicking in.
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sorry. dear lord, help me to remember that somewhere, someone died for me today. and if there continues to be war, help me to remember to ask and to answer, and i worth dying for? this is the strategy that she took into the negotiations. in the four minutes i have left, i would like to give you the thumbnail negotiating strategy why i believe that was right and leave you with the so what questions that i hope we can pick up in questions and answers. eleanor understood a fundamental thing. we could either say the world sucks, that it was inherently evil, awful, that we would never
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end war, and that we would live in the shadow of the holocaust forever. or we could say, i am not going to go down that road. that we have to have another vision to inspire people when they succumb to fear. that is the simple approach that she took, arguing and negotiating the declaration of human rights. she also fundamentally believed that the only way to have an effective conversation with someone is to know the opinion of your fiercest critic as well as you know your own and treat them with respect and stay at the table. she made a very faithful decision to separate the negotiation into three parallel tracks so that you and create the declaration which would be a
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vision and to negotiate the covenant separately because as she said, lawyers would spend three years deciding where to put a comma, and then figure out how to do the implementation. she was right. the covenants were ratified in 1966. they were adopted by the u.n., the united states ratify the political civil rights covenant in 1992. we have still not yet ratified the covenant on social economic and cultural rights. this is the challenge of our time. it is not just about dignity. it is not just about sovereignty -- it is not just about what rights mean. it is the challenge to negotiate with respect. it is the challenge to debate, how to confront fear and real
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political power with grounded inspiration. as eleanor would say, we are all on trial to show what democracy means. i would like to leave you with article one, which is the absolute hardest article to negotiate. it took more than 3000 hours of debate, and it is the first time in the history of the world that governments came together to adopt it. article one is all human beings are born free and equal, in dignity and in rights. they are endowed with reason and conscience and should treat one another in the spirit of brotherhood. as we succumb to hyper politicized conversations in the
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next six weeks, and does the world begins to come together to figure out how they will respond, i cannot help but believe that this is the firmest legacy that we must hold onto to move forward. and i am very grateful for your attention. [applause] >> thank you. i do not think i am the only person that thinks your talk was invigorating. thank you for waking up the audience. i will do my best to keep them awake. i would like to thank dr.
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mueller and jeremy collins for inviting me to be here. i would also like to thank the doctor who introduced me to this museum and thank you very much for your attention. i teach 18-20-year-olds at 9:00 in the morning every monday, wednesday, and friday. i use a lot of images. forgive me if i am bombarding you. i would like to begin by showing you some images that are familiar. here, an image from auschwitz when it's liberated from january 1945. here, an image from buchenwald. this image was made famous because a young man named ellie faisal -- elie wiesel was in one of the bunks.
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here is a picture of -- giving a speech in the zeilsheim camp in 1946. here, this is not paul newman, but we see some young men and women on their way to palestine. perhaps they could be on their way to the americas, north and south. we are very familiar with the story. the displaced persons camps in occupy germany, specifically in the american zone, all of these jewish displaced people in the americans zone, an effort to put pressure on the british to open the gates of palestine to legal immigration. harris about the earl g.
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reports. in a sense, when we think about the name of our panel today, the united states as a bastion of democracy -- this is in part true. i think that the story i am going to tell will demonstrate that it is a bit more complicated. what i would like to do is slow down our chronology, zoom in on a few months in 1946 and four granddad with what is happening -- foreground that with what is happening prior. i would like to recast the lens that we used to retell the story of displaced people and we are recasting that lens so that we are looking at them from the standpoint of those who are living in east central europe, specifically czechoslovakia and poland. how should we understand liberation? homecoming, return. these are big words.
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it looks different to different populations. homecomings are staggered, incomplete, and they do not end in the wake of victory. more europeans are on the move any other time in human history. allida has been introduced to the scale, using the comparison of the refugee crisis unfolding today. my numbers are between 30 million and 50 million. it is difficult to know how many people are displaced by the war. as people are changing their locations, political and ethnic borders are changing as well. this will impact the course of liberation and how people
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experience it. i would like to propose it simply arriving in a displaced persons camp in occupied germany. there is nothing simple about it. there is a contingent journey from liberation to ending up in a displaced person camp. a story line between the holocaust and the venture will israel. -- eventual israel. today, we're going to focus on a small group. it is a group of polish jews -- to see how their liberation and return unfolds. before i launch into this particular group of people, i would like us to keep four contexts in mind, constituting some of the great ironies of the postwar moments. shifting polish borders mean that prewar homes are often in different postwar states.
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there is immense destruction, as well. we need to recalibrate our understanding of what home is. surviving jews collect in occupied germany in 1945-1947 and onward. there were upwards of hundreds of thousands of jews in cans throughout the american zone, in particular. they are changing and growing. the number of jewish camps actually increases from 1945-1946 and this is for the most part -- once from other nations are decreasing in occupied germany. in this group increasingly becomes a huge problem for both the united nations, member nations, and the relief and rehabilitation administration.
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finally, this brings me into the group of polish jews i would like to speak about -- the majority of jews living in poland survive the second world war because they spent the war living sprinkled throughout the soviet union in the context of labor camps. and we have upwards of 300,000 survivors who survived the war in the soviet union compared to 80,000 survivors who survived the war in occupied poland. in fact, when i am talking about this group of polish jews, i am talking about the majority of survivors. in 1939, poland is divided. part of poland is attached to the soviet union. with this comes the promise that upwards of one -- one million
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poles will be deported in order to work in labor camps. this translates into scores and scores of settlements, many of which have half -- close to 90% of jews as these polish citizens living in the settlements. those of you that are interested interestingly in the process by are deported into the soviet union should take a look at a book i peter. i want to understand exactly what soviet exile and work looks like and what that means. there are elements of this exile are horrible.
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there is hunger, cold, constant displacement. just because you were deported does not mean you are going to stay there for two years. you could quickly be taken to to samarkand -- what is interesting about the polish jews is the experience -- they survive often with the family unit intact. i'll go through people returning to poland after the war find that there are 3-4-5 children with their parents in one family. there is some time to put down roots as evidenced by this picture now these are pictures fresh off the archival presses. here you can see a teacher asking the students with the weather -- what holiday is it today? teaching these children, making
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sure that their polish language is up to snuff. here, an interesting picture of people celebrating polish democracy and independence. notice all of these children wearing white clothes. notice how the clothes look clean. those of us who have experience -- know how difficult that is. look at the artistic backdrop. these are people that have paints, taking time to make signs. they have access to a camera that they can use to take this commemorative picture. here we have a exhibition poster. we can see they are memorializing their own
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immigration. they have space for an exhibit. there is time to put together the exhibit. there are visitors that are coming -- this is an advertisement. here we have an example of one the most interesting things that i found. throughout 1945 there are huge commemorations for the warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943. keeping in mind, in many of these camps, the majority and almost exclusively be your people -- at least a dozen cans had a commemoration such as this in 1945 -- i will be giving a paper on these commemorations in south africa next year if any of you will be in cape town in march. and eventually, this group of polish jews eventually returns home. now, what does home mean? this
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is a money, basically, from the repatriation fund that is given people as they get ready to return home but this home -- what does home mean? we have already mentioned that polish borders shift in 1939. they also shift after the war. thanks to the finalization at pottsdam. you have this pink entity, the so-called recovery territories that belonged to nazi germany. poland is losing the territory annexed to the soviet union. we have shifting borders, massive destruction. this is the place of general
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eisenhower toured and of course he had not seen any place that had as much destruction. polish society itself is completely dismantled and eviscerated. upwards of 6 million people have been killed. that is about one/five of the people. -- 1/5 of the people. 90% of all people that identify as jews were killed. this is what home is beginning to look like. home is not just a place you return to, it is all the other elements. some of the towns that lose their population simply cease to exist. anything -- anybody that has read jonathan's work "everything , is illuminated" knows about this town that only has one person living in it after the war. besides that, throughout poland, there are massive population movements going on.
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millions of ethnic germans -- we also have population exchanges and forced deportations in the eastern borders. professor snyder talks about this as well. this is building off a society that has already suffered massive displacement during the war. those of you who have read a diary of a polish medical doctor know that he himself is constantly under threat that he is going to be displaced. polish jews and polish christians lived under the constant threat of displacement themselves. what we have for this group of oldish jews that have survived polish jews that survived the war, liberation
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beginning in january 1946. that is quite a few months after peace in europe is included. we begin to see in january, polish citizens, boarding repatriation trains across the soviet union making their way home. they returned to poland across a six-month span. these are the polish jews who are experiencing events like those of july 4, 1946. some of you might be familiar with that. what is interesting to me is that upwards of 80,000 of these jews stay in poland. they settle in the so-called recovery territories. they build jewish lives in there. the man who taught me you dish is one of these people -- grew up going to a yiddish school. -- who taught me yiddish, she grew up going to a yiddish school.
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more jews from this group join something called the semi legal movement of european jews towards palestine. to refresh your memory, where the so-called recovery territories are, they are in the pink on the map pink and that is where you begin to see the population of jews go from 0-15,000 in two days. these towns are being swarmed with people in the constitutions are changing irrevocably. most of these towns are able to take on so many people because they were recently emptied of ethnic germans or the town themselves have been destroyed. this word in hebrew this word means flight to zionists operative from mandate palestine come back to europe secretively
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in order to induce or encourage people to leave and to try to live life in palestine. i use induce or encourage to give us a spectrum because depending on who you are, you are going to have a different view as to who these zionist operatives were and whether this was a forced choice. why do i define it as semi legal? in british law, this is any -- and illegal movement. according to czechoslovakian law, this is actually legal. the polish and czechoslovak government leave the border open to allow returning jews to pass onward through czechoslovakia to displaced persons camps in occupied germany, specifically the american zone.
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the goal is to get to the american zone to continue to put pressure on the british to open the gates for these migrants. there are different ways to palestine -- you do not necessarily have to end up in the american zone. one of the most interesting things about studying those second world war, there seems to be an on believable plethora of different stories of how people end up in different places. i recommend the book "underground palestine" to understand more about how people were able to move onward. another excellent book is "flight and rescue." i got the chance to meet her when i was a graduate student. the question i was asking him greatly intersected with his
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book that went off on a tangent. i specifically wanted to know practically, logistically and financially, how the border between poland and czechoslovakia stayed open in 1946? why does one particular exit point at one town become so crucial for this flow of polish, jewish refugees? we can see a map of czechoslovakia. the town would be up in the top -- the third arrow from the top moving down. has anybody in this room been there? thank you. there, we would have seemed rose and droves of people -- droves and droves of people. here we see people standing in the center of the town.
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notice the interaction with local shopkeepers, how the town itself is changing as it is flooded with these refugees, some who stay just for a few hours, others who stay for a few weeks and use the fresh air to convalesce. we can see polish jews on czechoslovak repatriation trains. we can see jewish children at the main train station in prague. in the eyes of world zionists, czechoslovakia has become the important spot in europe. when i gave this presentation to a professor, the director of the museum of history of polish jews, he said, in fact, 1946, the state of israel existed. i have about two minutes left
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and i have two slides and i would like to get into a little bit of the how and why. if i am rushed, i am happy to take more questions during the q&a. according to one man's memoir, he details the reaction of polish government officials. zuckerman says, those in control of the borders made a phone call and said the border should remain open and that was how the borders opened. what i was able to find, legal crossings began to accumulate making the flow of these refugees increase and continue and what is interesting about studying what is happening on
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the ground is trying to figure out the symbiosis of work. what is interesting is that one associate has one idea and another person says that she is wrong and the first woman has to leave. the jewish joint redistribution committee is highly involved and their director and czechoslovakia is working tirelessly to inform ministries of what is happening but in my mind, the most important players are people -- two important czechoslovakian officials, and their shared desire to create east central european polities that are based on ethnicity. i call this event the ethnic revolution.
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in my book, uncertain citizenship pinpoints the process by which wartime and postwar leaders in places like poland and germany rewrote citizenship laws so that when so-called if the groups equaled one political citizenry, strangely enough these ideas are rooted in third reich policies but they are also enabled by a drastic shift in international norms that make massive population transfers permissible in signals a conclusive end to the heterogeneous state of the land of the former habsburg monarchy. what is fascinating in the mind of -- the reorganization of ethnic groups in east central
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europe demanded the simultaneous anrace of palestine as ethno-nationalist project. i tried to slow down our chronology so good understand and able to shift our perspective and we have seen that the prospect of displacement and return our small stories that are happening to individual people and stories that are happening to governments, nonprofits. if we really want to understand the emergence of the state of israel in 1948, i suggest that we turn to the wonderful complicated and fascinating laboratory of east central europe for a more nuanced answer. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> we have time to take a few questions. in the center of the room. >> professor cranston and ms. black discuss the role of the u.n. to resettle betwee 30-60 -- between 30 million and 60 million refugees and my question is how exactly did they do it or did they do it? >> they tried as best as they could. the u.n. relief and rehabilitation administration was able to help people outside germany better than those rather than those who were resettled in
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the four major zones. i think the most effective part, which is the one that has been the least really looked at, or which is why i add the other 10 million to the total, is we don't look at all among the refugee populations in africa. we look primarily at the refugee populations in central europe. they did a great job in france. they did an ok job in italy. i think they really did an extraordinary job if you look at liberia, nigeria, -- i'm sorry. and some of the other side of the mediterranean.
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i would say the people that did the best job with this were outside the organization. unicef did an extraordinarily job. this for unicef -- unicef took off. bankrupt catholic charities give way to unicef into the world health organization. and they begin to really take in and so i would argue and to be honest honest i am really rusty , on this so i would have to go back and pull that on my documents, but i would argue that the greatest impact that on rough had was in africa and in the creation of the direct agencies that gave specific services to refugee populations and created chapters and partnered with what we would today call civil society organizations that were generic
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to those countries. does that answer your question? >> it is important to keep in mind that displacement continues and arguably still continues for many people affected by this conflict. it is a question that i asked my students. when does displacement end? can displacement be inherited, trauma be inherited? when we open up the gates to our context we have displaced , persons camps functioning into the 1950's. tina grossman writes about this in her book on the displaced persons universe. i think one way that displacement is solved quickly to a certain extent is because there are open houses, exchanges that people are being forced when you have 3.5 million ethnic
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germans leaving czechoslovakia, millions of ethnic germans leaving what had become poland after 1945, you have a ready-made place to bring people so that's something for us to keep in mind and if i could just speak to the context of jewish organizations -- american jewish organizations, jewish organizations throughout south america, as well, and in palestine and israel worked, as well, to attempt to resolve -- to resolve displacement. >> i would also say that it ties very much to the question over the fight of the nationality of the displaced person. >> back left. >> this question is for sarah. great talk. in terms of infrastructure for displaced persons in poland, was there any infrastructure and for
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formal -- how formal was it? did it have any influence on the conduit you discuss in yugoslavia? >> when we talk about infrastructure in poland, we have to keep in mind that when the united nations assembled in san francisco in 1945, poland was unofficially represented because the allies could not agree on which polish government was the official government. we have an issue of legitimacy that is still permeating the entire allied camp well through the beginning of the summer of 1945. as far as infrastructure on the ground, what strikes me when i read the archival files for reading through remembrances is how much people seem to be working, how passionate people are about their job but we have to keep in mind, especially in
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the case of poland, dealing with a country that is the most ripped apart in europe -- so that we are also dealing with the task of cleaning the rubble in the biggest cities, warsaw -- so, it is inresting to keep this in mind. my experience working in czechoslovakia has led me to a lot of laughter in so far as it is a wonderful example of how individuals in bureaucracies cannot get along and will use personal alliances against other people. when we talk about a large nonprofit, we have the different personalities involved. one person living in prague
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actually wields quite a bit of power. how prepared they are to handle certain things and finances your questions. >> thank you to all three presenters. excellent prewritten -- excellent presentations. i have a comment directed to dr. black. >> i figured it was coming. >> if it sounds like nitpicking perhaps it is. that is who i am. >> go ahead. >> when you told us that eleanor roosevelt had only four years of education, i think that was a little misleading.
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as a child, she and other children were schooled at home by a very good teacher. >> by an awful teacher, sir, who ripped her books up. do not believe eleanor's version of that. eleanor could not write a grammatically correct sentence in english when she worked with mademoiselle roger. >> is that right? well, that was not much education was it? , >> there is a lot of stuff that i will defer to everybody on about eleanor, but that i know more than anybody in the history of the universe. [laughter] [applause] >> she made up for it. >> big-time. thank you very much. >> thank you for your question.
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i hope i did not seem flippant. >> back to your left with james. >> earlier, richard frank talked about the extraordinary efforts that were taken to prevent famine and typhus in japan. now, you've got 30-60 million people moving around central and eastern europe. what did we see in terms of starvation and disease and so forth? how do these people just survive? given those numbers. >> a boatload of them died. there was great debate within the american government and within unicef and within onra on how many calories a day
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constituted a good diet? it was based totally upon the political -- the suspected political affiliations of the group. eleanor herself was very involved in a debate where she said, i am happy with 1000 calories per day. that is one bureaucratic and political issue. the other is the infrastructure and the delivery issue. what i would like to do because sarah can talk about this much more concretely than i can because my work now has turned into much more on the ground do you deliver as opposed to what we did in the war -- but the one thing that i would like to say is that also, part of the
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delivery was impacted because beloved american charities, once they got their feedback on the ground, got very turf-conscious of who should deliver what to whom that greatly delayed the delivery of a central nutrient blanket, tents and medicines. which spurred greatly the development of a new refugee organization and the creation of the who and gave -- added fodder and information depending on which side you are on about the role for a u.n. peace force in displaced camps.
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>> i should just add that that is within europe but then there was a famine in india and there was a great debate over whether that food relief should be sent to other parts of the country. i should point out that the food relief program built out of the new deal had tremendous support by 1947 majority of people polled said they would support re-imposing a rationing which was not popular in order to feed starving europeans which was an extra ordinary degree of support. >> they had their first meeting in november 1943, the second in 1945 -- third in atlantic city, montreal, and london. already, you see the signatories
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asking these concrete questions about things like calories, how do we dispense things, how are we preparing ourselves against diseases. what has been interesting from my perspective in the first , meeting, there was not a special designation for dp's of jewish backgrounds. or dp's persecuted as jews. one of the nongovernment entities that i work with, the world jewish organization, lobbied vigorously so that in their legal language, there is a distinction made specifically for jewish dp's in the idea that they want to make sure that this category of jewishness is in their language so that these people can be entitled to more calories. they want to be able to say if you are jewish you should have more calories than if you were not persecuted racially so these
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conversations that we might find so concrete about things like calories really mean quite a bit when you begin to attach a calorie limit to specific displaced person populations. >> one last question to your left, please. >> i was really struck by the charts that you showed with higher taxes and higher military spending maintaining after the war in the postwar years. i know there are still a massive demilitarization of the economy, re-privatization. can you talk about how that happened? was there any resistance? was there any kind of desire to hold on to some of that? >> that is an excellent question.
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we can look at this moment in two different ways. one is to see it as a moment of extraordinary upward ratcheting of state presence beyond the peak of what had been possible in the new deal. by 1947, troop levels never go below 1.5 million. you look at military spending as a proportion of gdp. any of those indices -- there are always at least 50% higher than at the peak of the new deal which produced a lot of political backlash. one way is to observe how powerful acceptance of this new government was. of course, the cold war comes along by 1950. it is in full gear. and many of these changes are locked in permanently but it might have gone a different way
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and the congress was determined actually to roll back not just the war machinery but parts of the new deal. and had a lot of support. but were not able to succeed even in modest objectives like trying to obtain a significant and permanent rollback of the personal income tax, the initial postwar cut. what is really quite astonishing is how many of these different measures remain. on the other hand, this is a period in which extraordinary distrust of the government is alongside acceptance. anna contest of the determination to mobilize against the asians eventually , against the soviets, i think anti-communism has to be understood in part not only has been about particular communist governments but also a deeper and abiding distrust. at one point, mccarthy was putting the army itself on
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trial. that reflected the powerful discontent with the sudden state presence in everyday life. what is quite striking is how robust things like nc 68 could be in a context in which these new international commitments well supported created ambivalence and over the course of decades finally came apart. >> thank you all very much. [applause] announcer: you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest news. >> new year's night on "q&a."
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>> when people were starving, he was having fancy parties. part of the image making where harrison was part of the party for the poor people and here was these rich people. acreson had thousands of so he was actually very wealthy as aut he was pretrade champion -- but he was per trade a champion of the poor. pamphlets, they were criticized by the democrats who said these women should be home making putting. pain --he 1840 cap campaign change presidential elections forever sunday night on c-span's "q&a." >> coming up next, author william hazel grove talks about his book, "madam president: the secret presidency of edith wilson."
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edith wilson married woodrow wilson after his first wife died of a stroke. and when he suffered a massive stroke in 1919, it was edith who guarded access to the recovering president. the president woodrow wilson house in washington, d.c. hosted this hour-long event. >> welcome everyone to the woodrow wilson house. i am thrilled to see you here. i am the interim director. before we get started, i would like to point out the portrait on the wall. that is the lady we will be talking about tonight. it is fitting we are here because her birthday was a few days ago. we are indebted to edith wilson for her forethought. without her generosity, the wilson house would not exist. she is a woman who saved everything, collected and donated it to the national trust


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