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tv   Reel America FDR and World War II  CSPAN  August 7, 2020 3:07pm-3:41pm EDT

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this battleship or that aircraft carrier, but the human cost paid when nations decide to go to war. could the united states have avoided world war ii in the pacific? it's hard to see how that could have happened given the fact the japanese bombed pearl harbor. and many, many people, military personnel and civilians alike are going to pay the price. i think that's what we want people to take away from these exhibits. >> weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight at 8:00 eastern a look at hiroshima, nagasaki and the end of world war ii for the 75th anniversary of hiroshima. we'll show you a documentary examining the atomic bombing of hiroshima, japan, through the
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story of young survivors. or trying to make sense of the tragedy during the 50th anniversary. enjoy american history tonight and every weekend on c-span 3. world war ii began with the german invasion of poland. by the time the war ended in 1945, more than 60 million people had been killed and dozens of nations were destroyed. the ability to sustain and survive an attack had been put to the test and proven. across the globe, the decade of the 1930s at that time of great unrest as economic depression resulted in widespread despair.
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some nations fell under the control of the leaders. german dictator hitler took advantage of the financial turmoil and promised prosperity based on military expansion. in asia, the million tear dominated japan plotted a similar course. separated from these troubles by two oceans, americans hoped to avoid involvement in yet another overseas conflict. at the time, u.s. military ranked 17th in the world. who were hardly in a position to enter a world war, but some including president roosevelt, began to view events in europe with increasing alarm. >> justification of any kind, civilians including vast numbers of women and children are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air. >> at 2:50 a.m. on september 1,
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1939, president roosevelt was asleep at the white house the phone on his bed side rang. the germans had invaded poland as england and france pledged to come to the defense. roosevelt realized a larger war was at hand. america's isolationist move limited his freedom to respond. the country's neutrality act limited the sales of nuclear weapons. there was little he could do. >> the funds sufficient to manufacture additional munitions and war supplies of many kinds to be turned over to those nations which are now in actual war with aggressors. our most useful and immediate role is to act as an arsenal for them as well as for ourselves. we shall send an ever increasing number of ships, planes, tanks, guns.
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that is our purpose and our pledge. >> on december 7, 1941, debate over american involvement in world war ii ended abruptly when japan staged a surprise attack on pearl harbor, hawaii. >> the attack also -- >> yesterday, december 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the united states of
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america was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the forces of the empire of japan. i ask that the congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by japan on sunday, december 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the united states and the japanese empire. >> the attack was part of a larger military plan to seize control of oil and other critical resources in the pacific rim. japan's goal was to destroy our ability to stand in their way. four days later germany and italy who were allied with japan declared war on the united states. roosevelt had the lead for some
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time but germany posed the greatest threat to america's long time security. when hitler and mussolini set their war machines against the united states roosevelt's concerns were proven justified and his need to respond was obvious. as the united states entered the war the situation was grim. japan had destroyed much of america emphasis west coast fleet and now controlled vast areas of the pacific. in the north atlantic german submarines continued their deadly campaign against supply ships bound for great britain. and in europe german armies had invaded the soviet union. winston searchal, the prime minister of england, america's strongest ally travelered to washington to meet with roosevelt.
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together they planned a strategy to combat the axis powers. it began to pay off in june 1942 as the allies slowly stopped the expansion of the axis allied powers. the battle of midway june 1942 was a major turning point. the u.s. navy destroyed four japanese aircraft carriers and ended japan's dominance in the central pacific. this was the first step in a strategy that came to be called island hopping, an island by island advance towards the japanese homeland.
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in europe the situation also improved. british forces defeated the german, african corp in egypt. an anglo-american invasion force landed to clear the continent of axis forces and german advance was stopped in a series of hard fought battles. in 1943 the tide of the battle continued to turn in the favor of the allies as they gained greater and greater control of the fighting in both europe and pacific. the soviet union turned back the invasion and began driving hitler's armies westward. in july the allies invaded sicily. italy surrendered soon after. the battle of the atlantic, the campaign to end in the north atlantic ocean began to turn in the allies favor as well. they needed to eliminate this threat so they could begin the build up that would be needed for the invasion of northwest europe. the allies wondered when and how a second could be opened. stalin demanded that his allies strike quickly at the heart of the empire in northwestern europe to distract and draw off a portion of the german forces that were attacking the ussr. roosevelt also favored an assault on northwestern europe but realized the attack would require time for careful planning and preparation. churchill pushed for a more
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limited peripheral strategy of attack along the edges of the axis empire. not until november 1943 at the big three meeting in tehran were the allied leaders able to agree to a spring 1944 invasion. though the war was far from won the talks also included discussion of a post-war united nations organization. soviet fears of a sesurgeant germany led the russians to demand territorial adjustments in eastern europe to establish a larger post-war buffer zone between germany and the ussr. the allies also agreed they would accept nothing less than
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an unconditional surrender from the axis powers. as dawn broke on june 6, 1944, the largest amphib ws invasion force in history masked in the waters of the english channel. the long awaited invasion of northwest europe a second front was under way. the massive invasion had taken years to organize. hundreds of thousands of men and millions of tons of weapons and equipment were transported across the ocean to britain. the invasion force consisted sheafly of britains, americans and canadians. fdr monitored reports from the front. that evening he delivered a statement to the american people. it took the form of a prayer which he read on national radio. >> almighty god, our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon the mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, our civilization and to set free a suffering humanity.
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lead them straight and true. give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastedness in their faith. >> the normandy invagds left hitler's armies trapped in a vice. the allies began to tighten the vice. by 1945 time was running outfor the german and japanese forces. the year before the forces had pushed deep into japan's pacific empire by autumn of 1944 the liberation of the philippines was under way and american bombers had begun a devastating fire bombing campaign against japanese cities. in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war marines landed on the island. on the morning of april 12, 1945 as world war ii entered its
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2,051 an exhausted president awoke at his cottage in georgia. worn down by heart disease and the stresses of leadership he'd gone there for a brief vacation. at 1:00 p.m. he was studying papers and sit frg a portrait paper when he suddenly complained of a terrific headache. seconds later he collapsed. within hours the commander and chief was dead of a massive struck. less than a month later hitler committed suicide in his berlin bunker. four months later on september 2nd after suffering atomic bomb strikes the war formerly ended when japan surrendered in a ceremony aboard the uss missouri in tokyo bay. world war ii the most important and most terrible event of 20th century was over. >> we are now in this war.
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we're all in it, all the way. every single man, woman and child with a partner and the most tremendous undertaking of our american history. we must share together the bad news and the good news, the defeats and the victories, the changing fortunes of war. >> to fight a global war the united states needed to mobilize its entire population among what became known as the homefront.
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the government turned to ordinary citizens and leaders of large corporations to help lead the mobilization effort. the response was astounding. american wartime production produced hoar than 299,000 aircraft, 639,000 jeeps, 88,000 tanks, 1,500 naval vessels. by 1945 the united states was producing more than 16% of all allied munitions and 40% of the world's weapons. the american public was asked to conserve scarce goods for military use. products ranging from gasoline to sugar were lessened, civilians drove less, ate meat less and often drank less coffee. children organized scrap drives to salvage rubber and metal from warring industries while their parents planted victory gardens and purchased millions of dollars worth of war bonds. millions of americans began paying federal taxes for the
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first time and the government put limits on wages, prices and rents. the president and mrs. roosevelt were at the forefront of this massive mobilization effort focusing the attention on the goals of total victory. committed the white house to wartime rationing. the couple's four sons all served in america's military. during the war mrs. roosevelt contended the ceaseless activism that had long marked her as america's most public first lady. she was outspoken in her support for racial and gender equality. she championed the tuskegee airman, womens admission into the armed services and the right of workers to organize. in 1942 she visited england to offer support to america's ally and returned with detailed reports for fdr. a year later she conducted a 25,000 mile tour of the south pacific as it representative of the american red cross. the first lady traveled in
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military transports putting herself at risk to visit hospitals, military camps and red cross clubs. during her trip she saw an estimated 400,000 american service men and women. the need for war workers created economic opportunities for women and minorities and advanced the cause of these two major social movements. after being threatened by black leaders with a march on washington fdr moved to confront racial discrimination by issuing executive order 8802 which barred racial disi'mination in war plants. to enforce it he created the fair employment practices commission. many women who during the war found employment opportunities traditionally held by men were reluctant to return to the traditional role of homemaker. the opportunities opened for african-americans and women during the war contributed to the emergence of the post-war civil rights and womens rights movements. >> grant us victory over -- grant us a common trait that man
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shall know bread and peace, justice and righteousness, freedom and security, an equal opportunity and an equal chance to do his best not only in our own lands but throughout the world. and in that faith let us march toward the clean world our hands can make. >> world war ii was the most important and most terrible event of the 20th century. it profoundly changed global economics, politic and socialrentialships and continues to influence the world we live in today.
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in the uncertain weeks after pearl harbor as japanese forces expanded dramatically across the pacific and southeast asia many americans particularly those along the pacific coast feared enemy attack and saw danger in every corner. these wartime fears combined with racial prejudice led to a great injustice. early in 1942 civilian and military leaders on the west coast complained that members of the region's large japanese-american community might be working with the japanese military to plan acts of sabotage. though no serious evidence of this existed they pushed the roosevelt administration for action. it led to the forced relocation of more than 110,000 japanese americans living on the west coast.
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they were confined to internment camps operated by the military. more than two thirds of these people were native born american citizens. abruptly forced to abandon or sell their homes and businesses many lost everything that they owned. similar wartime fears led canada and nations throughout latin america to adopt comparable expulsion measures against residents of japanese ancestry. yet they remained loyal and some japanese americans from the camps served in the military where they distinguished themselves in extraordinary valor and combat. the supreme court upheld the president's order but in the 1980s the united states congress acknowledged this violation of civil liberties of americans and voted to provide some compensation to individuals who were confined to the camps.
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the supreme court also vacated its earlier wartime rulings. during world war ii millions of americans took up arms to fight totalitarianism and racism abroad. yet 1941 america was a deeply racist nation and the military like many other american institutions was segregated. throughout the war farmers worked to end racial discrimination in the military. with congress largely controlled by southern democrats who staunchly supported racial separation fdr felt he could not broadly challenge military segregation, yet world war ii provided fdr opportunities to take action against discrimination without having to go to congress and create an environment in which minorities could advance in the military. during the war blacks were admitted to the marine corps for the first time and the army air corp ended its ban on black pilots. nearly 1,000 black pilots were trained in alabama's tuskegee institute. many of the tuskegee airmen eventually served in combat in europe and north africa in the all black 99th pursuit squadron. none of the bombers escorted by
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the unit was ever lost to enemy fire. >> to fly war planes of a unit which was then a unit -- the 99th pursuit squadron. >> americans of mexican, latino and asian descent were also given unprecedented opportunities in the nation's military. >> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to republic for which it stands one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all. >> long before america entered
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the conflict fdr began to frame world war ii in more universal terms as a struggle to defend freedom around the world. fdr's most enduring expression of this concept came january 6th, 1941 message to congress. in the future days he declared we look forward to a world found said on four essential human freedoms. >> first it's freedom of speech and expression everywhere then world. the second is freedom of every person who worships god in his own way everywhere in the world. the third is freedom from want which translated in the world terms means economic understandings which we'll secure to every nation a healthy, peacetime life for its inhabitants everywhere in the
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world. the fourth is freedom from fear which translated in the world terms means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position who will commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor anywhere in the world. during the final year of the war in europe allied forces began overrunning camps used by nazi germany to carry out its final solution. the final solution was rooted in
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nazi ideology which held that jews were inferior beings who by their very existence threatened the nazi concept of racial purity. this systematic effort by the nazi state resulted in the murder of approximately 6 million jews. the nazi also murdered millions of political dissidents, homosexuals, physically and mentally handicapped people and others they considered be undesirable. immediately after coming to power adolph hitler began to persecution of the jewish population. but american immigration laws were complicated and often harshly administered. germany's armed expansion during the late 1930s and world war ii led to enormous growth in german controlled territory that put vast numbers of european jews under german control and greatly
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diminished their prus pects for escape to safety. with the outbreak of war persecution escalated to mass murder beginning in eastern europe and eventually to millions of jews across the entire continent. what became known as the final solution to the jewish question was to maximize killing and destroy every jew the nazis could find. >> without regard to human life is the german -- how otherwise can we explain the reports of sending numberless jewish people from berlin and other cities
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packed like cattle into trains with their destination either poland or some part of occupied russia. >> the scale and depravity of the final solution was staggering. reports of mass killings began reaching the allies almost as soon as they happened. the response of president roosevelt and others within the american government and society has sparked heated scholarly argument in recent decades. historians debate whether fdr and other american decision makers might have done more to admit jewish refugees and whether they might have undertaken policies including the bombing of the rails to auschwitz that could have saved lives. on october 11, 1939 economist alexander sacks delivered a historic letter at the white house.
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in the letter the distinguished physicist described the potential for an atomic weapon and warned that nuclear research was under way in germany. roosevelt responded to einstein's letter by authorizing the formation of a committee to study whether an atomic weapon was feasible. later he approved the creation of the manhattan project. at a conference in september 1944 fdr and winston churchill agreed to keep the bomb project secret from soviet leader joseph stalin. what neither knew is russian spies were keeping stalin informed of its progress. a bomb was not ready for testing until after fdr's death and
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germany's surrender. in july 1945 president harry s. truman authorized the use of atomic bombs against japan. in august bombs were dropped on cities of hiroshima and nagasaki. the most important legacy
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franklin roosevelt left the world was the united nations organization. from the earliest days of world war ii fdr worked to create a post-war organization dedicated to global cooperation and peace through collective security. on january 1, 1942, he welcomed representatives of 24 allied nations to the white house to sign a declaration pledging each to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom and preserve human rights and justice. fdr called this wartime coalition the united nations and later led efforts to expand it into a post-war international organization. >> i'm returning from this trip that took me so far afresh and
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inspired with a firm belief we have made a good start on the road to a world of peace. and i am confident that the congress and the american people will accept the results of this conference as the beginnings of a permanent structure of peace upon which we can begin to build under god a better world in which our children and grandchildren, yours and mine, the children and grandchildren of the whole world must live and can live. and that, my friends, is the only message i can give you. and i know that all of you are feeling it today and are going to feel it in the future. >> roosevelt imagined an
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organization of nation dedicated to equality and mutual security with the institution's backbone being the four policemen. the united states, great britain, the soviet union and china who would enforce the peace. fdr died days before he was to address the opening session of the conference that created the united nations. on the day before his death he labored over a speech about the post-war world. the mere conquest of our enemies is not enough, he wrote. the ability of all peoples, of all kinds to live together and work together in the same world at peace. ♪
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"american history tv" exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend. this weekend three days after the bombing of hiroshima and on "american history tv" and washington journal, live at 9:00 a.m. eastern, we'll look back a at how the bombings ended world war ii and the decades ahead. with richard frank, the end of
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the imperial empire. they'll take your call asks tweets. and at 4:00 p.m. eastern, the 1946 film "effects of the atomic bm" and "a thousand cranes." then on the presidency, the 75th anniversary of the conference where the new president harry truman informed churchill of england and stalin of the soviet union about the new superweapon. exploring the american story. watch "american history tv" this weekend on c-span 3. a short time ago an american airplane dropped one bomb on hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the end. that bomb has m


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