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cumberlandreds
09-20-2007, 02:07 PM
I know there are a lot of folks on RZ that are history buffs and will be watching this series. I am really looking forward to it. Burns has done a great job on the series he has put out in the past and I don't expect anything less on this one. I watch a preview of this series on DC's PBS station last week and it does look terrific. He did it from the common soldiers point of view from what they experienced and did. Below is a link that tells all about it.

http://www.pbs.org/thewar/

Ltlabner
09-20-2007, 06:19 PM
I'm not even a huge Civil War fan (relative to a number of other time periods) and I can't turn off the Bruns Civil war documentary. Of course the Baseball one is fantastic.

Thanks for posting this, I had kinda forgotten about it.

MWM
09-20-2007, 08:30 PM
There was a preview show on here in Minnesota last night with Ken Burns on site talking about his experience making this film. One of the 4 cities they focus on is up here. It looks like a really interesting way to view the experience of WWII and I've been looking forward to this for almost a year now. It's different than other documentaries on the war in that it focuses on the people's experience as opposed to the events. It will be a nice addition to my WWII collection. The British WWII documentary World at War narrated by Lawrence Olivier is still one of the best documentaries of anything I've ever seen.

cumberlandreds
09-21-2007, 08:58 AM
USA Today is giving it rave reviews. I can't wait to see it.

http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/reviews/2007-09-20-the-war-review_N.htm

GAC
09-21-2007, 09:01 AM
Thanks for the heads up. I am a huge Civil War buff and loved Burn's series. Can't wait for this one either. I will be taping it.

I still have yet to see his series on baseball. Shame on me.

MWM
09-21-2007, 01:39 PM
I think it will be fantastic, and I'm actually looking forward to the people focus of it. The only problem with it will be that it will be very US centric. I doubt you'll see a lot about the British, Canadians, French, Russians, or even Germans. I know this isn't what he's trying to accomplish with the film, but it will keep it from becoming the definitive work on the topic.

redsfanmia
09-21-2007, 07:12 PM
I am really looking forward to this, I already have my DVR set. Maybe its just me but I often think about how I would have reacted to war had I been alive. My grandfather was in the war and never talked about it and absolutely dispised the military, I have only had the priveledge of talking to one WWII vet about the war itself and his experiences and wish we had a longer more indepth conversation about it just to find out more of what the experience was like.

MWM
09-21-2007, 07:28 PM
Most veterans of the war hated the military, but they loved their comrades. My grandfather fought in guadal canal. He had an ammunition depot receive a driect hit when he was standing close by. Miraculously, the only real injury he sustained was to his hearing. Unfortunately, a few of his friends weren't so lucky and were killed when the depot exploded. He was in his early 20s at the time and never recovered emotionally from the experience. When he came home, his hair was almost completely gray where he didn't have one strand of gray before the war.

IslandRed
09-21-2007, 08:21 PM
I think it will be fantastic, and I'm actually looking forward to the people focus of it. The only problem with it will be that it will be very US centric. I doubt you'll see a lot about the British, Canadians, French, Russians, or even Germans. I know this isn't what he's trying to accomplish with the film, but it will keep it from becoming the definitive work on the topic.

That doesn't bother me, since they never claimed "definitive work" as the mission statement. It's just a narrative giving us a sense of what it was like to be an American then. Nothing more. As long as it's done well, I'll be happy with it.

Telling the story of the war from the entire world perspective is for another day, and it would be scratching the surface at ten times the length.

IslandRed
09-21-2007, 08:35 PM
A quick followup to my own post: It's apparently out of print now, but there was a radio series later sold in audiobook form called "The Home Front: 1938-1945." It was a compilation of historical radio recordings and music, and it was a terrific way for "youngsters" like me to get a sense of living through the war as a radio listener. Much recommended if you can find it.

cumberlandreds
09-22-2007, 11:32 AM
A quick followup to my own post: It's apparently out of print now, but there was a radio series later sold in audiobook form called "The Home Front: 1938-1945." It was a compilation of historical radio recordings and music, and it was a terrific way for "youngsters" like me to get a sense of living through the war as a radio listener. Much recommended if you can find it.


I would love to get that. If you or anyone else finds where you can buy please let me and everyone else know. Thanks,I never knew about this.

cumberlandreds
09-24-2007, 12:01 PM
Did any of you watch the first episode last night? If so, what did you think about it. I saw the first two hours and I had to go to bed since I have to get up at 4:30 am.
I thought it was a typical Ken Burns production. Very well done from common soldier and citizens perspective. He really brought out just how brutal and horrible the Pacific War was. Guadal Canal was the just first in long series of battles that were some of the worst the world has seen. He pulled no punches in showing graphic pictures of dead soldiers. It was also quickly brought out how the Japanese-Americans were rounded up and sent to camps for the duration of the war. I always thought this was a very shameful part of American History just as segration of blacks were too.

redsmetz
09-24-2007, 12:10 PM
Did any of you watch the first episode last night? If so, what did you think about it. I saw the first two hours and I had to go to bed since I have to get up at 4:30 am.
I thought it was a typical Ken Burns production. Very well done from common soldier and citizens perspective. He really brought out just how brutal and horrible the Pacific War was. Guadal Canal was the just first in long series of battles that were some of the worst the world has seen. He pulled no punches in showing graphic pictures of dead soldiers. It was also quickly brought out how the Japanese-Americans were rounded up and sent to camps for the duration of the war. I always thought this was a very shameful part of American History just as segration of blacks were too.

I thought it was wonderfully done. You're right, it's typically Ken Burns, but it amazes me how he can draw action out of a still photograph shot. Of course, there were several points in the narrative in which both my wife and I would comment that we've seen that shot already (mostly it was a machine gun firing from a foxhole).

Chip R
09-24-2007, 12:31 PM
I thought they told the story about the war in the Pacific very well.

BoydsOfSummer
09-24-2007, 12:52 PM
I watched it twice since I was slightly distracted the first time. Good stuff. How many "episodes" are there?

Roy Tucker
09-24-2007, 01:10 PM
I guess I'm in the minority. I thought it was merely OK. I suppose because I'm so familiar with the history.

Maybe I'll get pulled into the personal side of it more as the series goes on. I'll continue to watch.

cumberlandreds
09-24-2007, 01:16 PM
I watched it twice since I was slightly distracted the first time. Good stuff. How many "episodes" are there?

Seven. It continues through Wednesday this week and next week it runs September 30 thru October 2. 14 hours altogether.

traderumor
09-24-2007, 01:42 PM
I caught about an hour of it and found it very interesting. All I could think of the whole time I was watching it is "War is hell." My kids saw B&W and were intially dismissive, but after they started listening and watching a little bit, I saw them perk up and get interested as well.

SunDeck
09-24-2007, 02:16 PM
I watched it last night. I'm a total sucker for Burns' style, but I also really like hearing stories from people who were there. It fascinates me to hear a relatively well adjusted person recounting the hardships they went through. I mean, I really don't understand why every American soldier didn't die on the Bataan death march, yet here is this guy telling us about it, one atrocity after another. How did this man survive and go on to live a productive life afterward?

cincinnati chili
09-24-2007, 02:32 PM
I guess I'm in the minority. I thought it was merely OK. I suppose because I'm so familiar with the history.

Maybe I'll get pulled into the personal side of it more as the series goes on. I'll continue to watch.

My knowledge of the war is spotty, so I enjoyed it more than you. But I can't say I was blown away either. It must have been a major undertaking to pull this all together, but I can't say I'm as compelled as I was during the Civil War or Baseball.

My wife made the observation that these veterans look VERY young for people who must be in their 80's by now. Did Burns shoot these interviews a long time ago?

cumberlandreds
09-24-2007, 02:34 PM
I watched it last night. I'm a total sucker for Burns' style, but I also really like hearing stories from people who were there. It fascinates me to hear a relatively well adjusted person recounting the hardships they went through. I mean, I really don't understand why every American soldier didn't die on the Bataan death march, yet here is this guy telling us about it, one atrocity after another. How did this man survive and go on to live a productive life afterward?

I also like hearing first hand from the people that were there. Not some historian going over the facts. That's what makes Burns films that much more interesting. When they were going over the Bataan Death March I sat there and wondered if I could have survived that? And that was an easy no. Remarkable that anyone survived it all.

Ltlabner
09-24-2007, 02:40 PM
I totally screwed up last night. I watched the last 1/2 of Saving Private Ryan. I'm a sucker for that movie (the final sceen with the older-Ryan at the grave site always makes me cry). But I made a tatical error because then when it was time for the Ken Burns thing to come on Mrs. Ltlabner asked for more war movies/shows.

We had already made plans to spend the evening watching TV together so I couldn't just retreat to the office and watch it in there. So...I ended up watching some design show (which I don't mind normally).

Totally.screwed.up.

RedsManRick
09-24-2007, 02:43 PM
I think it's very easy to forget the feeling of vulnerability which was quite evident with Pearl Harbor and driven home with the assault on England.

It's interesting how quickly that effect of 9/11 has faded. I think a major factor in the lack of support for the current war is simply that most of us don't really feel threatened. Try to imagine today, what the national and global reaction would be if one "first-world" country invaded another with it's full military. It's virtually unfathomable for my generation.

Roy Tucker
09-24-2007, 02:45 PM
My wife made the observation that these veterans look VERY young for people who must be in their 80's by now. Did Burns shoot these interviews a long time ago?

I had the exact same thought. My dad joined the Marines at 18 in '42 and was in the Pacific in WWII and would be 83 now if he were still alive. The people they interviewed looked pretty darn good for 80+.

pedro
09-24-2007, 02:47 PM
I figure he had to have started filming this quite a while ago.

My dad is 71 and he still looks much younger than a lot of those guys.

cumberlandreds
09-24-2007, 02:49 PM
I had the exact same thought. My dad joined the Marines at 18 in '42 and was in the Pacific in WWII and would be 83 now if he were still alive. The people they interviewed looked pretty darn good for 80+.

I read in something that they started this project before 9-11 and lot of the interviews were done three or more years ago. In fact some of the one's interviewed have died. They specifically mentioned that Mr. Leopold had died just recently.

Ltlabner
09-24-2007, 02:49 PM
I think it's very easy to forget the feeling of vulnerability which was quite evident with Pearl Harbor and driven home with the assault on England.

It would be interesting (and perhaps Burns will cover it) to know the attitude of civilans regarding the war in the Pacific. With the gift of hindsight, we all know the war in the pacific was over at Midway. Sure, it took a lot of men and material to wrap things up, but there was little to no chance of the Japanese wrenching victory from the war (unless the public lost it's nerve with mounting casulties following a mainland invasion...that's for a different forum). Were people more focused on the ETO and the Pacific was an afterthought?

The outcome in Europe was far more up in the air (until Stallingrad, and definatley by D-Day). I wonder if the average "man on the street" was equally concerned about defeating the Germans and the Japaneese?

It would also be interesting to hear about any "bring the troops home" movements that might have sprung up either in the darkest hours, or perhaps as hostilities wound down. Sometimes there is a romatic view that the country was totally united and pulling in the same direction. Prior to the war there were many differing view points; appeasment, isolationism, etc. It only makes sense that there might be peace movements during war. Whether you argee with them or not (in that specific situation they made little sense, IMO) it would be interesting to know more about them from a historical perspective.

pedro
09-24-2007, 02:59 PM
I found the stuff about the u boat attacks off the east coast interesting. that seems to get brushed under the rug a lot IMO.

WMR
09-24-2007, 03:10 PM
I totally screwed up last night. I watched the last 1/2 of Saving Private Ryan. I'm a sucker for that movie (the final sceen with the older-Ryan at the grave site always makes me cry). But I made a tatical error because then when it was time for the Ken Burns thing to come on Mrs. Ltlabner asked for more war movies/shows.

We had already made plans to spend the evening watching TV together so I couldn't just retreat to the office and watch it in there. So...I ended up watching some design show (which I don't mind normally).

Totally.screwed.up.

WHIPPED!!! :laugh: :lol:

IslandRed
09-24-2007, 04:06 PM
It would also be interesting to hear about any "bring the troops home" movements that might have sprung up either in the darkest hours, or perhaps as hostilities wound down. Sometimes there is a romatic view that the country was totally united and pulling in the same direction. Prior to the war there were many differing view points; appeasment, isolationism, etc. It only makes sense that there might be peace movements during war. Whether you argee with them or not (in that specific situation they made little sense, IMO) it would be interesting to know more about them from a historical perspective.

I've done plenty of reading on WWII, and while there was plenty of disagreement on the best course of action during the preliminaries, any meaningful peace movements vanished by 12/8/41. The Japanese attacked on the 7th; Germany declared war on us on the 8th. That was pretty much that. The only anti-war sentiment I've ever heard about, once the U.S. was joined in the fight, came from people who were pure pacifists and would have opposed any war for any reason on moral grounds.

Admittedly, much of the preceding 2+ years was spent debating whether we should go fight in Europe. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor didn't necessarily change that equation. Hitler took it upon himself to decide for us, though. Although we probably would have been there sooner or later, he probably did the world a favor; not only did Germany's declaration of war settle the matter about whether we would fight, it got us mobilized in time to get into Europe before the Soviets could crack Germany and overrun the entire continent.

I think the lack of unity you're thinking of was more the case in WWI. While the country pulled together in the event, there was less agreement about our need to be there (it was often referred to as "Mr. Wilson's War" by opponents) or which side was the bad guys.

cumberlandreds
09-24-2007, 04:23 PM
I've done plenty of reading on WWII, and while there was plenty of disagreement on the best course of action during the preliminaries, any meaningful peace movements vanished by 12/8/41. The Japanese attacked on the 7th; Germany declared war on us on the 8th. That was pretty much that. The only anti-war sentiment I've ever heard about, once the U.S. was joined in the fight, came from people who were pure pacifists and would have opposed any war for any reason on moral grounds.

Admittedly, much of the preceding 2+ years was spent debating whether we should go fight in Europe. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor didn't necessarily change that equation. Hitler took it upon himself to decide for us, though. Although we probably would have been there sooner or later, he probably did the world a favor; not only did Germany's declaration of war settle the matter about whether we would fight, it got us mobilized in time to get into Europe before the Soviets could crack Germany and overrun the entire continent.

I think the lack of unity you're thinking of was more the case in WWI. While the country pulled together in the event, there was less agreement about our need to be there (it was often referred to as "Mr. Wilson's War" by opponents) or which side was the bad guys.

You are right on it IslandRed. This country was nearly 100% behind the war. There were only a handful of concientous objectors and they still served in other ways. I had an uncle that was one of those few and he had to go to Arizona and work for the Army in a silver mines. Family stories say he was given a hard time by many during that time.
This may have been the only war the US has been involved in that there wasn't some type of anti-war movement. Even the Civil War had draft riots and there were more than a few in the north that were not opposed to letting the south become their own nation.
It was definitely a different time then and one I don't think will ever see again.

Ltlabner
09-24-2007, 04:37 PM
You are right on it IslandRed. This country was nearly 100% behind the war. There were only a handful of concientous objectors and they still served in other ways. I had an uncle that was one of those few and he had to go to Arizona and work for the Army in a silver mines. Family stories say he was given a hard time by many during that time.
This may have been the only war the US has been involved in that there wasn't some type of anti-war movement. Even the Civil War had draft riots and there were more than a few in the north that were not opposed to letting the south become their own nation.
It was definitely a different time then and one I don't think will ever see again.

Obviously we can't get political here, but I agree that WWII was a much different scenario than most other millitary conflicts. By the time Hitler had broken a string of promises and overun a number of countries, and the Japaneese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, there was no logical argument that if we only negotiated more, or did such-and-so then the Axis Powers would stop bothering people. There was little room for grey when the black & white was fighting for the survival of your country/people.

That's not a common scenario for almost all conflicts.

None the less, I am looking foward to seeing this show the next time it is on.

Roy Tucker
09-24-2007, 04:58 PM
Part of Japan's strategy at the end of WWII was to incur such horrendous Allied casualties (at the expense of their military and civilian population) in order to lessen the harshness of the surrender terms.

They hoped that the US didn't have the stomach for the estimated 1/4-1 million casualties an invasion would cost. Because of this very real issue, there was considerable debate around the bomb/blockade vs. invade strategies amongst the US political and military leadership.

Neither side knew it, but the sole issue standing remaining for a Japanese surrender was that they wanted to retain the imperial governmental system and the Emperor. The sad thing was, the US realized that they needed the Emperor in a post-war Japan and were willing to allow this. The problem was, the Japanese had passed this message via the Russians who conveniently didn't tell the US. Evidently, Russia had its own agenda. Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed.

Google "Operation Downfall" (or visit your local library) for some interesting reading. The Japan mainland invasion planning was pretty far along.

pedro
09-24-2007, 05:00 PM
Part of Japan's strategy at the end of WWII was to incur such horrendous Allied casualties (at the expense of their military and civilian population) in order to lessen the harshness of the surrender terms.

They hoped that the US didn't have the stomach for the estimated 1/4-1 million casualties an invasion would cost. Because of this very real issue, there was considerable debate around the bomb/blockade vs. invade strategies amongst the US political and military leadership.

Neither side knew it, but the sole issue standing remaining for a Japanese surrender was that they wanted to retain the imperial governmental system and the Emperor. The sad thing was, the US realized that they needed the Emperor and were willing to allow this. The problem was, the Japanese had passed this message via the Russians who conveniently didn't tell the US. Evidently, Russia had its own agenda. Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed.

Google "Operation Downfall" (or visit your local library) for some interesting reading. The Japan mainland invasion planning was pretty far along.

That's really interesting Roy.

cumberlandreds
09-24-2007, 05:17 PM
Part of Japan's strategy at the end of WWII was to incur such horrendous Allied casualties (at the expense of their military and civilian population) in order to lessen the harshness of the surrender terms.

They hoped that the US didn't have the stomach for the estimated 1/4-1 million casualties an invasion would cost. Because of this very real issue, there was considerable debate around the bomb/blockade vs. invade strategies amongst the US political and military leadership.

Neither side knew it, but the sole issue standing remaining for a Japanese surrender was that they wanted to retain the imperial governmental system and the Emperor. The sad thing was, the US realized that they needed the Emperor in a post-war Japan and were willing to allow this. The problem was, the Japanese had passed this message via the Russians who conveniently didn't tell the US. Evidently, Russia had its own agenda. Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed.

Google "Operation Downfall" (or visit your local library) for some interesting reading. The Japan mainland invasion planning was pretty far along.

Here's a good read on Operation Downfall. It was set to go around November 1,1945. The low end casualty estimate was 125,000 while the high end was 1 million. This estimate was Allied only and did not figure the Japanese estimate which would have been much,much more.

http://www.ww2pacific.com/downfall.html

Chip R
09-24-2007, 05:18 PM
That is interesting, Roy.

The country was rock solid behind the war after Japan attacked. Before was another matter. The US - as England and other countries were - was isolationist. FDR knew that Germany was bad news but a lot of people in the US felt that this was just between England and Germany and the US should stay out of it. FDR virtually baited Germany to attack them so they could get into the war. But he also had to be careful about it so as to not get the isolationists - which a strong amount of Congress was - after him. In 1940 he was running for an unprecedented 3rd term. He'd already run afoul of Congress and the Supreme Court for his Court packing plan and the new agencies he had created to combat the Depression. So he had to walk a thin line and he did it masterfully. Japan was another matter and I think they were spoiling for a fight with the US.

What I've never been sure of is why Germany declared war on the US. I know they signed a treaty with Japan and Italy that if one was attacked the others had to declare war but Hitler had broken treaties before.

pedro
09-24-2007, 05:24 PM
That is interesting, Roy.

The country was rock solid behind the war after Japan attacked. Before was another matter. The US - as England and other countries were - was isolationist. FDR knew that Germany was bad news but a lot of people in the US felt that this was just between England and Germany and the US should stay out of it. FDR virtually baited Germany to attack them so they could get into the war. But he also had to be careful about it so as to not get the isolationists - which a strong amount of Congress was - after him. In 1940 he was running for an unprecedented 3rd term. He'd already run afoul of Congress and the Supreme Court for his Court packing plan and the new agencies he had created to combat the Depression. So he had to walk a thin line and he did it masterfully. Japan was another matter and I think they were spoiling for a fight with the US.

What I've never been sure of is why Germany declared war on the US. I know they signed a treaty with Japan and Italy that if one was attacked the others had to declare war but Hitler had broken treaties before.

I recently read "The Fifties" by David Halberstam and IIRC he said that early on in the war (39-40) there were a lot of folks of german decent in the midwest who were naturally distrustful of the british and as such were not very anxious to get involved in a war with germany. His assertion was that while these folks weren't pro-nazi or even pro-german but that they'd have just preferred it if teh US stayed in isolationist mode.

15fan
09-24-2007, 05:40 PM
Caught the first hour or so. Found it interesting, but had other things to get done so I couldn't let myself get too involved.

At some point, everyone needs to go to Pearl Harbor. It's one of those moments in life like getting married or having a kid. Changes the way you look at pretty much everything and how you understand (or question) the world around you.

Walking through Arlington National Cemetary is pretty powerful, too. I'd like to get to the beaches of Normandy. Not sure that I could handle a concentration camp, though.

Chip R
09-24-2007, 05:46 PM
I recently read "The Fifties" by David Halberstam and IIRC he said that early on in the war (39-40) there were a lot of folks of german decent in the midwest who were naturally distrustful of the british and as such were not very anxious to get involved in a war with germany. His assertion was that while these folks weren't pro-nazi or even pro-german but that they'd have just preferred it if teh US stayed in isolationist mode.


Great book. At the time - early to mid-30s - WWI was a recent memory. People in the US weren't real excited to get involved in what they felt was a European matter and people in England and France didn't feel the fate of the eastern European countries was worth going to war over. Remember, the British PMs had to answer to Parliament and FDR to Congress and those legislative bodies had to answer to the people. If their consituancy wanted peace, then by God those legislators better not get them into a war or else they may not be re-elected. About the only person in England who wanted to go after Hitler was Churchill and he was out of power and considered a warmonger. There needed to be some military action against the US for the country to get involved in the war and for the public to get behind the war. As tragic as Pearl Harbor was, it provided the necessary impetus for the US to get into the war.

flyer85
09-24-2007, 05:51 PM
We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France. We shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight, with growing confidence and strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.

Winston Churchill —House of Commons, 4 June 1940, following the evacuation of British and French armies from Dunkirk as the German tide swept through France.


What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may more forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their Finest Hour.'

Winston Churchill —House of Commons, 18 June 1940, following the collapse of France. Many thought Britainwould follow.

Roy Tucker
09-24-2007, 05:53 PM
What I've never been sure of is why Germany declared war on the US. I know they signed a treaty with Japan and Italy that if one was attacked the others had to declare war but Hitler had broken treaties before.

That was the reason. If you can decipher this speech, it is Hitler's rationale for declaring war. Historians agree that it was a fatal mistake. When Hitler declared war, Winston Churchill wrote in his diary “So we have won after all” (Churchill’s diary entry December 8th 1941).

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/hitler_declares_war.html

What is interesting is that Pearl Harbor would have only brought us into war with the Japanese. Like you said, Roosevelt was baiting the Germans into war, but there was mixed support at home for this war. Roosevelt would have been hard-pressed to use Pearl Harbor as a justification for declaring war on Germany. Hitler solved that problem for him.

Chip R
09-24-2007, 05:57 PM
How tough was England, though? I mean they were basically fighting Germany by themselves for all those years and even when the US go involved, they were inefficient. After Dunkirk a lot of people thought it was only going to be a matter of time before a swasticka was flying over Parliament.

redsmetz
09-24-2007, 06:00 PM
The one lady who talked about her brother joining the Marines at 17 when the Navy enlistment office was too crowded - it was sort of funny that the recruiter told him and his friend couldn't get into the Navy because their parents were married - I asked my wife if she caught was he was implying about those in the Navy, i.e., they're all a bunch of bas****). She talked about how the recruiter would always cross the street when he'd see her mother because she was always yelling at him that he stole her little boy.

My mom had four brothers who ultimately fought in the war and her older sister married her husband while he was a flight instructor in Louisiana. Three of the boys headed off almost immediately ultimately fighting in Europe. My mom recounts New Years Eve of 1941 and my grandma drinking quite a lot and just sitting on the floor crying that "they're going to take my boys". Very sad and frightening times. Mom was one of nine children, the sixth oldest. Throughout the war, I'm told, Grandma kept a National Geographic map on the wall and moved a pin as she followed press accounts on troop movements, where my uncles were.


With her sister moving to Louisiana and her four older brothers off at war, she suddenly was thrust at the age of 14 or 15 into being the oldest child. At some point, her three oldest brothers managed to meet up at least once while they were on the continent while on leave.

dabvu2498
09-24-2007, 06:06 PM
How tough was England, though? I mean they were basically fighting Germany by themselves

The Russians say hello, also.

If you ever get the chance to visit Russia, those old animosities are not dead. There are old men who still wear there medals around and fight that war all over again every day.

Roy Tucker
09-24-2007, 06:17 PM
How tough was England, though?

I'm not diminishing the courage and bravery they showed. It was epic and heroic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=belzgoxfayo

But after Dunkirk, Britain was ripe for the plucking. I doubt they could have withstood an invasion by Germany. Hitler made (another) classic error by trying to win the air war first. And if the invasion had happened, I also doubt there was very much the US could have done.

Which would have eliminated the western front for the Germans which would have very possibly made for a different ending for the German invasion of Russia. The US military and industrial might would be focused against Japan, but a Japan backed by a viable Germany. Who knows who would have won that war?

The "what if"s get pretty deep. Alternative history is an interesting topic, but events played out as they did.

IslandRed
09-24-2007, 06:20 PM
How tough was England, though? I mean they were basically fighting Germany by themselves for all those years and even when the US go involved, they were inefficient. After Dunkirk a lot of people thought it was only going to be a matter of time before a swasticka was flying over Parliament.

Ah yes, the Battle of Britain...

Before Germany could invade across the Channel, they had to knock out the RAF, otherwise the British planes would sink the transport ships. Thus the biggest and baddest air war the world had seen to that time, and Britain held on by the skin of its teeth. That's where the famous line about "never have so many owed so much to so few" came from.

After that, Germany switched to bombing raids ("The Blitz"), but Hitler's mind had already turned to the upcoming attack against Russia in summer 1941. He didn't have an ideological imperative to wipe out the British, so he settled for containing them while he went east. Unfortunately, Germany didn't land the knockout blow in Russia, and they were doomed in an extended two-front war.

Chip R
09-24-2007, 06:49 PM
I'm not diminishing the courage and bravery they showed. It was epic and heroic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=belzgoxfayo

But after Dunkirk, Britain was ripe for the plucking. I doubt they could have withstood an invasion by Germany. Hitler made (another) classic error by trying to win the air war first. And if the invasion had happened, I also doubt there was very much the US could have done.

Which would have eliminated the western front for the Germans which would have very possibly made for a different ending for the German invasion of Russia. The US military and industrial might would be focused against Japan, but a Japan backed by a viable Germany. Who knows who would have won that war?

The "what if"s get pretty deep. Alternative history is an interesting topic, but events played out as they did.


Oh, I know. It's a rhetorical question. That doesn't translate well over the Intrnets.

Hitler should have listened to Vizzini. "Never get into a land war in Asia." ;)

RFS62
09-24-2007, 07:15 PM
I have to agree with Roy. I thought it was good, but not necessarily great.

Maybe I just expect too much with all the hype and his past record of brilliant work.

SunDeck
09-24-2007, 08:47 PM
The Russians say hello, also.

If you ever get the chance to visit Russia, those old animosities are not dead. There are old men who still wear there medals around and fight that war all over again every day.

I used to work with an old German at Edelmann's who was captured by the Russians and was subjected to a particularly gruesome bit of torture on a regular basis. And he was a nobody, a lowly private. He said they just tortured him because he was German.

Tony Cloninger
09-24-2007, 09:11 PM
The battle between Germany and Russia was more on a "racial" and political ideology.....grounds.....then anything else.

The Germans really butchered the Russians......hated them like they hated the Jews.

The hate towards Communist really does not register with me.....i never understood the intense hate.......to the point that AFTER the war.....Politicians.....especially in the South ....would rather not prosecute Nazis and instead convert them into fighters against the Communist threat. The quote from 1 Southern Senator was basically ...WHY are we prosecuting these people for basically something that many of us agreed with?

Does anyone realize that about 4 of the people during the "Final Solution" conference...barely, if ever, served any jail time?
1 of them actually worked in agriculture in the US.
That's obscene.

vaticanplum
09-24-2007, 09:38 PM
The Russians say hello, also.

If you ever get the chance to visit Russia, those old animosities are not dead. There are old men who still wear there medals around and fight that war all over again every day.

My thoughts exactly. Russia fought in pure hell during that war, and I'm convinced that to this day the reason we don't know as much about is as we should is the Cold War.

I taped it, looking forward to watching the whole thing all at once during a rainy weekend (should we ever have one again).

MWM
09-24-2007, 10:09 PM
Yeah, I wasn't blown away by it either, but I still enjoyed it. I knew going in this was supposed to be about the people and the homefront. With that in mind, it delievered fairly well, IMO. But if you're looking more for the drama surrounding the events, there are plenty of other documentaries that do a better job. But I don't think that was Burns' goal here, so I don't fault him. I think this will be a great addition to the overall WWII portfolio. I also think it will get better. He's already covered a lot in the first episode. And he's already into German attacks in 1943 in episode 2 according to my program guide. That means later episodes will probably cover certain things more indepth.

Also, for a great read on the events leading up to the war, including Americans' general attitude towards involvement, I'd take a look at Threshold of War by Waldo Heinrichs. It reads kind of like a textbook, but it's probably the best comprehensive work on this topic. I enjoyed it.

And as for the "what ifs", this is a REALLY interesting topic when it comes to WWII. You could cover volumes in speculating what would have happened had Hitler not..... Ultimately, it was his battle ideology that cost them the most. His "no retreat" is the most egregious. Had the German army been able to pull back and regroup once the winter hit in Russia in 1941, they would have avoided so many of their losses. Same thing for Normandy. The stay and fight mentality coming from Hitler cost the Wermacht as much as anything else. Otherwise, I'd be tempted to say that had he kept the Americans out of the war, Germany might have won. But even without America, I don't know for sure that they would have been able to hold Russia given Hitler's stupidity. But that's all speculation.

For an EXCELENT read on some of the decisions made by all parties involved in the war in 1940-1941, read Fateful Choices by Ian Kershaw. It's an incredibly well thought out look at some key decisions and how each one of those led to the events that took place. Each decision builds on the previous one and it weaves a fascinating picture of why things turned out the way they did. This one also reads like a text at times, but it's worth it. IN all the WWII books I've read, this is definitely one of the best.

GAC
09-24-2007, 10:32 PM
I think Hitler tried to fight too many battles on too many fronts (continents). What he was able to accomplish was amazing; but that's usually how it works when you launch such coordinated and massive offensives that basically set those being attacked on the defensive (back on their heels).

But what really did him in was his war with Russia. He bit off more than he could chew so to speak, and vastly under-estimated the resolve of the Russian people. The battle (siege) of Stalingrad is simply a remarkable study.

As for the Japanese, it has never really been verified that Imperial Admiral Yamamoto made the remark "We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve". Many differly variations have been quoted.

Whether he did or not, the statement was still very prophetic. Yamamoto, who conceived, designed and promoted the Pearl harbor attack, cautioned against a war with the United States because he knew well the industrial strength, material wealth and temperament of the United States. Japan simply could not replace lost material in the way the U. S. could.

remdog
09-24-2007, 11:24 PM
I listened to a radio interview of Burns by Bob Costas last night before the show aired. It was about two hours long and I managed to catch about 1 and 1/2 hours.

Burns said that he worked on this film for over six years. The approach was to go to diverse areas of the US, announce that they were in town and invite people that had been around at the time to come in and tell their story. Only after they had interviewd hundreds (if not thousands) of people did they go back to the few individuals that the story revolves around and record their thoughts and memories. Once they did that they wove the stories through the filter of overall history in order to to reduce the story to the level where the viewer could say, 'that could have been me' or 'what if I were there? Could I have done that?' He mentioned the pilot from Minnesota. He said that it was a compelling story but if they had pulled off the freeway one exit earlier or later he tohought that they would have had a story just as compelling.

The most chilling part (to me), and I'm not sure they've told it in detail yet, was the story of the pacifist who was assigned to the infrantry because he was a crack shot but later, after being wounded, became a medic. He was from Waterbury and, in the course of treating a wounded German officer came to realize that the officer, who spoke perfect English and knew minute details about Waterbury had been slated to be the 'Adminstrator' of the area once Hitler conquered the US. Chilling. That gentleman from Waterbury died of a heart attack two days after Burns finished shooting his story. He was 92 years old.

Another thing that Burns mentioned was that he got a lot of flack from Hispanics whofelt that their contributions were unappreciated in the film. Burns went back and shot some scenes with Hispanics later and added them to the back of the episodes. (There were two Hispanic men interviewed last night, both from the Los Angeles area.) Los Angeles was not on the original list of cities and you'll notice that the cities chosen are smaller cities, not major metropolises at the time. Waterbury, Mobile, Sacramento and (I forget the name) the city in Minnesota. I think the idea was to show that most of the US was then what we think of as 'Small Town, U.S.A.' Though he denied it, I was left with the feeling that Burns was unhappy that this pressure was brought on him to include those 'additional' interviews.

Burns also mentioned that, before the release of the film he received a call from the Cannes Folm Festival requesting permission to show it this year in documentary category. When he asked, "which episode" the reply was "all of them! :) See! The French remember! :)

Rem

flyer85
09-25-2007, 11:00 AM
I think Hitler tried to fight too many battles on too many fronts (continents). What he was able to accomplish was amazing; but that's usually how it works when you launch such coordinated and massive offensives that basically set those being attacked on the defensive (back on their heels).

But what really did him in was his war with Russia. He bit off more than he could chew so to speak, and vastly under-estimated the resolve of the Russian people. The battle (siege) of Stalingrad is simply a remarkable study.

As for the Japanese, it has never really been verified that Imperial Admiral Yamamoto made the remark "We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve". Many differly variations have been quoted.

Whether he did or not, the statement was still very prophetic. Yamamoto, who conceived, designed and promoted the Pearl harbor attack, cautioned against a war with the United States because he knew well the industrial strength, material wealth and temperament of the United States. Japan simply could not replace lost material in the way the U. S. could.both Germany(over Russia) and Japan(over the US) had to achieve quick victory for any hope of success. Russia was woefully unprepared for the coming battle but Germany was not properly prepared for the logistical nightmare of attacking across the vast expanse of Russia. Hitler had a chance at victory until he redirected Guderian and the Panzers away from Moscow.


Hitler then issued an order to send Army Group Center's tanks to the north and south, temporarily halting the drive to Moscow. The German generals vehemently opposed the plan as the bulk of the Red Army was deployed near Moscow and an attack there would have a chance of winning the war

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barbarossa

Ltlabner
09-25-2007, 11:13 AM
One of Hitlers biggest mistakes, and one that is often overlooked, is squandering the assets of the Africa-Corp in the mostley unimportant North Africa area.

All of those men, tanks, artilery pieces, aircraft, supplies, frieghters, etc could have come in very handy in Russia to acheive the quick victory Germany so desperatley needed. Of course, the meddeling in the Russian campaign meant defeat, but if they had focused on specific targets, and had the additional resources from the Africa Corp troops, they could have issued a quick defeat on Russia. As such, they could have waltzed into the Russian oil fields, the middle-east, North Africa or wherever.

GAC
09-25-2007, 10:33 PM
I'm a huge Hollywood war movie buff. I've been slowly collecting DVDs as I find them. A majority of the older ones, like "Back To Bataan" and "Sands of Iwo Jima", and many others made in the 40's, while entertaining, were nothing more then propaganda films to win continuing support from the American public for the war effort.

I thought Eastwood's Flag Of Our Fathers did an excellent job of illustrating the propaganda our government utilized to get the American public behind the war. I just got Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima", but haven't had a chance to watch it yet.

I watched "The Longest Day" last week for the umpteenth time. Good movie. The thing is though - as much as they may have tried, they really did more to glorify and promote war heroes then really showing the realistic horror of war. And of course censorship codes back then probably prevented them from getting too graphic.

I give credit to today's producers like Speilberg and others, who have tried to show the realistic aspects of war, as well as the human interest aspect. Saving Private Ryan is a fantastic movie. I remember reading, when that movie premiered, where D-Day veterans came out of that movie shaken and in tears because it brought back such vivid memories when they watched that initial invasion in the movie.

How could one not get emotional if they were there?

But I don't even think that movie could really capture the horror involved. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and you're one of those guys in that LST coming up on that beach waiting for that giant door to come open, and then your platoon is suppose to flood out and storm that beach (open territory) and heavily fortified German positions.

My uncle, who just passed away last year, was stationed in the South Pacific during the war. I can remember, at family reunions, some of the stories/accounts he would relate to us in trying to get a foothld on some of those islands and root out Japanese strongholds in caves and underground tunnels.

I also remember my Mom, and many others of their generation, who had a huge hatred and mistrust for anything Japanese for many years after that war.

MWM
09-26-2007, 12:12 AM
I'm probably in the extreme minority of people who didn't really like Saving Private Ryan.

Hoosier Red
09-26-2007, 01:24 AM
Ah yes, the Battle of Britain...

Before Germany could invade across the Channel, they had to knock out the RAF, otherwise the British planes would sink the transport ships. Thus the biggest and baddest air war the world had seen to that time, and Britain held on by the skin of its teeth. That's where the famous line about "never have so many owed so much to so few" came from.

After that, Germany switched to bombing raids ("The Blitz"), but Hitler's mind had already turned to the upcoming attack against Russia in summer 1941. He didn't have an ideological imperative to wipe out the British, so he settled for containing them while he went east. Unfortunately, Germany didn't land the knockout blow in Russia, and they were doomed in an extended two-front war.

I had a discussion with my brother who is a history teacher. He told me that "The Blitz" almost worked. Britain was literally a week away(his estimate) from being forced to surrender, and Hitler just inexplicably gave up.

I'd like to hear some confirmation on that, but it makes for a fascinating what if scenario.

WMR
09-26-2007, 03:23 AM
I'm probably in the extreme minority of people who didn't really like Saving Private Ryan.

Why?

Cyclone792
09-26-2007, 03:35 AM
I found the stuff about the u boat attacks off the east coast interesting. that seems to get brushed under the rug a lot IMO.


The most chilling part (to me), and I'm not sure they've told it in detail yet, was the story of the pacifist who was assigned to the infrantry because he was a crack shot but later, after being wounded, became a medic. He was from Waterbury and, in the course of treating a wounded German officer came to realize that the officer, who spoke perfect English and knew minute details about Waterbury had been slated to be the 'Adminstrator' of the area once Hitler conquered the US. Chilling. That gentleman from Waterbury died of a heart attack two days after Burns finished shooting his story. He was 92 years old.

Like pedro above, one of the most interesting small bits of the series so far to me were the German U-boat attacks off the east coast of the US. I guess part of the reason why that bit interested me so much is because ... well, I've never really heard much about them at all. Furthermore, I've never really heard much about a possible Axis invasion and occupation of America as Rem alludes to with the story of the US medic treating a German officer. The only thing I've ever read was a supposed German project to build a long-range bomber aircraft called the Amerika Bomber, but that project was supposedly scrapped early on.

So my question to the WWII history buffs is ... was there ever any evidence of any Axis powers trying to invade and occupy America during WWII, and if something was actually found, what did those plans actually entail? It seemed that Hitler had some amazingly wild dreams of power, and it wouldn't surprise me if he dreamed of one day conquering America, but was there ever any hard, concrete evidence of Hitler or any of the other Axis powers attempting to carry out that type of dream?

On a related note, I've found that a book titled TARGET: AMERICA: Hitler's Plan to Attack the United States (http://www.amazon.com/TARGET-AMERICA-Hitlers-Attack-United/dp/0275966844) was published a few years ago. Has anybody ever read this book, and if so, what were your thoughts?

WMR
09-26-2007, 03:36 AM
There was an awesome show on the History International show called "Hitler's Secret Plot Against America" that was really good.

MWM
09-26-2007, 10:05 AM
Hitler saw the US as the final enemy of the Reich and that future leaders would have to have a battle royale with us for ultimate world supremacy. But he didn't see this happening until the 1980s or thereabouts. This was all in his sequel to Mein Kampf that was never published.

As for Germany attacking the US during WWII, there might have been talk of it, but it wasn't practicle at all. Hitler might have wanted to do it, but Germany just didn't have the ability to make it happen beyond U-boats and potential super long range bombers that Hitler became obsessed with building. Not saying they couldn't have done some damage to some of our cities, but there was no way they could have ever occupied any part of the US.

IslandRed
09-26-2007, 11:02 AM
I had a discussion with my brother who is a history teacher. He told me that "The Blitz" almost worked. Britain was literally a week away(his estimate) from being forced to surrender, and Hitler just inexplicably gave up.

There's some truth to that. Britain and Germany were both going through planes and especially pilots faster than they could be replaced, and it was questionable whether Britain could hang on long enough. But, fog of war being what it is, Germany didn't know how close things were. Hitler was also heavily influenced by Goering, who believed he could bomb the British into submission (and obtain the lion's share of glory for the Luftwaffe).

The "one week from surrender" is hyperbolic IMO -- the British wouldn't have given up that easily -- but if the RAF had been driven from the sky the end result would have been inevitable.

MWM
09-26-2007, 10:29 PM
There's some truth to that. Britain and Germany were both going through planes and especially pilots faster than they could be replaced, and it was questionable whether Britain could hang on long enough. But, fog of war being what it is, Germany didn't know how close things were. Hitler was also heavily influenced by Goering, who believed he could bomb the British into submission (and obtain the lion's share of glory for the Luftwaffe).

The "one week from surrender" is hyperbolic IMO -- the British wouldn't have given up that easily -- but if the RAF had been driven from the sky the end result would have been inevitable.


Actually, it was Hitlers' decision to start bombing London and veer away from trying to destroy the RAF that was the biggest blunder in the BoB. Had he continued to seek out the RAF's ability to defend the island, it might have worked. Of course, it might not have. Germans were losing planes at a higher rate than was the RAF.

Ltlabner
09-26-2007, 10:31 PM
Actually, it was Hitlers' decision to start bombing London and veer away from trying to destroy the RAF that was the biggest blunder in the BoB. Had he continued to seek out the RAF's ability to defend the island, it might have worked. Of course, it might not have. Germans were losing planes at a higher rate than was the RAF.

And pilots also.

IslandRed
09-26-2007, 10:48 PM
Actually, it was Hitlers' decision to start bombing London and veer away from trying to destroy the RAF that was the biggest blunder in the BoB. Had he continued to seek out the RAF's ability to defend the island, it might have worked. Of course, it might not have. Germans were losing planes at a higher rate than was the RAF.

Can't disagree. Based on what I've read, Goering lobbied Hitler hard for the change of strategy. He didn't just want to clear the way for the Army, he wanted the credit of bringing Britain to its knees for himself and the Luftwaffe.

Nugget
10-01-2007, 05:24 PM
Also notice that the History Channel has been showing Band of Brothers at the same time - that has to be one of the best WWII dramatizations - can't wait for The Pacific.

Yachtzee
10-01-2007, 09:24 PM
The most chilling part (to me), and I'm not sure they've told it in detail yet, was the story of the pacifist who was assigned to the infrantry because he was a crack shot but later, after being wounded, became a medic. He was from Waterbury and, in the course of treating a wounded German officer came to realize that the officer, who spoke perfect English and knew minute details about Waterbury had been slated to be the 'Adminstrator' of the area once Hitler conquered the US. Chilling. That gentleman from Waterbury died of a heart attack two days after Burns finished shooting his story. He was 92 years old.




I have to wonder what exactly made him "realize" the German officer was slated to be the "Administrator" of Waterbury. Could he have in fact been "Volksdeutscher" from the Waterbury area? I'd be interested to see if that question was asked. Prior to the US entering the war, as many Americans had joined Canadian or British armed forces, so to some ethnic German Americans had joined the German Army.

I know that German American loyalties were very much questioned during WWII. While my grandfather was fighting for the US in Europe, the FBI was staking out his own parents' house on Beacon St. in Mt. Washington.

My grandfather had many interesting stories to tell as he was fluent in German and, in addition to his role as a tech sergeant, he also served as an interpreter. So he had contact with not only the enemy soldiers, but also the civilian population and had an interesting perspective on things. He also had a lot of stories that you'll never see in a WWII documentary because they were incredibly raunchy.

George Anderson
10-01-2007, 11:50 PM
The Russians say hello, also.

If you ever get the chance to visit Russia, those old animosities are not dead. There are old men who still wear there medals around and fight that war all over again every day.

Your absolutely right, we visited St. Petersburg, Russia and our guide and driver although to young to be part of WWII took great pride in the fact that the Russians defeated the Nazis. "The 900 Day Seige" in which the Nazi's surrounded St. Petersburg and attempted to starve the Russians to death is a battle that they were most proud to have talked about winning.

Raisor
10-07-2007, 12:05 AM
I'm probably in the extreme minority of people who didn't really like Saving Private Ryan.

The best thing about SPR was that it spawned Band of Brothers.

Tom Hanks got interested in the subject thanks to the movie.

durl
10-08-2007, 06:09 PM
I've only watched the first episode so far. I thought it was pretty interesting. I agree with the one who said it did a good job portraying the war in the Pacific. I have an uncle that fought in the Pacific theater. He said he saw men do things he never could have imagined. But you did what you had to do to survive.

Someone asked how men survived the Phillippines. I would say sheer determination. And how did they survive it after they came back? Same answer. People of that generation, I'll argue, were far tougher mentally and physically than we are today. Handouts were nonexistent, life was hard and they dealt with it. They knew they had to work their backsides off to make a life for themselves and they did it. When you got knocked down, you picked yourself up and didn't look for someone to blame.

Hope that doesn't get too political.

Hitler didn't think an army of citizen soldiers could defeat Germany. He underestimated the resolve of the American spirit in that age.