On her last day as First Lady, Betty Ford jumped on the Cabinet Room table in the White House and started dancing; ca. 1977
“Hello Democrats! Welcome to Chicago” 1968, police guarding the Democratic National Convention from nearby protesters
President Lyndon B. Johnson holds his dog “Her” by the ears as his other dog “Him” looks on, the White House lawns; April 27, 1964
Him and Her, the most well known of the President Johnson’s dogs, were registered beagles born on June 27, 1963. The President frequently played with the dogs and was often photographed with them. In 1964, President Johnson raised the ire of many when he lifted Him by his ears while greeting a group on the White House lawn.
Her died at the White House in November 1964, after she swallowed a stone. Him died in June 1966, when he was hit by a car while chasing a squirrel on the White House. (Source)
Top scientists at ground zero soon after the world’s first nuclear explosion; ca. July 1945
Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves inspect the melted remnants of the 100-foot steel tower that held the Trinity bomb. Ensuring that the testing of a bomb with unknown strength would remain completely secret, the government chose a location that was so remote they had to import their water from over 150 miles away.
Jimmy Hoffa as he appeared before a Senate hearing. August 22, 1957, Washington, DC.
The story is Jimmy was getting grilled by Bobby Kennedy who was the chief counsel of the 1957–59 Senate Labor Rackets Committee under chairman John L. McClellan. On this day in 1964, Hoffa, then Teamsters Union President, was sentenced to five years in federal prison for defrauding his union’s pension fund. In 1971, President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence.
A policeman rips the American flag away from 5-year-old Anthony Quinn, having already confiscated his ‘No More Police Brutality’ sign. Jackson, Mississippi; ca. 1965
In the South during the civil rights movement, the American flag was a potent symbol of support for racial integration (and support for federal law). Southerners who believed in racial segregation displayed Confederate flags instead. People were pulled from their cars by policemen and beaten simply for displaying an American flag on their license plates. So the simple act of a small child carrying an American flag represented defiance of Mississippi law and custom.
Anthony and his mother were arrested and hauled off to jail, which was a cattle stockade at the county fairground, since the city jails were already full of protesters. The Quinn protest was organized by COFO (Council of Federated Organizations), an umbrella organization responsible for most civil rights activities in the state. Today Anthony lives in Florida. I believe he is a lawyer. His mother died recently, and when Patrolman Kohler died a number of years ago, his obituary in the Jackson Daily News referred to this photograph and mentioned how Kohler regretted that moment ‘for the rest of his life’.”
There were 5 living former presidents during the onset of the Civil War:
There were five former living presidents in 1860: Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan. They were #8, #10, #13, #14, and #15. Lincoln is #16.
Two die in 1862: Van Buren and Tyler, the former having been born in 1782 and the latter in 1790.
Van Buren was a one-term president who served 1837-1841. He did not support the annexation of Texas before or after his presidency, in large part due to the worry about territorial expansion and slavery. In the 1848 election, he headed a political splinter group known as the Free Soilers, who campaigned primarily on ending the spread of slavery into the West. The Free Soil party lost in 1848, and thus Van Buren stepped out of politics. By Lincoln’s election in 1860, he had written his memoirs and traveled the world. He supported Lincoln’s decision to resist secession with force. Considering his anti-annexation and Free Soil beliefs, one can argue that he believed the war was necessary to stop the spread of slavery out West. He hadn’t voted for Lincoln, but he didn’t believe that the sitting president (Buchanan) had the proper ideas in responding to secession. [Fun fact: he died just after Union forces captured New Orleans and as the Confederacy crossed the Potomac, causing Union troops to rush to D.C. to protect it.] Source: The Miller Center.
Tyler was also a one-term president. He had been the Vice President, but William Henry Harrison died in office in 1841 from pneumonia (and possibly an overdose of one of the medicines given to him). Tyler served from 1841-1845. He was a Whig when in the White House, but ultimately the party rejected him because he was so pro-state’s-rights, and he removed himself from politics. He remained reclusive in a Virginia plantation he named “Sherwood Forest” (because he’d been outlawed by his party; he thought himself like Robin Hood). When the Civil War seemed eminent, he re-appeared and headed the Virginia Peace Convention. This convention in 1861 after seven states had already seceded. It was intended to negotiate a way to avoid war. Tyler was chosen to represent Virginia, which was a slave-holding “swing state,” to speak to President Buchanan about the matter. Tyler had then suggested the Peace Convention. It did not work, because everyone disagreed on what parts of slavery to limit and where, and, even though they sent a proposed bill to Congress, the Senate voted against it. Afterward, Tyler was chosen again to represent Virginia – this time to their secession convention. He chose secession. He did not believe much violence would occur. He joined the Provisional Confederate Congress and was then elected to their House. He was on his way to the opening sessions of the Confederate Congress in early 1862 when he fell ill and collapsed. He lingered a week then died. Sources: John Tyler, Champion of the Old South and John Tyler: The Accidental President.
The other three all lived through the Civil War: Millard Fillmore dies in 1874, Franklin Pierce dies in 1869, and James Buchanan dies in 1868.
Fillmore was also a one-term president. He served from 1850-1853. Like Tyler, he had been Vice President, but his President (Zachary Taylor) had died in office (he died of digestive troubles; there’s a lot of myth and conspiracy about it). Unlike Van Buren, Fillmore did not oppose the spread of slavery into the West, and he supported the Compromise of 1850 (which may have defused tensions briefly, but it certainly upheld some of the nastier parts of slavery and encouraged others, such as the Fugitive Slave Act). When Fillmore left the presidency, he joined the Know Nothing, or American, Party because he refused to join the Republican party (which was the party of Lincoln and other anti-slavery folks). To be clear, the Know Nothing or American Party is in strong opposition to immigration and Catholicism; it’s pretty much their entire platform. You may remember this party from Gangs of New York – they were the men with the blue bands on their hats and waists. In 1856, he was the Know Nothing presidential candidate, and he garnered about 21% of the popular vote which put him in third. During the Civil War, Fillmore remained in New York, but did not support Lincoln, though he became a “staunch Unionist.” He led a home-guard militia of men over 45 who had not gone into combat (called the Union Continentals) to protect the area if the Confederates ever came that north. After the War, Fillmore supported Andrew Johnson’s lenient measures towards the South. Source: The White House and The Miller Center. Here’s an image of him as a Union Continental in the Civil War. You can read about his experiences in the Civil War as the Union Continental commander here in a free ebook.
Pierce was yet another one-term president. He served from 1853-1857. He is considered one of the worst presidents in American history. Why? Well, a number of reasons. The first is the less well known Ostend Manifesto, which basically was a document suggesting that the U.S. buy Cuba from Spain and, if Spain refused to sell, the U.S. should go to war. The second was and still is the most controversial: he supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which further divided the country as they sought to figure out slavery in the West. His acquisition of southwestern land for railroads aggravated the situation even more, as settlers rushed out west and fell into conflict with each other almost immediately over the issue of slavery. These all turned much of America against Pierce while he was in office. When he left the presidency in 1857, he did what many other former presidents do and traveled abroad. He returned to America in 1859. Now realize that Pierce’s Secretary of War is Jefferson Davis, who would become the Confederacy’s President. Pierce had been persuaded by Davis several times when he was president. Now that the war itself was starting, he continued correspondence with Davis. Some of their letters were leaked during the war, which further alienated him from many. Throughout the Civil War, Pierce rejected Lincoln (they were in opposing parties, Pierce = Democrat, Lincoln = Republican), but he did support the Union. Still, he openly and repeatedly blamed the war on Lincoln, and, this combined with his letters to Davis, cost him dearly. Apparently, when he died, little was said about him or his passing. Sources: The White House, The Miller Center, and here’s one of his letters to Davis in 1861.
And finally, Buchanan, who was ALSO a one-term president, serving between 1857-1861. So much has been written about his views on the Civil War, it’s hard not to write a book about it. I’ll be short with him, because you can easily find information about his views. In summary, Buchanan was the president when the storm of the Civil War was brewing. If Pierce knew hell was on the horizon, then Buchanan was feeling heat, and Lincoln was the one who roasted. Buchanan did his best to deal with the upcoming conflict, but he probably aggravated matters. He was of the opinion that slavery was a state’s (and territory’s) issue, not federal, and they should decide if slavery would be present. He was the president during the Dred Scott decision, which said that slaves had no rights under the Constitution and the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. Buchanan had encouraged a Northern Supreme Court justice to join in opinion with the Southern ones, and thus, the Dred Scott decision came to be. He urged all American citizens to follow the decision in his Inaugural Address. Then, of course, there was Bleeding Kansas, a situation which he also aggravated by endorsing a proslavery constitution from the state. During the 1860 election, which he didn’t run in as he had promised, things fell apart.
As The Miller Center explains: “Buchanan, ever conciliatory, tried not to alienate anyone—either secessionist or unionist—but pleased no one. The outgoing President seemed at a loss to take any action against the South, which only emboldened the new Confederacy. All Southerners in his cabinet resigned. Secretary of State Lewis Cass quit too, disgusted with Buchanan’s inaction in the crisis. The President did little, fearful of provoking the South; yet he angered the South by refusing to relinquish Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina. While his inaction averted war for the time being, it also enabled the new Confederate government to begin operations. Buchanan seemed eager to get out of the White House before the real disasters ensued.”
Buchanan encountered serious criticism after he left office. His portrait had to be removed from the White House because vandals kept damaging it, and posters appeared in numerous places with caricatures of him in a hangman’s noose with the caption “Judas” and sometimes “Traitor.” He tried to express his support for the Union cause, but many did not believe him (which makes sense, because there’s also evidence he supported the Confederacy). He published a book after the war blaming it on Republicans and abolitionists. Much like Tyler, he too became a recluse, rarely seeing anyone. He died in 1868 of respiratory failure, leaving behind a complicated legacy. Sources: The Miller Center
Hobby Lobby SCOTUS Ruling:
The Supreme Court ruling on BURWELL, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL. v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC. has now opened up the precedent (ignoring how narrowly tailored the ruling was to only contraception) that under the RFRA, even if its a compelling government interest, the state cannot mandate any firm with sincere religious beliefs to carry out a requirement, so long as the government can pick up the slack? It seems like the least restrictive means will always be making the government do it instead and not restrict at all anyone’s religious beliefs.
On page 46 of the opinion, Alito writes: “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs. Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them.”
This certainly leaves open the possibility that the Court could rule differently on the “least restrictive means” issue in the future, but his language in section V-B, which discusses the “least restrictive means” test, seems to indicate that it is a difficult standard to pass. On page 41 of the opinion, he indicates that “the most straightforward way of [meeting the least restrictive means test] would be for the Government to assume the cost.” He also says that “HHS has not shown … that this is not a viable alternative.” This seems to indicate that if such a challenge were to come up regarding vaccination or blood transfusions, or whatever else, the burden would be on the Department of Health and Human Services to show that it would be impractical for the Government to cover the cost. That would be quite the burden for the Government to prove.
Ginsberg seems to agree with that reading in her dissent. On page 29 on the dissent, she writes, “And where is the stopping point to the ‘let the government pay’ alternative? Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage, … or according women equal pay for substantially similar work…? Does it rank as a less restrictive alternative to require the government to provide the money or benefit to which the employer has a religion-based objection?” In addition to indicating that the Court’s logic could prove problematic in the future, she asserts that it is flawed at present, saying, “In sum, in view of what Congress sought to accomplish, i.e., comprehensive preventive care for women furnished through employer-based health plans, none of the proffered alternatives would satisfactorily serve the compelling interests to which Congress responded.”
I agree with Justice Ginsberg on many points here, especially the last few pages of her dissent. Justice Alito attempts to narrow his ruling as much as possible, but leaves a lot of questions unanswered as to the basis for his narrow ruling. To me, the most compelling arguments come from sections III-4 and IV (pages 27-35) of Ginsberg’s dissent. She basically asserts that the Court’s ruling has much broader implications than it intends, and poses quite a few questions about the basis for the narrow ruling.
I am also inclined to agree with her reasoning that the Court should have no business in determining which religious views are legitimate and which are not, and that religious exemptions from generally applicable law should be reserved for groups that are organized “for a religious purpose” and/or “engaged primarily in carrying out that religious purpose”.
The Supreme Court ruling can be found here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf
Justice Ginsburg’s dissent here: http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/231974154
RB-36H Peacemaker of the 72nd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Heavy (51-13741) flying over San Francisco Bay; ca.1954
The original concept was intended to bomb Germany from bases in North America because the US thought that Britain would fall to the Nazis. (Source)
A Convair B-36H sitting next to a B-29 Superfortress, for scale:
Comedian and singer Ernest Hare expressing his thoughts on Prohibition; ca. 1920
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the introduction of alcohol prohibition and its subsequent enforcement in law was a hotly-debated issue. Prohibition supporters, called drys, presented it as a victory for public morals and health.
First Lady Grace Coolidge (1879-1957) with the Coolidge family’s pet raccoon, a gift from the town of Peru, Mississippi
Bill Slim and the “Forgotten Army”:
William Slim was a lower middle class man from Bristol who rose from being a temporary NCO during WWI to getting a commission into the Indian Army during the 20’s to commanding his very own brigade during the early years of WWII until finally arising to becoming a division commander, corps commander and ultimately, army general.
In 1942, Bill Slim became commander of the Burcorps in Burma. The Japanese appeared to be unstoppable and soon enough, what had started as defensive campaign turned into the longest retreat in British military history. The British and Indian soldiers in Burma were under-equipped, under-trained, and suffered from serious moral issues. They kept succumbing not only to battle wounds but also tropical diseases and had no way to escape but to walk with their two feet all the way back to India. Imagine being fatigued, not allowed to sleep as you tried to make your way to India as soon as possible before the Japanese could cut your escape route off. Imagine how much you fear to be surrounded by the enemy who seemed to come out of nowhere and infiltrated through your lines. But imagine how much of a difference the spoken word can have. Imagine how you’d feel if you in the middle of all this tropical hell, you were spoken to by a superior in a caring, straight forward and casual way. If you were an Indian soldier, he’d speak to you in your language. Same thing if you were a Gurkha. The British army walked over a 1000 miles back to India only to be received as cowards and as a burden by the British garrison in Assam, India.
Over the next two years, these men as well as completely new divisions and outfits would be trained by Bill Slim in India. They would receive what they didn’t receive in pre-war Burma: Training in jungle warfare. They would learn not to fear the enemy; the enemy was supposed to fear them. if they were being surrounded by the enemy, they were supposed to consider the enemy as being the one surrounded. Never again would there be any frontal attacks, instead it was outflanking through the jungle that was on the schedule. Later training also emphasized co-operation between air support, tanks and infantry. Bill Slim even revolutionized the concept of air drops, using that as a means to supply surrounded units in his tactic of “admin boxes”. The men were given new uniforms, new equipment, new rations and whatever else they needed, yet they were still under supplied. The war in India and Burma was truly forgotten in the home front and the 14th Army, which Bill would establish and build up from scratch, came to be known as “The Forgotten Army”. But this forgotten army was truly a multi-national one. From the ordinary British soldier from the British isles to the Indian soldiers from all over India to the Gurkhas from Nepal and Africans from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rhodesia, Kenya, Ghana, Gambia, Uganda, Nyasaland and Tanganyika. All these men would learn to fight, suffer and die next to each other in a campaign that few people cared about. But all of them had one thing in common: They all respected and cared for their general. Bill Slim knew what they had to go through because he often visited the front line and always had a chat with a soldier or two whenever he could. He knew that if he could bring up morale, perhaps the ordinary soldiers could overcome their shortage of everything else. And boy, did they.
Starting with Arakan in 1944, the men under Bill Slim fought and defeated the Japanese. The Japanese had expected an easy victory, expecting the same soldiers they had fought in Burma but this would not be the case. They were met by men who knew their tactics, who could outflank them and who were not afraid of being surrounded by them. Arakan was followed by the battles of Imphal and Kohima in Assam, India which led to the destruction of a large part of the Japanese forces built up in Burma. Operation U-Go, the Japanese invasion of India was stopped in its track and the Japanese were beaten back after ferocious fighting. The 14th Army chased the Japanese to the Chindwin in Burma where they stopped in preparation for the new Burma campaign. Bill Slim would finally get his revenge for the retreat two years ago. In a brilliant battle plan named Operation Extended Capital (which had to be modified from the original Operation Capital due to the changes in circumstances), he used surprise, ruse, timing and maneuver into something which became his masterpiece. One of his corps was to take Meiktila, crossing the Irrawady in the south while the other corps would cross the Irrawady in front of Mandalay to make it seem like they were the main attack. By taking Meiktila, the 14th Army would be on the flank of the Japanese and this would mean the end of operations there. This plan succeeded beyond belief and after that, the road to Rangoon was practically open.
Bill Slim was in many ways the most down to earth general in WWII. He knew and understood the ordinary soldier because he knew where most of them came from. He had personally spent time amongst workers and miners in Bristol as well as worked in a poverty stricken school where he first got his insight into a different world. He never made himself out as being anything but Bill Slim, treating everyone with kindness, humor and patience. He rarely got angry and he was incredibly self-deprecating, blaming all mistakes on him and him alone. Not even in his post-war memoir did he choose to say anything bad about anyone, even those who hated him. He loathed publicity and remained as modest as he could be. He was beloved by his men and never cared about gaining glory or recognition. Despite this, Bill Slim was given the title of Field Marshal, was knighted several times, received the title of “Viscount Slim” as well as the Distinguished Service Order. But in the very end, it wasn’t the titles, the knighthoods or the medals which became his most important title. In the very end, it was the affectionate nickname of “Uncle Bill” given to him by his men which held the most truth to it.
Personally, there is something in this story which not only is inspirational but also seems like a life lesson. Bill Slim was a modest, simple man who found himself in an extraordinary situation after the other. But he never gave up and realized that if you go that extra mile, the people who look up to you will as well. There is also an element of unfairness in this as well, seeing as how the 14th Army sacrificed so much only to live forever in the shadow of all the other theatres of war in WWII. The fact that the 14th Army didn’t even receive a proper welcome home or a parade is inexcusable, according to me.
The “Nixon Madman Theory”
Essentially, a key tenet of Nixon’s foreign policy was to make the leaders of communist countries think that he was unstable and prone to use nuclear force. What ensued in his first year in office in 1969 is one of the most fascinating episodes of the Cold War because it really highlights the growing split between the USSR and China and how Nixon tried to drive a wedge between them in order to strengthen the United States’ relative power and influence.
During the buildup to the Vietnam war after the Cuban missile crisis, and prior to Nixon taking office in 1969, leaders in the US and USSR would generally not explicitly threaten each other for fear of stoking another nuclear crisis. Nixon believed that the only way to end the war in Vietnam was to get North Vietnam and China to back down in the face of nuclear extinction, as the threat of nuclear escalation is what brought about a ceasefire during the Korean War. After secret peace talks in Paris to end the war stalled in the first few months of his presidency, Nixon went full ape. If Teddy Roosevelt believed that the United States should speak softly and carry a big stick, Nixon believed the United States should yell incoherently and flail its stick around.
In October 1969, Nixon issued a secret high level alert to his top military brass. He told them to be on standby to use nuclear force against North Vietnam and possibly the USSR and to scramble planes equipped with nuclear bombs to fly near Soviet airspace. This was kept secret from the American public, but was made loud enough so Soviet intelligence would pick up on it. At the time, Nixon wanted to escalate the war in Vietnam by expanding the bombing campaign into the North, which was not popular with the American public and would have likely resulted in fully-fledged war with China. So Nixon wanted the North Vietnamese, the Chinese and the Soviets to think that he would do anything to win the war in Vietnam without actually having to do anything. It was a huge gamble.
But let’s not forget that in the immediate months prior to Nixon’s secret order, the USSR and China were in an undeclared military conflict with each other over a border dispute. Relations between the two communist powers had soured since 1960, which Nixon sought to capitalize on.
Prior to Nixon issuing the nuclear alert, the USSR was considering a preemptive, possibly nuclear attack on China’s nuclear arsenal. The USSR worried that if the United States escalated the Vietnam war with nuclear force and if China responded with nuclear force too, then they would get dragged into a nuclear war with them as well. When a KGB officer approached an American diplomat about the possibility of the USSR striking China’s arsenal and how the US would respond – and allegedly even asked if the US would collaborate with the USSR to weaken China – Nixon made it very clear that the US would not tolerate an attack on its enemy by its other enemy.
But while Nixon intended the nuclear alert to influence events in Vietnam in his favor, some evidence from recently declassified Cold War documents suggest that the USSR mistakenly believed that the alert was meant to warn the USSR against attacking China’s nuclear arsenal.
Nixon did want to exploit the soured relations between the USSR and China in order to have leverage over the Soviets, and the nuclear alert had the unintentional effect of hinting that the US would side with China should a nuclear conflict arise between them and the USSR. This also unintentionally played into Nixon’s policy of opening up to China. By opening up to China, the US would no longer be dealing with one communist power, but rather two competing communist powers that were at odds with each other.
The nuclear alert issued in October 1969 did nothing to improve the situation in Vietnam (and arguably made things worse). While it did frighten the Soviets, they did ultimately interpret it as a bluff. Still, it indicated to the Chinese that Nixon would give them leverage over the USSR. It set the stage for rapprochement with China, which culminated in Nixon’s monumental 1972 visit to the communist country and the subsequent improvement of Sino-American relations. And of course, the visit laid the foundation for the deepening of economic ties between the two nations.
The Process of Denazification:
Denazification policies were different at different points in time, and there were also major differences between policies in the four occupation zones.
In general terms, the most ‘intense’ denazification was conducted by the Americans, as these were the most wide-ranging and extended, and formally focused around particular roles rather than individual guilt. The policies of the British were less extensive, focusing on ‘high’ level offenders, and British policies in their zone moved more rapidly toward economic reconstruction given British economic problems and the nature of their occupation zone as it contained the major industrial area of Germany. French denazification was interesting as it was much more individually-focused – investigations and trials were largely on the basis of evidence against the individual rather than because they had a particular job between 1933-45. Soviet denazification was a mix of these approaches – much more politicized but also quite practical at times as Soviet authorities would overlook the past of someone if they were practically useful to them.
Overall, there was a general Allied commitment to denazification through the Potsdam agreements, and several pieces of Allied Control Council legislation dealt with the matter, but the actual implementation of it left up to zonal authorities.
For the United States, denazification was a key policy for the future Germany. Both major ‘sides’ in pre-surrender planning debates (Morgenthau and his harsh peace ideas, cf. Stimson et. al. more moderate plans) stressed the necessity of denazification in some form, as it was seen as necessary to remove the influence of Nazism and ‘German militarism’ from German society so that there would be no resurgence. The major American military policy document JCS 1067 set out quite stringent requirements [Directive to Commander-in-Chief of United States Forces of Occupation Regarding the Military Government of Germany; April 1945 (JCS 1067)]
“It should be brought home to the Germans that Germany’s ruthless warfare and the fanatical Nazi resistance have destroyed the German economy and made chaos and suffering inevitable and that Germans cannot escape responsibility for what they have brought upon themselves.”… “the principal Allied objective is to prevent Germany from ever again becoming a threat to the peace of the world. Essential steps in the accomplishment of this objective are the elimination of Nazism and militarism in all their forms, the immediate apprehension of war criminals for punishment…and the preparation for an eventual reconstruction of German political life on a democratic basis.”
Initially, the focus was on formal roles and positions – membership of the NSDAP or other related organizations, service in administrative and bureaucratic roles and so on. The first phase of denazification often favored ‘preventative’ arrest – better to arrest someone and have to let them go, than miss someone. Problems were created by somewhat arbitrary directives to military authorities – a distinction was made between those who joined the NSDAP before 1937, and those joining after. Those joining earlier were perceived as more ‘hard-core Nazis’, but this distinction was essentially arbitrary. Another unpopular procedure was the enforcement of ‘fragebogen’ – long and detailed questionnaires that individuals were required to fill out, and which created enormous amounts of paperwork to have to process. This was problematic given that rapid demobilization reduced the personnel numbers available to the military authorities, and there was a huge backlog.
This was exacerbated by the extension of the fragebogen program to cover anyone seeking public responsibility or business with occupation authorities (Allied Control Council Directive No. 24). This was coupled with the desire to hand over lower-level administration to the Germans – they wanted to check people, but in the meantime it meant there simply weren’t enough people to fill the jobs.
The more intensive denazification program moved to a less intensive program with the transfer of large parts of the process to the Germans. The Law of Liberation from National Socialism and Militarism (Befreiungsgesetz) was passed by local German authorities in the US zone in March 1946. This created 5 categories that an individual might be classed as, required every person over 18 in the Zone to fill out another questionnaire, but most importantly transferred the process to German-run committees. On the face of it, this was more intensive than the US-run program, but in reality became mired in corruption and incompetence. Of the 5 categories, the vast majority were found to be ‘followers’ or lower and comments were made that the committees were simply ‘followers-factories’. Another issue was the use of certificates from others as evidence – the idea being that if you got someone who was ‘anti-Nazi’ to vouch for you, it might help you be exonerated or mitigate the sentence. These certificates became colloquially known as ‘Persil-scheine’ and it was joked that they washed brownshirts clean.
The conclusion I guess is denazification was much more than simply removing the symbols and legally banning organizations, but the actual implementation of the program complicated. The reality was that once it was transferred to German administration, it became less stringent than it otherwise might have been. This was deemed acceptable largely because occupation priorities moved toward economic reconstruction by the middle of 1946, and the reality was that a honest confrontation with the past was something that simply did not occur anywhere in Europe in the immediate aftermath of the war – this didn’t really take shape until the 1960s and onwards.
Source: * Toby Thacker, The End of the Third Reich (Stroud, Tempus, 2006) * Jeffrey Olick, In the House of the Hangman: The Agonies of German Defeat 1943-1949 (Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2005) * Perry Biddiscombe, The Denazification of Germany (Stroud, Tempus, 2007) * Frederick Taylor, Exorcising Hitler (London, Bloomsbury, 2011) * Tony Judt, Postwar (New York, Basic Books, 2005) * Konrad Jarasuch, After Hitler: Recivilizing Germans (New York, OUP, 2006) * F. Roy Willis, The French in Germany 1945-1949 (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1962) * Ian Turner, ‘Denazification in the British Zone’ in Reconstruction in Postwar Germany, I.D. Turner (ed.), (Berg Publishers, 1992) 239-270.
An underwater nuclear test being conducted during Operation Dominic, Pacific Coast off California; ca. May 11th 1962
This isn’t even the impressive part. The impressive part comes right afterwards…
Watch this video of the explosion:
B-57B observing a nuclear test during Operation Redwing, Bikini Atoll; ca. July 12th 1958
Here is a video of the shot. It was the fifth largest nuclear shot by the US ever, at 9.3 megatons. It really does look like a sunrise/set (only at 1000x speed).
(I recently read Command and Control, would recommend it, covers a lot of the insanity regarding nuclear weapons. Apparently, up until the 80’s they were surprisingly easy to to set off, none of the PAL stuff you see in movies these days. Right after World War Twi they were still trying to figure out how to work nuclear war into scenario planning, it leads to a lot of crazy phrases like “limited nuclear war” or “progressive escalation” in terms of how to use the weapons not just against the soviets but also against weaker world powers. I think the USA did get a bit of a God complex for a bit, but once the cold war started it balanced it out to a more muted insanity and paranoia as they realized that just about any major power could drop a nuke and it might just set off the rest of the world, intentional or not…)
The cavalry rides. Northeast of Saigon, 1966.
The tactic of moving soldiers to designated LZ’s using choppers was both bad and both good in Vietnam. The good side was that they could move soldiers many miles without them getting bogged down in the jungle and taking them days or even weeks to get to their objectives. The bad was that the choppers could only hold about 6 soldiers.
You have to keep in mind that for the most part GI’s would have to be dropped in the jungle and then move towards the hill they were sent to destroy. There aren’t many clearings leaving space for multiple chopper drops of troops. On the first few days when troops landed on ground in Vietnam 250+ troops were tasked with taking a hill. For instance, during the Battle of Ian Drang, their LZ had only enough room for 8 choppers to go down at a time and drop off troops ( so a total of 48 troops per drop and 400 troops were sent.). The scary part was that their Intel was wrong and instead of there being a few NVA it ended up having 3 full battalions with a total of 1600 NVA. With such fierce fighting, the LZ was so hot the choppers had to land reinforcements further away and fight their way to the original landing force to keep them alive and supply them with ammo. Out of 200 of the 400 men on the LZ they were outnumbered 8 to 1. What saved them from being overrun was having an air force liason with them and him call in multiple runs of napalm to be dropped on the VC forces to keep them away.
They routinely would have artillery barrages before sending choppers. After they landed the air force would usually provide air support as they can see the situation unfolding on the ground. The reason the U.S. found the VC so difficult was because the GI’s orders would only be to find the enemy and destroy them. Once they cleared a hill the GI’s would leave and the VC would reoccupy the hill no matter how many casualties they had. Vietnam was a war where enemy body count was seen as how effectively we were progressing in the war. It was also the first war to be highly publicized with no censorship from the military and battles such as the “Tet Offensive” would be broadcasted on the news for the American public to see. Its one of the reasons why the American Public was so against it, they saw everything that happened.