FORUM: American Women's Contribution to the War, on the Home Front
https://dp.la/primary-source-sets/sets/world-war-ii-women-on-the-home-front Examine the primary source documents, what do they tell you about American women's contribution to the war on the home front? Be sure to answer the who, what, when, where, how, why, and why historically important in your response. 1946 A year that laid the foundation for the modern world. Start of the Cold War Global fragmentation along ideological lines Europe split by an Iron Curtain A Jewish Homeland Created An Independent India Civil War in China Civil War in Greece In most of Europe: no schools, to transportation links, no libraries, no shops, nothing to buy or sell, most currency was worthless. Starvation and economic collapse were widespread. Large portions of the population were homeless and starving. Many women, from all backgrounds, prostituted themselves for food. Total breakdown of civil authority. After WWI borders had been shifted and new countries created, but most the people remained in place. After WWII it was the opposite: the borders remained but the people shifted/moved en masse. One country emerged from WWII much stronger: the USA. America being the economic, financial, military powerhouse stems from 1946. Historians long argued that Britain and the US had given Eastern Europe to the USSR as appeasement, but reality, since Soviet archives were opened by Russia in 1991, show Soviets were ready to use force of arms to keep the East. Soviet troops already occupied most of the Eastern European countries. Spies February 3, 1946, a man walked up to a Royal Canadian Mounted police officer in Ottawa, Canada, and announced “I am a Soviet spy, please arrest me.” The Mountie looked at him and replied ”sure you are.” In response the man opened a brief case that contained 109 Top Secret documents. Igor Gouzenko, a minor clerk at the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, liked living in the West and feared he was going to be recalled to the USSR soon. The documents he stole from the embassy revealed “sleepers” – spies for the Soviets who lived and worked in Britain, Canada, and the US. Some had risen to top ranks of government, far more than Western Intelligence had imagined. In the US is led to hysteria and McCarthyism, and “loyalty oaths” at the FBI. In Britain Soviet sympathizers had infiltrated professorships at Cambridge and Oxford. However, there was not a frenzy of spy arrests, no publicity, but the Soviets immediately felt the effect: valuable intelligence lines dried up, disappeared, and were completely shut down Division of Germany For Germany the end of WWII meant total defeat, unconditional surrender, and occupation by Allied Forces. Allies would govern in sectors: British, French, US, and USSR (Soviets had already taken most of Eastern Europe). British, French, US zones became known as West Germany. Soviet zone would become East Germany. Allies would occupy the zones until 1955, the Soviets much longer. The Marshall Plan. General George C. Marshall (President Truman appointed him as Sec of State). The new United Nations was providing humanitarian aid. In Germany ½ - 1/3 of housing had been destroyed by US and British bombing and USSR shelling. The Allies originally planned to be harsh on Germany. Their ruthless war and fanatical Nazis had destroyed the economy and brought chaos – they had brought it on themselves. However, the Americans and British realized that a nation of poverty would simply breed another war. Without help Europe would be unable to economically recover. US provided financial aid for economic recovery of West Germany. The Marshall Plan, also referred to as the European Recovery Plan (ERP), intended to rebuild the economies, spirit, and political stability of West Germany, viewing revitalization as a successful weapon against the spread of communism. From 1947-1951, sixteen nations became part of the “Plan” and were provided food, fuel, machinery, stables (clothing, blankets, and shoes). Thirteen (13) billion dollars went into rebuilding Europe and Japan. Result: they became and remain our allies. East Germany crumbled and after the fall of the Soviet Union would subsequently be reunified with West Germany into the Germany we know today. Elaboration on the conditions in Germany: 1944-45 Food levels already low, compounded by poor harvests, disrupted transportation links, bad winter. Winter of 1945-46, mass starvation I Germany. Allies first impression was “they brought it on themselves” but catastrophe level soon became apparent, and Western Allies believed that famine conditions could not be imposed by civilized nations against those they had already beaten. Note, that with starvation comes disease, compounded by poor sewage, polluted water, and rotting bodies. Tuberculosis was 5-times its prewar rate; typhoid from contaminated food or water; diphtheria= nose, swollen throat, spreads easily through contact and air; pellagra from a lack of nutrients causes dermatitis, chronic diarrhea, mental disturbance; dysentery is a chronic life-threatening form of diarrhea in which the fluids run out of one’s body uncontrollably; impetigo was a highly contagious infection that causes open sores on the face that ooze and form a yellow-brown crust; rickets = a bone disorder in children, caused by vitamin deficiencies, it caused bone abnormalities. Infant mortality reached 66-percent. The lack of men in post-war Germany between the ages of 17-40, made the occupiers seem even more attractive. Allied soldiers seemed glamorous and desirable to cold, hungry, lonely German women. Nearly 100,000 babies were born to unwed mothers in 1946 Germany, that was 3-times the 1945 rate. Officially (note “officially”) recorded abortions doubled to more than 200,000. Back street (unofficial) abortions cost about 1000 marks, that was equivalent to 2 cartons of Lucky Strikes cigarettes and half-pound of coffee. A happier, rarer, outcome was the GI war-bride, 25,000. Venereal Disease was rampant in 1946, 1/4th of US troops contracted gonorrhoea despite the generous distribution of condoms to US troops. Western Allies gave up on punishing Germany, but not on blaming them. There was a philosophical belief that Germans were “Collectively Guilty” for the rise of Hitler, war atrocities, and for starting the war. Americans authorities believed “reform them” but make them admit responsibility, for example, required viewing of films depicting concentration camp atrocities before individuals could receive their food ration cards. The Soviet perspective was different. They had won the Great Patriotic War. Germans had raped and pillaged their way through thousands of Soviet villages, towns, and cities. Germany needed to pay for their crimes through reparations and destruction so that they would never wage war against the USSR again. Soviets to Germans: “Better enjoy the war, because the peace will be terrible.” Berlin, the former capital of Germany, located in the Eastern sector (zone) became the Soviets’ newest prize possession. Despite the destruction of the war, Germany was still better off than the USSR. In the USSR most Red Army soldiers and their families lived in great poverty and squalor. In the Soviet Zone rape was rampant. In 1946, between 150,000 and 200,000 Russian babies were born, the majority were dropped at orphanages. Abortions are estimated at 5-8 times higher than 1945. Tens-of-thousands of rape victims reported V.D. Getting antibiotics in the Soviet Zone was difficult and expensive. Most women didn’t report their rapes, the Soviet authorities didn’t care, there were few prosecutions. The continued rapes undermined Soviet hopes of converting Germans to communism. Suicide by victims of repeated rape rose as the abuses were repeated day-after-day, and in front of fathers, husbands, and families. Slowly, the Soviets began to impose punishments on the offnders. In the Soviet Zone, 520,000 suspected fascists were arrested an sent without trial to Soviet gulags (labor/prison camps). Secret police established quickly, known as “Stasi.” Reparations: “Reparation Teams” were sent into the Soviet Sector to “take everything, take it all, what you can’t take, destroy, leave nothing, not a single bed, not even a chamber pot.” Soldiers stole every personal item they could find, even clothes, shoes, and hairbrushes Factories were disassembled, every bolt and nail, sent to the USSR and reconstructed. Soviet troops forced German workers to dismantle their factories. They disassembled the above-ground metro (train) system and sent it to the USSR. They were clearly not interested in rebuilding the German economy. USSR Stalin decided that possessing nuclear bombs was the Soviets’ #1 priority. He realized after Hiroshima that the atomic bomb changed the military balance-of-power – and Stalin couldn’t allow that. The best scientists were ordered to develop, and the Secret Police told to “leave them alone, we can always shoot them later.” Funding would go into the development of the bomb while the people starved and froze in the streets. Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria under Soviet control were forced to pay high reparations to the USSR. Soviet military forces remained and occupied, communist government was imposed. USA America was the only country to emerge from the conflict of WWII better off than when it entered the war in 1941. On our continental mainland there was no invasion, no bombing (the Japanese did attempt some incendiary bombs to travel on wind currents in the hope of setting the West Coast on fire, they failed), no refugees. There had been war rationing of gas, milk, sugar, etc., but America was the world’s granary. It was also the world’s industrial workshop – in 1946, more goods were produced in the US than all the parts of the world combined. America emerged from the war as a military powerhouse too. There would be no return to isolationism. The US planned to export ideals of democracy, free trade, open markets, liberty, peace, and order. Britain Austerity. Everything was rationed, from meat to soap powder. Average ration for an adult for 1 week was 13oz of meat, 1.5 oz of cheese, 6 oz of butter, two pints of milk, 1 egg. (An American can eat that much in a day, they had to make it last for a week). Brits got used to dry eggs and spam sent from the US. Britain was economically broke from war expense, keeping colonies and domains was expensive (troops had to be kept in those countries) = too expensive. Britain resolved that it could no longer afford to be an Empire. The rest of its large holdings (for example, Australia, New Zealand, Canada) had become Commonwealths after WWI. India had not, and they would fight for separation from the British, best to let it go. They did retain control over some African countries. India Britain wanted to withdraw from India as soon as possible after WWII, hey were exhausted and broke. Problem: Could they leave an independent India behind, or were the differences between the majority Hindu and the minority Muslim irreconcilable and they needed to be kept apart? Massacres that occurred repeatedly in 1946, would determine that Hindu and Muslim could not form one state. People would be divided between Pakistan and India – more masses of people moved, due to religion, Muslims to Pakistan, Hindus in India. Now, the rest of the world is left to worry about them nuking each other. Czechoslovakia Wanted a definitive clearance of all Germans and German influence from their country. Chechs took the Nazi anti-Jewish legislation and applied it instead to all those of German origin living in Czechoslovakia. Ethnic Germans had to were a “N” for “nemec” (German). They weren’t allowed in parks; they were banned from purchasing certain foods: meat, cheese, and milk; they were branded enemies of the state. Some ethnically German villages were burned to the ground, the former inhabitants left hanging from trees. In one area groups of German prisoners (10 in a group), groups consisted of men, women, and children were shot. Other ethnic Germans were forced to strip the corpses and bury them. A group of ethnically German students was led to Wencelas Square, doused with gasoline, and burned alive. The Soviet/Russian occupiers saw, watched, and did nothing. Germans fled Czechoslovakia en masse, millions to the German zones of the Western Allies. Austria Hitler’s first victim? Not really – more of a collective amnesia. Ten-percent, 10%, of Austrians joined the Nazi Party (700,000 of 7 million population); more than 1.2 million served in German military units; extremely high numbers of Austrians served in the SS and as guards and officials of concentration camps. In 1946, Austria became the central to US and USSR espionage activities, its borders on East and West made it the perfect location for the transfer of secret information, cloaks and daggers, and both US and USSR wanted Austria as a Cold War ally. Austria benefitted greatly by its located. Japan General Douglas MacArthur, proconsul in charge of US occupation in Japan. SCAP = Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (Pacific). MacArthur insisted that Emperor Hirohito remain on the throne for continuity during the transition, although he did have to announce that he was not divine, only a human. British, Australians, Koreans, Chinese – ALL wanted Hirohito deposed, tried as a war criminal, and executed. MacArthur argued that as a figurehead Hirohito would provide stability while revolutionary changes took place in government, ideology, philosophy, psychology, and economics. In truth, Hirohito had no interest in democracy or the people’s will – until those bombs dropped. He actually he blamed the military for letting him down, for surrendering. America would remake Japan from the top down, from semi-feudal despotism to a model of 20th - century democracy rooted on freedom, based on a constitutional monarchial system. See LongTerm Effects handout.