Tag Archives: WWII

Hail To Female WASPS, Not Male Ones!

The term WASP ordinarily is used to denote White Anglo Saxon Males who so frequently dominate the power structure of America. But, during World War II, there was a different group of WASPS–Women Airforce Service Pilots” who flew planes and performed tasks to free males to go overseas and fight the air war. The women flew cargo planes, took planes from hangers to be sent overseas, and towed targets for men training to become fighter pilots. Of course, in those days, the very thought of women actually being allowed to serve in combat zones was strictly off limits. The group was disbanded in late 1944 when men began returning from overseas and the women sent back to tasks that real WASPS believed was most appropriate like cooking and raising children.

These women who served their country in time of war had to wait until 1977 when Congress finally got around to providing them the GI Bill of Rights given all those who served the nation. Of course, by that time the GI Bill was of scant use to a woman in her fifties, but those were the “good old days” when women knew their place.

Congress will award every woman who served in the WASP a gold medal. At least those who are still alive will finally get some recognition.

Pope Pius XII War Record Continued Debate

World War II ended over sixty years ago, but the debate concerning record of Pope Pius XII continues to create tension between Jews and Catholics. Pope Benedict the XVI has made certain he will not tour the new museum at Yad Vashem which contains a section dealing with the performance of the wartime pope that is not not flattering to what he did or did not do. The Vatican insisted the tour of the Holy Land was a personal one for Benedict and had nothing to do with World War II or Pius XII. However, Pope Benedict was pressured not to meet with certain Palestinian leaders and to avoid having his picture taken by the wall which divides Arabs from Israel. His dilemma is a speech in which he displays concern for Muslims might be interpreted as anti-Israel and speaking up for Israel is a certain way to anger Muslims.

The issue of the role played by Pope Pius XII in World War II remains a divisive one. Most historians believe he did assist some Jews but he was remarkably quiet about the actions of the Nazi government. Most probably a definitive conclusion awaits opening Vatican archives.

Japan Continues Rewriting History Of World War II

Japan is a modern democratic society whose population opposes aggressive wars anywhere in the world and seeks to promote peaceful resolution of disputes. However, the Japan of World War II was quite different. It invaded nations, it killed and raped thousands of people in China and during the war most probably slaughtered at least three to four million. Americans recall with anger, the barbarous behavior of the Japanese army toward American and Filipino prisoners who surrendered at Bataan. Thousands were killed on the march to prisons. The Japanese military somehow thought they were scoring some type of propaganda points by showing films of American POWs being beheaded.

Germany is an excellent model for Japan. It has confronted its past and instituted wonderful educational programs that enable German youth to come to grips with their historical past. The latest example of Japanese efforts to rewrite the history of World War II came with the announcement by the education ministry that a new history book written by nationalist “scholars” who refuse to acknowledge Japan’s barbarity will be distributed in schools. Before being cleared the most recent version of this distortion of history contained 516 errors that had to be corrected.

It would benefit the Japanese ministry of education to visit Germany and talk with educators on how to deal with World War II.

Don’t Rewrite WWII History, Says, Medvedev

I have taught thousands of American social studies teachers during the course of my life, and am invariably shocked by the lack of knowledge they possess–and obviously teach–concerning WWII. Most have an incredulous look on their faces when I tell them that throughout WWII, the Russian army confronted 70% of the German army, and that on D-Day, Americans were a minority of those who landed. President Medvedev recently sharply criticized attempts to rewrite the history of the Great Patriotic War. He particularly cited some of Russia’s neighboring countries who denigrate the role of the Russian people and pretend the war was between two totalitarian nations. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and others should open a history book and learn WWII involved an alliance between the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States.

It is shocking that men who fought in the Waffen SS and helped to kill six million Jews are now glorified while the Red Army which liberated the death camps is accused of being the criminals. Of course, Joseph Stalin was a dictator, of course, he brutalized even his own people, but no one can take away the incredible performance of the Red Army in defeating the worst criminals and murderers of the 20th century–Nazi Germany.

As President Medvedev commented: “We see distortions of the truth about the war, about the decisive contribution by the Red Army to the defeat of Nazism and the liberation of Europe.” Perhaps, the Lithuanians, Poles, Estonians and Latvians can tell the people of Holland, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia, and Greece of the wonderful time they had under the rule of the Nazis. Or, how about the hundreds of thousands of British civilians killed in Nazi bombing raids!

Japan Still Ignores Its WWII Sexual Misbehavior

Among the most brutal experiences in Japan’s history was its abuse of women in conquered nations during World War II. Hundreds of thousands of women were forced into sexual slavery by the invading Japanese forces and still to this day most of neither received an apology or financial compensation for their mistreatment. Azuma Konno, of Japan’s Democratic Party, said, his “government has kept its eyes shut and ignored the issue.” He spoke at the ninth Solidarity Conference for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan which met in the continual effort to awaken Japan’s conscience for past misdeeds. “To build our future,” said Konno, “we cannot remain blind to the past.”

The conference brought together both victims of the mistreatment and concerned Japanese who want their nation to atone for past behavior. They want an official government apology and rewriting of school history books to teach children about the past. In so doing, Japan restores its dignity.

Nothing Wrong In WWII Insist Some Japanese Leaders!

Over a half century has passed since the end of World War II, but some Japanese leaders continue insisting their nation did nothing wrong by invading China or attacking the United States. This month, General Tosho Tamogami was fired for an essay in wrote in which Japan is the innocent victim and the United States and China are the culprits in World War II. According to the general, the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was a trap set the by the Americans and Japan’s brutal invasion of China which resulted in the death of over four million Chinese really wasn’t that bad. Japanese peace activists are shocked by the essay because it reveals there are still many people who work hard to justify murder, brutalization, and aggression. A recent film, “We Won’t Forget” portrays the Japanese nation as being forced to invade China, kill millions, and attack the United States.

It would be beneficial for Japanese educators to study from German educators who have developed extensive programs to teach their children the truth about Nazism and its brutality. German students learn about the Holocaust unlike Japanese students who do not learn about the killing and raping by Japanese soldiers in Nanking. Perhaps, the Japanese government should invite German educators to assist their school system in developing educational programs that do not justify war and brutality. In the end, the truth is the best weapon to prevent future wars.

Japanese General Defends WWII Violence

Japan is a prosperous nation which has made a remarkable recovery from the effects of World War II, but many of its military leaders still refuse to acknowledge the horror its forces committed during fighting in that global conflict. They reside in a world of denial ignoring the killing of millions of innocent people and the rape of thousands of women. Air Self Defense Force Chief of Staff, General Toshio Tamogami, was dismissed for writing an essay, “Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?” which won a contest sponsored by a businessman. Naturally, General Tamogami denies there was any aggression on the part of Japan and blames other Asian nations for compelling Japanese forces to invade their lands. According to the Japanese general, his innocent nation was “a victim” which was drawn into the Sino-Japanese War by China’s leader, Chiang Kai-shek.

General Tamogami also challenges the Japanese Constitution provisions which require his nation to restrict itself to a self defense force and wants Japan to be allowed to engage in military action and be able to use “offensive weaponry.” In his version of events, Korea somehow invited Japan to station troops in their country by willingly being occupied.

Japan must confront the horror of its actions during World War II if it is ever to find a way to end anger on the part of millions of Asians who were brutalized during the conflict. No one wanted to be invaded by Japanese troops. Perhaps, General Tamogami believes the United States invited Japanese planes to bomb installations at Pearl Harbor.

Legacy Of World War II– Mixed Race Japanese Babies

The American occupation of Japan left a legacy of democracy and a pacifist Constitution, but it also left thousands of mixed race children born to Japanese mothers and American fathers. Unfortunately, for the babies, most of the Americans headed home and left the child with a woman dealing with the postwar poverty which devastated her nation. Miki Sawada, in 1963 opened an orphanage for these children, many of whom were not only deserted by their fathers, but abandoned by their mothers. She encountered few, if any, American soldiers who wanted to assume any responsibility for the child they had fathered. In race conscious Japan, a child with western features invariably encountered prejudice at school or work.

One can only wonder if sixty years later, Japanese people continue to display such prejudice against children who are of Asian and Western parents? Hopefully, a Japan which is linked economically and politically with the world has become socially more democratic in being able to accept children who represent the best of two worlds.

Day Of Infamy– Day Of Peace In Japan

August 15, 1945 was a beautiful sunny day in Japan as its government announced the surrender to Allied forces and brought to a close World War II. At noon that day, a recording of Emperor Hirohito was aired that told the Japanese people the war was over. Many were shocked and cried as the Emperor whom they regarded as virtually a living god uttered the fateful words of surrender. For some who still harbored crazy notions their nation could some how win, the words were devastating revelation of reality it took time to grasp, to others, the nightmare was over. Cartoonist Osamu Tezuka said he cried out: “The war has ended, ended, and I have survived!”

Actually, the Japanese government had informed Allied forces of its intention to surrender on August 14. Japanese leaders were apparently confused since they never informed the Soviet Union whose forces were attacking in Manchuria that the war was over. Fighting continued in that area for days. Most Western people still do not understand that even as the Emperor was informing the nation of the surrender, a group of hot headed young Japanese officers attempted to get the surrender recording and destroy it. They actually reached the recording studio but as they broke in the Emperor’s words were being broadcast. Several killed themselves.

After the defeat, Japan became a modern democracy and its younger generation undoubtedly does not look backward to what was since it only focuses on what is and what will become.

An Apology Long Overdue

More then six decades after a tragic example of racism in America in which African American soldiers wee wrongfully accused of a crime, the United States armed forces issued an apology. The Army acknowledged that 28 black soldiers were wrongly convicted after a riot and lynching of an Italian in Seattle during World War II. Ronald James, assistant secretary of the Army form manpower and reserve affairs, admitted, “The Army is genuinely sorry. I am genuinely sorry.” the convictions of the soldiers was set aside, their dishonorable discharges were changed to honorable discharged and they and their survivors were awarded back pay for their time in the brig.

the incident happened on August 14, 1944 when a scuffle broke out between a black soldier and an Italian POW. Forty three soldiers were charged with rioting and three with murder. One soldier was charged with rioting even though witnesses said he tried to quell the disturbance.

The American army during World War II was segregated and blacks were basically made to work in serves like driving trucks or building things. It was a world that hopefully will never again return as the nation has moved past that tragic era.