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World War II in American History: Teaching “The Good War”?. Michael S. Neiberg “The Good War”. The Good War. New Themes in Teaching World War II. Theme One: Globalization. Europe in Ruins. 75% of Berlin’s buildings uninhabitable

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World War II in American History: Teaching “The Good War”?

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World war ii in american history teaching the good war

World War II in American History:Teaching “The Good War”?

  • Michael S. Neiberg


The good war

“The Good War”

The good war1

The Good War

New themes in teaching world war ii

New Themes in Teaching World War II

Theme one globalization

Theme One: Globalization

Europe in ruins

Europe in Ruins

  • 75% of Berlin’s buildings uninhabitable

  • Food rationing continued in Britain until 1954

  • 10,000,000 DPs, most in Germany against their will

  • France lost 500,000 buildings

  • USSR lost 70,000 villages

  • Yugoslavia lost 75% of its livestock

Europe in ruins1

Europe in Ruins

  • Two-thirds of all German males born in 1918 were dead

  • USSR lost 20,000,000 men

  • 200,000 Polish children had no parents alive

  • Hungary’s ration was 550 calories per day (US intake is 3,000)

  • 5,000,000 Jews killed

  • Infant mortality in Europe exceeded 25% in 1945

Potsdam conference 17 july to 2 august 1945

Potsdam Conference17 July to 2 August 1945

  • Unconditional Surrender for Japan

  • “The freely expressed will of the Japanese people” will determine its government

  • Each power to take reparations from its sector of Germany

  • Germany to be “denazified”

  • Surrender of Japanese forces in Korea and Vietnam agreed.

Clement Atlee, Harry Truman, and Josef Stalin at Potsdam. France was not invited to send a representative.

Role of the usa

Role of the USA

  • Marshall Plan

    • $4.6 billion in aid to democratic capitalist states

  • Rapid redevelopment of Germany

  • Creation of NATO

  • Permanent place of the USA

  • Insertion of US firms into European economy

  • Formation of the United Nations, IMF

Theme two home front usa

Theme Two: Home Front USA

Women welders at Ingalls Shipbuilders in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1943

Aircraft production

Aircraft Production

Artillery pieces

Artillery Pieces

Major naval vessels

Major Naval Vessels

Major naval vessels usa included

Major Naval Vessels (USA included)

Steel in millions of tons

Steel (in millions of tons)

Labor forces

Labor Forces

  • 90 Division Gamble and Selective Service

  • US had three latent labor pools (women, African Americans, Mexicans)

  • US added 6,000,000 jobs in three years

    • GM alone added 750,000

  • In Germany there were 400,000 fewer female workers in 1941 than 1939

Japanese internment

Japanese Internment

World war ii in american history teaching the good war

Detroit Race Riot, 1943

What did the war really change

What did the war really change?

Lunch counter sit in

Greensboro, NC, 1960

Theme three world war ii s uniqueness

Theme Three: World War II’s Uniqueness

Eisenhower and other senior American officers tour a liberated concentration camp

The american century

The American Century

Signing of the UN Charter, San Francisco, 1945



Contrast to later wars

Contrast to Later Wars


“Police Action” in Korea

Some further reading

Some Further Reading

  • Paul Fussell, Wartime

  • Studs Terkel, The Good War

  • E. B. Sledge, With the Old Breed

  • David Nichols, ed. Ernie’s War

  • J. Glenn Gray, The Warriors

Studs Terkel

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