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WW 2 History Club. “Keep the British Isles Afloat”. “Arsenal of Democracy”. 833 Days. 26 - Dec - 2012. “All Aid Short of War”. “Keep out of foreign wars”. Today’s Goal.

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ww 2 history club

WW 2 History Club

“Keep the British Isles Afloat”

“Arsenal of Democracy”

833 Days

26 - Dec - 2012

“All Aid Short of War”

“Keep out of foreign wars”

today s goal
Today’s Goal
  • Introduce you to some of the less famous individuals who were not military but had as much influence on what eventually happened as any general
  • Interest in similar sessions in the future?
  • Focus Group?
  • WWII Book Club?
the big three
The Big Three

For most people,

“the big three” of WWII refer to

  • Churchill
  • Roosevelt
  • Stalin
  • But who made it happen?
the few
The Few

In one of his most famous speeches, Churchill stated:

“Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few”

Who are “the few”?

Are you sure?

833 days
833 Days

1-Sep-1939: WWII starts

8-Dec-1941: US declares war on Japan

12-Dec-1941: Germany declares war on US

8-May-1945: VE Day

European War lasted 2076 days

US was not a true belligerent for first 833 days

britain stands alone
Britain Stands Alone
  • Seeds of WWII go back decades
  • European War started in Sep 1939
  • Fall of Poland
  • Phony War
  • Fall of Norway and Denmark
  • May 1940 breakout
  • “The Battle of France is Over …”
britain stands alone1
Britain Stands Alone
  • “ … the Battle of Britain is about to begin …”
  • Britain is the size of Colorado
  • British army was trampled by Germans
  • Britain is low of food, men, arms, …
  • How could Britain stand up to Hitler?
britain stands alone2
Britain Stands Alone
  • Germany is 80 million +
  • Britain Empire is 500 million
  • British Empire: 50 divisions
  • Germany: 250 divisions (half were crack combat divisions)

“Never before in history have so few

brought so much suffering to so many”

us isolationism
US Isolationism
  • Memories of WWI
  • Stay out of European conflicts
  • Vast majority of Americans against any involvement (various reasons)
  • FDR had to be careful
    • What was his strategy?
    • Why was it so important to stay out of the war?
  • Perspective on Greatness: The Price of Peace
  • 1952 Documentary Series
  • Approx 30 minutes
what happened
What Happened?
  • Why did Americans change their mind about “the European War”
  • How did the US figure out what the UK really needed?
  • How did Lend-Lease go from an idea to action?
  • How were the many differences between the US and the UK mitigated?
what happened1
What Happened?
  • Why did FDR and Churchill wait so long to meet?
  • How could these monstrous egos get along?
  • Churchill was known for decisiveness and quick action; FDR for vacillation and endless delays
  • How could they work cooperatively?
what happened2
What Happened?
  • 4 Americans changed history
  • 4 Americans backed Britain and supported aide to Britain against huge opposition
  • 4 Americans convinced FDR (and the US public) that Britain would not surrender
  • 4 Americans mitigated the problems of culture and alliance
4 americans
4 Americans
  • Edward R. Murrow
  • Harry Hopkins
  • John Winant
  • W. Averell Harriman

Who were these men and how did they change history?

edward r murrow
Edward R. Murrow
  • Minimal training as a newspaperman
  • Pioneer in radio broadcast
  • Director of CBS Talks & Education in 1935
  • Went to London in 1937
  • Covered “the events” live: revolutionary approach
    • Anschluss
    • Sudetenland, Munich, …
    • Built huge following for “radio news”
edward r murrow1
Edward R. Murrow
  • World News Roundup (CBS radio)
  • “This is London”
  • Trusted source of news
  • Close relationship with Churchill
  • Offered director-general of BBC
  • Closer relationship with Pamela Churchill

For many Americans, Murrow’s broadcasts were a trusted source of “unbiased”, up-to-the minute, news

edward r murrow2
Edward R. Murrow
  • Murrow Boys .. “The finest news staff ever assembled”:
    • Eric Sevareid
    • Charles Collingwood
    • Howard K. Smith
    • William Shirer
    • Mary Marvin Breckinridge
    • Cecil Brown
    • Richard C. Hottelet
    • Bill Downs
    • Winston Burdett
    • Charles Shaw
    • Ned Calmer
edward r murrow the power of radio
Edward R Murrow & the Power of Radio
  • We tend to forget that radio was “the media” of the 1930s and 1940s
  • Everyone listened to radio
  • Radio was often more powerful than images because with radio you could imagine … “the theater of the mind”
edward r murrow the power of radio1
Edward R Murrow & the Power of Radio
  • Let’s listen to some radio from the 1930s
    • “I can hear it now” (1933 – 1945)
    • Trafalgar Square 24Aug’40
    • “Good Luck” Dec 1940
    • “This is London” 1942
harry hopkins
Harry Hopkins
  • FDR’s chief advisor on many topics (2nd most powerful man in Washington)
  • Directed WPA, largest employer in the country
  • Managed the distribution of $ billions
  • Friend and confidant of FDR
  • Lived at the White House for 3+ years
  • One of FDR’s “confidential agents” – “eyes & ears”
  • More influential than the State Department
  • “Now Harry, get that goddamn thing done. And Harry would have it done in two hours”
harry hopkins1
Harry Hopkins
  • Secy of Commerce
  • Special mission to UK in early 1941 to “get the facts”
  • Developed exceptionally good relationship with Churchill; impressed by his decisiveness and quick action
  • “Lord of Root of the Matter”
  • Returned with a good understanding of Churchill, UK
  • Convinced that UK would weather the storm
  • Overall director of Lend Lease; wanted Harriman in UK
  • Arranged for Placentia Bay meeting
  • Visited Stalin (Jul’41); convinced FDR to include USSR in LL
us position on aid
US Position on Aid
  • Neutrality Act of 1935
    • general embargo for 6 months
  • Neutrality Act of 1936
    • extended 14 months, no loans
  • Neutrality Act of 1937
    • no time limit; civil wars too;
    • modest “cash & carry” provision
  • Neutrality Act of 1939
    • Initially restored embargo
    • Later repealed Acts of 1936 and 1937:
    • “Cash & Carry”
us position on aid1
US Position on Aid
  • Cash & Carry … Sep/Nov -1939
    • All belligerent nations; UK preference
    • War zones declared
    • National Munitions Control Board
    • Federal crime: Arms trading w/o license (still in effect)
us position on aid2
US Position on Aid
  • 1940:
    • Britain stands alone
    • Britain running out of $
    • US public in favor of “some help”
    • Destroyers for Bases (US acted faster)
    • 17 Dec: The Garden Hose speech
    • 29 Dec: Arsenal of Democracy Speech
us aid to allies
US Aid to Allies
  • 1941:
    • Britain truly desperate
    • Battle of the Atlantic
    • 75% of US public in favor of Lend-Lease
    • March  Britain
    • April  China
    • October  Soviet Union
joseph kennedy
Joseph Kennedy
  • Interesting past
  • US Ambassador to UK

27Jan’38 – 22Oct’40 (critical time?)

  • Aligned with Chamberlain / appeasement
  • Vocal about Britain falling
  • Thought Germany was too strong
  • Encouraged FDR to write off Britain
  • Encouraged Americans to get out of UK
the mess
The Mess
  • For 175 years …
  • Churchill and UK tired of US “talk”
  • UK Belief: US was taking advantage of UK
  • Halifax had to tone down Churchill’s correspondence
  • Churchill: “Give us the tools …”
  • FDR: not much use for JPK or State Dept
john winant
John Winant
  • Hero was Abe Lincoln
  • Reserved and “awkward”; not a great speaker
  • Idealist to the point of political suicide
  • Worked 24/7 but not a good administrator
  • Progressive Republican; 2 term governor of NH
  • More progressive than FDR?
  • US rep to International Labor Organization – 1935 (FDR ploy?)
  • Social Security Administration Commissioner – 1935 - 1936
  • Back to ILO in 1937; director of ILO by 1939
john winant1
John Winant
  • Travelled extensively in Europe during run up to war
  • Well known in UK
  • Appointed Ambassador to UK in Jan, 1941
    • FDR need someone to clean up the mess exacerbated by Kennedy
    • UK reaction was jubilant
  • “I\'m very glad to be here. There is no place I\'d rather be at this time than in England.”
  • “Here You Shall Not Pass”
  • Close relationship with Churchill and British government, particularly Foreign Office and Anthony Eden. Part of Churchill’s extended family
john winant2
John Winant
  • Often explained “the basics” to support Churchill
  • Embassy staff operated as a team
  • “… complete confidence and respect that your Ambassador has won from all classes of people in England. He will become, I believe, before he leaves, the most beloved American who has ever been in England”
  • Frustrated (as were others) with FDR’s waffling
  • Did FDR not want the responsibility of an overt act?
  • “What America requires is not propaganda but the facts”
  • “We have all slept … we have all tried … we are now beginning …
  • Every day we delay …
w averell harriman
W. Averell Harriman
  • Son of railroad (robber) baron
  • The right schools: Groton, Yale (Skull & Bones)
  • Social links with FDR but completely different personalities
  • Intensely pragmatic
  • Banking, Union Pacific and other RR interests, Shipping, horse racing interests; polo player
  • Travelled extensively in Europe brokering deals
  • Enjoyed meeting and befriending powerful people
  • Switched from Republican to Democratic parties in 1928
  • Recognized shift of power from Wall Street to Washington
w averell harriman1
W. Averell Harriman
  • On the fringes of the New Deal
  • Wanted more important position on FDR’s team
  • Revive American business
  • Positions in NRA, Natl Industrial Recovery, Natl Advisory Council, Office of Production Mgmt
  • Not involved in early mobilization planning
  • Internationalist and interventionist
  • When Hopkins returned from UK (early ’41), he specifically requested Harriman as the UK side of Lend-Lease
  • FDR: “I want you to go over to London and recommend everything that we can do, short of war, to keep the British Isles afloat.”
w averell harriman2
W. Averell Harriman
  • “Defense Expeditor”
  • “The great thing about Averell was that everything he did, he did bloody well.”
  • FDR provided few specifics; OK by Harriman
  • Custodian of “the relationship” Hopkins had initiated
  • US military: not much value in sending scarce equipment unless UK had bases, men, …
  • US military: are we to be a warehouse for the British or a fighting partner?
  • Key Goal: get more information to convince US military
w averell harriman3
W. Averell Harriman
  • Felt optimistic with Hopkins in charge
  • Developed relationship with Churchill on a par with Hopkin’s … the American member
  • Even closer relationship with Churchill’s daughter-in-law, Pamela
  • Quickly settled in to the job
  • Excellent liaison with Winant’s office
  • Coordinated the mess of special missions
  • Experience with railroads and shipping
  • Battle of the Atlantic

Two impatient men, an ocean apart, linking up and working with each other to save Britain

w averell harriman4
W. Averell Harriman
  • Placentia Bay participant
  • Mission to USSR (follow up to Hopkins) to negotiate details of Lend-Lease to USSR
  • Churchill’s “efficiency expert”; trip to Egypt
  • Quite critical of FDR’s waffling … “I have made my decision …”
  • Better understanding of British capability (pre Barbarossa)
    • Would fight to the finish
    • But not capable of finishing it
    • Direct American intervention would be required.
lend lease
Lend Lease
  • Lend-Lease was a critical factor in the eventual success of the Allies in World War II.
  • In 1943–1944, about a quarter of all British munitions came through Lend-Lease.
  • Aircraft (in particular transport aircraft) comprised about a quarter of the shipments to Britain, followed by food, land vehicles and ships.
lend lease1
Lend Lease
  • Even after the United States forces in Europe and the Pacific began to reach full strength in 1943–1944, Lend-Lease continued.
  • Most remaining allies were largely self-sufficient in front line equipment (such as tanks and fighter aircraft) by this stage, Lend-Lease logistical supplies (including motor vehicles and railroad equipment) were of enormous assistance.
lend lease2
Lend Lease
  • Much of the aid can be better understood when considering the economic distortions caused by the war.
  • Most belligerent powers cut back severely on production of non-essentials, concentrating on producing weapons.
  • This inevitably produced shortages of related products needed by the military or as part of the military-industrial complex or essential non-military goods.
lend lease3
Lend Lease
  • The USSR was highly dependent on rail transportation, but the war practically shut down rail equipment production: only about 92 locomotives were produced. 2,000 locomotives and 11,000 railcars were supplied under Lend-Lease.
  • Likewise, the Soviet air force received 18,700 aircraft, which amounted to about 14% of Soviet aircraft production (19% for military aircraft).
lend lease4
Lend Lease
  • Although most Red Army tank units were equipped with Soviet-built tanks, their logistical support was provided by hundreds of thousands of U.S.-made trucks.
  • By 1945 nearly two-thirds of the truck strength of the Red Army was U.S.-built. Trucks such as the Dodge 3/4 ton and Studebaker 2½ ton, were easily the best trucks available in their class on either side on the Eastern Front.
  • American shipments of telephone cable, aluminum, canned rations, and clothing were also critical.
lend lease5
Lend Lease
  • Hopkins on one end and Harriman on the other
  • Two focused and impatient men
  • Understood that ultimately it is the total system that must work: war material, support material, transportation, spare parts, people, training,… , LOGISTICS!
harriman s businesses
Harriman’s Businesses
  • Harriman was a true “tycoon” and had extensive business interests (full and partial ownership)
    • Banking (Brown Bros Harriman, Guaranty Trust, Union Banking, …)
    • Railroads (Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, Illinois Central,
    • Shipping (Holland American, Pacific Mail, US Lines, …),
    • Racing stables
    • Other transportation (Wells Fargo,
harriman s businesses1
Harriman’s Businesses
  • Harriman’s bank was main Wall Street connection for German companies
  • Not illegal until Hitler declared war on US and “Trading With The Enemy” Act was passed
  • In Oct ’42 several of Harriman’s companies were seized:
    • Union Banking Corporation (UBC) (from Thyssen and Brown Brothers Harriman).
    • Holland-American Trading Corporation (from Harriman)
    • the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation (from Harriman)
    • Silesian-American Corporation
pamela churchill
Pamela Churchill
  • Originally married to Randolph (WSC’s son)
  • Affair with Harriman
  • Affair with Murrow
  • Affairs with …
  • Post WWII: affairs with major players on the continent
  • Widow in 1971 when she met Harriman at a party
  • Married Harriman two months later
  • Washington hostess
  • US ambassador to France under Clinton
further reading
Further Reading
  • “To Keep The British Isles Afloat”
    • Thomas Parrish
    • Focus is Hopkins and Harriman
  • “Citizens of London”
    • Lynn Olson
    • Focus is Harriman, Murrow, Winant
  • “The Murrow Boys”
    • Lynn Olson
  • Was Britain as bad off as they claimed in late 1940 and early 1941?
  • What was the threat of invasion then?
  • Would tools and such be enough?
  • What else did Churchill really want?
  • What was FDR’s real strategy?
  • What impact did Murrow and his boys have?
  • Did these men make history or did history make these men?