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Elusive Eden: A New History of California, fourth edition. CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: WORLD WAR II: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA. TOTAL WAR World War II defining event of twentieth century "Total war," waged on military and civilian populations around globe Lasted six years

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elusive eden a new history of california fourth edition

Elusive Eden: A New History of California, fourth edition


  • World War II defining event of twentieth century
  • "Total war," waged on military and civilian populations around globe
  • Lasted six years
  • U.S. contributed 15 million service members
Began summer of 1939

--Adolf Hitler's Germany invaded Poland

--Allies France and England declared war on Germany

--Hitler, Stalin signed non-aggression pact

--Secret plan to divide spoils of war

Germany attacked neutral European nations

--By 1940 conquered western Europe

--England next target

  • Officially U.S. neutral

--Unofficially, FDR administration favored England

--Unofficially, majority of US did too

--Congress provided financial aid

Summer 1941 Hitler attacked Soviet Union

--Allied U.S., Britain, Russia against Hitler

--Fighting concentrated on German/Russian border

  • U.S. focused closest threat, Japan
  • Japan consolidating colonial empire in Pacific

--1932 invaded Manchuia

--1937 declared war on China

--1940 expanded into French-held Indonesia

--Justified as "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere"

US response economic

--embargoed Japan

--Steel, oil

  • fall 1941 Japan formed new military government

--allied with Germany in Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis

  • US embargo having effect

--Critical military shortages

--Undermining colonial ambitions

Officials decided to disable US

--Japan's senior Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

--Designed surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

--Home of US Pacific Fleet

--Late November 1941 moved aircraft carriers into north Pacific

Sunday, December 7, 1941 Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor

--Sunk, disabled majority of US battleships

--3 aircraft carriers at sea

  • Japan moved quickly

--Seized Dutch East Indies

--British southeast Asia colonies

--US colony, Philippines

--All US island colonies west of Wake Island

  • US aid to Britain, entry into World War II ended depression

--Sales of food, ships, war material boosted US economy

  • Directly improved, reorganized California economy

--September 1939 economy = agriculture, mining, fishing, textiles, metal- and wood-working, movies, tourism dominated

--oil, aircraft, shipbuilding, auto, rubber, agriculture quickly converted to war production
  • diverse landscapes provided battle training grounds
  • increased importance of naval bases at San Diego, Mare Island
  • Army expanded existing facilities: Fort Ord, Camp Roberts
Marine Corps built new west coast base at Camp Pendleton
  • influx of war workers reshaped California society
  • 1940 implementation of military draft ended unemployment in US, California

--By late 1941 labor shortages in Cal

Shipbuilding first industry affected

--By 1941 LA, SF shipyards booming

--orders for troop carriers increased through end of war

--aircraft building increased x 5

--spikes in demand for steel, chemicals, textiles, machine tools, food

  • Californians terrified

--radio, newspapers published rumors

--officials imposed blackouts, civil defense measures

--immediate calls to remove Japanese

"total war" hard to miss in California

--Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force bases expanded

--Ship- and aircraft manufacturing ""

--Fed poured billions into university research and development

--"" "" electronics manufacturing

  • Total fed WWII expenditures in Cal $40 billion

--+ 10 percent of total

Military trained on Cal deserts, mountains, beaches

--1942 Geo. Patton's North African tank corps trained in Mojave Desert

--1942 Fort Ord 50K city

--Navy took over SF's Treasure Island, LA's Terminal Island

--Air Force bases expanded at March Field, McClellan, Mather, Travis, George

--California ports transfer stations for people, materiel bound for Pacific

War work dangerous

--July 17, 1944 ordnance ship exploded at Port Chicago

--Blast killed 323 people, demolished 350 homes

--Dead included 200 black seamen

--Port Chicago "Mutiny" called attention to racism in military

--Blacks served in segregated units with white officers

--Commonly given most dangerous jobs

--Surviving seamen refused to resume loading munitions

--50 charged with mutiny, faced court martial proceedings

--At trial testified to racism, hazardous working conditions

--All 50 found guilty

--Sentenced to 15 years in prison

--dishonorably discharged

many protested treatment of Port Chicago victims

--Thurgood Marshall, Navy Secretary James Forrestal, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt appealed

--Penalties reduced

--January 1946 sentences set aside

--men discharged "under less than honorable conditions"

--denied veterans benefits

1988 California Congressmen Pete Stark, Ron Dellums pressed Navy to reopen cases

--1994 Navy upheld original decision

--1946 Secretary of Defense James Forrestal ordered complete end to segregation in Navy

--July 1948 Pres. Truman ordered all branches desegregated

  • California aircraft industry weak, unstable before WWI

--Government demand fluctuated

--mail contracts main source of demand

--US mail basis of commercial air travel

  • 1912 Glenn Martin started airframe company in southern California

--motors built elsewhere

--shipped to California assembly plants

1912 Christofferson, 1916 Loughead aircraft companies founded San Francisco
  • 1920 Donald Douglas formed aircraft company in southern California

--Contracts from Army, Navy

  • 1924 Douglas's single-engine biplanes made first round-the-world flight

--1926 reorganized as Douglas Aircraft Company

1926 Loughead brothers merged with John K. Northrup

--New company Lockheed Aircraft Company

--phonetic spelling of Loughead

  • 1927 Claude Ryan in San Diego built Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis

--first airplane to fly nonstop from New York to Paris

--worldwide sensation

Douglas, Ryan, and Lockheed designed passenger planes

--Mail, military contracts still key to viability

  • 1935 Douglas unveiled DC-3 passenger plane

--By 1939 carried 95 % of all US passenger traffic

--Success brought new manufacturers to southern Cal

--By 1939 + half all US aircraft workers in southern California

Industry exploded in WWII

--Numbers employed grew

--1939 20,000

--1944 280,000

--1941 FDR set goal at 50,000 planes / year

--Seemed impossibly high

--Just 1943 + 100,000 planes manufactured

--Key was massive increase in ##s of women workers

  • WWII production exploded
  • Fed pumped $5B into Cal for ships
  • Numbers employed grew

--1941 4,000

--1942 260,000

Private, Navy shipyards opened, expanded in Sausalito, Vallejo, Alameda, Oakland, San Francisco

--Produced hundreds of transport, cargo, amphibious, naval craft

  • Henry J. Kaiser's Richmond plant most impressive

--Drew on experiences building Hoover Dam, other fed+private projects

--Introduced assembly-line techniques to ship building

--Facility built 1 in 4 of all WWII Liberty ships

--1941, 250 days to produce 1 ship

--Reduced to 25 days

--Robert E. Perry built in 8 days

--Key was massive increase in ##s of women workers

Richmond population skyrocketed

--from 20,000 to + 100,000

  • Kaiser perfected corporate welfare programs

--Underwrote construction of worker housing

--Introduced prepaid health care

--Kaiser Foundation Health Plan covered workers, dependents

1942 Kaiser built state's first integrated blast furnace, steel-rolling mill

--fifty miles east of Los Angeles

--Fontana plant increased state steel production by 70 percent

--War industries less dependent on eastern steel manufacturers

  • 1941-1945 Oil production increased 50 %
  • Rubber industry developed synthetic rubber

--Japan controlled natural rubber supplies in Southeast Asia

--synthetic rubber became permanent industry

  • Radio manufacturers switched to radar, sonar devices
  • Auto manufacturers built tanks, troop carriers
Heavy industry tripled state's industrial labor force
  • Food production increased

--Pop growth

--Govn contracts for troops, overseas relief

--Value of dairy products, fruits, nuts, vegetables, cotton, livestock increased 2x, 3x pre-war value

Overall value of agriculture rose

--1939 $623 million

--1945 $1.75 billion

  • Labor shortages threatened food production

-- + 700,000 Californians enlisted, drafted

--Okies flooded into war jobs

--Japanese removed to camps

1942 Fed responded with bracero program

--Mexican nationals imported as temporary agricultural workers

--US promised transportation, health care, housing, minimum wage, and unemployment pay

--1944 peak, imported 26,000 workers

  • California home to top-notch universities, research facilities

--California Institute of Technology

--Stanford University

--University of California, Berkeley

--University of California, Los Angeles

R&D contracts produced important discoveries

--rocket-assist systems for aircraft

--radar-assisted torpedoes

  • Most important development atomic bomb

--1930s University of California, Berkeley professor of physics Ernest O. Lawrence developed cyclotron (atom smasher)

--synthesized neptunium, uranium 235, plutonium

--basis for further nuclear research

--attracted J. Robert Oppenheimer, others to UCB

  • 1942 US govn proposed, UCB accepted Manhattan Project

--Lawrence oversaw construction of top-secret laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico

--Ultimately produced world's first atomic bomb

August 1945 US used bomb on Japanese cities of Hiroshima, Nagasaki

--Ended World War II

--Launched atomic age, Cold War

  • Shock of Pearl Harbor, national commitment to WWII made fundamental changes in women's roles possible
  • Armed services opened new positions to women

--Army and Navy Nurses Corps (ANC/NNC)

--women's branch of army (WACs)

--women's branch of navy (WAVES)

--"" "" Coast Guard (SPARS)

Intended for non-combat positions

--Goal to free up men for combat

--Women still faced dangerous conditions

  • Thousands left low-paid jobs for defense work


--Airplane assembly plants

--electronics, munitions, other war-related industries

nationally women took over "male" production jobs

--before 1941 few women in heavy industry

--after 1941 + 2M

--½ just in aerospace

  • influx of women war workers to California

--attracted by patriotism, high pay

--women + 40 percent of Cal aircraft employees

other opptys opened as well

--men unavailable

--employers forced to accept women

  • Cal women found work as chemists, engineers, railroad workers, lawyers, journalists
new opportunities for women of color

--San Francisco's Jade Snow Wong found job in office of War Production

--Job boring, but $ good, oppty to contribute to war effort

--San Francisco's Maya Angelou liked streetcar conductors' uniforms

--Determined to break streetcars' color barrier

Employers resisted integration

--federal Fair Employment Practices Committee dictated equal hiring

--black men and women forced employers to comply

--pressed Cal to create state Fair Employment Practices Commission

--By 1944 blacks were + 7 percent of war industries work force

women's movement into new work created new problems

--war brought severe shortage of housing, food and transportation services

--few child care resources for working mothers

--100% annual employee turnover rates not uncommon

--War's end brought unemployment, low wages, other problems

  • Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt commander, Fourth Army, Western Defense Command

--In San Francisco when Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor

  • Initially resisted removal of Cal Japanese

--Army's provost marshal general, Allen W. Gullion favored

--chief of Aliens Division, Karl R. Bendetsen favored

February 14, 1942, DeWitt advised FDR

--Removal of Japanese, enemy aliens from coast "military necessity"

--FDR responded with Executive Order 9066

--authorized secretary of war to identify military exclusion zones

--secretary delegated to DeWitt

March 1942 DeWitt ordered evacuation

--Affected most West Coast Japanese, Japanese-Americans

--June 1942 deadline to report to assembly centers

  • Issei, Nisei transferred to ten "relocation centers"
  • Removal changed Japanese neighborhoods

--Japanese left San Francisco's Fillmore District

--Places taken by African American war workers

--Most recent arrivals from South

By 1944, +25% of evacuees "paroled" to Midwest, East Coast
  • U.S. Supreme Court attacked relocation in Endo case

--detention of Japanese American citizens unconstitutional

--didn't close camps

--August 1945, 1/3 of evacuees (44,000) still in camps

--Many afraid to go home

--Many had no homes to return to

  • Removal tested fundamental American values

--2/3 of internees U.S. citizens

  • Only a handful of Japanese resisted relocation
  • Gordon Hirabayashi one example

--Born in Seattle, US citizen

--Refused to report for registration, relocation

--Turned himself in to FBI

--Convicted of violating curfew, relocation orders

--sued U.S. govn for violating his constitutional rights

-- Kobayashi v. U.S. (1943) Supreme Court upheld "military necessity" argument

--decided against him 9-0

--curfew conviction overturned 1986

--relocation "" "" 1987

Fred Korematsu another example

--born in US

--22 years old, lived w family in Oakland

--refused to "assemble" at Tanforan

--arrested, convicted of violating evacuation order

--while in jail, approached by ACLU

--looking for case to test constitutionality of removal

--Korematsu v. U.S. (1944) found against Korematsu

--U.S. Supreme Court upheld "military necessity"

--1983 U.S. District Court of San Francisco vacated conviction

  • Another example Mitsuye Endo

--Born Sacramento, US citizen

--Clerk typist at Dept Motor Vehicles

--1942 removed to Tule Lake Relocation Center

--Filed writ of habeas corpus

--Argued she was a loyal, law-abiding citizen; no criminal charges brought against her; being illegally detained, held under armed guard against her will

--July 1943 district court in SF denied writ

--Appealed decision August 1943

--Same month transferred to Topaz Relocation Center

--May 8 1944 US Supreme Court heard appeal

--December 18 court skipped over military necessity

--Held U.S. govn could not detain citizens loyal to the U.S.

--Released decision same day as Hirabayashi

Economic consequences never resolved

--San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank estimated losses of real estate, personal property at $400 million

--Congress initially refused to offer compensation

  • 1948 Congress approved Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act

--Limited claims to $2,500 each ($22,388.33in 2010 dollars)

Congressional committee later studied causes of internment

--1982 Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians called removal "grave injustice"

  • 1988 Congress approved compensation

--Surviving internees paid $20,000 each ($36,378.45 in 2010 dollars)

--"Surviving" key term

--110,000 interned during WWII

--Total 82,210 able to collect 1988 compensation

--1988 Pres. Ronald Reagan apologized

  • Emotional costs incalculable

--Too painful to discuss for most internees

--Yoshiko Uchida waited 20 years to write Desert Exile

--Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston completely suppressed memory

--Wrote Farewell to Manzanar 30 years later

Despite internment, Japanese Americans served in military

--Served in segregated Nisei infantry units

--105th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team

--Most decorated units in WWII

Civil rights movements changed national attitude toward relocation
  • 1952 Congress removed race as bar to naturalization
  • Conditions for other California Asians improved in WWII

--Chinese, Filipinos, and Asian Indians benefited from new status

--Former homelands now U.S. allies

--1882 Chinese Exclusion Act lifted

--Employment, education barriers fell

--Chinese Americans slowly moved into professional, technical occupations

--Currently 1/3 of Chinese professionals are women

  • WWI brought surge in population

--1941-1945 2M immigrants to California

  • War brought first significant migration of African Americans

--1940 blacks 1.8% of state pop

--1945 "" over 6 %

--Primarily from rural South

--drawn to shipyard work at Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond

restrictive covenants, racism limiting available housing

--pooled blacks in pockets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond

--later migrants forced to share same neighborhoods

  • housing, schools, public services deteriorated
after 1945 fewer war jobs

--whites found new work

--potential employers rejected black workers

--blacks jobless when defense plants closed

  • similar experiences for Mexicans, Mexican Americans

--concentrated around Los Angeles

--housing restrictions kept in East Los Angeles

--war work offered better wages, conditions than farms, factories

--defense plant closing meant unemployment

June 3, 1943 start of LA zoot-suit riots

--Style started in Harlem late 1930s

--popularized by African American jazz performers, audiences

--Los Angeles Mexican Americans adopted style

--Identified as "pachucos"

--Symbolized rejection of parental restrictions, traditional Mexican norms

--white servicemen on shore leave attacked, stripped pachucos

--pachucos retaliated, attacked sailors

--ended June 7 when military officials cancelled shore leaves

  • Illustrated growing tensions between white, Mexican community

--Police refused to interfere

--Newspapers praised servicemen

--Claimed solution to local crime wave

WWII had positive elements for California Mexicans, Mexican Americans

--Good wages, new opptys for Mexican American servicemen, war workers

--Chance to leave farm, factory work

--1930 8 % males in semiskilled work

--1950 21.6 % "" ""

--1930, 13.6 % Mexican American women clerical workers

--1950, 23.7 % "" ""

WWII changes accompanied growing Mexican American middle class

--Servicemen, -women became comm. leaders

--Created new civil rights, comm. service groups

--Led 1960s civil rights campaigns

  • WWII exacerbated other problems around state

--communities unprepared for surge in pop

--housing, education, transportation facilities overwhelmed

San Diego good example

--1940 population 203,000

--1945 pop 362,000

  • Vallejo, Richmond populations grew by 4x
  • Housing shortages extreme

--Labor, material shortages meant no construction

--Kaiser, other govn contractors built temporary worker housing

--National Housing Authority (NHA) financed govn housing developments

--Federal Housing Authority (FHA) funded private real estate developments

--New housing racially restricted

  • Municipal services couldn't keep up

--sewer, water, gas, electricity, telephone service limited

--no funds, labor for highway construction, street repairs

California public schools overwhelmed

--1940 Richmond enrolled 3,000 students

--1943 "" "" 35,000

--No funds, labor for new classrooms

--Taught children in morning, afternoon sessions

Shortages, rationing for meat, dairy products, sugar, gasoline

--Prompted "victory gardens"

--Black market in gasoline ration stamps

  • Variety of ways Californians participated in WWII

--Hollywood produced training films

--Led war bond campaigns

--Entertained troops at Red Cross, United Services Organization (USO) canteens

--Citizens served in civil defense roles

--Volunteer "block wardens" enforced blackout restrictions

--Volunteers watched for enemy planes

  • 1944 military turning point

--German 1943 march on Stalingrad failed

--Russian soldiers marched east towards Berlin

--June 1944 American, British troops crossed English Channel

--Marched west towards Berlin

--October 1944 Americans landed in Philippines

San Francisco center of peacetime organizing

--April 1945 46 national representatives met

--Formed United Nations

--Cornered all the liquor in city

  • War production winding down

--Decreased govn orders for tanks, ships, aircraft, war matériel

--Plants began laying off workers

--Fears of post-war depression, unemployment when veterans returned

Other wartime changes supported postwar stability

--California personal income rose

--1941 $3 billion

--1945 $13 billion

  • Shortages, rationing meant little to buy

--Savings grew from $4.5 billion to $15.25 billion

  • State's population 30% larger

--Newcomers would need housing, goods, services

Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (the GI Bill of Rights) cushioned returning vets

--Provided veterans low-interest loans for farm, home purchases

--paid for college

--Millions of veterans completed baccalaureate, graduate degrees

--Tripled college enrollments

  • Democrats nominated Culbert Olson in 1942 governor's race
  • Republican attorney general Earl Warren easily defeated
  • Key figure in California politics from 1930s

--1891 born in Los Angeles

--1914 graduated from Boalt School of Law

--1926 Alameda County district attorney

--Chaired Republican State Central Committee

--1934 organized California Republican Assembly (CRA)

--Informal party group, mobilized Republican voters

--Took place of practices banned in Hiram Johnson era

--25 years CRA helped keep Republicans in office

--Tricky since majority of Californians registered Democrats

1938 Warren elected state attorney general

--Only Republican elected to statewide office

--1941-1942 pressed for Japanese removal

  • 1942 ran for governor

--First to hire public relations firm to manage campaign

1946 primaries Warren cross-filed with both parties

--Won both Democratic, Republican nominations

--First, last to win both party nominations for governor

  • 1948 accepted Republican offer of vice presidency under Thomas E. Dewey

--Democrats ran Harry Truman

--Dewey, Warren lost

1950 Warren re-elected governor

--first, last California governor elected to third term

  • 1952 helped engineer presidential nomination Dwight D. Eisenhower

--Eisenhower promised Warren spot on Supreme Court

--First opening chief justice

--Left California for seat on Supreme Court

  • Led court in landmark decisions re civil, individual rights
Possibly California's best governor

--Oversaw tax cuts

--Built substantial "rainy-day fund"

--Oversaw successful conversion to peacetime economy

--Pushed state construction projects for veterans

--90% success rate with legislative proposals

--Modernized Public Health Service, Mental Health Department, Department of Corrections

--Favored expansion of workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits

--Supported aid to families with dependent children (AFDC)

--Supported colleges, universities

--Approved funds for highways, housing, public schools

  • Experienced numerous political failures

--Universal health care plan failed

--Killed by California Medical Association lobby

--No commission on political, economic equality for minorities

--Criticized for giving too much to utilities, especially PG&E, over CVP power

--In memoirs, acknowledged interning Japanese a mistake


Richmond Shipyard at Night

At Henry J. Kaiser’s Richmond shipyard, whole sections of ships that had been prefabricated on shore were lifted onto the ways by huge cranes, which worked around the clock like great mechanical spiders. The production of Liberty ships at Richmond was an important factor in winning the fight against Hitler’s submarine “wolfpacks” during World War II. Bancroft Library.


Women Aircraft Workers

Women workers assemble aircraft fuselage sections in a Los Angeles area plant during World War II. The war produced a major shift of women into industrial jobs. While often displaced by returning veterans when the war ended, many women gained a self-confidence through their war work that affected postwar society. Los Angeles Public Library.


Earl Warren

California State Library.