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World War II in American History: Still “The Good War”?. Michael S. Neiberg University of Southern Mississippi “The Good War”. The Good War. What Changed?. Theme One: Globalization. Europe in Ruins. 75% of Berlin’s buildings uninhabitable

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world war ii in american history still the good war
World War II in American History:Still “The Good War”?
  • Michael S. Neiberg
  • University of Southern Mississippi
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 ruins8
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

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
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