Tag Archives: World War II

Hiroshima And The New York Times – Let’s Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

On The 72nd Anniversary Of The Dropping Of The Atomic Bomb On Hiroshima – The New York Times Tries To Innocuously Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

Maybe you didn’t notice but It seems like every day The New York Times tries to pass off several pieces of propaganda as articles. There’s always something to infuriate any free thinking person.

Enola Gay Crew who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Aug 6, 1945

If you read the Saturday, August 5 Op-ed pages of the New York Times you may have seen a contributed piece by Ariel Dorfman, author and emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. The op-ed was entitled The Whispering Leaves of the Hiroshima Ginkgo Trees. The inconsequential article is not what disturbed me. It was one line slipped in to make an almost subliminal  impression upon the reader. Referring to a Mr. Takahashi, a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Dorfman writes, “By then middle-aged, his body was a testament to that war crime and its aftermath.”

War crime? The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was a “war crime”?

In 2005 I attended an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibit was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Enola Gay mission in World War II.  There was a video presentation about the Enola Gay’s mission which included interviews with the crew before and after the mission including  pilot Col. Paul Tibbets. To say it was a powerful exhibit would be an understatement.

For those too young to remember or do not know their history, the Enola Gay was a B-29 bomber plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Three days later another B-29, Bockscar, dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Before deciding to use an atomic bomb the Allies insisted that Japan unconditionally surrender, as their defeat was inevitable. Japan refused.

Over 145,000 people died in the initial blasts. Thousands of Japanese civilians died of the injuries they sustained in the years that followed.

The end result of those bombings? Japan surrendered to the Allies the following week on August 15, 1945 and World War II was over.

There was a comment book at the end of the exhibit where visitors could record their name age, address and comment on what they had seen. Walking over to that book and thumbing through it I read to my surprise quite a few people had written essentially the same thing: the United States was wrong to drop the bombs. Others went so far to say that we never should have used the weapons and fought it out until the Japanese surrendered. The people who wrote these comments were all under the age of 40.

I wrote a short comment. I’ll say it again here for the edification of Mr. Dorfman, the editorial staff of the New York Times and any history revisionists.

Killing civilians in war is a byproduct of the wickedness of war. But it was a good thing the United States used those bombs. We didn’t start this war, but we ended it.

Let me correct Mr. Dorfman (born 1942) and the seriously uninformed, mostly those who were not alive during the conflict, the use of those bombs saved hundreds of thousands of lives and was not a “war crime.”

The Japanese unprovoked, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a war crime. The Japanese torturing of POW’s was a war crime. The Bataan Death March was a war crime. The Japanese sinking of hospital ships was a war crime. The conscription and rape of over 200,000 civilian women for Japanese army brothels was a war crime. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #60 – Paulette Goddard

Paulette Goddard, Can I Have Your Autograph, Please?

In this undated photograph taken at the Hollywood Canteen sometime during World War II, a throng of servicemen crowd around film star Paulette Goddard trying to get her autograph.

Though Paulette Goddard had a fairly successful film career and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in So Proudly We Hail (1943), she is not well remembered today. She may be best known for co-starring with her husband Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times (1936) and The Great Dictator (1940). Chaplin and Goddard were married in secret in 1936 on a trip to China.

Born Marion Levy in New York on June 3, 1910, Paulette took her mother’s maiden name when she took up acting professionally. In 1926 Goddard became a Ziegfeld girl and a movie career followed soon afterwards.

Her waif-like beauty attracted men like moths to a flame. Goddard went to the alter four times.

Previous to Chaplin, Goddard was married in 1927 at the age of 17 to wealthy businessman Edgar James. That marriage was over by 1930. After her divorce from Chaplin in 1942, Goddard tied the knot with actor Burgess Meredith (The Penguin in the 1960s Batman TV show and Mickey in Rocky). After that marriage ended in 1949, Goddard found happiness in 1959 with writer Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front) and remained married to him until his death in 1970. Continue reading

Huge Crowd Of Last Minute Shoppers At Macy’s -1942

1942 – Crowds Come To Macy’s At The Last Minute, Not For Christmas Gifts, But Liquor

Macy’s department store in New York City – On October 31, 1942 people flock to the liquor department to stock up on spirits the day before a new liquor tax goes into effect

The government can raise food taxes, gasoline taxes and income taxes and people will get riled up. But when you increase taxes on alcohol, that’s when people go into a panic .

Immediately after the Unites States jumped into World War II on December 8, 1941, the Federal government added taxes on all sorts of things to raise money for the war effort. A tax on distilled liquor was passed: $4.00 per gallon effective November 1, 1942. In addition to that tax, retailers would have to pay a floor tax of $1.00 per gallon on any unsold liquor in their possession after that date.

Here is proof crazed buying scenes did occur in the past, though they were much more civilized. Today we associate buying frenzies with the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday or on Christmas Eve.

In our photo above on October 31,1942 crowds descended upon Macy’s liquor department to stock up on whiskey, gin, vodka and any liquor they could get, before the new liquor tax went into effect the next day.

The increased cost to consumers would be about 50 cents per bottle.

In New York City, Gimbels, Abraham & Strauss, Hearn’s, Bloomingdales, Macy’s and all the large department stores had liquor departments. Continue reading

Mayor La Guardia’s Homeless Solution – Arrest Them!

New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia’s 1942 solution for homelessness: Get to work or we’ll arrest you!

Bowery bums told to leave by LaGuardia 1942Rounding ’em up

New York City – “The Bowery Bum must go!” decreed New York’s Mayor La Guardia in his latest drive for municipal purity, and police squads promptly invaded the habitats of New York’s human derelicts and piled their collection into patrol wagons. Photo shows a group of the hapless men climbing into the “pie wagon”.  The mayor predicted that 30 days in the workhouse would cure them of their gutter-sleeping habits. (photo credit Acme) 11/18/1942

In 1942 some of New York City’s homeless population were comprised of families, but it also had a great deal of what were termed derelicts, vagrants and bums. These were the denizens of New York’s infamous street of despair, the Bowery.

That November, under the orders of Chief Magistrate Henry H. Curran and with the blessing of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, the order to clear the Bowery bums off the streets or be arrested was given. It may sound harsh, but then it was how the city felt they could best deal with the undesired population inhabiting the streets of the Bowery. Mayor La Guardia claimed he had received complaints from several mission societies and churches along the Bowery about the actions of the homeless on the street. Continue reading

History Channel – Hunting Hitler (And Ratings)

History Channel Treads Ground Covered Ad Nauseum By Sensationalist Magazine 50 + Years Ago

National Police Gazette cover May 1964, One of many times Hitler was featured on the Gazette cover

National Police Gazette cover May 1964, One of many times Hitler was featured on the Gazette cover

The History Channel has been stretching a not very unique idea into an eight episode program with few surprises called Hunting Hitler.  The premise is that Nazi Fuehrer Adolf Hitler and his consort Eva Braun faked their suicides and fled Berlin in the closing days of the war.

Even before the show aired there have been many people (not just among conspiracy theorists), who believe it is possible that Hitler did not die by his own hand in an underground bunker on April 30, 1945 as widely reported.

Until definitive evidence surfaces on what happened to Hitler, there is only one thing that is certain, unless he is the Methuselah of vile dictators, Hitler is now definitely dead. Continue reading

Ten Great Films From The 1940s Featuring New York City

Filming Around New York City In The 1940s

On The Town posterDuring Hollywood’s golden years from the 1930s through the early 1950s there were many films set in New York City, but the vast majority were made on the studio lots in southern California. Almost every studio had their own New York set which would convey “the Big Apple.”

The reasons for doing so were obvious; the costs of actually sending the cast and crew on location to film would be cost prohibitive and complete control could be exercised in the studio for crowd control, noise, lighting and other technical issues.

Occasionally films would use stock footage of New York or a second unit directing team would be sent to capture a New York scene or two to be used as establishing shots showing the audience, yes this is New York. Usually though none of the principal characters in the film were ever actually in New York, but back in Hollywood, playing against what is called a “process shot” a background screen showing New York footage usually while the actors were walking or driving.

Even such quintessential “New York” films such as A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) were shot completely in Hollywood.

So when the cast and crew actually did any filming in New York it was a rare treat, especially looking back today at the much changed metropolis.

Here are ten of the best 1940s films where a part of the movie was actually filmed on location in New York City.

Saboteur Cummings and Lloyd Statue of LibertySaboteur (1942) This cross-sountry chase of one man falsely accused of sabotage pursuing the real saboteur winds up in New York. Director Alfred Hitchcock had his second unit shoot footage in the city that shows New York in the midst of World War II. We see Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the waterfront and other familiar city sights.  A masterpiece of storytelling the film moves at a smooth pace as you bite your nails watching. Spoiler alert: Sinister character actor Norman Lloyd battles hero Robert Cummings on Bedloe’s Island at The Statue of Liberty in one of the most iconic conclusions to a film ever shot.

Ray Milland The Lost Weekend Third Avenue photo Life MagazineThe Lost Weekend (1945) Director Billy Wilder takes advantage of New York, shooting many of the exteriors of The Lost Weekend on location. Ray Milland’s portrayal of troubled, alcoholic writer Don Birnam won him an Academy Award for best actor. The film also won Oscars for best picture, best director and best screenplay. There are so many shots of Milland in the city it becomes a game to recognize where the actual locations are. Third Avenue is prominently put on display. The giant street clock Milland passes in one scene is still there today – located on Third Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets. All the mom and pop stores and restaurants along the way are long gone, replaced mostly by chains. P.J Clarke’s on Third Avenue and 55th Street was used in the shooting but many of the interior scenes of the bar were shot back in Hollywood. Continue reading

Nicholas Winton Dies At 106, Saved Hundreds From The Holocaust

The Extraordinary Life Of Nicholas Winton

Nicholas Winton at 105 photo David Levene for The Guardian

Nicholas Winton at 105 photo David Levene for The Guardian

Nicholas Winton who saved hundreds of children from the Holocaust and didn’t tell anyone about it for over 50 years died Wednesday, July 1 in Maidenhead, England at the age of 106.

With all the chaos and hatred that permeates today’s news, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are real humanitarians in this world who have accomplished extraordinary things. Nicholas Winton was one of those truly good people who remind us that good deeds can come out of bad events.

How Nicholas Winton rescued 669 children from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II is an amazing story told on the BBC 27 years ago and in America in 2014 on 60 Minutes.

Here is a portrait of humanity at its best with 60 Minutes telling Winton’s story.

70 Years Ago Today – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Dies

The Nation Mourns After Learning of the Death Of  F.D.R.

This is how the New York newspapers announced the death of F.D.R. on April 12, 1945.

70 years ago today when the 32nd President of the Unites States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died suddenly of a massive stroke at the age of 63 in Warm Springs, GA  there was an overwhelming outpouring of grief across the globe.

With the exception of Adolph Hitler and a few die hard anti-FDR Republicans most of the world was saddened to learn of Roosevelt’s death. Roosevelt was held in high esteem by most Americans, even those that did not agree with many of his policies. There were also those who could not stand the man, but were in awe of Roosevelt as a shrewd politician and the job he had done in seeing the United States through the Great Depression and World War II.

It was especially sad that Roosevelt never got to witness the end of the war which brought final victory to the Allies. Less than four weeks after Roosevelt’s death, Hitler and Mussolini were dead and Victory in Europe Day was celebrated May 8, 1945. Japan unconditionally surrendered on August 15, 1945.

What I cannot imagine happening now in today’s world of partisan politics is having a universal outpouring of sorrow if a President were to die suddenly while in office. There is so much outright hatred and disrespect in modern politics that we will never see anything like this again.

FDR's funeral procession in Washington D.C.

FDR’s funeral procession in Washington D.C.

The Brooklyn Eagle Continue reading

An Interview With Avery Corman “My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir”

Avery Corman, Author of Kramer vs. Kramer, Talks About His Latest Book: My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir

My Old Neighborhood RememberedThe neighborhood is the Bronx. The time is World War II and the post war years. And the writer is Avery Corman. His newest book My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir (2014) Barricade Books, is his first non-fiction book and is filled with wonderful recollections of growing up.

After graduating college Corman was working on the fringes of advertising and with the encouragement of a friend, Herb Gardner (A Thousand Clowns; I’m Not Rappaport; etc), he took a stab at writing a book. That effort was published as Oh God! A Novel (1971). After that hurdle Corman never looked back and he became a full-time novelist. Oh God! was eventually made into a very popular movie in 1977 starring George Burns and John Denver.

Some of Corman’s other acclaimed novels include The Bust-Out King (1977), The Old Neighborhood (1980); 50 (1987); Prized Possessions (1991); The Boyfriend from Hell (2006) and his most famous work, Kramer vs. Kramer (1977) which was adapted into a movie in 1979 and was the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Avery Corman’s success must partially stem from his middle-class upbringing in the Fordham section of the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s, where he admits he was not the best student when it came to math and science, but did well in the humanities and was surrounded by a loving, extended family.

My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir is more a series of vignettes rather than a straight autobiography and that style comes off well. Corman shares his memories of childhood during World War II up until he becomes a successful author in the late 1960’s. He paints beautiful word pictures, sometimes tinged with sadness, of growing up in a wondrous place that no longer exists. Most of the stories offer short bursts of family life, games, food, education, sports and all the things that contributed to making the Bronx a special place to grow up in.

Corman’s stories resonate with a tender glow of friendships, family and the feeling that neighborhoods were once really neighborhoods, where the familiarity of rituals, people and places were ingrained in the surroundings.

Here are parts one and two of an exclusive interview with Avery Corman.

Part I, Avery Corman talks about what made the Bronx a special place during the war. His unique living situation and school life.

In part II Corman Continue reading

Shared Media 1939 Style

16 Very Concerned New York City Kids – 1939

Reading the war news in a Polish neighborhood NYC 1939 9 5

This is simply a great photograph of something you will probably never see again, kids gathering around a newspaper to read a story. The communal reading or sharing of news done without a tablet, mobile device, Twitter, Facebook or any social network. Just friends, schoolmates and neighbors sharing a very important event.

In this case the boys are looking at the New York World -Telegram issue of September 1, 1939 announcing the German bombing of Poland.

When the Nazis invaded Poland it was of great interest to the Polish neighborhoods in New York City. The slug for this Acme news photograph reads:

War News In Polish District Of New York

New York City – A group of boys in the Polish district of downtown New York City study a newspaper bearing the news of the German invasion of Poland. As these lads read the paper boys their own age in Poland got their first taste of modern war as German planes dropped bombs from the sky. Credit Line (Acme) 9-1-39

A few of these boys in the photograph look older than thirteen. Since the war would last until August 1945, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them went on to fight and die in World War II.