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Miscellaneous posters from the World War II era concerning topics such as watching for spies, inventing new contraptions, and writing letters to Soldiers.
Short Vignettes for your Classroom
From 1979 through 1985, the Military History Institute (USAMHI) of the USAHEC drew submissions from students and scholars from within the MHI and from throughout the country to publish as Military History Vignettes. Each of these short stories is a well-researched look at a specific topic in military history and is perfect for small group readings and critical thinking discussion in the classroom.
To find additional Military History Vignettes that do not pertain to a specific era, click here.
Description: A resistance group (the Comité du Cirque) arose iin response to the growth of the Nazi Party in the late 1930s.
Notable Personas/Locations: Robert de Rotheschild; Adolf Hitler; Manfred Simon; Andre Mayer; Paris, France
Description: A Sergeant recorded his observations of General MacArthur during their stay at Tacloban.
Notable Persons/Locations: Sergeant Vincent L. Powers; General Douglas MacArthur; Tacloban, Philippine Islands
Description: When the Allied Military Government was established in Naples, three flags (American, British, and Italian) were displayed publicly and increased morale among Italian citizens.
Notable Persons/Locations: Naples
Description: In a 1944 report, Colonel Xenophon Price graphically described his visit to the destroyed Falaise Pocket in Normandy.
Notable Persons/Locations: Colonel Xenophon Price; Normandy, France
Description: American soldiers wrote to a newspaper in response to an article calling Guadalcanal one of the Pacific’s most beautiful islands. The letter sarcastically describes the wonders of everyday life on the island.
Notable Persons/Locations: Guadalcanal
Description: After multiple failures in Tunisia, Major General Lloyd Fredendall was replaced in command of the U.S. 2nd Armored Division by George S. Patton, leading to a slew of victories.
Notable Persons/Locations: George Patton; Lloyd Fredendall; Dwight Eisenhower; Tunisia
Theme: Leadership / Loyalty
Description: A Major General gave out Japanese naval and military swords to honorable commanders after World War II.
Notable Persons/Locations: Major General Andrew D. Bruce
Theme: Organization & Conduct
Description: A controversy surrounding the saluting of the American flag for the pledge of allegiance draws similarities to that of the Nazi hand raise, thus leading to the elimination of the tradition.
Notable Persons/Locations: Colonel James A. Moss
Description: Logistical failure of the Japanese 15th Army Corps to recognize the conditions and terrain in India led to their defeat.
Notable Persons/Locations: General Mataguchi
Fall of the Philippines
Grade Level: 9-12 Historical Era: World War II Subject: U.S. History, World History Introduction: This activator includes primary source documents, audio, and several photographs. The material covers the surrender of the Philippine Islands to the Japanese at the beginning of World War II in the Pacific. This should be used to begin any discussion on the Pacific Theater in World War II. Students will be asked to analyze primary sources to learn about the realities of the war in the Pacific after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Battle of Guadalcanal: From a Soldier-Poet
Grade Level: 9-12 Historical Era: World War II Subject: U.S. History, World History Introduction: This activator includes a poem written by a U.S. Army Soldier dealing with the hardships of battle on Guadalcanal during the first American offensive of the Pacific war. This activator is a good introduction to World War II in the Pacific. The activator also includes a photograph of a supply depot on the island, a scan of the front page of the Soldier's Veterans Service Survey, and a historical overview for the instructor.
Our Pearl Harbor Experience
Grade Level: 9-12 Historical Era: World War II Subject: U.S. History, World History Introduction: This lesson plan includes primary source documents. The material covers a first person account of the attack on Pearl Harbor from the point of view of a Soldier on the ground. Students will also review a telephone log from a headquarters unit from that day.
The present historical end of World War II in Europe in American history books is this: "...When World War II was over in Europe the Americans were on the west bank of the Elbe River." Tony Vaccaro, a Veteran of 83rd Infantry Division in World War II argues that is incorrect. That is where the fun begins, as he documents with personal photographs the 83rd Infantry Division's operations on the way to Berlin. While the other units celebrated V-E Day west of the Elbe, the 83rd Infantry Division and the 2nd Armored Division stopped nearly at the Gate of Charlottenburg of Berlin. In other words, World War II needs a coda, an end- the historical ending chapter. Vaccaro provides that ending through his photography and reminiscences of the last days of World War II.
Taking a nation to war is a complex and difficult proposition. Dr. David M. Kennedy will discuss the core premises of American grand strategy in World War II, and their implications for war-fighting, the nature of the victory that was achieved, and the U.S. role in the post-war international order. The general line of argument is to develop the idea that America's war was like that of no other belligerent. The presentation builds from Winston Churchill's observation in August 1945 that "The United States stand at this moment at the summit of the world," and tries to explain how that came to be -- contrary to popular mythology, not just as an incidental effect of the war's progression, but as a result of some quite specific, concrete decisions to fight a particular kind of war, on a particular time-table, with a particular configuration of forces.
The 87th Infantry Division fought in General George S. Patton's Third U.S. Army during World War II. After months of training, first at Camp McCain, Mississippi, then at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the division shipped overseas. They first entered combat in France's Alsace-Lorraine, and after extremely bloody fighting, crossed the German border in the Saar, capturing the towns of Walsheim and Medelsheim. Caught up in the Third Army's historic counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge, the 87th Division raced off into Belgium - attacking the German Panzer Lehr Division near Bastogne at the towns of Pironpre, Moircy, Bonnerue, and Tillet. Soon after breaching the Siegfried Line in the Eifel Mountains, the division crossed the Moselle River and captured Koblenz. Then the Rhine River crossing near Boppard and the dash across Germany which took them to Plauen, near the Czech border.
If the Battle of the Bulge was Germany's last gasp, it was also America's proving ground-the largest single action fought by the U.S. Army in World War II. Victory in this legendary campaign was built upon the remarkable resurrection of our truncated interwar army, an overhaul that produced the effective commanders crucial to GI success in beating back the Ardennes counteroffensive launched by Hitler's forces. Understanding leadership during this period requires examining the largely neglected level of corps command. Focusing on the decisions and actions of six Army corps commanders-Leonard Gerow, Troy Middleton, Matthew Ridgway, John Millikin, Manton Eddy, and J. Lawton Collins, Dr. Hal Winton recreates their role in this epic struggle through a mosaic of narratives that take the commanders from the pre-war training grounds of America to the crucible of war in the icy-cold killing fields of Belgium and Luxembourg. Winton introduces the story of each phase of the Bulge with a theater-level overview of the major decisions and events that shaped the corps battles and, for the first time, fully integrates the crucial role of airpower into our understanding of how events unfolded on the ground. Unlike most accounts of the Ardennes that chronicle only the periods of German and American initiative, this study describes an intervening middle phase in which the initiative was fiercely contested by both sides and the outcome uncertain. His inclusion of the principal American and German commanders adds yet another valuable layer to this rich tapestry of narrative and analysis. Ultimately, Winton argues that the flexibility of the corps structure and the competence of the men who commanded the six American corps that fought in the Bulge contributed significantly to the ultimate victory.
The 1942 campaigning season ended in disaster for the German Wehrmacht, with twin and nearly simultaneous defeats at Stalingrad and El Alamein. Analysts have usually assigned responsibility for the catastrophe to the amateurish strategy of Adolf Hitler, or to miscalculations on the part of the German General Staff, or to various mistakes by the field commanders at critical junctures. But what if we have misconstrued the true causes of the catastrophe? What if, in fact, the Wehrmacht failed in 1942 not because of fundamental problems within the classic "German way of war," a unique combination of doctrines, attitudes, and assumptions whose roots lay deep in the history of Prussia and Germany? In Death of the Wehrmacht, military historian Robert Citino offers not only a detailed analysis of the German campaigns in the Soviet Union and North Africa, but also ties them into the traditional pattern of German operations extending back hundreds of years. In a major reevaluation of the campaigns of 1942, Citino shows how the German army’s emerging woes were rooted as much in its addiction to the "war of movement" as they were in Hitler’s deeply flawed management of the war. Citino examines how one of history’s most powerful armies began to founder in its quest for world domination.
The myths surrounding the German high command in World War II deviate significantly from the reality. Many people have an image of the German high command (or, loosely, the German General Staff) as an entity that was independent; organized and centralized; expert; and anti-Nazi. While not wholly false, this picture is also far from accurate. This talk will examine the high command's structure, ideas, and culture, in order to reveal weaknesses that severely inhibited its performance and contributed to the onset, nature and ultimate loss of the war.
Geoffrey Megargee received his undergraduate degree in history from St. Lawrence University in 1981. Following stints as an army officer and in the business world, he entered San Jose State University, where he received a Masters in European history in 1991, and then Ohio State University, from which he graduated with a doctorate in military history in 1998. He is the recipient of, among other honors, a J. William Fulbright grant for research in Germany, upon which he based his book "Inside Hitler's High Command" (winner of the Society for Military History's 2001 Distinguished Book Award). He is also the author of "War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941." Dr. Megargee currently holds the position of Senior Applied Research Scholar at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he is editor-in-chief for the Museum's multi-volume Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945. The first volume of that work appeared in June 2009, and has received a National Jewish Book Award and a Judaica Reference Award, among other distinctions. Dr. Megargee is also a Presidential Counselor for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, a member of the Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee, and has served for the last five years as treasurer of the United States Commission on Military History.
This presentation examines the challenges and opportunities encountered by Rita Pilkey, an American Red Cross Club Director stationed in China’s Yunnan Province from January 1944 until August 1945. Pilkey’s first assignment at the U.S. Army Field Artillery Training Center, twelve miles outside of Kunming, provided her with the opportunity to witness the training of Chinese soldiers in modern artillery warfare. These soldiers would go on to play a critical role in the Salween Campaign and the reopening of an overland supply route from India to China in early 1945. Her second assignment at Luliang, eighty miles southeast of Kunming, brought her to a remote airfield where the roar of bomber, fighter, and transport aircraft was a constant reminder of the war that was raging nearby. Rita Pilkey’s feisty and daring spirit, her grit and determination, her ingenuity, and her equanimity served her well during her assignment in China. Indeed, she epitomized the energetic fortitude of the 5,000 American Red Cross recreational workers assigned to distant and remote overseas postings during World War II. Her Red Cross story helps to broaden and modify our definition of war so that we no longer perceive it as a phenomenon belonging exclusively to men. In the early 1990s, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Second World War, an outpouring of books, memoirs, films, and public programs helped to move the discussion of war to include the varied and complex stories of women. Rita Pilkey’s story is a continuation of this quest to ensure that women’s voices remain an integral part of our understanding of war.
The true nature of war is sometimes lost to the sands of time. Though the horrors of World War II were not so long ago, the reality of its cost in sweat and blood is gradually disappearing from the American consciousness. To bring the realities of the bloodiest war in history back into focus, Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Atkinson has finished the final book in his WWII Liberation Trilogy, "The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945." Rick Atkinson will give a lecture outlining the powerful narrative of Soldiers' stories throughout the war in Northern Europe, which ended the Nazi regime in Germany. Following the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, the Allied forces set their sights on the main source of trouble, Nazi-held Europe. On June 6, 1944, the Allied coalition assaulted fortress Europe with a bloody and costly invasion of Normandy, France. The Allies, led by the United States Army, took their first step towards ultimate victory, but many more battles such as Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge continued to claim lives and resources. In "The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945," Mr. Atkinson gives new life to the struggle of a generation by using the perspectives of all those involved, from veteran generals to inexperienced privates in the field, fundamentally explaining the true cost of Europe's liberation. Rick Atkinson is a bestselling author of six works of narrative military history, including the "Liberation Trilogy," "The Long Grey Line, In the Company of Soldiers," and "Crusade." He received his B.A. in English from East Carolina University and went on to obtain an M.A. in English Language and Literature from University of Chicago. In addition to his books, he was also a reporter, foreign correspondent, war correspondent, and senior editor at The Washington Post for more than twenty years. Besides winning Pulitzer Prizes, he has also won the George Polk Award, and the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.
1943 marked the end for the German Army's advance in World War II. The German forces, known as the Wehrmacht, lost the initiative on all fronts, and found themselves on the defensive against the U.S, British, and Soviet forces slowly pushing their way into the German heartland. Pulling material from German primary sources and information collected in his book, "The Wehrmacht Retreats: Fighting a Lost War, 1943," award winning author Dr. Robert M. Citino will discuss the reactions and decisions made after the tables turned against the German forces. The decisions made by the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, the German High Command, and the German Officer Corps helped to bring about the end of the Wehrmacht’s command of continental Europe. Despite the effects of the command’s disastrous decisions, the German Army maintained cohesion, morale, and aggression, prolonging the bloody conflict. Join us for an in-depth look at the decisions made by the Wehrmacht, which lead them to their eventual defeat.
Dr. Citino, a renowned military history professor from the University of North Texas, is the Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor of Military History at the United States Army War College. He has studied Nazi Germany and American military history, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Cold War. Dr. Citino's career extends to several universities: he served as the Charles Boal Ewing Visiting Professor of Military History at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. He published nine books, one of which earned the American Historical Association's Paul M. Birdsall Prize for book of the year in military and strategic history. The Society for Military History awarded him the Distinguished Book Award in 2013 for his latest book, "The Wehrmacht Retreats: Fighting a Lost War, 1943."
The United States' entry into World War II started with the dreadful surprise attack and defeat at Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan. The event sparked a resolve in the U.S public; a resolve the U.S. military fed upon to rebuild and viciously claw its way across the Pacific to the tide-turning battle of Midway. Dr. Charles Kupfer of Penn State University, Harrisburg, will give a lecture examining the U.S public and military's reactions to the Japanese surprise attacks and conquests of U.S and other Allied territories based on his latest book, "Indomitable Will: Turning Defeat into Victory from Pearl Harbor to Midway." After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese forces seemed unstoppable, as they assaulted U.S forces in Bataan, Corregidor, Wake Island, and the Java Sea. However, Dr. Kupfer will illustrate how the assaults on Allied forces actually strengthened the alliance between the U.S. and the United Kingdom, paving the way for turning the war against the Japanese. Furthermore, Dr. Kupfer will explain how the defeats steeled the will of the American people and military to continue the war effort. Join the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) for an in-depth examination of the unbreakable American resolve during the U.S. entry into World War II and how this resolve propelled the U.S forces to their later victories.
Dr. Charles Kupfer received his Bachelor of Arts from John Hopkins University and studied at Oxford University and the University of Texas to earn a Ph.D. in American Studies in 1998. Dr. Kupfer taught for three years at Michigan State University and served as president of the Middle Atlantic American Studies Association. He currently serves on the Eastern American Studies Association Board and is active in several Commonwealth Public Heritage initiatives, serving on the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Commission, the Friends of Fort Hunter Board of Directors, and as Penn State Harrisburg American Studies Program liaison to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Dr. Kupfer published his first book in 2013, "We Felt The Flames: Hitler's Blitzkrieg, America's Story," published by Sergeant Kirkland's Press. Academic articles he wrote appeared in several journals, such as Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies, The International Journal of the History of Sports, Iron Game History: The Journal of Physical Culture, and Pennsylvania History.
Midway through the largest war the world had ever seen, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler lacked a single component to harness nuclear energy and surpass the Allies in creating the atomic bomb. The missing link was water chemically laden with the hydrogen isotope deuterium, also known as "heavy water." Heavy water was only produced in a solitary plant near Rjukan, Norway, known as Vemork and established by Norwegian professor of chemistry, Leif Tronstad. When British intelligence learned about the Führer's plans, they joined forces with the intrepid chemist, who had escaped Nazi control, to prevent the plant from completing Hitler's atomic bomb. On Thursday, November 2, 2017, Author Neal Bascomb will bring a talk to the United States Army Heritage and Education Center about the Allies' harrowing, last-minute attempt to destroy the Vemork plant in 1942.
The shocking Japanese attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii resulted in the devastating loss of more than two thousand Soldiers and citizens. Even as Americans reeled from the blow, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his military advisors were already planning a retaliatory counter-attack on Japan. On Thursday, August 3, 2017, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, will host author James M. Scott for a lecture using themes from his latest publication, Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor. Scott will shed new light on the details of Roosevelt's counterattack and the brave airmen who risked everything to give their country hope in the coming world war.
With breakers smashing into the darkened hulk of Corregidor Island behind them, the passengers and crew of Motor Torpedo Boat PT-41 strained their eyes, simultaneously looking for the Japanese Navy and holding down the onset of sea-sickness. For one man on the boat, the "retching" feeling was not necessarily caused by the choppy seas. In General Douglas MacArthur's case, the tight knot in his stomach was due to the men and women he was leaving behind in the Philippine Islands on that cold night in March 1942. General of the Army MacArthur was one of World War II's most controversial figures; by the end of the war, he was a leader of both stunning triumphs and terrible defeats. Only days after his harrowing escape from the Japanese on PT-41, he announced to a crowd in Australia, "I came through, and I shall return!" On Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 7:15 PM, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) will host Mr. Walter Borneman to present his lecture entitled, "Macarthur at War: World War II in the Pacific." Borneman will discuss the war from a MacArthur-centric point of view, paying particular attention to the myths and realities surrounding his method of command.
As World War II expanded into the largest conflagration the earth had ever seen, the U.S. Army realized the need for specialized psychological warfare tactics. The job description was extensive: "prisoner and civilian interrogation, broadcasting, loudspeaker appeals, leaflet and newspapers production, broadcasting, and technical support." The mission was intense: weaken the morale of the Third Reich and then help Germany transition to an era free from Nazi oppression. The American Soldiers selected to man the Army's "Mobile Broadcasting Companies," during the Second World War, however, were uniquely qualified to fight on a different battlefield from their rifle-bearing brethren - a war of hearts, minds, and intelligence. From their training at Camp Sharpe in Pennsylvania, the "Psycho Boys" worked in secret to undermine Nazi propaganda and provide American Forces in combat with another weapon to destroy the fascist juggernaut. On Thursday, November 3, 2016, Dr. Beverly Eddy of Dickinson College will present a lecture based on her book, Camp Sharpe's "Psycho Boys": From Gettysburg to Germany, at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. She will follow five of the German refugees-turned-American Soldiers from the time they joined the Mobile Radio Broadcasting Companies at Camp Sharpe, to D-Day and the fight for Europe, through the liberation of the concentration camps.
The U.S. Army Center of Military History records the Army's official history. This collection includes materials from both the western and eastern theaters, as well as materials from within the United States and the rest of the Americas.