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American Memory of the Second World War Versus American's Experience of the Second World War - Essay Example

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Your Name Prof’s Name Date American Memory of the Second World War Versus American’s Experience of the Second World War The Second World War will always hold a special, spectral, horrible but proud place in American memory. We like to understand it as a brave effort by our nation to help people who were unable to help themselves, to stand up against the horrible slaying of Jews on a massive scale, and to protect the ideal that a country could not simply invade and conquer other countries unilaterally without facing some kind of recompense…
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American Memory of the Second World War Versus Americans Experience of the Second World War
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Download file to see previous pages Yet the fact remains that the liberation of Jews and other such interests where not America’s primary concern in entering World War II. Despite the fact that we knew the extermination of Jews was ongoing, we largely stayed aloof from the conflict for some time, only entering reluctantly when attacked by Japan in 1941. Much of our national memory remembers the European front of the Second World War more than the Pacific front – this is where the liberation of concentration camps happened, and where the war’s principle villain, Adolf Hitler, lived and was slain. But the fact is, most of the Second World War was the Pacific front for America. We entered the Second World War on December 8th, 1941, after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor (Roosevelt 187). From this point until D-Day in 1944, America fought exclusively a battle of self-defense turned offense against the Japanese in the Pacific, island hopping towards the eventual goal of reclaiming the Philippines and defeating the Japanese. We only entered into war with Germany because of an entanglement of alliances, where the Germans and Japanese had a mutual defense pact. This is not to say that Roosevelt was not eager to enter the Second World War, but rather than the American people were very reticent, and only entered due to an unprovoked attack, not out of some kind of humanitarian gesture. Some argue that we had only an incomplete understanding of the extermination happening in Germany, and that if we had known more fully action would have been swifter. But as of December 28, 1942, reporters already had firm numbers about the millions who were being slaughtered or shipped to concentration camps (Fry 194). The numbers reported were entirely insufficient to explore the horror being exacted: “In the city of Riga, Latvia, 8,000 Jews were killed in a single night” or “in the ghetto of Warsaw, in which 550,000 Jews once dwelt, there are today fewer than 50,000” (Fry 194). And reporters also knew that this massacre, or at least a pattern of violence, murder and intimidation, was ongoing for years before this. The reporter Varian Fry indicating that he learned as of “1938” that “the Nazi leaders openly encouraged burning of synagogues, the pillage of Jewish homes, and the murder of their inhabitants” (Fry 194). So either reporters were doing a miserable job communicating their knowledge to the public, or else the American public was simply not overly concerned with the wholesale massacre of the Jews in Europe. America did play an important role in World War II – but it was a reluctant one – the war America fought was mostly in the pacific, with only a year of combat actually on European soil. And though the heroism of American soldiers who risked their lives in the freeing of concentration camps must be commended, it is important to record documents such as these, and remember what actually occurred during the Second World War – America stayed neutral far after most of the world had entered the fray, and far after it had become apparent ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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