Where Berlin And America Meet

Our common history isn’t all pleasant, but seeing it firsthand is deeply moving

Berlin’s history intersects with America’s at many points, and tourists who seek these intersections will arrive at the first of them sooner than they expect. Americans who came of age soaking up reruns of Twelve O‘Clock High, The World at War, and Victory Through Air-power may find that flying into Berlin is a slightly disconcerting way to approach the place.

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“Medic!”

IN A HARD WAR theirs may have been the hardest job of all. But together with Army doctors and Army nurses, they worked something very close to a miracle in the European theater.

 

It wasn’t any different getting killed in World War II than in the Civil War, but if the shrapnel, bullet, or tree limb wounded a GI without killing him, his experience as a casualty was infinitely better. The medical team, from the medics in the field to the nurses and doctors in the tent-city hospitals, compiled a remarkable record. More than 8 percent of the soldiers who underwent emergency operations in a mobile field or evacuation hospital survived. Read more »

Lifeline To A Sinking Continent

Secretary Of State George C. Marshall received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the Harvard commencement exercise on the morning of June 5, 1947. That afternoon he spoke to a group of alumni. His message was short and grim. World War II and its aftermath had brought Europe to the brink of disaster.Read more »

Martha Dodd’s Shining Season

It took a long time for the truth about Nazi Germany to sink in. And when it did, she learned the wrong lesson.

The only complaint Martha Dodd had about her father as she grew up was that sometimes he’d start going on to the family about the Bible and history and economics, politics, and social problems. Too boring. She wanted to be a poet and writer, and such discussions held no interest for her. At the University of Chicago, where her father taught history and she majored in English, she ran with a crowd talking literature and art, poetry and painting. Read more »

History’s Largest Lessons

A historian of the ancient world believes that in every era humankind has reacted to the demands of waging war in surprisingly similar ways, and that to protect our national interests today Americans must understand the choices soldiers and statesmen made hundreds and even thousands of years ago

In a time when the usefulness of the past as a means to comprehend the present remains the object of skepticism, if not outright attack, inside the academy, Donald Kagan, the former dean of Yale College and a professor of ancient history, has published a book about the necessity of historical analogy for understanding a nation’s security interests. Read more »

From World War To Cold War

In an exchange of letters, a man who had an immeasurable impact on how the great struggle of our times was waged looks back on how it began

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The 36th Mission

He spent his tour of duty bombing German cities and made it home only to discover he could never leave the war behind him. Then, a lifetime later, he found a way to make peace.

My story begins in 1925. I was the youngest of nine children born to Frank and Leata Clark, factory workers in southern Wisconsin who were hit hard by the Depression. My father died when I was thirteen. In October 1943, as soon as I turned eighteen, I enlisted in the Army as a private, hoping to become a fighter pilot. Read more »

Germany’s America

For a century and a half Germans have been deeply ambivalent about the United States, and their contradictory feelings say much about their future in Europe and the world

In 1989 the Berlin wall came down. A year later the unimaginable had become a reality: Germany, divided in 1945, was reunified, and it was beginning to raise a major voice not only in Europe but also in world politics. Hopes are high that this time Germany will assume a role among nations different from the one it played in the first half of the century. But in East and West there are deep and traumatic memories of two world wars, of how the Germans saw themselves then and of how they treated their neighbors. Read more »

Nuremberg, Time And Memory

JUSTICE SERVED NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO IN A WRECKED GERMAN CITY STILL CASTS ITS EIGHT AND SHADOW OVER MUCH OF THE WORLD

A SENSATION OF PARALLEL TIME. of one eye fixed on the present and the other focused on the past, of one ear hearing the moment and the other distant echoes, was there from the beginning of the project. Nuremberg 1945, San Miguel de Allende 1991. The two places might as well have been on different planets. The old colonial town clinging to Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental is something of a demiparadise, if the country remains reasonably stable. The other, in 1945, was the city as cemetery, with rubble for monuments and the stench of death in the air.Read more »

The Transatlantic Duel: Hitler Vs. Roosevelt

In 1941 the President understood better than many Americans the man who was running Germany, and Hitler understood Roosevelt and his country better than we knew

In the summer of 1940 the fate of the world depended on the duel between two men: Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill. It was a duel of nerves, and of wills. Churchill carried it off, because Hitler finally chose not to invade Britain. But even before he made that decision, he and Churchill were aware that this was no longer a duel between the two of them. Before the fall of France, Hitler had gained an ally, Mussolini. Before the Battle of Britain Churchill had gained the support of Roosevelt.Read more »