Close Encounter

The mysterious thing that happened to Lieutenant Colonel Brown over Bremen in 1943 sent the pilot off on a quest that lasted his entire life. Finally he found the answer. It had been worth waiting for.

In December 1943, Capt. Charles L. Brown flew his first mission over Germany as aircraft commander of a battle-weary B-17. What happened that day is an extraordinary untold story of World War II. Recently I sat with Lieutenant Colonel Brown (USAF Ret.) in the leafy yard of his Florida home. His keen memory supported by a diary, he told me the tale. Read more »

Connecting With Eastern Europe

Americans have always sympathized with the Eastern European countries in their struggles for democracy, but for two centuries we haven’t been able to help much. Do we have a chance now? A distinguished expatriate looks at the odds.

Even in these days of nine-hour airplane journeys and instant telephony, the United States and Eastern Europe are very far apart. When it comes to the places and shapes of nations and states east of Germany and west of Russia, there occurs in the eyes of most Americans an instant blur. There are obvious reasons for this. One of them is the plain reality of perspective.Read more »

Triumph And Tragedy

It was the second of May, 1945, six days before the end of the war in Europe. We were members of Headquarters Battery, 608th Field Artillery Battalion, 71st Infantry Division—one of the spearheads of Ration’s 3d Army, driving south through a conquered Germany toward Austria, the last unoccupied part of Hitler’s Reich.Read more »

Out Of The Blue

In 1929 Germany announced that the mighty new dirigible Graf Zeppelin would fly around the world. This stirred a great deal of excitement in the United States, not only because such gigantic airships were thought to be the future of aviation but also because the newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst had put up two hundred thousand dollars to finance part of the Zeppelin’s flight and was promoting it aggressively. Read more »

Homer Lea & The Decline Of The West

Early in the century a young American accurately predicted Japan’s imperialism and China’s and Russia’s rise. Then he set out to become China’s soldier leader.

In October 1941 Clare Boothe Luce, the playwright, journalist, politician, and wife of the magazine tycoon Henry Luce, had dinner with half a dozen army officers in their quarters on top of an ancient Spanish fort beside the harbor of Manila. The main topic of conversation was the threat of war with Japan. Everyone assumed that if hostilities began, the Philippines would be target No. 1 of the Japanese war machine. Read more »

Why We Didn’t Use Poison Gas in World War II

In a conflict that saw saturation bombing, Auschwitz, and the atom bomb, poison gas was never used in the field. What prevented it?

Forty years ago, on August 6 and 9, 1945, American B-29s dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, killing at least 110,000 and possibly 250,000 Japanese and speeding that nation’s surrender. During four years of bitter fighting, World War II had become for the United States virtually total war, in which morality had slowly been redefined to allow the intentional bombing of civilians. Read more »

The Last Days Of The Third Reich

Forty years ago, a tangle of chaotic events led to the death of Hitler, the surrender of the Nazis, and the end of World War II in Europe

The last time Grand Adm. Karl Doenitz saw his Führer was on April 20, 1945, Adolf Hitler’s fifty-sixth birthday. The celebration, held in the Führerbunker , a dank catacomb buried deep beneath the Reich chancellery, twenty feet lower than Berlin’s sewer system, was hardly festive. Read more »

The Prizewinners

America has won more Nobel Prizes in medicine than any other nation: it’s easy when you have the money, the technology, and people from every other nation

In 1977 the sociologist Harriet Zuckerman published a comprehensive study of the American Nobel laureates in science called Scientific Elite . She used these words of Simone Weil for an epigraph: “Science today must search for a source of inspiration above itself or it will perish. There are just three reasons for doing science: (1) technical applications; (2) chess game; (3) the way toward God. (The chess game is embellished with competitions, prizes and medals.)” Read more »

Good Neighbors

Forty years ago it was Nazis, not communists, we wanted to keep out of Latin America. A veteran of that propaganda war recalls our efforts to bring American values to a bewildered Ecuador.

BECAUSE THE Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, I found myself soon after flying down with a technical mission to the province of El Oro in Ecuador, a province I had never before heard of, in a land of which I knew nothing, except that it straddled the equator, for which it was named. Read more »

The Man Who Planned The Victory

An Interview With Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer

In 1936 the Germans permitted a captain of the U.S. Army to attend their War College as an exchange student. What he learned there helped him develop the master strategy with which the Allies won the war. At eighty-six, one of the last of the commanders looks back. Read more »