World War II.
Mobilize totally. Produce wildly. Train and equip
unbeatable legions, and fight on to complete victory:
such were the intuitive, unspoken,but chillingly clear directives
tendered Americans on Pearl Harbor Day,
December 7, 1941.
How these were done composes the history of America's
World War II. What had been happening until then was
generally believed to be "other peoples' wars";
apparently what happened now was expected, for
the American people fell heartily into total mobilization.
They had been frenzied with reports, running over several years, of
the crushing power of the totalitarian states, of how the fascist
populations had been trained and disciplined for total war.
Every week the newsreels had brought pictures of their
enemies' devastating and merciless power.
The main problem was how to channel the torrents of energy:
the ready crowds of individuals - men, women, children;
the groups clamoring for assignments;
the factories offering to convert to war goods;
the politicians asking who wants money -
saying, here it is!
With rare exceptions, no person, no occupation, no institution,
no voluntary group, no business, no agency of government
was excluded from the total mobilization.
Nor was the mobilization deflated before the war
came to an end in Europe in May 1945, and
then not significantly more so until the
surrender of Japan in August.
Evasion of duties, cheating, profiteering, and corruption
were common, yet not so great as might have been expected; the
war media-hype was hysterically pitched to shame the scoundrel, and
many were the ways of making money and getting jobs.
Resistance to the draft was minimal; so was espionage.
Hoarding beyond the kitchen closet was hardly profitable;
foodstuffs and goods were sufficient.
The production figures are staggering. In two years' time,
the country leaped from the doldrums into supra-capacity. The U.S.
produced more ships, planes, tanks, cannons, vehicles, small arms,
and munitions than all the combatants put together. Its 15 million
men who served in the armed forces were the best-dressed, best-fed,
best-cared for, best-entertained, most carefully led-into-enemy-fire
(with frightful exceptions in the Marines' island-hopping) forces
ever to march upon the Earth. At the same time, it furnished much
of the same matériel and goods to its allies.
One after another, giant corporations received
permission to violate anti-trust laws on behalf of the war effort;
regrettably, various important lawsuits against Dupont
and other companies for conspiring to maintain prices and
restrain competition in collaboration with
enemy companies were dropped "so as not to
interfere with their contribution to the war effort."
Remaining New Dealers like Attorney General
Anthony Biddle fought against the trend,
but usually lost.
Small businesses were often wiped out by the lack of materials;
shops and gas stations closed by the thousands;
small service enterprises closed down;
but many businesses converted to war production and
others started up new. The method of figuring profits
was to allow a modest percentage of profit
after costs, usually 6%,
but then costs were kept so high that
profits were often most generous.
Thousands of millionaires were made,
despite high tax rates. The ten
highest paid men in 1943
paid from 64 to 73% of their
gross income in taxes. Of the eight who are identifiable,
2 were gun-makers, 1 the head of the Lever
soap conglomerate, 3 movie magnates,
one in steel, one was head of IBM, and
one was an industrial architect.
Sixty-six persons had higher gross incomes, from family fortunes,
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.,led the pack with a
gross income of $5.3 millions.
Price controls were put on many goods and rationing was extended
with time. Inflation occurred, but within reasonable bounds of 10%
annually. Probably half of the population outside of the armed forces
never had so much food, clothing, respect, fulfillment of skills, and
hard cash, much of it saved because so many of the usual consumer
temptations were unavailable - cars, houses, even bikes.
The armed forces were followed everywhere by Wrigley's
chewing gum, Coca-Cola, nickel-a-pack cigarettes, and Betty Grable,
all given monopolistic advantages and scarce material in abundance.
(Given 15 millions who served, and the practically giveaway price
of cigarettes to the armed forces, in the long run more Americans
were killed by the heavy cigarette habit now acquired than were
killed by direct enemy action.)
One is permitted to cite great achievements, yet one is hard-put to say
that "our boys" were best-led (the most carefully, yes, though with exceptions),
the ablest in battle, the most dashing, the steadiest under attack,
the most stoic in combat. Let us say, the Americans got the job done.
They had everything working for them: an enemy in the West overextended in
the East and Africa, and dreadfully weakened by the Soviet army. Its
enemy in the Orient was hopelessly overextended and fundamentally
lacking resources and industrial plant.
Total spending for the War by the USA was $341 billions. It
suffered 292,131 battle deaths and 115,187 other deaths. The
comparison, as in World War, shows the USA with very low
casualties compared with enemy and Allies.
The Soviets lost 13 million military dead, plus 7 million civilians.
The Germans lost 3.5 million military and 3.8 million civilians.
China lost 3.5 million soldiers and 10 million civilians.
Japan lost 1.7 million military and 380,000 civilians
(including Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
American casualties in Europe were hardly more than in World War I,
despite the larger and longer role played, and amounted to
one-hundredth of the
Soviet dead and two-thirds of the British dead
contingents included many from the Empire -- India, Pakistan, Australia,
Canada, and New Zealand). On the Home Front, hundreds of thousands
of women, men as well, were breathing asbestos fibers
in their war factories, such that thousands were dying
from their cancerous effects until the next
The Soviet Union estimated its damages
at 30% of the total value of the Union's assets.
It was a difficult war in which to be a hero; three Presidents-to-be
served in combat, Eisenhower was well protected in his
headquarters and tours, but Kennedy's torpedo boat missed all of
its 30 shots and was sunk, Bush's plane was shot down without
harming the enemy. Republican candidate Bob Dole was badly
wounded in his first engagement trying to locate the
enemy and save a soldier. Most of the more effective heroes died.
Arleigh A. Burke (Bjorkegren, in its Swedish original) led a
squadron of eight destroyers that sank a Japanese cruiser, nine
destroyers, one submarine, nine small ships, and 30 aircraft, then
survived kamikazi hits on two aircraft carriers, much
later became Chief of Naval Operations, and lived to be 94.
Audie Murphy, in Italy, lived a charmed life and
killed, wounded and captured many a foe.
The panorama of modern combat is absurd, and should
long ago have put a stop to warfare: a marvelously trained
American captain of Marines, hitting the beach for the
first time is killed by a stray bullet (most killing
bullets were stray). In the jungles of New Guinea
in December 1942, Michael Rubitsky,
a stubborn half-trained American sergeant,
left at a jungle path with a machine gun,
totally slays a company of Japanese, urged on by
their captain, who then kills himself.
(Anti-semitism at headquarters incredibly blocks
a Congressional Medal of Honor.)
When the USA, the aggressive flirt, was drawn into war, its leaders,
condemning the Pearl Harbor command for its incompetency, made
quickly the decision to do battle in Europe until Nazism was beaten
and then to turn full force to conquer Japan. Actually, both were done
at about the same speed, the first more slowly than deemed possible,
the second more rapidly than thought probable.
The Soviets did their part with a determination and élan that put the
military world to shame. Enduring losses impossible for Americans to
conceive of, they turned from near chaotic defeat at the time of Pearl
Harbor to victories at critical junctures by the time the Allies landed in
Italy. Probably the turning point of the War was the destruction and
surrender of the Germany army at Stalingrad in a
months-long struggle of Winter 1942-3. It had been the Germans'
furthest advance into the Soviet Union, bringing them within reach
of the Caucasus oil fields.
Hitler's strategy at first had been to attack frontally and capture
Moscow, seeking to send the Soviet Union plunging down in a torrent
of defections and destruction. The Germans would then
enslave the population and turn to the rest of the world.
Their pre-practice of brutal enslavement stiffened the resistance of
the Soviet nationalities, however. The Soviets showed an unexpected
capacity to take losses, to endure frightfulness with patience, and to
take advantage of a most severe onslaught of winter. In the winter,
the German equipment froze, in the spring it bogged down in heavy
mud. The Soviets incredibly managed to transport much of their
threatened industrial capacity to the Ural Mountains and beyond.
Frustrated, German strategy shifted Southwards toward the oil and
crops of the Caucasus. Then came Stalingrad and later Kursk, the
largest tank battle in history. The Germans continued then to
retreat until the end.
A question often asked is how could the Germans, with their 60
million Germanophones from Germany, Austria, the Sudetan, and
Alsace, and their Italian ally from 1940-43 (40 millions) and Japan
finally 1941-45 (with 60 millions and the resources of South Asia and
East Asia) possibly win a war of such dimensions against the combined
forces of the Soviet Union (population three times as
large), British (twice as numerous, with Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, and an infinite supply of mercenaries from India and Africa),
and finally the United States with four times its population? Nor do
I mention France, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Norway,
Denmark, and the other enemies of the Third Reich.
It cannot be denied that France, from its surrender in May of 1940 to
its liberation in 1944, was a highly profitable source of industrial
products, foodstuffs, and manpower to the Germans; its armed forces
fought to some effect against the Western Allies in the Near East and
North Africa, and at Toulon, France, its fleet headquarters, and even,
weakly, against Allied troops and Free French in Central and Southern
France. Rich Indo-China was surrendered to the Japanese without a
fight. I have already mentioned the 800,000 troops that the Germans
were able to enlist into the Waffen-SS from non-German countries of
Europe, including a few from Switzerland.
One part of the answer is demographic. The invaders rounded up huge
numbers of civilians from the Soviet Union, Poland and other centers
of resistance and put them to work as slave labor, doing vast amounts
of pushing, pulling, hauling and building for the Wehrmacht at and
behind the front. A multitude were marched or railroaded to German
factories. There they were joined by ever increasing droves of workers
from the Western countries.
To the Germanics must be added perhaps twenty million slave
workers and political or racial prisoners who were given minimal
food, clothing and shelter and were absolutely without rights.
Furthermore, the Germans got better as time went on in organizing
enslaved workers, and there would be no end to their numbers. All
the debris of the Allied bombings, for example, could be cleared
and much reconstruction carried on by prisoners of war (in violation
of the Geneva Conventions for their treatment) and enslaved
workers, many of whom were killed in the process.
In addition Germany had top priority on everything that was
produced in what amounted to the whole of Europe less Britain,
Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland; these latter four lands
gave much of their product and services to the Nazis. The Baltic
regimes preferred their German conquerors to the Soviet ones, and
supplied troops, provisions, and manufactures to the Nazis, as well
as joining in to massacre helpless Jews and
other targets of the Reich.
Withal, the finally well-organized manpower and womanpower of the
Soviet Union, and the belated but rapid and total mobilization of the
United States and its entrance into battle made the German position
ultimately hopeless. The same might be said, but even more so, of the
North Africa became a sideshow,
once the U.S. entered the War and a continental invasion
became possible. The Italians there had started off briskly,
advancing to the edges of Egypt, then retreated, then
advanced, then retreated. The Germans sent in a large well-equipped
armored force, the Afrika Corps, under a soon-famous General
Rommel, and the Allied force was sent reeling back upon Egypt.
There it reformed under Montgomery, received lots of new
equipment from America and elsewhere, and, with a three-to-one
superiority in troops, sent the German-Italian Army back to Tunis.
The Germans and Italians might have romped about there to no avail
for the duration of the war. The invasion of the Magreb and then of
Italy frittered away more Allied than German forces. This was the fault
of Churchill, a romantic who loved Italy and Greece. His stint as Lord
of the Admiralty had enamored him, too, with the idea of freely sailing
the Mediterranean Sea.
He would have liked to move into Greece, for then, thought he, the
Western Allies could block the Soviets from taking over the Balkans
and Austria, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. But then there would have
been no "Casablanca" and Sam would have not played it again until
Paris was liberated.
As it was, the Western Allies, the U.S., and Britain had to delay a year
and more, possibly from late 1942 to mid-1944,
to gather the overwhelming force they thought would be needed
to invade Hitler's Festung Europa successfully.
(Some three million Jews and seven million East Europeans
were murdered outside of combat by German
troops, SS police, and volunteers of other nationalities
during this time.)
Abandoning the Mediterranean and holding a million combat troops
and supply trains in England for forcing a breach in the Atlantic
Wall might or might not bring the casualties that ultimately were
incurred in Africa and Italy. Britain had become a gigantic aircraft
carrier and troops launcher. Probes in force brought heavy losses,
but many probes would have been possible, of which several might
have stuck; an opponent must be given ample chances to make
mistakes. (Much later, crossing the Rhine was first accomplished by
means of a squad of Americans coming upon the Remagen Bridge,
For much of the War, it was thought that the tens of thousands of
bombers that the U.S., Britain and their allied contingents could bring
to bear upon Germany would ruin its industries and damage the morale
of its civilian population. It did neither decisively: the population
worked more desperately and the soldiers fought more stubbornly at
the front. With its unlimited enslaved labor resources, Germany
industry could reconstruct and keep going.
Beautiful cities, irreplaceable fine art, perished.
Much industry went underground, and, like the submarine pens off the
coast of France, became invulnerable to bombing. The German
railroad system and the railways of neighboring countries were
subjected to continuous bombing, but were rapidly repaired by
abundant crews. The most effective single instance of bombing came
on May 17, 1943 with the blowing open of three dams of the Ruhr,
industrial heartland of Germany, by a fleet of 19 British Lancasters
armed with specially designed five-ton bombs.
The German location, at the center of Europe, allowed the transfer of
personnel and materiel in all directions much more rapidly than the
locations, scattered around Europe and all over the world, of the
Allies. The coming into play of the V-1 and V-2 rocket weapons and
the jet fighter plane in the last year of the War was too late to affect
the rush of events, but indicates how dangerous at all times was the
German capacity to invent engines of war. Up to the last moment,
German morale could be boosted by mention of der Führer's promise
of secret weapons nearing readiness.
The atom bomb had been worked at, but some of the best scientists
had fled or died, and after one of them, Albert Einstein, instigated
by friendly physicists, wrote President Roosevelt in 1939 that the
Nazis had this possibility and America should attend to it also, and
gave it to better-connected colleagues to hand to Roosevelt, F.D.R.
approved the Manhattan project and funded it with billions of
dollars, all in secret. At the University of Chicago, the first nuclear
chain reaction was accomplished.
Einstein was not a political animal. He could count,
although admittedly not a brilliant mathematician, and
once figured that if a tiny percentage of citizens refused
military service around the world, governments would
have to keep the peace because the jails
could not hold them all. He exaggerated by a factor of ten
the number who would take his advice, and did not reckon with the
variable of terrorization. He was a warm and
candid person, with an eye for the ladies, and it was finally
revealed long after his death that he had enjoyed an
adulterous affair with an attractive Spy, Margarita Konenkova,
in 1944, while his disciples out West were building the atom bomb.
Mme. Konenkova was given a medal for this and
other conquests in America.
At Alamogordo, New Mexico, but as late as 1945, with the end of
the War in Europe, a bomb was exploded, to the tune of attending
scientists' exclamatory one-liners, and a couple of bombs were
rendered ready to be dropped by a B-52 bomber. A shipment of
weapons-quality uranium was discovered on a surrendered German
submarine on its way to Japan: one more bit of hard evidence that, had
they contrived the Bomb first, the Germans and Japanese would
have exploded it upon Allied centers.
When the Allies finally landed in France, in June 1944, after Allied
troops had fought in North Africa, Sicily, Southern Italy, and Northern
Italy for a year-and-a-half from the Battle of El Alamein,
they were repulsed in none of their several landings. Their losses,
seemingly great, were low (always considering the proper
convictions of the men on the spot: that war is total, and losses
always unacceptably high at today's point of contact).
Soviet strategy was to get into Berlin and capture
as much of Europe as possible before her Western Allies
could enter. The Soviets were ready to pay and did pay
extravagantly for their delusion that their Allies were trying
to get there first, and might at any time come to
terms with some German leaders, violating their
pledge to accept only unconditional surrender
to the Allies as a whole.
In the last two months of the war, from March 1 to the juncture of
U.S. and Soviet troops on April 25, the Soviets suffered a great
many casualties, the Americans. British and French altogether very
few. At the same time, the Western Allies conquered much more
territory. The shocking difference between the two ratios of
casualties to mileage gained is an indication of how avid were the
Russians to reach Berlin and their assigned objectives further West,
how eager were the Germans to give over their country and people
to the Western Allies, and how self-protectively clever were the
Allies. This last is not quite correct; with very few
casualties the Allies could have entered Berlin before the
Soviets did on May 2.
In conclusion, the Allies had fought a dozen campaigns in the West:
the landings in North Africa, lightly resisted by French loyal to Petain's
Vichy regime or to their "duty as Frenchmen,"
the Libyan and Tunisian campaigns incurring sizeable
casualties in the assaults at El Alamein and
at Kasserine Pass,
a six-week conquest of Sicily,
a quick seizure of the
instep and heel region of Italy,
a serious campaign again upon the
landings at Salerno at the approaches to Naples,
then the infamous Cassino struggle in which half a million
casualties were suffered on both sides, ending in a
withdrawal of German troops whose rear had been assaulted by
heavily reinforced Allied troops bursting out of a beachhead at Anzio.
The campaign moved quickly into the liberation of
Rome and beyond until halted by the Germans' Gothic Line near
Florence, and a shift of troops to France,
then resumed slowly until a final offensive and
German surrender, only several days before the
fall of Berlin and the end of resistance in the North.
Meanwhile, the landings along a hundred kilometers of coastline in
Normandy in June were extended in excellent style. True to form, in
the North, Montgomery was moving cautiously, whereas Patton, when
unleashed with his armored Third Army, ventured rapidly. The war in
the West might have ended before the end of 1944,
but for a shortage of fuel, because waste and mistaken priorities.
Too, a vast pincers, supposed to close around the "Falaise Gap,"
was too late to catch many of the retreating enemy.
August landings in Provence and along the Riviera reached Alsace
quickly, driving German troops out of Eastern France.
A large-scale German counterattack in the Ardennes region
in ugly December weather was inevitably turned into a retreat
(though not the trap that might have been closed
on the Germans, if Montgomery had sliced
down sharply and soon).
This "Battle of the Bulge" was characterized by total surprise of the
Allies, heavy losses on both sides, a failure by the Germans to
conquer the American hold-out force surrounded at Bastogne, and a
slowdown in the Allied movement Eastward. (In the last several
months of the European campaigns, the Nazis killed over a million
people in concentration camps and during their retreat.)
Now the whole line moved forward from Holland to the Rhine near
Basel. German resistance dwindled into total disintegrated surrender
upon Hitler's death by suicide, following shortly after Roosevelt's
death by stroke (Goebbels told Hitler deep in his bunker that this
could be the miraculous turning point of the war! He, too, committed
suicide with his extensive family.).
Vice President Harry Truman was sworn in as President.
He soon appeared at Potsdam where a general agreement
with Stalin was signed; this was the last of
six wartime conferences of top Allied leaders.
Trials of Nazi war criminals were organized,
on the legal theory that an international law existed,
which had been violated by German leaders
in respect to aggression, genocide, and incidental crimes. In
due course, thousands were separately tried and
convicted in the West and Orient.
As with World War I, the Allies would have lost
this War without the Americans, and the
Americans used overwhelming superiority in
ships, planes, guns, and manpower to gain victory.
Of the German 3.5 million soldier deaths,
90% were despatched by Soviet arms.
In the Pacific theater, the American Army was
preceded by the Navy, the Navy Air Force, and the Marines
in key battles on sea and land.
Japan's early successes were astonishing.
Fanning out quickly, Japanese armadas seized the Philippines
and the Islands down to New Guinea,
conquered Dutch installations in Indonesia,
and British bastions in Burma to the edge of
India's Bengal province.
Indochina's French garrisons surrendered.
Britain's sea power was destroyed by Japan's warplanes.
Except for New Zealand and Australia,
much the largest part of the Eastern Pacific region from
the Aleutians down to the Northern waters of Australia,
East to Hawaii, and West to India, were Japanese-held.
How to tackle this octopus was a puzzle.
It was to be done from Australia.
After much discussion,
General MacArthur obtained from Washington approval to strike
North by West to the Philippines and then on to Formosa (Taiwan).
A force under Admiral King was designated to push North by East from
Australia taking important island strong points one after another, to
end with the bombing of Japan.
Actually both movements interlaced, so that, for example, the
biggest battle in naval history found three remaining Japanese fleets
almost totally sunk off of Leyte in the Philippines, despite the
surprising and devastating use of kamikaze suicide bombers. The
costly battle for Okinawa involved elements from both forces.
A third force, British-led, aimed at the Japanese forces in the Burma
theater, with American General Joseph Stillwell assigned to break
through the mountains to connect with the Chinese. He succeeded and
Allied supplies began to reach the Nationalist forces of Chiang
Kai-shek. Some of these went to fight the Japanese, some to fight
the Chinese Communists operating under Mao Tse-Tung.
From the beginning of the War with Japan, hostilities were
conducted brutally. Allied prisoners of war were badly maltreated
and American troops soon began a take-no-prisoners course of
action. Since Japanese soldiers and sailors were supposed to
fight to the death, there was a kind of double seal placed upon this
With the age of battleships ended by the victories of Japanese
aircraft, American shipyards had shifted furiously to turning out
aircraft carriers. The Kaiser shipyards in California concentrated
upon building "Liberty ships" for cargo and transport,
rapidly and in large numbers. Henry Kaiser then built
"Baby Flat-tops," in the face of high-placed Navy opposition, and
the ships proved to be valuable in battle as small carriers.
The Higgins shipyards in Louisiana manufactured beach landing
craft by the hundreds; they also proved useful in the European and
Pacific Theaters. The losses at Pearl Harbor had been quickly made
up. (The question is moot: was the Japanese command wise to
provoke Americans into a frenzied war-footing by the attack -
unless it could have been followed by landings on Hawaii.)
In battles at sea, Japanese naval and air power were reduced,
therefore the ability to reinforce and supply troops on the islands.
Critical struggles occurred at Midway Island, the Bismarck Sea,
the Coral Sea, Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa.
Japanese plane and ship production could not be made up,
America's expanded exponentially, until,
by the end of the War, planes and ships by the thousands
had to be parked and marked for ultimate junking.
The fatal blows were struck at the heart of Japan. Several islands were
taken at great cost to little effect, Tarawa and Iwo Jima for instance.
The Philippines and Okinawan islands were taken with
heavy but not at all prohibitive losses of American lives. There
remains the question whether these conquests were necessary,
whether the throttling of Japanese forces everywhere,
by the destruction of their sea and air power and the
bombings of the homeland would not have ended the war more tidily.
And saved half a million civilian lives, as well as many troops.
Island-hopping was said to have been supplanted
by leap-frogging, but, even so,
American saltations probably could have been greater.
Preparations for landing in Japan were hastened
with the shift of men and matériel from Europe.
Allied leaders and soldiers believed firmly that the
Japanese would fight desperately and
inflict countless casualties upon the invaders.
Almost surely they were wrong; the Japanese were
beaten, and could have been quarantined at home,
bereft of equipment, industry, and raw materials.
Ground forces were scarcely needed. Long-range bombers
reduced much of Tokyo to rubble, and finally,
the nuclear bombs that had been secretly assembled
from various sources in New Mexico,
were dropped upon the cities of Hiroshima (August 6) and
Nagasaki, days later, effectively killing,
along with 250,000 people,
any lingering hopes the Japanese might have of
The Japanese did not have to accept unconditional surrender;
they got from MacArthur an allowance to keep their Emperor,
a divine figure whose only function in the future
could be to let the Japanese excuse themselves
for renewed irrational excursions in public affairs.
He was a tool of the military, though a god, they said;
a poor tool of a god.
After the War he renounced his divinity.
American forces occupied Japan;
vast Japanese "Co-prosperity Sphere" was retaken,
including the same places - Korea, Hong-Kong,
Taiwan, Singapore - that would leap forward into the
electronic age inside of a generation, led by Japan.
"Were the nuclear bombings justified?"
became a worrisome question over the years.
Several Allied leaders, later on, said no.
General Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, and Admiral
Leahy, wartime Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, committed
themselves to this point of view to the extent of saying that the
nuclear bomb was unnecessary in ending the War against Japan, that
Japan would have collapsed anyway from conventional bombings
and a push and shove. The Japanese also said no, and still do, as do most
of the world's liberal voices, regardless of nationality.
Eisenhower said further that he disliked his country to be first to use
such an awful thing. He might have added that it would be worse to be
second. Nor did he have the perspective of the "dogface" who wanted
to hit the enemy with everyone U.S. forces commanded,
since he had himself been hit by so much and was momentarily
expecting worse. Nor of the quarter-million Korean girls forced into
permanent prostitution serving the Japanese soldiery.
The moral question is not unique, but it goes for all killing, of which
this was merely a large-scale example; everyone concerned at the time
took it to be a really big bomb, no more radical, say, than explosives
when first used on the battlefield, and no worse,
certainly, than the machine gun, or poison gas, or biological
warfare, or poisoning with hate the minds of
millions of little children.
The USA waxed morally wrong on the nuclear bomb when it did
not take leaping strong steps to abolish international warfare after
the War, with the full knowledge that the bomb could never be
rationally used, but neither any other weapon, such as the
club and pickaxe.
As for all other values beyond life and death, in World War II, the
Americans ended up in the red: to contradict this, one has to argue
against terrible losses to the world environment, the mis-allocation of
wealth once more, the deaths and disablement of millions, the
stupefying of a large part of civilized humanity, the interruption and
breaking up of countless millions of associations, affinities,
relationships, careers and neighborhoods.
There would seem to have been no better way to advance the role of
women at work, to get the poor Whites and Blacks out of the hills
into city jobs, to get three meals a day, and to see the world.
Perhaps there was not; the world was certainly on no course to
discover so before It happened.
War is suffering on a large scale. Who suffered most is a question that
must occur often. Profiling a random sample of several
thousands of the whole world at war would be possible, and some
scholar with large funds may be tempted to do it some day.
Meanwhile I may set forth here a list of groups, arranged in order as
their modal number of members suffered the war, realizing that in
each group, believe it or not, you would find some of the gayest and
saddest people in the world, whatever the rating of their group:
Dame Psyche and Dame Fortune can together conceive of all
possible mad scenarios. So:
Disabled victims of fire and radiation, Japan and elsewhere
German concentration camp victims
Russian prisoners of Germans and vice versa
Russian Front civilians
Prisoners of Japanese
Japanese soldiers committed to combat
Russian, German, and their allied divisions on the Eastern Front
Immediate Hiroshima and Nagasaki dead
Russian Front tanks and artillery
Luftwaffe air crews and German submarine crews
U.S. troops in Pacific Islands and Philippines
Italian troops in North Africa and the Caucasus
Allied and German infantry, Western Front, Italy, and Africa
Displaced persons and workers from Eastern Europe
Japanese Navy and Air Force
Western Front German logistical and staff support
Allied Western Front tanks (and some artillery) and air forces
Dutch, Belgian, French, Greek, Italian civilians
South and Southeast Asian civilians
Swedes, Spaniards and Swiss
Monumental research would be required in order to establish
acceptable parameters for all of the above groups and the many
groups that have been left out! The irregular intervals between one
and the next "level of suffering," for example, constitute one of the
many problems of panetics (as the science of suffering is now
called) that would need to be resolved.
But it would all go by the board, anyhow, because as soon as you
get to discussing the definitions of the groups and the sufferings they
underwent (with all the subdivisions within the groups that confuse
their histories), you will commence a dialectic that is infinitely
abstruse and morally relative until you will finally collapse in
exhaustion - and uncertainty.
Except this: sensitivity to indirect consequences and relative ethical
stances would conclude: if victory were acceptably defined, no one
has ever won a war. If morals were acceptably defined and shared
by all humans, all groups would suffer equally, when they were not
suffering from others, for all the suffering that they were
causing to be done to the others.