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Corto
02-06-2008, 05:26 AM
Hello All.

Sorry about that provocative title, but I'm looking for some ideas.
I'm currently a student-teacher at an urban Midwestern high school, and I'm about to start teaching a unit on WWII.

I've already got my unit plan mapped out, but I was curious as to your opinions (as WWII experts) regarding the most important things American teenagers should know about WWII beyond what they see in Saving Private Ryan and the Call of Duty video game franchise.

So, in your opinion, what were the most pivotal moments? The most under-appreciated moments? The most pivotal technologies, innovations and advancements? Unfortunate ramifications?

I'm want to get beyond their textbook if possible (because there aren't enough for all the students to take home anyways). I've already got my own answers to these questions, but I'm curious to see what you all think.

Thanks,
Corto

Smithy
02-06-2008, 05:33 AM
Here's some pivotal things to teach them which it seems a lot of Americans aren't terribly knowledgeable about:

The Battle of Britain
El Alamein
The Eastern Front and the German defeat there.

Also please teach them the war began in 1939, we had an American flatmate back home who honestly and joking aside thought the war began properly in 1941.

Vladimir Berkov
02-06-2008, 05:42 AM
I think the most important thing is to get them to think critically and thus bring up things that runs contrary to the "general" American perception of the war.

-The war began in 1939 and was fought for two years before America entered in 1941. In fact, in East Asia, the fighting there began before 1939.

-The war was won on the Eastern Front by our ally, Soviet Russia. Stalingrad is just as important (perhaps more so) than D-Day.

-We didn't liberate Europe from the Nazis. We liberated half of Europe, and then gave the other half to the communists for them to oppress for the next 45 years.

Corto
02-06-2008, 05:44 AM
Here's some pivotal things to teach them which it seems a lot of Americans aren't terribly knowledgeable about:

The Battle of Britain
El Alamein
The Eastern Front and the German defeat there.

Also please teach them the war began in 1939, we had an American flatmate back home who honestly and joking aside thought the war began properly in 1941.

Honestly, I wish I could show them the whole film "Battle of Britain". I think the sacrifices and the cohesion of the British people (not to mention the danger)) during that period are beyond the comprehension of my consumer oriented, individualistic charges.

While teaching them about the Great Depression last week I dropped in little segues about Hitler's rise to power, the reacquisition of the Rhineland and the Sudentenland, Chamberlain and Churchill's disagreement over appeasement, the Mukden inicident, the Spanish Civil War and the Italo-Abyssinyan campaign...(as well as America's military deployments in Nicaragua and China)...

Mike K.
02-06-2008, 06:23 AM
I'd suggest having them watch segments of the Ken Burns series from PBS, "The War." While a general knowledge of pivotal battles is good for a well-rounded education, I believe an even stronger learning experience can be found in understanding how WWII shaped the future of the United States & the world, and how it affected individuals. Students all view wars as broadly destructive, but seldom consider the constructive aspects or the personal aspects. If I recall (and I'll try to check my copy of The War) the early episodes contained good information on how the war influenced things at home; e.g. urban growth, the labor force, patriotism, etc. Two very good segments to also consider are: 1. the stories coming from American citizens interned in the Philippines, and 2. the interview with Quentin Aanenson that reflects his horrific experiences as a fighter pilot and his depression. Also if you can swing it, try to get a vet or some living history people in to chat with the students.

rumblefish
02-06-2008, 06:38 AM
I don't know how one would go about teaching it, but I always bring the leaders and their decisions into my discussions of WW II: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Nimitz. Churchill, and Montgomery. Tojo, and Yamamoto. Stalin and Zhukov. I've read quite a few of biographies and was able to learn about each individual.

Just recently I was given The Teaching Company's courses on CD on WW II and others pertaining to WW II. Although they were relatively brief they did a good job of bringing together a lot of what I learned from the reading I've done. Going from biography to biography, for me at least, is difficult if keeping a time line straight and understood is a goal. The course titled, WW II: A Military and Social History, focuses a great deal on the economic and social dilemmas that led to war and the wars impact upon them. I didn't understand completely until later on in my life that yeah, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and Germany invaded Europe,,,,, but why?

There are so many ways and angles WW II can be taught and looked at. I wish you the best Corto. I'm a bit envious of you're ability and opportunity to teach a subject like this one to young students.

http://www.teach12.com/teach12.asp

Alan Eardley
02-06-2008, 06:53 AM
Also if you can swing it, try to get a vet or some living history people in to chat with the students.

I wouldn't bet on this having the desired effect! I am reminded of an incident that occurred to my son when he was at secondary school. The class had been given the project of interviewing someone who was alive in WW2 about their experiences and presenting them to the class.

I had a good friend who had won the Military Medal in Operation Torch (allied landings in North Africa) in action against Vichy French forces, who fought alongside the Germans and Italians. My son spoke to my late friend (who was a really good story teller) and he came away both impressed and informed. He threw himself into preparing the presentation with uncharateristic enthusiasm and produced a very good Poorpoint presentation, which he even rehearsed.

Come the day, he began his presentation and had just reached the part about the French sinking a British destroyer but British forces establishing a beach-head and pressing back the French defenders whan his teacher (a young History graduate) jumped up and shouted, 'Stop! Stop! You can't say this - its all wrong! The French were on our side in World War Two!' My boy received an 'F' for 'being incorrect', even though he had been given the facts by someone who was there, and I had checked his presentation for accuracy.

She had apparently never heard of Operation Torch, or Martial Petain, the Vichy French Army or the sinking of the French Fleet by the Royal Navy.

Looking back, I wish I'd have thought to ask her who's side she thought the Italians were on...

Alan

Staredge
02-06-2008, 07:17 AM
I wouldn't bet on this having the desired effect! I am reminded of an incident that occurred to my son when he was at secondary school. The class had been given the project of interviewing someone who was alive in WW2 about their experiences and presenting them to the class.

I had a good friend who had won the Military Medal in Operation Torch (allied landings in North Africa) in action against Vichy French forces, who fought alongside the Germans and Italians. My son spoke to my late friend (who was a really good story teller) and he came away both impressed and informed. He threw himself into preparing the presentation with uncharateristic enthusiasm and produced a very good Poorpoint presentation, which he even rehearsed.

Come the day, he began his presentation and had just reached the part about the French sinking a British destroyer but British forces establishing a beach-head and pressing back the French defenders whan his teacher (a young History graduate) jumped up and shouted, 'Stop! Stop! You can't say this - its all wrong! The French were on our side in World War Two!' My boy received an 'F' for 'being incorrect', even though he had been given the facts by someone who was there, and I had checked his presentation for accuracy.

She had apparently never heard of Operation Torch, or Martial Petain, the Vichy French Army or the sinking of the French Fleet by the Royal Navy.

Looking back, I wish I'd have thought to ask her who's side she thought the Italians were on...

Alan

Guess she didn't understand why Renault threw the bottle of Vichy Water away in disgust at the end of CASABLANCA. lol

Tell me you went to the head of the school and got the F changed.

Will

Alan Eardley
02-06-2008, 07:25 AM
Guess she didn't understand why Renault threw the bottle of Vichy Water away in disgust at the end of CASABLANCA. lol

Tell me you went to the head of the school and got the F changed.

Will

You think she ever watched Casablanca?

I actually recieved a note from the Head telling me that my son had failed the assessment because of his incorrect version of history! The implication was that I had mislead him.

I sent the Head a selection of items from history books descriing the political situation in France and Africa and describing the action and disposition of forces. To his credit, I received an apology and the presentation was given a pass grade - but not, in my opinion as good as it deserved.

Alan

Joli7211
02-06-2008, 09:02 AM
I sent the Head a selection of items from history books descriing the political situation in France and Africa and describing the action and disposition of forces. To his credit, I received an apology and the presentation was given a pass grade - but not, in my opinion as good as it deserved.

Alan

Sounds like your son needed a biography for his presentation for references... Not only did he do the interview, but he went beyond and checked the facts to support the story that he got. At least the teacher and the Head could check the references before giving him an F. It's unfortunate that he didn't get the deserved mark from the get go. :(

Personally, as a Canadian, I have to say that the Dieppe battle was very important in the battle for Europe. Many Canadians died before even reaching the beaches of Dieppe. However without the learning experience from that lost battle (both battles were very similar - one had air support while the second didn't...), D-day would not have had the successes that it had. I think we can all say that for the European war, D-day was certainly a decisive battle in the outcome of the war.

Another cool "history experiment" would be to "re-enact" the homefront. Find out what the population of the town was made of, and then with your classes, seperate the men and women - those that went to the war (either front), those that stayed home... those that came back and those that didn't. How did that affect the community afterwards? (I'm specifically thinking of one of the battles in one of the WW's that decimated the male population of Newfoundland, which led to mass starvation in the outports at the time, Newfoundland joining Canada in 1959, and today's dying of the unique Nfld culture and massive exodus from Nfld... I'm sure that there were "local" consequences to the war in your area too...)

There were so many consequences to these WW's. We are still living with them today.

Twitch
02-06-2008, 09:07 AM
The "innovations and advancements" in the world's aircraft industry alone was immense. In 6 years it went from biplanes on the front lines to jets. And aerial weaponry similarly advanced with rifle caliber guns of .30 caliber culminating in devestating quartets of 30 mm cannon.

rumblefish
02-06-2008, 09:15 AM
The "innovations and advancements" in the world's aircraft industry alone was immense. In 6 years it went from biplanes on the front lines to jets. And aerial weaponry similarly advanced with rifle caliber guns of .30 caliber culminating in devestating quartets of 30 mm cannon.

Very good point! This didn't just so happen during the course of the war, but directly because of the war and the need for it.

Vladimir Berkov
02-06-2008, 09:41 AM
The "innovations and advancements" in the world's aircraft industry alone was immense. In 6 years it went from biplanes on the front lines to jets. And aerial weaponry similarly advanced with rifle caliber guns of .30 caliber culminating in devestating quartets of 30 mm cannon.

Performance wise, yes, but not so much in terms of actual innovation. Pretty much all of the advancements found in aircraft in 1945 existed in 1939, often in production models. The big gains came mainly from the Germans, and mainly from experimental models which never had any wartime effect.

Now the war that really affected aircraft development...would be WWI.

Staredge
02-06-2008, 09:44 AM
Surprised someone hasn't jumped in yet. CBI: China-Burma-India. The guys flying the Hump. The Flying Tigers get mentioned a bit, but it might not hurt to throw them in as well.

Want to get really politically incorrect? Operation Unthinkable. The plans to invade the Soviet Union.

A good, even handed discussion of the Japanese Internment camps. DEFINITELY the 442nd Reg. Combat Team, the most decorated fighting unit in US history.

So much to work with, so little time. (and then you get into political correctness issues as well)

Will

Decodence
02-06-2008, 09:56 AM
I wouldn't bet on this having the desired effect! I am reminded of an incident that occurred to my son when he was at secondary school. The class had been given the project of interviewing someone who was alive in WW2 about their experiences and presenting them to the class.

I had a good friend who had won the Military Medal in Operation Torch (allied landings in North Africa) in action against Vichy French forces, who fought alongside the Germans and Italians. My son spoke to my late friend (who was a really good story teller) and he came away both impressed and informed. He threw himself into preparing the presentation with uncharateristic enthusiasm and produced a very good Poorpoint presentation, which he even rehearsed.

Come the day, he began his presentation and had just reached the part about the French sinking a British destroyer but British forces establishing a beach-head and pressing back the French defenders whan his teacher (a young History graduate) jumped up and shouted, 'Stop! Stop! You can't say this - its all wrong! The French were on our side in World War Two!' My boy received an 'F' for 'being incorrect', even though he had been given the facts by someone who was there, and I had checked his presentation for accuracy.

She had apparently never heard of Operation Torch, or Martial Petain, the Vichy French Army or the sinking of the French Fleet by the Royal Navy.

Looking back, I wish I'd have thought to ask her who's side she thought the Italians were on...

Alan
I cannot believe the ignorance of educators in this day and age. Scraping the bottom of the barrel it seems.

As far as overlooked areas, Japanese Invasion and slaughter of China is all but forgotten in most WWII books.

surely
02-06-2008, 10:16 AM
imo the most over looked development was the development of large scale system and organizational technologies which has led to the world wide proliferation of large scale corporations.

Alan Eardley
02-06-2008, 10:35 AM
I cannot believe the ignorance of educators in this day and age. Scraping the bottom of the barrel it seems.

As far as overlooked areas, Japanese Invasion and slaughter of China is all but forgotten in most WWII books.


Not necessarily ignorance, but a restriction in what is promulgated due to political correctness. In 'the new Europe' we all have to be friends. In the UK National Curriculum it is indicated (in depth) that Germany was ruled by an aberrant regime, the role of Italy was ambiguous, but the role of France does not get discussed.

An amusing anecdote - the teaching of 'modern history' in English schools is notoriously dominated by 'Germany between the wars' and 'the rise of Nazism'. At the Christmas Concert at my local school, the carol sheet had been typed by the history teacher. The automatic spelling checker in Microsoft Word had changed the line in 'Good King Wenceslas' from, 'Hither, page, and stand by me' to 'Hitler, page...' from constant use of the word.

Alan

Alan Eardley
02-06-2008, 10:37 AM
Sounds like your son needed a biography for his presentation for references... Not only did he do the interview, but he went beyond and checked the facts to support the story that he got. At least the teacher and the Head could check the references before giving him an F. It's unfortunate that he didn't get the deserved mark from the get go. :(


He had a full biography - he was even loaned the medal to show. Even that didn't convince the teacher that the events may have taken place as described.

Alan

KilroyCD
02-06-2008, 10:43 AM
Here's some pivotal things to teach them which it seems a lot of Americans aren't terribly knowledgeable about:

The Battle of Britain...
...Also please teach them the war began in 1939, we had an American flatmate back home who honestly and joking aside thought the war began properly in 1941.
Here's one American who strongly believes the first turning point of the war was the Battle of Britain. The Battle of France was over. Britain's Army was defeated at Dunkirk, most of its weapons left behind (although an enourmous amount of men were rescud from the beaches at Dunkirk to fight another day). There was little time to rebuild before Hitler would likely invade. Without the heroic stand the understrength RAF made against the Luftwaffe, the whole course of the war would have been different. The RAF had approximately 650 modern fighter planes to send up against against over 2500 German combat aircraft. Moreover, the RAF was desperately short of pilots. By innovative (for that time) use of radar and tactics, the RAF kept the Luftwaffe from gaining sir superiority, and thus held off the planned invasion of England. When we came into the war we would not have had Britain as a springboard, we would possibly have started our war against the Germans in Canada. Or worse yet, we could all be marching the goose-step if the RAF had not held the Luftwaffe from attaining air superiority. The Battle of Britain was a close run thing, and the margin of victory was indeed a narrow margin. But The Luftwaffe's switch to night-time bombing ultimately led to the Blitz, which gave Dowding's overstretched fighter squadrons more of a chance to regroup. By the spring of 1941, Hitler abandoned his plans to invade Britain, and turned his sights east. If not for the valiant stand of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, he could just as easily turned his sights on North America.

kampkatz
02-06-2008, 10:57 AM
Did anybody mention development of the atomic bomb? This was spurred on
by the race to prevent the Axis powers from attaining the bomb first.

Joli7211
02-06-2008, 11:05 AM
Oh! (Keep in mind that I'm Canadian...) What about POW camps? I lived near one for many, many years and didn't know it. I don't know if Americans had POW camps on American territory, but it might be interesting to find out what the military did with their POW's...

Decodence
02-06-2008, 11:56 AM
Oh! (Keep in mind that I'm Canadian...) What about POW camps? I lived near one for many, many years and didn't know it. I don't know if Americans had POW camps on American territory, but it might be interesting to find out what the military did with their POW's...
We had POW camps right here in AZ, and some nazis broke out. Little did they know that the rivers they were planning to use in their escape only have water in them once every decade or so. We also interned US citizens of our enemy's descent because we were scared they might be spys.

Edit: Check this out:
http://home.arcor.de/kriegsgefangene/usa/camps_usa/papago_park.html

Dixon Cannon
02-06-2008, 12:03 PM
Guadalcanal. The turning point in the pacific theatre of operations.
August 7, 1942, to February 7, 1943

-dixon cannon

Story
02-06-2008, 01:22 PM
Did anybody mention development of the atomic bomb? This was spurred on
by the race to prevent the Axis powers from attaining the bomb first.

If you're going to teach the developement and use of the Atomic Bombs, teach it in the context of how the Imperial Japanese forces were husbanding men, machines and munitions to defend the home islands - to the detriment of their frontline units.

Had OPERATION DOWNFALL been deemed necessary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Downfall ), Allied casualties would have run into the millions, Japanese (military and civlian) the tens of millions.

Wesne
02-06-2008, 01:48 PM
I think the most important thing is to get them to think critically and thus bring up things that runs contrary to the "general" American perception of the war.

-The war began in 1939 and was fought for two years before America entered in 1941. In fact, in East Asia, the fighting there began before 1939.

-The war was won on the Eastern Front by our ally, Soviet Russia. Stalingrad is just as important (perhaps more so) than D-Day.

-We didn't liberate Europe from the Nazis. We liberated half of Europe, and then gave the other half to the communists for them to oppress for the next 45 years.

If I had only 3 minutes to try to correct a typical American's misunderstandings of World War II, these would probably be the points I would try to make. Particularly the vast scale of the war on the Eastern Front, and how Hitler's gamble on the invasion of the Soviet Union failed, and that the tide there was turned before the U.S entrance into the war really had any impact.

P.S. - I'd also mention how the stage for World War II was set by the Treaty of Versailles, and how the end of World War II set the stage for the Cold War...

Leutnant
02-06-2008, 01:58 PM
A very valuable lesson could be gleaned by an examination of the war and its causes from different points of view, not only those of the Allied Powers, but the Axis as well. All too often history is taught as if all things are black and white, rather than many being shades of gray. In addition, an examination of the impact of the world wide depression of the 30's and the relationship of how WW1 and its aftermath (particularly the Versailles Treaty and its setting of the stage for the rise of National Socialism) led to a second world war would be invaluable. After all, to paraphrase, those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

Decodence
02-06-2008, 02:01 PM
A very valuable lesson could be gleaned by an examination of the war and its causes from different points of view, not only those of the Allied Powers, but the Axis as well. .

Perish the thought of history not being written by the victors.

RondoHatton
02-06-2008, 02:09 PM
Unfortunate ramifications?
The Holocaust.

Naphtali
02-06-2008, 03:30 PM
I was curious as to your opinions (as WWII experts) regarding the most important things American teenagers should know about WWII . . .
So, in your opinion, what were the most pivotal moments? The most under-appreciated moments? The most pivotal technologies, innovations and advancements? Unfortunate ramifications?

I'm want to get beyond their textbook if possible (because there aren't enough for all the students to take home anyways). I've already got my own answers to these questions, but I'm curious to see what you all think.

Thanks,
CortoAmong items to investigate are, in no particular order:
1. The conflict destroyed traditional colonialism. Death throes lasted about 15 years after conflict ended.
1-A. There is a strong possibility that US foreign policy 1939-42 was intended to achieve #1 -- that is, arming of the British Empire stripped its liquid assets. This did not occur with aid to the USSR.
1-B. Notice that military and political dominance migrated to USA by 1944.

2. While the war was, for Americans, a conflict against obvious evil -- I use the term specifically -- Americans did not view Germany in the same way as they did Japan. And US government did not view these countries the same way as American public. Government concluded Germany was the main threat and devoted about 80-85 percent of the war effort toward its defeat. There was a significantly more visceral, racially charged antipathy for Japan, but the effort to defeat that country was minor.

3. While all other main participants in the war diverted nearly their entire economies to war production by end of 1943, US diverted less than 40 percent of its economy. This is among the most interesting points to investigate. Why not a maximum effort? What would have constituted "maximum?"

4. Why was there essentially zero co-ordination of military or political policy among the Axis states? For example, had Japan launched an attack on USSR's Far Eastern Army anytime during the period July-December 1941, regardless of its success, USSR would have been defeated. Japan would have won its war with the Soviets even had it been defeated in battle.

5. Why did the ME 109 not incorporate drop tanks during the Battle of Britain? The technology was available; benefit of improved dwell time over Britain was obvious.
5-A. Why did not German radar experts or technicians fail to understand purpose and value of radar towers at the English coast?
5-B. Why did the Nazi government preclude nearly all technology-related research that would not have an operational benefit within four months?

6. Why did Japan not protect its Mitsubishi "Zero" pilots with an armor cocoon as did other countries' aircraft?
6-A. Why was fire control on Japanese surface warships so poor compared with American ships -- that is, Japanese surface vessels suffered uncontrollable fire damage where an American ship would survive.

7. Investigate war policy of Kuomintang government -- war aims, economic policy -- 1932-1945. A strong case can be made for World War II beginning in 1931 (Mukden Incident) or 1937 (Marco Polo Bridge Incident).
7-A. Investigate the corruption of the Japanese (Meiji) Constitution of 1889 at the time of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. The document was well-conceived, well-written, and worked reasonably well for years -- a blend of the German Constitution of 1872?? and British law. What the heck happened?

8. There was a substantial enhancement of central governmental control in USA, accompanied by changes in civil liberties for all citizens. Identify the changes as best you can. Track them through 1947 to determine trends -- control that was relinquished, maintained, enhanced further, other.

I haven't thought about these things since I quit teaching. . . . You get the idea.

MrBern
02-06-2008, 03:41 PM
Its seems like a lot of young students might be aware of PearlHarbor & Dday, but not much in between.

This tragic event should be explained in a classroom.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bataan_death_march

And definitely more should be taught on the Soviets losses on the Eastern Front.

RIOT
02-06-2008, 03:45 PM
Or the Last U.S. Cavalry Charge in History led by Lt. Ramsey

http://www.uscavalry.org/USCA-LastChargePrint.pdf

dhermann1
02-06-2008, 03:53 PM
If you're really a glutton for punishment, tackle the issue of the A bomb. The fact is, the bomb saved a million casualties (often misquoted as a million dead) among Americans. That would have been 100,000 dead. But it also probaly saved, if the ratios in the previous battles had continued, at least 1 or 2 million Japanese dead (not wounded, dead). There may have been very mixed motives for dropping the bomb, i.e. mainly to get the Russians' attention, but it did save millions of lives.
I wouldn't mess young students heads up with issues of US policies. They are still debatable today. But anyone wanting to pursue the issue will find plenty of grist for the mill. I'm just at the point in Churchill's WW II where those issues are coming to a head. There certainly was some questionable thinking going on in the US, and you can't just blame FDR. We realized our mistake, but not soon enough to prevent the USSR from swallowing up half of Europe.
If you look at Africa today, you could argue that the aftermath of WW II is still going on. That's history for you.
But if you can just get kids to realize that the war even happened, who was fighting who, and that it remains by far the biggest event in the history of the human race, you'll have accomplished a lot.

RIOT
02-06-2008, 04:03 PM
Here is an interesting beach landings fact.



LEYTE Landings
Oct 20 to Dec. 31, 1944 * 2 months and 1 week campaign

US Strength:

6th Army = 202,500 ground troops + 3,189 Filipino Guerrillas

858 ships (157 warships & 701 Aux ships)

US Casualties:

KIA - 3,504

WIA - 12,080


Japanese Casualties:

KIA - 49,000




IWO JIMA Landings
Feb. 19 to March 26, 1945 * 36 Days battle

US Strength:

110,000 marines

880 ships

US Casualties:

KIA - 6,821

WIA - 19,189

MIA - 494


Japanese Casualties:

KIA - 20,703

Captured - 216




NORMANDY Landings
June 6 to Aug. 21, 1944

Combined Allied Strength American, British, Canadian, Free French - 156,000

73,000 US ( 15,500 were airborne )

83,115 allied troops ( 61,715 of them British )

8 different navies, comprising 6,939 vessels:

1,213 warships, 4,126 transport vessels



.

Smithy
02-06-2008, 04:22 PM
5. Why did the ME 109 not incorporate drop tanks during the Battle of Britain? The technology was available; benefit of improved dwell time over Britain was obvious.
5-A. Why did not German radar experts or technicians fail to understand purpose and value of radar towers at the English coast?


Hope you don't mind my piping up about these but the Battle of Britain is my special interest and big passion...




5. Why did the ME 109 not incorporate drop tanks during the Battle of Britain? The technology was available; benefit of improved dwell time over Britain was obvious.

Sorry but this is incorrect. The ability of the Me109 to carry drop tanks did not happen until the arrival of the Me109E-7 which began to be introduced to the Jagdgeschwadern at the very end of August 1940. Although drop tanks had been manufactured just before the autumn of 1940, the moulded plywood tanks initially leaked incredibly badly and because of this drop tanks did not appear on Me109s until after the Battle of Britain, and more importantly, after the decisive months of August and September.



5-A. Why did not German radar experts or technicians fail to understand purpose and value of radar towers at the English coast?

Simple. Poor intelligence. As late as Göring's 6th August meeting with his commanders of Luftflotten 2, 3, and 5 for the final planning of Adlertag, they still had no idea of the purpose of the Chain Home and Chain Home Low structures dotted along the southern and eastern coasts of England.

NoirDame
02-06-2008, 04:56 PM
...and I realise it is a history class, but there are some social and economic changes that led to various civil rights movements in the upcoming decades.

I'm referring to both African-Americans and women. Merely looking at the increase of American women entering the workforce during the war shows that it radically changed the social norm. It's been said that many of the posters of the "American homemaker" or American home life were as much to reassure concerned citizens that while we we all pitching in, the role as homemaker was still top priority (paraphrasing from Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity by Amy Bentley) as advertisting war effort work. Further, for the first time African-American women were leaving domestic positions in record numbers (about 1/2) for higher-paying and more dignified war work (20% did not return to domestic work after the war). The entrance of women into non-traditional roles paved the way for woman in the workplace and women's rights movements in the 60s. Also, the social climate and changes of wartime played a role in African-American civil rights later on. It's a big topic and I'm just touching on it. If any info is wrong, please go ahead and point it out. I'm operating on half a brain at the moment. :) All of my stats are from Eating for Victory and I should mention in all fairness that I have not cross-referenced them for the purposes of this post.

Aside from that, there IS a lot of history to touch on with women on the homefront. I'm writing my thesis on women and their contributions during WW2. A male veteran I spoke to told me "The women won the war, you know."


I know you have a LOT to cover in a little amount of time, but women's history is too often swept aside. Hopefully, you have time to share a little of it.

Corto
02-06-2008, 05:40 PM
I'm working on some individual responses, but I just wanted to tell everyone THANK YOU.

You've recommended some brilliant stuff- some of which I've forgotten or hadn't thought of.

This has been a big help to me, so just know I appreciate it.

dhermann1
02-06-2008, 05:52 PM
My parents met while in the Marine Corps. They worked on the Leatherneck Magazine. My mother always quoted General Vandergrift that women fielded the 6th Marine Divison by taking jobs in the service that would have otherwise required a man. However I think you'd have to say that "women won the war" was a slight exaggeration. But their productivity was one of the decisive factors.
You could even make the argument that our enemies lost the war for themselves, first by starting a war they could never win in the first place, and second by making huge and fundamental blunders in its prosecution. But that's a topic for another well lubricated all nighter.

cooncatbob
02-06-2008, 06:06 PM
The root causes of the European war go back at least to the 1840s.
The unresolved issues of WW1 directly lead to the rise of the Nazis and WW2 and those unresolved issues are still being felt to this day. The Balkans, the Middle East, if you read the history of these regions you'll see that very little has changed.
Bob.

Wesne
02-06-2008, 06:11 PM
Here's another topic that would be a good assignment for a term paper - compare and contrast the following:
1. The WWI victors' treatment of the defeated nations via the Treaty of Versailles (reparations and humiliation)
2. The Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe and the U.S. occupation of Japan under MacArthur. (economic aid, democratization)
3. The Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. (an attitude of "to the victor go the spoils," empire building and oppression)

Mike K.
02-06-2008, 06:34 PM
I just spoke with two "well-educated" college students today. Neither of them knew of Robert E. Lee, Winston Churchill, or several other prominent figures in U.S. & World history. One even commented that she never knew that Virginia and West Virginia were two separate States. The Alamo...what is that? Pearl Harbor is located where? We fought in Korea? After hearing this and what Alan had to say earlier, I seriously wonder what today's youth are learning (if anything). At least give 'em the basics so people know who's who, what happened, etc. and won't turn out to be dummies. Most of all, you have to capture the attention of the class and get them interested/engaged, otherwise you'll just be trying to fill empty heads with lots of facts that will never stick.

KL15
02-06-2008, 07:01 PM
Hello All.

Sorry about that provocative title, but I'm looking for some ideas.
I'm currently a student-teacher at an urban Midwestern high school, and I'm about to start teaching a unit on WWII.

I've already got my unit plan mapped out, but I was curious as to your opinions (as WWII experts) regarding the most important things American teenagers should know about WWII beyond what they see in Saving Private Ryan and the Call of Duty video game franchise.

So, in your opinion, what were the most pivotal moments? The most under-appreciated moments? The most pivotal technologies, innovations and advancements? Unfortunate ramifications?

I'm want to get beyond their textbook if possible (because there aren't enough for all the students to take home anyways). I've already got my own answers to these questions, but I'm curious to see what you all think.

Thanks,
Corto


You had a European Civil War that began in 1914. There was a long armistace called in that war. It finally comes to an end in 1945. In the process of coming to an end, you have seeping in from the outside the Russians and the Americans. The result being that on central European country won the central European civil war. The winners were the Russians and the Americans. Most of all the Americans. The most pivotal moment is, without a doubt, the opening of the second (western) front. Stalin had been screaming for the second front for about 2 or 3 years before it actually began, because he wasn't sure how much longer the Soviet Union could sustain the fight alone. Hitler and the Germans were going to have major problems fighting a war on two fronts. Which was exactly what he didn't want. The most under-appreciated moment....that's tough. At the time of the war I would agree with an earlier post about the battle for Stalingrad. That was actually the first time Hitler had to stomach serious defeat. Today, I might say the finding of the death camps. When General Eisenhower found one of the death camps he told the press to come with their cameras and take pictures. Because, I believe these are his words "I want to be able to testify and I want you to be able to testify 20, 30, or 40 years from now that yes by God this did happen. I did see it. Because someone years from now will say we're making it all up." And he seems to be right. The Holocaust is being denied by more and more today. Pivotal technologies to me would be the vast American manufacturing. And the fact that no one rested on what they had. Someone was always trying to make something better. And the most unfortunate ramification of WWII is the Cold War.

Corto
02-06-2008, 07:18 PM
Most of all, you have to capture the attention of the class and get them interested/engaged, otherwise you'll just be trying to fill empty heads with lots of facts that will never stick.

You've just hit on the prime dilemma of the secondary school educator.
There's a lot of content to cover and not a lot of time.
The temptation to recite laundry lists of facts is something that I unfortunately find myself doing quite a bit.

Mike K.
02-06-2008, 07:36 PM
You've just hit on the prime dilemma of the secondary school educator.
I've taught secondary school and several years of college courses too...sadly it's all the same no matter how young/old the students. :(

Corto
02-06-2008, 07:51 PM
I've taught secondary school and several years of college courses too...sadly it's all the same no matter how young/old the students. :(

As long as we're getting into pedagogy- I'm incredibly curious to know any advice you'd have on making engaging lesson plans...

I've done "conflict simulations", creative historical "journaling", given them primary source documents to read with higher order probing questions to answer, and of course...shown the "occasional" documentary -which is the only thing they enjoy doing during history class when they aren't text messaging, being disruptive, fighting with each other or having extraneous conversations.

As a history geek I often forget that just because I'm interested in something, doesn't mean they are.

Anyways. I'm a greenhorn, and I'm open to any advice.

Corto
02-06-2008, 07:52 PM
-The war was won on the Eastern Front by our ally, Soviet Russia. Stalingrad is just as important (perhaps more so) than D-Day.

-We didn't liberate Europe from the Nazis. We liberated half of Europe, and then gave the other half to the communists for them to oppress for the next 45 years.

These are a couple of things I'll definitely be including.
Thanks.

Corto
02-06-2008, 07:53 PM
1. the stories coming from American citizens interned in the Philippines, and 2. the interview with Quentin Aanenson that reflects his horrific experiences as a fighter pilot and his depression. Also if you can swing it, try to get a vet or some living history people in to chat with the students.

I've only seen some of "The War". I'll definitely check it out.
Thanks.

Corto
02-06-2008, 07:55 PM
There are so many ways and angles WW II can be taught and looked at. I wish you the best Corto. I'm a bit envious of you're ability and opportunity to teach a subject like this one to young students.

http://www.teach12.com/teach12.asp

Don't be envious! You can have my students anytime! lol

Corto
02-06-2008, 07:58 PM
'Stop! Stop! You can't say this - its all wrong! The French were on our side in World War Two!' My boy received an 'F' for 'being incorrect', even though he had been given the facts by someone who was there, and I had checked his presentation for accuracy.


Don't worry. I'm going to show them the second scene from Samuel Fuller's "The Big Red One". (Which shows the American 1stID storming a beachhead held by the Vichy French)

Corto
02-06-2008, 07:58 PM
Another cool "history experiment" would be to "re-enact" the homefront.

BRILLIANT. Thank you!

NoirDame
02-06-2008, 09:33 PM
As long as we're getting into pedagogy- I'm incredibly curious to know any advice you'd have on making engaging lesson plans...

I've done "conflict simulations", creative historical "journaling", given them primary source documents to read with higher order probing questions to answer, and of course...shown the "occasional" documentary -which is the only thing they enjoy doing during history class when they aren't text messaging, being disruptive, fighting with each other or having extraneous conversations.

As a history geek I often forget that just because I'm interested in something, doesn't mean they are.

Anyways. I'm a greenhorn, and I'm open to any advice.

As someone who is planning to teach history, I have a few ideas that can be 'engaging' (at least they were for me!) Some of them might be targeted a bit younger, but you can use them as starting points. Feel free to PM me.

Also, one of my favorite history teachers has some great ideas she has been sharing with me (I just got in touch with her after about fifteen years!). Might be helpful for other topics you will cover.

As a history geek I often forget that just because I'm interested in something, doesn't mean they are.

The most tragic thing to me is when people say history is boring. Of course, I'm preaching to the choir here, but I think that is a failing in their education somewhere. It's all in the presentation. I can pick up a book on any historical subject that is fascinating to me, and if it is dryly presented, I can't take it. I imagine it is the same for those students...but, it doesn't have to be. Good for you for striving to keep it compelling.

Naphtali
02-06-2008, 09:45 PM
I'm working on some individual responses, but I just wanted to tell everyone THANK YOU.

You've recommended some brilliant stuff- some of which I've forgotten or hadn't thought of.

This has been a big help to me, so just know I appreciate it.You may want to request reading list(s) via PM or E-mail. If you created your lesson plans from school district materials and text books, . . .

carebear
02-06-2008, 10:25 PM
Oh! (Keep in mind that I'm Canadian...) What about POW camps? I lived near one for many, many years and didn't know it. I don't know if Americans had POW camps on American territory, but it might be interesting to find out what the military did with their POW's...

Yes, there were several POW camps on the mainland US, one near Neosho, MO. I patrolled through the remnants of it buildings in NCO school.

carebear
02-06-2008, 10:33 PM
-We didn't liberate Europe from the Nazis. We liberated half of Europe, and then gave the other half to the communists for them to oppress for the next 45 years.


That's neither just nor particularly accurate.

What would you have had the US and Britain do?

Inform troops (and a homefront) that for 4+ years had been told the Sovs were their ally and the war would be over when Germany was defeated that, so sorry boys, can't go home, we have to now attack our former friends?

Whose evils, which the govt. was aware of, were explicitly downplayed by our govt's propaganda machine?

Aside from the political and morale issues, there were logistical hurdles that prevented the Western Allies from getting much further into Germany than they did. Even acceding to the offered German conditional surrender would have involved a betrayal of earlier allied agreements.

Much as I agree that Roosevelt shouldn't have bowed so quickly to Stalin's wartime conference demands, that's 20/20 hindsight. Stalin didn't have to attack, he had no homefront politics to deal with and had enough combat power to just stabilize his lines, temporarily go on the strategic defensive and freed all those Germans to drive us back into the ocean.

Vladimir Berkov
02-06-2008, 11:42 PM
That's neither just nor particularly accurate.

What would you have had the US and Britain do?



I have an answer, but this probably isn't the best thread for the topic.

carebear
02-07-2008, 02:07 AM
I have an answer, but this probably isn't the best thread for the topic.

Sent you a PM with my email. I'd be really interested to hear it. The morale and reversal of propaganda issues were just raised to me recently.

AmateisGal
02-07-2008, 09:25 AM
I just spoke with two "well-educated" college students today. Neither of them knew of Robert E. Lee, Winston Churchill, or several other prominent figures in U.S. & World history. One even commented that she never knew that Virginia and West Virginia were two separate States. The Alamo...what is that? Pearl Harbor is located where? We fought in Korea? After hearing this and what Alan had to say earlier, I seriously wonder what today's youth are learning (if anything). At least give 'em the basics so people know who's who, what happened, etc. and won't turn out to be dummies. Most of all, you have to capture the attention of the class and get them interested/engaged, otherwise you'll just be trying to fill empty heads with lots of facts that will never stick.

The other evening, I asked my 14-year-old stepson who won the Civil War. His answer? "Uh...we did."

"Who is 'we'"? I asked.

"America."

When I grilled him a bit further, I asked him, "Who did 'we' fight?"

"Germany?"

And the conversation rapidly went downhill from there. I proceeded to lecture him on the importance of knowing the history of the country that you live in, not to mention the rest of the world.

AmateisGal
02-07-2008, 09:30 AM
Yes, there were several POW camps on the mainland US, one near Neosho, MO. I patrolled through the remnants of it buildings in NCO school.

Re: POW camps...I did my thesis on the German POW camp at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, specifically the Intellectual Diversion Program (or more commonly known as 'reeducation') where the U.S. Government attempted to teach the Germans about American democracy.

This is probably a little known fact, as well, but Nazism was alive and well in these camps and it propelled the War Department to develop the re-education program.

carebear
02-07-2008, 10:51 AM
I remember reading a few years back about the horrific conditions in Allied POW camps post-war on the Continent.

Can't remember the title, but it was quite an indictment. It was referring to camps run, mostly by the French, that recalled Andersonville.

I also believe there was some controversy over the author's research.




This vague remembrance proudly sponsored by Tanqueray. :D

AmateisGal
02-07-2008, 10:55 AM
Yes - there were definitely horror stories from the French-based POW camps that held Germans. After the war, when Germans were being sent home, some were assigned to the French camps instead of going back to Germany - and the conditions were still horrific.

Twitch
02-07-2008, 11:25 AM
Naphtali
1- Since GB was the main colonialist at the time and previously, well yeah, recovering from the war kept any new colonial assets from being gained but in places like the Middle East and India the Brits were quite capable of keeping a lid on things.

2- Look at the ethnic make up of the US in the 1930s. There were many German immigrants previously and 2-3 generations later people still realized their ancestors came from Germany. The Japanese were a minority and the mainstream had no way to connect to them culturally. It is a a fallacy to imagine that manpower and materiel were lessened in the Pacific. What you may imagine is that in any given island scenario that just a few thousand dug in Japanese took on probably double their numbers of Americans. Due to geography it wasn't prudent to land a whole army anywhere except the mainland of Asia or Europe where vast numbers of men and machines could have near unlimited space to maneuver.

3- This is why Admiral Yamamoto said he would be successful for 6 months or a year because he knew the industrial capabilities of the US would eclipse the remainder of the world once it got rolling.

4- This is an example of woulda/coulda/shoulda to look back in hindsight and make battle plans. What there was between Japan and Germany was a continuous trade in sciene and technology as U-boats traveled laden to Japan throughout the war. Until December 1941 Japan was not even officially part of the Axis and had no impetus to attack the Eastern USSR. There was little or nothing to gain since any prizes were far to the west. Soon after Pearl Harbor Japan realized it had stepped in serious crap and would have a fight for her life without sidetracking forces and supplies to the USSR. Japan had been in Asia since 1932 when it invaded Manchuria and was well occupied there and over S.E. Asia in it debauchery.

5- As mentioned it wasn't till the 109E-7 were drop tanbks viable on the type. You must realize that the Bf 110s were thought to have been able to provide acceptable long range escort for Ju 88 and He 111 bombers. When its shortcomimngs were found apparent 109s were thrown in to escort the escorts as it were. Bf 109s were never seen as the primary fighter in the Battle of Britain. The few months that the Battle of Britain lasted precluded quickly retrofitting Bf 109E-3s-4s with drop tanks. In 1943-44 this kind of immediate adaptation would have been well geared up for but in 1940 it was still thought to be a matter of victory being around the corner.

Planners knew the significance of radar but the pinpoint bombing of the thin, skeketal towers was no easy task. for any plane considering defenses. Goring was well on his way to the deliberate bombing of the RAF on the ground. Destroy the airfields and hit the planes when they sit there, especially at night, and ultimately you'd win. The Brits were incapable of mounting a similar offensive against Luftwafe fields across France due to much the same restrictions the Germans had. The RAF didn't have long range fighteres either.

And it was Hitler who personally changed the bombing directives when a bomber accidently bombed civilians around Coventry. He realized the tragedy factor he could project. and when the RAF night bombed a German city the idea was pretty well set. If the Luftwaffe had continued targeting RAF airfields they could have won.

The whole idea of Blitzkreig (Lighning war) was the fact that Hitler saw the actual conflict as being short. It worked in Eastern Europe well enough as lesser armed countries capitulated easily. The BoB was obviously going to be of short duration acknowledged by both sides. Hitler's initial scenario was that Britain would sue for peace and he would be able to turn his attention to Russia. He never planned to invade GB. Then even when this didn't happen the drive into Russia was so fast it appeared that the end was in sight many times. From Hitler's point of view relative to the times he was right in not delving into new programs. When the US became involved a good many projects meriting further study were revived and some implimented. By 1943 there was no moritorium on longer term programs. All projects were accelerated to some degree.

6- You must realize the Japanese thinking in 1939 when the Zero 1st flew. In the late 1930s most every plane was light, manueverable and lightly, but adequately armed for the time. So important was maneuverability in the tactical plans of the Japanese that even aircraft radios were taken out to achieve more performance. These guys were Samauri in the air- an extention of the blade weilding warrior. Death in battle was not an alien concept and not feared. Sacrificing all else for maneuverability was the pilots choice. This ultimately changed. Later aircraft like the Shiden and Raiden had armor and heavier armament. All planes in all countries evolved in larger, heavier craft with heavier armament and more mechanical features to increase speed, rate of climb and high altitude performance.

7- All I can say is that a state of war existed in 1932 when Japan invaded China and commenced their perverted onslaught with bio-chem weapons and perverse medical experiments performed on Chinese civilians. The history of aggression against Asian countries by Japan is well known and 1932 is when they openly invaded Asia.

8- No one of the WW II generation ever mentioned anything as sinister as "enhancement of central governmental control in USA, accompanied by changes in civil liberties for all citizens." That sounds like some revisionist tripe. The proof is to the accuser- show what laws or constitutional ammendments were introduced to accomplish this or show which ones were superceeded to make this happen. The post WW II era before Korea was more open and offered more liberties and freedom to every citizen. The only thing the government did was clean some background records for some Germans deemed vital in aerospace and military technology under Operation Paperclip. They came and worked in US industries and none was ever a troublemaker.

DavidVillaJr
02-07-2008, 11:28 AM
There's an easy reading book available at Barnes and Noble titled:

An Incomplete History of World War II

There's lots of stories in it that covered aspects of the war I had not known about, or thought about for a long time.

Radar, Enigma, Japan's invasion of China, "Go for Broke", "NUTS", Bataan Death March, Atomic bomb, ANZAC, Stalingrad, Warsaw Ghetto, etc.

check it out

dv

ps - There is also An Incomplete History of World War I as well...

Smithy
02-07-2008, 12:20 PM
Planners knew the significance of radar but the pinpoint bombing of the thin, skeketal towers was no easy task.



Sorry Twitch but this is incorrect.

As I mentioned in my previous post to Naphtali, Luftwaffe planners did not know the significance of the CH and CHL structures along England's coast line and certainly not before the main planning of Adlerangriff. The commonly held belief within the Luftwaffe and especially held by the Chief of Luftwaffe Signals, General Martini was that the structures were primarily used for the detection of shipping. As a result they were only cursorily included in raid planning (for example out of all the daylight raids executed between the 12th and 18th of August only 4 had RDF stations as their primary target, another raid on the 12th had an RDF station (Dover) as an alternate target if weather over the primary target was poor).



And it was Hitler who personally changed the bombing directives when a bomber accidently bombed civilians around Coventry.


Sorry Twitch this is also erroneous. The raid which actually changed the bombing focus was on the night of the 24/25 August when London was accidentally bombed. This prompted Churchill to order a retaliatory raid on Germany the following night, and subsequently caused the switch of German bombing to cities and London in particular.

dhermann1
02-07-2008, 12:38 PM
Re: Fighting the Russians in 1945. I totally agree that it would have been difficult to convince American GIs that our erstwhile friends, the Russians, were now our enemies, but the British in Greece were able to realize the threat the Communust guerillas were posing in late 1944. They were able to shut down the leftist insurgency very quickly. So maybe after a few months more of ugly confrontations, American opininon night have changed. The policy from early on was to stand back and let the Russians into Berlin. Churchill pleaded for greater resistance to Russian plans, but to no avail.
It's interesting to speculate what would have happened if he had been listened to more.
re: British radar. At what point were the microwave transmitters deployed? The towers were used for the long wave length radar, but the development of microwaves revolutionized the technology. Also, the British early warning system was far more than radar. Dowding had developed a highly sophisticated system of tracking and reporting. If a telephobne line went down, someone immediately hopped on a bike to convey the information. There were sight and sound observation posts that were integral to the system as well.
One other point I'd like to make in this conversation is the fact that one of the overriding results of WW II was the Cold War, and the balance of terror, aka the Nuclear Umbrella. We'd lived for 63 years now with Mutually Assured Destruction just a heart beat away. We sometimes forget this. The Russians still have thousands of warhead pointing at us. (And vise versa.)

Smithy
02-07-2008, 12:51 PM
re: British radar. At what point were the microwave transmitters deployed? The towers were used for the long wave length radar, but the development of microwaves revolutionized the technology. Also, the British early warning system was far more than radar. Dowding had developed a highly sophisticated system of tracking and reporting. If a telephobne line went down, someone immediately hopped on a bike to convey the information. There were sight and sound observation posts that were integral to the system as well.


The first CH station appeared in Ordfordness in March 1936 and by the time of the Home Defence Exercise in the summer of 1939 the whole system was operating effectively. The sophistication of the RAF system was the sector control system of utilising and assessing information which was being received from the RDF stations (Chain Home and Chain Home Low) and the Observer Corps, and then the command and control structure which was used so effectively by the RAF during the Battle. This allowed sector controllers, basically the marshalls of the Battle to have an effective overview of the situation unfolding during raids and to be able to effectively deploy, vector, orbit and patrol the squadrons under their sector control. Although it must be said there were problems which arose during the initial phases of the Battle but which were improved as the Battle progressed through practice and technical improvements.

Story
02-07-2008, 01:23 PM
but the British in Greece were able to realize the threat the Communust guerillas were posing in late 1944. They were able to shut down the leftist insurgency very quickly.

Huh? That fight went on til 1949.
http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/golf/greece1944.htm

dhermann1
02-07-2008, 01:43 PM
Sorry, you're right. The Brits were able to stabilize the area around Athens in December 1944 when Churchill flew there personally on Christmas eve. The point I was making was just that the Communists were busy all over Eastern Europe before the war was even over, and it was not inconceivable that under a different set of circumstances American opinion could have been swayed to opposing this in 1945 instead of a couple of years later.
The idea of a confontation between us and the Soviets in 1945 is dreadful to contemplate, but interesting. I'm just reaching the last pages of Churchill's 6 volume history, and the issue is looming very large at the moment.

KL15
02-07-2008, 08:30 PM
Anyone ever wondered why we don't have a room or thread about WWI? Is that too old for the "golden era?"

dhermann1
02-07-2008, 10:26 PM
I think the idea of the "Golden Age" is basically the between the wars period, or, if you want to stretch it a little, the 1920 to 1960 period. Or if you really want to stretch it, Nov. 12th, 1918 maybe up to Nov 21, 1963.
There are plenty of Loungers who are into Victorian or Edwardian stuff, but I think the consensus is that WW II sort of epitomizes a lot of the stylistic stuff we tend to dig.
Personally, I find WW I just to darned depressing and sad to look at too much. As ugly as WW II was, it didn't have that feeling of utter futility that the characterized the First War.
By the same token, I think that wearing styles from the 20's thru the 60's can be fairly easy and practical in this day and age, whereas clothes from further back get a lot more impractical.

carebear
02-07-2008, 11:01 PM
British planning documents for a "what if" continuation versus the Russians. Interesting in that it was very secret and didn't include even their entire War Department. I fact, it contains numerous references to "assuming the US forces do this..." until the end.

The planners were also in ignorance about the existance of the Bomb.

I am not guaranteeing its authenticity but I have no reason to believe it isn't real.

"Operation: Unthinkable"

http://www.history.neu.edu/PRO2/

Story
02-08-2008, 06:56 AM
Anyone ever wondered why we don't have a room or thread about WWI? Is that too old for the "golden era?"

I usually dump WWI items of interest in this room, since the events of WWI would have telling influence on the adults of the early Golden Era (and begot much of the stagework for WWII, in Old Testament speak).

Alan Eardley
02-08-2008, 07:09 AM
Before the outbreak of hostilities German radar and guidance systems were in advance of those used by the British. The way the British scientists and intelligence forces caught up with and passed them is summarised nicely and succinctly in 'The Bruneval Raid: Stealing Hitler's Radar' by George Millar. It is less well known that the Germans carried out a similar Commando operation to capture a British radar device on the Isle of Wight a few months later. This was denied at the time, although there is convincing evidence that funerals took place of some of the guards killed in the action.

Alan


The first CH station appeared in Ordfordness in March 1936 and by the time of the Home Defence Exercise in the summer of 1939 the whole system was operating effectively. The sophistication of the RAF system was the sector control system of utilising and assessing information which was being received from the RDF stations (Chain Home and Chain Home Low) and the Observer Corps, and then the command and control structure which was used so effectively by the RAF during the Battle. This allowed sector controllers, basically the marshalls of the Battle to have an effective overview of the situation unfolding during raids and to be able to effectively deploy, vector, orbit and patrol the squadrons under their sector control. Although it must be said there were problems which arose during the initial phases of the Battle but which were improved as the Battle progressed through practice and technical improvements.

Smithy
02-08-2008, 07:57 AM
Before the outbreak of hostilities German radar and guidance systems were in advance of those used by the British. The way the British scientists and intelligence forces caught up with and passed them


Actually it is incredible how quickly Robert Watson-Watt and his team were able to develop a workable radar system to protect Britain. The German "Freya" radar network at the time of the Battle of Britain was technologically of a similar level, however it lacked a control and reporting system of anywhere near the sophistication of the RAF system. The Germans having to pass information onto fighters by radio from listening posts.

RDF and the ability to largely keep the true nature of it a mystery to the Germans was without doubt a vital factor in Britain's survival.

KL15
02-08-2008, 08:50 AM
I think the idea of the "Golden Age" is basically the between the wars period, or, if you want to stretch it a little, the 1920 to 1960 period. Or if you really want to stretch it, Nov. 12th, 1918 maybe up to Nov 21, 1963.
There are plenty of Loungers who are into Victorian or Edwardian stuff, but I think the consensus is that WW II sort of epitomizes a lot of the stylistic stuff we tend to dig.
Personally, I find WW I just to darned depressing and sad to look at too much. As ugly as WW II was, it didn't have that feeling of utter futility that the characterized the First War.
By the same token, I think that wearing styles from the 20's thru the 60's can be fairly easy and practical in this day and age, whereas clothes from further back get a lot more impractical.


Fair enough.

Alan Eardley
02-08-2008, 09:19 AM
Actually it is incredible how quickly Robert Watson-Watt and his team were able to develop a workable radar system to protect Britain.

Yes. I use some of the processes and techniques (e.g. Sunday Soviets) developed at TRE as a case study in teaching Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning to graduate students.


Alan

Twitch
02-08-2008, 09:25 AM
Smithy- of course the Germans knew the structures were for a defensive purpose as was everything erected an the coast. Since German radar was in it's infancy Luftwaffe pilots made no connection having never seen their own.

And I have been told that an skeletal tower is a very hard target mostly due to the fact that all your bomb's shrapnel has amost nothing to hit. Even if one leg were hit it wouldn't mean the tower would topple. And because they were placed in multiple arrangments there was another very close so one would not leave a big hole in loss of coverage.


That's what I said except for Covenrty it was a lost German bomber that dumped its bombs on a London civil target which prompted a tit for tat with the RAF dropping a few on Berlin and the civilian target war was on, as such. Hitler directed Goring to attack London on Sept 7th. He did so at night with 350 bombers and 650 other aircraft.

Smithy
02-08-2008, 10:04 AM
Smithy- of course the Germans knew the structures were for a defensive purpose as was everything erected an the coast.


Sorry Twitch but I still must disagree with you. If Luftwaffe planners did understand the "significance" of the RDF structures (as you stated in an earlier post) then they would have tasked more raids with these targets. Instead raids on RDF structures were only undertaken on the 12th, 16th and 18th of August. If the Luftwaffe really were convinced of the defensive purpose of the CH and CHL, then they would have been far more determined to knock them out.

Joie DeVive
02-08-2008, 11:22 AM
Wow, so many good thoughts on this topic. Most of the folks here know way more about the subject than I.

Being a teacher, I would encourage you to resist that laundry list mentality as much as possible. Yes, there is too much to teach in too little time. However, there are people who devote their lives to studying just WW2. It isn't a problem with you, but with the task. It is almost impossible to do in depth work on all the important topics in a week or two. You may have to settle for more of an overview than you would like, but try to teach some of the key points in depth. Personally, I think that the causes and impact are often somewhat neglected in the teaching.

And if I had to pick one special event, I would find a Holocaust survivor to speak. There are so few of them left, and the Holocaust is falling out of favor as a topic of study in many circles. This may be your students only chance to hear an account firsthand. Your students will never forget what they hear. I know I never have. If you need some guidance on the subject, you could try contacting the Center for the Study of the Holocaust at Sonoma State University. http://www.sonoma.edu/holocaust/intro.htm

Mike K.
02-08-2008, 01:43 PM
Corto, is all this talk actually helping you develop ideas for your lesson plans?

NoirDame
02-08-2008, 01:50 PM
Personally, I think that the causes and impact are often somewhat neglected in the teaching.

http://www.sonoma.edu/holocaust/intro.htm


Very good point. Honestly, I think one of the best ways I was served with regards to the course I took in WW2 was walking away with a real in-depth understanding of WHY things happened and WHY the war started and the consequences. To me, understanding what happened is more important than exactly when and too many teachers of mine have been too bogged down by exact dates.

Smithy
02-08-2008, 02:39 PM
Corto, is all this talk actually helping you develop ideas for your lesson plans?

Probably not!

Most likely he got all the ideas he needed in the first couple of pages or so :D

jake431
02-08-2008, 03:17 PM
Actually Japan officially joined the Axis Powers by signing the Tripartite Pact in September 1940, well over a year before Pearl Harbor.

-Jake

Baron Kurtz
02-08-2008, 04:32 PM
The Onion did a book called "headlines from the past Century" or something similar. September 1940 was headlined "Japan signs treaty with Xenophobic white supremecists, in well thought-out long-term strategy decision" (i don't remember the exact headline, but along those lines, you understand).

As you can imagine, the story was hilarious. Another date from around that time was amply illustrated with "Kampfy the Überhund" cartoons.

bk

Baron Kurtz
02-08-2008, 04:39 PM
Re: Fighting the Russians in 1945. I totally agree that it would have been difficult to convince American GIs that our erstwhile friends, the Russians, were now our enemies, but the British in Greece were able to realize the threat the Communust guerillas were posing in late 1944. They were able to shut down the leftist insurgency very quickly. So maybe after a few months more of ugly confrontations, American opininon night have changed. The policy from early on was to stand back and let the Russians into Berlin. Churchill pleaded for greater resistance to Russian plans, but to no avail.

If you read your Churchill - maybe all the way back in volume 5 - the Russian involvement in the Greece "situation" in the fall and early winter of 1944 was unknown to most, and unthinkable to many of those even at the highest levels of power. Gullible? Yes! Easy in hindsight, of course, knowing as we do the real Russian machinations throughout their nascent "sphere of influence" (dare we call it a co-prosperity sphere?).

The ordinary troops i would imagine saw it as a purely greek situation, without Russian influence.

Yes, i believe people were naive, just as they are today.

bk

dhermann1
02-08-2008, 05:38 PM
There's a lifetime of research to do on the activities of the communists during WW II. The implication (if I'm reading him correctly) in Churchill is that the Greek reds were somewhat freelance. I don't know. There must have been some support from Moscow, but I would think they could have won if the Russians had been more involved? I'm ignorant on the subject, other than knowing a lot of hideous stuff was perpetrated. I know the Brits achieved two of the few successful anti-communist counterinsurgency campaigns ever in Greece during the late 40's, as well as in Malaya. Also, he says that the British soldiers in Greece quickly realized the threat posed by the communists, and didn't need to be persuaded to fight them.
Likewise I wonder how and when the split betwen Tito and Moscow developed.
The Russians were very focused on taking complete control of Poland, and there was really never any hope that they could have been stopped. Each of the other eventual satellites was a unique story, too. It's sort of amazing that the communists were successfully booted from Austria.
As a kid in the 50's communist control of Eastern Europe was a given. I'll never forget watching the films of the Hungarian revolt in October of 1956. That was a really dramatic moment, and it was all on TV.
Don't you just wonder what's wrong with people who don't love history?

Wesne
02-08-2008, 07:36 PM
Likewise I wonder how and when the split betwen Tito and Moscow developed.

That's a great story still waiting to be fully told, I'm sure. I've read bits and pieces about it but am really not possessed of enough knowledge to offer any details, other than my perception that it was a clash of monumental egos. Tito seems to have been just too independent and sure of his own greatness to have submitted to being one of Stalin's toadies. He had, after all, just fought off the Nazis with his Partisan army and united Yugoslavia (no mean feat) with little outside help. I think he saw himself as at least Stalin's equal and wasn't afraid of telling "Uncle Joe" where to go.

There's a fascinating little tidbit at the end of Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore (which I highly recommend - reads like a Mario Puzo novel) that sheds a little light on this subject. The story goes that on Stalin's death, a handful of documents were found in some private location (a locked box in Stalin's top desk drawer or something to that effect). They were personal letters of apparent great significance to Stalin, which he had kept close at hand for some time. I don't recall right now what the others were, but one was a letter from Tito with words to the effect of "Please stop sending your men to Belgrade to assassinate me, or I will send one of mine to Moscow and it will take only one." Say what you will about Tito, but the man had a pair...

Corto
02-09-2008, 05:55 PM
And if I had to pick one special event, I would find a Holocaust survivor to speak. There are so few of them left, and the Holocaust is falling out of favor as a topic of study in many circles. This may be your students only chance to hear an account firsthand. Your students will never forget what they hear. I know I never have. If you need some guidance on the subject, you could try contacting the Center for the Study of the Holocaust at Sonoma State University. http://www.sonoma.edu/holocaust/intro.htm

Oddly, given that this school is about 90% African-American, they still have a semester long class on the Holocaust, which is a holdover from the days this was a middle-class Jewish suburb 40 years ago...

I actually had a homosexual WWII-vet slated to speak, but he backed out at the last minute.

Corto
02-09-2008, 06:02 PM
Corto, is all this talk actually helping you develop ideas for your lesson plans?

It has.

I've been too busy to respond to everyone (which I'd like to do).
So far, I've strongly emphasized to the kids that WWII started in about 1933, and I've spent a lot of time talking about Italian, German and Japanese expansionism up to 1941.

I also talked about American volunteers who went to Spain (including a fair number of African-Americans- which somewhat engaged a couple of hardcase "thugs" (it's a compliment where I teach, not a pejorative) and of course...the Flying Tigers. I've got one "struggling" student who's interest was piqued by Pappy Boyington's story, because I mentioned that Pappy was a wrestler. (The student is also a wrestler...)- It was tough explaining the concept that the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the AVG weren't exactly mercenaries or PMC's. I did link the AVG to the Raven FAC's that I hope I'll be able to teach them about when we get to the Vietnam War.

Small victories.

I talked about The Blitz (and how Britain held the line for so long alone)- greatly aided by the fact I recently watched a few episodes of the excellent 1980's TV show "Danger UXB". The kids couldn't believe that ze Germans would engineer bombs not to always blow up on impact, or make the fins so that they'd scream...

Anyways. Friday I broke down and showed them a video on Japanese militarism and the build up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. One student was particularly engaged so I recommended he read Yukio Mishima's "Runaway Horses" to get more depth on that issue.

Monday I might show them the North African/Vichy French invasion scene from "The Big Red One".

General Sir Rupert Smith's book "The Utility of Force" has come in very handy giving me a big picture context on military developments from Napoleon up to WWII. It gave me some significant depth when explaining why "blitzkrieg" warfare was a revolution in military affairs (beyond just saying "The put radios in their tanks and planes blah blah")- and how the invasion of Russia deepened Germany's need for oil...etc. Great book. Clean, concise, simple. Great overview of Western warfare.

The beat goes on.

Corto
02-09-2008, 06:11 PM
Probably not!

Most likely he got all the ideas he needed in the first couple of pages or so :D

I'm working on it!
I've just been so busy I haven't been able to respond to everything I've wanted to!
(and, it's true...I haven't worked my way through the whole thread yet...:whistling )

Again, thanks all of you.
Keep it coming. I'm doing my best to keep up...

Twitch
02-10-2008, 12:05 PM
Smithy- all I am saying is the Germans knew they were for something military. The Germans simply did not know the Chain Home towers were for radar. RDF stood obscurely for radio direction finding until Radar was coined in 1943. There were scads of anti this and anti that radio devices. Some broadcast fake navigational coordinate beams (anti- Knickebein and X-Ger?žt) to the Lutwaffe along with other radio jammers, electronic countermeasures all requiring some sort of antenna and stations.


At Dunkirk at least 1 British radar set was captured intact by the Germans. They dismissed it as crude compared to their radars, which at the time it was, and basically forgot it.

For a time Berlin and London were both diluded to believe the other side knew nothing of radar technology.

In 1937 during an official visit to England Erhard Milch, who would later be head of the - Reichsluftfahrtministerium (Air Ministry), and WW I ace Ernst Udet, also later attached to the RLM, openly boasted about German radar to the RAF officials present.

"Now gentlemen, let us all be frank," Milch said. "How are you getting on with your experiments in the detection by radio waves of aircraft approaching your shores?"

Embarrassed laughter and an attempt to change the subject was thwarted by Milch who continued. "Don't be so cagey. We've known for some time that you were developing a system of radio-location. So are we, we think we are a jump ahead of you."

And that was true enough. What GB developed was a superior radar control and reporting system not necessarily superior hardware. Ingenious organisation not technology is what proved Britain's forte in radar.

So radar antennas on the coast were known to be putting out radio signals, but so were a great many other British electric countermeasures. The Germans knew the antennas were something electronic but probably didn't not know for sure. They could have been simple IFF interigators not worth a concentrated effort.

The fact remains that the ordnance of the time didn't not lend itself to easy destruction of skeletal tower structures. When 5 towers were attacked in August with one destroyed and the others damaged those were back in operation the next day!

The focus was the airfields anyway. Group EprGR210 attacked radar stations one morning but were back to hitting places like Manston in the afternoon. And this was a fighter-bomber group using Bf 109s and 110s. No level bombing of radar installations by He 88 or He 111s. Just hit and mostly miss raids with very light wing bombs without proper air to ground aiming optics.

Smithy
02-10-2008, 12:48 PM
What GB developed was a superior radar control and reporting system not necessarily superior hardware. Ingenious organisation not technology is what proved Britain's forte in radar.


I think you'll find that's what I said in all my posts on the subject above. So we're on the same page here!


They could have been simple IFF interigators not worth a concentrated effort.


I have never seen a report that says that the Luftwaffe thought the structures were for Pipsqueak HF/DF. As I said The conclusion reached by Martini and reported to Göring by Luftwaffe Signals was that the structures were for the detection of shipping. This is well documented.




No level bombing of radar installations by He 88 or He 111s. Just hit and mostly miss raids with very light wing bombs without proper air to ground aiming optics.


Although most raids were by light raids, Ventnor RDF was bombed once by Ju88s on the 12th August at 12:20pm. Erpro 210 was only used once on RDF tasking (Dunkirk RDF station on 12th August at 9:40am). All other RDF raids were undertaken by Ju87s.

But no doubt we are boring people rigid with this discussion. Feel free to PM me if you wish, it's always a pleasure discussing my great interest - the BoB, otherwise I can recommend two very good documents on the RDF system from the National Archive (formerly the PRO):

AIR 16/186, R/T RDF Interception
AIR 20/222, R/T and RDF Station: provision

Naphtali
02-10-2008, 01:06 PM
Surveying a topic, while not useless, is significantly inferior to tightly focused analyses. Apparently, you will not have a semester to investigate the topic, so . . .

have you considered creating a series of questions/postulates of narrow focus. Either assign or allow students to volunteer to address one [each]. By spreading the load of analysis, you may be able to have the students organize their data into a coherent whole -- that is, be a resource, a supervisor, rather than a lecturer.

carebear
02-10-2008, 01:31 PM
I think you'll find that's what I said in all my posts on the subject above. So we're on the same page here!

I have never seen a report that says that the Luftwaffe thought the structures were for Pipsqueak HF/DF. As I said The conclusion reached by Martini and reported to Göring by Luftwaffe Signals was that the structures were for the detection of shipping. This is well documented.

I think you're completely on the same page.

Whether the Germans thought they were for HF/DF or were designed to track shipping, they apparently didn't think they were anti-aircraft radars worthy of sustained attack.

Given the infancy of radar on both sides and Britain's extreme lack of planes compared to Germany, even if the Germans knew they were air radars they would probably analyze the radar's utility in terms of their own perceptions of their technical superiority and the fact their own radar system, including C&C, wasn't particularly useful.

Given the uncertainty of the towers' purpose, and the German perception of general radar superiority, and the German experience with their own radar's limitations; they might have thought it just as efficient to concentrate on using their aircraft superiority to just stamp out the British planes in the ground and air. By the time they figured out the extent of British radar ability, the (anti-aircraft) Battle of Britain was effectively over and they had other targets (the cities) and other threats (Russia) to worry about.

The German's were notorious for operating on preconceived notions, especially concerning other countries military capabilities, in the absence of direct intelligence.

surely
02-10-2008, 02:21 PM
"The ........ were notorious for operating on preconceived notions, especially concerning other countries military capabilities, in the absence of direct intelligence." Carebear

hmmm, now what other names can be inserted?

carebear
02-10-2008, 02:44 PM
"The ........ were notorious for operating on preconceived notions, especially concerning other countries military capabilities, in the absence of direct intelligence." Carebear

hmmm, now what other names can be inserted?

Not sure there's enough bandwidth... ;)

Smithy
02-10-2008, 06:02 PM
I think you're completely on the same page.

Whether the Germans thought they were for HF/DF or were designed to track shipping, they apparently didn't think they were anti-aircraft radars worthy of sustained attack.

Given the infancy of radar on both sides and Britain's extreme lack of planes compared to Germany, even if the Germans knew they were air radars they would probably analyze the radar's utility in terms of their own perceptions of their technical superiority and the fact their own radar system, including C&C, wasn't particularly useful.

Given the uncertainty of the towers' purpose, and the German perception of general radar superiority, and the German experience with their own radar's limitations; they might have thought it just as efficient to concentrate on using their aircraft superiority to just stamp out the British planes in the ground and air. By the time they figured out the extent of British radar ability, the (anti-aircraft) Battle of Britain was effectively over and they had other targets (the cities) and other threats (Russia) to worry about.

The German's were notorious for operating on preconceived notions, especially concerning other countries military capabilities, in the absence of direct intelligence.

I think you are pretty much on the money there Carebear. But at the same time it wasn't a case that the German radar system Freya "wasn't particularly useful". Freya technologically was at virtually the same level as British radar. The difference was in terms of how the two sides utilised their radar systems.

And that is the crux of the matter. The Luftwaffe and their intelligence arms completely misunderstood what the coastal structures were along England's coast, and in turn had no idea of the scope to which the RAF was able to read what Luftwaffe raids were doing, even from form up. As you say Carebear, I think that it is fair to say that the Luftwaffe believed that their superiority of numbers would crush all resistance as it had over Europe. But the flexibility of RAF controllers to react (due to RDF) as the air picture changed during raids was also a major advantage over Luftwaffe raids which were highly pre-planned with set raid routes and waypoints.

At the end of the day RDF enabled the RAF to meet the threat as efficiently as was possible and to use her hugely limited resources to the best of their abilities. Had the Luftwaffe known the extent of the importance of the RDF structures to Britain's defence, and how vital they were in marshalling the RAF's interceptions, and had the Luftwaffe reacted to this, then it is not unlikely that the Battle may have had a very different outcome.

carebear
02-10-2008, 06:24 PM
I think you are pretty much on the money there Carebear. But at the same time it wasn't a case that the German radar system Freya "wasn't particularly useful". Freya technologically was at virtually the same level as British radar. The difference was in terms of how the two sides utilised their radar systems.
And that is the crux of the matter. The Luftwaffe and their intelligence arms completely misunderstood what the coastal structures were along England's coast, and in turn had no idea of the scope to which the RAF was able to read what Luftwaffe raids were doing, even from form up. As you say Carebear, I think that it is fair to say that the Luftwaffe believed that their superiority of numbers would crush all resistance as it had over Europe. But the flexibility of RAF controllers to react (due to RDF) as the air picture changed during raids was also a major advantage over Luftwaffe raids which were highly pre-planned with set raid routes and waypoints.

At the end of the day RDF enabled the RAF to meet the threat as efficiently as was possible and to use her hugely limited resources to the best of their abilities. Had the Luftwaffe known the extent of the importance of the RDF structures to Britain's defence, and how vital they were in marshalling the RAF's interceptions, and had the Luftwaffe reacted to this, then it is not unlikely that the Battle may have had a very different outcome.

Glad I got part of my summary right anyway. :D

If I know little enough about the BoB, I know even less about German radar systems. The "not useful" was my rough (and ig-nint ;) ) summary of what I read in your guys' posts. Good stuff. :eusa_clap

I've been rereading SLAM's Commentary in Korea (ORO-R-13) and it's amazing how key good systems and processes for processing intelligence are, perhaps even more than the hardware itself.

He points out all the information noted at the company level prior to the November CCF offensive that either never made it up the chain due to lack of a system for collection or that did make it up that was disregarded because it countered prisoner interrogations and, particularly, aerial recon.

Great hardware without good processes might as well be junk.

Corto
02-10-2008, 07:08 PM
Surveying a topic, while not useless, is significantly inferior to tightly focused analyses. Apparently, you will not have a semester to investigate the topic, so . . .

have you considered creating a series of questions/postulates of narrow focus. Either assign or allow students to volunteer to address one [each]. By spreading the load of analysis, you may be able to have the students organize their data into a coherent whole -- that is, be a resource, a supervisor, rather than a lecturer.

I sort of did this with a paper/project assignment. I gave them 16 different facets of the war from which they could pick and choose, to do a small research project.

The problem is the day-to-day teaching. There aren't enough textbooks to send home with my students at night (I'm about 35 books shy)...so I'm faced with the problem of having to basically tell them everything they would be reading from their books every night - which doesn't leave any time for discussion or debate. Even though the kids know this, it doesn't help focus their attention during a lecture.

You just can't conduct an engaging activity without grist for the mill.

Corto
02-10-2008, 07:34 PM
have you considered creating a series of questions/postulates of narrow focus. Either assign or allow students to volunteer to address one [each]. By spreading the load of analysis, you may be able to have the students organize their data into a coherent whole -- that is, be a resource, a supervisor, rather than a lecturer.

Here's the list of topics that I suggested they do research projects on:


1. The Holocaust: How did the experience shape attitudes towards the creation of the State of Israel?

2. The Madmen: How Hitler and Mussolini built up fascist cults of personality.

3. The Imperial Japanese: Write about the beliefs that drove Japan to seek its Imperial destiny. What role did economics and nationalism play in their aggressive behavior?

4. Day of Infamy: Write about Americaé─˘s isolationist foreign policy before Pearl Harbor and why we changed our stance on foreign involvement.

5. Propaganda: Write about how, when, where and why the Americans used propaganda (at home and in each combat theater). What impact did it have?

6. Willy and Joe: Write about the experiences of the average infantry soldier or Marine in either theater of war. How did the experience shape veterané─˘s lives and attitudes after the war?

7. The OSS: Detail Office of Strategic Service operations during WWII. Did they have an impact in the outcome of the war? How do you think they shaped Americaé─˘s thinking about clandestine intelligence operations?

8. The African-American Experience: Write about an African-American unit: The Tuskegee Airmen, The 761st Tank Battalion (Black Panthers), The Mare Island or Port Chicago é─˙Mutineersé─¨, and African-Americané─˘s in Army infantry divisions. Contrast these experiences with the non-combat jobs African-Americans were normally assigned to. Or, write about the irony of serving in combat as an African-American and returning home to a Jim Crow America.

9. The Japanese-American Experience: Write about Japanese internment in America and the 442nd Infantry Regiment.

10. Women at War: Write about women who served in the military or in stateside industrial jobs.

11. Cold Warriors: Write about the military experiences of Eisenhower, George Marshall, John F. Kennedy, Robert S. McNamara, Edward Lansdale, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Victor "Brute" Krulak or William Westmoreland (or all of them briefly). How do you think the war shaped their attitudes on conflict?

12. World War II and Popular Culture: Write about how WWII has affected pop-culture from movies, books, comic books, music to video games. Why are WWII movies still being made? Why are WWII video games so popular?

13. "Thank God for the Atom Bomb" (P. Fussell): Write about both sides of the debate on whether we shouldé─˘ve used the bomb or not. Discuss how the invention of atomic weapons changed warfare.

14. A Nation at War (or Not): Write about how Americans sacrificed comfort at home to help the war effort and compare it to how we live today- and what we do (or doné─˘t) sacrifice for our current é─˙war efforté─¨.

15. Coming Home: Write about the experience of disabled, traumatized or severely wounded WWII veterans after returning to America.

NoirDame
02-10-2008, 09:15 PM
I think those are excellent topics and will give you a lot of variety grading them!

Badluck Brody
02-10-2008, 10:03 PM
It actually makes me want to do some more research on my own!!

I wish I had a teacher like you... I would have actually gone to school instead of cutting class!

Well done

Alan Eardley
02-11-2008, 01:50 AM
I don't see anything in the 'Himmelbett' system that the Germans developed with Telefunken to control night fighter operations that indicates that it was'nt more advanced than the control systems used by Fighter Command(which were, admittedly, developed somewhat earlier).

I think that by most measures the use of the double Wurzburg units with simulator projections (red lights for enemy 'blips' and blue for friendly) on the underside of a two level glass Seeburg table was much more sophisticated (and probably more effective in operation) than the wooden tables, models and plotters used in England.

Just my opinion, of course.

Alan

carebear
02-11-2008, 01:58 AM
I don't see anything in the 'Himmelbett' system that the Germans developed with Telefunken to control night fighter operations that indicates that it was'nt more advanced than the control systems used by Fighter Command(which were, admittedly, developed somewhat earlier).

I think that by most measures the use of the double Wurzburg units with simulator projections (red lights for enemy 'blips' and blue for friendly) on the underside of a two level glass Seeburg table was much more sophisticated (and probably more effective in operation) than the wooden tables, models and plotters used in England.

Just my opinion, of course.

Alan

That's equipment.

Were they able to use it to more efficiently utilize their air assets than the British did?

That would be doctrine.

Sound doctrine can usually compensate for equipment, the reverse is seldom as true.

Alan Eardley
02-11-2008, 02:45 AM
That's equipment.

Were they able to use it to more efficiently utilize their air assets than the British did?

That would be doctrine.

Sound doctrine can usually compensate for equipment, the reverse is seldom as true.


It was a system - the way the equipment is used by people.

Some of the British equipment was probably better, but I still have to be convinced that the way Kammhuber organised and directed the German air defences against night bombing (based on 'Himmelbett') was in any way inferior to the British system.

IMO the difference was in the method of attack - not defence. The USAAF and RAF day/night strategic bombing offensive was much more effective and more difficult to defend against than the effort the Luftwaffe was able to raise after 1941. The RAF losses to night fighters show how effective the 'Himmelbett' system could be. The performance of RAF night fighters - of which much was made at the time - was not so good (although it could be argued that they had fewer and more dispersed targets, of course).

Alan

Smithy
02-11-2008, 05:29 AM
I don't see anything in the 'Himmelbett' system that the Germans developed with Telefunken to control night fighter operations that indicates that it was'nt more advanced than the control systems used by Fighter Command(which were, admittedly, developed somewhat earlier).


I perhaps should have been more specific Alan. At the time of the Battle of Britain, the RAF's RDF and the Luftwaffe's Freya systems were technologically at a very similar level (the CH even had a slightly longer range). As I think we all agree the difference was in how the data being received was utilised.

However after the Battle and in the years when the air war shifted over occupied Europe and into Germany, the Luftwaffe systems became highly sophisticated. It is also interesting to see that the Luftwaffe implemented many of the similar techniques with which they were met during the Battle, into their defence of the Reich. Many former Battle of Britain pilots who found themselves on escort duties over Europe expressed this, Al Deere and Johnnie Johnson being two who have even written about this.

Corto
02-11-2008, 07:29 AM
It actually makes me want to do some more research on my own!!

I wish I had a teacher like you... I would have actually gone to school instead of cutting class!

Well done

Thanks for the compliment. I wish my students felt the same way!

Corto
02-11-2008, 07:30 AM
I think those are excellent topics and will give you a lot of variety grading them!

Thank you!
Of course, many of them were driven by our state standards...

Corto
02-11-2008, 09:18 AM
Any submarine experts out there? I'm about to teach my class about Wolf-Packs (I need to give them a break from foreign policy and "diplomacy".

Let's see if I've got this straight:

Diesel subs were the standard and could only stay submerged for about 24 hours before the crews died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Right?

Also...the efficacy of the Wolfpack was limited because of in order to contact other U-boats, they'd have to stay surfaced for an uncomfortably long period of time to send and receive radio traffic.

Is the bottom line that the German Wolf-Packs only worked because they utilized radio and combined sea and air assets for a brief period of time until the Allies caught up with countermeasures? Or were the Wolf-Packs still useful and effective until the end of the war?

Naphtali
02-11-2008, 10:53 AM
The problem is the day-to-day teaching. There aren't enough textbooks to send home with my students at night (I'm about 35 books shy)...so I'm faced with the problem of having to basically tell them everything they would be reading from their books every night - which doesn't leave any time for discussion or debate. Even though the kids know this, it doesn't help focus their attention during a lecture.

You just can't conduct an engaging activity without grist for the mill.That's why the good lord created photocopiers, to free your time. . . .which brings you back to what do you photocopy . . . which is apparently for what you created this query.

My first teaching job was at Kansas City (MO) Central High School where I experienced a comparable dearth of materials. I made several raids on the photocopier. The administration was furious, my students delighted. They became aware of new, different ideas, and incredibly, enjoyed savoring them.

Alan Eardley
02-11-2008, 11:39 AM
I suggest they might be made aware of the role of code-breaking in intercepting ship-to-shore communications between U-boats and their bases.

The students may have seen the (very) fictional film U-571. You could set them the task of finding out how the allies really came to acquire the first Enigma machine, how the code was broken and the desperate and vital race to stay ahead between the KM cryptographers and the allied code-breakers.

At stake was the Battle of the Atlantic, which in the opinion of some historians was the most crucial conflict in the whole of WW2.

Just a suggestion

Alan


Any submarine experts out there? I'm about to teach my class about Wolf-Packs (I need to give them a break from foreign policy and "diplomacy".

Let's see if I've got this straight:

Diesel subs were the standard and could only stay submerged for about 24 hours before the crews died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Right?

Also...the efficacy of the Wolfpack was limited because of in order to contact other U-boats, they'd have to stay surfaced for an uncomfortably long period of time to send and receive radio traffic.

Is the bottom line that the German Wolf-Packs only worked because they utilized radio and combined sea and air assets for a brief period of time until the Allies caught up with countermeasures? Or were the Wolf-Packs still useful and effective until the end of the war?

Corto
02-11-2008, 12:05 PM
That's why the good lord created photocopiers, to free your time. . . .which brings you back to what do you photocopy . . . which is apparently for what you created this query.


I have been providing them with first person accounts and primary documents to spark discussions- it's just that the nuts and bolts stuff in the textbook is so voluminous and they need it to help build a context.

(I also don't want to spend an hour or more hogging the photocopy machine while I xerox whole chapters from the textbook- I thought about it, and I'd probably never get away with it...but it might signal the administration that there's a materials issue.)

I actually started the thread because the people on this site have an intellectual depth about the era, and I wanted to make sure I was covering my bases with the big picture stuff.

I have incorporated some suggestions- namely those recommending I make the students cognizant of what was happening before the US entered the war. So far, that's been the biggest part of the unit.

Corto
02-11-2008, 12:09 PM
I suggest they might be made aware of the role of code-breaking in intercepting ship-to-shore communications between U-boats and their bases.

The students may have seen the (very) fictional film U-571. You could set them the task of finding out how the allies really came to acquire the first Enigma machine, how the code was broken and the desperate and vital race to stay ahead between the KM cryptographers and the allied code-breakers.

At stake was the Battle of the Atlantic, which in the opinion of some historians was the most crucial conflict in the whole of WW2.


That's a good suggestion.
I need something to throw at the kids after days of talking about the rise of fascist totalitarian nationalism in Europe and US foreign policy.

I'm not sure if the kids saw the movie- but it's a great episode to include- their textbook doesn't even include anything about Enigma- and very little on the Battle of the Atlantic...

I might show them clips from Das Boot...too bad there's not a more recent naval movie other than U-571...

Forgotten Man
02-11-2008, 12:24 PM
Coming late in the gameé─Â

Now, this may have been mentioned already, (I doné─˘t know because I havené─˘t taken the time to read the whole thread) but, I know most kids to be visual and if they see any original film, or photos, it may bring it closer to home.

I would go to this site:

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/fsachtml/fsowhome.html

On this site you can find some amazing original color photos from the waré─Â mostly all home front images but, that side of the war is very important to meé─Â because it was the home front that helped our guys do their job é─˙OVER THEREé─¨.

To see crisp color original photos will blow their minds! It will make it seem not so long agoé─Â I know it has that effect on me and maybe most of us here.

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a35000/1a35300/1a35358r.jpg

Good luck!

Edward
02-11-2008, 01:12 PM
If I had only 3 minutes to try to correct a typical American's misunderstandings of World War II, these would probably be the points I would try to make. Particularly the vast scale of the war on the Eastern Front, and how Hitler's gamble on the invasion of the Soviet Union failed, and that the tide there was turned before the U.S entrance into the war really had any impact.

P.S. - I'd also mention how the stage for World War II was set by the Treaty of Versailles, and how the end of World War II set the stage for the Cold War...


Definitely. I think an important point in understanding the rise of Hitler is to show how he was in the right place at the right time, and how well he exploited an existing situation. Hitler wasn't so much the cause of the war, as the spark that set it alight. A lot of other factos fuelled it, not least German resentment at the Versailles settlement, dubbed a "diktat" as it was in no way a negotiated treaty. The French in particular, it seems to me, were primarily motivated by the desire to see Germany humiliated in 1919, burdened with extreme reparations debts and granted a token army which wasn't even sufficient to defend Germany in the event of an attack. Surely an entirely understandable reaction to what France had suffered, however, it did lead to a situation Hitler could exploit.

It would be interesting also to consider why the Weimar Republic failed. The democracy thrust upon Germany following defeat in the Great War was not something people were used to. It seems to have worked well enough in times of prosperity, but when things turned bad again into the 30s, people (as people always will) plumped for a charismatic, strong leader - something familiar.

In terms of the conduct of the war, I should think the key turning points should be considered, including Hitler's mistakes - had Hitler carried on the Battle of Britain for another week, would he have won it? Why did he open up war on a second front, making the same mistake as Napoleon all over again? A few myths could do with exploding, most particularly Hollywood's tendency to overstate the contribution of the US to the extent that the war begain in 1941, the US won the war and everyone in england would be speaking German today if not for the brave GIs. America made a huge contribution, yes, but it really shocks me at times just how many people actually believe that the US won the war in Europe, captured the enigma machine, etc etc....

I should think also it would be worth comparing and contrasting treatment of identified "enemy" groups by both sides. Obviously, there were the horrors of the Nazi death camps. I would find it important there to emphasise just how many groups were shipped off to the camps. By far the biggest group were Jewish, but there were also gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, the old and infirm, Christians who refused to toe the Reichskirche line, intellectuals / potential subversives.... and on and on. I think that too often people are only aware of the Jewish victims, and it is important to remember the others too, the sheer scale of the horror. On the Allied side, things like Allied treatment of German POWs should be looked at, also the US internment camps for Japanese Americans and so on. The irony of black US soldiers fighting Hitler in segregated units.... I think it important that all the things the allies did which may not have been as nice as we'd like should be considered. Not that I would hold these up on the same scale as Hitler, BUT I've never had time for sweeping the victors' less noble deeds under the carpet because they were relatively less extreme than Hitler's. Maybe you could compare Dresden to the London Blitz. Propaganda on both sides would be interesting - how did Hitler sell people the segregation of the Jews? The fact that Hitler didn't invent but rather exploited an already existing anti-semitism. It might be interesting (though a bit complex to do in depth for young students) to think about allied propaganda also: how far was any mistreatment of German POWs the result of the dehumanisation of the enemy that is an essential part of the psychological preparation for any armed conflict?

The Home Front in several places would be interesting to compare and contrast: Germany vs England; the US vs England - how different were things in the US for the average person than in England, more directly in the firing line, as it were? Did that contribute differently to levels of support for the war, or otherwise impact on people's lives? What about in occupied France, and the Channel Islands?

I'd also think about ending the war. It seems to me that this time around there was more focus on rebuilding Europe rather than the punitive attitudes of 1919. How was Germany viewed? Maybe something in general about the difference between a Nazi and a German?

Just some ideas... i think it's an endlessly fascinating subject, albeit a very dark time in human existence. (FWIW, I do find the 1914-18 conflict even more depressing - as said above, it does seem just that bit more senseless in a way.).

Corto
02-11-2008, 02:07 PM
To see crisp color original photos will blow their minds! It will make it seem not so long agoé─Â I know it has that effect on me and maybe most of us here.

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsac/1a35000/1a35300/1a35358r.jpg

Good luck!

I've actually shown them some photos from that collection. It didn't have the mindblowing effect on them as it had on you and I. I tried to explain to them that when I was growing up virtually all publicly available WWII footage was in b&w, and that these photos are just stunning...but...they couldn't process the reason why they should be impressed.

I think the most disturbing moment I had was when I was showing them photos from the "Rape of Nanking", and a couple of students said, "So what?"

Corto
02-11-2008, 02:13 PM
Just some ideas... i think it's an endlessly fascinating subject, albeit a very dark time in human existence. (FWIW, I do find the 1914-18 conflict even more depressing - as said above, it does seem just that bit more senseless in a way.).
Those were all very penetrating and engaging questions. I'm going to work in as many as I can.

I wish I had the time to show them movies and TV shows that really portray the differences between the British and American homefronts.

My students have very little idea what it's like to make personal sacrifices, though given the pervasive violence in their community, they might understand living in constant fear of "attack".

dhermann1
02-11-2008, 02:20 PM
I hope you include something about the Red Ball Express, the battalion of African American truck drivers on the European front. They were real heroes. And of course the Tuskegee Airmen.
If you want to show them a movie that really shows the profound viciousness of Naziism, try "Swing Kids".

Corto
02-11-2008, 02:58 PM
I hope you include something about the Red Ball Express, the battalion of African American truck drivers on the European front. They were real heroes. And of course the Tuskegee Airmen.
If you want to show them a movie that really shows the profound viciousness of Naziism, try "Swing Kids".

The federally mandated Ohio state standards for social studies make sure they get a lot of the African-American contribution. (Which I would've included anyways, given that my classes are about 80-90% African American.)

Thanks for the tip on Swing Kids. I never saw it, but I'm going to check it out.

52Styleline
02-11-2008, 08:12 PM
These kids need to know that the combat soldiers of WWII weren't all that much older than they are now. That most had never been far from home before and that after a questionable preparation in basic training, they were thrown into the meat grinder.

The early units went overseas together and had a bit of knowledge of each other.. the combat replacements were treated horribly, stuck in replacement depots where they knew nobody, and then sent directly to the front line. If they were lucky, they lived long enough for an NCO to show them how to stay alive....many didn't.

Ask them how well they think they would deal with being pulled out of their current situation, sent through basic, and sent overseas to kill or be killed. All in a matter of weeks. All this with no say in what was happening to them. How would they respond to being shot at and having to kill someone else? War isn't a video game.

Corto
02-12-2008, 04:54 AM
Ask them how well they think they would deal with being pulled out of their current situation, sent through basic, and sent overseas to kill or be killed. All in a matter of weeks. All this with no say in what was happening to them. How would they respond to being shot at and having to kill someone else? War isn't a video game.

I gave them an assignment at the (relative) beginning of the unit, that they had to start keeping a "journal" pretending they were 16 in 1939. They have to stay within their racial and socioeconomic identities and write about how they react to events as they happen throughout the unit.

I will soon be assigning the girls to industrial jobs (or allowing them to volunteer for military service) and drafting the boys...unless they want to volunteer for the Marines...

We'll see how it goes. I might have them continue to do this throughout the Cold War and make them 16 again in 1966...

Corto
02-12-2008, 04:57 AM
War isn't a video game.

That's actually a big problem for my students (at least) to understand...I'm planning on spending a class discussing that.

Edward
02-12-2008, 05:41 AM
My students have very little idea what it's like to make personal sacrifices, though given the pervasive violence in their community, they might understand living in constant fear of "attack".

Yes, drawing parallels with their own experiences might help bring it home. I suspect what you're getting with the "so what" has a lot to do wih video games - or what I'd call in the UK the "Vietnam effect." During that whole slew of movies about Vietnam in the 80s, a lot of us growing up back then had some sort of romanticised notion of "Vietnam chic" - not that we'd have thought the war was a great idea, or wanted to be there, but there was a deifnite element of it being treated as some sort of fantasy because it was so remote from our experience, not least with the UK not being involved. Probably a lot of kids nowadays have only ever really processed the idea of WW2 as a video game scenario.

Interesting to hear their reactions to the colour photos of WW2... there was a series on the BBC a few years ago called The Second World War in colour. Colour film footage that had existed at the time, but that had actually been supressed by our ruling elite as they were concerned that it might bring home the 'reality' of war much harder than the black and hite footage everyone saw. If it was too real, too shocking, it was felt, people might turn against the war effort. It was actually very surreal to see things that I had only ever processed as black and white historical images in living technicolour...

ethanedwards
02-12-2008, 08:42 AM
The documentary film 'Night Bombers' is a stunning contemporary film showing a typical bombing raid, all in colour. The details are all there, it's essential viewing for anyone interested in this particular part of our history.
Great that someone had the presence of mind to record it, even better that it has survived! E.E.

Alan Eardley
02-12-2008, 09:09 AM
There were, of course, excellent colour photographs in World War One. The BBC has recently screened a series based on the Albert Kahn Museum collection of colour pictures taken all over the world between 1908 and 1930. The WW1 photos are impressive in a gory way, but I find the 1920s depictions in unlikely settings - the destruction in Armenia and Turkey, for instance, to be very arresting.

Alan



Interesting to hear their reactions to the colour photos of WW2... there was a series on the BBC a few years ago called The Second World War in colour. Colour film footage that had existed at the time, but that had actually been supressed by our ruling elite as they were concerned that it might bring home the 'reality' of war much harder than the black and hite footage everyone saw. If it was too real, too shocking, it was felt, people might turn against the war effort. It was actually very surreal to see things that I had only ever processed as black and white historical images in living technicolour...

Smithy
02-12-2008, 09:33 AM
On a similar note about 6 years ago, I found some stunning colour photos of the RAF in India in the interwar period (mostly 11 Sqn with Harts IIRC) on a forum site. They were truly stunning. Stupidly I didn't save them and sadly I have never been able to find them again. By some slim chance if anyone here knows these or has copies please PM me.

Corto
02-12-2008, 07:05 PM
or what I'd call in the UK the "Vietnam effect." During that whole slew of movies about Vietnam in the 80s, a lot of us growing up back then had some sort of romanticised notion of "Vietnam chic" -

Interesting to hear their reactions to the colour photos of WW2... there was a series on the BBC a few years ago called The Second World War in colour. ...

I actually suffer from "Vietnam Chic". I was an adolescent when the Vietnam "pop-culture renaissance" occurred, and those men became my heroes. I can cite the battles, phases of the war, tactics and units, chapter and verse. I'm actually more interested in teaching these kids about Vietnam than WWII, to tell you the truth.

I'm also intending on showing them that WWII color documentary. It's currently en route from Netflix central...I've shown them some color photos, but it doesn't register with them...I think you need to have grown up with all of that stuff in B&W for the color footage to have an impact.

Corto
02-12-2008, 07:11 PM
I just found this website:
http://www.ww2incolor.com/

Tons of color photos from WWII...

Corto
02-12-2008, 07:26 PM
5- As mentioned it wasn't till the 109E-7 were drop tanbks viable on the type. You must realize that the Bf 110s were thought to have been able to provide acceptable long range escort for Ju 88 and He 111 bombers. When its shortcomimngs were found apparent 109s were thrown in to escort the escorts as it were. Bf 109s were never seen as the primary fighter in the Battle of Britain. The few months that the Battle of Britain lasted precluded quickly retrofitting Bf 109E-3s-4s with drop tanks. In 1943-44 this kind of immediate adaptation would have been well geared up for but in 1940 it was still thought to be a matter of victory being around the corner.

Planners knew the significance of radar but the pinpoint bombing of the thin, skeketal towers was no easy task. for any plane considering defenses. Goring was well on his way to the deliberate bombing of the RAF on the ground. Destroy the airfields and hit the planes when they sit there, especially at night, and ultimately you'd win. The Brits were incapable of mounting a similar offensive against Luftwafe fields across France due to much the same restrictions the Germans had. The RAF didn't have long range fighteres either.


Twitch, I'm sorry I didn't get around to it earlier, but thanks for this post- I've been dropping little tidbits from your post for the last few days- the kids pay attention to this kind of information- so, thank you.

Spitfire
02-13-2008, 07:41 AM
Just to try to get back to the original question asked.
There has been a lot of very good and interesting subjects mentioned allready.
But imo you should just talk about all the different theaters of war, where US was NOT involved. (Eastern front, Battle of britain, Battle of the Atlantic, the convoys to Murmansk, El Alamein etc. etc.)
A lot of young people - all over the world - tends to get their knowledge about WWII from Hollywood and PC games.
Which - naturally - gives them the false impression, that Easy Company 101 AB won the whole damn war.;)

Now do not get me wrong here - all countries tend to look at their own effort and losses first. It' s only natural. But the world war was fought on many fronts - and many battles and sacrificies made the outcome.

Edward
02-13-2008, 09:44 AM
You know, this is obviously something you've faced already, but it's just struck me what a big part of the difficulty in getting it across must be: among the generation of kids going through school right now there must be some of the first to be young enough that in the normal course of things they will have grown up without knowing living relatives old enough to have lived through the war years.

John in Covina
02-13-2008, 10:01 AM
An entire world at war. Atlantic, Pacific, Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
It was a hot war in progress around the globe and where there wasn't fighting espianage and spying was rampant. It set the basis for the Cold War and the levying for power we have today.

One thing is to line up all of the countries engaged and all that were excluded to show the enormity of the war.

Another thing is to show how WWI and the Great Depression laid the groundwork for WWII.

Feng_Li
02-13-2008, 11:19 AM
Back to the original question...As a fellow schoolteacher, I think the most obvious question is:

"What are your learning objectives?"

For those who have not studied pedagogy, a learning objective is both demonstrable and measurable. "Know that the war began in 1939" is not a learning objective, nor is "Learn about the Holocaust." Neither of these contain any provision for measurement or demonstration.

If I say "Explain why the war began in 1939," I'm partway there, but how is my pupil explaining this, and on what basis am I measuring his explanation?

If I say, "The pupils will match three key events of the war to their dates: Invasion of Poland and beginning of WWII - 1939, German Surrender - Spring 1945, Japanese Surrender - Autumn 1945," Now I have a learning objective! The pupils are supposed to know when each of these events took place, demonstrate it on a matching test, and I measure their learning by the score on that test.

Alternately, if I say "Identify three pivotal events of WWII, recall their dates, and explain their significance," I have most of a learning objective. Again, how are they doing this? If I have them do it in an oral presentation, that's a different objective than if I have them write a five-paragraph essay.

Having specific learning objectives helps keep you from throwing lots and lots of information at them without tying it together. It also helps you know how how you are going to assess the pupil's learning.

So, what are your learning objectives? :-)

Corto
02-13-2008, 12:42 PM
So, what are your learning objectives? :-)
:D I'm just kind of winging it...

But I am following my federally mandated state benchmarks and standards.
I know it's not great pedagogy, but I'm just trying to cover my bases...

I plead inexperience (I'm a student teacher) as my excuse...

Feng_Li
02-15-2008, 01:59 PM
No need to excuse yourself; you're still learning, and so am I, and so is every other teacher out there.

Your state benchmarks are a great place to start. Looking at the Ohio benchmarks (and I assume you're teaching ninth grade), I see 20th century conflict: 10.a: Analyze the causes of WWII, including appeasement. Think about how you want your pupils to demonstrate this analysis. What product or performance do you want them to use? An essay? A multiple choice test? An oral presentation? An interpretive dance? Beginning with the end in mind makes your lesson planning loads easier. It also tells you what other content areas you need to integrate into your lessons. For example, if want them to write an essay, you'll want to spend some time talking about what makes a good essay, and maybe even practicing a few times.

How do you know you're following the state benchmarks if you don't know your learning objectives? :D

Always start with a plan. Invariably you will end up winging it sometimes because a plan didn't work, but you should never plan to wing it!

Corto
02-16-2008, 02:22 PM
No need to excuse yourself; you're still learning, and so am I, and so is every other teacher out there.

Your state benchmarks are a great place to start. Looking at the Ohio benchmarks (and I assume you're teaching ninth grade), I see 20th century conflict: 10.a: Analyze the causes of WWII, including appeasement. Think about how you want your pupils to demonstrate this analysis. What product or performance do you want them to use? An essay? A multiple choice test? An oral presentation? An interpretive dance? Beginning with the end in mind makes your lesson planning loads easier. It also tells you what other content areas you need to integrate into your lessons. For example, if want them to write an essay, you'll want to spend some time talking about what makes a good essay, and maybe even practicing a few times.

How do you know you're following the state benchmarks if you don't know your learning objectives? :D

Always start with a plan. Invariably you will end up winging it sometimes because a plan didn't work, but you should never plan to wing it!

Actually after having taken time to think about it, I have been teaching the unit with an overarching purpose beyond the state standards.

My goal was two-fold. First, to teach them about the conflict prior to the U.S. entry into the war. (Which was strongly emphasized by the participants in this thread) and second to get them to understand the importance of industrial capacity to the warfighting capabilities of all sides.

You are right of course, my weaknesses have been in my assessments.

I did assign a paper with multiple choices, differentiated by skill level (those with lower functioning intellectual processes could chose a less analytical problem to write about). (I'll send it to you privately).

Also, I've been teaching the campaign portion of the unit with the aid of the "9 Principles of Warfare"- the US Army's paradigm for conventional combined-arms maneuver warfare. (I've got a different paradigm for Vietnam). I went over the principles with them- which stretched my analogy-making abilities to the fullest- and told them they would have to apply events to each principle.

I agree with you 100% that it's a bad idea to start my lesson plans with "Wing It". I actually had an extensive lesson plan which went out the window on the first day. To be honest, the whole experience of teaching has been overwhelming. But I feel more able to handle things every day.

Maybe in a couple of years this unit will be a little smoother. ;)

carebear
02-16-2008, 02:38 PM
This brings back memories of setting up classes in my recon unit.

Figure out what you want the student to learn - terminal learning objectives.

Figure out what they need to understand on the way there - enabling learning objectives.

Figure out the amount of time each step should take and the materials required. Also the format, 'monkey-see, monkey-do' or lecture.

Write the actual lesson plan and rehearse it.

Works for everything from "how to wear a uniform" to "how to assault a fortified position"...

...of course the materials needed are different for those two. :D

Alan Eardley
02-16-2008, 03:04 PM
I teach in a University. Have done for 25 years. The more I do it, the more I am convinced that teaching is a waste of time.

What matters is learning. I recommend two ways to learn about what happened in WW2. The best is to talk to people who were there. Lots of them, who did lots of things in lots of places. That's how I grew up and how I learned. I had the advantage of being able to talk to people 'who were there' while the experience was fresh in their minds. I doubt that many young people can do that now. So the next best thing is to read the actual accounts of people who were there. If I want my students to learn about WW2 (or any period of history) I stick to guiding their reading and let the voices of the past - real experience, not academic researchers - speak for themselves.

Some books by 'historians' are worth reading, however. I've just finished 'The Wildest Province: SOE in the Land of the Eagle' by Roderick Bailey. This recounts The experiences of David Smiley and Billy Maclean and their SOE unit in Albania. It covers everything from subversion to cannibalism and is one of the most extraordinary books on WW2 I have ever read.

I recommend it to any student of WW2 history.

Alan

Corto
02-17-2008, 05:29 AM
Works for everything from "how to wear a uniform" to "how to assault a fortified position"...

...of course the materials needed are different for those two. :D

I wish I could use the "materials" from the latter. It might help with classroom "management".

Corto
02-17-2008, 05:31 AM
I teach in a University. Have done for 25 years. The more I do it, the more I am convinced that teaching is a waste of time.

What matters is learning. I recommend two ways to learn about what happened in WW2. The best is to talk to people who were there. Lots of them, who did lots of things in lots of places. That's how I grew up and how I learned. I had the advantage of being able to talk to people 'who were there' while the experience was fresh in their minds. I doubt that many young people can do that now. So the next best thing is to read the actual accounts of people who were there. If I want my students to learn about WW2 (or any period of history) I stick to guiding their reading and let the voices of the past - real experience, not academic researchers - speak for themselves.

Some books by 'historians' are worth reading, however. I've just finished 'The Wildest Province: SOE in the Land of the Eagle' by Roderick Bailey. This recounts The experiences of David Smiley and Billy Maclean and their SOE unit in Albania. It covers everything from subversion to cannibalism and is one of the most extraordinary books on WW2 I have ever read.

I recommend it to any student of WW2 history.

Alan

Both of your suggestions have definitely been a weakness in this unit. I was unable to find a vet, and I haven't been on the ball about providing them with many first person accounts. I will endeavor to try and do both of those things in the future.

dhermann1
02-19-2008, 03:34 PM
I was just on the B63 bus in Brooklyn Saturday, when an elderly (but still fit!) African American gentleman got on the bus, sporting a WW II Veteran ball cap. I wasted no time in asking him where he served. He said he was a gunner's mate on destroyer escorts in both the Atlantic and Pacific. I said "Ah, destroyers, the real Navy!" He agreed wholeheartedly. My stop came up almost immediately. He said it was too bad I had to get off, because he'd like to show me some things. Bummer. I'll bet he had some good stories to share, and he obviously would have loved the chance. Next time you see someone with one of those caps TALK TO HIM!!! Don't be shy or embarrassed!

TM
02-19-2008, 10:38 PM
dhermann1,

You are so right! Catch them when you can, for they may not be around for all that much longer. I have many regrets for the questions I never got around to asking, and now it's too late.

Don't be afraid to talk to people. Most will enjoy the attention. And you never know where a conversation might lead.

Tony

Corto
03-04-2008, 07:02 PM
Well. My World War Two unit has drawn to a close.
Once again, I'd like to extend my thanks to everyone who participated in this thread. You really gave me some great ideas, which I did my best to incorporate into the class.

The results are mixed. Teaching this sort of thing is a fight against time, and unfortunately there were a couple of areas that I had to blow through quickly. (The PTO, for example.)

But, on the whole there were a couple of light bulbs that got turned on. (Oddly, on their unit test, the one thing that the majority of the students understood was the concept of blitzkrieg and what "centers of gravity" are in a military context.)

To my European friends, I can proudly report that I was successful in imparting the fact that the war didn't start in 1941. (And that the Russians were more than just an incidental part of the war- which is how I was taught as an adolescent in the mid-1980's...)

So, now it's off to the Cold War.

Thanks again Fedora Loungers.

Lincsong
03-04-2008, 07:57 PM
Excellent posts by everyone.:eusa_clap I'm a little late to the game but I'll put in my two cents; don't downplay the Japanese. Too often some people want to downplay them. Don't. Treat the Japanese as you would treat the Germans.

carebear
03-04-2008, 08:20 PM
When do we start the "Cold War curriculum" thread? :D

dhermann1
03-04-2008, 08:30 PM
Good question. Having just finished Churchill's WW II, I can say that the Cold War was already well under way before the end of WW II. Fascinatng to see how early the roots go back. There was a good movie about an espionage case in Canada in 1945 on TCM recently. I wish I could remember the details, but the Russians were already very busy by then.
Then again, it might get a little too touchy for this forum. The distinction between foreign and domestic, and betwen historical and current events will start to blur.

Lincsong
03-04-2008, 08:48 PM
Yeah, Hermann you may be right.:(

drjones
03-04-2008, 11:09 PM
This is a subject I have felt strongly about for a LONG time. Our veterans need to be respected as other cultures have respected their warriors. They are (in other cultures) treated as leaders, advisors, mentors and important people. Theyve been to the edge of hell and back. Their knowledge is prized.

I dont think they are treated that way here and THAT is why people dont talk to the vets about their experiences. I have myself broken that stereotype for me. I have spoken to WWII, Vietnam, Korea, and Persian Gulf veterans and they all have AMAZING stories to share. I used what I learned from my own grandfather for a history class. subsequently, I learned his experiences are reflected in a special feature on the U-571 DVD!!! It adds a whole other dimension to that movie for me. :)

DRJONES

Smithy
03-05-2008, 05:19 AM
the U-571 DVD!!!


With all respect to your granddad, that movie is not the best example of historical accuracy. Indeed it offended many former and current members of the RN and even evoked heated outbursts in the House of Commons.

Slightly revisionist to say the least.

Corto
03-05-2008, 06:18 AM
I made an attempt to get at least two WWII vets into my classes, but they each cancelled at the last minute- which is really too bad.

I also had an opportunity to take one or two priveleged students to a nursing home to talk to a Bataan survivor- but I had to weigh that against the time it would take away from the kids who wouldn't get to go. Very unfortunate.

My Cold War unit will begin imminently...I'm going to start by giving them a "1945 SITREP" and discuss the status of the major international players (leaders and revolutionary movements) after the last bomb drops.

I'd love to start a Cold War thread- but I don't know if that exceeds the stated mission (and atmosphere) of the Fedora Lounge...What do you guys think. Would it be acceptible, or not?

Corto
03-05-2008, 06:20 AM
This is a subject I have felt strongly about for a LONG time. Our veterans need to be respected as other cultures have respected their warriors. They are (in other cultures) treated as leaders, advisors, mentors and important people. Theyve been to the edge of hell and back. Their knowledge is prized.
DRJONES

I agree with you...but I (student) teach in a very liberal, inner-ring-suburb's school district. I have to watch it when I extol martial virtues. (At least until I get a real job)...

drjones
03-05-2008, 02:45 PM
really? wow. ok...thank you for the correction of my foible!
DRJONES


With all respect to your granddad, that movie is not the best example of historical accuracy. Indeed it offended many former and current members of the RN and even evoked heated outbursts in the House of Commons.

Slightly revisionist to say the least.

Lincsong
03-06-2008, 08:57 PM
Many times when I try to talk to battle veterans they just don't want to talk about what happened. The hell of war is something they'd rather just forget.:( I knew a Bataan Death March soldier who escaped and then fought in the jungle guerilla wars. Very interesting. I knew a Korean Vet who was at Chosin, he talked in generalities, not specifics. Again, the hell of battle isn't something to remember.

Once I sold a car to a WWII tank driver who was under the command of General Patton. He told me that even seven years after the war he had a job as a truck driver in Oakland, was at a stop light in front of a steel plant and there was a thumping from a pile driver, he blacked out and woke up several hours later in the hospital, not knowing what happened. The doctors told him it was probably due to a battle flashback.:eek:

Chas
03-06-2008, 09:42 PM
So, in your opinion, what were the most pivotal moments? The most under-appreciated moments? The most pivotal technologies, innovations and advancements? Unfortunate ramifications?

I'm want to get beyond their textbook if possible (because there aren't enough for all the students to take home anyways). I've already got my own answers to these questions, but I'm curious to see what you all think.
Corto

There are two essentially pivotal moments in the war, in terms of the Western Front.

The first pivotal moment on the Western Front happened in May, 1943 in the Atlantic. At that point, the German U-Boats were resoundingly defeated by a combination of aggressive escort tactics, radar, better coordination between Allied air and naval units, and, lastly, the war-winning Allied technological advantage. The invasion of Normandy would not have happened had the Germans been able to press their advantage against the convoys. Keep in mind that the worst losses suffered by the US in any one single battle was the slaughter of merchant vessels in Jan-Apr '45 along the Eastern seaboard. It's much less known, and overshadowed by Pearl Harbor, which was a half-baked effort on the part of the Japanese, as destructive as it seemed at the time.

In both Pacific and European theaters, it was superior Allied intel that really won the war. One only needs to look to the breaking of the Japanese Navy "Purple" cipher and the code breaking at Bletchley Park to see the significance of this. Allied code breaking allowed the Allies to essentially "read their enemies mail", in some cases, in real time.

The lesson here is that in a conventional war, better intelligence is the key to victory. Just ask Sun Tzu.