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The American Homefront During WWII

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Michael Ungar

on 4 February 2016

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Transcript of The American Homefront During WWII

Rationining, Conservation, Recycling: civilians do their part
hit all-time low
of 1.2 percent!!!%

American Homefront
During World War II
Rationing and Price Controls
OPA (Office of Price Administration) controlled prices and rationed
Tires were first to be rationed
Rubber was imported from Far East and become extremely valuable
Every house received a ration book
Gas cards required to purchase petroleum
Consumer spending was discouraged by prohibiting credit cards & consumer credit
People were encouraged to invest 10% of their pay checks in war bonds
The American Response
Women in the Workforce
“Rosie the Riveter” – symbol of women in manufacturing
"Government Girls”
By 1945, women made up 36% of the workforce
Working was portrayed as patriotic and feminine and encouraged through propaganda.
All-American Girl’s Professional Baseball League was founded
"If you've used an electric mixer
in your kitchen, you can
learn to run a drill press"
Nylon was directed towards war effort
- Nylon stockings became extremely expensive
- Women went bare legged
- Black Market for nylon stockings

To conserve cloth: Hems and Belts were restricted to two inches
Cuffs on sleeves were eliminated
"And we were going to also lose our freedom and walk inside of that gate and find ourselves…cooped up there…when the gates were shut, we knew that we had lost something that was very precious; that we were no longer free."
Mary Tsukamoto
Women at Home
Women were encouraged to:
- Grow victory gardens
- Walk instead of drive to conserve precious rubber
- Ration sugar used to can fruit
- Sew and repair clothing instead of buying new clothes
Women had an increased responsibility as men went off to war

Sound Familiar?
(Think: WWI}
Government Propaganda
February 19th, 1942 Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066
Set aside military zones for “War Relocation Camps”
Nationalistic and retaliatory response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor
Due to war hysteria and racial prejudice
The Japanese Internment Camps
All persons of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire west coast
Approximately 110,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast
Approximately 62% were American citizens
Japanese American farmers lost substantial amounts of money by selling their property cheaply in a short amount of time
White farmers supported the ousting of their Japanese farmer competitors
Newspaper columnists and politicians vehemently supported the Japanese isolation
U.S Government justified their actions by stating possible threats of Japanese espionage
Roberts Commission Report
United States Response
Relocation Centers
Internment Camps
Run by the Wartime Relocation Authority
Tule Lake was a particularly harsh center for “disloyal” Japanese
Run by the Department of Justice
Used to detain those suspected crimes or enemy sympathizers
Population Movements
Families moved to industrial areas to work in factories
Wives followed husbands to military camps
Jobs in the West lured African-Americans
Including journeys to both military bases and manufacturing centers, more than 30 million Americans— about one-fourth of the population—moved during the war.
People limited long distance and vacation traveling - no new cars manufactured.
Gas was rationed.
Barbed fences, armed gun towers, and armed soldiers surrounded the camps
Many families were separated to different camps
Meals were nutritionally inadequate and medical care was minimal
Had to wait in long lines for bathrooms and eating
Camps faced summers of over 100°F and winters of -30°F
Japanese in the camps died from inadequate medical care and emotional stress
Military guards killed several Japanese for “resisting orders”
Conditions in the Camps
Violation of the Constitution Article 1, Section 9, stating that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, and if so, shall be suspended by Congress
President Roosevelt suspended habeas corpus, not Congress
Violation of the 5th Amendment, that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law
In 1944, President Roosevelt rescinded the Executive Order 9066
Civil Rights Violations
EnCouraged workers to be Careful
EnCouraged Workers to work hard
The Good War
Unemployment fell from 17.2% to 1.2%
Personal savings rose from $7 billion to $39 billion: Banks thrived
Full employment, rising incomes, and increased purchasing power led to growing consumer spending and overall increase in living standards
Consumer spending increased by 20 percent
Industry workers: Rose by 73% percent
Manufacturers: Rose by 62% percent
Farmers: Tripled
Assembly Centers
Different Types of Camps
Run by the Wartime Civil Control Administration
Temporary centers set up to house the Japanese while proper relocation centers were being built.
The US Goes to War - Part 1: The Homefront
Overview - Primary changes/concepts
America's experience in World War II was unique and profound for several reasons:

No battles occurred on the American mainland - by the end of war only the US infrastructure was untouched and production capacity/capability dramatically expanded.

America did not win the war by military might. The USSR bore the brunt of fighting the Nazis and lost 26.6 million total including 8.7 million military dead. The US lost 420,000 including 407,000 military deaths (12,000 merchant marine).

The the primary importance of the US was to produce the weapons and material needed by the Allies to overcome the Nazis. America was in President Roosevelt’s phrase, the “arsenal of democracy.”

The war ended the Great Depression. Military spending that began in 1940 revived the nation’s economy & and millions of unemployed Americans returned to work to make the weapons of war needed as well as serve in the armed forces.

Keynes vindicated?!
Mobilization required enormous organizational adjustments.

Gov't worked closely with business to meet the needs for military mobilization.

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson observed, “If you are going to try to go to war, or to prepare for war, in a capitalist country, you have got to let business make money out of the process or business won’t work.”
Cost-plus-a-fixed-fee system: government guaranteed all development & production
costs then paid a percentage profit on the goods produced.

Josef Stalin commented that “the most important things in this war are machines” and that “the United States . . . is a country of machines.”

The partnership bet. gov't and industry worked. American industry provided almost two-thirds of all the Allied military equipment produced during the war.

By mid-1945, the US produced 80,000 landing craft, 100,000 tanks & armored cars, 300,000 airplanes, 15 million guns, and 41 billion rounds of ammunition. The US also produced the world’s first two atomic bombs.

In 4 years, American industrial production, already the world’s largest, doubled in size.
Privately-owned factories converted from civilian to
military production.

From Corn Flakes to K-Rations

Kimberly-Clark shifts much of its production capacity from consumer use to defense needs. Among the many products the company makes for the armed forces are anti-aircraft gun mounts and detonating fuses for heavy shells.
from Kleenex to kill shots
In May 1943, FDR established the Office of War Mobilization (OWM),
headed by James F. Byrnes, who became known as the “assistant president.”

Due to the demands & constraints of mass volume production, contracts for war materials were most often awarded to the largest corporations. More than half of the $175 billion in prime war contracts given from 1940 to 1944 went to just 33 firms.

As Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson put it, “we had to take industrial America as we found it” —which meant reinforcing and often augmenting the domination of big business.
Every American was issued a series of ration books during the war. The ration books contained removable stamps good for certain rationed items, like sugar, meat, cooking oil, and canned goods. A person could not buy a rationed item without also giving the grocer the right ration stamp. If a person’s ration stamps were used up for a month, she could not buy any more of that type of food. This meant planning meals carefully, being creative with menus, and not wasting food. More than 8,000 ration boards across the country administered the program.
National War Labor Board established in December 1941

Unions pledge not to strike for the duration of the war & given “maintenance-of-membership” rule -- tantamount to the union shop that required all workers to join the union.

WLB policy limited general wage increases to not more than 15% of their hourly earnings in January 1941.

WLB also sanctioned wage increases in order to improve low standards of living, correct inequities, and ensure women workers received equal pay for equal work.
America Mobilizes
African Americans at War - the “Double V” campaign. achieve a double victory—victory over Hitler’s racism abroad & victory over racism at home.
Segregated Army - from menial labor & support to major combat (airmen & tank battalions)
Mexican Americans & Zoot Suit Riots
African Americans Demand War Work
Business still resisted hiring African Americans --

A. Philip Randolph, the head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters organized a march on Washington demanding a fair share of defense work and integration of the armed forces
Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, on June 25, 1941 prohibiting discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government based on race. FDR created the Fair Employment Practices Commission—the first civil rights agency established by the federal government since the Reconstruction era.
What was missing?
When jobs in war factories opened up for African Americans during World War II, the Great Migration resumed. When African Americans
arrived in the crowded cities of the North and West, however, the local residents often greeted them with suspicion and intolerance. Sometimes these attitudes led to violence.
What Happens to a Racial or Ethnic Minority that is perceived to be a threat to national security?
There is no Japanese ‘problem’on the Coast. There will be no armed
uprising of Japanese. There will undoubtedly be some sabotage financed
by Japan and executed largely by imported agents. . . .
In each Naval District there are about 250 to 300 suspects under surveillance.
It is easy to get on the suspect list, merely a speech in favor of Japan at some banquet being sufficient to land one there. The Intelligence Services are generous with the title of suspect and are taking no chances. Privately, they believe that only 50 or 60 in each district can be classed as really dangerous. The Japanese are hampered as saboteurs because of their easily recognized
physical appearance. It will be hard for them to get near anything to blow
up if it is guarded. There is far more danger from Communists and people
of the Bridges type on the Coast than there is from Japanese. The Japanese here is almost exclusively a farmer, a fisherman or a small businessman. He has no entrée to plants or intricate machinery
In 1941 President Roosevelt ordered the State Department to investigate
the loyalty of Japanese Americans. Special Representative of the State
Department Curtis B. Munson carried out the investigation in October and
November of 1941 and presented what cameto be known as the “Munson
Report” to the President on November 7, 1941.
We uphold the exclusion order . . . . In doing so, we are not unmindful of the
hardships imposed by it upon a large group of American citizens. . . .
But hardships are part of war, and war is an aggregation of hardships. All citizens alike,
both in and out of uniform, feel the impact of war in greater or lesser measure. Citizenship
has its responsibilities, as well as its privileges, and, in time of war, the burden is always
heavier. Compulsory exclusion of large groups of citizens from their homes, except under
circumstances of direct emergency and peril, is inconsistent with our basic governmental
institutions. But when, under conditions of modern warfare, our shores are threatened by
hostile forces, the power to protect must be commensurate with the threatened danger. . . .
To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military
dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue.
Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race.
He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the . . .
military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and . . . because they decided
that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be
segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and, finally, because Congress . . .
determined that our military leaders should have the power to do just this.
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