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Ken Burns: The War

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Alba 24 Sep 07 - 08:14 AM
Alba 24 Sep 07 - 08:17 AM
fretless 24 Sep 07 - 09:16 AM
Rapparee 24 Sep 07 - 09:21 AM
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Subject: Ken Burns: The War
From: Alba
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 08:14 AM

Watched the first episode last night of this 6 years in the making documentary.
In the very first episode my eyes were opened to many facts that I never really did "get" and also found myself in tears more than once.
I look forward to the next 6 episodes but in a strangely uncomfortable way. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else.
This morning I can still see some of images in the Episode last night flashing through my head and I find myself thinking of my Dad.

Is anyone else planning on watching this Documentary?
Best Wishes,
Jude


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Subject: Ken Burns: The War
From: Alba
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 08:17 AM

Eh, perhaps a kindly Elf would remove the 'O' prefix as it was supposed to be a BS one and then pop this topic into the non-music section.
Thank you muchly in advance. A lesson to all, never write a serious post or start a thread on one cup of peppermint tea!
:)


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: fretless
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 09:16 AM

It didn't knock my socks off the way The Civil War did, but The War is still darn fine. I'm assuming the final 20 minutes of segment 1 was part of the add-on requested/demanded by portions of the Latino comunity when they realized that their contributions to the war effort had been largely or entirely ignored by Burns. Leaving that controversy aside, I'm looking forward to the remaining 5 episodes.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Rapparee
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 09:21 AM

I haven't watched it and I'm not sure I can at this time.

Given the sacrifices made then by millions and contrasting it to the current situations in Afghanistan and Iraq (undeclared wars with the only sacrifices being made by those involved and their families); with people coming home minus limbs and/or with traumatic brain injury and/or PTSD and an administration that wants to cut the budget for the VA over the next ten years instead of recognizing that these problems will be with us for a very, very long time; with media that's more interested in whether or not Paris Hilton is wearing underwear than in actual news; when sports figures are arrested for everything from rape to armed robbery -- I can't really cope with it at this time.

Sorry. Perhaps it's because my family lived it, too.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Alba
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 09:31 AM

The final 20 minutes of episode one was the additional footage that was requested. Burns spoke about that last week in an interview on MSNBC.
Five more then. As I say it has captured my attention so I will be watching them all. (Thank you for the correction Fretless. I was under the impression the Documentary was to be spread over Seven episodes. Probably just me being greedy!:)

Jude


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 10:12 AM

Rapaire ... I couldn't agree with you MORE! Very well said. Bob


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Alba
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 10:30 AM

I truly appreciate your comments Rapaire.
I can see exactly what direction you are coming from and I must admit that I was undecided as to wether I could watch this for some time before it aired. In part to several of the reasons you have stated and because War is Hell.. Something struck me last night however and that was some of the dialouge and a number of the statements made could just as easily be applied to this present moment in time. That in itself was very revealing to me.
Thanks for your post Rapaire.
Best Wishes
Jude


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Amos
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 11:00 AM

We've taped it so far; but I will watch it slowly. My roots are also embedded in this war, in various ways.

A


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 11:08 AM

I feel the same way as Rapaire...the war we are living through right now, while much different here at home, is enough for me, Albadarlin'.

Plus, when I checked our PBS website, it said they were running a rerun of something called "War," not "The War" so I assumed it was NOT the Ken Burns series, which I also assumed because they have been advertising showings of it at a theatre near Denver, so I though it wasn't going to be on PBS for a while, if it was being released that way. Big confusion, I guess.

Anyway, I am glad you found some things of interest in it.

kat


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: SINSULL
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 11:18 AM

A combination of my aversion to John Wayne and my disgust with war made it impossible for me to watch this one. I feel the same about movies based on the Viet Nam war.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Rapparee
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 11:46 AM

I am not disgusted with war per se -- sometimes, as my Mennonite friend Kevin has said, violence is the only way left to oppose evil (he had this revelation after visiting Dachau). But:

1. My wife was 3 years old when her dad returned from Europe.
2. I was 10 months old when my father returned from the Pacific.
3. In the case of my wife, at least three maternal uncles served in Alaska, Europe, and the Pacific. I don't know about the paternal ones.
4. In my case, two maternal and three paternal ones served in the Pacific.
5. I had two uncles in Korea; at least one in WW1.
6. My two brothers served in Vietnam. I was in Korea at the same time; the only difference was that the killing in Korea was retail, in 'Nam it was wholesale.
7. I have had cousins and nephews (no nieces yet) who have served in Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. One nephew is currently on 30 day leave before overseas deployment courtesy of the USMC.

8. I have seen the "thousand yard stare" on the faces of my relatives, and my wife tells me that I too sometimes have it. I know why it is there, but it is impossible to explain to someone who "hasn't seen the elephant."

I will probably watch the show someday. Not right now, though. Thanks, anyway.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 12:09 PM

I loved The Civil War series.

do you have a clicky to take me to details of this Ken Burns epic?


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: fretless
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 12:31 PM

Try this for The Civil War.

As for The War, I think Burns did a good job in the first episode to make it clear that there was more going on than "What a good time we had in the 1940s killing the bad guys," but I think he still falls too easily into the trap of seeing WWII as "the good war." But this is only episode 1 and there was enough there to suggest hints of balance. I'm willing to hope that whole package will be worth watching (and, since it is on PBS, rewatching).


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 12:39 PM

I too watched it last night and will probably watch most of the rest of the series.

Coming from a pacifistic background, it has a poignancy to me that may be quantitatively different from others'. War, by its very nature and rationale seems such an atavistic thing to me that I will never condone it. At the same time, I recognize that as long as rage exists, as long as families fight amongst themselves, as long as countries disagree, the possibility of war exists.

Why we can't resist and resolve disputes at the very top instead of sending people to fight each other physically and to the death in our name is incomprehensible to me.

I was not aware that the east coast of American was so late in instating 'blackouts'. I remember them very well on the west coast although I don't know in what month they began.

Being raised as I was, we didn't have a radio so local people came by and told us of when a blackout order was issued. The only thing that wasn't made clear to a 5-year-old kid was that the blackout didn't necessarily mean that the Japanese airplanes were overhead looking for a glimmer of light from our house. It terrified me if my parents were late in drawing the curtains or lighting the oil lamps.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Desdemona
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 01:08 PM

I absolutely loved "The Civil War" (most of which I saw in the wee small hours of the morning while soothing a teething baby, now 16!), but I'm feeling conflicted about this one, for primarily personal reasons. At this point I'm not sure if I'll watch it or not; aside from my own feelings, the reviews have been extremely mixed, to say the least.

My father was a GI in WWII, and my mother was a British war bride, so I, too grew up steeped in this story...I heard about this series on NPR last spring, only a few weeks after my Dad had suddenly passed away. My first thought was, "Oh, Dad will *love* this!" before that stunned, slapped-in-the-face feeling hit me. So we'll see; it may be that I'll have to wait and see it at a later date.

~D


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 02:49 PM

"Civil War" was the best program ever seen on television. I also greatly enjoyed "Baseball" amd what I was able to catch of "Jazz".
Ken Burns is a brilliant filmmaker so I have looked forward all summer to seeing his latest work, "The War".
   So far I have not been disappointed. I don't think it is quite on a par with "Civil War" but still very good. The angle of focusing on four communities, both the service men from them and the people left behind gives it a personal feel. The technique of mixing real war footage, photographs, live interviews and NO re-enactments was top-notch as usual. (My wife whose sharp eye could enable her to do continuity for movies busted him using some of the same footage for different battles. I, myself, didn't catch it as I was working the NY Times Crossword while I watched and I hope this bit of sloppiness doesn't become so obvious as to be a distraction.)
   World War II was such a defining historic event that I think it well warrants a look back. I understand the feeling of war-weariness some have expressed and lack of interest in revisiting "The Big One"
but I for one will continue to watch and learn and remember my Dad who was "in for the duration."


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: RangerSteve
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 04:30 PM

My father was in the war, as were most of my friends fathers, so this is reacent history to me, and I've heard most of it before this show came on. It was still interesting, but brutal. The description of the Bataan Death March nearly did me in. amd the part about Guadalcanal finished the job. I'm not sure I can handle 5 more nights, so I'll probably wait until the DVD is available and watch it in smaller doses.

One thing, though. While I agree that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were brutal and I'd prefer it never happened, there are people who act as though we bombed the Care Bears factory. They need to see that first episode to realize what we were really up against.

ALso, I realize that this is about the U.S. in the war, not an entire history of the war. In a way, that's too bad. There's probably a lot that was glossed over in school about the beginning of the war in Europe.

I agree about the Civil War being the best thing in the history of TV. Howver, Jazz fell short for me. Not enough music. It was like experiencing Thanksgiving dinner by having it described to you.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: fretless
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 04:38 PM

Neil, I too saw the footage being repeated, but I didn't catch it as being represented as different battles, just different takes on the same battles. I'll have to watch the remaining episodes more closely.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: jacqui.c
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 04:50 PM

I grew up with a series called 'The World At War' that was shown in the UK. I suppose that WWII was always more with us in the UK - I lived in London and when I was growing up there were still bomb sites around and recounting of the Blitz was something that we heard quite often. I knew people who had been held in prisoner of war camps both by the Germans and the Japanese.

It is interesting to see this account of the War from an American perspective and I will continue to watch it for now.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 05:38 PM

My uncle got caught in Guadalcanal. I am glad I didn't watch this last night. He wound up, wounded, in a foxhole for a terribly long time and had to convalesce in New Zealand a full year before thwy would allow him to travel home. He killed himself, years later, because he couldn't get over the horrors he experienced and perpetrated as a U.S. Marine in WWII.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 07:30 PM

Caught the last 30 min or so last night, and I thought it was very good. Especially the man who was speaking about his experiences with the Marines near the end. Very moving. I'll try to catch more of it, probably a good candidate for Netflix.

What was the very haunting song sung by a very familiar female voice, something about what was given for America? It was just beautiful, a perfect counterpoint to the horror of war footage.

Not that there IS a lighter note to war docs, but a funny side note: when we first moved to the South 10 or 12 years ago, we had begun watching the Civil War series (amazing; everyone should see it, especially students). Went to our local, teeny-tiny movie store for our VHS tapes one at a time, week or so in between. One evening, as he handed the next one over the counter, the clerk fixed us with a serious look and said, "This one's whar it startit goin bad fer ar boys....."

Dani


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 08:12 PM

I watched every episode of "The Civil War" and was thoroughly enthralled—and educated, not just to the historical details which I had learned in school, but to the human factors as well, which I thought Burns did a fine job bringing forth.

My wife and I watched the first episode of "The War" last night, and we plan to watch the whole thing. I was ten years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and I followed the news avidly as the war progressed. Barbara was barely more than a toddler when WWII started, and as she grew up, she had the impression that "news" meant war news. Food rationing and gasoline rationing, buying Defense Bonds (later War Bonds), scrap drives, blackout curtains, air raid wardens—all these things, I remember very well. I had an uncle in the Merchant Marine and a cousin who survived the Bataan Death March and subsequent imprisonment.

Again, Ken Burns is getting right down to the nitty-gritty. Barbara and I find it uncomfortable to watch and more than just a bit unsettling. Nevertheless, we're sticking with it. There is much to be reminded of, there is much to learn that we didn't know at the time, and there is a great deal to think about.

One thing to ponder deeply is the question of how so many of the fine peoples of countries such as Japan, with its delicate art work, beautiful gardens, and ritual courtesy; and Germany, with its lofty level of education and science, and its wealth of philosophy, literature, and music can, when cetain leaders take the helm, allow themselves to be turned into the most cruel and vicious of brutes.

It reminds us to look to ourselves to be sure of our own values. And to chose our leaders wisely, and then watch them carefully, always with a level of skepticism. We need to be especially sensitive to the kind of madness that led to the horrors of World War II, to recognize it, and to stop it immediately when it reappears.

Watch the series. "Those who do not learn from history. . . ."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: michaelr
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 09:57 PM

Don wrote: "One thing to ponder deeply is the question of how so many of the fine peoples of countries such as Japan, with its delicate art work, beautiful gardens, and ritual courtesy; and Germany, with its lofty level of education and science, and its wealth of philosophy, literature, and music can, when cetain leaders take the helm, allow themselves to be turned into the most cruel and vicious of brutes."

Amen to that. It is crucially relevant to what Americans are allowing to happen now. I cannot believe there aren't millions of Americans out protesting Bush's crime every day.

Michael


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 10:23 PM

I agree with Don. We need this reminder of the history we don't want to repeat. It is gruesome, and it is recent enough that it hits home. It needs to. Too bad Dubya didn't see something like this before he decided to invade a sovereign nation. As Don said . . . with its lofty level of education and science, and its wealth of philosophy, literature, and music can, when certain leaders take the helm, allow themselves to be turned into the most cruel and vicious of brutes. That applies to the U.S. now, not just to Japan or Germany in WWII.

Both of my parents served in WWII. Dad didn't talk about it much, Mom spoke of it frequently, and she spent 18 months in Japan after the war. No, it the atomic bombs weren't dropped on Care Bear factories. They were dropped on Japanese civilians. Mom was appalled.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Amos
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 11:47 PM

I just watch the first episode. It is an awesome job of wide coverage with some rich details.

There were recently discovered a series of private phtoos of the Germans running Auschwitz in their leisure moments, lounging and having a glass of red, gathering at a retreat n the woods and so on. It is mind boggling to see their ordinary human, smiling faces and realize there was a death factory waiting for them Monday morning.

We're popping for the DVD set of The War. It is incredibly rich and stirring stuff, and also grim and horrifying and heartbreaking. But it is something not to forget. It is the kind of understanding that W so profoundly lacked when he signed the marching orders for Iraq.

A


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: ard mhacha
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 04:43 AM

I hope Ken Burns didn`t start with Pearl Harbour, as I remember it was 1939 to 1945.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Alba
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 09:01 AM

ard mharcha here is a link if you would like to read more about this Film The War: Ken Burns
Best Wishes
Jude


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Riginslinger
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 09:04 AM

I started to watch it, but I guess I'm just too sick of war.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 12:06 PM

The point made by some of us is we NEED to be sick of war. Sick enough to finally make a stand.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 01:23 PM

NPR did a story, this morning, on one of the soldiers who evidently was featured in this documentary. It was stunning. I sat in my car in a parking lot, tears rolling down my face as I listened. Audio is enough for me to remember; I cannot take the images into my heart and mind. It is a self-protection for me not to watch it and I have no problem remembering, ever, what I have already seen and heard about this war since I was very young.

Here is the bit from NPR (the audio is avialable, plus more stories HERE on Morning Edition):

Vernon Tott quit high school and snuck into the military so he could fight for his country. Like many soldiers, Tott learned to accept the realities of war. His 84th Infantry Division fought in the Battle of the Bulge and lost a third of its troops. But, when Tott's battalion headed toward the city of Hannover, sic Germany, in April 1945, members of the 84th were totally unprepared for their next encounter.

"There was a road," says concentration camp survivor Ben Sieradzki. "And we saw soldiers. One of them brought out a ... baseball."

The barely alive survivors of the Ahlem slave labor camp realized the soldiers must be Americans.

"We started screaming, 'Come on up here, come on up here,' and some of them were just bewildered. They didn't know it was a concentration camp," Sieradzki said.

Tott, who died in 2005 from cancer, said he and the other soldiers were unaware of the existence of the camps and were shocked at what they saw.

"We were witnessing hell on earth," Tott said at an 84th Infantry reunion. "Piles of dead bodies. Men in ragged clothing that were just skin and bones ... Me and the soldiers with me, it made us sick to your stomachs and even cried what we seen there."

Forgetting the War

What the soldiers saw were wraithlike prisoners, some near death lying in their own urine, ravaged by dysentery, typhus and other diseases. A few days before, German guards marched hundreds of able-bodied prisoners to the Bergen-Belsen death camp. They left those too sick, like Sieradzki, to die.

Not quite believing what he saw and wanting to share his horrified disbelief with family back in Sioux City, Iowa, Tott pulled out his pocket camera.

"Actually, the infantrymen weren't supposed to carry cameras, but a lot of them did, so I got a lot of pictures during the war," he said.

After the war, Tott stashed his photographs from Ahlem in a shoebox on a shelf in his basement in Sioux City. He put the war behind him.

"I think so many people put away that stuff on a shelf and wanted to forget," said his stepdaughter, Donna Jensen. "I think our whole country's put it on a shelf."

Stepson Jon Sadler remembers rummaging through the basement with his friends and sneaking peeks at the photos.

"In junior high, we'd open up the box and think, boy, this is terrible," Sadler said. "Look what my dad saw in the war. We just always assumed nobody ... in those pictures [survived]. They looked so horrible and sick."

Searching for the Photographer

For 50 years, Tott held the same assumption. Then, in his army newsletter in 1995, Tott spotted an inquiry from Sieradzki, a retired engineer in Berkeley, Calif. Sieradzki was searching for whoever took photographs of himself and other prisoners when Ahlem was liberated.

Tott went into his basement and found his old shoebox. He called Sieradzki, who remembers, "The telephone rang. 'My name is Vernon Tott and I think you're looking for me.' And I said, 'Are you still a tall blonde fellow?' And he said, 'Not any longer.'"

The two men talked many times that day. Tott made copies of his black-and-white snapshots and sent them to Sieradzki. In one of the photos, Sieradzki saw dead bodies piled on the ground in front of some barracks. In the foreground, was a huddle of skeletal prisoners. On the extreme left he saw himself.

Just hours before that picture was taken, the prisoners were handed some civilian clothes. Sieradzki changed out of his striped, ragged uniform into a "funny looking" jacket, hat and pants, which were too long, so he stuck them in his socks. This is the only known photograph of Sieradzki at liberation.

Sieradzki was 18 years old and weighed less than 80 pounds. He had endured more than five years of unimagined misery. It started in 1939, when his family was forced to live in a rundown slum district in Lodz, Poland, with 200,000 other Jews, called the Lodz Ghetto.

During this time, Sieradzki's parents and one sister were taken away and killed. His other sister died in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Sieradzki survived three concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and eventually ended up in the slave labor camp called Ahlem, near Hannover, Germany. Near the end, his worsening health confined him to the barracks.

"They called people like me musselmen — goners," he writes in a short story about the war years. "Other prisoners started to steal my ration of food. There was no use to waste food on the likes of me."

An older cousin of Sieradzki's arrived as a new prisoner to the camp and urged him to eat. He says his cousin, a man who already lost his wife and young children in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, gave him hope.

When Sieradzki saw Tott's pictures of the Ahlem camp 50 years later, he was angry at first. The photographs released a flood of dark memories. But then Sieradzki was grateful, he said, "because I had no record of that horrible time, and here I am."

There were other official photographs taken at Ahlem. The Red Cross filmed the camp, but Sieradzki describes Tott as his true witness — and not because he helped liberate the camp. It's for what he did later with his photographs.

Tott realized there might be other survivors, like Sieradzki. And perhaps, he could provide them a piece of their past. So, he launched a quest to track them down.

The Angel of Ahlem

Eventually, Tott located nearly 30 Ahlem survivors, across the United States and in Canada, Sweden and Israel. More than 16 are in his photographs. In 2001, he returned to Hannover with three of those survivors to help dedicate a memorial at Ahlem. And he traveled to Poland for the 60th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto.

In 2003, Tott's name was inscribed on a wall of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

"To Vernon W. Tott, My Liberator and Hero," Ahlem survivor Jack Tramiel had engraved on the wall. Tramiel, founder of Commodore Computer, is also a founder of the Holocaust Museum.

"I have to make sure that this man is going to be remembered for what he has done," Tramiel said. "His family should know that he is to us, a hero. He's my angel."

Earlier this year, Tott's hometown, Sioux City, hosted the premiere of a documentary about him, called Angel of Ahlem, produced by the University of Florida's Documentary Institute. More than 1,000 people came to see the film at the historic downtown Orpheum Theatre, including some survivors. They also had the chance to walk through the first public exhibit of Tott's photographs.

In May, Angel of Ahlem was shown at New York City's Lincoln Center. Nearly a dozen survivors were there — reunited because of Tott, his pocket camera and his unwavering determination.

The documentary was introduced by another member of the 84th Infantry, who helped liberate Ahlem, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

"There's nothing I'm more proud of, of my service to this country than having been one of those who had the honor of liberating the Ahlem concentration camp," Kissinger told the audience.

Kissinger grew up in Germany and became a U.S. citizen in 1943. He said many articles have described him as being traumatized during his childhood in Nazi Germany.

"That's nonsense," he said, "They were not yet killing people. A traumatic event was to see Ahlem.

"It was the single most shocking experience I have ever had."

And then Kissinger made a special request. He invited the survivors to come up on the stage and have a picture taken with him.

Slowly, deliberately, the white-haired survivors — who'd been brutalized, then rescued from desperate circumstances, so many years before — made their way to the Lincoln Center stage. As they gathered, it was clear that the most important person missing from this one last photograph was Vernon Tott.

Story produced by NPR's Cindy Carpien with help from the University of Florida's Documentary Institute, Duane Kraayenbrink and Gretchen Gondek of member station KWIT in Sioux City, Iowa, Brian Bull of Wisconsin Public Radio, and producer Kara Oehler. The music from the documentary Angel of Ahlem, heard in the NPR story, was composed by Todd Boekelheide.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Amos
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 01:36 PM

Dear God in Heaven. These stories, and the stories of the Bataan Death March I saw last night, are neough to make you give up on humanity. Well, not quite.

Burns reorted that at the surrender of Bataan to the Japanese, the American general's only question was whether his men would be treated decently. "Of course. We are not barbarians." was the reply of the Japanese general accepting the surrender.

I guess neither of them knew what they were getting into.


A


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 02:00 PM

We need to be reminded again and again of these things until we, as a species, finally get it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: jeffp
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 04:15 PM

kat, I heard that story this morning as I was driving in to work. I was about to put in a CD as it came on and decided, "I'll go ahead and listen to this one." I'm glad I did. Sometimes we need to be reminded that there are, and always have been, good people.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 06:26 PM

It was pretty incredible, wasn't it, jeff? Just the hearing of it, the images rolled through my mind and I couldn't stop the tears.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 09:14 PM

In many cases the Japanese frontline commander did not know what horrors their Allied prisoners would soon face in the prison camps, so the Japanese general was probably quite sincere in what he said, Amos.

In other cases, however, Japanese frontline commanders and soldiers were utterly brutal and merciless to Allied prisoners. It all depends on who, when, and where.

And for that matter, American soldiers were often totally brutal to Japanese prisoners, torturing and executing them without reason or justification...just a vendetta mentality. (revenge for Bataan and other such incidents) My family knew a US Marine Corps sergeant from that war who fought through the island campaigns, and he told me that a lot of that happened, despite his efforts to prevent it from happening. He wanted the enemy prisoners kept alive and treated decently, partly from a sense of honor, partly because live prisoners can sometimes provide valuable information...but a lot of his men didn't have any intention of sparing the lives of any captured Japanese...and he couldn't watch them all constantly in the heat of battle.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 09:26 PM

There was a wonderful British serial drama on many years ago called Tenko that dealt with a lot of this, women in a POW camp. It was like watching a car wreck, and you usually knew what was coming, but it kept us riveted.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: GUEST,torkoff
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 10:27 PM

quote from above:
"In many cases the Japanese frontline commander did not know what horrors their Allied prisoners would soon face in the prison camps, so the Japanese general was probably quite sincere in what he said, Amos.

In other cases, however, Japanese frontline commanders and soldiers were utterly brutal and merciless to Allied prisoners. It all depends on who, when, and where.

And for that matter, American soldiers were often totally brutal to Japanese prisoners, torturing and executing them without reason or justification...just a vendetta mentality. (revenge for Bataan and other such incidents) My family knew a US Marine Corps sergeant from that war who fought through the island campaigns, and he told me that a lot of that happened, despite his efforts to prevent it from happening. He wanted the enemy prisoners kept alive and treated decently, partly from a sense of honor, partly because live prisoners can sometimes provide valuable information...but a lot of his men didn't have any intention of sparing the lives of any captured Japanese...and he couldn't watch them all constantly in the heat of battle."

This brainless posting is just the kind of thing that would be settled by actually watching the show that is being talked about in the topic Ken Burns: The War

If the writer had bothered to actually see the episode referred to he (or she) would have seen a description, eloquent and brief, at the disjunction between the Allied attitude and that of the Japanese.

"Will my men be treated well?"
"Of course, we are not barbarians."

But the Japanese by culture and training believed that surrender was a sign of cowardice, hence they treated the prisoners as sub-humans. The Bataan death march recounts the emptying of canteens, the casual slaughter of the laggards, or those who merely couldn't understand orders barked in Japanese.

As for the allied soldiers, the series has recounted in their own words that after finding their own buddies dismembered and disfigured, they stopped taking prisoners.

What part about "War Is Hell" do you not understand? If you are not interested in the specifics of THIS particular hell, start your own thread about how you feel about NOT seeing the series.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Matt_R
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 11:22 PM

I'm a huge World War II buff. Every book I've read since May (30 or more) have been nonfiction about the war. In my spare time I build World War II armor. I REALLY want to see this but have no cable. :-(


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 12:03 AM

Got some letters and a word for ya'........DVD-Library

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Amos
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 12:35 AM

Matt:

Your dad should be proud to spot you the proce of the DVDs. I believe they're about $100 for th whole War.

Such a boggain!


A


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 01:59 AM

Times were better then weren't they? A hundred dollars gets you a whole war. And to think how much Iraq has cost us..............................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 07:31 AM

As it happens often with Ken Burns, every episode seems better than the last. Later as you review the series you realize that isn't quite true but in the "present" that is often the way it seems. Last nights program was for me extremely compelling and told well the story of the effect of a war for entire families which is of course one of the themes of The War.

Its not traditional history even from the American viewpoint but it is the history untold by most.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Alba
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 09:39 AM

Yes Spaw, last night's episode was very compelling.
Babe's letters home had me bawling my eyes out and his Mother sending him letters written in Italian and telling him to visit his relatives in Rome..oh..heartbreaking.
Jude


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 11:23 AM

I watched last evening's episode as well. Most likely the standard for the entire series will be as good. It certainly makes a sharp constrast to the more one-sided contemporary newsreels, which are effectively made use of in the Burns series. It was years before the families in the states had much appreciation of how tough this war was, and the mistakes that were made but were censored from public release. Some degree of censorship is understandable in any major war but it also makes sense to show our dead soldiers, our sinking ships, and our airplanes in flames to harden resolve at home; evidently there was some change in policy in 1944 to release more grim footage.

On the family level my father had a tough time in this war although he was much too old to volunteer or be drafted. His challenge? Well, his name was Adolph. My parents took care to name my brother and me more mundane names such as Bob and Charley!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Donuel
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 11:37 AM

The interconnectedness of certain small anecdotes are showing up all over the place in this documentary. I anticipate many of them being puled together in later episodes such as the final fate of the Indianapolis.

Anzio and Monti Casini were portrayed well as the long drawn out carnage reminiscent of the civil war.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Greg B
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 12:40 PM

Two things struck me about the first episode, which I just
got around to watching. The first was that many of the photographs
seemed very familiar; I did some multimedia work on the subject
30 years ago, and recognized some of the great war photos that
I myself used.

The second was the vibrancy and youthfulness of many of the veterans
being interviewed. In an age where WWII vets are dying off at a rate
of hundreds per day, some of the interviewees seem to have sipped from
the Fountain of Youth.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 12:57 PM

Note to Matt R (25 Sep 07 - 11:22 PM ) who thinks he can't watch this because he has "no cable":

"The War" is on PBS, which is NOT a cable network. The Public Broadcasting System maintains on-the-air broadcasting stations in virtually every media market in the USA. Check your local listings!

I'm sad to see that some folks say they won't watch because it's too depressing, etc.

People NEED to see just how brutal and evil and stupid war really is. Maybe then there wouldn't be so many naive young men and women signing up for our "volunteer" army, and our leaders would be less able to pander to their war-profiteer sponsors by going off half-cocked on misguided international adventures, with their cavalier attitude towards other people's lives.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: artbrooks
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 01:18 PM

I missed the first two episodes. We buried my father, who served 53 months in combat in World War II and the Korean War, at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. I think I'll skip it.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Wesley S
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 01:18 PM

Yes - It's important that all the folks who were raised on John Wayne films have a chace to see war for what it really is.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: fretless
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 01:27 PM

My one complaint about the series so far is that it has tended to represent the U.S. as universally mobilized on behalf of the war effort. The reality seems to have been more complex: my father was stationed in rural Tennessee at one point during the war, and my mother moved down with my two sisters to be near him. I grew up with her descriptions of a local population that saw the war as something that belonged exclusively to the hated "North," and a local economy that was dedicated to profiteering off the enlisted men and their families. Burns has hinted at this with one reference to an estimate that fully a quarter of the domestic economic transactions during the war involved the black market, but a more nuanced picture of the U.S. home front would be welcome.

I was born after the war. When I was a kid our toys often included kiddie versions of military gear, and our games on the U.S. East Coast included nonstructured role play of WWII battles. My recollection is that these were games of GIs vs. Japs much more frequently than they were GIs vs. Germans. And the enemy was almost always imaginary, because none of us would role play Japs the way we occasionally did Indians or robbers (in cowboys vs. Indians and cops vs. robbers). War games were, in my experience, boys' activities, and my daughter never indulged. So here's my question: did boys in the 70s, 80s, and 90s play GIs vs. Viet Cong, and to boys in the 90s and today play GIs vs. Al Qaeda/Iraqis?


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Donuel
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 01:53 PM

Yes Mc Donalds gave out toy US commandos in their happy meals as well as evil Arab characters. There are plenty of Desert Storm toys and video games.

I have noticed a lot of stock footage that is used more than once.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: fretless
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 03:07 PM

"Yes Mc Donalds gave out toy US commandos in their happy meals as well as evil Arab characters." As if bacon cheese burgers weren't enough of a blow to Islam. It's good to know that the fast food industry is still on our side! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Alba
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 03:09 PM

"It's good to know that the fast food industry is still on our side" Just a thought should that not be on our hips Fretless :)
Best Wishes
Jude


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Wesley S
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 03:29 PM

When did McDonalds give out commandos and evil Arab characters? This wasn't anytime in the last few years.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 05:19 PM

Very interesting observation by fretless, that folks in at least one area of the rural south were less than totally supportive of the war effort and cynically profiteering at the expense of their more patriotic fellow-citizens.

I don't doubt that his parents' experience was true; however, I still believe that such attitudes were not widespread, but pretty much confined to a very few isolated areas, like backwoods Appalachia.

Now, I'm sure that a degree of black-market profiteering went on pretty much everywhere, but grabbing a few extra bucks for oneself does not necessarily preclude a basically supportive stance toward the national effort. Indeed, for some, the opportunity to skim a bit of booty might have been all the more reason to align oneself with the overall war effort. (Hypocricy aside...)

My own family's stories emphasize such homeland support-the-troops efforts as bond drives, victory gardens, saving scrap metals and other items we would today call "recyclables," etc. ~ just as depicted in Burns' work. Of course, this was in the "North" (New Jersey), but there is a lot of evidence that this feeling was truly nationwide. And "The War" shows us plenty of war-effort commerce and activity in Mobile, Alabama, which is certainly part of the South, albeit a large city and, as an international port, relatively cosmopolitan.

I would also observe that the South as a whole has always provided the sites for a disproportionately high percentage of domestic military bases, and also provided more than its share of enthusiastic military volunteers. I don't doubt that folks in most areas in the South, urban and rural, supported the WWII effort at least as enthusiastically, if not moreso, than the North and West.

Also, even though television was not commerically viable until after the war, nationwide popular media were already an importnat cultural force in the 1940s, in the form of radio and Hollywood movies, and a very conscious pro-war propaganda effort was in place throughout the war years. Those contrary hillbillies encountered by fretless' family were likely among a very small minority of Americans who could resist (who had any desire to resist) the siren song of star-studded war-bond drives, carefully vetted movie newsreels, etc.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 08:16 PM

I have to agree with what Poppagator said just above.

Living in Seattle, as I did (and do), out here on the West Coast, we were very conscious of the fact that, if the American forces were to lose in the Pacific, and for awhile, that looked like a distinct possibility, the Japanese would probably invade and it wouldn't be long until we'd find ourselves in some pretty deep trouble. A not too gentle reminder of the possibilities was the first time a Japanese submarine surfaced, stood off-shore, shelled the California coast, then submerged and slipped away. Nobody knows what they were firing at (probably just any target of opportunity) and they didn't do much in the way of damage (put a couple of shell craters in Highway 101), but it was a bit of an hors d'oeuvre for a meal that, fortunately, never came. And, of course, the balloon bombs (launched from Japan, drifted east on the jet-stream, and released over the continental United States) which were more of a terror weapon, but they did manage to kill a few people here in the U. S.

The Japanese did bomb Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, and invaded and occupied two of the Aleutians, Attu and Kiska, occupying them for nearly a year before a combination of American forces and the weather drove them off.

Bond drives, scrap metal drives, Victory gardens (almost everybody in my neighborhood turned their back yards into garden patches, raising vegetables and such). Kids in my neighborhood (me, too) fought whatever battle was current in the news on the big vacant lot across the street. We fought with guns that we made ourselves (having turned our metal cap pistols and such into the scrap metal drives), carved out of bits of scrap lumber, many of them pretty realisitic looking. We were sticklers for fine detail. And each of us did a characteristic gun-shot sound-effect by mouth, some of which were pretty imaginative. We were all American troops (the girls, too–no gender discrimination in this war!), and nobody played the enemy. We saw them in our minds' eyes ("Look! Over there in those bushes!" "Watch out! Some of them are trying to encircle us!" "Pow! Pow!" "Rat-tat-tat-tat. . . !").

All we kids studied drawings of aircraft silhouettes, American, Japanese, and German, so that when a plane flew over, we could identify whether it was a commercial airliner, or an American B-17 or B-25 or P-40, or a Japanexe Zero or an Aichi D3A carrier based bomber, or a German Heinkel He 111 or a Messerschmitt ME-109 (not too likely on the West Coast). It was our patriotic duty to know, and notify our local air raid warden should we be the first to spot an enemy aircraft (!). After all, a war is everybody's concern!

Gasoline was rationed. Unless you had some special need (my father was a health care provider who made house calls, so he had no limitation on gasoline, but still, we drove only when absolutely necessary), you were limited to four (4) gallons per week. Black marketeers and those who dealt with them were regarded with the utmost contempt, and generally wound up getting reported, should they be stupid enough to brag about "getting a good deal" on something.

There may have been pockets of dissent about our part in WWII here and there, but it certainly wasn't pandemic, and whenever it appeared, it, too, was generally treated with anger and contempt by most Americans.

We fully realized that if the Allies lost this war, we would soon be living (if, indeed, we were still living at all) in an entirely different kind of world.

There was no television, of course, but we followed the progress of the war through radio and newspaper reports (the reports from overseas of radio reporters like Edward R, Murrow were listened to avidly). The visuals were provided by newsreels shown in movie theaters, and by Life Magazine—large format, packed of photographs, weekly, 10¢ a copy at the news stand.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 08:25 PM

". . . packed with photographs. . . ."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 09:59 PM

NB: there are many folks who can't get PBS or ANY 'free' station without paying for cable or satellite.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Amos
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 11:54 PM

The program is available for sale in DVDs from the PBS store, BTW. If you are one of those who did not live through the war in your current identity, it is a stunning and vivid reconstruction of the history, told by those who were going through it at home, in the Pacific, in Europe, and in North Africa.

A


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 12:09 AM

Greg B, as to the "Fountain of Youth," I get the impression that some of the interviews are archival, like you would find in Special Collections in community libraries or university or museum libraries. And of course there have been other programs about the war with recorded interviews--we'll have to watch the credits closely to see if any of these come from oral history collections and such.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: TRUBRIT
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 12:25 AM

Can't watch --- will probably buy in DVD format and watch very slowly. My dad was on the beaches at Dunkirk, my uncle lost his leg in the war -- said the shock was so great he didn't feel any pain...-- it's hard........ on a lighter note, he used to encourage us kids to kick his leg!!!! if you are British the war is so encompassing .... remember Jean Redpath's 'The ladies go dancing at Whitsun'.....? My mum lived 20 miles or so from London -- she used to tell me stories of watching London burn from the orange in the sky.......can't watch, yet.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 02:30 AM

I missed the first episode but have been watching the others. Ken Burns has such a knack for bringing history to ground level, getting inside of it, and getting it inside us. It's an achievement in itself for combat veterans to speak on-camera in such detail about painful memories. So many WWII veterans have been understandably shut-mouthed about their experiences.

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: robomatic
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 06:16 AM

I saw most of the first episode, all the second and third episodes, and had to tape the fourth. What I saw was very good, but much more narrowly focused than "The Civil War", which was one of the best things done on television. It by definition lacks the broad sweep of The Civil War series and of course, while much later in time, doesn't have to capture, as The Civil War does, such a distant period in time.

But as we all know, we are now several generations removed from The War as well and it does not have the impact on the newer generations that it had on us, sons and daughters of vets and rosies.

I enjoy the interplay between home front and field of combat, and the trouble taken to explain many of the racial attitudes and issues of the time, both with Japanese Americans and African Americans.

Does anyone recall that when "The Civil War" aired we were just about to charge into Desert Storm and there were constant forebodings of heavy losses by many military "experts"? I recall thinking how the heavy casualties and horrendous events depicted in The Civil War were possibly stiffening the spine of an apprehensive population.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: fretless
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 10:13 AM

Interesting thoughts on timing, robomatic. I don't recall making a connection to Desert Strom when The Civil War fist aired. How will The War play out in the context of a possible U.S. military action against Iran, and the forthcoming 2008 elections?

I'm sticking to my guns on the question of less than universal U.S. homefront support for the war effort. Sure, everyone at home wanted the allies to win, but my hearsay experience suggests that for every gung ho enlistee there were folks who hoped that the war would be won for them by someone else. I remember back when I was a teenager a physician telling me that the reason he went to medical school during WWII was because it offered him a draft deferrment. I thought less of him as a person, although he was still a pretty good doctor.

I was impressed with last night's episode, which highlighted D-Day, although I wished it were longer. The topic seemed too big for the two-hour time slot. And I'm really looking forward to seeing how Burns tackles the emotionally charged end-war issues of the liberation of the German concentration camps and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Greg B
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 10:42 AM

I get the feeling that Burns is setting up the A-Bomb issue
with some of the interviews--- the guy from Guadalcanal who
says from the point where he saw American dead mutilated
with their genitals stuck in their mouths, his unit didn't
take a single further prisoner.

That, and the rather graphic coverage of the Bataan death-march,
following the Japanese general giving assurances of humane
treatment saying "We're not savages."

From what I've seen so far, I doubt that there will be much
coverage of things like conscientious objectors and so on.

In fact, what I've seen so far just strikes me as a slightly
higher quality re-hash of what's already been said starting
with 'Victory at Sea' through 'The World at War' and endless
repeats and re-works on the Hitler---er, History Channel and
the Military Channel. Even the Japanese-American internments
were done in a way that struck me as having already been
done to death--- what more was there to be said?

I do find myself wondering if ALL the photos and footage of
a given event--- for example Midway or Guadalcanal, actually
originated from THAT particular battle or venue. If that's the
case, then Burns' work is a cut above. How many of us have, for
example, seen the same airplane crash or pile of dead bodies
in documentaries about events that were many months and/or
oceans apart?


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Greg B
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 10:44 AM

One other thing--- I'm finding some of the ordnance
sound tracks a bit trite and done-to-death. Including
some where the effects are obviously made with drums
and many more where the sound is absolutely nothing like
what the real weapon being depicted sounds like.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 11:33 AM

A couple of questions here for military buffs:

* Since Omaha Beach was known to be so heavily fortified- mined, barb wired, with bunkers in place - why was it necessary for the Allies to take it at all? The other beach landings went quite smoothly- would it not have been possible to bypass Omaha and come at it from the back or sides?

* When and how did the soldiers and marines eat and sleep? One gets the impression that it was 24-hour daylight for all those weeks they were going through those hedgerows of France.

* It struck me how much lighter they 'traveled' than they are doing in today's military. They wore helmets but that seems to be about the extent of it. Today's military are packing something like 100 pounds of gear and weaponry.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Teribus
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 12:50 PM

* Since Omaha Beach was known to be so heavily fortified- mined, barb wired, with bunkers in place - why was it necessary for the Allies to take it at all? The other beach landings went quite smoothly- would it not have been possible to bypass Omaha and come at it from the back or sides?

1. Why was it necessary? - To cut off the Carentan Peninsula and isolate the German U-Boat bases in Cherbourg, Brest, Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle and Lorient as quickly as possible. Submarines operating from these bases, even if only used as mine layers, could have caused havoc to the Allied supply lines.

2. Why was it necessary for the Allies to take it at all? - Basically because they could. The Allied General Staff did not have the same conflict that the German Staff faced when they were asked to plan "Sealion". The Allies had naval supremacy and air superiority, they could guarantee the success of the invasion as long as they attacked and landed over as broad an area as possible. I believe that they could have "lost" two beaches and the invasion would still have succeeded.

3. The other beach landings went quite smoothly - "Smoothly" is a relative term. To create the Second Front, the allies learned some bitter lessons at Dieppe (Their exercise to see if it would be possible to capture an existing port intact). For the British and Commonwealth Forces this led to the creation of what were known as Hobart's Funnies, a number of unusually modified tanks.

Operated by the 79th Armoured Division or by specialists from the Royal Engineers. They were designed to overcome the problems, such as those experienced at Dieppe, in the planned Invasion of Normandy. These tanks played a major part in clearing the way so that troops could get through and off the Commonwealth beaches (Gold,Juno & Sword) fairly quickly during the landings.

Montgomery considered that the US forces should use them, and offered them a half-share of all the vehicles available, but take-up was minimal. Eisenhower was in favour of the amphibious tanks but left the decision on the others to General Bradley who delegated it to his staff officers. None of the other designs were used, because it was thought that they required specialized training and an additional support organization.

Had the US senior cammand taken Montgomery up on his offer their DD tanks would not have got stuck on the beaches. All the above combined with the fact that they had miscalculated the tidal stream and landed further west than planned, so the pre-planned, pre-invasion bombardment landed in the wrong place, although this was quickly corrected.

4. Would it not have been possible to bypass Omaha and come at it from the back or sides? - That was what was intended, the airbourne assault that went in ahead of the beach landings also went badly wrong and the paratroopers were not able to exert the pressure on the defenders of the western beacheads as effectively as they wanted to, widely dispersed, unconcentrated and unsupported, that they managed to achieve what they did was remarkable.

* When and how did the soldiers and marines eat and sleep? One gets the impression that it was 24-hour daylight for all those weeks they were going through those hedgerows of France.

The answer to the first bit is, as and whenever possible, same as it has always been for soldiers in action. The timing of the invasion was meant to get maximum use of natural daylight, as that favours the attacker, particularly one with the degree of air superiority that the allies enjoyed.

* It struck me how much lighter they 'traveled' than they are doing in today's military. They wore helmets but that seems to be about the extent of it. Today's military are packing something like 100 pounds of gear and weaponry.

D-Day was an opposed landing, as were the operations in the Pacific. Only light packs carried, the rest of your kit (Golf clubs, dinner jackets, etc) would catch up to you later. You had to arrive in fighting trim, today's military do not fight humping 60 to 80 kg packs, they get slipped very quickly.

They very much doubt if there ever will be another opposed landing, the game has changed markedly in character and moved on from the perspectives of both the attacker and defender.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 01:12 PM

Thanks, Teribus. Another question: Did they carry their own water? Today's ubiquitous bottled water was not common at that time.

I keep picturing the equivalent of the prairie chuck wagon. :)


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Teribus
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 01:32 PM

Oh yes, each man was issued with a canteen, each had to be full, as did ours. Like them once kitted up and ready to move out you jumped up and down on the spot to check for noise, you have no idea how noisey a water canteen two-thirds full is. Nowadays the canteen has been dispensed with in favour of a camel-back, much more water and silent.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Greg F.
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 05:47 PM

Very interesting observation by fretless, that folks in at least one area of the rural south were less than totally supportive of the war effort and cynically profiteering at the expense of their more patriotic fellow-citizens.

This is a fine old Amereican tradition. For example, all thru the War of 1812 there was a brisk cross-border traffic between Canada & northern New York and Vermont. One estimate was that fully 60% of the beef consumed by British troops in the area came from the U.S.

Making a quick buck trumps "patriotism" most every time.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Teribus
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 08:01 PM

"This is a fine old Amereican tradition. For example, all thru the War of 1812 there was a brisk cross-border traffic between Canada & northern New York and Vermont. One estimate was that fully 60% of the beef consumed by British troops in the area came from the U.S.

Making a quick buck trumps "patriotism" most every time."

Greg F, you are no student of history. Governments waged and fought wars, the civilian population got on with life and with trade. The time that you refer to was the cusp of this sort of activity. The War of 1812 was part of the Napoleonic War but not of the Napoleonic War. The Americans had a separate agenda that had nothing whatsoever to do with Britain or what was happening in Europe, where Napoleon had introduced the concept of the "levee en masse" - total mobilisation of a country for war. To the colonials this concept would be regarded as a bit radical, so they just continued as before, business as usual, nothing unpatriotic about it.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: artbrooks
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 08:06 PM

Terebus, I am a student of history, and a part-time grammarian. "The War of 1812 was part of the Napoleonic War but not of the Napoleonic War" makes no historical or grammatical sense whatever.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Teribus
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 08:26 PM

Art, as a part time grammarian, just who the fuck is "Terebus" ?


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: artbrooks
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 08:56 PM

Ed Yerebus...runs a haunted house.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Teribus
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 04:04 AM

"The War of 1812 was part of the Napoleonic War but not of the Napoleonic War. The Americans had a separate agenda that had nothing whatsoever to do with Britain or what was happening in Europe,..."

Pretty self explanitory Art, "The War of 1812 was part of the Napoleonic War" in that it occured at the same time and the United States of America made some pretence of an alliance with Napoleonic France. "...but not of the Napoleonic War" in as much that the United States War of 1812 had nothing whatsoever to do with securing "revolutionary" France's place in Europe, or, Napoleon's enforced Empire on the European mainland.

The War of 1812 was in essence an attempt at an opportunistic land grab nothing more, nothing less.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: artbrooks
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 08:41 AM

OK, now I understand your grammar - but it would not have made it past my high school English teacher. But I'm afraid that you need some remedial classes on the causes of that war. The root cause was mercantile, with that of impressment of US citizens for service in the British navy as a secondary cause. The minor and abortive invasions of the remaining British colony in North America were certainly opportunistic, but hardly one of the reasons for the war.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Teribus
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 09:38 AM

"The root cause was mercantile, with that of impressment of US citizens for service in the British navy as a secondary cause."

Those were reasons aired for public consumption, the excuses given. The US at the time could do absolutely nothing to alter the restrictions placed on their trade or on the right of search and impressment exercised by the Royal Navy of that time. The United States of America simply did not have the naval power to challenge Britain, or alter the status quo.

There was only one thing that the United States of America could gain by going to war with Britain in 1812, a Britain engaged in the largest war Europe had ever experienced, and that was land. That and that alone was America's war aim, it had absolutely nothing to do with trade or impressment, they were the lies d'jour sold to the US Congress of 1812, they bought them and they lost. Canada stood, the US Army of the day being beaten off by a combination of Canadian Militia Regiments and Native Americans. The sacking of Washington and the burning of the White House later in the war were the result of a raid, the British having no desire whatsoever to embroil herself in yet another war, that would gain her nothing. The colonies that became the United States of America had been written off by Great Britain as being not worth the effort to retain in the revolutionary war of 1776. Britain still felt the same 36 years later.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: artbrooks
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 11:16 AM

Teribus, I believe that is what historians refer to as "the militia myth". In fact, most of the participants on the US side were also militia. Ah well, enough of this particular bit of thread drift.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Greg B
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 01:12 PM

Finally got through the long first episode; I still don't see
very much that is new, that hasn't been done before. Perhaps
the perspectives of the home front and the notation of the
political exigencies, but that was about one percent of what
so far is just a chronological account done in much the same
manner as recent History Channel documentaries have been done.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 02:03 PM

The War of 1812 really was an American attempt to grab land: from the English (Canada),the Spanish (Florida) and Native Americans. The British had impressed American sailors, maybe thousands of them, during the Napoleonic Wars but had stopped by the outbreak of The War of 1812. The mercantile cause mentioned earlier was the British attempt to stop U.S. trade with France during their war with France. This was exactly what we (the North) did to Britain during our blockade of the South during our Civil War. There was also resentment of the British supplying Native Americans in western Ohio and Indiana
during the uprising of confederated tribes under Tecumseh and his brother, The Prophet, shortly before the War of 1812. There was also
a sense by some American leaders that we needed to teach the bullying British another lesson since they had forgotten the one from a generation earlier.
    However, none of these factors combined would have been enough to send us into war without the potential for real material gain in newly acquired land. So the War of 1812 was the first of two American wars fought primarily for the sake of taking other peoples land, the Mexican War being a shameful second. Not to mention the numerous "Indian" wars which were part of 400 years of systematic land theft on the part of Europeans and their descendants throughout this hemisphere.
    Okay. No more drift. Does anyone know when the next (fifth) installment of Ken Burns' "The War" is scheduled to be aired.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Ebbie
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 03:28 PM

Am I mistaken in thinking it is Friday, tonight? I won't be home but I expect there will be another showing of the series.

Has anyone else had the same experience as I've been having? Sometimes I have to turn to another station for a few minutes or just pick up a book or something - the fact that these are LIVE shots is sometimes more than I can bear.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: fretless
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 05:03 PM

On Maryland Public Television, the next new episode airs on Sunday night. But if you really want an intense experience, you can see the previously-aired segments on Saturday, beginning at 4 PM and ending at 1 in the morning. Whew! I haven't done that sort of marathon since I devoted a full day to watching Starwars IV, V and VI back to back while stripping and refinishing a set of antique chairs.

Burns was interviewed on The Daily Show last night. He described a lot of the footage used in The War as not previously seen. But of course he would, wouldn't he?


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Greg F.
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 06:11 PM

Greg F, you are no student of history.

The advisors for my MA and PhD (with honors) might beg to differ with you.

Teribus, you are (as usual)an ass.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 06:40 PM

Ranger Steve---so true.   There is so much more to this than the U S involvement which this series focuses on. When documetaries are made--no matter how well they are made (and this is) it would be better were the other parties, the causes, and all the other matters included. This way it becomes a one sided kudo to us.

On another note---at what point in time will the PBS stations and teh History channels finish fighting WW2.   While history can teach us lessons I believe we have gotten that already and the world, sadly, has changed and warfare is different today.

Would that there were no wars but re-living our past as an endless loop serves no purpose. Strategy has changed from Revolutionary Times, The Maginot Line, Rommel's tactics, Ike's plan, and even the return to American Revolutionary tactics by the opposition in Nam.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Ebbie
Date: 28 Sep 07 - 08:37 PM

I disagree with you, Bill Hahn. Every day there are new people coming on, people who need this information more than those of us who were alive at the time. Heaven forbid that there will ever be a whole generation who doesn't believe a word of it.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Teribus
Date: 29 Sep 07 - 04:03 AM

Well judging by what you write Greg F, both (MA & PhD) must have dropped out of a Corn Flake packet. All you can reply with is a personal attack, I note you do not, or cannot, come up with a single point to refute what I stated.

Your point:

"This is a fine old Amereican tradition. For example, all thru the War of 1812 there was a brisk cross-border traffic between Canada & northern New York and Vermont. One estimate was that fully 60% of the beef consumed by British troops in the area came from the U.S.

Making a quick buck trumps "patriotism" most every time."

Was complete and utter hogwash. You make the all too common mistake of applying modern perspective and mores to past events. What you described above was common practice everywhere at that time, it had absolutely nothing to do with chosing profit over patriotism, it had a hell of lot more to do with survival for the ordinary farmer and merchant.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Greg F.
Date: 29 Sep 07 - 10:13 AM

I note you do not, or cannot, come up with a single point to refute what I stated.

Nugatory, Mr. T - like "debating" with a holocaust denier or a proponent of "creation science", it would be totally pointless & only serve to legitimize the nonsense.

Life's way too short to waste time on you.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: robomatic
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 06:52 AM

Just saw the final installment - covering the end of the war. Although I think the Ken Burns series captures many of the high points well, I was slightly disappointed:

MUSICALLY:
Throughout the series they've used what sounds like a slightly fuzzed high note on the electric guitar- or possibly it's electronic. It is meant to be discordant and is a bit too successful at to my hearing. It has been overused and is quite irritating.

FACTUALLY:
In the final installment, there were some palpable inaccuracies re: the Atomic bombing. There was a line about the Germans working feverishly to develop their own bomb. That is not really true. The German science community was not aware of certain critical information which would have revealed that an atomic weapon was possible- the Allies had a program to
A) Deny the Germans access to uranium ore and heavy water. This program was largely successful.
B) Determine what state of development any German Atomic development was at. After the Allies were in Europe, technically proficient Americans were visiting known scientists and their institutions to find out how far the Germans had gotten. Well before the end of the war they knew there was no German Bomb.

There was a comment that the Americans had only two bombs and would not have another for months, but that the Japanese were unaware of this. According to the Rhodes book, there was the makings of a third bomb and it was in military hands. After Nagasaki the US government got the military to give back to civilian control the second plutonium core. A third weapon was at hand.

Makes me wonder what other inaccuracies are in the series.

The emotional side of things, the tension throughout the American land and the services, the grim foreboding of what it would take to take Japan, and the immense relief at the sudden end of the war by use of the Atomic Weapons, that all rings true.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Greg B
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 10:00 AM

I saw Ken Burns interviewed the night before last on Conan
O'Brien. And last night on Real Time (Bill Maher).

I have to admit that I was very let down when Burns said,
word for word, the exact same things on both shows. Not
variations on the same thing. It was like it was the exact
same interview, from a script.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: JedMarum
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 10:54 AM

This was an excellent film series. Ken Burns is true master! It was beautifully crafted, with powerful images and narrative - and somehow the fourteen (plus or minus) hours flowed seemlessly.

I am surprised at the comments about repeated imagery. This should not viewed as a negative - this is something an artist does on purpose - repeat the same powerful images, sparingly but purposefully - and you'll note they are often repeated in slightly different contexts. It is also common practice to select well known images to reuse, in conjunction with lesser know images. For the same purpose of "stating" and "restating" your basic message. The series also repeated some of the narrative points - to remind the viewer of key facts behind a story that might be told in little "chapters" over several sections of the film.

The most important major difference in this film and the Civil War film Ken produced was the way the story was told. The Civil War was a historical narrative, that is history told pretty much according to the timeline of events - sometime using personal accounts within the historical narrative, but essentially gathering the facts from the vast collective history and retelling it.

In The War, Ken has the film's entire narrative based upon the first hand experience of individuals who experienced it. The history is the backdrop. The story comes from the girls at home, the boys in uniform, letters from Moms and Dads, the published thoughts of select newspaper columnists. The story had very very little historical narrative - in fact, as I recall it had none, except to tie together the stories of the various individuals telling us their experience.

This is a much more difficult task for a film producer - but produces a much more powerful story - a powerful human story. We all have a pretty good understanding of the basic historical facts from this time, and if we don't there is enough history told within the film to fill in the details we might have missed - but this film answers the most important question for me - "What was the human experience like, for those who lived through it?"

I own the Civil War set and have watched it countless times, over the years. I will buy The War DVD set too - and I will watch all the repeat showings before that ... I believe the series will be one our generations most important.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Alba
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 01:33 PM

Dani asked earlier on in this Thread "What was the very haunting song sung by a very familiar female voice, something about what was given for America?"
The Voice is Norah Jones, Dani.
She is singing the words of Gene Sheer's: American Anthem

"All that we've been given by those who came before,
The dream of a nation where freedom would endure.
The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day.
What shall be our legacy, what will our children say?
Let them say of me, I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.
America, America, I gave my best to you.


I may watch this Film again and again.
It allowed me to understand my Dad's reluctance to speak about his experiences. He is gone now and I can only imagine what those experiences were.
I am not going to nit pick this Documentary. It brought War into my sitting room for 7 episodes.
Leaves me wondering now what had been locked inside my Dad for all those years him and I sat in other sitting rooms together.
You know just sometimes I would look at my Dad and he had a odd expression on his face. I'd ask "are you ok"? He would turn to me, the expression now gone, and say "of course pet"!. I saw a glimpse of that expression on some of the Soldiers faces during this Film.
Best to All
Jude


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Donuel
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 02:31 PM

I was said here that Tenn. folks saw the war as a (sic) product of the hated Yankees/North.

Could that have been Confederate hatred and racism speaking out against a Wall Street that they saw as the cause of the Great Depression? Surely FDR was beloved more every year and he was surely a Yankee.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 03:23 PM

Alba, here's a link to my dad's childhood friend's site: Warrior Saga. He figures he'll probably live to be the last WWII vet as he is in incredibly good shape at 93, no medications and no real ailments! Here;s a little bit about him:

The mission of this site is to chronicle the military careers of individuals who have not previously shared their sagas. Initially, the military saga of Floyd Coleman will be presented; others to follow at a later time. Floyd Coleman served in World War II and the Korean War; he was involved in the development and testing of some of the early tanks used in the war. If anyone has questions or can contribute to the mission of this site, please feel free to communicate.

There are a lot of period photos and documents scattered throughout his story, and a lot of details of where he went and what he did.

kat


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 06:02 PM

Ive watched it as well, and have always been a fan of Ken Burns.
and obviously it is not an attempt to cover the entire War - rather Americas part in it and narrated by people from several towns.

on another note; some of the stories that my father relates (growing up in a town in Czechoslovakia). At one point the school and hospital were strafed by an American plane (even though the red cross on the roof was clearly marked). There were no kids in the school as the Czech children were let out of school for the last 3 years of the war. My dad and his friends collected the spent shells and made primitive guns out of them - by stuffing them with nitrocellulose? as a propellant...
Which was good fun until someone got a nasty hit in the forehead..


Later a US plane made a bombing run on the railway station..
(apparently it made one warning pass - so anyone in the area
could get out- and then came by a second time and bombed some railway cars.) Unfortunately the railway cars were full of Hungarian refugees
who were locked in and couldnt get out- so dozens of people were killed - a lot of women and children) My dad says hed never seen so many dead people in his life. I wonder if that pilot ever knew.

they knew the war was nearly over when all the germans were leaving
and among them was a Russian soldier on a motorcycle.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: robomatic
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 12:45 AM

There's a neat trilogy of books about the experiences of a young Southern American, growing up on a farm owned by his family and among sharecroppers, going into basic training and over to Europe, The author is Ferrol Sams and the first book in the series is When All The World Was Young

In the book on the war, he recounts a European Jew telling him that at the close of the war, when many people thought they were safe, someone got onto the American flyers' frequency and called in an air strike on a group of Jews.

So I suppose this sort of thing was liable to happen to any number of people, along with the usual errors in identification and coordinates.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 10:19 AM

The "southern boy" soldier stories reminded me of one a Texas friend told. His father, also a Texas born fellow had been on one the first US troop ships to land in the UK after the US entered the war - and was highly indignant at the signs the cheering Brits carried, "Welcome Yanks!"

He was no damn Yankee, and if he could have, he would have gone home right then and there! Funny story my friend his father was mad about it all is days.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Ebbie
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 01:03 PM

PBS in Alaska last night at 8 o'clock began a re-run of The War. I missed a number of episodes last time.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: robomatic
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 07:44 PM

Now there's a good cause for the editorial option. When you kill it, please also kill this.


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 04:02 PM

100


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Subject: RE: Ken Burns: The War
From: Wesley S
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 04:33 PM

Every night I watched I had to laugh when the announcer said "Corporate sponsorship of The War is by General Motors". Proof of the military-industrial complex.


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