Tom Goldstein, "A Tale of Three Cities: How the United States Won World War II"


The final city Dr. Kennedy discussed was Stalingrad. Dr. Kennedy asserted that Stalingrad was important because in February 1943 with the surrender of a German army there, the Soviets earned their first major victory. This laid to rest the great worry held by FDR and Churchill that the Soviets would lose or that they would seek a settlement with the Nazis. Stalingrad gave FDR and Churchill confidence that the Soviets were in the war for the long haul. Stalingrad also clinched the viability of earlier American decisions to fight from the air and to use smaller ground forces. Stalin said the United States was fighting with American money, American machines, and Russian men. This statement, Dr. Kennedy noted, was not too far from the truth.

Dr. Kennedy ended his lecture by discussing the implications of the decisions made and implemented at these three cities. First, in terms of economics, the United States was the only country to improve civilian standard of living during World War II (it increased 15%). The engine of America's phenomenal postwar economic growth, he concluded, was ignited in wartime. Second, America's position as a postwar superpower cannot be understood without recognizing that most belligerents lost a great deal more citizens due to the war than the United States did, including military and civilian deaths. China, Yugoslavia, Japan, Poland, Germany, and the Soviet Union each suffered millions of deaths (civilian and military) where the United States had 405,000 military deaths and 6 civilian deaths in the contiguous U.S. A Japanese bomb that had been sent by balloon from Japan killed those 6 civilians. The Japanese launched 9,000 of what Dr. Kennedy described as these crude incendiary devices thinking it would ignite huge forest fires in the United States and this would divert American resources away from the Japanese

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