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World War II Anniversary

Off the Shelf

August 21, 2014
By Linda Lindquist - Adult Services/Reference Library , The Journal

The dates, in history books and encyclopedias, for World War II are September 1, 1939 - September 2, 1945. Many of you probably wonder why we want to remember such a difficult, horrendous time in history. Sometimes the past is too important to forget. We need to be reminded.

The introduction to Peter Doyle's book , "World War II in Numbers: An Infographic Guide to the Conflict, Its Conduct, and Its Casualties," reads: "World War II, 1939-1945, was a truly global war; gradually sucking into a maelstrom the majority of the world's nations, and certainly the world's strongest powers, it became the greatest conflict in world history. Yet, in many ways, it arose from the aftermath of World War I. In 1918 world frontiers were redrawn and old empires dismantled, while the Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, condemned Germany to bankruptcy. The 1920s saw the rise of the dangerously maverick figure Adolf Hitler, who aligned German politics with the state control instigated by the Italian leader Benito Mussolini, and moved the country quickly to a point of military readiness in the late 1930s that was in direct contravention of the Versailles treaty." Hitler's crimes of destruction, crimes of genocide, crimes that have not been reported accurately, and crimes that hopefully will not be repeated again set the stage for World War II.

If numbers or graphs are not your thing, you might be interested in looking at some of the great pictures taken of World War II in "World War II in 500 Photographs" edited by Time Life Books editors Eileen Daspin and Michael Solomon. Another book with wonderful pictures is entitled "The New York Times Complete World War II 1939-1945: The Coverage from the Battlefields to the Home Front" edited by Richard Overy with a foreword by Tom Brokaw. World War II is considered the costliest battle in history in terms of human life with millions perishing in combat, in concentration camps, and under the rubble of crushed cities. These books include coverage of battles year by year; profiles of war leaders, heroes, and enemies; many memorable quotes and firsthand accounts; and color maps and photo timelines of the war. These are wonderful coffee table books. You can take a few minutes here and there to read and look at them.

A recent purchase for the library is entitled "50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany" written by Steven Pressman. Immigration laws in the United States in 1939 made it almost impossible for European Jews to seek safety in the United States. Throughout the entire Holocaust, 1.5 million children perished. A Jewish couple from the United States, Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, traveled to Vienna and Berlin to save 50 Jewish children. Of the 50 children brought to the United States by the Krauses, Pressman was able to account for 37 of them. There is an update on these children at the end of the book.

Many books and stories have been written about World War II and we have many books on World War II at the New Ulm Public Library in the 940.54 section. If you are interested in one aspect of the war or the war in general, this would be the section to browse through. If you are unable to find the book(s) you are looking for, please ask a reference librarian and we will search our system or all of Minnesota to see if we can find the book for you.

There are so many wonderful books to read, and each month we continue to add new titles to our collection. Recently, we purchased the book "I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir" by James Webb. In his own words, Webb has written "a love story - love of family, love of country, love of service." Webb's father was in World War II and they moved a great deal during his childhood. His father was very stern, his mother very loving, his grandmother held the family together during his father's frequent deployments, and he had an assortment of aunts, siblings, and cousins. Webb writes about his four years at Annapolis, he describes the Vietnam battlefields, and his time in the Marines. Webb, a journalist, a filmmaker, author, and Senator, has written a memorable book.



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