The US Army acquires a valuable propaganda asset


 The world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis reported for army service at Fort Denton and was enlisted as a simple private. He had  registered for the draft in October 1940 as early as possible in a display of solidarity with the US's opposition to the dictators. His world title fight against Germany's Max Schmeling, who was rather a pet of the Nazis,  had been widely seen as an emblem of the battle between democracy and Fascism. Louis was intensely patriotic, "No place else in the world could a one time black cotton picker like me get to be a millionaire." Louis was never sent into combat; his value as a propaganda asset was too great. The US Army was still fully segregated with single race units and Louis's service could be used as a response to the "Double V" Campaign launched by the African-American Pittsburgh Courier that linked the struggle against Fascism on the battlefield to the struggle for equality at home.

As the military picture darkened, Britain moved further into the norms of total war.  Full scale conscription of women into the British war effort got under way with the announcement that the youngest members of the 1920 class who had already registered and the oldest members of the 1921 who were to begin registration would soon be called up. Married women, mothers and those caring for children were usually exempt and women could express a preference between the auxiliary military services, civil defence or industry although there was no guarantee that this would be observed.

The extension of the war to the Pacific brought a reduction in food rations in Britain, reversing the increase that had been made in November. Australia and New Zealand were major sources of agricultural produce but it took large shipping resources to bring these ro Britain which had become all the more vital to the war effort. The cheese ration was cut by one third and new amounts were fixed for edible fats. Fortunately a mild winter meant that stocks had not been too badly depleted.

Hitler stepped even further into the detailed management of the Wehrmacht's operations when he ordered the dismissal of Colonel-General Ernst von Hoeppner, who had withdrawn units on the Eastern Front in the mistaken assumption that Kluge, his commander, would obtain permission from Hitler. Hitler illegally ordered Hoeppner to be stripped of his rank and pension, which Hoeppner successfully challenged in court in a highly unusual example of the rule of law under the Third Reich. Hoeppner was not long able to enjoy his pension; he participated in the 1944 bomb plot against Hitler and was hanged.


Popular posts from this blog

Eighty years ago a newspaper cartoon touches a raw nerve

Eighty years ago Colonel Lindbergh's mask slips

Eighty years ago Polish fliers and airborne radar blunt the Luftwaffe assault on Exeter