Author Kenneth W. Rendell has gathered 50 of the most important and iconic documents of World War II in Poltics, War, and Personality: Fifty Iconic World War II Documents that Changed the World (Whitman Publishing; 2014).
With the assistance of more than 150 archival images and photographs, Rendell tells the stories of these documents which foreshadowed, announced, or altered the course of war. The book features a foreword by the late John S.D. Eisenhower, son of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The book includes:
- A letter by Benito Mussolini, around 1908: “Life in this semi-wild village of my birth is beginning to weigh on me, and to get away from it I got an idea …”
- The 1933 order by which President von Hindenburg gave in to Adolf Hitler’s demands, leading to what would be the last election until after WWII.
- The leaflet distributed in the beer hall in Munich outlining the Nazi Party’s original platform, with Hitler’s colored sketch of the Nazi banner.
- Generally considered the most important document of WWII, the Munich Agreement, with Hitler’s bold handwriting making “concessions,” and the British smaller, finely written notes; Hitler proved his instinct that England and France would concede to avoid war.
- Franklin Roosevelt’s letter to the French president after the defeat by Germany, “France herself will ultimately regain her full independence and freedom.”
- The first urgent message sent during the Japanese attack in 1941: “Air raid on Pearl Harbor X This is no drill.”
- The secret special order that required Douglas MacArthur to evacuate Corregidor, before American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese and experience the Bataan Death March.
- A poignant letter from General Dwight Eisenhower to his wife—the most revealing of a commander-in-chief in wartime.
- The journal and mission map of the fighter pilot who shot down Admiral Yamamoto’s plane.
- Winston Churchill’s draft memorandum to Josef Stalin, deciding the fate of Poland.
- The communiqué signed by Eisenhower, announcing the D-Day landings on the northern coast of France.
- A note from Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish businessman and diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews—“Mrs. Kellner is to be considered a Swedish citizen and is to be exempted from bearing the distinctive Jewish sign.”
- Hitler’s order of March 30, 1945, one month before his suicide, commanding the fanatical defense of Berlin.
- A letter from Franklin Roosevelt, five days before his death and four months before Hiroshima, writing of “complete victory over our enemies.”
- General MacArthur’s draft of the surrender terms for Japan.
- Hermann Goering’s detention report from Nuremberg.
- Hideki Tojo’s requests while on trial for war crimes.
- Letters from Anne Frank’s father and aunt after the war.
- Harry Truman’s 1957 letter explaining the necessity of dropping the atomic bombs.
- And many more significant documents.
Kenneth W. Rendell is the author of World War II: Saving the Reality and a dealer in historical ephemera known for helping debunk the “Hitler diaries”. He is founder and director of the Museum of World War II.
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