Poltics, War, and Personality: 50 Iconic World War II Documents

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Politics-War-and-Personality-Fifty-Iconic-World-War-II-Documents-That-Changed-the-World-HardcoverAuthor 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.”
  • Eisenhower to his wifeThe 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.

Note: Books noticed on The New York History Blog have been provided by their publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

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  1. Pingback: 50 Iconic WWII Documents | Brooklyn in Love and at War

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