Tag Archives: World War II

French nun a hero for saving hungry war victims

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Today in history: Truman calls Americans to save Europe from hunger

It was on September 25, 1947 when President Harry Truman held a news conference at the White House about a “critical situation calling for immediate action by every American.” A severe hunger crisis had emerged following a summer of severe drought in Europe and also at home.

At the news conference, Truman discussed a report he received from the Cabinet Committee on World Food Programs, which had been monitoring food supplies. Truman read,

The Committee states that adverse crop developments, including those of recent weeks, both in North America and in Europe, make apparent a food shortage even worse than a year ago. The losses from heavy frosts in northwestern Europe last winter have been increased by a general European drought this spring and summer. Any significant cut in the already low rations in those countries will have most serious consequences for their rehabilitation.”

At this time in history, nations in Europe were trying to recover from World War II. While the fighting had stopped, hunger proliferated after the war. Humanitarian aid from America was crucial for keeping Europe afloat until they could rebuild.

Truman announced a Citizen’s Food Committee on this day, which would encourage Americans to conserve more food. In addition, the food report set in a motion a chain of events which culminated in the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe.

An interim food aid package was signed in December and that preceded the Marshall Plan. In addition, an outpouring of donations from Americans gave European numerous food packages during the coming winter months.

Secretary of State George Marshall, who crafted the Marshall Plan, was a member of the Cabinet Committee on World Food Programs. Both Marshall and Truman would make speeches that fall emphasizing the need for food as the basis of reconstruction and peace. That message must not be lost with today’s leadership as they seek to build peace and stability in suffering parts of the globe.

Read the article at Examiner.

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The Oscar Film that Fed Europe’s Hungry

Winning an Oscar takes a lot of hard work. Sometimes films face challenges that you might not expect.

In the 1940’s one documentary faced a real barrier because theater owners did not want to show it. They called the film “too gruesome.”

Read the full article at The Huffington Post

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The Candy Bombers is More Than A History Lesson

Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, left, and Mike Rhodes, greet retired Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, right, prior to the dedication of the Defense Humanitarian Relief Corridor in the Pentagon, May 19, 2009. During the Berlin Airlift, Halvorsen earned the nickname "Candy Bomber" for his dropping candy-laden parachutes from his aircraft to Berlin children. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Molly A. Burgess

Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, left, and Mike Rhodes, greet retired Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, right, prior to the dedication of the Defense Humanitarian Relief Corridor in the Pentagon, May 19, 2009. During the Berlin Airlift, Halvorsen earned the nickname “Candy Bomber” for his dropping candy-laden parachutes from his aircraft to Berlin children. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Molly A. Burgess

At at time when budget cuts by Congress threaten aid to the needy overseas, The Candy Bombers brings history to life while offering lessons for the present. By Andrei Cherny, it tells the story of the Berlin Airlift of 1948, during the early years of the Cold War. After the guns of World War II fell silent Germany lay in ruins and was occupied by the Allies and Soviet Russia. The capital city of Berlin rested deep inside the Soviet-held area of Germany.

In June, 1948, the Soviets cut off ground access to Berlin, which meant no supplies could get in. What would America do? Using force to get the supplies in meant the threat of World War III. A retreat from Berlin, and allowing the Soviets to take over, would be a disaster.

Instead America chose to airlift supplies into the city. The book tells about how this plan came into action and how it saved Berlin from starvation. It also tells a tale of what the Berlin Airlift meant to children who received magical air drops filled with candy from American planes.

German children who were terrified of American planes during the war now celebrated them. A letter from one child read: “Suddenly we saw about ten white parachutes coming out of the sky! One of them set down at the roof of our house. There were three stripes chocolate in the parachute. My sister, mother, and grandma were very glad about the chocolate too! I want to thank you for your love to the German kids.”

The book is not just about telling the history of major event of the Cold War. It reminds people to apply past to present, at a time when we need some guidance and leadership. The introduction of the book tells about how when the 9/11 disaster struck there was such sadness and outpouring of support for America coming from Berlin. They remembered when America came to their aid after the war. As one woman, who was a child during the Berlin Airlift, said, ” I love Americans.”

America sent food, CARE packages, school meals, reconstruction projects through the Marshall Plan all along months of Berlin Airlift supplies. These acts saved Germany, changed the world and remind us that peace is obtained through reaching out a helping and caring and giving hope.

Article first published as The Candy Bombers Is More Than a History Lesson on Blogcritics.

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Eisenhower’s Thanksgiving Mission

General Dwight Eisenhower (NATO photo)

General Dwight Eisenhower needed rest. It was the first Thanksgiving since the end of World War II in 1945 and the general was suffering from bronchitis. With the holiday, you would think Ike could get his much-needed recovery time. But not so. On this Thanksgiving Day, Eisenhower was called for a special mission in Washington, D.C.

The Congress was holding a hearing on whether to provide additional funding for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). It was UNRRA that was helping provide food and other humanitarian aid to millions of people suffering in the aftermath of World War II. But it was not a sure thing the Congress was going to grant more money to this relief effort.

Congressman Sol Bloom of New York called upon Eisenhower to testify in the hearing. With Eisenhower’s busy schedule in Washington that week, Ike had planned to submit just a written statement. But when it came clear that Eisenhower could decide the fate of UNRRA funding, he agreed to appear in person. General Walter Bedell Smith had cabled Eisenhower stating that without UNRRA, “there is no repeat no agency to which we can turn to assist actively in carrying out our responsibilities in connection with the care of displaced persons.” Ike replied, “Thoroughly understand. My testimony will be strong.”

Eisenhower made some late edits and additions to a statement the War Department had prepared for him. On Thanksgiving morning he appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Congressman Bloom introduced Eisenhower, stating that the general was appearing against doctors orders and needed to get back to bed as soon as possible. But before that, Ike read his statement in support of UNRRA reminding Congress, “There are few places in Europe today where people are not cold, hungry and apprehensive of the future” and that “the ravished nations of the world are looking to UNRRA for their relief.”

Ike’s testimony was pivotal in swaying Congress to provide more funding for UNRRA which allowed aid to war-torn countries like Italy, Austria, and Greece. One of the countries in desperate need of aid was visited by Eisenhower in September, 1945, Poland.

Devastated by the war Poland needed food, medicine, clothing and the rebuilding of so many destroyed cities and towns. The U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Arthur Bliss Lane, saw the suffering in Poland and knew how important UNRRA aid was. Lane wrote, “the most terrible sight of all was that of the one-legged children…whose legs or arms were carried away by bombs, or whose gangrened limbs were amputated in mercy.”

Lane added, “There is no doubt that the help furnished by UNRRA and other humanitarian organizations … created a great spiritual bond between the Polish people and Western civilization. The distribution of packages was a constant reminder to the Poles that the West had not forgotten their plight and that the West, especially the United States, was helping as in the past.”

Humanitarian aid from UNRRA, the U.S. army, charities like Catholic Relief Services, CARE, UNICEF, and so many other organizations helped establish the foundation for European recovery and peace.

The lesson of Eisenhower’s Thanksgiving mission is essentially one of Food for Peace. Ike stated, “now that the fighting has ceased and the danger is less obvious, it is perhaps difficult for people in this country to visualize the desperate needs of the people of Europe and the necessity, if our military victory is to have lasting significance, of our successfully completing the job of making a peaceful world. ”

We didn’t forget about Europe after World War II, and today we cannot forget the hunger that afflicts over 900 million people throughout the globe. Whether it’s in Afghanistan, Sudan, Nepal or Iraq, it is vital that hunger and poverty are defeated if we hope to have peace.

originally published at History News Network.

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Afghanistan 10 years later- Starvation Threatens War-Torn Country

October 7th marks the 10 year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. And as if war has not been enough, famine is descending upon Afghans.

Drought has struck 14 provinces in Afghanistan. Crops have been ruined and food supplies are almost gone. The charity Oxfam says, “Nearly three quarters of the people living in the affected areas say that they will run out of food in less than two months.”

As famine conditions have strengthened, funding for UN World Food Programme (WFP) has diminished. The UN food agency relies entirely on voluntary donations.

WFP was forced to cut school meals for hundreds of thousands of Afghan children earlier this year. In a country deeply mired in poverty, school meals are a lifeline the children desperately need.

Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of hunger and malnutrition in the entire world. If this crisis, which is often ignored by policymakers, were given more attention many of Afghanistan’s ills could be remedied. For food is the foundation of peace, education and literacy, and maybe most of all hope. Hope and Afghanistan are two words not often associated.

There is talk of donor fatigue when it comes to Afghanistan and hunger relief in general, but this is nonsense. Food aid programs make up less than one tenth of one percent of the entire federal budget.

Congress has proposed reducing funding for the Food for Peace and other hunger fighting  programs. This is such a mistake when peace in Afghanistan and other parts of the world depend on fighting hunger.

After World War II, when a CARE package center was opened in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio people flocked there to buy food for hungry people overseas. The first one to do so was a former World War I infantryman.

The first World War saw immense human suffering from both warfare and the resulting famine, and this donor had compassion and first-hand understanding of their plight. Americans from that generation did not suffer from donor fatigue, and continued feeding the hungry during the war and afterwards. Following the Second World War millions more were saved, and Europe was rebuilt from the important foundation of food.

Today, we cannot forget about Afghanistan nor let the people suffer. On this 10 year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, let’s work to win the peace. It can start with fighting hunger.

Article first published as Afghanistan 10 years later- Starvation Threatens War-Torn Country at Blogcritics.

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