TIME conflict

This 75-Year-Old Map Shows Europe ‘Ready for War’

A portrait of a world days away from combustion

The declarations had not yet come, but on Aug. 28, 1939, Europe already knew war was on its way. On that day, 75 years ago, the armies that would fight what became World War II had gathered.

Just how many soldiers that meant differed by nation, as TIME pointed out to its readers with the map below, which ran in the Sept. 4, 1939 issue. The annotated chart also provides evidence that, no matter how many men were under arms, there was no way for the continent to be entirely ready for what was to follow. In Poland, for example, President Ignacy Moscicki was said to have told Roosevelt that he was willing to negotiate with Germany. By the time Sept. 4 came around — the magazine arrived on stands before then— that willingness had already proved pointless.

On desktop, roll over the map to get a closer look. If you’re reading on a mobile device, click to zoom.

TIME

Stay tuned next week for further coverage of the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.

TIME China

Want Some Entertainment in China? Don’t Turn On the TV

CHINA-ECONOMY
This photo taken on July 15, 2014 shows a couple watching TV in their apartment in Beijing. GREG BAKER—AFP/Getty Images

China’s TV and film watchdog has ordered a dull diet of nationalist fare ahead of the country's National Day in October

There’s nothing like coming home from work, plopping down in front of the TV and watching some relaxing antifascist and patriotic fare. That’s exactly the kind of prime-time programming China’s TV and film watchdog is ordering up for September and October, according to state media. One reason for this propaganda blitz? National Day falls on Oct. 1 and a line-up of TV shows glorifying, say, the Communist Party’s fight against the Japanese during World War II, will hopefully usher in a wave of jingoistic pride among citizens.

Earlier this year, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (commonly known by its previous acronym SARFT) also urged TV stations to present entertainment that propagated President Xi Jinping’s ideological catchphrase, the “Chinese Dream.” Applicable programming, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, includes such delights as a program on the navy’s activities in the Gulf of Aden and a 48-episode series on the life and times of Deng Xiaoping, the late leader who spearheaded the nation’s economic reforms. (Deng would have celebrated his 110th birthday on Aug. 22.)

What exactly constitutes patriotic programming? The China Daily, the government’s English-language mouthpiece and no stranger itself to jingoistic content, reported that “patriotic TV shows should promote the protection of the home country, as well as entrepreneurship and innovation.” As for antifascist TV material, anything to do with World War II, or what China calls the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, should do nicely.

Smaller TV stations will have more latitude than major networks in controlling their schedules. They can, for instance, reserve patriotic programming for prime time and relegate anti-fascist material to less coveted time slots, according to the China Daily. On Aug. 13, the China Youth Network also assured viewers that the premieres of a couple highly anticipated TV dramas shouldn’t be affected. Nevertheless, one user of Weibo, China’s microblogging platform, quipped “The authorities force the masses to watch such rubbish. Who is the fascist here but SARFT?”

Chinese viewers have been clamoring for TV programming with modern entertainment value in recent years — just as censors have begun clamping down. In 2011, as China celebrated the 90th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party, SARFT railed against films and shows that depicted time travel because they were “treating serious history in a frivolous way.”

Then, in April of this year, authorities began restricting foreign material that could be watched through streaming websites. A particular favorite was the geeky U.S. sit-com The Big Bang Theory, which racked up 1.3 billion views in China before it was banned. (The Good Wife, NCIS and The Practice were also targeted.)

Other areas of online space have been encroached on. Weibo has lost some of its edge because of industrious censorship and a crackdown on its more high-profile users. This month, the crackdown was extended to mobile instant messaging services, like the hugely popular WeChat.

As for the upcoming two months of antifascist and patriotic TV, even the Global Times, a Beijing-based daily that often takes a nationalist line, grumbled in an Aug. 15 article. “It is also an administrative order,” the story reported, “that many TV shows producers often see as ‘annoying.’”

Imagine how the people who are expected to tune in to such partisan programming feel.

with reporting by Gu Yongqiang/Beijing

TIME World War II

This Is How TIME Explained the Atomic Bomb in 1945

Graphic from TIME Aug. 20, 1945

Looking back at TIME's coverage of the atomic bombings

This week marks the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombings that ended World War II: the Aug. 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and the one of Nagasaki three days later. The two attacks may have claimed over 250,000 lives — around 100,000 victims were immediately incinerated, and many others died later from radiation poisoning and other injuries. Entire neighborhoods vanished into thin air.

World War II had already ended in Europe by August 1945, after Nazi Germany signed its instrument of surrender on May 7. But the war unfolding in East Asia and the Pacific raged on. When Japan showed no signs of surrendering, U.S. President Harry Truman decided to drop the bomb—an act whose necessity and ethical ramifications are being debated to this day.

“I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb,” President Truman said in a radio address on Aug. 9 that year. “Its production and its use were not lightly undertaken by this Government. But we knew that our enemies were on the search for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we knew the disaster which would come to this nation, and to all peaceful nations, to all civilizations, if they had found it first.”

TIME covered the end of the war in Japan in its Aug.20, 1945 issue, five days after Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced the country’s surrender. Among the generally celebratory coverage of the end of WWII, the magazine’s editors published the infographic above breaking down the chain reaction behind an atomic bomb explosion.

TIME White House

Obama is the Worst President Since World War II, Poll Says

Obama Cabinet Meeting
President Barack Obama pauses during a cabinet meeting at the White House on July 1 in Washington, DC. Pool—Getty Images

Falling behind his predecessor George W. Bush

More Americans consider Barack Obama to be the worst President since World War II than they do any other president, according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday found that 33% of Americans see Obama as the worst post-war president, while just 8% consider him the best. Another 28% see former President George W. Bush as the worst. Richard Nixon, the only American President ever to resign in disgrace, was picked the worst by 13%, according to the poll.

And 45% of Americans think the U.S. would be better off if Mitt Romney had been elected President in 2012, according to the poll, while 38% think the country would be worse off.

Ronald Reagan was the most common answer among those surveyed for the best President since World War II, with 35% choosing the Republican icon. Another 18% chose Bill Clinton, and 15% chose John F. Kennedy.

The survey of 1,446 registered voters, conducted June 24-30, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

TIME Crime

89-Year-Old Man Accused of Assisting in Nazi Genocide

The word Auschwitz, denoting name of Nazi concentration camp, is seen at Gleis 17 memorial in Berlin
The word Auschwitz, denoting the name of the Nazi concentration camp at the Gleis 17 (platform 17) memorial commemorating Jews who were deported from Grunewald train station during World War Two in Berlin January 25, 2014. Thomas Peter—Reuters

Germany has charged him with 158 counts of aiding and abetting Nazi attrocities

An 89-year-old Philadelphia man was arrested by U.S. officials Tuesday and a day later charged by German authorities with 158 counts of assisting in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Jewish prisoners and others while he was a Nazi guard at Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

Johann “Hans” Breyer, a retired toolmaker from Czechoslovakia, is the oldest person ever arrested in connection with crimes committed during the Holocaust, according to the New York Times.

Officials say Breyer joined the paramilitary Waffen-SS force at age 17, and later worked at Birkenau, a section of the concentration camp at Auschwitz that housed gas chambers. Breyer admitted to the Associated Press that he worked as a guard at Auschwitz-Berkenau, but he said his duties kept him outside the facility and he had nothing to do with the killings committed inside the gates.

Breyer’s attorney, Dennis Boyle, tried to get Breyer released on bail Wednesday, arguing that he is too frail to be detained. But prosecutors said the facility where Breyer is being taken is equipped to take care of him. Magistrate Judge Timothy R. Rice said Breyer appeared to understand the proceedings and would not be granted bail due to the “the serious nature of the crime.”

Breyer’s arrest renews a case that officials in multiple countries have pursued for years. The U.S. Justice Department first accused Breyer of Nazi ties in 1992 and fought to deport him until 2003, according to the AP. The DOJ questioned whether Breyer lied about his Nazi involvement when applying for citizenship or whether he could have citizenship through his mother, who was born in the U.S. He was allowed to stay in the U.S. largely because he joined the SS as a minor.

Germany now wants Breyer extradited so he can stand trial for the charges against him in that country.

[New York Times]

TIME europe

President Obama Honors Sacrifices of D-Day Veterans

+ READ ARTICLE

Updated Friday at 9:56 a.m.

President Barack Obama called for recognition of the allied forces who turned the tide of history during a stirring speech in Normandy, France, on Friday morning at a ceremony to honor the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Europe.

“It was here on these shores that the tide was turned in the common struggle for freedom,” Obama said. “Whenever the world makes you cynical, stop and think of these men.”

The Commander-in-Chief cited the sacrifices of the fallen and the 70 years of democratic movement that spawned in the wake of World War II as aging veterans paid their respects to the tens of thousands of young soldiers who were killed during the opening days of Operation Overlord.

More than 150,000 troops participated in the invasion by land, sea and air in the early hours of June 6, 1944. Tens of thousands of British and North American troops stormed the beachheads of the German-occupied Norman coastline amid the largest amphibious assault in the history of warfare.

Allied forces suffered an estimated 10,000 casualties during the first 24 hours of the bloody 77-day campaign. The invasion succeeded in punching a massive hole into the Nazi war machine’s western defenses and marked the beginning of the end of Adolf Hitler’s reign.

“More than 20,000 Americans paid with their lives here in Normandy,” French President François Hollande said during the ceremony’s opening remarks. “They were your parents, your brothers, your friends. They were our liberators.”

After their speeches, Obama and Hollande placed a wreath at a memorial in the cemetery honoring those who died fighting to fascist’s forces in northern France.

Europe was primarily carved into two ideological camps in wake of the collapse of Nazi Germany, pitting Washington against Moscow. More than 20 years since the end of the Cold War, tensions between East and West have again burst to the surface.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea this past March upped hostilities in Europe to one of the highest levels in decades. Despite the tension, Obama attended a post-speech lunch hosted by Hollande at the American cemetery with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama and Putin had an informal conversation “on the margins” of the lunch for 10 to 15 minutes, according to pool reports.

TIME

Rising From Ruins: D-Day Landscapes, Then and Now

Past and present are joined together in photographs that combine scenes from D-Day 70 years ago with the very same locations in Normandy today

The scale of destruction unleashed in Normandy on and after D-Day beggars the imagination. On the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord, TIME commemorates that epic invasion through a series of images that combine photographs taken seven decades ago along with contemporary pictures made by Getty photographer Peter Macdiarmid. As leaders throughout the world gather in Normandy Friday, the result is an uncanny mixture of past and present.

TIME Transportation

Two Killed in Crash of WWII-Era Plane

The two-seater wrecked in Washington state

Two men were killed Wednesday when a small World War II-era airplane crashed in Washington state.

The two-seater aircraft crashed at about 3:30 p.m. in a wooded area after sputtering and flying low, a local station reported. The Federal Aviation Administration identified the plane was a North American AT-6C, King 5 News said.

The National Transportation Safety Board has reportedly been informed of the incident.

[King5 News]

TIME Military

Last of the Navajo Code Talkers Dies at 93

Chester Nez
Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez waits backstage for a speaking engagement at the Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College in Farmington N.M. on Nov. 1, 2012. Jon Austria—AP

Chester Nez was one of 29 Native Americans whose work creating a secret code was instrumental in World War II

Chester Nez, the last surviving member of the original band of Navajo Native Americans whose code helped the Allies win World War II, died Wednesday. He was 93 and suffered from kidney failure, Reuters reports.

Nez was one of the original 29 Navajo recruited by the Marine Corps to develop a secret code based on their native language for use in wartime communication. Because the language is unwritten, spoken only in the American Southwest and known to less than 30 non-Navajo people, Reuters reports, American forces accurately predicted that Japan would be unable to crack the code.

“It saddens me to hear the last of the original code talkers has died,” Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly told Reuters. “We are proud of these young men.”

“I was very proud to say that the Japanese did everything in their power to break that code but they never did,” Nez said before receiving the Audie Murphy Award for distinguished service by the American Veterans Center last November.

Navajo code talkers served in all six Marine divisions and six were killed during the war.

[Reuters]

MORE: The Last Speakers of the Lost Whistling Language, Sylbo

TIME

The Winding Road to D-Day

Washington Conference: Churchill And Roosevelt
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin D, Roosevelt at a special meeting of the Pacific War Council during World War Two on June 26, 1942. Keystone-France—Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

FDR’s patient diplomacy in 1942 and 1943 made Operation Overlord possible in 1944

It was, Winston Churchill noted at the time, “a strange Christmas Eve.” Only weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent German declaration of war on the U.S., Churchill crossed the Atlantic aboard the H.M.S. Duke of York for conversations with Franklin D. Roosevelt in December 1941. Eleanor Roosevelt was asked to lay in stocks of brandy, champagne and whiskey (Churchill brought his own cigars); the work at hand was to be all-consuming. “Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle,” Churchill said during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, “and, with the most terrible weapons which science can devise, the nations advance upon each other.” The issue before Churchill and FDR was the most fundamental of all: how best to wage a world war against the Axis powers.

During the discussions, British and American officials affirmed the earlier product of joint staff talks. Code-named ABC-1, the military conferences, held in Washington in the first months of 1941, had asserted the primacy of defeating Germany first. The other potential global foe, Japan, would be taken on only secondarily. With his industrial might and Continental base, Adolf Hitler was viewed as the predominating opponent whose defeat the Anglo-American alliance would come to see as the common cause.

On the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the amphibious assault on Nazi-occupied Europe, we understandably celebrate the Normandy landings as the central act of the 20th century; what Churchill called “the most difficult and complicated operation that has ever taken place” is one of the great hinges of history. Yet the road to the opening of the Second Front in northwest Europe was by no means a simple one. The story of D-Day is as much about years of diplomatic skirmishing among Churchill, Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin as it is about the landings themselves on the beaches where President Obama and other world leaders will gather this week. And in that convoluted tale lies a lesson in leadership, for FDR’s patient maneuvering in 1941, ’42 and ’43 was that of a President at once constrained and determined as he sought the right answer in the calamitous times. What seems straightforward in retrospect was, in real time, highly improvisational—­and at moments, dare we say it, Franklin Roosevelt led from behind.

As 1942 began, several key American figures—­notably Army Chief of Staff George Marshall and General Dwight Eisenhower—argued for a predictably American strategy. If the target were Germany first, they argued, then hit Germany first, hard and quickly. The fastest way to relieve the immense pressure on Stalin was to cross the English Channel in 1942. There was a problem, though: Winston Churchill.

The Prime Minister was averse to a large-scale strike against Germany for at least two reasons. The first was biographical. As First Lord of the Admiralty during World War I, Churchill had presided over the disastrous Gallipoli strategy that killed 28,000 British soldiers in the ill-considered invasion of Turkey. The experience crushed him. (Afterward he resigned from the government and led an infantry battalion at the front in France.) As scholars have long noted, the second reason was his tendency to prefer secondary operations on the periphery of Hitler’s empire, in the hopes of weakening the enemy at less cost and—though this was and is much disputed—placing British troops in position to protect colonial and postwar interests.

Stalin, for his part, wanted a Second Front in Europe not today, not tomorrow, but yesterday. And so Roosevelt found himself in the midst of a push-and-pull between London and Moscow. Churchill carried the day for 1942 and ’43, arguing for other operations and suggesting that there were not yet sufficient resources to mount a successful attack on the French coast. As much as FDR wanted to take the direct route across the Channel, he at first sided with Churchill against Stalin, approving a Mediterranean strategy.

For Roosevelt the hour of decision came at Tehran in November 1943. Stalin pressed and pressed for a cross-Channel operation, and Churchill, while always agreeing in principle, managed to raise a seemingly infinite number of reasons to delay. Stalin spoke starkly: Were his Western allies truly with him or not? Roosevelt then made his choice, insisting on Overlord and overruling Churchill. The industrial might of America had by now built a huge war machine; the men were trained; and in that moment in the Tehran autumn, the new world of competing superpowers, with Britain in a subsidiary role, came into being.

Roosevelt was right to make the call he made at Tehran, which led to Overlord in June 1944; Churchill was also right early on in resisting a hasty cross-Channel operation. “It is fun to be in the same decade with you,” Roosevelt once told Churchill. For the rest of us, it was more than fun. As the triumph of Overlord proved beyond doubt, it was providential.

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