Hear a broadcast from the Tokyo Rose, Japan’s World War II radio propaganda disc jockey
07:00 am


World War II
Tokyo Rose

Iva Toguri
Iva Toguri D’Aquino
The Tokyo Rose is one of the more ingenious and chilling bits of psychological warfare in human history. During World War Two, in an effort to unnerve American GI’s and lower morale, the Japanese broadcast an English-language radio show hosted by a rotating roster of female voices. “Tokyo Rose” was the generic moniker given (by Americans) to all the announcers, but the most famous voice (and probably the one you hear in the broadcast below) was that of Iva Toguri D’Aquino, an American who had the misfortune to have been caring for a sick aunt in Japan when the war broke out. After the war, she was arrested and convicted of treason—apparently being a prisoner of war was no excuse for making a radio show. She wasn’t released until 1956.

The format of the show was actually pretty brilliant; in between coy “updates” on the war, (and insinuations of Japan’s impending attacks), Tokyo Rose would play the hits of the day. The show was incredibly popular among American serviceman. Rumors circulated that she possessed insider knowledge of American military actions. Some said she named specific servicemen as recent captures in her broadcasts—this is completely unsubstantiated, of course, and popular opinion is that the myth of Tokyo Rose flourished in the bewildered minds of her targets. And it that sense, the program was a complete success; Americans did overestimate the power and knowledge of Axis Japan.

Similar programs were employed by other Axis countries, including the insidious Lord Haw Haw in Germany, but none quite had the eery charm of Tokyo Rose, whose sweet voice and romantic tunes belied a brutal war.

Bonus: I’ve also included the grotesquely racist piece of American propaganda, Tokyo Woes. The 1945 Bob Clampett-directed Warner Brothers cartoon was only intended for viewing by the US Navy. Nothing sells war quite like racism and the promise of a hero’s welcome after a quick and easy victory.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Foxy ‘procurable women’ of World War II venereal disease posters
02:56 pm


World War II
Venereal Disease

A few of you may be familiar with the WWII-era poster proclaiming that “98% of all procurable women have venereal disease.” Of course, there’s absolutely no way to prove such a figure, since they didn’t have the data necessary to reach those kind of conclusions. In fact, since prostitutes were among the first to embrace safer sex technology, many public health experts actually believe soldiers were the largest transmitters. Note the happy, healthy little servicemen in the bottom corner of the final picture?

Regardless, the epidemic of syphilis at the time generated a lot of materials warning of the dangers of “procurable women,” some thinly veiled, some fairly explicit. Below is a fantastic little collection of propaganda, each piece somehow managing to make venereal disease look totally worth it. Those are some foxy working girls!
And of course, the classic…
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Food Will Win the War’: Disney’s most surreal war propaganda cartoon, 1942
07:36 am


World War II

Food will win the war
Not just a potato twice the height of the Rock of Gibralter… a sexy potato twice the height of the Rock of Gibralter

You may be familiar with Disney’s most famous World War Two propaganda, Der Fuehrer’s Face, in which Donald Duck dreams of an alternate life under Nazi rule. It’s weird, but not nearly as weird as Food Will Win the War. During both World War One and Two, the slogan, “Food will win the war,” was bandied about to both discourage food waste and encourage an increase in agricultural yields; the idea was that the U.S. needed to remain war-ready with a food surplus. In the film, however, the slogan is invoked more as a morale booster, and the result is a confusing mish-mash of messaging.

Instead of telling farmers to produce more and families to waste less, the narrator emphasizes our current glut of food, which is really counterintuitive to a message of prudence and industriousness. It’s as if the writers got so carried away with nationalist boasting, that they forgot the actual purpose of the film. Even more strangely, they demonstrate our surfeit of food by means of very strange scale comparisons.

For instance, did you know that if we had made all our wheat from 1942 into flour, we could bury every German tank in it? And if we had made it into spaghetti, we could weave from it a fashionably nationalistic sweater-vest to clothe the entire Earth! Why would you aspire to do such a thing, you ask? Why would we knit a celestial spaghetti sweater?!? Who cares! We’re America, fuck yeah!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Slaughterhouse-Five: 22-year-old POW Kurt Vonnegut writes home about the War

Kurt Vonnegut was a 22-year-old Private serving in the U.S. Army, when he was captured at the Battle of the Bulge, in December 1944. Together with his fellow POWs, Vonnegut was marched to a work camp in Dresden, named “Slaughterhouse Five.” In this letter details these events and the infamous bombing in February 1945, that was to inspire his best-selling novel.


Pfc. K. Vonnegut, Jr.,
12102964 U. S. Army.


Kurt Vonnegut,
Williams Creek,
Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dear people:

I’m told that you were probably never informed that I was anything other than “missing in action.” Chances are that you also failed to receive any of the letters I wrote from Germany. That leaves me a lot of explaining to do—in precis:

I’ve been a prisoner of war since December 19th, 1944, when our division was cut to ribbons by Hitler’s last desperate thrust through Luxemburg and Belgium. Seven Fanatical Panzer Divisions hit us and cut us off from the rest of Hodges’ First Army. The other American Divisions on our flanks managed to pull out: We were obliged to stay and fight. Bayonets aren’t much good against tanks: Our ammunition, food and medical supplies gave out and our casualties out-numbered those who could still fight - so we gave up. The 106th got a Presidential Citation and some British Decoration from Montgomery for it, I’m told, but I’ll be damned if it was worth it. I was one of the few who weren’t wounded. For that much thank God.

Well, the supermen marched us, without food, water or sleep to Limberg, a distance of about sixty miles, I think, where we were loaded and locked up, sixty men to each small, unventilated, unheated box car. There were no sanitary accommodations—the floors were covered with fresh cow dung. There wasn’t room for all of us to lie down. Half slept while the other half stood. We spent several days, including Christmas, on that Limberg siding. On Christmas eve the Royal Air Force bombed and strafed our unmarked train. They killed about one-hundred-and-fifty of us. We got a little water Christmas Day and moved slowly across Germany to a large P.O.W. Camp in Muhlburg, South of Berlin. We were released from the box cars on New Year’s Day. The Germans herded us through scalding delousing showers. Many men died from shock in the showers after ten days of starvation, thirst and exposure. But I didn’t….

Via Letters of Note
The rest of Vonnegut’s letter home, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Needling the Nazis: The subversive cross-stitching of Major Alexis Casdagli

Red Cross parcels and the joys of cross-stitching kept Major Alexis Casdagli sane during his time as a POW in the Second World War. After 6 months in a Nazi Stalag Luft, Casdagli was given a card by a fellow POW, together some thread from an old cardigan, and he started his now famous needlecraft.

Casdagli spent long hours working on his cross-stitching and between 1941 and 1945, he created a series of subversive samplers, in which Casdagli had hidden, around the Swastikas and Hammer & Sickles, a series of messages in Morse Code, which read:

“God Save The King”

“Fuck Hitler”

According to his son, Casdagli thought of the subversive needlecraft as part of his duty to get back at his captors:

“It used to give him pleasure when the Germans were doing their rounds,” says his son, Tony, of his father’s rebellious stitching. It also stopped him going mad. “He would say after the war that the Red Cross saved his life but his embroidery saved his sanity,” says Tony. “If you sit down and stitch you can forget about other things, and it’s very calming.”

Casdagli also sent his then 11-year-old son cross-stitched letters through the mail.

“It is 1,581 days since I saw you last but it will not be long now. Do you remember when I fell down the well? Look after Mummy till I get home again.”

Major Alexis Casdagli died in 1990, but his cross-stitching has been featured in different museum and gallery exhibitions, as a fine example of grit and determination under pressure.
With thanks to Sig Waller

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Awesome collection of personalized World War II leather bomber jackets
11:05 am


World War II
bomber jackets

Sexy hand-painted leather bomber jackets from World War II brought to you by D. Sheley‘s collection on Flickr.

Via The World’s Best Ever


More bomber jackets after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Kurt Vonnegut: The bombing of Dresden and the creation of ‘Slaughterhouse 5’

It took Kurt Vonnegut more than twenty years to turn his experience of surviving the allied bombing of Dresden during World War II, into his novel Slaughterhouse Five. In this short interview with James Naughtie, Vonnegut recalls the horror of Dresden and how it shaped his vision of the world and led to the creation of his most famous work.

“A writer is lucky to be able to treat his or her neuroses everyday. We’re here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is. And teh Arts are one way to help people get through this thing. the function of any work of Art, successful work of Art is to say to a certain segment of the population, ‘You are not alone. Others feel as you do.’ We must have kids now, you know, saying the world is crazy - and indeed, it is.”

Recorded for the BBC’s This Week series in 2005, to mark the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Creative Writing 101 with Kurt Vonnegut


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
World War II ad claims 98% of ‘procurable’ women have a venereal disease

98%?! Let me say that again, 98%!!!
(via Copyranter)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Giving the Holocaust an R-Rating: The Strange Case of “A Film Unfinished”

“…Disturbing images of Holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity.” These are the elements cited by the Motion Picture Association of America in giving an R-rating to Israeli director Yael Hersonski’s intense-looking documentary, A Film Unfinished, which opens widely this month.

Produced and distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, A Film Unfinished centers around the making of the unearthed last reel of Ghetto, a Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw Ghetto and proffered as a document of life there. The reel contains multiple takes of staged, exoticized footage of Jewish life, including a fictionalized depiction of the contrast between “rich” and poor ghetto dwellers.

The R-rating ensures that the film can’t be shown in public school classrooms, a situation ludicrous enough to be called out by Oscilloscope owner and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch a.k.a. MCA. From what I understand, the “graphic nudity” that the MPAA cites refers to female ghetto dwellers entering a mikvah, or Jewish ritual bath. As for the atrocities, well, kids seem to be exposed to plenty of gratuitous and stupid violence on TV, movies and video games. Maybe it would be worth whatever trauma they may go through watching and discussing A Film Unfinished to not only viscerally understand genocide, but also get a classic lesson in media manipulation.

Nice work, MPAA.

Oscilloscope Laboratories will also release the Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl and the doc William S. Burroughs: A Man Within this fall.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
July 26, 1943: Los Angeles Invaded by Smog!

Smog makes it hard to see the Los Angeles Civic Center on Jan. 5, 1948. Photo: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive/UCLA Library
In this age of climate-change consciousness, we’ve been thinking of pollution in epic-scale terms for so many decades that it’s become difficult to perceive it locally or episodically. On’s This Day in Tech blog, Jess McNally notes  that on this day 67 years ago, residents of Los Angeles initially suspected that the unseasonable eye-stinging haze descending on their city was a Japanese chemical attack:

As residents would later find out, the fog was not from an outside attacker, but from their own vehicles and factories. Massive wartime immigration to a city built for cars had made L.A. the largest car market the industry had ever seen. But the influx of cars and industry, combined with a geography that traps fumes like a big bowl, had caught up with Angelenos.

Susan Morrow (left) and Linda Hawkins wipe tears from their eyes on a downtown street during a smoggy day in October 1964. Photo: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive/UCLA Library
It took Arie Jan Haagen-Smit, a Dutch scientist working at the California Institute of Technology, to point that out, but that wasn’t until the early ‘50s. Although the term smog—a portmanteau of smoke and fog—was coined in the early 20th century, L.A. made it truly famous.

Check out Wired’s fascinating selection of photos from the UCLA Library depicting the Southland’s struggle against smog from the 1940s through the 1960s.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Antony Sutton on Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler
11:57 am


World War II
Wall Street

The late Prof. Sutton discusses the role of American corporations in providing the critical financing and expertise needed for the Third Reich. Inglorious bastards indeed!

(Wiki on Antony C. Sutton)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment