World War II

Today marks a significant historical anniversary that is likely to go largely unnoticed. World War II really began 75 years ago today, when Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany for attacking Poland.

For the next six years, humans violently murdered each other at the rate of about 10 million a year. 

This anniversary is likely to get little notice because so much else is going on – and because historians are busy commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

Now here is a little Michigan news story that isn’t likely to get much notice either. According to Livingston County police, a 69-year-old man was driving a pickup truck yesterday afternoon, when he passed a 43-year-old man driving a smaller vehicle.

They then both were stopped at a traffic light. The younger man got out of his car and approached the truck. And the truck driver shot him to death. Police say they were both from Howell, but didn’t know each other, that this was just a case of road rage.

For months, we’ve been embroiled in Detroit’s bankruptcy and attempts to save what there is worth saving.

It is hard to pick up any national publication without finding stories about Detroit, few of them good. There are a spate of new book titles too, which mostly chronicle the city’s decline and fall.

Yet I’ve just been reading an utterly fascinating and inspiring new book about a time when Detroit really did save, or at least help save, the world.

The book, just published by Houghton Mifflin, is The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Ford Motor Company, and Their Epic Quest to Arm an America at War.

This is a book with characters larger and more bizarre than life. It tells the story of a Detroit-based triumph that the experts said was impossible. And every word in it is true.

Irene Butter speaks to 400 students in Germany about her life in Germany and the Netherlands when the Nazis where in power.
http://www.ggg-laupheim.de/

She was born in Germany, but as life for Jews in Germany became more dangerous through the 1930s, she and her family moved to the Netherlands – to Amsterdam, in the same neighborhood as a young girl named Anne Frank.

And like Anne Frank, she was captured by the Nazis and taken to the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

But unlike Anne, young Irene Butter survived the camp.

Today, Dr. Irene Butter is a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health.

Her life has been a remarkable journey, knit together by Irene's decision that she was going to live as a Holocaust survivor, not as a victim.

Irene Butter is the subject of the  film "Never a Bystander," by Ann Arbor filmmaker Evelyn Neuhaus.”

Irene Butter and Evelyn Neuhaus joined us today on the show.

*Listen to our interview above.

National Archives and Records Administration / Wikipedia

It's quite a long line to draw from a writer's studio in Michigan in 2014 to the West Coast during World War II. That's where over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were ordered by the U.S. government to walk away from their lives and report to internment camps.

This dark chapter in history ultimately resulted in more than $1.6 billion in reparations being paid to the Japanese-Americans who had been interned, or to their heirs. 

Matt Faulkner describes himself as an author and illustrator for kids. His new graphic novel tells the story of the internment camp through the eyes of a teenager named Koji Miyamoto. Koji's father is Japanese and his mother is white. The title of the graphic novel is Gaijin. 

Faulkner joined us today to discuss the book.

Today, Gov. Rick Snyder rolled out a new statewide recycling plan that aims to increase recycling across the state. Michigan is seventh among the eight Great Lakes states in its recycling performance, and the governor as well as recycling activists agree that we can do a lot better. 

The intersection of college athletics and college academics often causes controversy. To what degree are student athletes allowed to get away with lighter class loads in order for them to play? Paul Barrett of Bloomberg Businessweek joined us to answer that very question.

Tax day is tomorrow and procrastinators out there are scrambling to file. Detroit News Finance Editor Brian O'Connor joined us to explain how we can decrease our chances of being audited. 

On the West Coast during World War II, hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps. Matt Faulkner, an author and illustrator for kids, tells the story of these internments in his most recent graphic novel, Gaijin. 

It's no surprise that shipping conditions on the Great Lakes are miserable, even though spring has officially sprung and the shipping season officially opened March 25.

No commercial traffic has yet made it to the Soo Locks and ice is still four feet thick in some places, particularly in Lake Superior. On today’s show, we speak with a member of the U.S. Coast Guard about what's being done about this.

Then, what happened as World War II brought women and minorities into Detroit's assembly plants?

And, the Detroit bankruptcy is starting to affect the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Water prices could go up, impacting consumers far outside the city. Daniel Howes joined us for our weekly check-in to tell us more.

Also, Phil Cavanagh became the third candidate to enter the race to replace Robert Ficano as Wayne County Executive.

First on the show, Michigan's economy may be pulling itself up and out of the Great Recession.

But our schools are still mired in an "education recession" and all of our children are paying the price.

That's the finding of the newest State of Michigan Education Report from The Education Trust-Midwest.

It's an eye-opening exercise to see how our state's schools and student performance compares to two states that are powering ahead in the national assessment: Massachusetts and Tennessee.

What lessons can Michigan learn from those two states?

The co-author of the new education report, Amber Arellano of The Education Trust-Midwest, joined us today.

Arsenal of Democracy book cover.
http://wsupress.wayne.edu/

There is no question that Detroit and the automobile industry played a major role in the Allied victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. We’ve often heard southeast Michigan described as the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

But not so well known is the struggle it took to turn the auto industry toward war production, particularly as women and African-American workers stepped up to take their places on the assembly lines.

Charles Hyde, professor emeritus of history at Wayne State University, joined us today. His new book is Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus will perform Brundibar this weekend at the Detroit Opera House. The children's opera was originally performed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. 

In the 1940s, European Jews were sent to Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. It was a transit camp where Jews were sent before being moved to other concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

The Nazis also used Theresienstadt in their propaganda efforts.

When it comes to support for emergency care services, the U.S. just barely squeaked by with a passing grade, at least according to a new state-by-state report card put out by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

And how did Michigan measure up, you might ask? Well, it turns out we're failing in access to emergency health care. We heard some recommendations about ways to move forward.

Then, we met a woman who’s trying to help people come together to have some uncomfortable, but enlightening, conversations about race, class and more.

And, we spoke with Daniel Howes about Tom Lewand, Detroit’s job czar.

Also, “Saturday Night Live” just hired its first black female cast member in five years. Will this bring more attention to other black comedians?

And, a Michigan historian gave us a closer look at how Michigan milkweed helped us in World War II.

Also, the Michigan Human Society has a new way to find homes for their animals: social media.

First on the show, how do you best measure the progress of students in Michigan's classrooms and, by extension, the effectiveness of their teachers?

It's one of the thorniest challenges being debated in Michigan education.

For years, the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) and the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) have been the assessment tools. Now, with the move to the Common Core Standards, it's out with the MEAP and MME and in with the what?

Districts around Michigan are gearing up for an online adaptive assessment test in the spring of 2015.

The Michigan Department of Education says the state has only one option for testing students on the Common Core State Standards for the next three years.

And that option is the Smarter Balanced Assessment – the SBA.

But state lawmakers haven't made that official.

We wondered how districts  are preparing for the SBA or whatever test they're told to administer next year.

William Heath is the superintendent of the Morrice Area Schools and principal at Morrice Junior and Senior High School located in Shiawassee County. He joined us today.

Flickr user keithcarver / Flickr

Think about World War II and the ways Michigan helped the war effort: The Arsenal of Democracy, Rosie the Riveter, heavy bombers rolling off the assembly line at Willow Run.

And milkweed.

Yes, the common weed found in the northwest Lower Peninsula went to war.

Gerry Wykes is a historian and freelance author/illustrator who recently wrote about milkweed for Mlive and Michigan History Magazine. He joined us today to explain how this weed helped in the war effort.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's Veterans Day, and all across Michigan, small ceremonies are taking place honoring the nation's military veterans.

A light rain fell in Flint as a small ceremony was held at 11 a.m.

Veterans Day has it's roots in the Armistice that ended World War I. Under the terms of the armistice, that war ended at "The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month."

Vietnam era veteran Raul Garcia told the small group assembled in front of Flint city hall of his pride of being part of a military family.

"To me, it's just a great pride to wear this uniform knowing that we are the greatest nation around," Garcia said. 

There are more than 650,000 military veterans in Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

It’s almost five in the morning. It’s cold and still dark in Kalamazoo. It takes about 45 minutes to load 21 veterans, 15 wheelchairs and 22 helpers onto a charter bus.

A cheery, caffeinated voice comes over the bus’ loudspeaker, “Good morning everybody how are we doing?” Bobbi Bradley is president of “Talons Out” the new honor flight hub based in Kalamazoo. This is the group’s first mission. It had to raise $34,000 to pull it off.

The donations cover the cost of the day trip for all the veterans on board who are well into their 80s. Bradley says the trip isn’t something many of these vets can physically do on their own.

Dr. John Thomas

The “Banner” Gibson guitar is considered one of the finest acoustic guitars ever made.

Over 9,000 of these Banners were carefully built during World War II.

But Gibson company records show the company had shifted to producing goods for the war effort and not instruments, and most of the men who made those Gibsons at the headquarters in Kalamazoo were off fighting the war.

So who made these guitars that are still prized 70 years later?

That question and his love of guitars drove Connecticut law professor Dr. John Thomas to discover the remarkable answer, which he turned into a book called “Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women and Gibson’s Banner Guitars of World War Two.”

On today’s show we explored the differences residents in the UP have as compared with "trolls," you know, residents under the Mackinac Bridge.

How do perspectives about our state change depending on where we live?

And, we got the story behind Banner Gibson guitars in Kalamazoo and the women who made them.

Also, the UP’s own poet laureate joined us to talk about the rise in regional poet laureates, as well as what that honor means to him.

First on the show, as you've likely heard by now, a state election panel will have to decide the official outcome of Detroit's mayoral primary. That's because Wayne County's election board refused to certify the election. It should be noted that the county election board acted on the very last day before the deadline to certify the election.

The controversy centers on some 20,000 write-in votes that may have been incorrectly marked by Detroit poll workers.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan appeared to win the primary handily over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Despite running as a write-in candidate, Duggan won by about 16 points, according to unofficial results.

But if these almost 20,000 write-in votes get thrown out, the two winners would switch places, with  Napoleon coming out on top, and former Detroit Medical Center Mike Duggan finishing second.

Whatever the outcome, Duggan and Napoleon will face off in November.

But this drama raises many concerns, including the ability of Detroit poll workers to do their jobs properly, whether there needs to be a recount, and whether---as suggested by Benny Napoleon--the U.S. Department of Justice needs to babysit the big November election.

Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school and an expert in Michigan's constitutional and election law, joined us today to help us sort this all out.

Willow Run Factory and B-24 bombers
U.S. Army Signal Corps

There's a song from 1942 written by Red Evans and John Jacob Loeb that celebrates one of the most important groups to emerge on the home front in World War Two.

Collectively known as "Rosie the Riveter," women covered their hair with bandanas and picked up their tools to work in war production in factories all across America.

One of the most important plants in the war effort was the Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti Township. Henry Ford built it to make B-24 bombers. 8, 685 bombers rolled off the assembly line at Willow Run during the war.

Emma Rancour was one of those Rosie the Riveters who worked at Willow Run. She installed radios in the flight decks of those Liberators.

These days, Emma Rancour lives in South Lyon. She joined us today to talk about her time at the plant.

Listen to the full interview above.

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It's been nearly 70 years since the last bomb fell and the last bullet was fired in World War II, but stories from the war are still being unearthed.

One of these stories is told in the new book "The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines" by Cate Lineberry.

A plane carrying nurses and medics crash lands in Albania behind Nazi lines, and you would not believe what it took to get these Americans to safety.

It's the kind of story that would make a powerful movie. It has been largely hidden and unknown all these years, and figuring in this story are five nurses and medics from Michigan.

Author Cate Lineberry joined us today from New Orleans.

During World War II, a plane crashed behind Nazi lines. Thirty nurses and medics, five of them from Michigan, survived. Their incredible story is finally being told.

And, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the drive-in movie theater. Did you know Michigan once had more than 100 drive-ins? Today just a hand full are in operation. Also, Kevyn Orr canceled the bus tour he was supposed to take the Detroit's creditors on today. We spoke with Nancy Kaffer about why this happened. First on the show, this has certainly been a wet and muggy summer. Michigan farmers endured a hot and dry summer in 2012, so we wondered what the soggy summer of 2013 is doing to crops and to farmers. Is it better than the scorcher of 2012? 

Ken DeCock is a third-generation farmer in Macomb Township where his family owns Boyka's Farm Market. He joined us today to give us the farmer's-eye view of our weather.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual commemoration created by Congress to honor the millions of Jews who died in the Nazi Holocaust, as well as millions of others. 

It is linked with the Holocaust Remembrance Day that Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion started 60 year ago. 

Though the ranks of survivors are dwindling, those who are still here continue to share their experiences with the goal of preserving history and preventing future genocides. 

This year's theme for the National Days of Remembrance is "Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs," and encompasses the stories of many survivors, including Ann Arbor resident Miriam Garvil.

Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial

Organizers are hoping to build a World War II memorial in Michigan.

The Michigan World War II Legacy Memorial would be built in Royal Oak's Memorial Park along Woodward Avenue.

The memorial would honor Michigan's role in building what FDR called the "Arsenal of Democracy" and the men and women who served. From the group's website:

wikimedia commons

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish humanitarian credited with saving tens of thousands of Jews during World War II.

To Me There’s No Other Choice,” the exhibition currently at the University of Michigan, celebrates Wallenberg’s achievements and spirit.

Ingrid Carlberg will be among the presenters at the exhibition. Carlberg is the author of “There is a room  waiting for you here.”

Today Carlberg spoke with Cyndy about Wallenberg’s history.

“It was some kind of a coincidence. He was a businessman; he was importing groceries from Hungary. When the Germans marched into Hungary in the spring of 1944, Raoul Wallenberg was alarmed by what was going on. But actually the initiative to go to Budapest and lead a rescue mission came from the American government,” said Carlberg.

Stateside: Veteran receives highest honor from French government

Nov 15, 2012
Mercedes Mejia

When Glenn Dickerson shakes hands, he feels he is representing every soldier with whom he once fought.

The World War II veteran shook many hands on Tuesday as he was awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honor medal.

“I feel with that medal I represent others’ feats, those who didn’t make it back," said Dickerson.

Stateside: The men with the bomber planes and the man with the camera

Nov 12, 2012
Brad Ziegler

Flying bomber planes over German and Japanese terrain, Bill Rosnyai and Murray Cotter spent much of World War II in the air.

In observation of Veterans Day, Stateside spoke with Rosnyai, a former navigator on a B-17 in Europe and Cotter, a former bombardier on a B-24 in the Pacific.

Joining them was Brad Ziegler, a freelance photographer who has been photographing Michigan’s World War II veterans, particularly as the vets took special “Honor Flights” to visit the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

CASCO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Four men say they have unearthed pieces of a World War II-era fighter plane in a southeastern Michigan farm field.

Jim Clary, his brother, Ben, and two men from the Michigan Treasure Hunters used metal detectors to make the find earlier this month in St. Clair County's Casco Township just east of Richmond.

Jim Clary tells the Times Herald of Port Huron the recovered fragments are from a P-38D Lightning that was piloted by 2nd Lt. Al Voss, a native of Elgin, Ill., assigned to the 94th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Selfridge air base in Michigan.

Voss died in the October 1941 crash.

The Daily Tribune of Royal Oak reports the men uncovered several shards of the plane about 8 inches down in the dirt.

U.S. Navy

People around the country are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor today.

It was December 7, 1941 when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the island of Oahu.

Many of the surviving veterans of that battle are now in their late 80s to 90s. The New York Times reports that 7,000 survivors were on hand at the USS Arizona Memorial for the 50th anniversary. For the 70th anniversary, they're expecting 125 survivors.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association announced today that they're disbanding. From the Times:

“We had no choice,” said William H. Eckel, 89, who was once the director of the Fourth Division of the survivors’ association, interviewed by telephone from Texas. “Wives and family members have been trying to keep it operating, but they just can’t do it. People are winding up in nursing homes and intensive care places.”

The Muskegon Chronicle has a nice feature story today on a Pearl Harbor survivor from Hart, Michigan.

Buck Beadle is 91. He's a retired Oceana County Sheriff's deputy. Beadle was aboard the USS Hull on the morning of the attack.

From the Chronicle:

As Beadle remembers it, the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, dawned warm and sunny in Pearl Harbor, like “any other day” in tropical Honolulu, Hawaii. He and the other 220 men aboard the USS Hull were “relaxing, lying on our bunks and reading the newspaper” when all hell broke loose.

“It was scary at first,” Beadle says. “We didn’t know what was going on. But when we heard those four-barrel machine guns going, that told you something was radically wrong.”

After the attack, the U.S. declared war on Japan and Beadle spent four years at sea on the USS Hull.

He's being honored today at a gathering at the Oceana County Historical and Genealogical Society where some of his photographs are on display.

Harry Stewart looks around the slowly filling ballroom in an Orlando, Fla., hotel and brightens.

"I haven't seen some of these guys in over 66 years," he says. "Some I haven't seen since I entered the service, and others since I left at the end of the war. This is very exciting."