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World War II & Vietnam

April 07, 2017

Artists go to War!

The Old Print Shop is host an exhibition on World War II and Vietnam works in our second floor gallery.
 

World War II

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After the catastrophes of World War I, Europe chose to punish Germany with the Treaty of Versailles. The reparations were costly. The German economy fluctuated during the 1920s and plummeted into depression, like much of the industrial world, in 1929. The suffering of the Germany people made them desperate. And their desperation allowed them to be deceived.
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Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came to rise within Germany. They promised their compatriots that they would restore their beloved country its former glory. Hitler was made chancellor on January 30, 1933. That same year, Hitler pushed into law the Enabling Act, effectively giving himself and his cabinet complete control. The Act allowed Hitler to bypass the German parliament when instituting laws. Leading Germany into a dictatorship.

In March of 1938, Germany annexed Austria. In September, they annexed parts of Czechoslovakia. England and France sat back and allowed this to happen, hoping it would pacify Germany and thwart war. Little did they realize, their actions only fed the beast.

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World War II kicked off on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. The Polish army stood little chance.

As was the case with World War I, the United States refrained from immediately entering the war. They instead aided their allies with the Lend-Lease act in 1940. It wouldn't be until December 7, 1941 that America declared war. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor left more than two-thousand American soldiers dead, and more than one-thousand wounded. On December 8, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. Only a single vote was cast against the declaration.

In response to this, Japan formed an alliance with the Axis powers (Germany and Italy). This again played America's hand. On December 11, 1941, America declared war on Germany. The United States had officially entered World War II.

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The war raged in Europe until May 8, 1845, when Germany finally surrounded to the Allied powers. The Pacific front, however, raged on until September 2 ,1945, when Japan surrendered to America. It was a bitter sweet victory. The land invasion of Japan was avoided when the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and August 9th. While it's estimated that over two-hundred thousand people were killed in the bombing, and the affects of nuclear contamination still afflict the survivors and their families today, histories believe it saved millions of lives on both sides. The land invasion would have been costly.

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Vietnam

The Vietnam War raged from November 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975. It was sparked by anti-communist sentiments. North Vietnam wanted to follow in the footsteps of China and the Soviet Union, while South Vietnam wanted to follow more closely to the West. 

Though the war officially started in 1955, American troops did not get involved until 1959. Major Dale Buis and Master Sergeant Cheser Ovnard were the first American soldiers to be killed by the Vietcong at Bien Hoa.  Nearly eight-hundred others would join them before the year was over. A large scale assault wouldn't occur until 1961.

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By the time 1965 rolled around, some half a million U.S. troops were stationed in Vietnam.

Many new weapons made their appearance in the Vietnam War, including Agent Orange. The herbicide polluted the environment, destroyed millions of acres of forest, and caused severe health issues for any who came in contact with it. Napalm was another weapon of Vietnam, though its origins date back to World War II. It was a flammable gel-like substance that clung to skin and fabric. The invention of Napalm B during Vietnam made the chemical capable of burning under water.

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Known as the 'American War' in Vietnam, the American involvement was widely unappreciated. Protests erupted throughout the United States. Soldiers who fought in Vietnam returned home to an unwelcoming nation. They were shunned and degraded by their own compatriots. 

By the end of the war, an estimated three million had been killed. Of them, fifty-eight thousands had been American troops.

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Please stop in to see the World War II and Vietnam exhibit in our second floor gallery. We also have a World War I show exhibited in our first floor gallery. The hundred year anniversary of the American involvement in WWI was on April 6, 2017.

To view our online selection of World War II material please
click here.

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