tv Jay Winik on 1944 CSPAN September 19, 2015 10:00am-10:46am EDT
look at npr's bestsellers list continues with h is for. by helen mcdonnell. followed by former president carter's reflection on his life and career in, a full life. former vice president dick cheney and his daughter liz cheney, present their thoughts on national security. in the road to character new york times columnist looks at the lives of ten historical figures as examples of how to achieve success.
in wrapping up the list will have information on the oregon trail. many of these authors have or will be appearing on book tv. you can watch them on our website, book tv.org. >> historian jay winick is next on tv. he examines the political and military decisions that influenced fdr in 1934. [applause]. thank you very much for that introduction steve. i want to give a-the lights out there very bright --dash i want to give a quick thanks to those who made this possible. this is their stepchild or
brainchild. i want want to thank all of you, the readers for whom this exists, you are the lifeblood of books and as much as we love this festival, we hope you love the festival. thank you so much for coming. [applause]. let me take you into my new book. 1944. 1944 it was not inevitable that the war would end as it did or it would end at all. indeed along the western line, the allies were pinned down against nazi divisions against the gustav line. in the east, the soviet union was making threats that they would make a separate peace with the nazi. so in other words, in 1944, the war and humanity remains very much in doubt. what would commence from there would be the most epic year of the war in the 20th century
and in modern history. against this back drop that fdr and churchill would meet in egypt to determine what would happen next in terms of the war and strategy. they were about to meet with the soviet head of state, joseph stalin. consider this this partnership if you will. churchill was legendary and strength of will and character who refused to give up and give in against the germans. it was churchill, who won by one as europe fell to the nazis, poland, czechoslovakia, and most on think of live all, france living under the nazi swastika. at no point would churchill give up, at no point would he given until the u.s. fought along the side. here is fdr, an american president. fdr was crippled by polio, a
legendary charmer, the man who contained the depression and uplifted an ailing country when it was in the throes of depression. these two great men would come the rest of the war. when their meeting in egypt churchill went into fdr's room is said mr. pres. i have arranged a trip for us, we must go see the peer mitts. indeed, permits. indeed, they motored out at sunset, the two men the best of friends and important allies, they were looking at the spanks and churchill thought to himself i wonder what he has to say. then he looked at roosevelt and said i just love that man. and what did say. roosevelt said nothing.
soon, they would all meet into ran as they wait with the soviet dictator, joseph stalin. a conference would begin to decide what would happen next in the war. there was a lot of back-and-forth at the conference of the pacific, of the normandy invasion that stalin wanted to take place. at one point, some thing traumatic took place. , all of a sudden roosevelt started to sweat, he felt on common pain and he couldn't speak. he was quickly rushed out of the room away from churchill and
stalin and he met with doctors, the doctors actually diagnosed it as nothing more than indigestion. clearly it was more than that it was an omen of things to come. eventually come. eventually roosevelt felt better and they finish the conference. they came up with an important decision, the date would take place after all which stalin wanted after all. it would take place in early june. roosevelt also chose dwight eisenhower as commander of the forces. so with that the conference ended. far away from the men dying daily day after day. and hopes for success, fdr returned home feeling all would be well in the war. at christmas time as they were reading charles dickinson, roosevelt roosevelt assembled his family by his side, all of a sudden he was deeply ailing again. he had chills that wouldn't stop. he had a fever that spiked, a
cough that wouldn't stop. his dr. said it is nothing more than the aftereffects of influenza. whatever it was, it wouldn't quit. here's a man who held adolph hitler at bay and he was sick. he was a dying man. some was kept from america and the cat from history. he lost his ability to taste food, he developed a hacking cough that wouldn't stop. his mouth often hung open when he sighed his correspondence and he could barely do more than a scroll. when you you asked him how he felt, this normally stellar president would say rotten, or i feel like hell. his personal dr. wrote it off as nothing more than influenza. at a workup at the naval
hospital they said no, this was advanced heart disease, he would die within a year. and that would prove to be prophetic. at the most critical part of the war, roosevelt was dying. why dwight said the most critical part of the work? because what would take place soon was the most important military event of the entire world war ii which is the impending invasion of the day. also not on the military side but humanitarian side, the greatest humanitarian crisis that humanity has ever faced before which is the impending gassing of up to 1 million jews in hungary at the death camp in auschwitz. every citizen from boston would be put on a train down to washington d.c. and be executed one by one, that is a comparison of what is happening.
what about roosevelt? he had to rest. he had no choice he went down south to recuperate. there as he put in his own words he said, i want to rest and rest, 12 hours a day. well indeed he did. he was supposed to stay there for two weeks, in fact he was so sick and with the war raging around him, he stayed for a full month. despite the sickness the war itself is going well. in may the allies prevailed against the nazis in italy. rome quickly fell, which was a symbol of the axis powers and critical air base was seized by the allies giving them total master of the skies. soon after the date would take place. it was slated slated for the beginning of june. it would be the greatest in
modern history something ever witness. imagine if you you could hundred and 80 soldiers in the waters of the atlantic, over 5000 warships caring these men. over men. over 1000 aircraft that would blanket the skies. it was a military counter ban. if it succeeded it be the greatest military effort in all of human history. however, from, from the early start it looked as though d-day would be aborted because there were problems. dwight eisenhower's are, the new commander-in-chief met with the meteorologists and great storms kicked up and would make visibility impossible so crucial to the command of the skies. it seemed inconceivable they could carry out this invasion with this torrential rain covering hundreds of miles so it
would stretch as far off as hitler was. eisenhower paced around, he sat on the couch and he asked what do we do. he decided to postpone the invasion. he then he then looked over and said very sadly, but how long can we let this invasion hang on. eisenhower was an egg in a so he decided to reconvene his men, his staff in about eight hours. in eight hours the weather was still not looking good. said okay we will meet again in another eight hours. this time when they met he was told by the meteorologists, and 36 hours, 436 hours we hours we will have a break in the weather. there is a small window they could carry out the invasion.
again he was pacing and he called his officers and they were split down the middle. at that point he said well then, we will go. cheers went into the room because thus would now commence this great invasion. picture again the opposition, across the way the head of the soviet, german forces. he said to his officers we must stop the americans on the beaches, and then he said faithfully it will be the longest day. and it was the longest day. soon, imagine what it look like to the germans. the german of the atlantic wall, they looked at the sea and all of a sudden they could see water all they could see was ships coming and coming fast. all of a sudden there is a series series of explosions opening up the skies.
the guides gods opened up they met on the core beaches where they had little opposition. on omaha beach it was ghastly the kind of that all were suffering. they were blown off heads, severed heads, limbs floating in the water. it looked like a catastrophe of irreversible proportions. with the sea behind it retreat was not an option. at one point the american commander would say men, we might as well die on hard ground as we do on the beaches. at that point they began to improvise even though most of their commanders were dead. they kept pushing forward and
soon america happened. they capture the high ground and the battle was theirs and d-day was theirs. it was a successful d-day that hitler's fate would soon be sealed. along the way with this relentless pursuit of victory was something else that was taking place. millions of lives were at risk, jews were going to die at the death camp of austerlitz. picture if you will austerlitz, the crown jewel of the nazis epicenter. day after day, hour after hour, after hour, innocent jews were hurt, elderly, young, children. they were herded to these boxes for third three day trip. there is no food, water, it was hot and they were almost suffocating.
many of the people literally died standing up. on one of the trains coming there were 4000 children. when it pulled into the station they were all dead. they had suffocated along the way. when the trains arrived especially the trains from the hungarian jews, they would look up and see these great plumes of fire reaching 30 feet in the sky. these were the crematorium burning the juice. then i had a terrible stench nothing like they had ever smelled before. this was the flash that was literally being boiled. one girl looked at her father and said daddy, will there be playgrounds here like at home? another? another girl understood more was happening she said of what uses a god in a world in which the only duty is to punish. punishment is exactly what they would do to the jews. can you all hear me by the way?
little did they know that within an hour they would all be nothing but ashes and dust. as they stumbled out of the trains doctors would be screaming at them, barking dogs and they would be a language they didn't understand. jews were beaten every step of the way. a dr. would come on the platform and say right for you, left for you, you, right for you, left for you. right would become the slave labor and worked to death and you would die within a few months. the left you are elderly, a mother, a woman, or woman, or 4-year-old child. always the children. they were taken to the gas chambers. as they were brought to the gas
chambers they were told what would happen is they would be disinfected, they would take a shower. take out their close, some 2000 of thousand of them and be herded into these cold and for bidding rooms that had the showerheads. they be shivering, terrified, and wedged and wedged in like bricks on a driveway. 2000, think of that number 2000 they would be taken care of and one hour. the gas would start filtering out and there be a great trembling, people would rush over other people, children would be crushed and they would try to get to doors with there's air. there screaming and yelling and soon it would become a rattle and soon the rattle would become nothing more than a small little noise. within 20 minutes they would all be dead.
at this point, the germans wasted no time, they would take out the teeth of the dead, they wanted the gold. they would take off the hair because they wanted it for mattresses. the ashes of the people would be used for fertilizer for the roads. as for the living, those not taken to the gas chambers they be so emaciated soon that their hair would fall out, their teeth would fall out, there faces would be classless and they look like living skeletons. children would often be forced to urinate in the beds and that would become their drinking water. what would fdr do? now that the war was going well and d-day invasion was successful. would fdr stop the barbarity taking place, what he put an end to this cruelty? well that was unclear yet.
there is someone in ashwood's itself that resolve to put an end to it. he would escape from ashwood's and along with a comrade from slovakia, he did something no one had done before. he would escape. for three days they hid in a woodpile and for days, thousands of shoulders look for them. they look for them everywhere. eventually they couldn't find them so the search was called off. these men men got out of the cavity and escape from the reaches of auschwitz. they turned around and in one moment saw the flames reaching the skies and they turned around and ran and never looked back. they survived shootout, anti-semites, those hostile to them. after 15 days they were tired, exhausted, worn out out and would make their way to slovakia where they would told the story
of what was taking place. that would make its way to washington d.c. and eventually to fdr itself. the hope was, now, now he will be galvanized into action. what would happen next? it all depend on fdr, the commander-in-chief. think about fdr about fdr for second. this man was remarkable, he was the most amazing commander-in-chief the country has had. he was brilliant at strategy and decision-making. it was out of his imagination that came that kept alive the british and soviet union. it was out of him that came the invasion of north africa in 1942. it was out of him that came the
d-day itself. it was out of his fertile imagination that came the arsenal of democracy that would ultimately doom the german. he was out of his imagination that uplifted americans that worried about the fate of democracy. he seemed to be able to do anything and everything. only. only one thing seem to escape his fertile imagination. that was the fate of the jews dying and the final solution. there is a real paradox here. roosevelt is a gratis humanitarian confronting the greatest military crisis in history and he flinched. why did he not act? to be sure from the beginning it was hard to understand the scale and scope of the barbarity taken place. there is also the fact that what was taking place was shrouded by
secrecy. since 1942, bit by bit, more information leaked out about what was taking place at this terrible death ovens at ashwood's itself. at one point, there is actually anti- net nazi industrialist who is at a party where women wore their finest verse and in hushed voices he heard for the first time talk of the final solution, the attempted murder and to kill every jew on the face of the earth. this man despise the nazi is so hated hitler he actually met hitler once in a business meeting. he so hated him that he risked his own life, boarded a train, went to went to switzerland, met with prominent jews to get the word to fdr. as he put it to his prominent
contacts, he said they're going to be giant cemeteries we must put a stop to it. for 14 months, nothing was done. done. there is not a stop, or an effort. for 14 months roosevelt state department did everything he could to prevent jews from escaping from europe. they were cramming the concepts of europe desperate to come to our shores. you read the new york times the other day about the migrants were trying to come here. it was it not unlike that. they knew if they couldn't get out it was a death sentence for them. but for 14 months nothing was done. ultimately what would happen henry morgan thought, roosevelt's best friend, the two had a lunch each week, he was so disgusted by what took place
that he imperiled his best friendship with roosevelt and decided to write a very stern memo to the president. in the memo he talked about the inaction of the government, the year craddick ineptitude, the obstacle stickles and he labeled the med memo to fdr. he talked about the government acquiescence. fdr was shaken up by this and he called her rare second meeting and even though he was sick and ailing at the time you said what you want. they set up a war refugee board to do nothing but help the jews. in too many cases, in fact millions of cases it was too little too late. having said
said that, there was more action ultimately. then became a great decision, a a debate. should they buy mosh with itself? should they make a symbol to the world that this is what the nazis stood for and the west will not stand for it. it turned out we would not buy mosh wits. john mccoy, the, the point man that roosevelt had in the war department he put up one roadblock after another. he said it was infeasible this could be carried out. it was too great distance. in fact bombers were routinely fine over and by auschwitz. mccoy also said if we buy mosh wits it will create even greater vindictiveness on the part of the germans. but one has to ask, what would be greater and more vindictive than the fact that little children were being herded into gas chambers. so there is one other thing that
was said. it would be a diversion of resources from the war efforts. this is a serious charge and something to be taken seriously. as it turns out when the army rose up against the nazis in warsaw and were being butchered in this terrible weeks of battle. roosevelt sent help to them. he knew full well it would have minimal impact. he did as he told churchill i want to make a symbol to the world that we stand for them. subhash was was not bond. actually that's not totally true, it was bombed at one point, but it was bombed by mistake. they ran into their shelters and did everything they could to shoot down the american planes but the jews that were there, they cheered. they said we did not fear death,
at least least not that kind of death. and others said we prayed to god that these planes were calm. so what would happen for the rest of the war in 1944? roosevelt was dying, he would dying, he would meet with stalin and churchill one last time. he had only two months left to live. they were not talking about what was taking place - wits abut the postwar settlements. his. his vision of the united nations. then the battle of the bold, the last effort of adolf hitler. the battle of the bulge and it was clear the war was about to be over. after bitter fighting and after fdr died, hitler committed suicide, ironically. weirdly almost even he would die at the same time of day as with fdr. german would surrender in the
soviet union would liberate nausea wits. when i got there they were stunned by the images. again think about what you saw with the little boy in the new york times the other day who washed up on the beach dead. they were stunned by what they saw. human beings reduced to bony sticks. human beings, dead, bloated course corpses. human beings with eyes that were nothing but sockets. when they saw the americans, they cheered like mad. what was what was the response of the americans? it was quite something, eisenhower himself said, now we finally know what we were fighting for. imagine those words ringing in your ears. now we finally know what we are fighting for. how do we interpret 1944? the wars and, when germans surrender, huge crowds gathered
across the world, long live the great americans, long live fdr. people danced in london, paris, and america. this was as churchill put it so eloquently, the, the greatest outburst of joy in mankind. roosevelt had won the war and here then was a triumphant fruits of 1944. then the fact that one other thing took place. roosevelt, after all he had done, in a way missed what i would call his mat the patient proclamation moment. think of abraham lincoln if you will for a second. lincoln in the throes of this terrible civil war that consumed 620,000 lives, he did it despite opposition and the north, despite opposition in his own political party and cabinet. two issued the emancipation proclamation which would free the slaves and would make the
war not just about union, and or keeping the union together but about something more profound. it made it it about freedom, liberation, it gave it a higher purpose. roosevelt never quite did that with the final solution. sometimes in a hush, sometimes in a shout, shout, what we see as a result. there are millions of death that torment us, this was the other fruit of 1944. so what is 1944? 1944 is a story of great triumph. it is a story of heroic actions by fighters and soldiers of america. it is a story of fdr's magnificent leadership. it is the story of the most profound war that america ever fought and a story of leadership and decisions made. 1944 is also a story of
decisions not made. is a story of tragedy, story of millions of lives who somehow slipped through our fingers. in the end, 1944 is the four is the greatest of years we can imagine. it is also one of the saddest. thank you very much. [applause]. okay i will take questions. >> hello. i was wondering what you think would have changed, if you could paint a broad picture of what you think would've changed if henry wallach would have remained on the ticket in the
1944 democratic convention and succeeded roosevelt instead of truman. >> well that is a very funny thing because that is a question, my guide asked me. isn't that what you asked me? oh you asked about burns. oh we have david mccullough here at this festival since he wrote a book about truman. it is not the subject of my book but i certainly think that we would be living in a very different world. i feel strongly, and steve from the washington post said leaders make a difference in history. that is the reason we fight so much over,-why we have elections in my there so highly contested. there is only one george washington, only one abraham lincoln, only one fdr. and i guess we can say only one retreatment. truman laid out the architect sure for the cold war.
that 40 year struggle. if it were wallace or anyone else it's not clear whether that would've happened. your question reviews how important individual leaders are. >> two quick questions, one is who is the polish diplomat you described or did he escape and bring the news of the death camps. >> did all of you hear the question she asked about jan carsey who actually taught at georgetown for many years. he was a polish official and part of the underground. he was not the one who escapes. the one who escaped was rudolph, a 19-year-old the lockean who was registered in the can. this is worth a hollywood movie
and were talking about it now. he had a phenomenal memory, he had phenomenal health and he was like a cat with nine lives. when everyone else else withered away in auschwitz, somehow he prevailed so he could do something no one else had done. escape from these watchtowers, these machine guns, these members of the gestapo. now what he did was infiltrate a satellite camp and he was bowled over by what he saw. again like nothing ever e anessed in humanity. satellite camp and he was bowled over by what he saw. again like nothing ever witnessed in humanity. people stumbling along like living skeletons, literally like the walking dead. he came back and had a meeting with roosevelt, the meeting was supposed to be half an hour, turned out to be a full hour. it is reported that very few things shook up roosevelt. after this meeting roosevelt was shaken up and he said you go
back and you tell your people they have a friend in the white house. he came out and was very impressed by that. and set all we have a friend in the white house. but the polish ambassador said yes but when it comes to the jews nothing but platitudes. roosevelt was a great charmer, he was very careful to never overcommit himself and this is one of that instance. >> thank you so much for your talk, you mentioned that f fdr dithered a little bit. i was wondering if you uncovered a little of that in your research. the second question as the allies were closing in on the concentration camps, i've heard their efforts by the ss just
speed up, did you find that as well question mark. >> he has two questions one is the allies were liberating the camps and winning the war did they speed up the effort to kill the jews? and was there any anti- salmon and some on the part of fdr. i looked at this very carefully, when they are very young, fdr and eleanor who came from a very high society of america. they live from one black tie affair to another, there there are sort of prisoners of theg i time. there may have been a hint of not wanting to be socially around jews but by the time the war came i think it is safe to say that fdr didn't have one anti- somatic bone in his body. at one point he said and i find this very and lightning and
profound, he said i don't care whether you're jewish, christian, catholic, what matters is we have a spiritual side and we care about god and humaniref. that's what matters to me. i don't think in any sense. however, i think i think it is certain within the state department there were elements of anti-semitism enough so that at one point henry morgan saw, the treasure sec. confronted breckisaw,idge in a meeting. he said frankly breck, i have to tell you there are number of people who think youlige a litte antir, omatic. those anti- somatic. those are strong words. that was among the state department. eleanor was a passionate defender of the jews. she wrote column after column and later said the inabiliref of the administration to do more to
help the jews was the greatest mistake they had made. in terms of the germans speeding up the execution, yes. when dda was one and allies were closing in, when soviets were coming in from the east, when americans and british were coming from the west and it was a pincher movement to put a chokehold on the nazis. the not these at that point tried to cover up their crimes of the death camps and try to dihink antle the gas chambers e. there are great debt death marks as they are moving the jews into the satellite cam no in germany itself from poland. there were long columns of people. i wrote about robert e lee's escape from richmond near the end of the war and some 30,000 men thousand men and long column stretching out these weary souls. imagine what it was like with these jews with no food, no water, if they stuellled they would get shot in the head. they would become the workers
that would actually help in hitler's world and carry out an imaginary struggle of the war. >> i recently read another book and one of the impressions i got was one of the issues was fdr was not that hands-on. he would appoint someone and pick the personaliref and let them go. and then just sort a balance between people in the cabinet. >> what he asked was was fdr handr bon or not? did that have anything to do with all of this? fdr was a brilliant politicnd t in the book i say he had the charms of thomas jefferson, the persona of george washington, the wily instincts of abraham lincoln, and the populace instinct seven andrew
jackson. he was an incredible politician, and an incredible leader. what is interesting is a however hands on he may or may not have been, frankly almost aredost every day at 5:00 a.m. he had something called the children's hour where he would have advisors are good friends come in and he would mix the drinks and because he was a cripple this was an activity and activiref would energize him. they would never talk about politics. his days when not always be the toughest of days, sometimes he had a light schedule. i think it is safe to say that it all the major decisions that came not from his staff, not from his generals, they came out of what i put earlier, his fertile imagine natiover u it was done in shat hte of what
marshall said they said that invasion would go down as the blackest day in american history. how wrong could they have been. roosevelt was able to peer out into the distance and in so many maes r decisions it was his doing. even when they were getting assistance from - lynn was aboacl the ship sunning himself for days. he looked at a a note from hemingway that gave him tips and it was on that ship that he came up with the idea by hi do elf. i think it is safe to say that whatever happens, happen because because roosevelt wanted it to happen. >> there were two other leaders
in the world at this time, stalin and churchill. cpenrchill had an ag i force. stalin may nt have but he probably had some plans that would get over there. stalin would've knorti communiss would've been in that camps, he would've had a motivatiover u dd you did you get anything out of that. >> know he asked if these efforts ever came up with donna churchill. in stalin's case,'s case, thefromey had brutally murdered millions of people. as he put it what is one or 2 million people, nelfody will remeeller those riffraff's in generations from now. on the other on the other hand churchill, had a very different reg.onse. he called it the greatest crime that humanity has ever seen or witnessed in its entg ie histor. he told his foreign minister, he said bombers camps use my name, get everything you can out of it. at the at the end it didn't happen because of bureaucratic crossed wires and because they couldn't do it with the americans. i think we are near the end, you
called them you all have been great. thank you for cominron [applause]. [inaudible] >> you are watching book tv. television for serious readers. you can watch any program you see here online at book tv.org. >> here's a look at some books that are bthink ng published ths week. infromilling rease.n, bill o'rey of fox news look at the how
ronald rease.n shaped his political career. in rfk junior, they profile the lives of an attorney and environmental activist relfert f kemaeedy junior, nephew of pres. es hn f. kennedy. also being religious religious in near and distant nthink ghbors, it invests. hates the history of the soviet union's intelligence service. william mccance, a felisiow loos at the rise of the islamic state in the apocalypse. john noris explores the life of the first woman to win the nelfl prdrie for commentar@ the isiook for these titles at bookstores this coming week.
watch for the authors in the near future on book t th. >> pulitzer prize winning reporter john markoff whose work appears in the new york times tar, hs about the current and future relationship between humans and robots. >> john marar@ff has been seen around the corners of the future as one of the nation's top technology writers since he es ined the naãyork times in 1988's. in 2013 he won the pulitzer prize for his reporting as part of a team of naãyork times reporters. is a frequent houston martyr raider for a revolutionary series and we love john for a revolutionary series and we lfor ae jlitzn for all of those reasons. we have a special affection of john for other reasons as welhaa he is a grew up and went to hs. hh school here he started covering technology in silicon valley in 16.