World War II | Texas Public Radio

World War II

Marking 75 Years Since V-E Day

May 8, 2020

When the caskets of three young men — all who died in World War II — arrived in their Missouri hometown, their father, a widower named Henry Wright, was waiting at the local train station to take his boys home.

The caskets carried the remains of his sons Frank, Harold and Elton Wright.

Sgt. Frank Wright was killed on Christmas Eve in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge.

Private Harold Wright died of his wounds in a German prison camp on February 3, 1945. And Private Elton Wright was killed in Germany on April 25 — two weeks before the war ended.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies filling in today for Terry Gross. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, Americans and citizens of many countries are getting a new look at their national leaders, evaluating their performance in a moment of crisis. Our guest today, author Erik Larson, has a new book about one of the most renowned leaders of the 20th century, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and his leadership during some of the darkest hours of World War II.

Alina Dabrowska was 20 years old when she first heard about Auschwitz. She was an inmate at a prison in Nazi-occupied Poland — incarcerated for helping Allied forces — and one day in 1943, while walking the grounds, a new arrival warned her about it.

"She said, 'You're all going to Auschwitz! Do you know what kind of camp that is?' " Dabrowska recalls. "She told us that if someone is out of strength, they were immediately killed. She told us many horrible things. None of us believed her."

George Wunderlich / AMEDD

Two new exhibits at the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston celebrate the work of medics during World War II.  

The U.S. Navy says it will name an aircraft carrier after Doris "Dorie" Miller, the African American mess attendant who heroically leapt into combat during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It marks the first time that an aircraft carrier has been named for an African American, and the first time a sailor has been so honored for actions taken as an enlisted man.

Three years ago, a small film crew drove into the Austrian Alps in search of a remote valley. It would serve as one of the settings for Terrence Malick's vision of paradise.

"We'd taken a big, big risk when we decided to go," says the film's producer Grant Hill. "We had next to no funds. [We] felt, for some reason, we'd work that out as we went along — which, I wouldn't advise doing it again that way, but it worked. And this combination of the mountain background, the faces on the people, the weather really did — I mean, it was otherworldly."

On Sept. 1, 1939, at around 4:48 a.m., an aged German battleship opened fire on a Polish port outside the northern city of Danzig. Strategic bridges were hit at the same time, and air raids began shortly after.

Then, German troops poured over the border.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET

"The wartime generation — my generation — is resilient, and I am delighted to be with you in Portsmouth today," Britain's Queen Elizabeth II said Wednesday, as she kicked off a two-day commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France that reshaped World War II.

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez

The Voces Oral History Project marks its second decade in 2019. The project’s founder, Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, said they’ve “gotten very fancy” in the last 20 years.


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