(Roughly) Daily

Bringing the war home…


In September of 1939, Americans were reading of the outbreak of war.  Nazi Germany invaded Poland, thus ending any pretense that Hitler’s goal was ‘peace in our time.’  Poland’s main allies, Britain and France, promptly declared war on Germany.  And though the Nazi’s only avowed goal at the time was winning the Polish campaign, the phrase ‘Second World War’ was first widely used.

The U.S. at the time was swathed in a peaceful cocoon; newspaper editors and the wire services that supplied them struggled to find ways to communicate what was unfolding abroad– a challenge colored by each paper’s politics.  The Isolationist-Interventionist debate in the U.S. was reaching a boil.  Some papers encouraged their readers appreciate the enormity of the events in Europe; others did their best to minimize them…

The map above, created by Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA, as in the bottom right of the image), a syndication service specializing in both images (comics and pictures) and features, was delivered to over 700 newspapers across the country.  Its caption read:

All this talk about history-making battles waged, armies on the march and territory taken sounds big in the day’s war news, but how small it is in American terms may be seen from the map above. Shifted to the American scene, European armies might fight their battles on the Maginot-Siegfried lines in the center of Illinois. This would put London about where Minneapolis is, Paris at Des Moines, Berlin at Toledo, Warsaw at Washington.

Read the whole story at Strange Maps‘ “All Quiet on the Illinois Front.”


As we ponder proximity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1943 that Joseph Stalin, Premier of the Soviet Union, issued Order No. 227– what came to be known as the “Not one step backward” order– in response to German advances into Russian territory.  It declared: “Panic makers and cowards must be liquidated on the spot.  Not one step backward without orders from higher headquarters!  Commanders…who abandon a position without an order from higher headquarters are traitors to the Fatherland.”

1945 Soviet postage stamp with the famous phrase “Not One Step Backwards”.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 27, 2013 at 1:01 am

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