Racial Disparities in the United States

The scenario of total war during the Second World War caused some significant changes in civilian employment during WWII.
Even with the vast numbers of men who left their workplaces to fight in Europe, the civilian employment rose from 46 000 000 to over 53 000 000.
This was possible due to the ample pool of unemployment that had been developing during the great depression.
When the U.S. entered the war, they experienced a demand for man power that had not been seen since the First World War. The pool of unemployment was quickly drying up and eventually a labor shortage had been reached, Because of this demand, unconventional sources of labor were being sought. Women and minority groups gained an increased importance at the workplace which caused major changes in perspectives and societal understandings during and after the war.

This is one example where the scenario of total war actually aided in the social and economic progress of a suppressed racial group. African Americans gained a stronger voice as they increased demands for the integration of their labor forces. Since their labor now became an asset, President Roosevelt agreed to sign Executive Order 8802. This prohibited racial discrimination in job training programs and by defense contractors and established a Fair Employment Practices Committee to ensure that it was followed.

Some conflict was to follow as the African Americans increased their demands on equality as their contributions to defense industries. (2,000,000 blacks were at work in defense industries)
For example in 1943
, white mobs invaded the black section of Detroit.
However there again where positive aspects such as the fact that Lynching virtually died out, several states outlawed discriminatory voting practices, and others adopted fair employment laws.

Militarily, African americans were a significant source of man power. They represented approximately 11% of all registrants liable for service and constituted approximately that proportion in all branches of the military.
The military still practiced segregation in WWII and even denied some rights to blacks in the military (at times this included the right to bear arms). Although some blacks attained high rankings in the military, none where granted the Congressional Medal of Honor. Many feel that they have been cheated out of their noble military history and are not recognized for their contributions.

Army inductions by race, July 1, 1944-December 31, 1945 United States and Territories

Accumulative to June 30, 1944
July-Dec. 1944
Jan.-June 1945
July-Dec. 1945
Accumulative to Dec. 31, 1945
All Races




Puerto Rican



The segregation meant that the blacks were confined to a handful of units in the Army who would often be reduced to messmen in the Navy and baited completely from the Air Corps and Marines. This prompted race riots, militancy and mass demonstrations across the United States. Many African-Americans worked towards the promotion of Black involvement in the military because of their desire to prove their mettle and demonstrate their involvement in society. But neither Roosevelt nor Congress dealt with the plight of Black soldiers who were discriminated against and continued to be banned from combat.
But despite makeshift training, terrible living conditions and the "mental anguish of fighting two wars - one against the Japanese and Germans and one against American racism," the african americans fighting in the military earned many unrecorded decorations of honor (such as purple hearts) as well as other honors that were denied because of race. Ultimately they demonstrated their common desire for victory together with the whites through their push for militancy and equality.

www.army.mil/cmh/documents/**WWII**/minst.htm ( source of statistical information)

Anti-German Sentiment

Anti-Japanese Sentiment

Total War and its Effects of Full Employment

Civilian and military losses

Psychological Impact

  • Holocaust
The Holocaust during the World War 2 was a tragic point in history which many people neglect to believe it ever happened. Not only did this tragic event affect the survivors, it also affected everyone in connection. It was lucky for the survivors who made it, but there are times when their memories flashback to make them wish they were the ones who died instead of having to live with the horrible repercussions. The psychological effects of the Holocaust on various people including the Jews, the survivors of the ghettos and camps, may vary to some extent, yet it is profoundly similar.
However, we cannot disregard the psychological effects of the First World War. Millions of people had experienced mass slaughter all over the world, and they had been very damaging to all the individuals who had to live through such harsh conditions. The common integrity had been abandoned by the mass armies. Unlike most wars from the past where it had been fought by the minorities of the population, it was the first time that every individual participated in the war. The traditional aristocracies had lost control of the people, due to the lack of progress in mutual cooperation, which is an essential need for democracy. In harsh conditions, people were more susceptible to extremes, especially to the fascist leaders. In the name of "patriotism", harsh militarism was encouraged and for those who had to live through the First World War, was not very pleased when the Second War was declared.

  • Methods of getaway from reality
Since the traumatic impact of the Holocaust was both upon the individual and the collective, most individuals made efforts to start anew with their new families in order to replace the families that had been lost. Individuals worldwide are victims of war when the international community is involved in a total war as such. In order for the victims to resist dehumanization and deterioration and to find support, the members of such groups shared stories about the past, hopes of the future and general literature for an inspiration for hope, love - for both personal and general human optimism. Imagination was an important means of liberation from the frustrating reality by opening an outlet for the formulation of plans for the distant future, and by spurring the mournful to positive action.

  • Picasso's work during the WWII

"Still Life Skull Jug" 1945
"Charnel House" 1944-5


  • An example of literature work during the WWII

September 1, 1939

by W.H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-Second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade :
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives ;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god :
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave ;
Analysed them all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief :
We must suffer them all again.
Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse :
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream ;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day :
The lights must never go out
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home ;
Lest we should see where we are
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish :
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart ;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.
From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow ;
‘I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work.’
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game :
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb ?
All I have is a voice
To undo the unfolded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky :
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone ;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police ;
We must love one another or die.
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies ;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic flashes of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages :
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame


World War 2 propaganda, film, cartoons, music and art : http://www.teacheroz.com/WWIIpropaganda.htm

"After the war is over … PTSD symptoms in World War II veterans"

(by:Margaret Lindorff )

This is an analysis of investigation done on psychological effects of war service on Australian World War 2 veterans. The survivors were asked for recollection of the battle, description of the effect of such intense and disastrous war. Many showed instabilities and inability to cope with their experience, through nightmares, sleeplessness, and negative imagery, problems with concentration, weeping, anxiety, distress and horrifying flashbacks.

“ I was discharged in September 1945 and returned to my job, but could not settle down and left the job in October 1946, returning to my old trade... That job did not last long either…”.

“As for my time, after being discharged, I was hopeless. Couldn't settle down, although had a wonderful wife, two lovely kids…

“I guess none of us have fully got over the time we were away. I suffer from nerves and anxiety; sleepless nights and most nights lay awake and think about the whole rotten episode in my life”. Another veteran said “I took my memories of ghastly experiences on a refresher course every time I saw war pictures on television, and never slept well”.

“I still suffer nightmares out of this. I went away fit and came back not very fit…”. Another stated “You never really get it our of your mind. In my case, I still have dreams…I often wonder how I went through that horrific maelstrom and came out alive”

“The humidity caused me to have a constant headache and fingers and toes, and under my armpits would stick together. This effect is still with me today, cannot use an electric blanket or a sleeping bag without getting claustrophobia”.

“I try to cast the gory details from my mind but that's hard when you can still see your dead mates laying there”

Even though many veterans hope to forget the experience at the battle, the memories remain vividly in the minds of all veterans. They spend many restless nights and are horrified by the gory images from the battle, such as their comrades dying in front of them. The veterans' descriptions of the experiences of the war are compatible with the three clusters of PTSD symptoms (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); of arousal, re-experiencing and avoidance. A suggestion shows that there is a possibility that the veterans might accept the psychological consequences of war in the same way they accepted the reality of war, and subsequent physical consequences. “They carry the mental scars in the same way as they would carry physical scars.”


Refugees and poverty

The Formation of the United Nations