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Army film showing US involvement in war from 1917 to 1938

Film | Accession Number: 1994.119.1 | RG Number: RG-60.1112 | Film ID: 932

Orientation Film no. 7, Reel 3. International events cause the US to enter into World War II. A crane moves a large object. Aerial views of highways and tall buildings. People pour out of subway stations and masses walk along the street. Men, women and children walk into a church and various shots of them attending service. The narrator talks of war and how Americans "bend over backwards to avoid it." Cars pass on the street and a beach is crowded with people. A presumably dead body lies in a field and a few others float up to a desolate shore.

05:02:48 A tile card reads "1917." Several cannons are fired, US troops run across a battleground in France, and planes fly overhead. Tanks, explosions, and foot soldiers. The narrator explains that "before most of you fighting men were born," the United States was victorious in World War I and the belief was that war would be avoided for the next generation. In New York City, Armistice Day is celebrated by cheering crowds who throw confetti, dance, march in parades, and wave flags. Large naval ships are blown up and a map shows the US Army shrinking from 3,700,000 in 1918 to 134,000 in 1925. A few shots of Europe are followed by views of various Asian landmarks.

05:03:43 "In 1931, while most of you were playing ball in the sandlots," the narrator states, "Japan invaded Manchuria." Smoke covers the sky as Japanese troops run carrying their flag. A soldier looks at the scene through binoculars, men march through city streets, and captives are tied to poles. Conquerers wave a flag over the city. The Capitol Building and a newspaper headline announces that Secretary of State Henry Stimson "denounces Japanese Aggression." His face is superimposed on the image as he gives a speech saying that the US will not acknowledge any territory taken by force. A man stands at a podium surrounded by people and a newspaper reading "Bonus March On Capital" fades into a shot of men marching in D.C. Chains block an employee entrance, men in breadlines receive food, and a drive-by shooting takes place at night. The Dust Bowl is shown through shots of a bleak house and a landscape where the only sign of life is a farm animal in the distance. Cars drive down a dirt road and a man plays with his child outside a tent.

05:04:49 "In 1933, while most of you were graduating from high school, we read that a funny little man called Hitler, had come to power in Germany." A graduation class sits onstage as the audience looks on. A man reaches into a bin and pulls out a paper announcing Hitler's election as chancellor. Nazis parade, waving flags and carrying posters of Hitler, as he stands watching with other officials. A sign reads "Heil Hitler" and fireworks go off. In Berlin, a large military display takes place and line after line of soldiers stand at attention. Men play instruments, Hitler salutes, and a quote reads, "Today we rule Germany, tomorrow the world." Several shots of Nazis marching and Hitler looks on.

05:05:43 People dance around a large room and 1935 is introduced. The narrator says that, "About the time you had your first date," Mussolini attacked Ethiopia. A man sits in a lawn chair and reads the announcement in a newspaper. Planes fly in formation and bombs drop onto land below. A soldier bangs a drum, large crowds of men walk through streets, and Haile Selassie visits the front lines. More soldiers march and guns fire causing people to run. Congress assembles as Sen. Hiram Johnson gives a speech saying that they want no war. The Neutrality Act of 1935 is explained and text states, "No arms for sale to nations at war."

05:06:35 News of civil war in Spain reaches the US in 1936, "While you were running around in jalopies." Kids stand around and wave to a friend who drives off in his car and an audience sits in a small theater watching a newsreel. People run through Spanish streets with guns and a man throws a grenade into a window. German planes drop bombs on cities below as civilians flee in fear. Rubble litters the streets, men pick up a fallen child, and various shots of grieving victims are shown. A man gets of a train and shakes hands with a smiling Hitler.

05:07:29 In November of 1936, the American Institute of Public Opinion takes a poll asking if America should participate in another World War. Men sit around a table and flip through papers and a wide range of people answer questions from surveyors. A graphic shows that 95% of the population answered no. Many different people are seen mouthing their disdain. The Cash and Carry Amendment is created and text reads, "Raw materials only, but come and get them." An illustration demonstrates how countries had to send their own ships to the US and pay in cash.

05:08:17 1937 is introduced as a newsroom is shown and someone types the flash, "Japanese launch all out China war." Planes fly over a naval ship waving Japan's flag. Guns fire, bombs drop, and people in the streets scatter. Dead bodies are strewn over streets and loaded into the back of a wagon. Another poll is taken in September 1937 which states that the American population is 43% sympathetic towards China, 2% towards Japan, and 55% undecided. A man sits in a chair and flips his paper from the headline "Bomb Canton" to the comic strips. Industrial machines demonstrate the continued sale of gasoline and scrap iron to Japan.

05:09:25 It's March 1938 and Hitler speaks to men surrounding him. Nazi soldiers march across a map indicating Germany's occupation of Austria. In September, a man distributes a newspaper declaring that "Powers Sign Munich Pact." Officials representing Britain and France stand with Hitler and sign a treaty stating that they will give him Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia on the condition that he promises peace. More soldiers march across the map and Hitler salutes troops.

Event:  1917-1938
Production:  1942
New York, NY, United States
Berlin, Germany
Washington, DC, United States
Shanghai, China
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 21:56:25
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