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World War II Quotes

They Said It

"If my neighbor's house catches fire and I know that fire will spread to my house unless it is put out, and I am watering the grass in my back yard, and I don't pass my garden hose over the fence to my neighbor, I am a fool."

- President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a White House advisor, June 1940
"I hear those Japs done declared war on you white folks."

- A black sharecropper to his white landlord, c. 1942
"America's got lots of problems, but Hitler won't fix them."- African-American GI and heavyweight champion Joe Louis, c. 1942"The army was an experience unlike anything I've had in my life. I think of two armies, one black, one white. I saw German prisoners free to move around the camp, unlike black soldiers, who were restricted. The Germans walked right into the doggone places like any white American. We were wearin' the same uniform, but we were excluded." – Dempsey Travis, a writer and African-American war veteran, c. 1980."To get home you had to end the war. To end the war was the reason you fought it. The only reason."- Paul Fussell, war veteran and historian, c. 1989"This Jap had been hit. One of my buddies was field-stripping him for souvenirs. I must admit it really bothered me, the guys dragging him around like a carcass. I was just horrified. This guy had been a human being. It didn't take me long to overcome that feeling. A lot of my buddies hit, the fatigue, the stress. After a while, the veneer of civilization wore pretty thin."

- E.B. "Sledgehammer" Sledge, a U.S. Marine who fought on the Pacific Front during the war, c. 1980
"It was so savage. We were savages... We had all become hardened. We were out there, human beings, the most highly developed form of life on earth, fighting each other like wild animals."

- E.B. "Sledgehammer" Sledge, a U.S. Marine who fought on the Pacific Front during the war, c. 1980
"You saw those things in the movies, you saw the newsreels. But you were of an age when your country wasn't even in the war. It seemed unreal. All of a sudden, there you were right in the thick of it and people were dying and you were scared out of your wits that you'd have your head blown off."- Robert Rasmus, a veteran who was drafted into the U.S. Army at the age of 18, c. 1980"The alternative to surrender is prompt and utter destruction."

- Allied leaders to Japan, July 1945
"I say yes, that bomb was a ghastly thing. I was in Hiroshima and I stood at ground zero. I saw deformities that I'd never seen before. I know there are genetic effects that may affect generations of survivors and their children. I'm aware of all this. But I also know that had we landed in Japan, we would have faced greater carnage than Normandy. It would probably have been the most bloody invasion in history. Every Japanese man, woman, and child was ready to defend that land... So I feel split about Hiroshima. The d--- thing probably saved my life."

- Ted Allenby, a writer who had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 at the age of 18, c. 1980

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