3-421 Memorandum for the President, November 23, 1942

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 23, 1942

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for the President

November 23, 1942 [Washington, D.C.]

To replace the series of lectures given newly inducted soldiers as to why we are in the war, etc., a series of seven films is in course of preparation. The first one covers the period from the Limitation of Armaments Conference in 1921 up to the eve of the occupation of Czechoslovakia. The other films cover the Czechoslovakian-Polish campaign, the Fall of France, the Battle of Britain, the Russian War, the Chinese War, and the events since Pearl Harbor.

The first in the series, “Why We are in the War” [“Prelude to War”], is already in use in the various Army reception and training centers, and avoids the mediocre and tiresome talks by officers. As an introduction to the series, Frank Capra, the director, used an extract from a talk I gave to the West Point cadets, as follows:

“We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand—of overwhelming power on the other.

“No compromise is possible and the victory of the democracies can only be complete with the utter defeat of the war machines of Germany and Japan.”1

Those who have seen the picture think that it should be given a general release but in that case I feel that it should have an introduction by you rather than by me. May we have some such message?

The film requires about 53 minutes and is a remarkable picture of events and Axis “build-ups” leading up to our entry into the war, in which you and Mr. Stimson appear, and in which Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito, and various subordinate Japanese, German and Italian leaders are shown making their appeals to mob psychology.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. See Marshall Speech to the Graduating Class, May 29, 1942, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-205 [3: 212-4].

2. The first of the “Why We Fight” film series, “Prelude to War,” was released to the general public in 1943. The film won the Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the best documentary film of 1942. (Capra, Name Above the Title, pp. 346, 349-50.) See Marshall to Holman, February 9, 1943, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #3-506 [3: 538-39].

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 449-450.

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