tv Jay Winik on 1944 CSPAN November 26, 2015 1:07pm-1:50pm EST
they really represent the people of china. i'm just wondering is there outside influence on the leadership of china quacks is the leadership of china chosen from outside influence, meaning that people who control the money in the world? >> guest: i'll tell you something interesting which is about how the leadership is constituted in china. i think for many of us in the united states it's hard to imagine how leadership in china is chosen because they don't have anything approximating or remotely familiar democratic system. the leadership basically if you will be a chinese later you come up to the communist party, move up, go through different jobs and eventually but there's a lot of internal politicking that goes on, a lot of horse trading between regions and families. that are very powerful families and clans in the system. they are powerful industries. if you come out of the military
that represents one interest group. it has a kind of internal politics but to question would indicate to what degree are people accountable to the public. they are not fully accountable to the public in the way we would recognize year but one thing you've seen over the last few years is they can no longer afford to be unaware of what people care about and what they want so they have to now fall the web followed closely people talk about online. they have to try to keep the sense of be one step ahead of where public opinion is. public opinion matters in china but the thing the communist party worries most about all of all is unrest. so they're trying to prevent what can be discontent from becoming political instability. >> host: president nixon 1972, jimmy carter in 1978. which was the most significant? >> guest: i think no question that nixon going to china was a pivotal moment in the 20th century a transform the trajectory of china in ways that
it is even hard for us to imagine at that time. i think it's sometimes useful to remind ourselves because it was a politically brave thing for nixon to done to imagine that you could go over to red china as it was known at the time, and to make yourself vulnerable in that way. we are facing a really interesting moment right now which is where trying to decide the is china going to be a rival, an opponent, an enemy enemy, or is it going to be a partner, a strength partner brad, never a perfect ally. but there are so many who share concerns today, things that are not solvable unless these countries to get out a way to do. climate change. i'm hoping the next generation of american leaders isn't going to say it is a pathway for us to do this. confrontation is not inevitable. >> host: omar calling from tampa. go ahead. you're the last call. >> caller: thank you very much. thank you. just a question on higher
education. in the past year or so there's been a crackdown on western values, textbooks from top level. i wonder if you have any observations or insights into that especially given your reference to the need for chinese creativity. >> guest: something that's been on the mind of law. there's been a very clear effort to try to limit and reduce the effect of western influence on university campuses. there was a specific edict that said you should no longer be using western tech books. this is what you're seeing, this collusion between the short-term priority a long-term priority for long-term china knows what needs to go. and its degenerate the indigenous innovation, the sorts of wild ideas, disrupted ideas. out in the short term as this political priority. witches that is trying to maintain control over people's
lives, and that is an essential contradiction. i think that textbook example which rightly we paid a lot of attention to this year as a sign of how much struggle, how much to reduce their control over people's lives. i think over the long term though there is no question they simply cannot afford to keep a handle on the ideas that people pursue and information they want to read. that's how you become a vibrant, dynamic society. >> host: "age of ambition" here's the book. "age of ambition: chasing fortune, truth and faith in the new china" in the new china. evan osnos, winner of the national book award has been our guest. >> and next jay winik taken in to look at the year 1944. [applause] >> thank you very much for that introduction. i just want to give, welcome the lights out for a really bright. i just want to give a quick
thanks to our librarian of congress for all that is done to make this possible. as well as my friend laura bush. this was their stepchild or the brainchild. and more than anything else i just want to thank all of you, the readers for whom this exists your door the lifeblood of books and as much as we love this festival, we hope you love the festival, and thank you so much for coming. [applause] >> now, let me just take you right into 1944. 1944, it was inevitable that the war would end as it did or an adult that he would end at all? along the line the allies were pinned up against tenacious nazi divisions along the line. in the east the soviet union was making threats that they would make peace with the nazis even at this late stage.
in other words, in 1944 the war and humanity remain very much in doubt. the war would commence from their would be the most at the year of the war and, indeed, of the 20th century and is not in modern history. it's against this drawback that fdr and winston churchill would meet in egypt to discuss what was going to happen next in terms of the war, in terms of strategy, tactics. as they themselves were about to meet with the soviet head of state joseph stalin. consider this remarkable partnership if you will for a moment. here was a churchill, legendary oratory, through the strength of will, through his character ando refused to give up and given against the german third reich. it was churchill who one by one as you fell to the nazis, poland, czechoslovakia, poland, and the something applicable france was living under a nazi swastika. but at no point were churchill give up and no point would you
give in until the u.s. finally entered the fray and fought for a long as i get it was fdr, the american president come fdr was crippled by polio come fdr was a legendary charmer whose oratory was the stuff of legend. and he was fdr demand who tamed the depression unaffected a deeply ailing country when it was in the throes of depression and people actually worried that revolution to take place. and these two come in the hands of these two great men would come the rest of the war. had, in fact, very briefly as their meeting in egypt at one point churchill burst into fdr's room and he said mr. president, i've arranged a trip for us. we must go see the pyramids. and, indeed, they noted out at sunset. these two men, the best of friends, and as the sun was setting, they were looking at the sphinx and churchill thought to himself, i wonder what she
has to say. and then looked over to roosevelt and he said, i just love that name. what did roosevelt sake with roosevelt said nothing. he was as inscrutable as the sphinx which would be telling in the fateful months to come as 1944 would commence. soon they would all meet in tehran with the soviet dictator, joseph stalin, and a conference would begin to decide what would happen next in the war. the conference was tumultuous, a lot of back and forth, discussions of tactics, strategy, of the pacific, of the normandy invasion that stalin wanted to take place. and then at one point something rather dramatic happened and it wasn't in terms of battle plans, was in terms of tanks or missiles. it was all of a sudden roosevelt started to sweat. that's what filter down his face and he felt pain and he couldn't speak. he was quickly rushed out of the
room away from churchill and away from stolen. he met with doctors, doctors diagnosed him as nothing more than indigestion but clearly it was much more than. it was an omen of things to come. eventually roosevelt felt better and they finished the conference. as they finished they came up with an important decision. that the day would take place after all with stalin, the day with indentation to the western front against the germans and it would take place in the early june. and then roosevelt also chose dwight eisenhower as the commander of the forces. so with that the conference was a success. so far away from the battlefields of europe, far away from the men dying daily day after day and buoyed by hopes for the future, hopes of success come fdr returned home feeling that all would be well in the war. then at christmas time as they
were reading charles dickens and roosevelt assembled his family by side all of a sudden he was deeply ailing again. he had chills that would that stop you develop a fever that spike. he had a cough that would not go away. is doctor said it was nothing more than after effects of influenza. but whatever it was it would not quit. so he was the man who had tamed depression, had held off hitler at the end he was deeply sick. how sick? in that roosevelt was a dying man. something he kept from the american people and for mr. he began to lose his ability to taste food as a uniquely picked at his trade and he wasted away. you develop a hacking cough that would not stop. is not often hung open when he signed his correspondence and he could barely eat more than a school. and, indeed, when asked him how he felt, this normally still the
question would say what? or i feel like he'll. in other words, he was very sick. again his personal doctor in the white house wrote it off as nothing more than the influence of but at a workup at bethesda naval hospital they said no, this was a congestive heart failure and if dramatic action were not taken he would die within a year. those words would prove to be prophetic. so here than at the most critical part of the war roosevelt was dying. widely see the most critical part? because what would assume to be the most important military event of the entirety of this world war ii to be the impending invasion of d-day. and then also something that would take place that was rather profound come in would be not on the military side by the humanitarian sector the greatest humanitarian crisis humanity has ever faced before which was the impending gassing of up to 1 million jews at the death camp of auschwitz.
it would be as if every citizen from boston were put on a train, train down to washington, d.c. and executed one by one. so this was all taking place all at the same time. what about roosevelt? roosevelt had to rest. he had no other choice. he went down south to go recuperate in south carolina and as they put in his own words, he said i want to rest and rest 12 hours a day. indeed he did rest 12 hours a day. he was supposed to stay there for two weeks. in fact, he was so sick and with the warm raging around in the state for a full month. this bike is sickness the work itself was going well. in ma me the allies prevailed against the nazis in italy. rome quickly fell. rome which, of course, was assembled of one of the axis powers, and then the critical database was seized by the
allies can analyze total mastery of the sky. so all was going well with the war. soon thereafter d-day itself would take place but it was slated for the beginning of june and will be the greatest armada in history, something never before witnessed. imagine this scene if you can't for a moment. 180,000 soldiers in the choppy waters of atlanta, over 5000 warships and transfer ships carrying these men, over 1000 aircraft that would blanket the skies there was a military caravan literally without peril. if normandy succeeded it would be the greatest military effort not only of the war but in all of human history. but however, early start it looked as though the date itself would have to be aborted because there were problems. dwight eisenhower, a new commander-in-chief of the forces, hand-picked by roosevelt met with his chief meteorologist and it turned out that great storms have kicked up in great
gusts of winds that would make visibility impossible so crucial to the command of the skies. and it seemed inconceivable that they could carry out this invasion with this torrential rain rattling the rooftops covering hundreds of miles so that even if stretched as far office where hitler was. so eisenhower put his chen to his chest. he paced around. he sat on the couch and eat called all of this office is complete we do? then he looked over and he said very sadly, but how long can they hang out on a limb? isaiah was in agony. he decided he would reconvene his men come to step in about eight hours. in that eight hours the weather was still looking good, not looking good. he said okay, we'll meet again in another eight hours. and that's not time when the debate this time is told by his meteorologist come in 36 hours,
for 36 hours we will have a break in the weather. so in other words, there was a small window which they could carry out the invasion. eisenhower walked back and forth. again his chen to his chest pacing, sitting down on the couch can stand up, sitting down, then it. he called all his officers and a split right down the middle. at that point eisenhower said, well then, let's go. we will go. at the point cheers went up into the room because that's what now convinced this great innovation. so pictured in the opposition if you will for a second as the invasion were to begin across the way was ronald, the head of fashion rommel -- head of the german forces at rommel said to his officers, he said we must stop the americans on the beaches. and they said faithfully, it will be the longest day. and it was the longest day. imagine what it looked like to the germans, the german defenders at the 11th of a
look at the sea and all of a sudden they couldn't see anyone get all the good see warships coming, this vast armada and coming fast. all of a sudden there was a series of explosions opening up the skies. the gods had opened up the wrath. the heat and noise were without parallel in the invasion begin. the invasion went well on the beaches where they met little opposition. but on the fifth beach where the americans were at omaha beach there was a kind of cash is that the americans were suffering. withering fire from the nazis was terrible. they were blowing up heads, severed limbs, arms floating in the water. it looked like general omar bradley, a catastrophe of irreversible proportions. but with the sea behind them and the beach in front of them, retreat was not an option. so what was to happen next? what would happen next was at 1.1 of the american commanders
would say men, we might as well die on hard ground as we do on the beaches. and at that point they begin to improvise even the most other commanders were dead. so they kept pushing forward and pushing forward. and soon a miracle happen. they captured the high ground and the battle was the bears and d-day was the district it was clear a success and that hitler state would soon be with sealed and towards envy over get along the way, although with a relentless pursuit of victory was something else that was taking place. millions of lives more were at risk. that jews were going to die at the death camp at auschwitz. picture if you will auschwitz, this what was the crown jewel of the nazi empire, death and the epicenter final solution. day after day, hour after hour, innocent jews were herded, elderly, the young, women, children, even the children, always the children.
they were herded into these boxcars where for a three day trip there taken to auschwitz. they had no food, no water, little light. it was hot. they were almost suffocating. there was stitch. there was filled. many of the people literally die distended epic indeed on one of the trains coming to auschwitz there were 4000 children. when the train pulled in to auschwitz station, they were all dead. they have suffocated along the way. but when the trains to provide especially these trains from bearing the hungarian jews they would look up and they would see these great plumes of fire reaching 30 feet into the sky. these were the crematoria that were burning the jews and they had this terrible stench that they smelled. something that never smelled before. this was flesh that was literally being boiled. one little girl said her father and she said data, will there be playgrounds like a complex
another little girl understood what was happening. she said, of what use is a god in a world in which the only duty is a punishment? the punishment is exactly what the germans would wreak upon the jews. little did they know that -- can you all to me? little did they know that within an hour of reaching into auschwitz station they would all be nothing but ashes and death. so as they stumbled out of the trains, s. as doctors would be screaming at them. it would be barking dogs, doberman pinschers and it would be as as doctors and they would, they would your language they didn't know. out, out, out. that jews were beaten every step along the way. and as this doctor would come out to the platform and he would go right for you, left for you, right for you, left for you. if you would write you would become slave labor and he worked to death. left your use of one of the elderly or you are a mother or
you were a woman or you were a four year old little child, always the children. they were taken to the gas chambers. as they were brought to the gas chambers ever told what would happen if there is that they would be disinfected, they would do nothing more than take a shower. they would take off their clothes, some 2000 of them and they would be heard in to these forbidding rooms that had these showerheads. they would be shivering, terrified, wedged in like bricks in the driveway. 2000. think of that number 2000. well, 2000 i 2000 as as many pes died at pickett's charge at gettysburg and to be taken care of within one hour. as they were wedged in, all of a sudden they gas would start filtering out and a duty a great traveling. people would rush off other people. children would get crushed. they we tried to get to the doors to whether with the air.
they would be screaming and yelling and the soon the screend yelling would become a rattle. and then the wrapper would turn to nothing more than soon than 20 minutes it would be nothing. they would be all dead. then at this point the germans wasting no time with take out the teeth of the dead. they wanted the gold filling. it would take off their because they used the hair for mattresses. and the fertilizer and the ashes of the people would be used for fertilizer for the roads. and as for the living, those were not taken to the gas chambers, they would be so any citizen that they would fall out. their teeth would fall out. their faces would be, fleshless and to look like living skeletons. little children would be forced often to unite into bins and that would become their drinking water. this is what was happening on that front. the question is what would fdr do? now that the war was going well and d-day invasion was
successful, would fdr stop the barbarity taking place in auschwitz? would he put an end to cruelty? what if i put a stop to this massacre of one innocent after another? it was unclear yet but there was something in auschwitz itself to resolve. he would put an end to it. he decided he would escape for auschwitz at along with a comrade from slovakia he actually did something to what he had ever before. he would escape. for three days they hid in a little cavity, a woodpile, and then for days dozens of soldiers looked for them. thousands span across the they looked for them everywhere. eventually they couldn't find them so the search was called off and these then got out of the cavity and they escaped from the reaches of auschwitz. they turned round for one moment and they saw the flames reaching out in the skies and they around and ran and they never looked
>> >> the preludin to d-day itself out of his fertile imagination that came that would do the germans. out of his fertile imagination can the fireside chats to uplift the hearts of americans who were worried about the fate of democracy. roosevelt seemed to do anything and everything but only one thing seemed to the escape his fertile imagination that was the fate of the jews died at auschwitz in poland. there is a real paradox roosevelt the world's greatest humanitarian and he flinched. why? what happened? why did he not act?
to be sure it was hard to understand the scale and scope taking place also the fact what was taking place was in shrouded by hitler but since 1942, a bit by bit in a thriller or mystery more information and leaked out what was taking place in boschwitz and sell about 1.there is the anti-not see german industrialist and the third reich were women wore their finest for oersted men wore the best of it was best of its for a final solution in the attempt to murder and kill every jew on the face of the earth. he despised the nazis and despite tiller he actually met him in a business meeting once and so hated
him he risked his life and boarded a train to switzerland to meet with prominent jews there to get the word to fdr as he puts it there will be giant cemeteries in read must put a stop to it to. but 40 months nothing was done. not an effort -- 14 months the state department under the tutelage did everything he could to prevent jews from escaping from europe. just desperate to come to our shores we hear about the migrants are coming to hear -- come here but it was a light that they knew they could not get out it was a death sentence but for 14 months nothing was done but
road -- roosevelts best friend who henry morgan fell two had lunch one on one with him every week secretary of treasury was so disgusted he imperiled his best friend and decided to write a stern memo to the president and said to talk about the inaction of the government obstacles, a bureaucratic red tape to prevent the jews from having a safe haven he labeled this the most hard hit to the goal ever written to fdr. he was so shaken that he called a meeting he said
what do want? to a war refugee board to do nothing but help the jews. but it was too little too late but there was more action ultimately. should they make as simple this is what led nazi stood for in the west will not stand for it? it turned out we did not auschwitz putting up one roadblock after another. he said it was unfeasible to be carried out with too great a distance but it turned up the bobbers were routinely flying over auschwitz as part of the oil war.
he said it would create even greater predicaments but what could be more addictive that the fact little children were been herded into the gas chamber? one other thing that was said it was a diversion of resources from the war effort. this is a serious charge. but the polish army rose up in warsaw when they were butchered and roosevelt sent help knowing it would be minimal impact but i want to make us symbol to the world but he was not willing to do that. so auschwitz was not bombed. that is not totally true purple it was a 1.but by mistake. what was the response?
they ran to their shelters to shoot down the american planes but these initiated people were there and cheered we did not fear death. other said we just prayed to god those planes would come. so what would happen for the rest of the war while roosevelt was dying? he only had two months left to live there would not talk about what was going with auschwitz but united nations and the last effort by adolf hitler with the battle of the bulge and it was clear the war was about to be over after bitter fighting and after fdr himself died
hitler committed suicide ironically at the same time of day as fdr. with the german surrender then to liberate auschwitz to have a little small satellite camp when they got there they were stunned by the images think of what you saw and it didn't the new york times the day the boy washing up on the beach said human beings reduced to building six bloated corpses stacked like would human beings with eyes but with nothing but sought bids but they saw the americans a and cheered like mad was the response? eisenhower himself said now we finally know what we were fighting for imagine those
words in their heads now we finally know what we're fighting for. how we interpret a 1944? the germans surrendered gathered across the world chanting long live the great americans the franklin roosevelt, the american president they danced s. churchill put it so eloquently the greatest outburst of joy of mankind. roosevelt had one though war and it was one of the triumphant fruits of 1944 but then roosevelt after all he had done had his emancipationist of proclamation moment. think of abraham lincoln for a second.
and despite opposition n in the north in his own cabinet of the emancipation in proclamation not just keeping the union together but to be more profound about freedom and liberation but roosevelt never quite did that with the final solution. sometimes what we see as a result that leaves the gate being hole in history. so what is "1944"? a story of her awake actions
of the story of magnificent leadership the most profound for the american at ever fought and a story of leadership and decisions made. it is also a story of a tragedy whose lips to our vendors it is the greatest of years that we can imagine but also one of the saddest. thank you very much. [applause] i will take questions. >> hello. i am wondering what you fame was the change it henry
wallace remained on that ticket for the democratic convention with roosevelt instead of treatment? >> that is funny because that is the question my guide asked me what you think would have happened? we have david mccullough here's a we should ask him since he wrote a book on truman. [laughter] in then to be living in a different world. and that is the reason why he fights so much over elections because one leader does one thing another dozen
other there is only one george washington one abraham lincoln and. chairman laid out the architecture of the cold war. if it was wallace it isn't clear that would not have happened and. it shows how important individual leaders are. >> with that post diplomat bringing word jew washington with the news of the death camps. >> and he was a polish
official as part of the underground but the one who escaped was a 19 year-old and this is worthy of a hollywood movie and we're talking about it now. but he had a phenomenal memory, a phenomenal health like a cat with nine knives everybody else had withered away somehow he prevailed enough to escape from this camp in though watchtowers. smelling dogs, of the gestapo, now he infiltrated a satellite kiev it was pulled over like nothing ever witnessed people stomping along like lublin skeletons like the walking dead it was supposed to be
half an hour and it is reported that very few things should up but then roosevelt was and said you tell your people they have a friend in the white house. carson was very impressed in said the polish ambassador says yes. but then there is nothing about platitudes. so washington was a great charmer been very careful in this was another instance. >> before ready-made a commitment with those concentration in camps so
did you uncover any of that in your research? as the allies were closing in on the concentration camps there were efforts to speed up the executions. >> as the allies were liberating the camps to the speed of the efforts to to kill the jews? the other is anti-semitism on the part of fdr. and when they were very young that came from a high society of america from one black-tie affair to another there may have been a hint of not wanting to be
socially and around jews it is safe to say that to have one anti-semitic boded his body. at one point he said i find this very my inning and ensure you were jewish or christian or catholic but that we have a spiritual side carrying about god. i don't think in any sense but however it is certain with the state department the relevance of anti-semitism so crucial to help them get out. then the treasury secretary confronted breckinridge in a meeting tuesday a number of people thank you are anti-semitic. those are strong words and
eleanor was a passionate defender of the jews writing a column after column with the inability of the administration to do more to help the jews that was the greatest mistake they had made. yes when d-day was one and the allies were closing in and from the east and there was a movement to put their chokehold on the knotty -- nazi they tried to cover their crimes and dismantle the gas chambers. there was a great debt march and there are long columns of people.
those that are stretching out with no food or water and if they stumbled they would be shot in the head. to carry out the imaginary struggle. >> one of the impressions that i got it was not that hands-on a lot of the time. and given for people in the cabinet. >> was fdr hands-on or not? fdr was a brilliant politician and