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Detroit's role in winning World War II

Andrew Norton

With the approach of the 65th anniversary of D-Day and the trouble the auto industry has been facing as of late I was interested in learning more about Detroit's role in producing the products of war. This post was also inspired by this snippet in the Detroit Free Press. Quotes about Detroit's WWII role - "The hottest town in America" - 1943 article in Variety "The wonder city of America" - novelist Erskine Caldwell talking about how much Japan and Germany wanted to bomb Detroit. "A miraculous city, a city forging thunderbolts" - New York Times shortly after U.S. entered WWII. "Detroit is winning the war" - Josef Stalin reportedly told this to President Franklin D. Roosevelt about three months before Germany surrendered.

Detroit was known as the "arsenal of democracy" after this quote below -

Roosevelt referred to Detroit, Michigan as "the great arsenal of democracy" because of the rapid conversion of much of the Detroit-area automotive industry to produce armaments during World War II.

The Big Three Detroit automakers (and other smaller auto companies) GM, Chrysler, and Ford converted their assembly lines to build the tanks, planes, trucks, and weapons necessary for the war. In February of 1942 domestic auto production was halted in order to concentrate on the war effort. Even Michigan's Upper Peninsula got in on the action by harvesting timber for over 4,000 gliders built in Kingsford.

Read all about Detroit's role in producing the weapons and machines necessary for war in this Michigan History Magazine article - "Autos to Armaments."