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All Things Michigan

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Filtering by Tag: arsenal of democracy

WWII Sea Jeeps - Ford Amphibian Vehicles in Rouge River

Andrew Norton

This photo is from the early 1940s (1940-46) showing the "Sea Jeeps" - amphibian vehicles made by Ford. The Sea Jeeps were not a success due to the fact that they were too slow on land and not seaworthy enough in the open water. This was one weapon in Detroit's "Arsenal of Democracy" that had to go back to the drawing board.

My Thoughts on Requiem For Detroit

Andrew Norton

re - qui - em: a mass for the dead The BBC documentary, Requiem For Detroit?, clocks in at just under 75 minutes. There is about eight minutes at the end that focuses on the positives currently taking place and the hope for the future after a little over 65 minutes of negativity.

Intro to Requiem For Detroit -

Now I'm not saying the first 65 minutes are not warranted. They lay out the grit, racial tensions, politics, and greed that got Detroit to where it is today. You cannot fully understand why Detroit is in the shape it is in today if you don't look at the past. I found the historical parts of the documentary fascinating.

For instance, how could the "arsenal of democracy" have been so racially divided? We all hear about the 1967 riot, but there was also a race riot on the eve of World War II in 1943 that lasted for three days and resulted in 34 deaths - "twenty-five black residents and nine white residents."

Is it pleasant to look at the bad things that have happened to Detroit? No. However, you need to look at the mistakes of the past in order to not repeat them in the future and right now Detroit has the chance to sort of start over. I'm excited to see what the people of the city of Detroit can accomplish.

On a lighter note, here is a quote from an interview subject that had me rolling (in part for what he said and in part for his deadpan delivery) - Interviewer, "What's going on [talking about the current state of Detroit] here?" Interview Subject, "I don't know, I just woke up." In a city with this many people there was bound to be a few characters interviewed in this documentary.

The hope at the end of this documentary is, to me, the best part. Here is a clip -

"The old American Dream is dead, we're creating the new American Dream."

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."