San Francisco, Wednesday Aug 26 2015
Most WW 2 stories extoll the courage and sacrifice of the thousands of GI’s who fought and lost their lives in Europe and the Pacific. However the story of the backstage of the war, the ” home front” , if not as bloody and tragic, is a compelling one. The whole economy of the U.S, mired since 1930 in the Great Depression, reached within a few month it’s full capacity and became ” the Arsenal of Democracy. Women played a significant role in this economic and social earthquake: some 6 millions of them entered the workforce during the war.the government actively recruited them, first targeting single white women, later married women and finally colored women. They often met with condescension, unequal pay and harassment. After the war they were urged to give up their jobs to returning veterans. A small but extremely well documented visitor’s center tells this story in Richmond , on the north east side of the Bay Area. This city grew in a few months from 25 000 to 130 000 inhabitants as the huge Kayser shipyard produced in a record time 500 of the 4000 Liberty ships that transported to Europe the huge mass of equipment, tanks, ammunition, trucks, food, necessary to sustain England and then the Invasion. Next to the shipyards, a Ford factory manufactured 42 000 jeeps, half of the total war production. The Home front , if not as dramatic as the battle front, made the final victory possible, and the courage of women welding steel parts 10 hours a day deserved to be honored.