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Panel on WWII Myths, Misconceptions and Surprises

As part of its Marshall Lecture Series, the Marshall Foundation presented a panel discussion on World War II Myths, Misconceptions and Surprises in November 2011.

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the U.S. entry into the war at Pearl Harbor, eminent historians Gerhard Weinberg, William Hitchcock and Mark Stoler discussed popular perceptions of the war and recent research that challenges many of them.  They presented new insights into the personalities and events of that time.

For instance, they discussed a prevailing misconception that Allied victory came as a result of overwhelming superiority in human and materiel resources.  Actually, it was superior strategy, most historians believe, that won the War for the Allies.  Or the myth that FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) provoked the attack at Pearl Harbor as a means of getting the American public to support U.S. entry into the war.

Gerhard Weinberg is an internationally recognized authority on Nazi Germany and the origins and course of World War II.  He is Kenan Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  His major works include A World At Arms: A Global History of World War II and Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders.  Prof. Weinberg has twice won the George Louis Beer Prize of the American Historical Association as well as the prestigious Samuel Eliot Morison Prize and the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award.

William Hitchcock specializes in Modern Europe, War and Society and Cold War History.  He is Professor of History at the University of Virginia, and he has served on the faculties of Temple University, Wellesley College and Yale University.  He is author of The Struggle for Europe: The Turbulent History of a Divided Continent, 1945-2002 and The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe.  Prof. Hitchcock is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the George Louis Beer Award from the American Historical Association.

Mark Stoler, who will moderate the panel, is an expert in U.S. diplomatic and military history and World War II.  He is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Vermont where he won numerous teaching awards.  His many publications include George C. Marshall: Soldier–Statesman of the American Century and Allies and Adversaries: the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II for which he won the Distinguished Book Award of the Society for Military History.  Prof. Stoler serves as co-editor of The Papers of George Catlett Marshall.

The Marshall Foundation protects, preserves and promotes the example of George C. Marshall, former Army chief of staff during WWII, secretary of state, secretary of defense and architect of the Marshall Plan for post-war economic recovery.  It accomplishes its mission through public and private programs in leadership, scholarship and statesmanship as well as its research library and museum.