Introducing ‘Beyond the World War II We Know’ 1

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It has been 75 years since World War II ended, and the conflict still feels like one of the most covered events of the century — from public-school curriculums to films, TV series and countless books. But every year, there are fewer and fewer people living who actually remember the war and what it cost us. And though certain stories from the war continue to be memorialized, others are marginalized or lost to history.

For 2020, At War and The Times’s Special Projects team are producing a series called “Beyond the World War II We Know,” highlighting lesser-known stories about the end of the war and its aftermath. We will publish stories that have mostly remained untold, featuring both the voices of our readers and original reporting. Last fall, we asked people who lived through the war or who had a loved one who lived through it — in the military, but also civilian survivors and those who dedicated their lives to stateside efforts — to send us their stories; we will be retelling them here over the next nine months. We’ll also bring you in-depth reports on topics ranging from the consequences of Japanese internment to the struggles of black soldiers returning stateside. And we will recount events from 1945 that shaped the postwar new world order.

If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll also find front pages of The Times beginning with Jan. 1, 1945 — when the war made headlines every single day.

This week, we initiate the project with two articles honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day. The first takes us back to 1939 — before the war officially began — and is written by Andrea N. Goldstein, a Navy veteran whose Jewish family escaped Germany just days before Hitler invaded Poland. Andrea’s grandmother Marianne spent the rest of her life recounting her family’s brush with the Nazis and her father’s brief detainment in Dachau.

We have also published a first-person account told to Jake Nevins, The Times Magazine’s editorial fellow. Celia Kener was 6 in 1941 when the Germans invaded Soviet-occupied Poland. The first days of the occupation, when she and her mother hid in a church steeple, left her with a crippling fear of cats that she never overcame.

We look forward to hearing from you as we look back at World War II and the events that shaped the world in 1945.

The Latest Stories From At War

Behind the Numbers: 3

That’s the number of Americans — one Army soldier and two Pentagon contractors — who were killed earlier this month in a surprise attack on the Manda Bay military base in Kenya, where both American and Kenyan forces are stationed. The assault was carried out by about a dozen Shabab fighters, who used rifles and explosives to destroy a surveillance plane before engaging in a lengthy gunfight with soldiers at the base. The incident has left national defense officials to wonder about the American military’s goals in Africa, where more than 5,000 service members are based and often left vulnerable by a lack of intelligence and resources. One contractor burned in the Manda Bay attack was flown to a hospital over 1,500 miles away in Djibouti, a major security hub that plays a crucial role in U.S. interests in the region. Through interviews with a dozen American military officials or other people who have been briefed on the attack, The Times pieced together the events leading to the fatal attack at Manda Bay and what went wrong.

— Jake Nevins, Times Magazine editorial fellow

Editor’s Picks

Here are five articles from The Times you might have missed.

“My head was already flat from banging it against the wall. But I thought, We’re not done.” A small team of agents spent years investigating whether one of Washington’s closest allies was involved in the worst terror attack in U.S. history. [Read the story.]

“We are totally ready for a withdrawal of 4,000 troops anytime the president decides.” The Afghan leader said he had told President Trump that the United States could withdraw a third of its troops, even as a peace deal with Taliban remains elusive. [Read the story.]

“I can’t bring back the dead.” Dashing the hopes of thousands of families desperate for word about loved ones who went missing during Sri Lanka’s long, grisly civil war, the country’s new president has offered an unsparing rebuff to their quest for closure. [Read the story.]

Civil war can be “a hurricane that destroys a lot in its path.” Based on true events around the Spanish Civil War, Isabel Allende’s novel “A Long Petal of the Sea” explores the lives of exiles. [Read the story.]

“I’d get up today and do it again.” Appearing for the first time at Guantánamo Bay’s military war court was James E. Mitchell, a psychologist and architect of the Bush-era interrogation program that had inflicted torture on prisoners held in secret C.I.A. prisons after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. [Read the story.]

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