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The Home Front: Victory In Europe Was Won On The Beaches Of Normandy As Well As The Shores Of Lake Erie

History remembers the soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy; General George Patton, whose Third Army swept over France and Germany all the way to Czechoslovakia; and the GIs who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, America’s bloodiest World War II fight.

But let’s not forget Marie Kappa, a government ordnance inspector stationed at GE Erie Works who also contributed to Hitler’s fall. The picture of Kappa above, pale, serious and with impeccably polished nails, peering down the barrel of a Howitzer artillery piece in March 1943 is a reminder of the total immersion of the U.S. public in the war effort. Their images, preserved by GE’s publicity department, remain an indelible evocation of a completely mobilized society.

Bells will ring all over Europe this weekend to commemorate the end of the war in the European theater 71 years ago. Veterans will return to old battlefields, cities will reenact liberation and people will toast each other in the streets.

The event, popularly known as V-E Day, marked the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. The war in Japan, however, threatened to grind on. “Our victory is but half won,” cautioned President Harry S. Truman. Still, GE gave its workers the day off from making bazookas and turbines to drive aircraft carriers — presumably for a job well done.

Below are some of the images of wartime mobilization distributed by GE.

885155 Women working on high pressure steam turbine 1944

609689 Bazooka manufacturing at Bridgeport during World War II, 1944594775, Rifle, 1943

The turbines, electronics and weapons the home front produced served American and Allied soldiers fighting in Europe as well as in the Pacific and in Africa.

591098 GE radio system with cavalry001579231 GE Searchlight and sound locator001579233 GE searchlights in Hawaii001

Turbosupercharger2

GE engineer converted a gas turbine used for generating electricity into a supercharger for aircraft engines. The technology launched GE into the aviation business. It was another example of the GE Store at work. Image credit: Museum of Innovation and Science Schenectady

1942 Entering The Jet Age

In 1942, GE engineers built the jet engine for the first American fighter jet. Image credit: Museum of Innovation and Science Schenectady

Radar system on B29 Bomber 1945

583479 USS Saratoga with planes on deck001599047 Destroyer escorts under construction001583466 USS Washington commissioning ceremony002

How the Amazing Copper Man and Electric Blankets Gave Birth to WWII High-Altitude Flying Suit 0

GE engineers also designed a heated flying suit for high-altitude sorties over Europe by drawing on previous experience from a successful but decisively non-military product: electric blankets. GIF credit: GE Reports/Flux Machine

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