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.
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.