Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

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The Japanese invaded Manchuria, in northeastern China on 18th September 1931. After six months of fighting, on 27th February 1932, General Ding Chao offered to cease hostilities, ending official Chinese resistance in Manchuria, although combat by guerrilla and irregular forces continued as Japan spent many years in their campaign to pacify the region. The conquest of this area, a land rich in natural resources, was widely seen as an economic "lifeline" to save Japan from the effects of the Great Depression. (1)

The League of Nations condemned the action, prompting Japan to leave the organization. Henry L. Stimson, who was the Secretary of State, in the Herbert Hoover administration, announced what became known as the Stimson Doctrine, the policy of non-recognition of states created as a result of aggression. They rejected this attempt to interfere in their foreign policy and compared their action to the Dutch in the East Indies, the French in Indochina, the British in Burma and Malaya, and the Americans in the Philippines. The Japanese saw themselves as colonizers rather than conquerors. They invested heavily in Manchuria (renamed Manchukuo) and immediately dispatched half a million citizens to settle there, with another 5 million expected to join them later." (2)

In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt became president of the United States. He embraced the Stimson Doctrine despite warnings by two of his closest advisors, Raymond Moley and Rexford G. Tugwell that America's interests lay with Japan. Roosevelt responded with the comment: "How could you expect me to do otherwise, given my Delano ancestors?" (3) As Moley and Tugwell had warned, the Stimson Doctrine curdled U.S. relations with Japan but had little effect on the situation in the Far East. The historian, Herbert Feis, described the policy as purely rhetorical: "an attitude rather than a program". (4)

On 7th July, 1937, Japanese forces once again attacked China. This became the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Soviet Union, the United States, Britain and France assisted China with its loans for war supply contracts. Some of Roosevelt's advisors believed that he should keep the country out of the conflict. William Christian Bullitt, the US ambassador in Paris, urged him not to get involved: "We have large emotional interests in China, small economic interests, and no vital interests. The far-off bugaboo of complete Japanese domination of Asia and an eventual attack on us seems to me no basis whatsoever for present-day policy." (5)

Tension between the two countries increased when six Japanese airplanes sank the United States gunboat Panay. It had two American flags, fourteen by eighteen feet in size, freshly painted on the top decks, was clearly deliberate. As the survivors headed for land, the planes strafed them, repeatedly flew over them after they reached shore, forcing them to take cover until dusk. Two Americans were killed and thirty wounded in the attack. Senator William Borah, summed up the majority view when he declared he was "not prepared to vote to send our boys into the Orient because a boat was sunk that was traveling in a dangerous zone." Roosevelt's response was to seek a quick settlement rather than to inflame the public, who did not know that the gunboat had been gathering intelligence. (6)

Only one member of the cabinet, Claude A. Swanson, the Secretary of the Navy, wanted war right away while Japan was vulnerable. Roosevelt explained that he wanted the same results as Swanson, "but that he didn't want to have to go to war to get it." He explained he favoured a new approach to dealing with Japan: "We don't call them economic sanctions; we call them quarantines. We want to develop a technique which will not lead to war. We want to be as smart as Japan and and Italy. We want to do it in a modern way." However, Roosevelt changed his mind and abandoned his proposed embargo. (7)

On 23rd December, 1937, Roosevelt asked Captain Royal E. Ingersoll, an expert on war planning, to go to London to speak to the British government about the possibility of a blockade of trade with Japan. The British responded favourably to Roosevelt's ideas, but nothing was fully agreed. The British government was disappointed that Roosevelt would not give them the commitment they most wanted, that the United States would join them in the event of war. Frank Freidel argues: "For them to have expected Roosevelt to do so was unrealistic. As it was, there were angry protests in Congress when news leaked of the Ingersoll conversations." (8)

The situation became much more complicated for President Roosevelt when the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, stated on 3rd September, 1939, that unless Adolf Hitler made a firm promise to withdraw his troops from Poland by 11.00 a.m. then Britain would declare war. (9) When his ultimatum was ignored Chamberlain went on radio to announce: "Britain is at war with Germany". (10)

Winston Churchill became prime minister in May 1940. He realized straight away that it would be vitally important to enlist the United States as Britain's ally. Randolph Churchill, on the morning of 18th May, 1940, claims that his father told him "I think I see my way through.... I mean we can beat them." When Randolph asked him how, he replied with great intensity: "I shall drag the United States in." Joseph P. Kennedy was the United States Ambassador to Britain. He soon came to the conclusion that the island was a lost cause and he considered aid to Britain fruitless. Kennedy, an isolationist, consistently warned Roosevelt "against holding the bag in a war in which the Allies expect to be beaten." Neville Chamberlain wrote in his diary in July 1940: "Saw Joe Kennedy who says everyone in the USA thinks we shall be beaten before the end of the month." (11)

Britain was in a very difficult situation. In 1939 Germany had a population of 80 million with a workforce of 41 million. Britain had a population of 46 million with less than half Germany's workforce. Germany's total income at market prices was £7,260 million compared to Britain's £5,242 million. More ominously, the Germans had spent five times what Britain had spent on armaments - £1,710 million versus £358 million. Churchill wrote: "It is obvious that we are in grave danger of our gold reserves being exhausted at a rate that will render us incapable of waging war if war is prolonged." (12)

Churchill had a meeting with Desmond Morton, the former head of the Secret Intelligence Service's Section V, and his personal intelligence adviser, to discuss the best way to obtain the help of the United States in defeating Hitler. Morton introduced him to William Stephenson, a successful businessman who had been providing important intelligence on Nazi Germany for many years. Stewart Menzies, the Director General MI6, who had interviewed him the previous year and afterwards wrote that he had "extensive connections in business and financial circles in this country and abroad." (13)

Churchill and Menzies agreed to send William Stephenson to the United States to make certain arrangements on intelligence matters. "I have appointed Mr W.S. Stephenson to take charge of my organization in the USA and Mexico. As I have explained to you, he has a good contact with an official who sees the President daily. I believe this may prove of great value to the Foreign Office in the future outside and beyond the matters on which that official will give assistance to Stephenson. Stephenson leaves this week. Officially he will go as Principal Passport Control Officer for the USA. I feel that he should have contact with the Ambassador, and should like him to have a personal letter from Cadogan to the effect that it may at times be desirable for the Ambassador to have personal contact with Mr Stephenson." (14)

Stephenson arrived in New York City on 21st June 1940. He later commented that Menzies "had handed him a list of certain essential supplies" which Britain needed. Menzies also laid down three primary concerns: "to investigate enemy activities, to institute adequate security measures against the threat of sabotage to British property and to organize American public opinion in favour of aid to Britain." His organization was called the British Security Co-ordination (BSC) and its headquarters was on the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth floors of the International Building in the Rockefeller Centre, 630 Fifth Avenue. (15)

As William Boyd has pointed out: "The phrase (British Security Coordination) is bland, almost defiantly ordinary, depicting perhaps some sub-committee of a minor department in a lowly Whitehall ministry. In fact BSC, as it was generally known, represented one of the largest covert operations in British spying history... With the US alongside Britain, Hitler would be defeated - eventually. Without the US (Russia was neutral at the time), the future looked unbearably bleak... polls in the US still showed that 80% of Americans were against joining the war in Europe. Anglophobia was widespread and the US Congress was violently opposed to any form of intervention." (16)

Stephenson's main contact was Gene Tunney, a friend from the First World War, who had been World Heavyweight Champion. The two men became business partners and life-long friends. (17) Importantly, Tunney and was a close friend of J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI. Tunney later recalled: "Quite to my surprise I received a confidential letter that was from Billy Stephenson, and he asked me to try and arrange for him to see J. Edgar Hoover... I found out that his mission was so important that the Ambassador from England could not be in on it, and no one in official government... It was my understanding that the thing went off extremely well." (18)

Stephenson later recalled: "Hoover is in no way anti-British, but in every way pro-FBI. His job is at once his pride and his vanity. These facts are emphasized because they are fundamental to an understanding of the course of BSC's relationship with the FBI, which did not run smoothly throughout... At the outset... Hoover could hardly have been more cooperative. Clearly our organization employing, as it did, not only its own intelligence agents but what amounted to its own police force represented an obvious threat to United States neutrality and could not have existed at all without the FBI's sanction. But Hoover was more than its licensor. He was, in a very real sense, its patron. He suggested its cover name. He placed at our disposal an FBI wireless channel which for a long while provided BSC with its only means of telegraphic communication with SIS headquarters... In short, he led his Bureau into a full-fledged alliance with British Intelligence, as the President had urged." (19)

Stephenson was also a friend of Ernest Cuneo, a US lawyer, with close intelligence and political connections. He worked unofficially for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and according to Stephenson was the leader of "Franklin's brain trust". Cuneo described Stephenson as a "top level operator", a "discreet and shadowy figure" with a "through wire" to Churchill. (20) According to Gill Bennett, the author of Churchill's Man of Mystery (2009): "By this he meant that he was the man to approach with an urgent message for the Prime Minister." (21)

Colonel William Donovan had been a classmate of Roosevelt at Columbia Law School. Although a member of the Republican Party he was used by Roosevelt for fact-finding missions to Spain and came to oppose the USA's prevailing isolationist foreign policy. Roosevelt arranged for Donovan to meet Stephenson. (22) He was to be an extremely important ally. As William Stephenson told Stewart Menzies: "A Catholic, Irish American descent, Republican holding confidence of Democrats, with an exceptional war record, places him in his unique position to advance our aims here." (23)

Colonel Donovan was also close friends with the three most important figures in the Roosevelt Administration: Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, and the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox. "At the time the United States Government was debating two alternative courses of action. One was to endeavour to keep Britain in the war by supplying her with the material assistance of which she was desperately in need. The other was to give Britain up for lost and concentrate exclusively on American rearmament to offset the German threat. That the former course was eventually pursued is due in large measure to Donovan's tireless advocacy of it." (24)

Wendell Willkie was the Republican candidate in the 1940 Presidential Election. The question whether or not the United States would become involved in the war in Europe. During the campaign Roosevelt announced that he was willing to provide destroyers to help the British war effort in return for obtaining naval and air bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, Trinidad and British Guiana. Willkie described it as "the most arbitrary and dictatorial action ever taken by any President in the history of the United States." This now became the main factor in the election and the first public opinion poll in early August showed Willkie ahead in twenty-four states with a majority of the electoral votes. (25)

William Stephenson arranged to meet Willkie. According to a secret report published five years later of the meeting: "He (Stephenson) found that Mr Willkie had little of that liberal internationalism which later became his trademark, but on the contrary was both reactionary and sectarian in his outlook, believing, among other things, that, since Britain was likely to go 'red' after the war, it would probably serve American interests better in the long run to allow Britain to be defeated." (26)

Charles Howard Ellis was sent to New York City to work alongside William Stephenson as assistant-director. Together they recruited several businessmen, journalists, academics and writers into the British Security Coordination. This included Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Ian Fleming, Cedric Belfrage, Ivar Bryce, David Ogilvy, Isaiah Berlin, Eric Maschwitz, Giles Playfair, Benn Levy, Noël Coward and Gilbert Highet. (27)

Stephenson pointed out that: "The cooperation of newspaper and radio men was of the utmost importance. Without it, as will became apparent later on, many of BSC's operations against the enemy would have been impossible." The most important people who were persuaded to help included journalists Walter Winchell, Freda Kirchwey, Raymond Gram Swing, Robert Sherwood, John Gunther, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, William L. Shirer, Ralph Ingersoll and Walter Lippman. They also got support from the owners and publishers of various media companies: Roy Howard (Scripps-Howard newspapers), Helen Ogden Reid (New York Herald Tribune), A. H. Sulzberger (New York Times), George Backer (New York Post) and Paul Patterson (Baltimore Sun). (28)

Roald Dahl was assigned to work with Drew Pearson, one of America's most influential journalist as the time. "Dahl described his main function with BSC as that of trying to 'oil the wheels' that often ground imperfectly between the British and American war efforts. Much of this involved dealing with journalists, something at which he was already skilled. His chief contact was the mustachioed political gossip columnist Drew Pearson, whose column, Washington Merry-Go-Round, was widely regarded as the most important of its kind in the United States." (29)

One of their most important recruits was Henry Luce, the publisher of Time Magazine and Life Magazine. In the past he had been a bitter opponent of President Roosevelt and so propaganda articles that appeared in his magazine were especially effective. BSC helped create several Pro-British groups. In July, 1040, they even persuaded Luce, C. D. Jackson, Ernest Angell and Carl Joachim Friedrich to establish the Council for Democracy. (30)

According to William Boyd: "BSC's media reach was extensive: it included such eminent American columnists as Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson, and influenced coverage in newspapers such as the Herald Tribune, the New York Post and the Baltimore Sun. BSC effectively ran its own radio station, WRUL, and a press agency, the Overseas News Agency (ONA), feeding stories to the media as they required from foreign datelines to disguise their provenance. WRUL would broadcast a story from ONA and it thus became a US "source" suitable for further dissemination, even though it had arrived there via BSC agents. It would then be legitimately picked up by other radio stations and newspapers, and relayed to listeners and readers as fact. The story would spread exponentially and nobody suspected this was all emanating from three floors of the Rockefeller Centre. BSC took enormous pains to ensure its propaganda was circulated and consumed as bona fide news reporting. To this degree its operations were 100% successful: they were never rumbled." (31)

The BSC's main opponent was William Randolph Hearst, who in the 1930s was pro-Nazi and a staunch anti-Communist. These opinions were reflected in his 28 newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Examiner, the Boston American, the Atlanta Georgian, the Chicago Examiner, the Detroit Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Cosmopolitan and the Washington Herald. BSC became convinced he was beyond hope of conversion. However, in June 1941, Stephenson learned that the Hearst syndicate owed $10,500,000 to Canadian paper manufacturers - all in the form of demand notes which were renewable every six months. "Up to that time they had not pressed for payment, because their only hope of recovering the sums due to them was to keep the syndicate alive. On the other hand, if the Canadian paper supply had ceased or been interrupted, publication of all the Hearst newspapers would have become impossible within thirty days, since paper could not be obtained elsewhere. Had this been done, the buyer would have been able either to force the Hearst syndicate to suspend publication altogether or to bring about a radical change in its policy. The matter was referred to the Treasury but, after due consideration, the Treasury stated that it was unwilling to provide the necessary funds." (32)

The America First Committee (AFC) was established in September 1940. The America First National Committee included Robert E. Wood, John T. Flynn and Charles A. Lindbergh. Supporters of the organization included Elizabeth Dilling , Burton K. Wheeler, Robert R. McCormick, Hugh S. Johnson, Robert LaFollette Jr., Amos Pinchot, Hamilton Stuyvesan Fish, Harry Elmer Barnes and Gerald Nye. The AFC soon became the most powerful isolationist group in the United States. The AFC had four main principles: (i) The United States must build an impregnable defense for America; (ii) No foreign power, nor group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America; (iii) American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the European War; (iv) "Aid short of war" weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad. (33)

Charles Lindbergh, who became a national hero when at the age of 25 in 1927, made a non-stop flight from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York, to Paris, France (3,600 miles/5,800 km), became its most important member and during the Battle of Britain he said: "This war is lost. It is not within our power today to win the war for England, even though we throw the entire resources of our nation into the conflict." (34)

The British journalist and Labour Party politician, Tom Driberg, attended one of its meetings. he reported: "I attended an American First rally at Madison Square Garden - a frantic eleventh-hour demonstration by virulent pro-Nazis and many thousands of their dupes. The most famous speaker was Charles Lindbergh, once a pioneer translantic flyer... After the hysterical enthusiasm which had greeted him, his speech was an anti-climax. Unlike some of the other speeches, it contained no word of disapproval of any aspect of the Nazi regime: it merely expressed regret that Hitler hadn't had his way in Russia sooner." (35)

Another member, Hamilton Stuyvesan Fish later told Studs Terkel: "I'd led the fight for three years against Roosevelt getting us into war. I was on the radio every ten days.... That is the greatest thing I did do in my life.... We would have been fighting those Germans, plus probably the Russians, because they made a deal with them. Every American family owes an obligation to me because we would have lost a million or two million killed. That's the biggest thing I ever did, and nobody can take it away from me. In the 1940 campaign, he (Roosevelt) made a pledge to mothers and fathers that their sons would be sent to fight in any foreign wars. It was absolutely a dishonest, dishonorable, contemptible statement, because he had been planning to get us in all the time." (36)

Stephenson was very concerned with the growth of the American First Committee. By the spring of 1941, the British Security Coordination estimated that there were 700 chapters and nearly a million members of isolationist groups. Leading isolationists were monitored, targeted and harassed. When Gerald Nye spoke in Boston in September 1941, thousands of handbills were handed out attacking him as an appeaser and Nazi lover. Following a speech by Hamilton Fish, a member of a group set-up by the BSC, the Fight for Freedom, delivered him a card which said, "Der Fuhrer thanks you for your loyalty". A photographer was there to take "a picture, with the contents of Hitler's note upon the caption, made good copy for the newspapers". (37)

One of Stephenson's first recruits was David Ogilvy. This enabled the BSC to "penetrate" the Gallup organization. Ogilvy later recalled: "I had been moonlighting as advisor to the British government on American Public Opinion, but it was time I played a more active part... I could not have had a better boss than Dr. Gallup. His confidence in me was such that I do not recall his ever reading any of the reports I wrote in his name. Once he had worked out the methodology of the research, he lost interest and moved on to something new." (38)

He was helped in this task by Hadley Cantril, who was secretly working for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. One of his tasks was to persuade Gallup from publishing polls considered harmful to the British. As Richard W. Steele has pointed out: "public opinion polls had become a political weapon that could be used to inform the views of the doubtful, weaken the commitment of opponents, and strengthen the conviction of supporters." William Stephenson later admitted: "Great care was taken beforehand to make certain the poll results would turn out as desired. The questions were to steer opinion toward the support of Britain and the war... Public Opinion was manipulated through what seemed an objective poll." (39)

Michael Wheeler, the author of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: The Manipulation of Public Opinion in America (2007): "Proving that a given poll is rigged is difficult because there are so many subtle ways to fake data... a clever pollster can just as easily favor one candidate or the other by making less conspicuous adjustments, such as allocating the undecided voters as suits his needs, throwing out certain interviews on the grounds that they were non-voters, or manipulating the sequence and context within which the questions are asked... Polls can even be rigged without the pollster knowing it.... Most major polling organizations keep their sampling lists under lock and key." (40)

Until 1940 the conflict between Japan and China was purely a regional affair. Encouraged by Hitler's conquest of France and the Netherlands, as well as the onset of the Battle of Britain, Japan's new war minister, General Hideki Tojo said: "We should not miss the present opportunity or we shall be blamed by posterity." According to Jean Edward Smith: "Japan's pro-military government turned its eye to the colonial outposts in Southwest Asia: the oil fields of the Dutch East Indies, the rubber plantations of British Malaya, and the tin mines and rice paddies of French Indochina." (41)

MI6 was gathering information about Japan's war plans including the possibility that Japan intended to join forces with Germany and Italy. British Security Coordination was asked to communicate this information to the American people. However, it was important to show that this information didn't come from British sources. Therefore it was passed to C. N. Spinks, a journalist who had spent some time in Japan. His article appeared in the New York Herald Tribune. BSC then arranged for the material to published as a pamphlet and 160,000 copies were distributed free in the United States. (42)

On 27th September 1940, Japan, Germany and Italy signed the Tripartite Pact. This undertook to recognize each other's expansionist claims in Europe and Asia, and to come to each other's aid if attacked by a power not already involved in the war in Europe or the Pacific. The treaty aimed to prevent the United States from either joining Britain against Germany or directly opposing Japan's creation of an East Asian sphere. It also secured German approval for its drive to the south and help in settling differences with the Soviet Union . (43)

Allied secret services soon discovered that Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, had sent a telegram to Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, where he pointed out that the alliance was to be directed towards the United States and not the Soviet Union. "Its exclusive purpose is to bring the elements pressing for America's entry into the war to their senses by conclusively demonstrating to them if they enter the present struggle they will automatically have to deal with the three great powers as adversaries." (44)

Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox and Secretary of Commerce, Harry Hopkins. urged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to take action "which will show Japan that we mean business and that we are not in the least afraid of her." Specifically, they urged a prompt, comprehensive oil embargo. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, Under Secretary of State, Sumner Welles and American military chiefs believed that an oil embargo would provoke an attack that would endanger unprepared American forces and distract the United States from effectively meeting the German threat. Navy chiefs also urged caution. Roosevelt decided against an oil embargo but he did make a speech where he argued that "no combination of dictator countries of Europe and Asia will halt us in the path we see ahead for ourselves and for democracy. No combination of dictator countries of Europe and Asia will stop the help we are giving to... those who resist aggression, and who now hold the aggressors far from our shores... The people of the United States reject the doctrine of appeasement." (45)

Over the next few months Stimson, Knox, Morgenthau, Ickes and Hopkins urged the president to take action. They pointed out that 80% of Japanese petroleum came from the United States. Hull favoured continued negotiations. Chief of Staff George Marshall argued that if Japan's oil supply were closed off she would be forced to seek other sources. The Dutch East Indies, Burma, Malaya and even the Philippines would be threatened. Marshall added that this was "as unfavorable a moment as you could choose for provoking trouble." (46)

On 23rd July, 1941, Japanese troops moved into the southern part of Indochina. This put them in a position to threaten Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines. Morenthau suggested that Roosevelt had to respond to this move. As he later recalled: Well, to my surprise the President gave us quite a lecture why we should not make any move because if we did, if we stopped all oil, it would simply drive the Japanese down to the Dutch East Indies, and it would mean war in the Pacific." (47)

Roosevelt finally announced the freeze of Japanese assets on 26th July and established an embargo on oil and gasoline exports to Japan on 1st August. Roosevelt then went to meet Winston Churchill in Newfoundland. Public opinion polls in early August indicated that 51% of Americans believed that Roosevelt should risk war rather than allow Japan to become more powerful. By September that number had risen to 67%. One Japanese official stated that the "nation was "like a fish in a pond from which the water was gradually being drained away." (48)

Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu, had been used by the US Navy since the early part of the twentieth century. In April, 1940, the US Fleet had been sent to Pearl Harbor to deter aggressive moves by Japan in the Pacific. The Commander in Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto began planning for a surprise attack on the US Navy at Pearl Harbor early in 1941. Yamamoto feared that he did not have the resources to win a long war against the United States. He therefore advocated a surprise attack that would destroy the US Fleet in one crushing blow. Yamamoto's plan was eventually agreed by the Japanese Imperial Staff in the autumn and the strike force under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo sailed from the Kurile Islands on 26th November, 1941. (49)

In the autumn of 1941, Richard Sorge, a Soviet spy based in Japan, provided Joseph Stalin with the information that the Japanese were preparing to make war in the Pacific and were concentrating their main forces in that area in the belief that the Germans would defeat the Red Army. (50) According to Pravda, Sorge informed Soviet intelligence two months before Pearl Harbour "that the Japanese were getting ready for a war in the Pacific and would not attack the Soviet Far East, as the Russians feared." (51)

Military intelligence did intercept two cipher messages from Tokyo to Kichisaburo Normura, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, that suggested an imminent attack, but Captain Richmond Turner, in charge of evaluating and dissemination, did not pass on warnings of the proposed attack to Admiral Husband Kimmel. Later Kimmel testified after the war that had he known of these communications, he would have maintained a much higher level of alert and that the fleet would not have been taken by surprise by the Japanese attack. The historian, Gordon Prange has argued: "If Turner thought a Japanese raid on Hawaii... to be a 50-percent chance, it was his clear duty to say so plainly in his directive to Kimmel." (52)

James Rusbridger, the author of Betrayal at Pearl Harbor (1991) claims that Winston Churchill withheld important information in order to bring the United States into the war: "Churchill was aware that a task force had sailed from northern Japan in late November 1941, and that one of its likely targets was Pearl Harbor... Churchill deliberately kept this vital information from Roosevelt, because he realized an attack of this nature, whether on the U.S. Pacific Fleet or the Philippines, was a means of fulfilling his publicly proclaimed desire to get America into the war at any cost." (53)

The American historian, Joseph E. Persico, has questioned this account: "It must be asked whether drawing the United States into a war with Japan was a logical way for Churchill to get FDR into the war in Europe. Churchill was certainly capable of manipulating intelligence to serve his country's ends. He had no qualms about Stephenson's BSC manufacturing stories to feed to Roosevelt that the Nazis were conspiring to invade South America and threaten the Panama Canal. He allowed Roosevelt to continue thinking that Hitler would invade Britain when his own Ultra interceptions made clear that this danger had passed. However, an attack that would have brought America into a war with the Japanese was a risky bet for Churchill. How he viewed his best interests is clear from a five-page report written on November 12, 1941, less than a month before Pearl Harbor, by the American ambassador to Britain, John Winant. Winant had spent three days with Churchill in the country. According to Winant's notes, forwarded to FDR, Churchill set out three positions in which Britain might find itself. The worst-case scenario, which Churchill considered unthinkable, was that Japan would come into the war against Britain and that America would stay out. The next best outcome would be for neither Japan nor America to enter the war. But Churchill's preference, the PM told Winant, was that 'the United States enter the war without Japan.' With this as his first choice, it hardly seems that Churchill would deliberately enable a Japanese attack on America by withholding intelligence from Roosevelt." (54)

Later, General Hideki Tojo claimed that Japan was acting in self defence: "The main American naval forces were shifted to the Pacific region and an American admiral made a strong declaration to the effect that if war were to break out between Japan and the United States, the Japanese navy could be sunk in a matter of weeks. Further, the British Prime Minister (Churchill) strongly declared his nation's intention to join the fight on the side of the United States within 24 hours should war break out between Japan and the United States. Japan therefore faced considerable military threats as well. Japan attempted to circumvent these dangerous circumstances by diplomatic negotiation, and though Japan heaped concession upon concession, in the hope of finding a solution through mutual compromise, there was no progress because the United States would not retreat from its original position. Finally, in the end, the United States repeated demands that, under the circumstances, Japan could not accept: complete withdrawal of troops from China, repudiation of the Nanking government, withdrawal from the Tripartite Pact (signed by Germany, Italy and Japan on September 27, 1940). At this point, Japan lost all hope of reaching a resolution through diplomatic negotiation." (55)

On Sunday, 7th December, 1941, 105 high-level bombers, 135 dive-bombers and 81 fighter aircraft attacked the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The damage caused was initially underestimated: "The Japanese, without any warning, yesterday afternoon began war on the United States with air attacks on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the adjacent city of Honolulu. Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo later announced that Japan had entered into a state of war with Britain and the United States in the Western Pacific from 6 a.m. today... As more than 150 planes took part in the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Honolulu, it is thought that there must be at least three Japanese aircraft-carriers, and probably more, engaged. Several planes were shot down. Considerable damage was done at Pearl Harbour and there were numerous casualties. It is officially announced that the Army casualties were 104 killed and 300 wounded. It is thought that these occurred when the airfield was hit. The civilian casualties are unknown." (56)

It was later confirmed that the Japanese sunk the Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia and California. Four further battleships were damaged and eleven other warships were sunk or disabled. Another 188 American aircraft were destroyed on the ground and 2,330 Americans were left dead or dying. The Japanese had lost twenty-nine aircraft and five midget submarines in the attack. "As the scale of the American losses became known, the shock in the United States was considerable; of the nine American battleships capable of offensive or defensive action in the Pacific earlier that morning, only two remained able to enter combat. Japan's ten battleships were masters of the Pacific." (57)

Admiral Gene La Rocque later recalled that the Americans were taken by surprise at Pearl Harbour. "At first I thought the U.S. Army Air Corps was accidentally bombing us. We were so proud, so vain, and so ignorant of Japanese capability. It never entered our consciousness that they'd have the temerity to attack us. We knew the Japanese didn't see well, especially at night - we knew this as a matter of fact. We knew they couldn't build good weapons, they made junky equipment, they just imitated us. All we had to do was get out there and sink them. It turns out they could see better than we could and their torpedoes, unlike ours, worked." (58)

Also on the 7th December, Japan attacked the Philippines, Hong Kong, Siam and Malaya, plus Wake and Midway islands. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a united US Congress declared war on Japan. On 11th December, Germany and Italy, in alliance with Japan, declared war on the United States while Japan sank the only two British battleships in the Pacific off Hong Kong. On 23rd December, Winston Churchill arrived in Washington to have talks with Roosevelt. While in America he became the first British prime minister to address Congress. (59)

This alliance is directed exclusively against American warmongers. To be sure that is, as usual, not expressly stated in the treaty, but can be unmistakably inferred from its terms. Its exclusive purpose is to bring the elements pressing for America's entry into the war to their senses by conclusively demonstrating to them if they enter the present struggle they will automatically have to deal with the three great powers as adversaries.

The President now had before him two draft messages, which I had sent him during his absence. One was a message to Congress, which Secretaries Stimson and Knox had helped me prepare, advising it of the imminent dangers in the situation. The other was a message to Emperor Hirohito of Japan, appealing for peace.

This second message had been under discussion since October among those of us concerned with the Far East. In my memorandum to the President accompanying these drafts, I suggested: "If you should send this message to the Emperor it would be advisable to defer your message to Congress until we see whether the message to the Emperor effects any improvement in the situation. I think we agree that you will not send the message to Congress until the last stage of our relations, relating to actual hostility, has been reached."

I had two reasons for this last comment. One was that the message to Congress could contain very little that was new without giving the Japanese leaders material with which to arouse their people against us all the more. The other was that the powerful isolationist groups still existing in Congress and in the United States might use it to renew their oft repeated charges of "warmongering" and "dragging the nation into foreign wars." The Japanese military could then have played up the situation as evidencing disunity in the United States, thus encouraging the Japanese to support their plans for plunging ahead into war.

I also was not in favor of the message to the Emperor, except as a last-minute resort, and I so informed the President. I felt that the Emperor, in any event, was a figurehead under the control of the military Cabinet. A message direct to him would cause Tojo's Cabinet to feel that they were being short-circuited and would anger them. Besides, I knew that the Japanese themselves did not make use of such means as a direct Presidential message. Normally they did not shift from a bold front to one of pleading until the situation with them was desperate. They would therefore regard the message as our last recourse and a sign of weakness.

The main American naval forces were shifted to the Pacific region and an American admiral made a strong declaration to the effect that if war were to break out between Japan and the United States, the Japanese navy could be sunk in a matter of weeks. Japan therefore faced considerable military threats as well.

Japan attempted to circumvent these dangerous circumstances by diplomatic negotiation, and though Japan heaped concession upon concession, in the hope of finding a solution through mutual compromise, there was no progress because the United States would not retreat from its original position. At this point, Japan lost all hope of reaching a resolution through diplomatic negotiation.

Since events had progressed as they had, it became clear that to continue in this manner was to lead the nation to disaster. With options thus foreclosed, in order to protect and defend the nation and clear the obstacles that stood in its path, a decisive appeal to arms was made.

War was decided upon at the Imperial Conference on December 1, 1941, and the shift to real operations was made at this point. However, even during the preparations for action, we laid our plans in such a manner that should there be progress through diplomatic negotiation, we would be well prepared to cancel operations at the latest moment that communication technology would have permitted.

In two or three minutes Mr. Roosevelt came through. "Mr. President, what's this about Japan? "It's quite true," he replied. "They have attacked us at Pearl Harbor. We are all in the same boat now."

No American will think it wrong of me if I proclaim that to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. I could not foretell the course of events. I do not pretend to have measured accurately the martial might of Japan, but now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!

Yes, after Dunkirk; after the fall of France; after the horrible episode of Oran; after the threat of invasion, when, apart from the Air and the Navy, we were an almost unarmed people; after the deadly struggle of the U-boat war - the first Battle of the Atlantic, gained by a hand's-breath; after seventeen months of lonely fighting and nineteen months of my responsibility in dire stress. We had won the war. England would live; Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations and the Empire would live.

How long the war would last or in what fashion it would end no man could tell, nor did I at this moment care. Once again in our long Island history we should emerge, however mauled or mutilated, safe and victorious. We should not be wiped out. Our history would not come to an end. We might not even have to die as individuals. Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.

The Japanese, without any warning, yesterday afternoon began war on the United States with air attacks on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the adjacent city of Honolulu. today.

President Roosevelt has mobilized the Army and ordered all the armed forces to take up their war stations and imposed a censorship.

As more than 150 planes took part in the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Honolulu, it is thought that there must be at least three Japanese aircraft-carriers, and probably more, engaged. Several planes were shot down.

Considerable damage was done at Pearl Harbour and there were numerous casualties. The civilian casualties are unknown.

When we took off from our carrier, the planes looked so beautiful, like fireflies in the dark before dawn. When I was diving on the Arizona, I felt as if I was drowning with the pressure of gravity. All I could see was that target through my scope.

I remember our mixed feelings when we pilots landed back on our aircraft carrier, Akagi, from Pearl Harbor. Okay, a few of the men were shouting "banzai" but some were very subdued. I doubted I'd done my best. we'd lost a few planes. Some of the pilots were very subdued.

At 6.30 p.m. (Vichy time) of December 8, the National Broadcasting Company short-wave station reported President Roosevelt's request that the Congress declare war on Japan. The voice and words of the President formed a dramatic picture of the most powerful nation of the world embarking on an all-out war to destroy the bandit nation of the Orient.

The war formally declared that day would in my certain opinion result in the destruction of Japan as a first-class sea power, regardless of how much time and treasure might be required to accomplish that end. I knew that the President was thoroughly familiar with the Navy's plans to defeat Japan.

Later in the evening of December 8, the radio reported that casualties at Pearl Harbor probably numbered 3,000. This created anxiety for our relatives and friends stationed there, but we later learned that most of them came out of it all right. Later, when the details were available, I found that there were four ships seriously damaged upon which I had served. They were the Nevada (executive officer, 1917), the ancient Oglala (flagship when I commanded Mine Squadron One, 1921), the cruiser Raleigh (flagship when I was Commander of Destroyers, U.S. Fleet, 1931), and the battleship California.

I think now, in retrospect, that we overestimated the power of the Japanese Navy and Air forces. We had pretty good information while I was Chief of Naval Operations (1937-39) that the Japanese were comparatively inefficient in gunnery However they had good ships, good guns and a lot of air. The whole world in those days was afraid of the air. There was a fear that if we sent our ships near enough to Japan to be attacked by land-based air, it would be very bad for us. It turned out that when we did go there, we took our excellent Naval Air Force with us, and that was bad for the Japs.

The wrecking of our fleet in this unanticipated attack gave the Japanese a terrific advantage they did not have before, but their campaign developed pretty much along expected lines. We thought they would strike down the coast of China and the Dutch East Indies to get oil and rubber, which they had to have to win the war. When we were able to stop that, Japan started to lose the war.

In the summer of 1941 I asked to be sent to Pearl Harbor. The Pacific fleet was there and it sounded romantic. I was attached to the U.S.S. MacDonough when the Japanese attacked. We got under way about ten o'clock looking for the Japanese fleet. It's lucky we didn't find them; they would probably have sunk us. I spent the whole war in the Pacific, four years.

At first I thought the U.S. It turns out they could see better than we could and their torpedoes, unlike ours, worked.

It was not Hitler's attacks on the Jews that brought the United States into World War II, any more than the enslavement of 4 million blacks brought Civil War in 1861. Italy's attack on Ethiopia, Hitler's invasion of Austria, his takeover of Czechoslovakia, his attack on Poland - none of those events caused the United States to enter the war, although Roosevelt did begin to give important aid to England. What brought the United States fully into the war was the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Surely it was not the humane concern for Japan's bombing of civilians that led to Roosevelt's outraged call for war - Japan's attack on China in 1937, her bombing of civilians at Nanking, had not provoked the United States to war. It was the Japanese attack on a link in the American Pacific Empire that did it.

In one of its policies, the United States came close to direct duplication of Fascism. This was in its treatment of the Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast. After the Pearl Harbor attack, anti-Japanese hysteria spread in the government. One Congressman said: "I'm for catching every Japanese in America, Alaska and Hawaii now and putting them in concentration camps. Damn them! Let's get rid of them!"

Franklin D. Roosevelt did not share this frenzy, but he calmly signed Executive Order 9066, in February 1942, giving the army the power, without warrants or indictments or hearings, to arrest every Japanese-American on the West Coast - 110,000 men, women, and children - to take them from their homes, transport them to camps far into the interior, and keep them there under prison conditions. Three-fourths of these were Nisei - children born in the United States of Japanese parents and therefore American citizens. The other fourth - the Issei, born in Japan - were barred by law from becoming citizens. In 1944 the Supreme Court upheld the forced evacuation on the grounds of military necessity. The Japanese remained in those camps for over three years.

The Japanese diplomats had been instructed to deliver the Final Memorandum at 1 P.M., but it was not brought to Secretary of State Hull until 2:20 P.M., with the attack well under way. The delay would later enable Japanese officials, wanting to escape the dishonor of making a sneak attack, to blame the tardy delivery on administrative bungling and on time spent decoding garbles. Subsequent research in the Japanese foreign ministry archives, however, makes manifest that the Japanese never intended a proper declaration of war. An entry in the Japanese war diary dated December 7 reads: "Our deceptive diplomacy is steadily proceeding toward success." On an idyllic Sunday morning, on an island demi-paradise, American blood was copiously spilled, the nation's pride wounded, and anger aroused until retribution became the only tenable response. "No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion," the President told Congress the next day in asking for a declaration of war, "the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory."

That same day Britain declared war on Japan. On December 11, Hitler kept his word to the Japanese and declared war on the United States. Senator Wheeler's leak of Rainbow Five appears to have figured into his decisions since, Hitler said, "... there has now been revealed in America President Roosevelt's plan by which, at the latest in 1943, Germany and Italy are to be attacked in Europe.... Germany and Italy have been finally compelled in view of this and in loyalty to the Tripartite Pact, to carry on the struggle against the United States and England jointly and side by side with Japan for the defense, and thus for the maintenance, of liberty and independence of their nations and empires." A leak engineered by isolationists to keep America out of war had helped produce the opposite effect.

Hitler had detailed knowledge of what had been said in the White House on the day of Pearl Harbor. The chain was long, but effective, and the first link was located astonishingly close to the President. The Swiss minister to the United States, fifty-two-year-old Dr. Charles Bruggmann, had previously served in Washington eighteen years before, when he had met and married Mary Wallace, the sister of FDR's vice president. Through the years, Henry Wallace developed a deep affection for his brother-in-law. They met often, and talked on the phone almost daily. Wallace felt safe in confiding to Bruggmann the most intimate secrets to which his position made him privy. Months before Pearl Harbor, on August 17, 1941, Wallace told Bruggmann about the briefing the President had given the cabinet regarding FDR's meeting on the Atlantic with Churchill. Soon after Pearl Harbor, Wallace told Bruggmann what he had heard and seen on the day of the attack as he sat among those summoned by the President. Whatever his family ties to the Vice President, Bruggmann was first of all a professional diplomat. What Wallace confided to him he cabled back to the Swiss foreign ministry in Bern. What Bruggmann did not know was that a German agent, code-named Habakuk, had penetrated the Swiss foreign ministry and read all of his reports. Thus, soon after Pearl Harbor, Habakuk was able to send a message to Berlin of "precise and reliable information" that Bruggmann had heard "in strictest confidence" from Vice President Wallace. He told his superiors, almost word for word, how FDR had characterized the first gathering as: "The most serious Cabinet session since Lincoln met with the Cabinet at the outbreak of the Civil War." The spy was further able to report the President's revelations of the losses the Japanese had inflicted at Pearl Harbor.

The blame for Pearl Harbor has been the assiduous study of eight official investigations, the most thoroughgoing of which, conducted by Congress after the war, ran to fifteen thousand pages of testimony. With the mass of intelligence available to President Roosevelt, with his capacity to read Japan's most secret communications at almost the same time that Japanese diplomats read them, with the pointed Japanese inquiries about Pearl Harbor's layout, known to American cryptanalysts, with his own admission that the Japanese Final Memorandum "means war," how could the President not have known, almost down to the hour, that Pearl Harbor would be attacked?

His seeming ignorance of the strike must be examined against three possible explanations. One, FDR genuinely did not know that Pearl Harbor was targeted. Two, he knew and deliberately did not act in order, as revisionist historians have claimed, to force America into a war that he believed was just but that most Americans did not want. Three, Prime Minister Churchill possessed intelligence, as again has been argued by revisionists, revealing the Japanese attack, but deliberately withheld it in order to see the United States drawn into war on Britain's side.

Choosing the correct one of these three explanations must be prefaced by an overarching question: Why did Japan choose to attack Pearl Harbor in the first place? The strike was intended not to entangle Japan in a protracted war against the United States, but as a knockout punch. It was supposed to eliminate America's floating fortress, the Pacific Fleet, and thus force the United States to withdraw from Southeast Asia and leave Japan free there to work its will. The blow was analogous to having one member of a gang take out the guard so that the rest can then rob the bank unimpeded. The Japanese were well aware that the United States had its attention focused on the war in Europe and that its president wanted to join that fight. They could not imagine that the Americans would undertake two prolonged wars, one across the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

Against this backdrop, the question arises again, given the wealth of intelligence available to him, how could President Roosevelt not have divined that Pearl Harbor was the target? In retrospect, the clues seem to lead to that conclusion like lights on a well-marked runway. The truth, however, is that not one of the 239 messages intercepted between Tokyo and the Japanese envoys in Washington in the six months before December 7 ever mentioned Pearl Harbor. So closely held was the secret that even Nomura and Kurusu were left in the dark that the American base was to be attacked. Though told to wrap up their negotiations by November 25, a deadline extended to the 29th, and though told, "After that things are automatically going to change," the two envoys were never informed precisely of what these "things" were. After the war, Nomura told an interviewer that he had been "the worst-informed ambassador in history."

Based on the information FDR had in hand on the eve of Pearl Harbor, if asked if Japan was going to attack the United States, he would certainly have answered "Yes." He made clear this conviction in the War Council meeting of November 25 where, according to Stimson's diary, FDR stated, "We were likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday. ..." If asked if he knew with certainty where the Japanese would strike, he would have to have answered "No." Given the targets suggested in the Japanese intercepts, if asked if Pearl Harbor was in danger, he likely would have answered, "Probably not." Never in any report or intelligence, whether from agents or broken codes, did FDR ever receive a warning that said Pearl Harbor will be attacked. General Marshall told FDR that the harbor was invincible and a most unlikely target. It was, the general said, "... the strongest fortress in the world.... Enemy carriers, naval escorts and transports will begin to come under air attack at a distance of approximately 750 miles. This attack will increase in intensity until within 200 miles of the objective, the enemy forces will be subject to all types of bombardment closely supported by our most modern pursuit."

Undeniably, Roosevelt wanted to enter the war, but the war in Europe, which he had all but done in the Atlantic, lacking only a formal declaration. Yet, none of his speeches, warning of Nazi machinations in South America, threats to the Panama Canal, or the alleged unpremeditated U-boat attack against the destroyer Greer; had aroused sufficient public ire to lead the nation into that war. If then, a president wants war with Germany, why does he invite an attack on Japan'? Put another way, if Tom is itching to fight Dick, why provoke a fight with Harry'? Does the intelligence available to the President and his inner circle support the thesis that FDR invited the blow at Pearl Harbor to propel the country into the war?

On December 3, this time with Welles present, Roosevelt assured Halifax he meant armed support and assented to the British plan for a preventive occupation of the Kra area. The British government now authorized its Malaya command to initiate this plan, called MATADOR, to forestall a Japanese landing on that shore or as a response to any Japanese incursion into Thailand. It now also gave the Dutch a formal guarantee of armed support. Admiral Phillips, his capital ships having arrived in Singapore, flew to Manila to coordinate naval action with the Americans. Admiral Hart ordered Destroyer Division 57 at Balikpapan in Borneo to sail for Singapore. Thus ABDA seemed finally locked together.

This new solidarity was reactive not preventive, however. The British still hoped for an Anglo-American warning to Japan. Stimson urged the president to draw a line, transgression of which would lead the United States to fight. Roosevelt consistently resisted, sensitive to the Constitutional limitations he had already exceeded by his promise to Halifax, but above all ever-cautious, unwilling to confront the public and Congress until he knew which eventuality he faced. He intended to make an appeal for peace to the Emperor of Japan, but apparently only at the last minute when reconnaissance showed an attack coming. His main object probably was to establish a formal interest in protecting Thailand, Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies in case he needed to ask Congress for a declaration of war. As the first week of December wore on, with American policy settling into this passive vein and the South China Sea still largely empty, an eerie stillness overhung the Pacific and East Asia.

From another part of the world came decisive and welcome news. By December the German campaign against Moscow was finally petering out from exhaustion and icy cold. On December 1, word arrived that the Soviets had retaken Rostov, saving the Caucasus. On the night of December 4 the Red Army, stiffened by its Siberian divisions, launched a counteroffensive on the Moscow front, and BARBAROSSA went into winter quarters.

On December 1, Tokyo time, the Japanese government in Imperial Conference confirmed the decision for war. Only some positive outcome of the Hull-Nomura negotiations could have possibly forestalled that decision. The Hull note of November 26 made it apparent that further negotiation was hopeless. The attack on Pearl Harbor by six carriers, the heart of the Imperial Navy's air arm, would go forward. On December 3 this Pearl Harbor Striking Force, which had sortied from the Kurile Islands on November 26, crossed the International Date Line south of the Aleutians in its passage across the barren, stormy North Pacific toward Hawaii. On December 4 (Tokyo time) nineteen Japanese transports departed from Hainan and gathering contingents from Cam Ranh Bay and Saigon and covering forces from Mako in the Pescadores headed southwest into the South China Sea. On December 6, British reconnaissance aircraft sighted these convoys as they rounded the southernmost tip of Indochina into the Gulf of Siam. Before the RAF could find out whether they were headed for the Kra coast and Malaya or Bangkok, they were lost in monsoon clouds. When Roosevelt learned of the report the following day, December 6 (Washington time), he sent his plea for peace to Emperor Hirohito.

Around midnight December 7/8 (Singapore time), Japanese transports arrived at Kota Bharu in the northeast corner of Malaya and Patani and Singora on the Kra isthmus and began landing troops. At approximately the same time, dawn December 7, 275 miles north of Hawaii, the Striking Force launched more than two hundred planes against the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and an hour later sent off 170 more. In the following hours occurred air raids on Singapore, the Philippines, Guam, and Wake and an assault on Hong Kong. Japanese air power, whether aboard the Striking Force, situated on Formosa and the southern Indochina coast, or quickly landed in Malaya and the Philippines, devastated British and American defenses.

At Hawaii surprise was complete. The Japanese immediately attacked -he airfields at Pearl Harbor and nearby, gutting hangars and aircraft neatly lined up on taxiways for better security against sabotage. They left seventy-nine usable army airplanes out of the original 231. At Pearl Harbor, high-level bombers, dive bombers, and torpedo planes concentrated on Battleship Row, where, singly and in pairs, the pride of the Pacific Fleet was moored. They sank five. Bombs ignited the forward magazine of Arizona, shattering the battleship. Oklahoma capsized, trapping hundreds of seamen inside. West Virginia and California settled in the mud upright. Nevada, attempting to escape the harbor, was beached in flames. Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Maryland suffered damage but remained afloat. Colorado, undergoing modernization on the West Coast, escaped altogether.

In an age of political correctness, President Roosevelt is a wheel-chair-bound saint who strides, Forest Gump-like, on his calipers to triumph over adversity. And, most tellingly, the Japanese warlords, butchers of Nanking, are portrayed as reluctant warriors; Admiral Yamamoto, architect of the naval attack, is a sort of Dr No turned peacenik. But this isn't so surprising. These days, an average 30% of a Hollywood studio's box-office gross comes from Japan.

As you look at this picture-perfect palm tree paradise, it is hard to imagine how death just dropped out of the blue that December morning. In the attack, 2,403 people died, 188 planes were destroyed and the US Pacific Fleet had 12 large ships sunk or beached, including the battleships Arizona, West Virginia and California. FDR convinced the isolationists war was the only war, Churchill breathed a sigh of relief, and within days, under the terms of the tripartite pact, Germany declared war on America, Britain was no longer alone - a watershed moment in modern history.

Standing at the Arizona memorial is a truly moving experience. The ship, at rest in the shallows, is now preserved as a war grave. More than 1,102 souls are still at rest in its rusting hull, killed when the ship's magazine blew, an explosion so huge that the jolt lifted the entire battleship 10 feet out of the water and knocked people on the ground two miles away. The woman at the admissions desk does not think much of this Hollywood invasion: "It's a shame you guys couldn't show more interest in the reason behind it all rather than some movie," she snaps.

(1) Louise Young, Japan's Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism (1998) pages 83-93

(2)Jean Edward Smith, FDR (2007) page 508

(3) Raymond Moley, After Seven Years (1939) page 95

(4) Herbert Feis, The Road to Pearl Harbor (1950) page 76

(5) Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Triumph (1956) page 290

(6) Robert Dallek, Roosevelt and Foreign Policy (1979) pages 153-155

(7) Stephen Pelz, Race to Pearl Harbour (1974) page 200

(8) Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Triumph (1956) page 293

(9) Cabinet minutes (2nd September, 1939)

(10) Neville Chamberlain, speech on BBC radio (3rd September, 1939)

(11) Neville Chamberlain, diary entry (July 1940)

(12) Clive Ponting, Winston Churchill (1994) page 410

(13) Gill Bennett, Churchill's Man of Mystery (2009) page 193

(14) Stewart Menzies to Gladwyn Jebb (3rd June 1940)

(15) Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service: 1909-1949 (2010) page 441

(16) William Boyd, The Guardian (19th August, 2006)

(17) William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid (1976) page 11

(18) Bill Macdonald, The True Intrepid: Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents (2001) pages 61-62

(19) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) pages 3-4

(20) Thomas F. Troy, Wild Bill and Intrepid: Donovan, Stephenson and the Origin of the CIA (1996) page 185

(21) Gill Bennett, Churchill's Man of Mystery (2009) page 253

(22) Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service: 1909-1949 (2010) page 442

(23) William Stephenson, memorandum to Stewart Menzies (December, 1940)

(24) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) page 8

(25) Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Triumph (1956) pages 352-353

(26) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) pages 17-18

(27) William Boyd, The Guardian (19th August, 2006)

(28) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) page 20

(29) Donald Sturrock, Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl (2010) page 229

(30) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) pages 69-71

(31) William Boyd, The Guardian (19th August, 2006)

(32) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) pages 21-22

(33) Andrew Scott Berg, Charles Lindbergh (1998) page 411

(34) John Gunther, Roosevelt in Retrospect (1950) pages 341-342

(35) Tom Driberg, Ruling Passions (1978) page 167

(36) Studs Terkel, Hard Times (1970)

(37) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) page 74

(38) David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man (1963)

(39) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) pages 222-223

(40) Michael Wheeler, Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: The Manipulation of Public Opinion in America (2007) page 131

(41) Jean Edward Smith, FDR (2007) page 510

(42) Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45 (1945) pages 91-92

(43) Robert Dallek, Roosevelt and Foreign Policy (1979) page 241

(44) Joachim von Ribbentrop, telegram to Vyacheslav Molotov about the proposed German-Japanese Pact on 25th September, 1940.

(45) Franklin D. Roosevelt, speech in San Diego (12th October, 1940)

(46) Jean Edward Smith, FDR (2007) page 511

(47) James McGregor Burns, Roosevelt the Soldier of Freedom (1970) pages 231-232

(48) Robert Butlow, Tojo and the Coming of the War (1961) page 245

(49) Walter Lord, Day of Infamy (2012) page 14

(50) Richard Deacon, A History of the Russian Secret Service (1972) page 333

(51) New York Times (5th September, 1964)

(52) Gordon Prange, Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History (1986) pages 292-295

(53) James Rusbridger, Betrayal at Pearl Harbor (1991) page 177

(54) Joseph E. Persico, Roosevelt's Secret War (2001)

(55) General Hideki Tojo, prison diary, first published in The Journal of Historical Review (Volume 12, No. 1, 2002) pages 31-85

(56) The Manchester Guardian (8th December, 1941)

(57) Martin Gilbert, The Second World War (1989) page 272

(58) Admiral Gene La Rocque, interviewed by Studs Terkel, for hisbook, The Good War (1985) pages 189-193

(59) Patrick Renshaw, Franklin D. Roosevelt (2004) pages 168-169

John Simkin

50e. Pearl Harbor

The USS Arizona was pounded by Japanese bombers as it rested at anchor at Pearl Harbor. The ship ultimately sank, taking the lives of 1,177 crew members.

While the international picture in Europe was growing increasingly dimmer for the United States, relations with Japan were souring as well. Japan's aggression was literally being fueled by the United States. The Japanese military machine relied heavily on imports of American steel and oil to prosecute its assault on China and French Indochina.

Placing a strict embargo on Japan would have seemed obvious, but Roosevelt feared that Japan would strike at the resource-laden Dutch East Indies to make up the difference. Beginning in late-1940, the United States grew less patient with Japanese atrocities and began to restrict trade with the Empire.

Just prior to Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, Japan signed a nonaggression pact with Stalin. This removed the threat of a Russian attack on Japan's new holdings. With Europe busy fighting Hitler, the United States remained the only obstacle to the establishment of a huge Japanese empire spanning East Asia.

By the end of 1940, the United States had ended shipments of scrap metal, steel, and iron ore to Japan. Simultaneously, the United States began to send military hardware to Chiang Kai-shek , the nominal leader of the Chinese forces resisting Japanese takeover.

By the beginning of World War II, Japan had established a powerful navy aviation division. It was this superior air power that carried out the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Negotiations between Japan and the U.S. began in early 1941, but there was little movement. By midsummer, FDR made the fateful step of freezing all Japanese assets in the United States and ending shipments of oil to the island nation. Negotiations went nowhere. The United States was as unwilling to accept Japanese expansion and Japan was unwilling to end its conquests.

American diplomats did, however, have a hidden advantage. With the help of " Magic ," a decoding device, the United States was able to decipher Japan's radio transmissions. Leaders in Washington knew that the deadline for diplomacy set by Japan's high command was November 25. When that date came and passed, American officials were poised for a strike. The prevailing view was that the attack would focus on British Malaya or the Dutch East Indies to replenish dwindling fuel supplies.

Unbeknown to the United States, a Japanese fleet of aircraft carriers stealthily steamed toward Hawaii.

The goals for the Japanese attack were simple. Japan did not hope to conquer the United States or even to force the abandonment of Hawaii with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The United States was too much of a threat to their newly acquired territories. With holdings in the Philippines, Guam, American Samoa, and other small islands, Japan was vulnerable to an American naval attack. A swift first strike against the bulk of the United States Pacific Fleet would seriously cripple the American ability to respond. The hopes were that Japan could capture the Philippines and American island holdings before the American navy could recuperate and retaliate. An impenetrable fortress would then stretch across the entire Pacific Rim. The United States, distracted by European events, would be forced to recognize the new order in East Asia.

All these assumptions were wrong. As the bombs rained on Pearl Harbor on the infamous morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, almost 3,000 Americans were killed. Six battleships were destroyed or rendered unseaworthy, and most of the ground planes were ravaged as well. Americans reacted with surprise and anger.

Most American newspaper headlines had been focusing on European events, so the Japanese attack was a true blindside. When President Roosevelt addressed the Congress the next day and asked for a declaration of war, there was only one dissenting vote in either house of Congress. Despite two decades of regret over World War I and ostrichlike isolationism, the American people plunged headfirst into a destructive conflict.


The official website for Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
including tickets, tour information, news, maps, and more.

Open Daily 7:00 am - 5:00 pm *

Join the 1.7 million visitors that visit the USS Arizona Memorial and learn about the day that launched the United States into World War II.

Battleship Missouri Memorial

Open Daily 8:00 am to 4:00 pm *

Three wars, spanning three generations. Climb aboard the last U.S. battleship, the “Mighty Mo,” as she stands silent guard over Pearl Harbor.

Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

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Silent no longer. Delve into the history of America’s Submarine Force – the Silent Service – and learn of the vital role Navy submariners played in the war and beyond.

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

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Step into the WWII-era hangars of Ford Island. Walk among actual vintage aircraft, fully restored, and take flight in the museum’s interactive Combat Flight Simulator.

* Pearl Harbor Historic Sites are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's Day


Diplomatic background

War between Japan and the United States had been a possibility that each nation had been aware of, and planned for, since the 1920s. Japan had been wary of American territorial and military expansion in the Pacific and Asia since the late 1890s, followed by the annexation of islands, such as Hawaii and the Philippines, which they felt were close to or within their sphere of influence. [23] [24] [25] [26]

Although Japan had begun to take a hostile policy against the United States after the rejection of the Racial Equality Proposal, [27] the relationship between the two countries was cordial enough that they remained trading partners. [28] [29] [30] Tensions did not seriously grow until Japan's invasion of Manchuria in 1931. Over the next decade, Japan expanded into China, leading to the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Japan spent considerable effort trying to isolate China and endeavored to secure enough independent resources to attain victory on the mainland. The "Southern Operation" was designed to assist these efforts. [24] [31]

Starting in December 1937, events such as the Japanese attack on USS Panay, the Allison incident, and the Nanking Massacre swung Western public opinion sharply against Japan. The U.S. unsuccessfully proposed a joint action with the British to blockade Japan. [32] In 1938, following an appeal by President Roosevelt, U.S. companies stopped providing Japan with implements of war. [33]

In 1940, Japan invaded French Indochina, attempting to stymie the flow of supplies reaching China. The United States halted shipments of airplanes, parts, machine tools, and aviation gasoline to Japan, which the latter perceived as an unfriendly act. [nb 6] The United States did not stop oil exports, however, partly because of the prevailing sentiment in Washington that given Japanese dependence on American oil, such an action was likely to be considered an extreme provocation. [23] [30] [34]

In mid-1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Hawaii. [35] He also ordered a military buildup in the Philippines, taking both actions in the hope of discouraging Japanese aggression in the Far East. Because the Japanese high command was (mistakenly) certain any attack on the United Kingdom's Southeast Asian colonies, including Singapore, [36] would bring the U.S. into the war, a devastating preventive strike appeared to be the only way to prevent American naval interference. [37] An invasion of the Philippines was also considered necessary by Japanese war planners. The U.S. War Plan Orange had envisioned defending the Philippines with an elite force of 40,000 men this option was never implemented due to opposition from Douglas MacArthur, who felt he would need a force ten times that size. [ citation needed ] By 1941, U.S. planners expected to abandon the Philippines at the outbreak of war. Late that year, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet, was given orders to that effect. [38]

The U.S. finally ceased oil exports to Japan in July 1941, following the seizure of French Indochina after the Fall of France, in part because of new American restrictions on domestic oil consumption. [39] Because of this decision, Japan proceeded with plans to take the oil-rich Dutch East Indies. [nb 7] On August 17, Roosevelt warned Japan that America was prepared to take opposing steps if "neighboring countries" were attacked. [41] The Japanese were faced with a dilemma—either withdraw from China and lose face or seize new sources of raw materials in the resource-rich European colonies of Southeast Asia. [ citation needed ]

Japan and the U.S. engaged in negotiations during 1941, attempting to improve relations. In the course of these negotiations, Japan offered to withdraw from most of China and Indochina after making peace with the Nationalist government. It also proposed to adopt an independent interpretation of the Tripartite Pact and to refrain from trade discrimination, provided all other nations reciprocated. Washington rejected these proposals. Japanese Prime Minister Konoye then offered to meet with Roosevelt, but Roosevelt insisted on reaching an agreement before any meeting. [42] The U.S. ambassador to Japan repeatedly urged Roosevelt to accept the meeting, warning that it was the only way to preserve the conciliatory Konoye government and peace in the Pacific. [43] However, his recommendation was not acted upon. The Konoye government collapsed the following month when the Japanese military rejected a withdrawal of all troops from China. [44]

Japan's final proposal, delivered on November 20, offered to withdraw from southern Indochina and to refrain from attacks in Southeast Asia, so long as the United States, United Kingdom, and Netherlands supplied one million U.S. gallons (3.8 million liters) of aviation fuel, lifted their sanctions against Japan, and ceased aid to China., [45] [44] The American counter-proposal of November 26 (November 27 in Japan), the Hull note, required Japan completely evacuate China without conditions and conclude non-aggression pacts with Pacific powers. On November 26 in Japan, the day before the note's delivery, the Japanese task force left port for Pearl Harbor. [ citation needed ]

The Japanese intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the United States Pacific Fleet from interfering with its planned military actions in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Over the course of seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. [15] Additionally, from the Japanese viewpoint, it was seen as a preemptive strike "before the oil gauge ran empty." [23]

Military planning

Preliminary planning for an attack on Pearl Harbor to protect the move into the "Southern Resource Area" (the Japanese term for the Dutch East Indies and Southeast Asia generally) had begun very early in 1941 under the auspices of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, then commanding Japan's Combined Fleet. [46] He won assent to formal planning and training for an attack from the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff only after much contention with Naval Headquarters, including a threat to resign his command. [47] Full-scale planning was underway by early spring 1941, primarily by Rear Admiral Ryūnosuke Kusaka, with assistance from Captain Minoru Genda and Yamamoto's Deputy Chief of Staff, Captain Kameto Kuroshima. [48] The planners studied the 1940 British air attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto intensively. [nb 8] [nb 9]

Over the next several months, pilots were trained, equipment was adapted, and intelligence was collected. Despite these preparations, Emperor Hirohito did not approve the attack plan until November 5, after the third of four Imperial Conferences called to consider the matter. [51] Final authorization was not given by the emperor until December 1, after a majority of Japanese leaders advised him the "Hull Note" would "destroy the fruits of the China incident, endanger Manchukuo and undermine Japanese control of Korea". [52]

By late 1941, many observers believed that hostilities between the U.S. and Japan were imminent. A Gallup poll just before the attack on Pearl Harbor found that 52% of Americans expected war with Japan, 27% did not, and 21% had no opinion. [53] While U.S. Pacific bases and facilities had been placed on alert on many occasions, U.S. officials doubted Pearl Harbor would be the first target instead, they expected the Philippines would be attacked first. This presumption was due to the threat that the air bases throughout the country and the naval base at Manila posed to sea lanes, as well as to the shipment of supplies to Japan from territory to the south. [54] They also incorrectly believed that Japan was not capable of mounting more than one major naval operation at a time. [55]


The Japanese attack had several major aims. First, it intended to destroy important American fleet units, thereby preventing the Pacific Fleet from interfering with the Japanese conquest of the Dutch East Indies and Malaya and enabling Japan to conquer Southeast Asia without interference. Second, it was hoped to buy time for Japan to consolidate its position and increase its naval strength before shipbuilding authorized by the 1940 Vinson-Walsh Act erased any chance of victory. [56] [57] Third, to deliver a blow to America's ability to mobilize its forces in the Pacific, battleships were chosen as the main targets, since they were the prestige ships of any navy at the time. [56] Finally, it was hoped that the attack would undermine American morale such that the U.S. government would drop its demands contrary to Japanese interests and would seek a compromise peace with Japan. [58] [59]

Striking the Pacific Fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor carried two distinct disadvantages: the targeted ships would be in very shallow water, so it would be relatively easy to salvage and possibly repair them, and most of the crews would survive the attack since many would be on shore leave or would be rescued from the harbor. A further important disadvantage was the absence from Pearl Harbor of all three of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers (Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga). IJN top command was attached to Admiral Mahan's "decisive battle" doctrine, especially that of destroying the maximum number of battleships. Despite these concerns, Yamamoto decided to press ahead. [60] [ page needed ]

Japanese confidence in their ability to achieve a short, victorious war also meant other targets in the harbor, especially the navy yard, oil tank farms, and submarine base, were ignored, since—by their thinking—the war would be over before the influence of these facilities would be felt. [61]


The sudden attack in Hawaii—at the time a territory of the United States, not a state—might have taken many by surprise, but the Japanese had been planning the operation for months.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander in chief of the Japanese naval forces and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, didn’t want a fight with America. But much of Europe and Asia, including Japan, were involved in World War II at the time. Yamamoto wanted to take over certain countries in southeastern Asia and use their oil to help fuel Japan’s military vehicles and naval fleet.

But because the U.S. base in Hawaii was relatively close to these countries, the Japanese worried that the United States would send soldiers from Pearl Harbor to defend the nations if they were attacked. By destroying the U.S. military presence in the region, the countries Japan wanted to target would be left vulnerable. So Yamamoto decided to move forward with a surprise attack on the U.S. fleet in Hawaii.

So on November 26, 1941, 31 warships carrying fighter planes and bombers slipped from Japan into the North Pacific. They moved silently until they closed in on the Hawaiian Islands. A small Japanese plane made a loop around the target and radioed back: “Pearl Harbor sleeps.”

Just like any other memorial, Pearl Harbor National Memorial was erected to honor the lives of Americans who died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Here are a few fast facts about this memorial.

  • A formal day of dedication for the memorial occurred in 1962 on Memorial Day .
  • In 1966, the Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The administration of the memorial was handled by the US Navy until they collaborated with National Park Service in 1980 to create a joint administration that handles upkeep, tourism, and fundraising to this day.
  • The memorial contains nine stations that represent various aspects of the war. The primary focus consists of two US Navy ships, the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri, representing where the war began and ended.
  • Even after 79 years, the USS Arizona hull still leaks out small amounts of oil which have come to be known as &ldquothe tears of the Arizona.&rdquo

Both ships had a huge significance in the war. The USS Missouri was the ship that saw the conclusion of the war on its deck when the Japanese surrendered to US General Douglas MacArthur. The USS Arizona was the ship that took four bombs during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. One of those bombs generated an explosion that took the lives of 1,177 Americans and sank the ship.

During the war, parts of the USS Arizona were salvaged but the hull was allowed to stay where it had fallen and an elegant white structure was constructed over the spot. Today, this memorial alone welcomes thousands of visitors each year where visitors can look into the waters and see the submerged hull of the ship. The USS Missouri is docked and positioned to avoid overshadowing the remains of USS Arizona.

How it came to be

Robert Ripley, the founder of a company called Ripley&rsquos Believe it or Not, had a famous radio show. His first visit to Pearl Harbor was in 1942. Six years after that initial visit, he began broadcasting from Pearl Harbor.

Thanks to connections of his good friends with the Department of the Navy, he wrote letters to then Rear Admiral J.J. Manning and pitched in his idea and desire to set up a memorial site. Ripley&rsquos idea was rejected because it was too costly, but the Navy did pursue the idea of constructing a memorial to honor the fallen.

In 1949, the Pacific War Memorial Commission was created. It was this group's job to construct a permanent memorial in the state of Hawaii. Things were slow until the early 50s. Up to that time, there were only a few traditions that honored the fallen, such as hoisting and lowering the flag at the site where the USS Arizona was still submerged.

In 1955, a three-meter tall stone of basalt and a plaque were the first signs of a permanent memorial. Then in 1958, President Eisenhower signed legislation that mandated the construction of the memorial, and the cost for the construction was set at $500,000 of which 40% was subsidized by the government. Hawaii raised around $50,000. A television show named This is Your Life raised a whopping $95,000 by having a soldier on who survived the attack on USS Arizona. Even Elvis Presley raised more than 10% of the total cost from one of his benefit concerts in 1961.

The memorial finally came into existence a year later in loving memory of the Armed Forces who dedicated their lives to serving their nation.


Just as the placement of USS Missouri and USS Arizona has a meaning, the design history of the Pearl Harbor Memorial holds meaning and interest, too. Even the story of its architect, Alfred Preis, has connections to the strife of WWII. Alfred, an Austrian, fled Nazi Germany and settled in Honolulu. After the Japanese bombing, however, he was placed into an internment camp since Japan and Germany were allies. He was released after three months.

The US Navy specified that the design of the memorial should be a bridge-like structure that looks over the submerged remains of USS Arizona and can hold over 200 people. Alfred came up with an idea of a structure that was 184 meters in length, dipped in the middle, and rose at both ends. The idea represented in his design depicts both the low-point for America when the bombing occurred and victory at the end of the war.

The structure contains a total of three rooms. First is the entry room where visitors enter the memorial. The second room, which is also the Assembly Hall, might be the most meaningful part of the structure to visitors.

The middle has seven windows each on both sides and the roof. While the number seven represents the date of the attack, the total number amounts to 21, referring to the 21-gun salute in tribute to those lost. The floor of this room is directly above the wreckage of USS Arizona and has a hole cut through it for visitors to see the sunken hull. In respect for the dead, many visitors drop flowers down the hole.

The last room is known as the shrine where the names of all the crewmen who lost their lives in the attack are listed.

From Engagement to Peace

At the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, learn about one of the most pivotal moments in US history: the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II.

Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial program is free for all visitors. The visitor center and museums are also free. Find out more about the park.

Plan Like a Park Ranger

Read more plan your trip to Pearl Harbor National Memorial like a Park Ranger

79th Commemoration Events

Learn more about upcoming 79th commemoration events the week of December 7, 2020.

Moments of Infamy

In this web series, Park Ranger Jason Ockrassa takes you to historical sites around Oahu & talks about the service members of WWII Hawaii.

Bag Policy and Safety

Bags are not allowed at the park, but can be stored onsite. Find out more about our bag policy, medical concerns, and safety at the park.

Coming Home 77 Years Later

Using DNA & other technology, the remains of service members lost on the USS Oklahoma on Dec 7, 1941, are being identified & returned home.

Need to Know

High theft area, do not leave valuables in vehicles.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a fee-free site, and the National Park Service does not charge for programs or for entrance fees.

There are many ways to access Pearl Harbor National Memorial: via public transportation, taxi, rental car, or with one of the many commercial transportation companies permitted by the National Park Service that provide services for a fee. With a limited number of tickets available online each day, reservations can fill quickly. Reservations may be made up to 8 weeks (56 days) in advance. All tickets reserved for the USS Arizona Memorial program are final. There are no refunds for the $1.00 reservation fee under any circumstances.

Please arrive at Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at least thirty (30) minutes prior to your assigned tour time and be at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater ten (10) minutes prior to your tour time to ensure you are checked-in. The Navy-operated boat will begin boarding at your tour time. If you are late, you may not be able to get in to another tour.

Bags are prohibited at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Clear, see-through stadium bags and bags containing medical devices or medication may be allowed into the site at the discretion of the National Park Service. Cameras, cell phones, and wallets are allowed. Bags may be secured in a storage facility near the visitor center entrance for a fee. More information is available on the park’s website, here .

Boat trips to the USS Arizona Memorial may be cancelled or modified due to boat mechanical issues, high winds, and other safety concerns.

The visitor center has reserved accessible parking near the entrance. The restrooms, theaters, exhibit galleries, bookstore, information desks, drinking fountains, Navy shuttle boats and the USS Arizona Memorial are all fully accessible to visitors in wheelchairs or scooters. Walking the distance between facilities may be challenging for visitors with mobility issues. Several benches are located throughout the site for opportunities to rest. Please note: The visitor center does not offer wheelchairs to the public. Please use assistive devices with care walkers with wheels have caused accidents when used as wheelchairs. Stay hydrated in the tropical climate.

For hearing impaired visitors, all films are fully captioned in English. There is an induction loop for use with hearing aids in the theater. Visually impaired visitors will find signage in braille in addition to tactile models of various interpretive resources throughout the site. Braille booklets regarding Pearl Harbor are available at the information desk.

Please plan for traffic and allow time to find parking in one of the free parking lots located within walking distance of the visitor center. Taxi cabs and ride share companies must follow parking lot signage, as well as all pick up and drop off protocols.


The USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today, a memorial exists at Pearl Harbor to honor those who lost their lives that day. It includes the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, the USS Utah Memorial, parts of Ford Island, and Battleship Row. Built over the battleship whose name it carries, The USS Arizona Memorial receives over 1.8 million visitors each year. You can read AHF’s Alexandra Levy’s account of her visit to the memorials here.

In December 2016, Shinzo Abe became the first sitting Japanese Prime Minister to visit Pearl Harbor. Abe asserted, “We must never repeat the horrors of war again. This is the solemn vow we, the people of Japan, have taken.” He also spoke of “the spirit of tolerance and the power of reconciliation” and offered his “sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives.”

Remains of unidentified Pearl Harbor soldiers sent back to Hawaii

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — In 2016, the Offutt Air Force lab, whose mission is to identify killed or missing soldiers from american conflicts set out on an ambitious operation.

They were given 388 remains, 13-thousand bones in total, of men on board the USS Oklahoma, which sank on the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

“On that fateful day, December 7, 1941, the ship and the crew became an unfortunate part of Navy history,” said Greg Slavonic, former Undersecretary of the Navy.

Thursday, the 50-plus American men who died on board the USS Oklahoma, were carried away onto a plane, heading to their final resting place, the spot where they died almost 80 years ago.

“The Oklahoma was first on the target list and by 8:08 it had capsized approximately 12 minutes after the torpedo hit,” said Slavonic.
“The attack on the ship, as Kelly mentioned, resulted in 429 sailors, the second greatest loss of life behind the Arizona."

While Thursday, the men who could not be identified were being honored, it was a day to celebrate the successes of a project that brought so many American families closure.

Three hundred and thirty-two Americans were identified by the project, including Jerry Clayton.

Jerry died on the USS Oklahoma. His nephew Robert Clayton and his family were told three years ago they found the remains of Jerry.

Jerry Clayton is now buried in Central City, Nebraska.

“There's that unknown, never knowing and then we heard that they had identified remains there was a big sigh of relief,” said Robert Clayton.

Sheri Spomer, Jerry’s great-niece was the one that brought the family to Lincoln Thursday.

“To keep his memory alive, my kids are 8 and 11 and I don’t want them to ever forget. I want the generations to keep remembering and so being here helps with that,” said Spomer.

Monsignor James Gilg was told recently that his father’s cousin Louis Tulash had been identified by the lab.

“We didn’t know a lot about him, just the fact that he was on the Oklahoma was killed very quickly in World War II,” said Gilg.

Gilg was with his family today and next month plans a family reunion in Atkinson, Nebraska, where Louis can be properly buried and the family can get final closure.

“It’s an honor to be alive and there and represent the ancestors who grieved and waited and given this great opportunity to actually place him in the earth, in the land that he grew up and was raised and loved,” said Gilg.

While the USS Oklahoma project is at its end, Robert Clayton is happy the lab will keep striving to identify Americans from other wars, giving other families the closure his family was afforded.

“The relief we felt these families don’t know yet will get an opportunity to have that closure moment,” said Clayton.

The burial ceremony for the unknown soldiers of the USS Oklahoma will take place at Pearl Harbor, the 80th anniversary of the infamous day.

Watch the video: Tennessee