Omaha World Herald Front Page Contribution To the War

Gilbert Hitchcock

Gilbert Hitchcock founder of the Omaha World Herald

The Omaha World Herald is a newspaper based out of Omaha, Nebraska. It became the Omaha World Herald after two newspapers, the Omaha Evening World and the Omaha Herald, merged together in 1889. The newspaper itself was thought to be politically independent but soon took a Democratic undertone. It's important to know that the paper started leaning Republican about 10 years before the time period we will be talking about. This paper has been supplying the state of Nebraska and some of its bordering states with news since 1885 and is still publishing newspapers to this day. 

The below articles and talking points will share the front pages of the Omaha World Herald, particularly the Sunday editions, for the months of October through February 1941 and 1942. The goal is to showcase what Omaha was seeing before, during, and after the events of Pearl Harbor. Pay special attention to the tone of the nation and what it felt was important its readers captured on the front-page headlines.

OWH Sun Oct 26th 1941.pdf

Omaha World Herald October 26th, 1941. Fort Crook Bomber Building completion. Aksarben Ball entertaining 6000 guests.

Sunday October 26, 1941

A day that the Omaha World Herald shows great significance to the Omaha area war effort. This front page showcases a couple articles, and even a picture at the bottom of the page, of the Fort Crook Bomber plant. It's funny to note in the article on the left-hand side titled "Bomber Building Finished", talks about this being the day that the actual building itself is completed. Remember that the United States had not declared entry into this war yet. It goes on to say that the workers and machinery probably won't be functioning within the plant until January 1, 1942. As we all know this is almost a whole month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This bomber plant did not produce its first B-26 until June 1942. Click the link to read more about the Fort Crook Bomber plant in an article by George A Larson.

Right next to the Bomber Plant article, is a picture of guests attending a ball held at the old Aksarben coliseum. Some 6000 guests to be exact. The ball was held open to the public for the first time. A ball usually closed off, allowing only the elites to attend, now permitting all classes to be elbow to elbow celebrating together. This shows a kind of unity among the Omaha people during this time.

This front page alone jumps from a bomber plant completion, to a 6000 guest Ball, to the Russians taking back Moscow, to reinforcing the rationing of food and supplies of the country. This is what Omaha was reading about on a Sunday morning during October 1941.

OWH November 23, 1941.pdf

Front page with articles about small British and German victories as well as picture of the American ship, Lehigh, sinking after being torpedoed.

Sunday, November 23, 1941

The United States, although its entry into the war was not until after the war was well underway, allied the British early on. I want to point out that on this Sunday the readers of the Omaha World Herald picked up this paper and saw the headline, "British Pull a Squeeze Play But Nazis Use Brute Force". The article talks about the British and the Germans both having their own little victories. The British took land from the Italians and the Germans from the Russians. The Americans are seeing the war happening in the headlines but are still not convinced to enter this war quite yet.

At the bottom of the page is a photograph of an American owned ship, Lehigh, sinking after being torpedoed near the coast of Africa. This was a freighter ship and from the knowledge we have of the time, without it actually being said, it's safe to assume it was a German Submarine that did the torpedoing.   

This article shows the brutality and the fight that is going on out there in the world but the Americans have still remained on the outside of the fight. Here are some other ships that were sunk during the WWII Time Period from the Official Website of the US Navy.

OWH December 7, 1941 .pdf

Omaha World Herald front page Sunday, December 7, 1941. FDR asks Japan why there is such a high concentration of troops and what they plan on doing?

Sunday, December 7, 1941

Although this front-page article was published on the day the attack on Pearl Harbor took place, you must remember that most of the printing done for this paper was late the night before. This paper was already being circulated and laying on people's doorsteps before the attack actually took place. One article on this page to pay attention to is the one that says "FDR Sends Tokio Note as 2 Jap Convoys Seen Steaming Toward Thai". The article talks about President FDR sending a letter asking Japan's Emperor why there is such heavy troop concentration. He wanted an explanation as to what the Japanese were planning and what was going on. As the readers of the Omaha World Herald are waking up and seeing this article there is a massive attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese about to take place around 8 AM.

The previous articles we have seen do not mention as much on the front page about the violence and the war playing out in the allied countries. The couple of headlines on this page are getting closer to sharing with the United States and the Omaha World Herald readers exactly what is going on in this war and just how close to home it really is. How involved the American People really are.

Click to learn more about the events of Pearl Harbor from A&E's History website.

OWH December 28, 1941.pdf

Omaha World Herald Sunday December 28, 1941. Manila Attack.

December 28, 1941

Look at how the front pages are slipping away from an isolationist country showcasing the war going on all around them, to being right in the middle of it. Allies, rationing, war, defense, American forces, these are all words that just catch your eye as you skim over this page. This article was printed just a few days after Christmas and about three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The main headline on this page, "Manilla Demands Defense, 'Scorns Surrender Plea;' Hint Offensive is Delayed", talks about the attack on Manila in the Philippines. This attack happened just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This page is riddled with war headlines and a shift to a propaganda machine starting to support the United States entry into this war. Click here to hear an oral testimony from Sergeant Glenn Frazier of the US Army, survivor of the Bataan Death March. He was stationed in Manila at the time of this attack.

Sunday, January 25, 1942 

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Saturday, January 31, 1942

A week a part in printing, and a month into the New Year, now we see big headlines running the width of the page. We have officially entered this war and there is movement from this newspaper to get the American people on the bandwagon. Before the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Manila the US remained silent Allies secretly aiding the British to help with their war effort against the Nazi's. As you can see there is now a clear "enter the war" propaganda machine occurring through the media headlines.

Please note that in the January 31st page in the right-hand corner is statistics of Omaha's War effort to date: the bond count, enlistment count, Red Cross dollar count. We start to see the pages covered in war information and showcasing these horrific attacks on the Americans.

The whole top portion of the January 25th issue is an article about General Short and Admiral Kimmel the two officers leading the army and navy in the Pearl Harbor area. They are being blamed at the time for the success in the Japanese attack for their own failure to prepare. Here is a short video showing some Japanese propaganda of Pearl Harbor and some more information on these two leading officers.

OWH Evening Saturday February 28, 1942.pdf

Omaha World Herald Saturday evening paper February 28, 1942. War effort contribution.

Saturday evening, February 28, 1942

Propaganda to join the United States war effort at its finest lays on this page. If ever there was a headline that could take the American people from that isolationist view to support the war it would be this one. The top right-hand corner once again gives the war effort contribution count. In less than one month the bond count has gone up two million dollars and the enlistment count 100 members. The very first thing you see when looking at this page is a headline and seven pictures of Navy commanders who are awarded the Navy Cross.

This page has bold in your face headlines showing all the support and fight that America has. Across the entire bottom of this article's page its says "Eat Your Cake and Have It Too- Attend Victory Party at Auditorium Tonight". Attend this party in support of the war effort, bring your money, you will leave with the same amount it will just be put into war stamps. If you didn't want to be a part of this war before, this article sure would have convinced you.

Omaha World Herald Front Page Contribution To the War