Wendell Willkie, the statesman who ran against Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 election, took a trip around the world in August 1942 to talk with the leaders and common citizens about how to achieve world peace. This was no small feat, considering much of the world was at war. In a trip that took 49 days and 31,000 miles, Willkie wrote about his experiences in a book called One World.

Willkie spoke to Stalin, Chiang Kai-shek, General Montgomery, General Chennault and other leaders, but he also spoke with prime ministers, kings, teachers, soldiers, librarians, farmers  and factory workers. His thoughts became the theory of Internationalism that was taught to 25,000 German prisoners of war in a Reeducation Program run by the War Department. These thousand of men, hand picked because of their anti-Nazi sentiments, were on their way back home to Germany. They were given this training in democracy with the hope that they would bring home a vision of world peace.

“One World” sold millions of copies and its plea for international peacekeeping ultimately became embodied in the United Nations.

Next time: Nazis in POW camps in America

Copyright, Geraldine Birch. All rights reserved.

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