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Dispatches, March 2009

Originally published by World War II magazine. Published Online: March 12, 2009 
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    •    The Warsaw ghetto, the cramped home of a half-million Jews during World War II, was commemorated this fall with a series of plaques and a boundary line that traces the borders of the ill-fated Jewish quarter. For three years after the German invasion, Poland's Jews were walled off from the rest of the city, left to die of disease and hunger in the tiny enclave or shipped to concentration camps. Only about 70,000 people remained by the spring of 1943, when residents attempted an uprising to resist the Nazis; most were sent to the death camps, and the ghetto was largely obliterated.

    •    Pieces of a B-24 Liberator shot down over Hiroshima in July 1945 were returned this fall to the families of its crew. Three crewmembers survived the crash only to be killed a week later by the first atomic bomb. A local farmer had kept parts of the fuselage of the Taloa in his barn for over 60 years. Shigeaki Mori, 70, a Hiroshima historian and survivor of the atomic bombing, wrote a book about the Taloa's crew and arranged for the plane's remnants to be shipped to the United States.

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    •    It is finally okay again to name Italian children Benito and Rachele. Or so says a right-wing political party in Italy, which is offering 1,500 euros ($1,900) to parents in five southern Italian villages who give their children the names of the fascist dictator Mussolini or his wife. The party, which has targeted its offer to areas with low birthrates, insists there is nothing insidious about the gesture, describing the names Benito and Rachele as "nice."

    •    Did the United States intercept a Japanese message before Pearl Harbor informing diplomats that war was imminent? The National Security Agency has at last issued a definitive "no." Despite persistent rumors that a coded weather report known as the "winds execute" message had been intercepted in Washing-ton but not acted upon, the agency, in a study released in December, concluded, "The Japanese broadcast the coded phrase(s) long after hostilities began—useless, in fact, to all who might have heard it."

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