Municipal Mobilization: The Long Beach Civilian Defense Council, 1941–46

Thursday, January 5, 2012: 3:00 PM
Chicago Ballroom C (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Julian DelGaudio, Long Beach Community College
Using materials from the National Archives Regional Office, Congressional Hearings, the Historical Society of Long Beach City Manager Files, and the Long Beach Public Library Collection, this paper offers a detailed reconstruction of the municipal mobilization that occurred in Long Beach during World War II.  The paper analyzes this event using the concepts of actual martyrdom, potential martyrdom, and municipal mobilization in both its defense and social services aspects, and assesses the transformation of Long Beach from a “strategic city” to a “Congested Area.”

The ideas of actual and potential martrydom come from Chris Hedges, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, a profound meditation on how government uses the loss of life to mobilize local civilian populations to serve.  It was the very success of the defense mobilization in Long Beach that transformed the city into a "congested area," meaning a location that faced a human and social welfare crisis as a result of the demographic crush that followed the conversion to a strategic city.  Part of my paper is devoted to the application of Hedges' insights to the material on local mobilization.  Since so much of this experience is wrapped around the threat to civilian populations from foreign attack, it certainly could be seen as setting the stage for civil defense during the age of nuclear threat.