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  • Writer's picturejim lenz

FDR: “We’ve reached a turning point in the war!”

Husband and wife develop a sensor to detect and track U-boats in the North Atlantic.

In the annals of history, there are moments that shape the destiny of nations, and then there are those that redefine the very course of humanity. It was during one such pivotal juncture that the resolute voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt echoed, "We've reached a turning point in the war!" These words encapsulated the strength, leadership, and unwavering resolve that FDR brought to the helm during the tumultuous years of World War II. This story is now revealed for the first time in T H. Harbinger’s book, M.A.D. Scientists—A Love Story.

Setting the Stage: A World in Turmoil

As the shadows of war stretched across continents, Roosevelt's leadership became a beacon of hope for a world mired in darkness. He launched an initiative to leverage science to help win the war. MIT’s leading scientist, Vannevar Bush, was tasked to organize a secret laboratory located on Long Island to develop methods to defeat U-boats. He hired John Tate from the University of Minnesota to lead this new laboratory, and he approached Otto Schmitt to join immediately.

The rest of the story is history, as they say. From the book:

John Tate's patience has been exhausted. His rectangular face showed signs of anger while his small dark eyes appeared dreary. He spoke, barely moving his thin lips. "Otto, Viola, we've learned U-boats are stationed near the shores of the United States. They're probably just a few miles from us as we speak, and we can't find them. They're sinking over 100 of our ships every month, and it's going to get worse. When can we try out this new invention?"

The Stars: Viola and Otto Schmitt

On 18 February 1942, Otto and Viola first devised and prototyped his 'unbalanced magnetometer' and on 26 November 1942, Otto received a letter from Vannevar Bush (the technical advisor to President Roosevelt) stating "new devices … have recently been used in combat with the enemy and have not been found wanting. …. We seemed to have reached the turning point of the war."

The Story: Turning the Tide of War

Imagine the weight on FDR's shoulders as he uttered those words. The war raged on multiple fronts, and the fate of nations hung in the balance. His astute leadership led to pivotal strategies, alliances, and decisions that would change the course of history. From the Lend-Lease Act that bolstered Allied forces to his role in the formation of the United Nations, FDR's influence transcended borders.

The Solution: A Leader Ahead of His Time

FDR's words weren't mere rhetoric; they were an embodiment of his commitment to steering the world toward a brighter future. He recognized that the turning point in the war wasn't just a military victory; it was a victory of spirit over despair, of unity over division. His vision extended beyond battles; it encompassed a world free from tyranny and hatred.

Conclusion: Echoes of Leadership

In a world that often grapples with challenges, FDR's leadership serves as a beacon of light, reminding us of the remarkable heights we can achieve when guided by conviction, compassion, and a resolute determination to bring about positive change. Find out more about this technical achievement that brought him to a turning point in the war. Read M.A.D. Scientist—A Love Story.

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