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World War II
Transcript of World War II
In the aftermath of World War I,
three factors led to the rise of dictatorships:
Fear of Communism
Anger about the war
Europe and Japan: The Rise of Dictators
One source of anger for Germans was that they had lost land to the Allies in WWI.
Benito Mussolini took control through a military takeover
. In Germany,
Adolf Hitler took control through elections
. These two very powerful dictators gained power through a new political idea: Fascism.
an ideology that combines extreme nationalism, militarism, and a government-guided economy
In the Soviet Union,
Josef Stalin gained control of the Communist Party and turned the country into a dictatorship
military leaders under the guidance of General Hideki Tojo
(later to be Prime Minister)
took control of the country from the Emperor
, turning that country into a dictatorship as well.
Think About It
In all of these countries, many people were happy to have the dictators take control. Why do you think people might welcome a dictatorship taking control of their country?
Germany, Italy, and Japan started gaining new territories around Europe, Africa, and Asia in the late 1930s, and officially formed the Axis Powers
in 1940. At the Munich Conference (1938), France and Britain used the policy of
appeasement (giving into someone's demands in order to keep peace)
to maintain peace with Germany. It didn't work.
Meanwhile, in America...
U.S. continued to be isolationist into the 1930s. FDR pursued his Good Neighbor Policy, in which the U.S. promised to not interfere in Latin America any more.
sought to avoid another Lusitania incident by
prohibiting Americans from traveling on ships of nations at war.
The Phantom Menace
In late 1939,
Germany invaded Poland, leading Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Then in 1940, Germany quickly invaded France, driving the British out of mainland Europe and forcing France to surrender
Germany had achieved quick and easy victories through a type of warfare that American reporters named
"Blitzkrieg," literally "lightning war."
hitting an enemy hard and fast with a mixture of land and air forces.
German Panzer Korps (Tank Corps) rolling into France (1940)
Sorta Kinda Neutral
U.S. stayed technically neutral
, but FDR made it clear that America supported the Allies.
When Japan invaded China, U.S. fighter pilots nicknamed the "Flying Tigers" were secretly recruited to fight Japanese pilots
. In 1941, the U.S. also signed the
Allies to rent or borrow crucial supplies
Relations between the U.S. and Japan had been getting more and more tense over the 1930s.
Japan invaded China in 1937 and then the rest of Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia today) in 1941
. When they did this,
FDR froze Japanese funds in American banks and cut off all trade with Japan
until they agreed to leave. They did not.
The Empire Strikes First
This is an actual photo from after the attack, color added in digitally.
Japan attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
They thought that they could cripple the U.S.'s ability to fight in the Pacific, letting Japan gain control of the region, and that the U.S. would then get tired of war and ask for peace. That didn't happen though.
They Thought Wrong
The attack on Pearl Harbor was very deadly, but it was not as effective as Japan had hoped.
Of the 18 ships sank or damaged, only 1 was unable to be repaired. The Japanese attack also failed to destroy the shipyards and oil depot on the other side of the island. Within 6 months, the U.S. Pacific Fleet was fully recovered and ready to fight back.
An unwritten, secret addition to the pact was a splitting-up of Poland between the two countries. The Soviets also used this as an opportunity to invade Finland.
The War in America
At home, Americans were mostly very united behind the war effort. People bought
kept inflation down and helped pay for the war
allowed people to grow their own food to save supplies for the military and our allies
of supplies meant that
people could only buy certain amounts of certain necessary goods
Women at Work
With so many men off fighting (about 16.6 million Americans served in WWII, more than 12% of the population),
(about 6.5 million)
went to work in traditional male jobs, such as factories where war materials
such as planes and bombs
Digitally colorized photo of female aircraft factory workers.
Three WAC Corporals from the Air Corps.
Women at War
women also served in the Women's Army Corps (WACs)
. They served non-combat roles but held full military rank. General Douglas MacArthur said that they were his "best soldiers," that they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men. Women also served in the
Navy's WAVES and the civilian WASPS (Women's Air Service Pilots
- they ferried military aircraft between bases).
In 1942, FDR created the
Office of War Information to create pro-Ally / anti-Axis propaganda
(official communications meant to influence opinions) such as posters, movies, and newsreels.
African-Americans had served in segregated units off-and-on since the Civil War, but it was in World War II that they were finally allowed to create their own all-black combat units. One of these was the Army Air Corps' famed
an all-black fighter pilot group
that escorted American bombers. They were so good that bomber groups began requesting them by name.
Hitler's Big Mistake
In 1937, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the
Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
(a promise that Germany and the Soviet Union wouldn't attack each other).
Germany broke the pact when they invaded the Soviet Union
. At first the invasion was successful, but eventually it failed. Now,
the Soviets joined the Allies.
was one of many ships damaged at Pearl Harbor that soon saw service against Japan.
Tuskeegee Airmen pose in front of a P-40 Warhawk fighter.
Official shield of the 332nd Fighter Group (Tuskeegee Airmen).
Many Mexican-Americans volunteered and fought in the war. Also,
the Bracero Program
brought tens of thousands of Mexicans across the U.S. border to work in agriculture due to labor shortages
(remember that nearly 2 million were deported during the Great Depression).
volunteered for the military at a higher percentage than any other minority group
. More than 25,000 of them served. One group of them that were particularly famous were the
Navajo "Code Talkers
in the Pacific
sent messages in their native language, which the Japanese could never decipher
Native American Marine Corporal Ira Hayes (far left) was one of the men in the famous "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" photograph.
German dive-bomber Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka," the main bomber used in the Battle of Britain
German Heavy Figher Messerschmidt Bf 110, the main fighter used in the Battle of Britain
British Hawker Hurricane, the most numerous of the British fighter planes used in the Battle of Brtain
British Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1, the most famous of the British fighter planes used in the Battle of Brtain
The Battle of Britain
Hitler had originally planned to invade Great Britain (called Operation: Sea Lion) and quickly end the war. The first step in this plan was to bomb them into submission. The
bombing lasted from July through October of 1940 but ultimately failed. A major reason it failed was the invention of
allowed the British to see the bombing attacks coming and prepare for them
. Though the Germans did also have Radar, they failed to see how important it was to the fight and never focusd enough attention on destroying British Radar stations.
Reichsmarshall Herman Goring was the head of the German Luftwaffe (air force). The Battle was his greatest failure.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill kept the British people's spirits up with inspiring speeches during the Battle.
Illustration on how the RAF tactics, from the British Air Ministry's informational brochure "The Battle of Britain" (1941)
Note: Video is 10 minutes long.
Goes to War
Africa and Italy
Stalin continuously urged Churchill and FDR to open a western front (begin an invasion of Europe)
so that the Germans would have to move some of their soldiers off of the Soviet front. Instead, Britain and America first invaded Africa and then the Italian island of Sicily, waiting until June 1944 to actually open the western front.
General Dwight Eisenhower
Supreme Commander of Allied Forces
. One of his top generals was
George S. Patton
, who was
best known for
use of tanks
in the Africa and Italian campaigns.
Patton would later be
instrumental in winning the war in
June 6th, 1944: D-Day
Finally, the Allies did open that western front. On June 6th, 1944, the
Allies launched a massive invasion of France,
codenamed Operation Overlord
(a military code for the first day of any operation),
June 6th, 1944
, nearly 160,000
from 12 different countries
landed on the beaches of Normandy, France
or parachuted behind enemy lines. By August, the Allies had more than 3 million troops in France.
American soldiers in a LCVP or "Higgins boat," approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day
Home by Christmas
It was called the Battle of the Bulge because of the way the German line (thick red line) "bulged" into the Allied territory.
British Field Marshall Montgomery planned a massive (~40k soldiers) airborne assault of the Netherlands called Operation Market Garden. The hope was that this would lead to a swift end to the war, with promises that soldiers would be "home by Christmas." It failed horribly and was followed by the
Battle of the Bulge
a huge German counterattack that "bulged" into the territory the Allies had gained
(see map caption).
The Battle lasted through one of the coldest winters in recorded history.
How did it end?
Germans forces were crippled and spent the rest of war in retreat.
After Germany's unconditional surrender, the country was divided up into zones to be temporarily governed by the Allies (Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and the United States). The capital city of Berlin was similarly divided, even though it lay far within the Soviet zone.
Race to Berlin
After the loss of the Battle of the Bulge, Germany was essentially beaten. The war now became a race between the U.S. and the Soviets to see who would take Berlin first. The
General Omar Bradley
successfully led the U.S. invasion of Germany, but the Soviets still beat the U.S. to Berlin.
Hitler and girlfriend Eva Braun married on 4/29/1945 and then committed suicide the next day.
Soviet soldier waves the Soviet flag over the Reichstag in Berlin on 5/2/1945.
After the Battle of the Bulge, the German army was desperate for troops. Here, Propoganda Minister Joseph Goebbels awards a medal to a 16 year-old soldier.
World War II
the U.S. strategy of taking over islands one-by-one on the way to Japan.
Because of Pearl Harbor, racism against Japanese Americans was very intense in the U.S., as seen in cartoons like this.
Jews had been a much-hated and often-abused minority throughout Europe since medieval times. In the 1930s, Hitler and the Nazis made
hatred of Jews
and Arabs) a centerpoint of their campaign to control Germany. They
stirred up hatred of the Jews
partially in order
to give the German people a common enemy
. Hitler also hoped
to create a unified Germany
in which all people would be of similar mind and body. This meant
getting rid of people like the Jews
, either by deportation, voluntary emigration, or death.
in the Holocaust was
to greatly restrict the rights of Jews
. This was partly to convince many of them to leave, but also to ease the German people into accepting the more extreme measures to come.
Along with restricting Jewish rights, the Nuremberg Laws also set up the genetic rules for who was and wasn't a Jew. In this chart, only the person on the far left would be exempt.
Camps and Ghettos
Jews were put in Concentration Camps, where they were worked as slaves
. Many died in these camps by either overwork, abuse, disease, or starvation.
in some of the occupied countries, the Nazis set up Ghettos (fenced-off neighborhoods) for Jews
. This was supposed to be temporary until they could be deported, but they ended up being permanent.
Borders of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland. Of the 400,000 residents, about 300,000 were killed.
At the Buchenwald camp, U.S. soldiers show the corpses of dead residents to local German citizens who claimed to not know about the camp.
Death Squads and Extermination Camps
fifth and final step
: Beginning in 1942, the Nazis began constructing
as part of the
"Final Solution to the Jewish Question
." The sole purpose of these camps was to kill as many Jews as possible as fast as possible. By the end of the war, there 8 of these camps.
, Nazi "
" in occupied territories
rounded up and shot Jews
, often with the help of local people. This proved too inefficient and bad for morale, however.
It couldn't happen here, though...right?
Residents of the Heart Mountain relocation center in Wyoming ice-skating for the first time.
Star Trek star and Internet celebrity George Takei, who was imprisoned at one of the camps as a child, stars in a musical about the Internment.
After Pearl Harbor, fears that Japanese Americans might spy or sabotage for the enemy led to FDR signing
Executive Order 9066, forcing 110,000
(mostly American citizens) to be
in the U.S. They are commonly
While very few people were or died in the camps, residents were forced go very suddenly.
Many of them lost their
homes and businesses
as a result. In the 1944 case,
Korematsu v. United States
, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Japanese American Internment. In 1988, the Civil Liberties Act granted $20,000 in reparations to each survivor of the camps.
Compare and Contrast
On your handout, compare and contrast the Nazi Holocaust to the Japanese American Internment using all of the information you've learned today.
This is a VERY conservative but widely accepted estimate. Other studies have concluded that as many as 21 million were killed, not to mention possibly 27 million Soviet civilians.
The most common estimation of the Holocaust death toll is 6 million Jews and 5 million others, broken down in the chart below.
The Japanese planned a surprise attack at Midway Island; however, the U.S. had cracked the Japanese secret codes and so knew about the attack ahead of time. Under the command of
Admiral Chester Nimitz
Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet
, the U.S. destroyed 4 of Japan's aircraft carriers. The Battle of Midway is considered the
of the Pacific war
because it crippled the Japanese navy
Battle of Midway
Douglas TBD1 Devastators aboard the
prior to the battle.
View from aboard the
, the only U.S. aircraft carrier to be sunk in the battle.
On the same day that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, they also attacked the Philippines, a U.S. territory since 1898. When
General Douglas MacArthur
commander of the Army in the Pacific
, had been forced to retreat form the Philippines in 1942 but came back again to take the islands in 1945.
MacArthur wading ashore on his return to the Philippines.
Route of the Bataan Death March.
Bataan Death March
Americans and Filipinos captured
by the Japanese were
forced on a single, 60 mile march
as many as
and possibly 10,000 Filipinos
Truman feared estimates that around 1 million Americans might die if the U.S. had to invade Japan
. Based on this fear (and possibly other considerations), he ordered atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of
killing around 230,000
people, almost all civilians.
Japan officially surrendered on 9/2/45
(but they had announced they would on 8/14).
What do you think?
1) Was the U.S. justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Japan? Why or why not?
2) What other options do you think the U.S. had?
3) If Germany had not surrendered already, do you think the U.S. would have used atomic bombs on them? Why or why not?
4) Today, the U.S. is often in the position of trying to prevent other countries such as Iran and North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons. Yet the U.S. is to this day the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons against people. How do you think this affects our efforts to prevent nuclear weapons? Do we have a right or a responsibity to stop others from using them / getting them? Why?
Answer the following:
The Battle of Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima was the only battle by the U.S. Marine Corps in which the overall American casualties (killed and wounded) exceeded those of the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths were still 3 times those of the Americans. Of the 70,000 Americans that attacked, nearly 7,000 died and 19,000 were wounded, while 18,000 of the 22,000 Japanese were killed.
Members of the 24th Marine Regiment on Iwo Jima.
Raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima
. While this was the 2nd time the flag was raised there, the photo was NOT staged.
Marine veteran R.V. Burgin was a squad leader in 1st Marine Division during the invasion of Peleliu.
In a 1965 documentary about the bombings, scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer - considered by many to be the "Father of the Atomic Bomb" - read a quote from an ancient text, the
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
Albert Einstein and Oppenheimer (
Manhattan Project lab sites: notice that none are in Manhattan.
The Manhattan Project
In 1942, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began a top-secret project code-named
The Manhattan Project
The goal of this project was to create an atomic bomb
(a weapon that gets its power from a reaction involving the nucleus of an atom). The idea for this project came from a letter sent to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. The letter, called the Einstein–Szilárd letter, told
FDR that other countries such as Germany and Italy were close to developing an atomic bomb and that the U.S. should get to it first.
In popular history,
Albert Einstein has been credited with the idea, something that he regretted for the rest of his life
The Yalta Conference
In February 1945 (just 3 months before FDR, Mussolini, and Hitler all died),
the Big Three
Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin
- met in the city of Yalta in the southern Soviet Union. The
of the meeting was to
discuss what to do with Europe after the war was over
Churchill, FDR, and Stalin
What did they decide?
The Big Three made several decisions at Yalta, but the four biggest ones were:
1) Germany must surrender unconditionally.
2) Britain, France, Soviet Union, and the United States would each occupy a "zone" in Germany
3) Soviet Union would enter the fight against Japan 90 days after Germany's defeat
4) Soviet Union would join the newly-created United Nations
United Nations flag
United Nations General Assembly Hall
in New York City
One of the very last things FDR did before his death was to help create the United Nations. Replacing the useless League of Nations, the UN was created with the
maintaining world peace
, preventing human rights violations, and helping economic development around the world. Originally, there 51 countries in the UN - today there are 193.
The most important defendant at the trials was Herman Goring (top left), Hitler's highest officer. He was found guilty and sentenced to hanging, but a Nazi sympathizer in the U.S. Army snuck a cyanide capsule into his cell so that he could commit suicide on his own terms.
The Holocaust began in Nuremberg, so it was perhaps poetic justice that the
war-crimes trials for
- were held there. These trials were very important because they set the
individuals are responsible for their actions, even if they were "just following orders."
All seven major roads in the Ardennes Mountains converged at Bastogne ("Bas-tohn"), Belgium. The American 101st Airborne Division was tasked with holding the area against the German attack there from 12/20 to 12/27.