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Chapter 25: The United States in World War II
The U.S. helps lead the Allies to victory in World War II, but only
after dropping atomic bombs on Japan. American veterans discover
new economic opportunities, but also simmering social tensions.
Mobilizing for Defense
The War for Europe and North Africa
The War in the Pacific
The Home Front
25.1: Mobilizing for Defense
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States mobilizes
for war.
I. Americans Join the War Effort
A. Americans turn outrage into dedication to new global
B. Selective Service and the GI
1. After Pearl Harbor, 5 million men volunteer for
military service
2. 10 million more drafted to meet needs of two-front
C. Expanding the Military
1. General George Marshall—Army Chief of Staff—calls
for women’s corps
2. Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC)—women in
noncombat positions
3. Thousands enlist; “auxiliary” dropped, get full U. S.
army benefits
D. Recruiting and Discrimination
1. Minority groups are denied basic citizenship rights
2. Question whether they should fight for democracy in
other countries
E. Dramatic Contributions
1. 300,000 Mexican Americans join armed forces
2. 1 million African Americans serve; live, work in
segregated units
3. 13,000 Chinese Americans and 33,000 Japanese
Americans serve
4. 25,000 Native Americans enlist
II. A Production Miracle
A. Major industries stop widespread production of consumer
B. The Industrial Response
1. Factories convert from civilian to war production
a. Boats, planes, tanks, etc.
2. Shipyards, defense plants expand, new ones built
a. Produce ships, arms rapidly
i. use prefabricated parts
ii. people work at record speeds
C. Labor’s Contribution
1. Nearly 18 million workers in war industries; 6 million
are women
2. Over 2 million minorities hired; face strong
discrimination at first
a. A. Philip Randolph, head of Brotherhood of
Sleeping Car Porters
b. Organizes march on D.C.; FDR executive order
forbids discrimination in defense industries
D. Mobilization of Scientists
1. Office of Scientific Research and Development—
technology, medicine
2. Manhattan Project develops atomic bomb
III. The Federal Government Takes Control
A. Economy begins rebound—prices increase steadily?
B. Economic Controls
1. Office of Price Administration (OPA) freezes prices,
fights inflation
2. Higher taxes, purchase of war bonds lower demand
for scarce goods
3. War Production Board (WPB) says which companies
convert production
a. allocates raw materials
b. organizes collection of recyclable material
C. Rationing
1. Rationing—fixed allotments of goods needed by
25.2: The War for Europe and North Africa
Allied forces, led by the United States and Great Britain, battle Axis
powers for control of Europe and North Africa.
I. The United States and Britain Join Forces
A. FDR and Churchill build on mutual respect, friendship
B. War Plans
1. Churchill convinces FDR to strike first against Hitler
C. The Battle of the Atlantic
1. Hitler orders submarine attacks against supply ships
to Britain
a. wolf packs destroy hundreds of ships in 1942
2. Allies organize convoys of cargo ships with escort:
a. destroyers with sonar; planes with radar
3. Construction of Liberty ships (cargo carriers) speeds
up—tide begins to turn
II. The Eastern Front and the Mediterranean
A. Nazis had controlled much of Europe, but were stalled well
inside the USSR
B. The Battle of Stalingrad
1. Hitler wants to capture Caucasus oil fields and
destroy Stalingrad
2. Soviets eventually defeat Germans in bitter winter
a. Over 230,000 Germans, 1,100,000 Soviets die
3. Battle a turning point: Soviet army begins to move
towards Germany
C. The North African Front
1. General Dwight D. Eisenhower commands invasion of
North Africa
2. Afrika Korps, led by General Erwin Rommel,
surrenders May 1943
D. The Italian Campaign
1. At Casablanca, Allies decide will accept only
unconditional surrender from Axis
2. Also agree that invasion in France is unwise, better to
take on weaker Italian forces and cut Germans in half
3. By summer 1943, capture Sicily; Mussolini forced to
4. 1944 Allies win “Bloody Anzio”; Germans continue
strong resistance
E. Heroes in Combat
1. African Americans —Tuskegee Airmen, Buffaloes—
highly decorated
2. Mexican-American soldiers win many awards
3. Japanese-American unit most decorated unit in U.S.
III. The Allies Liberate Europe
A. Operation Overlord planned as Allies move up Italian
B. D-Day
1. Allies set up phantom army, send fake radio
messages to fool Germans
2. Eisenhower directs Allied invasion of Normandy on DDay June 6, 1944
a. U.S., British, and Canadian troops land during
largest naval invasion in world history
C. The Allies Gain Ground
1. Allies hold 80 mile strip, look to breakthrough
2. General Omar Bradley bombs to create gap in enemy
defense line
3. General George Patton leads Third Army, reach Paris
in August
4. Meanwhile, FDR reelected for 4th term with running
mate Harry S. Truman
D. The Battle of the Bulge
1. October 1944, Allies capture first German town,
2. December German tank divisions drive 60 miles into
Allied area
3. Germans push back but have irreplaceable losses
E. Liberation of the Death Camps
1. Allies in Germany, Soviets in Poland liberate
concentration camps
a. find starving prisoners, corpses, evidence of
F. Unconditional Surrender
1. April 1945, Soviet army storms Berlin; Hitler commits
2. Eisenhower accepts unconditional surrender of
German Reich
3. May 8, 1945, V-E Day: Victory in Europe Day
G. Roosevelt’s Death
1. FDR dies April 12; Vice President Harry S. Truman
becomes president
25.3: The War in the Pacific
In order to defeat Japan and end the war in the Pacific, the United
States unleashes a terrible new weapon, the atomic bomb.
I. The Allies Stem the Japanese Tide
A. With the defeat of Germany the initial priority, the U.S.
Pacific fleet was still reeling from the Pearl Harbor attack
B. Japanese Advances force early retreats
1. In first 6 months after Pearl Harbor, Japan conquers
2. Gen. Douglas MacArthur leads Allied forces in
3. March 1942 U.S., Filipino troops trapped on Bataan
4. FDR orders MacArthur to leave; thousands of troops
C. Doolittle’s Raid
1. April 1942, Lt. Col. James Doolittle leads raid on
2. Lifts morale throughout U.S.—pressures Japanese
D. Battle of the Coral Sea
1. May 1942, U.S., Australian soldiers stop Japanese
drive to Australia
2. For first time since Pearl Harbor, Japanese invasion
turned back
E. TURNING POINT: The Battle of Midway
1. Admiral Chester Nimitz commands U.S. naval forces
in Pacific
2. Allies break Japanese code, win Battle of Midway, stop
Japan again
3. “island-hopping”--Allies advance island by island
toward Japan, sometimes skipping in order to cut off
II. The Allies Go on the Offensive
A. Allied offensive begins August 1942 in Guadalcanal
1. First land defeat for Japanese
B. The Allied Offensive
1. October 1944, Allies converge on Leyte Island in
a. return of MacArthur
C. The Japanese Defense
1. Japan uses kamikaze attack—pilots crash bombladen planes into ships
2. Battle of Leyte Gulf is a disaster for Japan
a. Imperial Navy severely damaged; plays minor
role after
D. Iwo Jima
1. island critical as base from which planes can reach
2. 6,000 marines die taking island; of 20,700 Japanese
only 200 survive
E. The Battle for Okinawa
1. April 1945 U.S. Marines invade Okinawa
2. April–June: 7,600 U.S. troops, 110,000 Japanese die
3. Looking ahead, Allies fear invasion of Japan may
mean 1.5 million Allied casualties
III. The Atomic Bomb Ends the War
A. Scientists had already been racing to harness nuclear
technology before the Nazis could—their efforts come to
B. The Manhattan Project
1. J. Robert Oppenheimer is research director of
Manhattan Project
2. July 1945, atomic bomb tested in New Mexico desert
3. President Truman orders military to drop 2 atomic
bombs on Japan
C. Hiroshima and Nagasaki
1. Many major Japanese cities had been firebombed
2. August 6, Hiroshima, major military center, destroyed
by bomb
3. 3 days later, bomb dropped on city of Nagasaki
4. September 2, 1945 Japan surrenders
IV. Rebuilding Begins
A. Major questions for the Allies
1. How could the mistakes of Versailles be avoided?
2. Would the relationship with USSR be further strained?
B. The Yalta Conference
1. February 1945, FDR, Churchill, Stalin meet in Yalta
a. discuss post-war world
2. FDR, Churchill concession: temporarily divide
Germany into 4 parts
3. Stalin promises free elections in Eastern Europe; will
fight Japan
4. FDR gets support for conference to establish United
C. The Nuremberg War Trials
1. 24 Nazi leaders tried, sentenced
a. charged with crimes against humanity, against
the peace, war crimes
2. Establish principle that people responsible for own
actions in war
D. The Occupation of Japan
1. MacArthur commands U.S. occupation forces in Japan
2. Over 1,100 Japanese tried, sentenced
3. MacArthur reshapes Japan’s economy, government
25.4: The Home Front
After World War II, Americans adjust to new economic opportunities
and harsh social tensions.
I. Opportunity and Adjustment
A. Unlike Great Depression, WWII gives Americans opportunity
for employment and financial savings—U.S. will emerge as
the world’s dominant economic and military power
B. Economic Gains
1. Defense industries boom, unemployment falls to 1.2%
in 1944
a. average pay rises 10% during war
2. Farmers prosper from rising crop prices, increase in
a. many pay off mortgages
3. Percentage of women in work force rises to 35%
C. Population Shifts
1. War triggers mass migrations to towns with defense
2. Social Adjustments
a. Families adjust to fathers in military; mothers
rear children alone
b. Families must get to know each other again
after fathers return
c. Many couples rush to marry before husband
goes overseas
d. 1944 GI Bill of Rights or Servicemen’s
Readjustment Act:
i. pays education; loan guarantees for
homes, new businesses
II. Discrimination and Reaction
A. Despite new opportunities, old prejudices and policies
B. Civil Rights Protests
1. Racial tensions rise in overcrowded Northern cities
2. James Farmer founds Congress of Racial Equality
a. works on racial segregation in North
3. 1943 racial violence sweeps across country; Detroit
riots worst case
C. Tension in Los Angeles
1. Anti-Mexican zoot suit riots involve thousands
servicemen, civilians
III. Internment of Japanese Americans
A. Japanese Americans placed in concentration camps due to
hysteria that followed surprise attack on Pearl Harbor
B. Hawaii governor forced to order internment (confinement)
of Japanese
C. 1942 FDR signs removal of Japanese Americans in four
D. U.S. Army forces 110,000 Japanese Americans into prison
E. 1944 Korematsu v. United States—Court rules in favor of
F. After war, Japanese American Citizens League pushes for
1. 1988, Congress grants $20,000 to everyone sent to
relocation camp