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United States History
Chapter 26:
The Road to War
Legacy of World War I
 Officially, World War II began on September 1, 1939
 However, you can also say that the beginning of WWII dates
back to November 11, 1918
 The United States, fearing another conflict, refused to join
the League of Nations, isolating the nation from world affairs
 Reparations were forced upon Germany, devastating the
European economy
 Other nations struggled to pay their debt payments
 The US lowered interest rates, but did not cancel debts
 Sanctions were placed on Germany, preventing
development of a military
 Problems in Germany led to the rise of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
 Served in German military
during WWI, surviving a gas
 Formed National Socialist
Workers’ Party (Nazi)
 Imprisoned for trying to
overthrow German gov’t in
 Wrote autobiography, Mein
Kampf in prison
 Book outlined his political
aspirations and blamed
Germany’s problems on
Latin America
 The worldwide economic depression also had a negative
effect on the nations of Latin America
 Dictators came to power in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic,
Cuba, and Honduras
 FDR proposed the Good Neighbor Policy, promising to
respect the nation’s neighbors in regards to their economy
and land
 The policy was tested in 1938 with Mexico
 Many American oil companies drilled in Mexico
 Mexico’s gov’t nationalized the oil industry
 In regards to the policy, the US would respect Mexico’s
decision, but at the expense of the companies
 Luckily, the US and Mexico made a deal to compensate
companies for lost property
 Led by Benito Mussolini
 Founded the Fascist Party in
 Fascists believe in a strict
military control of all aspects
of society
 Suppressed basic rights and
invaded several areas of
Africa in a quest for an Italian
 Used an army of followers
known as Blackshirts to
enforce his power
 Principle ally of Germany
before and during World War
Soviet Union
 Already a Communist nation
 Josef Stalin came to power
in 1924 after Lenin’s death
 Took away basic rights and
took property under gov’t
control, causing decreased
production and famine
 All opposition was crushed
by the Red Army
 Estimated 30 million Soviets
killed as a result of Stalin’s
 Hitler’s Nazi Party gained popularity, especially during
the early days of the Depression
 In 1932, the Nazis won 40% of the vote in German
 Hitler became Chancellor, or der Fuhrer, in 1933
 Using his SS stormtroopers, or Brownshirts, Hitler
suppressed all opposition
Jews and non-Nazis were denied gov’t jobs
Military services was made mandatory
Breaking the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler set out to rebuild
the nation’s military
As a result, unemployment decreased and Germany’s
economy improved
 Hitler wanted to expand Germany’s Lebensraum (“living
 Rhineland invaded in 1936
 Austria annexed in 1938
 Sudetenland in 1938
 The problems of Germany, according to Hitler, were caused
by the Jews
 Passed the Nuremburg Laws in 1935, making Anti-Semitism
official government policy
 Stripped Jews of citizenship
 Destroyed Jewish property
 Kristalnacht (night of broken glass) on November 9, 1938
 Many Jews tried to escape, but had no place to go because of
strict immigration laws
 Just as in Italy and Germany, a fascist dictator came to
power in Spain
 A civil war broke out between fascists and loyalists
 Eventually, after a 3 year war, in 1936, General Francisco
Franco came to power with the help of German and Italian
military aid
 The Soviets supported the Loyalists
 The United States did not send direct aid, fearing getting
involved in another international conflict
 However, 3,000 Americans did fight in the conflict with the
loyalist cause
 Ernest Hemingway glorified the war in his novel For Whom the
Bell Tolls (1940)
 Much of Europe now fell under fascist control
 In a need and desire to rely less on foreign resources,
Japan sought to expand their empire throughout Asia
and the Pacific
 Japan rapidly expanded their army and navy
 In 1931, Japan invaded and conquered Chinese
controlled Manchuria
 By 1937, a full scale war between Japan and China
broke out
 The United States and the League of Nations
condemned Japan’s actions, but were not successful in
stopping them
Fascist Reaction
 Scared of Japanese action against them, the Soviet Union mended
relations with the US in 1933
 France and Great Britain also joined the United States and USSR in
opposing fascist aggression
 Germany, Italy and Japan signed a formal agreement of friendship
 These nations are known as the Axis Powers
 To avoid conflict, Britain, France, Germany and Italy met in Munich in
September 1938
 A policy of appeasement was adopted
 Germany gained the Sudetenland, promising not to invade other lands
The United States adopted neutrality laws
 Prevented shipments of weapons
 Required any goods bought from the US to be shipped by their own
Europe 1939
The War Begins…
 Britain and France, knowing the inevitable, threatened war if
Germany attacked Poland, an area Hitler expressed desire
 Asked USSR to join, but the Soviets signed a nonaggression
pact with Germany
 Also agreed to split Poland with Germany
 September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland
 USSR followed suit, also occupying Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia
and part of Finland
 France and Britain declared war on Germany two days later
 The US continued to stay neutral
 However, sold weapons to warring nations if they were carried
on foreign ships
 Established the Lend-Lease Act with the Allies to provide
military equipment
The War Begins…
 Hitler employed a tactic called Blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) against
 It took less than a month to conquer Poland
 His next move was to eliminate France
 Moved around the Maginot Line defenses into Luxembourg,
Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway
 In the process, trapped thousands of French, British, and Belgian
troops at the French town of Dunkirk
 Only a bold evacuation across the English Channel saved the troops
from surrender or annihilation in 1940
 Germany established a puppet gov’t in Vichy, France
 The French Resistance, led by Charles de Gaulle, continued to
oppose the Germans for the remainder of the war
 In June 1940, Italy declared war on Britain and France
 Germany sent bombers over Britain, but the British were able to
hold off the German Luftwaffe
The US’ Secret Meetings
 FDR met with British PM Winston Churchill secretly in
August 1941
 They discussed how the United States was practically
already at war
 They also drafted the Atlantic Charter
Agreed not to pursue territorial gains
Right of nations to choose their government
Disarming of aggressor nations
All nations needed to work to eliminate war and poverty
 Situation became worse when Hitler invaded the Soviet
Union in June 1941
 Broke the nonaggression agreement with USSR
 Were knocking on Moscow’s door by Fall 1941
Japan and America’s Entry
into World War II
 Meanwhile, Japan continued to expand in Asia and the Pacific
 The United States cut diplomatic ties with Japan and froze all assets
 Japan and the US met several times over the summer of 1941 to
reach a peace
 Secretly, PM Hideki Tojo was planning an attack on the United States
at Pearl Harbor
 The US broke codes and knew an attack was coming, but did not know
 On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor
 Over 2400 dead
 Much of the Pacific fleet damaged or sunk
 FDR asked for a war declaration the next day, bringing the US into World
War II
Hideki Tojo
Winston Churchill
Flags of World War II