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World War II
Causes and Impact of World War II, 1939 – 1945
Isolationism 1919 - 1939
After World War I, many Americans oppose any type of involvement
in European affairs, disputes and wars
The Treaty of Versailles creates the League of Nations to prevent
any disputes from becoming possible wars
The league is weak, does not have American support and has little
After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, many Americans will blame
Europeans for the depression for defaulting on loans to our nation
Americans at this time do not want any militaristic contact with
Europeans. Our military become obsolete and we are not prepared
for modern war
The United States does not want any contact with European
problems and during the Great Depression our army and navy is
totally neglected.
Militarism/Totalitarianism on the
1933 – Adolf Hitler is elected as chancellor to Germany. After an earlier
failed attempt to seize power, he is democratically elected to office.
Hitler calls on German nationalism to not follow the Treaty of Versailles
and to end all reparation payments to the Allies
States that Germany never lost World War I, quickly re-takes the
Rhineland and rearms the nation.
Blames the Jews for the ills of German society and believes in the strength
of the Aryan race
The German Reich will last for 1,000 years, it only survives 12 from 19331945.
Benito Mussolini descends to lead the Italian government in 1922. He
believes in the superiority of the Italian nation and uses nationalism to
promote his ideals of fascism.
Mussolini will expand Italian power in Ethiopia. The Italians could have
been stopped as they were not a modern military force.
Japan may be led by the Emperor, but the government is motivated by a
policy of expansion through military leaders.
Japan expands through China and they see themselves and not the United
States as the dominant power in Asia/Pacific. The Japanese have a large
economy and population and always need to branch out from their island
nation to gain cheap/abundant resources.
The United States wants to contain Japanese expansion and view their
power as a threat to the Philippines, Guam, Wake, Midway, the Aleutian
Islands and Hawaii.
The American Response
Pacifist movements arise in the United States. Many
people are opposed to any type of involvement against
the Axis powers. FDR needs to fix our economy and put
people back to work – not fight.
Many people were opposed to the expansion of our
national defense as they saw the banking and munitions
makers as the proponents of war. They wanted fighting
to gain profits.
Up until December 7, 1941, most Americans were
opposed to war.
FDR knew that the Axis powers had to be checked, but
bowed down to the early pressures of the public not to
In August 1935, Congress passed the first of three neutrality acts.
The 1935 law banned the sale of arms to nations at war and warned
Americans citizens not to sail on belligerent ships.
In 1936 neutrality act banned loans to foreign nations at war
In 1937, all of these acts were made permanent and that all trade
other then munitions were to be carried out within cash-carry
The United States will only watch as Germany pushed back into the
Rhineland, annexed Austria and demanded a portion of
With Czechoslovakia willing to fight, the French and British
negotiated the partition of their nation to prevent a possible war
with Hitler. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's boast
“Peace in our Time,” gave Hitler time and motivation to gain his
conquests with no opposition. Hitler could have been stopped and
defeated before he invaded Poland in September of 1939.
The United States and China
The neutrality acts hurt the weaker nations as they needed
American weapons and unwillingly helped the aggressors
Japanese expansion in China saw this nation hurt from an inability
to purchase American weapons. In 1937, FDR called for a
“Quarantine” against the “epidemic of world lawlessness” and
wanted an international effort to halt aggression.
News of Japanese atrocities in China still saw the widespread belief
that Americans should not send aid to help this nation.
The “Rape of Nanking” saw the massive murder of Chinese citizens
by Japanese soldiers. Public contests were conducted amongst the
Japanese on the amount of Chinese that could be killed in a day or
a campaign.
Adolf Hitler
Benito Mussolini
The United States and World War II,
September 1st, 1939
Like during World War I, the United States will see the
Germans as the main threat to democracy and freedom
FDR will push the government and military to support
the Allies and to begin training for modern warfare.
1939-1940 – Hitler had taken Poland, Denmark, Norway
and pushed the British out of France and taken this
nation within six weeks. The British were reeling from
several defeats and France signed a peace treaty with
FDR pushed the government to act and to repeal the
neutrality acts. If the British fell and the Germans
gained access to their navy, the “Two Ocean Belief”’
would not be enough to protect the United States.
Germany could be a serious threat to the internal
security of America.
FDR and Aid to the British
FDR transferred fifty aging destroyers to the British for the use of eight military bases
in the Atlantic and Caribbean (Bases for Destroyers Deal).
Congress expanded the defense bill from $2 to $10 billion to strengthen the military
Cash-Carry – If the Allies had the money, military goods would be sold to them
Lend-Lease – Congress narrowly voted to extend greater military support to any
nation that FDR deems important enough in supporting the defense of America
(trucks, tanks, guns, etc.).
Germany was sinking over 500,000 tons of British shipping a month. FDR issued
orders for convoy escorts and shoot on sight of German U-boats after they attacked
and damaged the US destroyer the USS Kearney and sunk the Rueben James.
Hitler realized that America was not neutral and was using its might to help the
British, but gave his U-boat commanders orders not to engage American shipping
with hostile actions.
In September 1941, 80% of Americans still wanted to stay neutral/out of war
The first peace time draft in American history was established to re-build the army
and train for battle. Our nation had the 17th largest military out of all the
industrialized nations (between Bulgaria and Portugal).
The Threat of War Looms in the
Pacific, 1940-1941
Japan is an island nation that needs to either expand into foreign lands or
import vital resources (oil, steel)
In July 1940, FDR signed an order setting up a licensing and quota system
for the export of these crucial materials and banned the sale of aviation
fuel. Later in the year, a stronger embargo was placed on all scrap iron and
all oil products.
In 1940, the Japanese signed a peace treaty with the Germans and Italians.
This would later force the United States into a two front war. They also
began to move against the northern territories of French-Indochina.
The United States sought the ABCD Alliance to surround and prevent
further Japanese expansion (American, British, Chinese and the Dutch).
When the Japanese expanded into French-Indochina, these chain of events
led to war. FDR seize and froze all Japanese assets in the United States.
Trade would only occur between America and Japan if they ended their
From the summer of 1941 to December 7th, there were several tense
moments of negotiations to prevent war. Time would be of the essence for
the United States military to began their preparations of defense and
FDR, Secretary of War Stimson and
Army Chief of Staff Marshall and
Signing of Conscription
December 7th, 1941 – FDR, “A Day
that will live in Infamy.”
The United States Pacific fleet is stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
The Japanese fleet sailed and was lost at sea. Our intelligence
system failed to determine where they were traveling and the
purpose of their mission.
Few American military leaders were willing to give the Japanese
credit for any notion of attacking our naval forces at Pearl Harbor.
Early on December 7th, Japanese air and naval forces attacked
Hawaii. American service men awoke to enemy airplanes and a
total shock to the destruction of their planes and ships that were
perilously awaiting to be attacked and destroyed.
General Yammamoto believed that “he could attack Hawaii and run
wild through out the Pacific for one year until the sleeping giant
awoke.” He realized that all of the aircraft carriers had to be
destroyed or the United States would still be able to conduct war
against the Japanese.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
The United States and Warfare –
World War II
Totally unprepared for warfare
American officers do not have the understanding of
training or fighting the type of war that the Germans and
Japanese are waging
FDR wants the United States to deploy troops to the
European and Asian/Pacific Theaters of Operation
American forces must make an immediate impact to the
war effort
Germany on the move in the Soviet Union and in North
Africa, control all of Europe
Japan extends as far north as the Aleutian Islands,
towards Bangladesh and towards Australia
Total American war effort against the Axis
Early Major Battles/Victories
American marines, army and naval forces are dispatched to Guadanalcanal in 1942 to
prevent the Japanese from building airfields that could hurt the shipping lanes to
The Americans gain an important turning point victory against the Japanese and halt
their expansion.
Operation Torch in November of 1942, American and British forces land in western
and northern Africa to begin their efforts in defeating Nazi Germany.
Major American beliefs were to directly attack Hitler’s forces in France. The British
were reeling from several losses and the Americans are too weak and unprepared to
defeat the Germans. An approach against the “soft underbelly” to defeat Hitler in the
Mediterranean Sea.
American forces must learn how to “walk” in North Africa before they can “run” into
battle. The earliest American war efforts prove that the United States was behind in
their ability to train soldiers, supply the war effort, provides logistical support and
actively defeat the enemy.
North Africa and Guadalcanal are important to the development of the American
military leadership and fighting ability
The Allies turn the tide of the war at Stalingrad (Stalin/USSR) and El Alamein
(Montgomery/British) to overcome the offensive abilities of the Germans. These two
major victories provide the beginning of the end for Hitler.
American Leadership
FDR – Four term President of the United States, proponent for Germany first campaign and to
destroy the Japanese ability to wage war. Take the war directly to the enemy at land, sea and air.
General George C. Marshall – Former Chief of Staff to General John J. Pershing during World War
I. Seen as the most capable soldier to organize and lead the American war effort on both fronts
– FDR’s right hand man/confidant.
General Douglas R. MacArthur – Flamboyant and capable officer that will lead the American war
effort in the Pacific. Controversial defense of the Philippines – “I will Return.” Will conduct an
island hopping campaign in the Pacific to defeat the Japanese army.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower – MacArthur’s Chief of Staff during the 1930’s, seen as the protégé
to Marshall. Very well liked and smart officer that never saw action in France during World War I.
Many view him as having the ability to see the big picture of getting along with the Allies,
defeating the Nazis and understanding supply/logistics.
General George S. Patton – Most well known American tank commander. Controversial but
effective leader that is feared by the Germans
General Omar N. Bradley – Highly capable and brilliant leader that was seen as the brake that
would guard Patton’s impulsive actions. Outside of Eisenhower, he is one of the most powerful
Americans in Europe.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz – Outstanding naval commander that will lead the American war effort
through the Central Pacific. His naval forces will actively destroy the Japanese ability to wage war
at sea and to supply their troops on distant and home islands.
General Curtis LeMay – Leads the American air effort against Japanese cities and military targets.
Will actively bomb the Japanese into submission to end the war. The Japanese faced utter air
destruction before the dropping of the atomic bomb.
General Jimmy Doolittle – Famous American air commander that will lead his raid against the
Japanese. The attack does not hurt the war making capabilities of the enemy, but is a
psychological victory for our nation.
World War II Strategy, Effort, Goals
By 1942 the United States, England and the Soviet Union are allied with
each other to defeat Hitler and Nazi Germany
The Allies will never negotiate with Hitler
“Germany First” Campaign
The Soviet Union will lose 29 million people, England will fight the war for
six years and the United States will greatly supply the war effort with men,
materials and money.
Casablanca Conference in 1943 calls for the complete and unconditional
surrender of the Germans to the Allies. The strategy to keep fighting until
Hitler surrenders or his nation is completely destroyed and unable to offer
any type of resistance.
The majority of the troops, resources and materials were directed towards
Europe. Macarthur fought in the Pacific against a strong and large
Japanese power with minimal support.
Defeat Germany first and then direct all resources to defeat the Japanese.
The development of the Manhattan Project (Atomic Bomb) by American and
British scientists with belief that Hitler was ahead of the Allies. Up until
1945, the Allies always believed that Hitler’s scientists would develop and
use the Atomic Bomb against the Allies.
The War and Allied Politics
The Casablanca Conference will call for the unconditional surrender of Hitler and Nazi
Germany and will strengthen the resolve of total war.
The Tehran Conference in 1943 brought the Big Three (FDR, Stalin, Churchill)
together to plan the major aspects of the war. They agreed that an invasion of
France needed to be conducted, the possibility of a United Nations and the Soviet
participation in the defeat of the Japanese.
Yalta Conference in 1945 saw Germany on the brink of defeat. The Big Three
planned for the eventual defeat of Hitler and negotiated/quarreled over the status of
Eastern and Central Europe and the likelihood of free elections. With Soviet forces
well entrenched in Poland, Rumania, Hungary, etc., Stalin through a sign of force
refused to follow and/or support post war agreements.
Potsdam Conference in July, 1945 – FDR’s successor Harry S. Truman, a powerful, but
little known senator from Missouri is now President of the United States. An
intelligent and blunt speaking politician that wants to end the war as quickly as
possible in the Pacific. Truman is aware that Stalin controls Eastern and Central
Europe and will try to test his authority. In their first meeting Truman stated, “I can
deal with Stalin, he is honest-but smart as hell.”
Concerns over the future of Germany and the desire of the Soviets to take German
resources and reparations to rebuild their nation, the partition of this nation was
decided upon at Potsdam. This marked the last time that the United States and
Soviet Union would willingly work with each other with the Cold War on the horizon.
D-Day – Normandy, June 6, 1944
Originally believed by Eisenhower and Marshall that a cross channel of
invasion of France should have been conducted in 1942.
The Allies will attack the soft underbelly of the German empire by taking
over North Africa, Sicily, fighting in Italy and bombing the Axis day and
For two years the Allies assemble an army, naval forces and materials to
invade France
Hitler’s Atlantic Wall stretches from Norway to Spain. Most German leaders
believed that the attack would be waged at Calais and not at Normandy.
Eisenhower’s great gamble to surprise the Germans and push quickly into
the French interior.
The Allies will drop troops into France the night before the invasion to
attack railroad lines, communications, bridges and prevent any
reinforcements from reach the beaches.
Eisenhower will take full responsibility for the attack on Normandy if it fails
The Atomic Bomb
The United States originally believed that they were behind with the development of this weapon.
While Albert Einstein was vacationing on Long Island in 1939, he informs FDR that our nation
should begin the research and development of the Atomic Bomb.
The bomb was originally developed to be used against Hitler, but he is defeated by April of 1945.
While the Soviets lose 9 out of every 10 men, the Americans in the Pacific lose 9 out of every 10
men in a long and deadly war.
When Truman meets with Stalin at Potsdam, he does not indirectly tell him about the new
weapon, but indicates that the United States can end the war.
Japan is completely devastated from the massive bombing of their nation. While they are
constantly attacked by American planes, their military, government and people prepare for a
possible invasion of their home islands.
From the beginning of the war, the Japanese prove to be formable adversaries with the will to
fight to the death. Heavy American losses at Iwo Jima and Okinawa prove that the Japanese will
never surrender. Truman uses the Atomic Bomb to save American and Japanese lives, end the
war faster and to show the Soviet Union that they should follow post war agreements.
The Japanese were willing to use kamikaze pilots, killed American soldiers during the Bataan
Death March and refused to follow the Geneva Convention in the handling of prisoners of war
Truman believes in his decision to end the war and he could never look at the parents of dead
American soldiers if he had this weapon and did not end the war earlier
The Holocaust
Once Hitler gained his power as a German dictator, he turned his hatred and
resentment towards others.
Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Catholics, communists, priests, intellectuals and
Jehovah Witnesses were all targeted with imprisonment into the concentration camp
system, radical new laws passed against them (Nuremberg Laws) and they were not
able to practice their trade, go to German schools/universities and stay in the military.
Once World War II started, this sealed the fate for the European Jews and other
groups that were either sent to ghettos or right to the concentration/extermination
American and British leadership knew about Auschwitz but only believed that
continued battlefield pressure was the only way to save these people from total
Few American soldiers realized before liberating the camps how bad European Jews,
minorities and other “enemies of the state” were treated. Allied soldiers were not
briefed by superior officers and they stumbled onto massive government directed
The Holocaust, militarism, dictatorships and two wars within twenty years were the
main reasons why the United Nations was developed to replace the ineffectual
League of Nations.
The United Nations main goal was to preserve peace and to prevent disputes from
becoming major battles/wars. Both the United States and Soviet Union were the two
most important leading nations that used their influence to help start the United
World War II and the Holocaust
The Big Three and the End of the
Fighting and the Future of Europe
Yalta Conference