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1939-1945 Worldwide military conflict
2 Main Conflicts: Japan in Asia, Germany in
An estimated 40-60 million people died
(technological advancements)
Civilian populations as targets
56 Nations involved
Two “Super Powers” emerge: U.S. and
Soviet Union
Japan aims to be richest nation in the worldinvades Manchuria 1931-2 then China’s capitol
Germany- Nazi rise to power fueled by
resentments over Treaty of Versailles
Italy- Fascist dictator Mussolini seized power in
1922, invaded Ethiopia 1935
Spain- Francisco Franco is supported by Hitler in
Spanish Civil War
Soviet Union- Led by Joseph Stalin, first an ally of
Germany, then invaded by Germany in 1941
Britain & France allied against the “Axis” powers
Americans are strongly opposed to
France falls to Nazi army June 1940
Lend-Lease Act provides limitless supply of
arms ($50 billion)
Sept. 1940 peacetime draft (1.2 million
troops, 800,000 reserves/year)
June 1941 Hitler invades Soviet Union
Aug. 1941 Atlantic Charter (post-war plans
including self-determination & security)
9/27/1940, Japan officially joins “Axis Alliance”
Japan aims to conquer all of SE Asia
Roosevelt freezes Japanese assets and cuts off oil
after Japan invades Indochina (Vietnam, Laos,
Cambodia) demands Japan withdraw from China
Dec. 7, 1941 Japan responds by attacking Pearl
Destroyed 200 American planes, badly damaged
Pacific fleet
2,400 Americans dead, 1,200 wounded
Same day Japan struck U.S. bases in Philippines,
Guam, and Wake Island
Dec. 11 1941, US declared war against Axis powers
 Primary focus became PRODUCTION
 Numerous agencies emerge under the War
Powers Act to sell the war and prevent
subversion of the war effort
 War cost- $250 million/day
 New Deal agencies vanished, unemployment
 War effort created largest economic boom in
the history of any nation
 Federal government begins spending vast
amounts of money on defense related
17 million new jobs created, gains distributed
American workers were 2x as productive as the
Germans, 5x the Japanese
Government investments in the military benefited
and transformed many regions…..these regions
became reliant on defense production
Large numbers of women and minorities joined the
workforce in newly opened positions
Strikers and labor unions gained power before the
war by having the upper hand in negotiations…labor
American farmers couldn’t keep up with
international demand or domestic market
Food, gas and clothing rationed by government =
everyone was affected by the war
Diet changes, packaged meals (Kraft mac and
Marriages skyrocketed and divorces set records
Housing shortages (post-war housing boom)
Childcare became a problem with both parents
working, dropout rates increased
Fear of Japanese invasion and suspected loyalty of
Japanese Americans led to the worst violation of
civil liberties during the war.
Financial assets of 1st generation Japanese
American’s frozen 12/8/1941
112,000 people were forced to relocate to
internment camps, some for up to 4 years
Many families received no more than 1 week notice
to close businesses and homes
Internment camps located in Western military areas,
small rooms, army cots, no lights, stoves or
washrooms, “American concentration camps”
Formal apology and reparations given in 1988
Topaz, Utah
 Airplanes and tanks gave mobility and
firepower = mobile war
 Two-way radios transmission and other
improvements in communication
 Sub-sinking destroyers, landing craft and
amphibious vehicles, trucks and jeeps
 Chemical and nuclear weapons
Allies on defensive until 1942
1942 Allies invade N. Africa, later Italy, then plan for
Allies win major victories in France, Italy , Tunisia,
Egypt, Belgium, and Soviet Union
6 months after Pearl Harbor Allies begin to regain
military superiority in Pacific, “island hopping”
Famous figures: General Douglas MacArthur in
Pacific, Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton in
U.S. government released little info during
the war
Major news sources treated killings as minor
news items
Government resisted intervention, thought it
a diversion of valuable resources
Killed 6 million Jews, and millions of other
“inferior races”
Unconditional surrender
 Italy surrendered Sept. 8 1943
 Bombing of German cities -> several hundred thousand
civilian deaths
 Hitler commits suicide & Germany surrenders
 VE Day May 8, 1945
MAJOR bombing campaign, Tokyo & others
Soviet plan to join fighting in Pacific
Atomic bombs (justified?)
Aug. 6 1945 Hiroshima, Aug. 9 Nagasaki
VJ Day Aug. 14 1945