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World War II American History II
Rise of the Dictators n The Great Depression was world-wide, so the rest of the world suffered during the 1930 s. To bring about economic relief, the countries of Germany, Italy, and Japan gave power to a single political party or leader. This type of government is called a dictatorship, and these dictators led the world into another global war.
Italy n n Benito Mussolini took advantage of the labor unrest and the fear of communism to take control of Italy’s government. He formed the Fascist Party and outlawed all other political parties in the country. The Fascists believed that the state was more important than individual freedom. They also believed in military power and war as being healthy for a nation. When Mussolini and his Fascist Party were unsuccessful in solving Italy’s economic problems, they began a military buildup in preparation for war. The Fascist slogan was “Believe! Obey! Fight!” In 1935, Mussolini put his slogan to good use and invaded North Africa. A year later, he formed an alliance with Germany called the Axis Alliance.
Germany n n During the 1930 s, Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany. He, too, used the fear of communism and the economic hard times of the decade to become dictator. Hitler’s dream was to unite all German-speaking people into one nation. This united Germany would be the Third Reich, or third German empire. (Reich means empire in German). In Hitler’s mind, the Third Reich would be for German people (the Aryan, or white race) only. He hated the Jews and wanted them eliminated from the German Empire. Hitler’s anti-semitism (hatred for the Jewish people) resulted in the death of more than six million Jews during WWII. Another six million Gypsies, communists, homosexuals, and disabled were killed by Hitler’s men.
Germany n In violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler began to secretly rebuild the German military. He intended to create the German empire by force if necessary. The military buildup greatly improved the German economy, but it set the stage for another world war.
Question: Where does the word “Nazi” come from? n The official name of Hitler’s party was called the National German Socialist Workers Party or Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in German. “Nazi” is much simpler.
Japan n n Japan was a little different from Italy or Germany. There wasn’t just one person who took control of the government. It was a radical group of the Japanese military who gained power in Japan. With few natural resources and a rapidly expanding population, the Japanese military decided that the country’s survival depended on building an empire. Japan’s goal was to control all of Asia, especially China. The Japanese first took control of Manchuria and then moved to control all of China by capturing key cities in 1937. The action of Japan were in clear violation of the Open Door Policy, so the U. S. stopped shipping raw materials to Japan and sided with China. Japan joined the Axis Powers and continued to build their Asian Empire. While still trying to negotiate with the U. S. , Japan also began making plans for an attack on the U. S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Axis Aggression n The one thing that all three Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) had in common was the idea of building an empire. In the closing years of the 1930 s, the Axis Powers tested the world’s resolve by taking territory. Italy invaded Ethiopia in North Africa, Germany annexed Austria and part of Czechoslovakia, and Japan took control of Manchuria and invaded China. Although none of the Allies wanted war (England, France, and eventually the U. S. and Russia), they were left with little choice. The world was set to go to waragain.
The Austrian Anschluss n Hitler’s first demands concerned Austria and Czechoslovakia. In 1937, Hitler stepped up his call for the unification of the German speaking people, including those in Austria and Czechoslovakia. Seizing those countries would also gain food supplies, defensible frontiers, and soldiers for Germany. Hitler believed Germany could only expand its territory by “resorting to force. ” In March 1938, Hitler sent troops into Austria and announced the Anschluss, or unification, of Austria and Germany.
Concentration Camps n Dictators also seem to agree on harsh treatment for those who disagree or who were considered undesirables. This is particularly evident in the Japanese and German treatment of war prisoners and in the Nazi extermination of six million Jews and another six million communists, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, mentally and physically handicapped, and Gypsies.
Concentration Camps n Concentration camps were places where political prisoners, ethnic or social rejects, and prisoners of war were kept. Harsh and inhumane treatment was common. If prisoners were able to work, they were used as slave labor. Those unable to work were often killed.
Concentration Camps and Extermination camps Throughout Europe
Arrival at the Concentration Camps
Life in the Concentration Camps
Hunger in the Concentration Camps
Concentration Camps n The Nazis considered the Jews in Germany and in their captured territories to be a problem. In 1942, the Nazis decided the “Final Solution” to this problem was to kill all the Jews. At this time, some of the concentration camps were converted into death camps. Millions of men, women, and children were exterminated in gas chambers and by other means. This wholesale killing of European Jews is called the Holocaust. Although rumors of this mass murder leaked out of Germany from time to time, the full extent of the horror was not known until Allied forces began liberating the camps after the war.
Death Camp Locations
Medical Experiments n n Another distinctive feature of the Holocaust was the extensive use of human subjects in medical experiments. The most notorious of these physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. His experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children's eyes and various amputations and other brutal surgeries. Some doctors were keenly interested in experimenting with children. They would offer them sweets and toys and bring them personally to the gas chambers and watch them die. The full extent of Mengele’s work will never be known because the documents concerning the experiments were destroyed. Subjects who survived Mengele's experiments were almost always killed and dissected shortly afterwards.
Death in the Concentration Camps
World War II Begins: Appeasement n n Hitler annexed Austria in 1938 without any resistance from the rest of Europe. He then set his sights on the German-speaking portion of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland, and he threatened to use force to take it. To avoid war, England, France, Germany, and Italy decided to meet and discuss the problem. They met in Munich, Germany. The gathering was called the Munich Conference. Czechoslovakia was not represented, nor was Russia who had a treaty with the Czech government.
Appeasement n n Hitler knew the threat of war would frighten the leaders of England France. He was right. Rather than fight, England France gave into Hitler's demands and signed the Munich Agreement. The agreement gave part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. England France told the Czech government to either give up the territory or to face Germany alone. The policy of giving into keep the peace became known as appeasement. It did not take long to realize that appeasement would not work. Despite his promises not to take any more European territory, Hitler annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia before the agreement was a year old. Then he began to talk about Poland. The Prime Minister of Great Britain (Neville Chamberlain) admitted that appeasement failed.
Munich Peace Agreement
Question: Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain, came back from Munich saying he had achieved “peace for our time. ” What did he mean? n Chamberlain had talked with Hitler privately and had asked him to sign a peace agreement between the United Kingdom and Germany. Hitler signed it but never intended to keep his word. In less than one year, Chamberlain and the British saw that Hitler had lied about Czechoslovakia and about everything else.
Danzig and the Polish Corridor n After the Munich Conference, Hitler turned his sights on Poland. In October 1938, he demanded the return of Danzig, a Baltic seaport with strong German roots, to German control. Although Danzig was more than 90 percent German, it had been separated from Germany at the end of WWI to give Poland access to the sea. Hitler requested a highway and railroad across the Polish Corridor, which separated western Germany from the German state of East Prussia.
Non-Aggression Pact n Joseph Stalin, the communist dictator of the Soviet Union, was angry that he was not included in the Munich Conference. He feared that England France might step aside and let Hitler have Russia as well. In August 1939, Stalin signed a nonaggression pact with Germany in which each side agreed not to attack the other. Hitler was now free to invade Poland without fear the Russians would interfere.
Hitler Betrays Poland
Question: What did Poland have to do with the non-aggression pact? n Germany and Russia secretly agreed to divide Poland between the two countries. So when Hitler attacked Poland in 1939, he had nothing to fear from the Soviet Union.
Invasion of Poland n n By the summer of 1939, Great Britain and France understood that appeasement was a failure and that war with Germany was a matter of time. When Hitler began to talk of taking Poland, the Allies of Great Britain and France decided that if the Nazis invaded Poland, they would declare war on Germany. On September 1, 1939, German tanks roared across the Polish border, and the Allies were forced to keep their promise of declaring war against the Nazis. Unfortunately, the Allies’ help came much too late to save Poland. It took less than a month for the Germans to take complete control. The Nazis used a new plan of attack called the blitzkrieg, or lightning war. This type of attack used speed and surprise. Germany’s fast moving ground forces and devastating air attacks made quick work of the Polish defenses.
Invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland other countries n As agreed, the Soviets occupied the eastern half of Poland moved on to take Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland.
The Fall of France n As the rest of Europe held their breath, Hitler waited. This period of calm is sometimes called the “phony war. ” The British had sent troops to France, but both countries remained on the defensive, waiting for the Germans to attack.
The Fall of France n After World War I, the French had built a line of concrete bunkers and fortifications called the Maginot Line along the German border. Rather than risk their troops by attacking, the French preferred to wait behind the Maginot Line for the Germans to approach. Unfortunately, the decision allowed Germany to concentrate on Poland first before turning west to face the British and French.
The Fall of France n After taking Poland, Hitler and his generals decided to attack Norway and Denmark, before invading France. Germany’s industry depended on iron ore from Sweden that had to be shipped down Norway’s coast part of the year. If the British sent troops to Norway, they could block the iron shipments. On April 9, 1940, the attack began, and within a month, Germany controlled both countries.
The Fall of France n With his northern flank secure, Hitler turned his attention to France. Hitler planned to go around the Maginot Line, which protected France’s border with Belgium and Luxembourg. To get around the Maginot Line, the Germans would have to invade the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg first-which is exactly what they did! On May 10, 1940, Hitler launched a new blitzkreig in the west. While German troops parachuted into the Netherlands, an army of tanks rolled into Belgium and Luxembourg.
The Fall of France n The British and French had expected the Germans to attack. As soon as it began, British and French forces raced north into Belgium. This was a mistake. Instead of sending their tanks through the open countryside of central Belgium, the Germans sent their main force through the Ardennes Mountains of Luxembourg and eastern Belgium. The French did not think that large numbers of tanks could move through the mountains, and they had left only a few troops to defend that part of the border. The Germans easily smashed through the French lines, then raced west across northern France to the English Channel. The British and French armies were still in Belgium and could not move back into France quickly enough. They were now trapped in Belgium.
The Miracle at Dunkirk n After trapping the Allied forces in Belgium, the Germans began to drive them toward the English Channel. The only hope for Britain and France was to evacuate their surviving troops by sea, but the Germans had captured all but one port, Dunkirk, a small town in northern France near the Belgian border.
The Miracle at Dunkirk n As German forces closed in on Dunkirk, Hitler suddenly ordered them to stop. No one is sure why he gave this order. Historians know that Hitler was nervous about risking his tanks forces, and he wanted to wait until more infantry arrived. Hermann Goering, the head of the German air force, was also assuring Hitler that aircraft alone could destroy the trapped soldiers. There is also some evidence that Hitler thought that the British would be more willing to accept peace if the Germans did not humiliate them by destroying their forces at Dunkirk.
The Miracle at Dunkirk n Whatever Hitler’s reasons, his order provided a three-day delay. This gave the British time to strengthen their lines and begin the evacuation. Some 850 ships of all sizes, from navy warships to small sailboats operated by civilian volunteers, headed to Dunkirk from England. The British had hoped to rescue about 45, 000 troops. Instead, when the evacuation ended on June 4, an estimated 338, 000 British and French troops had been saved. This stunning success led British newspapers to refer to the evacuation as the “Miracle at Dunkirk. ”
The Cost n The evacuation had its price, however. Almost all the British army’s equipment remained at Dunkirk-90, 000 rifles, 7, 000 tons of ammunition, and 120, 000 vehicles. If Hitler invaded Britain, it would almost be impossible to stop him from conquering the country.
The French Surrender n Three weeks later, on June 22, 1940, Hitler accepted the French surrender in the same railway car in which the Germans had surrendered at the end of WWI. Germany now occupied much of northern France and its Atlantic coastline. To govern the rest of the country, Germany installed a puppet government at the town of Vichy and made Marshal Philippe Petain the government’s figurehead leader. Petain predicted that Britain “will have her neck wrung like a chicken. ”
The Battle of Britain n Great Britain now stood alone to face the Nazi war machine. The English expected an invasion at any time. The only thing separating Great Britain from Germany was the English Channel. By this time, Great Britain had a new prime minister, Winston Churchill. He made England’s position clear: n “…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall never surrender…” -Winston Churchill, 1940
Battle of Britain n n On July 10, 1940, the attack on England began. Wave after wave of German bombers filled the skies over Great Britain and rained down destruction on her cities. The Nazis were trying to soften Britain’s defenses in preparation for a land invasion and to break the morale of British civilians. But the British resolve held firm. Warned of incoming attacks by a new technology called radar, Great Britain’s Royal Air Force was ready and waiting on the German planes. The nimble British fighter planes shot down hundreds of heavy German bombers. The Battle of Britain as it would later be called, was won over the skies of England. Germany suffered its first defeat. By October 1940, Hitler was forced to abandon his plans for an invasion of Great Britain.
Great Britain Becomes the Object of Nazi Aggression
Question: What is radar? n Radar stands for Radio Detection and Ranging. It uses radio waves to detect objects in the distance before they can be seen with the naked eye.
Submarine Warfare n n Denied the opportunity for a direct invasion of England, Hitler was then determined to starve the British Isles into submission with his dreaded Uboats. Faster and more deadly than the World War I kind, German submarines sank many ships with thousands of tons of supplies headed for Great Britain. The British navy was worn thin from the attacks. Food and war materials began to run low. Later in the war, the Allies developed a new technology for locating submarines called sonar (Sound Navigation and Ranging). This technology uses sound waves to locate underwater objects. Sonar became a useful tool against German U-boats.
The Atlantic Charter n In 1940, the United States remained neutral in this new European war. FDR, who had been reelected to his third term, was genuinely troubled by the Axis threat. Although bound by law not to get involved, the U. S. was greatly concerned for the fate of the British people. FDR found some interesting ways to be of help. Even before the U. S. entered the war, America was clearly siding with the Allies.
The Atlantic Charter n In August 1941, FDR and Churchill met on a warship anchored off the coast of Newfoundland negotiated a joint declaration which became known as the Atlantic Charter. This charter was a diplomatic agreement. It presented a vision of postwar world of democracy, nonaggression, free trade, and economic advancement. The agreement also established that neither nation wanted any territory as a result of the war.
The Atlantic Charter n Some think the Atlantic Charter set the stage for the U. S. entering WWII and made it only a matter of time. It has been suggested that the Japanese expected America to enter the war and took a harder stand in dealing with the U. S. An attack on Pearl Harbor was the Japanese’s attempt to cripple the U. S. Pacific Fleet and buy more time to build a Japanese empire.
The Atlantic Charter is Signed
The United States Enters the War: American Neutrality n n n After World War I, America was more determined than ever to stay out of European conflicts. In 1935 and again in 1937, Congress passed the Neutrality laws designed to keep the United States neutral in case of another war. In WWI, the U. S. had tried to trade with both sides. In case of another war, the Neutrality laws tried to prevent American businesses from trading with either side. According to the laws, Americans could not loan money or ship war supplies to belligerents (nations at war). The problem with the Neutrality laws is that they did not make any provision for separating the “good” guys from the “bad” guys. As the war progressed, Americans wanted to help England her allies, but the President would have to get a little “creative” to do that.
Lend-Lease n To get around the Neutrality laws, President Roosevelt came up with a Lend-Lease policy. Rather than sell war supplies to the Allies, FDR said that the U. S. could “lend” the Allies war materials. That way, we were “loaning” vital supplies to the Allies but not “selling” them.
Question: What does a garden hose have to do with Lend-Lease? n In one of his famous “fireside chats, ” Roosevelt explained that if a neighbor’s house was on fire, you would not sell him your garden hose to put out the fire. You would “lend” it to him. So, America wasn’t going to sell the Allies war materials but “lend” them, instead.
Cash and Carry n Another problem created by the Neutrality laws was that the United States could not loan money or ship war materials to countries at war, not even the Allies. To get around the law, Roosevelt proposed that countries come and get the materials in their own ships and pay cash. This policy was called “Cash and Carry. ”
The Destroyer Deal n Great Britain desperately needed ships, but the U. S. could not sell them any according to the Neutrality laws. Roosevelt proposed another “creative” solution. The U. S. agreed to trade the British some older American destroyers (war ships) in exchange for navy bases in British territories.
Germany Attacks the Soviet Union n Confident that a victory in the east would force Great Britain out of the war, Hitler amassed troops on the Russian border for an attack. Although Stalin had been warned of the buildup, he did not believe Hitler would attack. Not two years earlier, the two countries had signed a non-aggression pact. But that didn’t matter to Hitler now.
Germany Attacks the Soviet Union n n The Germans thought overtaking Russia would be a quick and easy victory. Early in the campaign, the victories were easy, but they were not quick. The German invasion came to a grinding halt at Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad was some of the bloodiest fighting in the war. Not only did the Germans face the Red army but also the bitter Russian winter. The Nazis were not prepared to conquer both. By February 1943, the German survivors surrendered. The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in the European part of the war.
Germany Attacks the Soviet Union
Question: Russia is such a big place. How did Germany hope to conquer it all? n Actually Hitler did not want it all. He just wanted the eastern portion for several purposes. He wanted a place for the population of Germany to expand. He wanted the natural resources and the raw materials in eastern Russia. And he wanted to make the Russian people his slaves. In his mind, the Germans were the superior race.
Question: What made the Battle of Stalingrad a turning point in the war? n The Germans lost so many front line troops that it seriously affected the Nazis’ ability to wage war on the eastern front. After all, the Russians were not part of the Allies, and they kept the Nazis engaged in the east while the other Allies pressed Germany from the west.
The United States and Japan n By 1941, the Japanese military had invaded China and conquered much of the surrounding area. The U. S. wanted to support China and to stop the Japanese from taking over any more territory in the Pacific. Japan needed to feed its war machine by importing supplies such as scrap iron, steel, and oil. Since the U. S. was its major supplier of raw materials, the easiest way to stop Japan without actually going to war was to stop selling them the supplies. Refusing to ship materials to another country is called an embargo.
The United States and Japan n The United States also denied the Japanese access to their money and investments in the U. S. (This practice is called “freezing a country’s assets. ”) These actions made the Japanese angry. While still negotiating with the U. S. , the Japanese secretly made plans to attack the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor n On December 7, 1941, the Japanese fleet had gotten close enough to Hawaii to launch an air attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The Americans were caught completely off guard by the surprise attack. When it was over, the U. S. had lost many of its ships and planes. More than 2, 400 servicemen were killed and around 1282 were wounded. Fiftyseven civilians were also killed. Japan also attacked other American bases in the Pacific such as the Philippines, and they took the British and Dutch colonies.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
Question: Why was Pearl Harbor both a victory and a defeat for the Japanese? n The Japanese considered the attack on Pearl Harbor a success. But what they had succeeded in doing was bringing the U. S. into the war on the side of the Allies. The American participation in the war would ultimately bring about the defeat of Japan.
War on Two Fronts n On December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. He began his speech with the following quote: n “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -a date which will live in infamy-the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. ” -Franklin D. Roosevelt from Address to Congress on December 8, 1941
Question: What did Roosevelt mean when he said that December 7, 1941, would live in infamy? n Infamy means a bad reputation brought about by a terrible or criminal event. Roosevelt considered the attack by Japan to be such a terrible act that the date on which it happened would have a bad reputation forever.
War on Two Fronts n n n Three days later, Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, declared war on the U. S. In a little over twenty years after WWI, the U. S. was involved in another world war. America was allied with Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and others. Now the United States had two places (or fronts) to fight-Europe and the Pacific. On the European front, the Germans and the Italians had taken most of Europe and North Africa. The Germans had also pushed deeply into Russia. On the Pacific front, Japan had taken much of Asia and many islands in the Pacific. The Allies agreed that Germany and Italy were a greater threat than the Japanese. So a policy of “Europe first” was developed, and most of the resources were directed at the Germans and the Italians.
North Africa n n The Russians desperately needed help from the Allies. Russia wanted to invade Europe so that Hitler would have to use some of his resources to defend it. The Allies did not feel that they had enough resources to attack Europe, so they began with an attack on Axis forces in North Africa. From North Africa, the plan was to invade Sicily and then on to mainland Italy and move up the so -called “soft underbelly” of Europe. Victory in the region would also do a great deal to clear the Mediterranean Sea of Axis shipping and leave it more free for the Allies to use.
Operation Torch n With American help, the Allies were able to defeat the Axis armies in North Africa, and these victories made the battles in North Africa another turning point in the war. They also set the stage for the invasion of Southern Europe.
Map of North Africa and Italy
Sicily and Italy n n The Allied invasion of Europe began with the island of Sicily off the Italian coast. From there, the British and American forces attacked Italy. Mussolini’s government surrendered and offered to help fight the Germans. Although the Italians had surrendered, there were many German troops on the peninsula, and the fighting to liberate was slow and costly.
The Death of Benito Mussolini
France n n In 1943, the “Big three” (Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin) met in Tehran, Iran, to plan an invasion of France. The attack was codenamed “Operation Overlord. ” Under the direction of the American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was also the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, forces were assembled and ready. The actual invasion was known as D-Day, which happened on June 6, 1944. More than three million allied troops crossed the English Channel and stormed the beaches at Normandy, France. Led on the ground by American tank commander General George S. Patton and others, the Germans were driven out of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands within a few months. The Allies now stood at the western border of Germany, while the Russians gathered on the eastern border ready to put an end to the war in Europe.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower Order of the Day June 6, 1944 Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed people of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940 -1941. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an over- whelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory! I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good Luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble understanding. General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Map of France: Operation Overlord
Question: Why was Normandy such an odd place for the Allies to invade France? n Normandy was the worst place on the French coast for an attack. The Allies had led the Germans to believe that the invasion would be at Calais, which was a much better location. Because they were expecting the attack at Calais, the Germans were completely surprised by the Normandy invasion. And surprise is the most important part of any successful attack.
D-Day: June 6, 1944
The End of WWII on the Western Front n Constant attacks by the Allies from the west and the Russians from the east crushed the German resistance. On April 25, 1945, American troops met Soviet troops 60 miles south of Berlin. A few days later, Hitler committed suicide as Russian troops attacked the Nazi capital. On May 8, 1945, the world celebrated V-E Day (Victory in Europe).
Victory in Europe Day
The Home Front n The impact of World War II on American society was much as it had been with the first world war. The economy boomed, and the government again encouraged citizens to do their part to support the war effort.
American Manufacturing Mobilizes for War
Mobilizing the Troops n n When the attack on Pearl Harbor happened, there were about 1. 5 million Americans in the military. Part of this number was the result of the Selective Service Act passed in 1937. This Act established the first peacetime draft in American history. After Pearl Harbor, thousands volunteered for the military. But despite widespread support for the war, most were drafted into the armed forces. By the time the war ended, there were 15 million men and women in the military.
Alabama History: Tuskegee Airmen n n About one million African American men and women served in the armed forces during WWII, but the American military remained segregated. Most black units still had non-combat duties. But some African Americans did see combat and served with excellence. Over the objections of many military men, a group of African American men were sent to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to train as fighter pilots. Their hardships were great, but over 900 beat the odds and became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Their job was to escort American bombers into enemy territory. The unit served with exceptional distinction in North Africa and Europe.
Alabama History: Aliceville POW Camp n The story of the Aliceville Prisoner of War Camp goes back to when Allied forces defeated the German Africa. Korps in 1943. There were too many prisoners to be confined in Great Britain. As a result, German prisoners were shipped to the United States and dispersed to camps. Twenty-five such camps were built in Alabama, with the largest being the one in Aliceville. Civilians, some of which were Aliceville residents worked in the quartermaster’s shop, the camp hospital and the mess halls.
Alabama History: Aliceville POW Camp n Conditions within the camps conformed to the 1929 Geneva Conventions, which prescribed the parameters for the humane treatment of POWs. The American military stocked abundant provisions for the dietary and recreational needs of the prisoners. Life within the camps was so comfortable that one German prisoner wrote his family and described his temporary home as a "golden cage" and, conversely, some Alabama residents resented what they perceived as the POWs' pampering while they endured rationing. Few POWs attempted to escape, and several of those who did were killed in the attempt. The comforts of camp life discouraged most escape attempts, however. Nonetheless, a few prisoners did manage to escape their American captors, most often by slipping away unnoticed during poorly guarded work details outside the camps. But escapees enjoyed brief freedom, as local police, Army investigators, and FBI agents quickly mobilized to track them down.
Alabama History: The Growth of Mobile n The greatest increase in urban growth occurred in Mobile, where some 90, 000 people surged into the city in search of employment. Brookley Field and Mobile's two shipyards—Gulf Shipbuilding and Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding (ADDSCO)— employed 60, 000 workers at their peak. Thousands of merchant seamen sailed on ships operated by the Waterman Steamship Company and Alcoa. The port of Mobile, anchored by the Alabama State Docks, was the nation's 15 th busiest port. Mobile's wartime population explosion severely strained the area's infrastructure. Only San Diego, California, and the Norfolk, Virginia, area experienced comparable wartime urban stresses.
Alabama History: Redstone Arsenal WWII n The War Department formally established the Huntsville Chemical Warfare Depot on March 6, 1942. Located in the extreme southern portion of Huntsville Arsenal bordering the Tennessee River, the depot received, stored, and issued such chemical warfare service material as munitions, bulk chemicals, decontaminating apparatuses, protective materials, and spare parts for gas masks. To avoid confusion with Huntsville Arsenal, the War Department changed the depot’s name on August 10, 1943, to the Gulf Chemical Warfare Depot.
Alabama History: Women at Redstone Arsenal n On the job at Huntsville and Redstone arsenals, women “daily lived in this world of noise, heat or cold, vibration, tension, and danger, where carelessness may cause an immediate accident or disaster. ” During World War II, a total of four women were killed while on duty, three at Huntsville Arsenal and one at Redstone. Numerous others were hurt seriously, but many of those injured returned to work once they had healed.
War Industries n n WWII ended the Great Depression. Unemployment dropped from 8 million in 1940 to 670, 000 in 1944. Employers were desperate for workers; practically anyone who wanted a job had one. Even many handicapped people found a place in the war industries. The economy was managed by the War Production Board, which was appointed in 1942. Factories that were idled by the Great Depression were easily converted to wartime production. Huge war contracts went to large, well established corporations. Big business agained power.
The Role of Women n Women played important roles in WWII in industry, as volunteers, and in the military. The government actively encouraged women to get jobs in the war industries. The government also encouraged women to volunteer both in their communities and in the military. Volunteer organizations included the USO, which provided recreational services to GIs, and the American Red Cross, which provided nurses and medical supplies to Allied troops. In previous wars, women in the military had served only as clerks and nurses. In WWII, women served in nearly every duty except in direct combat. No women were drafted, so their service in the military was voluntary. Military organizations included the Navy WAVES, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service; the Army WACS, Women’s Army Corps, and the WASPs, the Women’s Air Service Pilots; to name a few.
Question: Who was “Rosie the Riveter? ” n “Rosie” was a female symbol (or icon) who represented women working in the manufacturing industries for the war effort. The government often encouraged war production with symbols and slogans. A popular slogan was “V” for Victory.
War Bonds n To pay for the war, the government extended the income tax to include more Americans than ever before. The number of people subject to income taxes went from 4 million in 1939 to around 42 million in 1945. But taxes raised only provided 40% of what was needed. The government had to borrow the rest. Patriotic citizens bought billions of dollars worth of war bonds. War bonds were loans from citizens to the government to be paid back later with interest.
Financing the War
WWII Propaganda n The purpose of American WWII propaganda was to show the Germans, Italians, and Japanese as anything but human. They were often times stereotyped in their appearance. Propaganda was also used to encourage Americans to do their part for the war effort, either through volunteerism, joining the workforce, joining the military, or buying war bonds and war stamps.
Dr. Seuss Goes To War
Dr. Seuss Goes To War
Dr. Seuss Goes to War
Rationing n The government set up a system of rationing to conserve goods that were in short supply. Families were given ration coupons that allowed them to buy only a limited amount of certain goods such as meat, butter, and gasoline. Victory gardens also helped.
Rationing n While some food items were scarce, others did not require rationing, and Americans adjusted accordingly. "Red Stamp" rationing covered all meats, butter, fat, and oils, and with some exceptions, cheese. Each person was allowed a certain amount of points weekly with expiration dates to consider. "Blue Stamp" rationing covered canned, bottled, and frozen fruits and vegetables, plus juices and dry beans; and such processed foods as soups, baby food and ketchup. Ration stamps became a kind of currency with each family being issued a "War Ration Book. " Each stamp authorized a purchase of rationed goods in the quantity and time designated, and the book guaranteed each family its fair share of goods made scarce, thanks to the war.
Rationed Items During WWII Tires, bathing caps, raincoats, garden hoses, sugar, meat, butter, cheese, eggs, milk, tea, chocolate, cloth, wood, metal, as well as rubber and leather ink, paper, carbon paper, pencils, pens, typewriter ribbons, erasers, paperclips, envelopes, cars, bicycles, gasoline, fuel, oil, kerosene, solid fuels, stoves, rubber footwear, shoes, canned fish, cheese, canned milk, typewriters, chicken wire, nylons, and silk.
Japanese Internment n After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans expected the Japanese to invade the West coast. Not sure where the loyalties of Japanese. Americans would lie, FDR ordered around 110, 000 Japanese-Americans on the West coast to be rounded up and relocated farther inland. “Relocation centers” was a polite term, but “imprisonment camps” might be more fitting. Japanese internment was another polite term, but it was more like prison.
Japanese Internment n Many Japanese Americans lost homes or businesses, and all lost some measure of dignity. The camps had little privacy and few privileges. Young Japanese men, eager to prove their loyalty, joined the U. S. military. They served in battalions made up of all Japanese American units. Many served with distinction in Europe.
The Navajo Code Talkers n The Navajo Code Talkers, as they became known, were the key to America's success in World War II. They were Navajo Marines who created a secret code that made it possible for the United States to defeat the Japanese in World War II and end the war. Before World War II, every code that the United States had created for warfare had been broken. Known as experts at code deciphering, the Japanese were never able to decipher the Navajo's secret code. n
The Code Talker’s Dictionary n n When a Navajo code talker received a message, what he heard was a string of seemingly unrelated Navajo words. The code talker first had to translate each Navajo word into its English equivalent. Then he used only the first letter of the English equivalent in spelling an English word. Thus, the Navajo words "wol-la-chee" (ant), "be-la-sana" (apple) and "tse-nill" (axe) all stood for the letter "a. " One way to say the word "Navy" in Navajo code would be "tsah (needle) wol-la-chee (ant) ahkeh-di- glini (victor) tsah-ah-dzoh (yucca). " Most letters had more than one Navajo word representing them. Not all words had to be spelled out letter by letter. The developers of the original code assigned Navajo words to represent about 450 frequently used military terms that did not exist in the Navajo language. Several examples: "besh- lo" (iron fish) meant "submarine, " "dah-he- tih-hi" (hummingbird) meant "fighter plane" and "debeh-li-zine" (black street) meant "squad. "
Native Americans in World War II
The War in the Pacific n n Because the Allies were concentrating their efforts in Europe, the Japanese were able to win some early victories. But by June 1942, the Allies stopped the Japanese advance at the Battle of Midway and began pushing the Japanese back toward Japan. The Allies used a strategy called island-hopping. Rather than taking every island occupied by the Japanese, the Allies invaded strategic islands on the march to the Japanese mainland. Having been driven out of the Philippines early in the war, General Douglas Mac. Arthur promised to return, and he did. After months of heavy fighting, the Americans regained the islands.
The Battle of Midway
Island Hopping Towards Japan
Question: What made the Battle of Midway a turning point in the Pacific war? n It was enough that the Japanese advance was stopped, but a more important fact was that the Japanese Imperial navy lost four aircraft carriers in the battle. The United States lost only one. America was able to replace her losses: Japan could not. The Japanese navy was permanently crippled for the rest of the war.
The Bataan Death March n n The Bataan Death March took place in the Philippines in 1942 and was later accounted as a Japanese war crime. The 60 -mile march occurred after the three-month Battle of Bataan, part of the Battle of the Philippines (1941– 42). The march, involving the forcible transfer of 75, 000 American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in the Philippines from the Bataan peninsula to prison camps, was characterized by wide-ranging physical abuse and murder, and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon the prisoners and civilians along the route by the armed forces of the Empire of Japan. Beheadings, cutting of throats and casual shootings were the more common actions—compared to instances of bayonet stabbing, rape, disembowelment, rifle butt beating and a deliberate refusal to allow the prisoners food or water while keeping them continually marching for nearly a week in tropical heat. Falling down or inability to continue moving was equal to a death sentence, as was any degree of protest or expression of displeasure.
The Bataan Death March
The Bataan Death March
The Battle for Iwo Jima n n The Battle of Iwo Jima which began on February 19–March 26, 1945, also called Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Empire of Japan. The U. S. invasion, charged with the mission of capturing the three airfields on Iwo Jima, resulted in some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Iwo Jima was strategically important: it provided an airbase for Japanese aircraft to intercept long-range B-29 Superfortress bombers and provided a haven for Japanese naval units in dire need of any support available. In addition, it was used by the Japanese to stage air attacks on the Mariana Islands from November 1944 -January 1945. The capture of Iwo Jima would eliminate these problems and provide a staging area for the eventual invasion of the Japanese mainland. The distance of B-29 raids would be cut in half, and a base would be available for P-51 Mustang fighters to escort and protect the bombers.
The Battle of Iwo Jima n n Japanese defenses were situated on the beaches, the Marines faced heavy fire from Mount Suribachi at the south of the island. It was extremely difficult for the Marines to advance because of the terrain, which consisted of volcanic ash. This ash allowed for neither a secure footing nor the construction of defensive foxholes to protect the Marines from hostile fire. However, the ash did help to absorb a portion of the fragments that were expelled by the Japanese artillery. After running out of water, food, and most supplies, the Japanese troops became desperate towards the end of the battle. Kuribayashi, who had argued against banzai attacks (attacks in waves by the Japanese in which they would yell Banzai!) at the start of the battle, realized that Japanese defeat was imminent. Marines began to face increasing numbers of nighttime attacks; these were only repelled by a combination of machine gun defensive positions and artillery support. At times, the Marines engaged in hand-to-hand fighting to repel the Japanese attacks. With the landing area secure, more troops and heavy equipment came ashore and the invasion proceeded north to capture the airfields and the remainder of the island. Most Japanese soldiers fought to the death.
The Battle for Iwo Jima n "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" is a historic photograph taken on February 23, 1945 by Joe Rosenthal. It depicts five Marines and a U. S. Navy corpsman raising the flag of the United States atop Mount Suribachi. The photograph was extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and ultimately came to be regarded as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time. Of the six men depicted in the picture, three (Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, and Michael Strank) did not survive the battle; the three survivors (John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes) became celebrities upon the publication of the photo.
Invading Japan n n When the Americans had captured islands close enough to Japan, heavy bombers began to destroy Japanese cities that made war materials. Allied troops pushed the Japanese out of Asia, and the Americans captured island after island. The war seemed to be drawing to a close. All that remained was an invasion of Japan itself. President Truman was told by his advisors that it could cost millions of lives to invade. Weighing his options, Truman decided to try and end the war without an invasion. The U. S. had developed an atomic bomb, the most powerful weapon yet invented. Development of the bomb had been called the Manhattan Project. Truman decided to use the atomic bomb on Japan rather than invade.
The Manhattan Project
Fat Man and Little Boy
Question: Why did President Truman have to make the decision? What happened to FDR? n Less than a month before Germany surrendered, President Roosevelt died of a massive stroke on April 12, 1945. Harry S. Truman had been FDR’s running mate when he was elected to his fourth term in 1944. Truman had been vice-president for only 12 weeks when he became thirty-third President of the United States.
The Death of President Roosevelt and the Succession of Harry S. Truman
Hiroshima and Nagasaki n On August 6, 1945, a lone bomber, the Enola Gay, took off with one atomic bomb. The target was the industrial city of Hiroshima, Japan. At 8: 15 a. m. , a mushroom cloud rose over the devastated city. The atomic bomb killed tens of thousands, but the Japanese refused to surrender.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki n On August 8, the Russians declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria, an area of China still occupied by the Japanese. Still the Japanese refused to surrender. The following day, a second atomic bomb, Fat Man, was dropped on the city of Nagasaki by Bock’s Car. The city instantly became a pile of rubble and dead bodies.
Nagasaki After the Atomic Bomb
Injury Phases After the Atomic Bombs n n First two weeks: mainly burns from rays and flames, and wounds (trauma) from blast and falling structures. 3 rd week through 8 th week: symptoms of damages by radioactive rays, e. g. , loss of hair, anemia, loss of white cells, bleeding, diarrhea. Approximately 10% of cases in this group were fatal. 3 rd and 4 th months: “some improvement” in burn, trauma, and even radiation injuries. But then came “secondary injuries” of disfiguration, severe scar formations (keloids), blood abnormalities, sterility (both genders), and psychosomatic disorders. Even now, after over half a century later, many after effects remain: leukemia, A-bomb cataracts, and cancers of thyroid, breast, lungs, salivary glands, birth defects, including mental retardation, and the disfiguring keloid scars.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki n On August 14, the Emperor of Japan announced to the Japanese people that he intended to surrender. On September 2, 1945, the war officially ended when the Japanese government signed the papers aboard an American battleship. Now the world could celebrate V-J Day (Victory over Japan). WWII was over, but the struggle for peace was just beginning.
Question: Why was it vital that the two atomic bomb attacks on Japan bring about surrender? n If the two bombs had not brought about surrender, the United States would have needed another option. The U. S. had only two atomic bombs at the time.
Comparing the World Wars n n n Both world wars were similar in some ways. They both started because of intense nationalism, racism, and territorial expansion. They were both global in scope. And the U. S. tried to remain neutral and stay out of both wars. At home, women and minorities benefited from new job opportunities created by war industries. But there were also differences. The U. S. entered WWII much more quickly because it was directly attacked. The fighting was much more widespread, and the damage to life and property was much greater. Airplanes such as long-range bombers and carrier-based fighters played a significant role in the Second World War. And rather than rejecting world leadership after the war, this time the U. S. embraced her role as a world leader. There have been wars since WWII, but they have been regional conflicts confined to a few countries. Let’s hope we never see another world war. Since the world’s greatest powers now have nuclear weapons, humanity may not survive another one.
After the War