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Chapter 25 - World War II

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The Coming of World War II
- During the Depression, production dropped by as much as 40%
- FDR and most Americans did not want to concern themselves with foreign conflicts
- More concerned about fixing their own country
 
The Shadows of War
- War began with Japan seizing Manchuria, then withdrawing from the League of Nations
- By 1937 Japan owned much of China and threatened the rest of Asia
- Economic hardships, Authoritarian leadership, and German resentment over the Versailles Treaty led to the rise of angry nationalistic movements in Italy and Germans
- Hitler began to rebuild Germany’s armies with no protest from Britain or France
- 1936 - Italy and Germany become allies - Rome-Berlin Axis
- 1937 - Hitler announced plans to obtain Lebensraum - living / farming for Germans
- In return for allowing Hitler to annex part of Czechoslovakia, he agreed to stop advancing - Less than six months later he took the rest of Czechoslovakia
- Nov 6, 1938 - German stormtroopers kill thousands of Jews - Night of the Broken Glass
 
Isolationism
- 1937 - Almost 70% of American polled said they felt involvement in WWI was wrong
- 1935/36/37 - Neutrality Acts - Allowed President to deny US companies the right to sell arms to hostile nations
- Many politicians argued that war would hurt the economy, harm democracy, etc
- America First - A group founded to keep the US out of wars, included some famous ppl
 
Roosevelt Readies for War
- Although most people were against it, FDR enlarged the Navy and prepared for war
- Sept 1, 1939 - Germany invades Poland, then agrees to split it with the Soviet Union
- Germany swept through most of Europe, then pounded the UK in the Battle of Britain
- Britain held out against all odds
- FDR began to permit the sale of weapons to Britain, France and China
- May 1940 - 1st Peacetime Military draft - 1.4 million men sent to training camps
- FDR still did not want to get involved, only defend his own nation
- July 1940 - As part of his campaign, Roosevelt promised not to send troops to the war
- March 1941 - Lend-Lease Act - Allowed Roosevelt to sell or exchange arms with ppl
- Hitler set aside his alliance with the Soviets and in June 1941 invaded Russia
- This pushed the US closer to intervention
 
Pearl Harbor
- Sept 27, 1940 - Japan formally joins Italy and Germany as a partner in the Axis
- The US thought Japan planned to attack in the Phillipines
- Dec 7, 1941 - Japanese dive bombers attack Pearl Harbor (Oahu, Hawaii) killing 2400+
- Dec 8, 1941 - US declares war on Japan, Germany and Italy declare war on the US
- Start of WWII for Americans
 
Arsenal of Democracy
- Between 1940-1943, the govt poured resources into the war effort, which pulled the country out of the Great Depression
 
Mobilizing for War
- War Powers Act - allowed the president to essentially do what he wanted
- Reorganize government, create new agencies
- Abridge civil liberties, seize property owned by foreigners
- Award government contracts without competitive bidding
- Roosevelt created many new agencies to deal with problems arising from the war
- OWI - Office of War Information - essentially propaganda created by Roosevelt  to make the war popular; also tried to subvert the enemy
- FBI used wiretapping extensively and illegally to spy domestically
- These activities saw the govt grow massively in size, far more than the New Deal level
- It cost roughly $250 million a day to fight the war
- At the end of the war, there were nearly 4 million government employees
- Now, Roosevelt shifted his focus from getting out of the Depression to winning the war
- Most New Deal agencies eventually vanished as the US supported the war effort
 
Economic Conversion
- Many felt the US’s ability to win the war would be based on capability of production
- The war created the largest economic boom in the history of any country
- Defense production made a huge impact in the West
- Textiles became a large industry 
- Army required 520 million pairs of socks, 230 million pairs of pants
- Rural areas decreased in population, many small farmers would never return
 
New Workers
- Bracero program - allowed Mexicans to work in jobs previously forbidden
- Female labour force grew by over 50%, reaching 19.5 million in 1945
- Even advertisments that promoted female labour stressed it was temporary
- WWII still managed to break down many of the stereotypes held about women
 
Wartime Strikes
- Economic gains during the war were uneven, which led to many labour disputes
- Many high-ranking authorities including the President tried to break strikes
- Many white workers resisted the many African Americans being hired during the war
- Blacks usually refused to back down
- Antistrike Bill - gave President power to penalize strikers, even to draft them
- Strikes still grew in size and number
 
 
The Home Front
- Although the war brought prosperity, it also brought food rationing, long workdays, and other hard conditions
- Most Americans were happy and proud to do what they could to help the Allies
 
Families in Wartime
- War rushed many people into marriage
- As the number of marriages grew, so to did the number of divorces
- Federal govt began creating programs in response to the lack of public housing
- Often, both parents worked, leaving a growing number of “latchkey” children
- During the war the number of juvenile delinquents rose dramatically
- 1944 - Office of Education began a “back-to-school” campaign to reduce dropouts
- Schools became the center of the community war effort
- New economic prosperity led to a huge increase in public health, rise in life expectancy
 
The Internment of Japanese Americans
- After Pearl Harbor, many Americans feared that the Japanese would remain loyal to their homeland
- Media and cartoons began to make racist statements, calling them “Japs” etc
- 1942 - Roosevelt authorised the removal of approx. 110,000 Japanese people to camps
- Japanese Americans were given one week to close up their homes and businesses before being transported to one of the ten internment camps
- Korematsu v. US - Supreme Court upheld the legality of the internments - Nat. Security
- 1988 - US Congress gave $20,000 and a public apology to the surviving victims
 
Civil Rights and Race Riots
- African Americans fought not only for victory, but also for their civil rights
- Roosevelt supported advances that would not disrupt the war effort
- Black movements planned a huge rally to take place in Washington
- Roosevelt met with black leaders, which led to an order banning discrimination
- Many other racial equality movements gained ground during the war
- Some whites wanted to keep blacks out of the best jobs and neighbourhoods
- Riots and other race-based uprisings were widespread
 
Zoot-suit Riots
June 4, 1943 - Sailors chased Mexican Americans wearing zoot suits through Los Angeles, stripping them and beating them 
- Sailors saw these suits as wasteful and unpatriotic
- Zoot-suiters only made up about 10% of Mexican American youth
- Eventually Los Angeles made wearing a zoot-suit in public a criminal offence
 
Popular Culture and “The Good War”
- Even with the war on, Americans were prosperous and enjoyed themselves
- Popular culture developed and was able to bridge racial divisions
- Pop culture began to depict a “good war,” complete with personal sacrifice, etc
- Movie stars called on people to buy war bonds and made combat films
- Comics and other popular forms of media began promoting the war
- Americans associated with the war with phrases such as “Loose Lips Sink Ships”
 
Men and Women in Uniform
- Only 34% of the army saw combat
- Severe military regime uprooted men from their lives and reshaped them
 
Creating the Armed Forces
- With the exception of the Marine Corps, the military was not prepared for a large war
- Oct 16, 1940 - All men ages 21-36 eligible for military service
- Once the US joined the war, this was lowered to 18
- US army was the best-educated in the world
- Eisenhower was more of a “fair” general than the old-school officers, eg. MacArthur
- GI = Government Issue - vast majority of draftees
- Wanted to fight for democracy and hoped to return soon to families, etc
 
Women Enter the Military
- Women originally served as nurses and clerical workers
- WAC = Women’s Army Corps     - Waves = Womens divison of the navy
- As a group, these women were better educated and more skilled than soldiers
- Women were banned from combat, but still assisted at home and abroad
- Many women were discriminated against - no lesbians, no “homosexual tendencies” etc
- Racial segregation was also widespread among women
 
Old Practices and New Horizons
- 1944 - ~10% of the army’s troops were black
- Many black divisions earned distinction in battle
- Many minorities consider their time in the army to be an “Americanizing” experience
- WWII brought together people from across the country and formed bonds btwn them
 
Overseas Occupation
- American GIs overseas were at times rowdy and somewhat oppressive
- American soldiers had an unusually high standard of living - made other troops jealous
- “Liberating” US soldiers in France were often drunk and raped and pillaged
 
Prisoners of War
- In German POW camps, Americans were treated well; Russians were starved and killed
- In the Pacific, conditions for POWs were terrible
- Starved, beaten, killed, diseased, etc
- As retaliation, GIs treated Japanese prisoners very badly
 
The World at War
- For 1st year of the war, the Allies were on the defensive (read: getting slapped around)
- Just 2 hrs after Pearl Harbour, the Japanese hit the main US base in the Philippines
- Allies still had several important advantages:
- Skilled workforce with the ability to accelerate production
- Soviets could endure huge losses without surrendering
 
Soviets Halt Nazi Drive
- WWII was more mobile than WWI, and instead of soldiers, it featured tanks and planes
- WWII had huge improvements in communications, eg 2-way radio transmission, etc
- Hitler used these methods to create terror among the defeated Europeans
- RAF fought the Luftwaffe to a stalemate; Hitler could not invade Britain
- Invasion of Russia did not happen until June 22, six weeks later than planned
- Hitler had to help Mussolini, who got his ass kicked in N. Africa and Greece
- Although the Nazis beat the Soviet army, the civilians rallied and cut of supply lines
- When the winter set in, the Soviets launched a counterattack
- 1st time the German war machine had been stopped
- Hitler turned south, and decided to attack Stalingrad
- Soviets lost more people in these battles than the US did in the entire war
- Intense fighting decimated the Soviets, but eventually stopped the Germans
- Feb. 1943 - German Sixth Army surrendered
- Final German offensive against the Soviets came at Kursk, Ukraine - July 1943
- Largest land battle in history - 2 million troops + and 6000 tanks
- After another German defeat, the only option was to defend Germany
- Soviets began to recover from their losses with the help of the US’s lend-lease program
- Their victories turned the tide of the war - Hitler was suddenly vulnerable
 
The Allied Offensive
- 1942 - Although the Nazis controlled most of the world, the Americans were far more productive and the momentum had shifted
- German troops were still on foot, while Allied troops had jeeps
- Oct 23-24, 1942 - British stop a major offensive under Gen. Rommel (The Desert Fox) at El Alamein
- Destroyed the Italian N. African Army and most of the German Afrika Corps
- Operation Torch - British and US troops secured a position in the Mediterranean 
- May 1943
- Churchill and Roosevelt would only accept an unconditional surrender
- Critics argued that this would only prolong the war
- B-17 Flying Fortress - believed to be the mightiest bomber ever built
- Described as a “humane” weapon, capable of hitting specific targets
- Americans bombed during the day, British preferred at night
- In an attempt to break German resistance, the RAF launched raids on cities
- Hamburg and Dresden were each practically levelled
- These attacks lowered German morale and gave the Allies an upper hand
 
The Allied Invasion of Europe
- After the Allies stormed southern Italy in 1943, the King dismissed Mussolini
- Civilians rose up against their Nazi captors, such as in the Warsaw Jewish ghetto
- Partisan resistance helped weaken Nazis and pave the way for Allied attacks
- As Stalin kept pushing for a second front, the Allies prepared for Operation Overlord
- Wanted to retake the continent by pushing through France
- Began on June 6, 1944 with the Normandy invasion (D-Day)
- At Omaha Beach, the Nazis prepared the defense perfectly, killing thousands of troops
- As the Allies pushed towards Paris, the Germans retreated quickly
- August 25 - Charles de Gaulle proclaimed president of the French Republic
 
The High Cost of European Victory
- Allies chose not to move into Berlin, but instead pushed North
- Germans at Arnhem cut the Allied armies to pieces - 6000 Americans captured
- Battle of the Bulge - Germans suprised Allies, driving them back 50 miles
- Bloodiest campaign involving Americans since the battle of Gettysburg
- By the time the Allies took the Ruhr valley, the German defense seemed hopeless
- May 8th, 1945 - Germans surrendered
- By this time Hitler had already committed suicide
 
The War in Asia and the Pacific
- After Pearl Harbour, the Japanese continued their early victories
- Japanese empire proved to be cruel and the conquered people did not like them
- Midway Island - Americans defeated Japanese and ended the threat to the US coast
- Japanese felt that high casualties on both sides would eventually wear down the US
- Americans devised plans to recapture many of the small islands in the Pacific
- Battle of Leyte Gulf - largest naval battle in history - US tried to recapture Philippines
- Under MacArthur, the US regained control of the Pacific
- After Guam was captured, the Americans could reach Tokyo and other cities
- Japan had no significant air force or navy, and could not transport necessary supplies
- US did not the Soviets to take any territory after the war was over
- This led to the use of their secret weapon: the atomic bomb
 
The Last Stages of the War
- During the war, Roosevelt focused on military strategy, but when the German defeat seemed imminent, he began planning for peace
- Wanted to make sure another world war never happened
 
The Holocaust
- During the war, Hitler systematically murdered Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals
- US government did not release this information until after the war
- US army would not waste resources rescuing civilians unless it was part of an objective
- The Holocaust claimed more than 6,000,000 Jews, 250,000 Gypsies, and 60,000 gays
 
The Yalta Conference
- Feb. 1945 - Roosevelt met for the last time with Churchill and Stalin
- Russia wanted: the Baltic states and part of Poland as a buffer zone
- Britain wanted: to reclaim its empire in Asia
- The US wanted: to hold several Pacific islands to keep an eye on Japan
- Although Roosevelt claimed the meeting was a success, he realised that at the end of the war nothing would keep the Allies together
- 1944 - Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth term in office
- April 12, 1945 - Roosevelt died of a stroke
- His death cast a large shadow over the peace process
 
The Atomic Bomb
- After Roosevelt’s death, cooperation among the Allies was difficult
- Truman had no intentions of making concessoins to the Soviets
- Once Truman found out about the atomic bomb, he knew he did not need the Soviets
- Truman warned the Japanese to surrender immediately, or face “complete destruction”
- Aug 3, 1945 - Japan refused to surrender
- Aug 6, 1945 - The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima
- Aug 9, 1945 - A second atomic bomb destroys Nagasaki
- The decision to drop the bomb remains one of the most controversial aspects of the war
- Atomic power strengthened the US’s diplomatic power
 
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