World War II – Details of the War Read each paragraph, then add the Note in your composition book. 1930s – Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, invades Austria and demands parts of Czechoslovakia. Great Britain and the French give him what he wants when he promises not to invade anybody else. This policy of giving Hitler what he wants is called appeasement. Soon afterward, despite his promises, Hitler takes the rest of Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, Japan invades eastern China and Italy invades the African country of Ethiopia.
Note: Appeasement – policy of giving Hitler what he wants if he promises to be good. In 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact. Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin agree not to invade each other's borders. This leaves Hitler free to focus his efforts on conquering Western Europe. The two leaders secretly plan to divide Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe between them.
September, 1939 – Germany, using its blitzkrieg ("lightning war") tactics, invades Poland. Frnce and Great Britain declare war on Germany. World War II has begun. The Soviet Union invades Poland from the east.
Note: World War II officially begins when Germany invades Poland in September, 1939. April, 1940 - German troops invade Denmark and Norway, then Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. By June, Germany captures Paris, and Fraance surrenders to the Nazis.
Note: Germany uses its Blitzkrieg, or lightning war, to quickly conquer most of Western Europe. In July, 1940, Germany begins destructive bombing raids on London and other cities in a battle which will become known as the Battle of Britain. The British Air Force is too much for the Germans, however, and the British hand Hitler his first defeat. It is a major turning point of the war on the Western Front.
Note: Battle of Britain – Germany pounds London with bombs every day but can’t conquer Great Britain. Hitler’s first defeat. Major turning point in war in Western Europe. In March, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt convinces a largely isolationist Congress to pass the Lend-Lease Act allowing the U.S. to sell or lend war materials to "any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States."
Note: Lend-Lease Act says FDR can sell war stuff to anyone fighting the bad guys. On December 7, 1941, Japan launches a devastating surprise attack on the U.S. Naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. President Roosevelt asks Congress to declare war on Japan the following day. A few days later, Germany and Italy declare war on the U.S.
Note: Dec. 7, 1941, Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, forces U.S. into the war. After conquering Western Europe, Germany attacks Russia in the summer of 1941 even though Hitler and Stalin had an agreement not to attack each other. Four million German troops pour over the Russian border and advance toward Moscow and Leningrad. And then winter hits. The Germans are caught in summer uniforms, and it is a bitter, cold winter that year, and the attack stalls, with thousands of Germans dead.
The next year, Germany resumes its assault on the Russian city of Stalingrad. In a battle that will rage for six months and take hundreds of thousands of German and Russian lives, the Russian Army finally defeats the invading Nazis.
The long, bloody Battle of Stalingrad proves to be a turning point in the war on the Eastern Front. After that, the Soviet Union begins battling toward the heart of Germany, rather than Germany battling toward the heart of Russia.
Note: Battle of Stalingrad is major turning point of the war on the Eastern Front. On June 6, 1944, on a day that will become known as D-Day, over 160,000 Allied troops and 30,000 vehicles land along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline and begin fighting on the beaches of Normandy. Over the next several months, the Allies liberate Paris and push onward to Berlin, the capital of Germany. As Allied troops near Berlin, Hitler takes shelter in his bombproof bunker, where he poisons his mistress and shoots himself.
Note: D-Day was the day hundreds of thousands of troops landed on the French coast to start the fight to liberate Europe from the Nazis. Meanwhile, just a few days earlier, Mussolini is captured by Italian partisans and hung. His body is dragged through the streets by angry Italians.
The war in Europe is over.
Note: May 8, 1945 – Germany surrenders. V-E Day. President Roosevelt did not live to see the end of the war in Europe or the Pacific. He died in April, 1945, and Harry S Truman became president.
War in the Pacific - Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese armies roll over Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and the East Indies. They take over islands in the Pacific in much the same way as the Nazis overran Europe.
The turning point in the war in the Pacific comes in June, 1942, at the Battle of Midway. In this four day battle fought between planes based on giant aircraft carriers, the U.S. destroys hundreds of Japanese planes and regains control of the Pacific. Allied forces begin slowly battling their way toward Japan.
Note: The Battle of Midway was the major turning point in the war in the Pacific against Japan. The Japanese continue to fight on, however, even after Hitler's defeat ends the war in Europe. President Truman decides to use the newly developed atomic bomb to end the war in the Pacific quickly and prevent more U.S. casualties. The Enola Gay first drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, killing about 78,000 people and injuring 100,000 more. On August 9, a second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, killing another 40,000 people. Japan is forced to surrender and World War II finally comes to an end.
Note: The U.S. dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japan to surrender.