World War II notes



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World War II

Notes
I. Long Term Causes

A. Japanese aggression in Asia

1. 1931 - conquer the Chinese province of Manchuria

2. 1937 - invade mainland China and take control of major cities and trading ports

B. Italian aggression in Africa

1. 1935 - Mussolini invades and conquers Ethiopia

C. German aggression in Europe

1. Hitler rebuilds the German army violating the Treaty of Versailles

2. 1936 - Hitler conquers the Rhineland in France

3. 1938 - Hitler makes Austria and Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia) part of Germany

D. M.I.N.T. (see attached)
II. Attempts to Prevent War


  1. Appeasement - adopting a policy of giving in to demands in order to maintain peace

  1. European nations allowed Hitler to take lands in Europe in hopes of preventing WWII.

  1. Consequences

  1. Hitler continues to take land in Europe

  2. Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis - these nations agreed to fight communism and not stop others from their conquest

  3. 1939 - Hitler takes the rest of Czechoslovakia

  4. 1939 - Nazi-Soviet Pact - Hitler and Stalin agree to a non-aggression treaty

  5. 1939 - Hitler invades Poland forcing Britain to act starting WWII.

III. Sides are Chosen



  1. Axis Powers - Germany, Italy, and Japan

  2. Allied Powers - France and Britain (later joined by the Soviet Union, China, and the United States)

IV. Germany Goes on the Attack



  1. 1939 - Hitler’s blitzkrieg (lightening war) destroys Poland in short order

  2. 1940 - Hitler moved on to take Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium

  3. 1940 - Hitler captures Paris and forces the French government led by Charles de Gaulle to rule from exile in England.

1. British saved more than 300,000 troops at the “Miracle of Dunkirk”

2. Paris falls and Italy declares war on France. Italians attack from the south leading to French surrender

D. Operation Sea Lion - Hitler’s attack on Britain in 1940

1. Massive air strikes used to attempt to weaken Britain

2. The London blitz - Germany bombed London for 57 straight nights

3. The British Royal Force (RAF) successfully battled Germany for a month

4. Britain did not break and Hitler abandoned his plan in June 1941

E. Operation Barbarossa - Hitler invades the Soviet Union in June 1941

1. 3 million German troops invade Russia

2. Stalin is caught off guard and loses 2.5 million soldiers

3. Hitler pushes close to Leningrad and Moscow but cannot take those cities

4. He turns south and attacks Stalingrad

a. 1942-43 - numerous attempts are made to conquer Stalingrad but German troops are slowed by the Soviet army and a brutal winter. They are forced to surrender.

V. Italy Charges Ahead

A. Mussolini sends troops to into Egypt

B. British troops held back invaders until Hitler came to Italy’s aid in 1941

C. Italy then attacks Greece with German troops coming to the rescue once again
VI. Japan Awakes a Sleeping Giant

A. U.S. and Japanese relations are strained because the U.S. banned sale of war materials to Japan

B. Japan became angry and peace talks between General Hideki Tojo and the U.S. failed

C. On December 7, 1941, Japanese airplanes launched a surprise attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor and killed more than 2,400 Americans while sinking numerous warships.

D. United States is brought into the war as a result of this attack and they respond by bombing Tokyo (Doolittle’s Raid)
VII. The Allies Respond

A. Battle of El Alamein (1942) - General Rommel’s (German) army is stopped in Egypt by the British. A year later he is forced to surrender to British and American forces in Africa.

B. Invasion of Italy (1943) - With Africa back in Allied hands, they focus on Italy forcing Hitler to pull troops from other parts of Europe to come to Italy’s aid.

C. D-Day (June 6, 1944) - Allied troops are ferried across the English Channel for an invasion of France at Normandy.

1. 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword) of Normandy. They were aided by 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft.

2. The Allies suffered 9,000 casualties from the battle but gained a foothold in France.

3. This changed momentum in the war and became the beginning of the end for the German army.

D. Battle of the Bulge (December 16, 1944) - After freeing France, the allies moved toward Germany and Hitler launched a massive counter attack

1. very costly battle for both sides, slowed Allied advance

2. Allied forces eventually use round-the-clock bombing to destroy German cities


VIII. The War in Europe Ends (May 7th 1945, V-E Day)

A. Allied troops march into Berlin, Germany

B. in Italy, Mussolini is killed by his own people and drug through the streets

C. Hitler commits suicide in his underground bunker and the war in Europe is officially over


IX. Defeat of Japan

A. Turning points in the war in mid-1942 included the sea battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. Both were allied victories which resulted in heavy losses to the Japanese navy.

B. 1943 - Guadalcanal was a major victory for the allies.

C. 1943-44 saw the allies use “island hopping” as a strategy. Move from one island to another taking territory and cutting off the Japanese army from home.

D. 1944-45 - Allies take control of the Philippines.

1. During the battle for these islands it is the first time the Japanese use Kamikazes.

2. Kamikaze - pilots who undertook suicide missions

E. Japanese navy virtually destroyed by the beginning of 1945 but they refuse to surrender because their military is still in tact.

F. Refusal to surrender leads to the dropping of two atomic bombs on cities in Japan

1. First bomb (Little Boy) dropped on August 6, 1945 on Hiroshima killing 70,000 people.

2. Second bomb is dropped on August 9, 1945 on Nagasaki killing 40,000 people.

E. Emperor Hirohito surrendered on August 10th, with V-J Day being celebrated on August 14th.


X. Wartime Atrocities

A. The Holocaust - more than six million Jews killed by the Nazi’s, “The Final Solution”

B. Nanjing - killing and brutality by Japanese against Chinese resulting in 250,000 Chinese deaths

C. Bataan Death March - 76,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war were bound, beaten, or killed by their Japanese captors in the Philippines in 1942.


XI. Bringing an End to the War

A. Teheran Conference (1943) - Big three meet (Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill) and discuss plans for a two-front war in Europe.

B. Yalta Conference (1945) - Germany was divided up and the U.S.S.R. was granted lands in Eastern Europe (Poland).

C. Potsdam Conference (Aug 1945) - three countries meet again (different leaders of U.S. and Britain) but this time tensions are high between free nations and Stalin. As a result the Cold War begins.


XII. Cost of the War

A. 75 million people are dead

B. cities and home virtually destroyed by bombings

C. economies severely weekend by years of war

D. Nuremberg Trials held to put Nazi’s on trial for crimes against humanity (Holocaust).

E. Germany and Japan face strict limitations on power.

F. Some democracies are established in Western Europe while communist governments were created in Eastern Europe and controlled by the Soviets.

G. United Nations is formed in April of 1945.



H. decline in colony powers abilities to control colonies results in the movement toward independence in many locations throughout the world


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