March 6, 1944—The Allies' mission to bomb Berlin, Germany, includes 810 bombers plus 800 fighter escorts. The stream of aircraft stretches a mile wide and a half-mile deep and takes more than half an hour to pass over any given point. Approaching the city, the bombers press on through flak—anti-aircraft fire from the ground—"so thick you can walk on it." Then, bomb bay doors open, and their payloads rain down on the city. Listen to the Witness History audio to hear more about the Allied bombing efforts.
Cologne, Germany, in ruins, 1944
Japanese pilot's goggles recovered from Pearl Harbor
Chapter Focus Question: How did aggressive world powers emerge, and what did it take to defeat them during World War II?
"Cricket" noisemakers used by Allied paratroopers to locate each other after landing
From Appeasement to War
The Axis Advances
The Allies Turn the Tide
Victory in Europe and the Pacific
The End of World War II
An advertisement praising the benefits of penicillin
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A Desperate Peace
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain spoke to a jubilant crowd upon returning to London from a conference with Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany, in September 1938:
"For the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time ... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”
Focus Question What events unfolded between Chamberlain's declaration of "peace for our time" and the outbreak of a world war?
Neville Chamberlain and headlines announcing the Munich Pact
Analyze the threat to world peace posed by dictators in the 1930s and how the Western democracies responded.
Describe how the Spanish Civil War was a "dress rehearsal" for World War II.
Summarize the ways in which continuing Nazi aggression led Europe to war.
Terms, People, and
Neutrality Acts Axis powers
Francisco Franco Anschluss
Sudetenland Nazi-Soviet Pact
Reading Skill: Recognize Sequence As you read, keep track of the sequence of events that led to the outbreak of World War II by completing a table like the one below.
Acts of Aggression
From Appeasement to War
After the horrors of World War I, Western democracies desperately tried to preserve peace during the 1930s while ignoring signs that the rulers of Germany, Italy, and Japan were preparing to build new empires. Despite the best efforts of Neville Chamberlain and other Western leaders, the world was headed to war again.
Aggression Goes Unchecked
Throughout the 1930s, challenges to peace followed a pattern. Dictators took aggressive action but met only verbal protests and pleas for peace from the democracies. Mussolini, Hitler, and the leaders of Japan viewed that desire for peace as weakness and responded with new acts of aggression. With hindsight, we can see the shortcomings of the democracies' policies. These policies, however, were the product of long and careful deliberation. At the time, some people believed they would work.
Japan Overruns Manchuria and Eastern China One of the earliest tests had been posed by Japan. Japanese military leaders and ultranationalists thought that Japan should have an empire equal to those of the Western powers. In pursuit of this goal, Japan seized Manchuria in 1931. When the League of Nations condemned the aggression, Japan simply withdrew from the organization. Japan's easy success strengthened the militarist faction in Japan. In 1937, Japanese armies overran much of eastern China, starting the Second Sino-Japanese War. Once again, Western protests did not stop Japan.
Hitler Remilitarizes Germany
Hitler rebuilt the German military during the 1 930s in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. The government's investment in armaments also helped pull Germany out of the Great Depression. Here, German police march in goose step as Hitler salutes in the background. How did rearmament affect the rest of Germany? Italy Invades Ethiopia In Italy, Mussolini decided to act on his own imperialist ambitions. Italy's defeat by the Ethiopians at the battle of Adowa in 1896 still rankled. In 1935,
Italy invaded Ethiopia, located in northeastern Africa. Although the Ethiopians resisted bravely, their outdated weapons were no match for Mussolini's tanks, machine guns, poison gas, and airplanes. The Ethiopian king Haile Selassie (HY luh suh lab SEE) appealed to the League of Nations for help. The League voted sanctions against Italy for violating international law. But the League had no power to enforce the sanctions, and by early 1936, Italy had conquered Ethiopia.
Hitler Goes Against the Treaty of Versailles By then, Hitler, too, had tested the will of the Western democracies and found it weak. First, he built up the German military in defiance of the treaty that had ended World War I. Then, in 1936, he sent troops into the "demilitarized" Rhineland bordering France—another treaty violation.
Germans hated the Versailles treaty, and Hitler's successful challenge made him more popular at home. The Western democracies denounced his moves but took no real action. Instead, they adopted a policy of appeasement, or giving in to the demands of an aggressor in order to keep the peace.
Keeping the Peace The Western policy of appeasement developed for a number of reasons. France was demoralized, suffering from political divisions at home. It could not take on Hitler without British support. The British, however, had no desire to confront the German dictator. Some even thought that Hitler's actions constituted a justifiable response to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which they believed had been too harsh on Germany.
In both Britain and France, many saw Hitler and fascism as a defense against a worse evil—the spread of Soviet communism. Additionally, the Great Depression sapped the energies of the Western democracies. Finr widespread pacifism, or opposition to all war, and disgust with the destruction from the previous war pushed many governments to seek peace at any price.
Vocabulary Builder sanctions—(SANGK shunz) n. penalties
Faces of Aggression
Three leaders in Europe and one in Japan launched ambitious plans to increase their power.
As war clouds gathered in Europe in the mid-1930s, the United States Congress passed a series of Neutrality Acts. One law forbade the sale of arms to any nation at war. Others outlawed loans to warring nations and prohibited Americans from traveling on ships of warring power the fundamental goal of American policy, however, was to avoid involvement in a European war, not to prevent such a conflict.
Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis In the face of the apparent weakness of Britain, France, and the United States, Germany, Italy, and Japan formed what became known as the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis. Known as the Axis powers, the three nations agreed to fight Soviet communism. They also agreed not to interfere with one another's plans for territorial expansion. The agreement cleared the way for these anti-democratic, aggressor powers to take even bolder steps.
Checkpoint Describe the German, Italian, and Japanese drives for empire.
Spain Collapses Into Civil War
In 1936, a local struggle in Spain polarized public opinion throughout Europe. Trouble in Spain started in 1931, when popular unrest against the old order forced the king to leave Spain. A republic was set up with a new, more liberal constitution. The government passed a series of controversial reforms, taking land and privileges away from the Church and old ruling classes. Still, leftists demanded more radical reforms. Conservatives, backed by the military, rejected change.
In 1936, a conservative general named Francisco Franco led a revolt that touched off a bloody civil war. Fascists and supporters of righting policies, called Nationalists, rallied to back Franco. Supporters of the republic, known as Loyalists, included Communists, Socialists, and those who wanted democracy.
People from other nations soon jumped in to support both sides. Hitler and Mussolini sent arms and forces to help Franco. The Soviet Union sent soldiers to fight against fascism alongside the Spanish Loyalists. Although the governments of Britain, France, and the United States remained neutral, individuals from those countries, as well as other countries, also fought with the Loyalists. Anti-Nazi Germans and anti-Fascist Italians joined the Loyalist cause as well.
Both sides committed horrible atrocities. The ruinous struggle took more than 500,000 lives. One of the worst horrors was a German air raid on Guernica, a small Spanish market town, in April 1937. German planes dropped their load of bombs, and then swooped low to machine-gun anyone who had survived the bombs. Nearly 1,000 innocent civilians were killed. To Nazi leaders, the attack on Guernica was an experiment to identify what their new planes could do. To the rest of the world, it was a grim warning of the destructive power of modern warfare.
By 1939, Franco had triumphed. Once in power, he created a fascist dictatorship similar to the dictatorships of Hitler and Mussolini. He rolled back earlier reforms, killed or jailed enemies, and used terror to promote order.
Checkpoint How did the Spanish Civil War involve combatants from other countries?
Reading Skill: Recognize Sequence Complete this timetable of German aggression as you read.
September 1938 March 1939
German Aggression Continues
In the meantime, Hitler pursued his goal of bringing all Germany spending people into the Third Reich. He also took steps to gain "living spa'" for Germans in Eastern Europe. Hitler, who believed in the superiority of the German people, or "Aryan race," thought that Germany had a right to conquer the inferior Slays to the east. "Nature is cruel," he claimed, "therefore we, too, may be cruel ... I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin."
Austria Annexed From the beginning, Nazi propaganda had found fertile ground in Austria. By 1938, Hitler was ready to engineer the Anschluss (AHN shloos), or union of Austria and Germany. Early that year, he forced the Austrian chancellor to appoint Nazis to key cabinet posts. When the Austrian leader balked at other demands in March, Hitler sent in the German army to "preserve order." To indicate his new role as ruler of Austria, Hitler made a speech from the Hofburg Palace, the former residence of the Hapsburg emperors.
The Anschluss violated the Versailles treaty and created a brief war scare. Some Austrians favored annexation. Hitler quickly silenced any Austrians who opposed it. And since the Western democracies took no action, Hitler easily had his way.
The Czech Crisis Germany turned next to Czechoslovakia. At first, Hitler insisted that the three million Germans in the Sudetenland (soo DAY tun land)—a region of western Czechoslovakia—be given autonomy. Czechoslovakia was one of only two remaining democracies in Eastern Europe. (Finland was the other.) Still, Britain and France were not willing to go to war to save it. As British and French leaders searched for a peaceful solution, Hitler increased his demands. The Sudetenland, he said, must be annexed to Germany.
Germany in Czechoslovakia A Sudeten woman grieves while dutifully saluting Hitler's troops (below). German tanks roll through Wenceslas Square in Prague (left).
At the Munich Conference in September 1938, British and French leaders again chose appeasement. They caved in to Hitler's demands and then persuaded the Czechs to surrender the Sudetenland without a fight. In exchange, Hitler assured Britain and France that he had no further plans to expand his territory.
"Peace for Our Time" Returning from Munich, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told cheering crowds that he had achieved "peace for our time." He told Parliament that the Munich Pact had "saved Czechoslovakia from destruction and Europe from Armageddon." French leader Edouard Daladier (dah land yay) reacted differently to the joyous crowds that greeted him in Paris. "The fools, why are they cheering?" he asked. British politician Winston Churchill, who had long warned of the Nazi threat, judged the diplomats harshly: "They had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor; they will have war."
Checkpoint Why did Hitler feel justified in taking over Austria and the Sudetenland?
Map Skills Between 1936 and 1939, Germany and Italy repeatedly threatened peace in Europe.
1. Locate (a) Austria (b) Rhineland (c) Poland
2. Regions The strip of land between East Prussia and the rest of Germany is called the Polish Corridor. Why is that an appropriate name for the region?
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3. Predict Consequences Which countries in 1939 were probably the most likely targets for future acts of German or Italian aggression? Explain.
Aggression in Europe and Africa to September, 1939
Why the West Appeased Hitler
Fear of the destructive power of modern technology
Widespread pacifism following World War
Hitler's actions seen as a justifiable response to the harsh Treaty of Versailles
Widespread economic depression
Hitler's fascism seen as a defense against Soviet communism
Europe Plunges Toward War
Just as Churchill predicted, Europe plunged rapidly toward was In March 1939, Hitler broke his promises and gobbled up the rest of Czechoslovakia. The democracies finally accepted the fact that appeasement had failed. At last thoroughly alarmed, they promised to protect Poland, most likely the next target of Hitler's expansion.
Nazi-Soviet Pact In August 1939, Hitler stunned the world by announcing a nonaggression pact with his great
enemy—Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator. Publicly, the • Faith in diplomacy and compromise Nazi-Soviet Pact bound Hitler and Stalin to peaceful relations. Secretly, the two agreed not to fight if the other went to war and to divide up Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe between them.
The pact was based not on friendship or respect but on mutual need. Hitler feared communism as Stalin feared fascism. But Hitler wanted a free hand in Poland. Also, he did not want to fight a war with the Western democracies and the Soviet Union at the same time. For his part, Stalin had sought allies among the Western democracies against the Nazi menace. Mutual suspicions, however, kept them apart. By joining with Hitler, Stalin tried to protect the Soviet Union from the threat of war with Germany and grabbed a chance to gain land in Eastern Europe.
Invasion of Poland On September 1, 1939, a week after the Nazi Soviet Pact, German forces invaded Poland. Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany. World War II had begun.
The devastation of World War I and the awareness of the destructive power of modern technology made the idea of more fighting unbearable. Unfortunately, the war proved to be even more horrendous than anyone had imagined.
Checkpoint What convinced Britain and France to end their policy of appeasement? Why?
Chart Skills Agree or disagree with the following statement: "World War II was in large part a continuation of World War I." Provide evidence from the chart and your knowledge of history to support your view.
Vocabulary Builder technology—(tek NAHL uh jee) n. scientific advances applied to practical purposes
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Terms, People, and Places
1. For each term, person, or place listed at the beginning of the section, write a sentence explaining its significance.
2. Reading Skill: Recognize Sequence Use your completed tables to answer the Focus Question: What events unfolded between Chamberlain's declaration of "peace for our time" and outbreak of a world war?
Comprehension and Critical Thinking
3. Identify Central Issues How did the Western democracies respond to the aggression of the Axis powers during the 1930s?
4. Synthesize Information Why did Germany and Italy become involved in the Spanish Civil War?
5. Recognize Cause and Effect How was the Munich Conference a turning point in the road toward world war?
6. Analyze Information Why do you think some historians call the period between 1919 and 1939 the 20-year truce?
Writing About History
Quick Write: Explore a Topic Choose one specific event from this section and write a series of questions that you could use to direct research on the topic. For example, on the formation of the RomeBerlin-Tokyo Axis you could ask
How did the Axis benefit each of the member countries?
How did the Axis clear the way for the members to take even bolder aggressive actions?
"It was 10:30 in the morning and I was helping my mother and a servant girl with bags and baskets as they set out for the market.... Suddenly the high-pitch scream of diving planes caused everyone to freeze.... Countless explosions shook our house followed by the rat-tat-tat of strafing machine guns. We could only stare at each other in horror. Later reports would confirm that several German Stukas had screamed out of a blue sky and .. . dropped several bombs along the main street—and then returned to strafe the market. The carnage was terrible."
—Janina Sulkowska, Krzemieniec, Poland, September 12, 1939
Focus Question Which regions were attacked and occupied by the Axis powers, and what was life like under their occupation?
Describe how the Axis powers came to control much of Europe, but failed to conquer Britain.
Summarize Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union.
Understand the horror of the genocide the Nazis committed.
Describe the role of the United States before and after joining World War II.
Terms, People, and Places
blitzkrieg General Erwin Rommel
Luftwaffe concentration camps
Vichy Lend-Lease Act
Reading Skill: Recognize Sequence Sequence events as you read in a flowchart.
September 1939: Germany invades Poland.
The Axis Advances
Diplomacy and compromise had not satisfied the Axis powers' hunger for empire. Western democracies had hoped that appeasement would help establish a peaceful world order. But Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and imperial Japan plunged ahead with their plans for conquest.
The Axis Attacks
On September 1, 1939, Nazi forces stormed into Poland, revealing the enormous power of Hitler's blitzkrieg, or "lightning war." The blitzkrieg utilized improved tank and airpower technology to strike a devastating blow against the enemy. First, the Luftwaffe, or German air force, bombed airfields, factories, towns, and cities, and screaming dive bombers fired on troops and civilians. Then, fast-moving tanks and troop transports pushed their way into the defending Polish army, encircling whole divisions of troops and forcing them to surrender.
While Germany attacked from the west, Stalin's forces invaded from the east, grabbing lands promised to them under the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Within a month, Poland ceased to exist. Because of Poland's location and the speed of the attacks, Britain and France could do nothing to help beyond declaring war on Germany.
Hitler passed the winter without much further action. Sf`alin's armies, however, forced the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and
Lithuania to agree to host bases for the Soviet military. Soviet forces also seized part of Finland, which put up stiff but unsuccessful resistance.
The Miracle of Dunkirk During that first winter, the French hunkered down behind the Maginot Line. Britain sent troops to wait with them. Some reporters referred to this quiet time as the "phony war." Then, in April 1940, Hitler launched a blitzkrieg against Norway and Denmark, both of which soon fell. Next, his forces slammed into the Netherlands and Belgium.
In May, German forces surprised the French and British by attacking through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, an area that was considered invasion proof. Bypassing the Maginot Line, German troops poured into France. Retreating British forces were soon trapped between the Nazi army and the English Channel. In a desperate gamble, the British sent all available naval vessels, merchant ships, and even fishing and pleasure boats across the channel to pluck stranded troops off the beach of Dunkirk. Despite German air attacks, the improvised armada ferried more than 300,000 troops to safety in Britain. This heroic rescue raised British morale.
France Falls Meanwhile, German forces headed south toward Paris. Italy declared war on France and attacked from the south. Overrun and demoralized, France surrendered. On June 22, 1940, Hitler forced the French to sign the surrender documents in the same railroad car in which Germany had signed the armistice ending World War I. Following the surrender, Germany occupied northern France. In the south, the Germans set up a "puppet state," with its capital at Vichy (VEE shee).
The French officers escaped to England and set up a government in exile. Led by Charles de Gaulle, these "free French" worked to liberate their homeland. Within France, resistance fighters used guerrilla tactics against German forces.
Operation Sea Lion With the fall of France, Britain stood alone in Western Europe. Hitler was sure that the British would sue for peace. But Winston Churchill, who had replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister, had other plans. Faced with this defiance, Hitler made plans for Operation Sea Lion—the invasion of Britain. In preparation for the invasion, he launched massive air strikes against the island nation.
Beginning in August 1940, German bombers began a daily bombardment of England's southern coast. For a month, Britain's Royal Air Force valiantly battled the Luftwaffe.
Then, the Germans changed their tactics. Instead of bombing military targets in the south, they began to bomb London and other cities.
Germany Launches the Blitz German bombers first appeared over London late on September 7, 1940. All through the night, relays of aircraft showered high explosives and firebombs on the sprawling capital. The bombing continued for 57 nights in a row and then sporadically until the next May. These bombing attacks are known as "the blitz." Much of London was destroyed, and thousands of people lost their lives.
Vocabulary Builder available—(uh VAYL uh bul) adj. ready for use; at hand
Winston Churchill's defiance gave voice to the determination of the British. How did Churchill give weight to his speech?
"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” —Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940
SURVIVING THE BLITZ
From 1940 to 1941, Germany tried to pummel Britain into submission during a months-long bombing campaign known as "the blitz." From September through May, German pilots targeted London with night after night of bombing, but other cities such as Liverpool, Glasgow, and Belfast became targets, too. These nighttime raids sent ordinary civilians scrambling for safety—in crowded public shelters, in homemade shelters, or even in the London Underground. During the blitz, German bombers killed more than 40,000 British civilians and
London damaged millions of homes.
A Nearly three million people were evacuated from Britain's cities to the safer countryside.
Small gestures of kindness helped Londoners deal with the effects of bombing raids.
London did not break under the blitz. Defiantly, Parliament continued to meet. Citizens carried on their daily lives, seeking protection in shelters and then emerging to resume their routines when the all-clear sounded. Even the British king and queen chose to support Londoners by joining them in bomb shelters rather than fleeing to the countryside.
Hitler Fails to Take Britain German planes continued to bomb London and other cities off and on until May 1941. But contrary to Hitler's hopes, the Luftwaffe could not gain air superiority over Britain, and British morale was not destroyed. In fact, the bombing only made the British more determined to turn back the enemy. Operation Sea Lion was a failure.
Africa and the Balkans Axis armies also pushed into North Africa and the Balkans. In September 1940, Mussolini ordered forces from Italy's North African colony of Libya into Egypt. When the British army repulsed these invaders, Hitler sent one of his most brilliant commanders, General Erwin Rommel, to North Africa. The "Desert Fox," as he was called, chalked up a string of successes in 1941 and 1942. He pushed the British back across the desert toward Cairo, Egypt.
In October 1940, Italian forces invaded Greece. They encountered stiff resistance, and in 1941 German troops once again provided rei: cements. Both Greece and Yugoslavia were added to the growing-Axis empire. Even after the Axis triumph, however, Greek and Yugoslav
Draw Conclusions What lessons might the British have learned from their experience of the blitz?
Make Inferences Why do you think that the blitz failed to break the morale of the British people?
During air raids, some 60,000 Londoners sought shelter in the Underground, or subway, each night. Thousands of others slept in church crypts, basements, and other underground shelters.
guerrillas plagued the occupying forces. Meanwhile, both Bulgaria and Hungary had joined the Axis alliance. By 1941, the Axis powers or their allies controlled most of Europe.
Checkpoint Which regions fell under Axis rule between 1939 and 1941?
Germany Invades the Soviet Union
After the failure in Britain, Hitler turned his military might to a new target—the Soviet Union. The decision to invade the Soviet Union helped relieve Britain. It also proved to be one of Hitler's costliest mistakes.
An Unstoppable German Army Stalls In June 1941, Hitler nullified the Nazi-Soviet Pact by invading the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa, a plan which took its name from the medieval Germanic leader, Frederick Barbarossa. Hitler made his motives clear. "If I had the Ural Mountains with their incalculable store of treasures in raw materials," he declared, "Siberia with its vast forests, and the Ukraine with its tremendous wheat fields, Germany under National Socialist leadership would swig in plenty." He also wanted to crush communism in Europe and defeat his powerful rival, Stalin.
Hitler unleashed a new blitzkrieg in the Soviet Union. About three million German soldiers invaded. The Germans caught Stalin unprepared.
Vocabulary Builder nullified—(NUL uh fyd) Vt. made invalid
When Hitler's forces invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Hilter began implementing what he called the "Final Solution"—the organized murder of all European Jews under his control. At first, Nazi troops began rounding up Jews, executing them and burying them in mass graves. Other Jews were sent to forced labor camps, where many were worked to death. But the Nazis were not satisfied with the pace of these ruthless murders. Beginning in 1942, they began to force Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe into specially designed death camps. By 1945, the Nazis had mercilessly killed some six million Jews—nearly two thirds of all European Jews.
Terrified Jewish families surrender to Nazi soldiers.
His army was still suffering from the purges that had wiped out many of its top officers.
The Soviets lost two and a half million soldiers trying to fend off the invaders. As they were forced back, Soviet troops destroyed factories and farm equipment and burned crops to keep them out of enemy hands. But they could not stop the German war machine. By autumn, the Nazis had smashed deep into the Soviet Union and were poised to take Moscow and Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg).
There, however, the German advance stalled. Like Napoleon's Grand Army in 1812, Hitler's forces were not prepared for the fury of "General Winter." By early December, temperatures plunged to –40°F (-4°C). Thousands of German soldiers froze to death.
Germany's Siege of Leningrad The Soviets, meanwhile, suffered appalling hardships. In September 1941, the two-and-a-half-year siege of Leningrad began. Food was rationed to two pieces of bread a day. Desperate Leningraders ate almost anything. For example, they boiled wallpaper scraped off walls because its paste was said to contain potato flour.
Although more than a million Leningraders died during the siege, the city did not fall to the Germans. Hoping to gain some relief for his exhausted people, Stalin urged Britain to open a second front in Western Europe. Although Churchill could not offer much real help, the two powers did agree to work together.
Checkpoint What caused Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union to stall?
Nazi Concentration Camps
Survivors of the Holocaust at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland
Map Skills Where were the death camps located? How did this location reflect the goal of the "Final Solution"?
Graph Skills How does the graph show the horror of the Holocaust?
Life Under Nazi and Japanese Occupation
While Nazi forces rampaged across Europe, the Japanese military conquered an empire in Asia and the Pacific. Each set out to build a "new order" in the occupied lands.
Hitler's "New Order" Hitler's new order grew out of his racial obsessions. As his forces conquered most of Europe, Hitler set up puppet governments in Western European countries that were peopled by Aryans, or light-skinned Europeans, whom Hitler and his followers believed to be a "master race." The Slays of Eastern Europe were considered to be an inferior "race." They were shoved aside to provide more "living space" for Germans, the strongest of the Aryans.
To the Nazis, occupied lands were an economic resource to be plundered and looted. The Nazis systematically stripped conquered nations of their works of art, factories, and other resources. To counter resistance movements that emerged in occupied countries, the Nazis took savage revenge, shooting hostages and torturing prisoners.
But the Nazis' most sinister plans centered on the people of the occupied countries. During the 1930s, the Nazis had sent thousands of Jewish people and political opponents to concentration camps, detention centers for civilians considered enemies of the state. Over the course of the war, the Nazis forced these people, along with millions of Polish and Soviet Slays and people from other parts of Europe, to work as slave laborers. Prisoners were poorly fed and often worked to death.
Reading Skill: Identify Supporting Details In a concept web like the one below, fill in details about how the Nazis and Japanese military treated people under their power during World War II. Add circles as necessary.
The Japanese in China
Since 1937, the Japanese had been trying to expand into Asia by taking over China. Although the Japanese occupied much of Eastern China, the Chinese refused to surrender. The occupying Japanese treated the Chinese brutally. Below, Japanese soldiers load Chinese civilians onto trucks to take them to an execution ground during the sacking of Nanjing in 1937.
The Nazis Commit Genocide At the same time, Hitler pursued a vicious program to kill all people he judged "racially inferior," particularly Europe's Jews. The Nazis also targeted other groups who did not meet the Aryan racial ideal, including Slays, Romas (Gy; s), homosexuals, and the disabled. Political and religious leaders who spoke out against Nazism also suffered abuse. Starting in 1939, the Nazis forced Jews in Poland and other countries to live in ghettos, or sections of cities where Jewish people were confined. Many died from starvation, disease, overwork, and the harsh elements. By 1941, however, German leaders had devised plans for the "Final Solution of the Jewish problem"—the genocide of all European Jews.
To accomplish this goal, Hitler had six special "death camps" built in Poland. The Nazis shipped "undesirables" from all over occupied Europe to the camps. There, Nazi engineers designed the most efficient means of killing millions of men, women, and children.
As the prisoners reached the camps, they were stripped of their clothes and valuables. Their heads were shaved. Guards separated men from women and children from their parents. The young, elderly, and sick were targeted for immediate killing. Within a few days, they were herded into "shower rooms" and gassed. The Nazis worked others to death or used them for perverse "medical" experiments. By 1945, the Nazis had massacred some six million Jews in what became known as the Holocaust. Nearly six million other people were killed as well.
Jewish people resisted the Nazis even though they knew their efforts could not succeed. In July 1942, the Nazis began sending Polish Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka death camp at a rate of about 5,000 per day. In the spring of 1943, knowing that their situation 'as hopeless, the Jews took over the ghetto and used a small collection of guns and homemade bombs to damage the Nazi forces as much as possible. On May 16, the Nazis regained control of the ghetto and eliminated the remaining Warsaw Jews. Still, their courage has inspired many over the years.
In some cases, friends, neighbors, or strangers protected Jews. Italian peasants hid Jews in their villages. Denmark and Bulgaria saved almost
all their Jewish populations. Many people, however, pretended not to notice what was happening. Some even became collaborators and cooperated with the Nazis. In France, the Vichy government helped ship thousands of Jewish people to their deaths. Strict immigration policies in many Western countries as well as conscious efforts to block Jewish immigration prevented many Jews from gaining refuge elsewhere.
The scale and savagery of the Holocaust are unequaled in history. The Nazis deliberately set out to destroy the Jews for no reason other than their religious and ethnic heritage. Today, the record of that slaughter is a vivid reminder of the monstrous results of racism and intolerance.
Japan's Brutal Conquest Japanese forces took control across Asia and the Pacific. Their self-proclaimed mission was to help Asians escape Western colonial rule. In fact, the real goal was a Japanese empire in Asia. The Japanese invaders treated the Chinese, Filipinos, Malaysians, and other conquered people with great brutality, killing and torturing civilians throughout East and Southeast Asia. The occupiers seized food crops, destroyed cities and towns, and made local people into slave laborers. Whatever welcome the Japanese had first met as "liberators" was soon turned to hatred. In the Philippines, Indochina, and elsewhere, nationalist groups waged guerrilla warfare against the Japanese invaders.
Checkpoint How did Hitler's views about race lead to the murder of
six million Jewish people and millions of Slays, Gypsies, and others?
Japan Attacks the United States
When the war began in 1939, the United States declared its neutrality. Still, although isolationist feeling remained strong, many Americans sympathized with those who battled the Axis powers. As one of those sympathizers, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) looked for ways around the Neutrality Acts to provide warships and other aid to Britain as it stood alone against Hitler.
American Involvement Grows In March 1941, FDR persuaded Congress to pass the Lend-Lease Act. It allowed him to sell or lend war materials to "any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States." The United States, said Roosevelt, would not be drawn into the war, but it would become "the arsenal of democracy," supplying arms to those who were fighting for freedom.
To show further support, Roosevelt met secretly with Churchill on a warship in the Atlantic in August 1941. The two leaders issued the Atlantic Charter, which set goals for the war—"the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny"—and for the postwar world. They pledged to support "the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live" and called for a "permanent system of general security."
Japan and the United States Face Off When war broke out in Europe in 1939, the Japanese saw a chance to grab European possessions in Southeast Asia. The rich resources of the region, including oil, rubber, and tin, would be of immense value in fighting its war against the Chinese.
In 1940, Japan advanced into French Indochina and the Dutch East Indus. To stop Japanese aggression, the United States banned the sale of war materials, such as iron, steel, and oil to Japan. Japanese leaders saw this move as an attempt to interfere in Japan's sphere of influence.
Meeting at Sea
President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill issued the Atlantic Charter in August 1941.
Japan and the United States held talks to ease the growing tension. But extreme militarists, such as General Tojo Hideki, hoped to expand Japan's empire, and the United States was interfering with their plans.
Attack on Pearl Harbor With talks at a standstill, General Tojo ordered a surprise attack. Early on December 7, 1941, Japanese airplanes bombed the American fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The attack took the lives of about 2,400 people and destroyed battleships and aircraft. The next day, a grim-faced President Roosevelt told the nation that December 7 was "a date which will live in infamy." He asked Congress to declare war on Japan. On December 11, Germany and Italy, as Japan's allies, declared war on the United States.
Japanese Victories In the long run, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would be as serious a mistake as Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. But in the months after Pearl Harbor, possessions in the Pacific fell to the Japanese one by one. The Japanese captured the Philippines and other islands held by the United States. They overran the British colonies of Hong Kong, Burma, and Malaya, and advanced deeper into the Dutch East Indies and French Indochina. By 1942, the Japanese empire stretched from Southeast Asia to the western Pacific Ocean.
Checkpoint Why did Japanese leaders view the United States as an enemy?
Progress Monitoring Online For: Self-quiz with vocabulary practice Web Code: nba-2921
SOURCE: Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition
December 7, 1941
On the sleepy Sunday morning of
December 7, 1941, the military complex at Pearl Harbor was suddenly jolted awake by a surprise attack. Planes screamed down from the sky, dropping bombs and torpedoes. Americans were shocked and horrified by the attacks. How did Pearl Harbor change the isolationist policies of the United States?
Terms, People, and Places
1. For each term, person, or place listed at the beginning of the section, write a sentence explaining its significance.
2. Reading Skill: Recognize Sequence Use your completed flowchart and concept web to answer the Focus Question Which regions were attacked and occupied by the Axis powers, and what was life like under their occupation?
Comprehension and Critical Thinking
3. Summarize Describe Hitler's blitzkrieg tactics.
4. Recognize Effects Referring to the Battle of Britain in 1940, Winston Churchill said "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." What did he mean?
5. Recognize Ideologies Hitler translated his hatred into a program of genocide. How do ethnic, racial, and religious hatreds weaken society?
• Writing About History
Quick Write: Gather Information Use the library and reliable Internet sources to find information about Pearl Harbor. Create a source card for each book or Web site you use. Then create note cards to record and organize at least three pieces of information.