Japan invaded China, Italy conquered Ethiopia and the African kingdom, and Germany

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US HISTORY – 1939-1945

World War II

World War II was another turning point for the U.S. After Japan invaded China, Italy conquered Ethiopia and the African kingdom, and Germany invaded Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia, the U.S. entered the war in 1941 to back our allies, like the British. The U.S. ended oil sales to Japan, so they retaliated with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The U.S. then declared war on Japan.

The war caused government federal powers to increase (to help control production and rationing). The Great Depression ended because employment and wages went up mostly due to factories being converted to build war supplies. Employers started offering health insurance so health care and life expectancy increased. New vaccines also helped protect more people against illnesses. The Great Migration increased because people were moving to find work. The Baby Boom started and the U.S. Office of War Information helped promote patriotism again. Due to the fear of spies, Executive Order 9066 put many Italians, Germans and Japanese into guarded internment camps in the U.S.

On the European front-

The Germans formed a pact with the Soviets (German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact), which let the Germans focus on one front. They conquered Poland, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France by June 1940. Then the Germans violated their pact and invaded the USSR. The U.S. and Great Britain bombed Germany in western Europe. Troops advanced through Normandy, France and crossed the Rhine River and defeated the Germans. Hitler killed himself and Germany surrendered (May 7-9, 1945).

On the Pacific front-

Japan was fighting against the U.S. Initially, Japan was defeating the U.S. at Wake Island, Guam, Philippines, and China. The Bataan Death March proved that Pacific brutality towards prisoners was 30 times higher than in Europe. The Battle of Midway was the turning point for the U.S. in the war. Planes from carriers helped the U.S. advance as they “island hopped” towards Japan. Japanese soldiers would not surrender; they would rather die first. Many died through kamikaze and banzai attacks as well as mass, civilian suicides in attempts to kill American soldiers.

Important People & Events

Blitzkrieg- War tactic where bombers are immediately followed by tanks and infantry

U.S. Allies- USSR’s Joseph Stalin, FDR and Winston Churchill were allies, although Stalin was not to be trusted, but FDR and Churchill had a good relationship

George Marshall- chief of staff and top general; focused on defeating Germany

Dwight Eisenhower-commander in Europe (allied)

Omar Bradley- a commander who was considered calm; was in charge during Sicily, D-day, France and the Bulge

George Patton- a commander who was considered daring; in charge during Africa, Sicily, France and Battle of the Bulge; troops admired him and he was a tank warfare expert

Vernon J. Baker- In 1997, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic acts in Italy; in the black segregated 92nd Infantry

Tuskegee Airmen- 100% black airmen; flew thousands of missions in the Mediterranean with great success

Douglas MacArthur- army commander in Pacific at Bataan; returned and took Philippines; helped rebuild Japan after the war

Chester A. Nimitz- a navy commander who was soft spoken; commanded in Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Philippine Sea, Solomon Islands, Leyte Gulf, Midway and Coral Sea

Navajo Code Talkers- Native American Indians who developed and used the only code that was unbreakable in modern military history; it was critical to the Marines

Harry Truman- became our president when FDR died; he ended the war with atom bombs

Battle of the North Atlantic- longest continuous war campaign; defeated German U-boats using new radar, sonar, and depth charges during sub-hunting

D-day- June 6, 1944 invasion of Normandy, France

Holocaust- when 6 million Jews died at the hands of Hitler’s “final solution” of mass genocide

Bataan Death March-was the Japanese Army’s forced march of about 60,000–80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war from Bataan to Camp O’Donnell; many were abused, murdered or died on the way

Manhattan Project- U.S. secret project to build the world’s first nuclear bomb, the atom bomb

Nagasaki- large Japanese port where the last U.S. bomb was dropped causing them to surrender

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