WWII: CAUSES AND EVENTS THAT LED TO AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT IN THE WAR, INCLUDING MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE JAPANESE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR.
The United States gradually abandoned neutrality as events in Europe and Asia pulled the nations toward war.
How did the United States respond to increasing totalitarian aggression in Europe and Asia?
What caused America’s gradual abandonment of her policy of neutrality? The war in Europe
• World War II began with Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, followed shortly thereafter by the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland and the Baltic countries from the east.
• During the first two years of the war, the United States stayed officially neutral while Germany overran France and most of Europe and pounded Britain from the air (the Battle of Britain).
In mid-1941, Hitler turned on his former partner and invaded the Soviet Union.
• Despite strong isolationist sentiment at home, the United States increasingly helped Britain. It gave Britain war supplies and old naval warships in return for military bases in Bermuda and the Caribbean. Soon after, the Lend-Lease Act gave the president authority to sell or lend equipment to countries to defend themselves against the Axis powers. Franklin Roosevelt compared it to “lending a garden hose to a next-door neighbor whose house is on fire.”
The war in Asia
• During the 1930s, a militaristic Japan invaded and brutalized Manchuria and China as it sought military and economic domination over Asia.
The United States refused to recognize Japanese conquests in Asia and imposed an embargo on exports of oil and steel to Japan. Tensions rose, but both countries negotiated to avoid war.
• While negotiating with the United States and without any warning, Japan carried out an air attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The attack destroyed much of the American Pacific fleet and killed several thousand Americans. Roosevelt called it “a date that will live in infamy” as he asked Congress to declare war on Japan.
• After Pearl Harbor, Hitler honored a pact with Japan and declared war on the United States.
The debates over isolationism in the United States were over. World War II was now a true world war, and the United States was fully involved.
THE MAJOR BATTLES AND TURNING POINTS OF THE WAR IN NORTH AFRICA, EUROPE, AND THE PACIFIC, INCLUDING MIDWAY, STALINGRAD, THE NORMANDY LANDING (D-DAY), AND TRUMAN’S DECISION TO USE THE ATOMIC BOMB TO FORCE THE SURRENDER OF JAPAN.
Wartime strategies reflect the political and military goals of alliances, the resources on hand, and the geographical extent of the conflict.
What was the overall strategy of America and her allies in World War II?
How did America’s strategy during World War II reflect available resources and the geographical scope of the conflict?
Why were some battles of World War II considered turning points of the war? Allied strategy
• America and her allies (Britain, and the Soviet Union after being invaded by Germany) followed a “Defeat Hitler First” strategy. Most American military resources were targeted for Europe.
• In the Pacific, American military strategy called for an “island hopping” campaign, seizing islands closer and closer to Japan and using them as bases for air attacks on Japan, and for cutting off Japanese supplies through submarine warfare against Japanese shipping.
• Germany hoped to defeat the Soviet Union quickly, gain control of Soviet oil fields, and force Britain out of the war through a bombing campaign and submarine warfare before America’s industrial and military strength could turn the tide.
• Following Pearl Harbor, Japan invaded the Philippines and Indonesia and planned to invade both Australia and Hawaii. Her leaders hoped that America would then accept Japanese predominance in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, rather than conduct a bloody and costly war to reverse Japanese gains.
Major battles and military turning points
• North Africa
– El Alamein: German forces threatening to seize Egypt and the Suez Canal were defeated by the British. This defeat prevented Hitler from gaining access to Middle Eastern oil supplies and attacking the Soviet Union from the south.
– Stalingrad: Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers were killed or captured in a months-long siege of the Russian city of Stalingrad. This defeat prevented Germany from seizing the Soviet oil fields and turned the tide against Germany in the east.
– Normandy landings (D-Day): American and Allied troops under Eisenhower landed in German-occupied France on June 6, 1944. Despite intense German opposition and heavy American casualties, the landings succeeded, and the liberation of western Europe from Hitler began.
– Midway: In the Battle of Midway (termed the “Miracle at Midway”), American naval forces defeated a much larger Japanese force as it prepared to seize Midway Island. Coming only a few months after Pearl Harbor, a Japanese victory at Midway would have enabled Japan to invade Hawaii. The American victory ended the Japanese threat to Hawaii and began a series of American victories in the “island hopping” campaign, carrying the war closer and closer to Japan.
– Iwo Jima and Okinawa: The American invasions of the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa brought American forces closer than ever to Japan, but both invasions cost thousands of American lives and even more Japanese lives, as Japanese soldiers fought fiercely over every square inch of the islands and Japanese soldiers and civilians committed suicide rather than surrender.
– Use of the atomic bomb: Facing the prospect of horrendous American and Japanese casualties if American forces were to invade Japan itself, President Harry Truman ordered the use of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force the Japanese to surrender. Tens of thousands of people were killed in both cities. Shortly after the bombs were used, the Japanese leaders surrendered, avoiding the need for American forces to invade Japan.
THE ROLE OF ALL--MINORITY MILITARY UNITS, INCLUDING THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN AND NISEI REGIMENTS.
World War II solidified the nation’s role as a global power, ushered in social changes, and established reform agendas that would preoccupy public discourse in the United States for the remainder of the twentieth century.
Women entered into previously male job roles as African Americans and others struggled to obtain desegregation of the armed forces and end discriminatory hiring practices.
How did minority participation in World War II reflect social conditions in the United States?
How did minorities contribute to Allied victory? Minority participation
• African Americans generally served in segregated military units and were assigned to noncombat roles but demanded the right to serve in combat rather than support roles.
All-minority military units
• Tuskegee Airmen (African American) served in Europe with distinction.
• Nisei regiments (Asian American) earned a high number of decorations.
Additional contributions of minorities
• Communication codes of the Navajo were used (oral, not written language; impossible for the Japanese to break).
• Mexican Americans also fought, but in non-segregated units.
• Minority units suffered high casualties and won numerous unit citations and individual medals for bravery in action.
THE GENEVA CONVENTION AND THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS OF WAR DURING WORLD WAR II
The conduct of war often reflects the social and moral codes of a nation.
The treatment of prisoners of war often reflects the savage nature of conflict and the cultural norms of a nation.
What was the purpose of the Geneva Convention?
How did the treatment of prisoners of war differ during the war?
The Geneva Convention attempted to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners of war by establishing rules to be followed by all nations.
The treatment of prisoners of war in the Pacific Theater often reflected the savagery of the fighting there.
• In the Bataan Death March, American POWs suffered brutal treatment by the Japanese after surrender of the Philippines.
• Japanese soldiers often committed suicide rather than surrender.
• The treatment of prisoners of war in Europe more closely followed the ideas of the Geneva Convention.
THE HOLOCAUST (HITLER’S “FINAL SOLUTION”), ITS IMPACT ON JEWS AND OTHER GROUPS, AND THE POSTWAR TRIALS OF WAR CRIMINALS.
Specific groups that are the object of hatred and prejudice often face increased discrimination during wartime.
What was the Holocaust, who was its victims, and what was its short-term and long-term significance? Terms to know
• genocide: The systematic and purposeful destruction of a racial, political, religious, or cultural group
• final solution: Germany’s decision to exterminate all Jews
• “Undesirables” (homosexuals, the mentally ill, political dissidents)
• In the Nuremberg trials, Nazi leaders and others were convicted of war crimes.
• The Nuremberg trials emphasized individual responsibility for actions during a war, regardless of orders received.
• The trials led to increased demand for a Jewish homeland (Israel).
THE EFFECTS OF WORLD WAR II ON THE HOME FRONT: THE UNITED STATES MOBILIZED ITS ECONOMIC, HUMAN, AND MILITARY RESOURCES..
The United States’ success in the war required the total commitment of the nation’s resources. On the home front, public education and the mass media promoted nationalism.
How did the United States organize and distribute its resources to achieve victory during World War II? Economic resources
• Rationing was used to maintain supply of essential products to the war effort.
• War bonds and income tax were used for financing the war.
• Businesses retooled from peacetime to wartime production (e.g., car manufacturing to tank manufacturing).
• More women and minorities entered the labor force.
• Citizens volunteered in support of the war effort.
• The draft (selective service) was used to provide personnel for the military.
THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES TO THE WAR EFFORT.
Contributions to the war effort came from all segments of society. Women entered into previously male job roles as African Americans and others struggled to obtain desegregation of the armed forces and end discriminatory hiring practices.
How did women and minorities contribute to America’s efforts during World War II? Women on the home front during World War II
• Increasingly participated in the workforce to replace men serving in the military (e.g., Rosie the Riveter)
• Typically participated in noncombat military roles
African Americans on the home front during World War II
• Migrated to cities in search of jobs in war plants
• Campaigned for victory in war and equality at home
THE INTTERNMENT OF JAPANESE AMERICANS DURING THE WAR.
Prejudice coupled with wartime fears can adversely affect civil liberties of minorities.
How were Americans of Japanese descent treated after United States entry into World War II, and why? Reasons for internment of Japanese Americans
• Strong anti-Japanese prejudice on the West Coast
• False belief that Japanese Americans were aiding the enemy
Internment of Japanese Americans
• Japanese Americans were relocated to internment camps.
• Internment affected Japanese American populations along the West Coast. The Supreme Court upheld the government’s right to act against Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the United States. A public apology was eventually issued by the United States government, and financial payment was made to survivors.
THE ROLE OF MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS IN THE WAR EFFORT.
During World War II, the media and entertainment industries saw their role as supporting the war effort by promoting nationalism (patriotism). How did media and communications assist the Allied efforts during World War II?
Media and communications assistance
• The United States government maintained strict censorship of reporting of the war.
• Public morale and ad campaigns kept Americans focused on the war effort.
• The entertainment industry produced movies, plays, and shows that boosted morale and patriotic support for the war effort as well as portrayed the enemy in stereotypical ways.
UNITED STATES FOREIGN POLICY SINCE WORLD WAR II : OUTCOMES OF WORLD WAR II, INCLUDING POLITICAL BOUNDARY CHANGES, THE FORMATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, AND THE MARSHALL PLAN.
Wars have political, economic, and social consequences.
What were the political, economic, and social consequences of World War II? Postwar outcomes
• The end of World War II found Soviet forces occupying most of Eastern and Central Europe and the eastern portion of Germany.
• Germany was partitioned into East and West Germany.
West Germany became democratic and resumed self-government after a few years of American, British, and French occupation.
East Germany remained under the domination of the Soviet Union and did not adopt democratic institutions.
• Following her defeat, Japan was occupied by American forces.
It soon adopted a democratic form of government, resumed self-government, and became a strong ally of the United States.
• Europe lay in ruins, and the United States launched the Marshall Plan, which provided massive financial aid to rebuild European economies and prevent the spread of communism.
• The United Nations was formed near the end of World War II to create a body for the nations of the world to try to prevent future global wars.
THE ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR, AND DESCRIBING THE TRUMAN DOCTRINE AND THE POLICY OF CONTAINMMENT OF COMMUNISM, THE AMERIAN ROLEI IN WARS IN KOREA AND VIETNAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION (NATO) IN EUROPE..
The Cold War set the framework for global politics for 45 years after the end of World War II. It also influenced American domestic politics, the conduct of foreign affairs, and the role of the government in the economy after 1945.
The Cold War was essentially a competition between two very different ways of organizing government, society, and the economy: the American-led western nations’ belief in democracy, individual freedom, and a market economy, and the Soviet belief in a totalitarian state and socialism. The United States government’s anti-communist strategy of containment in Asia led to America’s involvement in the Korean and Vietnamese wars. The Vietnam War demonstrated the power of American public opinion in reversing foreign policy. It tested the democratic system to its limits, left scars on American society that have not yet been erased, and made many Americans deeply skeptical of future military or even peacekeeping interventions.
How did the United States respond to the threat of communist expansion? What are the origins of the Cold War? Origins of the Cold War
• The Cold War lasted from the end of World War II until the collapse of the Soviet Union.
• The United States and the Soviet Union represented starkly different fundamental values.
The United States represented democratic political institutions and a generally free market economic system.
The Soviet Union was a totalitarian government with a communist (socialist) economic system.
• The Truman Doctrine of “containment of communism” was a guiding principle of American foreign policy throughout the Cold War, not to roll it back, but to keep it from spreading and to resist communist aggression into other countries.
• The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed as a defensive alliance among the United States and western European countries to prevent a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.
Soviet allies in Eastern Europe formed the Warsaw Pact, and for nearly 50 years, both sides maintained large military forces facing each other in Europe.
• The communist takeover in China shortly after World War II increased American fears of communist domination of most of the world. Rather than becoming strong allies, however, the communist nations of China and the Soviet Union eventually became rivals for territory and diplomatic influence, a split that American foreign policy under President Nixon in the 1970s exploited.
• After the Soviet Union matched the United States in nuclear weaponry in the 1950s, the threat of a nuclear war that would destroy both countries was ever-present throughout the Cold War. America, under President Eisenhower, adopted a policy of “massive retaliation” to deter any nuclear strike by the Soviets.
What were the early significant events of the Cold War? The Korean War
• American involvement in the Korean War in the early 1950s reflected the American policy of containment of communism.
• After communist North Korea invaded South Korea, American military forces led a United Nations counterattack that drove deep into North Korea itself. Communist Chinese forces came into the war on the side of North Korea, and although the war threatened to widen, it eventually ended in a stalemate with South Korea free of communist occupation.
The Vietnam War
• American involvement in Vietnam also reflected the Cold War policy of containment of communism.
• Beginning in the 1950s and continuing into the early 1960s, the communist government of North Vietnam attempted to install through force a communist government in South Vietnam. The United States helped South Vietnam resist.
• The American military buildup in Vietnam began under President John Kennedy. After Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, the buildup was intensified under President Lyndon Johnson.
• The scale of combat in Vietnam grew larger during the 1960s. American military forces repeatedly defeated the North Vietnamese forces in the field, but by fighting a limited war, could not force an end to the war on favorable terms.
• America became bitterly divided over the issue. While there was support for the American military and conduct of the war among many Americans, others opposed the war, and active opposition to the war mounted, especially on college campuses.
• After Johnson declined to seek re-election, President Nixon was elected on a pledge to bring the war to an honorable end. He instituted a policy of “Vietnamization,” withdrawing American troops and replacing them with South Vietnamese forces while maintaining military aid to the South Vietnamese.
• Ultimately “Vietnamization” failed when South Vietnamese troops proved unable to resist invasion by the Soviet-supplied North Vietnamese Army. President Nixon was forced out of office by the Watergate scandal.
In 1975, North and South Vietnam were merged under communist control.
Confrontation between the United States and Cuba
• Cuba was also a site of Cold War confrontations.
• Fidel Castro led a communist revolution that took over Cuba in the late 1950s. Many Cubans fled to Florida and later attempted to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro. This “Bay of Pigs” invasion failed.
• In 1962, the Soviet Union stationed missiles in Cuba, instigating the Cuban Missile Crisis.
President Kennedy ordered the Soviets to remove their missiles, and for several days the world was on the brink of nuclear war. Eventually, the Soviet leadership “blinked” and removed their missiles.
What was the impact of the Cold War on Americans at home? Impact of the Cold War at home
• The fear of communism and the threat of nuclear war affected American life throughout the Cold War.
• During the 1950s and 1960s, American schools regularly held drills to train children what to do in case of a nuclear attack, and American citizens were urged by the government to build bomb shelters in their own basements.
• The convictions of Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for spying for the Soviet Union and the construction of nuclear weapons by the Soviets, using technical secrets obtained through spying, increased domestic fears of communism.
• Senator Joseph McCarthy played on American fears of communism by recklessly accusing many American governmental officials and other citizens of being communists, based on flimsy or no evidence.
This led to the coining of the term McCarthyism—the making of false accusations based on rumor or guilt by association.
• The Cold War made foreign policy a major issue in every presidential election during the period.
• The heavy military expenditures throughout the Cold War benefited Virginia’s economy proportionately more than any other state, especially in Hampton Roads, home to several large naval and air bases, and in Northern Virginia, home to the Pentagon and numerous private companies that contract with the military.
What was the impact of the Vietnam War on Americans at home? • The Vietnam War demonstrated the power of American public opinion in reversing foreign policy. It tested the democratic system to its limits, left scars on American society that have not yet been erased, and made many Americans deeply skeptical of future military or even peacekeeping interventions.
AMERICA’S MILITARY AND VETERANS IN DEFENDING FREEDOM DURING THE COLD WAR.
A strong military was the key to America’s victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
Millions of Americans served in the military during the Cold War. Their service was often at great personal and family sacrifice, yet they did their duty.
How did America’s military forces defend freedom during the Cold War? American military forces during the Cold War
• President Kennedy pledged in his inaugural address that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” In the same address, he also said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
• During the Cold War era, millions of Americans served in the military, defending freedom in wars and conflicts that were not always popular. Many were killed or wounded. As a result of their service, the United States and American ideals of democracy and freedom ultimately prevailed in the Cold War struggle with Soviet communism.
• President Kennedy, a World War II veteran, was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas, Texas, in an event that shook the nation’s confidence and began a period of internal strife and divisiveness, especially spurred by divisions over United States involvement in Vietnam.
• Unlike veterans of World War II, who returned to a grateful and supportive nation, Vietnam veterans returned often to face indifference or outright hostility from some who opposed the war.
• It was not until several years after the end of the Vietnam war that the wounds of the war began to heal in America, and Vietnam veterans were recognized and honored for their service and sacrifices.
THE COLLAPSE OF CCOMMUNISM AND THE END OF THE COLD WAR, INCLUDING THE ROLE OF RONALD REAGAN IN MAKING FOREIGN POLICY.
Both internal problems and external pressures caused the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union.
How did internal problems affect the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union? Internal problems of the Soviet Union
• Increasing Soviet military expenses to compete with the United States