World War II 1939-1945 Summary

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World History Mr. Berridge

World War II



Just two decades after the end of the WWI, scores of countries were on the brink of total war again. How could this happen? Unfortunately, but not surprisingly to the student of World History, the flawed peace of WWI only exacerbated the problems of these in-between war years. To further complicate matters, economic problems of the early 1920’s, and then a global economic depression of historical proportions, added to the tenuous situation.

The difficult economic issues of the times led to political upheaval in many countries, and this created the opportunity for several totalitarian leaders to grasp control. By the 1930’s, totalitarian leaders were in control of Germany (Hitler-Nazis), U.S.S.R. (Stalin-Communists), Italy (Fascists-Mussolini) and Japan (militarists-Hirohito). Foreign policy tactics of isolationism and appeasement by powerful democratic countries of the 1930’s (U.S.A., Great Britain, France) succeeded in delaying the outbreak of military confrontation, but failed to satiate the appetite of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Hirohito for land, power and influence.
In 1939, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis invaded Poland, and the uneasy peace of the last two decades was broken. Improvements in aircraft, tanks, submarines and other weapons of war were immediately put to use. Inventions of radar, aircraft carriers, and especially the atomic bomb during WWII, also changed the nature of warfare forever. World War II would come to involve over 100 countries, and take the lives of over 60 million human beings across the globe.
After six years of fighting, WWII would end in Europe with the defeat of Germany, again, and this time by a simultaneous Western AND Eastern advance. In East Asia, Japan would succumb to the dropping of two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before they would agree to an unconditional surrender. With lessons learned, and the allies once again victorious, a course was set for a new era of peace. The Charter to the United Nations was signed in San Francisco, CA in 1945, and in 1946, an International Tribunal for Nazis accused of “crimes against humanity” was held in Nuremberg, Germany. Ultimately, a new world order would rise, and a fundamental shift in the global balance of power would occur because of the events of World War II.

Essential Questions:

  • Describe the policies of isolationism and appeasement as causes of WWII

  • How did World War II affect (choose 1) economics, politics and society?

  • Compare the post-WWI and post-WWII peacekeeping efforts….What have we learned?


Causes of WWII, nonaggression pact, blitzkrieg, Charles de Gaulle, Vichy France, Winston Churchill,

Battles of the war according to ppt. presentations (specific battles detailed later), Atlantic Charter,

Isoroku Yamamoto, Erwin Rommel, Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, kamikaze,

unconditional surrender of Germany, unconditional surrender of Japan, Nuremberg Trials, demilitarization, formation of United Nations

Ch. 16, sec. 1, questions 1 & 2

Ch. 16, sec. 2, questions 1 & 3 DUE MONDAY, 3/26
Ch. 16, sec. 4, questions 1,2&3

Ch. 16, sec. 5, questions 1,2&3 DUE BLOCK, 3/28-29

Ch. 17, sec. 1, read

“Creation of United Nations” section only


WWII Battles project presentation FRIDAY/MONDAY, 3/30-4/2

WWII unit writing assessment (in-class)

& notebook check FRIDAY, 4/1

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