Discuss the United States’ entry into and role during WWII. Be sure to include key events, outcomes, and narratives. How did the United States’ power and influence throughout the world factor into their choice to enter the conflict and determine their actions during the conflict? Your response should be a minimum of 300 words.
HY 1120, American History II 1 Cou rse Learning Outcomes for Unit V Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to: Summarize the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on America’s societal infrastructure. 5. Contrast varied perspectives concerning America’s presence in the world. 5.1 Compare views from political, social, and economic realms regarding the United S tates’ participation in W orld War II (WWII) . 6. Explain the United States’ role as a superpower during and after the world wars. 6.1 Discuss the United States’ power and influence throughout the world during WWII . 7. Describe the modern challenges and opportunities concerning the United States around the globe. Course/Unit Learning Outcomes Learning Activity 4 Unit V Outline 5 Unit V Outline 5.1 Unit Lesson Reading: U.S. History Unit V Assessment 6 Unit V Outline 6.1 Unit Lesson Reading: U.S. History Unit V Assessment 7 Unit V Outline Reading Assignment Throughout this course, you will be provided with sections of content fro m the online resource U.S. History . You may be tested on your knowledge and understanding of the material listed below as well as the information presented in the unit lesson. Click on the link below to access your material. Click here to access this unit’s reading s from U.S. History . The chapter title is also provided below. Chapter 27 (Sections 27.1 –27.4) : Fighting the Good Fight in World War II, 1941 -1945 Unit Lesson In this unit, it will once again be important to con sider the perspective of the time, with an emphasis on the lingering effects of worry, anxiety, and opportunity. We will review questionable actions from all fronts, including questionable actions of both successful and unsuccessful regimes, and compare at titudes a nd actions of civilians during those times. It is nearly impossible not to hold a preconceived perspective on this conflict, as it is one of the most enduring and lucrative subjects recorded in national memory. UNIT V STUDY GUIDE World War II HY 1120, American History II 2 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Challenge yours elf to avoid anachronism , and insert yourself into the time period. What would possess people of this age to react in ways that we have trouble even considering today ? This unit will look at the social change, the times directly after, the civilian response, and the be ginnings of a tension -filled Cold W ar. You will be challenged to look past modern understandings to engage in debates from the time. A Time of Unrest By the latter 1930s, the United States was watching its economy slowly starting to rebound, and Presiden t Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal was continuing to put willing Americans back to work. By 1933, aggressions again began to stir in Europe. Despite his personal international ambitions, which echoed the previous Roosevelt’s imperial interests, F DR knew that the American people needed domestic stability before the country could once again reenter the world stage. The Good Neighbor Policy was a promise to remain a s a dormant, isolated power ; it was more show than substance , but it kept America prog ressing economically. Things were not going as well across the Atlantic. The reconstruction of Europe following W orld War I (WWI) was slow, as those nations who faced a generation’s worth of loss struggled to regroup and rebuild their ancient lands. One o f the few nations successfully on the rise was the unlikely Germany. Under the leadership of a charismatic orator named Adolf Hitler, whose personal drive and ambition allowed him to quickly rise through the ranks, Germany was no longer tending to its woun ds. Instead, it was boasting about its progress on the world stage. Hitler’s Nazi initiative had given direction, hope, and stability to a people who had either lost or forfeited much of their culture after the Great War. By 1936, the swastika hung in Berl in next to the Olympic flag. Hitler and His Allies In 1933, Hitler had taken the role of Chancellor. He had suspended the German Parliament and declared the nation in need of emergency action, even at the expense of basic civil liberties and rights. His National Socialist Party (Nazi), though socialist only in name, would quickly gain support from all ages through a series of programs ranging from wo rk opportunities to the Hitl er Y outh, which was a program for all German children meant to indoctrinate the m into the role of an ideal Nazi. Der Fuhrer, the leader, had stealthily and successfully made himself dictator of the most powerful fascist government in Europe , meaning the government was extremely conservative, bordering on autocratic. And yet, his grea test motivation was still only known by a select few. HY 1120, American History II 3 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title In much the same tradition of Caesar and Napoleon, Hitler quickly amassed a powerful circle of advisors and muscle, including a secret enforcement squad called the Gestapo. These propelled him to a level of unchecked power and influence. His success was so surprising to the world that he was even honored with the cover of Time Magazine ’s “Man of the Year” issue in 1939. Hidden behind the glamor was a dark cloud that was about to envelop Europe once again. Unfortunately, many did not hear the rising sound o f a beating drum. T he We hrmacht, the German war machine, was about to march once again — this time under the Nazi banner. Among those who responded to the beating drum were fellow fascist dictators Il Duce (the leader) ; Benito Mussolini of Italy ; and Hideko Tojo, Prime Minister of Japan, under the rule of Emperor Hirohito. Japan and Italy, though not major factors in any Great War alliance, felt disregarded in the previous treaties.
Fueled by both desperation and outrage, these two joined with Germany, crea ting a new Axis alliance against the revitalized Alliance of Western power. Their tactics included deploying fear -filled propaganda and aggressive oratory. For all of the domestic building that had been accomplished in Germany, what would make Nazism dist inct from Fascism was the central role of cultural aggression and blame. For Hitler, his aggressive anti -Semitism was a rallying cry across political borders. However, what was yet unknown were the lengths he would go with this charge. To the East, Japan’ s ambitions of naval superiority rivaled only those of Britain in the Atlantic, and Emperor Hirohito and his Prime Minister Tojo would prove their might and resolve with attacks on longtime rival China.
What united T ojo with Hitler was simple; each wished to retake what he beli eved culturally belonged to his country , despite political boundaries or declarations from a previous generati on . Just as Hitler had violated stipulations from the Great War, Japan openly disregarded naval treaties based on past trade battles — a move that would ultimately leave the United States, whose population had again embraced isolationism, no choice but to enter the fray. In 1936 –19 37, while Hitler was retaking the lost West German lands, Japan would invade China. In the 1930s, J apan was a major trading nation with the United States, but what Tojo did not expect were the continued loyalties stemming from the Great War. The U nited States’ greatest international ally during this Hitler salutes marching Nazis in Weimar in October 1930 (Pahl, 1930) HY 1120, American History II 4 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title era, and arguably still today, was the United Kingdom. The Japanese threats against China required the United States to disrupt this trade, which included oil experts essential to continued Japanese prosperity. In addition, trade would ramp up with the creation of the Lend -Lease Act in 1941. This promise to continuously supply war and civilian needs to Britain, without requirement for repayment, would ensure an American presence in the war, even if not with troops. It would also serve as a manufacturing boo m for struggling American industries. This concerned many of Roosevelt’s contemporaries, who feared this alliance was sending the United States headfirst into the war. FDR was cast as a warmonger, baiting possible future Nazi attacks to which the U nited Sta tes would have to respond. The War to End All Wars Hitler would continue to spread his Nazi influence by malevolently extending Germany’s borders throughout Europe. In 1938, Austria was again incorporated into Germany. In 1939, the German -Soviet Non -Agg ression Pact was signed. Czechoslovakia would fall, followed by Poland on the heels of the unrelenting blitzkrieg (lightning war) by the German Luftwaffe (Nazi Air Force). Britain and France, still weary from the Great War, had tried to reason with Hitler. They allowed him to disregard certain parts of the overbearing Treaty of Versailles in an attempt to appease him, as long as he promised to stop this annexation of neighboring nations. The brash nature of Hitle r’s refusal to leave Poland again triggered t he alliance system, prompting Britain and France to take up arms to avenge Poland, a tactic that would lead the German army into Paris once again , despite the efforts of Commander Charles de Gaulle. The war to end all wars, as it is often called, had offic ially began anew. What is sometimes overlooked was the opportunity at this time for other revolutions. Perhaps the best -known case was Spain’s Francisco Franco, who was also a fascist. His efforts would hinder the democratic process in Spain and spark th e Spanish Civil W ar of 1936, but perhaps t he greatest significance of his rise was the revelation of the nature of chaos in Europe during this time. His contemporaries, Hitler and Mussolini, recognized Franco, but ultimately the Spanish Civil War would do little more than ensure that Spain was a nonfactor in the greater world conflict throughout the 1930s. As 1940 rolled around, Germany began looking west. Despite their interests and attempts to fight, the Scandinavian nations provided little interference against Hitler’s might, eventually pushing the remaining French resistance south into a territory known as Vichy France. On June 4, 1940 , in response to Hitler’s progress, a single voice spread through the airways to the resistant British camps, homes, an d bases from the confident and defiant oratory of Sir W inston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, whose calm, unwavering tone provided the Allies with a sense of comfort in a time of uncertainty and chaos. He, like FDR during the Depression, wo uld be the rock of defiance against Hitler, and the resounding, composed tenor urged the British people to have the spirit to “keep calm and carry on.” Hitler would invade the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) on June 22, 1941. On the American front, FDR stayed th e isolationist course. The military, continuing to address its own issues with regard to integration and with the newly formed Army Air Corps, felt confident that the two oceans provided the necessary forewarning to react to threats. Still, the fleets rema ined on alert, especially in Norfolk, VA, home of the Atlantic fleet, and at the United States’ westernmost military installation, a small port off of the Hawaiian island Oahu, named Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, everything changed. The U nited States, in hopes of limiting the Japanese threat and in response to its earlier aggression toward Anglo populations in Asia, cut off the supply lines to oil, which was essential to the Japanese military and cultural ways of life. Japan already had agreed t o a defensive pact with the European Axis nations, and Tojo, now in complete control of military operations, felt it was time to act to ensure a future for the empire. With the use of 183 fighter planes, known as Zero s, the Japanese completely decimated th e Pacific naval fleet stationed at the Pearl Harbor port. The attack was immedia tely considered an act of war . FDR’s message on December 8, 1941, addressed the significance of the attack: as “a date which will live in infamy.” HY 1120, American History II 5 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Congress officially declared war on the Axis Powers, making the United States the replacement nation in the Allied Powers, replacing the now -occupied France. Alongside Britain’s Churchill and the U.S.S.R’s Stalin, FDR’s presence would complete the Big Three , who would dictate the pattern of the war in the 1940s. At home, the war was a part of everyday life once again . For many families, this meant that husbands, brothers, uncles, and sons of adequate age would likely be sent overseas. For women, t his meant a return to industry and manufacturing. All able factories switched from commercial to wartime production. Scrap materials and goods were carefully monitored to avoid waste, and the victory garden became a common sight throughout most neighborhoo ds as the U.S. government rationed most consumable staples such as bread, gas, and meat. With much of the luster of war lost during the horrors of the Great War only a generation ago, propaganda and enlistment would change. One of the most notable icons d uring this age would be Rosie the Riveter, a characterization in the style of Uncle Sam who personified the spirit of the ideal industrial woman. Rosie inspired many to forego traditional gender roles in order to aid the American cause. In addition, a heav y emphasis was given to a new style of media , which was attractive to all ages: cinema and animation. Though the U nited States would be shocked by the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was quickly trouble in the Atlantic in the form of U -Boats threatening the Lend -Lease Act supply lines with Britain and the Soviet Union. It was official that the U nited States was now facing a two -fron t war, with oceans separating battle lines. FDR’s strategy would have to be one of great innovation and action to keep the Axis Powers from spreading the blitzkrieg to American shores as well as avoiding another disaster like Pearl Harbor. Politically, tw o new actions were taken to attempt to ensure American support and to limit the spread of secrets. First, the Selective Service Act had been enacted in 1940, thus guaranteeing a continued enlistment through the draft if voluntary enlistments started to wan e. Still in use today, this act requires all males by their 18th birthday to declare for the draft. To many, this would be seen as a violation of rights, but to others, it was a leveling of the chances for military service, as the draft would hinge on the random draw of numbers, without regard of race, wealth, or beliefs. In addition, with the influence of union leader A. Philip Randolph, Pearl Harbor (U.S. Navy, 1941) HY 1120, American History II 6 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title FDR created the Committee on Fair Employment Practices to ensure that race would not be a discriminating factor in emplo yment. The second act by executive order of FDR was almost a complete about -face in tolerance. Naturalized Americans of Japanese descent (particula rly on the West coast), some of whom were multi -generational Americans, were forcefully taken from their hom es and sequestered in internment camps, all in the name of security. This round -up, a direct reaction to the Pearl Harbor disaster, was generally nonviolent but was a clear violation of basic civil rights done in the name of security. Though unique to Ame rican history, this type of internment was not unique to even this time. Across the Atlantic, Hitler’s anti -Semitic agenda became clear. Hitler was fixated on creating a master race, specifically a revival of the mythical Aryans, whose god -like powers woul d give Hitler the necessary means to spread his influence across the globe. Hitler’s legacy actually includes a heavy helping of religious and occult symbolism. Most often associated with his right -hand man, Minister of the Interior Heinrich Himmler, much of the modern research concerning this partnership displays Hitler’s intent to secure power in any way possible. In contemporary discussion of Himmler, it can become difficult to find where fact ends and conspiracy theory begins, but it is important to no te t hat Hitler’s inner circle and Schutzstaffel (SS) corps used much occult and religious symbolism in their rituals and garb. Use of these symbols was an effective motivator for many Germans, even leading to the roundup and violent suffering of another an cient culture, the Jewish people, during the Holocaust. In all, approximately 11 million deaths at concentration camps throughout Europe were attributed to the Holocaust — 6 million of which were directly related to Hitler’s anti -Semitic agenda. June 1942 w ould be a turning point in the war. The Battle of Midway changed the tide of Japan’s pressure on the Americans for the remainder of the war. In November, Nazi General Erwin Rommel, one of history’s most legendary strategists, was stopped before securing th e invaluable Suez Canal pipeline, and American General George Patton (known as “ Ole Blood and Guts” for his brutal successes) would ensure the removal of the Germans from North Africa only a few months later. With the fighting now focused only in Europe, a new Allied strategy would pit the Soviet Union against the Nazis while the other allies went after Mussolini. By February 1943, the Nazis were being pushed back from Stalingrad in the East, and Mussolini was ousted from the south in July of 1943. This re moved the Italian threat, leaving only Hitler’s Nazis around the Mediterranean. Just as Britain had dealt with nighttime bombings and blitzkrieg tactics by Germany, by 1943, Germany was dealing with air raids from American and British bombers, and 1944 saw a considerable drop in Allied casualty rates. The war had changed course. Now the Axis powers were fighting a two -front war and scrambling to keep their reclaimed territories throughout Europe. It was now time for the Allies to retake the conquered lan ds, starting with France. On June 6, 1944, Eisenhower commanded Operation Overlord, also known as D -Day. This was a multi -point amphibious attack on the German -occupied coast of northern France, taken to open up the ports between Britain and France that w ere necessary to allow for a last, full -scale invasion. This was just the first in a series of pivotal and deciding battles across Europe: Paris was reclaimed on August 25th, the Battle of the Bulge took pla ce on December 16th, and the Allies made the ir fi nal push into Germany itself. On May 7, 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered. Hitler, no longer able to visualize his dream, had taken his own life only a week prior, and the Third Reich collapsed. W ith both Italy and Germany out of the fight, Europe began to rebuild. The U nited States and U.S.S.R. switched their focus to Japan. FDR, in his fourth term in office, died from a stroke on April 12, 1945. He had seen America through some of its toughest times and prevailed through the waves of criticism, d oubt, and bloodshed that the world continued to offer. As the war entered its final stage, a fresh leader would have to make two of the most significant and difficult choices in American military history. FDR’s successor , Harry S. Truman , wanted to end th e war swiftly and mightily. Japan expe cted invasion, from the Soviets if not the Americans, and had its troops prepared for a defense of the island nation. What it did not expect was for America to finish the war with an attack of unprecedented size and im pact. HY 1120, American History II 7 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Fearing for the possibility of hundreds of thousands more American casualties if the war continued, Truman believed it was time to demand Japan’s surrender. On August 6, 1945, following Japan’s failure to respond to Truman’s demands, the industrial city of Hiroshima, heavily populated and still relatively intact from the war, became the site of the first nuclear bomb, which wiped it from the map in a matter of moments. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, an important Japanese por t city. Japan saw the might of American technology and knew that the Soviet Union was primed for invasion. On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally, and the war was over. The Cold War With men home from war, new families quickly grew into what we now call the Baby B oom era, but the same elation felt after the Great War was not present. W hile hostilities had ended, much of the world was in ruins, and through the rubble, the re remained two big powers: the United States and the Soviet Union. While FDR, Churchill, and Stalin had worked well enough together to mutually benefit from the destruction of the Nazi regime, the Communist power that had previously toppled Nicholas II wa s still not tolerant of capitalist nations. Stalin was now the supreme commander of much of Eastern Europe, specifically the lands that his army had liberated and occupied , including half of all former German lands and half of its capital city, Berlin. Thi s began the period of uneasy calm and warnings , most often called the Cold War. By 1947, only 2 years after Japan’s surrender, America was again on high alert, this time partially due to its own actions. The bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki were worldwide news. With two remaining superpowers, what emerged was a series of philosophical differences and an eventual arms race. The Allied Powers sought to rebuild the world they had helped destroy to avoid repeating the same mistakes made following the Great War, including the consequential punitive reparations that delivered Germany to Hitler. This included rebuilding Germany to its former economic power, while still imposing strict military sanctions. Firestorm cloud over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 (U.S. Army, 1945) HY 1120, American History II 8 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title Stalin, however, saw weakness, and in that weakne ss, opportunity. His philosophy was to spread the Soviet influence as far as it would go, which would include economic equality and forced reparations on the Axis nations to rebuild the Soviet lands devastated by the fighting. Truman, sensing potential con flict down the road, committed the U.S. intervention to support nations under oppression from internal or external pressures.
This Truman Doctrine, in conjunction with the Marshall Plan, which pledged $13 billion to European rebuilding aid, set the scene f or the U.S. presence in the world for the next 50 years. In 1949, the U nited States and her Western European allies would create a new pact, known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to prepare for potential Soviet conflict. In addition, a ne w intelligence program, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), would emerge with a focus on international espionage. Though W orld War II (W WII ) was over, the peace process would also include a fair amount of military action, the first of which would be th e still -controversial creation of an Israeli State within Palestine. On one side, the new inhabitants claimed the land as ancestral homelands taken by force; on the other, the current residents claimed that the land had been abandoned and was now occupied. Needless to say, this separation in views would only continue to fester into greater issues, some still appearing in our contemporary headlines. In Asia, Communism quickly spread among the poorer nations. China, for example, would rally behind Mao Zedong (Tse -Tung) , who would eventually craft the second most powerful Communist power in the world. At home, the end of the war also meant the end of wartime production. Many women lost their positions or lost a significant percentage of their wages with the return of the men from war. In addition, unions, fearing the loss of their workers’ wages, strategically worked to keep new measures implemented by Truman, such as the fallout from the Employment Act of 1946, from taking the jobs of established workers. Also apparent was the continued segregation at home. Once again, a full generation of men from all races went to war only to find their treatment better abroad than at home, including African Americans , Mexican Americans , and Japanese Americans, many of who m came home only to find that their families had been taken forcefully to camps while neighbors and opportunists took the chance to steal or destroy their personal effects. Arguably, Truman’s most effective measure was geared toward the poor, as his Housin g Act of 1949 succeeded in increasing government housing, although it proved to only be a patch on a growing wound. The Cold War was also not simply a conflict on the international scale; the Communist threat would weave itself into almost every part of daily life. Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy would become the face of a revived Red Scare during these drastic federal changes. McCarthy, noteworthy for his national following and common theme of anti -Communist messages, would prompt an internal investiga tion into almost everything American, including cinema, media, government, and even lifestyles. Under the cape of McCarthyism, simply to be considered un -American was traitorous. For many, even previous associations such as school groups or connections wi th known Communists at any time could result in life as an outcast, loss of jobs and homes, or even incarceration. This high state of alert would mean keeping close eyes on the spread of communism into new nations. Soon, it would usher in a new period of American action: the Korean W ar. Looking back, this was a time of high alert for many. The war had been a blessing and a curse for Americans.
It resurrected the economy , but only led to greater issues back home, and the fallout of the war would lead direct ly into a new period of fear and violence. Considering the times, it is important to reflect on some of the actions taken at home and abroad. W hat may have possessed so many to willingly give these fascist leaders almost unlimited political control? W hy di d Americans allow the government to incarcerate neighbors? Finally, was Europe arguably any less in danger with the rise of Communism in the Soviet Union and China? References Pahl, G. (1930 ). Weimar, Aufmarsch der Nationalsozialisten [Photograph]. Retr ieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_102 – 10541,_Weimar,_Aufmarsch_der_Nationalsozialisten.jpg U.S. Army. (1945). Firestorm cloud over Hiroshima [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Firestorm_ cloud_over_Hiroshima.jpg HY 1120, American History II 9 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title U.S. Navy . (1941). US Shaw exploding in Pearl Harbor [Photograph ]. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Shaw_exploding_in_Pearl_Harbor.jpg