Ch. 32: World War II, 1939-1945 Hitler’s Lightning War



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Ch. 32: World War II, 1939-1945

Hitler’s Lightning War



  • During the 1930s, Hitler played on the hopes and fears of the Western democracies

  • Every time Hitler grabbed new territory, he promised this would be the end to his demands

  • After taking the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, attention turned to Poland

I. Germany Sparks a New War in Europe

  • Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin signed a 10 year non-aggression pact with Hitler

  • Being excluded from the Munich Conference, Stalin was not eager to join the West

  • As part of the pact, Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to divide Poland between them

  • USSR could also take Finland and the Balkan countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia

  1. Germany’s Lightning Attack

  • After signing the non-aggression pact, Hitler quickly moved ahead with plans to conquer Poland

  • His surprise attack took place at dawn on September 1, 1939

  • German tanks and troops rumbled across the Polish border

  • Aircraft and artillery began bombing Poland’s capital, Warsaw

  • France and Great Britain declared war against Germany on September 3, 1939

  • Before they could help, Poland fell

  • Hitler annexed the western half of Poland

  • Area had a large German population

  • The German invasion of Poland was the first test of Germany’s newest military strategy—the blitzkrieg, or “lightning war”

  • It involved using fast moving airplanes and tanks, followed by massive infantry forces, to take enemy defenders by surprise and quickly overwhelm them

  • In Poland, this strategy worked

  1. The Soviets Make Their Move

  • On September 17, 1939, Stalin sent Soviet troops to occupy the eastern half of Poland

  • Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia fell without a struggle, Finland however resisted

  • In November, Stalin sent nearly 1 million troops into Finland

  1. The Phony War

  • After declaring war, the French and British had mobilized their armies and stationed them along the Maginot Line

  • This was a system of fortifications along France’s border with Germany

  • It was here that they waited for the Germans to attack—but nothing happened

  • Bored, the Allied soldiers stared east toward the enemy

  • Equally bored, German soldiers stared back from their Siegfried Line a few miles away

  • Germans joked calling it the sitzkrieg, or sitting war; “Phony War”

  • Suddenly on April 9, 1940, Hitler launched a surprise invasion of Denmark and Norway

  • In four hours, Denmark fell; two months later Norway surrendered

  • The Germans began to build bases along the Norwegian and Danish coasts in which they could launch attacks against Great Britain

II. The Fall of France

  • In May 1940, the Germans swept through the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg

  • All of this was a strategy to strike at France

  • Keeping the Allies attention on these countries, Hitler sent an even greater force of tanks and troops through the Ardennes—a heavily wooded area in northern France and Belgium

  • Moving through the forest, the Germans “squeezed between” the Maginot Line

  • From here they moved across France and reached the country’s northern coast in ten days

  1. France Falls

  • Following the Allies retreat and defeat at Dunkirk, Belgium, resistance in France began to crumble

  • By June 14, 1940, the Germans had taken Paris; French leaders surrendered on June 22, 1940

  • Germans had control of the northern part of France; they left the southern part of France in control of a puppet government headed by Marshal Philippe Petain

  • The headquarters of this puppet government was in the city of Vichy

  • After France fell, Charles de Gaulle, a French general, set up a government-in-exile in London

  • He committed all energy to reconquering France

  • In a radio broadcast, de Gaulle called on the people of France to join him in resisting the Germans

III. The Battle of Britain

  • With the fall of France, Great Britain stood alone against the Nazis

  • Winston Churchill, the new British prime minister, had already declared that his nation would never give in

  • Hitler now turned his mind to an invasion of Great Britain

  • Hitler’s plan was to first knock out the Royal Air Force (RAF) and then to land more than 250,000 soldiers on England’s shores

  • In the summer of 1940, the Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force, began bombing Great Britain

  • They first targeted British airfields and aircraft factories

  • Then on September 7, 1940, they began bombing the cities, especially London, to break British morale

  • The British did not quit

  • The RAF, although grossly outnumbered, began to strike back

  • Two technological devices helped turn the tide in the RAF’s favor

  • An electronic tracking system known as radar—could tell the number, speed, and direction of incoming warplanes

  • A German code making machine named Enigma—smuggled in during the 1930s, Enigma enabled the British to decode German secret messages

  • With information gathered, RAF fliers could launch attacks on the enemy

  • To avoid RAF attacks, the Germans gave up daylight raids in October 1940

  • Night bombings would make Londoners flock to the subway tunnels for air raid cover

  • The Battle of Britain continued until May 10, 1941

  • Stunned by the British resistance, Hitler decided to call off the attacks; His focus shifted to Eastern Europe

  • Britain proved the Germans could be resisted

IV. The Mediterranean and the Eastern Front

  • The British resistance shifted focus to the Mediterranean and the Balkans—also the Soviet Union

  • The first objective was to help ally Italy and Mussolini in North Africa

  • In September 1940, the Italian army attacked British controlled Egypt

  • The Suez Canal in Egypt was key to getting to the oil fields of the Middle East

  • Both sides dug in and waited

  1. Britain Strikes Back

  • In December 1940, the British struck back

  • By February 1941, the British had swept 500 miles across North Africa and had taken 130,000 Italian prisoners

  • Hitler had to step in to help Italy by sending in a tank force, the Afrika Korps, under the command of General Erwin Rommel

  • In late March 1941, Rommel’s forces attacked; British forces had to retreat to Libya

  1. The War in the Balkans

  • With Rommel busy with the campaign in North Africa, Hitler began to plan an attack on his ally, the Soviet Union

  • Hitler wanted to build bases in southeastern Europe for the attack on the Soviet Union

  • By early 1941, through the threat of force, he persuaded Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary to join the Axis powers; Yugoslavia and Greece resisted

  • In early April 1941, Hitler invaded both countries; both fell within 17 days; swastikas were raised at the Acropolis

  1. Hitler Invades the Soviet Union

  • With the Balkans in his control, Hitler could move ahead with Operation Barbarossa, his plan to invade the Soviet Union

  • On June 22, 1941, the Soviet Union was not prepared for the German tanks and aircraft

  • The Soviets were neither well equipped or well trained

  • The Germans pushed 500 miles inside the Soviet Union within weeks

  • As the Soviets retreated, they burned and destroyed everything in the enemy’s path; same tactic they used against Napoleon

  • On September 8, 1941, the Germans had Leningrad under siege

  • By early November, the city was totally cut off from the rest of the Soviet Union

  • To force a surrender, Hitler was willing to starve out 2.5 million inhabitants

  • Food warehouses were bombed and destroyed; people resorted to eating livestock, cats and dogs

  • Nearly 1 million people died in Leningrad during the winter of 1941-1942

  • The Russians refused to give in

  • Impatient with the progress being made with Leningrad, Hitler turned to Moscow

  • A German offensive began October 2, 1941 and by December, they were on the outskirts of the city

  • As temperatures fell, the Germans in summer clothing retreated

  • Ignoring what happened to Napoleon’s defeat 130 years earlier, Hitler ordered “no retreat”; Germans dug in 125 miles west of Moscow and held the line until March 1943

  • The cost in the end was nothing gained and 500,000 troops dead

V. The United States Aids Its Allies

  • Most Americans believed in the idea of Isolationism, not getting involved in European affairs

  • Neutrality Acts prevented the U.S. from selling arms or lending money to nations at war

  • President Roosevelt knew that if the Allies fell, the U.S. would be drawn into the war

  • In September 1939, he asked Congress to allow the Allies to buy American arms; they would pay cash and carry the goods on their own ships

  • Under the Lend-Lease Act, passed in March 1941, the president could lend or lease arms or other supplies to any country vital to the U.S.

  • Summer 1941, U.S. ships were escorting British ships carrying U.S. goods

  • Hitler ordered submarines to sink any cargo ships they met

  • On September 4, 1941, a German U-boat fired on a U.S. destroyer in the Atlantic

  • As a response, Roosevelt ordered navy commanders to fire upon German submarines on sight

  • They were now involved in an undeclared naval war with Hitler

  • It would be Japan who would eventually pull the U.S. into war

Japan’s Pacific Campaign

  • Japan’s military leaders had dreams of building an empire

  • Japanese expansion began in 1931, troops took over Manchuria in NE China

  • Quick victory was not achieved, the Chinese resistance caused the war in Asia to drag on

  • A strain was put on the Japanese economy, so attention was turned toward the rich European colonies of SE Asia

I. Surprise Attack on Pearl Harbor

  • By October 1940, Americans had cracked one of the codes that the Japanese used in sending secret messages

  • The U.S. was well aware of Japanese plans for SE Asia; if Japan conquered the European colonies, it would also threaten the U.S. controlled Philippines and Guam

  • The U.S. sent aid to strengthen the Chinese resistance

  • When Japan overran French Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), July 1941, Roosevelt cut off oil shipments to Japan

  • Despite the oil shortage, the Japanese continued their conquests

  • They hoped to catch European and U.S. outposts in the Pacific by surprise and at the same time

  • Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japan’s greatest naval strategist, called for an attack on the U.S. fleet in Hawaii—”a dagger pointed at Japan’s throat, must be destroyed”

  1. Day of Infamy

  • Early in the morning of December 7, 1941, American sailors at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii awoke to explosions

  • U.S. military leaders had known from a coded Japanese message that an attack might come, but they did not know when or where

  • Within two hours, the Japanese had sunk or damaged 19 ships, including 8 battleships

  • 2300 Americans were killed another 1,100 wounded

  • The next day, President Roosevelt addresses Congress and his request for a declaration of war was accepted against Japan and its allies

II. Japanese Victories

  • Japan started to attack lightly defended areas like Guam and Wake Island and then turned their attention to the Philippines

  • In January 1942, the Japanese marched into the capital city of Manilla

  • American and Filipino troops took a defensive position on the Bataan Peninsula on the NW edge of Manilla Bay

  • After three months of tough fighting, the Japanese took the Bataan Peninsula and the Philippine government set up in Corregidor

  • By February 1942, the Japanese had conquered such areas as Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, and Burma

  • By the time Burma fell, the Japanese had taken control of 1 million square miles of Asian land

  • They made it clear that they had come as conquerors, often treated the people of their new colonies with extreme cruelty

  • The Japanese reserved the most brutal treatment for Allied prisoners of the war

  • The Japanese considered it dishonorable to surrender, and they had contempt for the prisoners of war

  • On the Bataan Death March—a forced march of more than 50 miles up the peninsula—the Japanese subjected their captives to terrible cruelties

  • Of the approximately 70,000 prisoners who started the Bataan Death March, 54,000 survived

III. The Allies Strike Back

  • The Japanese at this point seemed unbeatable

  • The U.S. and the Australians were anxious to strike back in the Pacific—the U.S. particularly wanted revenge for the attack on Pearl Harbor

  • In April 1942, 16 B-25 bombers bombed Tokyo and several other Japanese cities; little damage was made but it was important psychologically

  • Japan was vulnerable to attack

  1. The Allies Turn the Tide

  • The raids on Japan had boosted American morale and shook the confidence of the Japanese

  • The Japanese had started to worry that maintaining such a vast empire was spreading their forces too thin

  • In May 1942, an American fleet intercepted a Japanese strike force headed for Port Moresby in New Guinea; this city housed a critical Allied air base

  • If captured by the Japanese, it would put them in easy striking distance of Australia

  • In what followed, the Battle of the Coral Sea, both sides used a new kind of naval warfare

  • Ships often did not see one another, instead, airplanes taking off from huge aircraft carriers attacked ships

  • The Allies suffered more losses in ships and troops than the Japanese

  • It was however a victory of sorts; the U.S. stopped the Japanese southward advance

  1. The Battle of Midway

  • Japan next targeted Midway Island, 1500 miles west of Hawaii; this was the location of a key American airfield

  • Thanks to code breakers, Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific fleet, knew that a huge Japanese force was headed to Midway

  • Admiral Yamamoto was in command of the Japanese fleet

  • He hoped that the attack on Midway would bring the whole of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from Pearl Harbor to defend the island

  • On June 4, 1942, with American forces hidden behind the horizon, Admiral Nimitz allowed the Japanese to begin their assault on the island

  • As the first Japanese planes got into the air, American planes swooped in to attack the Japanese fleet

  • Many Japanese planes were still on the decks of the Japanese carriers

  • The strategy worked, American pilots destroyed 332 Japanese planes, all four air craft carriers, and one support ship

  • The crippled Japanese fleet had to withdraw; June 7, 1942, the battle was over; Battle of Midway turned the tide of the Pacific war

IV. An Allied Offensive

  • With their victory at Midway, American morale was higher than ever

  • The Allies then took to the offensive

  • Japanese troops had dug in on hundreds of islands across the Pacific Ocean

  • General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the Allied land forces in the Pacific, developed an island hopping plan

  • MacArthur wanted to “island hop” past Japanese strongholds

  • Storming each and every island would be long and costly

  • He would then seize these islands that were not well defended but were closer to Japan

  • The first of these targets was a huge island where the Japanese were building a huge air base

  • The island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands

  • The Allies had to strike fast before the base was completed and became another Japanese stronghold

  • On August 7, 1942, several thousand U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal

  • The battle for control of the island turned into a savage struggle as each side poured in fresh troops

  • In February 1943, after six months of fighting on land and at sea, the Battle of Guadalcanal finally ended

  • After losing more than 24,000 troops of a total of 36,000, the Japanese abandoned what they called “the Island of Death”

  • American war correspondents and American soldiers referred to Guadalcanal simply as “hell”

The Holocaust

  • As part of their vision for Europe, the Nazis proposed a new racial order

  • They proclaimed that the Germanic peoples, or Aryans, were a “master race”

  • The Nazis claimed that all non-Aryan peoples, particularly Jewish, were inferior

  • The racist message would eventually lead to the Holocaust, the systematic mass slaughter of Jews and other groups judged inferior by the Nazis



I. The Holocaust Begins

  • To gain support for his ideas, Hitler tapped into a hatred of Jews that had deep roots throughout European history

  • For generation, many Germans had targeted the Jews as the cause of their failures

  • Many blamed the Jews for the loss during WWI and the economic collapse that followed the war

  • Soon, the Nazis made targeting the Jews a government policy

  • The Nuremberg Laws passed in 1935 deprived Jews of their rights to German citizenship, it marriages between Jews and non-Jews forbidden, and eventually laws restricted the type of work Jews could do

  1. Night of Broken Glass”

  • The worse was yet to come for the Jews

  • In early November 1938, Kristallnacht-“Night of Broken Glass” took place—in retaliation for a German diplomat being killed, Nazi storm troopers attacked Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues all over Germany and murdered many Jews.

  • This was the first step in the Nazi policy of Jewish persecution.

  1. A Flood of Refugees

  • Realizing that violence against them was bound to increase, many German Jews fled to other countries in order to avoid persecution by the end of 1939

  • Eventually Hitler conquered many of these territories in which millions of Jews lived

  • At first, Hitler favored emigration as a solution to what he called “the Jewish problem”

  • Getting other countries to continue admitting Germany’s Jews became an issue; Many countries, like the US, had to stop allowing Jews to come in because there were too many.

  1. Isolating the Jews

  • When Hitler found that he could not get rid of Jews through emigration, he put another plan into effect

  • Hitler tried to isolate them by putting them in ghettos—overcrowded, segregated Jewish areas

  • The Nazis sealed off the ghettos with barbed wire and walls hoping to starve the Jews or kill them off through the spreading of disease

  • Even in these horrible conditions, the Jews struggled to keep their traditions; teachers taught lessons in secret schools, plays and concerts were produced, and records were kept so that one day people would find out the truth

II. The “Final Solution”

  • Hitler soon grew impatient waiting for Jews to die from starvation or disease, so he decided to take more direct action

  • Hitler came up with the “Final Solution”, the plan to take more direct action against the Jews by systematically killing them (also known as genocide); in order to protect the “purity” of the German race

  • Those targeted included: Jews, Roma (gypsies), Poles, Russians, homosexuals, the insane, the disabled, and the incurably ill.

  1. The Killings Begin

  • As Nazi troops swept across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the killings began

  • Units from the SS, Hitler’s elite security force, began hunting down Jews (men, women, children, babies, old and young)

  • Sometimes they were shot into mass graves, some taken to concentration camps or slave-labor prisons

  • Meals were terrible, living conditions crowded, disease and lice spread quickly

  1. The Final Stage

  • Hitler’s war on the Jews turned toward the “Final Solution” in 1942

  • The Nazi’s built extermination camps with gas chambers to hurry the process of killing the Jews (as many as 6,000 human beings in a day)

  • The largest of these extermination camps was Auschwitz

  • When prisoners came in the strong went to work and the weak went to the gas chamber that day

  • They were told to undress for a shower and then led into a chamber with fake showerheads

  • After the doors were closed, cyanide gas poured from the showerheads

  • All inside were killed in a matter of minutes

  • Crematoriums burned the bodies. People often got sick from ingesting the ashes.

  • Around 6 million people died in the death camps and massacres

  1. The Survivors

  • Fewer than 4 million Jews survived

  • Some escaped the horrors of the death camps with help from non-Jewish people

  • The rescuers, at great risk to their own lives, hid Jews in their homes or helped them escape to neutral countries

The Allied Victory

  • On December 22, 1941, just after Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt met at the White House to develop a joint war policy

  • Stalin had asked his allies to relieve German pressure on his armies in the east

  • He wanted them to open a second front in the west

  • This would split the German’s strength by forcing them to fight major battles in two regions instead of one

  • Churchill agreed with this strategy; the Allies would weaken Germany on two fronts and then deal the deathblow

I. The Tide Turns on Two Fronts

  • Churchill wanted Britain and the U.S. to strike first in North Africa and southern Europe

  • The strategy angered Stalin, he wanted the Allies to open the second front in France

  • The Soviet Union would have to hold its own against the Germans

  • All the U.S. and Britain could promise was supplies

  • Late 1942, the Allies began to turn the on the Eastern Front

  1. The Battle for Stalingrad

  • The German advance had stalled at Leningrad and Moscow late in 1941

  • When the summer of 1942 arrived, Hitler sent his 6th Army to seize the oil fields in the Caucasus Mountains

  • Army also captured Stalingrad, an industrial center on the Volga River

  • The Battle of Stalingrad began on August 23, 1942

  • The Luftwaffe went on nightly bombing raids which destroyed the city, but Soviet forces were told to defend the city to the death

  • By early November 1942, the Germans controlled most of the city, but the Russian winter set in

  • On November 19, the Soviets launched a counterattack and trapped the Germans inside the city and cut off their supplies; Hitler refused to order a retreat

  • On February 2, 1943, some 90,000 frostbitten and starving German troops finally surrendered to the Soviet troops

  • The defense of Stalingrad had cost the Soviets over 1 million soldiers

  • The city was 99 percent destroyed

  • However, the Germans were now on the defensive, with the Soviets pushing them westward

  1. The Invasion of Italy

  • As the Battle of Stalingrad raged, Stalin urged the British and Americans to invade France

  • The decision however was to attack Italy first

  • On July 10, 1943, Allied forces landed on Sicily and captured it a month later

  • This toppled Mussolini from power and he was arrested

  • On September 3, Italy surrendered, but the Germans seized control of northern Italy and put Mussolini back in control

  • On June 4, 1944, the Germans retreated and the Allies entered Rome; the fighting did not stop until May 1945

  • On April 27, 1945, Italian resistance fighters ambushed German trucks and found Mussolini disguised as a German solider

  • They shot him the next day and hung his body in downtown Milan for all to see



II. The Allied Home Fronts

  • The U.S. did not have to suffer the way the British and Soviets did, but they did produce weapons and equipment to aid the war effort

  • Americans at home made a crucial contribution to the Allied war effort; sacrifices were made by civilians for victory to be achieved

  1. Mobilizing for War

  • By 1944, 17-18 million Americans were working for the war effort, many of them women

  • Because most of the industries were producing goods for the war, there was a shortage of consumer goods (meat, sugar, tires, gasoline, laundry soap, etc.) for people in the United States which led to the government rationing these items

  • Rationing also occurred in European countries but sometimes even more drastic

  • To inspire their people to greater efforts, Allied governments launched propaganda campaigns (save pennies and buy U.S. bonds; collect scrap metal)

  1. War Limits Civil Rights

  • There were also negative effects to the propaganda campaign

  • After Pearl Harbor people in the US became prejudice against Japanese Americans because the bombing frightened Americans

  • The fear was turned against Japanese Americans and they were seen as the enemy

  • On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt called for the internment of Japanese Americans because they were considered a threat to the country

  • By March, many were sent to relocation camps that were restricted military areas far away from the west coast with the hopes of preventing “enemy aliens” from assisting a Japanese invasion

  • Two-Thirds of the interned were actually Nisei, native born American citizens whose parents were Japanese, many even volunteered for the military and fought for the U.S. even though their families remained in the camps

III. Victory in Europe

  • The Allies were preparing to push toward victory in Europe

  • In 1943, the Allies had secretly began building an invasion force in Great Britain

  • The plan was to launch an attack on German held France across the English Channel

  1. The D-Day Invasion

  • By May 1944, the invasion force was ready, thousands of planes, ships, and tanks and more than three million troops awaited the order to attack

  • General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, planned to strike on the coast of Normandy, France

  • The Germans knew the attack was coming, but they did not know where it would be launched

  • The Allies set up a huge dummy army with its own headquarters and equipment; made it look like the attack would be the seaport of Calais, France

  • Code named Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy was the largest land and sea attack in history

  • The invasion began on June 6, 1944—D-Day

  • At dawn, U.S., British, Canadian, and French troops fought their way onto a 60 mile stretch of beach in Normandy

  • The Germans had dug in with machine guns, rocket launchers, and cannons; sheltered themselves behind three feet thick concrete walls

  • The Allies took heavy losses; American forces alone lost 2,700 men on the beach in one day

  • Despite the heavy losses, the Allies held the beachheads and within a month of D-Day, 1 million more troops had landed

  • By July 25, 1944, the Allies punched a hole in the German defenses near Saint-Lo

  • The 3rd Army led by General George Patton a month later marched triumphantly into Paris

  • By September, the Allies had liberated France, Belgium, and Luxembourg

  1. The Battle of the Bulge

  • As the Allied forces moved toward Germany from the west, the Soviets were advancing toward Germany from the east

  • Hitler now faced a war on two fronts

  • In a gamble, Hitler decided to counterattack in the west

  • He hoped to split the U.S. and British forces and cut the supply line

  • On December 16, 1944, German tanks broke through weak American defenses along a 75 mile front in the Ardennes

  • The push into Allied lines gave the campaign its name, the Battle of the Bulge

  • Creating a bulge in their line, the Allies eventually pushed the Germans back

  • The Germans had little choice but to retreat, since their were no reinforcements available

  1. Germany’s Unconditional Surrender

  • After the Battle of the Bulge, the war in Europe drew to a close

  • In late March 1945, the Allies rolled across the Rhine River into Germany; by April, three million Allied soldiers were surrounding Berlin; six million Soviets came from the west

  • April 25, 1945, the Soviets had surrounded the capital and were pounding the city with artillery

  • April 29, 1945, Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun committed suicide in an underground bunker

  • On May 7, 1945, General Eisenhower accepted the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich from the German military

  • President Roosevelt died on April 12 and never saw victory all the way through; Harry Truman, his successor, received news of the Nazi surrender

  • On May 9, the surrender was official, VE-Day was celebrated—victory in Europe

IV. Victory in the Pacific

  • Although the war in Europe was over, the Allies were still fighting the Japanese in the Pacific

  • With the victory at Guadalcanal, the Japanese advance had been stopped, they were retreating

  1. The Japanese in Retreat

  • By the fall of 1944, the Allies were moving in on Japan

  • In October, the Allies landed on the island of Leyte in the Philippines, where they had to retreat from in May 1942

  • On October 23, the Japanese tried to halt the Allied advance in the Battle of Leyte Gulf

  • After four days of fighting, the Japanese navy had lost disastrously

  • They resorted to kamikaze attacks—suicide pilots crash diving their bomb filled planes into ships

  • In March 1945, after a month of heavy, bitter fighting, American Marines took the island of Iwo Jima, 750 miles from Tokyo

  • On April 1, U.S. troops moved onto the island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Japan

  • June 21, the battle ended; 100,000 Japanese troops killed, Americans lost 12,000 troops

i) The Japanese Surrender

  • The next step after Okinawa was the invasion of Japan

  • Truman was informed that an invasion could cost the Allies up to 500,000 troop losses

  • The decision was made to use a new powerful weapon, the A-bomb

  • Truman’s advisers felt that by using the bomb, it would bring the war to a quick end

  • The A-bomb was developed by the top-secret Manhattan Project headed by General Leslie Groves and chief scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer

  • The first atomic bomb was exploded in a desert in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945

  • Truman tried to warn the Japanese to surrender or to expect a “rain of ruin from the air”; the Japanese did not reply

  • August 6, 1945, the U.S. drooped the bomb on Hiroshima killing between 70,000-80,000 people

  • August 9, 1945, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki killing more than 70,000 people immediately

  • Radiation fallout in both cities killed many more

  • The Japanese finally surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur on September 2, 1945

  • The ceremony took place aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay

  • With Japan’s surrender, the war had ended

  • Now it was time to rebuild

Europe and Japan in Ruins

  • After six long years of war, the Allies were finally victorious

  • Victory was achieved at a high price

  • WWII had caused more death and destruction than any other conflict in history; 60 million people were dead; one-third from the Soviet Union alone

  • Another 50 million people had been uprooted from their homes and were searching for some place to live

  • Property damage ran into the billions

I. Postwar Governments and Politics

  • After WWII many Europeans took to the roads to look for family members and to try and return home

  • In Europe, many people began favoring communism after WWII because they lost faith in leaders of the past who were involved with the war (Hitler, Mussolini, and the Vichy government of France that cooperated with the Nazis)

  • Communism promised change for people who were suffering

  • However, the communists became violent when trying to win elections and people voted against them, thus communism did not form in most of Western Europe

II. The Nuremberg Trials

  • Allies dealt with war crimes by establishing and International Military Tribunal to try Nazi leaders during 1945-1946

  • During the Nuremberg Trials Nazi leaders were tried for aggression, violations of the rules of war and crimes against humanity

  • Hitler, Heinrich Himler (SS chief), and Joseph Goebbels (Minister of Propaganda) committed suicide before being brought to justice

  • Those who were tried and convicted (22 Nazi leaders), were hung and cremated in Dachau, in the same ovens as their victims

  1. Occupied Japan

  • During the US occupation of Japan, General Douglas MacArthur introduced three programs called demilitarization, democratization and economic recovery

  • Demilitarization was important for postwar Japan because militarism fueled Japanese aggression in WWII and many believed they would do it again



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