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World War II. The War Begins. Nazi-Soviet Pact. “There exists no real conflict of interest between Germany and Russia.” Signed August 23, 1939 USSR and Germany would not war against each other If either was attacked they would not aid the attacker Partition of Poland

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World War II

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World War II

The War Begins

Nazi-Soviet Pact

  • “There exists no real conflict of interest between Germany and Russia.”

  • Signed August 23, 1939

    • USSR and Germany would not war against each other

    • If either was attacked they would not aid the attacker

    • Partition of Poland

  • Stalin had grown tired of Britain and France

World War II Begins

  • Group of S.S. dressed as Polish soldiers attacks a radio station in Germany

  • Blitzkrieg – lightning warfare

    • Take as much territory as possible as quickly as possible

  • September 1, 1939 – German army sweeps across the Polish border

World War IIBegins

  • September 3, 1939 – English ambassador arrives in Germany

    • Issues ultimatum

    • Germans refuse the ultimatum

  • Britain and France declare war

World War IIBegins

  • Soviets move into Poland from the east

    • Claim to protect the Belorussian and Ukrainian minorities

  • Poland taken in less than a month

    • No help from the British or French

    • Germany takes 71,000 sq. miles

    • USSR takes 75,000 sq. miles

World War IIBegins

  • Finns able to repel the Soviets

  • “political house-cleaning” in the Red Army – incompetent or inexperienced generals

  • Sheer size of the Soviet army overwhelms the Finns

German Invasion of Norway

  • Gain access to the iron mines of northern Sweden

  • Railroad terminal at Narvik connects to northern Sweden

  • Avoid British navy and take the country

  • Luftwaffe – German air force – establishes dominance

  • Denmark taken at the same time

The Phony War

  • October 1939 – April 1940

  • Time of war with few military engagements

  • Both sides look for a quick end to the war

    • Sides cannot come to an arrangement because of disagreements over Poland

The Maginot Line

  • Series of stationary defenses along the German/French border

    • Concrete bunkers

    • Pill boxes

  • Great defense against trench warfare, not so much against a mobile military

Maginot Line






United Kingdom

French Resistance

Soviet Union


United States



Axis and Allied









Axis Controlled Areas



Bohemia and Moravia










Axis Controlled

Homework – The War Begins

  • Define: blitzkrieg, Phony War, Maginot Line

  • What agreement did the Germans and Soviets come to in 1939?

  • How did World War II begin?

  • Why was the Maginot Line ineffective?

  • Name the three major Axis Powers and the four major Allied Powers.

The War in Europe

Invasion Through the Low Countries

  • Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg

  • German offensive through the low countries

  • Circumvents defenses of the Maginot Line

  • Allied commanders expect an attack through the low countries by the North Sea

  • Attack comes through the lowlands and the Ardennes Forest

Invasion Throughthe LowCountries

North Sea






Invasion Through the Low Countries

  • May 10-14 – Battle of Holland

  • 30,000 civilians killed when the Germans bombed Rotterdam

  • May 18 – Fall of Antwerp, Belgium

Escape from Dunkirk

  • French and British driven up against the English Channel

  • Mass evacuation

    • 300,000-400,000 soldiers

    • Watercraft used to evacuate

      • Naval ships

      • Merchant marine

      • Personal boats

Escape from Dunkirk

  • Hitler’s first major mistake of the war

  • May 24

    • Orders panzer (tank) divisions to stop outside of Dunkirk

    • Relies on Luftwaffe to destroy Allied armies

    • Destruction of the Allied armies would have left Britain defenseless in the case of an invasion

The Fall of France

  • Retreat leaves France to the Germans

  • France is split in two

    • Northern France – occupied by the Germans

    • Southern France – puppet government put in to place

      • Seat of government at Vichy

  • French Resistance led by General Charles de Gaulle

The Fall of France


  • Neville Chamberlain steps down and Churchill takes his place

    • Characterized as a bulldog

    • Resolved to win the war

Battle of Britain

  • Operation Sea Lion – German operational name for the invasion of England

  • RAF vs. Luftwaffe – Luftwaffe had four times the number of planes as the RAF

  • English advantages

    • Advanced radar – allows for dogfights

    • Pilots eject

Battle of Britain

Battle of Britain

  • German targets

    • Air fields

    • Radar stations

  • Hitler tires of slow progress – the Blitz of London begins

  • “Never had so many owed so much to so few.”

    • Winston Churchill


  • Maintain American neutrality but aid the Allies

  • $7 billion in weapons and supplies to Britain

  • March 1941-September 1945

    • $48.6 billion to Allies

Churchill and Roosevelt

Meeting in Newfoundland

Draw up a statement of principles for a post-war world

Atlantic Charter

Homework – The War in Europe

  • Define: low countries, Luftwaffe, RAF, lend-lease, Atlantic Charter

  • How could the escape from Dunkirk be considered a turning point to the war?

  • How were Chamberlain and Churchill different?

The United States Enters World War II

Pearl Harbor

  • December 7, 1941

  • Mistakes

    • Japanese mini-sub sunk in Pearl Harbor

    • Japanese planes mistaken for American bombers

  • Sunday morning

    • Church

    • Sleeping in

    • surfing

Hawaiian Islands


Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

  • Attack by Japanese begins at 7:55 am

  • Battleships become main targets

    • Arizona (destroyed)

    • Oklahoma (destroyed)

    • West Virginia (heavily damaged)

    • California (heavily damaged)

    • Nevada (heavily damaged)

    • Tennessee (moderately damaged)

    • Maryland (moderately damaged)

Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona

Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor

  • Attack in two waves

  • Attack can be viewed as a failure:

    • American aircraft carriers were at sea

    • United States finally enters the war

America Enters the War

  • December 8, 1941

    • Roosevelt asks Congress for a war declaration

    • United States declares war on Japan

America Entersthe War

  • “Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. The United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan.”

Homework – The U.S. Enters WWII

  • What was America’s policy towards the war before Pearl Harbor?

  • Describe the events of Pearl Harbor in detail.

  • Which ships did the Japanese focus their attacks on? Why was the attack unsuccessful?

  • What was the reaction of the United States to the attack?

Focus Returns to Europe

Operation Barbarossa

  • German invasion of the USSR

    • Hitler’s second big mistake – creates a three front war

  • Soviet strategy

    • Multiple lines, when one is broken fall back to the next one

    • Wait for the winter

    • Final stands at Moscow and Stalingrad


The Warin NorthAfrica

  • The Battle of El-Alamein

    • German Aim - take control of the Suez Canal and stop supplies to the Allies from the east

    • Allied Aims - push the Germans out of North Africa and have a jumping off point for an invasion of Sicily

The Warin NorthAfrica

  • Rommel (German) vs. Montgomery (British)

  • The Allies drive the German Afrika corps across the desert to Tunisia


  • “Soft underbelly of Europe”

  • Difficulties to invasion

    • Apennine Mountains – similar to Appalachians

    • German reinforcements

  • Invasion of Sicily followed by the invasion of the mainland

Battle of Monte Cassino



  • Mussolini executed by Italians and hung upside down in a public square in Milan

The Invasion of Normandy

  • June 6, 1944

  • Operation Overlord

  • Five beachheads

    • Omaha (U.S.)

    • Utah (U.S.)

    • Gold (Great Britain)

    • Juno (Canada)

    • Sword (Great Britain)

The Invasion of Normandy

The Invasion of Normandy

The Invasion of Normandy

The Invasion of Normandy

  • Decoy invasion at Calais (shortest distance between France and England)

  • Heavy artillery barrage of German positions onshore

  • Paratroopers inland to secure roads and loosen up defenses

  • Invasion force of 150,000 (10,000 dead)

Battle of the Bulge

  • Bastogne, Belgium

  • December 1944

  • Final offensive by the Nazis

  • American general asked to surrender; he responds with “Nuts!”

Battle of the Bulge

Battle of the Bulge

Battle of the Bulge

Hitler’s Death

  • Following the death of Roosevelt, Hitler believed that the war would turn…he was wrong

  • He commits suicide as the Soviets flood into Berlin

    • Bunker underneath Berlin

    • He and wife Eva Braun

Homework – Focus Returns to Europe

  • What was Hitler’s second major mistake of the war?

  • Why was North Africa important to the war aims of the Allies?

  • The first Allied invasion of Europe occurred where?

  • Describe D-Day.

  • What was Germany’s final major offensive of the war? What did Hitler do as the Soviets were bearing down on Berlin?

The Pacific Theater

The War in the Pacific

The War in the Pacific

  • Pearl Harbor, Philippines, and Guam attacked at same time

  • Philippines

    • Bataan Death March

      • Forced march of Filipino and American POWs through the jungles to Bataan

    • “I shall return.”

      • Gen. Douglas MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur

The War in the Pacific

  • Midway

    • Turning point of the war in the Pacific

    • Battle of aircraft carriers

    • Americans had decoded Japanese messages and knew their plans

    • 4 Japanese carriers were sunk

    • 1 American carrier was sunk

The War in the Pacific

  • Guadalcanal

    • Battle to protect American convoys to Australia

    • 24,000 Japanese killed

    • Guerrilla warfare

Thousand Yard Stareoften associated with a soldier who suffered shell-shock (PTSD)

The War in the Pacific

  • Island-hopping – WWII strategy of conquering certain Pacific islands that were important to the Allied advance to Japan

The War in the Pacific

  • Iwo Jima

    • Air strip

    • Flag-raising at Mt. Surabachi

    • Est. 20,000 Japanese dead; 6,821 Americans dead

Mt. Surabachi

The War in the Pacific

  • Okinawa

    • Gives Americans ability to attack Japan directly

The War in the Pacific

  • Kamikaze – divine wind

    • Suicide attacks by Japanese pilots

The Atom Bomb

  • Island-hopping costs lives of large numbers of American troops

  • Estimated 500,000 dead in invasion of Japan

  • Tokyo fire bombings

    • 97,000 dead

    • 125,000 wounded

    • 1.2 million homeless

The Atom Bomb

  • August 6, 1945

    • “Little Boy”

The Atom Bomb

  • August 6, 1945

    • Dropped from the Enola Gay

The Atom Bomb

  • August 6, 1945

    • Hiroshima

    • 75,000 dead; thousands more would die from exposure to radiation

The Atom Bomb

The Atom Bomb

  • August 9, 1945

    • “Fat Man”

    • Nagasaki

  • August 15 - Victory in Japan (V-J) Day

The Atom Bomb

  • September 2

    • Formal surrender of Japanese

    • Aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay

V-J Day Celebration in Times Square

The United Nations

  • Created at the Yalta Conference

  • Established in 1946

  • Creates a free Palestinian and free Jewish state

  • Israel is a direct response to the Holocaust

Europe after World War II

Marshall PlanMoney given to reconstruct western Europe

Homework – The Pacific Theater

  • Why was the battle at Guadalcanal an important strategic battle?

  • Put yourself in Truman’s place; would you have dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

  • Why was the country of Israel created?

  • What was the Marshall Plan?

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