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The U.S. was basically unprepared for war in December 1941. FDR had used the PWA (Public Works Administration) to build aircraftcarriers. We had instituted the first peacetime draft and begun the GoodNeighbor policy in the Western Hemisphere, but these were only small steps.

the war in europe
  • U.S. was in a 2front war against the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) from the beginning.
  • It was necessary to prioritize and our #1 goal was to defeat Hitler in Europe.
timeline of events in europe
Timeline of Events in Europe
  • 9/39-6/40 Nazi blitzkrieg (lightening warfare) of Poland and western Europe
  • Summer/Autumn 1940 – Battle of Britain (Luftwaffe vs. Royal Air Force (RAF)
    • Hitler unable to gain air control so postpones planned invasion.
Believed Britain would “wither on the vine” = 1stMISTAKE.
      • Britain was now led by Prime Minister WinstonChurchill.
      • US began policy of Lend-Lease Aid
  • Spring 1941 – Successful German invasion of Eastern Europe and North Africa with Italian aid
June 1941 – German invasion of USSR Operation Barbarossa = 2nd MISTAKE
    • U.S. offered Lend-Lease to USSR
    • Early success first 6 months – problems in winter
      • ScorchedEarth policy denied supplies
      • Train gauge not compatible
      • Split forces
      • Seasonal timing – bitter cold
      • Guerilla counteroffensive
      • Soviet Leader JosephStalin
12/41 German/Italian declaration of war on U.S. = 3rd MISTAKE
  • Spring/Summer 1942 –Nazis regain momentum in USSR
  • 9/42 Maximum Nazi Control – Europe, North Africa, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean and ready for Egypt; Britain and Soviets barely hanging on
10/42 the Battle of El Alamein
    • German AfrikaKorps (tanks) led by Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (DesertFox) v. British general Bernard Montgomery
    • Goals: oil fields and Suez Canal
    • Invasion of North Africa-Operation Torch; First time Allies attack; U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) appointed supreme commander; HQ = Casablanca – invasion sites at Morocco and Algeria; Field commander U.S. General George S. Patton; German surrender 5/43
Stalingrad has been under Nazi siege since 9/42 – Russian counterattack & force German surrender 2/43; German losses = 1,000,000
  • Spring 1943 – Allies control Mediterranean & Battle of the Atlantic begins; goal = control of shipping lanes- convoys v. Wolfpack (German subs); New technology = sonar
6/43 – Patton takes Sicily
  • 7/43 – Russia slowly forcing Germans out of USSR – Battle of Kursk
  • 9/43 – INVASION OF ITALY – Battle of Anzio - Mussolini forced out, new leader Badoglio promised easy surrender – heavy American casualties; victory in Rome 6/5/44 but fighting continues on the peninsula for some time
June 6, 1944 = D-Day – Normandy Invasion = Operation Overlord
    • Ike as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in ETO (European Theatre of Operations)
    • Largest amphibious invasion ever – jointly with British, Canadians, and Free French
Nazi Advantages = commanded by Rommel & heavily fortified and dug in
  • Allied Advantages = access to weather reports & air power
  • 5 Beaches = Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha
  • War now just a matter of time – Victory is assured
July 1944 – daily air bombing of Germany & attempted assassination of Hitler by German Officers
  • August 1944 – liberation of Paris by Patton and Free French under Charles De Gaulle
  • 12/44- 1/45 – Battle of the Bulge in Belgium = last German offensive
3/45 – Invasion of Germany begins East and West
  • 4/30/45 – Hitler and Eva Braun Hitler (married 4/29/45) commit Suicide – both took poison capsules & Hitler shot himself in the head.
  • Their bodies were partially cremated and buried, later found by Russian soldiers, taken and reburied in an unmarked grave in Magdeburg, Germany. 1970 – exhumed, burned & ashes dumped in the Elbe River.
  • May 8, 1945 = V-EDay (Victory in Europe) = Germany surrenders
the homefront
  • War effort is organized under New Deal type organizations:
    • Office of War Mobilization – coordinates agencies (umbrella)
    • Selective Service Commission (draft board) eligible from age 18 to 35
Office of Price Administration – price controls and rationing of products for civilians
  • Office of War Information – propaganda & news
  • War Labor Board – strike control
  • War Manpower Commission – labor for munitions factories
  • War Production Board – Military needs are #1
War good for the economy
    • Full employment – 30 million in war production jobs, many women (Rosie the Riveter) & 15 million in military service = 2 to 1 ratio
    • US spends $400 billion on the war with 2/3 raised from the sale of war bonds
FDR re-elected to 3rd term (1940) & 4th term (1944) “Don’t Change Horses in the Middle of the Stream”
  • Harry Truman takes over when FDR dies in April 1945
  • Battle of Production refers to the ability of the US to produce more munitions than the enemy – this is the single most important factor in the allied victory
Tremendous public support of the war effort = jobs, service, bonds, songs, victory gardens & scrap drives
  • Internment of Japanese-Americans from West Coast – 17,600 fought in Italy
  • Lasting effects on US
    • Opportunities for women
    • End of the GreatDepression
    • Science – atomic bomb, jets, rockets & medicine
war in the pacific
  • Japanese pattern of aggression
    • seizure of Korea in 1910
    • attack on Chinese Manchuria in 1931
    • attacks on the remainder of China in 1937
    • attack on the French colony of Indochina in June 1941
President Roosevelt responded
    • forbid the sale of oil, iron and steel to Japan
    • froze their bank accounts in the US.
  • Japanese leaders were following a policy aimed at conquering all of Asia and eventually the rest of the world. This was to be done to honor the emperor Hirohito. To do this they needed oil. Only the US stood in their way.
The attack on PearlHarbor
    • December 7, 1941
    • Attempt to remove the US from the Pacific long enough to seize the East Indies & claim the islands of the Pacific. The Japanese expected to be so strongly in place by the time the US rebuilt that the US would simply have to accept it
    • Was ordered by Japanese War Minister Hideji Tojo
    • Was planned by chief naval strategist Isoroku Yamamoto
attack visual
Attack Visual
  • The first attacks would hit the USS Oklahoma, West Virginia,
  • Arizona, and Nevada.
  • The second attack would hit USS Pennsylvania, and cruisers:
  • San Francisco, and New Orleans.
uss arizona
USS Arizona
  • Positioned in “Battle Row”.
  • Hit within 10 min. after attack began.
  • Bomb crashed through the 2 armored deck, igniting its magazine.
  • Went down with 1,300 lives.
uss arizona memorial
USS Arizona Memorial

“Created to honor the survivors of Pearl Harbor, their families and friends, and to all those who died.”

The ship has been preserved as a tomb for those who went down with the ship.

Erected in 1962.

Was launched from aircraftcarriers
    • Was not followed by an invasion
  • December 8, 1941 – April 1942
    • American owned Philippines was attacked and invaded
    • Commander Douglas MacArthur was ordered to evacuate to Australia
      • Promised his men that “I will return”
    • The Americans left behind were defeated at Corregidor (the biggest US military defeat in history)
Bataan Death March
    • American POWs and captured Filipino fighters
    • Forced to march 65 miles
    • 12,500 died
    • Survivors were sent to Korea on what the men called HellShips
    • Worked as slave labor for the Japanese
May 42
    • Japan controlled the Pacific Ocean and was poised to attack either Australia, India or Hawaii.
    • They headed south in attempt to invade Australia from the eastern coast.
    • The US Navy forced them back at the Battle of the Coral Sea
    • This was the first Japanese setback
June 42
    • Japan turned east to take out the rest of the American Navy
    • American cryptographers had broken large portions of the Japanese code.
    • Our analysis machine was code named Magic
Using these intercepts Admiral Chester Nimitz knew the Japanese air craft carriers were headed toward either the island of Midway or Hawaii
  • American forces located the Japanese fleet and sank 4 Japanese carriers
  • We only lost 1
  • This battle was the last Japanese offensive
From this point on the Battle of Production became a major factor
  • We could replace ships and build additional ships
  • The Japanese were not able to do this
  • Strategy against Japan was planned by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, chaired by Gen. George Marshall
It involved a three pronged attack
  • Attack across the Central Pacific – Nimitz – Supreme Commander of the Central Pacific – navy and marines
  • Attack from Australia to New Guinea to the Philippines – army – led by MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific
  • Regain China under Chaing Kai Shek (Communist leader Mao Zedong also fought the Japanese)




American and other allied forces did not generally fight in the same campaigns, but British and Australian troops were active against Japan in the Pacific, India and Burma areas
  • 8/42 Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands was the first US offensive in the Pacific
  • 9/43 MacArthur takes New Guinea
    • Close in on Japan using island hopping campaign: take the easier islands in a chain and surround them all with navy, then use planes to continue bombing the remaining islands while the rest of the navy moves to the next chain and on toward Japan (p 580)
Battle of the Philippine Sea (Marianas Turkey Shoot) – only kamikazes now left for Japanese air force
    • Battle of Leyte Gulf – destroyed Japanese navy – MacArthur “returns” to the Philippines – victory in 2/45
  • 2/45 Iwo Jima (sulfur island) – Marine Memorial – 27 Medals of Honor – only 1,000 out of 22,000 Japanese survive
michael strank
Michael Strank
  • b. 1919 Jarabenia, Czechoslovakia. d. 1945 Iwo Jima, Japan.
  • Their leader and Sergeant, it was Mike who got the order to climb Mt. Suribachi. Mike picked his "boys" and led them safely to the top. Mike explained to the boys that the larger flag had to be raised so that "every Marine on this cruddy island can see it." It was Mike who gave the orders to find a pole, attach the flag and "put'er up!"
  • At home as a boy, Mike was studious, had a photographic memory, played the French Horn and once slugged a baseball out of Points Stadium in Johnstown. In 1936, Mike ran down to the river to see for himself the terrible Johnstown flood. He brought this report back to his family: "Don't worry--it will recede."
  • Mike's right hand is the only hand of a flagraiser not on the pole. His right hand is around the wrist of Franklin Sousley, helping the younger man push the heavy pole. This is typical of Mike, the oldest of the flagraisers, always there to help one of his boys. Two months before the battle Mike's Captain tried to promote him but Mike turned it down flat: "I trained those boys and I'm going to be with them in battle," he said.
  • Mike died on March 1, 1945. He was hit by a mortar as he was diagramming a plan in the sand for his boys. Mike is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
harlon block
Harlon Block
  • b. 1924 Yorktown, Texas.  d. 1945 Iwo Jima, Japan.
  • Harlon was an outgoing daredevil with many friends at Weslaco High School. A natural athlete, Harlon led the Weslaco Panther Football Team to the Conference Championship. He was honored as "All South Texas End." Harlon and twelve of his teammates enlisted in the Marine Corps together in 1943.
  • Harlon was Sgt. Mike's second-in-command. He took over the leadership of his unit when Sgt. Mike was killed. Harlon was killed by a mortar blast hours later on March 1 at the age of 21.
  • When his mother Belle saw the Flag Raising Photo in the Weslaco Newspaper on Feb. 25, she exclaimed, "That's Harlon" pointing to the figure on the far right. But the US Government mis-identified the figure as Harry Hansen of Boston. Belle never wavered in her belief that it was Harlon insisting, "I know my boy." No one--not her family, neighbors, the Government or the public--had any reason to believe her. But eighteen months later in a sensational front-page story, a Congressional investigation revealed that it was Harlon in the photo, proving that indeed, Belle did "know her boy."
  • Harlon is buried beside the Iwo Jima Monument in Harlingen, Texas.
franklin sousley
Franklin Sousley
  • b. Sept. 19, 1925 Hilltop, KY.  d. March 21, 1945 Iwo Jima, Japan.
  • Franklin was a red-haired, freckle-faced "Opie Taylor" raised on a tobacco farm. His favorite hobbies were hunting and dancing. Fatherless at 9, Franklin became the main man in his mother's life. Franklin enlisted at 17 and sailed for the Pacific on his 18th Birthday. All that's left of Franklin is a few pictures and two letters Franklin wrote home to his mother:
  • July 1944, Letter from Training Camp: "Mother, you said you were sick. I want you to stay in out of that field and look real pretty when I come home. You can grow a crop of tobacco every summer, but I sure as hell can't grow another mother like you."
  • Feb. 27, 1945 Letter from Iwo Jima: "My regiment took the hill with our company on the front line. The hill was hard, and I sure never expected war to be like it was those first 4 days. Mother, you can never imagine how a battlefield looks. It sure looks horrible. Look for my picture because I helped put up the flag. Please don't worry and write."
  • Franklin was the last flag-raiser to die on Iwo Jima, on March 21 at the age of 19. When word reached his mother that Franklin was dead, "You could hear her screaming clear across the fields at the neighbor's farm."
  • Franklin is buried at Elizaville Cemetery, Kentucky
ira hayes
Ira Hayes
  • b. January 12, 1923 Sacaton, Arizona d. January 24, 1955 Bapchule, Arizona
  • Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian. When he enlisted in the Marine Corps, he had hardly ever been off the Reservation. His Chief told him to be an "Honorable Warrior" and bring honor upon his family. Ira was a dedicated Marine. Quiet and steady, he was admired by his fellow Marines who fought alongside him in three Pacific battles.
  • When Ira learned that President Roosevelt wanted him and the other survivors to come back to the US to raise money on the 7th Bond Tour, he was horrified. To Ira, the heroes of Iwo Jima, those deserving honor, were his "good buddies" who died there.
  • At the White House, President Truman told Ira, "You are an American hero." But Ira didn't feel pride. As he later lamented, "How could I feel like a hero when only five men in my platoon of 45 survived, when only 27 men in my company of 250 managed to escape death or injury?"
  • The Bond Tour was an ordeal for Ira. He couldn't understand or accept the adulation . . . "It was supposed to be soft duty, but I couldn't take it. Everywhere we went people shoved drinks in our hands and said 'You're a Hero!' We knew we hadn't done that much but you couldn't tell them that."
  • Ira went back to the reservation attempting to lead an anonymous life. But it didn't turn out that way . . . "I kept getting hundreds of letters. And people would drive through the reservation, walk up to me and ask, 'Are you the Indian who raised the flag on Iwo Jima"
  • Ira tried to drown his "Conflict of Honor" with alcohol. Arrested as drunk and disorderly, his pain was clear . . . "I was sick. I guess I was about to crack up thinking about all my good buddies. They were better men than me and they're not coming back. Much less back to the White House, like me."
  • In 1954, Ira reluctantly attended the dedication of the Iwo Jima monument in Washington. After a ceremony where he was lauded by President Eisenhower as a hero once again, a reporter rushed up to Ira and asked him, "How do you like the pomp & circumstances?" Ira just hung his head and said, I don't."
  • Ira died three months later after a night of drinking. As Ira drank his last bottle of whiskey he was crying and mumbling about his "good buddies." Ira was 32.
rene ganon
Rene Ganon
  • b. Manchester, N.H. March 7, 1925  d. Manchester, N.H. October 12, 1979 
  • Rene Gagnon was the youngest survivor and the man who carried the flag up Mt. Suribachi. He was the first survivor to arrive back in the US.
  • Rene was modest about his achievement throughout his life.
  • Rene is honored with a special room in New Hampshire's prestigious WrightMuseum.
  • Rene is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, the Flag Raiser buriedclosest to the Marine Corps Memorial.
john bradley
John Bradley
  • b. July 10, 1923 Antigo, WI. d. January 11, 1994 Antigo, WI.
  • "Doc" Bradley was a Navy Corpsman who "just jumped in to lend a hand." He won the Navy Cross for heroism and was wounded in both legs.
  • Bradley, a quiet, private man, gave just one interview in his life. In it he said . . . "People refer to us as heroes--I personally don't look at it that way. I just think that I happened to be at a certain place at a certain time and anybody on that island could have been in there--and we certainly weren't heroes--and I speak for the rest of them as well. That's the way they thought of themselves also."
  • "Of the surviving Flag Raisers, only Bradley was successful in putting his life back together after the war."  ---From the best-selling "Immortal Images" by Tedd Thomey
  • John Bradley returned to his home town in the Midwest after the war, prospered as the owner of a family business, and gave generously of his time and money to local causes. He was married for 47 years and had eight children.
  • While Bradley had a public image as a war hero, he was a very private person. He avoided discussion of his war record saying only that the real heros were the men who gave their lives for their country.
  • The Global Media reported the death of a World War II icon on January 11, 1994 at the age of 70. But his hometown newspaper best captured the essence of Bradley's life after the war:
  • "John Bradley will be forever memorialized for a few moments action at the top of a remote Pacific mountain. We prefer to remember him for his life. If the famous flag-raising at Iwo Jima symbolized American patriotism and valor, Bradley's quiet, modest nature and philanthropic efforts shine as an example of the best of small town American values." ---Editorial, "The Antigo Daily Journal"
Spring 45 – bombers freed from Europe begin massive raids on Japan; fire bombing of Tokyo
  • 6/45 – Okinawa – heavy casualties – last island before Japan itself
7/45 – Truman issues Potsdam Ultimatum – surrender or “else
    • Manhattan Project begun 1939 at suggestion of scientist Albert Einstein; successfully tested at Los Alamos under the direction of Dr. Robert Oppenheimer
  • 8/6/45 – atomic bomb dropped from the Enola Gay on the city of Hiroshima (Little Boy)
Prime rationale for use = shorten the war and save American lives; critics say it was unnecessary, Japan was defeated already and we were really trying to send a “message” to the Soviet Union; supporters point out that Japan refused to surrender and was arming for a suicidal defense of the home islands
8/8/45 – Soviet Union declares war on Japan
  • 8/9/45 – city of Nagasaki bombed (Fat Man)
  • 8/10/45 – informal surrender of Japan – announced 8/14/45 – V-J day
  • 9/2/45 formal surrender papers signed in Tokyo Bay – MacArthur
50,000,000 people died in World War II
  • Soviets highest losses at 20,000,000
  • US losses between 250,000 and 300,000
planning the postwar world
  • Big Three =
    • Joseph Stalin – Soviet Union
    • Winston Churchill – Great Britain
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt – US
  • Churchill and Roosevelt had held a meeting even before US entered the war: Atlantic Charter = no land would be gained as a result of the victory in the war
Roosevelt had given Lend-Lease Aid to both nations. Four freedoms speech (speech, religion, want, fear) proceeded this
  • 4 major wartime conferences:
    • 1/43 – Casablanca – agree that Axis must give unconditional surrender; agree to Italian Campaign as next move. USSR preferred France but was outvoted by US & Britain
    • 11/43 – Teheran – agree to Normandy Campaign in 1944
2/45 – Yalta – USSR agrees to declare war on Japan 3 months after the defeat of Germany – German occupation zones agreed on (Soviet, British, American and France) – German capital city of Berlin to be divided as well. – Free elections to be held in Poland – general guidelines for formation of United Nations (Dumbarton oaks in San Francisco 6/45) finalize) – FDR the “sick old man of Yalta”
7/45 – Potsdam – Truman, Stalin and Clement Attlee (replaced Churchill) – agree on details of German occupation and ultimatum to Japan
the holocaust
  • Defined: The deliberate intent of the Nazis to seek out and kill any and every Jew regardless of Sex, Age, Religion, Education, Occupation, or National loyalty in any and every place he could be found
Five Roles
    • Perpetrator – planned it – Hitler, SS chief Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichman, Rudolf Hess, Dr. Josef Mengele – very small group – believed in Aryan purity, a master race
    • Collaborator – didn’t plan it, but willingly cooperated and saw it as a means of personal advancement – Camp Guards, drove trains, identified Jews
Bystander – saw what was happening and did nothing to try to stop it – largest group
  • Victims – 11 million people; 6,000,000 of them Jews – Elie Wiesel – Author of Night
  • Rescuers – people with the moral courage to try to help; smallest group – only 9,500 Righteous Gentiles: Corrie ten Boom, Oskar Schindler, over 500 from a Dutch Village. Nation of Denmark did the most: 7,200 Jews rescued
Anti-Semitism had existed in Europe long before Hitler. It was based on Religion, Economics, Social, and Political reasons. But never before had there been the intention to kill all Jews
Hitler used progressive actions:
  • Boycott of Jewish businesses – 1933
  • Removal of Jews from government jobs – 1933
  • Nuremburg Laws – no inter marriage – 1935
  • Add Sara or Israel to all Jewish names – 1938
  • Kristallnacht – 1938
  • No emigration – 1941
  • Wear yellow arm band - 1941
Ultimate goal of total extermination definite by 1941
  • “Every Jew that we can lay our hands on is to be destroyed now during the war, without exception.” Rudolf Hess
  • Hitler wrote of 3 goals in Russian campaign – territory, destroy Communism, destroy Jews
  • Hard for Jews to know what to do: language, job, parents, hope, change, attachment to home, can’t afford, where do you go?
France – helped identify Jews for the Nazis – 95% died
  • Poland – large number helped run camps
  • England and US – Jews just one aspect of total war – beating Hitler and Tojo was the #one priority
Jews crowded into Ghettoes – survival based on profitability, but even that was no guarantee. Warsaw – largest; only 200 calories a day. Jewish government within ghetto = Jupenrat – tried to save as many as possible but hard choices – Do you sacrifice some to save the rest? Who do yuou sacrifice? – goal was survival, but whose survival – individual or collective and at what price?
Resistance = sabotage of equipment, hiding, false papers, armed rebellion (Warsaw)
  • 11,000 camps – not all were considered death camps; 50 German factories operated almost entirely on Jewish slave labor
  • Jews were considered consumable raw material (hair, ashes, even urine)
Auschwitz = largest camp

Majdanek = 360,000 deaths; crematoria burned 1,000 a day

Treblinka = 800,000 deaths in 18 months; 13 gas chambers; 2,000 people at a time within 10-15 minutes

Nuremburg Trials – special court for war criminals but many lesser figures escape in confusion after war
  • Almost 1/3 of survivors came to US after war; 2/3 to newly created Israel.