World War II: Prelude & Beginning

  • Modern U.S. History

    Between the Wars 1920-1941

    Essential Question:  How do extremist come to power and control the people of a nation to the point of world conflict?


    Iowa Core:

    1. Understand how and why people create, maintain, or change systems of power, authority, and governance.

    a. Understand the purpose of government and how its powers have been acquired, used, and justified.

    b. Understand different political systems from historical periods.

    2. Understand cause and effect relationships and other historical thinking skills in order to interpret events and issues.

    a. Understand the process of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and reinterpret the past

    b. Understand relationships between and among significant events.

    c. Understand processes such as using a variety of sources, providing, validating, and weighing evidence for claims, 

        checking credibility of sources, and searching for causality.

    3. Understand the role of innovation on the development and interaction of societies.

    a. Understand significant changes caused by technology, industrialization, urbanization, and population growth and the

        effects of these changes.

    From Neutrality to War:

    Guiding Questions:

    1. What foreign policy actions did Hitler take after he came to power?

    2. How did Britain and France respond to Germany’s actions leading up to the war, and why did they respond in this manner?

    3. What action Freed Hitler to invade Poland?

    4. What happened to France after the ‘Phony War’?

    5. What was Britain’s situation at the end of 1940?

    6. How did FDR help the Allies?

    7. Why were some Americans opposed to providing aid to the Soviet Union?

    8. What did the Germans do that threatened FDR’s lend-lease program?

    9. What was the Atlantic Charter and what were the main points of this charter?

    10. Why was Japan on a collision course with the United States?

    I  Germany’s Road to War

    A. 1934

    1. Hitler signed a ten year Non-Aggression Pact with Poland

    B. March 1935

    1. Hitler announces Germany would no longer obey Treaty of Versailles and rearms the military

    2. Hitler felt he could get away with this, because the League of nations had taken no effective action against

        Japanese aggression in Manchuria

    C. October 1935

    1. Italy invaded Ethiopia

    a. Once again League of Nations condemned the actions

    i. The put economic sanctions on Italy

    -Embargo on oil and use of the Suez Canal

    ii. This will never be enforced 

    b. Within eight months, Italy had complete control of Ethiopia (July 1936)

    D. March 7, 1936

    1. Hitler moved one division into the Rhineland

    a. He did this against the advise of many of his generals

    2. Poland demands that action be taken

    a. France did nothing 

    i. Could not convince Britain to support them

    3. Germany’s gamble paid off

    a. France could have stopped Hitler’s move into the Rhineland by doing nothing more than mobilization

        their own troops.

    i. The fact that France does nothing begins to build the idea within Hitler that he is invincible

    E. Civil War in Spain 1936-1939

    1. Group of army officers rebel against government

    a. Led by General Francisco Franco

    2. This rebellion will lead to an international struggle in which the sides taken would mirror those in WW II

    a. Germany and Italy arm Franco’s forces

    i. Will use the Civil War as a testing ground for their new weapons and tactics: Blitzkrieg

    b. Soviet Union will aid the Loyalist

    3. 1939 Franco’s forces will claim victory and control of Spain

    a. Two reasons

    i. Stalin will pull support after two years of fighting

    ii. Britain, France, and the US will adopt a non-intervention policy

    F. March 14, 1938

    1. Hitler takes Austria

    a. Puts an Austrian Nazi in charge of government

    i. Treaty of Versailles prohibits this fusion

    ii. France and Britain do nothing

    G. September 1938

    1. Munich Conference

    a. Chamberlain and French Prime Minister agree to allow Hitler to take the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia

    i. Majority population was German

    2. October 1, 1938

    a. German troops move in

    3. Chamberlain returned to Britain with this message.  He had secured “Peace in our Time”

    a. Winston Churchill was present for this message, and he said that this meant war

    H. April 1939

    1. Germany took the rest of Czechoslovakia

    2. Britain and France agree to come to Poland’s aid if invaded by Germany

    L. August 1939

    1. USSR and Germany sign Non-Aggression Pact

    a. Both promise not to attack each other

    i. Agreed to divide Poland, and Stalin was given a free hand in the Baltic states of Estonia,

      Latvia, and Lithuania

    b. This moved shocked the world

    c. Stalin was buying time to rebuild military

    d. Purges of the 30s

    i. Generals 90%

    ii Colonels 80%

    iii. Corps Commander  50+%

    J. September 1, 1939

    1. Germany invaded Poland

    a. Hitler attempted to make it appear as if Poland was the aggressor and had invaded Germany

    i. This is comparable to what he did with the burning of the Reichstag

    -May have done this to point to the Kellogg-Briand Pact and say he was only

    protecting Germany from an attack by Poland

    K. September 3, 1939

    1. Britain and France declare war on Germany

    II  Reasons for French and British Inaction

    A. Memory of WW I

    B. Fear of Soviet Communism

    C. Unease with Treaty of Versailles

    D. Hope of compromise

    i. Appeasement

    III  Phony War Explodes into Conquest

    A. September 1939 - April 1940

    1. No moves were made by Germany and the world press began to label Germany’s aggression as a Phony War

    B. April 1940

    1. Germany’s war in Western Europe explodes into action

    a. Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands fall to Germany

    C. May 1940

    1. British and French forces are surrounded at the French port of Dunkirk

    D. Jun 1940

    1. France surrenders

    a. Hitler will instal a puppet government located in the Southern town of Vichy

    E. Battle of Britain

    1. Germany now turns their sights on the British Isles

    a. Churchill and the British dig in to defend against a Germany invasion

    b. Hitler will eventually give up on any idea of invasion, but he will continue to bomb British cities

    IV  FDR’s Steps Towards Helping Britain

    A. Neutrality Act 1935

    1. If war broke out anywhere in the world, the president must declare US neutral

    2. US could not ship arms to any nation involved in war

    B. Japan Invades China: July 1937

    1. FDR continued to send arms and supplies to China

    a. Claimed he could do this due to the fact that Japan had not declared war on China

    B. Neutrality Act of 1939

    1. FDR wanted the repeal of the Neutrality Act of 1935

    2. What Congress did

    a. Allowed sale of arms to warring nations, but forbid US ships from entering a war zone

    C. Selective Training and Service Act 1940

    1. FDR signed this into law on September 16

    a. This is the first peace time draft in US history

    i. October 16, 1940 - 16 million men register for draft

    D. Defense Spending

    1. FDR increased (with help of Congress) defense spending

    a. Increased from $1.8 billion in 1940 to $6 billion in 1941

    i. Much of this money was spent on increasing the size of the military

    2. Transferred a surplus of WW I arms and supplies to Britain

    E. September 1940

                  1.FDR gave Britain fifty aging destroyers in exchange for the use of British naval bases in Canada and the Caribbean

    F. Debating the American Role

    1. 1940 Presidential Election

    a. FDR made a promise he doubted he could keep

    i. “Your boys will not be sent into any foreign war”

    G. March 1941

    1. Congress passed Lend-Lease Act

    a. Allowed president to sell, lend, or lease war materials to any nation he thought vital to US security

    i. Allows FDR to openly aid Britain at the point

    H. Atlantic Charter:  August 1941

    1. Spelled out the hopes of FDR and Churchill for a better world after the defeat of Fascism

    V  Undeclared War in the Atlantic

    A. FDR committed US forces in the Atlantic one step at a time

    1. Started with ‘neutrality patrols’

    a. Patrol American waters looking for U-boats

    2. Within time FDR allowed US destroyers to accompany British convoys half way across the Atlantic

    a. October 17, 1941 the USS Kearny was torpedoed by a German U-boat, while on patrol off the coast of


    i. The USS Kearny was not sunk and was able to make it back to a US port

    b. October 31, 1941 the USS Rueben James was sunk by U-552 while escorting convoy HX-156

    i. Only 44 survivors were pulled from the water

    -115 American sailors had been killed in the attack

    ii. Admiral Harold R. Stark made this statement

    “...The navy is already in the war of the Atlantic, but the country doesn’t seem to realize

    it...”  (qtd Hughes, Costello 186)

    VI  Germany Invades Soviet Union

    A. June 1941

    1. Hitler broke the Non-Aggression Pact and invaded the USSR

    a. Felt the Russian people would welcome Germany

    b. Invasion was a big mistake on Hitler’s part for two reasons

    i. Russians did not welcome him

    ii. Allies aided Soviets with materials

    2. First two weeks of Operation Barbarossa

    a. 500,000 Soviet military men were lost

    3. Germany was now fighting on two fronts

    a. Eastern Europe

    b. Western Europe

    VII  US Drawn into War

    A. December 7, 1941

    1. Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor

    a. First wave started at 7:55 AM

    b. Second wave started at 8:30 AM

    c. Casualties

    i. Navy2,0008 killed710 wounded

    ii. USMC109 killed69 wounded

    iii. Army218 killed364 wounded

    iv. Civilian68 killed35 wounded

    d. Ships

    i. Sunk or beached12

    ii. Damaged9

    e. Aircraft

    i. Destroyed164

    ii. Damaged159(USS Arizona Memorial)

    B. Indicators to the Attack on Pearl Harbor

    1. Takeo Yoshikawa

    a. Naval intelligence for Japan

    i. Some have said he was the most obvious spy in the world

    ii. Arrived in Honolulu on March 27, 1941

    iii. His cover was involved processing dual-nationality Japanese

    -Those he worked with did not even know he was a spy

    iv. He took many trips around Pearl Harbor, Hickam Air Field, and Kaneohe Bay, as well as

        talking to sailors in Waikiki

    2. News article on disappearance of Japanese Navy

    a. Very small article, but is should have alerted someone

    3. Warning message from Washington

    a. Washington sent a message to Pearl Harbor warning of a possible attack in the Pacific by the 


    i. It will be the view, by the Brass in Hawaii, that Hawaii would be a very unlikely target

    -They did not feel that Japan would reach that far from home.

    4. Midget Sub

    a. USS Ward sighted the Japanese midget sub at precisely 6:30 AM outside the entrance of Pearl Harbor,

        but they did not know who’s sub it was

    b. Captain Outerbridge ordered general quarters at 6:40 AM

    c. The Ward pulled within fifty feet of the midget sub and commenced firing

    i. The first round was high, but he second round caught the sub at the water line of the conning


    ii. As the midget sub is sinking, the Ward will drop a full pattern of depth charges on the sub

    -The midget sub was sunk in 1200 feet of water

    d. The Ward sends a message to command at Pearl Harbor, but it was ignored

    i. Duty Officer felt it was just the actions of an over zealous new captain

    5. Radar

    a. This is a new tool and there were not many people who believed in it

    b. On the morning of December 7 at 7:02 AM Joe Lockard and George Elliot picked up a peculiar image

        at five degrees northeast of azimuth at 132 miles

    i. When they radioed this information to the Duty Officer, he told them not to worry about it

    -Later said he thought it was a flight of B-17s coming in from San Francisco

    -Coming from the wrong direction

    C. If any of these factors had been recognized or taken seriously the fleet in Pearl Harbor cold have been alerted to the attack

    1. This by no means would have prevented the attack  (Remember Pearl Harbor)

    Works Cited

    Danzer, Gerald A. and Jorge Klor de Alva, and Larry S. Krieger, and Louis E. Wilson, and Nancy Woloch, The Americans: 

    Reconstruction to the 21st Century.  Evanston, Illinois: McDougal Littell. 2007

    DiBacco, Thomas, and Lorna C. Mason, and Christian G. Appy.  The History of The United States: Volume 2, Civil War to Present.

    Evanston, Illinois: McDougal Littell, 1997

    Hughes, Terry. & John Costello.  The Battle of the Atlantic.  New York: The Dial Press/James Wade. 1977

    “Remember Pearl Harbor” with General H. Norman Schwarzkopf & co-hosted by Charles Kuralt. CBS Inc. 1991

    Shirer, William L.  The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany.  New York: Simon & Schuster Inc. 1959

    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The Holocaust.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. Accessed on 1/5/2013.

    USS Arizona Memorial. National Parks Services:  U.S. Department of the Interior 

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