Chapter 26: The World at War, 1939-1945 American Neutrality, 1939-1941 I.
WWII officially began when German troops attacked Poland on Sep 1, 1939, and 2 days later Britain and France declared war on Germany. For more than 2 years the US debated its course of action. A. Most Americans held 2 contradictory positions. The overwhelming majority supported the Allies. Even so, most Americans did not want to be drawn into another European war. B. This strong isolationist sentiment severely limited President Roosevelt’s options. The Road to War I. Because the US had become a major world power, whatever stand the country adopted after 1939 would affect the course of the European conflict. 2 days after the outbreak of the fighting, the US officially declared its neutrality. II. At first the need for American intervention seemed remote. Many Americans initially believed that arming the Allies would be enough to defeat Germany. Support for Intervention Grows I. During the summer and fall of 1940 German planes bombarded Britain mercilessly in the Battle of Britain, destroying the myth of its island invincibility. In America the debate over the nation’s neutrality intensified. A. Isolationists formed the America First Committee in 1940 to keep the nation out of the war. They attracted the support of the Chicago Tribune and other conservative publications—especially those in the Midwest. II. Despite the efforts of the America First Committee, in 1940 the US moved closer to involvement in the war. A. In May, Roosevelt created the National Defense Advisory Commission and the Council of National Defense to advise on strategies for putting the economy and government on a defense footing. B. During the summer the president traded 50 WWI destroyers to GB in exchange for the right to build military bases on British possessions in the Atlantic, thereby circumventing the nation’s neutrality laws by executive order. C. In October a bipartisan majority in Congress approved a large increase in defense spending and instituted the first peacetime draft registration and conscription in American history. Another draft law lengthened draftees’ service. The 1940 Election I. The platforms of the two parties differed only slightly. Both pledged to aid the Allies but stopped short of calling for American participation in the war. A. Roosevelt won the election by promising that “your boys are not going to be sent into foreign wars.” The Lend-Lease Act I. With the election behind him, Roosevelt concentrated on persuading the American people to increase aid to Britain, whose survival he viewed as the key to American security. A. In November FDR had won a bitter battle in Congress to amend the Neutrality Act of 1935 to allow the Allies to buy weapons from the US—but only on the cash-and-carry basis established for nonmilitary goods in 1937. B. When Britain could no longer afford to pay cash for its goods, FDR convinced Congress to pass the Lend-Lease Act. The legislation authorized the president to “lend, lease, or otherwise dispose of” arms and other equipment to any country whose defense was considered vital to the security of the US.
C. To administer the program, Roosevelt turned to the former relief administrator Henry Hopkins.
D. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union the US extended lend-lease to the Soviet Union, which became part of the Allied coalition. In his State of the Union address to Congress in jan 1941, Roosevelt had connected lend-lease to the defense of democracy at home as well as in Europe. He spoke about what he considered the 4 essential freedoms—freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Although Roosevelt avoided stating that America had to enter the war to protect these freedoms, he intended to justify exactly that, for he now regarded US participation as inevitable.
A. In the implementation of lend-lease marked the unofficial entrance of the US into the European
war. The Atlantic Charter I. The US became even more involved in Aug 1941, when Roosevelt and the British prime minister conferred secretly aboard a battleship to discuss goals and military strategy. A. Their joint press release, which became known as the Atlantic Charter, provided the ideological foundation of the Western cause and of the peace to follow.
B. The charter called for postwar economic collaboration and guarantees of political stability to
ensure that “all men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.” The charter also supported free trade, national self-determination, and the principle of collective security. II. When America started supplying the Allies, Germany attacked American and Allied ships. By September 1941 Nazi submarines and American vessels were fighting an undeclared naval war in the Atlantic, unknown to the American public. The Attack on Pearl Harbor I. The final provocation came from Japan. Tensions between Japan and the US had been building throughout the 1930s. A. The Japanese advances in China had upset the balance of political and economic power in the Pacific, where the US had long enjoyed the benefits of the open door policy, especially access to China’s raw materials and markets. B. It was the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 that caused Roosevelt to suggest that such aggressors be “quarantined” by peace-loving nations. C. The US still avoided taking a stand, mainly because isolationism was still strong in the country. II. With the attention of the major powers focused on Europe, Japan’s imperial intentions became more expansionist. In 1940 Japan signed the Tri-Partite Treaty with Germany and Italy that extended the Axis into Asia, and in the fall of 1940 Japanese troops occupied the northern part of French Indochina. A. The US retaliated by effectively cutting off trade with Japan, including vital oil shipments that accounted for almost 80% of Japanese consumption. B. When Japan occupied the rest of Indochina, Roosevelt froze Japanese assets in the US and instituted an embargo on trade with Japan. III. In Sep 1941 the government of Hideki Tojo began secret preparations for was against the US. Talks between the 2 nations continued without progress. By Nov American military intelligence knew that Japan was planning an attack but did not know where it would occur. A. On Dec 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor. B. Although the attack was devastating, it united the American people in anger and a determination to fight. C. The next day Roosevelt went before congress and asked for a declaration of war against Japan. Organizing for Victory
The task of fighting a global war accelerated the growing influence of the state on American life. Coordinating the changeover from civilian to war production, raising an army, and assembling the necessary work force taxed government agencies to the limit.
A. Mobilizing on such a scale required cooperation between business executives and political leaders, solidifying a partnership that had been growing since WWI. B. The most dramatic expansion of power occurred at the presidential level when Congress passed the War Powers Act, giving Roosevelt unprecedented authority over all aspects of the conduct of the war. Mobilizing for Defense I. Defense mobilization had a powerful impact on the federal government’s role in the economy. Along with huge federal budgets came the acceptance of Keynesian economics, the use of government fiscal policy to stimulate economic growth. A. The war also brought significant changes in the federal bureaucracy. Financing the War I. Taxes paid about half the cost of the war. The Revenue Act of 1942 continued the income tax reform that had begun during WWI by taxing not just the wealthy individuals and corporations but average citizens as well. A. The mass-based tax system, a revolutionary change in the financing of the modern state, was sold to the taxpayers as a way to express their patriotism. B. War bond drives also gave people a patriotic opportunity to put their savings at the disposal of the government by buying long-term Treasury bonds, which financed the remaining cost of the war. War bonds had the additional benefit of withdrawing money from circulation, which helped hold down inflation. Running the Economy I. Roosevelt turned to business leaders to run the war economy.
A. In 1941 Roosevelt developed the Office of Production Management. After the attack on Pearl
Harbor he disbanded the agency and replaced it with the War Production Board. The WPB awarded defense contracts, evaluated military and civilian requests for scarce resources, and oversaw the conversion of industries to military production. B. To encourage businesses to convert to war production, the board granted generous tax write-offs for plant construction and approved contracts with cost-plus provisions that guaranteed a profit and promised that businesses could keep the new factories after the war. In the interest of maximum efficiency and production, the WPB preferred to deal with large corporations rather than with small businesses. This system of allotting contracts, along with the suspension of antitrust prosecution during the war, hastened the trend toward large corporate structures. A. Large businesses would form the core of the military-industrial complex that came to link the federal government, corporations, and the military in an interdependent partnership. The Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply supervised the domestic economy, allocating specific resources and trying to keep inflation down. A. In Oct 1942 the OPA froze most prices and rents at their March 1942 levels. When loopholes, especially regarding food prices, undermined that effort, congress passed the Anti-Inflation Act, which stabilized prices, wages, and salaries. Roosevelt remained unsatisfied with the mobilization effort; there were too many government agencies, and their actions often overlapped. A. James Byrnes finally brought order to production goals for civilian and military needs, first as head of the Office of Economic Stabilization and then at the Office of War Mobilization. The peak of mobilization occurred in late 1943, when 2/3 of the economy was directly involved in the war effort. Although not all industries could boast of freedom from snafus, business and government compiled an impressive record. Industry played a significant role in the military victory.
A. Mobilization on this gigantic scale gave a tremendous boost to the economy. After the depression, American’s faith in the capitalist system was restored. But it was a transformed economy that relied heavily on government’s participation. Mobilizing the American Fighting Force I. An expanded state presence was also evident in the government’s mobilization of a fighting force. II. Draft boards registered about 31 million men between the ages of 18 and 44 and ordered physical examinations for about 1/6 of the male population. More than ½ the men failed to meet the physical standards. A. The army also tried to screen out homosexuals, but its attempts were ineffectual. Once in military service, homosexuals found that the sex-segregated environment offered new possibilities for same-sex attraction. B. Wartime experiences also weakened patterns that traditionally channeled men and women toward heterosexuality: instead of going directly from parental homes to marriage, gay men and lesbians in the military lived away from kin in settings where they found opportunities to participate in the gay subculture that was more extensive than they found in civilian life. III. Racial discrimination prevailed in the armed forces, mainly directed against blacks. African Americans served in all branches of the armed forces but were assigned the most menial duties. A. The NAACP and other civilian rights groups chided the government, but the military refused to change its policies. B. Mexican Americans were never officially segregated. IV. Women found both opportunities and discrimination in the armed services. The armed forces limited the types of duties assigned to women. Women were barred from combat. A. The social lives of women soldiers, most of whom were single, were more strictly regulated than those of their male counterparts, mainly out of fear of sexual impropriety.
B. Most military jobs reflected stereotypes of women’s role in civilian life—clerical work,
communications, and health care. Workers and the War Effort I. When millions of citizens entered military service, a huge hole opened in the American work force. The backlog of depression-era unemployment quickly disappeared, and the US faced a labor shortage. A. The defense industry provided new jobs to 7 million workers, including great numbers of women, blacks, and Mexican Americans. Rosie the Riveter I. Government planners “discovered” women while looking for workers to fill the jobs vacated by deporting servicemen. The recruiting campaign drew on patriotism. II. Although the government directed its propaganda towards housewives, women who were already employed gladly abandoned low paying jobs as domestic servant or file clerks for higher-paying jobs in defense factories. A. Government planners regarded women as “filling in” while the men were away. Employers rarely offered day care or flexible hours, and government child care programs established by the 1940 Lanham Act reached only 10% of those who needed them. B. Because women were responsible for home care as well as their jobs, they had a higher absentee rate than did men. C. Women workers faced discrimination on the job. III. When the men came home from war and the plants returned to peacetime operations, Rosie the Riveter was out of a job. But many women refused to stay at home. Organized Labor I. Wartime mobilization also opened up opportunities to advance the labor movement and solidify the industrial breakthroughs of the 1930s.
A. Organized labor responded to the war with an initial burst of patriotic unity. On Dec 23, 1941, representatives of major unions made a “no strike” pledge for the duration of the war. B. In Jan 1942 Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board composed of representatives of labor, management, and the public. The board established wages, hours, and working conditions and had the authority to order government seizure of plants that did not comply. C. The NWLB resolved the controversial issue of union membership through a compromise. Under the principle of maintenance of membership, new hires did not have to join a union, but those who already belonged to a union had to maintain their membership over the life of the contract. D. Agitation for wage increases caused a more serious disagreement. Because managers wanted to keep production steady, they were willing to pay higher wages. However, higher wages would conflict with the OPA’s attempt to combat inflation by stabilizing prices and wages. II. In 1942 the NWLB established the “Little Steel Formula,” which granted a 15% wage increase to match the increase in the cost of living. A. Although incomes were now significantly higher, many union members felt cheated as they watched corporate profits soar in relation to wages. B. John Lewis led more than ½ million United Mine workers out on strike, demanding higher wages than the Little Steel Formula provided. Although Lewis won some concessions, he alienated by Congress by opposing the government during wartime. III. Congress countered Lewis’s action by overriding Roosevelt’s veto of the Smith-Connally Labor act of 1943, which required a 30 day cooling period before a strike and prohibited strikes in the defense industry entirely. A. Labor unions won acceptance during the war years but also provoked significant public and congressional hostility. Civil Rights During Wartime I. A new mood of militancy appeared among the nation’s minorities during wartime. WWII disrupted a number of traditional patterns, and many barriers to racial equality fell. A. Civil rights leaders pointed out parallels between anti-Semitism in Germany and racial discrimination in American and pledged themselves to a “double V” campaign: victory over Nazism abroad and victory over racism at home. II. Even before Pearl Harbor, activism was on the rise. Black leaders demanded that the government require defense contractors to integrate their work forces. When the government took no action, A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, announced plans for a “March on Washington” in the summer of 1941. A. Roosevelt was not a strong supporter of civil rights, but he feared the embarrassment of a massive public protest. Even more, he worried about a disruption in war productions. III. In June 1941, in exchange for Randolph’s cancellation of the march, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, declaring that “there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin.” To oversee this policy, he established the Fair Employment Practices Committee in the Office of Production Management. A. Although this federal commitment to minority employment rights was unprecedented, it was limited in scope. It did not affect segregation of the armed forces.
B. The FEPC could not require compliance with its orders and often found that needs of defense
IV. production took precedence over fair employment practices. Encouraged by the ideological climate of the war years, civil rights organizations increased in number and membership. A. Although the NAACP generally favored lobbying and legal strategies, the student chapter of the NAACP at Howard University used direct tactics. In 1944 it forced several restaurants in DC to serve blacks by picketing them.
B. In Chicago James Farmer helped found the Congress of Racial Equality, a group that became known nationwide for using direct action. An awareness of civil rights was heightened in other ways as well. These wartime developments laid the groundwork for the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 60s.
Mexican Americans also used the ideological climate of the war to press for change, building on their community’s patriotic contributions to national defense and the armed forces to challenge longstanding patterns of discrimination and exclusion. A. Community leaders protested segregation in schools and public facilities. B. In CA, Mexican American labor activists argued that defense contractors’ refusal to hire Mexican aliens violated Executive Order 8802’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. IV. The Sleepy Lagoon case of 1942 explicitly linked the experiences of Mexican Americans with the broader ideological underpinnings of the war effort. A. When a Mexican American youth was found dead near Sleepy Lagoon, the police charged 22 members of a Mexican American gang with the crime on flimsy evidence. An all-white jury convicted 17 of the defendants. B. The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee eventually succeeded in getting the convictions overturned on appeal. The Defense Committee’s premise was that the defendants had been deprived of their civil rights solely because of their ethnic background. V. In LA racial hostility toward Mexican Americans had been smoldering for some time. Male Latino teenagers had organized pachuco gangs, spoke English-Spanish slang called calo, and sported a distinctive style of dress called the zoot suit. A. The style of clothing was picked up among black and white working-class teenagers as a symbol of alienation and self-assertion. B. In 1943 rumors that a pachuco gang had beaten a white sailor set off a 4 day riot in LA, during which white servicemen entered Mexican American neighborhoods and attacked zoot suiters. Politics in Wartime I. Business activists replaced many of the reformers and social activists who had staffed New Deal relief agencies in the 1930s. Although the federal government expanded dramatically during the war years, there was little attempt to use the state to promote social welfare reform on the home front. An enlarged federal presence was justified only insofar as it assisted war aims. II. During the early years of the war Roosevelt rarely pressed for social and economic change, in part because he was preoccupied with military matters but also because he faced certain political realities. A. The Republicans had picked up 10 seats in the senate and 47 seats in the house in the 1940 elections, thus bolstering conservatives in congress who sought to roll back New Deal measures. B. Roosevelt agreed to drop several New Deal programs, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration, and the National Youth Administration, which were deemed less necessary once war mobilization brought full employment. C. Severe budget cuts limited the Farm Security Administration, which had represented the interests of poor farmers. The speed with which the government terminated those agencies suggested that they had been more a response to the crisis of the depression than a commitment to promoting the general welfare through federal programs.
Later in the war Roosevelt began to promote new social welfare measures. He called for a second bill of rights, which would serve as “a new basis of security and prosperity.” This extension of the New Deal indentified jobs, adequate food and clothing, decent homes, medical care, and education as basic rights. A. The president’s sweeping commitment remained largely rhetorical; congressional support for this vast extension of the welfare state did not exist in 1944.
B. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, known as the GI Bill of Rights, provided education, job training, medical care, pensions, and mortgage loans for men and women who had served in the armed forces during the war. IV. Roosevelt’s call for more social legislation was part of a plan to woo Democratic voters. Life on the Home Front Once congress declared war there was almost no domestic opposition to the nation’s role in WWII. Americans fought for their way of life and to preserve democracy against Nazism and Japanese imperialism. “For the Duration” I. Although the US did not suffer the physical devastation that ravaged much of Europe and the Pacific, the war affected the lives of those who stayed behind. People accepted that their lives would be different “for the duration.” II. People on the home front worked on civilian defense committees, donated blood, collected old newspapers and scrap material for recycling, and served on local rationing and draft boards. A. People planted “Victory gardens,” “V for Victory” slogans stressed patriotism, and all seven war bond drives were oversubscribed. These endeavors were encouraged by various federal agencies, especially the Office of War Information. III. Perhaps the major source of American’s high morale was wartime prosperity. Unemployment disappeared, and the per capita income rose. A. During the war years demographic patterns rebounded from their depression-induced declines. Young people could afford to marry, and the imminent departure of men for military service induced many couples to do so earlier. Not all of those marriages could survive the strain of separation, and the divorce rate rose. B. The wartime birth patterns marked the beginning of the “baby boom’ that characterized American culture in the postwar period. Popular Culture I. Popular culture, especially the movies, reinforced the connection between the home front and the troops serving overseas. Hollywood escaped the restrictions and cutbacks that affected other industries, in part because studio heads argued that movies boosted morale. II. Many movies, encouraged in part by the OWI, had patriotic themes. Some warned of the danger of fascism at home and abroad or demonstrated the heroism and patriotism of ordinary citizens. A. Popular culture reflected America’s new international responsibilities at the same time that they built up morale on the home front. III. War correspondents reported on the GIs for readers back home. Reporters often portrayed the GIs as ordinary boys doing their patriotic duty. IV. Throughout the war the Japanese were hated far more than the Germans, in part because the Japanese had attacked the US but also because of the racism that was a constant undercurrent of WWII. All Japanese were lumped together. Rationing I. For many Americans, the main inconveniences of the war were the limitations placed on consumption. Federal agencies such as the Office of Price Administration subjected almost everything Americans ate, wore, or used during WWII to rationing and regulation. II. Rubber became the first scarce item, and essential material for war production. An entire new industry of synthetic rubber was born. Meanwhile, to conserve rubber, the government restricted the sale of tires, a difficult sacrifice for car owners. A. The government also rationed gasoline and fuel oil. Shortages of fuel oil forced schools and restaurants to shorten their hours and lower their thermostats.
B. Gasoline rationing represented both a response to depleted domestic gasoline supplies and an attempt to save wear on rubber tires. To further discourage gasoline consumption, congress imposed a nationwide speed limit of 35 mi/hr. By 1943 the amount of meat, butter, and other foods Americans could buy was regulated by a complicated system of rationing points and coupons. Most people cooperated with restrictions, but people occasionally bought items on the black market, especially meat, gasoline, and cigarettes. A. People found it especially difficult to cut back on sugar. IV. Shortages of other consumer products also hit the home front. People finally had enough money to buy refrigerators, cars, and radios, but the components of those items were embarked for war production. A. To placate consumers, many companies ran advertisements promising delayed gratification. B. Among the most sought-after items on the black market were woman’s stockings. Many women began wearing slacks in public. Migration and Family Life I. The war not only affected what people ate, drank, and wore but also affected where they lived. People moved from one part of the country to another in unprecedented numbers. A. When men joined the arms services, their families often followed them to training bases or points of debarkation. The lure of high paying defense jobs encouraged others to move. B. The pace of urbanization increased. The greatest number of people went west. The western states served not only as staging areas for the war in the Pacific but also had room for new ship and plane building industries. II. As a center of defense production CA was affected by wartime migration more than any other state. III. Migration and relocation often caused strains. In many towns with defense industries, housing was scarce and public transportation inadequate. Conflicts over public space and recreation erupted between the oldtimers and newcomers. A. Of special concern were the young people the war had set adrift from traditional community restraints. IV. Another significant result of the growth of war industries was the migration of more than 1 million African Americans to defense centers in CA, IL, MI, OH, and PN. The migrants’ need for jobs and housing led to racial conflict in several cities, with some of the worst racial violence taking place in Detroit. A. Although racial confrontations and zoot suit riots recalled the widespread racial tensions of WWI, the mood on the home front was generally calm in the 1940s. B. Leftists and communists faced little domestic repression, mainly because the SU became an ally of the US after Pearl Harbor. C. German and Italian Americans did not come under much suspicion, largely because there was little threat of either German or Italian invasion. Japanese Relocation I. The internment of Japanese Americans on the west coast was a glaring exception to this record of tolerance. A. CA had a long history of antagonism toward both Japanese and Chinese immigrants. The Japanese Americans, who clustered together in highly visible communities, were a small, politically impotent minority. They stood out more than European immigrants. B. This sort of sentiment, coupled with the west coast’s vulnerability to attack and the inflammatory rhetoric of newspapers and local politicians, fueled mounting demands that the region be rid of supposed Japanese spies. II. In 1942, in Executive Order 9022, Roosevelt approved a War department plan to intern Japanese Americans in relocation camps for the rest of the war. Despite the lack of evidence of disloyalty or sedition few public leaders opposed the plan.
The relocation announcement shocked Japanese Americans, more than 2/3 of whom were native born American citizens. A. The government gave families only a few days to dispose of their belongings and prepare for location. Speculators snapped up Japanese real estate for a fraction of its value. B. Most Japanese Americans accepted the policy stoically. Relocation took place in 2 stages. First the government sent Japanese Americans to temporary assembly centers. Then they were moved to permanent camps away from the coast. A. Milton Eisenhower had hoped the relocation camps would resemble the CCC youth camps of the ND, but the barbed wire and enforced communal living mocked his high hopes. B. All 10 camps were in hot, dusty places, and their communal bathroom and dining facilities made family life nearly impossible. Almost every Japanese American in CA, OR, and WA was detained for some period during WWII. A. Japanese in HI were never detained. Less vulnerable to discrimination because of the island’s multiracial heritage, the Japanese also provided much of the unskilled labor on the islands. The Hawaiian economy could not function without them. Cracks soon appeared in the relocation policy. A labor shortage in farming led the government to furlough seasonal Japanese American agricultural workers from the camps as early as 1942. A. Many university students were allowed to stay in school as long as they transferred out of the west coast military zone.
The supreme court upheld the constitutionality of internment as a legitimate exercise of power during wartime in Hiabayashi v. US and in Korematsu v. US. Fighting and Winning the War Wartime Aims and Strategies I. The Allied coalition was composed mainly of GB, the SU, and the US, with other nations such as France and China playing smaller roles. A. The Atlantic Charter provided the basis of the Allied vision of the postwar international order. II. Roosevelt’s unswerving commitment to Britain’s survival provided the basis for a strong relationship with Churchill. Stalin, however, was somewhat of a mystery. Although the US and GB disagreed on some issues such as the postwar fate of the colonial empires, the potential for conflict with the SU was far greater. III. As far back as the lend-lease negotiations of 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt had agreed that defeating Germany was the first military priority because of that country’s huge armies, massive industrial capacity, and mastery of technology. A. The Russians supported opening a second front in France to draw German troops away from their country.
B. Though Roosevelt assured Stalin informally that such a front would be opened in 1942, Churchill
opposed the idea because he feared British troops would be trapped in a destructive ground war in France. C. A second front was impossible until American war production was at full capacity, such since a huge undertaking would rely heavily on American soldiers and supplies. As a result, the SU bore much of the ground war against Germany. At various points during the war the 3 leaders of the Grand Alliance met to discuss military strategy and the postwar peace. A. At the Teheran Conference Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to Stalin’s demand for a second front within six months. In return, Stalin promised to join the fight against Japan after the war in Europe ended. B. The 3 leaders also issued the Tehran Declaration, in which they welcomed the cooperation of all nations in the war and invited them to join the Big Three.
C. Churchill and Roosevelt also agreed tacitly to Stalin’s demand that Poland’s borders be redrawn to give the Soviet Union more territory. But the 3 leaders disagreed sharply about who should control the rest of Poland and the other Eastern European states. The War in Europe I. During the first 6 months of 1942 the military news was so bad that it threatened to swamp the Grand Alliance. The Allies suffered severe defeats on land and sea throughout Europe and Asia. II. The turning point of the war occurred in the winter of 1942-43, when the Soviets halted the German advance in the Battle of Stalingrad. By 1944, Stalin’s forces had driven the German army out of the SU. A. In July 1943 the fascist regime of Mussolini fell and Italy’s new government joined the Allies. D-Day The long-awaited invasion of France to open the second front came on D-Day—June 6, 1944. In August the Allied troops helped liberate Paris, and by Sep they had driven the Germans out of most of France and Belgium. II. In the autumn of 1944 the German military situation looked hopeless. Victory in Europe I. The Germans were not ready to give up, however. In Dec 1944 their forces in Belgium mounted an attack that began the Battle of the Bulge, so called because it made a dent in the Allied forces. A. The Allies eventually forced the Germans back over the Rhine River. Their goal was to take Berlin. The Holocaust I. Photographs of concentration camps horrified the American public and the rest of the world. But government officials could not claim that no one knew about the camps before the German surrender. The Roosevelt administration had had information about the death camps as early as 1942. II. The lack of response by the US government to the Holocaust ranks as one of the greatest failures of the Roosevelt administration. A. Several factors combined to inhibit US action: anti-Semitism; fear of economic competition from a flood of refugees in a country just recovering from a depression; failure of the media to grasp the magnitude of the horror and publicize it accordingly; and failure of religious leaders to speak out. B. In justifying the American course of action, Roosevelt claimed that winning the war would be the strongest contribution America could make to liberating the camps. The War in the Pacific I. After the victory in Europe the Allies still had to defeat Japan. American forces bore the brunt of the fighting in the Pacific. II. The most significant battles were far to the south. On May 7-8, 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, American naval forces halted the Japanese offensive against Australia. A. In June, at the island of Midway, the American inflicted crucial damage on the Japanese fleet. For the first time, a sea battle was waged and decided primarily by planes launched from aircraft carriers. B. Submarines also played an important role in naval battles. III. After the Battle of Midway, the American military command took the offensive in the Pacific, adopting a plan of winning strategic positions essential for an eventual direct assault against Japan. A. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese lost almost their entire fleet. IV. By early 1945 victory over Japan was in sight. The campaign the Pacific moved slowly toward what military leaders anticipated would be a massive and costly invasion of Japan. A. The closer the Americans got to the Japanese home islands, the fiercer the Japanese fought.
By mid-1945 Japan’s army, navy, and air force had suffered devastating losses. American bombing of the mainland had killed about 330,000 civilians and crippled the Japanese economy. In a last-ditch effort to stem the tide, Japanese pilots began suicidal kamikaze missions. A. This desperate action, combined with the Japanese military leadership’s refusal to surrender, suggested that Japan would keep fighting despite overwhelming losses. Planning the Postwar World I. In Feb 1945 Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin held what would be their last conference at Yalta. Victory in Europe and the Pacific was in sight, but no agreement had been reached on the peace to come. A. Roosevelt stayed focused on maintaining Allied unity, which he saw as the key to postwar peace and stability. B. A serious source of conflict was Stalin’s desire for a band of Soviet-controlled satellite states to protect its western border. Stalin had become increasingly inflexible on that issue, insisting that he needed friendly governments there to provide a buffer zone to guarantee Soviet national security. II. At Yalta, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed in principle to the idea of a Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe but deliberately left its dimensions vague. Stalin in returned pledged to hold free elections at an unspecified time. A. The compromise reached at Yalta was open to multiple interpretations. B. At Yalta the 3 leaders also proceeded with plans to divide Germany into 4 zones to be controlled by the US, GB, France, and the SU. The issue of German reparations remained unsettled. III. The Big 3 made further progress toward the establishment of a postwar international of a postwar international organization in the form of the US. A. Roosevelt had already got backing from Congress. Realizing that such an organization would be impotent without the Soviet’s participation, he cultivated their support as well.
B. At Yalta the Big 3 agreed that the Security Council of the United Nations would include the 5
major Allied powers—the US, Britain, France, China, and the SU—plus 6 nations elected on a rotating basis. They also decided that the permanent members of the Security Council should have veto power over decisions of the General Assembly in which all nations would be represented. IV. Roosevelt neglected to inform the American people of the concessions he had made to maintain the increasingly fragile wartime alliance. V. Many Americans could not imagine any other president that Roosevelt. In both depression and war he had led the country through perilous times. As a global strategist he grasped America’s predominant role and helped educate the country to accept its new international responsibilities. Roosevelt’s model of leadership proved a difficult legacy of leadership for future presidents to match. VI. The war in Japan ended when Truman ordered the dropping of atomic bombs on 2 Japanese cities— Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A. Many later questioned why the US did not warn Japan about the attack or choose a noncivilian target; the rationale for dropping the second bomb was even less clear. Other critics suggested that the fact that the Japanese were a nonwhite race facilitated the momentous decision to drop the bombs. B. At the time, however, the belief that the Japanese would never stop fighting unless their country was utterly devastated convinced policy makers that they had to deploy the new weapon. The Onset of the Atomic Age
The development of the atomic bomb was closely linked to wartime military strategy. The secret research into atomic weaponry, called the Manhattan project, cost $2 billion and involved the construction of 37 installations. A. Its development was hidden from Congress, the American people, and even vice President Truman. The secrecy and scope of this alliance between science and government constitute a dramatic example of how much the power of the state grew during wartime.
Roosevelt’s death and the dropping of the bomb came at a critical juncture in world affairs. Many questions had been left deliberately unanswered in the hopes of keeping the wartime alliance intact to guide the transition to peace. A. As the war ended, the fates of Germany and Poland demanded action. The resulting compromises tended to promote spheres of influence as the new basis for international power, rather than the ideals of self-determination and economic cooperation laid out in the Atlantic Charter.