World War II

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Section Summary
The attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World
War II. The Allies’ ultimate goal was to fight and win a two-front
war. Their first objective, however, was to defeat Hitler. The United
States was producing millions of tons of guns, tanks, and other war
supplies. German U-boats, however, had sunk over 3,500 merchant
ships bound for Britain. By mid-1943, using radar, bombers, and
underwater depth charges, Allied forces were sinking U-boats faster
than Germany could manufacture them. The Allies had begun to
win the war in the North Atlantic.
In 1941, Germany attacked Russia, and Stalin wanted Roosevelt
and Churchill to open a second front in France. Instead, in early
1942, British planes began saturation bombing, dropping large numbers of bombs on German cities. American bombers used strategic
bombing, targeting key political and industrial centers. The
Tuskegee Airmen, an African American fighter squadron, played a
key role in the bombing campaign. In January 1943, after the long,
bitter Battle of Stalingrad, the Russians turned back the German
invasion of their country. During the same month, FDR announced
that only the unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers would
end the war. That is, they had to give up completely.
To help pave the way for an invasion of Italy, the Allies decided
to push the Germans out of North Africa, where they had been fighting British troops since 1940. In February 1942, American General
Dwight Eisenhower commanded the Allied invasion. After difficult
battles, General George S. Patton, Jr. took charge of American
forces. In May 1943, German and Italian forces in North Africa surrendered. Two months later, Allied forces invaded Sicily, two miles
off the mainland of Italy. From there, they launched their invasion of
Italy, and in September, Italy surrendered.
In spite of its “Europe first” strategy, the United States did not
ignore the Pacific where Japanese forces had continued to advance.
In June 1942, the Japanese attacked Midway, a vital American naval
base in the central Pacific. The American naval commander, Admiral
Chester Nimitz, had learned of the Japanese plans, and the Battle of
Midway was a decisive American victory. It ended Japanese expansion in the Pacific and put Japan on the defensive.
Review Questions
1. What tactics did the Allies use to weaken Germany?
2. Why was it so important for the United States to defeat the
Japanese at Midway?
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Who were the Tuskegee
What does the word ultimate
mean in the underlined sentence? Circle the word below
that is a synonym for ultimate.
• first
• final
Summarize How did the Allies
prepare for the invasion of Italy?
Section Summary
World War II fears and tensions tested civil liberties, but the war
also provided new opportunities for women and minorities. Many
women found jobs, especially in heavy industry. They gained
confidence, knowledge, organizational experience, and a paycheck.
However, few African Americans found meaningful employment
with defense employers. In response, African American labor leader
A. Philip Randolph planned a massive march on Washington, D.C.,
to protest employment discrimination. Under pressure, FDR issued
Executive Order 8802. It assured fair hiring practices in any job
funded with government money.
Wartime needs encouraged people to move to the South and
Southwest to find jobs in defense industries. To alleviate the rural
population drain, the United States initiated the bracero program.
This program brought Mexican laborers to work on American farms.
Although they often faced discrimination, braceros contributed
greatly to the war effort.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the federal government moved
100,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast to camps in
isolated locations under a policy of internment. There, they were
held in jail-like conditions for the duration of the war. Some
Japanese Americans went to court to seek their rights. In the 1944
case of Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld the
government’s wartime internment policy. When the government
lifted a ban on Japanese Americans serving in the armed forces,
many enlisted. The Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat
Team fought in the Italian campaign and became the most decorated
military unit in American history.
The war cost Americans $330 billion. To help pay for it, Congress
levied a tax on all working Americans. To ensure that there would
be adequate raw materials, such as oil and rubber, for war production, rationing was instituted. The federal Office of War
Information (OWI) worked with the media to encourage support of
the war effort. Millions of Americans bought war bonds and contributed to the war effort in many other ways, large and small.
Review Questions
1. How did World War II change women’s lives?
2. How did World War II affect Japanese Americans?
© Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Pearson Prentice Hall. All rights reserved.
What was the bracero program?
What does the word initiated
mean in the underlined sentence? Read the underlined
sentence and the sentence that
follows aloud, but leave out the
word initiated. Think about what
word could be used in its place.
Use this strategy to help you figure out the meaning of initiated.
Identify Main Ideas How did the
workplace change as a result of
World War II?
Section Summary
In 1943, the Allied leaders agreed to open a second front in France.
On June 6, 1944, known as D-Day, British and American forces
invaded France from the west, across the English Channel. More than
11,000 planes prepared the way, followed by more than 4,400 ships
and landing crafts. By the end of the day, they had gained a toehold
in France. By July 1, more than one million Allied troops had landed.
Germany now faced a hopeless two-front war, as the Soviets
advanced from the east. In December 1944, Hitler ordered a
counterattack, known as the Battle of the Bulge. Hitler’s scenario
called for German forces to capture communication and transportation hubs. The attack almost succeeded. However, with help from
their bombers, the Allies managed to push the Germans out of
France. By January 1945, the Soviet Army had reached the Oder
River outside Berlin, and in April, the United States Army was just
50 miles west of Berlin. Hitler committed suicide on April 30, and on
May 7, Germany surrendered.
American forces in the Pacific followed an island-hopping strategy in a steady path toward Japan. Japanese troops fought hard, and
Japanese kamikaze pilots deliberately crashed their planes into
American ships. By April 1945, American pilots finally made their
way to Okinawa, 340 miles from Japan. From Okinawa, American
pilots could bomb the Japanese home islands. American bombers hit
factories, military bases, and cities.
Advances in technology helped determine the final outcome of
the war. Albert Einstein, a famous scientist, had alerted FDR to the
need to proceed with atomic development. Physicist J. Robert
Oppenheimer was in charge of the scientific aspect of the program,
known as the Manhattan Project. On the morning of July 16, 1945,
the first atomic bomb was tested. In order to save American lives
and to end the war, President Harry S. Truman decided to use the
atomic bomb against Japan. On August 6, 1945, U.S. pilots dropped
an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, the United States
dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Emperor Hirohito
made the decision to surrender, and on August 15, the Allies celebrated V-J (Victory in Japan) Day. World War II had been the most
costly war in history. As many as 60 million people—mostly
civilians—had died in the conflict.
What was the Manhattan
What does the word scenario
mean in the underlined sentence? Circle any words or
phrases in the paragraph that
help you figure out what
scenario means.
Recognize Sequence Number
the following events in chronological order.
Review Questions
Japan surrenders.
1. What was involved in the D-Day invasion of France?
The first atomic bomb is
Germany surrenders.
2. How did the Allies bring about the surrender of Japan?
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What was Kristallnacht?
What does the word restraints
mean in the underlined sentence? Note that the word is a
noun, and that it contains the
verb restrain, which means
“hold back.” Use this information to help you figure out what
restraints means.
Recognize Sequence What happened to Jews in Germany after
Hitler came to power?
Section Summary
In 1945, there was no word for the Holocaust, the most horrific event
of World War II. It was the Nazi attempt to kill all Jews, as well as
other “undesirables,” under their control. This was part of a racist
Nazi ideology that considered Aryans—white Northern European
gentiles—superior to other people.
Hitler began to persecute the Jews as soon as he came to power.
In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws denied citizenship to Jews and segregated them at every level of society. Acts of violence against Jews
were common. The most serious occurred on November 9, 1938, and
is called Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass.” Secret police
and military units destroyed more than 200 synagogues and 7,500
Jewish businesses, killed more than 200 Jews, and injured more than
600 others.
Hitler’s “Final Solution to the Jewish question” was genocide,
the willful annihilation of all Jews living in regions under his control.
Jews and other “undesirables” were confined in concentration
camps. In theory, the camps were designed to turn prisoners into
“useful members” of the Third Reich. There were, however, no
restraints on guards, who tortured and killed prisoners without fear
of reprisals. Doctors conducted bogus experiments that killed prisoners or left them deformed. Many concentration camps were death
camps, where prisoners were systematically exterminated. The
largest death camp was Auschwitz in southern Poland.
Before the war, the United States and other countries could have
done more if they had relaxed immigration policies and accepted
more Jewish refugees. Once the war started, news of the mass
killings began to filter to the West. In early 1944, FDR began to
respond and established the War Refugee Board, which worked
with the Red Cross to save thousands of Eastern European Jews. The
enormity of the Nazi crime became real for most Americans only
when Allied soldiers began to liberate the concentration camps. The
revelation of the Holocaust increased American support for a Jewish
homeland. Therefore, when Jewish settlers in Palestine proclaimed
the state of Israel, President Truman immediately recognized the
new nation.
Review Questions
1. What was the purpose of Hitler’s concentration camps?
2. How did the United States respond to the Holocaust?
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What is the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights?
What does the word
predominant mean in the underlined sentence? The prefix premeans “before in rank” or
“superior to.” The root dominant
refers to something that dominates, controls, or has the
greatest effect. Use these clues
to help you figure out what
predominant means.
Understand Effects Which
effect of World War II would
help to prevent future wars?
Section Summary
As World War II drew to an end, Japan and Germany kept fighting
long after their defeat was certain. The protracted fighting gave the
Allies time to make plans for a postwar world. In February 1945,
Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met at Yalta on the Black Sea. At the
Yalta Conference, they discussed final strategy and crucial questions
concerning postwar Germany, Eastern Europe, and Asia. A few
months later, the Big Three, now composed of Stalin, Truman, and
Atlee, met at Potsdam to formalize the decision to divide Germany
into four zones of occupation. The war ended Western European
domination of the world. Two superpowers—the United States
and the Soviet Union—became the predominant nations of the
postwar world.
Not all the changes that took place after the war ended were
what the Allies had envisioned at Yalta and Potsdam. Communist
and noncommunist interests clashed in Eastern Europe. Civil war
resumed in China. Under American military occupation, Japan
gained a new constitution that abolished the armed forces and
enacted democratic reforms.
The United States, where industry had boomed during the war,
helped to shape the postwar world economy. The United States also
led the charge to establish the United Nations (UN). While it was
organized on the basis of the Great Powers, all member nations sat
on the General Assembly. In 1948, the UN issued the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, which condemns slavery and torture,
upholds freedom of speech and religion, and affirms the right to an
adequate standard of living.
During the war, the Axis Powers had repeatedly violated the
Geneva Convention, which governs the humane treatment of
wounded soldiers and prisoners of war. More than a thousand
Japanese were tried for war crimes, and at the Nuremberg Trials key
leaders of Nazi Germany were brought to justice for their crimes
against humanity.
Americans had closely followed the war and learned to think
in global terms. They defined themselves as democratic, tolerant,
and peaceful. The war gave renewed vigor to the fight for civil
rights at home. It also ushered in a period of economic growth
and prosperity.
Review Questions
1. What happened at the Yalta Conference?
2. What long-term changes were brought about by World War II?
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