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World War II

  • Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany

    Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany
    At the end of World War I, Hitler had been a jobless soldier drifting around Germany. In 1919, he joined a struggling group called the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, better known as the Nazi
    Party. Hitler proved to be such a powerful public speaker and organizer that he quickly became the party’s leader. In his book Mein Kampf [My Struggle], Hitler set forth the basic beliefs of
    Nazism that became the plan of action for the Nazi Party.
  • Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy

    Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy
    stressed nationalism and placed the interests of the state above those of individuals; establishing a totalitarian regime in Italy, where unemployment and inflation produced bitter strikes, some communist-led; played on the fears of economic collapse and communism
  • Joseph Stalin's totalitarian government in the Soviet Union

    Joseph Stalin's totalitarian government in the Soviet Union
    Stalin focused on creating a model communist state. In so doing, he made both agricultural and industrial growth the prime economic goals of the Soviet Union. Stalin abolished all privately owned farms and replaced them with collectives—large government-owned farms, each worked by hundreds of families.
  • Mein Kampf

    Mein Kampf
    Hitler set forth the basic beliefs of Nazism that became the plan of action for the Nazi Party. Hitler, who had been born in Austria, dreamed of uniting all German-speaking people in a great German empire.
  • Japanese invasion of Manchuria

    Japanese invasion of Manchuria
    Nationalistic military leaders were trying to take control of the imperial government of Japan. These leaders and Hitler all believed in the need for more living space for a growing population. Ignoring the protests of more moderate Japanese officials, the militarists launched a surprise attack and seized control of the Chinese province of Manchuria. Within several months, Japanese troops controlled the entire province and it was rich in natural resources.
  • storm troopers

    storm troopers
    Hitler's private army that contained men who were out of work
  • Third Reich

    Third Reich
    Once in power, Hitler quickly dismantled Germany’s democratic Weimar Republic. In its place he established the Third Reich, or Third German Empire. According to Hitler, the Third Reich would be a “Thousand-Year Reich”—it would last for a thousand years.
  • Hitler's military build-up in Germany

    Hitler's military build-up in Germany
    The failure of the League of Nations to take action against Japan did not escape the notice of Europe’s dictators. In 1933, Hitler pulled Germany out of the League. In 1935, he began a military
    buildup in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia

    Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia
    His first target was Ethiopia, one of Africa’s few remaining independent countries. By the fall of 1935, tens of thousands of Italian soldiers stood ready to advance on Ethiopia. When the invasion began, however, the League’s response was an ineffective economic boycott—little more than a slap on Italy’s wrist. By May 1936, Ethiopia had fallen.
  • Hitler invades the Rhineland

    Hitler invades the Rhineland
    he sent troops into the Rhineland, a German region bordering France and Belgium that was demilitarized as a result of the Treaty of Versailles
  • Francisco Franco

    Francisco Franco
    a group of Spanish army officers led by General Francisco Franco,
    rebelled against the Spanish republic. Revolts broke out all over Spain, and the Spanish Civil War began. The war aroused passions not only in Spain but throughout the world.
  • Hitler's Anschluss

    Hitler's Anschluss
    The majority of Austria’s 6 million people were Germans who favored unification with Germany. On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria unopposed. A day later, Germany announced that its Anschluss, or “union,” with Austria was complete.
  • Rome-Berlin Axis

    Rome-Berlin Axis
    The war forged a close relationship between the German and Italian dictators, who signed a formal alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.
  • Munich Agreement

    Munich Agreement
    Both France and Great Britain promised to protect Czechoslovakia. Hitler then invited French premier Édouard Daladier and British prime minister Neville Chamberlain to meet with him in Munich. When they arrived, the führer declared that the annexation of the Sudetenland would be his “last territorial demand.” In their eagerness to avoid war, Daladier and Chamberlain chose to believe him. They signed the Munich Agreement, which turned the Sudetenland over to Germany without war.
  • Phony War

    Phony War
    On the Siegfried Line a few miles away German troops stared back. The blitzkrieg had given way to what the Germans called the sitzkrieg (“sitting war”), and what some newspapers referred to as the phony war.
  • Nonaggression pact

    Nonaggression pact
    As tensions rose over Poland, Stalin surprised everyone by signing a nonaggression pact with Hitler. Once bitter enemies, Germany and communist Russia now committed never to attack each other.
  • Blitzkrieg

    The German Luftwaffe, or German air force, roared over Poland, rain bases, airfields, railroads, and cities. Simultaneously, German tanks raced across the Polish countryside, spreading terror and confusion. This invasion was the first test of Germany’s newest military strategy, the blitzkrieg (lightning war). Blitzkrieg made use of advances in military technology, like fast tanks and more powerful aircraft, to take the enemy by surprise then quickly crush all opposition with overwhelming force.
  • Britain and France declare war on Germany

    Britain and France declare war on Germany
    The blitzkrieg tactics worked perfectly. Major fighting was over in three weeks, long before France, Britain, and their allies could mount a defense. In the last week of fighting, the Soviet Union attacked Poland from the east, grabbing some of its territory. The portion Germany annexed in western Poland contained almost two-thirds of Poland’s population. By the end of the month, Poland had ceased to exist—and World War II had begun.
  • Hitler's invasion of the Netherlands

    Hitler's invasion of the Netherlands
    planned to build bases along the coasts to strike at Great Britain
  • Germany and Italy's invasion of France

    Germany and Italy's invasion of France
    A few days later, Italy entered the war on the side of Germany and invaded France from the south as the Germans closed in on Paris from the north. On June 22, 1940, at Compiègne, as William Shirer and the rest of the world watched, Hitler handed French officers his terms of surrender.
  • The Battle of Britain

    The Battle of Britain
    Germany began to assemble an invasion fleet along the French coast. Because its naval power could not compete with Britain's, Germany also launched an air war. The Luftwaffe began making bombing runs over Britain. Its goal was to gain total control of the
    skies by destroying Britain’s Royal Air Force. Hitler had 2,600 planes at his disposal. Night after night, German planes pounded British targets. At first the Luftwaffe concentrated on airfields and aircraft.
    Next it targeted cities.
  • Hitler's invasion of Denmark and Norway

    Hitler's invasion of Denmark and Norway
    Hitler launched a surprise invasion of Denmark and Norway in order “to protect [those countries’] freedom and independence.” But in truth, Hitler planned to build bases along the coasts to strike at Great Britain.
  • Marshal Philippe Petain

    Marshal Philippe Petain
    Germans would occupy the northern part of France, and a Nazi-controlled puppet government, headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain, would be set up at Vichy, in southern France.
  • Lend-Lease Act

    Lend-Lease Act
    the president would lend or lease arms and other supplies to “any country whose defense was vital to the United States.”
  • The Manhattan Project

    The Manhattan Project
    In 1941, the committee reported that it would take from three to five years to build an atomic bomb. Hoping to shorten that time, the OSRD set up an intensive program in 1942 to develop a bomb as quickly as possible. Because much of the early research was performed at Columbia University in Manhattan, the Manhattan Project became the code name for research work that extended
    across the country.
  • Pearl Harbor attack

    Pearl Harbor attack
    a Japanese dive-bomber swooped low over Pearl Harbor— the largest U.S. naval base in the Pacific. The bomber was followed by
    more than 180 Japanese warplanes launched from six aircraft carriers. As the first Japanese bombs found their targets, a radio operator flashed this message: “Air raid on Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill.” For an hour and a half, the Japanese planes were barely disturbed by U.S. antiaircraft guns and blasted target after target.
  • internment

  • Operation Torch

    Operation Torch
    an invasion of Axis-controlled North Africa
  • Office of Price Administration

    Office of Price Administration
    As war production increased, there were fewer consumer products available for purchase. With demand increasing and supplies dropping, prices seemed likely to shoot upwards. Roosevelt responded to this by creating the Office of Price Administration. This fought inflation by freezing prices on most goods. Congress also raised income tax rates and extended the tax to millions of people who had never paid it before.
  • War Productions Board

    War Productions Board
    Besides controlling inflation, the government needed to ensure that the armed forces and war industries received the resources they needed to win the war. The War Production Board (WPB) assumed that responsibility. The WPB decided which companies would convert from peacetime to wartime production and allocated raw materials to key industries. The WPB also organized drives to collect
    scrap iron, tin cans, paper, rags, and cooking fat for recycling into war goods.
  • Battle of the Atlantic

    Battle of the Atlantic
    Hitler ordered submarine raids against ships along America’s east coast. The German aim was to prevent food and war materials from reaching Great Britain and the Soviet Union. Britain would be starved into submission. Unprotected American ships proved to be easy targets for the Germans. The Germans sank 87 ships off the Atlantic shore. Later, German wolf packs had destroyed 681 Allied ships in the Atlantic. The Allies responded by organizing their cargo ships into convoys.
  • U.S. convoy system

    U.S. convoy system
    The Allies responded by organizing their cargo ships into convoys: groups of ships traveling together for mutual protection, as they had done in the First World War. They were escorted across the Atlantic by destroyers equipped with sonar for detecting submarines underwater. They were also accompanied by airplanes that used radar to spot U-boats on the ocean’s surface. With this improved tracking, the Allies were able to find and destroy German Uboats faster than the Germans could build them.
  • Battle of Stalingrad

    Battle of Stalingrad
    Hitler wanted to wipe out Stalingrad. The German army approached Stalingrad. The Luftwaffe prepared the way with nightly bombing raids over the city. Nearly every wooden building in Stalingrad was set ablaze. The situation looked so desperate that Soviet officers in Stalingrad recommended abandoning the city and blowing up its factories. By the end of September, they controlled 9/10 of the city & closed around Stalingrad, trapping the Germans in & around the city & cutting off their supplies.
  • Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

    Women's Auxiliary Army Corps
    “There are innumerable duties now being performed by soldiers that can be done better by women,” Marshall said in support of a bill to
    establish the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. Under this bill, women volunteers would serve in noncombat positions
  • Unconditional surrender

    Unconditional surrender
    enemy nations would have to accept whatever terms of peace the Allies dictated
  • Korematsu vs. United States

    Korematsu vs. United States
    The Supreme Court decided, in Korematsu v. United States, that the government’s policy of evacuating Japanese Americans to camps was justified on the basis of “military necessity.”
  • Bloody Anzio

    Bloody Anzio
    Hitler was determined to stop the Allies in Italy rather than fight on German soil. One of the hardest battles the Allies encountered in Europe was fought less than 40 miles from Rome. This battle, “Bloody Anzio,” lasted four months—until the end of May 1944—and left about 25,000 Allied and 30,000 Axis casualties.
  • D-Day

    first day of the Allied invasion
  • The Battle of the Bulge

    The Battle of the Bulge
    Eight German tank divisions broke through weak American defenses along an 80-mile front. Hitler hoped that a victory would split American & British forces and break up Allied supply lines. Tanks drove 60 miles into Allied territory, creating a bulge in the lines that gave this desperate lastditch offensive its name. As the Germans went west, they captured 120 American GIs near Malmédy. Elite German troops herded the prisoners into a large field and mowed them down with machine guns and pistols.
  • Harry S. Truman

    Harry S. Truman
    nation's 33rd president
  • Death of Hitler

    Death of Hitler
    he wrote out his last address to the German people. In it he blamed the Jews for starting the war and his generals for losing it. “I die with a happy heart aware of the immeasurable deeds of our soldiers at the front. I myself and my wife choose to die in order to escape the disgrace of . . . capitulation,” he said. The next day Hitler shot himself
    while his new wife swallowed poison. In accordance with Hitler’s orders, the two bodies were carried outside, soaked with gasoline, and burned.
  • V-E Day

    V-E Day
    victory in Europe day