World War 2: The Final Crisis for European Global Dominance

The Phony War to Operation Barabossa (Jake Hodges, Hannah Wichmann, Christian Jones)

  • Several start dates for WWII depending on the background of the Historian.
    • Japanese invade Manchuria, 1931 (Chinese consider this the start date)
    • Italy invades Ethiopia, 1935 (North Africans consider this the start date)
    • Germany invades Poland, 1939 (Europeans consider this the start date)
    • Pearl Harbor, 1941 (Americans consider this the start date)
  • May 10, 1940 Hitler sends Blitzkrieg westward
    • Hitler conquered Norway & established a puppet gov't under Vidkun Quisling.
    • the destruction of Rotterdam, the first aerial European aerial bombardment to terrorize the population of a large city, forced the Dutch to surrender.
    • Belgium was able to hold out for awhile, but France fell.
    • France suffered over a quarter million casualties.
    • Lacked weapons and leadership for mechanized warfare.
  • WWII was the convergance of two different drives for empire (German and Japanese)
  • WWII pitted the expanding German and Japanese empires against the worldwide British empire.
  • Without the attacks on the U.S. and Russia, there is a chance that they would not have gotten involved
  • Turning Point in late 1942 when Russia and America get involved.
  • Even though the Axis powers were winning the majority of battles at the beginning of the war,, they made several bad mistakes, such as not defeating the British before declaring war on U.S.S.R. of America.
  • "Grand Alliance" forced together by uncoordinated Axis attacks
    • Britain, the Soviet Union, and the US
    • very strong - able to overpower the Axis powers consistently after 1942
  • Germany's defeat
    • Germany and subjugated Europe had been a match for Britain (plu troops from Canada, Austrialia, and New Zealand)
    • but Russian war destroyed Hiterl's armies and US gave priority to Germany's defeat made it certain
  • defeat of Japanese
    • after 1942 - Americans, Britain and allies pushed them back
    • 1945 - after Hitler's defeat - Soviet Union koined Japan's enemies - Japanese prospects became hopeless
  • Axis Powers failed to cooperate
    • did not mobilize home fronts effectively
    • Germany claimed to lead people ot Europe and Japan claimed to lead Asia - neither was able to mobilize the enthusiasm of a majority of the lands they overran
    • treated conquered people with cruelty and greed - inspired civilians to abandon passivity for active resistance
  • After WWII
    • revelations of Japanese and Nazi brutality kept alive sense that war had been fought for a just cause (unlike after WWI)
    • destroyed the power of Europe and the European-dominated global system
      • even Britain would soon grant independence to most of its Asian and African colonies because it was bankrupt and exhausted
      • Third World emerged - reluctant to subordinate themselves to the US or the USSR
  • WWII as the turning point of the 20th century
    • pressures of total war expanded the powers of governments, transformed societies, and revolutionized the economies of the world
    • atomic weapons developed
  • WAR!
    • German blitzkrieg: fast-moving masses of tanks, closely supported by aircraft
    • Poland - defeated quickly and occupied by USSR and Germany
    • Russians deported a million+ Poles to the east
    • defeat of Poland gave Germany and USSR a common border
    • Russia gained a strategic Baltic Sea coast by annexing Latvia, Lithuania , and Estonia (the three regions had declared independence after 1917 Russian revolution)

Operation Barbarossa (Allison Bailey)

  • Dec 1941-Hitler decides to invade Soviety Union and crush them quickly
  • failure to defeat England had reinforced Hitler's purpose of expanding German "living space" at Soviet expense
  • Crushing Russia was only way to ensure that Stalin didn't change signs
  • June 22 1941- 4 million Germans invade Soviet frontier in Operation Barbarossa
  • Within 3 weeks, they were two-thirds of the way to Moscow
  • Stalin was unprepared, retreated
  • Winter came, stopping Germans 20 miles from Moscow
  • Stalin counterattacked with troops transferred from Siberia, where they had been gaurding against Japanese attack-Soviet spies assured Stalin that Japanese would honor the nonaggression pact
  • If Axis had coordinated and Japan had attacked, Stalin would have been forced to fight on two fronts
  • Japanese, to the extent they listened to Hitler, agreed that they should attack the U.S.
  • Churchill pledges all-out support to Soviet Union when Germany invades-Churchill was an anti-communist, but he understood mutual interest dictated Allied cooperation-Axis had no such commitment-Pearl Harbor surprised Japanese allies
  • Their Finest Hour (Morgan Grain)
  • Within a few short weeks of Hitler's initial attacks, Britain was the only country left to defend Europe.
  • Winston Churchill became prime minister. Became leader because he opposed appeasement of Hitler in the 1930's. He knew that they were the last obstacle in Germany's way to European dominance.
  • Battle of Britain—Summer 1940, Hitler's luftwaffe bombed London. (Bad mistake) because Londoners could continue with regular lifestyle despit nightly bombings. Britain's Royal Air Force was too much for the luftwaffe, and Hitler "postponed" their British invasion. Hitler's de;ay gave Britain time to find an all. Hitler now had to reconsider his plans, and his level of unpreparedness was evident in his "loss" against defeating Britain.

The Japanese Bid for Empire and the US Reaction, 1941-1942 (Nathan Shanor, Alex Terry, Walker Smith, Leah Myers, Deja Moss)

  • By the 1930's, Japan makes first successful non western empire in the 20th century

- Cultural roots (Bushido, emperor worship)

  • Japan has particular motivations for empire building

- Over populated islands
- Few resources
- Hit hard by Great Depression

  • Attacks China in 1931

- Terrible cruelty inflicted on China
- Rape of Nanking (1937)
- Quarter million killed in 6 weeks
- Civilians used for bayonet practice

  • Massive Nationalism/ National Superiority complex

- Felt humiliated by nations that they felt were racially inferior
- Feeling heightened by American condemnation of Japanese attack on China

  • Japanese ambitions clashes with American open door policy
  • 1940 US embargo on weapons and scrap iron
  • 1941 Japan seizes French Indochina

- US expands embargo to oil and steel
- US says ban would be lifted if Japan leaves China
- Japan does not

Pearl Harbor

  • Shift of power in Japan
  • Embargo issue was not resolved
  • Japan did not consult Hitler before Pearl Harbor
  • War had three objectives:

- Break the stranglehold of embargo
- End interference with their conquest of China
- Build an overseas empire

  • December 7, 1914
  • Japan over-ran Hong Kong, the Dutch East Indies, Burma, and Malaya
  • Surrender of the base at Singapore dealt a lasting blow to the prestige of the British Empire in East Asia
  • May 1942- American and Filipino resistance ended in a surrender
  • US had cracked Japanese codes that told of an attack occurring somewhere
  • Some believe that Roosevelt deliberately allowed the attack so that support for the war

The End of US Isolation

  • Pearl Harbor made the US’s foreign policy decisions simplified.
  • Prior to Pearl Harbor, the US hadn’t needed to adjust foreign policy to the necessities of the balance of power.
  • Americans were more likely to judge other countries in moral terms than terms of power.
    • The US should help “good” countries and oppose “bad” ones.
  • The feeling that the US had been led into WWI under false pretenses reinforced isolationism.
  • Congress had passed a series of neutrality acts to prevent involvement in foreign wars that could justify intervention.
  • To keep isolation, Roosevelt proclaimed US neutrality in 1939.
  • Due to neutrality, US could only trade Britain 50 obsolescent US destroyers for 99 year leases on 6 British bases in the West.
  • In the spring of 1941, polls showed that 1 in 5 Americans favored entering the war.
  • Foreigners began to purchase arms from the US on a "cash-and-carry" basis.
  • The Lend-Lease Act is passed, allowing Roosevelt to lend and lease anything he wanted to the British, but restricted US ships from combat zones.
  • In August 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter at sea, which promoted self-determination.
  • US warships were attacked by German subs as they escorted convoys to Britain.
  • Roosevelt still did not declare war on Germany, even after Pearl Harbor.
  • Germany aligned with Japan, however, did put the US and Germany at war.

Turning Points, 1942 (Alexz Craddock, Jesse Kirlin, Isaac Ordway, Rebecca Purser, Diem-Anh Vo)

  1. Pearl Harbor marked "Grand Alliance" between Britain and the US because Churchill knew he could count on support from the US
    • This lead to Axis losing battles in Pacific Jungles
    • Axis losing battles in North Africa
    • Axis losing battles in Russia and North Atlantic
  2. Japanese Momentum-Japanese were somewhat "on a roll" with their victories in Australia, Sri Lanka, etc. However, turning point occurred with:
  • Coral Sea-US blocked attack on Australia
  • Midway-US repelled fleet from Hawaii
  • Guadal Canal-US victory in Soloman Islands
  1. Conflicts with Germany- British drove Germans out of El Alameain, Egypt. they were forced to surrender in Tunisia in 1943 when caught between British and American forces. However, Hitler ordered occupation of France. This lead to:
  • destroyed illusion of Vichy's regime's independence
  • French realization that French regime was only independent in North Africa
  1. Turning point in Soviet Union
  • November 1942: battle of Stalingrad
    • Hitler refused to retreat; he lost 500,000 men in 3 months
    • Soviet advanced until reaching Berlin
  1. Turning point in Atlantic sea lanes
  • Churchill's real threat: German submarine campaign against ocean convoys
    • dreaded "the hammer" (torpedo)
    • Britain had lost a third of tits prewar merchant tonnage
  • by late 1942: Americans were building ships faster than Germans could sink them
  • British deployed more escorts and wider-ranger aircraft, perfected submarine detection by underwater radar
    • destroyed 41 submarines in March 1943

The Mediterranean Theatre, Page 227 (Alexander Hoare)
~Failures of Mussolini provoked the first dispersions of Germany’s strength
~September 1940, Duce struck from Libya, Italy’s North African colony, in Egypt against the British
~October 1940, Duce invades Greece
~Both the British and the Greeks push the Italians back effectively
~Hitler did not coordinate plans in the Mediterranean theatre with the Italians effectively.
~Hitler had to send troops to help the Italian forces so allied troops did not use the Mediterranean sea to push up through Europe’s underbelly
~Spring 1941, German troops overrun North Africa and aided the Italians
~Spring 1941, Germany takes over Greece and Yugoslavia
~Hitler did not adequately supply his troops in North Africa
~The Balkan campaign delayed Germany’s attack of the USSR by 5 weeks.

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