SECTION 1: Mobilizing for Defense
After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, they
thought America would avoid further conflict
The Japan Times newspaper said America
was “trembling in their shoes”
But if America was trembling, it was with
rage, not fear.
After Pearl Harbor 5 million Americans
enlisted to fight in the war.
The Selective Service expanded the draft and
eventually provided an additional 10 million
Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall
pushed for the formation of the Women’s
Auxiliary Army Corps. (WAAC)
Under this program women worked in non-
combat roles such as nurses, ambulance
drivers, radio operators, electricians, and
Despite discrimination at home, minority
populations contributed to the war effort.
1,000,000 African Americans
300,000 Mexican Americans
33,000 Japanese Americans
25,000 Native Americans
13,000 Chinese Americans
served in the military. Read 564.
Americans converted their
auto industry into a war
The nation’s automobile
plants began to produce
tanks, planes, boats, and
Many other industries also
converted to war-related
By 1944, nearly 8
million workers were
laboring in war
industries . (3X the #
More than 6 million of
these were women
and nearly two
million were minority
In 1941, FDR created the Office of
Scientific Research and Development
(OSRD) to bring scientists into the war
Focus was on radar and sonar to
Also scientists worked on penicillin
and pesticides like DDT.
The most important achievement of the
OSRD was the development of the atomic
Einstein wrote to FDR warning him that the
Germans were attempting to develop such a
The code used to describe American efforts
to build the bomb was the “Manhattan
Increased war production - decreased
With prices of goods threatening to rise out
of control, FDR responded by creating the
Office of Price Administration (OPA).
The OPA froze prices on most goods and
encouraged the purchase of war bonds to
Congress raised tax rates and extended the
tax to millions of people who had never paid
To ensure the troops had ample resources,
FDR created the War Production Board.(WPB)
The WPB decided which companies would
convert from peacetime to wartime
production and allocated raw materials to
The WPB also organized nationwide drives to
collect scrap iron, tin cans, paper, rags, and
cooking fat for recycling into war goods.
Additionally, the OPA set up a system of
Households had set allocations of scarce
goods – gas, meat, shoes, sugar, coffee, and
Most Americans accepted rationing as their
contribution to the war effort.
Workers carpooled or rode bicycles.
Families coped with shortages of everything
from tires to toys.
Some chose to buy items from the black
Days after Pearl Harbor, British Prime
Minister Winston Churchill arrived at the
White House and spent three weeks working
out war plans with FDR.
They decided on defeating Hitler first and
then turn their attention to Japan.
After America’s entry into the war, Hitler was
determined to prevent food and war supplies
from reaching Britain and the USSR from
America’s east coast.
Hitler ordered submarine raids on U.S. ships
along America’s east coast.
During the first four months of 1942 Germany
sank 87 U.S. ships.
In the first seven months of 1942, German
wolf packs sank 681 Allied ships in the
Something had to be done or the war at sea
would be lost.
First, Allies used convoys of ships &
destroyers to transport supplies
Destroyers used sonar to track U-boats.
Airplanes were used to track the U-boats on
the ocean’s surface.
With this improved tracking, Allies inflicted
huge losses on German U-boats.
Hitler wanted to wipe out Stalingrad – a
major industrial center.
The Germans had been fighting in the Soviet
Union 6/41 – 11/41.
Cold stopped them outside of Moscow and
Leningrad. They waited for spring.
In the summer of 1942, the Germans took the
offensive in the southern Soviet Union.
By the winter of 1943, the Allies began to see
victories on land as well as sea.
The first great turning point was the Battle
Stalingrad was bombed nightly by the
Luftwaffe. Nearly every wooden building
was burned down.
Stalin ordered that the city be defended no
matter what the cost.
For weeks the Germans pressed in on
Germans conquered Stalingrad house by
house using hand-to-hand combat.
By September, Germans controlled 9/10 of
Then winter set in and the Germans were
wearing summer uniforms.
The Soviets surrounded Stalingrad with tanks
and cut off German supplies.
Hitler said “Stay and fight! I won’t go back
from the Volga.”
January 31, 1943, the German commander
2 days later, his starving troops also surrendered.
The Soviets lost 1,100,000 soldiers
defending Stalingrad. This was more than
twice the number of deaths the U.S.
suffered in all the war.
“Operation Torch” – an invasion of Axis –
controlled North Africa – was launched by
American General Dwight D. Eisenhower in
Allied troops landed in Casablanca, Oran,
and the Algiers in Algeria.
They sped eastward chasing the Afrika
Corps led by General Erwin Rommel.
May 1943, the last of the Africa Korps
Roosevelt, Churchill, and their commanders
met in Casablanca to determine their next
1) Plan massive invasions of France and Italy.
2) Only unconditional surrender of the Axis
The Italian Campaign got off to a good start
as the Allies easily took Sicily in the summer
The Italian government forced dictator
Benito Mussolini to resign.
At that point King Emmanuel stripped
Mussolini of his power and had him arrested.
Read page 573.
However, Hitler’s forces continued to resist
the Allies in Italy.
“Bloody Anzio” – one of the hardest battles
the Allies encountered.
Fought less than 40 miles from Rome.
Lasted 4 months.
25,000 Allied casualites
30,000 Axis caualties.
Heated battles ensued and it wasn’t until
1945 that Italy was secured by the Allies.
Among the brave men who fought in Italy
were pilots of the all-black 99th Pursuit
Squadron – the Tuskagee Airmen.
The pilots made numerous effective strikes
against Germany and won two distinguished
Buffaloes – Another African-American unit to
92nd Infantry Division.
In 6 months of fighting they won 7 Legion of
Merit Awards, 65 Silver Stars, and 162 Bronze
Stars for courage under fire.
17 Mexican American soldiers were awarded
the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Company E of the 141st Regiment, 36th
Division – became one of the most decorated
of the war.
Even as the Allies were battling for Italy, they
began plans on a dramatic invasion of
It was known as “Operation Overlord” and
the commander was American General
Also called “D-Day”, the operation involved 3
million U.S., Canadian, & British troops and
was set for June 6, 1944.
D-Day was the largest land-sea-air operation
Shortly after midnight –
3 divisions parachuted down behind German
Followed the next morning by thousands of
Despite air support, German retaliation was
brutal – especially at Omaha Beach.
Within a month, the Allies had landed 1
million troops, 567,000 supplies and 170,000
General Omar Bradley – unleashed massive
air and land bombardment against the enemy
at St. Lo.
Provided a gap in the German line in which
General George Patton and his Third Army could
By September 1944, the Allies had freed
France, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
That good news – and the American people’s
desire not to “change horses in midstream” –
helped elect FDR to an unprecedented fourth
In October 1944, Americans captured their
first German town (Aachen) – the Allies were
Hitler responded with one last ditch massive
Hitler hoped breaking through the Allied line
would break up Allied supply lines.
The battle raged for a month.
The Germans had been pushed back.
Little seemed to have changed, but in fact
the Germans had sustained heavy losses.
Germany lost 120,000 troops, 600 tanks, and
From that point on the Nazis could do little
While the British and Americans moved
westward into Germany, the Soviets moved
eastward into German-controlled Berlin.
The Soviets discovered many concentration
camps that the Germans had set up within
The Americans also liberated Nazi death
camps within Germany.
By April 25, 1945, the Soviet army had
In his underground headquarters in Berlin,
Hitler prepared for the end.
On April 29, he married his longtime
girlfriend Eva Braun.
He wrote a last note in which he blamed the
Jews for starting the war and his generals for
They next day he gave poison to his wife, his
dog, and then shot himself.
General Eisenhower accepted the
unconditional surrender of the Third Reich.
On May 8, 1945, the Allies celebrated V-E
Day- victory in Europe Day.
The war in Europe was finally over.
President Roosevelt did not live to see V-E
On April 12, 1945, he suffered a stroke and
died – his VP Harry S. Truman became the
nation’s 33rd president.
The Americans did not celebrate long, as
Japan was busy conquering an empire that
dwarfed Hitler’s Third Reich.
Japan had conquered much of southeast
Pacific including the Dutch East Indies,
Guam, and most of China.
4/18/42 – Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle
led 16 bombers on a daring raid on Tokyo and
other Japanese cities.
Headlines read “Tokyo Bombed! Doolittle
This dampened spirits in Japan and lifted
them in the U.S.
The main Allied forces in the Pacific were
Americans and Australians.
In May 1942 they succeeded in stopping the
Japanese drive toward Australia in the five-
day Battle of the Coral Sea.
For the first time since Pearl Harbor, the
Japanese invasion had been stopped and
Japan’s next thrust was toward Midway –
A strategic island northwest of Hawaii.
Admiral Chester Nimitz, the commander of
American naval forces in the Pacific, moved
to defend the island.
The Americans won a decisive victory as their
planes destroyed 4 aircraft carriers, a
cruiser, and 250 planes.
The Battle of Midway was turning point in
Soon the Allies were island hopping toward
First Allied offensive 8/1942
19,000 troops stormed Guadalcanal in the
Guadalcanal was Japan’s 1st defeat on land.
The Americans continued their offensive
across the Pacific toward Japan.
Led by General MacArthur.
Japanese countered by employing a new
tactic – Kamikaze attacks.
Kamikaze attacks – Japanese pilots crashed
their bomb-laden planes into Allied ships.
424 kamikaze pilots went on suicide
missions, sinking 16 ships and damaging
The Battle of Leyte Gulf was a disaster for
Lost 3 battleships, 4 aircraft carriers, 13 cruisers,
and almost 500 planes.
General MacArthur and the Allies next turned
to the Island of Iwo Jima.
The island was critical to the Allies as a base
from which heavily loaded bombers might
It was called the most heavily defended spot
Allied and Japanese forces suffered heavy
In April 1945, U.S. marines invaded Okinawa.
The Japanese unleashed 1,900 kamikaze
attacks sinking 30 ships and killing 5,000
Okinawa cost the Americans 7,600 marines
and the Japanese 110,000 soldiers.
Play at 5:32
After Okinawa, Mac Arthur predicted that a
Normandy type amphibious invasion of Japan
would result in thousands of Allied deaths.
President Truman saw only one way to avoid
an invasion of Japan.
General Leslie Groves
Leader of the Manhattan Project
J. Robert Oppenheimer –
American scientist involved in the Manhattan
Best kept secret of the war.
Truman did not even know about it until he
July 16, 1945 – 1st test of the bomb in
Alamogordo, New Mexico.
July 25, 1945, Truman ordered the military
to make final plans for dropping two atomic
bombs on Japanese targets.
Truman warned Japan 7/26/45 that without
an immediate Japanese surrender, it faced
“prompt and utter destruction.”
On August 6, a B-29 bomber named Enola
Gay released an atomic bomb, Little Boy,
43 seconds later almost every building in the
city collapsed into dust.
Japan refused to surrender.
3 days later, a second bomb, Fat Man, was
dropped on Nagasaki.
The city was leveled.
200,000 people died.
Emperor Hirohito was horrified by the
destruction and did not want his people to
suffer any more.
9/2/45 - Japan surrendered aboard the U.S.
battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
In February 1945, as the Allies pushed toward
victory in Europe, an ailing FDR met with
Churchill and Stalin at the Black Sea resort of
Yalta in the Soviet Union.
They were called “The Big Three”
A series of compromises were worked out
concerning postwar Europe.
1) They agreed to divide Germany into 4
occupied zones after the war.
2) Stalin agreed to “free and unfettered”
elections in Eastern Europe.
3) Stalin agreed to join the U.S.in the war
against Japan and to join the United Nations.
The discovery of Hitler’s death camps led the
Allies to put 24 surviving Nazi leaders on trial
for crimes against humanity, crimes against
peace, and war crimes.
The trials were held in Nuremberg, Germany.
“I was only following orders” was not an
acceptable defense as 12 of the 24 were
sentenced to death, and the others to life in
Japan was occupied by U.S. forces under the
command of General Douglas MacArthur.
During the seven year occupation, MacArthur
reshaped Japan’s economy by introducing
free-market economy practices that led to a
remarkable economic recovery.
Additionally, he introduced a liberal
constitution that to this day is called the
The war provided a boost to the U.S.
Jobs were abundant and despite rationing
and shortages, people had money to spend.
By the end of the war, America was the
world’s dominant economic and military
Unemployment fell to only 1.2 % by 1944 and
wages rose 35%.
Farmers benefited as production increased
and income tripled.
Women enjoyed economic gains during the
war, although many lost their jobs after the
Over 6 million entered the work force for the
Over 1/3 of those were in defense plants.
The war created opportunities for women
boosting the % in the workforce to 35%.
The war triggered the greatest mass
migrations in U.S. history.
More than a million newcomers poured into
California between 1941-1944.
African Americans again shifted from south
To help returning servicemen ease back into
civilian life, Congress pass the Serviceman’s
Adjustment Act. (GI Bill of Rights).
The act provided for education for about 7.8
When the war began, 120,000 Japanese
Americans lived in the U.S. – mostly on the
After Pearl Harbor, many people were
suspicious of possible spy activity by
In 1942, FDR ordered Japanese Americans
into 10 relocation centers.
In the late 1980’s President Reagan signed
into law a bill that provided $20,000 to every
Japanese American sent to a relocation
The checks were sent out in 1990 along with
a note from President Bush saying “We can
never fully right the wrongs of the past….we
now recognize that serious wrongs were done
to Japanese Americans during WWII.”
Nearly 59 years after the end of World War II,
the National World War II Memorial was
dedicated in Washington D.C., on Saturday,
May 29, 2004, to honor the many Americans
who died in the conflict.