World War II: 70 Years Later
We witness more than 70 years since the end of World War II. WWII changed the world politically, economically, technologically, and socially. We learn a lot of lessons from that war from how cruel humanity can be and how courage humans can be as well. A lot of people love to research information about World War 2 too. Tons of books, documentaries, and speeches have been made about this brutal war. Now, with events going on in America, Russia, and China, we must reflect on WWII in a higher level. This war involved more than 100 million people and from over 30 countries. The war was the deadliest conflict in human history with about 50-85 million human beings who died from the conflict. It was the first war where 2 nuclear weapons were used in overt combat. It lasted from 1939 to 1945. Yet, the war originated from events long before 1939. After WWI, Germany had to pay huge reparations. Germany was defeated in WWI along with the Ottoman Empire. In essence, WWI caused Germany to be defeated not only politically, but economically. The Young Plan forced Germany to pay U.S. $26,350,000,000 to be paid over a period of 58.5 years. It replaced the earlier Dawes Plan. This caused an economic collapse in Germany with high inflation. The League of Nations failed, because the League had lax enforcement and the world was divided on its portions and other parts of its rules. By 1929, the Great Depression existed in America with the Wall Street Crash.
To know about World War II, there should be information about the famous personages involved in it. Here are the following people that were involved in World War II. This list doesn't show everyone involved in WWII, but it outlines many of the famous people that scholars have wrote about for decades. Here are these people:
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: He was the 32nd President of the United States of America during the war. He has shown great leadership, and he passed the progressive New Deal. Also, he allowed many strategies that would cause the victory of the Allied powers. He passed away in April of 1945.
Winston Churchill: He was the famous Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was more aggressive in trying to allow America to join the Allied cause. He was successful. He agreed with FDR on most issues, but they did had disagreements on the Atlantic Charter, on imperialism, and on the Soviet Union. After the war, Churchill would be a great enemy of the Soviet Union and communism in general. His Iron Curtain speech in Missouri would outline his disdain for Communism. Churchill won the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature for his many books on England and world history.
President Harry Truman: During the war, he was Vice President at first. Later, he became President after Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away. As the 33rd President of the United States of America, he would be very aggressive towards the Soviets and he would support the Cold War ideal of containment.
Joseph Stalin: He was the famous, controversial leader of the Soviet Union. He wasn’t perfect, but he courageously led Soviet armies to defeat the evil Nazi Empire. During World War II, he allied with Roosevelt and Churchill. He was more friendly with Roosevelt than with Churchill. He passed away in 1953.
Vyacheslav Molotov: He was a Soviet politician who worked with Stalin on various agreements with the Allied Powers.
General Georgi Konstantionovich Zhukov: He was one of the greatest and courageous Soviet generals during World War II. He was very successful in his military actions against the evil Nazi Empire. He was one of the greaetst war generals in history.
General George Patton: He was a famous General who led invasions of Sicily and Western Europe. He passed away in December 21, 1945 after he had an automobile accident. We know about books and other historians like Robert Wilcox who say that the OSS was involved in the accident, which caused General George Patton to pass away.
Chiang Kai-Shek: He wa s the Chinese leader of the National Party of the Republic of China or KMT (Kuomintang). He was the disciliple and brother in law of the nationalist Sun Yat-sen. His forces engaged the Japanese occupiers in China. After WWII, he was involved in a civil war with Mao’s Communist forces. The Communists won the civil war and Chiang including his followers went into Taiwan where he called himself President of Taiwan. He passed away in 1975.
Charles de Gaulle: He was a French general and he fought the Vichy government. He worked with the French resistance movement and he was the President of the provisional government from October 1945 and he resigned in January 1946. He would serve as Premier of France after the War.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower: He was the famous U.S. Army General who held the position of the Supreme Allied commander in Europe among many others. He planned the Operation Overload, which related to the Allied invasion of Europe or D-Day. After WWII, Eisenhower became even more popular in America. He was elected to two terms as U.S. President. He took office in 1953 and he became a Republican President.
General Montgomery: He was the Commander of the British Eighth Army in the North African campaign. He defeated Erwin Rommel’s forces and Erwin was forced to retreat from Egypt after the Second Battle of E Alamein. Under Eisenhower’s command, he successfully led the Allied invasion of Sicily of 1943. He was involved in commanding the ground forces during the Normandy landings.
General Douglals MacArthur: He was the famous American general who had a leading role in Asia during and after World War II. He was the son of General Arthur MacArthur, who was involved in the Civil War. Douglas MacArthur took back the Philippines from Japan forces in October 1944. After WWII, led an UN coalition to fight North Korea during the Korean war. He was fired by Harry Truman since MacArthur wanted to attack China as a way to end the war more quickly, but Truman feared that this action would cause WWIII. MacArthur would speak and continue to work his private life until his passing in 1964.
Admiral Chester Nimitz: He was the famous Commander in Chief of the Pacific Forces of the United States and the Allied Forces during World War II. He hauled down his flag at Pearl Harbor on November 26, 1945. He passed away on February 20, 1966.
General Curtis LeMay: He was the commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 21st Bomber Command in the Pacific Theater during WWII. He was known for creating the strategy of using massive incendiary bomb attack on Japanese cities in order to break the Japanese will near the end of the war. Civilians died by his attacks and he was a notorious war criminal and reactionary.
Adolf Hitler: He was the evil Fuhrer or leader of Nazi Germany. He was complicit in so many evils and he was a liar, a racist, and a murderer. He was very successful during the beginning of the war, but he was defeated. He committed suicide.
General Hideki Tojo: He was the Prime Minister of Japan from October 1941 to July of 1944. Tojo was an aggressive General. He tried to improve relations between Japan and America, but he failed. He ordered the attack on Pearl Habor. Tojo resigned when he knew that Japan was going to lose the war. Tojo was executed after the war for his responsibility to Japan’s war crimes.
Benito Mussolini: Being the prime Minister of Italy from 1922, he was a dictator. He was a fascist and he was a member of the Axis Powers. He hated socialism and communism. He wanted strict nationalism and he executed aggressive militarism. He was overthrown in 1943 and in April of 1945, Communist Resistance units executed Mussolini.
Hermann Goering: He was the commander of the Luftwaffe or the German Air Force. He was an early member of the Nazi party.
Heinrich Himmler: He was the leader of the SS or the Schutzstaffel. The SS was Hitler’s personal bodyguard group. Himmler caused the SS to be the paramilitary group of the Third Reich. He was a racist and he died by suicide.
Karl Doenitz: He was the leader of the German U-Boat campaign during World War II.
Iosroku Yamamoto: He was the Japanese Navy admiral who planned the suprirse attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the attack on Midway on 1942.
The Beginning and Invasions
The start of World War II existed via international events. The rise of Hitler was filled with evil and deception. Adolf Hitler would be the leader of the National Socialist or Nazi Party in July 1921. The Nazi Party had nothing to do with socialism as the Nazis hated socialists and killed them. The Nazis hated labor rights and promoted anti-worker policies. On early November 1921, Hitler was involved in the Beer Hall Putsch. This was when Hitler and the Nazis tried to overthrow the German government. They had a shootout with the German police and Hitler’s bodyguard Ulrich Graf saved his life by shielding Hitler with his body. Hitler left the Nazis behind. He hid in the Hanfstaengls’ attic. The police arrested Hitler and they arrested Ludendorff too. This was a huge blow to the Nazi movement, but the Nazis made a serious comeback. Hitler’s evil book Mein Kampf or “My Struggle” was published in July 18, 1925. Anti-Semitism, racism, and other lies are found in that despicable book. Also, Mussolini of Italy grew in power by the 1920's. In 1929, the Papacy signed the Lateran Treaty with Benito Mussolini. It recognized the Vatican as an independent state, with Prime Minister Benito Mussolini agreeing to give the church financial support in return for public support from the pope at the time. Under the Lateran Pact, Vatican City was granted independent statehood and placed under Church law—rather than Italian law—and the Catholic religion was recognized as Italy's state religion. The Catholic Church also regained authority over marriage, Catholicism could be taught in all secondary schools, birth control and Freemasonry were banned, and the clergy received subsidies from the state, and was exempted from taxation. Pope Pius XI praised Mussolini, and the official Catholic newspaper pronounced: "Italy has been given back to God and God to Italy."
The Japanese Empire wanted control over resources in other nations. In September 18, 1931, the Japanese Empire staged a false flag bombing against a Japanese owned railroad in the Chinese region of Manchuria blaming Chinese dissidents for the attack (which wasn’t the case). This was the Mukden Incident. Later, the Japanese invaded Manchuria. This started the trend towards WWII. In other words, invasions would cause a domino effect of more conflicts until international war develops. During this time from 1932 to 1933, the Soviet Union experienced a famine. The Japanese Empire soon conquered China. First, they ruled Manchuria and created a puppet state called Manchukuo. The Japanese Empire followed autocratic fascism like Franco did in Spain.
Mussolini and the Catholic Church would have more disagreements as time went on. He or Mussolini would confiscate Catholic newspapers. Mussolini publicly reconciled with the Pope Pius XI in 1932. In 1938, he again expressed anti-clericalism. In July 1938, when Mussolini introduced the Charter of Race, it took away the Italian Jewish people the right of Italian nationality. Italian Jewish people were not allowed to teach, they were not allowed to have state jobs, they were not allowed to be in the Fascist Party (though a number had since 1922) and no Jewish person could work for a bank or insurance company. Jewish human beings were forbidden from marrying non-Jewish Italians and they were not allowed to join the army. These laws were so unpopular that the pope sent a letter of protest to Mussolini. Throughout his life, the dictator Mussolini would never had complete agreement with the Papacy on all issues.
Germany, by the 1930's, was desperate for solutions. In Germany in 1932, Paul von Hindenburg was reelected President of Germany. He defeated Adolf Hitler (who was in WWI) in a runoff election. This happened in April 10, 1932. Later, on May 30, Chancellor of Germany Heinrich Bruning resigned. Bruning faced a massive economic recession in Germany. The problem with Heinrich Bruning was that he responded to the Depression in Germany with the tightening of credit and a rollback of all salary and wage increases. This increased unemployment, a loss of tax revenue, and it caused him to be very unpopular. He instituted presidential emergency decrees without approval of the Reichstag. Heinrich Bruning resigned, because of the austerity policies that he made.
President von Hindenburg asked Franz von Papen (who was a Knight of Malta) to form a new government. Hermann Goring was elected chairman of the German Senate in August 30. Paul von Hindenburg talked to Hitler (he was anti-socialist and anti- communist. One common definition of fascists is their hatred of socialists and communists. The Nazis were anti-union too) about forming a new government and he named Kurt von Schleicher to be Chancellor of Germany. Germany has a massive recession, people are desperate for resources, and there is massive suffering. Unfortunately, the Nazis exploited the economic turmoil in Germany as an excuse for them to promote anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and other forms of bigotry. In 1933, Japan continued to invade China. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg. On February 27, 1933, the Berlin Reichstag fire came about. The fire started in the Session Chamber of the Reichstag building or the assembly location of the German Parliament. There was an alarm call that the building was on fire at 21:25. When the police and the firemen arrived, the main Chamber of Deputies was engulfed in flames.
The Reichstag was the seat of the German Parliament. The Dutch person Marinus van der Lubbe (who was mentally disturbed and he was an unemployed bricklayer) was arrested at the scene of the crime. Lubbe was classified as the sole culprit by the Nazis. Immediately, the Nazis blamed the KPD or the German Communist Party of doing the arson, which is totally false. In February 28, 1933 alone, just one day after the fire, thousands of persons active in, or allied with, the workers movement were arrested. The first to be arrested also included writers Egon Erwin Kisch, Ludwig Renn and Carl von Ossietzky, later murdered by the Nazis in a concentration camp. The Nazis slandered the progressives in Germany as responsible for the fire. We know that fascists hate progressives then and now. Historians and scholars recently believe that the Nazis had involvement in the Reichstag fire as a false flag operation in order for the Nazis to gain power in Germany. In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer wrote that at Nuremberg, General Franz Halder stated in an affidavit, that Hermann Göring boasted about setting the fire. Many German civil liberties are gone via the Reichstag Fire Decree.
On March 4, 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. Dachau or the first concentration camp of Germany was concentration would be created in the same year. Adolf Hitler becomes dictator of Germany in March 23, 1933 and he passed the Enabling Act which further violated human civil liberties. Jewish people boycotted German goods in response to the racism of Nazi Germany. Hitler outlaws trade unions on May 2. All non-Nazi parties are banned in Germany by June 21.
One of the most controversial events in human history was when the Papacy signed a concordat (or Reichshonkordat) in July 20, 1933. It was signed between Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen. Pacelli acted on behalf of Pope Pius XI and von Papen acted on behalf of President Paul von Hindenburg and the German government. It was ratified on September 10, 1933. The treaty guarantees the rights of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany. When bishops take office Article 16 states they're required to take an oath of loyalty to the Governor or President of the German established according to the Constitution. The treaty also requires all clergy to abstain from working in and for political parties. The Nazis obviously broke the agreement. Pope Pius XI outlined his encyclical from 1937 called Mit brenneder Sorge which condemned the breaches of the 1933 Reichskonkordat agreement signed between the German Reich and the Papacy. There have been historical debates on whether the Papacy supported the Nazis or not. The truth is in the between the two extremes. Many Catholics opposed the Nazis and were killed by the Nazis, but many Roman Catholics were involved in the Ratlines (like Krunoslav Stjepan Draganović) which allowed Nazis and other fascists to escape justice by some people sending them to South America, the USA, the Middle East, etc.
By the end of 1933, Jewish people, the homeless, alcoholics, and the unemployed were sent to Nazi concentration camps. 1934 saw the growth of these events. Germany and Poland signed a 10 year German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact. Heinrich Himmler is made leader of all German police forces by March 20. The Nazi SS and the Gestapo use the Night of Long Knives in Germany (back in June 30, 1934) to kill potential rivals within the Nazi Party like SA leader Ernst Rohm and many prominent anti-Nazi conservatives. President Paul von Hindenburg died and Adolf Hitler makes himself Fuhrer of Germany. He was the head of the State and the Chancellor by August 2, 1934.
The growth of fascism came about by many factors. Fascism is against human freedom and human justice. Fascism is about a system that allows policies to benefit select businesses and the rich elites. In essence, fascism is a form of totalitarian government with extreme nationalist tendencies whereby the government is controlled and operated for the benefit of a few elite. Fascism includes extreme exploitation, unbridled corporatism, the use of violence to maintain power, a cult like leader, extreme anti-socialism, extreme anti-communism, racism, and other anti-progressive views. Japan grew because of massive industrialization and the Emperor of Japan wanted the Empire of Japan to expand into Asia (thereby promoting the myth of Japanese racial superiority). Mussolini made no bones about his hatred of socialism and communism by his own words. Throughout the early 20th century, Mussolini fought socialist and communist groups all over Italy. So, Mussolini was a dedicated member of the reactionary fascist movement. The fascist Adolf Hitler exploited the economic turmoil in Europe as a means for him and his Nazi group to advance militarism, racism, anti-Semitism, and imperialism (in violation of international law).
In August 8, 1934, people from the Wehrmacht swore a personal oath of loyalty to Hitler instead of to the German constitution. Then, there was the Abyssinia Crisis. This started in December of 1934 when the imperialist Italians and the Ethiopian troops fight each other on the border of Ethiopia. America signed the Neutrality Act of 1935 that has a general embargo on trading in arms and war. It declared that American citizens traveling on ships of warring nations traveled at their own risk. In September 1935, the Reichstag passed the Nuremberg Laws. These laws introduce anti-Semitism in German legislation. On October 2, 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia, which started the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Ethiopia was soon occupied fully by May 5, 1936. Ethiopia would not gain independence until February 10, 1947. In 1936, Hitler promoted lies. He said to Arnold J. Toynbee that he just wanted limited expansionism of a greater German nation. In actuality, Hitler wanted to rule Europe, exterminate the Jewish people of Europe, and conquer the Earth. Germany hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics too. Hitler violated the Treaty of Versailles in March 7, 1936 by remilitarizing the Rhineland. Hitler grown the military of German by allowing Herman Goring to head the German Four Year Plan, which desired German self-sufficiency and increase armaments. Stalin on October of 1937 made the big mistake by executing the Great Purge, which was about the widespread suppression of suspected opponents of his regime. That purge also caused the death and the imprisonment of military of forces too, which weakened the Soviet Armed Forces ahead of WWII.
Germany hosted the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin on August 1. The Brother Jesse Owens won the 100 m race, which refuted the myth of white racial superiority. The Suiyan Campaign in November 14, 1936 was about Japanese-backed Mongolian troops attack the Chinese garrison at Hongort. Germany and the Japanese sign the Anti-Comintern Pact. This agreement from November 25, 1936 desired to attack the Soviets if the Soviets attack Germany of Japan. Hitler forced all males from 10 to 18 to join the Hitler Youth. In December 1, 1936, the Chinese Civil War ends temporarily, so the Chinese can fight the Japanese. During the late 1930’s, the Spanish Civil War continues. This war was about progressive forces (of Spain. Many liberals came to Spain to fight with the progressives) fighting the more fascist, nationalist forces of Spain.
Throughout the 1930’s and during the early 1940’s, isolationism was strong in America. This isolation movement was diverse back then. They were made up of pacifists, reactionary politicians, some progressives, conservative activists, and racists (like members of the American Bund). The isolationist movement radically decreased in their influence after the attack on Pearl Harbor during December 7, 1941. The isolationist movement grew after the Great Depression and the destruction caused by WWI. Americans didn’t want another war let along a war with such a viciousness and destruction of human life like WWI was. Isolationists didn’t want any direct or indirect involvement in European and Asian conflicts during the 1930’s and during the 1940’s. These activists took inspiration from the Farewell Address made by President George Washington who didn’t want involvement in European wars and politics. This sentiment has been expressed by the Monroe Doctrine. So, the isolationist movement was made up of sincere human beings with real concerns and it was made up of others were outright extremists and racists.
We do know that many Western capitalists aided the Third Reich economically. As one article from Edwin Black has mentioned:
"...Among the decisions made in America beginning in about 1935 was the one transferring to Germany the technology to produce the modern gasoline additive tetraethyl lead, commonly called “ethyl,” or leaded gasoline. This allowed the Reich to boost octane that provided better automotive performance by eliminating disruptive engine pings and jolts. Better performance meant a faster and more mobile fighting force — just what the Reich would ultimately need for its swift and mobile Blitzkrieg. As early as 1934, however, America’s War Department was apprehensive about the transfer of such proprietary chemical processes. In late December 1934, as GM was considering building leaded gasoline plants for Hitler, DuPont Company board director Irenee du Pont wrote to Sloan: “Of course, we in the DuPont Company have always recognized the propriety and desirability of closely cooperating with the War Department of the United States. …In any case, I know that word has gone to the War Department and have the impression that they would be adverse to disclosure of knowledge which would aid Germany in preparing that chemical.” The profits were simply not worth it, argued du Pont.
Sloan had already bluntly told du Pont, “I do not agree with your reasoning to this question.” Days later, Sloan appended that GM’s commercial rights were “far more fundamental… than the question of making a little money out of lead in Germany.” GM moved quickly — in conjunction with its close ally Standard Oil. Each company took a one-quarter share of the Reich ethyl operation, while I.G. Farben, the giant German chemical conglomerate, controlled the remaining 50 percent. The plants were built. The Americans supplied the technical know-how. Captured German records reviewed decades later by a U.S. Senate investigating committee found this wartime admission by the Nazis: “Without lead-tetraethyl, the present method of warfare would be unthinkable.” Years after the war, Nazi armaments chief Albert Speer told a congressional investigator that Germany could not have attempted its September 1939 Blitzkrieg of Poland without the performance-boosting additive... Ironically, while GM’s Opel was a deferential corporate citizen in Nazi Germany, going the extra mile to comply with Reich requirements and making no waves, Sloan helped foment unrest at home as part of the company’s efforts to undermine the Roosevelt administration. For example, the GM president was one of the central behind-the-scenes founders of the American Liberty League, a racist, anti-Semitic, pro-big business group bent on rallying Southern votes against Roosevelt to defeat him in the 1936 election. The American Liberty League arose out of a series of private gatherings organized in July 1934 by Sloan, du Pont and other businessmen. Some of those meetings were even held at GM’s office in New York.
The businessmen sought to create a well-financed, seemingly grass-roots coalition that du Pont declared should “include all property owners… the American Legion and even the Ku Klux Klan.” Sloan served on the American Liberty League’s national advisory board and was one of a number of wealthy businessmen who each quietly donated $10,000 to its activities. The American Liberty League, which raised more money in 1935 than the National Democratic Party, in turn, funded an array of even more fanatical, racist and anti-Jewish groups..." (Edwin Black's Hitler’s Carmaker: The Inside Story of How General Motors Helped Mobilize the Third Reich)
One such person who allowed the publication of anti-Semite views and was an isolationist himself was of course Henry Ford. During the 1920’s, Ford sponsored a weekly newspaper called the Dearborn Independent that published strongly anti-anti-Semitic views. The Dearborn Independent published the “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which accused Jewish people of being involved in a worldwide conspiracy to take over the world, which is false. The Ford publication of “The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem” further spread anti-Semitic lies. Yes, his views were loved by Heinrich Himmler and other Nazis. Adolf Hitler praised Ford. Ford apologized in 1927. Ironically, he did hired black workers, Jewish workers, women, and handicapped men at a time when that was very taboo to do. He was a 33rd Degree Freemason and he did business with Nazi Germany. Ford-Werke was a company which was under control of the Ford Motor Company. This company violated Article 31 of the 1929 Geneva Convention when they allowed 100 and 200 French POWs to work as slave laborers in 1940.
By 1941, Ford supported the Allied side of the war effort. According to Pool and Pool (1978), Ford's retraction and apology (which were written by others) were not even truly signed by him (rather, his signature was forged by Harry Bennett), and Ford never privately recanted his anti-Semitic views, stating in 1940, "I hope to republish The International Jew again some time." In July 1938, before the outbreak of war, the German consul at Cleveland gave Ford, on his 75th birthday, the award of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal Nazi Germany could bestow on a foreigner. Henry Ford by January 7, 1942 wrote a letter to Sigmund Livingston as the Founder and National Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League. The purpose of the letter was to clarify some general misconceptions that he subscribed or supported directly or indirectly, “any agitation which would promote antagonism toward my Jewish fellow citizens.” He concluded the letter with “My sincere hope that now in this country and throughout the world when the war is finished, hatred of the Jews and hatred against any other racial or religious groups shall cease for all time.” Charles Lindbergh was another famous isolationist. He was a reactionary and he was a racist who believed in white supremacy, eugenics, anti-communism, and many abhorrent views about Jewish people (during the 1930’s). After Pearl Harbor, he supported the Allies and he supported environmental causes after the war. Henry Stimson promoted the Stimson Doctrine which was about the United States refusing to recognize the territory gained by aggression and in violation of international agreements (which Japan and Germany were doing back during the 1930’s). Even Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his early terms campaigned on isolationist rhetoric since most Americans didn’t want to use military forces in Europe or Asia. Leading isolationists in Congress were Senators Hiram Johnson of California, William Borah of Idaho, and Robert La Follette of Wisconsin. They disagreed with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1933 proposal to grant him the right to consult with other nations in placing pressure on aggressors in international conflicts. FDR hated the Neutrality Acts, but he reluctantly acquiesced since he wanted his New Deal policies to be passed by Congress. The Neutrality Acts prevented Americans ships and citizens from becoming entangled in outside conflicts.
American fascists were common in America during the 1930’s and the 1940’s too. There was the German American Bund parading in New York City in 1939, which were filled with racists and anti-Semites. These fascists were of course anti-labor as the labor movement has grown massively during the New Deal and during WWII. By the late 1930’s, there was a backlash against the progressive labor movement. Many of the lovers of the backlash included fascists who supported Hitler and Franco. Arnie Bernstein's new book, entitled, "Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund," is a vividly written account of the best known and organized fascist group of their era. On George Washington’s birthday on February 1939, over 20,000 Bund members and their supporters took over Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, NYC. They held a Nuremberg-style Nazi rally. Outside the garden, there were 100,000 to 200,000 anti-Nazi demonstrators. It was a shocking event for these racists to be bold to spew their anti-Semitism in the center of America’s largest city (which has a huge Jewish population). The evil, racist rally made the front page news worldwide. Fritz Kuhn was the Bund’s leader. Kuhn was involved in the Germany army as a machine gunner during WWI. He was a member of the Nazi Party. He came into America in 1928. Kuhn was member of the Friends of the New Germany and rose to prominence in Detroit and the Midwest. After the Berlin government declared that no German citizen could be a member of the Friends, Kuhn reorganized the group as the German-American Bund. Kuhn became a U.S. citizen in 1934. Many people resisted the evil Bund via protests and physical force. Kuhn supported Adolf Hitler. Anti-Nazis included Manhattan District Attorney Thomas Dewey, whose prosecutorial skills put Kuhn in jail; New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia; the American Legion; the residents of Southbury, Conn.; and even, right-wing Texas Congressman Martin Dies. “Father” Charles Coughlin spoke in favor of fascism too. His influenced was more widespread than Fritz Kuhn. The American Legion was made up of strikebreakers and xenophobes. The Communist Party, the socialists, progressives, and other activists used their members and supporters to fight back against fascism in America.
In 1937, FDR condemned the Second Sino-Japanese War as he compared international aggression to a disease that other nations must work to guarantee. Ironically, the internationalists included Henry Luce and other establishment figures. The Neutrality Act of 1939 changed the game. This allowed belligerents to purchase war materiel from America but only on a cash and carry basis. Churchill wanted FDR to continue with the Land-Lease program to supply the allies to support the Allied forces. Franklin Delano Roosevelt agreed with this plan, but he acted smoothly to not arise suspicion among the isolationists. Lend Lease was supported by President Franklin Roosevelt on December 17, 1940. The United States would lend supplies to the British deferring payment until later on. The noninterventionist American First Committee in 1940 and in 1941 existed, but they failed to stop the Roosevelt administration’s Lend-Lease program. Franklin Roosevelt by 1940 and 1941 directly give supplies to the Allied powers short of a declaration of war (which most Americans opposed even as late as 1941). Lend Lease was proposed in the form of the bill H.R. 1776 in January of 1941. After vigorous debate, it was passed in March 11, 1941. This ended with the attack on Pearl Harbor which caused America to declare war on Japan, Germany, and the rest of the Axis Powers.
1939 was the year when World War II came about in Europe. That year represented a new era of human world history. On January 30, 1939, Hitler threatened Jewish people during his Reichstag speech. Hitler’s empire grows. On March 15, Czechoslovakia surrenders after Hitler annexes the country into the Third Reich. The Czechs at first warmly welcome the Germans when they entered the Sudetenland (which has a strong German speaking population) months earlier, but they stood silently in despair when the Nazis entered Prague. On March 28, 1939, the Spanish war ended with the fascists winning. On August 23, 1939, the Nazis and the Soviet sign the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, which wanted both nations to not attack each other in the case of war. Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov and German Foreign Minister Von Ribbentrop signed the agreement. Joseph Stalin looks on. Many people criticize the agreement as giving Nazi Germany carte banche power to invade Europe. Britain and Poland sign a Mutual Assistance Treaty on August 25, 1939. That means that if one or both nations are attacked, then both nations will come to their aide. The British fleet mobilizes and civilian evacuations begin in London. In the late 1930's, there was a little known conflict between the Soviet Union and Japan. This was part of border conflict which occurred in Mongolia. The Battle of Khalkhin Gol, sometimes spelled Halhin Gol or Khalkin Gol after the Halha River passing through the battlefield and known in Japan as the Nomonhan Incident (after a nearby village on the border between Mongolia and Manchuria). General Zhukov of Soviet Union used a military maneuver to defeat the Japanese in this battle. Afterwards, the Soviets and the Japanese sign the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact of 1941.
On August 31, 1939, Hitler signs the order for an assault on Poland. The Germans staged a phony raid on a Gleiwitz radio station. They blame the Polish people for the “unprovoked attack” when he Nazis were responsible for the attack. Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The Nazis use the Luftwaffe to attack various targets in Poland. The Luftwaffe use air attacks in Krakow, Lodz, and Warsaw. The Germany military of Wehrmacht attack near the Polish town of Mokra The UK and the French give an ultimatum to Germany to stop invading Polish territory or Germany will face war. The British pass the National Service Armed Forces Act of 1939, which conscripts all males between 18 and 41. Immediately, Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand declare on Nazi Germany by September 3, 1939. Many nations remain neutral like Switzerland, the United States of America, etc. Soon, the Nazis conquer Poland. Canada declares war on Germany by September 10, 1939.
The Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17. Warsaw quickly surrenders to the Nazis. The Polish government forces fled to Romania. Reinhard Heydrich became the leader of the new Reich Main Security Office or the RSHA. The British strike the Germans first of the Allied forces when they launched a raid via the Royal Air Force on the German fleet in the Heligoland Bight. Japan was at first neutral too. The French attacked German territory too in September 7. Once Poland surrendered in September 27, both Germany and Russia partition Poland. Russia wants more resources, so Russia invaded the Baltic States. The Nazis started euthanasia on the sick and the disabled in Germany on October. The Germans experience a blockade by the British and the Nazis strike UK cruisers South Hampton and Edinburgh and the destroyer Mohawk on October 16, 1939. The British government in October released a report on the concentration camps being built by the Nazis to be used against Jewish people and anti-Nazis. The Japanese continue to fight the Chinese. The Japanese captured Nanning in Southern China by November 1939. The Soviets annexes the eastern parts of Poland. The League of Nations expels the Soviet Union for its aggression against Finland on November 14. When negotiations fail between the Soviets and the Finns, the Soviet Union invaded Finland on November 30, 1939, which was called the Winter War. The Finnish forces have great successes during the beginning of this war with capturing men and vehicles. The Finns sue for an armistice and have to cede the northern shores of Lake Lagoda and the small Finnish coastline on the Arctic Sea to the Soviet Union by March 12, 1940. By the end of 1939, Canadian troops come to Europe, Indian troops arrive in France.
Early WWII Battles
1940 would be the year of massive invasions by the Axis Powers. Nazi Germany executed swift blitzkrieg attacks all over Europe during that year. The Japanese troops launched a counter-attack in eastern Shanxi Province in China in an attempt to relieve the nearly surrounded Japanese 36th Division. In the beginning of 1940 in January, the UK had rationing in order for them to handle WWII. On March 12, 1940, Finland signed a peace treaty with the Soviet Union. The Nazis would continue to strike. They bomb the Scapa Flow naval base near Scotland. The Nazis U-boats attacked Greek and British ships during the end of January of 1940 too. Hitler decided to invade Northern Europe on April 9th, 1940 when the Nazis invaded Denmark and Norway. Norway falls quicker than Denmark. At the end of March 1940, the Japanese formed a puppet regime in Nanking, China under Wang Jingwei. The Japanese committed massive war crimes in Nanking like the rape and murder of civilians. The Nazis formed puppet regime in Norway under Vidkun Quisling, who was a former minister of defense. In April of 1940, the British forces executed a surprise attack against a larger German naval force in the first battle of Narvik on April 11 and a second attack on April 13 would be a British success. The blitzkrieg actions of the Nazis were brutal. Tanks, air bombings, and troop attacks would begin by the Nazis against France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands by May 10, 1940.
Winston Churchill was elected Prime Minister of Britain (after Neville Chamberlain resigned) too on May 10th. Churchill immediately wanted U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to give aid for the Allied cause. The U.S. would do this via the Land-Lease program. France and Britain agreed to fight the Nazis and never seek a separate peace with the Nazis. Holland surrendered on May 15. The Allied troops evacuate from Dunkirk. By May 28, Belgium surrendered to the Nazis forces. The Nazis’ power was great, but the power of goodness would be greater. The German forces would bomb Paris on June 3. The British evacuated more than 338,000 soldiers from France when they left weapons and supplies at Dunkirk. Norway would surrender on June 10 and Italy declared war on Britain and France on the same day. On June 11, 1940, the UK, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, and South Africa declared war on Italy. General Hering of France wants to prevent its destruction, so he declared Paris an open city. The Nazis marched into Paris on June 14. The French resistance movement forms and they would have many leaders. One would be General De Gaulle of the Free French movement. On June 16, the puppet leader of France Marshal Petain is made Prime Minsiter. The puppet regime in France is called the Vichy regime (which was pro-Nazi).
On June 22, 1940, France signed an armistice with Nazi Germany. The Axis and Allied convoy fight near Crete. The Nazis soon attacked British, Scotland, and Ireland. The Battle of Britain begins in July 10, 1945. The Nazis attack airfields and factories in England. Nazis air raids happen during the day and night. Hitler declares a blockade of the British Isles by August 17, 1940. The British retaliated with an air raid in Berlin on August 25-26. The Nazis used the Blitz campaign by September. London, Southampton, Bristol, and Cardiff were attacked by German air raids. The British would not be defeated and many people unfortunately died as a result of the evil Nazi raids. On September 22, 1940, the Japanese Empire conquered Indochina and supports a puppet French rulership there. By September 25, the Japanese 5th Division would march into Hanoi, North Vietnam. The official Tripartite Axis Pact would be signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan on September 27, 1940. Italy invaded Egypt and Greece by the fall too. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini would meet at the Brenner Pass to discuss the prospects of the war on October 4, 1940. In October, Hungary, Romania, and the Slovak Republic would sign the Tripartite Pact, which meant that these nations would ally with the Axis Powers in essence. Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be re-elected as U.S. President on November 5, 1940. The Nazis would invade Romania on October. Hungary joins the Axis powers. The Greeks defeated the Italian 9th Army on November 22, 1940. The British would fight the Italians in North Africa while the Nazi air raids in the UK (with one damaging St. Paul’s Cathedral in London) would continue both in December of 1940.
The Axis Powers Advance and they attack the Soviet Union
In December 1940, British Commonwealth forces began counter-offensives against Italian forces in Egypt and Italian East Africa. The offensive in North Africa was successful. Tobruk in North Africa falls to the British and the Australians by January 22, 1941. By early February of 1941, Italy lost control of eastern Libya and large number of Italian troops had been taken prisoner. British troops advance also into Italian Somaliland in East Africa. The Italian Navy also suffered significant defeats with the Royal Navy suffering significant defeats. The Royal Navy put three Italian battleships out of commission by a carrier attack at Taranto and neutralizing several more warships at the Battle of Cape Matapan. This is why the Germans soon intervened to assist Italy. Hitler sent German forces to Libya in February of 1941. German General Erwin Rommel arrived in Tripoli, North Africa on February 12th in order for the help the Nazis. The first units of the German “Afrika Korps” arrive in North Africa too. By the end of March, they launched an offensive which drove back the Commonwealth forces which had been weakened to support Greece. In under a month, Commonwealth forces were pushed back into Egypt with the exception of the besieged port of Tobruk. The Commonwealth tried to dislodge Axis forces in May and again in June, but they failed on both occasions. In later March of 1941, after Bulgaria signed the Tripartite Pact, the Germans were in a position to go into Greece. Plans were change, because of developments going on in Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav government had signed the Tripartite Pact in March 25. Only to be overthrown 2 days later by a British-encouraged coup. Hitler viewed the new regime hostile and immediately decided to eliminate it. In April 3, 1941, a pro-Axis regime is set up in Iraq. So, on April 6, 1941, Germany simultaneously invaded both Yugoslavia and Greece. They made quick progress and forced both nations to surrender within the month. The British were driven from the Balkans after Germany conquered the Greek island of Crete by the end of May.
The Axis victory was swift, but there would be partisan warfare breaking out against the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia which continued until the end of the war. Rommel attacked Tobruk in April 14, 1941. The Allies did have some successes in the Middle East though at this time. Commonwealth forces first quashed an uprising in Iraq, which had been supported by German aircraft from bases within Vichy-controlled Syria. The Free French movement aided the Allies to invade Syria and Lebanon to prevent further such occurrences. The Nazis made huge gains in Europe and Asia; the Germans had their sights on the Soviet Union. There was the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact of April 1941. By May 1, 1941, the German attack on Tobruk was repulsed. Yet, the Nazis made preparations to attack the Soviet Union as they were massing forces on the Soviet border. Hitler thought that the British refusal to end the war was because the British hoped for America and the Soviet Union to enter the war against Germany sooner or later. So, he decided to at first strengthen Germany’s relations with the Soviets and then attacking them.
Negotiations to make the Soviet Union to join the Tripartite Pact failed as the Soviets wanted concessions from Finland, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Japan. By December 18, 1940, Hitler issued the directive to prepare for an invasion of the Soviet Union. In June of 1941, the Nazi SS-Einsatzgruppen begins mass murder. On June 22, 1941 was Operation Barbarossa or the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Germany invaded the Soviet Union with help from Italy and Romania. Finland and Hungary joined in the invasion too. They targeted Moscow and the Ukraine. They or the Nazis wanted to conquer territory from the Caspian to the White Seas. Hitler’s plans were to end the Soviet Union as a military power, end Communism, and generate Lebensraum (or living space) by dispossessing the native population. In that sense, he wanted access to the strategic resources needed to defeat Germany rivals. The Red Army was preparing for strategic counter of offensive before the war. Operation Barbarossa started and the Axis made huge gains in Soviet territory. Many Soviets died from the Nazi offensive. In the middle of August, the Germany Army High Command suspended the offensive of a considerably depleted Army Group Center. They diverted the 2nd Panzer Group to reinforce troops advancing towards central Ukraine and Leningrad. The Kiev Offensive caused the Nazis to encircle and eliminate four Soviet armies and made further advance into Crimea including industrially developed Eastern Ukraine.
The first battle of Kharkov existed. There was the diversion of three quarters of the Axis troops and the majority of their air forces from France and central Mediterranean to the Eastern Front. This was a huge error of the Axis Powers. The UK soon formed a military alliance with the Soviets against Germany. The British and the Soviets invaded Iran to secure the Persian Corridor and Iran’s oil fields. The Atlantic Charter was jointly issued by the United States and the UK in August 14, 1941. Jewish people are ordered to wear yellow stars on September 1, 1941.When the Nazis take Kiev in September 19, 1941, and they murdered 33,771 Jewish people on September 29th. In October, the Axis troops were fighting in Leningrad and Sevastopol. They or the Nazis take Odessa, Kharkov, by October 24. They reach Sevastopol in October 30th. They were conquering territories in the Ukraine and the Baltic region. The Nazis renewed an offensive against Moscow. After two months of fighting fierce battles in increasingly harsh weather, the German army almost reached the outer suburbs of Moscow. Yet, the Nazis troops were exhausted. So, the Nazis ended their offensive. The Axis made huge territorial gains. Yet, they failed to get two key cities in the Soviet Union and the Soviet capability to resist wasn’t broken. The Soviet Union retained a large part of its military potential. The blitzkrieg phase of the war in Europe ended. In early December 1941, the Soviets grew their mobilized reserves. This caused the Soviets to have numerical parity with the Axis troops. Even a minimal number of Soviet troops in the East would be enough to deter any attack by the Japanese Kwantung Army. The Soviet therefore began a massive counter offensive on December 5, 1941, along the front and push German troops 62-155 miles west. Rommel begins a retreat to El Agheila in North Africa in December 16, 1941 and Hitler controls the Germany Army in December 19th.
In Japan, there was an U.S. aviation gasoline ban in July 1940. Japan was under massive economic pressure. Japan used its first attack against Changsha. Changsha was a strategically important Chinese city, but it was repulsed by late September. By 1940, there was a stalemate between China and Japan. Japan occupied Northern Vietnam. Then, the USA embargoed iron, steel, and mechanical parts against Japan. More sanctions against Japan came later. Chinese communist led an offensive in August of 1940 and Japan used harsh measures in occupied areas to reduce human and material sources for the communists. Both Chinese communists and nationalist forces would clash in January of 1941, which ending their co-operation. In early 1941, the USA and Japan at first had negotiations to try to improve their strained relations and end the war in China. America rejected the Japanese proposals as inadequate. There were Western secret discussions to joint defense of their territories if Japan attacked any of them. Roosevelt reinforced the Philippines, which was an American protectorate scheduled for independence in 1946. FDR warned Japan that the U.S. would react to Japanese attack against any “neighboring countries.” When Japan sent troops to southern Vietnam in June of 1941, the US, UK, and other Western governments reacted to this move with a freeze on Japanese assets and a total oil embargo. Japan prepared for war after a lack of progress and the American-British-Dutch sanctions.
On 20 November it presented an interim proposal as its final offer. It called for the end of American aid to China and the supply of oil and other resources to Japan. In exchange they promised not to launch any attacks in Southeast Asia and to withdraw their forces from their threatening positions in southern Indochina. The American counter-proposal of 26 November required that Japan evacuate all of China without conditions and conclude non-aggression pacts with all Pacific powers. Japan rejected this offer and its officials consider the oil embargo as an unspoken declaration of war. The Japan wanted to seize European colonies in Asia to create a large defensive perimeter around the pacific. This would allow Japan to gain vast resources of Southeast Asia while the Allies would be over stretched. They wanted to neutralize the United States Pacific Fleet and the American military presence in the Philippines from the outset. So, on the December 7, 1941, Japan attacked not only Pearl Harbor, but British holdings in Southeast Asia including the Central pacific (like landings in Thailand and Malaya. There was the battle of Hong Kong too).
Pearl Harbor has a history filled with war and failure for two imperial power (of America and Japan) to come to an agreement. The expansion of the Japanese Empire started with the Meiji Restoration when Japan expanded militarily and economically during the late 19th century. They defeated Russia and fought Korea too during the early 20th century. Japan also worked with many European powers in the Boxers Rebellion (which was about Chinese activists trying to free themselves from European imperialism, but Western powers defeated this Chinese rebellion. Japan worked with the West to end the Chinese Boxer Rebellion). Japan lacked oil and other mineral resources. This was one of the reasons whey Japan invaded Manchuria and the rest of China during the 1930’s. America didn’t want Japan to fight China and they definitely didn’t’ want Japan to conquer Indochina or Vietnam (which they did temporarily). So, Japan and America were in negotiations before Pearl Harbor in order to solve the diplomatic dispute. Japan wanted the oil, rubber, and mineral wealth of the Pacific Ocean region including parts of Southeast Asia (like oil from Borneo and Brunei, rubber including tin in Malaya, etc.) while America wanted Japan to withdraw from Indochina and China. America allied the Chinese, who fought against the Japanese. In early 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt moved the Pacific Fleet to Hawaii and he ordered a military buildup in the Philippines in order to discourage Japanese aggression in Asia. After Japan took over Indochina (or Vietnam) and after the fall of France to the Nazis, the U.S. ceased oil exports to Japan in July 1941. Japan was restricted in their retrieval of resources. They could either withdrawal from China or fight America. FDR in August 17 warned Japan that more steps would be taken against Japan if it attacked “neighboring countries.”
Japan offered to withdraw from most of China and Indochina when peace was made with the Nationalist government, adopt an independent interpretation of the Tripartite Pact, and not to discriminate in trade provided all other countries reciprocated. Washington rejected these proposals. Japanese Prime Minister Konoye then offered to personally meet with Roosevelt, but Roosevelt insisted on coming to an agreement before any meeting. In November 1941, both sides would negotiate for solutions (Japan offered to withdrawal from southern Indochina and not attack anywhere in Southwest Asia while the U.S., the UK, and the Netherlands stopped aiding China including lifting their sanctions against Japan. The Americans wanted Japan to withdrawal from all China without conditions and conclude non-aggression pacts with Pacific powers), but it failed. On November 26, in Japan, the main Japanese attack fleet left port for Pearl Harbor. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt (on December 6th, 1941) made a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There is no reply. Later on that same day, the U.S. code-breaking service begins intercepting a 14-part Japanese message and deciphers the first 13 parts, passing them on to the President and Secretary of State. The Americans believe a Japanese attack is imminent, most likely somewhere in Southeast Asia.
Japanese training against Pearl Harbor was done in early 1941 under Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. He then commanded Japan’s Combined Fleet. Emperor Hirohito never approved the attack plan until November 5, 1941. Many U.S. officials believed that the Philippines would be attacked first not Pearl Harbor. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor since they wanted to stop the Pacific Fleet from interfering with the Japanese conquest of the Dutch East Indies and Malaya. They wanted to increase their military strength and defeat American morale, which they didn’t accomplish. There were multiple waves of attacks in Pearl Harbor. This first wave was made up of 183 planes led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida. They approached to the north of Oahu. The first wave’s planes shot down several U.S. aircraft as they approach Oahu. Later, bombs exploded and U.S military forces have to wake up in order to defend the harbor. On December 7, 1941 (on 733 hours), U.S. code breakers, though stymied by Japanese naval codes, have cracked the Japanese diplomatic code. From a Tokyo-to-Washington message, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Gen. George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, learned that Japanese negotiators in Washington have been told to break off talks. Believing this may mean war; Marshall sends a warning to Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short, commander of U.S. Army forces in Hawaii. The first Japanese assault wave was in 7:53 am. There was an assault with 51 Val dive bombers, 40 Kate torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 Zero fighters. Flight Commander Mitsuo Fuchida sounded the battle cry: “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (which means Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!). The Americans in Pearl Harbor were taken completely by surprise. The first attack wave targets airfields and battleships. The second wave came about being commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki. The Japanese in the second wave attack had 171 planes: 54 B5Ns, 81 D3As, and 36 A6Ms. These forces attacked Pearl Harbor too.
The second wave targeted other ships and shipyard facilities. Eight battleships are damaged, with five sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels are lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese would lose 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes. The entire attack lasted for 90 minutes. The air raid lasts until 9:45 a.m. The total assault, which lasted less than two hours, claimed the lives of more than 2,500 people, wounded 1,000 more and damaged or destroyed 18 American ships and nearly 300 airplanes. Almost half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor occurred on the naval battleship USS Arizona, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers 18 ships were sunk or run aground including five battleships. Escaping damage from the attack are the prime targets, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, which were not in the port. Also escaping damage are the base fuel tanks. The United States and Britain declared war on Japan (on December 8, 1941) with President Roosevelt calling December 7, "a date which will live in infamy..." Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor; Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, were relieved of their duties following the attack. Subsequent investigations will fault the men for failing to adopt adequate defense measures. In December 17, 1941, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz becomes the new commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. After Pearl Harbor, World War II would be changed forever.
America Responds (and the War on the Pacific)
After Pearl Harbor, America, Britain, China, Australia, and other several states formally declared war on Japan. The Soviet Union maintained its neutrality agreement with Japan back in 1941, but they fought against European Axis countries. Germany and other Axis states declared war on the United States in solidarity with Japan. The Axis cited the American attacks on German submarines and merchant ships that had been ordered by Roosevelt. The Declaration by the United Nations was made in January 1942 (by the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and 22 smaller or exiled governments). This agreement affirmed the Atlantic Charter and they agreed to not to sign separate peace with the Axis Powers. Afterwards, the German Nazis begin a U-boat offensive along the east coast of the United States of America. There was the Chinese victory against the Japanese at Changsha in January 1942. Also, in North Africa, the Germans launched an offensive in January 21, 1942. This offensive pushed the British back to positions at the Gazala Line by early February. The Axis forces are stopped at El Alamein. The first American forces arrive in Great Britain by January 26, 1942. During April, German air raids begin against cathedral cities in Britain. February 1, 1942 was the date when the first U.S. aircraft carrier offensive of the war came about when the YORKTOWN and ENTERPRISE conducted air raids on Japanese military bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. The May 8, 1942 German offensive begins in the Crimea. SS Leader Heydrich was attacked in Prague in May 1942 and he died of his wounds on June 4, 1942. In early 1942, the Allied forces debated on how to respond militarily against the Axis Powers. All of them wanted to defeat Germany as the primary objective. The Americans wanted the large scale attack on Germany via France.
The Soviet Union wanted a second front established on Western Europe, so the Soviets can be reduced of the burden of fighting the Nazis (since the Soviets were carrying most of the burden of fighting the Nazis in Europe). The British wanted military operations to target peripheral areas to cause a ring around Germany, so Germany can be defeated via resistance forces. The British convinced the Americans to not land in France in 1942 as infeasible. So, the U.S. forces fought against the Axis first in North Africa. The British and the Americans agreed to press the initiative in North Africa, then the Mediterranean by invading Sicily. The Japanese Empire reached its peak by 1942. By the end of April 1942, Japan and its ally Thailand had almost fully conquered Burma, Malay, the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, and Rabaul. Allied forces suffered massive losses and there were a large number of prisoners taken. There were brave resistance by the Filipino and U.S. forces, but the Philippine Commonwealth was captured in May of 1942 by Japanese forces. The government of the Philippine Commonwealth was forced into exile. On April 16, in Burma, there were 7,000 British soldiers being encircled by the Japanese 33rd Division during the Battle of Yenangyaung and they were rescued by the Chinese 38th Division. Japanese forces had more naval victories in the South China Sea, Java Sea, and in the Indian Ocean. They bombed the Allied naval base in Darwin, Australia.
On April 9, 1942, U.S. forces on Bataan surrender unconditionally to the Japanese. The next day, the Bataan Death March begins when 76,000 Allied POWs including 12,000 Americans are forced to walk 60 miles under a blazing sun without food or water towards a new POW camp. This caused over 5,000 Americans to die. The U.S. Doolittle B-25 air raid from the HORNET against Tokyo boost Allied moral in April 18th. In April and May of 1942, the Japanese take central Burma, Mandalay, the Solomon Islands, and they prepare to invade Midway and the Aleutian Islands. The Japanese suffers its first defeat of the war during the Battle of the Coral Sea off the New Guinea, which is the first time in history that two opposing carrier forces fought only using aircraft without opposing ships ever sighting each other.
Vice President Henry A. Wallace gave an eloquent speech on May 8, 1942 about the Four Freedom. On that day, he gave the following words: "...The people, in their millennial and revolutionary march toward manifesting here on earth the dignity that is in every human soul, hold as their credo the Four Freedoms enunciated by President Roosevelt in his message to Congress on January 6, 1941. These four freedoms are the very core of the revolution for which the United Nations have taken their stand. We who live in the United States may think there is nothing very revolutionary about freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom from the fear of secret police. But when we begin to think about the significance of freedom from want for the average man, then we know that the revolution of the past one hundred and fifty years has not been completed, either here in the United States or in any other nation in the world. We know that this revolution can not stop until freedom from want has actually been attained. And now, as we move forward toward realizing the Four Freedoms of this people's revolution, I would like to speak about four duties. It is my belief that every freedom, every right, every privilege has its price, its corresponding duty without which it can not be enjoyed..."
In June of 1942, the Japanese invade the Aleutian Islands. On August 7, 1942, there was the first U.S. U.S. amphibious landing of the Pacific War occurs as 1st Marine Division invades Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. A day later, the U.S. Marines take the unfinished airfield on Guadalcanal and name it Henderson Field after major Loften Henderson, who was a hero of Midway. The battle of Guadalcanal was a long battle, which lasted from August 7, 1942 until February 9, 1943. By the end of 1942, the Japanese used air raids on Calcutta, India in December 20-24, 1942.
In August of 1942, the Allies succeeded in repelled a second attack against El Alamein. Months later, the Allies commenced an attack of their own in Egypt. This caused the Axis forces to retreat and they drive west across Libya. There were the Anglo-American landings in French North Africa. The American invasion of North Africa officially started with Operation Torch in November 8, 1942. The U.S. invaded North Africa. At the same time, the Nazis and the Italians invade unoccupied Vichy France.
The Soviet Union's Heroic Stand against the Nazis
The Soviets fight back against the Nazis in the historic Battle of Stalingrad on July 17, 1942.
The Soviet Union fought back against the Nazis courageously. The Axis suffered massively loses. In early 1942, Germany and its allies stopped a major Soviet offensive in central and southern Russia. They kept most of their territorial gains they had achieved during the previous year. In May of 1942, the Germans defeated the Soviet offensives in the Kerch Peninsula and at Kharkiv. The Nazis then launched their main summer offensive against southern Russia in June for 1942 to seize the oil fields of the Caucasus and occupy the Kuban steppe. The Nazis wanted to maintain positions in the northern and central areas of the front. So, the Germans split the Army Group South into two groups. One group called Army Group A advanced to the lower Don River and struck the southeast to the Caucasus. Army Group B went to the Volga River. The Soviets decided to make their stand at Stalingrad on the Volga River. By mid-November, the Germans nearly took Stalingrad in bitter street fighting when the Soviets began their second winter counter offensive. The Soviets started to encircle the German forces at Stalingrad and assaulted on the Rzhev salient near Moscow. By early February 1943, the German Army had taken tremendous losses and German troops at Stalingrad were forced to surrender. The front line had been pushed back beyond its position before the summer offensive. In mid-February, after the Soviet push had tapered off, the Germans executed another attack on Kharkiv. This created a salient in their front line around the Russian city of Kursk. The Soviets were victorious in the Battle of Kursk. Red Army troops defeated via soldiers, T-34 tanks, etc.
The Allies Gain Momentum
The Allies gained momentum during 1943-44. In January of 1943, Allied forces take Buna in New Guinea. After the Guadalcanal Campaign (which the Allies were victorious), the Allies started more operations against Japan in the Pacific. On April 18, 1943 - U.S. code breakers pinpoint the location of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto flying in a Japanese bomber near Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. Eighteen P-38 fighters then locate and shoot down Yamamoto. In May of 1943, Allied forces were sent to eliminate Japanese forces from the Aleutians. They also began major operations to isolate Rabaul by capturing surrounding islands and to breach the Japanese Central Pacific perimeter at the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. By March of 1944, the Allies completed both of those objectives. The Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands was neutralized. In April, the Allies then launched an operation to retake Western New Guinea. In the Soviet Union, both the Germans and the Soviets spent the spring and the early summer of 1943 to make preparations for large offensives in central Russia. In the Atlantic Ocean, the Allies were defeating German submarines massively by May of 1943. On July 4, 1943, Germany attacked Soviet forces around the Kursk Bulge. In a week, the German forces had exhausted themselves against the Soviets’ deeply echeloned and well-constructed defenses. For the first time of the war, Hitler cancelled the operation before it has achieved tactical or operational success. That decision was influenced by the Western Allies’ invasion of Sicily (which was launched on July 9th). Later, Mussolini and ousted and arrested later that month. In July of 1943 also, the British firebombed Hamburg, which killed over 40,000 people. That firebombing was an outright war crime. July 12, 1943 was when the Soviets launched their own counter offensives. This ended the hopes of the Nazis to have victory or stalemate in the Eastern front.
The Soviet victory at Kursk marked the beginning of the end of the Nazi Germany Empire. The Soviets continued onward. The Nazis tried to fortify the Panther-Wotan line, but the Soviets broke through it at Smolensk and by the Lower Dnieper Offensives. From August 1-2, 1943, a group of 15 U.S. PT-boats attempt to block Japanese convoys south of Kolombangra Island in the Solomon Islands. PT-109, commanded by Lt. John F. Kennedy, is rammed and sunk by the Japanese Cruiser AMAGIRI, killing two and badly injuring others. The crew survives as Kennedy aids one badly injured man by towing him to a nearby atoll. On September 3, 1943, the Western Allies invaded the Italian mainland after an Italian armistice with the Allies. Germany responded to this by disarming Italian forces and seizing military control of Italian areas. The Germany formed defensive lines. German Special Forces rescued Mussolini and there was the Italian Social Republic formed in German occupied Italy. This resulted in an Italian civil war. In October 1943, Japanese troops execute about 100 American POWs in Wake Island. The Western Allies fought through many lines until reaching the main German defense line in mid-November. This caused a temporary halt of German Atlantic naval actions.
In November 1943, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met with Chiang Kai-shek including Madame Chiang Soong May-ling in Cairo (to talk about the return of Japanese territory to the Chinese, etc. in post-war) and then with Joseph in Tehran (to agree that the Soviet Union would declare war on Japan within three months of Germany’s defeat and for the Western Allies to invade Europe in 1944). . The seven week Battle of Changde came about in November 1943, which forced the Japanese to fight a costly war of attribution while awaiting Allied relief. The Allies attacked Italy in January of 1944. They fought against the line at Monte Cassino and attempted to outflank it with landings at Anzio. By the end of January, a major Soviet offensive expelled the German forces from the Leningrad region. This ended the longest and most lethal siege in history. The next Soviet offensive was stopped temporarily on the prewar Estonian border by the German Army Group North aided by Estonians hoping to re-establish national independence. This delay slowed future Soviet operations in the Baltic region.
In late May 1944, the Soviets liberated Crimea from the Axis. The Axis forces were largely expelled from Ukraine. The Soviets made incursions into Romania, which were repulsed by Axis troops. The Allied forces were successful in their offensive of Italy. Many German divisions retreated and on June 4, 1944, Rome was captured. The Allies experienced mixed results in mainland Asia. By March of 1944, the Japanese launched the first of two invasions. This was an operation against the British positions in Assam, India. They soon besieged Commonwealth positions at Imphal and Kohima. The British mounted a counter offensive in May of 1944 to drive the Japanese troops back to Burma. The Chinese forces, that had invaded northern Burma in late 1943, besieged Japanese troops in Myitkyina. The second Japanese invasion of China tried to destroy China’s main fighting forces, secure railways between Japanese held territories and capture Allied airfields. In June of 1944, the Japanese had conquered the province of Henan and started to have another attack against Changsha in the Hunan province.