How did the Western European powers react to the Germans' attack on Poland?
Following Germany's attack on Poland in September 1939, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany.
Germany quickly destroyed Poland, conquered Norway, then turned on Denmark, the Netherlands, and France, conquering each in turn. By late 1940, almost the entirety of Western Europe was under German control.
What was the Battle of Britain?
After the conquest of France, and as a prelude to invading Britain, the German Air Force (the Luftwaffe) carried out a bombing campaign against Great Britain, which the British narrowly defeated. With the Luftwaffe's loss, Britain was freed from the peril of an invasion by sea.
Blitzkrieg, German for "lightning war," referred to a tactic of using tanks and planes to create a hole in the enemy's line of troops, then use that hole to cause a collapse of the enemy's forces.
At the outbreak of World War Two, Blitzkrieg enabled Germany to conquer Poland in 30 days and to destroy the French army.
Which three countries composed the Axis Powers?
The three Axis Powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan, who signed a mutual defense pact in 1940.
What was the Lend-Lease Act?
The Lend-Lease Act, signed in 1941 (prior to America's entry into World War II), was a policy that allowed Great Britain to purchase arms on credit.
Under Lend-Lease, the United States would serve as "the arsenal of democracy."
In 1941, at a secret meeting off the coast of Newfoundland, President Franklin Roosevelt reached a secret agreement called the Atlantic Charter with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. What were the Charter's terms?
Although the United States was not at war, the Charter described the Allies' war objectives, which included free trade, no territory acquired by conquest, and self-determination of subject peoples.
Given that Germany was still on the offensive and that Britain had little hope of imposing peace without American involvement, the Atlantic Charter virtually committed the United States into entry into World War II.
In 1941, President Roosevelt announced an embargo on the shipment of any war material to Japan, but promised to lift the embargo if Japan agreed to withdraw from _____.
Japan refused to abandon its war in China. Oil, rubber, and other war materials were essential to Japan's continued conquest. To gain these materials, the Japanese decided to strike at the Dutch East Indies (where such materials were in abundance).
The U.S. would likely declare war on Japan in the event of an attack on Dutch territory, so Japan resolved upon a quick strike against U.S. forces in an effort to achieve a rapid victory.
What did President Roosevelt term "a date which will live in infamy"?
The surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which took place on December 7, 1941 (as did attacks on other U.S. bases). Japan's intent was to destroy America's three Pacific aircraft carriers, crippling the U.S. Navy.
Fortunately, all the American carriers were at sea and not present at the attack. Twelve hundred Americans lost their lives. On January 8, 1941, President Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Japan. One week later, Italy and Germany declared war against the United States.
Which theater of World War II saw the first major involvement of American troops against the Germans and Italians?
The United States first attacked the Germans and Italians in North Africa in 1942, where the British had been involved since 1940.
By 1943, the North African theater was free of Germans and Italians, and Allied forces began making their way up the Italian Peninsula.
In June 1941, Hitler turned on Stalin and attacked the U.S.S.R., conquering hundreds of square miles of territory. What battle proved a turning point in the war on the Eastern Front?
In a battle that raged from June 1942 to February 1943, Soviet forces surrounded the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, forcing its surrender. Steadily, and with millions of casualties, the Soviets began pushing the Germans back toward Germany.
Soviet casualties, both civil and military, were the largest of any nation. Some 25 million Russian soldiers were killed, wounded, or listed as missing in the War, comparable only to Stalin's wholesale slaughter of 43 million Russians in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s.
What event took place on June 6, 1944?
On June 6, 1944, the long-awaited invasion of Europe from the West began with the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.
By the end of the year, France had been liberated. By May 1945, Allied armies were approaching Berlin from the east and west. Hitler committed suicide and Germany sued for peace.
Which general led the troops of Free France?
Although France had surrendered to Germany in 1940, some of her army escaped to Britain where it was led by Charles de Gaulle.
The country they left behind became known as Vichy France, a rump state with its capital at the town of Vichy and firmly under the control of the Germans.
How many Jews died in the Holocaust?
The Holocaust was the systematic killing of Jews and other undesirables under the direction of Hitler's German government and is estimated to have killed 6 million Jews.
Some 3 million other persons, including gypsies, homosexuals, and communists, are estimated to have lost their lives in concentration camps dedicated to using industrial methods to kill as rapidly as possible.
During the last week of December 1944, the Germans launched their last major offensive of the War in the Ardennes Forest, known as the Battle of the _____.
The battle earned the nickname "Bulge" from the large salient the Germans created in the Allied line. By early January, the offensive was contained and that month the Western Allies crossed the Rhine River into Germany.
On May 8, 1945, the German armed forces formally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending World War II in Europe. What was the location of the Allied forces in Europe at the end of the War?
By May 8, Soviet forces had conquered much of Eastern Europe, including Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and most of Eastern Germany.
The Western Allied forces had liberated France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Western Germany.
In 1942, the United States achieved two naval victories, which proved crucial to victory against Japan. What were they?
The Battle of the Coral Sea and Battle of Midway
During the Battle of the Coral Sea, the U.S. Navy sunk one Japanese aircraft carrier and heavily damaged another, forcing a Japanese invasion fleet headed for Australia to turn back.
Two months later in a resounding U.S. victory during the Battle of Midway, American forces sunk four Japanese carriers. After its losses at Midway, the Japanese were unable to keep pace with American shipbuilding and pilot training.
In the Pacific Theater of World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur used a strategy known as _____ _____, which bypassed heavily defended Japanese positions and attacked weaker ones.
By taking less heavily held islands, such as Saipan, the United States forces gradually moved into position to launch an attack on Japan itself.
Islands strongly fortified by the Japanese were blockaded and cut off. Left to wither on the vine, several Japanese contingents turned to cannibalism.
In October 1944, U.S. and Japanese naval forces fought the Battle of Leyte Gulf. What was its result?
During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the United States annihilated Japanese naval forces, ending the Japanese Navy as a fighting force and paving the way for U.S. forces to retake the Philippines.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle in history, with more than 279 major ships participating in the battle.
Between February 19 and March 26, 1945, American forces took the island of _____ _____ in one of World War II's fiercest battles.
Iwo Jima had been a Japanese territory before the War and was the first piece of Japanese territory to fall to Allied forces. Some 27,000 American casualties resulted from the attack.
What was the final major island to be conquered as part of the War in the Pacific during World War II?
Only 340 miles from Japan, the American military attack on Okinawa was integral to providing an American air base for the eventual attack on Japan. Constant kamikaze attacks and fierce resistance led to at least 65,000 Allied casualties and 100,000 Japanese casualties.
Shortly before the end of World War II, in February of 1945, the Big Three met at Yalta in the Soviet Union. What agreement did Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt reach?
In addition to resolving questions of war strategy, the Big Three agreed that Germany would be divided into occupied zones, and that they would support the establishment of the United Nations. The Soviets also agreed to hold free elections in Eastern Europe.
The Yalta Conference was President Roosevelt's last major presidential act; he died in April 1945 and was succeeded by President Harry Truman.
What was the Manhattan Project?
The Manhattan Project, under physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, was a U.S. effort to develop atomic weapons. The first nuclear device was detonated in the New Mexico desert in July 1945.
Why did President Truman drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Truman ordered the attacks out of concern that attempting to conquer Japan would result in hundreds of thousands of American casualties, and he requested an immediate Japanese surrender before giving the order to drop the bombs.
Some 250,000 Japanese civilians died as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan surrendered a week later.
In April 1945, while World War II was still going, 50 nations met in San Francisco to draft the charter of what international organization?
The United Nations
In October of the same year, the Senate approved America's involvement in the organization. Today, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are the same countries that led the fight against the Axis Powers: the United States, the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain, and China.