Which three countries composed the Axis Powers?
The three Axis Powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan, who signed a mutual defense pact in 1940.
On September 1, 1939, the German army launched an attack against Poland, formally beginning World War II. How did Britain, France, and the Soviet Union respond?
Britain and France promptly declared war on Germany. Two weeks after the German invasion began, the Soviet Union invaded western Poland, completing Poland's dismemberment.
Blitzkrieg is a German word meaning "lightning war" and referred to the strategy employed by the Germans in their attacks against Poland and France in WWII.
Developed by Heinz Guderian, blitzkrieg called for using mechanized force to break through an opponent's line to ensure a quick defeat.
In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt persuaded Congress to adopt "Cash and Carry." What did this policy allow?
Cash and Carry allowed countries engaged in war to purchase arms and ammunition in the United States, provided they carried it back to their country aboard their own ships.
While the Cash and Carry system was ostensibly neutral, it favored Great Britain, who retained control of the seas.
In 1940, the Selective Service Act established the third draft in U.S. history. Why was this draft different than the drafts which took place during the Civil War and World War I?
Unlike previous drafts, the Selective Service Act was passed during peacetime. Although the Act alarmed isolationists, they were convinced by the Roosevelt Administration's contention that the Army's growth was necessary to protect the Western Hemisphere.
In September 1940, President Roosevelt traded 50 obsolete destroyers to Great Britain in exchange for access to British Naval bases in the Caribbean. Why didn't Roosevelt simply sell the destroyers to the British?
Selling the destroyers to the British would have been a violation of the Neutrality Acts. Instead, Roosevelt circumvented Congressional approval and provided the destroyers to Great Britain as part of a deal with Winston Churchill.
During his 1940 campaign against Wendell Willkie, President Roosevelt made what promise to the American people regarding involvement in the conflicts raging in Europe and Asia?
Roosevelt promised American parents, "your boys are not going into any foreign wars." At the time, 80% of Americans supported isolationism.
Despite his promise, Roosevelt had already become convinced that war was inevitable, telling advisers in early 1940 that at a minimum the United States would be at war with Japan in a few years.
In the 1940 presidential campaign, the Republicans nominated Wendell Wilkie, a utility executive who had been forced to sell his company to the Tennessee Valley Authority. What was Willkie's campaign strategy?
Willkie mainly focused on Roosevelt's efforts to secure a third term, and advocated providing all aid short of war to the Allies.
Roosevelt won a third term, primarily because Americans felt secure with his foreign policy experience during challenging times and witnessed an improving economic situation brought about by arms purchases.
What group was formed in 1940 to support isolation and mobilize American public opinion against involvement in WWII?
The America First Committee
The America First Committee had some 880,000 members at its peak but shut down after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
President Franklin Roosevelt declared that it was the responsibility of the United States to support those nations that were committed to "Four Freedoms." What were those freedoms?
In a speech before Congress in January, 1941, Roosevelt announced his Four Freedoms:
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom of worship
- Freedom from want
- Freedom from fear
What was the Lend-Lease Act?
The Lend-Lease Act, signed in 1941, was a policy that allowed Great Britain to purchase arms on credit. Lend-Lease ended the Neutrality Act's requirement of "Cash and Carry." The United States would serve as "the arsenal of democracy."
By July, 1941, United States naval vessels were escorting British ships as far as Iceland with orders to shoot German ships on sight.
In 1941, at a secret meeting off the coast of Newfoundland, President Roosevelt reached a secret agreement with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Atlantic Charter. 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 the 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, and a Japanese strike at the Dutch East Indies (where such materials were in abundance) became a certainty.
To destroy U.S. forces, who would come into the War in the event of an attack on Dutch territory, Japan resolved upon a quick strike in an effort to defeat U.S. forces quickly.
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.
1,200 Americans lost their lives in the attack. On Decemeber 8, 1941, President Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Japan. One week later, Italy and Germany declared war against the United States.
Newspaper writers took to calling the leaders of the Allied Powers during World War II the "Big Three." Who were the Big Three?
The Big Three were Franklin Roosevelt (United States), Winston Churchill (Great Britain), and Joseph Stalin (the Soviet Union).
In June 1941, Hitler had broken his non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and attacked along a broad front. For most of the next four years, the majority of Germany's military resources would be devoted to its war against the U.S.S.R.
The Soviet Union did not declare war on Japan until August 1945.
Established during World War II, the Office of Price Administration (OPA) focused on what form of regulation?
The OPA regulated almost every product used by civilians, from rubber to meat to gasoline. In addition to rationing, the OPA set maximum prices on both commodities and finished products.
The OPA was not the only war board. The War Production Board (WPB) managed war industries, as thousands of factories turned from producing consumer goods to churning out tanks and planes. Access to raw materials and production priorities were under the control of the Office of War Mobilization.
Passed in 1943, what did the Smith-Connally Anti-Strike Law empower the President to do?
The Smith-Connally Anti-Strike Law allowed the President to take over any war-related business threatened by a strike.
Although labor unions and corporations had agreed after Pearl Harbor not to strike during the War's duration, workers were angered that corporations made huge profits while their own wages were frozen. The Anti-Strike law was passed in reaction to John L. Lewis's call for strikes in the militarily essential coal mines.
World War II was exceedingly expensive, dwarfing the costs of President Roosevelt's New Deal programs. How was the war financed?
For the first time, an income tax was imposed on almost every working American (previous income taxes had been levied only on high-income earners). In addition, a massive war bond effort was launched, aimed at everyone from retirees to children, who were encouraged to buy "war stamps" available for as little as a dime.
Blacks faced continued segregation and discrimination at home and abroad during World War II, including serving in segregated military units. In response, civil rights leaders voiced support for the "Double V." What were the two Vs?
The first V stood for victory over America's enemies, and the second V represented a victory for equality on the home front.
What was the Second Great Migration?
The Second Great Migration describes the migration of some 1.5 million blacks to Northern urban areas during World War II. Limited to low-wage, low-skill jobs in the South, the factory jobs in the North, Midwest, and West during the war offered blacks an opportunity to learn high-skill positions at a good salary.
By the end of World War II almost half of all blacks would live outside of the South.
Who were the braceros?
During World War II, farms in the western United States faced a severe labor shortage. In 1942, an agreement with Mexico allowed Mexican farmers, known as braceros, to enter the United States to work on American farms, without complying with formal immigration requirements.
The sudden influx of thousands of Mexicans provoked enmity and suspicions; in 1943 a riot in Los Angeles broke out between whites and Mexicans, known as the Zoot-Suit Riot.
Some 25,000 Indians served in the armed forces during World War II, the most famous of which were the Navajo Code Talkers. Why were the Code Talkers so significant to American military efforts in the Pacific?
Since few non-Navajos spoke the Navajo language, the Navajo Code Talkers could communicate to each other rapidly, in what was essentially an unbreakable code, without the need for complex cryptography.
The efforts of the Navajo Code Talkers contributed to U.S. victory in several battles in the Pacific, including Iwo Jima.
Smith v. Allwright (1944) was one of the first post-Reconstruction Supreme Court cases to address civil rights. What did the Court hold?
Lonnie E. Smith, a black voter in Texas, challenged the Texas Democrats' policy of holding white-only primaries, contending the policy violated his civil rights.
The Supreme Court agreed, and mandated that primaries be open to voters of all races. The decision presaged Brown v. Board of Education (1955), the decision which would strike down the "separate but equal" doctrine.
Who were the WACs and WAVES?
During the Second World War, the WACs (Women's Army Corps) and the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) were Army and Navy units, respectively, that were filled with women. Some 200,000 women served during the War in jobs such as air traffic controllers, camp hostesses, clerical work, and nursing, freeing men for combat duty.
Who did Rosie the Riveter symbolize?
Rosie the Riveter symbolized the 20 million women who were in the workforce by 1944. These "Rosies" served in clerical jobs and in factories building planes and tanks. Motivated by the claim that each woman in the workforce freed a man for the front lines, many women found the experience of a job outside the home to be liberating.
It took almost a year for the United States to mobilize fully for war, but in November 1942 a joint Anglo-American force launched Operation Torch. Where did the joint force strike?
During Operation Torch, British and American forces landed in the French colony of Morocco (controlled by the Nazi-allied Vichy France government). Over the next six months, Allied forces drove German and Italian troops from the entirety of North Africa.
After the conquest of North Africa concluded in May 1943, where did the Allies launch their next attacks?
The Anglo-American forces next conquered Sicily, then proceeded to attack Italy. During the summer of 1943, Mussolini was deposed (although he was rescued soon thereafter by the Nazis), and the joint force continued to drive up the Italian Peninsula. German forces continued fighting in Northern Italy until the end of the war.
In early 1944, British and American leaders prepared to launch the largest amphibious operation in world history to be known as the D-Day landings. Taking place in June 1944, where did the landings take place?
The D-Day landings took place in Normandy, on the coast of France. By December, almost all of France was freed from German forces, and British, Free-French, and American forces were preparing to drive deep into Germany.
What General was placed in charge of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force?
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters coordinated military strategy and kept quite a few egos in check, including those of George Patton and Bernard Montgomery, two brilliant generals who were in constant competition.
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.