American Steps Toward, and the Execution of, WWII

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American Steps Toward, and the Execution of, WWII. 1931 - 1945. Initial Steps. 1931 - Japan invades Manchuria - US responds by “non-recognition” The Stimson Doctrine 1935 - Spain and Civil War No troops from US may legally go there Many do anyway - no official US Sanction
American Steps Toward, and the Execution of, WWII1931 - 1945Initial Steps
  • 1931 - Japan invades Manchuria - US responds by “non-recognition”
  • The Stimson Doctrine
  • 1935 - Spain and Civil War
  • No troops from US may legally go there
  • Many do anyway - no official US Sanction
  • Franco’s fascists, Italy, and Germany v. the Royalist Government of Spain and the USSR
  • The Late 1930s
  • US continues to advocate disarmament
  • After Franco’s installation in Madrid, others become convinced that we won’t react to aggression overseas
  • Japan is one nation that sees this happening - war in China escalates
  • 1937 - Rape of Nanking/Sinking of the USS Panay
  • Neutrality Acts 1 + 2
  • The first Neutrality Act (August 1935), passed after Italy's attack on Ethiopia in May 1935, empowered the president, on finding a state of war, to declare an embargo on arms shipments to the belligerents and to announce that U.S. citizens traveling on belligerents' ships did so at their own risk. This act set no limits, however, on trade in materials useful for war, such as copper, steel, and oil. The 1935 act was replaced by the Neutrality Act of 1936 (February 29), which added a prohibition on extending loans or credits to belligerents.
  • The Third Neutrality Act
  • The Spanish civil war, which broke out in July 1936, was not covered by existing neutrality legislation, which applied only to wars between nations; accordingly, Congress by joint resolution on January 6, 1937, forbade supplying arms to either side. When the 1936 law expired, the Neutrality Act of 1937 (May 1) included civil wars, empowered the president to add strategic materials to the embargo list, and made travel by U.S. citizens on belligerents' ships unlawful. The practical difficulties of maintaining neutrality became clear, however, when Japan's incursions into China led to the outbreak of fighting there on July 7, 1937. Since invoking the Neutrality Act would penalize China, which was more dependent than Japan on American assistance, President Franklin D. Roosevelt chose not to identify the fighting as a state of war.
  • The 4th (Last) Neutrality Act
  • The Neutrality Act of 1939 (November 4) contained a "cash and carry" formula devised by Bernard M. Baruch. Belligerents were again permitted to buy American arms and strategic materials, but they had to pay cash and to transport the goods in their own ships. This provision, it was believed, would prevent the United States from being drawn into war either by holding debt in some belligerent countries or by violating blockades while transporting supplies. In addition, the president was empowered to designate a "combat zone" in time of war, through which American citizens and ships were forbidden to travel.
  • Lend Lease
  • By 1940, Britain was in serious financial straits
  • Step One: In 1940, Pres. Roosevelt agreed to “lend” Britain 8 destroyers in return for US access to naval facilities in British Caribbean territories
  • Export Controls
  • Export Control Act passed on 7/2/40
  • The President may, whenever he deems "necessary in the interest of national defense," prohibit or curtail the exportation of military equipment, munitions, tools, materials, etc.
  • The first use of this was later in July 1940 - without license it became illegal to sell aviation fuel and scrap steel and iron - cuts Japan off
  • Spring 1941
  • In the spring of 1941, the Export Control Act was again used to limit the sale of scrap steel and oil to Japan
  • The US navy began to escort merchant vessels half way across the Atlantic
  • We began to arm merchant ships
  • US naval vessels were ordered to sink any German U-Boat seen giving any trouble to American shipping
  • The result - an undeclared naval war in the North Atlantic
  • Next Steps . . .
  • Lend Lease Act passed on March 11, 1941
  • Considered to be vital to the defense of the US
  • Could lend “defense articles” up to a value of $1.3B
  • Essentially “All Aid Short of War”
  • An End to Neutrality
  • On November 17, 1941, after repeated confrontations with German submarines in the North Atlantic and the torpedoing of the destroyer Reuben James, Congress amended the act to permit merchant vessels to arm themselves and to carry cargoes to belligerent ports. But three weeks later, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States was at war.
  • Wartime Agencies
  • Agencies from World War I were quickly resurrected – usually with new names. These included:
  • The Office of Price Administration: regulated prices and rationing during the war
  • War Production Board: Oversaw production of war materiel
  • The War Labor Board: Regulated wages and placement of workers
  • Major Battles
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Coral Sea/Midway
  • Guadalcanal
  • Operation Torch
  • Invasion of Italy and the conquest of Sicily (Messina) and Italy
  • D-Day
  • Battle of the Bulge
  • Meeting the Russians at the Elbe
  • Gen. Dwight D. EisenhowerGen. Omar BradleyGen. George S. PattonGen. George C. MarshallGen. Douglas MacArthurAdm. Chester NimitzAdm. “Bull” HalseyBritainFM Sir Bernard MontgomeryFranceGen. Charles DeGaulleGermany Erwin RommelFM Gerd von RundstedtJapanGen. Hideki TojoAdm. Isoroku YamamotoAdm. Chuichi NagumoThe USSRGen. Grigorii ZhukovMajor CommandersUnited StatesPearl Harbor: December 7, 1941
  • Without a prior declaration of war, Japanese aircraft attacked the naval base at 7:55am local time
  • Casualties:
  • 2,403 dead
  • 1,178 wounded
  • Damage:
  • 21 ships
  • 300 aircraft
  • On December 11, 1941
  • Germany and Italy declared war on the US – erasing any doubt as to whether or not ABC-1 was going to be followed
  • Japanese Relocation CampsJustifiable Precaution or a Serious Violation of “Persons of Japanese Descent” Civil Rights?The Purpose of the Camps
  • Opened by Proclamation (Executive Order 9066)
  • Set up to move anyone of Japanese origin away from potential fighting areas
  • Supported by Congress and the American people
  • Arrival at the Relocation CampsThe Relocation Camps
  • They were NOT slave labor camps
  • They were NOT Concentration Camps
  • People were NOT given a choice to live there
  • Many of the residents were American citizens
  • Relocation Camps
  • DID provide the basics for survival
  • DID provide education for school aged children
  • DID allow for the growth and return of the residents to the rest of society
  • The News Desk at the CampControversial Policy
  • German- and Italian-Americans were not sent away to camps
  • They were and are seen as racist by both the people living in the camps and later generations
  • People who were sent to the camps were denied their civil rights
  • Camps Eventually Disbanded
  • The last camps closed in 1947
  • Memories are still bitter
  • Congress finally recognized the problem and apologized for the issue in 1995!
  • The Doolittle Raid: April 18, 1942
  • Using land based B-25 bombers the USAAC took off from carriers in the Pacific and bombed the city of Tokyo
  • Little damage was inflicted
  • Many protested the raid saying that it would only make the Japanese want to attack with a lethal blow
  • Aftermath of Doolittle
  • Not wanting to reveal that it was a carrier attack, President Roosevelt said that the planes had been launched from “our new secret base at Shangri-La”
  • In 1942, Shangri-La was the name of the presidential retreat center in Maryland – what we call “Camp David”
  • The raid was the final argument needed for the Japanese Navy to launch the Coral Sea and Midway attacks.
  • Prelude to Coral Sea/Midway
  • Having cracked the Japanese military codes, the US Navy was able to predict and prepare for the battles of Coral Sea and Midway
  • The navy dispatched the USS Lexington and USS Yorktown to intercept the Japanese fleet
  • Aircraft Carrier USS LexingtonCoral Sea: May 7-8, 1942
  • This was the first naval battle where ships from the two sides never saw each other
  • Considered an American victory, this battle blocked the Japanese invasion of New Guinea
  • The Japanese lost 2 carriers, the US lost the Lexington and the Yorktown was heavily damaged
  • The Japanese considered the Yorktown sunk or out of the war for the foreseeable future
  • The Lexington on fire, May 8, 1942: the ship was sunk by US torpedoes later that day.The Battle of Midway: June 4 – 6, 1942
  • Using the three remaining carrier battle groups, the US Navy staked the Pacific Fleet on the outcome of the battle
  • Protecting against a possible attack on the US Pacific coast, the carriers were positioned northeast of Midway Island, giving them some ability to speed toward the coast
  • Midway Strategy
  • After the Japanese fleet was found by scout planes from Midway, the Navy launched its planes from maximum safe distance to hit the enemy before they could find the Americans
  • Success!
  • The strategy worked
  • After four successive attack waves, the navy planes finally broke through
  • They sank the 4 largest and most experienced carriers in the Japanese fleet
  • Carrier Hiru on fire from aerial bombs and torpedoesSignificance of Coral Sea and Midway
  • Between the battles, the US Navy had sunk 6 Japanese carriers at a cost of 2 carriers
  • Even if the planes could be replaced, the pilots could not
  • Never again would the Japanese be able to attack new territory from the air
  • These defeats marked the end of Japan’s ability to expand its empire – from here on it shrank
  • The War In Europe
  • Even before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, commanders in the US had decided on a “Europe first” plan (ABC-1)
  • Stalin and Roosevelt wanted an invasion of continental Europe in 1943 (Second Front)
  • Churchill did not believe it possible, and pushed instead for an invasion to drive the Wehrmacht from North Africa, followed up by an invasion of Italy
  • Casablanca Conference, January 1943
  • This conference, attended by Churchill and FDR produced one far reaching statement:
  • Unconditional Surrender on the part of the Axis was now a war aim
  • Stalin was less than happy
  • In the Meantime, Germany was not exempt from Air Attack
  • A new bombing technique was developed, designed to create major damage to industrial centers – Fire Bombing
  • Target: Hamburg
  • On July 24, 1943, the RAF began a bombing campaign designed to destroy the port of Hamburg with its dry dock and U-Boat facilities.
  • The technique used was “firebombing”
  • The fires started by the raids on the 24th of July burned for nine days, and were not fully cooled for two weeks.
  • Firebombing techniques involved sending three (at least) waves of aircraft over the target city.
  • The first wave would drop regular concussion bombs to blow the roofs off buildings and create holes in walls for fires to spread.
  • The second would drop incendiary bombs to start the fires.
  • The third wave would then drop more concussion bombs to create strong updrafts to sustain and build the fire.
  • Hamburg Central Business DistrictDeath Tolls
  • Three nights of bombing produced these results:
  • Destruction of the entire waterfront portion of the city
  • 24,866 homes destroyed in the central city
  • 35,000 to 135,000 dead (most reliable estimates place the death toll around 100,000)
  • Hamburg, Germany - Firebombing Campaign - July 24, 1943Central Docks Area, U-Boat PensDowntown Area, Hamburg, Germany Back to the land war: Roosevelt Sides with Churchill
  • “Operation Torch” was planned for late 1942
  • American General Dwight D. Eisenhower was placed in overall command
  • One of his jobs was to gain the confidence and support of the local French authorities
  • Many of the French commanders were openly anti-British
  • Eisenhower with Adm. Darlan, French High Commissioner for North Africa and Nazi supporterOperation Torch Continued
  • Following Rommel’s defeat on November 4 at El Alamein, this invasion was devastating to German efforts in North Africa
  • With supply lines under constant attack from British forces based on Malta, the Germans were starved of oil and repair parts
  • They were pushed back almost daily from 2 directions
  • By May 1943, the Afrika Korps surrendered
  • General Erwin Rommel, Panzer Korps, Nord AfrikaOn to Italy
  • With the Germans in retreat all over Europe (Stalingrad ended in January 1943) the western allies looked to Italy as the next logical invasion point
  • The Italians fired Mussolini on the day that the US army landed on the Italian mainland
  • Italy surrendered on September 3
  • Germany rescued Mussolini and occupied major cities, forcing much of Italy to remain a partner in battle
  • As we’ve discussed already
  • Germany quickly occupied Italy
  • Major battles: Monte Cassino, Anzio (Prelude to the techniques of the Korean War.), Salerno
  • The war in Italy would continue to V-E Day, May 8, 1945
  • The Tehran Conference: December 1943
  • At this conference some initial peace conditions were decided
  • The USSR would join in the fight against Japan after the defeat of Germany
  • There would be free elections in the nations of Europe after they were liberated – by whichever army
  • Germany would be divided into several occupation zones (FDR wanted 5, Stalin wanted the country destroyed)
  • It was at this conference that FDR’s health broke – for what would prove to be the last time
  • The Invasion - Finally
  • On June 6, 1944, the beaches at Normandy, France were attacked by the US, Canadian, UK, and other troops. (D-Day)
  • The supreme commander was Dwight D. Eisenhower – his two deputies were Montgomery and Bradley
  • By July 4, the allied troops were in Paris
  • Hitler’s Last Gasp – The Bulge: December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945
  • Hitler’s plan:
  • Drive through the Ardennes Forest (for the 4th time) into tired American divisions, drive to the coast, and cut off US from British forces
  • If they hadn’t run out of gas, they’d probably have made it
  • So, How does a modern army “run out of gas?”
  • Fuel supplies were extremely low in Germany
  • The army was dependent on synthetic fuel for much of its operations
  • A major crossroads in the “bulge” was at Bastogne
  • Bastongne – “Nuts”
  • The Germans surrounded the town and asked the commander to surrender
  • His response was a single word, “Nuts!”
  • When the German soldier asked him to translate, he asked if the German understood the phrase “Go to Hell!”
  • The German said that he did, and the commander responded that they meant the same thing
  • Bastogne Continued
  • The Americans in the town held out and were eventually rescued during the Allied counter-attack in late December.
  • The failure of the Germans to capture the town forced their main tank divisions to go way around the town – burning more gas
  • This gas usage proved to be the fatal link
  • After the Bulge
  • Hitler’s Germany only made it another 4 months after defeat at the Bulge.
  • The Russians and the Americans met at a bridge over the Elbe River in early 1945
  • This effectively cut Germany in half
  • In February
  • Allied air attacks against the cultural heart of old Saxony – Dresden – brought a new phase to the war
  • Dresden, Germany: February 12 - 14, 1945
  • The next example of firebombing is the city of Dresden
  • The only viable military target in the city was the rail yards - the city was the “cultural capital of Germany”
  • Known for its architecture and music
  • Even Churchill questioned the city as a target, going so far as to comment to the British Chiefs of Staff that “the destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.”The benefit of the destruction was largely received by the USSR as their troops were fighting in the area and did not want German reinforcements to move via rail easily.Pacific Theater
  • Philippines
  • Iwo Jima
  • Okinawa
  • Atomic Bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • Yalta Conference February – March 1945
  • Change in US policy - FDR decided that the US and USSR would decide the fate of post-war Europe - Churchill was, by this time, clearly in the 2nd rank of authority
  • Major compromises were to be made here that held long-lasting consequences
  • Yalta Continued
  • In order to gain Stalin’s assistance in the war with Japan, territorial concessions were made - Poland and the occupation zones in Germany
  • Official Outcome of Yalta
  • Germany to be divided into 3 zones (French zone to be carved out of US/British zones)
  • Eastern Poland to be ceded to the USSR
  • Free elections were to be allowed in Poland
  • Red Army would control countries that it had conquered - each would be allowed free elections
  • Austria divided into 3 zones
  • Berlin to be divided into 3 zones
  • The USSR would aid in the defeat in Japan - after Germany defeated
  • Iwo Jima
  • Feb. 19 - March 21, 1945
  • Tunnels allowed the Japanese to mount a different kind of defense
  • Casualties
  • US: 6,821 killed, 20K wounded
  • Japan: 21,000 killed (entire garrison)
  • Battle of Okinawa
  • March 21 - June 22, 1945
  • 120K Japanese troops against an eventual 250K US troops
  • Casualties
  • Japan: 110K killed, 7K wounded, 3K MIA, 16 ships, 7,800 aircraft
  • US: 12K killed, 38K wounded, 38 ships, 763 aircraft
  • Next Step - Japan
  • Based on the experience of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, US planners feared another fight of similar casualty totals (1/3 of all troops engaged at Iwo and Okinawa)
  • So far, the war in the Pacific had been the “smaller” of the two fronts
  • Plans called for an invasion of Kyushu in the fall of 1945
  • Japan continued
  • The initial invasion force would number 767K US troops - if the casualty numbers held, Kyushu alone would cause US forces 268K casualties (more than the entire war to date)
  • Estimates of US casualties for the entire invasion and conquest: 1M at least - perhaps 1M dead
  • The US looked to the Air Force and Navy to bombard the home islands and therefore reduce US troops’ casualties
  • Bombings, Spring/Summer 1945
  • On March 9, 1945 the USAAF firebombed the city of Tokyo
  • 325 Aircraft used
  • 267,000 buildings burned to the ground
  • 89,000 Japanese killed
  • By mid-June, Nagoya, Kobe, Osaka, Yokohama, and Kawasaki bombed
  • 260,000 people killed, 2 million buildings destroyed, between 9 and 13 M people homeless
  • Still, no discussion of surrender - except through some minor discussions with the Russians
  • Tokyo: March 9, 1945Even with all this . . .
  • In May, Alan Dulles made overtures to the Japanese delegation in Switzerland - met with silence
  • Japan began to arrest people on suspicion of favoring surrender - over 400 in 1945
  • Japan got a new government in July, no further progress
  • The Manhattan Project: 1937-45
  • Designed to beat the Nazis to an “atomic bomb”
  • Many scientists were involved, one of the most important was J. Robert Oppenheimer
  • By the time that the initial bombs were detonated in July and August 1945, there was some information available about radiation and the fallout of a detonation
  • That Said. . .
  • Several ideas were floated –
  • “Test” detonate a bomb on a deserted island
  • Hold back the bombs until an invasion had been tried
  • Try to negotiate – unfortunately, the government refused (as noted before)
  • By July – President Truman went forward with the bombings – after 3 days of “leaflet” drops as warnings
  • Summer 19
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