WORLD WAR II
World War II: United States´ Entry into the War
When the Japanese seized Manchuria and then invaded China and began a drive to the south, they put their country on the road to war with the United States. But this aggression was at least in part a result of the West’s efforts to weaken Japan as an economic rival after World War I. The Great Depression, Japan’s population explosion, and the need to find new resources and markets to continue as a first-rate power were other causes of the invasion. Neither Japan nor America would have come to the brink of war except for the social and economic disruption of Europe after World War I and the rise of communism and fascism. These two sweeping forces brought about the tragedy of war between Japan and America. Unfortunately both countries were inept negotiators driven by paranoiac fear - Japan, fear of communism from both Russia and Mao Tse-tung, and America, fear of the "yellow peril." President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought their differences to a head on the night of July 26, 1941. After learning that the Japanese army had pushed into Indochina, he froze all Japanese assets in America. In consequence, not only did all trade with the United States cease, but the fact that America had been Japan’s major source of oil imports now left Japan in an untenable position.
On September 6 an imperial conference was convened in Tokyo to decide on war or peace. Traditionally the emperor was supposed to remain silent. Instead Hirohito recited a poem of peace written by his grandfather. Startled, the military leaders promised to give first consideration to diplomacy. Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye was forced to resign, and it was suggested that Gen. Hideki Tojo, the war minister, replace him. Only he could control the army. Tojo, although shocked by the offer, accepted and was ordered to "go back to blank paper," that is, to start with a clean slate and negotiate with America for peace.
Despite protests from the military, a new offer was sent to Washington on November 20. Japan promised not to make any more aggressive moves south, and once peace was restored with China or a general peace in the Pacific established, all troops would be pulled out of Indochina. In the meantime Japan would at once move all troops in southern Indochina to the north of that country. In return, America was to sell Japan a million tons of aviation gasoline. Roosevelt was so impressed that he wrote out a reply in pencil and sent it to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. The secretary passed on copies to Chiang Kai-shek and Winston Churchill. Both protested so forcefully that the message was never sent to the Japanese. On November 26 news came of another Japanese expedition to Indochina, and the president "fairly blew up" when informed by Hull. In place of Roosevelt’s earlier message a harsh note was sent calling for Japan to withdraw all military forces from China and Indochina. It was regarded as an insult by the Japanese cabinet. It is possible that if Hull had sent Roosevelt’s original note Japan would have either come to some agreement with America or been forced to debate the issue, thus compelling postponement of an attack until the spring of 1942 because of weather conditions. By this time it would have been obvious that Moscow would not fall. This would dangerously weaken the Axis and cause the Japanese leaders to reconsider a Pearl Harbor attack at such an inauspicious moment. Then the implausible series of chances and coincidences that led to December 7 might not have occurred.
A war that could possibly have been avoided now broke out because of mutual misunderstanding and language difficulties, along with Japanese opportunism, irrationality, pride, and fear and American racial prejudice, distrust, ignorance of the Orient, self-righteousness, and pride.
Bitter political controversy had clouded the issue of war or peace in America. The interventionists, convinced that the nation’s future safety depended on its helping crush the aggressor nations, had pushed through Congress the Lend-Lease Act committing America to unlimited aid, "short of war," to the enemies of the Axis. The United States would be the "arsenal of democracy." The opponents of intervention included strange bedfellows: the right-wing America Firsters of Charles Lindbergh, Senator William E. Borah, and the German-American Bund, the "American peace mobilization" of the Communist and Labor parties, and the traditionally isolationist Midwest, which, though sympathetic to Great Britain and China, wanted no part of a shooting war.
The bombs at Pearl Harbor brought Americans together, but the honeymoon ended when Roosevelt put the blame for Pearl Harbor on the commanders in Hawaii, Adm. Husband Kimmel and Gen. Walter Short. To quell protests the president appointed Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts to head a Pearl Harbor inquiry. It found Kimmel and Short the principal culprits. Rather than ending the dispute this stirred vigorous protests, which resulted in several minor inquiries followed by major army and navy inquiries in the summer of 1944. When a Naval Intelligence officer testified that key messages indicating a possible raid on Pearl Harbor had been destroyed, and two army officers revealed that they had been forced to change testimony concerning Gen. George C. Marshall, both the army and the navy courts concluded that the principal blame lay in Washington. These conclusions were kept from the public.
After the war Congress held public hearings that convinced the majority of Americans that Kimmel and Short should carry the burden of blame and that Roosevelt and Marshall had done their best to prevent war with a nation run by bandits. Most historians agreed with these findings, but there was evidence to suggest that the truth had been distorted by reversions of testimony, cover-ups, and outright lies. There was evidence, for instance, that President Roosevelt knew as early as December 2, 1941, that Japanese carriers were approaching Pearl Harbor. According to the testimony of Capt. Johan Ranneft, naval attaché of the Netherlands in Washington, U.S. Naval Intelligence informed him on December 2 that two Japanese carriers were halfway between Japan and Hawaii. Four days later they were some three hundred to four hundred miles from Pearl Harbor. He reported this to his government and wrote the details in his war diary. Of course, where the carrier were going and for what purpose was unclear.
Marshall had assured Roosevelt that Oahu was the strongest fortress in the world and any enemy task force would be destroyed. The president, therefore, took a calculated risk and lost. This was understandable, but if he instigated a cover-up, as some evidence indicates, that was a serious offense. Perhaps the whole truth will never be known.
J. O. Richardson, as told to George C. Dyer, On the Treadmill to Pearl Harbor (1973); John Toland, Infamy (1982).
· America First Committee
· Asia-U.S. Relations
· Atlantic Charter
· Four Freedoms
· Lend-Lease Act
· Marshall, George C.
· Neutrality Acts
· Pearl Harbor, Attack on
· Roosevelt, Franklin D.
World War II: Events and Results
Adolf Hitler´´s plan to seize all of Europe was set into motion on March 7, 1936, when he sent troops into the demilitarized Rhineland in violation of earlier treaties. The British did not seriously consider taking action and the French feared to do so. Ironically, the fuehrer had given orders to retreat if challenged by the French; thus, his occupation of the Rhineland was accomplished by default. Then followed moves into Austria, where he was greeted with enthusiasm, and into Czechoslovakia. Finally on September 1, 1939, his forces invaded Poland. This at last brought a declaration of war from England.
As Poland was about to fall, the opportunistic Joseph Stalin occupied the eastern half of the country. On September 28, the two dictators signed a no aggression treaty. With his rear thus protected, Hitler made plans to invade the West and in May 1940 sent troops across the borders of Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg. Caught by surprise, the British and French were soon overwhelmed. The survivors of a British expeditionary force escaped across the English Channel, and the French capitulated on June 22.
Now Hitler prepared to turn on his ally, Stalin, and so become the master of all Europe. When massive air raids on England failed to subdue the stubborn British, he sought to bring them to the negotiating table by capturing Gibraltar. This would not only keep the Royal Navy out of the Mediterranean, thus ensuring Hitler’s takeover of North Africa and the Middle East, but also drastically lengthen England’s lifelines to the Far East. Britain would be forced to surrender and become a silent partner in his crusade against Jewish Bolshevism.
All he needed was Francisco Franco’s permission to transport troops through Spain. But to his dismay, the Spanish dictator, though he seemed to agree, kept stalling. He did nothing, thus saving Gibraltar for England. Besides fear of aligning himself with a possible loser, Franco had a compelling personal motive. He was part Jewish.
Another followed this setback when Italy’s Benito Mussolini, who so far had avoided going to war, attempted to seize the Balkans and failed. Hitler felt compelled to do so himself before his attack on Russia could safely be launched; this forced him to postpone that invasion for at least a month. It finally began on June 22, 1941. Great advances were made until early October, and then sleet turned into snow and the mud froze. The cold intensified, and Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt radioed Hitler that his troops must retreat or "they will be destroyed." Instead the fuehrer ordered the attack to continue and was caught completely off balance on the night of December 4 when the Soviets launched a massive counteroffensive. Hitler not only lost Moscow but appeared destined to suffer Napoleon´´s fate in the winter snows of Russia. Despondent, he admitted to Gen. Alfred Jodl that "victory could no longer be achieved."
On December 7 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, whereupon Hitler made still another mistake. He declared war on America, thus saving President Roosevelt from the risk of incurring the opposition of German-Americans by asking Congress to declare war on Germany first.
Two hours after the first bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Japanese planes hit Clark Field, the main U.S. base in the Philippines, wiping out half of Gen. Douglas MacArthur´´s Far East air force. Within three days he had little air defense, and soon forty-three thousand Japanese troops landed 135 air miles north of Manila. MacArthur withdrew the bulk of his U.S.-Filipino forces to Bataan Peninsula and the adjoining island of Corregidor. After a bitter struggle the defenders of Bataan were driven back, and MacArthur was ordered to fly to Australia. On April 7 more than seventy-six thousand survivors on Bataan surrendered, and a month later Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, MacArthur´´s replacement, surrendered the remaining troops in the Philippines.
With Indochina, Thailand, and the chain of islands from Sumatra to Guadalcanal occupied, Japanese naval leaders decided that operations should be started against Australia and Hawaii. The army protested, but a surprise bombing of Tokyo by Col. James Doolittle in mid-April allowed Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto to prevail. Preparations were made to attack Midway Island, fifteen hundred miles northwest of Pearl Harbor. It was thought that this would all but wipe out the U.S. Pacific Fleet and leave Hawaii open to invasion.
But the Americans had broken the Japanese code, and Adm. Chester Nimitz was ready. In the most crucial sea battle of the war, U.S. Navy and Marine airmen sank four carriers on June 4. America now controlled the Pacific. The Japanese commanders had fought the battle too carefully. In contrast, Rear Adm. Raymond Spruance, bold at the right moment, had launched his strike early. What gave Spruance the chance to win was Nimitz back in Pearl Harbor. He had made all the right decisions before a shot was fired.
The spring of 1942 saw almost no change in Germany’s military situation. The eastern front remained stagnant, and Gen. Erwin Rommel was not quite ready for a new offensive in North Africa. Still determined to crush Russia, Hitler ordered a drive into the Caucasus, but rains held it up until June. Then, encouraged by an early success, the fuehrer made another mistake. He decided to mount a major attack on Stalingrad, an industrial city on the Volga, while continuing the drive to the Caucasus. By mid-September double victory seemed certain - and then the Soviets´´ defense abruptly stiffened.
November proved to be a month of disaster. Although Hitler had ordered him not to retreat "one inch" from North Africa, Rommel was forced to withdraw. An even more critical reversal occurred at Stalingrad. On November 22 two arms of a tremendous Soviet pincer movement encircled the entire Sixth Army, and more than 200,000 German troops along with a hundred tanks, eighteen hundred big guns, and more than ten thousand vehicles were caught in a giant trap. On February 2, 1943, the Germans capitulated.
In the Far East the Americans were advancing on two fronts. While MacArthur slogged across New Guinea toward the Philippines, Nimitz’s amphibious forces were leapfrogging from island to island in the Pacific. On August 7, 1942, U.S. Marines landed at Guadalcanal, and after five months of deadly battle, the Japanese survivors were evacuated by ship. Nimitz’s forces continued toward Japan and by February 4, 1944, had reached the western limit of the Marianas, a chain of volcanic islands.
The next target was the most strategic island of the chain, Saipan. On June 15, 1944, two Marine divisions landed on the west coast and began pushing across Saipan to link up with G.I.s of the Twenty-seventh Division. This brought swift reaction from the Japanese navy. Vice Adm. Jisaburo Ozawa was ordered to annihilate Admiral Spruance’s Task Force 58, but in a savage air battle on June 19 Ozawa lost 346 planes while shooting down only 50 Americans. In a bold stroke Japan´s naval power had been fatally crippled. This crushing defeat doomed the defenders of Saipan, and it was all over a month later. Close to 22,000 Japanese civilians - two out of three - perished, many of them by suicide. Almost the entire garrison - at least 30,000 - died. The Americans suffered 14,111 casualties. But the main island bastion protecting Japan´s homeland had been won by the United States. More important, the lowlands of southern Saipan offered a base from which massive B-29 bombing raids could be launched at the heart of the Japanese empire, Tokyo.
While the Americans were taking Saipan, the Allies in Europe landed in Normandy on June 6. Hitler was taken by surprise, and within ten days the Allies had managed to land a million men and 500,000 tons of matériel. While the U.S. and British forces swept forward, an attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20 almost succeeded. On August 25 Paris was liberated, and by late autumn the Germans were driven back to their own borders.
Faced with disaster, Hitler made one final attempt to win in the West. The plan was to drive through the Ardennes and reach the English Channel, thus splitting the Americans and British. On the night of December 15 three German armies moved secretly to the line of departure. The next morning they struck, taking the Americans off guard. But after retreating for eight days, the U.S. troops regrouped and stopped the Nazis. The Battle of the Bulge soon ended with the Germans in full retreat. Two weeks later they suffered another defeat, and the Red Army crossed the Vistula.
Now Hitler was being crushed from two sides. He had a momentary flash of hope on April 12 upon learning that President Roosevelt had died. But as the Soviets approached his bunker, he realized the end had come and shot himself. When he died so did National Socialism and the "Thousand-Year Reich."
Adolf Hitler was probably the greatest mover and shaker of the twentieth century. Certainly no other human disrupted so many lives in our times or incurred so much hatred. He was driven by a number of forces. Blinded by gas in 1918, he had resolved that if he recovered his sight, he would abandon his goal of becoming an architect and enter politics. One night, like Saint Joan, he heard voices summoning him to save his country. All at once, as he recorded in Mein Kampf, "a miracle came to pass." He could see! He vowed he would become a politician and "bring Germany from the depths of despair to the greatness she deserved."
Like millions of frontline troops, Hitler believed that those had betrayed them back home - strikers, malingerers, Jews, politicians, profiteers. They had forced the generals to surrender and accept the unjust and shameful Versailles treaty. Soon he became convinced that the greatest enemy to his crusade for a new Germany was communism, which he believed had been engendered by Jews. Anti-Semitism had flourished throughout Europe for centuries, and Hitler found many adherents. Obsessed by his dream of cleansing the Continent of Jews, he became a warped archangel. He had intended the elimination of Jews to be his great gift to the world. Ironically, it would lead instead to the formation of a Jewish state.
In the Far East, also, there were impressive American victories. MacArthur, who had landed on Leyte in October 1944, had cleared the island of defenders by January 12, 1945. While he continued to advance toward Luzon, marines were wiping out the Japanese on the tiny but important island of Iwo Jima.
After Okinawa was occupied on July 12, the defeat of Japan was inevitable. Convinced that a direct attack on the four main islands of Japan would be too costly, President Harry S. Truman ordered the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At an imperial conference Emperor Hirohito announced that the time had come to bear the unbearable. On August 15 he informed his people over a nationwide radio hookup that Japan was surrendering.
World War II was, in fact, two separate wars. In the West Hitler had two aims: the first to seize all of Europe and North Africa so he could dominate the Mediterranean, and the second to wipe out communism and eliminate the Jews. His ally, Mussolini, had his own aims: domination of both the Mediterranean and the Balkans.
As for the Allies, both England and France fought to preserve their countries and stabilize Europe. Roosevelt´´s aim was broader: destruction of Nazism and establishment of democracy throughout Europe. The Soviet aim was to drive out the Nazis and emerge strong enough to continue communization of the world.
In the Far East the Americans fought to rid themselves of a foe who some thought threatened their Pacific island possessions and their own West Coast. In addition they were eager to aid Chiang Kai-shek´´s China. Some Americans also felt it was a good time to eliminate Japan as a serious economic rival.
As for the Japanese, they attacked Hawaii because it harbored the Pacific Fleet and was perceived as a spear aimed at their proposed conquest of Southeast Asia for oil.
The Allies won in Europe because of the blows inflicted on the Germans by the Russians, the endurance of the British, and the air and armaments superiority supplied by the might of American production. On the other hand, the victory in Europe resulted in a takeover of eastern Europe, despite Stalin´´s promises at Yalta, and a cold war between the Soviets and the democracies. In Asia victory resulted in the takeover of China and Manchuria by the People´´s Republic of China, chaos in Southeast Asia, and a division of Korea, with the Soviets in the North and the Americans in the South, that would lead to another war.
John Keegan, The Second World War (1990); John Toland, Adolf Hitler (1976); John Toland, The Rising Sun (1970).
· Bradley, Omar
· Eisenhower, Dwight D.
· Germany-U.S. Relations
· Great Britain-U.S. Relations
· Holocaust, American Response to the
· Japanese-American Relocation
· King, Ernest
· MacArthur, Douglas
· Manhattan Project
· Nimitz, Chester
· Nuclear Weapons: Origins and Legacy
· Nuremberg Trials
· Oppenheimer, J. Robert
· Potsdam Conference
· Soviet-American Relations, 1917-1945
· Yalta Conference
World War II
World War II, 1939-45, worldwide conflict involving every major power in the world. The two sides were generally known as the Allies and the Axis.
Causes and Outbreak
This second global conflict resulted from the rise of totalitarian, militaristic regimes in Germany, Italy, and Japan, a phenomenon stemming in part from the Great Depression that swept over the world in the early 1930s and from the conditions created by the peace settlements (1919-20) following World War I.
After World War I, defeated Germany, disappointed Italy, and ambitious Japan were anxious to regain or increase their power; all three eventually adopted forms of dictatorship (see National Socialism and fascism) that made the state supreme and called for expansion at the expense of neighboring countries. These three countries also set themselves up as champions against Communism, thus gaining at least partial tolerance of their early actions from the more conservative groups in the Western democracies. Also important was a desire for peace on the part of the democracies, which resulted in their military unpreparedness. Finally, the League of Nations, weakened from the start by the defection of the United States, was unable to promote disarmament (see Disarmament Conference); moreover, the long economic depression sharpened national rivalries, increased fear and distrust, and made the masses susceptible to the promises of demagogues.
The failure of the League to stop the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1931 was followed by a rising crescendo of treaty violations and acts of aggression. Adolf Hitler, when he rose to power (1933) in Germany, recreated the German army and prepared it for a war of conquest; in 1936 he remilitarized the Rhineland. Benito Mussolini conquered (1935-36) Ethiopia for Italy; and from 1936 to 1939 the Spanish civil war raged, with Germany and Italy helping the fascist forces of Francisco Franco to victory. In Mar. 1938, Germany annexed Austria, and in Sept. 1938, the British and French policy of appeasement toward the Axis reached its height with the sacrifice of much of Czechoslovakia to Germany in the Munich Pact.
When Germany occupied (Mar., 1939) all of Czechoslovakia, and when Italy seized (Apr., 1939) Albania, Great Britain and France abandoned their policy of appeasement and set about creating an anti aggression front, which included alliances with Turkey, Greece, Romania, and Poland, and speeding rearmament. Germany and Italy signed (May, 1939) a full military alliance, and after the Soviet-German non aggression pact (Aug., 1939) removed German fear of a possible two-front war, Germany was ready to launch an attack on Poland.
World War II began on Sept. 1, 1939, when Germany, without a declaration of war, invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany on Sept. 3, and all the members of the Commonwealth of Nations, except Ireland, rapidly followed suit. The fighting in Poland was brief. The German blitzkrieg, or lightning war, with its use of new techniques of mechanized and air warfare, crushed the Polish defenses, and the conquest was almost complete when Soviet forces entered (Sept. 17) E Poland. While this campaign ended with the partition of Poland and while the USSR defeated Finland in the Finnish-Russian War (1939-40), the British and the French spent an inactive winter behind the Maginot Line, content with blockading Germany by sea.
From Norway to Moscow
The inactive period ended with the surprise invasion (Apr. 9, 1940) of Denmark and Norway by the Germans. Denmark offered no resistance; Norway was conquered by June 9. On May 10, German forces overran Luxembourg and invaded the Netherlands and Belgium; on May 13 they outflanked the Maginot Line. Their armored columns raced to the English Channel and cut off Flanders, and Allied forces were evacuated from Dunkirk (May 26-June 4). General Weygand had replaced General Gamelin as supreme Allied commander, but was unable to stop the Allied debacle in the battle of France. On June 22, France signed an armistice with Germany, followed by an armistice with Italy, which had entered the war on June 10. The Vichy government was set up in France under Marshal Petain. Britain, the only remaining Allied power, resisted, under the inspiring leadership of Winston Churchill, the German attempt to bomb it into submission.
While Germany was receiving its first setback in the Battle of Britain, fought entirely in the air, the theater of war was widened by the Italian attack on the British in North Africa (see North Africa, campaigns in, by the Italian invasion (Oct. 28, 1940) of Greece, and by German submarine warfare in the Atlantic Ocean. Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria joined the Axis late in 1940, but Yugoslavia resisted German pressure, and on Apr. 6, 1941, Germany launched attacks on Yugoslavia and Greece and won rapid victories. In May, Crete fell.
Great Britain gained a new ally on June 22, 1941, when Germany (joined by Italy, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Finland), invaded the Soviet Union. By Dec., 1941, German mechanized divisions had destroyed a substantial part of the Soviet army and had overrun much of European Russia. However, the harsh Russian winter halted the German sweep, and the drive on Moscow was foiled by a Soviet counteroffensive.
War Comes to the United States
Though determined to maintain its neutrality, the United States was gradually drawn closer to the war by the force of events. To save Britain from collapse the Congress voted lend-lease aid early in 1941. In Aug. 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met Churchill on the high seas, and together they formulated the Atlantic Charter as a general statement of democratic aims. To establish bases to protect its shipping from attacks by German submarines, the United States occupied (Apr., 1941) Greenland and later shared in the occupation of Iceland; despite repeated warnings, the attacks continued. Relations with Germany became increasingly strained, and the aggressive acts of Japan in China, Indochina, and Thailand provoked protests from the United States.
Efforts to reach a peaceful settlement were ended on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan without warning attacked Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, and Malaya. War was declared (Dec. 8) on Japan by the United States, the Commonwealth of Nations (except Ireland), and the Netherlands. Within a few days Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
The first phase of the war in the Pacific was disastrous for the Allies. Japan swiftly conquered the Philippines (where strong resistance ended at Corregidor), Malaya, Burma (Myanmar), Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), and many Pacific islands; destroyed an Allied fleet in the Java Sea; and reached, by mid-1942, its furthest points of advance in the Aleutian Islands and New Guinea.
Australia became the chief Allied base for the countermoves against Japan, directed by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Admiral Nimitz, and Admiral Halsey. The first Allied naval successes against Japan were scored in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, where U.S. bombers knocked out the major part of Japan´s carrier fleet and forced Japan into retreat. Midway was the first decisive blow against the Axis by Allied forces. On land the Allies took the offensive in New Guinea and landed (Aug. 7, 1942) on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
The Turning Point
Despite the slightly improved position in the Pacific, the late summer of 1942 was perhaps the darkest period of the war for the Allies. In North Africa, the Axis forces under Field Marshal Rommel were sweeping into Egypt; in Russia, they had penetrated the Caucasus and launched a gigantic offensive against Stalingrad (see Volgograd). In the Atlantic, even to the shores of the United States and in the Gulf of Mexico, German submarines were sinking Allied shipping at an unprecedented rate.
Yet the Axis war machine showed signs of wear, while the United States was merely beginning to realize its potential, and Russia had huge reserves and was receiving U.S. lend-lease aid through Iran and the port of Murmansk. The major blow, however, was leveled at the Axis by Britain, when General Montgomery routed Rommel at Alamein in North Africa (Oct., 1942). This was followed by the American invasion of Algeria (Nov. 8, 1942); the Americans and British were joined by Free French forces of General de Gaulle and by regular French forces that had passed to the Allies after the surrender of Admiral Darlan. After heavy fighting in Tunisia, North Africa was cleared of Axis forces by May 12, 1943.
Meantime, in the Soviet stand at Stalingrad and counteroffensive resulted in the surrender (Feb. 2, 1943) of the German 6th Army, followed by nearly uninterrupted Russian advances. In the Mediterranean, the Allies followed up their African victory by the conquest of Sicily (July-Aug., 1943) and the invasion of Italy, which surrendered on Sept. 8. However, the German army in Italy fought bloody rearguard actions, and Rome fell (June 4, 1944) only after the battles of Monte Cassino and Anzio. In the Atlantic, the submarine threat was virtually ended by the summer of 1944. Throughout German-occupied Europe, underground forces, largely supplied by the Allies, began to wage war against their oppressors.
The Allies, who had signed (Jan. 1, 1942) the United Nations declaration, were drawn closer together militarily by the Casablanca Conference, at which they pledged to continue the war until the unconditional surrender of the Axis, and by the Moscow Conferences, the Quebec Conference, the Cairo Conference, and the Tehran Conference. The invasion of German-held France was decided upon, and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was put in charge of the operation.
Allied Victory in Europe
By the beginning of 1944 air warfare had turned overwhelmingly in favor of the Allies, who wrought unprecedented destruction on many German cities and on transport and industries throughout German-held Europe. This air offensive prepared the way for the landing (June 6, 1944) of the Allies in N France (see Normandy campaign) and a secondary landing (Aug. 15) in S France. After heavy fighting in Normandy, Allied armored divisions raced to the Rhine, clearing most of France and Belgium of German forces by Oct., 1944. The use of V-1 and V-2 rockets by the Germans proved as futile an effort as their counteroffensive in Belgium under General von Rundstedt (see Battle of the Bulge).
On the Eastern Front Soviet armies swept (1944) through the Baltic States, E Poland, Belorussia, and Ukraine and forced the capitulation of Romania (Aug. 23), Finland (Sept. 4), and Bulgaria (Sept. 10). Having evacuated the Balkan Peninsula, the Germans resisted in Hungary until Feb., 1945, but Germany itself was pressed. The Russians entered East Prussia and Czechoslovakia (Jan., 1945) and took E Germany to the Oder.
On Mar. 7 the Western Allies-whose chief commanders in the field were Omar N. Bradley and Montgomery-crossed the Rhine after having smashed through the strongly fortified Siegfried Line and overran W Germany. German collapse came after the meeting (Apr. 25) of the Western and Russian armies at Torgau in Saxony, and after Hitler´s death amid the ruins of Berlin, which was falling to the Russians under marshals Zhukov and Konev. The unconditional surrender of Germany was signed at Reims on May 7 and ratified at Berlin on May 8.
Allied Victory in the Pacific
After the completion of the campaigns in the Solomon Islands (late 1943) and New Guinea (1944), the Allied advance moved inexorably, in two lines that converged on Japan, through scattered island groups-the Philippines, the Mariana Islands, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. Japan, with most of its navy sunk, staggered beneath these blows. At the Yalta Conference, the USSR secretly promised its aid against Japan, which still refused to surrender even after the Allied appeal made at the Potsdam Conference. On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States first used the atomic bomb and devastated Hiroshima; on Aug.... Ladda upp arbete
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