Axis Aggression • When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, he promised to return Germany to glory. • He wanted the German people to have lebensraum or living space. • Hitler also started to rebuild Germany’s military, because he knew that no one would stop him.
In 1936, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland. The French and British protested, but did nothing about it. In March 1938, Germany annexed (Anschluss) Austria, even though their government was against it. Hitler then wanted to annex the Sudetenland part of Czechoslovakia.
In order to avoid war, Britain, Germany, and France met at the Munich Conference in Sept. 1938 and agreed to the Munich Pact. Hitler was given the Sudetenland in return to his agreeing to not take any more land. This was known as Britain’s policy of appeasement. Hitler soon took over the rest of Czechoslovakia.
By the late 1930s, Germany, Italy, and Japan formed an alliance and became known as the Axis Powers. Each side pledged to aid the other in a war.
In 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed a Non-aggression Pact. Each side agreed not to attack each other and to divide up Poland among themselves. Stalin believed that England and France would not be able to protect the USSR from German invasion so he agreed to this treaty.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, starting WWII. Germany used a new battle tactic called Blitzkrieg. Britain and France had agreed to help Poland if they were ever invaded but never sent any help. Britain and France became known as the Allies.
By the Spring of 1940, Germany started their invasion of France. Germany invaded through the Ardennes, totally surprising the French. Hundreds of thousands of Allied troops would soon be trapped along the French coast at Dunkirk. Ships rescued 300,000 Allied troops. On June 22, 1940, France surrendered to Germany.
Between August and October 1940, the Battle of Britain was fought. Germany planes bombed England almost on a nightly basis. The British were aided by radar and Germany finally gave up the idea of invading England.
In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. At first the German army was successful, but soon the Red Army dug in. The Germans would be defeated at the Battle of Stalingrad.
On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The next day the United States entered WWII.
The Allied Response The Afrika Korps was the Axis force in North Africa. By late 1942, the Allies started to take control. The Battle of El Alamein in Egypt started to turn the tide in North Africa. The Allies took advantage of Rommel’s supply problems. By 1943, the Americans had joined the British and finally defeated the Axis in North Africa.
The next goal was Italy. Allied soldiers landed in Sicily in July 1943. By September 1943, The Allies invaded Italy itself. Nazi forces slowed the Allies down, even though the Allies would continue to push towards Germany.
The Russians defeated the Nazis at the Battle of Stalingrad which was fought from 1942-1943. Hitler wanted the city because of its industry. The city would get surrounded by Nazis by the fall of 1942 and then winter hit. The Nazis would eventually be defeated
After the American victory at Midway in 1942, the Americans started their strategy of island hopping, which was created by Douglas MacArthur. This is when American forces would go from island to island until they reached Japan.
The Battle of Guadalcanal (1942-1943), would be one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The Japanese would hide in the jungles and refuse to surrender.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf (1944) was the largest naval battle ever fought. This was the first time the Japanese used kamikazes or suicide pilots on a large scale. It ended in an Allied victory and the Allies had taken back the Philippines.
The Holocaust • The Nazis used several methods to deal with Jews with their Final Solution. At first, Jews were forced to move to ghettos where they were walled in and were prevented from leaving. If someone tried to escape, they would be shot. Most people would die from starvation.
Other Jews were sent to Concentration Camps. People here were forced to work as slave laborers. Some people were even used for medical experiments.
The enemies of the state were not being killed fast enough for Hitler’s liking, so the death camp was invented. At these camps prisoners would be gassed. Once they were killed, their bodies were burned in furnaces to get rid of the evidence.
Prison camps did not only hold Jews. They also held homosexuals, people with disabilities, blacks, and gypsies. By the end of the war, around 6 million had been killed.
The End of the War June 6, 1944, Is D Day. This was the Allied invasion of northern France. Over 150,000 troops would land on the beach during the first day. By July, over 1 million Allied troops would be in France.
The Battle of the Bulge would occur in Belgium in December 1944. It would be the last German offensive of the war. It was a surprise attack, but the Allies would quickly recover and defeat the Nazis by January 1945.
The Soviets would be the first to reach Berlin. Hitler would kill himself on May 2 and the Nazis would surrender on May 7. May 8 would become VE Day (Victory in Europe).
In February 1945, Allies would defeat the Japanese in the Battle of Iwo Jima. 7,000 Americans would die and 20,000 Japanese soldiers died.
The closest island to Japan was Okinawa. The Americans would win a bloody victory there in 1945. After three months 12,000 Americans were killed while 100,000 Japanese were killed. The island was 350 miles from Japan.
On August 6, 1945 an atomic bomb would be dropped on Hiroshima. 70,000 would die instantly. On August 9, another bomb would be dropped on Nagasaki. 75,000 people would die. Japan would finally surrender on August 15.
At the Yalta Conference (1945) Stalin agreed to let Eastern European countries to hold free elections.
At the Potsdam Conference (1945), the Allies agreed to split Germany into 4 occupation zones. The United Nations would be formed as an open forum for countries to discuss their problems with each other.
Summary of WWII Who fought: • Axis Powers – Germany, Italy, Japan • Allied Powers – Britain, France, U.S. Why did WWII start: Germany’s bitterness from WWI, Hitler broke Treaty of Versailles Winner: The Allied Powers!