America and World War II


Previous chapter's notes on World War II - Prelude to World War II
The United States entered World War II unwillingly and largely unprepared. The America people, however, quickly banded together to transform the American economy into the most productive and efficient war-making machine in the world. The U.S forces truned the tide in Europe and the Pacific, and they played a crucial role in the defeat of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

I. Mobilizing for War

Converting the Economy

The American worker was twice as productive as the German worker and five times more productive than the Japanese worker during WWII. We were able to expand our war production because the gov't had begun to mobilize the economy before we entered the war. During the German blitzkrieg in France, FDR declared a national emergency and announced plans to build 50,000 warplanes a year. (Due to our shock and fear, most Americans agreed for defensive purposes)
Cost-Plus contracts - gov't agreed to pay a company whatever it cost to make a product plus a % of costs as profit (faster than regular bid contracts)

American Industry Gets the Job Done

Tanks replace cars - Auto factories began to produce trucks, jeeps, and tanks. Also they built artillery, rifles, mines, helmets, pontoon bridges, cooking pots, and dozens of other pieces of military equipment. Henry Ford created an assembly line for the B-24 bomber.
Liberty Ships - most of our ships were welded not riveted (riveted ships came apart when hit) So even a torpedo could put a hole in one, but often it didn't fall apart and could be brought into port and repaired. (we needed ships that were cheap, easy to build, and hard to sink)
War Production Board - set production goals and controlled the distribution of raw materials and supplies

Building an Army

Creating an Army - FDR began expanding our army when Germany attacked Poland and France. In June 1940 the Selective Service and Training Act was introduced (1st peacetime draft ever) After the defeat of France, most folks supported the draft. New draftees were known as GIs (Government Issue) which was the label of the uniforms that they were given. Basic training was 8 weeks - learning to handle weapons, load backpacks, read maps, pitch tents, and dig trenches. They learned to work as a team.
Segregated Army - white recruits did not train alongside African Americans; African Americans had separate barrackes, latrines, mess halls, and recreational facilities.
Pusing for "Double V" - Some African Americans supported the war for specific purposes. The Double V campaign argued that African Americans should join the war effort in order to achieve a double victory - a victory over Hitler's racism abroad and a victory over racism at home.
In combat - Tuskegee Airmen was the 99th Pursuit Squadron sent to fight in Italy and very important in the Battle of Anzio in April 1943.
Women - Women's Army Corps (WAC) became a part of the regular army with this group. Over 68,000 served as nurses in the army and navy.

II. The Early Battles

Holding Against Japan

Philippines (Read the story about the Bataan Death March)
Doolittle Raid - lifted the spirit of the nation when we could attack Japan and catch them off guard.
Battle of the Coral Sea - Admiral Nimitz was able to keep American supplies lines open
Battle of Midway - turning point in the war in Pacific; Japan lost 4 of its largest carriers and we'd stopped the Japanese advance in the Pacific.

Turning Back Germany

North Africa - German forces known as Africa Korps commanded by "Desert Fox" Erwin Rommel - British forced them to retreat at Battle of El Alamein; General Patton led the capture of Casablanca. by May 1943 German forces in North Africa surrendered.
Battle of the Atlantic - German's submarine warfare was effective, sinking millions of tons of US equipment. But when we used sonar, radar, and depth charges to locate and attack subs, we began doing better.
Stalingrad - Hilter attacked USSR's oil fields and tried to capture Stalingrad in 1942 - Stalin ordered them to hold it at all costs; By Feb 1943, Germans gave up their quest, losing giant numbers. This battle was a turning point in the war in Europe. Germany's losses were major.

III. Life on the Home Front

Women and MInorities Gain

"Rosie the Riveter" - symbol of the campaign to hire women to work in factories
African Americans - Executive Order 8802 - no discrimination in employment of workers in defense industries
Bracero Program - program to help meet the huge demand for more farmworkers and harvest fruit and vegetables in the SW

A Nation on the Move

Zoot Suit Riots - Southern California; lots of Mexican immigrants were attacked by sailors Zoot suit- baggy, pleated pants, knee length jackets, and long hair in a ducktail; the prejudice against them turned into hostility.
Japanese American Relocation - Due to fear of Japanese Americans possible allegiance to Japan, the US forced those Jap-Am in California and other areas to relocation camps to keep watch and control of them. They lost homes, jobs, and livelihood when this was done.
Korematsu v. US - Supreme Court ruled that relocation was constitutional based on the military urgency.

Daily Life in Wartime America

Office of Price Administration - stablize wages and regulate prices
Blue Points, Red Points - limit availability of products to make sure enough was available for military; Blue- processed foods; Red - meats, fats, and oils. Had to have coupons to buy products along with the money.
Victory Gardens and Scrap Drives - Americans planted gardens - schoolyards, parks, etc.; Scrap drives for rubber, tires, tin cans, car bumpers, broken radiators, and rusting bicycles
"E" bonds - sold for $18.75 and could be redeemed for $25 in 10 years; Americans bought nearly $50 billion war bonds.

IV. Pusing the Axis Back

Striking Back at Third Reich

Soft Underbelly - Used the new DUKW (amphibious truck) in Sicily and North Africa; Led us to be able to finish off Mussolini. On Sept 8, 1943, Italy surrendered. This was one of the bloodiest parts of the war, costing the Allies more than 300,000 casualities.

Landing in France

D-Day
Operation Overlord
- 1.5 million American soldiers, 12,000 airplanes, and 5 million tons of equipment; June 6, 1944 7,000 ships invaded, 23,000 paratroopers were dropped - entire thing was planned and coordinated by General Dwight Eisenhower.
Watching Saving Private Ryan

Driving Japan Back

Island-Hopping - look on page 760 to see all of the many islands of the Pacific part of this war
MacArthur Returns to Philippines - as promised, MacArthur returns to take the Philippines back in October 1944 with 700 ships and 170,000 troops.
Kamikazes - "divine wind" these pilots would deliberately crash their planes into American ships, killing themselves but also inflicting severe damage. (they became very desperate)

V. The War Ends

Germany Collapses - After the invasion of France, Germany began falling apart.We liberated Paris on August 25, 1944 and signaled the beginning of the end for Germany.
The Battle of the Bulge - difficult winter battle that was the last major battle of the war.
V-E day - May 7, 1945 Germany surrendered
Japan Defeated
Okinawa - April 1, 1945 - American invade; Japanes soldiers retreat to the island's mountains; we captured island by June 22, 1945
Manhattan Project - the building of the atomic bomb; led by J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. Secret lab was at Los Alamos, NM and the first test bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945
The Bomb - Harry Truman, president after FDR's death in April 1945, decided to use the bomb on Japan. 1st one on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945; 2nd one on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.

Buidling a New World

United Nations - international political organization established on April 25, 1945 in San Francisco to take action to preserve peace. Five permanent members are: Britain, France, China, USSR (Russia now) and the US. All five have veto power.
Nuremburg Trials - German leaders were put on trial for war crimes. 22 were prosecuted(3 were acquitted;7 given prison terms; 12 put to death) later another 24 were executed and 107 were given prison sentences.