WW2 Game Changers

Clara Diekman

#1 Lend-Lease Act

The Lend-Lease Act of 1941 was a game changer because it prolonged the war which allowed for the United States to actually get involved in the war. Before passing this act the United States was neutral with the same mindset that our founding fathers had regarding foreign policy and involvement. President Washington warned the nation about possible foreign entanglement and suggested that they stay out of it when giving his Farewell Address, “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible.” This mindset stayed the same until the Lend Lease act which can be seen when President Roosevelt said the following in 1955, “Despite what happens in continents overseas, the United States of America shall and must remain, as long ago the Father of our Country prayed that it might remain- unentangled and free.”. Roosevelt was reassuring the country that nothing had changed from what the founding fathers had said regarding the United States involvement in foreign issues. With the passing of the Lend Lease bill the United States gave aid to Britain. Churchill contacted President Roosevelt and said that they did not have enough money to buy the supplies they needed from the United States. Roosevelt then came up with the Lend Lease act which allowed us to give aid to Britain without them having to pay us back. We provided supplies like tanks, guns and planes. Roosevelt justifies this change in foreign policy by saying, well you know it's like you have a neighbor whose house is on fire. And the neighbor comes running to you and shouts over the garden fence, "Neighbor, neighbor, my house is on fire, help me out, lend me your garden hose." Well of course you're a good neighbor, you lend the garden hose to your neighbor and he puts out the fire and then he gives you the hose back.” By saying this he justifies changing the United States foreign policy by creating this scenario that the people could relate to and cause them to understand the sudden change in foreign policy.

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#2 Germany Invades Poland

On March 31, 1939, before Germany invaded Poland, France and Britain guaranteed the borders of the Polish state. This means that they would attack Germany if Germany invaded Poland which can be seen when Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced that France and Great Britain had declared war on Germany, "This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.”. Germany invading Poland on September 1, 1939 was a game changer because this started the war in Europe and is when most consider World War 2 officially started. This is different from how the first World War 1 started because World War 2 started with an invasion, but World War 1 started with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia because they thought that their Archduke had been assassinated by Serbian citizens. “Austria-Hungary consequently considers herself henceforward in state of war with Serbia.” This is a quote from Count Leopold von Berchtold to M. N. Pashitch informing him that Austria- Hungary is now at war with Serbia. This quote came from a telegram that was sent to M.N Pashitch from Count Leopold on July 28th, 1914 at eleven in the morning. The purpose of this telegram was to inform Serbia that Austria-Hungary was now in a state of war with them.This is valuable because this is the first account of declaration of war which started the first world war. This is a very limited primary source however, because it is not written with much detail or explanation for why they are declaring war. There is nothing on the telegram to tell the reader why they are declaring war it requires the reader to have knowledge on the two countries and what previously went on between the two.
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#3 Pearl Harbor

The United States was brought into World War 2 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This was the effect of actions taken by the United States. Japan invaded China which caused Britain and the United States to give aid to China. In Japan when a country aids the enemy this is seen as a form of aggression against Japan. This can be seen when a headmaster explains what Japan was going to do after they saw Britain and America aiding China, “As long as Britain and America support China by providing arms this war will not stop. Japan does not want to destroy China but simply to kick out Britain and America.” This however was not the only thing that the United States did to cause the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor. Along with aiding China the United States cut off Japan’s oil supply. This was done to try and slow Japan down because they needed oil to fuel their military. At the time Japan did not have access to the oil rigs in Asia meaning that their only source of oil was imports. The oil embargo angered the Japanese who were already angry with the United States for aiding China. In conclusion, the actions of the United States caused the bombing on Pearl Harbor because they were seen as a form of aggression. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was significant in terms of the overall war because it brought the United States into the war. Even thought the United States was not involved in the war for as long as some other countries what they were able to accomplish in this short period of time makes the event that brought them into war a game changer.
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#4 Japan Invades China

Japan had military forces in China before the first World War. When the United States went into a depression after the stock market crashed so did Europe and Japan. This caused Japan to want all western influence out of Asia and the best way to accomplish this as to united Asia under Imperial Japan. This attitude can be seen when a Rebel Leader talks about Japan invading China, “Let the government do what they will. The army is going to carry out this sacred mission to save China. The last war in human history is approaching a titanic world conflict which will be the gateway to a golden age of human culture. the only way for Asia is to advance together.” Shortly after Japan invaded China and started towards Nanking, a war broke out between the two countries. Japan invading China was a game changer because it started the war in the Pacific theater. This was similar to how the war in the European theater started. Germany invading Poland started the war in Europe just like China being invaded started the war in this theater. After hearing that Germany was going to proceed to invade Poland the British Prime Minister Chamberlain wrote this in a letter to the German government, “I am accordingly to inform your Excellency that unless the German Government are prepared to give His Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation fulfill their obligations to Poland." This was the warning that if they proceeded to invade Poland, Great Britain would go into war with Germany which happened the following days and is shown in this quote, "This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us.I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.” Japan invading China was a game changer because it started the war in a new theater and it just happened to be the same way that the European theater was started with Germany invading Poland.
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#5 Germany Invades the Soviet Union

Nonaggression Pact. This pact stated that the two nations were not to attack each other for 10 years and this would extend another 5 unless one country terminated the agreement within the original 10 year expiration. This pact lasted until June 22, 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union without agreement which broke the pact. At this point in the war Germany had invaded most of central and western Europe. Operation Barbarossa was a game changer because this caused the German forces and supplies to be split on two fronts. Hitler explained the situation to the people of Germany and ended his speech with the following, “The purpose of this front is no longer the protection of the individual nations, but rather the safety of Europe, and therefore the salvation of everyone.I have therefore decided today once again to put the fate of Germany and the future of the German Reich and our people in the hands of our soldiers.May God help us in this battle.” This quote signifies Hitler telling the people that he has allowed troops to invade the Soviet Union which broke the pact that was supposed to last for 10 years. Overall, this was a game changer because this invasion caused Hitler to split his supplies and troops on two fronts it make him weaker especially when he lost 730,000 because of the winter when fighting the Soviet Union.
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