world war 2

written by xavier hernandez

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World War II

Coming just two decades after the last great global conflict, the Second World War was the most widespread and deadliest war in history, involving more than 30 countries and resulting in more than 50 million military and civilian deaths (with some estimates as high as 85 million dead). Sparked by Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, the war would drag on for six deadly years until the final Allied defeat of both Nazi Germany and Japan in 1945.

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Texas in World War II

B-17 Flyover at Texas State Capitol

The Empire of Japan's attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941, motivated the United States to join the Allies' struggle against Japan, Germany and Italy during World War II. Texans responded to the call for troops in great numbers. After four long years of war, Texas had supplied a greater percentage of men and women to the armed forces than any other state with more than 700,000 in uniform.

While thousands fought on foreign battlefields, others played vital roles within Texas' borders. Fair climate, frequent clear skies, bountiful resources and a central location made Texas an ideal setting for wartime facilities. Military posts sprang up statewide to accommodate the constant stream of new recruits, and industrial plants developed rapidly in support of the war effort. As a result, Texas beef, petroleum products, medical supplies, weapons and equipment were used by troops overseas.

A Portrait of Texas in 1940. Before the war, Texas was sparsely populated; there were more people living in New York City at the time than in the entire state of Texas. Most Texans lived on farms or ranches or in small towns, and only about 40 percent had a high school education. Only one in five owned an automobile, one in ten had access to a telephone and one in six owned a radio. Most women worked at home or on farms. The Great Depression affected the entire population, but particularly the agricultural and petroleum industries that dominated the state’s economy. In short, Texas on the brink of war was mainly agrarian in both employment and attitude, largely insulated from world events and still languishing in 19th-century traditions in such important matters as gender and ethnicity. All that began to change on December 7, 1941.

Impacts of the Military Presence in Texas. During the war, more than 1,500,000 military personnel came to Texas for training. War-related industry lured farmers, small-town residents and others into developing urban centers. Many workers were women, and many were other than Caucasian. Texas quickly became more urban than rural, with a net population growth of 33 percent, and the Great Depression faded into memory.

The military’s presence in Texas grew exponentially during World War II. There were 142 major military installations across the state, and more than 750,000 Texans served in uniform during the war. Some rose to the highest levels of command, including Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Col. Oveta Culp Hobby. Thirty-three Texans earned the Medal of Honor, including Audie Murphy, the army’s most decorated soldier, and Cmdr. Samuel Dealey, the war’s most highly decorated naval officer. Among the Medal of Honor holders were five of Latino descent. Tragically, more than 22,000 Texans gave their lives while in service during the war.

Changes after the War. Despite the horrific human toll, the war brought lasting progress to the Lone Star state. Civilians on the home front played a huge part in attaining victory; scrap metal drives, war bond campaigns and rationing all contributed to the war effort. Manufacturing increased fourfold, the permanent population increased, and the urbanization and modernization of Texas were well underway. Many military installations closed at the end of the war, and some wartime boomtowns were all but abandoned. Because of World War II, the face of Texas changed forever.

The Texas in World War II Initiative

The Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Texas in World War II initiative is a multi-year statewide effort to honor the role of Texas during the Second World War. The THC launched the initiative on September 2, 2005 at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The grant-funded initiative is composed of various components that include: Vignettes of Wartime Texas (a special series of 21 historical markers); a heritage tourism travel brochure; a comprehensive statewide survey of more than 1,700 World War II military and home front sites; a series of 55 regional oral history training workshops entitled, Here and There: Recollections of Texas in World War II; and enhancement and expansion of the THC’s Texas in World War II webpages. While the Initiative in some cases covers topics such as overseas service, the focus of the project is on sites and stories in Texas.

Those interested in further information about the Texas in World War II initiative or in sharing information regarding military and home front sites for the statewide survey should contact the THC’s Military Historian. Interested in helping, Make a gift to support the THC's Texas in World War II initiative with a charitable donation to the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission.

Materials for Educators

The Texas Prisoner of War Camps Lesson Plan for middle school students incorporates World War II into 7th grade Texas History. Extra resources are provided to give background information and enrichment for students.

The Prisoners of War in Texas Lesson Plan for high school students discusses the prisoner of war camps in Texas during World War II, as well as the lesser-known story of internment camps, and their economic impact on the state.


Pre-war Timeline :

1933 - Adolf Hitler is elected Chancellor of Germany. He abolishes democracy and becomes a dictator. Japan and Germany leave the League of Nations
1935 - The German military enters the neutral Saar region, Hitler resumes conscription to the German military.
1936 - The German military enters the demilitarized Rhine region. The German-Italian "Axis" is formed.
1937 - Japan, which already occupies Manchuria, invades central China
1938 - Hitler annexes Austria and western Czechoslovakia.
Mar 1939 - Czechoslovakia surrenders to imminent German invasion
Apr 1939 - Hitler cancels the German-British naval agreement and the German-Polish non-aggression pact. Italy invades Albania.
Jul 1939 - Polish intelligence passes all its knowledge about the German Enigma machine to British and French intelligence
Aug 1939 - Germany and Russia sign non-aggression pact, secretly agreeing to invade Poland and share it. German U-boats and battleships sail to the Atlantic Ocean for war.

World War 2 Timeline :

1939 Timeline

Sep 1 - Germany invades Poland, World War 2 begins.
Sep 3 - Britain and France declare war on Germany.
Sep 8 - The US remains neutral but president Roosevelt declares "limited national emergency".
Sep 17 - Russia invades Poland
Sep 27 - Warsaw surrenders
Oct 6 - The last remaining Polish forces surrender
Nov 30 - Russia invades Finland

1940 Timeline

Jan 17 - The first German Enigma messages are decoded by British intelligence
Mar 12 - Russia-Finland war ends. It convinces Hitler that the Russian military is ineffective.
Apr 8 - Germany invades Denmark and Norway.
Apr 14 - British forces land in Narvik, Norway, but leave in 10 days
May 10 - Germany invades France, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg. Winston Churchill becomes Britain's prime minister.
May 20 - German forces reach the British Channel.
May 27 - Evacuation of British and French forces to Britain at Dunkirk begins.
Jun 4 - The evacuation at Dunkirk ends. 338,000 troops were rescued. Churchill declares that Britain will never surrender.
Jun 9- Norway surrenders
Jun 10 - Italy declares war on the collapsing France and on Britain.
Jun 14 - German troops march into Paris
Jun 18 - Russia invades Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Churchill declares this is Britain's finest hour.
Jun 22 - France surrenders
Jun 27 - Russia annexes the eastern regions of Romania.
Jul 1 - Germany invades the British Channel islands.
Jul 10 - The Battle of Britain air campaign begins.
Aug 8 - The Luftwaffe begins to bomb British early warning radars
Aug 15 - The Luftwaffe loses 76 aircraft in one day
Aug 25 - British night bombers bomb Berlin
Sep 3 - Hitler changes the Luftwaffe's objective from destroying the Royal Air Force to bombing London. This allows the R.A.F to recover and win the battle of Britain.
Sep 13 - Italy invades British-held Egypt from Libya, the North African campaign begins.
Sep 15 - The largest Luftwaffe daytime bombardment, it loses 56 aircraft
Sep 27 - Japan joins The Axis
Oct 7 - German troops enter their Ally Romania, Germany's only source of oil which is threatened by Russia
Oct 12 - Hitler cancels the invasion of Britain.
Oct 23 - Spain rejects Hitler's offer to join the war and remains neutral.
Oct 28 - Italy invades Greece from Albania, but stopped, twice.
Nov 11 - British carrier aircraft sink Italian fleet in Taranto's harbor. Yamamoto in Japan is impressed by their success.
Nov 20 - Hungary and Romania, both military dictatorships, join The Axis.
Dec 9 - British forces in Egypt counter attack the Italians and advance along the Libyan coast

1941 Timeline

* To provide better time perspective of the German advances and stops in the direction of Moscow, the timeline related to it is marked in bold. The German failure to take Moscow marks the main turning point of the war.

Feb 12 - Hitler sends Rommel and the Afrika Korps to help the Italians in North Africa
Mar 1 - Bulgaria joins The Axis. The Axis-Russian border now stretch from the Baltic sea to the black sea.
Mar 3 - Rommel attacks the British forces in North Africa.
Mar 5 - British troops arrive at Greece to support it.
Apr 6 - Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece
Apr 13 - After military clashes, Japan and Russia sign non-aggression pact.
Apr 17 - Yugoslavia surrenders. British forces evacuate Greek mainland to Crete
Apr 27 - German troops occupy Athens
May 9 - U-boat U-110 is captured with Enigma settings tables
May 20 - German paratroopers and airborne troops invade Crete by air
May 31 - British forces in Crete surrender.
Jun 8 - British forces aided by Israeli volunteers invade French controlled Syria and Lebanon
Jun 22 - Germany invades Russia. Hitler orders "maximum cruelty" against civilians, which results in fanatic Russian resistance.
Jul 3 - Stalin orders the "scorched earth" strategy.
Jul 16 - German army group "Center" takes Smolensk, just 220 miles from Moscow.
Jul 21 - The Luftwaffe bombs Moscow
Jul 24 - Japan invades French Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia)
Jul 29 - Hitler, eager to occupy the rich Ukraine first, orders to stop army group Center's advance to Moscow and to transfer its two tank armies to army groups "North" and "South". This is perhaps Hitler's greatest mistake. The German Generals argue in vain against it.
Jul 31 - Hermann Goering orders the SS to prepare "the final solution", the plan to murder the millions of European jews.
Sep 6 - Hitler orders to resume the advance to Moscow, in order to take it "in the limited time before winter". Army group "Center", is given back its two tank armies, plus a third tank army and additional air units.
Sep 15 - The long German siege of Leningrad begins.
Sep 18 - The Germans in the South occupy Kiev and reach the Crimea.
Oct 2 - The final German attack towards Moscow begins (operation Typhoon).
Oct 15 - Rains stop German advance to Moscow due to deep mud which stops both tanks and infantry.
Oct 16 - Russian government leaves Moscow, the Germans occupy Odessa.
Oct 17 - General Tojo becomes Japan's prime minister
Oct 21 - Churchill orders top priority to any request by the Enigma decoders.
Oct 26 - The Germans occupy Kharkov
Nov 15 - With the mud frozen by the dropping temperatures, German advance to Moscow resumes.
Nov 30 - The foremost German forces reach 27km from Moscow, but can advance no further due to strong Russian resistance.
Dec 6 - At temperatures of -34C (-29F) and below, a major Russian counter attack near Moscow begins. Moscow is saved, and the Germans are pushed back.
Dec 7 - The Japanese Navy attacks Pearl Harbor and the Phillipines, and the US joins the war.

With the German failure to defeat Russia, which is marked by their failure to take Moscow, and with the United States joining the war a day later, This date marks the main turning point of World War 2.

Dec 11 - Germany and Italy declare war on the US.
Dec 19 - Hitler orders "fanatic resistance" and appoints himself military commander-in-chief.

1942 Timeline

Jan 2 - Japanese forces occupy Manila
Jan 10 - Japanese forces invades Indonesia
Jan 11 - Japanese forces occupy Malaysia
Jan 12 - Japanese forces invade Burma
Jan 13 - German U-boats begin to sink ships along the US East coast.
Jan 21 - Rommel begins another offensive in North Africa
Jan 25 - Japanese forces invade the Solomon islands
Jan 26 - US troops begin to arrive in Britain
Feb 15 - Singapore surrenders to the Japanese
Mar 20 - "industrial scale" murder of jews by poison gas begins in Nazi death camps.
Apr 18 - Doolittle's raid - US bombers bomb Tokyo.
May 7 - Battle of the Coral Sea. One Japanese carrier and one American carrier are sunk
May 6 - The last American troops in the Phillipines surrender
May 8 - The German spring offensive in southern Russia begins.
Jun 4 - The battle of Midway. Four Japanese carriers are sunk, and one American carrier. Japan's naval superiority is lost.
Jul 3 - Japanese forces land in Guadalcanal
Jul 28 - Stalin forbids further Russian retreats, at any cost.
Aug 7 - US forces land in Guadalcanal
Aug 13 - Montgomery becomes commander of the British 8th army in North Africa
Aug 19 - Allied landing in Dieppe fails.
Aug 23 - The German 6th army reach Stalingrad, the battle of Stalingrad begins.
Sep 6 - The German advance in Stalingrad is stopped.
Oct 23 - The 2nd battle of El Alamein in North Africa begins.
Nov 8 - Allied forces land in western North Africa, at Rommel's back
Nov 19 - The Russian flanking counter attack around Stalingrad begins
Dec 19 - The Germans fail to break the encirclement of their army in Stalingrad

1943 Timeline

Feb 2 - The last German forces in Stalingrad surrender
May 13 - The long North Africa campaign ends. The Allies control North Africa
May 22 - 41 German U-boats sunk in 3 weeks. Doenitz retreats all U-boats from the North atlantic
Jul 5 - The battle of Kursk begins
Jul 10 - The Allies invade Sicily
Jul 25 - Mussolini is replaced and arrested.
Aug 10 - The Germans know the Enigma was decoded, but believe the new types and procedures are safe again.
Sep 3 - The Allies invade Italy's mainland
Sep 8 - Italy surrenders. The German forces in northern and central Italy occupy it
Sep 25 - The Russians liberate Smolensk
Oct - Allied anti submarine bases established in the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
Nov 6 - The Russians liberate Kiev
Nov 19 - The Marines land in Tarawa
Nov - Rommel takes command of the "atlantic wall" in the French coast
Dec - P-51 fighters provide all-the-way long range escort to bombers over Germany

1944 Timeline

Jan 16 - Eisenhower becomes supreme commander of western allies forces
Jan 22 - Allies land in Anzio, Italy
Mar - The Russians advance into the Ukraine
Apr 10 - The Russians liberate Odessa
May - Allied bombers begin to concentrate on the German fuel industry
Jun 5 - The German Navy's Enigma messages are decoded almost in real time.
Jun 6 - D-Day. American, British, Canadian forces invade France at the beaches of Normandy
Jun 12 - 1st German V-1 cruise missile attack on Britain
Jun 15 - The Marines land in Saipan
Jun 19 - Battle of the Phillipine sea
Jun 22 - The Russians advance to Belarus
Jun 27 - Cherburg is liberated
Jul 20 - Hitler survives an assassination attempt by senior German officers with light wounds.
Jul 21 - Hitler appoints General Guderian to chief of the army (OKH). The Marines land in Guam
Jul 24 - The Marines land in Tinian
Jul 28 - The Russians reach the old German-Russian border in central Poland
Jul 30 - Patton breaks out of the beachhead deep into France
Aug 1 - Warsaw revolts against the Germans
Aug 15 - The Allies land in southern France
Aug 23 - Romania surrenders to the Russians. Its oil fields were Germany's only source of natural oil
Aug 25 - Paris is liberated.
Aug - Allied fighters achieve air superiority over Germany
Sep 6 - Finland and Bulgaria surrenders to the Russians
Sep 8 - 1st German V-2 ballistic missile attack on Britain
Sep 17 - Operation Market Garden in Holland
Oct 5 - British forces land in Greece
Oct 10 - The Germans evacuate Riga, Latvia
Oct 14 - Athens is liberated
Oct 20 - The Marines land in Leyte, in the Philippines. In response, the Japanese Navy begins to use Kamikaze suicide pilots.
Nov 14 - B-29 bombers begin to bomb Tokyo from bases in the Mariana islands
Dec 16 - The German attack in the Ardennes begin

1945 Timeline

Jan 9 - The Marines land in Luzon in the Philippines
Jan 23 - The Russians reach Germany itself at the Oder river
Jan 27 - The Russians liberate the Auschwitz death camp
Jan 28 - The Ardennes campaign ends
Feb 13 - The Russians occupy Budapest, Hungary. Dresden bombed.
Feb 19 - The Marines land in Iwo Jima
Mar 4 - Manila is liberated
Mar 6 - The Allies occupy Cologne, Germany
Mar 7 - US forces cross the Rhine on the Remagen bridge
Mar 16 - The battle of Iwo Jima ends
Mar 27 - V-2 missile attacks end
Apr 1 - German forces encircled in the Ruhr by the Americans
Apr 6 - The Marines land in Okinawa. Japan orders all its forces to use Kamikaze suicide tactic
Apr 7 - The super battleship Yamato is sunk on its way to a Kamikaze fight in Okinawa
Apr 10 - The Allies occupy Hannover
Apr 11 - The Allies liberate the Buchenwald death camp
Apr 12 - President Roosevelt dies.
Apr 13 - The Russians enter Vienna
Apr 16 - The Russians begin final advance to Berlin
Apr 25 - American and Russian forces meet
Apr 26 - German defense in northern Italy finally collapse
Apr 29 - Mussolini is executed by the Italian resistance. The Allies liberate the Dachau death camp
Apr 30 - Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin. He appoints Admiral Doenitz as his successor.
May 8 - Germany surrenders. The war in Europe ends
May 28 - 450 B-29 bombers bomb Yokohama
Jun 2 - 660 B-29 bombers bomb Japanese cities
Jun 21 - Battle of Okinawa ends
Jul 16 - the US tests the atomic bomb in New Mexico. It works
Aug 6 - Hiroshima is destroyed by an atomic bomb
Aug 8 - Russia declares war on Japan
Aug 9 - Nagasaki is destroyed by an atomic bomb
Aug 14 - Japan surrenders. World War 2 finally ends.

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pics and info

World War II, also called Second World War, World War II: Battle of StalingradEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc.conflict that involved virtually every part of the world during the years 1939–45. The principal belligerents were the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—and the Allies—France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China. The war was in many respects a continuation, after an uneasy 20-year hiatus, of the disputes left unsettled by World War I. The 40,000,000–50,000,000 deaths incurred in World War II make it the bloodiest conflict, as well as the largest war, in history.

Churchill, Winston; Truman, Harry; Stalin, JosephEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc.Along with World War I, World War II was one of the great watersheds of 20th-century geopolitical history. It resulted in the extension of the Soviet Union’s power to nations of eastern Europe, enabled a communist movement to eventually achieve power in China, and marked the decisive shift of power in the world away from the states of western Europe and toward the United States and the Soviet Union.

Axis initiative and Allied reaction

The outbreak of war

German-Soviet Nonaggression PactEncyclopædia Britannica, Inc.By the early part of 1939 the German dictator Adolf Hitler had become determined to invade and occupy Poland. Poland, for its part, had guarantees of French and British military support should it be attacked by Germany. Hitler intended to invade Poland anyway, but first he had to neutralize the possibility that the Soviet Union would resist the invasion of its western neighbour. Secret negotiations led on August 23–24 to the signing of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact in Moscow. In a secret protocol of this pact, the Germans and the Soviets agreed that Poland should be divided between them, with the western third of the country going to Germany and the eastern two-thirds being taken over by the U.S.S.R.

World War II: German invasion of PolandContunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, MainzHaving achieved this cynical agreement, the other provisions of which stupefied Europe even without divulgence of the secret protocol, Hitler thought that Germany could attack Poland with no danger of Soviet or British intervention and gave orders for the invasion to start on August 26. News of the signing, on August 25, of a formal treaty of mutual assistance between Great Britain and Poland (to supersede a previous though temporary agreement) caused him to postpone the start of hostilities for a few days. He was still determined, however, to ignore the diplomatic efforts of the western powers to restrain him. Finally, at 12:40 pm on August 31, 1939, Hitler ordered hostilities against Poland to start at 4:45 the next morning. The invasion began as ordered. In response, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, at 11:00 am and at 5:00 pm, respectively. World War II had