World War II
The bloodiest war of all time
German troops invade Poland
In 1939 German forces prepared to invade the neighborhood country of Poland. The leaders of Britain and France decide it was time to try to stop Hitler. Britain and France known as the Allies promised to protect Poland. They warned Hitler that if he attacked Poland, it would mean war with the Allies. Hitler ignored this threat. On September 1, 1939, German troops rushed into Poland. In response, Britain and France declared war on Germany.
Bombing of Pearl Harbor
Hideki Tojo, believed the United States was standing in the way of Japan's goals. Tojo and the other top Japanese generals decided to attack. On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Japanese bombs sank many American warships and destroyed hundreds of American airplanes. More than 2,300 American soliders, sailors, and civilians were killed.
President Roosevelt speech
"Yesterday, December 7, 1941- a date which will live in infamy- the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."
Executive Order #9066
In February 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order #9066. This order allowed the military to remove from the West Coast anyone seen as a threat. Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes. They were moved into relocation camps- also called internment camps- around the country.
US started the Manhattan Project
In 1939 Einstein told President Roosevelt that it might be possible to build " extremely powerful bombs of a new type." These atomic bombs would create massive explosive energy by splitting atoms, the basic unit of matter. They would be far more powerful than anything ever built before. Einstein warned that German scientists were probably working on atomic bombs. Roosevelt knew that the United States could not afford to lose the race to build an atomic bomb. In 1942 the government started the Manhattan Prohect. This was the code name given to the effort to build an atomic bomb. Thousands of scientists went to work at top- secret laboratories around the country. By July 1945 scientists at Los Alamos were ready to test the world's first atomic bomb.
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway was a major turning point in the war against Japan. Japan had destroyed many American ships at Pearl Harbor. Now it hoped to destroy the rest of the American ships in the Pacific in one major battle. They chose to attack Midway Island, a small island located northwest of Hawaii. In May 1942 a fleet of Japanese ships began to move east in the Pacific Ocean. Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of American naval forces in the Pacific, knew that Japan was planning a major attack. But he did not know where the attack would be. American code-breakers told him it would happen at Midway. Working for a base at Pearl Harbor, the code-breakers cracked Japanese codes and read secret messages sent by Japan's war planners. An expert code-breaker named Joe Rochefort was in charge of this effort. Rochefort was able to tell American naval commanders what Japan was planning: "We could tell them what was going to happen, such things as were the Japanese aircraft carriers would be." This knowledge was very useful, but American sailors and pilots still had to fight the battle. On June 3 American fighter pilots spotted the Japanese fleet. Flying planes called "dive bombers," the navy pilots destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers and many other ships and planes. After the Battle of Midway, Japan's navy was no longer strong enough to continue capturing islands in the Pacific. The United States slowly began to win territory back from Japan.
Island Hopping was a strategy the Allies used in the Pacific Front to try to capture and liberate only the most important islands. They started with the islands that were farthest out and worked their way toward Japan. They used the islands to refuel and as bases. The goal was to get to Tokyo and attack Japan.
Operation Torch was the British - American invasion of North Africa to liberate Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya from the Axis Powers. It got the Mediterranean back in the Allies control. Then the Allies were able to attack the Axis via Italy.
Battle of Stalingrad
A second major turning point came in the Soviet Union. Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. This was the largest invasion of one country by another in the history of the world. German forces quickly fought their way toward the major cities of the Soviet Union. One of Hitler's main goals was to capture the industrial city of Stalingrad. The Soviet army fought desperately to hold on to Stalingrad. By the summer of 1942, the city had been completely destroyed by guns and bombs. Fighting from behind piles of crumbled stones and bricks, Soviet soliders battled for every inch of ground. In January 1943, the German soliders at Stalingrad were finally forced to surrender. The Battle of Stalingrad was a major turning point in World War II. After Stalingrad, the Soviet army started forcing the Germans to retreat.
American General Dwight D. Eisenhower was in command of Allied Forces. Eisenhower chose the coastal region of Normandy, France, as the location for the Allied invasion. On the night of June 5, 1944, an invasion force of 175,000 soldiers and 6,000 ships sailed from Great Britain toward the coast of France. The day of the invasion, or D-Day, would be June 6. It would be the largest invasion by sea in world history. The Allied Forces reached Normandy early on the morning of June 6. American, British, and Canadian soldiers jumped from boats and began wading up to the land. Facing deadly blasts from German guns, Allied soldiers fought their way to the beach. The invasion cost many lives, but it was a success. By the night of June 6, the Allies had captured the beaches of Normandy.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
On August 6, 1945 an Air Force bomber named Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb completely destroyed the city and killed more than 80,000 people in a few seconds. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, killing nearly 60,000 people.
Victory in Japan
Japan surrendered on August 14. This was called V-J day - for "victory in Japan." World War II was finally over.