World War II Game Changers

By: Ashley Batten

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor was an American Naval base located in Hawaii. On December 7, 1941 Japan bombed the naval base destroying everything in their path along with the sinking of several naval ships. The result of this catastrophic event were 2,403 casualties as well as the loss of military equipment.

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor thinking that it would prevent the United States from involving themselves in the Japanese efforts in attacking several European countries. However, Japan thought wrong. When realizing all the destruction they caused at Pearl Harbor, Japanese Naval Marshal Isoroku Yamamoto said “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant”. This quote shows how Japan immediately regretted their decision knowing that the United States would enter the war with revenge on their mind. According to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill he said the United States will want “Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be”. When comparing Churchill to Yamamoto, the quotes both show that the United States is powerful. “Awakening a sleeping giant” can cause them to strike back more forceful than ever before with victory on their mind, just like Churchill said. However, these quotes contrast because Churchill was not actively participating in the invasion. Yamamoto speaks from experience because he was involved in the bombing, and it is safe for him to say the United States will come back from this attack powerful than ever. However, Churchill just makes the assumption that the United States will want to be victorious. That is the main difference between these two quotes. Yamamoto speaks from experience while Churchill takes a guess as to what the United States will do in the future.

Atomic Bomb

Codenamed as the Manhattan Project, the atomic bomb was specifically made for the United States during World War II. A group of scientists including Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi aided in creating this piece of mass destruction. The idea came from Einstein himself as he was a fellow German who escaped from the Nazi’s. He knew that he needed to alert the President of the United States about talks of Hitler creating an atomic bomb, so that the Americans could begin to research nuclear weaponry. Einstein along with several other scientists met in regards to sending the United States a warning letter. On August 2, 1929 he wrote to President Roosevelt saying “it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future”. The purpose of this quote was to inform the United States of a potential bomb threat they could face from Germany. It is valuable because it provides the United States with the realization that a powerful weapon could destroy their country unless they quickly begin to create the atomic bomb first. It is significant because Einstein provides the United States with places that have uranium so that they can obtain it quickly to ensure they are first to create the atomic bomb. However it is limiting because Einstein does not provide the United States with a definite confirmation as to when Germany is going to create an atomic bomb. He only says there is talks of making one. This leaves the United States at a disadvantage because they are unsure if Germany is actually following through with their discussion and if it is worth it to spend money on a weapon that would kill large amounts of people.

Eventually, the United States finally decided to take Einstein's proposal to develop an atomic bomb. This was the United States’ comeback to Japan for bombing Pearl Harbor, which caused the Americans to enter the war. They kept the creation of the atomic bomb a secret to ensure that other countries would not find out. On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped the newly created atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This event caused 80,000 people to die automatically as well as another 10,000 dying shortly after due to radiation exposure. Although many of the Japanese citizens lost their lives, the effect was the Japanese surrendered, providing the United States with a victory. According to Harry Truman, “I have no regrets and, under the same circumstances, I would do it again - and this letter is not confidential”. Even though the Americans caused thousands of people to die, President Truman would drop another bomb creating the same effect to guarantee that the United States would remain victorious.


On June 6, 1944 the United States along with British and Canadian troops embarked on their operation to land on the beaches of Normandy, France. This military invasion is commonly known as D-Day, although it was originally codenamed at Operation Overlord. It was designed to deceive the Germans about the original attack site. It was one of the largest military invasions as it took 156,000 troops to the coast of Normandy.

It began when Germany attacked France and conquered it in 1940. Eventually, the United States entered the war in 1941 and became allies with Britain. Shortly after the allied formation between the United States and Britain, they began planning a cross-channel invasion. This mission was secretly planned out over a period of many months. Over time, the United States led the Germans to believe the attack was going to be made at Pas-de-Calais, as well as various points in Norway. They did this by setting up false equipment and fake radio transmissions overseas. Additionally, United States General George Patton created a fraudulent army based in Britain to further confuse Germany. All of these false arrangements continually kept Germany under the conception that the United States was preparing for an attack at Pas-de-Calais. Just one day before the attack, Dwight Eisenhower stated “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you”. This quote supported all the continuous military efforts that the United States went through to deceive Germany. Finally, on June 6, 1944, Germany was completely blindsided by the attack at Normandy. After a couple months of fighting, the United States, Britain, and Canada liberated France and the Battle of Normandy concluded leaving the allied powers victorious.


Island-Hopping was a military strategy created by the United States Navy, but implemented by General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz. The concept of island hopping was to leap from one Japanese island to the other. The United States targeted the weaker Japanese islands first before they attacked the larger, important islands. The short term impact of Island Hopping was that it provided the United States with the confidence they needed to be able to conquer the smaller Japanese islands before they reached the larger ones. Furthermore, this influenced the long term impact of Island-Hopping because once the United States commanded the smaller islands, they were just one step closer to controlling all of Japan. At the end of the war, the United States had full control over the Japanese islands because the Japanese ended up surrendering at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was the long term effect that the United States wanted. Their goal was to destroy the Japanese and they successfully accomplished this goal by Island-Hopping.


Adolf Hitler was one of the most powerful leaders to walk the earth. He rose to fame and power shortly after World War I when he became the chancellor of the National Socialist German Workers Party. This built up his confidence as a leader because the new appointment provided him with the ability to control Germany’s government. This executive role sparked the rise of a new commander in Germany.

Hitler is widely know for the damage done during the Holocaust including the loss of 6 million civilian lives. Despite his appalling actions taken during the Holocaust, many people support his success as a military leader. For example Winston Churchill supported the success Hitler made during World War II. Churchill said “I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations. I am sorry, however, that he has not been mellowed by the great success that has attended him”. Additionally, Joseph Stalin of Russia, agreed that Hitler was successful as a commander when stating “Hitler was a gifted man. Only a gifted man could unite the German people”. Churchill and Stalin share similar views that Hitler made effective decisions that provoked his success as a military leader during World War II. However, the United States had differing views than Churchill and Stalin on Hitler’s actions as a leader. They did not think that he was successful as a military leader. General George Patton in particular, clearly despised Hitler and everything he did. It is evident when he said “And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler”.

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