The following deals with events, conflicts, and people during the years 1941-1945.
DISCLAIMER: This does NOT serve as a replacement for reading Chapter 35.
The Americans were out to get the Japs for what they did! But first, they had to destroy Hitler so they could concentrate on the Far East.
In theory, the Allies could easily win. They had larger numbers and the US was potentially the mightiest military power the world had ever seen. If the US had enough time, they could slaughter everything and everyone. The expense didn’t matter. But to win, America would have to send materials all around the world at a moment’s notice.
After Pearl Harbor, American put aside their differences. There weren’t any pro-Hitlerites or communists– at least they didn’t proclaim it. The Italians and Germans in the US were loyal to the Stars and Stripes and supported our efforts. WWII even helped assimilate immigrants into American society. Everyone except for Japanese-American got off fine. We rounded up some 110,000 Jap-Americans and put them into internment camps.
In the 1944 landmark case, Korematsu v. U.S., the Supreme Court upheld the basic rights violation of the Japanese-American internment. They would eventually get their justice in 1988 and a cool $20,000 to every camp survivor still alive. In 1943, FDR formally announced that his New Deal reforms were over and that all of his strength would be focused on the war.
The new war machine kick-started the new industrial America. The manufacturing of cars were halted and rations were put on rubber and gas. Farmers farmed more than ever to feed the world’s armies. To stop an out-of-control inflation, the Office of Price Administration set prices and did some big time regulation. Wages were also restricted by the War Labor Board. Unions obviously weren’t happy with this and many workers walked out. To stop lost production, Congress passed the Smith-Connally Anti-Strike Act in 1943 to ensure the gov’t could take over and operate factories when workers walked out. Sounds ever so slightly like socialism.
The US armed services enlisted some 15 million men and another 1/4 million women. The women’s branches were known as the WAACs (Army), WAVES (Navy), and SPARs (Coast Guard). Most industrial and agricultural workers were exempt from the draft. But we still lacked workers and in 1942, we brought up some Mexicans, known as braceros, to help harvest. Some 6 million women also helped out in the factories, spurred by Rosie the Riveter propaganda.
During the war, there was a great shift in demographics. Boomtowns with factories like Detroit and LA grew immensely. The South, which was losing population due to the lack of need for cheap labor, received a huge grant so factories could be built. Many blacks left the South and marched on Washington for fair treatment and wages. The Fair Employment Practices (FEPC) was set up to monitor discrimination.
Natives Americans also experienced a huge exodus when many found jobs in factories. Young Native Americans men were used as ‘code talkers’ and used their tribal language to confuse the enemy. In LA, white people hated Mexican-Americans, most of whom wore zoot-suits. In Detroit, whites hated blacks. So nothing out of the ordinary.
During WWII, the US saw some of its best economic times ever. The GDP sprang from under $100 billion to well over $200 billion. When prices limits were lifted in 1944, prices inflated to 33% while the rest of the world was still recovering from war. The only thing holding up the country was the government. They channeled money into housing projects, day cares, and health plans. They teamed up with universities and ensured that the US would be well educated in the post-war years. Unemployment was a thing of the past and nearly everyone was working.
The total war cost came out to be $330 billion, more than ten times the cost of WWI. Our Nat’l debt also shot up, going from $49 billion to $259 billion in 1945. The only way to paid off the money was to raise taxes and borrow money.
The Japanese were a harsh foe. They quickly seized the majority of the Far East. The battle in Bataan in the Philippines was one of the fiercest. The US was forced to surrender and endure the 80-mile Bataan death march.
The Japs would finally experience defeat at Midway in June 1942. The Americans teamed up with the Aussies and quickly damaged four of the Japanese aircraft carriers. Midway and the Battle of the Coral Sea cut deeply into Japan. Had Japan instead defended itself instead of continue to make territorial gains, they would have faired better.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our textbook makes a lot of ‘what if’ predictions. Honestly, none of came here for a palm reading…
From their base in Australia, the Allies quickly began to island-hop towards Tokyo. Their strategy was to by-pass heavily fortified Japanese islands, take over nearby ones, set up airbases and then attack the aforementioned islands. By gaining key bases in Tarawa, Makin, the Marshall Islands, and the Marianas, the Allied forces were able to bomb Japan’s home islands. The US conquered the Marianas after they destroyed 250 Jap planes and totally wrecked their navy; the Japanese would never recover. Their around-the-clock bombing of Japan began in November 1944.
Remember that German guy with the small mustache who shouts a lot? Well, he had loads of submarines that could sink virtually anything in sight. Eventually the Allies would conquer the U-Boats. Back in the USSR, the Soviets crushed Hitler’s hopes of an invasion at Stalingrad. During the war, almost 20 million Soviet soldiers were lost. In hopes of securing their alliance, FDR wanted to open a second front in Europe. He instead opened one in North Africa.
We won Africa in 1943 and began the trek into Italy. But before that started, FDR and Churchill met in Moracco for the Casablanca Conference, and no, they didn’t watch Casablanca.
During the conference, they agreed to step it up in the Pacific and aim for unconditional surrender of the enemy. Their high hopes would lead the enemy to fight into the last bunker, holding out until the last moment. Italy was won in a matter of months and Mussolini was strung up like a slaughtered pig in September of 1943. Even though Italy had surrendered, the Nazis remained there and continued to fight. It’s kinda like staying over at a friend’s house even when they’ve already left. What’s even funnier is that the new Italian gov’t declared war on Germany as well.
The Allies would continue to fight in Italy until May 2, 1945, when the Axis troops finally laid down their weapons.
The three leaders of the Allied forces met in Tehran, Iran during the winter of 1943 to discuss operations. They agreed that they would invade Europe on June 6, 1944, a date that would come to be known as D-Day. After bombing gasoline-producing factories for days, the Allies invaded the beaches at Normandy. Paris would be liberated in August of 1944. Now, the Allies set their sights on Berlin.
But hold up! We have to talk about FDR’s 1944 election first!
Not that anyone really cares, but the GOP nominated Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 to face off against FDR. He was a liberal, which many Repubs hated, so they nominated John Bricker as VP to offset his liberalism. Over at the Dems’ convention, FDR was the forgotten man and most only cared about who his running mate was going to be. In the end, they picked good ol’ Harry S. Truman.
The GOP hailed that it was time for change and that FDR was now frail. FDR proved the latter to be wrong when he finally began to campaign in the last weeks of the election. Helping FDR was the CIO, which helped enforced the new law that no campaign donations could come from unions. FDR won mainly because the war was going so well.
Now back to Hitler. Germany was failing fast and after penetrating the snowy Ardennes Forest and moving past the Rhine River, they were in! But inside lay the horror of the Holocaust. The US gov’t had already known about Hitler’s genocide, but chose to keep it secret. FDR had shut the door on many of the Jewish refugees, dooming them to their death.
Adolf Hitler tops the list of ‘Who’s Who Burning in Hell’
The Soviets would reach Berlin in April of 1945 and proceeded to pillage the city and rape two million women. Back in the US, FDR died on April 12 of a cerebral hemorrhage. Now Truman took the helm. Germany eventually surrendered on May 7, 1945. In the Far East, Japan was still fighting.
Americans submarines sank most of Japan’s merchant ships, causing the island nation to starve. The huge fire bomb raid on Tokyo would follow, killing around 85,000 people. The US Navy overtook Japan’s navy and now patrolled the Pacific indefinitely. After seizing the Philippines and New Guinea, the war culminated onto Iwo Jima and Okinawa, which were Japan’s last stands.
Japanese soldiers upheld a code of honor and fought to the death, meaning suicide in most cases. There was no way Japan was going to surrender. The Potsdam Conference was held near Berlin in order to finally have the Japs surrender. Stalin, Churchill, and Truman all agreed that dropping an atomic bomb on Japan was the only way out.
American bombers dropped leaflets that let the Japanese people know what was coming, not that it would really make a difference. Early in 1940, FDR had made $2 billion available to scientists in order to build an atomic bomb. This was later known as the Manhattan Project. They tested it in a New Mexico desert, known as the Trinity Test, in July of 1945. During the test, lead scientist Robert Oppenheimer uttered the famous verse from Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Soon after the first atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima, Stalin declared war on Japan and overran their defenses in Manchuria and Korea. Another a-bomb would be dropped on Nagasaki on August 9. They finally surrendered on September 6, 1945 under one condition- their emperor remain in power.
The Allies won and the US was glorious once more! Never before had the land of the free won such a great battle. Even though we were unprepared for it, we strengthened up big time! Paving the way were the mastermind generals Eisenhower, MacArthur, Patton, and Marshall. The US had everything- men, machines, and money. Blah blah blah. America is the shit, we get it. Keep your pants on, textbook.