20th Century Resource


World War II


OVERVIEW


The Holocaust | Germany's Invasion of Poland | Allies | Axis Powers | Battle of Iwo Jima | Pearl Harbor | Battle of the Bulge | D-Day | Women in the War | The Aftermath


The second World War had a very significant effect of the world of 1939. This war brought about changes in attitude, beliefs, politics, religions, boundaries, laws, lifestyles and cultures. After the end of World War One, which did not produce much change when compared to its effort, many countries made all attempts at trying to keep peace among the nations. Still others were power- and land-hungry and seeking revenge for being slighted in the outcomes of the first World War.

World War Two also provided us with many technological advances. Most of these advances have been developed even further and are used in every-day life now. Although this technology boom helped us win the war, it also opened the gate to having the power to create mass destruction, and with enough force and violence, to possible end all humanity as we know it.

The nations and states that wished for global peace struggled to keep their dream of unity alive, but at that time they were not aware of what the future had in store. The peacekeepers barely had a chance against the countless factors that led into the second world war. With Japan invading China and Hitler planning world domination, two smaller wars developed before they would cross lines and become one war affecting the entire world. These wars became a world war in December 1941. On December 8, the United States and Great Britain declared war on Japan in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Just three days later, on December 11, Germany declared war on the United States, involving the United States in two simultaneous wars.

Adolph Hitler, leader of the German Nazi Party, had plans for Germany to conquer the world. Unfortunately, there were some obstacles he had to overcome to get Germany to his anticipated point of power. The Treaty of Versailles and the other outcomes of World War One put many of these obstacles in place. Hitler did cross many of these lines before the Allies would officially declare war on him, after the German invasion of Poland.

The Axis Powers, Germany, Japan, and Italy, were quickly staging battles at great costs to other countries. The other countries involved in the war decided that it was necessary to form an unstoppable alliance against the Axis Powers. The superpowers of the Allies, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States, were reasonably skeptical of one another, and there were disagreements about strategies and attacks, but they compromised and came together for a common goal, the end of war.

The advances in warfare included technological developments and also involved strategic advancements. The Germans used Blitzkrieg (lightning warfare) early on in their battles of World War II. Developments in air warfare were not only good for air raids and bombings, but the airplanes were also beneficial for more efficient travel and carrying supplies to far destinations. Also aiding in mobility, the use of tanks in battle became more effective and productive in this war than in World War I. Inventing the atomic bomb was a vital part of the war and of history. Its use helped determine the outcome of World War II, but it also put a scar on the world that will not be erased, and it is feared that this type of destruction will be repeated.

Economics were greatly affected by the war. Europe was the site for most of the fighting, and consequently the area hardest hit with economic damage. In the United States, the economy was affected because of money going toward the war effort. On the homefront, husbands and fathers were going overseas, leaving their jobs, and leaving their families with no income. The need for work (on part of the businesses) and the need for money (on part of the families) opened the door for women in the workplace.

Although the economic cost of the war was high, there is no comparison of money to the loss of life. The total number of deaths (both military and civilian) associated with World War II is 52,199,262 people for the 26 countries involved (Statistics of World War II). Different countries were more devastated by the loss of life than others. The United States lost about 500,000 people in the war, representing 0.4 percent of the pre-war population of the United States. Other countries were hit harder, such as Poland, which had the highest death percentage of 17.2 percent. 6,123,000 people slaughtered, both military members and civilians (Statistics of World War II).

The first major surrender of the German forces is known as V-E Day (Victory over Europe) on May 8, 1945. Later that year, we recall the official end of the war with the surrender of Japan on September 2, known as V-J Day (Victory over Japan). Trying not to repeat the mistakes of the treaties of the first world war, the nation leaders decided that it would be better to submit a number of treaties to a Council of Foreign ministers. This Council, which included ministers from the United States, Great Britain, France, China, and the Soviet Union, met in Paris, deliberated, and signed five different treaties on February 10, 1947. The Italian Peace Treaty, the Bulgarian Peace Treaty, the Romanian Peace Treaty, the Hungarian Peace Treaty, and the Finnish Peace Treaty all went into effect as of September 15, 1947(Esposito, 365-370). Later developments included the Japanese Peace Treaty in 1951, and the Austrian State Treaty in 1955(Esposito, 370-372).

There are countless facts, statistics and details involved in this historical event. Too many details to cover. When reading about the events leading to the war, the war itself, the aftermath, the effects on countries, and especially the injuries and loss of life, I ask that you please try to remember that these facts and statistics represent real people, real families. It is not possible to imagine the full effect of the devastation when only looking at numbers and political outcomes. The people affected by this war were just like you and I, and they sacrificed for our freedom and the freedom of others.




Printed Resources


Ambrose, Stephen E. D-Day. New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1994.
This book will provide a good history of D-Day, which was a key event in the war. It will be one of the main points of my project.

Esposito, Vincent J. A Concise History of World War II. New York, N.Y.: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965.
 This great overview of World War II covers all of the key points and events of the war, including the circumstances   leading to the war, and the aftermath for some of the countries.

Hass, Aaron. The Aftermath. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Pres
The post-war situations will be covered in my project, and this book covers many of the effects that World War II had on different areas involved.

Kee, Robert. 1939: In the Shadow of War. Boston, M.A.: Little, Brown and Company, 1984.
A good summary of the direct events leading into World War II.

Levin, Nora. The Holocaust. New York, N.Y.: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1968.
The Holocaust was an important event of the war, and Nora Levin gives a good history of the facts and stories of the tragedy.

Overy, Richard. Why the Allies Won. New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton and Company, 1995.
A good insight about the outcome of the war.

Remak, Joachim. The Origins of the Second World War. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, Incorporated, 1976.
This book tells about the important events that led to the outbreak of the war.

Sulzberger, C.L. The American Heritage Picture History of World War II(Volumes I and II). American Heritage Publishing Company, Incorporated, 1966.
Complete with photos and articles, these two volumes provide a great visual timeline of the events of the war.

Worth, Roland H., Jr. Pearl Harbor. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company Incorporated, 1993.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor, a major event in the war, will be a big part of my project. This book not only provides a history of the event, but also testimonials and pictures.

Wright, Gordon. The Ordeal of Total War. New York, N.Y.: Harper and Row, 1968.
This book does a good job of showing the negative effects and struggles of countries at war.


World Wide Web Resources


 

"The Axis Powers During World War II." 1992. USPS, URL:   http://www.indstate.edu/gga/gga_cart/gecar153.htm (March 30, 2000).
This site provides great references and maps that explain and show the strategies and movements of the Axis powers in World War II.

Barron, Dr. Ann. "A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust." 1999. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology, URL:  http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/Holocaust/ (March 30, 2000).
This site provides pages of pictures, timelines, and even sections about art and music during the time of the Holocaust. Because it is used as a teaching tool, the material is fairly easy to understand to anyone.

"Battle of the Bulge."  1997.  The Simon Wissenthal Center, URL:  http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t005/t00525.html (April 25, 2000).
This site provides easy access to sub-links that covers plans of the battle, history of the battle, statistics, the end of battle, and the effects of the battle.  It is very easy to navigate and find out exactly what you want to know about the Battle of the Bulge.

Blunden, Andy. "The Aftermath of the Second World War.". 1993. URL: http://home.mira.net/~andy/bs/index.htm (February 20, 2000).
A good internet site that discusses the different effects that the war had on the different nations. It has links to various branch sites for more information.

Burkhalter, John G. "D-Day account of LTC John G. Burkhalter.". URL: http://www.highrock.com/JohnGBurkhalter/D-day.html.(March 30, 2000).
This site provides a first-hand account of what happened on D-day. It is told through the eyes and experience of John G. Burkhalter.

"Concentration and Death Camps.". 2000. About.com Incorporated, URL: http://holocaust.about.com/education/holocaust/msubmenu1.htm (February 20, 2000).
 A useful site that lists and links to different concentration camps of the war.

"Guts and Glory.". 1999. PBS, URL: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/guts/sfeature/index.html (February 20, 2000).
A PBS movie regarding WWII has interesting testimonials on the website.

"Important Dates.". July, 1998. URL: http://holocaust.about.com/education/holocaust/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.stokesey.demon.co.uk/wwii/dates.html (February 20, 2000).
A good, complete time line of the war.

Johnston, Wesley.  "The Battle of the Bulge."  2000.   URL:  http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/dadswar/bulge/ (April 25, 2000).
This site is complete with maps and text all about the Battle of the Bulge.  The page contains a complete list of units involved in the battle and it also provides links to other sites about the battle.

"Normandy: 1944." 1998-1999. Encyclopedia Britannica, URL:   http://normandy.eb.com/ (March 30, 2000).
This well put together site offers information about the plans, breakout, fighting, invasion, and even memory of D-Day.

"The Pearl Harbor Archive.". 1996. Sperry Maine Incorporated, URL: http://www.sperry-marine.com/pearl/pearlh.htm (February 20, 2000). 
A good site with links and explanations about the events surrounding the Pearl Harbor attack.

"The People Behind the Allied Powers."  1999.   World War II Research Aid.  URL:  http://marina.fortunecity.com/reach/77/alliedpeople.html (April 25, 2000).
Although this site may load slowly because of it's many graphics, it provides a list of 32 leaders of the Allied powers.  It does not take a stand point from merely one country, and it also gives credit to some of the lesser-known heroes.

"People Behind the Axis Powers."  1999.  World War II Research Aid.  URL:  http://marina.fortunecity.com/reach/77/axispeople.html (April 25, 2000).
This site provides a list of 22 leader of the Axis Powers in the war.  Covering people from different countries, it tells about people who many of us never knew were involved in the war.

"The Rise of Adolph Hitler." 1999. The History Place, URL: http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/riseofhitler/index.htm. (March 30, 2000).
This easy-to-access site provides 24 chapter-links that go into the life and rise of Adolph. The chapters go from Hitler’s birth, to the parts of his life when he was unknown, up to the very end when he becomes so infamous.

Sheck, Raffael. "The Second World War.". 2000. Colby College History Department, URL:         http://www.colby.edu/personal/rmscheck/GermanyE3.html (February 20, 2000).
A good overview of the war.

"Women and World War II.". 1997. Alderley Ventures Incorporated, URL: http://www.valourandhorror.com/DB/LINKS/Women.htm (February 20, 2000).
This site provides a few good links describing the important role of women in WWII.

"Women come to the Front."  1999.  Library of Congress, URL:  http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/wcf/ (April 25, 2000).
This site is an excellent tribute to the women journalists and reporters in World War II.  It provides a list some women involved in the war, and it also gives a brief history about the opportunities that arose in the war and how the "seeds of change" were planted by these women.

"World War II Allied Military Codenames."  1999.   World War II Research Aid.  URL:  http://marina.fortunecity.com/reach/77/codesal.html (April 25, 2000).
Sponsored by the same research aid as the above site, this page is slow to load and possibly difficult to read for some.  But it does list a great number of codenames used in the war.  It proves to be very interesting.

"World War II German and Japanese Military Codenames."   1999.  World War II Research Aid.  URL:  http://marina.fortunecity.com/reach/77/codeax.html (April 25, 2000).
The graphics on this page may need some time to download, and they make it somewhat difficult to read everything.  But the quality of the information is good.  It provides a thorough list of codenames used by the Axis powers in WWII.

"World War Two in Europe: Timeline With Photos and Text.". 1996-1999. The History Place, URL: http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/ww2time.htm (February 20, 2000).
A good timeline of the important dates of the war.


TERMS


Germany’s Invasion of Poland

In 1939, Hitler felt that he should gain control of the Polish Corridor to build railroad links between the divided Germany.  Much to Hitler's surprise, the German demands were not met.  At dawn on September 1, 1939, the German forces launched an attack across the Polish border.  To honor their obligations to Poland, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany two days later. 

Even with the help of the British and French, Poland did not have a fighting chance against the Germans.  On September 17, the outcome was practically sealed when the Soviet troops, secretly allied with Germany, marched in from the East to occupy Warsaw.   Poland was forced to surrender, and by October 6, 1939, the country no longer existed.  With this, the second World War had officially begun.


The Holocaust

Known today as the Holocaust, Hitler came up with a master plan in 1941 to attend to his hatred of Jews. What Hitler referred to as "The Final Solution" involved the plans to eventually exterminate all Jewish people in Europe, and even the world. Hitler found that the method of rounding up and shooting the Jews was too slow. This led to the idea of placing Jewish people in concentration camps. Not only was the method of death faster in the concentration camps, but it was also more cost-efficient. While in the concentration camps, many of the Jewish people were forced to work, while others simply awaited the time of their death. Yet others were sent directly to the death camps, where they would be immediately gassed and killed.

Although Hitler’s attempt at extinguishing the entire Jewish population did not work, it came very close to successfully ending an entire ethnic group. Six million Jews(seventy-five percent of the Jewish European population) were persecuted and died as a result of the concentration camps and the war.

*Want to know more? *

"Concentration and Death Camps.". 2000. About.com Incorporated, URL: http://holocaust.about.com/education/holocaust/msubmenu1.htm (February 20, 2000).
A useful site that lists and links to different concentration camps of the war.

Barron, Dr. Ann. "A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust." 1999. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology, URL:  http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/Holocaust/ (March 30, 2000).
This site provides pages of pictures, timelines, and even sections about art and music during the time of the Holocaust. Because it is used as a teaching tool, the material is fairly easy to understand to anyone.


The Allies

In 1942, when the two separate wars began to come together, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were meeting several times in hopes to plan a strategy to defeat the Axis Powers and attain peace in Europe and Asia. These conferences soon expanded to include Joseph Stalin. After a few meetings, the superpower leaders agreed to make an alliance against Germany and Japan. The United States, Great Britain, and Russia, although understandably a little suspicious of one another, decided that they should first concentrate on stopping Hitler and Germany. The agreed that no country would cease fire with Germany until Hitler was halted.

The Allies, because of better planning and organization, would go on to win the war. Their combined efforts led to ingenious strategies in attacking and defeating the German forces.

*Want to know more? *

"The People Behind the Allied Powers."  1999.   World War II Research Aid.  URL:  http://marina.fortunecity.com/reach/77/alliedpeople.html (April 25, 2000).

   Although this site may load slowly because of it's many graphics, it provides a list of 32 leaders of the Allied powers.  It does not take a stand point from merely one country, and it also gives credit to some of the lesser-known heroes.

"World War II Allied Military Codenames."  1999.   World War II Research Aid.  URL:  http://marina.fortunecity.com/reach/77/codesal.html (April 25, 2000).
 Sponsored by the same research aid as the above site, this page is slow to load and possibly difficult to read for some.  But it does list a great number of codenames used in the war.  It proves to be very interesting.


The Axis Powers

With two wars going on in Europe and Asia, both Japan and Germany realized that no lone country could take on all of the other superpowers. They joined forces, and expanded this alliance to also include Italy.

When World War II evolved to be the Allies determined to overrun the Axis Powers, the Axis Powers began to run into trouble. The kept fighting, and both Germany and Japan had great attack plans and strategies. Unfortunately for them, the Allies had one major advantage over them. The advantage was not strength, numbers, or skill, but merely organization.

If only Germany and Japan would have correlated their efforts more carefully, they may have been able to hold off the Allies and continue their conquest of taking over the world.

*Want to know more? *

"People Behind the Axis Powers."  1999.  World War II Research Aid.  URL:  http://marina.fortunecity.com/reach/77/axispeople.html (April 25, 2000).
This site provides a list of 22 leader of the Axis Powers in the war.  Covering people from different countries, it tells about people who many of us never knew were involved in the war.

"World War II German and Japanese Military Codenames."   1999.  World War II Research Aid.  URL:  http://marina.fortunecity.com/reach/77/codeax.html (April 25, 2000).
The graphics on this page may need some time to download, and they make it somewhat difficult to read everything.  But the quality of the information is good.  It provides a thorough list of codenames used by the Axis powers in WWII.


Pearl Harbor

In 1941, the tensions between Japan and the United States began to rise more and more. The Japanese wanted to attack and acquire control of Southeast Asia. In response to this conquest, the United States tried to keep peace in Southeast Asia by planning a defense strategy with the Dutch and British and creating an embargo in the United States against Japan.

When negotiations with the United States appeared to be unsuccessful, the Japanese moved on to another, more forceful plan. On December 7, Japan made its most crucial move of the war. Not only did Japanese soldiers attack American forces all throughout Southeast Asia, but they also planned and carried out a complete surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

This surprise attack was well planned for the short-run, and it did ensure that the Japanese would win this battle. However, it also sparked more anger in the United States. The Japanese government lost the war for themselves when the failed to consider the fact that a surprise attack of this magnitude would guarantee that the United States would not give up fighting until they beat Japan.

*Want to know more? *

"The Pearl Harbor Archive.". 1996. Sperry Maine Incorporated,URL: http://www.sperry-marine.com/pearl/pearlh.htm (February 20, 2000).      
A good site with links and explanations about the events surrounding the Pearl Harbor attack.


Battle of the Bulge

The largest land battle of World War II, the battle of the Bulge, began on December 16, 1944 and lasted until January 28, 1945. The offensive involved over a million people, mostly American and German troops.

In 1944, Hitler realized that his German army was not powerful enough to fight against the alliance of the United States, Soviet Union and British Empire. He conspired that the only chance for Germany was to launch a surprise attack that would shock the countries and break the bond of the unstable Alliance. Planning an attack in the Ardennes forest around Christmas time was Hitler’s best chance at breaking up the Allies and having a chance to win the war.

The problem with Hitler’s plan is that he needed everything to go right to correlate with his plan in order for it to work. To his dismay, everything did not go as he planned, meaning that his plan was not successful.

The Allies planed a counter offensive of their own, surrounding the Germans and forcing their surrender. The Battle of the Bulge was declared over on January 28, 1945. Although a victory for the Allies, the casualties and wounded were costly for everyone involved.

*Want to know more? *

"Battle of the Bulge."  1997.  The Simon Wissenthal Center, URL:   http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t005/t00525.html (April 25, 2000).
This site provides easy access to sub-links that covers plans of the battle, history of the battle, statistics, the end of battle, and the effects of the battle.  It is very easy to navigate and find out exactly what you want to know about the Battle of the Bulge.

Johnston, Wesley.  "The Battle of the Bulge."  2000.   URL:  http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/dadswar/bulge/ (April 25, 2000)
This site is complete with maps and text all about the Battle of the Bulge.  The page contains a complete list of units involved in the battle and it also provides links to other sites about the battle.


Battle of Iwo Jima

The Japanese island of Iwo Jima was attacked by the United States on February 19, 1945. The main reason for this strategic attack was the location of Iwo Jima. Not only did Iwo Jima house three airline strips that the Japanese used for their Kamikaze missions, but it was also a good location to aid the United States’ offensive against Japan. With the capture of Iwo Jima, US planes would have a place for emergency landings and also a closer base to Japan, making B-29 attacks more productive.

Over a month of constant battle with the Japanese led to the final capture and securing of the island on March 26, 1945. The fighting and casualties proved to be worth the effort. Thousands of American planes would make emergency landings on Iwo Jima before the end of the war. Thousands of American pilots’ lives were saved by these emergency landings.


D-Day

The Normandy invasion, or D-Day, was long awaited by the occupied lands of Europe. After more than 3 years of war, the Allies decided to launch a campaign to finally put an end to all of the chaos and destruction. With the German troops already holding back a front line of Allied troops, the United States, Great Britain, and Canada sent a second major line of soldiers to the Normandy coast of France on June 6, 1944. The Germans still put up a good fight, but were eventually overcome by the amount of troops sent by the Allies.

This event began a chain reaction that pushed the German troops all the way back to the borders of Germany. The Allies were finally getting most of Europe back from German control.

*Want to know more? *

"Normandy: 1944." 1998-1999. Encyclopedia Britannica, URL:   http://normandy.eb.com/ (March 30, 2000).
This well put together site offers information about the plans, breakout, fighting, invasion, and even memory of D-Day.

Burkhalter, John G. "D-Day account of LTC John G. Burkhalter.". URL: http://www.highrock.com/JohnGBurkhalter/D-day.html.(March 30, 2000).
This site provides a first-hand account of what happened on D-day. It is told through the eyes and experience of John G. Burkhalter.


The Aftermath

World War II created a great historical break in the 20th century. Many things after the war would never return to being the same as they were before the event.

The technologies used for advances in warfare came back and spread to advances in electronics, communications, and medicines.

One downfall of technological advances was the atomic bomb and nuclear warfare. After the first atomic bombs were dropped, the secret for mass destruction was out, and many nations built their own nuclear arsenals for protection. There were enough nuclear weapons in the world to end all of civilization, which was, and still is, a great fear of many people.

One good thing that can prevent this mass destruction is the development of the United Nations Organization. The U.N. began in 1945 in the hopes to prevent another world war from occurring. The leaders of this organization, the United States, China, Russia, France, and Great Britain, occupy a council which maintains order in the U.N. With the five great superpowers allied and in charge, it has done a good job at keeping the peace between nations.

*Want to know more? *

Blunden, Andy. "The Aftermath of the Second World War.". 1993. URL: http://home.mira.net/~andy/bs/index.htm (February 20, 2000).
A good internet site that discusses the different effects that the war had on the different nations. It has links to various branch sites for more information.

Schoenherr, Steven.  "Aftermath of War."  1995.   University of San Diego History Department, URL:  http://ac.acusd.edu/history/WW2Timeline/aftermath.html (April 25, 2000).
This site provides a number of sub links to different effects that World War II had on the nations involved.  It is easy to navigate the site and find more about the aftermath and effects of World War II.


Women and World War II

The war effected women in different ways.

In Europe and Asia, women were unfortunately the innocent victims of a war that was not their fault. Thousands of women (along with civilian men and children) were raped and murdered throughout the course of the war.

In the United States, the war provided a kick-start to the coming Women’s Movement. When the fathers, brothers, and husbands went off the Europe to fight, it created countless openings that needed to be filled in the job market. Without a man’s income supporting, the women took to the work force. No one at the time realized how significant this would be in the women’s movement and the stride toward equal rights.

*Want to know more? *

"Women and World War II.". 1997. Alderley Ventures Incorporated, URL: http://www.valourandhorror.com/DB/LINKS/Women.htm (February 20, 2000).
This site provides a few good links describing the important role of women in WWII.

"Women come to the Front."  1999.  Library of Congress, URL:  http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/wcf/ (April 25, 2000).
This site is an excellent tribute to the women journalists and reporters in World War II.  It provides a list some women involved in the war, and it also gives a brief history about the opportunities that arose in the war and how the "seeds of change" were planted by these women.


World War II page designed and built by Marsha J. E. Miller.  Last Revision: April 26, 2000.



Core 132
Syllabus
BACK

This page has had
Hit Counter
hits since 4 August 2006.

URL: http://departments.kings.edu/history/20c
Site built, maintained and Copyright MMVI by Brian A. Pavlac
First posted:  2000 April 11
Last Revision:  2006 March 29
Questions, comments, suggestions?  Email:   bapavlacATkings.edu