3 Discussion Why do you think the United States didn't stage a direct assault on Japan, instead attacking various islands in the Pacific Ocean?Japan was too far from Hawaii for an assault to be practical or successful. By capturing Japaneseheld islands nearer Japan, U.S. forces could prepare to attack Japan and weaken it at the same time.
5 The Asian TheaterIwo Jima and Okinawa: In 1944, the U.S.-led Allied forces continued their "island-hopping" campaign. In early 1945 the Allies attacked the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, which were seen as vital sites for preparing an invasion of Japan itself. The Japanese offered fierce resistance, and although the Allies were victorious, they suffered heavy casualties.Hiroshima and Nagasaki: U.S. President Harry Truman, who had become the leader of the United States after Franklin Roosevelt died in April 1945, feared that an Allied invasion of Japan would cost many more U.S. soldiers their lives. Truman ordered that atomic bombs be dropped on Japanese cities. Truman hoped that using the bombs would cause Japan to surrender. In August 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, died from radiation poisoning or from the blast itself.World War II ends: Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945, ending World War II. Worldwide, about 17 million soldiers had died. Twenty million or more civilians also had been killed. No other war in the history of the world claimed as many lives.Beginning of the Nuclear Age: The dropping of atomic bombs on Japan marked the beginning of the Nuclear Age. Countries raced to develop their own atomic bombs and match the nuclear capability of the United States. In 1949 the Soviet Union became the second country to develop a nuclear weapon.
7 Discussion How long after D-Day did the war finally end in Asia? It was about fourteen months from the Normandy invasion to Japan's surrender.
8 Background Throughout history war has sometimes harmed the mental health of individuals serving in combat. During World War II, close to 40,000 U.S. army soldiers were sent home during the war because they developed psychiatric problems while serving in combat. Since the Vietnam War, this psychiatric disorder has been recognized as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
10 Planning the Postwar World Tehran Conference: In 1943, the leaders of the "Big Three" Allied countries—the Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain—met in Tehran, the capital of Iran, to discuss war strategy. Their plan for defeating Germany would have important consequences after the war. Soviet forces would meet up with U.S.-British forces along a north-south dividing line, with the Soviets likely to liberate Eastern Europe.Yalta Conference: In February 1945, the Big Three leaders met again, this time in Yalta in the Soviet Union. At this point it appeared certain that the Allies would win the war. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin wanted pro-Soviet governments established in Eastern Europe as a buffer zone against any future aggression from Western countries. The presence of 11 million Soviet soldiers in Eastern Europe gave Stalin a strong bargaining position. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt wanted all European countries to have free elections so that they would have self-determination. Roosevelt persuaded Stalin and British leader Winston Churchill to agree to the establishment of the United Nations. Stalin won approval to seize control of islands from Japan. The three leaders also agreed to divide Germany into four zones, which would be occupied by the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.Potsdam Conference: Yet another meeting of the Big Three occurred in 1945, this time in Potsdam, Germany. U.S. President Harry Truman demanded free elections in Eastern Europe, but Stalin disagreed. He believed that such elections would threaten Soviet security. The leaders did agree on a process for conducting trials for Axis political and military leaders guilty of war crimes.U.S.-Soviet tension and suspicions in the postwar world: U.S. and Soviet disagreements at the conferences escalated into a bitter division and decades of hostility. Winston Churchill proclaimed that an "iron curtain" had fallen across the middle of Europe, dividing the continent into East and West.
12 Discussion Why might the Soviet Union have wanted ports in warmer waters near Japan?The only ocean ports in the eastern Soviet Union were in the far north, and they were often frozen over in winter.
14 Discussion Why do you think the Allies felt that the UN was necessary? To create a group that could help to prevent future wars.
15 Background When the Big Three met at Yalta along the Crimean Sea in February 1945, the United States expected that it would need significant help from the Soviet Union to defeat Japan, even though this turned out not to be the case. As a result, Roosevelt felt that he would have to trust Stalin's promise that he would allow representative democratic governments to be established in Eastern Europe, and, eventually free elections. When Stalin later failed to keep his word, there were cries of protest in Western countries that Roosevelt and Churchill should have taken a harder line against the Soviets. Advisers to the Western leaders replied that the presence of millions of Soviet troops in Eastern Europe made it difficult for Roosevelt and Churchill to make any demands of Stalin, at least as far as Eastern Europe was concerned.