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World War II The ‘Good War’ at Home and Abroad. Background, Causes Leftover strains, economic problems from WWI Failure of democracy in Germany, Italy,

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Presentation on theme: "World War II The ‘Good War’ at Home and Abroad. Background, Causes Leftover strains, economic problems from WWI Failure of democracy in Germany, Italy,"— Presentation transcript:

1 World War II The ‘Good War’ at Home and Abroad

2 Background, Causes Leftover strains, economic problems from WWI Failure of democracy in Germany, Italy, USSR Authoritarian govts in Italy, Japan, Germany, Spain Rise of Hitler and Nazis, legally gained power, support of German people Fascism = belief in superior race, party rule, extreme nationalism, dictatorship, world domination, expansionism (Lebensraum)

3 Lead-up to U.S. Involvement 1930s, Japanese colonialism in Pacific 1930s, Rise of fascism in Europe 1936, Axis formed (Germany, Italy, Japan) 1938, Germany annexed Austria, Czech. 1939, Hitler-Stalin Pact 1939, Hitler invaded Poland June, 1940, France fell Summer-fall, 1940, Battle of Britain (bombing) June, 1941, Hitler invaded USSR (mistake) Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, U.S. entered war

4 From Isolationism to War American criticism of WWI, “merchants of death” – 1935 Neutrality Act; ‘cash-and-carry’ law America First movement

5 From Isolationism to War Charles Lindbergh and others sympathetic to Nazis But FDR and many Americans sympathized with Britain and Allies – pressure to join war Changed laws to allow trade with allies Lend-lease, Jan. 1941, allowed arming of Allies, moving U.S. closer to participation Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941 – united Americans in entering and winning war

6 Fighting the War: Basics Allies, Big Three (U.S., GB, USSR) + France and China FDR, Churchill, Stalin – Big Three Leaders Strained relations over war aims and strategy Axis (Germany, Italy, Japan) Hitler, Mussolini, Emperor Hirohito/Military leaders Two Wars: Europe and Pacific War in Europe USSR vs. Germany, 1941, the Eastern Front Allies entered Europe through Africa/Italy first (1942/43) Then D-Day invasion at Normandy on French coast (1944), push towards Berlin V-E Day, May 8, 1945

7 Fighting the War: Basics War in the Pacific: naval, air, jungle combat Japanese empire throughout Pacific Midway naval battles: U.S. victories in 1942 halted Japanese advance on Australia and hurt Japanese navy Island-hopping towards Japanese islands Guadalcanal, 1942-1943 Iwo Jima and Okinawa, 1943 Fire-bombing of Tokyo, Spring 1945 Predictions of mass slaughter if U.S. invaded Japanese homeland August 6 and 9, atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Japan surrendered shortly after

8 The Big Three

9 Expanded Govt. Power Similar to WWI experience Dollar-a-year men, corp. leaders, guaranteed profits Bigness a benefit – large bureaucracies and businesses favored for high productivity – top 100 comp. from 30% (1940) to 70% (1945) WPB – powerful, contracts, conversion, control OPA – controlled consumer prices Paying for war: taxes, debt, bonds Military drafted 31 million men; half failed

10 Idealism of Allies FDR’s Four Freedoms:Four Freedoms Atlantic Charter – U.S. and GB – war a fight for freedom, free trade, collective security, national self-determination Music of Popular Front: Aaron Copland George Gershwin Woody Guthrie Big Band

11 Four Freedoms


13 Mobilization at Home: Unity and Sacrifice

14 Mobilizing Workers: Creating an ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ Labor shortage: women, blacks entered workforce, industrial jobs, moved north Workers continued to join unions during war Gained higher wages and income NWLB handled disputes Labor’s no-strike pledge for war Tension and strikes: disputes over wages vs. corp. profits led UMW to strike in 1943








22 Problems of WWII: War as Crucible War challenged nation and people to define themselves: ideals, who belonged, goals Problems of race and racism Inclusion or exclusion of immigrants Economic and social equality: equal sacrifice for war effort? War goals and methods: do they fit with national ideals? Long-term effects of war on society

23 Good War, Race War? Rationale for WWII as ‘Good War’: As framed by FDR, WWII was a fight for freedom, against tyranny A war against fascism, racial superiority Continuation and completion of New Deal Fight for economic and racial liberalism at home and abroad Holocaust made war even more just – fascism was evil, based on racial superiority and cleansing

24 A War of Possibilities: Racial and Economic Liberalism Economic Liberalism: Social and economic equality (The Four Freedoms) Equality of sacrifice in wartime (fair wages and profits) Racial Equality: Incorporation of blacks and immigrants into nation – the right to fight, to be patriotic, to join the nation Racial Equality: Ability of all Americans to serve country and gain benefits of service

25 Racial Liberalism During War

26 WWII Civil Rights: Realities Fight for equality at home and in war effort: Black newspapers and organizations: Double V campaign: war against fascism abroad AND racism at home FEPC created in 1941 after A. Philip Randolph’s threat of March on Washington – equal opportunity U.S. armed forces segregated throughout war, even in other countries War as hothouse for civil rights: Disappointments of wartime experience led to black mobilization of 1950s and 1960s Women reluctant to return home after war-work, fought 1950s domestic culture Gays became less isolated, found others, organized

27 WWII Civil Rights: Realities Tendency towards suspicion and conformity on the home front Private Snafu films Problems of racism at home and abroad: Conflict between war aims and realities of racism in U.S. society and military Discrimination against black Americans: segregated armed forces, workplaces, lower pay Japanese internment Anti-Hispanic attacks in Los Angeles led to “zoot suit riots” Racial war against Japanese

28 Double Victory over Racism Band, The Ink Spots, supported Double V campaign

29 Legacy of Wartime Racism Why no black soldiers in Saving Private Ryan? Structural and legal racism had long-term effects Segregated armed forces, bases Unable to prove heroism/loyalty Discouraged from using G.I. Bill G.I. housing loan discrimination; redlined black neighborhoods Desegregated armed forces, in 1948: wars with black soldiers on front lines = losses, dishonorable wars

30 Race War in the Pacific War against Japanese diff. than war against Germans: racism on both sides History of white anti-Asian racism in U.S. and abroad (Chinese/Japanese exclusion, Filipino war) Japanese internment within U.S. “Japs” portrayed as particularly sneaky (rats) and bloodthirsty Racial aspect, along w/ nature of jungle combat, led to atrocities on both sides Take no prisoners Taking of souvenirs (body parts, skulls) Would U.S. have used atomic bomb against the Germans?

31 Anti-Japanese Propaganda



34 Ethics and Morality of War ‘The Good War’? Effects of WWII military tactics and culture on later U.S. and world history? German and Japanese war machines, atrocities on civilians: Nazis, Guernica, bombing of London, Holocaust Japanese, Rape of Nanking, kamikaze, enslavement Methods of war: mass mechanized war targeting of civilians inciting terror and demoralization U.S. bombing of non-military civilian German targets: Dresden (Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five) U.S. intentional firebombing of Tokyo; ¼ of city burned U.S. use of atomic bombs

35 Summary Questions: Why did U.S. join WWII? How did it win the war? What was life like on the home front? What ideals did U.S. support and oppose during the war? Did WWII remake U.S. society? Did the U.S. live up to its ideals during WWII?

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