1930’s Political Ideologies Democracy viewed as weak, indecisive Fascism: (Bundle of Sticks) can’t break them

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1930’s Political Ideologies
Democracy viewed as weak, indecisive
Fascism: (Bundle of Sticks) can’t break them
Begins in France spreads to Europe

Established in Italy under Mussolini, 1922

Fascism attractive in Germany after WW1 to challenge struggling Weimar Republic-
1. Democracy was seen as a problem, not a solution.
Weimar viewed as weak and dysfunctional
Viewed human existence and nations in perpetual war/struggle
Hitler offers clear solution to this vision through remilitarization and conquest
2. Europeans feared Soviet style communist takeover
Fascism/Nazism was the answer
Fascist nations by 1939- Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, Bulgaria, Japan, Romania


  • Nazi short for National Socialists

  • Builds upon racist rhetoric of 1920s Austria

  • Aryans (Anglo-Saxons) considered most highly evolved humans

  • Jews (and others) considered racially inferior

  • Jews blamed for conspiring to control world through international finance- “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”

  • Hitler also viewed communism as a Jewish conspiracy


  • 1848 Karl Marx, German philosopher creates communist ideology

  • 1017, Lenin leads working class revolution in Russia

  • Solution: overthrow capitalism (business owners) and establish government/worker control of economy


Britain, US, France

Pre-war US Diplomacy, Japan, and Pearl Harbor
US isolationist during 1930s

Neutrality Act of 1935 imposed an embargo on trading arms with warring countries

Neutrality Act of 1936 banned loans to warring countries
US Intervention

  • Hitler invades Poland Sept. 1, 1939

  • 2 days later Britain/France declare war on Germany

“Phony War” ensues- lack of military action

  • April 1940, Germany launches Blitzkrieg or lightening war

  • Invasion of Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, France

  • Nazis sign nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union, 1939- Soviets neutralized

  • Britain and US left remaining

  • 1940 The London Blitz, 6 months of German bombing of London, killing 50,000 leaving 500,000 homeless- over 100 tons of high explosives

  • Neutrality reconsidered

  • Intervention #1- congress passes the Lend Lease Act, 1941

  • Provides arms to maintain British survival (later to Soviets after German invasion June, 1941)

  • US effectively enters war

  • Intervention #2 The Atlantic Charter- joint declaration between FDR and Winston Churchill

Pearl Harbor

  • Dec. 7, 1941

  • Marks official US WWII Involvement

Japanese Imperialism

  • Japan became imperial power; developed racist attitude against Asian neighbors

  • Invades Manchuria, China 1930- no action taken by League of Nations

  • Launch full scale invasion in 1937 known as the Rape of Nanking- horrific atrocities

  • Deaths disputed- 50,000-400,000

  • Japan refuses to accept responsibility or apologize to this day

  • Japan/China relations today- not good

  • Japan signed Tripartice Pact, 1940 Alliance of Japan, Germany, Italy

  • Prime Minister Hideki Tojo started war preparations Sept, 1941

  • US aware, didn’t know when

  • Dec. 7 Japan attacks

  • Killed 2,400 US Americans

  • Destroyed 8 battleships, 3 cruisers, 200 airplanes

Reasons for Japanese Attack

  • Demoralize US

  • Incapacitate US as Japan pursued oil elsewhere in south Asia

  • Draw US into war in Pacific to keep it out of Europe


  • Bolstered US determination to fight

  • Tactical failure; no damage to repair facilities, oil reserves, aircraft carriers

  • Declaration war signed Dec 8

  • 2 days later Germany declared war on US

  • “I am afraid we have awakened a sleeping giant” Admiral Isoroku Yamamto, Japan

War Mobilization

  • WWII does more than end Great Depression

  • Economy takes off, full employment

  • Inflation, not depression era deflation, was a problem

  • GDP; 1940 $99 billion 1945 $211 billion

  • Production increased dramatically- the “sleeping giant” was awakened

  • 100 largest corporations got 2/3 of all military contracts

  • 86,000 tanks/296,00 airplanes built

  • Kaiser takes 17 days rather than 1 year for ship construction

  • War created demand for 7 million jobs

  • Most jobs filled by women as welders, riveters, drill press operators, blast furnace cleaners

  • Scientific developments spur postwar economy- nuclear, plastics, chemicals, synthetics

  • Sets in place historically unprecedented postwar economic growth


  • Revenue Act of 1942 raised taxes on all Americans- 43 million Americans pay income and/or payroll taxes

  • War bonds- patriotic act; also kept inflation low. Why” 7 bond drives oversubscribed

African Americans

  • Energized civil rights movement, black activism

  • Double “V” campaign; victory over Nazism abroad, victory against racism at home

  • FDR’s FEPC (1941) staved off “March on Washington”

  • Totalitarianism abroad questioned segregation at home

Support for War

  • US overwhelmingly supports war effort

  • High morale

  • Moral war (the good war) freedom over totalitarianism

  • Most sacrifice little; war viewed as a good time

Axis Powers and leaders

Germany- Hitler

Italy- Mussolini

Japan- Tojo

Allies and leaders

Great Britain -Churchill


Soviet Union- Stalin

Mobilization in Europe


  • Invasion of Poland

  • 1939-1940 “phony war”

  • 1940 Hitler launches Blitzkrieg, controls Poland

  • June 22, 1941: Hitler attacks Russia in Operation Barbarossa, ending the nonaggression pact

  • Largest attack in military history


  • German armies pushed deep into Soviet territory near Moscow and Leningrad

  • Hitler started North Africa offensive- capture Suez Canal

1943 Turning Point

  • Soviets halt German advance and win Battle of Stalingrad (present-day Ukraine

  • Germans lost 333,000; Soviets 550,000

  • Allies (mostly US) defeat Germans in North Africa fulfilling FDRs promise to Stalin for second front

  • Italy withdrawals

  • Allies attack German forces through Italy- Europe’s “soft underbelly”


  • Soviets push Germany out of Russia by mid 1944

  • D-Day; June 6, 1944. 1.5 million troops cross English Channel to beaches of Normandy, France; aka Operation Overlord

  • Allies bomb German military and industrial installations- level Dresden, Cologne, Berlin, causing 1 million casualties- many civilian

  • Germans counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge, December. 1944. Germans defeated after 10 days fierce fighting


  • FDR dies April 12, 1945 from cerebral hemorrhage, Truman takes over

  • Germans surrender May 8, 1945; V-E Day

War in the Pacific


  • Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941

  • Within 3 month Japan invades; Guam, Hong Kong, Wake Island, Burma, Philippines, Malaya

  • Grim situation


  • Summer 1942, us launches “island hopping” campaign

  • May 7-8 Battle of Coral Sea protects Australia

  • In June, Battle of Midway inflicts major damage on both sides


  • 1943 Battle o Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

  • 1944 Reconquest of Philippines- Japan incurs major losses


  • To attack Japanese mainland, US needed islands Iwo Jima (Feb.) and Okinawa (April)

  • Japan fiercely defends islands; 14,000 US killed

  • US bombing of mainland killed over 330,000 civilians, crippled economy

  • Japan starts suicide kamikaze missions and refuses to surrender

  • Aug. 6 and 9. US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively.

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