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06 World War Two

Unit Overview:

Student Contribution #1:

As discussed in previous units, world wars were a major issue in the 20th century. World War One weakened many countries and left them struggling to rebuild after. Many of the issues that were a consequence of WWI led to the World War Two occurring, therefore this war was another one which was not entirely necessary and could have potentially been avoided. After WWI, the harsh “peace treaty” Germany and Russia lost wealth, land, and population. A lack of proper communication and understanding between countries also played a role leading up to WWII. There were key turning points/battles and major campaigns in this war. 

The Nazi Blitzkrieg was a German war campaign. The key effective elements of this “Lightning War” were that Germany held complete control of the air and had excellent coordination between all of their units: air (planes), armored (tanks), and infantry. Their preparation as a large unit gave them a substantial advantage over all other countries. Many had thought that it would be like WWI and that a defeat of Germany would not be difficult or time consuming. That was not the case, however. With their defenses and elements mentioned above, Germany managed to overtake Poland, Finland, and France. 

Soon, it became evident that this would be an aggressive war. Two sides emerged: the Allied forces and Axis powers. The Axis Powers consisted of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Allied forces were led by Britain soon after Winston Churchill emerged as their leader, France, USSR, and the US, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This attack was another significant one, because when the Japanese forces bombed the naval base in December of 1941, President Roosevelt had no other choice but to declare war on Japan and enter WWII. 

The Battle of Stalingrad was an important victory for Russia and the Allied movement. It occurred from August 1942 to February of 1943, and it was significant because it was a turning point for the Germans, who had been rapidly advancing and overtaking countries up until now. They wanted Russia because it was an important industrial city that was mass producing tanks on the Volga river, which was also a mass transportation route. The Germans were not prepared for the harsh winter weather and had underestimated the reality of how difficult it would be. Another turning point in the Allied Forces favor was the D Day Invasion. The initial day, June 6, 1944, led to the loss of thousands of troops (90% of the US troops lost on just two sectors of the coast) along the 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast. However, the surge of Allied troops into France led to the removal of German forces from France and allowed the Allies to continue on into Germany. As a result of D Day, Paris was liberated and the Allies were one step closer to defeating Germany. 

Many poor decisions led to WWII being as long and deadly as it was. Hitler’s complete control over war decisions was only good until 1940, then it proved disastrous for Germany. In addition, they wasted many resources on efforts within their own country- the extermination of millions through the Holocaust. And on the side of the Allies, they lacked the technological advances that Germany possessed with their tanks, planes, and naval warfare. However, the decision of the United States to focus attention on scientific experiments led to the development of the atomic bomb, ultimately one of the most effective strategies to end the war. This war led to the death of 79 million, soldier and civilian alike, and the world-wide economic cost totaled $4 million. In the aftermath of the war, the Yalta Conference was held between the Allied leaders; Prime Minister Churchill, Premier Stalin, and President Roosevelt, to discuss how to deal with the aftermath in terms of land control, rebuilding countries’ governments, and actions to take in order to prevent a future war. However, the Cold War has already begun to rise because of tension within Russia, so as was the case between WWI and WWII, the end of this war will soon lead to another. 

Student Contribution #2

World War II -- a war that left 79 million civilian and military dead. The advance in technology, poor communication, and unfortunate luck were some of the main causes to the devastating loss of people, land, and wealth of countries. We can further understand the events that ignited such results to Britain, the Soviet Union, United States, Japan, Italy, and Germany. Noting that these events led to WWII, these were the turning points of the war. 

The Battle of Midway Island was between Japan and United States. It occurred from June 4 to June 7 of 1942. Fighting for the Pacific Ocean and using airplanes were importance purposes to this battle. Japan had more troops than U.S. and supposed to ambush U.S. carriers and control/surrender the U.S. for the gain of having the Pacific Ocean, but the U.S. had a system of attack by using airplanes and other aircraft to drop bombs. The Battle of Britain happened from July 10 to October 31, 1940. This battle was between the Japanese, British, and Russians. The method of Nazi Blitzbrieg (Lighting War) was the use of coordinating air (radar), armored, and infantry, as well as easily moving tank units. This battle was succeeded by France, Poland, and Finland. Britain was solo against the Germans for the axis powers and the allied powers had a launching station for D-Day of “Fortress Europe.”

The Battle of Stalingrad happened a few months after the Battle of Midway. The Germans wanted to conquer and destroy Stalingrad, but Hitler’s decision to surround both sides of the area led to lose. They weren’t prepared for the weather as the Russians. The winter season during this battle led the Germans to experience their first frostbites. The bombing of Pearl Harbor f December 7, 1941. The developmental of the atomic bomb was unsuccessful to the Japanese and they also failed to sink U.S. aircraft carriers during the attack. The U.S. and Germans were also working on developing atomic bombs. President Roosevelt’s decision to drop the atomic bomb to the Japanese was to force them to accept allied requirement for unconditional surrender and destroy their ability to make war. 

The causes of the war involved different countries’ problems from the small number of turning point events. The results of the turning points led the countries involved to realize that small events can lead to a larger battles/events, technology advances and advantages, delayed actions, poor decision, and luck. The lessons WWII brought was that not the best troops, resources, and positions win, battles happens for a short period (minutes to a few days), and the side that makes minimum number of bad decisions wins.

There were positive outcomes of the battles and wars that came from the propagandas. Relating to all the countries, men were encouraged to keeping working in civilian jobs other than enlisting and these men were recruited for risky war roles that are deadly. For women, they were supported in the workforce. There were volunteers for dangerous war occupations which reinforced stereotypes of certain racial groups. Anyhow, war was a need to secure peace for the future.

Key Vocabulary Terms:

Set #1:
  • Appeasement - Appeasement is a political policy in which something is given in order to prevent problems from occurring.  Before World War II occurs, British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain wants to meet with Adolf Hitler to solve the problem in Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain makes an appeasement with Hitler to give Sudetenland to Hitler because Hitler wants the three million Germans that lives there. Chamberlain thought that this would stop Hitler from taking control of other European countries.

  • Blitzkrieg -  Blitzkrieg is also known as “Lightning War,” and it involved the use of plane, tank, artillery, and infantry together when attacking the enemy defend line. It was a new tactic used by the Nazi during World War II to overcome their enemy. Because the Allies thought that World War II was going to be another World War I, this new tactic took them all by surprise. Therefore, Germany was able to conquer most of Europe during World War II.

  • League of Nations The League of Nations was created as a result of World War I using President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points plan as a way to keep peace in the world. Even though President Woodrow Wilson proposes it, the United States was never a part of it. The League of Nations would serves as a way for leaders around the world to come talk about international conflicts.

  • Propaganda - During World War I and World War II, propaganda was used all over countries that would involved in the wars in order to gain support and recruited soldier. Most propaganda would create using the idea of nationalism, and good guy bad guy. For example, there is propaganda about the Germans coming to people’s land and taking away the woman and children. It was made to increase morale for everyone, and get everyone high spirit for the wars. 

  • Internment Camps - The internment camps was created due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan during World War II. After this, Japanese who came to the before the bombing and Japanese Americans were all getting round up and had to stay in these internment camps. A lot of their rights and freedom was taken away in these camps that are surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers.

  • Maginot Line - A defensive line of fortification built using trench warfare tactic alone a country’s border. An example would be the Maginot Defensive line in France. A Maginot line would have an army of infantry in trench waiting for the enemy to attack then use the trench as cover to shot the enemy. There would also be artillery firing at the attacking enemy. The Nazi would not use this tactic during World War II; instead they will use the Blitzkrieg tactic.

  • Women's Ordinance Workers -  Because of World War I and World War II, men would being taken to fight in the front line, so a lot of their jobs would left undone. As a result, women were needed in the work force to help supply the war. There was also a lot of propaganda created to target women to go work in machine operator, and creating weapons and ammos. In addition, this was an opportunity for the women to show that they can work in a, what people think only can do, job.

Set #2: 

  • Isolationism - Geography was an important factor for the U.S. since it allowed it to escape much of the devastation of the land wars of the Western European countries in the 1800s and 1900s. The United States could easily choose to be isolated from the wars because it had peaceful neighbor countries, such as Canada and Mexico. The country’s geographic location made this very easy for them. This geographic isolationism was matched by historic political isolationism. “President George Washington stated in his final address to the American people to avoid “foreign entanglements” with Europe and other countries.” Most American did not want to get involved because of the losses that the wars brought to the Europeans.

  • Nazi New Order -  The New Order was to conquer areas near Germany and enslave the people. Germen were the “Master Race” and that everyone else were to be enslaved. It is to spread the Nazi policy, and enslave the Europeans and exterminate the “undesirable race” which at that time was the Jews. The colonization of Germany in which people which people other than German were considered “unworthy of life.”

  • Total war -  It is the war where there is no restriction to the use of weapons, territory or combatant involved. Especially, it is a war where the laws of wars are disregarded. World War II was considered a total war. It is a war in which the nation is fully devoted whether it is in resources or money. The United States were committed in a total war quite late in the war. 

  • Yalta Conference -   It is the Conference that was held the second conference from February 4 to 11, 1945. “The three major Allied leaders who fought against Hitler’s Germany: President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill of Great Britain, and Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union.” During this time, they discussed about the World War II and the concerns about the future.  There were a lot of agreements and disagreements during this conference. The decision that were made during this conference shaped the future of the European countries.

  • Unconditional surrender -   It is to make the losing nations pay for the loss from the war and potentially bankrupt the nations. The Great Britain opposed to the “unconditional surrender” from Germany and Japan because this would bankrupt Germany and Japan. They would not be able to defend themselves from invasion of other nations. This would result in the elimination of their military powers. Great Britain wants a moderate for Germany and Japan so that in case the Soviet Union decided to invade the Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, they would be the first line of defense. 

  • War bonds - When a country goes to war it needs money to buy, manufacture machines and weapons, and provide the soldiers with food. So, the government would ask the people to buy war bonds. It just means that people give money to the government and the government would pay them back when the war is over. During World War II, the United States needed a lot of money. So, the American people were asked to buy war bonds as a support from the people.

  • Sudetenland -   “The German name to refer to those northern, southwest, and western areas of Czechoslovakia. They were inhabited primarily by ethnic German speakers. Specifically, the border districts of Bohemia were the part called Sudetenland.” It is used by the Allied in World War II. It was annexed by Germany and then returned to Czechoslovakia after the war.
Potential Essay Questions

Essay Question #1. What were the significant turning points of World War II (e.g., decisions, inventions, battles) that influenced its outcome? Why were those turning points important?  Describe how the war could have turned out differently?
 This essay response will draw heavily from the lecture notes and the video clips played during the class sessions.

Student Contribution #1

I. Briefly describe how WWI helped to encourage WWII

I. Decisions the US made
    A. Spy
        1. Find Germany’s communication code
        2. Destroy their submarine
B. Speeches

II. Inventions investigated during the WWII
    A. Air Plane
    B. Atomic bomb (D-Day)

III. Major battles created the turning points
    A. Major battles as turning point and why there were important
        Midway Island
        Britain air war with Germany
    B. Technology as turning point and why they were important
        Broke Germany and Japan communication codes
        Atomic bomb programs among four countries
        Radar and air battle of Britain
        U.S. industrial capacity to outproduce both Japan and Germany
    C.  Delayed actions taken by Germany and why they were important
        Delaying attacking British troops at Dunkirk after the fall of France
        Delaying by three months the German attack of the Soviet Union
        Delays deploying German tanks against the D-Day invasion
    D. Poor decision-making
        Hitler makes major decisions rather than trusting his generals
        Engaged in two front war against western Europe and the Soviet Union at same time
        Brutal treatment of Soviet citizens encouraged them to join the military forces and fight
    E. Pure luck or providence of God
        U.S. aircraft carriers not at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941
        U.S. wins battle of Midway Island even though Japan had more resources
        Japan and Germany delayed in development of their atomic bomb programs

I. What were the outcome from WWII
II. Talk about what could happen if those turning points were won by Germany, Italy, and Japan

Essay Question #2. What were the priorities for Great Britain, Soviet Union, and the United States at the Yalta Conference?  How did past history make these priorities?  When were these priorities shared among the countries and which were at conflict with the interests of some?
This essay response will depend heavily upon the extensive reading to prepare you for the history simulation along with what you learn through that in-class activity. 

Student Contribution #1

Introduction: Explanation of the background of the Yalta Conference (briefly mention the main supporting points)

First Body: Each country has different priorities:
Great Britain: Establishing of the United Nations (U. N.) and the U. N. Security Council and tolerating Germany
Soviet Union: Eliminating of Germany and creating a buffer zone between it and the Western European
United States: Supporting the establishment of the U. N. and getting Soviet troops to the war effort against Japan.

Second Body: Priorities were driven by different past history context:
Great Britain: Influencing politic and spreading democratic ideas through world-wide imperialism.
Soviet Union: Being invaded three times by European countries
United States: Practicing isolationism, having a strong democratic political system, and opposing to Communists worldwide.

Third Body:
Shared priority was the establishment of the U. N.
While Soviet wanted to take revenge and bankrupt Germany, Britain and the U. S. did not agree.
In order for the Soviet to regain lost territory and to defend for future invasions, the U. S. requested a million of their troops to invade Japan.

Conclusion: Restate the main points clearly