Recent Event Highlights: Hitler's Lightning War, The Allies win the war, The Great War begins, and 15 more...
Created by michaelxu58 on Oct 17, 2010
Last updated: 11/17/10 at 05:49 PM
After a string of victories, the Japanese seemed unbeatable. Nonetheless, the Allies----mainly americans and Australians----were anxious to strike back in the Pacific. The United States in particular wanted revenge for Pearl Harbor. In April 1942, 16 B-25 bombers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle bombed Tokyo and several other Japanese cities. The bombs did little damage. The raid, however, made an important psychological point to both Americans and Japanese: Japan was vulnerable to attack
Japan next targeted Midway Island, some 1500, miles west of Hawaii, the location of a key American airfield. Thanks to Allied code breakers, Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, knew that a huge Japanese force was heading toward Midway. Admiral Yamamoto himself was in command of the Japanese fleet. He hoped that the attack on Midway would draw the whole of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from Pearl Harbor to defend the island. On June 4, with American forces hidden beyond the horizon, Nimitz allowed the Japanese to begin their assault on the island. As the first Japanese planes got into the air, american planes swooped in to attack the Japanese fleet. Many Japanese planes were still on the decks of the aircraft carriers. The strategy was a success. American pilots destroyed 332 Japanese planes, all four aircraft carriers, and one support ship. Yamamoto ordered his crippled fleet to withdraw. by June 7, 1942, the battle was over. The Battle of Midway turned the tide of war in the Pacific.
Early in the morning of December 7, 1941, American sailors at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii awoke to the roar of explosives. A Japanese attack was underway. U.S. military leaders had know from a coded Japanese message that an attack might come. But they did not know when or where it would occur. Within two hours, the Japanese had sunk or damaged 19 ships, including 8 battle ships, mooredd in Pearl Harbor. More than 2,300 Americans were killed----with over 1,100 wounded. News of the attack stunned the American people. The next day, President Roosevelt addressed Congress. December 7, 1941, he declared, was "a date which will live in infamy." Congress quickly accepted his request for a declaration of war on ?Japan and its allies.
Early in the morning of June 22, 1941, the roar of German tanks and aircraft announced the beginning of the invasion. The Soviet Union was not prepared for this attack. Although it had the largest army in the world, its troops were neither well equipped nor well trained. By September 8, German forces had altrady put Leningrad under siege. To force a surrender, Hitler was ready to starve the city's more than 2.5 million inhabitants. German bombs destroyed warehouses where food was stored. Yet the city refused to fall. Impatient with the progress in Leningrad, Hitler looked to Moscow, the capital and heart of the Soviet Union. A Nazi drive on the capital began on October 2, 1941. By December, the Germans had advanced to the outskirts of Moscow. Soviet General Georgi Zhukov counterattacked. As temperatures fall, the Germans, in summer uniforms, retreated. Ignoring Napoleon's winter defeat 130 years before, Hitler sent his generals a stunning order: "No retreat!" German troops dug in about 125 miles west of Moscow. They held the line against the Soviets until March 1943. Hitler's advance on the Soviet Union gained nothing but cost the Germans 500,000 lives.
After signing the nonaggression pact with Joseph Stalin, Hitler quickly moved ahead with plans to conquer Poland; before any nations could make any military response, Poland fell. The German invasion of Poland was the first test of Germany's newest military strategy--the blitzkrieg, or "lightning war." It involved using fast-moving airplanes and tanks, followed by massive infantry forces, to take enemy defenders by surprise and quickly overwhelm them. By using this military strategy, Germany conquerred not only Poland, but also other countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark and Norway
Early in November 1938, 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan, a Jewish youth from Germany, was visiting an uncle in Paris. While Grynszpan was there, he received a postcard. It said that after living in Germany for 27 years, his father had been deported to Poland. On November 7, wishing to avenge his father's deportation, Grynszpan shot a German diplomat living in Paris. When Nazi leaders heard the news, they launched a violent attack on the Jewish community. On November 9, Nazi storm troopers attacked Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues across Germany and murdered close to 100 Jews. An American in Leipzig wrote, "Jewish shop windows by the hundred were systematically...smashed.....The main streets of the city were a positive litter of shattered plate glass." It is for this reason that the night of November 9 became known as Kristallnacht, or "Night of Broken Glass."
In the late 1920s, American economic prosperity largely sustained the world economy. If the U.S. economy weakened, the whole world's economic system might collapse. In 1919, it did. By 1919, American factories were turning out nearly half of the world's industrial goods. The rising productivity led to enormous profits. However, this new wealth was not evenly distributed. Thus, most families were too poor to buy the goods being produced. Unable to sell all their goods, store owners eventually cut back their orders from factories. Factories in turn reduced production and laid off workers. A downward economic spiral began. As more workers lost their jobs, families bought even fewer goods. In turn, factories made further cuts in production and laid off more workers.
In 1929, New York city's Wall Street was the financial capital of the world. Banks and investment companies lined its sidewalks. In September 1929, some investors began to think that stock prices were unnaturally high. They started selling their stocks, believing the prices would soon go down. By Thursday, October 24, the gradual lowering of stock prices had become an all-out slide downward. A panic resulted. Everyone wanted to sell stocks, and no one wanted to buy. Prices plunged to a new low on Tuesday, October 29. A record 16 million stocks were sold. Then the market collapsed. People could not pay the money they owed on margin purchases. Stocks they had bought at high prices were now worthless. Within months of the crash, unemployment rates began to rise as industrial production, prices, and wages declined. A long business slump, which would come to be called the Great Depression, followed. The stock market crash alone did not cause the Great Depression, but it quickened the collapse of the economy and made the Depression more difficult. By 1932, factory production had been cut in half. Thousands of businesses failed, and banks closed. Around 9 million people lost the money in their savings accounts when banks had no money to pay them. Many farmers lost their lands when they could not make mortgage payments. By 1993, one-fourth of all American workers had no jobs.
Germany's new democratic government was set up in1919. Known as the Weimar Republic, it had serious weaknesses from the start. First, Germany lacked a strong democratic tradition. Furthermore, postwar Germany had several major political parties and many minor ones. Worst of all, millions of Germans blamed the Weimar government, not their wartime leaders, for the country's defeat and postwar humiliation casued by the Versailles Treaty.
Benito Mussolini boldly promised to rescue Italy by reviving its economy and rebuilding its armed forces. He vowed to give Italy strong leadership. Mussolini had founded the Fascist Party in 1919. As economic conditions worsened, his popularity rapidly increased. Finally, Mussolini publicly criticized Italy's government. groups of Fascists wearing black shirts attacked Communists and Socialists on the streets. Because Mussolini played on the fear of a workers' revolt, he began to win support from the middle classes, the aristocracy, and industrial leaders.
During WWI, Adolf Hitler volunteered for the German army and joined a tiny right-wing political group in 1919. This group shared his belief that Germany had to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and combat communism. The group later named itself the National Socialist German Workers' Party, called Nazi for short. Its policies formed the German brand of fascism known as Nazism. Within a short time, Hitler's success as an organizer and speaker led him to be chosen as the leader of the Nazi party. Hitler plotted to seize power in Munich in 1923. The attempt failed, and Hitler was arrested. He was tried for treason but was sentenced to only five years in prison. After leaving prison in 1924, Hitler revived the Nazi Party. When American loans stopped, the German economy collapsed. Civil unrest broke out. Frightened and confused, Germans now turned to Hitler, hoping for security and firm leadership.
As the Paris Peace Conference opened, Britain and France showed little sign of agreeing to Wilson's vision of peace. Both nations were concerned with national security. They also wanted to strip Germany of its war-making power. The Treaty of Versailles between Germany and the Allied powers was signed on June 28, 1919. Adopting Wilson's fourteenth point, the treaty created a League of Nations. The league was to be an international association whose goal would be to keep peace among nations. The treaty also punished Germany. The defeated nation lost substantial territory and had severe restrictions placed on its military operations.
With the United States finally in the war, the balance, it seemed was about to tip in the Allies' favor, Before that happened, however, events in Russia gave Germany a victory on the Eastern Front, and new hope for winning the conflict.
Civil unrest in Russia, due in large part to war-related shortages of food and fuel, forced Czar Nicholas to step down. In his place a provisional government was established. The new government pledged to continue fighting the war. However, by 1917, nearly 5.5 million Russian soldiers had been wounded, killed, or taken prisoner. As a result, the war-weary Russian army refused to fight any longer.
In response to Austria's declaration of war, Russia,Serbia's ally, began moving its army towad the Russian-Austrian border. Expecting Germany to join Austria, Russia also mobilized along the German border. To Germany, Russia's mobilization amounted to a declaration of war. On August 1, the German government declared war on Russia. Russia looked to its ally France for help. Germany, however, did not even wait for France to react. Two days after declaring war on Russia, Germany also declared war on France. Soon afterward, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Much of Europe was now locked in battle.
World War I was much than a European conflict. Australia and Japan, for example, entered the war on the Allies' side, while India supplied troops to fight alongside their British rulers. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks and later Bulgaria allied themselves with Germany and the Central Powers. As the war promised to be a grim, drawn-out affair, all the Great Powers looked for other allies around the globe to tip the balance. They also sought new war fronts on which to achieve victory.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, paid a state visit to Sarajevo, the Capital of Bosnia. It would be their last. He was assassinated by a 19-year-old Serbian and member of the Blank Hand. Becasue the assassin was a Serbian, Austria decided to use the murders as an excuse to punish Serbia. On July 23, Austria presented Serbia with an ultimatum containing numerous demands. On July 28, Austria rejected Serbia's offer and declared war. That same day, Russia, an ally, of Serbia with its largely Slavic population, took action. Russian leaders ordered the mobilization of troops toward the Austrian border.
During the new period of imperialism, the Europeans demanded more influence over the economic, political, and social lives of the people. They were determined to shape the economies of the lands to benefit European countries. They also wanted the people to adopt European customs.
The Industrial Revolution refers to the greatly increased output of machine-made goods that began in England in the middle 1700s. Before the Industrial Revolution, people wove textiles by hand. Then, machines began to do this and other jobs.
Newton was certain that all physical objects were affected equally by the same forces. Newton's great discovery was that the same force ruled motion of the planets and all matter on earth and in space. The key idea that linked motion in the heavens with motion on the earth was the law of universal gravitation. According to this law, every object in the universe attracts every other object. The degree of attraction depends on the mass of the objects and the distance between them.
The Enlightenment started from some key ideas put forth by two English political thinkers of the 1600s, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Both men experienced the political turmoil of England early in that century. However, they came to very different conclusions about government and human nature.
Beginning in the mid-1500s, a few scholars published works that challenged the ideas of the ancient thinkers and the churce. As these scholars replaced old assumptions with new theories, they launched a change in European thought that historians call the Scientific Revolution. The Scientific Revolution was a new way of thinking about the natural world. That way was based upon careful observation and a willingness to question accepted beliefs
Nicolaus Copernicus reasoned that indeed, the stars, the earth, and the other planets revolved around the sun.