Battles that Changed History: An Encyclopedia of World Conflict

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  1. Battles That Changed History
  2. Battles that Changed History
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Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

About the Author

Gorodetsky, Gabriel. Harrison, Mark. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harrison, Mark, ed. Haslam, Jonathan. Kershaw, Ian, and Lewin, Moshe, eds. Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison. Moskoff, William. Roberts, Geoffrey. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan. Suvorov, Viktor [Vladimir Rezun]. London: Hamish Hamilton. Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. Weeks, Albert L. Wegner, Bernd, ed. Providence, RI: Berghahn. Weinberg, Gerhard L. Werth, Alexander. Russia at War, — The U. Senate rejected American membership in the League of Nations , and in the s American involvement in European diplomatic life was limited to economic affairs.

Moreover, the United States dramatically reduced the size of its military in the postwar years, a measure widely supported by a public increasingly opposed to war. Events in Europe and Asia in the s and early s, however, made it impossible for the United States to maintain a position of neutrality in global affairs. After its defeat and disarmament in World War I , Germany fell into a deep economic decline that ultimately led to the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party during the s.

The Nazis rearmed the nation, reentered the Rhineland , forced a union with Austria , seized Czechoslovakia under false promises , made a nonaggression pact with Russia to protect its eastern frontier , and then overran Poland September , bringing France and Great Britain into the war as a consequence of their pledge to maintain Polish independence. In May a power thrust swept German troops forward through France, drove British forces back across the English Channel , and compelled France to surrender. An attack on England, aimed to deny use of Britain as a springboard for reconquest of the Continent, failed in the air and did not materialize on land.

Open breach of the nonaggression treaty was followed by a German invasion of Russia in June Prior to America's formal entry into war, the United States assisted France and Britain by shipping tanks and weapons. The United States turned over naval destroyers to Britain to hold down the submarine menace and itself patrolled large areas of the Atlantic Ocean against the German U-boats, with which U. The United States also took over rights and responsibilities at defense bases on British possessions bordering the Atlantic. In the U.

In his Chicago speech of , President Franklin D. Roosevelt had promised to quarantine aggressors. In his Charlottesville, Virginia, speech on 10 June , he went further. He not only indicted Germany's new partner, Italy, but also issued a public promise of help to "the opponents of force.

Stimson to head the Navy and War Departments, respectively. The Selective Service and Training Act of instituted peacetime conscription for the first time in U. In August Roosevelt and the British prime minister , Winston Churchill , met at Argentia, Newfoundland, to formulate war aims; with their staffs they delved into overall strategy and war planning.

For the first time in U. At this meeting the Atlantic Charter was established. In September the draft act was extended beyond its previous limit of one year—even though by the slim margin of a single vote in Congress—and the full training, reorganization, and augmentation of U. During the Nazi buildup in Germany, Japan had been fortifying Pacific islands in secret violation of treaties, encroaching on China in Manchuria and Tientsin in and in Shanghai in , starting open war at Peking in.

The United States opposed this Japanese expansion diplomatically by every means short of war, and military staff planning began as early as for the possibility of a two-ocean war. American policymakers determined that the nation's security depended on the survival of the British Commonwealth in Europe and the establishment in the Pacific of a U.

Navy defense line that must run from Alaska through Hawaii to Panama. On 7 December , a sneak attack by Japanese carrier-based planes surprised and severely crippled the U. On 8 December, Congress declared war on Japan, and on 11 December it responded to war declarations from Italy and Germany—allied to Japan by treaties—by similar declarations put through in a single day of legislative action in committees and on the floor of both houses of Congress.

Before the month of December was out, Churchill was again in Washington, bringing with him military and naval experts for what has been called the Arcadia conference. Within weeks Washington had created the Combined Chiefs of Staff, an international military, naval, and air body that was used throughout the war to settle strategy, establish unified command in the separate theaters of war, and issue strategic instructions to theater commanders.

Almost immediately after the declaration of war, under the first War Powers Act, the United States began a reorganization and expansion of the army and the navy, including the National Guard already in federal service. Increasing numbers of reservists were called to active duty, not as units but as individuals, to fill gaps in existing units, to staff the training centers, and to serve as officers in new units being formed. Additional divisions were created and put into training, bearing the numbers of World War I divisions in most cases, but with scarcely any relation to them in locality or in personnel of previously existing reserve divisions.

New activities were created for psychological warfare and for civil affairs and military government in territories to be liberated or captured. The air force also underwent a great expansion, in personnel, in units, and in planes. Notable was the creation and shipment to England of high-level, precision daylight bombing units, which worked with the British to rain tons of bombs on enemy centers.

Later they assisted the invasions and major attacks. Disrupting German factories and rail. The armed forces of the United States, in general, expanded their strength and put to use a host of details in tactics and in equipment that had been merely experimental in the preceding years. From new planes to new rifles, from motorization to emergency rations, from field radio telephones to long-range radar, progress was widespread.

Critical items such as food, coffee, sugar, meat, butter, and canned goods were rationed for civilians, as were heating fuels and gasoline. Rent control was established. Two-thirds of the planes of civilian airlines were taken over by the air force.

Battles That Changed History

Travel was subject to priorities for war purposes. There was also voluntary censorship of newspapers, under general guidance from Washington. There was special development and production of escort vessels for the navy and of landing craft—small and large—for beach invasions. There was a program of plane construction for the air force on a huge scale and programs for the development of high-octane gasoline and synthetic rubber. Local draft boards had been given great leeway in drawing up their own standards of exemption and deferment from service and at first had favored agriculture over industry; soon controls were established according to national needs.

By the United States had engaged more than sixteen million men under arms and improved its economy. The grand strategy, from the beginning, was to defeat Germany while containing Japan, a strategy maintained and followed by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The strategy was closely coordinated by Roosevelt and Churchill—except on one occasion when, in the early summer of , Admiral Ernest J. King chief of naval operations and General George C.

Marshall army chief of staff responded to the news that there would be no attempt to create a beachhead in Europe that year by suggesting a shift of U. Roosevelt promptly overruled them. They soon captured Manila and then conquered the U. Douglas MacArthur had been pulled out of the Philippines before the fall of Corregidor and sent to Australia to assume responsibility for protecting that continent against Japanese invasion, increasingly imminent since Singapore and Java had been taken. He also used land and sea forces to push back the Japanese and take the villages of Buna and Sanananda, although not until January To block a hostile thrust against MacArthur's communications through New Zealand , marine and infantry divisions landed in the Solomon Islands , where they took Guadalcanal by February after bitter, touch-and-go land, sea, and air fighting.

Almost concurrently, the navy, with marine and army troops, was attacking selected Japanese bases in the Pacific, moving steadily westward and successfully hitting the Marshall Islands at Eniwetok and Kwajalein, the Gilberts at Makin and Tarawa, and—turning north—the Marianas at Guam and Saipan in June and July To assist the army's move on the Philippines, the navy and the marines also struck westward at the Palau Islands in September and had them in hand within a month.

American control of the approaches to the Philippines was now assured. Two years earlier, in the Coral Sea and also in the open spaces near Midway, in May and June , respectively, the U. Navy had severely crippled the Japanese fleet. MacArthur's forces returned in October to the Philippines on the island of Leyte. Their initial success was endangered by a final, major Japanese naval effort near Leyte, which was countered by a U.

American land and sea forces were now in position to drive north directly toward Japan itself. Marines had landed on Iwo Jima on 19 February and invaded Okinawa on 1 April, both within good flying distance of the main enemy islands. The Japanese navy and air force were so depleted that in July the U. Between 10 July and 15 August , forces under Adm. William F. Halsey destroyed or damaged 2, enemy planes, sank or damaged Japanese combat ships, and sank or damaged 1, merchant vessels, in addition to administering heavy blows at industrial targets and war industries.

Until the island hopping brought swift successes in , it had been expected that the United States would need the China mainland as a base for an attack on Japan. The sea and land successes in the central and western Pacific, however, allowed the United States, by the spring of , to prepare for an attack on Japan without using. China as a base. This situation was the result of three major factors: 1 the new naval technique of employing the fleet as a set of floating air bases, as well as for holding the sea lanes open; 2 the augmentation and improvement of U.

Not to be overlooked was MacArthur's personal energy and persuasive skill. Pressures, notably from Russian leaders, began building early in the war for an invasion of the European mainland on a second front. Because of insufficient buildup in England for a major attack across the English Channel in —even for a small preliminary beachhead—U. After the long coastal strip had been seized and the temporarily resisting French brought to the side of the Allies, British and American forces under the command of Gen.

Dwight D. Eisenhower pushed east. The Germans were reinforced and concentrated. Sharp and costly fighting by air, army, and armor attacks and counterattacks, notably in February at the Kasserine Pass , ended with the Allied conquest of Tunisia and a great German surrender at Tunis, Bizerte, and Cape Bon. Meanwhile, at the Casablanca Conference in late January, Roosevelt and Churchill called for the "unconditional surrender" of the Axis powers. It would be a war to the finish, not a negotiated, temporary peace. The next step was an invasion of Sicily, using large-scale parachute drops and perfected beach-landing skills, as a step toward eliminating Italy from the war.

Five days later, Italy surrendered, but the Germans occupied Rome and took control of the Italian government. After a long check midway up the "boot" of Italy on a line through Cassino, a dangerous landing was made at Anzio. Fierce German counterattacks there were stopped, and a following breakthrough carried U. In July the Allied forces pushed through to the line of Florence and the. Arno River, the British on the east and the Americans on the west.

Thereafter, although some British and American advances were made and a final offensive in April sent American troops to the Po Valley, Italy ceased to be the scene of major strategic efforts; the theater was drained to support the Normandy invasion, in southern France. For the principal invasion of France, an inter-Allied planning staff had been created in March in London. In May the first tentative attack date was set, for early May of the following year, in what was called Operation Over-lord.

The buildup of units and supplies proceeded steadily for nearly a year, aided by improved successes against German submarines targeting seagoing convoys. Finally, after several weeks of delays, on 6 June —popularly known as D Day—the greatest amphibious invasion in history was launched across the English Channel, involving more than 5, ships and landing craft. It was a huge, carefully and intricately coordinated land, sea, and air action, with a precisely scheduled flow of reinforcements and supplies.

The Germans anticipated that the Allies would land at Calais, so the landings along the Normandy coast caught the Germans completely by surprise. By nightfall the Allies had established a beachhead on the French coast, and within weeks they drove from the Normandy coast deep into the French countryside. Thick hedgerows provided the Germans with excellent defensive terrain, but relentless Allied aerial bombardment and a flank attack by U. George Patton, split the German lines.

The Germans reacted to this penetration by finally drawing their reserve Fifteenth Army out of the Calais area, where it had been held by an Allied ruse and the threat of a second beach landing there. They struck directly west across the American front to try to cut off the leading U. This German effort was blocked by General Omar Bradley's forces. Relentless Allied attacks shattered German resistance in northern France and on 25 August Paris fell to American divisions with scarcely a battle.

The Germans retreated rapidly and skillfully for the distant frontier and their defense lines, except where they at points resisted the British in order to try and hold the seaports along the northern coast. While these events were taking place, a landing had been made in southern France on 15 August , by a Franco-American force under U. It swept from the Riviera up the Rhone Valley and joined U.

By September Brest fell into U. France was almost completely liberated from German occupation. In the fall of , Allied forces began the invasion of Germany, which many observers believed tottered on the brink of collapse. On 16 December, however, the Germans launched a sweeping counterattack that caught American and British forces completely by surprise. In several days of intense fighting, the outcome of the Battle of the Bulge hung in the balance. On Christmas Eve, however, an American counterattack sent German forces reeling. American air bombardments turned the German retreat into a crushing rout.

The Battle of the Bulge was the Germans' final major effort of the war. They had used up their last major resources and had failed. Through large-scale production and mass transportation, the U. From bases in Britain and from bases successively in North Africa and Italy, American bombers had struck at the heart of the German economy. Through large-scale air raids, like those on Ploesti, Romania, a decisive proportion of German oil refinery production was disabled. German planes and tanks faced severe fuel shortages.

German fighter planes, beaten back by the British in , were later cut down by the Americans' heavily armed bombers and their long-range fighter escorts. Except for a short, sharp, and costly new campaign in the final month of , German planes had ceased to be a serious threat. At the same time, to aid the ground troops, the U. German flying bombs V-1s and rocket bombs V-2s had continued to blast Britain until their installations were overrun in late March , but they had no effect on ground operations or on air superiority as a whole.

In February the American armies struck out into the Palatinate and swept the German forces across the Rhine. The enemy forces destroyed bridges as they crossed—all but one. On 7 March an advanced armored unit of the U. First Army approached the great railway bridge at Remagen, downstream from Koblenz, found it intact, dashed over it, tore the fuses from demolition charges, and drove local Germans back.

Troops were hustled over the bridge for several days before it collapsed from damage, but by then pontoon bridges were in place. Avoiding the heavily wooded Ruhr region in the center, the previously planned northern crossing of the Rhine was effected with navy, air, and parachute help on 2 March ; all arms drove directly eastward into Germany while the First and Third Armies drove eastward below the Ruhr, the First Army soon swinging north through Giessen and Marburg to make contact at Paderborn and Lippstadt with the northern force.

More than , Germans were thus enclosed in the Ruhr pocket. Germany's military strength had now all but collapsed. The British on the American left raced toward Hamburg and the Baltic. First Army pressed through to Leipzig and met the Russians on 25 April at Torgau on the Elbe River, which had been established at the Yalta Conference as part of the posthostilities boundary with Russia. Third Army dashed toward.

Bavaria to prevent possible German retreat to a last stand in the south. The southernmost flank of the American forces swung southward toward Austria at Linz and toward Italy at the Brenner Pass. Germany asked for peace and signed its unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters at Reims on 7 May Progress in the Pacific theater by this time had been substantial. Troops were soon to be redeployed from the European theater.

Protracted cleanup operations against now-isolated Japanese island garrisons were coming to a close. American planes were bombing Tokyo regularly. A single raid on that city on 9 March had devastated sixteen square miles, killed eighty thousand persons, and left 1.

Approved by Roosevelt, scientists working under military direction had devised a devastating bomb based on atomic fission. A demand was made on Japan on 26 July for surrender, threatening the consecutive destruction of eleven Japanese cities if it did not. The Japanese rulers scorned the threats. President Harry S. Truman gave his consent for the use of the atomic bomb , which was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August, killing 75, There were more warnings, but still no surrender.

On 9 August, Nagasaki was bombed. Two square miles were devastated, and 39, people were killed. Five days later, on 14 August, the Japanese agreed to surrender. The official instrument of surrender was signed on 2 September , on board the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The defeat of the Axis powers did not resolve all of the geopolitical issues arising from World War II. The spirit of amity among the Allied powers collapsed shortly after the war, as the United States and the Soviet Union rapidly assumed a position of mutual hostility and distrust.

The United States also established security pacts with Japan and Italy, bringing them within the American defense shield against the Soviets. Not until , when the Cold War finally came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union, was Germany reunited as one nation. Blum, John Morton. New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Dallek, Robert.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, — New York : Oxford University Press, Feis, Herbert. Princeton, N. Linderman, Gerald F. New York: Free Press, Spector, Ronald H. New York: Cambridge University Press, Wyman, David S. The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, — New York: Pantheon Books, World War II was a military conflict from to that engulfed much of the globe. It is considered to have been the largest and deadliest war in world history, killing 62 million people on the battlefield, in massive bombings of civilians in cities, and by genocide.

The global reach of the empires of France, Italy, and Britain meant that non-European areas became directly involved with battles fought in Africa, the Middle East , Europe , and Asia. Organized civilian resistance movements in occupied countries notably Yugoslavia , France, and Greece made important contributions to the Allied war effort. It is the only time in history that nuclear weapons were used by the United States against Japan. The end of World War II resulted in the partitioning of Europe into East ruled by Communist governments under the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union aligned under the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , or Comecon, and the Warsaw Pact and West with democratic governments receiving economic reconstruction aid through the U.

The immediate postwar era also saw the rise of European integration efforts with the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , which would develop into the European Union by the end of the century, and the beginning of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union that would mark the second half of the twentieth century.

Territorial expansion of Germany and Italy began before any military hostilities. But the Reich sought further expansion. Many in Germany never accepted the creation of Poland following World War I , and they focused territorial demands on the Polish Corridor , a narrow strip of land separating East Prussia from Germany that allowed Poland access to the Baltic Sea , but also sought broader territory that would expand Germany to a common border with Russia.

In Germany regained the Saar region, in March it reoccupied the Rhineland, and in it achieved Anschluss union with Austria. Territory was also an important factor in the war in Asia. Thus Japan, the only burgeoning industrial economy in Asia at the time, invaded first Manchuria , then other areas throughout the Asian mainland, and finally the Western Pacific in order to secure necessary natural resources such as oil and iron ore.

The economic effects of the Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression were important factors in radicalizing German politics. Reparations payments hobbled the weakened German economy, causing rapidly rising inflation and a dramatically depreciating currency. Hyperinflation ensued as the German currency, the mark, plummeted to 4 billion marks to the dollar from 75 marks to the dollar in and 18, in January , eliminating life savings and making salaries worthless. Groceries cost billions of marks wheelbarrows of currency were needed for a single loaf of bread and hunger riots broke out.

In September the German government resumed reparations payments, inciting bitter popular resentment and paving the way for extremist political groups such as the Nazi Party National Socialist Party. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles , the German army was allowed to remain intact and was not forced to admit defeat by surrendering.

The Nazi Party won of seats in the Reichstag German parliament in January ; within six months Hitler was elected chancellor. The Nazis pledged to first restore Germany to its rightful place in Europe, and then to seek world power. Racism and anti-Semitism characterized the Nazi Party, which organized official boycotts of Jewish shops and professional men and the opening of the first concentration camp in Dachau, outside Munich , in March In September the Nuremberg Laws relegated Jews to separate, second-class status and prohibited intermarriage and sexual relations with Aryan Germans.

In November Nazis orchestrated a nationwide pogrom on Jews following the murder of a German diplomatic assistant in the German embassy in Paris by a French Jew. German anti-Semitism culminated in the Holocaust. Although technically an absolute monarchy under Emperor Hirohito, Japan was politically dominated by a group of militaristic generals in charge of the most powerful army in Asia at the time.

Japanese militarism was accompanied by racism, toward both Europeans and other Asians, especially Chinese and Koreans. Anyone who was not Japanese was considered inferior and treated as such. In January Hitler publicly broke with the Treaty of Versailles. Neville Chamberlain , the prime minister of Britain from to , is known for adopting a policy of appeasement in an attempt to preserve the peace and buy time for any major rearmament.

In return, Hitler gave Chamberlain his personal word on future cooperation. The Munich Pact is considered the height of appeasement. I believe it is peace for our time. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of nonaggression signed by Germany and the Soviet Union in is also considered by some historians as an act of appeasement or as an attempt by Joseph Stalin to buy time to prepare for an impending German attack on the Soviet Union. The Flying Tigers destroyed an estimated Japanese aircraft, sunk numerous Japanese ships, and participated in the Burma land campaign.

Roosevelt cut exports of oil and scrap iron to Japan in Pacific fleet and consolidate oil fields in Southeast Asia. The attack on Pearl Harbor achieved military surprise and severely damaged the U. Many historians consider this an important turning point of the war in Europe, marking the formation of a grand alliance of powerful nations the United Kingdom , the United States, and the Soviet Union against Germany.

Germany was formally divided into the states of the Federal Republic of Germany F. Allied troops remained in Germany for decades following the war. Following German reunification in October , the new united Germany still had Soviet troops stationed in its eastern provinces. Marshall Plan intended to rebuild the European economy and promote European unity while thwarting the political appeal of communism. For Western Europe , economic aid ended the dollar shortage and stimulated private investment for postwar reconstruction. The Marshall Plan required European states to work together to utilize the funds, an obligation that later facilitated the formation of the European Economic Community.

Albania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania, which were allied with the Axis Powers during the war, came under the Soviet sphere of influence, with their Communist governments joining the Soviet-led Comecon economic and trade area, as did Poland. In East Germany joined Comecon. Other members included Mongolia [], Cuba [], and Vietnam [].

Yugoslavia [] was an associate member; other Communist countries or Soviet-friendly governments were observers. Comecon members had common approaches to state economic ownership and planned management, and political regimes that espoused the ideologies of Marxism-Leninism. In the ruling Communist parties of the founding states were also linked internationally through the Cominform, the Communist Information Bureau, which established information exchanges between members. In Asia, the U. One of the most important legacies of World War II was the creation of a set of international institutions to provide for international governance of global security and monetary relations.

Postwar security and economic institutions were created exclusively by the victorious Allied Powers and reflected the postwar power structure. The term United Nations was first coined by Roosevelt during the war to refer to the Allies. On January 1, , the Declaration by the United Nations committed the Allies to the principles of the Atlantic Charter and pledged them not to seek a separate peace with the Axis Powers. The United Nations institutions were created during the war itself to govern international relations after the war.

The initial ideas for a global security organization were first elaborated at wartime Allied conferences in Moscow , Cairo , and Tehran in The formal monetary conference predated the security conference: The United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference of July 1 to 22, called the Bretton Woods conference , took place in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire , with delegates from 45 Allied countries. It established the Bretton Woods system of international exchange-rate management that remained in place until the mids, and it produced two separate institutions called the Bretton Woods institutions to monitor, regulate, and facilitate international monetary affairs and finance in the post — World War II era.

The International Monetary Fund was entrusted with overseeing the global financial system by monitoring exchange rates and balance of payments , providing liquidity, and offering technical and financial assistance. The World Bank, or International Bank for Reconstruction and Development IBRD , was entrusted with providing finance such as grants or loans at preferential rates, technical assistance, and advice to countries for the purpose of economic development and poverty reduction, and for encouraging and safeguarding international investment.

World Bank loans and grants provide financing to countries that have no access to international capital markets. The United Nations Conference on International Organizations opened at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on April 25, , with fifty nations and some nongovernmental organizations represented. Initially referred to as the United Nations Organization, the UN was comprised of several administrative bodies General Assembly, Secretariat, Economic and Social Council , Trusteeship Council, and the International Court of Justice to adjudicate disputes among nations , the most prominent of which is the Security Council , where members resolve action on issues of war and aggression.

For example, all UN peacekeeping operations must be approved by the Security Council. The United Nations Charter was signed on June 26, , and the UN, headquartered in New York City, came into existence in October after the charter had been ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of signatory states. It replaced the League of Nations , which had been founded after World War I and had proved ineffective at preventing war and securing peace and order.

Another legacy of World War II saw the development and use of many new technologies, including long-range missiles, jet aircraft, radar, and atomic nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union became the second nuclear power in Nuclear weapons have only been used twice in the history of warfare, both in the closing days of World War II by the United States against Japan, the first on August 6, , on the Japanese city of Hiroshima , and the second on August 9, , on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

The bombs killed an estimated , people mostly civilians instantly, and twice as many later through the effects of radiation. The advent of nuclear weapons came only weeks after the signing of the UN Charter, providing immediate impetus to concepts of arms limitation and disarmament. World War II atrocities and genocide in both Europe and Asia led to a consensus that nations must work to prevent such tragedies in the future. Another early objective of the United Nations was to create a legal framework for considering and acting on complaints about human rights violations. Almost immediately following World War II, a protracted geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle emerged between two of the most powerful Allied Powers — the United States and the Soviet Union.

The struggle was called the cold war because it did not involve direct armed conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, although each formed an opposing military alliance in Europe and engaged in the biggest arms race including nuclear weapons in history. The cold war lasted from about to the collapse of communism in the late s, the fall of the Berlin Wall in , and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in The treaty avoids identification of an enemy or concrete measures of common defense, but the implied adversary was the Soviet Union. This marked a significant change in the isolationist tendencies of the United States and signaled the lasting involvement of the United States in European security affairs.

The Warsaw Pact officially dissolved in Countries such as Yugoslavia, Switzerland , Austria, India, Sweden , and Finland conspicuously maintained their neutrality by participation in the Non-Aligned Movement. Bundy, McGeorge. New York : Random House. Churchill, Winston S. The Second World War. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin. Gaddis, John Lewis. Gaddis, John Lewis , ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kimball, Warren F. New York: St. Shirer, William L. New York: Simon and Schuster. Tohmatsu, Haruo, and H. Watt, Donald Cameron. New York: Pantheon. Young, Robert. France and the Origins of the Second World War. World War II, —45, worldwide conflict involving every major power in the world. The two sides were generally known as the Allies and the Axis. Causes and Outbreak This second global conflict resulted from the rise of totalitarian, militaristic regimes in Germany, Italy, and Japan, a phenomenon stemming in part from the Great Depression that swept over the world in the early s and from the conditions created by the peace settlements —20 following World War I.

After World War I , defeated Germany, disappointed Italy, and ambitious Japan were anxious to regain or increase their power; all three eventually adopted forms of dictatorship see National Socialism and fascism that made the state supreme and called for expansion at the expense of neighboring countries. These three countries also set themselves up as champions against Communism, thus gaining at least partial tolerance of their early actions from the more conservative groups in the Western democracies. Also important was a desire for peace on the part of the democracies, which resulted in their military unpreparedness.

Finally, the League of Nations , weakened from the start by the defection of the United States , was unable to promote disarmament see Disarmament Conference ; moreover, the long economic depression sharpened national rivalries, increased fear and distrust, and made the masses susceptible to the promises of demagogues. The failure of the League to stop the Second Sino-Japanese War in was followed by a rising crescendo of treaty violations and acts of aggression. Adolf Hitler , when he rose to power in Germany, recreated the German army and prepared it for a war of conquest; in he remilitarized the Rhineland.

Benito Mussolini conquered —36 Ethiopia for Italy; and from to the Spanish civil war raged, with Germany and Italy helping the fascist forces of Francisco Franco to victory. In Mar. When Germany occupied Mar. Germany and Italy signed May, a full military alliance, and after the Soviet-German nonaggression pact Aug. World War II began on Sept. Britain and France declared war on Germany on Sept. The fighting in Poland was brief. The German blitzkrieg, or lightning war, with its use of new techniques of mechanized and air warfare, crushed the Polish defenses, and the conquest was almost complete when Soviet forces entered Sept.

From Norway to Moscow The inactive period ended with the surprise invasion Apr. Denmark offered no resistance; Norway was conquered by June 9. General Weygand had replaced General Gamelin as supreme Allied commander, but was unable to stop the Allied debacle in the "battle of France. Britain, the only remaining Allied power, resisted, under the inspiring leadership of Winston Churchill , the German attempt to bomb it into submission.

While Germany was receiving its first setback in the Battle of Britain , fought entirely in the air, the theater of war was widened by the Italian attack on the British in North Africa see North Africa, campaigns in , by the Italian invasion Oct. In May, Crete fell. By Dec. However, the harsh Russian winter halted the German sweep, and the drive on Moscow was foiled by a Soviet counteroffensive. War Comes to the United States Though determined to maintain its neutrality, the United States was gradually drawn closer to the war by the force of events.

To save Britain from collapse the Congress voted lend-lease aid early in In Aug. To establish bases to protect its shipping from attacks by German submarines, the United States occupied Apr. Relations with Germany became increasingly strained, and the aggressive acts of Japan in China, Indochina, and Thailand provoked protests from the United States.

Battles that Changed History

Efforts to reach a peaceful settlement were ended on Dec. War was declared Dec. Within a few days Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The first phase of the war in the Pacific was disastrous for the Allies. Japan swiftly conquered the Philippines where strong resistance ended at Corregidor , Malaya, Burma Myanmar , Netherlands East Indies Indonesia , and many Pacific islands; destroyed an Allied fleet in the Java Sea; and reached, by mid, its furthest points of advance in the Aleutian Islands and New Guinea.

Australia became the chief Allied base for the countermoves against Japan, directed by Gen. Midway was the first decisive blow against the Axis by Allied forces. On land the Allies took the offensive in New Guinea and landed Aug. The Turning Point Despite the slightly improved position in the Pacific, the late summer of was perhaps the darkest period of the war for the Allies. In the Atlantic, even to the shores of the United States and in the Gulf of Mexico , German submarines were sinking Allied shipping at an unprecedented rate.

Yet the Axis war machine showed signs of wear, while the United States was merely beginning to realize its potential, and Russia had huge reserves and was receiving U. This was followed by the American invasion of Algeria Nov. Meantime, in the Soviet stand at Stalingrad and counteroffensive resulted in the surrender Feb.

However, the German army in Italy fought bloody rearguard actions, and Rome fell June 4, only after the battles of Monte Cassino and Anzio. In the Atlantic, the submarine threat was virtually ended by the summer of Throughout German-occupied Europe, underground forces, largely supplied by the Allies, began to wage war against their oppressors. The Allies, who had signed Jan.


The invasion of German-held France was decided upon, and Gen. Eisenhower was put in charge of the operation. Allied Victory in Europe By the beginning of air warfare had turned overwhelmingly in favor of the Allies, who wrought unprecedented destruction on many German cities and on transport and industries throughout German-held Europe.

This air offensive prepared the way for the landing June 6, of the Allies in N France see Normandy campaign and a secondary landing Aug. After heavy fighting in Normandy, Allied armored divisions raced to the Rhine, clearing most of France and Belgium of German forces by Oct. The use of V-1 and V-2 rockets by the Germans proved as futile an effort as their counteroffensive in Belgium under General von Rundstedt see Battle of the Bulge.

On Mar. Bradley and Montgomery—crossed the Rhine after having smashed through the strongly fortified Siegfried Line and overran W Germany. German collapse came after the meeting Apr. Allied Victory in the Pacific After the completion of the campaigns in the Solomon Islands late and New Guinea , the Allied advance moved inexorably, in two lines that converged on Japan, through scattered island groups—the Philippines, the Mariana Islands , Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. Japan, with most of its navy sunk, staggered beneath these blows.

On Aug. Aftermath and Reckoning Although hostilities came to an end in Sept. By Mar. Despite the birth of the United Nations , the world remained politically unstable and only slowly recovered from the incalculable physical and moral devastation wrought by the largest and most costly war in history. Soldiers and civilians both had suffered in bombings that had wiped out entire cities.

Modern methods of warfare—together with the attempt of Germany to exterminate entire religious and ethnic groups particularly the Jews —famines, and epidemics, had brought death to tens of millions and made as many more homeless. The suffering and degradation of the war's victims were of proportions that passed the understanding of those who had been spared. The conventions of warfare had been violated on a large scale see war crimes , and warfare itself was revolutionized by the development and use of nuclear weapons. Political consequences included the reduction of Britain and France to powers of lesser rank, the emergence of the Common Market see European Economic Community ; European Union , the independence of many former colonies in Asia and Africa, and, perhaps most important, the beginning of the cold war between the Western powers and the Communist-bloc nations.

Bibliography There is a vast amount of literature on World War II, particularly official publications and memoirs. Among notable personal accounts are Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe , repr. Bradley, A Soldier's Story , repr. Churchill, The Second World War 6 vol. Truman, Memoirs 2 vol. See also H. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War , repr.

Morison, Two-Ocean War ; A. Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny rev. Collier, The Second World War , repr. Calvocoressi and G. Wint, Total War ; M. Fourcade, Noah's Ark tr.

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Michel, The Second World War tr. Spector, Eagle against the Sun ; O. Bartov, The Eastern Front, —45 ; M. Gilbert, The Second World War rev. Hynes et al. Stenbuck, ed. Overy, Why the Allies Won ; M. Merridale, Ivan's War ; R. Atkinson, The Liberation Trilogy 3 vol. Roberts, The Storm of War , repr. Hotta, Japan Countdown to Infamy ; R. Bear and M. Foot, ed. From east to west they included the following: Iran and Turkey were independent, with Iran under Reza Shah Pahlavi and Turkey a republic.

Syria and Lebanon were republics but under French control. Transjordan and Iraq were monarchies but under British control. Palestine was a League of Nations mandate under British control. Egypt with the strategic Suez Canal and the Sudan were nominally independent but really under British control. Libya was an Italian colony. The French effectively controlled the rest of North Africa — Tunisia , Algeria , and Morocco — except for the western regions under Spanish rule. All except Germany had significant imperial holdings and interests in the Middle East. Germany wanted not only the defeat of Britain and France, but German gains in this region.

As the war began, the Axis powers controlled only a small part of the Middle East — Libya and some other Italian territory taken during the Ethiopian annexation in The fall of France to Germany in May and the establishment of the quasi-independent Vichy republic in June dramatically altered the balance of power : In addition to Italy's territories being in their sphere of influence, the Axis powers had acquired France's territories.

The British initiated their first military action in the Middle East by an attack on French naval vessels at Oran , Algeria, 3 July — which crippled the French fleet there and resulted in 1, French dead. This was part of an effort to ensure that the Axis powers could not use the French fleet; the French squadron at Alexandria was disarmed while two French submarines in British ports joined the Free French forces fighting with the British.

The next day, Italian forces from Ethiopia occupied border towns in the Sudan, and within six weeks they penetrated British Kenya and seized British Somaliland. On 13 September, Italian forces under Rodolfo Graziani invaded Egypt; they penetrated some sixty miles 90 km within a week, and dug in along a fifty-mile 80 km front from the coast to Sidi Barrani. Since the threat to the Suez Canal was of primary importance, the British countered first against Graziani's army of , General Sir Archibald Wavell launched a surprise attack with an army of 63, on 6 December and drove through the Italian lines at Sidi Barrani, capturing 40, Italian troops by 12 December.

The campaign continued for two months, ending with Italian surrender at Benghazi, Libya, on 7 February With advance units at al-Agheila, the British had advanced about five hundred miles km , captured , Italian soldiers, and taken four hundred tanks and one thousand guns. These British successes were soon to be reversed.

Germany had not yet committed her forces to Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia 22 June , and in February and March was able to reinforce the Italians in western Libya with two divisions under General Erwin Rommel. In the meantime, the British had turned their attention to the defense of Greece, diverting troops from North Africa. Rommel opened his attack on 3 April, and the British retreated from their recent gains in Libya. The Axis forces drove the British back to the Egyptian frontier by 29 May. The tables then turned when Germany diverted troops from North Africa for the invasion of Russia.

The British launched an offensive on 11 December and were able to drive into Libya as far as Benghazi by 25 December. A reinforced Rommel was able to begin a drive on Egypt on 22 May that did not end until checked at al-Alamayn El Alamein , just eighty miles km from Alexandria. General Montgomery's offensive from al-Alamayn began on 23 October, resulting in expulsion of Axis forces from Egypt by 12 November and the end of the threat to Egypt and the Suez Canal. At about the same time, on 8 November, a British-American force under U. General Dwight D.

Eisenhower began Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. Allied forces disembarking in French Morocco and Algeria faced some opposition from Vichy forces, but by 11 November, the two sides had reached an armistice. Into , bitter fighting continued, particularly at the Kasserine Pass , but by 12 May all German and Italian resistance had ended. The Axis powers had , men dead or captured and had lost 8, aircraft and 2. The regimes in both Iran and Iraq flirted with support of the Axis powers as a means of diminishing British influence over their affairs.

On 2 May , pro-Axis sympathizers in Iraq tried to seize power. British forces intervened and put down all resistance by 31 May. These actions effectively secured Iraq and Iran for the Allies. The fall of France in June threatened to bring Syria and Lebanon into the Axis sphere of influence. Quick action by the British and Free French forces prevented this. On 8 June these forces occupied Syria and Lebanon. On 16 September Syria was proclaimed an independent nation, as was Lebanon on 26 November. Both remained loyal to the Allies during World War II, but soon after the end of hostilities they were able to assert their independence and obtain the withdrawal of Allied forces from their territory.

Tucker, Editor Paul G. Pierpaoli Jr. Kreiser Jr. Yet, during the same four years, Americans North and South went about the business of their everyday lives as best they could. How did they raise and feed their families, earn money, study, pray, and entertain themselves?

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On one side was legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee, formerly a respected U. Army officer and one-time superintendent of West Point. Union forces were, ultimately, led by Ulysses S. Grant, a soldier's soldier who initially doubted his capacity for high command. Their stories are only two that make this monumental conflict so endlessly fascinating. Sherman brought the Confederacy to its knees and revolutionized modern warfare. Grant initially had no interest in a career in the military, having reluctantly accepted an appointment at West Point largely because of pressure from his father.

Despite having little interest in military studies and ranking in the bottom half of his graduating class, Grant became a resilient and aggressive commander, earning a reputation as a general who expected nothing less than "unconditional surrender" from the enemy. Downloadable File. Printed Material.