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Notes for the Week of 3/27/2016

by: Katharine Anthony

Notes for the Week of 3/27/2016 HIS113U

Marketplace > Pace University > History > HIS113U > Notes for the Week of 3 27 2016
Katharine Anthony

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Notes on The Start of World War II, and America's decisions to join the war
The American Experience: The United States and the World
Barbara Blumberg
Class Notes
world war II, American History, history
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Katharine Anthony on Saturday April 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIS113U at Pace University taught by Barbara Blumberg in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 15 views. For similar materials see The American Experience: The United States and the World in History at Pace University.


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Date Created: 04/02/16
I. Nazi soviet Non- Agression Pact, Aug 22, 1939 a. The soviet union was convinced that Nazi Germany was a threat to them and was super powerful i. They recognized that the West was no help for them and were hoping that they would be destroyed by each other. ii. Stalin was scared and instead made a separate deal with Nazi Germany. b. Hitler made a deal with them because two front wars are hard to fight. i. Hitler sends his foreign minister to Moscow to negotiate with Stalin's Foreign Minister( and Stalin himself) 1. They negotiate the Nazi- Soviet Non- Aggression Pact 2. This pact was announced on Aug. 22, 1939 a. The Soviet Union and Germany had reached a non- aggression pact in which each promised it would not attack the other or go to war with the other for ten years. This was made public b. Private: When Germany attacks and invades Poland on Sept. 1,1939 and Britain and France declare war, Germany will go ahead and conquer all of Poland. Once it has subdued all Polish resistance it will allow Russia to move its troops into Eastern Poland and occupy it. i. Stalin wants to do this because he did not trust Hitler and knew he would break the pact. So what he wanted to do was get the Soviet Union into the strongest fighting position when the attack from Hitler finally comes. It's much better to have the Red army half way into Poland and bracing for an attack instead of having to wait behind soviet union's borders to get the attack to the Soviet Union. c. Nazi Germany would not resist the Baltics or Finland having the Red Army being stationed making it easier for Soviet Union to be prepared for Hitler's eventual attack. 3. Why did Hitler agree to this? a. He never intended to keep his promise. He intended to keep the treaty only as long as it took Germany to completely conquer Poland and much of the rest of Western Europe and defeat Britain and France. Hitler had no doubt this could be done and as soon as it was he would go after the Soviet Union. 4. As soon as Hitler had that pact signed and sealed he was ready to attack Poland. II. World War II Begins in Poland , Sept. 1939 a. At dawn on Sept. 1 the attack on Poland began and came with tremendous force i. Germany air force flew over and bombed cities ii. German tanks and infantry crashed into Poland and covered ground at a speed that the world had never seen before. 1. Blitzkrieg a. Lightning Warfare iii. As GB and France had promised on Sept. 3rd both declared war on Germany. World War II begins. 1. GB and France were barely armed, barley mobilized, could not get forces into Poland fast enough and in under 3 weeks Poland was completely overtaken. 2. Poland was completely in Germany's hands. 3. The Germans pulled back from Eastern Poland and let the Red Army occupy. III. U.S. Response to the Outbreak of War in Europe a. As the law required FDR had to put the Neutrality Acts into effect. He also went before the American people in one of his many radio addresses ( Fireside Chats) to tell them what had happened and what he thought the U.S. could or should do. b. ( Pg. 27 of Blumberg). i. Roosevelt obviously feels strongly about who the bad guys are in this and thinks that the American people should too. He says to go with your conscience but I have to enforce the neutrality acts. c. How did America React? i. The great majority of Americans were not neutral in their feelings. They had come to hate Nazi Germany, Fascism and all that it stood for. They had seen the bombings of unarmed civilian pops. In Spain, Ethiopia, Poland. Heard the contempt of the fascist dictators for a democratic society, and new about the terrible persecution of the Jews. ii. Oct. 1939 public opinion poll 1. 84% wanted a GB and French victory 2. 2% German victory 3. 4% had no opinion iii. A great majority of Americans also felt that they did not the US to participate in the war. There is a contradiction here. 1. The British and the French were no match for Germany at this point. They had only started rearming themselves seriously in 1938-1939. Far behind the war machine that Nazi Germany had created. 2. Roosevelt thought there was a way out of the dilemma as did the American people, the neutrality had to be lost. IV. Revision and War repeal of the Neutrality Acts, Sept. 1939 a. The Isolationists in Congress were still extremely strong and opposed making any changes in the neutrality acts and if we did we would inevitably get pulled into another world war that was none of our business and we didn’t have to be involved. i. This battle went on for more than a month b. A compromise was made. i. We will allow American business to sell arms and ammunition to countries like Britain and France who want to buy it. But it can only be done on a Cash and Carry basis. 1. Basically if they want the supplies they have to pay for it in cash, and they have to send their own ships to our port cities and pick up the war supplies and bring them back to Europe. a. Passed nov. 1939 c. Roosevelt was not more successful in getting rid of the Neutrality laws was because of what was happening in Europe which made many isolationists say "There's not really a war in Europe.". i. France and GB did not send a single soldier to Poland because the war was over to fast there and they were rearming as fast as they could, getting ready to fight, GB sent an army over to France. ii. Hitler during this decided that since it's late fall, attacks nothing else since it's easier to in the fall. V. The Phony War Heats Up a. April 1940, Hitler unleashes his blitzkrieg again and sends his German armies into Denmark and Norway. i. Denmark and Norway were trying to be neutral countries and in less than a month they had ben conquered. b. May 9th, German troops going into Belgium and the Netherlands. Belgium surrenders in 18 days, the Netherlands in 5 days. c. June 1940, Germany attacks France. i. They broke through and they were able in less than a month to conquer them. ii. They forced French surrender than a month. d. English channel is where most of all their things are in Dunkirk, with the German forces closing in on them. i. The British manage one of the greatest sea rescues. They send every ship they can to rescue their soldiers before the Germans close in. 1. They lose all their weapons but save most men. a. Those who were not saved here either killed or taken prisoner e. Most of the outside world is in complete shock. f. Paris rather than letting itself be bombed, capitulated before there was much damage because they didn't want the city destroyed. The Germans were in full occupation of France in less than 3 weeks g. Germans decided throughout the war to occupy the Northwestern part of France. h. Germans also decided why not make it easier for them and get French Nazi sympathizers and appoint them to govern Southeastern France. i. The collaborationist government set up its capital in Vichy 1. French Vichy government a. Listened to whatever the Germans said b. Rounded up French Jews i. Italy i. Mussolini is Hitler's ally, when Hitler starts world war 2 you would expect that Italy would also declare war on britain and France. Mussolini was a little wary. 1. Sept. 1939 he announced that Italy would stay neutral, but he like everyone else watched as Hitler scored an amazing string of successes, including easily taking France. At that point he decided that Italy should get in on the kill. 2. As the French as staggering about to be defeated Italy declares war on France and Britain. He sends an army into Southeastern France and grabbed a bunch of French territory. a. FDR was moved to say "The hand that held the dagger, plunged it into the back of its neighbor." VI. Battle of Britain a. Three weeks after France capitulated, the Battle of Britain commenced. b. Hitler's thought was that making a cross channel invasion with big armies is difficult to do, so instead he was going to soften up the Brits by constantly bombing. c. July to September of 1940 the Luftwaffe dropped tons and tons of bombs. They also terrorized the British by dropping bombs right on London. d. The British showed themselves to be very brave and resilient. Many living in London during the Blitzes would not undress when they went to bed. Then if the air raid sirens went off as German planes were coming, they would just grab family and run out of their homes. If in the central part of London they would go into the underground (subways) and sit it out in the subways for however long it took until the raid was over. In central England ( Coventry) in one night of bombing raids , they obliterated the town. e. Under the terrible punishment that the British were suffering, the British people decided "Why would we continue with the leadership we have that got us into this" and Neville Chamberlain was kicked out. Winston Churchill took over in Britain's darkest hours. i. He led an effort by the British government to mobilize the British air force and whatever pilots they had to begin counter attacking and fight off the German planes. They were fairly effective considering how outnumbered they were. They by late fall were starting some bombing raids on the continent in retaliation. ii. Built up the moral of the British people and looked beyond the British and reassure the Americans that they were not going to be easily conquered. iii. Speech made to the British people 1. " We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, " iv. Churchill was also a realist and realized they were fighting alone, had no allies, few weapons. At the same time he made this speech he secretly wired FDR and said to him " you America must give us all help short of war that you can, get us the weapons get us everything because if you don't we will be conquered and then you will face a Europe totally in control of the Nazis. 1. This was obviously terrifying. VII. America Prepares a. Roosevelt took very seriously what Churchill wrote him. i. The fall of France gave a very decisive change in policy. ii. FDR gives a speech at which he declared that we would build armaments at a great rate to protect ourselves but also to sell arms to any countries that were still fighting against Germany, Italy or Japan. iii. By July 1940, that's very few countries. Britain and China pretty much were the only two really fighting. iv. Also asked Congress to appropriate much more money for defense. June-Sept. 13 billion was appropriated. v. Roosevelt also organized special government things 1. National Defense advisory commission a. Finance b. Labor 2. Created the National Defense Research Council a. A couple scientists in charge and their job was to work on new weapons in case we got into the war. i. The Manhattan project 1. Atomic bomb 3. Asked to impose the draft on American men. Congress did this. a. 80,000 young men started to be trained vi. We were scared but understandably because life would have been really difficult for us. VIII. Aid to Britain the Destroyer Bases Deal, Sept 1940 a. September 1940, Winston Churchill secretly notified FDR again. What Churchill's message said was thank you for all the arms that you are selling us and other supplies you are selling us that we desperately need. But it is not enough. Britain was in a hard situation because the Germans who now had a huge fleet of subs and using them very effectively to sink British ships anywhere they caught them on the high seas. In fact those subs were sinking British ships four times faster than the British could build new ones. If it continued they would not get anything that they needed but they also wouldn’t have had food. Britain doesn't have much land for farming. b. Roosevelt wanted to everything that they could do , but the isolationists were still very strong and vocal against the war. If he went to Congress and asked if they could pass a law giving destroyers to GB, the isolationists would have thrown a hissy fit and it would not have passed or debated it for months. c. Roosevelt did something that, some historians say usurping a lot of power and cutting the Senate out its role to ratify treaties (including these days getting involved in wars without official approval.) At the time of this though it seemed to be the only sensible thing to do. He entered and executive agreement with Churchhill. d. Executive agreements are not treaties and are only binding on the two countries in agreement and only as long as the two who made the agreement are in power. Unlike treaties however you do not need approval from Senate. i. The united states said to Britain that, we are going to take 50 of our destroyers, mostly from WWI and give them to you right now. In exchange for which that you will give the US naval bases in the Western hemisphere that we'll be able to use with our navy to make ourselves safer from any possible naval attacks. 8 naval base leases on British territories ( Jamaica, Bermuda, The Bahamas and par of Newfoundland) 99 years rent free leasing all around the Caribbean. The 8 bases that we got were far more important to our security from any enemies than the 50 destroyers that our navy gave to the British. ii. There were huge outcries from the Isolationists about this being unneutral, and get us pulled into the war. A majority of American people were for FDR. 60% said that it was the Us to help Britain than to stay out of the war. 1. This was only part of a much larger debate. IX. The Great Debate : Intervenists v. Isolationists a. 1939-1941 the debate raged on. i. Ended in 1941 with the Attack on Pearl Harbor. 1. We only declared war on Japan a. We ended up fighting Germany and Italy because of the Axis Power treaty. i. The Germans and Italians declared war on us making their points useless. b. This decision to abandon neutrality really divided the country. c. Interventionists, those who said we have to do everything but going to war ourselves to help GB and China, as early as May 1940 organized a lobbying group i. Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies 1. They put out a lot of educational materials, propaganda, to convince the Americans how much we were in danger and how important it was that we do everything in our power to keep the British fighting. (Dr. Seuss created some comics) 2. The leaders of this committee were William Allen White (journalist) and Robert Sherwood ( playwright). ii. They called for all out prepared ness for war, and give aid to any country who was trying to fight off the Axis powers. They reasoned it was so much better to do this than to wait until the Axis powers came after us when we had no allies. iii. They had their most support from the East and West coasts. It was shared by most intellectuals (professors, writers, artists) it was very strongly held by minorities in this country, whose former homelands had been invaded and taken over by the Axis. (Chinese Americans, Jewish Americans, Polish Americans, etc.) d. The American First Committee i. Formed July 1940 ii. Probably the most well-known and effective spokesman, Charles Lindbergh iii. Also among the leaders, head of sears, Robert Wood iv. Two senators Arthur Vandenberg and Robert Taft v. The only threat to America was if we stripped ourselves of our weapons and left ourselves vulnerable to attack and antagonize Germany. They believed that we should give no aid to any side. They preached Fortress America. vi. Supporters were Nazi supporters ( The German Bund) , minority groups who hated Britain (Irish)


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