The Great Shift in Power: World War II to the U.S. at the “summit of the world”[1]

Lesson 4 ----------------------------------------------------------

Tip: You must recognize which are traits of WWI and WWII, and with WWII you must notice what occurs from about 1941-1943 and from 1944-1945 and beyond.

1.      1939-Outbreak of World War II

·        Allies-Great Britain (Churchill), France (conquered early with part the puppet Vichy government), and others later

·        Axis-Germany (Hitler), Italy (Mussolini), Japan (Emperor Hirohito), all Fascists and USSR (Stalin), Communist

2.      WWII until US war declaration

·        Europe: N. Chamberlain/Sudetenland/Munich appeasement

·        Europe: Poland invaded/split by Germany & USSR; war declared,

·        US: initial isolationism (Destroyers for Bases; Lend-Lease) but shifts to “arsenal of democracy”

3.      1941, June after Hitler’s Battle of Britain fails in the West, he thinks he can beat Stalin in the East so USSR changes sides

·        Allies-Great Britain, France, USSR

·        Axis-Germany, Italy, Japan

4.      World War II, early (1941-1943) 

·        Pearl Harbor– 12/7/1940 When the US enters the war

·        Bataan Death March

·        US internment of Japanese inland from US west coast

5.      World War II, late (1944-1945+)  

·        Pacific: Guadalcanal/leapfrogging campaign

·        Europe: Normandy/D.D. Eisenhower; Battle of the Bulge

·        Shift to Cold War

·        Death of FDR April, 1945; Harry Truman as President

·        1944-GI Bill –Why?

·        Atomic bomb on Hiroshima & Nagasaki

6.      The pre-war and WWII and groups

·        African Americans- law & threat DC March; Tuskegee Airmen

·        Farmers-improve with AAA and WWII

·        Immigrants- Jews (Holocaust) and refugees across Europe

·        Racists- continuing but New Deal had law on employment

·        Unions-industrial unions rise, with the sit-down strikes, creating a new part of the middle class

·        Women-Rosie the Riveter

Traits of World War I and World War II

If given at least 3 facts about these traits, recognize whether the trait applied to World War I or World War II:

·        What nations fought each other?

·        What technologies were used?

·        What was the initial US response to the war in Europe?

·        What was the US role in the war?

·        ·What happened to vets after the war?

·        What international organization was created after the war to try to reduce the likelihood of war? Are there any additional international organizations created for this purpose?



Two links to help you as the equivalent of a searchable textbook:

·        This link provides explanations to show the shifts in the United States and Internationally (Link Address:

o   Before the US joins the war

o   From 1941-1943

o   From 1943-1945

·        If you want details about specific events, this chronology has footnotes: Click here for 1939 to 1945 FDR to Truman for the chronology. Link Address:


Tip: If you want to know more about items below, click on the chronology or and then use Ctrl-F to search for the name of the item. Example: Press Ctrl-F and type non-agg to see the context for the non-aggression pack between enemies that seemed impossible—an agreement with the German fascists and the Russian communists. Below that, you see the two nations splitting Poland.


Notice these major changes over time in the chronology:

1.      Backgrounds to Pearl Harbor – isolationism and ways around it

·        1939 Russia and Germany, non-aggression pack

·        1940 National Research Committee (and the Einstein connection—alerting FDR to the Nazi’s nuclear plans)

·        1940 Battle of Britain

·        1940 Japan goes into formerly French IndoChina

·        America First Committee – Charles Lindbergh, actions that reduce his reputation

·        FDR:

o   1940 - Destroyers for Bases Agreement

o   1941 – Lend-Lease

·        Rationing starts (Why? – To preserve materials for the war and the sacrifice not be just by the middle class and the poor.)

2.      War production – changes to groups – Scarcity and “Great Arsenal of Democracy” and the shift to potential prosperity

·        Women –Rosie the Riveter (6M)

·        Tuskegee Airman/segregated units (Earlier, 1941 Threatened black march on Washington)


3.      War, POWs, and slave labor – Japanese in and out of the US

·        1941 Japan takes multiple Pacific areas, including Philippines (later Bataan Death March and slave labor)

·        1941, December 7th Pearl Harbor

·        Exec. Order 9066 (relocation of the Japanese from the west coast)

·        1942 North Africa

·        1943 Russia stops Germany at Stalingrad

·        1943 Guadalcanal (after “leapfrog”)

·        1943 Italy

4.      Normandy through partition

·        1944, June D.D. Eisenhower, Allies –and years more fighting in Europe and Pacific – Concentration camps found

·        1945, April UN Charter – FDR dead/HS Truman

·        1945, June Partition of Berlin and Germany

·        1945 Nuremberg trials agreed to

·        1945, Hiroshima, atomic bomb (Aug. 6) and then Nagasaki (Aug. 9)—and we no longer need Russian troops

5.      In the midst of war, a look to solve a problem of the past and to a better future – G.I. Bill

·        Unemployment for 1 year

·        Loans for home/start business

·        Hospitals

·        Education

6.      Remaining war issues

·        Europe – Holocaust and the slow shift from racism

·         and the beginning of the Cold War

·        Pacific – Japan and Douglas MacArthur


7.      Shift to American supremacy and the shift from isolationism



Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2020


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[1] Phrase by W. Churchill