Before WWII

The Approach of WW II


Axis nations display aggressive nature in acquiring neighboring lands.


Hitler’s Germany - First takes over the Rhineland in 1936. He then annexes Austria in 1938 – then the Sudetenland (a western section of Czechoslovakia) - then all of Czechoslovakia.


Mussolini’s Italy - Albania (across the Adriatic Sea) is taken without resistance - Italy then invades Ethiopia in Africa in 1936. Mussolini often called himself “Il Duce” – the leader.


Imperial Japan - Prime Minister Hideki Tojo of Japan – Japanese forces take control of Korean Peninsula- invades Manchuria in northern China in 1931 for the plentiful natural resources.


Aggressive leaders in these three nations cause concern/worry/stress among the rest of the free world


-          Hitler and the National Socialist Workers Party (Nazi Party) rule Germany.  Any opposition is destroyed. Hitler begins campaign to deprive Jews of rights and property in Germany.


-          Soviet Union is ruled by harsh dictator Stalin.  Totalitarian state exists.  All aspects of society are controlled by the state.  Human freedoms are few.




1939 - The Soviet Union attacks Finland.


1939 - Poland invaded by Germany and Russia it starts WW II.


1940 - Henry Fonda stars in movie based on John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath”.


1940 - U.S. census shows population of now at 131 million people.  In Oklahoma the population dropped by 60,000.


1940 - Disney releases newest full-length animated feature -“Pinocchio”- teaches kids the importance of telling the truth.


1940 - Hitler’s forces invade Denmark and Norway in April.


1940 – Hitler’s forces invades Belgium and the Netherlands in May.


1940 - Artist Tex Avery and Warner Brothers studio introduces new character - Bugs Bunny.


1940 - France is invaded by Germany - U.S. changes status from “Neutral” to “non-belligerent”.


1940 - Franklin Roosevelt wins unprecedented third election - FDR receives 449 electoral votes - Wendell Willkie 82


1940 - Stalin’s forces occupy Baltic States - Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia.


1940 - U.S. men between the ages of 21 and 36 register as peacetime draft begins. 16 million men registered.


1940 - Germanys air force (the Luftwaffe) begins aerial blitz of Great Britain.



Other Notes


Blitzkrieg - lightening war. A fast attack strategy that uses aerial bombings at same time as tanks roll in, followed by soldiers. First used by Germany against Poland


1939 - Russia signs a non-aggression pact with Germany


March 1941 - U. S. Congress passes the Lend-Lease Act. America will loan Great Britain needed supplies and arms in return for using their territories as bases.


June 1941- Hitler breaks agreement with Stalin invades Russia


June 1941 - Russia also receives a Lend-Lease aid from the U.S.


Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor is attacked by Japan.  They take out most of the vessels moored along battleship row.  The carriers were not in the harbor which helped the U.S.


Holocaust - Hitler’s final solution getting rid of the Jews.  The solution was genocide, the deliberate and systematic killing of an entire population.


Concentration camps were used by the Nazis to exploit slave labor from the prisoners, kill millions, and conduct medical experiments. Methods of killing prisoners included gas chambers, shootings, hangings, injections with poison. Two of the more notorious camps were Auschwitz and Dachau.