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Humanities Libertexts

24: World War II

  • Page ID
    10484
  • Walter Rosenblum, "D Day Rescue, Omaha Beach," via Library of Congress.

    American soldiers recover the dead on Omaha Beach in 1944. Library of Congress.

    • 24.1: Introduction
    • 24.2: The Origins of the Pacific War
    • 24.3: The Origins of the European War
    • 24.4: The United States and the European War
      While Hitler marched across Europe, the Japanese continued their war in the Pacific. In 1939 the United States dissolved its trade treaties with Japan and the following year cut off supplies of war materials by embargoing oil, steel, rubber, and other vital goods. It was hoped that economic pressure would shut down the Japanese war machine. Instead, Japan’s resource-starved military launched invasions across the Pacific to sustain its war effort.
    • 24.5: The United States and the Japanese War
      As Americans celebrated V-E (Victory in Europe) Day, they redirected their full attention to the still-raging Pacific War. As in Europe, the war in the Pacific started slowly. After Pearl Harbor, the American-controlled Philippine archipelago fell to Japan. After running out of ammunition and supplies, the garrison of American and Filipino soldiers surrendered. The prisoners were marched eighty miles to their prisoner-of-war camp without food, water, or rest. Ten thousand died.
    • 24.6: Soldiers' Experiences
      Almost eighteen million men served in World War II. Volunteers rushed to join the military after Pearl Harbor, but the majority—over ten million—were drafted into service. Volunteers could express their preference for assignment, and many preempted the draft by volunteering. Regardless, recruits judged I-A, “fit for service,” were moved into basic training, where soldiers were developed physically and trained in the basic use of weapons and military equipment.
    • 24.7: The Wartime Economy
      Economies win wars no less than militaries. The war converted American factories to wartime production, reawakened Americans’ economic might, armed Allied belligerents and the American armed forces, effectively pulled America out of the Great Depression, and ushered in an era of unparalleled economic prosperity.
    • 24.8: Women and World War II
      President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration had encouraged all able-bodied American women to help the war effort. He considered the role of women in the war critical for American victory, and the public expected women to assume various functions to free men for active military service. While most women opted to remain at home or volunteer with charitable organizations, many went to work or donned a military uniform.
    • 24.9: Race and World War II
      World War II affected nearly every aspect of life in the United States, and America’s racial relationships were not immune. African Americans, Mexicans and Mexican Americans, Jews, and Japanese Americans were profoundly impacted.
    • 24.10: Toward a Postwar World
      Americans celebrated the end of the war. At home and abroad, the United States looked to create a postwar order that would guarantee global peace and domestic prosperity. Although the alliance of convenience with Stalin’s Soviet Union would collapse, Americans nevertheless looked for the means to ensure postwar stability and economic security for returning veterans.
    • 24.11: Conclusion
    • 24.12: Primary Sources
    • 24.13: Reference Material

    Thumbnail: Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. Image used with permission (Public Domain; Joe Rosenthal @ the Associated Press).

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