Modern America and World War II

By: Audrey Brose and Victoria Schlueter


US Neutrality Act passed

1935 - 1940

Congress passed the first Neutrality Act prohibiting the export of “arms, ammunition, and implements of war” from the United States to foreign nations at war. This is important because when the war began it made the US unable to aide their allies.

Neutrality act of 1937

1937 - 1940

The Neutrality Act of 1937 said that nations at war are allowed, with Presidential permission, to acquire any item, except arms from the United States, so long as they immediately paid for such items and carried them on non-American ships.this was called the “cash-and-carry” provision. Since vital raw materials such as oil were not considered “implements of war" The US could trade this without breaking Neutrality. This is important because it is what allowed the US to help keep the UK supplied and not break neutrality.

The Munich Pact

September 30th 1938 - September 1st 1939

In 1938, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, French Premier Edouard Daladier, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact, which hands over Czechoslovakia to Germany for peace and protection for all the other countries. Upon return to Britain, Chamberlain would declare that the meeting had achieved “peace in our time.” When Germany invaded Poland it blatantly broke the agreement. This is significant because it caused world leaders to realize that Germany didn't care for anything except its own wants.

Women in the war

1939 - 1945

Women took over production jobs and produced food products and other goods to help the war effort. As men went off to battle, women were needed for non-combat jobs such as switchboard operators, telegraphers, mechanics, and drivers. . Women also joined the United States Navy, and air force. Many of these women believed that they might never be allowed to serve in the military again if they did not prove to be capable in a chosen role. This is significant because this rise in the women workforce allowed for women to feel more empowered.

Invasion of Poland

September 1, 1939

At 4:45 p.m. on September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler's 1.5 million German troops invade Poland. At the same time, the Germans bombed Polish airfields while their boats attacked the Polish naval forces in the Baltic Sea. On September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany. This is significant because it officially started World War II.

Soviet Union Invades Finland

November 30, 1939 - March 13, 1940

Soviet union invades Finland, occupies parts of of Poland and by threat of invasion takes over Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. Following the invasion, defeat, and partitioning of Poland by Germany and the Soviets Once It had Finland it then bullied the smaller Baltic states to give the Soviets the right to establish military bases there. This is important because it shows how Germany wasn't the only Axis power trying to expand. It also acts as a reminder that at the beginning of the war the Soviet Union was an Axis power.

Japan invades French Colony

July 1940

Japanese troops begin to occupy the French colony of Indochina. The United States responds by cutting off oil exports to Japan. President Roosevelt froze all Japanese assets in America. the end result was that Japan lost overseas trade and oil access. Japan’s oil reserves were only sufficient to last three years, and only half that time if it went to war. This is significant because it shows the fraying relationship between Japan and America. It also is a warning sign for later in the war when Japanese Americans would be put in camps in the US. This was partially because there was a strong hostility towards Japanese people. However it is also because the american military feared about possible spies.

London Blitz

September 1940 - May 1941

Hundreds of German warplanes began bombing London every night for 57 nights in attacks that will continue until May 1941. More than 40,000 people will die in the Blitz as Londoners call the air raid campaign. The Germans intended for it to break the will of the people however it instead gave them a common enemy. This is significant because it united the UK against a common enemy. It also showed that Germany was willing to attack civilians to win the war.

United States imposes the draft

September 16, 1940

The United States passed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 which said that all men between the ages of 21 and 25 were required to register for the draft. This was the first peacetime draft in U.S. history. Once the United States officially entered World War II, the ages of the draft expanded (18-45). The idea that the U.S. should stay out of the war was still favored by the American people but after the fall of France to the Nazis, the U.S wasn't confident in Great Britain's ability to defeat Germany on its own. Polls sent out in the U.S. showed a growing majority in favor of instituting a draft to help with this.

Lend-Lease Act


United States passes Lend-Lease Legislation agreement where they would “lend” the supplies to the British without collecting payment right away. When payment eventually did take place, the emphasis would not be on payment in dollars but consideration. This is significant because it showed that the US finally was able to freely aide its allies while still maintaining the appearance of neutrality.

Germany invades Soviet Union

June 1941

More than three million German troops invade the Soviet Union. This breaks the Soviet Union- German non-aggression pact. However the Germans are outnumbered by the Red Army which has about nine million men under arms. However even with this outnumbering German soldiers are better trained. Also with the fact that it was a surprise invasion the Germans made a fair bit of ground. The Germans named this attack Operation Barbarossa. This is important because it took resources away from French soil which allowed for the US and UK to regain strength. Also attacking Russia in winter weakened Germany's army.

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941

At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, 360 Japanese aircraft invaded the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor and began firing. Of the U.S. fleet, 5 battleships, 3 destroyers, and 7 other ships were sunk. Over 200 aircraft were destroyed and 2,400 Americans were killed and almost 1,200 wounded. On December 8, the United States declared war against Japan and three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States. This event caused the U.S. to officially join World War II.

Axis declares war on US

December 11 1941

Germany and its Axis partners declare war on the U.S.The bombing of Pearl Harbor surprised even Germany. Although Hitler had made an oral agreement with his Axis partner Japan that Germany would join a war against the United States, he was uncertain how it would start. However that decision was made when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. This is significant because it officially brought the US completely into the war. If the US was at war the Neutrality acts were thrown out the window. The US could join the war with all the guns, men, and supplies they had without worry of Neutrality.

Battle of Midway

June 4, 1942 - June 7, 1942

The United States defeated Japan in one of the most important naval battles of World War II, six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S was able to use the new advances in code breaking to prepare for and counter Japan's planned ambush of the rest of the U.S's aircraft carriers that they missed at Pearl Harbor. This was a large turning point in the Pacific War. The Americans sank four Japanese fleet carriers (their entire force). This event was significant in allowing the United States and its allies to move into better offensive position in the Pacific War.

German defeat at Stalingrad

February 2, 1943

An entire German army (over 220,000 soldiers) were encircled by Soviet forces at Stalingrad in November of 1942. After three months of intense fighting and many casualties, the remaining German forces (91,000 soldiers) finally surrendered. This Soviet victory liberated most of the Ukraine and almost all of Russia in 1943.


June 6, 1944

On June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the green light for "Operation Overlord", the largest amphibious military operation in history. The next day, June 6, the Allied forces crossed the English Channel and stormed the beaches of Normandy, France. This event allowed for the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control, getting one step closer to the end of WWII.

Truman becomes President of U.S.

April 12, 1945

Harry S. Truman became the 33rd President of the United States after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the final months of World War II. He was to continue the policies put in place by Roosevelt. Truman launched the Marshall Plan which would help to rebuild the economy of Western Europe.

Race to Berlin

April 15, 1945 - April 23, 1945

In early 1945, Germany's defeat was inevitable and so Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had his two marshals race to capture Berlin in the final months of World War II. United States Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower sent his forces to the south of Germany to cut off the Nazis. One Soviet troop entered Berlin from the north and the other came up from the south. On April 23, the two troops met up in the center of Berlin and ended any hope for the Germans to escape. This German defeat essentially ended World War II.

Adolf Hitler commits suicide

April 30, 1945

Adolf Hitler, while hiding in a bunker in Berlin, commits suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule and shooting himself in the head. Not long after, Germany surrendered to the Allied forces, officially ending World War II. His wife Eva Braun also committed suicide by taking a capsule herself. This event freed the world of this war and ended Hitler's dream of a 1,000 year Reich.

Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

August 6 1945 - August 9 1945

On August 6, an American B-29 bomber dropped the world's first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb destroyed 90% of the city and killed 80,000 people, thousands would later die of radiation poisoning. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing 40,000 people. These devastating events caused Japan's Emperor Hirohito to announce the country's surrender in World War II on August 15. Japan's surrender was seen as a final ending to WWII.