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The War - a concise history 1939 - 1945 by Louis L. Snyder
(notes from the book)

Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1964 paperback (orig. published in 1960)éö£

Front cover (photo)

Back cover (photo)


WWII was fought by the greatest number of men in history over the largest area of the world's surface. As time rolls by, the events from 1939 to 1945 come more into focus. This book's purpose is to present in concise form the story from Warsaw to Tokyo Bay.

Introduction by Eric Sevareid, June 1960

With WWI died values and assumptions of humanitarian progress that had grown for 100 years. "It was in WWII we learned to question the meaning of a 1,000 years of belief in the human spirit and shivered in the cold stench of medieval mania loosed from the catacombs of the Dark Ages, for this time men saw in the Germanic insanity mass butchery following from deliberate purpose, down to the last neat medical chart showing the stress-resistance behavior of the lower bowel under hydraulic pressure."


In waw an individual's personal character comes out: weakness, bestiality, heroism.

Part 1 - Prelude: The Road to War

Chapter 1 - "The Altar of Mars"

Sept. 1, 1939: Blitzkrieg in Poland. Without a declaration of war, simultaneously from East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, and Slovakia, Hitler's war machine invaded Warsaw. The Blitzkrieg technique was quick and mobile thanks to their tanks. Poland didn't know what hit them!

September 17, 1939: Russia invaded Poland from the east. Stalin and Hitler had made a deal to split up Poland. Within 2 days the Red troops held 1/2 of Poland, including the oil fields of Galacia, also blocked Hitler's direct road to the oil of Rumania.

TheGermans tried weapons of propaganda, such as posters and dropping leaflets to give up, but the Poles were stubborn and fought.

September 28, 1939: Foreign Ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov met to divide up Poland.

More than 70,000 Polish troops fled to France and England.

Leading Polish officials fled to Rumania.

Dr. Robert Ley, head of the German Labor Front, forced tens of thousands of Poles into slave labor for the Nazi war machine.

Nazi Police Chief Heinrich Himmler began extermination of Poles and Jews by firing squads and gas chambers.

Historian E. L. Bogart estimated in the early 1930s the cost of WWI was $331 billion, plus interest payments on loans, pension, care for veterans, and effects on human life.

1880 Great Britain produced about 2 1/2 times iron ore as Germany, by 1909 Germany almost doubled the British rate of production.

The German economy suffered when they lost WWI in 1918 – Treaty of Versailles.

Inflation of 1923 devalued Germany's money. The Western nations helped out with the Dawes Plan (1924) and the Young Plan (1929). Then the depression of 1929 stopped the outside aid.

Then came Hitler, controlled the system, abandoned the Weimar Republic's welfare economy and placed in a war economy.

"Nationalism" may be much to blame for WWII. It's hard to define and its meaning changes with the course of history. It's a state of mind, an act of consciousness, a psychological fact; a symbol by society for security. It's artificially constructed; deeply rooted in the past; utilizes primitive feelings of man, including love of birthplace and hatred of foreigners (xenophobia).

In the 20th century nationalism spread to Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, to countries, unlike the West, had no experience with individual liberty.

Another basic cause for both World Wars was a lack of regulating the relations between nations; no international organizaion.

There were two international Peace Conferences organized by Czar Nicholas II of Russia and held at The Hague in 1899 and 1907.

After WWI the League of Nations was created to promote international order – the brain-child of Jan Smuts, a South African leader.

Wilson believed in the League of Nations and reluctantly even accepted some of the harsher terms of the Treaty of Versailles (the treaty of peace with Germany) in return for support of the League. Back home isolationist Republicans were upset about the League. Wilson tried to convince the county, but he failed and the U.S. didn't participate in the League of Nations. In his book "Triumph and Tragedy" Churchill says that the League was ruined by the U.S. not joining.

After 1931 came major disputes that the League failed to resolve:

August 27, 1928: 15 nations signed the Kellogg-Briand Paris Peace Pact. By 1933 63 nations had signed it.

1921 - 1922: President Harding called the Washington Naval Conference. As a result of the agreed naval limits the U.S. destroyed part of its fleet.

The World Disarmament Conference began in Geneva in 1932. President Hoover suggested a 1/3 reduction of land forces and total abolition of tanks, bombing planes, and large mobile guns. Hitler wanted to arm to equal France. This was denied. October 1933 Germany quit the League of Nations. The Conference fell apart.

1935 - 1936: the London Naval Conference of 1935-1936 was called when Japan demanded equality with the U.S. and Great Britain. Things fell apart and the Great Powers resumed unlimited naval construction.

Proponents of disarmament argued that arms races always lead to war. The other side advocated preparedness: the best way to prevent war was to be so powerful an aggressor would never attack. The debate ended by the emergence of Hitler.

1939: the stop-Hitler coalition (Britain, France, Rumania, Greece, Poland) seemed to have an edge on the Axis (Germany, Italy, Hungary, Spain). The Allies had advantage in sea power, but the Axis was superior in submarine strength. Ther airforces were about equal.

Chapter 2 - "From Mancuria to Anschluss: Stages of Axis Aggression"

1914, Japan violated Chinese neutrality by landing troops around Kiaochow, which Germany had leased from China in 1898.

January 1915: Tokyo gave Pres. Yuan of China a list of demands written on War Office stationary. The U.S. protested and Japan withdrew most of the demands.

Japan saw Manchuria as a 1/2 million miles of potential wealth: iron, coal, copper, lead, manganese, oil shale, gold. Also a buffer state vis-á-vis Soviet Russian, and surplus Japanese could live in Manchuria.

As early as 1919 the Dai Nippon Kokusuikai (Greater Japan National Essence Society) had gathered a million members. The Kokuhousha (National Foundation Society) was preaching a xenophobic nationalism.

Political assassinations began. A coup attempt in Japan failed when senior officers refused to go along with the conspirators.

September 18, 1931: Japan captured Mukden and 10,000 Chinese sodiers.

Japan completed their conquest of all of China in January 1932.

Then Japan turned south. 23,000 lives lost, 20,000were Chinese. Continued destroying the countryside, raping women, slaughtered prisoners.

March 1932: Japan transformed Manchuria into the "independent" Republic of Manchukuo (State of Manchu).

This was the first preliminary bout of WWII; The beginning of a chain reaction.

October 1935: Italy invaded Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian force was small and poorly armed; it was a slaughter.

50 of the 54 League of Nations agreed on economic sanctions on Italy, but didn't include an oil embargo which would have crippled her.

The Hoare-Laval Plan was born in December 1935.

May 9, 1936: King Victor Emmanuel III was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia. Within a month Mussolini organized Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somaliland into Italian East Africa. In 1937 the Duce (Mussolini) himself took over the position of Minister for Italian Africa.

The deposed monarch, Haile Selassie, went to Geneva, Switzerland and pleaded to the League of Nations, but they did nothing.

July 16, 1936: the League ended sanctions against Italy.

A year and a half later Italy resigned from the League of Nations.

The Spanish Civil War, 1936 - 1939

20th century Spain was politically unstable, corrupt, inefficient. A few thousand grandees owned more than a half the land, 1 1/2 million owned only 2%, 2 million people owned no land.

A fascist group called the Falange (or Phalanx) was founded by Antonio Primo de Rivera, son of the former dictator. Assistance came from Mussolini and Hitler.

The oppostion to Fascism in Spain was the Popular Front.

1936, some generals wanted General José Sanjurjo as generalissimo and dictator, to install but was killed in a plane crash. So their next choice was Francisco Franco.

July 17, 1936: Franco led a revolt, most generals and their men went along, but the navy and air force remaind loyal to the government.

Sept. 27, 1936: The Fascist Rebels captured Toledo. This began 3 years of civil war.

The Rebels had 10 times as many planes, tanks, and artillery as the Popular Front and quickly conquered the western half of Spain.

By 1938 Franco controlled 2/3 of Spain.

March 28, 1938: Madrid surrendered, Franco now controlled all of Spain.

Hitler and Mussolini aided Franco. The papacy gave its spiritual support to Franco. When Italian troops left Italian soil for Spain, they received the papal blessing.

As early as November 1936, Soviet Russia sent technicians and matériel into Spain to help fight the Fascists. Communists trained in Moscow to fight in Spain included Tito of Yugoslavia and Dimitrov of Bulgeria.

From all over the world sympathizers with the Spanish Republic sent brigades to fight in Spain. The "Abraham Lincoln Brigade" recruited in the U.S. Author George Orwell went to Spain to fight.

Officially France, Great Britain, and the U.S. remained neutral on the Spanish civil war.

Thanks to German and Italian support, Franco established a totalitarian dictatorship in Spain.

April 7, 1939: Franco joined the Anti-Comintern Pact, directed against Communism. Madrid was now with the Rome-Berlin Axis.
(In 1936 Mussolini and Hitler called their joint forces an "Axis", and all European states were supposed to revolve around Germany and Italy like a wheel revolves around its axle.)

Sept. 27, 1940: Japan formally joined the union, now called the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, or the "Pact of Steel".

After 8 years, the Spanish Republic was no more. A million people killed, bitterness, poverty.

The "China Incident", 1937

March 1933: Baron General Sadao Araki, Japanese war minister and leader of the war party, said that the Manchurian trouble has arisen, an alarm bell for the Japanese people, someday all nations will look up to the doctrine of "Kodo" (Way of the Emperor"). It was evident that Japan's goal was to someday rule the world.

December 1934: American ambassador in Tokyo, Joseph C. Grew, reported to Secretary of State Cordell Hull that the aim of the Japanese militarists was to obtain trade control and predominant influence in China, the Philippines, the Straits Settlements, Siam, the Dutch East Indies, the Maritime Provinces, and Vladivostok.

1934: The Roosevelt Administration extended a $50 million credit to China through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Warplanes were sold to China, and pilot training. This caused resentment in the Nipponese war party.

Some fanatical Japanese took action against more moderate Japanese.

Feb. 20, 1936: Elections returned a majority of liberals to Parliament – the terrorists were infuriated.

November 25, 1936: Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact (directed against international communism) with Germany.

June 1937: General Hideki Tojo, chief of staff of the Kwantung Army, told Tokyo that Japan must strike China before Chiang Kai-shek (the Nationalist leader) and the Communists could join together.

July 7, 1937: Conflict in China at the Marco Polo bridge near the village of Lukouchiao. The Japanese claimed the Chinese had attacked them first.

Japanese troops streamed into North China.

The Japanese conquest turned to a stalemate as they advanced deep into China.

Feb. 1939: Japan seized the island of Hainan, thereby obtaining a base from which to attack French Indo-China.

May 1939: Japan bockaded the British settlement in Tientsin.

Eventually the Japanese-Chinese war was merged into the greater conflict of WWII.

The Fall of Austria, 1938

March 15, 1935: Hitler created the "Luftwaffe", the German air force.

March 16, 1935: Hitler repudiated all treaty limitations on armaments and established universal military service.

Allied war propagandists blamed WWI on Wilhelm II, the German militarists, Germann industrial magnets, and the Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold. They alleged that the Great German General Staff planned the war for 40 years. But most historians believe all the Great Powers were equally responsible, from unresolved economic clashes, national rivalries, sword-rattling.

Unlike WWI, the origin of WWII can be blamed on Hitler and Nazi Germany. Hitler clearly wanted to conquer Europe and ultimately control the world.

Clues to Hitler's mind are found in his book "Mein Kampf" – his life story and his blueprint for Germany's future.

Hitler installed a totalitarian state:

Hitler wanted to regain Germany's prestige as a World Power, to bring about a restoration of her former colonies, to promote Pan-Germanism ("One Reich, One People, One Fuehrer"), to revive the Drang nach Osten (Drive to the East), end the "Shame of Versailles".

November 5, 1937: Hitler outlined to his military leaders the steps for aggression against other countries.

Hitler desired war. The German people became more and more convinced of his infallibility as he delivered one crippling blow after another to the system of Versailles. Politically illiterate Germans had little understanding of what was happening to them.

The German people are to blame in part by their national tradition of discipline and obedience, ground into the Germans by a combination of worship of the State (inspired by the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel), Prussian intransigence, and militarism.

Ther German officers' corps are to blame, too. They didn't desire world conquest like Hitler, but they failed to check the terrible offenses of Hitler. Their excuse was that a soldier honors his oath and carries out his orders.

After the Nazis conquered Austria, it was obvious Czechoslovakia was next.

February 1939, in the Germanh Reichstag, Hitler outlined the "horrible conditions" of the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia. Hitler announced to the world that Germany will protect the Sudeten Germans against their Czech oppressors.

The German press denounced Czech "atrocities" against the German minortiy in Czechoslovakia.

May 1938: two Germans were killed in a frontier incident. Hitler used this as an excuse to send troops to the border. Czechoslovakia sent 400,000 troops to the border. France, Britain, and Soviet Russia agreed to support Czechoslovakia. Hitler withdrew his troops – for the time being.

May 30, 1938: Hitler told his generals that on October 1 he will smash Czechoslovakia: "Operation Green".

Summer of 1938, the Nazi press attacked the Czechs.

Puppet Henlein's Nazi followers used weapons of agitation, terror, threats, and bluffs inside Czechoslovakia.

September 12, 1938: In a violent speech, Hitler said he intended to come to the aid of the oppressed Sudeten Germans.

September 13, 1938: After some prearranged incidents, President Benes proclaimed martial law.

Hitler demanded that the Sudeten territory become a part of the Third Reich or there will be war.

September 26: Speaking in Berlin, Hitler assured the world that if the Sudeten problem were solved, Germany would make no more territorial claims in Europe.

At the Munich talks it was agreed that Germany could have 1/3 of Czechoslovakia and 1/3 of the population. The German army would move in October 1. Great Britain and Germany signed a treaty of friendship.

Hitler made new demands:

March 15, 1939: Emil Hacha, then president of the Czechoslovak Republic, signed a treaty which turned his country into a German protectorate. The German army entered Prague. Czechoslovakia ceased to exist.

British prime minister Neville Chamberlain couldn't do much at the time because his country was not ready for war – they needed more time.

After the fall of Czechoslovakia it was obvious that if Hitler were not stopped, all eastern Europe would fall to the Third Reich. And then what about France, Britain, and the British colonies?

Chamberlain tried to strengthen an alliance system in both East and West to stop Hitler. But without Moscow it was hopeless.

August 23, 1939: Hitler and Stalin signed a nonaggression pact.

September 3, 1939: Britain and France declare war on Germany. Roosevelt said he hopes the U.S. will keep out of the war.

September 29, 1939: The Soviet Union forced Estonia to sign a treaty permitting the U.S.S.R. to establish military garrisons and naval and air bases on Estonian soil.

October 5, 1939: A similar treaty with Latvia.

October 10: A similar treaty with Lithuania.


The U.S.S.R. made similar demands of Finland, but they refused to lease or sell part of their soil for a foreign military base.

November 23, 1939: Hitler told his generals he will attack France and England soon.

Hitler was afraid Britain might cut off Germany's iron supply from Sweden through Norwegian territorial waters past Denmark. So early in 1939 Hitler planned to invade Denmark and Norway.

April 9, 1940: Germany told to Danish government that the Allies planned to use Scandinavia as a battleground, and since the Scandinavian countries can't defend themselves, Hitler would move in to "protect" them.

Germany cut off all Denmark's communications with the outside world.

Germany takes over Denmark without much resistance.

April 9, 1940: Germany conquers Norway.

April 14, 1940: A small British force of 1,500 troops landed in Norway and was destroyed by the Germans.

Hitler had strategically located bases from which his planes could dominate all Scandinavia, imperil British shipping, and strike at Britain. He had diverted dairy products, fish, minerals, metal ores, and timber from the Allies. Confiscated Norway's gold reserves.

Most of the Norwegian fleet, 4th largest in the world, escaped the Nazis and joined the Allies – helped supply Britain with oil and food.

Hitler now had under his control:

The Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, all formerly tied to Denmark, were occupied by British and Canadian forces.

Hitler's plan to conquer the West was an assault on the Low Countries – Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg. Then France, and then England.

To prepare for the invasion of Holland there was some fifth-column activity.

May 10, 1940: Germany invaded Holland.

May 10, 1940: The Germans attacked the Low Countries along the western front from the North Sea to Luxemburg. In Belgium it was the same pattern: fifth columnists, no ultimatum, then Blitzkrieg.

May 28, 1940: 400,000 Belgian troops surrendered to the Germans.

May 10, 1940: Germany conquered Luxemburg

The House of Commons didn't like Neville Chamberlain's leadership of Britain, so they kicked him out. May 10, 1940 Winston Churchill replaced him as Prime Minister.

May 28, 1940: Leopold III, King of Belgium, really blew it when he ordered his troops to surrender to the Germans. This gave the Germans the opportunity to race across southeastern Belgium and then toward Abbeville 15 miles from the French channel coast. The whole British Expeditionary Force, plus French, Poles, and Belgians, were trapped. They had to leave the continent and the only port was Dunkirk. The BBC called on British civilians to help rescue the troops. Needed was all boats between 30 and 100 ft.

Chapter 5 - "From Sitzkrieg to Blitzkrieg: The Collapse of France"

In Mein Kampf Hitler called France "Germany's irreconcilable and mortal enemy."

France had 800,000 combat troops, 5,500,000 trained reserves, male population of 20,000,000. Supposedly the strongest in Europe militarily.

The Maginot Line

May 18, 1940: Premeir Paul Reynard reconstructed his cabinet. May 19, replaced General Maurice Gustave Gamelin with General Maxime Weygard as supreme commander of the army.

After the Battle of Flanders, the German troops went southward for a Blitzkrieg against France.

June 3, 1940: German air raid on Paris.

June 5, 1940: Hitler sent 100 divisions to attack four points across the Somme into northern Normandy; south Amiens directed at Paris; down the Oise River toward the French capital; and around the northern flank of the Maginot Line. The Luftwaffe was unopposed and bombed the French troops below.

Weygard soon lost control of "Europe's finest army".

All of France degenerated into panic, terror, hysteria, confusion. Mass exodus of the civilian population – thousands fled Paris on carts, bikes, taxis, bakery vans, whatever they could. German pilots bombed and shot the civilians on the roads from Paris – dead bodies everywhere.

June 11, 1940: the government believed defending Paris was suicidal, so they left and went to Tours.

June 10, 1940: 400,000 Italians invaded France through the Riviera. (March 18, 1940 Hitler and Mussolini had met at the Brenner Pass. From then the Italian Press and radio stepped up its campaign for war. Not much enthusiasm among the Italians, but Mussolini wanted his war.)

June 10, 1940: The Italian foreign minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano (Mussolini's son-in-law), told the French ambassador that Italy is at war with France starting tomorrow, June 11. Fifteen minutes later the British ambassador was given an identical message.

Italy's entry into the war brought an army of 1,000,000 men, a navy of more than 700,000 tons, and about 4,000 planes. The effect on France was negligible – Hitler had already won there.

Italy's entry meant spread of fighting in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Suez, and North Africa.

June 12, 1940: Winston Churchill flew to Tours, France and persuaded France's cabinet to carry on the war from North Africa.

June 14, 1940: Germans entered Paris, which was pretty much deserted, everything in shambles. Within hours the swastika was flying from every prominent and historical structure in the city.

Premeir Reynard said "All is lost." On June 10 & 13 he appealed to Roosevelt for help, asked the U.S. to send "clouds of airplanes".

June 16, 1940: The Germans announced they had pierced the Maginot Line and were pushing the French across the Loire.

June 16: Churchill proposed that France and Great Britain combine into a France-British union, but the offer was rejected.

June 16: Reynauld resigned, was replaced by Marshall Henri Pétain, who surrendered immediately – by radio broadcast he said it is no use to fight.

June 16: German armies were in control of 1/4 of France.

June 21: In the Compiégne Forest in France, the Germans read to the French the preamble to the armastice terms. The proceedings took 27 minutes.

June 22: The armistice was formally signed.

June 24: In Paris Hitler visited the red porphyry containing the remains of Napoleon.

Hitler was at his peak. The New Europe was being carved out precisely the way Hitler had described it in Mein Kampf. The Nazis had surged westward across Europe.

Why France fell:

Fighting Hitlerism was now left to the British, the Americans, and later the Russians.

Chapter 6 - Their Finest Hour: Britain Stands Alone

The British were worried that the French fleet would be used against them.

Hitler gave the British one last chance to surrender.

    "Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
    Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

After Hitler conquered France he paused for six weeks. During that time the British trasformed their island into a fortress.

August 6, 1940: Field Marshall Hermann Goering issued orders for the first great mass attack on England. Several days later the Luftwaffe bombed the coastal towns of southern England.

The Germans unveiled a new weapon, the British called it the UXB, or unexploded bomb. It buries itself into the ground and explodes later.

October 1940, because of heavy losses, Hitler shifted from daylight to night bombing.

By the end of October the air bombing began to slow down. The air attacks continued into June 1941, when most of the Luftwaffe was transferred to the Russian front.

November 14-15, 1940: German bombers smashed the heart of Coventry in Britain's smokey Midlands, the city through which Lady Godiva had ridden nearly 900 years earlier to end a more local oppression.

December 25-30, 1940: London received the worst bombing, more than 1,500 fires started.

In the first 3 months 12,696 Londoners were killed.

During the war the Germans dropped about 12,222 tons of bombs on London, killing 29,890, injuring more than 120,000.

The Germans caused much damage but failed to halt industrial production or the flow of overseas shipping. The U.S. and Canada helped supply planes, munitions, and supplies.

The major factor in winning the Battle of Britain against the Germans was the development of a new device that became the heart of all radar equipment: the resonant cavity magnetron.

December 1940: a motion was made in Parliament to consider peace, and it was voted down 341 to 4, they wanted to fight.

Hitler's plan to invade Great Britain was called "Operation Sea Lion".

Chapter 7 - Lifeline Neptune: War on the Seas

Sept. 3, 1939: 12 hours after the British declared war a Nazi submarine sank an unarmed British passenger ship "Athenia" 250 miles off the coast of Ireland. A majority of the 1,102 passengers were Canadians and Americans. 112 died.

When war broke out in 1939, the Allied naval resources were overwhelming:


 Great Britain





 Battle cruisers






 Aircraft carriers










In combined tonnage the British fleet was 9 times that of Germany.

Both sides knew they would have to revert to the strategy of 1914 – blockade and counterblockade – to strangle and starve the enemy.

Nov. 27, 1939: The British extended the blockade by prohibiting the importation of German goods into neutral countries.

In WWI the Allies convinced the Norwegians to plant mines in their territorial waters, but this time they remained neutral. Churchill regarded Germany's free use of Norway's territorial waters as the greatest obstacle to an effective blockade of Hitler's Reich.

As in WWI, the British planted mines from Scotland to Norway and across the English Channel. The Germans countered with magnetic mines that exploded near any large mass of iron. These mines sunk many British ships but the British discovered the "deguassing" belt to neutralize the ships' magnetic fields.

For the Germans there was only one answer to the blockade: U-boats (submarines), U-boats, and more U-boats.

The British surface fleet outnumbered the Germans, so the Germans concentrated on attacking from below the surface and the air.

During the first week of the war at least a dozen British merchant ships were sunk. Within the first 2 months about 67 Allied ships were destroyed. The Germans lost about 20 submarines.

During the first 6 months German submarines numbered 101. During the first 6 months Germany sank 585 ships, totally over 3 million tons.

Early in 1943 they sank 96 ships in 20 days.

May 1943 the Allies gained the upper hand in the U-boat war with new detection technology and a massive anti-submarine effort utilizing thousands of ships, hundreds of thousands of men, and billions of dollars in equipment.

In the six years of the war, the Germans destroyed 2,700 British, Allied, and neutral ships on the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Germans lost 783 U-boats and 32,000 men.

Churchill said: "The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril. [It] was our worst evil."

The German raider "Altmark" in February 1940 had 300 British prisoners aboard and was detected by British planes along the Norwegian coast. In the ice-filled Norwegian fiord the British cruiser "Cossack" went after her. The Altmark rammed the "Cossack". Sailors from the Cossack leaped to the deck of the Altmark and overcame the enemy in hand-to-hand fighting and rescued the prisoners. The Nazi government protested because it was in neutral waters.

Sept. 16, 1939: Off the coast of Ireland the Germans sank the British navy's 22,500-ton aircraft carrier "Courageous".

October 14, 1939: The German U-47, commanded by Leutnant Prien, penetrated Scapa Flow, the great naval base at the southern Orkneys, Scotland, and sank one of Britain's 12 capital ships, the "Royal Oak". More than 800 of the 1,200 men died.

The Graf Spee


April 6, 1941: Hitler sent columns into Greece from both north and east.

The Island of Crete

The Middle East

Chapter 9 - "Fissure: Germany Attacks Russia"

May 10, 1941: Without Hitler's permission or knowledge, Nazi Rudolf Hess attempted a ridiculous peace mission by parachuting into England (near Dungavel) and made the British an offer:

Hitler put out a press release saying Hess was nuts and they had nothing to do with his offer. Hess was imprisoned in London until October 6, 1945, then transferred to Nuremberg.

June 22, 1941: Using the Blitzkrieg, Germany attacked Russia. The invasion was called "Operation Barbarossa" and the plan was to take only 6 weeks. The Third Reich would obtain the granary of the Ukraine, the industrial Donetz basin, the Caucasian oil fields, and add almost 200,000,000 slave laborers to their war machine. But because of the Russians' ability to fight, and bad Russian weather, Germany eventually failed.

Many similarities between Hitler's invasion of Russia and Napolean Bonaparte's invasion in June 1812:

Chapter 10 - The United States: Arsenal of Democracy

If anything, much of American opinion was more anti-British and pro-German in 1914, but a combination of circumstances eventually caused the U.S. to side with the Allies during WWI.

After 1918 the U.S. felt they had been tricked into getting involved in the war. From 1918 to 1939 most Americans were isolationists. George Washington had said avoid entanglements in European affairs.

In 1934 Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota began to examine the record of the munitions industry during WWI.

With the rise of Hitler many Americans believed it was inevitable that the U.S. would be attacked. There were isolationists on one side, and others who believed in "collective security" that aiding the Allies was necessary. FDR was an advocate of collective security.

1939 most of America was anti-Hitler. There were 3 choices: retreat into isolationism and pray for an Allied victory; give aid to the Allies but don't join the war; or prepare for participation in the war.

After the outbreak of war in Sept. 1939 FDR said the U.S. would remain neutral.

Most Americans thought the Royal Navy was indestructable, but after the fall of France in June 1940 the U.S. began to really worry. If Hitler takes over Latin America, won't the U.S. be next?

In the U.S. were debates between the isolationists and the interventionists. Advocates of isolationism included Senator Burton K. Wheeler, of Montana; Senator Gerald P. Nye, of North Dakota; the two La Follette brothers, of Wisconsin; Representative Hamilton Fish, of New York; William Randolph Hearst and his newspaper chain; Colonel Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune; Norman Thomas, the Socialist leader and pacifist; and especially the popular aviator Charles Lindbergh, Jr. and the America First Committee.

By the end of June 1940 the U.S. was shocked to see Hitler take over Denmark and Norway, the Low Countries, and France.

January 1940 FDR requested $1,800,000,000 for national defense and new appropriations of $1,182,000,000.

May 1940, FDR asked Congress for production of 50,000 planes a year! The Nazis thought this number was ridiculous and the U.S. must be bluffing. (It turned out that the U.S. produced an average of 60,000 planes a year.)

Sept. 3, 1940: Roosevelt made a deal with Britain; the U.S. provided the British with 50 destroyers in exchange for a 99-year rent-free lease of naval and air bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua, and British Guiana.

Roosevelt and Churchill feared Hitler would takeover Greenland. April 9, 1941, American naval forces took over Greenland, and later Iceland. From these areas the U.S. could patrol the western half of the Atlantic, and the British the eastern half.

The FBI cracked down on fifth columnists in the U.S.

November 1940, FDR was elected to a 3rd term, defeating Republican Wendell L. Willkie. In FDR's campaign he said "your boys and not going to be sent into any foreign wars." The plan was to aid the Allies. Isolationists were opposed, but most Americans were not neutral, they hated Hitler.

Roosevelt's "good neighbor policy united the Westen Hemisphere against the Axis.

The Pittman Resolution, June 16, 1940.

Without the U.S., Britain would have lost the war. From Sept. 1939 to August 1940 the British ordered 95% of all American exports of planes and 90% of its firearms, munitions, and explosives.

Britain was going broke, so in March 1941 Congress passed "H.R. 1776", the Lend Lease measure.

August 1941, FDR and Churchill met in Newfoundland and signed the Atlantic Charter, which stated that all countries will be treated fairly, equally, can chose their own form of government, will have sovereign rights, etc. The Soviet Union soon endorsed the Atlantic Charter.

July 1941, the American Navy reached Iceland to supplement, and ultimately replace, the British forces. In September German U-boats began torpedoing American warships. Congress repealed parts of the 1939 Neutrality Act, authorizing the arming of American merchant ships. (became law 11/17/41). The U.S. was on the verge of complete participation in the war.

Chapter 11 - "The Rising Sun of Japan"

Dec. 7, 1941, 8:10 am - Japan bombs Pearl Harbor.