Unit 13: World War II

Essential Questions

  • How did the Versailles Treaty lead to World War II?
  • How could the use of the first atomic bomb be considered a turning point in United States history?
  • Why is World War II considered a "total war" affecting all aspects of American life?


A. Origins of the war

  1. The Versailles Treaty
  2. The Great Depression
  3. Rise of totalitarianism; expansionism and persecution
  4. The rearming of Germany
  5. Isolationism
  6. Failure of the League of Nations

B. Prewar alliances

  1. Axis powers
  2. Allied powers
  3. Role of the United States

C. Failure of peace

  1. Aggression by Germany in Europe, Italy in Europe and Africa, and Japan in Asia
  2. Appeasement; Chamberlain in Munich
  3. German attack on Poland; World War II begins
  4. United States role to 1941— guarded isolation, aid to allies

D. The United States in World War II

  1. Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
  2. A two-front war
    • Europe—Eisenhower
    • Pacific—MacArthur

E. New aspects of the war

  1. German blitzkrieg
  2. Aerial bombing
  3. New technology and its impact on people and the physical environment
  4. Atomic bomb—the Manhattan Project
  5. The Nazi Holocaust
  6. Concept of unconditional surrender

F. The home front

  1. Total mobilization of resources
  2. Rationing
  3. Role of women
  4. War bonds
  5. Internment to incarceration of Japanese-Americans
  6. Limited progress toward economic, political, and social equality for black Americans, i.e., Roosevelt's Executive Order 8802

G. End of the war

  1. Allied agreement—Yalta Conference
  2. Defeat of Germany
  3. Defeat of Japan

H. Impact of the war

  1. Entire countries were physically and demographically devastated—effects of physical and human geographic factors
  2. Millions of families suffered the loss of loved ones
  3. The Nazi Holocaust—Hitler's "Final Solution"; worldwide horror; human rights violations
  4. United States response to the Holocaust: Fort Ontario; Oswego, New York
  5. The Nuremberg Trials
  6. Global impact; rise of nationalism in Africa and Asia
  7. Advent of the United Nations
  8. Advent of the nuclear age