World War II

Week 4 Discussion: World War II


Required Resources
Read/review the following resources for this activity:

  • Textbook: Chapter 5, 6
  • Lesson
  • Minimum of 1 scholarly source (in addition to the textbook)

Initial Post Instructions
For the initial post, select and respond to one of the following options:

  • Option 1: Examine one or more major battles, including  both the Axis and Allies strategies, the outcome of the battles, and the  subsequent effects of the victory/defeat. Include an examination of the  technologies that were crucial factors in the battle.
  • Option 2: Examine the Nazi ideology in wiping out an entire ethnic group.
    • How could any modern and so-called advanced and evolved nation like  Germany go along so willingly with the mass murder of at least 11  million civilians?
    • How were the Germans able to construct the facilities they built for  their “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” so as to commit genocide  on an industrial scale?

Follow-Up Post Instructions
Respond to at least  two peers or one peer and the instructor. At least one of your responses  should be to a peer who chose an option different from yours. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification.

Writing Requirements



Option 1: The Battle Of Midway

The Battle of Midway was a naval battle between the United States and  Japan. Occurring in the Pacific Ocean, almost midway between Japan and  the US, the US had a supreme advantage in terms of communication. Prior  to the battle, intelligence officers were able to break part of the  Japanese code and determine the usage of the codeword AF that described  the location of Midway, as well as figuring out the exact date the  attack was planned. The US naval forces were able to prepare in advance,  and have the Japanese fleet on some of their terms. Japan’s goal was  the continued conquest of space in the Pacific. They had taken up space  in the islands directly east of Japan, such as Singapore and Malaysia,  and following this trend, they wanted to isolate Australia and India  from the rest of the war and establish new bases in the Pacific (Battle  of Midway, 2020).

On June 4, Japan launched an attack on the US base of Midway, and  were met quickly after by the US navy. Torpedo-bombers and dive-bombers  were used in the fight, and the battle lasted a quick three days. The US  won, with Japanese losses being much heavier. This battle stopped the  Japanese momentum throughout the Pacific, one of their first naval  losses, and allowed the US to gain ground on Japan (The National WWII  Museum, 2017). The Japanese lost many trained pilots that could not be  replaced, and plans to further capture islands in the Pacific were  completely halted.

The main reason the US had such an advantage was due to the  intelligence officers. By decoding messages and understanding plans  months beforehand, the US were able to adequately prepare for the worst  and minimize losses. The use of the radio was extremely important in  this battle. New types of warfare were introduced over the course of  WWII as well, with different tactics being used to take control of the  sea and sky.



One of the major battles of World War II (WWII) was The Battle of the Bulge  (December 16, 1944 – January 1945). Winston Churchill coined the  battle, also referred to as The Battle of the Ardennes, “the greatest  American battle of the war” (, 2020, p. 1). Fought in the  Ardennes region of Belgium, the battle was Germany’s final major  offensive against the Western Front in WWI (, 2020). Hitler’s  goal was to divide the Allies in their advance toward Germany and push  them away from his home territory. In the end, German troops failed to  divide the Allied forces (Great Britain, France, and the United States)  (, 2020).

The German’s first strategy lie in their chosen location – the  thickly wooded, hilly country of the Ardennes, often considered to be  difficult terrain and thus an unlikely choice for a large-scale  offensive (Britannica, 2020). Under the overall command of Field  Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt, the German strategy was to advance to  Antwerp, Belgium, catch the Allies by complete surprise, separate the  British army from American troops and supplies, and then overtake the  isolated British forces. The Allies, taken by surprise by this German  counteroffensive, were left alarmed and confused (Britannica, 2020).

Other strategies employed by the Germans included using captured  and/or stolen U.S. Army uniforms, weapons, and jeeps to further confuse  the Allied forces. In Operation Greif, as this secret-mission was  called, English-speaking German troops infiltrated the Allied troops,  posed as G.I.s, cut communication lines, changed road signs, and spread  misinformation, successfully increasing confusion and terror among the  Allied soldiers (, 2020).

To end this infiltration of German troops, the Allies utilized  strategies to stop the imposters. U.S. troops set up checkpoints and  grilled suspected Germans with American trivia questions ranging from  state capitals to American pop culture and baseball (, 2020).  These German imposters were then classified as spies under the rules of  the Hague Convention and subjected to immediate court martial,  deliberation by American officers, and death by firing squad  (, 2020).

Another Allied strategy was their famous defense of the small, pivotal town of Bastogne. Calling in the famed 101st  Airborne Division in December allowed the Allies to hold Bastogne  through Christmas. Eisenhower then sent General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army with approximately 230,000 troops into the city to victoriously punch through German lines (, 2020).

One of the technologies crucial in the battle utilized by the Germans  was the use of a new generation of “King Tiger” tanks, more powerful  than anything the Allies could counter (Duiker, 2015). To combat this  technology, the Allies destroyed millions of gallons of gas so Germans  could not use it and by Christmas the Germans tanks were useless  (, 2020).

The German’s failure to divide and conquer the Allies with their  Ardennes offensive paved the way for Allied victory. By January 1945,  the Allies claimed victory, having pushed the Germans back to their  original position. In his 1969 book, The Bitter Woods, John  S.D. Eisenhower wrote “…it can be said that the Ardennes campaign  epitomized them (WWII battles) all. For it was here that American and  German combat soldiers met in the decisive struggle that broke the back  of the Nazi war machine” (, 2020, p. 4.) Germany lost 120,000  men and stores of material resources it could not afford to replace  (, 2020).

lessons :


The European Front

After less than a year in office, Hitler began a campaign to revise  the Versailles Treaty. He boasted that his was the Third Reich, or  empire, that would last for a thousand years, like the centuries-long  Holy Roman Empire and the short-lived German Empire of 1871-1918. Hitler  withdrew Germany from the League of Nations, renounced the Versailles  Treaty, and rearmed Germany. In 1936, he marched troops into the  Rhineland, an area that had been demilitarized after World War I. During  the next two years, Europe sat back as Hitler annexed Austria and  threatened Poland. The Western powers attempted to appease Hitler at the  Munich Conference and thought, unrealistically, that he would stop with  the annexation of the Sudatenland, the western area of Czechoslovakia  that bordered Germany. However, by March 1939, Hitler had taken over the  rest of Czechoslovakia. Some months later, Hitler and Stalin signed the  Nazi-Soviet pact, by which they both agreed not to fight each other if  one went to war. This paved the way for Germany’s invasion of Poland in  September 1939. World War II had begun.

Warsaw, Poland, contained the largest Jewish ghetto. Although the  term is used differently today, a ghetto was an area of the city in  which Jews were segregated from other cultures. While this occurred in  times and places such as 16th and 17th century Venice and Rome, Nazi  segregation of the Jews made it easier to transport Jews to death camps.  The Nazis started setting up what was left of this part of Warsaw right  after the Poles surrendered in late September of 1939, indicating that  there had been more than a little advanced planning on at least  segregating the Jews of Europe, country by country.

Watch the following video on the Warsaw Ghetto with images and  recited quotes from ghetto diaries. Consider what emotional and  psychological effects some of the restrictions, such as a ban on  marriages or the inability to obtain a calendar, would have on those  restricted to the ghetto.

A Day in the Warsaw Ghetto (clip) (9:45)

Click on the following link to access the transcript:

Within nine months of Germany’s invasion of Poland, the Nazis  occupied most of Western Europe. By the fall of 1940, Britain stood  alone, taking the brunt of the German air raids. The British, under  their wartime leader, Winston Churchill, bravely held on. Hitler, unable  to defeat England by air, turned eastward and initiated a land invasion  against the Soviet Union in June 1941, thereby breaking the mutual  non-aggression pact of 1939. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union and  Great Britain became allies against Nazi Germany. Then, in December  1941, Japan attacked American airbases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The  United States immediately declared war on Japan and Germany.

At first, the European Axis powers – Germany and Italy – were  victorious, but in the fall of 1942, the Allies – Britain, the Soviet  Union, and the United States – began to turn the tide. In the Pacific,  Allied forces won the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. In North  Africa, British and American forces, led by General Dwight Eisenhower,  soon trapped Rommel’s army, and he surrendered in May 1943. With North  Africa under their control, the Allies crossed the Mediterranean and  landed in Sicily. Allied victories in Italy led to the overthrow of  Mussolini but fighting continued for another year. On the Eastern front,  the Soviet army defeated the Germans at the Battle of Stalingrad. On  June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded Normandy. D-Day had begun. As the  Allies advanced, Germany reeled from incessant, around-the-clock  bombing. A German counterattack, the Battle of the Bulge, resulted in  terrible losses on both sides. However, with Germany’s defeat seeming  inevitable, the Big Three – Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin – met at  Yalta to decide the map of postwar Europe.

In Europe, World War II officially ended on May 9, 1945, or VE Day.  The Allies were able to defeat the Axis powers for many reasons.

  1. The Axis powers had to fight on several fronts, which weakened their position.
  2. Hitler severely underestimated the strength and the ability of the Soviet Army.
  3. The entrance of the United States into the war tipped the balance of power towards the Allies.

By the same year, the world had witnessed some of the most brutal  examples of human behavior in history. Few were prepared for the shock  of the Nazi death camps, however. It became known, gradually, that the  Nazis had rounded up Jewish people who lived in Germany and Eastern  Europe and transported them to extermination camps. The Nazis called it  the Final Solution, but the world called it the Holocaust.

The following map shows areas of occupation with routes of  deportation to Auschwitz. It also includes points for other  concentration camps, major extermination camps, and major ghettos.


World War II: European Theater

World War II is really a tale of 2 very different wars, all contained  in the same overall war. The first 3 years or so the Axis powers were  almost unbeatable, and the allies recoiled and retreated time after  time. Around the mid-point of the war, the tide turned suddenly, and the  Axis fortunes went downhill while the allies went on the offensive.

Click through the following timeline to identify important points in the European Theater:


The Holocaust


In the assignment this week, we will look at ways people have dealt  with and expressed their experiences or others’ experiences during WWII,  specifically about/during the Holocaust. The following video clip shows  how an artist translates her mother’s experience by depicting an uncle  she never met. What effect does the repeated image have on the viewer?

Finding Kalman – Depicting the Holocaust (10:41)

Click on the following link to access the transcript:

Watch the following video on the U.S.  Holocaust Memorial Museum. Consider how museums help us preserve and  retell the stories from the past. How does it go beyond a history text  in connecting people to the past?

Sunday Morning, Remembrance (5:56)

Optional Video

If you would like to learn more about the Holocaust, watch a clip  from this documentary, which details how some were able to escape the  concentration camp at Auschwitz:


The War in the Pacific

We have already seen that Allied forces began to win significant  battles in the Pacific at Midway and at the Coral Sea. Although Germany  was defeated, the Allies still had to defeat the Japanese in the  Pacific. By May 1942, the Japanese had gained control of the  Philippines, killing thousands during the Bataan Death March. However,  after victories at Midway and the Coral Sea, the United States, under  General Douglas MacArthur, began to recapture islands from the Japanese.  These served as stepping-stones to the final objective – Japan. Bombers  pounded Japanese cities and industries. At the same time, the British  pushed Japanese forces back into the jungles of Burma and Malaya.

In early 1945, bloody battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa showed that the  Japanese would fight to the death, rather than surrender. Some became  kamikaze pilots and flew their planes into United States ships. Although  military leaders such as MacArthur planned to invade Japan, scientists  offered another way to end the war. A secret research project,  code-named the Manhattan Project, led to the building of the atomic  bomb. On August 6, 1945, President Harry S. Truman gave final approval  to drop the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On  August 10, 1945, Japan formally surrendered and ended World War II.

Watch the following video about two artists who depicted the  aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. Think about how they intended to  capture beauty in the chaos and horror of death and destruction. Why  might survivors need to convey this aspect of life?


World War II Pacific Theater

Click through the following timeline to identify important points in the Pacific Theater:

Complete Answer:

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