American leaders had tried to stay out of the trouble in Europe, but by 1940, they began to prepare for war. Mussolini had remained neutral as Hitler conquered most of Europe, until the Nazis invaded France. Then Mussolini joined forces with Germany and France was defeated. Great Britain remained the only country in Europe that could fight against the Germans.
- While some Americans shared Germany’s anti-Semitic views, many people were increasingly outraged over events in Europe and Asia. In 1937, Japan bombed the city of Shanghai in China. Newspapers carried photos showing the devastation there.
- In 1940, Hitler promised to invade and conquer London. The first step was to destroy British airfields so British fighter planes couldn’t take off. The Royal Air Force fought courageously.
- On September 7, 1940, German planes bombed London. This event was known as the Blitz. All through that winter and spring, German planes bombed British cities at night. A total of 127 raids causes terrible damage and killed more than 60,000 civilians. In the end, though, Hitler gave up his plans to invade Great Britain although German submarines continued to prey on British ships in the North Atlantic. President Roosevelt issued orders for U.S. navy ships to fire on any German submarines they spotted.
- In May 1940, Congress approved funds to build up the U.S. military; Congress later agreed to lend British troops weapons and supplies.
- In September 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan had agreed to work together if America declared war on any of them. Then on December 7, 1941, 400 Japanese planes bombed a U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. The bombers destroyed 177 U.S. planes and 19 ships. 2,403 men were killed.
- President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war. Americans were angry, but also afraid. German U-boats sunk 100 Allied cargo ships every month and could be sighted off the coasts of the eastern United States. Americans on the west coast feared attack from Japanese fighter planes. Suddenly the war seemed very close.
- Anti-Semitic: a bias or hatred for anyone of Jewish descent
- U-boat: German submarine
- Neutral: to take no side
Questions and Answers
Question:How did the British survive Germany’s air attacks?
Answer: They created warning systems so they knew when an air raid was coming. In some cases, the warning system was simply one person keeping watch. This person would then whistle or yell. In some cases, children had this job. Black curtains were hung over windows so the Germans couldn’t see city lights at night. During an air raid, people went to underground cement bunkers for protection. Many families sent their children to live in the countryside with strangers, where the Germans were less likely to strike. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, is a fantasy story about one family’s adventure during this time.
Visit the BBC to learn more about the 800,000 children who were evacuated from London and other cities.
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Declan, Tobin. " Fun Facts about World War II - America Involvement ." American History for Kids, May 2019. Web. 20 May 2019. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/world-war-ii-america-gets-involved/ >.
APA Style Citation
Tobin, Declan. (2019). Fun Facts about World War II - America Involvement. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/world-war-ii-america-gets-involved/