COVID-19 and DCA
World War II Posters and Publications
Scope and Contents
- 1939 -- 1945
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
The beginnings of the war are thought to have taken root in the signing of the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact, which gave the German dictator Adolf Hitler confidence to invade Poland without fear of Soviet interference. As the war in Europe progressed, a large part of continental Europe fell under German control, and the Axis alliance was formed between Germany, Italy, and Japan; subsequent declarations of war were launched by both Great Britain and France. In the United States, the December1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor (Oahu, Hawai’i) quickly swayed public opinion in favor of entering the war; the United States declared war on Japan, and the European Axis Powers subsequently declared war on the United States.
The Japanese had several victories in the Western Pacific, but the tide turned toward an Allied Victory when the U.S. Pacific Fleet won the Battle of Midway, and adapted an “island-hopping” strategy that moved them ever closer to the Japanese homeland. The German and Italian Axis Powers began to struggle with a string of defeats, losing to British and American forces in North Africa, and then being defeated in the Battle of Stalingrad (Russia, August, 1942-February, 1943). On June 6, 1944, known as “D-Day,” Allied forces invaded German-occupied France by landing 156,000 soldiers on the beaches of Normandy, which caused Hitler to move his forces to Western Europe, and effectively lose the war in the East. This was followed by aerial bombardment, the Allied invasion of Germany, and the formal surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945.
The war culminated with the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945. Japan initially refused to surrender under these terms, which led to the United States dropping atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan issued an announcement on August 15, 1945 that they would accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, thus concluding an Allied victory.
The war’s legacy included the establishment of the United Nations, in order to uphold international peace and security. It also resulted in the spread of communism from the Soviet Union into Eastern Europe and China, as well as a shift in power to the United States and the Soviet Union as rival superpowers, which would face off in the Cold War.
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