7. WORLD WAR II—
THE ROAD TO WAR
OVERVIEW OF THE VIDEO
“The Road to War” chronicles the world
events that ultimately led to World War II.
Included are the rise of Adolf Hitler and
his Nazi party in post-World War I
Europe; the rise of Communism, Fascism,
and National Socialism; American isola-
tionism, including the lend-lease program;
fighting in Europe, including the German
Blitzkrieg; and the Holocaust. The program
culminates with the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and
America’s declaration of war. In the tradi-
tion of America in the 20th Century, “The Road to War” provides a visually rich,
compelling survey of these important events.
NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR HISTORY
(From The National Center for History in the Schools, Basic Edition, 1996. Found
U.S. History—Era 8—Standard 3:
The causes and course of World War II, the character of the war at home and
abroad, and its reshaping of the U.S. role in world affairs.
3A–The student understands the international background of World
appeasement collectivization flotilla regime
Aryan demilitarized Holocaust reparations
Axis dictator Kristallnacht self-determination
Blitzkrieg embargo neutrality totalitarianism
©2004 World War II—The Road to War ✯ 39
BEFORE THE VIDEO
Review the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty that ended World War I, but that in
turn sowed the seeds of the coming war, before beginning the video. Emphasize:
✯ The treaty demanded that Germany pay reparations to the Allies, not just to pay
for repairs needed because of war damage, but to pay for the total cost of the war.
✯ German colonies were parceled out among the winning nations, but other coun-
tries were granted sovereignty, including Poland and Czechoslovakia. These coun-
tries occupied locations of prime interest to the larger nations surrounding them.
✯ Crippled by war debts, the economies of Germany and Italy fell apart. In the
midst of massive inflation, the people of these countries were starving, unem-
ployed, and desperate.
DURING THE VIDEO
There are natural PAUSE POINTS within this episode that separate the content
I had another into sections. Pause the video at these times for class discussion, using the following
questions as springboards.
talk with the
German 1. TIME CODE 10:14—The leaders of Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union, and Japan
all began aggressively moving on neighboring nations within a ten-year time span.
Chancellor Describe the varying motivations of Josef Stalin, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf
Herr Hitler…. Hitler, and compare them to the motives driving the Japanese military.
We regard the ANSWER: The forces motivating the Axis Powers included tyranny, barbarism, and
agreement empire building. Both Mussolini and Stalin forced the people of their countries to
grant them complete control, forming totalitarian regimes that redesigned the gov-
signed last ernments of their two countries. Their aggressive actions were designed to add to
night…as sym- their personal power. Hitler and the Japanese military used the theory of national-
ism, but in different ways—both as justification for their actions and as a rallying
bolic of the cry to gain popular support. Hitler, with his barbaric concept of the “Master Race,”
desire of our used anti-Semitism as a focus for domination. A military clique in Japan set out to
add to the Japanese Empire, invading China and Southeast Asia in the name of
two peoples expansionism and world conquest.
never to go to
2. TIME CODE 15:47—Both the Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime
war with one Minister Neville Chamberlain found to their cost that Adolf Hitler couldn’t be
trusted. How did Hitler betray the agreements he made with each of these leaders?
—Neville ANSWER: In the Munich Agreement, Hitler promised Chamberlain that, if he
Chamberlain, Britain’s were given the Sudetenland, he wouldn’t make any more territorial demands. In
Prime Minister spite of this appeasement, Hitler went on to take over the rest of Czechoslovakia.
Stalin and Hitler signed a non-aggression pact, which also promised the Soviet
Union territorial control of the eastern half of Poland and the Baltic states. Two
years later, Hitler sent three million German soldiers to invade Russia.
3. TIME CODE 24:08—What did British Prime Minister Winston Churchill mean
in his speech made to the House of Commons on August 7, 1940, following the
Battle of Britain, that “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by
40 ✯ America in the 20th Century ©2004
so many to so few”? What was owed? Who were the “many” he referred to, and
who were the “few”?
ANSWER: Churchill made this statement referring to the debt that all of Great
Britain owed to the Royal Air Force, which repelled the German Luftwaffe attacks
upon English soil.
In the same speech, Churchill went on to say, “The gratitude of every home in our
island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world except in the abodes of the “We shall
guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unweakened by defend our
their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by
their prowess and their devotion.” island, whatev-
er the cost may
AFTER THE VIDEO be. We shall
The episode ends with an on-screen Video Quiz, a series of True/False questions fight on the
(see page 46). This quiz may be copied for classroom use.
Video Quiz Answer Key shall fight on
1. T 2. F 3. T 4. T 5. F 6. F 7. T 8. T 9. F 10. T
For in-depth discussion:
1. How did the terms of the Treaty of Versailles affect the German people, making shall fight in
it easier for a strong leader to take control of the country? What do you think
made Adolf Hitler, who had been unsuccessful as a student, artist, and soldier,
the fields and
such a powerful leader? in the streets.
2. What were the motivations behind American isolationists like Charles
We shall fight
Lindbergh and others? Why were they so opposed to the United States giving in the hills. We
aid such as arms and other supplies to Great Britain and France?
shall never sur-
3. How did President Franklin Roosevelt use the Lend-Lease Act to get around the render.”
Neutrality Acts of 1935, which stopped the sale of arms or loan of money to
nations at war?
Prime Minister (June
EXTENDING THE LESSON 4, 1940—in his
address to the House
Research topics for either group or individual study. of Commons follow-
ing the evacuation of
1. Time, Continuity, and Change. Compare and contrast Nazi persecution of soldiers at Dunkirk
Jews in the 1930s and 1940s with Saddam Hussein’s treatment of Muslims in and the fall of Paris)
Kuwait and Iraq in the 1980s and 1990s.
2. Viewpoints. Did the Covenant of the League of Nations, written at the end of
the First World War, address the issue of human rights? How did it compare to
the four freedoms of the Atlantic Charter, signed by FDR and Winston
Churchill in 1941, and in the Declaration of the United Nations of 1942?
Describe other differences in the documents, and cite world events that influ-
enced each change.
©2004 World War II—The Road to War ✯ 41
3. Political Perspectives. Compare British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s
arguments for appeasement of the Nazis with his political rival Winston
Churchill’s stand against it. How does history view Chamberlain’s effectiveness
as a leader, compared to Churchill’s? Describe the events and political climate
of April 1940, when the ministry changed hands.
4. Presidential Focus. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first (and last) U.S.
president to serve more than two consecutive terms of office. What were his
reasons for seeking a third and then a fourth term? In retrospect, do you think
it was a wise decision? What was the justification behind the 22nd
5. History and Technology. What advances in technology contributed to the cre-
“December 7, ation of weapons used in Hitler’s Blitzkrieg? How did the German “Lightning
War” take the Allies by surprise at the Maginot Line on the French/German
1941, a date border? Compare the effects of Blitzkrieg on general warfare to that of sub-
which shall live marines on naval warfare during World War I.
in infamy.” 6. Signs of the Times. The British not only used new RADAR technology to
—President Franklin detect Luftwaffe planes coming over the English Channel during the Battle of
Delano Roosevelt (fol- Britain, they are also renowned for their skills in code-breaking—translating
lowing the Japanese coded messages used by the Nazis in communicating troop movements.
attack on Pearl Research the group of British counter-espionage agents who risked their lives
Harbor) gathering pieces of information, as well as the scientists who then used that
information to break enemy codes. Describe the events of this real-life spy story.
7. Curriculum Connection (Government). Compare/contrast the following sys-
tems of government that existed prior to World War II: Communism, Fascism,
and National Socialism. Who were the leaders of each system at this time, and
how were the philosophies behind each type of government directed by these
leaders’ personal agendas? Do any of these systems of government still exist
8. Your Region in History. Isolationist Americans like Charles Lindbergh were
concerned about the Roosevelt Administration’s push to enter the fight against
the Axis powers. They formed the America First Committee (AFC) in
September 1940, organized into 450 local chapters with more than 800,000
members across the United States. Investigate the presence of America First
Committees in your state or region prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Who
were some of the prominent members? What actions did they take to gain sup-
port for their cause?
9. Career Exploration (Foreign Language Interpreter). The skills of foreign lan-
guage interpreters were vital to the Allied defense during World War II. Today,
knowledge of one or more foreign languages can be used to supplement many
career choices, such as in the fields of diplomacy, law enforcement, sales, and
engineering. Describe these career opportunities. What education and job skills
are necessary for someone interested in these careers?
42 ✯ America in the 20th Century ©2004
Deighton, Len. Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk. Edison,
N.J.: Castle Books, 2000.
(From the front flap) In Blitzkrieg, Len Deighton applies his encyclopedic
knowledge of the leaders, the weaponry, the strategy, and the tactics of World
War II to the horrendous blitz of 1940—Hitler and his generals unleashing a
new kind of warfare, characterized by the unprecedented coordination of tanks,
infantry, and aircraft, and above all, by
“lightning speed,” Nazi troops sweep-
ing across a dazed Europe, Poland
grabbed in eighteen days, the Maginot
Line breached, France and the Low
Countries subdued, Britain exposed and
alone . . . .
Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz. New
York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
(From Amazon.com) In 1943, Primo
Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist
and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,”
was arrested by Italian fascists and
deported from his native Turin to
Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in
the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miracu-
lous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint, compassion, and even
wit, Survival in Auschwitz remains a lasting testament to the indestructibility of
the human spirit. Included in this new edition is an illuminating conversation
between Philip Roth and Primo Levi never before published in book form.
Meacham, John. Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship.
New York: Random House, 2003.
(From Publisher’s Weekly) Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek (editor,
Voices in Our Blood), delivers an eloquent, well-researched account of one of the
20th century’s most vital friendships: that between FDR and Winston
Churchill. Both men were privileged sons of wealth, and both had forebears (in
Churchill’s case, Leonard Jerome) prominent in New York society during the
19th century. Both enjoyed cocktails and a smoke. And both were committed
to the Anglo-American alliance . . . . One comes away from this account con-
vinced of the “Great Personality” theory of history and gratified that Roosevelt
and Churchill possessed the character that they did and came to power at a
time when no other partnership would do.
Prange, Gordon W. At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor. New York:
Penguin Books, 1991.
(From the back cover) At 7:53 a.m., December 7, 1941, America’s national
consciousness and confidence were rocked as the first wave of Japanese war-
planes took aim at the U.S. Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. As intense
and absorbing as a suspense novel, At Dawn We Slept is the unparalleled and
exhaustive account of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is widely
©2004 World War II—The Road to War ✯ 43
regarded as the definitive assessment of the events surrounding one of the most
daring and brilliant naval operations of all time. Through extensive research
and interviews with American and Japanese leaders, Gordon W. Prange has
written a remarkable historical account of the assault that—60 years later—
America cannot forget.
Sebag-Montefiore, Hugh. Enigma: The Battle for the Code. New York: John Wiley &
(From Booklist) Few of the great espionage successes of the 20th century were
engineered by dashing, James Bond-type agents. Rather, many of the “heroes”
of spying were anonymous people performing seemingly tedious tasks of gath-
ering countless bits of information, analyzing them, and trying to assemble
coherent conclusions from them . . . . The result is a real-life thriller that
should entice historians, fans of the spy genre, and ordinary readers who appre-
ciate a tense, dramatic, and superbly told story.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, WPA
Poster Collection, [LC-USZC2-921 DLC]]
44 ✯ America in the 20th Century ©2004
Note: Teachers should preview all sites to ensure they are age-appropriate for their
students. At the time of publication, all URLs were valid.
The official Web site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in
Washington, D.C. has many resources for teachers striving to help students learn
the history of the Holocaust and reflect upon the moral and ethical questions raised
by that history.
This Official Royal Air Force Web site offers a complete history of this branch of
the British government—including the following section that chronicles the events
of the Battle of Britain—and also provides links to related sites. Found at:
Read “Put that Light Out!,” the remembrances of Patricia Hardy, who was eight
years old during the air raids of the Battle of Britain. This narrative describes every-
day life in London during the air raids, including rationing, victory gardens, Nazi
“doodlebug” rockets, and shelters, and provides links to war posters, recipes, and
photographs of London during the blitz.
History Link 101 is a resource site for World History Classes. It is divided into six
categories for each culture or time period. The categories are art, biographies, daily
life, maps, pictures, and research. Each site is rated on clarity and amount of images
and content based on amount and depth of material. The following section pro-
vides links and ratings for Web content that describes both Soviet aggressions before
the U.S.S.R. joined with the Allies and German/Soviet battles on the Eastern Front.
This lesson plan from the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA)
allows teachers to explore the friendship that sprang up between Franklin Delano
Roosevelt and Winston Churchill through the study of authentic documents of the
time, including the Atlantic Charter.
©2004 World War II—The Road to War ✯ 45
VIDEO QUIZ: WORLD WAR II—THE ROAD TO WAR
Read each of the following statements and circle T if it is true, or F if it is false.
T F 1. The Treaty of Versailles contributed to unrest throughout Europe.
T F 2. Benito Mussolini used collectivization to take over farmlands in the Soviet
T F 3. Hitler believed the welfare of the country was more important than personal
T F 4. In the Holocaust, the Nazis murdered millions of Jews and others.
T F 5. China’s invasion of Manchuria was its first step toward dominating Japan.
T F 6. The German military strategy Kristallnacht exploited new advances in tanks,
artillery, and air power.
T F 7. After months of fighting in the Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill asked for
the United States’ assistance, and the U.S. agreed to offer supplies.
T F 8. Ignoring their nonaggression pact, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.
T F 9. The Munich Agreement brought together 26 countries, collectively known
as the Allied Powers.
T F 10. As it was holding peace talks with the United States, Japan was secretly plan-
ning an attack on Pearl Harbor.
46 ✯ America in the 20th Century ©2004