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When did World War II begin?
World War II formally began on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland without a formal declaration of war. In support of their mutual defense treaty obligations with Poland, France and Great Britain issued ultimatums to Hitler for the immediate withdrawal of German forces from Poland. When the ultimatum deadlines expired, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 2, 1939.

When did the United States enter World War II?
On December 7, 1941 Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, inflicting heavy casualties and severe damage to the United States naval forces anchored there. Before a Joint Session of Congress on December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the attack "a date which will live in infamy." Later that day, the United States formally declared that a state of war existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

When did America declare war on Germany?
As a result of the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan (commonly known as the "Axis "), Germany and Italy declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941. Later that same day, the United States formally declared that a state of war existed with Germany and Italy.

When were Japanese Americans interned?
In the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 empowering military authorities to relocate residents of "military areas" to prevent sabotage and espionage. Although there were no reliable reports that Japanese-Americans on the United States West Coast presented a subversive threat, on March 2, 1942 the military declared California, Oregon and Washington State strategic areas from which Americans of Japanese decent were to be excluded. More than 110,000 Japanese-Americans (64% of whom were American-born citizens) were required to abandon their homes and jobs and to live in 10 relocation camps. The United States Supreme Court finally ruled that continued detention without cause was unconstitutional, and the military relocation order was rescinded in December 1944.

Did Japanese-Americans fight for the United States during World War II?
Despite discrimination and internment at home, Japanese-Americans served in the United States armed forces in great numbers with distinction and valor. For example, the 100th Battalion, composed of Japanese-Americans from Hawaii, suffered such a high rate of casualties in the 1944 Italian campaign that they were called the "Purple Heart Battalion."

The survivors of the 100th were integrated into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and continued to sustain heavy casualties until the war's end. The unit won many commendations for valor, including a Congressional Medal of Honor, and became the most decorated unit in United States history. A recent review resulted in a decision to award 21 more Congressional Medals of Honor to members of the unit.

What restrictions were placed on Italians during World War II? 
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, approximately 600,000 Italian legal aliens in the United States were placed under restrictions. Among the restrictions were prohibitions on travel more than five miles from home; curfews from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.; confiscation of shortwave radios, firearms, cameras, flashlights, and other "signaling devices"; and evacuation from coastal towns.

About 1,600 Italians were interned in a network of camps across the United States, but primarily in Missoula, Montana. The restrictions against the Italians were lifted in October 1942, although it was not until the Italian surrender in September 1943 that most internees were released.

What restrictions were placed on Germans in the United States during World War II? 
Restrictions similar to those imposed on Italian legal aliens were also placed on German legal aliens in the United States during World War II. Such restrictions included curfews, confiscation of personal property, travel restriction, and evacuation from coastal towns. Approximately 10,905 Germans were interned in camps across the United States, including Missoula , Montana and Crystal City, Texas. The last German internees were released in 1948.

What major conferences were held during World War II?

Location: PLACENTIA BAY, Newfoundland, Canada
Date:08/9/41 - 8/12/41
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill
Major Decisions:Agreement on war aims. Atlantic Charter.

Location:WASHINGTON, D.C., USA (first)
Date:12/22/41 - 01/14/42
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill
Major Decisions:Anglo-U.S. War Council places first priority on Atlantic theater of war. 26 nations sign United Nations Declaration. Combined Chiefs of Staff created. Establishment of the unity of command principle for all Anglo-American ground, naval and air forces.

Location:WASHINGTON, D.C., USA (second)
Date:06/25/42 - 06/27/42
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill
Major Decisions:Subjects discussed: war production, shipping, aid for China, diversion of German strength from Eastern Front, North African invasion.

Date: July 1942
Main Participants:The Combined Chiefs of Staff
Major Decisions:The Combined Chiefs of Staff decided to postpone Second Front in Europe and an offensive in the Pacific. Instead, Anglo-American forces to invade North Africa.

Date:8/12/42 - 8/17/42
Main Participants:Harriman, Churchill, Stalin
Major Decisions:Discussion of 2nd front & reasons for invasion of North Africa over invasion of France.

Date:01/14/43 - 01/24/43
Code Name: SYMBOL
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill
Major Decisions:Plans for invasion of Sicily. Decision for cross-Channel invasion in 1944. Stepped-up Battle of the Atlantic. "Unconditional surrender" declaration by Roosevelt.

Location:WASHINGTON, D.C., USA (third)
Date:05/11/43 - 05/25/43
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill
Major Decisions:Plans for further pressure in Italy. Increased air attack on Germany. Stepped-up war in the Pacific. Invasion of France.

Location:QUEBEC, CANADA (first)
Date:08/17/43 - 08/24/43
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill
Major Decisions:"Final" decision to invade France. Reorganization of Southeast Asia command. Signing of secret Quebec Agreement concerning development of atomic bomb.

Date:10/18/43 - 11/01/43
Main Participants:Foreign ministers; Hull, Eden, Molotov
Major Decisions:Declaration with China on postwar security and cooperation. Establishment of European Advisory Council. Advisory Council for Italy. Democratic regime for Austria. Punishment of war criminals. Assurances to Moscow of Allied invasion of France in Spring or Summer 1944.

Location:WASHINGTON, D.C. (USA) 
Date:November 9, 1943 
Main Participants: Representatives from 44 Allied Nations
Major Decisions: Creation of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to provide economic assistance to liberated nations and repatriate and assist refugees.  

Location:CAIRO, EGYPT (first)
Date:11/22/43 - 11/26/43
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek
Major Decisions:Agreement on military operations against the Japanese in China. Manchuria promised to China. Free Korea. FDR advises Churchill that Eisenhower will command invasion of France.

Date:11/28/43 - 12/01/43
Code Name:EUREKA
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin
Major Decisions:First meeting of the "Big Three" Agreement on date of invasion of Western Europe (Operation Overlord). USSR agrees to Eastern Offensive at time of Overlord. USSR to enter war against Japan after Germany defeated. Postwar division of Germany into occupation zones. Initial discussions on structure of the United Nations. Declaration on Iran. Aid for Tito and Yugoslav Partisans.

Location:CAIRO, EGYPT (second)
Date:12/02/43 - 12/07/43
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill, Pres. Inonu of Turkey
Major Decisions:Turkish agreement to complete Allied air bases. Scaling down of Burma offensive due to Overlord.

Date:07/1/44 - 07/21/44
Main Participants: Representatives from 44 nations. 
Major Decisions: Drew up plans for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (or World Bank) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Discussions regarding creation of what later became International Trade Organization. 

Date:08/21/44 - 10/07/44
Main Participants:Delegates from 39 nations.
Major Decisions:Agreement as to structure of the United Nations organization, including a General Assembly, a Security Council with five permanent members, and an International Court of Justice.

Location:QUEBEC, CANADA (second)
Date:09/11/44 - 09/16/44
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill
Major Decisions:Agreement as to increased British participation in the Pacific War and acceptance of the "Morgenthau Plan" for economic structure of post-war Germany.

Location:MALTA, Mediterranean Island
Date:01/30/45 - 02/02/45
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill
Major Decisions:Preparatory discussions for Yalta Conference. Agreement to redeploy certain Allied forces from Greece and Italy to northwest Europe.

Location:YALTA, USSR
Date:02/04/45 - 02/11/45
Main Participants:Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin
Major Decisions:Agreement on strategy for final phase of European War. Issuance of Declaration on Liberated Europe. Discussion of structure of post-war Polish government and boundaries, with secret agreement on non-recognition of Polish government in exile in London. Secret agreement between FDR and Stalin about USSR's entry in war against Japan, including concessions to USSR of Japanese territory. Agreement as to voting rights in United Nations and decision to call United Nations Conference in San Francisco in April 1945.

Date:04/25/45 - 06/26/45
Main Participants:Representatives of 50 nations.
Major Decisions:United Nations Security Charter signed by delegates following resolution of issues such as use of veto in Security Council, treatment of refugees, and regional collective security (UN charter goes into force on October 22, 1945 following ratification by necessary number of countries). Creation of Trusteeship Council to administer Axis Power colonies and other non-self-governing territories. Approval of Statute of International Justice governing World Court.

Date:07/17/45 - 08/02/45
Main Participants:Truman, Churchill, Stalin, Attlee
Major Decisions:Potsdam Declaration issued calling for unconditional surrender of Japan and setting forth other surrender terms, including the plan for occupation of post-war Japan and trial of Japanese war criminals. Declaration also created Council of Foreign Ministers to formalize European post-war peace terms; pledged destruction of Nazism in Germany and the trial of European war criminals; provided for reparations for the Soviet Union; and formally recognized Poland 's Warsaw government and western boundaries.

Who were "The Big Three"?
The "Big Three" was a term used after the summer of 1941 to denote the leaders of the three major powers opposing Germany, Italy, and Japan during World War II: Roosevelt (United States), Churchill (Great Britain), and Stalin (the Soviet Union). They term was also used in reference to the three Allied countries themselves. The Big Three was expanded to the Big Four when China joined the Allies, and the Big Four nations later played a major role in establishing the United Nations.

What was the Lend-Lease program?
In December 1940, Churchill advised FDR that Great Britain could not guarantee up-front payments for further arms and supplies after June 1941 as was required by United States law. Fearing the loss of Britain to Nazi Germany, FDR announced in a Fireside Chat on December 29, 1940 that America must become "the Arsenal of Democracy" through a Lend-Lease Program.

Lend-Lease was a method by which the United States could provide Great Britain and any other nation that the president decided was vital to US security, with arms, supplies and material.  Signed into law in March 1941, the Lend-Lease Act gave the President the discretion to set any repayment terms necessary in order to keep supplies flowing to nations needing them for survival without formally involving the United States as a belligerent.

In Press Conference No. 702 held on December 17, 1940, FDR described the Lend-Lease Program as similar to loaning a garden hose to a neighbor whose house was on fire, thereby protecting one's own house.

What was the Atlantic Charter?
The Atlantic Charter was the statement of principles agreed to by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill of Great Britain at their first wartime conference held on board naval vessels anchored Placentia Bay, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The Charter was not an official document, but rather a joint statement expressing the war aims of the two countries: one belligerent and one technically neutral.

The Charter expressed the two countries' beliefs in the rights of self-determination, of all people to live in freedom from fear and want, and of freedom of the seas, as well as the belief that all nations must abandon the use of force and work collectively in the fields of economics and security.

What role did FDR play in creating the atomic bomb?
Nuclear fission was discovered in February 1939 by scientists in Germany. FDR was informed personally of the discovery and its potential in October 1939 when scientist Alexander Sachs read aloud Albert Einstein's letter warning the president of fission's military implications. Based on Einstein's letter and concepts of scientists working in Britain, FDR set up a joint Anglo-American effort to produce atomic bombs for potential use during the war. The result was the Manhattan Project that would ultimately create the weapon. In August 1943 at the Quebec Conference, FDR and Churchill signed a secret agreement governing collaboration between the two countries on the development of the atomic bomb. FDR also foresaw that atomic weapons would become the basis for post-war military and diplomatic policy, and on September 18, 1944 he and Churchill signed the Hyde Park Aide-Memoire committing the two powers to a monopoly on atomic information in the hopes of keeping the peace in a post-war world. FDR did not live to see the use of the weapon in August 1945 against Japan.

What were the Four Freedoms?
In his Annual Message to Congress delivered on January 6, 1941 FDR warned the Congress and the nation of the peril faced by the United States and the world's democracies from the aggression abroad. Roosevelt declared that "in future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms." They are Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

The artist Norman Rockwell depicted each of the Four Freedoms in paintings later used by the Office of War Information for popular posters during WW II.

Who were FDR's commanders during World War II?

General Omar N. Bradley was General Eisenhower's top commander in the European theater. Bradley commanded the US First Army in the D-Day landings. Bradley led his Twelfth Army Group (later known as the Central Group of Armies) consisted of about one million men in over 40 combat divisions. The Twelfth Army Group invaded Normandy and liberated Paris, was the first to cross the Rhine into Central Germany, and the first Allied troops on the Western front to make contact with Soviet troops.

General Dwight David (Ike) Eisenhower was the Allied Commander in the European theater. In 1942, FDR selected Ike over 366 other senior officers to command US Army forces in Europe. He commanded forces in Operation Torch, the invasion of French Northwest Africa, and in 1943 his forces seized Sicily and invaded southern Italy. Ike earned high regard from FDR and Churchill because of his abilities to produce military victories, to work out differences between senior Allied officers, and to negotiate effective resolutions to diplomatic problems. In December 1943, FDR and Churchill entrusted Ike with the position of Supreme Allied Commander of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Europe.

Admiral William Frederick (Bull) Halsey, Jr. was a friend of FDR's from the days of Roosevelt's service as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Wilson Administration. Halsey took over the South Pacific command in 1942 playing a vital role in the victories at Guadalcanal, the Philippines, and Leyte Gulf. In March 1945, a month before FDR's death, the President awarded Halsey the Gold Star. Halsey's flagship the Battleship Missouri was the site of the formal Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945.

General Thomas Holcomb was appointed Commandant of the Marine Corps prior to WWII. He served in this capacity until he retired at the end of 1943.

Admiral Ernest J. King was appointed Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In March 1942, FDR made King Chief of Naval Operations, and he was the first officer to hold both positions simultaneously. King's strategic decisions included the battles of Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands that seriously weakened the Japanese naval power in the Pacific as well as the destroyer escort convoy system that defeated the German U-boat offensive in the Atlantic.

Admiral William Daniel Leahy was appointed Chief of Staff to the President in July 1942.

General Curtis E. LeMay became the commander of the 21st Bomber Command in the Pacific B29 offensive on Japan

General Douglas MacArthur retired as Chief of Staff of the army in late 1935. From autumn of 1935 until mid-1941 he served as military advisor to the Philippine Commonwealth. Roosevelt federalized the Philippine army in July 1941 and appointed MacArthur to command U.S. armed forces in the Far East. In 1942 MacArthur went to Australia and assumed command of Allied ground, sea, and air forces in the new Southwest Pacific Theater. He was elevated the five-star general in late 1944, and the following spring was named commander of all American Army forces in the Pacific. He was chosen by President Truman to be Supreme Allied Commander over the occupation of Japan, and he supervised the signing of the formal surrender on September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri.

Admiral Chester Nimitz was appointed commander of the Pacific fleet and Pacific Ocean areas after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On September 2, 1945, Nimitz signed the Japanese instrument of surrender as representative of the United States.

General George C. Marshall was appointed chief of staff for the army in 1939. He served FDR in that capacity until the President's death and continued under Truman until November 1945. Marshall accompanied FDR on all of his wartime conferences, and he was such a valuable military advisor that FDR chose Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe rather than Marshall so that Marshall would not leave Washington, DC. Upon the President's death Eleanor Roosevelt asked Marshall to arrange the details of the funeral.

General George S. Patton, Jr. commanded the Second U.S. Corps in Africa, the Seventh Army in the invasion of Sicily, and the Third Army in the French campaign.

General Henry Harley (Hap) Arnold was Chief/Commanding General, U.S. Army Air Corps/U.S. Army Air Forces, from 1938 to 1946.

Admiral Harold Raynsford Stark was FDR's Chief of Naval Operations at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, serving in that post from 1939 to 1942 at which time he was appointed to command US naval forces in Europe.

General Joseph Warren (Vinegar Joe) Stilwell commanded American forces in the China-Burma-India theater from 1942 to 1944. He commanded the Tenth US Army in Okinawa in 1945. Stilwell died of cancer in 1946, just five months prior to his retirement.

General Alexander Archer Vandegrift commanded troops at the successful invasions of Guadalcanal and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. In November 1943, he was appointed Commandant of the US Marine Corps. Vandegrift was the first Marine Corps officer to hold the rank of full general.

Russell Randolph Waesche was United States Coast Guard Commandant from 1936 to 1945. During World War II the Coast Guard was part of the Navy.

Who were the Tuskegee Airmen and what other roles did African Americans play in World War II?
The Tuskegee Airmen were African-American fighter pilots of the 99th Fighter Squadron who flew escort missions for American bombers during the Italian Campaign. They were called "Red Tailed Black Angels" by the bomber crews because they did not lose a single plane to German fighters.

While the Tuskegee Airmen are the most famous, by December 1945 over 2.5 million African-American men and women registered for the draft or volunteered for service. Unfortunately, at the outbreak of the war, discriminatory barriers were still in place in the armed forces, often keeping African-Americans in servile roles or denying them enlistment. In December 1942, FDR issued Executive Order 9279 forcing all services to end officially such restrictions. While change was slow, by the end of 1944 there were 700,000 African-Americans in the Army; 165,000 in the Navy; 5,000 in the Coast Guard; and 17,000 in the Marine Corps.

Also by the end of 1944, over 5,000 African-Americans were commissioned officers including Benjamin O. Davis, the first African-American general. On the Home Front, thousands of African-American men and women served their country by filling the gaps in the labor force left by men sent off to war.

What effects did World War II have on the United States Home Front?
World War II had many effects on the United States home front, including the following:

Increase production during wartime completed the economic recovery started by FDR's New Deal. However, with millions of American men entering the armed forces, a serious gap in the labor force occurred. This had serious implications for America's continued ability to produce war materials and other goods.

Women entered into the work force to replace the departed men. They worked in factories in many capacities, including as riveters, welders, and heavy machinery operators. While many African Americans also enlisted in the armed forces, many also entered the labor force at home in large numbers to replace enlisted workers. In the workplace, Americans were urged to work to their best abilities in support of the war effort and the troops overseas.

Like the factories, America's farms also suffered a labor shortage as a result of wartime enlistment. Here again, women took over tasks previously done by men. Farmers also used workers deferred from the military services.

Hollywood and the entertainment industry joined in the war effort, producing many patriotic movies and songs. The United Service Organization (USO) sent volunteer celebrities, such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Marlene Dietrich to perform for the troops, and provide recreation (Canteens) for off duty service men and women.

The war made many items scarce or unavailable, particularly items of Pacific origin such as sugar oil, fruit, and other fruit stuffs. New cars and appliances were not produced because factories were converted to the production of military equipment. Sugar, gasoline, and shoes were among the many items placed under severe rationing. Many Americans grew Victory gardens to produce vegetables and to increase the available food supply. The shortage of metal, rubber, and silk led to many scrap collection drives. Even fat from butcher shops was collected for use in making ammunitions.

Price Controls
Price controls were introduced to keep down the price of items that were in short supply as a result of the war.

Civil Defense
Blackouts were introduced along the United States coasts so enemy submarines could not use the lights to illuminate or pinpoint targets. Civil Defense Wardens enforced blackout compliance.

War Bonds
War Bonds and Stamps were sold to help pay for the war and to foster a sense of Home Front participation and sacrifice. . Schools and industries joined in supporting the many bond and stamp drives.

Prisoners of War
Many enemy prisoners of war were transported to the United States and housed in prison camps throughout the country.