Truman Essay, Research Paper
World War II began to take shape when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on
January 30, 1930. Soon after, the German Parliament suspended the constitution making Hitler
Fuhrer and dictator. Hitler was angered by the Treaty of Versailles and he blamed Germany?s
defeat on the Communists and the Jews. In 1934, Hitler announced a program of rearmament
that violated the Treaty of Versailles. At the same time Mussolini was building a powerful army
in Italy and threatened to invade Ethiopia. In may 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia and quickly
overwhelmed their weak defenses. This action made Congress pass a Neutrality Act that
authorized the president to stop all arms shipments to nations at war. In 1936, Mussolini joined
forces with Hitler to form the Rome-Berlin Axis.
During the buildup of the war the United States had the intention to stay neutral.
Roosevelt stated, ?We are not isolationists except in so far as we seek to isolate ourselves
completely from war.? Isolation policies became more difficult when Franco started a civil war
in Spain with the aid a Germany and Italy. Over 3000 Americans joined the loyalist cause and
fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to oppose fascism in Spain.
As a show of neutrality, the U.S. passed another Neutrality Act making it illegal for
American citizens to travel on ships of countries at war. This act also made nonmilitary items
available to other nations on a cash and carry basis only.
In 1936, Hitler seized the previously demilitarized zone of the Rhineland and in 1938 he
annexed Austria. Six months later he demanded the Sudetland which Britain and France granted
him in return for an agreement that Germany make no more territorial advances. Within six
months Hitler?s forces took Czechoslovakia.
August 23, 1939 brought a Nazi-Soviet pact. One week later Hitler attacked Poland
officially beginning World War II. Britain and France came to Poland?s defense. Also in 1939,
Albert Einstein warned Roosevelt that German scientists were building an atomic bomb.
Roosevelt authorized the establishment of the Manhattan Project.
The German blitzkrieg rushed through Europe overwhelming Norway, Denmark,
Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Soon after the Germans invaded France which led
to the French surrender in June of 1940.
Meanwhile the U.S. approved shipments of 50 old American destroyers to Britain in
return for the right to establish naval bases in British territory. In 1940, Roosevelt signed
measures authorizing a massive military build-up. In order to remain neutral, the U.S. organized
the lend-lease act which allowed for the borrowing of military good on the condition that they be
returned after the war.
On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union which forced Hitler to fight wars
on two fronts and allowed the U.S. to extend the lend-lease act to the Soviets.
On December 7, 1941, Japan launched an attack on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor.
The surprise attack disabled 19 warships and 150 planes. But worst of all it killed 2,335 soldiers
and 68 civilians. Three days later the United States officially declared war against the axis
For months the war waged on until President Truman used the atomic bomb produced by
the Manhattan Project to severely cripple Japan. On August 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber dropped an
atomic bomb on Hiroshima. 160,000 civilians were killed or severely wounded but Japan still
refused to surrender. So on August 8, another bomb was dropped, this time on Nagasaki. The
Japanese surrendered five days later on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri and World War II was
Was Truman justified in dropping the bomb? I have no choice but to say yes. Although
I wish it could have been done any other way, it couldn?t. At that time and that place, the only
way to end the war was to show the rest of the world that the U.S. would not stand for anymore
bloodshed and was prepared to use force to save future lives.