World War II began on September 1, 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. World War II was the largest armed conflict in history, involving more countries than any other war. It also introduced the first and only use of nuclear weapons, in war. Adolf Hitler led a group called the “Nazis.” Hitler and his party blamed Germanys status on the Jewish population and on a democratic government. On May 8, 1945 the Nazis surrendered unconditionally, but the war eventually concluded on September 1, 1945 when the last Axis power of Japan surrendered.
In the 1930’s the Americans and the Japanese quarreled over Southeast Asia for its valuable resources such as oil, rubber and tin. With strong forces, Japan succeeded in invading China. The Japanese used modern military machines to seize Chinas cities, but in order to run, build and repair the machines, Japan needed large quantities of oil, rubber and tin. Japanese machines needed 12,000 barrels of oil a day to keep them running. As America became aware of Japans seizure over Asian colonies, they stopped selling important assets that Japan needed to attack Asian colonies. The Japanese and the Americans became frustrated and aggravated with each other.
In order to prevent war, Japan sent two representatives to America to negotiate and resolve issues. Japan wanted the U.S. to resume trading the resources needed to continue its war. In America while negotiating was being done, in Japan the major decisions were not about peace but about war. Both sides were struggling to come up with an agreement. Japan wanted and needed an agreement immediately!
On December 6, 1941 Japan relayed a secret message to its representatives in America. Some historians believe that until that message, Japans representatives were unaware of the impending attack and were “working in the dark.” On the morning of December 7, 1941, a U.S. destroyer sunk a Japanese midget submarine near Pearl Harbor. The commander at Pearl Harbor said it was a false alarm. On the radar screens at Pearl Harbor, blips showed approaching aircraft, that warning was also ignored. Leading the Japanese attack from the air was commander Mitsuo Fuchida. The Japanese attack consisted of forty-nine level bombers, forty torpedo planes, fifty-one dive-bombers, and forty-three fighter planes. As the Japanese neared Pearl Harbor they split into four groups. Commander Fuchida led a group of forty-nine level bombers and he saw the island in its stillness; he knew he had caught the U.S. fleet by surprise. Fuchida called the attack, Tora! Tora! Tora! At 7:49 A.M. on December 7, 1941. After the blue flare attack signal was seen by the leader of the forty Kate Bombers, he radioed for them to dive. When a torpedo had a direct hit on the famous U.S.S. Arizona, 1,000 men aboard were killed instantly. The U.S.S. Oklahoma and Maryland capsized when two torpedoes had simultaneously hit both. By 8:40 A.M., the second wave of Japanese planes approached Pearl Harbor. American forces did what they could defend the fleet. Gun crews fired and passed ammunition to guns that were still in operation. When Japan attacked America they turned a European war into a world war. By 1943, only seven nations were neutral in the conflict.
Pearl Harbor was a center of U.S. naval power, making it an optimal target for Japan. It was home to a large part of America’s aircraft carrier fleet. It also housed many U.S. battleships, submarines, and hundreds of other smaller ships. The airbases at Pearl Harbor also served hundreds of warplanes. There were vast oil reserves, submarine repair shops and many other port facilities. But was the attack on…