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South Dakota & Women During WW2: Home

Welcome to the World War II library guide from the McGovern Library. 
This guide contains general information about World War II, as well as specific information about
South Dakota during World War II and the role of women during the war. 

Timeline of World War II

September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland. Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and France soon fall under German control.

July 1940-September 1940 
Germany and Great Britain fight an air war, the Battle of Britain, along the English coastline.

September 7, 1940-May 1941 
German bombing campaign of nightly air raids over London, known as the Blitz.

June 22, 1941 
Germany invades the Soviet Union.

December 7, 1941
Japan attacks the US Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, destroying more than half of the fleet of aircraft, and damaging all eight battleships. Japan also attacks Clark and Iba airfields in the Philippines destroying over half of the US Army’s aircraft there.

December 8, 1941
The US declares war on Japan. Japan invades Hong Kong, Guam, the Wake Islands, Singapore and British Malaya.

December 11, 1941 
Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.

The Allies stop the Axis Powers’ advance in Northern Africa and the Soviet Union.

June 4-6, 1942 
Japan attacks Midway and loses four aircraft carriers and over 200 planes and pilots in the first clear victory for the United States.

August 19, 1942
The battle for Stalingrad begins as Germany pushes further into Russia.

August 1942-February 1943 
US Marines fight for and hold the Pacific island of Guadalcanal.

February 1, 1943 
The German troops in Stalingrad surrender, defeated in large part by the Soviet winter. The defeat marks the halt of Germany’s eastbound advance.

July 10, 1943 
Allied forces land in Italy.

November 1943-March 1944 
US Marines invade the Solomon Islands at Bougainville to recapture it from the Japanese.

June 6, 1944 
D-Day, in which Allied forces land on five beaches at Normandy: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The landing includes over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and over 150,000 service men.

August 25, 1944 
American and Free French forces liberate Paris.

January 27, 1945
Soviet troops liberate the Auschwitz camp complex, located near Krakow, Poland.

February 19-March 26, 1945 
US Marines battle the Japanese for the island of Iwo Jima.

April 12, 1945
Roosevelt dies in Warm Springs, Georgia. Vice President Harry Truman takes the oath of office as president.

April 25, 1945 
Soviet troops surround Berlin.

April 29, 1945
US soldiers liberate the Dachau concentration camp outside of Munich, Germany.

April 30, 1945 
Hitler and wife Eva Braun commit suicide.

May 7, 1945
Germany surrenders in a red school house in Reims, Germany, Eisenhower’s headquarters. Victory in Europe (V-E) Day is celebrated on May 8 because that is the day the armistice went into effect.

July 16, 1945 
First successful test of the atomic bomb in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

July 29, 1945
Truman warns Japan that the country will be destroyed if it does not surrender unconditionally. Japan continues fighting.

August 6, 1945 
The first atomic bomb used in warfare, nicknamed Little Boy, is dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing up to 140,000 people.

August 9, 1945 
After getting no response from the Japanese government after the Hiroshima bombing, a second atomic bomb, nicknamed Fat Man, is dropped on Nagasaki, killing up to 80,000 people.

August 14, 1945
Japan unconditionally agrees to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and end the war. Victory over Japan (V-J) Day is declared.

September 2, 1945 
Japan signs the formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Books on World War II

General Facts About World War II

World War II
1939 - 1945

Causes of World War II

  • The peace treaties that were signed in Paris after World War I (the Paris Agreement and the Treaty of Versailles) were seen as unfair in the eyes of the losing countries. Germany, Austria, and the other countries who lost World War I were required to give up arms and make reparations. 
  • Economic issues plagued the entire world after World War I leading to communism and fascism to gain popularity and strength. 
  • After World War I, nationalism grew extremely strong, especially for the defeated countries. 
  • Appeasements were given to German by the British government after Hitler began expanding German territory. The hope of the British was that Hitler would stop his expansion, which ended up being a false hope. 

The Two Powers

The Axis Powers consisted of the countries of Germany, Japan, and Italy as the main powers, and were supported by Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, and Slovakia. 

The Allied Powers consisted of The United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. Additionally, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, British Commonwealth of Nations, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Philippines, and Yugoslavia joined the Allied Powers. 

United States Statistics 

  • 16,112,556 - US Troops who Served 
  • 670,846 - US Wounded
  • 291,557 - Battle Deaths
  • 113,842 - Non-Battle Deaths

Military Casualties by Country

  • Soviet Union: 7,500,000 dead
  • Germany: 3,500,000 dead
  • China: 2,200,000 dead
  • Japan: 1,219,000 dead
  • Poland: 320,000 dead
  • Austria: 380,000 dead
  • Great Britain: 329,208 dead
  • France: 210,671 dead
  • Romania: 300,000 dead
  • Italy: 77,494 dead
  • Canada: 37,476 dead

Additional Facts

  • Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and Sweden declared neutrality during the war. 
  • The number of civilian casualties during the war will never be known. Many of the civilian deaths were caused by bombing raids, massacres, starvation, and other war-related causes. 
  • 6 million Jewish people died in Nazi concentration camps. Also killed were hundreds of thousands of Romani and people with mental or physical disabilities. 
  • About 70 million people fought in the armed forces of the Allied and Axis nations. 

Learn More About World War II

World War II Records
The United States National Archives include military records pertaining to African Americans serving during World War II, Casualty and Missing lists, D-Day, Draft Records, German Records, the Homefront during World War II, Internment Records, and more. 

Significant Events in World War II 
Created by the United States Department of Defense, explore a pictorial timeline and explanation of the significant events during World War II. 

World War II Photos
World War II was documented on a huge scale by thousands of photographers and artists who created millions of pictures. The National Archive's photo collection of World War II are organized by subject and campaign, and are mostly from the records of the Army Signal Corps, Department of the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Marine Corps, and the Office of the War Information. 

World War II Military Situation Maps
This collection, from the Library of Congress, contains contains maps showing troop positions beginning on June 6, 1944 to July 26, 1945.  Starting with the D-Day Invasion, the maps give daily details on the military campaigns in Western Europe, showing the progress of the Allied Forces as they push towards Germany.

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