World War I and II

World War I

The First World War broke out between two European powers: The Entente Powers of France, Great Britain, Russia and later The US; and The Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, The Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. Several philosophies contributed to the beginning of the war: Imperialism, which is the control of one nation over another; nationalism, or identifying or feeling attached to your nation; and militarism, which is the idea that a strong military makes a strong nation.

Russian Revolution

In 1917, The Russian tsar, or monarch, Nicholas II was overthrown. The Bolsheviks, or Russian communists, came to power under Vladimir Lenin. Russia withdrew from World War I in 1918 and became the Soviet Union (USSR)



US Involvement

President Woodrow Wilson attempted to keep the US out of World War I. One event that helped draw the US into the war was the German Navy sinking of the RMS Lusitania, which was a British passenger ship that contained American passengers. A second event that drew the US in was the Zimmerman Telegram: a message sent from Germany inviting Mexico to attack the US and side with Germany. The US declared war in 1917.

Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was the peace treaty that ended World War I. It included a “war guilt clause,” which made Germany responsible for paying damages from the war. It also established a League of Nations to make sure the treaty was carried out.

Neutrality Acts

The US policy of the 1930s was neutrality or isolationism: Staying out of other countries’ conflicts. The US could see that Europe was on the brink of another war.


World War II

The major powers in World War II were the Allied Powers: France, UK, US, and USSR and the Axis Powers: Germany, Italy and Japan. The war began in Asia when Japan invaded China and The USSR. Then, war began in Europe when Germany invaded Poland.

Fascism and Nazism

Fascism is a political movement that led to totalitarianism, or complete control under a dictator. Ultra-nationalism and militarism are traits of fascism. The Nazis were the fascist party of Germany, led by Adolf Hitler.


The Holocaust

Nazis and fascist in Europe caused the genocide of six million Jews. Families were forced to live in ghettos before being sent to labor and death camps. Communists, homosexuals, prisoners of war and Romani were also killed.




Japanese-American Internment

After Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor, the US government ordered Americans of Japanese ancestry be locked in internment camps. White American farmers and retailers who wanted to shut out competition motivated the internment movement.



Following World War II, colonies in Asia and Africa held by European powers began to have revolutions to push out colonial rule.

GI Bill

The GI Bill gave benefits to veterans returning from World War II. The benefits included unemployment and education assistance and affordable mortgages. Many more Americans were able to go to college and buy houses than in previous generations. The GED test was also created for veterans who did not have a high school credential.