The Propagander ™ FAQ
Why Did the US Join the Fight Against Hitler?
The majority of the American people were dead-set against US involvement in Hitler's War. However, their president, FDR, was convinced that it would be necessary, indeed vital, to do so. It was primarily through his indefatigable efforts that the United States eventually threw its weight on the side of the Allies. The following, in order of importance, are the top five events leading to US involvement:
1. The election of FDR as US president in 1933. FDR was completely opposed to everything Hitler stood for and would become more convinced year after year that the German Fuehrer was a negative force in the world. FDR had been one of those who after WW1 supported the League of Nations and the Treaty Of Versailles. Many of the provisions of the Treaty were collectively a system of Containment of Germany, ensuring that that nation would never again plunge the world into war (whether or not WW1 was indeed Germany's fault is not the issue here, only the perception that it was). In the event, FDR was on the losing side of the political debate over US ratification of the Treaty--as well as US entry into the League--and could only watch from the sidelines as President Wilson (Democrat) was defeated in these policies. There then ensued a period of one Isolationist Republican president after another assuming office while the other Treaty signatories--mainly Britain and France--were left to their own devices to enforce the Containment of Germany. Their success in this area was a mixed bag, and FDR could only look on from afar as the other Party controlled the US. When the Great Depression created the conditions necessary to once again bring a Democrat to the White House, FDR was the Democrat chosen.
2. The seizure of power in Germany by Hitler. FDR, already anti-German, viewed this as the major foreign event in his first term. As I said, FDR had no use for the sort of politics Hitler practiced, and in addition viewed him as a proponent of 'Prussian Militarism' bent on making another bid for German Hegemony in Europe. Hitler's subsequent massive rearmament of Germany did nothing to assuage these suspicions. But, presiding over a country that was still majority Isolationist, he could do little during the 1930's to oppose Hitler's Germany. But he was prepared to do so when the time was right. This is why I consider FDR's election as the #1 event leading to US involvement in WW2 as FDR was and would remain for a long time one of the few people in the US willing to oppose Hitler.
3. Churchill's appointment to the British Cabinet and subsequent assumption of the office of PM. This is important for the simple fact that before Churchill came to power FDR had no one in Britain with whom to collaborate in opposing Hitler's aims. Chamberlain listened to nothing FDR said concerning Hitler's moves [Note: To be fair, the failure of the US to ratify the Treaty and join the League did little to assure European leaders that the US was worth listening to in these matters.], and FDR watched in horror and disgust as Chamberlain Appeased Europe further and further into another conflict. FDR began his famous correspondence with Churchill immediately upon Winston's appointment to the Cabinet, and continued to work with and support him with all the power he could muster, in direct opposition to the majority of Americans, who remained Isolationists [and many of those who were not were pro-German].
4. The sinking by German U-boats of American ships, such as the SS Robin Moore--an act reminiscent of the sinking of the Lusitania, which helped to involve the US in that first European war. This and other incidents of a similar nature--many of which FDR encouraged as much as he could behind the scenes--served to move, a bit at a time, American public opinion in favor of choosing sides in the growing conflict overseas.
5. Pearl Harbor and Hitler's subsequent Declaration of War against the US. This attack by the Japanese and Declaration by Hitler proved to be the last straw as FDR was able thus to successfully link the two Axis belligerents together and convince the US Congress to declare war against both simultaneously. This is exactly what FDR had been anticipating and working toward since his first election, and he was greatly relieved that he would now, finally, be able to put the industrial and manpower strength of the US on the side of Britain and the other nations opposing Hitler. Churchill shared his sentiment. FDR had finally succeeded.
Conclusion: The United States joined the fight against Hitler because FDR had determined that such a course was vital, and he used all his considerable political skill to see that it happened.
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Walther Johann von Löpp
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