In the late 1930s and early 1940s, there was a great debate in the United States. Nazi Germany had armed and was threatening its neighboring European nations. The great debate in America was between those who did not want to intervene between Germany and England and those who wanted the United States to become involved with England against Germany, there were strong emotions on each side. The isolationists did not want America involved in another European war. They considered the First World War, ended in 1918, an unnecessary war, very costly in both blood and money, and not helpful to the United States. The interventionists thought that unless the United States became involved, Nazi Germany would eventually conquer England, would conquer France, would conquer other peaceful nations of Europe, would continue persecuting Jews and other minorities, and would eventually invade the United States. Like it or not, they thought that America should build-up its military and be ready for war.
The Allied Powers had soundly defeated the Germans in the First World War; however, Germany continued secret development of warplanes after their defeat, and quickly built the largest and more advanced air force the world had ever seen. In 1936, the German Nazis proudly displayed their air power to intimidate other nations. Hermann Goering, the leader of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) invited distinguished American pilots, Gill Robb Wilson and Charles Lindbergh, to view the German aeronautical achievements. Wilson and Lindbergh came home with different opinions about the position the United States should take on Germany’s rearmament. Lindbergh thought that there would be a European war and the United States should stay out of it because of the growth of Germany’s armaments and the weaknesses of the other European nations. Wilson also believed that there would be a European war but took the opposite view, believing that the United States would be dragged into war as it had been in the First World War, and that America should prepare by strengthening America’s armed forces and organizing commercial aviation resources for patrolling the US east coast against German submarines. . Meanwhile, Hermann Goering continued to develop the Luftwaffe and other German military armaments increased at the same time.
In the late 1930s, both Lindbergh and Wilson, went their separate rounds, giving speeches explaining their different positions to gain support of the American people to their point of view.They agreed that the Nazis had armed Germany, that Hermann Goering had built a large modern air force, and that a European war was likely. However, Lindbergh insisted that the United States should not go to war—-Wilson preached that the United States should prepare to defend itself because war was inevitable.
President Roosevelt wanted to support France and England so they could stand up to the Nazis; thereby, keeping Germany from conquering large parts of Europe, and offering a defense against a probable Nazi invasion of the United States. The president had to move carefully. The public opinion polls showed that many Americans wanted to stay out of European affairs and stay out of war. The debate continued, until, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the United States’ fleet at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. The great debate was over. The American people were angry and united —- congress declared war against Japan the next day. Germany and Italy declared war against the United States three days later. The Second World War had begun with the European Western democracies and the United States far behind Germany and Japan in armaments and trained military personnel. Wilson, Lindbergh, and Goering were deeply involved.
You will learn of the great American debate that occurred before WWII in every neighborhood, and nationally,
Little known aspects of history between the World Wars,
The growth of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NAZI), the expansion of the German Air Force ( Luftwaffe) , and the career of the Luftwaffe commander, Hermann Goering,
Why Lindbergh was wrong in his forecast of German victory at the beginning of WWII ,
Gill Robb Wilson’s WWII fight against German submarines using American civilian pilots and aircraft, the Civil Air Patrol, along the east coast of the US, from Maine to Mexico,
A comprehensive history of the beginning of World War II, with some details that are not well published,
The aviation contributions of three fighter pilots:Lindbergh, Goering and Wilson,
And some little known information about Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese-American citizen interment.
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© Copyright by Frederick George Herbert, 2013.