The second World War. For the United States under the leadership of President Roosevelt, the war is far away. Yet America is starting to militarize to prepare for what seems inevitable.
The American army building
The US has been basking in the role of sleeping giant since Hitler's rise. After more than ten years of economic crisis, the country is only now returning to itself. The people do not want to interfere in a European conflict and pay even less attention to Japanese aggression in Asia. But on 1 September 1939 the Nazi army invaded Poland. The world has been shaken. Most Americans consider it a European issue but Roosevelt believes that America should prepare for war.
Roosevelt increases war production
Two days after the Anglo-French declaration of war, Roosevelt declares a state of emergency. He expands the American presence in the Caribbean and the Philippines. Apparently to maintain neutrality, it frees up British ships for duties at the front. In November the congress, under pressure, agreed to sell military equipment abroad. England becomes the largest customer by purchasing 95% of aircraft exports and 90% of ammunition and explosives exports. Roosevelt increases production for possible war participation. The aircraft production is increased to 50,000 per year. That is so excessive that propaganda minister Goebbels says that Roosevelt is bluffing. The Fuehrer even makes time to declare FDR mentally disturbed. The production of all military equipment is growing explosively. The production of jet fighters is doubling. The number of guarantee guns for the infantry is increasing by more than 300 percent. The production of tanks, crucial for stopping Hitler's rise, even increases by 1300 percent in one year.
What does the people think?
Roosevelt's decisiveness is not without risk. 1940 is an election year and Roosevelt is going for a third term. Polls show that even after Hitler's invasion of Poland, only 7% of Americans consider war participation sensible. But the president sees the conflict only growing around the US. He believes that there is little chance that America can live in peace if the rest of the world wages. And the congress is gradually agreeing with him. Halfway through 1940, it approved the construction of 200 warships. Enough for fleets in the Atlantic and Pacific. The convention passed the Burke-Wadsworth law on 16 September. For the first time in America there is compulsory military service. Whether the people want to pay the toll for this 'foreign conflict' remains to be seen. Public opinion will to a large extent be determined by the enemy. Only his actions will show whether Roosevelt's policy is needed or exaggerated.
America arms allies
June 1940. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, after the large losses of equipment at Dunkirk, asks the US for help. The US sells England for 33 million dollars worth of equipment: cannons, planes, ammunition, trucks, everything that is needed. According to the 'cash & carry' policy since 1939, the British have to pay for it before they can use it. But the war effort is such an attack on the treasury that there is no longer any money to maintain supplies. British opposition to the Nazi plague in Europe is at risk due to lack of money. On December 17, President Roosevelt expresses his intentions in clear words. He wants to help the British. 'Cash & carry' gives way to 'lend lease'. The weapons are delivered without immediate payment. 'if my neighbors' house burns down, I will not sell them to my garden house, but lend it to them. This is how I help my neighbors and prevent the fire from spreading to my house. After endless debates in the congress, the lend-lease law comes into force on 12 March. The president can now make, sell, borrow, lease, or trade goods to any country that is important for US defense. On March 27, the congress approves the first claim to the law. England receives 7 billion dollars worth of goods. The British are overjoyed. Churchill calls it 'inspiring trust, monumental generosity and statesmanship and selflessness itself'. America faces two enormous challenges. First of all, transporting thousands of tons of equipment across the ocean. But the biggest challenge is production. Although people work day and night, not enough can be produced to meet the rising demand from abroad and that of foreigners. Many wonder: if the war reaches America, will it be able to fight?
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