Hitler Attacks Pearl Harbor: Why the United States Declared War on Germany

Hitler Attacks Pearl Harbor: Why the United States Declared War on Germany

Hitler Attacks Pearl Harbor: Why the United States Declared War on Germany

Hitler Attacks Pearl Harbor: Why the United States Declared War on Germany

Synopsis

Hill explains why the U.S. held Germany responsible for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor - and why Hitler's December 11 declaration of war was inconsequential to U.S. involvement in the European theatre.

Excerpt

History is written by the victors.

—Jawaharlal Nehru

The first casualty of war is truth.

—Senator Hiram Johnson

This book seeks to explain why the United States decided to escalate from a limited to a total war against Germany in December 1941, which plunged the United States into World War II in Europe. The traditional postwar explanation has been that the United States declared war on Germany on December 11, 1941, as a reaction to that day's German declaration of war on the United States. This virtually unanimous historiographical explanation argues, therefore, that the predominant reason the Roosevelt administration and Congress sent an American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to Europe was the provocations inherent in Hitler's declaration of war. This traditional explanation has been supported by the fact that until December 11, the U. S. military had been officially confined to the Atlantic Ocean, but afterward it was officially ordered to prepare to invade Europe, and to conquer and occupy Germany.

This study, however, challenges that traditional consensus by arguing that the German declaration was actually of little or no real importance in deciding U. S. foreign policy in December 1941. Rather, it was decided by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That event convinced a majority of Americans to escalate to total war against Germany; most Americans believed that Germany was either an accomplice or the political master of Japan, thus making Hitler at least as guilty as Japan for the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack on Pearl Harbor was the defining event for U. S. entrance into World War II, not only as it regarded the Pacific theater, but also the European theater.

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