“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Worcester in Worcester County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)

World War II

World War II Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), June 20, 2020
1. World War II Marker
The Second World War began when the German army, led by Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939. Germany already controlled Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia through a process called "Appeasement." In Asia, the conflict started by Japan's invasion of the Chinese territory in the 1930s continued. These acts of aggression escalated in intensity and expanded to touch every corner of the globe.

By the autumn of 1939, every powerful nation in the world, with the exception of the United States, was at war. In Europe, Britain and France fought Germany Within a year, the Soviet Union and Italy were also involved. Japan's war with China threatened surrounding countries, including colonial possessions of European powers.

Alliances formed as these conflicts combined: the Axis (Germany, Italy and Japan) and the Allies (Britain, France and the Soviet Union) faced off across Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The United States was officially neutral, though it supplyied extensive aid to the Allies through programs like Lend Lease and the Destroyer Deal.

On December 7, 1941, American neutrality
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ended abruptly when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the Philippine Islands, the Wake Islands, and Guam. Howard Marshall Santon, a Worcester sailor, was killed in the attack on the Philippines. These attacks were sudden, deliberate, and well-coordinated but, while temporarily crippling the United States presence in the Pacific, united the nation in its determination to defeat the Axis powers. President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7th "a date which will live in infamy... The American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory." The United States declared war on Japan on December 8th and entered into European conflict on December 11th when Germany declared war on the U.S.

Fighting on multiple fronts, the United States and its allies to win the European conflict first and then end the war in the Pacific. The U.S. had produced the draft, or Selective Service, of men in 1940, but the military's numbers swelled as volunteers by the thousands joined the armed services. By war's end, 23,890 Worcester citizens had enlisted, and at least 698 had given their lives in the conflicts. Two Worcester men, John V. Power and Rev. Joseph O. Callahan, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions in the war.

World War II was the deadliest war in world history, killing as many as seventy million people, more than all
World War II Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), June 20, 2020
2. World War II Marker
previous wars in human history. The number of deaths was so high because, in contrast to most previous wars, World War II was a "total war." Mass destruction became not only a possibility, but a reality.

Total war meant that all of a nation's resources and efforts were turned to the war effort and victory. It also meant that virtually everything in a country was part of the effort and therefore a potential target for the enemy. In order to eliminate production facilities, disrupt transportation networks, and weaken civilian morale, cities were bombed with substantial casualties. New weapons, including rockets and the atomic bomb, and new war strategies meant thousands could be killed in one raid. State-sponsored genocide killed millions more because of their ethnicity or religion. Military casualties were far exceeded by civilian casualties by the end of the war.

World War II transformed war itself as well as the world in which the war was fought. The war's first battles saw horse-mounted cavalry trying to resist light-armored tanks. The war ended with two cities being completely destroyed by atomic weapons. Between these events, dozens of new weapons had been introduced. Research and development of these weapons provided the groundwork for future technological developments throughout the world in the mid-twentieth century.

On October 24th, 1945
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the Allies created a new world organization, the United Nations, to bring countries together in a peaceful forum to prevent future wars. The war also produced a massive shift in power among the world's nations and helped to speed the end of European colonial rule in Asia and Africa.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & SpaceAnimalsWar, World IIWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Medal of Honor Recipients series list. A significant historical date for this entry is September 1, 1939.
Location. 42° 15.749′ N, 71° 48.049′ W. Marker is in Worcester, Massachusetts, in Worcester County. Marker is at the intersection of Front Street and Commercial Street, on the left when traveling west on Front Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 99 Front St, Worcester MA 01608, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. War in Europe (here, next to this marker); Worcester World War II Memorial (a few steps from this marker); The Home Front (within shouting distance of this marker); War in the Pacific (within shouting distance of this marker); World War II Time Capsule (within shouting distance of this marker); Worcester Civil War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); The Honorable Paul V. Mullaney Plaza (within shouting distance of this marker); Northeast Corner of the Worcester Cemetery (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Worcester.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 23, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 23, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 115 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 23, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Mar. 2, 2024