ABSTRACT

The early months of 1940 produced great apprehension in Europe and in the United States. The Winter War dragged to its inevitable conclusion in March when Finland had to give the Soviets much greater concessions than originally demanded. What would happen next? Some in the West still held to the forlorn belief in a “phony war.” Without abandoning the slender hope that accommodation might be reached, the governments of France and Great Britain prepared for war and strengthened their naval blockade of Germany. Hitler, after some indecision, ended the uncertainty. Germany struck against Denmark and Norway in April and against France one month later. The success of the blitzkrieg exceeded expectations as France was knocked out of the war in a matter of weeks. Failure to subdue Britain in the months following, however, led Hitler to his most fateful decision: the invasion of Soviet Russia. As these events unfolded, President Roosevelt led a deeply divided nation into ever-greater support for Hitler’s enemies.