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Diplomacy and Combat in World War II

written by: Andrew Otocka • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 8/8/2013

This lesson plan is the third in a series of five on America's involvement in the second World War. It deals with American contributions in combat against the Axis powers and the diplomatic partnerships that made ultimate victory possible.

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    Upon entering the second World War in December 1941, the American military faced an unprecedented challenge: helping countries succeed that had been struggling with multiple enemies across three continents. Diplomatically, the task was nearly as daunting. Led by presidents Roosevelt and Truman, America had to prioritize goals and work closely with allies whose only significant reason to cooperate was the Axis threat.

    Lesson Objectives: Students should be able to enumerate and explain the significance of major American military and diplomatic contributions to winning World War II.

    Materials Required:

    • Either computer access for the class or enough copies of the following articles for each student:

    • Textbooks
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    1. Have students read each article and synthesize what they learn into a response to the following prompt. "What were the goals of each of the three countries represented at Tehran in 1943? Which country 'won' the conference? Why?"

    2. Add Stalin, Churchill, and FDR to students' vocabulary lists (if they are not already there).

    3. Discuss the priorities set at Tehran with students. It was agreed that Germany would be defeated first and that the Americans and British would open a western front against the Germans as soon as possible to lessen pressure on the Soviets. After Germany was defeated, the Soviets would join the war against Japan. Separately, the Americans and British agreed that the Americans would have overall command of their efforts in the European theater of war.

    4. Add the Potsdam Conference and Dwight D. Eisenhower to students' vocabulary lists. Discuss the importance of continued cooperation in keeping the pressure on the Germans and the significance of Ike's efforts on both the military and diplomatic fronts.

    5. Using the chapter or section in your textbooks on military efforts in World War II, have students construct two separate timelines; one for the European Theater, one for the Pacific Theater. Each timeline should begin with American entry into the war and end with the ceasing of hostilities in its respective theater. Timelines should be limited to military battles, and each date should be accompanied by a sentence illustrating the significance of the accompanying event. Choose 3-5 battles to include in students' vocabulary lists along with General Douglas MacArthur.


  • Photo in the Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

America's Involvement in WWII

America eventually moved away from Inclusionism to become a key player in WWII. This series of lesson plans examines America's involvement in the second world war.
  1. America's Involvement in WWII: Moving Away from Inclusionism
  2. American Entry Into World War II
  3. Diplomacy and Combat in World War II
  4. The Home Front in World War II
  5. The End of World War II and the Aftermath

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