Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 brought declarations of war from France and England, launching the Second World War. Japan had invaded China two years earlier. These escalating wars turned national attention to defense. Roosevelt, who had been re-elected in 1936, sought to rebuild a military infrastructure that had been neglected after World War I. Work on army camps and roads and airfields became a new focus of the WPA as private employment still lagged pre-depression levels. But as the war in Europe intensified with France surrendering to Germany and England fighting on, ramped-up military production began to reduce the persistent unemployment that was the main face of the depression. Jobless workers were absorbed as trainees for defense jobs and then by the draft that went into effect in 1940, when Roosevelt was elected to a third term. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that brought the United States into World War II sent America’s factories into full production and absorbed all available workers.
1. The Great Depression was triggered by a collapse in US share prices in 1929, after a decade-long economic boom.
2. It led to years of economic downturn in developed nations, as businesses closed or cut back by shedding workers.
3. Unemployment was the most noticeable effect of the Depression; in Germany it put six million men out of work.
4. The Bruning government failed to respond effectively, passing tax increases and cutbacks rather than spending.
5. Public dissatisfaction with the economic conditions and the government led to a dramatic increase in voter support for Hitler and the NSDAP, who became the largest party in the Reichstag .