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The Battle of the Atlantic was the most prolonged struggle of World War II This struggle was easily the one that came the closest to ending the war in Germanys favor It was a battle that was extremely costly in terms of mens lives as well in terms of resources that affected virtually every continent in the world It would determine whether England could continue to fight Hitler and whether Hitler would succeed in starving out the island nation Britain needed to import 55000000 tons of goods by sea in 1939 Included in this figure are one hundred percent of Britains oil most of its raw materials and half its food And every day Germanys U-boats were gnawing at Englands lifeline The battle officially began on September 3 1939 the day Britain and France declared war against Germany On that day the German submarine U-30 sank the British liner Athenia which was carrying more than 1100 passengers One hundred and eighteen people died 28 of them Americans The terror increased when the U-boat surfaced in the moonlit water and fired its deck gun at the sinking ship Only then did the U-boat commander realize that he had attacked an unarmed liner allegedly against specific orders Germany denied sinking the Athenia and claimed that the British themselves had sunk her so that they could get American sympathy Their claim was that Winston Churchill had ordered a bomb to be placed on board this vessel to further aggravate German-American relations A poll showed that 40 percent of Americans believed the Germans Those had to be Americans without a sense of history For in World War I the sinking of the Lusitania a British passenger liner by a German submarine had helped to propel America into war on the side of the Allies The Lusitania toll was higher 1195 people died 128 of them US citizens Now with the
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