World War II
World War II (1939-1945) is one among the deadliest and bloodiest wars in human history. Over 38 million people including several innocent civilians died in the war. It was one of the most destructive wars ever in the history of mankind. There were fighting across the globe, with the brunt of it being in the European continent and Japan. More than 50 nations participated in the war which changed the course of the world forever. Americans knew what they were fighting for, they were fighting to defeat tyranny. By that time, most of the Europe was under the control of Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler. The war in Europe started with Germany’s unprecedented invasion of Poland in 1939. The ‘nazi’ vengeance on jews continued unabated. They launched a ‘witch hunt’ on anyone who they thought did not fit into their idea of “Master Race”, Aryans.
Several countries and islands were invaded by the Japanese armies in Asia and the Pacific regions. Pearl Harbor and Hawaii was bombed by Japanese planes. Within no time, the U.S. congress declared war against Japan. This marked the proper entry of the U.S. into World War II.
Some of the reasons for World War II can be traced to World War I (1914-1918). Americans participated in the earlier war to make the world safer for democracy. That was the goal of president Woodrow Wilson who served as the president of America from 1913 to 1921. Not all countries were satisfied with the peace treaties signed at the end of World War I. All the bitterness and anger led to World War II.
Germany and its allies were defeated in World War I. Germany was forced to hand over one sixth of its territory and had to pay huge reparations. Post World War I, there was a high rate of unemployment in Germany. Uncontrollable inflation made the German money literally worthless! Even though the ‘League of Nations’ was formed post World War I for maintaining peace, it received a lukewarm response. While the United States did not join, other countries were busy with their own problems. To make things worse, in 1930, the world was hit by an economic depression. Workers across the world lost their jobs. People were in search of leaders who could change their destinies.
The two parties involved in World War I were the Allied Powers (France, British Empire, Russian Empire, USA etc) and Central Powers (including the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and others). The treaty of Versailles held Germany responsible for World War I. Several harsh penalties were imposed on them including military restrictions. They were made to pay large fines and provide concessions to the Allied Powers.
The 1930s witnessed the rise of some of the most infamous leaders in world history. While Adolf Hitler and his ‘Nazism’ gained popularity in Germany, Mussolini was the ultimate leader in Italy. They were widely seen as the leaders of the war against the Allied Powers.
During that time, the USA was troubled by domestic economic problems as part of the Great Depression. Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, launched a war against Ethiopia killing thousands of innocent civilians. A brutal civil war broke out in Spain between General Francisco Franco and an alliance of democrats and communist forces. Downtrodden Germans rallied around Adolf Hitler for unifying the German race throughout Europe. Meanwhile in the eastern side, Japan invaded Manchuria and posed a threat to China.
In 1941, under the rule of President Roosevelt, America entered into an undeclared naval war with Germany in the Northern Atlantic.
Effects of World War II
Several people lost their lives in World War II. The war is very significant in the history of the modern world. It marked the end of dictatorship in Europe. The United States and Soviet Union emerged as the new superpowers of the world. Post the devastating war, the United Nations was formed to promote peace and security around the globe. The Paris Peace Treaty was signed on February 10th, 1947. This allowed countries like Italy, Bulgaria and Finland to resume as sovereign states. As part of the treaty, several countries were entitled to war reparations as well.
Post World War II, the biggest beneficiary in terms of territorial expansion was the Soviet Union. It annexed parts of Finland, Poland, Japan, Germany and a few other independent states into its territories. Germany was the worst affected, It was divided into four parts. Following the world war, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union continued for a period of 44 years (1947-1991).
The European economy came to a standstill during the second world war. It is estimated that 24,000,000 soldiers and 49,000,000 civilians lost their lives in the devastating war.
Ever Changing World
Germany had surrendered on May 7, 1945. The U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. They surrendered on August 14, 1945.
We need to preserve peace! It is important for the survival of human civilization!
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Check your knowledge
Answer) Adolf Hitler.
Answer) Woodrow Wilson.
Answer) Benito Mussolini.