World War II: History, Impact, and Factors of Emergence

World War II

Introduction

War is one of the most tragic incidences that affect the world today. War has helped reshape peace, redefine power and is a source of most global challenges experienced by man today. As a result of the above, the topic of war must be approached with an aim of understanding the causes, the course it took, as well as the global consequences. In the history of global conflicts, World War II has influenced the world in a manner unprecedented. Some of the consequences of the conflict that rocked the world from 1939 to 1945 are still being felt. In terms of conflicts, the World War II remains one of the largest in terms of countries involved, the type of warfare technology as well as the aftermath left after ceasefire. With Germany at the center of global politics and being blamed for the events leading to the emergence of World War I, it is almost always stated that the events of World War I must have been the leading causes of World War II, which has impacted so much on how relations are defined even today (Reynolds, 2013). The research paper therefore offers a glimpse into the factors that led to the World War II, the nature of the war and how it was fought as well as the consequences of the war.

Factors Leading to the Emergence of the War

The beginning of the World War Two can be traced to the end of World War I, and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The Versailles treaty was meant to bring an everlasting peace and bring to an end the era of increased German aggression and militarization. The treaty blamed Germany for the war and as a result, the territory and ammunition that the country could keep were to be reduced. Emanating from the above, it became apparent that the treaty was more of a punishment of Germany than a peace bringing one as it was intended. Following the end of World War I, Germany was forced into signing the treaty. It had to accept the responsibility for the war, pay the war reparations and was not to keep a large army. The terms of this treaty left Germany disgruntled and bitter, leading to aggression (Bell,. 2014).

The economic depression of the 1920s contributed to and fuelled the world to yet one of the biggest conflicts. As pointed put by scholars, whenever a depression occurs, it brings with it a people who are not satisfied with their leaders. People tend to look for leaders who are able to answer their problems and challenges. At this time ,the youths and the population were looking up to someone who could provide solution to the unemployment, the biting depression,  diminishing trade, closed businesses and shops as well as the collapse of banks. The rise of dictators such as Adolf Hitler in Germany and Benito Mussolini in Italy promised to restore the lost glories of their countries. However, such glory could only be restored via war, a factor that led to World War II (Reynolds, 2013).

The rise of militarism in Germany led to the war. Underlying research indicates that despite being aware of the militarism in Germany, France and Britain decided to stay quiet about it. This was because France and Britain thought that a stronger Germany would help counter the growing Fascism and Communist ideologies from Russia. They were however misguided. Instead, in 1936, Hitler ordered for German’s military occupation of German speaking territories of Rhineland in France, Austria and Czechoslovakia as they were then. This move took Britain and France by surprise as they were not prepared militarily for the impending war. However, they had to defend their territories at all costs (Keegan, 2014).

The failure of the Appeasement policy and the League of nations to prevent another war from taking place. The appeasement policy was adopted by Britain and France and it meant giving in to the demands of Germany. This was because in the 1930s, political leaders in France and Britain begun to sympathize with Germany and saw the Treaty of Versailles as unfair and cruel to it. As a result, a number of treaties and agreements were signed in appeasement of Germany, and allowing it to annex territories in compensation of the consequences of the treaty. A good example is the 1938 Munich Agreement, where Britain and France allowed Germany to annex territories of Czechoslovakia where there were German speakers. As per this agreement, the German were not to take entire Czechoslovakia. Germany however breached this agreement and took the whole of this territory.  On September 1st, 1939, German troops invaded Poland. France and Britain declared war on Germany, and the Second World War had broken out in Europe (Badoglio, 2015).

The militarization of Japan finally brought the war to Asia and definitely broth the United States to the war. The militarization was as a result of economic crunching in Japan. As a result, the government turned to its army in finding a solution to the many problems that it was facing. Japan invaded china, a mineral rich territory in Asia and continued to occupy it. On the other hand, the Chinese government turned to the League of Nations for help, but it was too weak and lacked a standing army to enforce some of these recommendations. Japan continued with its military occupation of china, and even became more ambitious with the Asian campaign. Thai led to its campaigns in Vietnam and Korea. The United States begun to feel threatened by Japan, and tension escalated between the two countries. The united states became more concerned about its interests in Philippines and Guam. Japan, feeling threatened, attacked and bombed the United States harbor in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1941. The United States declared war on Japan and this is how the war broke out in Asia, making it a full blown conflict.

How was the War Fought?

Having invaded Poland and defeated it, a deal was made to divide the country between Germany and the Soviet Union. France and Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, but no major fighting took place. Germany invaded Netherlands, Belgium and France. In 1940, an agreement was signed that gave Germany northern part of France. During this period, Soviet Union was on the side of Germany, until when Germany invaded it in 1941. Major fighting now started, with Germany fighting the war on three fronts- a move that would cost it during the war. All along, the United States had stayed away and watched as the conflicts escalated. Meanwhile, Germany fought the war on three frontiers, being the Eastern or Russian Front, Mediterranean Front and Africa, and Western Front pitting France and the Great Britain. As already mentioned, the three frontiers thinned the German army, and it is one of the reasons that it was defeated as it was engaged on so many fronts (Kaiser, 2015).

From 1942 to 1944, the Allied forces comprising of Britain, France and Soviet Union started to fight back. Germany was driven out of France and Poland. The British Air force was instrumental in bombing Germany back at home, thus taking the war back to German soil for the first time. The Allied forces took control of North Africa, thus enabling it to launch an attack on Italy. This forced the Italians to surrender, whereas the Germans were defeated by the Soviet Union who pushed them back, forcing them to retreat back to Germany. Meanwhile, the United States which had been watching the show was dragged into the war when the Japanese attacked and bombed the Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1941. The United States joined the Allied forces and fought against the Japanese and Germans. The entry of the United States into the war injected new energy that was needed for the war. The United States General Dwight D. Eisenhower was Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. At one point he was in charge of over 5 million soldiers. Meanwhile, over 200,000 United States soldiers were lost during the war in Europe alone. With Germany defeated, Adolf Hitler would later commit suicide in his underground bunker. Meanwhile, japan which had not surrendered under emperor Hirohito were forced to do so when atomic bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This brought the war to an end, Germany was divided into two, Western half and eastern half under Soviet Union vide the Berlin wall (Iriye, 2014).

The Impacts of the Second World War

The Second World War was one of the most transformative events of the 20th Century. It is estimated that a total of 39n million people lost their lives. Millions of people who were drafted into the war lost their lives, with the most of them coming from countries such as the Soviet Union where 20 million people were killed, Germany and Poland having over nine million and five million respectively. The Germans had by the time of the war built concentration and extermination camps. It is estimated that over 11 million Jews were killed by Adolf Hitler within these camps. It is thus very evident that the war led to loss of lives (Gilbert, 2014).

The war led to the emergence of new world order. United States and the Soviet Union were the largest beneficiaries of the war. The United States, a late comer into the war did not spend so much on the war, and this therefore means that the resources were still intact when the war ended. Although there was panic all over, the war did not interfere with most of its activities. The United States emerged as a world supper power after incident. The United States had grown in its economy as it had lent money to these countries fighting alongside the Allies. The effects were however devastating as women took up the jobs at home (Thomas, 2014).

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