The 20th Century was marred with numerous events. It was an era of social, economic, cultural and political changes which most often started in isolation of small regions then rapidly stretched beyond the regional borders to the wider global arena. It’s on this century that the most gruesome and chaotic wars of all times occurred-The World War II. World War II as a global event impacted a lot on the social and cultural landscape of the countries involved and the entire world at large. It started as an antagonism between the German Regime and the Allied. The minor conflict was them culminate to the now largely acclaimed World War II. This paper will seek to give a retrospective chronology of the events that took place before, during and after the World War II.
1. Chronology of Events Preceding the World War II
(i) How did the World War II begin?
World War II was a six years global conflict that occurred between September 1, 1939 and September 2, 1945 that resulted from the rise of militaristic and totalitarian regimes in Germany, Japan and Italy. The phenomenon in theses regimes was caused by the great depression in the early 1930’s and was further inflamed by the conditions created by the Versailles peace agreements of 28th June, 1919 (Gilbert, 1991).
The beginning of the World War II can be traced back to September 1, 1939. On this day, the German’s National Socialistic Worker’s Party (Nazi) invaded Poland. As part of their strategy, Germany had in 1938 annexed Australia and in March 1939, the German forces also invaded and annexed Czechoslovakia. It is the German’s invasion to Poland that prompted other nations such as France and other European Nations to attack Germany. Poland was soon crushed by the German forces under the command of the then commander of Chancellor, Adolf Hitler (Bentley, 2011).
(ii) Retrospect of the Causes of the World War II
The Second World War II was very spontaneous and gradual. Notably, the events that had taken place before the beginning of this gruesome event can be traced from the postwar Impacts of the World War I (Ellis, 1993). World War II was simply a quest to settle the issues that had gone unresolved after the World War I. One question that outstands is; how did this whole event develop? Some of the causes included:
a) The Harshness Of the Treaty of Versailles (28th June, 1919) On Germany
After the World War I, various mitigation measures were put in place to avert the occurrence of such a war. Some of these mitigation measures included the signing of the Versailles Treaty on 28th June 1919 on Germany. This treaty had several clauses amongst them, The War Guilt Clause. This clause demanded that Germany was to accept and carry the blame for instigating World War I. Secondly, the Clause of Reparations indicated that Germany was to pay for the damage caused by the World War I, with the amount totaling to 6,600 million US Dollars. Third, the Versailles’ Treaty indicated that Germany was to be disarmed and Rhineland, Germany’s warfront was to be de-militarized. This meant that Germany was only supposed to have a small army and prohibited Germany from having tanks, air-force and submarines. Fourth, the treaty’s Territorial Clauses provided that Germany’s land was to be taken away and given to other countries. The union with Australia (Aeschylus) was also disbanded and prohibited (Gilbert, 1991).
These measures made Germany to lose a lot of land to other nations. The reparations left the Allies who had won the war feeling guilty. Similarly, self determination of the smaller states around Germany left them at the predation of Germany. These effects lead to bad blood amongst the countries involved in this war, with most of them looking for a chance to avenge vengeance. The Second World War was the perfect chance for this.
b) The League of Nations Failed In its Mandate.
The League of Nations was a body formed to ensure peace prevailed between nations. In 1931, the League of Nations failed to stop the Sino-Japanese War. These failures led to a crescendo of treaty violations by the member states. In 1933, Adolf Hitler rose to power and begun to prepare for a reiteration battle. To achieve his expansionist objective, Hitler secretly broke the Treaty of Versailles that German had earlier signed by gradually increasing the army and in undercover, he created an air-force (Rich, 1973).
Additionally, he mandated building of more warships, submarines and other warship machinery. Although the League of Nations was to blame not being vigilant, it is noted that the League had a Weak machinery to carry out disarmament due to the then prevailing economic strains. This failure prompted other nations to withdraw when they realized that they would have to prepare for a foreseen war since many activities were going unnoticed (I. C. B. Dear, 2005).
c) Appeasement encouraged aggression
Appeasement is the act of giving in to somebody provided their demands appear reasonable. The appeasements made towards Germany encouraged the Second World War. It made bestowed virtual authority on Hitler hence encouraged him to execute his expansion policy. To achieve this, he made several treaties such as the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Italy and Japan (Rich, 1973).
d) Hitler was an Expansionist
Hitler was over ambitious and wanted to have control of as many states as possible. Since this could not be achieved peacefully, he was prepared to fight with those who were obstacles (Rich, 1973). Similarly, he believed that Germany had unfairly lost the First World War thus wanted a re-run to show cast his personal convictions towards victory. (Gilbert, 1991).
(iii) Events Leading To World War II
The devastating postwar of the Great War (WW I) had by far destabilized Europe. In many respects the World War II grew out of the issues that had passed unsolved by that earlier fighting. After the Great Depression, Germany went into a political and economic instability. This not enough, the effects of the harsh terms imposed by the Treaty of Versailles was still being felt. This created a perfect environment for the rise to power of the Nazi party under the stewardship of Adolf Hitler who then became Reich Chancellor in 1933 (I. C. B. Dear, 2005).
Hitler believed in superiority of the German race and wished to see it spread by all means. In the reverse, he considered the Jews as a weaker race and thus wanted to eliminate the Jews. According to him, War was his only channel to achieve his expansionist zeal. In the 1930s, he began the rearmament of Germany in violation of the Versailles’ Treaty. He later signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Italy and Japan against the Soviet Union. In 1939, his troops annexed Australia (Rich, 1973).
(iv) Outbreak of World War II (1939)
In August 1939, Hitler and the then Soviet Union leader, Joseph Stalin, signed the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact. This was part of Hitler’s strategy in setting ground for a war that he wished to see Germany win. Since he had long planned an invasion of Poland, this pact meant that he would not face opposition from the Soviets. Notably, Great Britain and France had guaranteed military support if Poland was to be attacked by Germany. On September 1939, Hitler Invaded Poland. This prompted France and Britain to declare a war on Germany two days after this invasion (Rich, 1973).
On September 17, Soviet troops invaded Poland from the East. This was in line with the Nonaggression Pact. Being under attack from both sides, Poland fell quickly and in 1940, Germany and the Soviet Union took control over this nation. Stalin’s Forces then moved further seizing the Baltic States and later defeated a resistant Finland in the Russo-Finish War (Ellis, 1993).
2. World War II Facts: The West Perspective
World War 2 is acclaimed for the bombing of Nagasaki city and Hiroshima by the United States and for the European Holocaust. In both events, multitudes of civilians lost their lives with six million dying during the holocaust. There were two alliances who fought the World War II. On one side were the Allies, which comprised amongst them, the USA, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union while the other side was the Axis which comprised Japan, Germany and Italy (Ellis, 1993). The other parties involved were the host countries whose land was used as the battlefield such as Poland and the Neutral States such as Sweden and Turkey (Gilbert, 1991).
When consideration is given on the facts of WW II, there is a dramatic difference between the facts. On December 7, 1941, America’s Pearl Harbor was hit by Japanese forces thrusting the nation into the war. In almost an overnight, America’s economy drifted into war production. Military sustainability took precedence over basic consumer goods. This led to a shortage of food and non-food stuffs while the available ones were reallocated to the battle field. The government was thus forced to introduce rationing. This rationing extended to fuel and other synthetics. The war was now the priority (Alex Lichtenstein, 2006).
b) The Place of the woman in the World War II Society
The most outstanding shift in roles and societal norms during the World War II was the increase in the number of women who now worked in the factories. The women devoted themselves to serve in the factories which were now producing the urgently weaponry such as planes, weapons, tanks and ships amongst other machineries that were required for the battle field. While the men we fighting battles miles away, the women sacrificially gave their support as well. In 1944, the skilled female workers earned an average of 32.21 US Dollars while their male counterparts earned 54.65 US Dollars. However, in a drastic shift, there was a 50% increase of the female labor force during 1940-1945 (Ellis, 1993). Even more outstanding was the high shift of female employment in the defense industries which grew by 462% (Alex Lichtenstein, 2006).
This era was marked by continuous innovations in the battlefields. High intelligence was seen when the United States Marines decoded Japan’s cipher to evaluate plans of the Germans. High intelligence was also seen in the development of strong and lethal ammunitions such as the atomic bombs used to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Walton, 2010).
3. Culmination of a period of Strive and gruesome Chaos
The World war II came to an after a period of six years on 2nd September, 1945.It culminated to a victory for the Allies. This period was marked by chaos, multitude deaths, great financial losses and massive environmental pollutions. What followed after this war was the Cold War.
Despite the negative impacts of the war, it was ‘beneficial’ since it changed the political spheres of the World. The German’s regime was changed and the American Isolationism Policy came to a halt thus making it more involved with international issues concerning other countries. The peace that we enjoy today is as a result of the Second World War which brought to an end Hitler’s Expansionist Policy (Walton, 2010).