Till now we have read that NAZI Germany and Fascist Italy opted for the policy of aggression to deal with their internal crisis. Their policy of aggression became an unavoidable problem for the other European powers especially Britain and France.
Causes of World War-II
Aftermath of World War-I
Situation of European states before World War-II
The causes of the World War-II can be traced only by looking back to the period after of the World War-I. After World War-I the Empires that had dominated Europe for a long time disintegrated. Small Balkan states carved out of the strong centralised Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Russian Revolution converted Tsarist Russia into a Communist Russia. In Russia, Bolsheviks proposed a new kind of society that would have to eliminate private ownership of land and industry. Soon, the new government led by the Bolsheviks signed a peace treaty with the Germany to stop World War-I.
Germany after the World War-I and Before World War-II
Post world war treaties caused tension among the defeated Germany. Especially Treaty of Versailles of 1919 was so humiliating for the Germany. Because according to Treaty of Versailles the whole blame of the World War-I was imposed on Germany. Germany asked to pay heavy war reparations.
Soon, after the World War-I Germany dethroned the Kaiser Wilhelm-II. The Weimar Republic was established in Germany. Though the democratic Weimar Republic was a good idea. But Germans were not comfortable with this system of governance. There were many Nationalistic Movements going on in Germany. Very soon, Germany came under the rule of Nazi party. Adolf Hitler led the Germany under the banner of Nazi Party.
Adolf Hitler led many aggressive expeditions in Europe. Adolf Hitler was laying the groundwork for a permanent Nazi Germany. He organised anti-semitic movement. In keeping the German race as superior to all, Jews became a special target for attack. Germans considered Jews responsible for their defeat in World War-I.
Soon, Hitler started for the rearmament and built a strong military base in violation of Treaty of Versailles. He considered it illegal. He came out with the Third Reich, in which he wanted to unite all the German-speaking people of neighbour countries in a single Giant Germany.
Great Economic Depression of 1929 before World War-II
After this, the Great Economic Depression of 1929, also broke the economic backbone of many World Powers of that time. The world was facing a staunch economic crisis. Though the United States President Roosevelt came out with the New Deal policy to deal with the economic crisis. But it was not suitable for many European countries for their economic revival.
Role of Fascist Italy before World War-II
Whereas in Italy, the Nationalist groups were too fighting with the existing system of government. Though Italy sided with the victorious powers of the World War-I, still they did not get war booty. So, the participation of Italy in the World War-I proved disastrous for it.
Finally, Italy under the leadership of Benedetto Mussolini led many aggressive actions. Mussolini sent Italian troops to invade Ethiopia, one of the few independent nation of Africa. The Ethiopian emperor Hali Selassie, personally appealed to the League of Nations for help. But League of Nations only issued a statement condemning Mussolini’s actions. Mussolini formed an alliance with the Germany. It was Rome-Berlin Axis, which was later joined by the Japan.
Japan had emerged from World War-I greatly strengthened and by the 1930s was a major industrial power. In the 1920s, Japan had begun to expand personal liberties and to adopt a Western-style parliamentary system with the essence of its own traditional Japanese culture. Among the proud traditions that stood fast were the power of the military and the belief that Emperor Hirohito was a divine.
Japan too was badly hit by the Great Economic Depression of 1929. To survive in the age of discontentment after the economic depression, Japanese leaders embarked dual policy. Under this dual policy, they were tightening control at home while engaging in a series of imperialistic conquests abroad.
In 1931 Japanese troops invaded Manchuria, a huge Chinese province. The League of Nations was helpless because major powers were suffering from the economic depression. Japan felt free to embark on further conquests of Chinese territory. Hitler signed an anti-Comintern pact with Japan.
Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan signed the tripartite pact known as Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.
The Soviet Union Under Stalin
The Soviets were deeply in sorrow because of the rise of Fascism and Nazism. Their relationship with the western democracies had been hostile from the beginning. But in the mid-thirties, Soviet leaders made overtures to the democracies to form a common front against Germany.
By this time the Soviet Union was on its way to the transformation from a backwards, agricultural society to a modern industrialised world power. Under the leadership of Stalin, Soviet Union incredibly went for the economic progress. It convinced many that communism could bring a better life to the millions of unemployed and poverty-stricken people affected by the depression in the capitalist countries.
Outbreak of World War-II
Germany invaded Poland
Germany accelerated its military power. It violated the Treaty of Versailles citing it as illegal. The next step of Hitler was in 1936 he sent German troops into the Rhineland, which had been declared as demilitarised zone under the treaty of Versailles.
Though France’s forces were vastly superior to the German troops. But France remembering their millions who died in World War-I wanted desperately to avoid World War-II. The world from 1936 on was divided into three major power blocs: the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan; Major capitalist democracies headed by Britain, France and the United States and the huge communist bloc led by the Soviet Union.
In the previous post The German Dictator: Adolf Hitler, we have read that policy of aggression of the Germany created tension among the Old Powers. The failure of Munich Conference of 1938 led to the start of the World War-II.
Expansion Policy of Germans
The Poland was the next target of Germany’s expansionist policy. Finally, realising that Hitler’s appetite could not be satisfied by concessions, France and Britain started to prepare for the World War-II. They pledged to come to Poland’s aid in case of German invasion. They also formed an alliance with the Soviet Union against Hitler.
Though, according to Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, Germany and Russian had signed a non-aggression pact in which they agreed to respect each other’s sovereignty in Poland and other parts of Europe.
On 1st September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany. Soon, after few days on 17th September 1939 Soviet Union also invaded the Poland. Initially, Hitler conquered Poland, Denmark and Norway. He then turned to the west.
Battle of France and Operation Sea Lion 1940
Hitler started his western expedition in which on 10th May 1940, German troops defeated allied forces. Hitler conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands. Soon, Italy entered in the World War-II on 10th June 1940. Germany encircled the allied forces and mass evacuation of common people took place.
Britain was a safe island and British Navy and Air Force were supporting for the Britain in the World War-II. So, The German Air Force attacked Britain and compelled Britain for a negotiated peace settlement.
Hitler invaded Russia in 1941. Initially, Hitler got huge success in Russia but later his troops were hit by the Russian winters. In this Operation of Barbarossa Nazi Germany wanted to capture oil fields of Caucasus region and the grainy land of steppes. But due to the Russian frozen winters, German troops faced the same fate met by Napoleon’s army in Battle of Leipzig.
The USA witnessing the World War-II
Initially, the United States had decided to remain aloof from European squabbles. The United States entered the war in June 1941 when Japanese planes bombed American ships and airfields at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. The USA declared war on Japan. Japan was an ally of Germany, therefore Germany declared war on the USA.
There was a speculation that Germans were making the nuclear bomb. So, The USA started Manhattan Project. It was a research and development project to produce first Nuclear Bomb.
Results of World War-II
Italy Abandoned the Axis-Powers
The economic condition of Italy was not so good. And the participation in the World War-II proved disastrous. Soon, public left their support to the World War-II. The power of Mussolini was diminished. Mussolini was ousted on July 1943. So, the Italy changed the party and aligned with the Allied powers. Italy declared war on Nazi Germany.
Yalta Conference, 1945
The World War-II was winding down and Germany after fighting so many wars was now completely exhausted. Germany was on the brink of defeat. This led to Yalta Conference of 1945, in Russia. Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill in this Yalta Conference decided to split Germany into four zones of occupation.
Russia captured Berlin in 1945 in Battle of Berlin. In this war, Communist Russia hoisted Red Flag of Communism in the Nazi Germany. Hitler committed suicide and Nazi government surrendered to the communist Russia.
Potsdam Declaration, 1945
Germany and Italy surrendered to the allied powers but Japan in over enthusiasm did not surrender. The USA President Harry S. Truman, United Kingdon Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Chairman of Nationalist Government of China Chiang came on one stage. They warned Japan to surrender or otherwise be ready for the consequences. But Japan was not in a mood of giving up.
So, the United States of America dropped the nuclear bomb (Little Boy) on 6th August 1945 on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. On 9th August 1945, the second nuclear bomb (Fatman) was dropped on the Nagasaki, another Japanese city. On the same day, the Soviet Union also declared war on Japan.
World War-II ended on 15th August 1945. Empire of Japan surrendered after a huge massive destruction. 🙁 Ultimately, the allied powers defeated the Axis powers. The world could not keep count of the millions of people who died in the World War-II. 🙁
In air raids, in concentration camps, in cities, there was a huge loss of Human resources. The use of Atom Bomb, the terrifying weapon changed the world scene after the World War-II. It also left its crippling marks on generations to come.
Though the world will not exist if there will be a World War-III. But the war at the age of two extremes Capitalism and Communism is unavoidable. So, this led world into the age of Cold War.
Soon, we will deal with the Cold War. Till then enjoy learning. 🙂
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