The Second World War, famously referred to as World War 2, was a global conflict of military nature that lasted about six years. The ramifications were adverse, and some corners of the world are yet to attain full recovery. The war began on the 1st of September, 1939 and came to an end around the second day of September, 1945. Unlike the First World War that still saw nations optimistic about reconstruction and advancement development-wise, World War 2 left the universe (mostly Asian and European countries) in ruins. The year 1945 was called 'Year Zero' about the state of the nations that involved either directly or indirectly in the Second World War. Approximations on casualties estimate that about 25 million members of the Soviet Union lost their lives. Reports indicate that about 60 million people lost their lives in the war. It also saw the word 'genocide' used for the first time, when the Nazis killed about 6 Million Jews. This paper seeks to give insight on the causes and nature of World War 2 as well as the effects that it had on countries across the globe, and its general impact on the universe.
Before World War II (1939-1945)
The end of World War One came with a variety of effects and impact on the state of peace in the world. Some nations started rebuilding, while others were back to the drawing board, seeking how to make a comeback after the defeat they suffered in the war. Some quarters also tried to form alliances with the new superpowers, whereas some were working on building a lasting solution to the state of conflict across the universe. President Woodrow Wilson, an American Statesman, is one of those that seek to make treaties that would pacify Europe and bring stability to the world. He came up with a 14-point plan to attain the efficacy of his mission.
On the other hand, Georges Clemenceau, a French politician, and the physician was on a revenge mission, seeking a guarantee that the Germans would never begin another war again. Lloyd George, a British statesman, shared in Woodrow's sentiments of finding lasting peace but felt that the Britons would align to the revenge belief propelled by Clemenceau. He then worked on a plan that would establish a compromise between Wilson and Clemenceau's beliefs.
Germany had lost the First World War and had been expecting a treaty based on the 14 points of Wilson. The terms of the agreement included a 'War Guilt Clause' that dictated Germany takes responsibility for starting the First World War. This came with a 'Reparations' clause that stated that the nation pays up to 6,600 million pounds for damage. Another condition to the Germans was that they would only have a small army, six naval ships, and no tank. They were also denied the formation of submarines and air-force and the Rhineland area was to be de-militarized as well, as stated in the treaty. There was a 'Territorial Clause' that took away the spheres of influence of the Germans, and this also forbade the union with Austria (Anschluss). These conditions were not pleasing to the Germans, but the only choice they had was to sign the document. The poverty situation of the land and the feeling that the conditions were harsh against the country and her citizens led to a 'voting revolution' that saw the birth of dictatorship of Adolf Hitler in 1933, to rip up the Treaty of Versailles.
Adolf Hitler's Actions
Hitler became a German Chancellor in the first month of 1933 and began a secret mission to build armor and weaponry of the nation. Through 1934 legislation, he raised the army size and started the construction of warships as well as the establishment of a German Air-force department of the army. The chancellor also introduced compulsory military service to recruit more service-people. At the time, communism was spreading fast across Europe, and the British and French knew that militarization of German would help counter communism in the WEST. They chose to keep silent on the actions of Hitler at the time.
Hitler ordered that the German troops enter Rhineland in 1936, against the provisions of the terms of Versailles Treaty. The army was still weak and would have been easily defeated, but Britain and France did not want to engage in another confrontation that would push them to war. Hitler proceeded to make two crucial alliances in the same year, one with Benito Mussolini's Italy (the Rome-Berlin Axis Pact) and the other was with Japan (the Anti-Comintern Pact). The chancellor further engaged in a mission to reclaim lost land, starting with the 1938 entry into Austria, prompting the call for an election for the citizens to choose whether they wanted to be a part of Germany. 99% of the people were for the restoration of Anschluss, and Hitler promised that that would be the end of his quest of other countries, confirming that he did not want to risk another war. The other nations ignored the reclamation of Anschluss as a result. Contrary to his assurance, Hitler demanded the Czechoslovakia Sudetenland region, six months after the Austria pact.
The British prime minister at the time, Neville Chamberlain, met Hitler on three occasions in 1938 September to make an agreement that would keep a looming war at bay. A contract (the Munich Agreement) was reached, and it gave Hitler the region it claimed on condition that he would not seek expansion to other Czechoslovakia regions. This would not come to pass, as the Germans invaded the rest of the Czechoslovakia areas in 1939, and this made it necessary to take up action against the Germans. France and Britain threatened to act against Hitler if he attacked Poland, and this invasion was seen in the same year, 1939. The British and French reviewed the Versailles Agreement and saw how unfair the treaty treated Germany, hence justifying the actions of Adolf Hitler. Re-arming was famous as a protection tool for German, and would also help curb the spread of communism through Europe and across the West.
Causes of the Second World War
The end of World War One is mostly believed to be the impetus for the beginning of the Second World War. The peace policies and treaties by America's President Woodrow (1912-1921) only proved to create more bureaucracies and systems, with bitterness and anger taking center stage. Unemployment and poverty was the order of the day, and these prompted citizens to seek a change in leadership so that they could get people that could guarantee the sustainability of livelihood in their respective nations. Inflation was making life unbearable, and dictatorship that would make life better was an option citizen was open to. The end of World War One also led to the formation of alliances that divided the world into two major groups. The Allied Powers was made up of France, British Empire, the United States of America and the Russian Empire amongst other nations. The other was the Central Powers, consisting of the German Empire, Austria and Hungary, and countries which were not on the group that won World War One. Other countries that did were not members of the two groups involved in the affairs of the two groupings as allies of specific nations.
The rise of dictatorial systems and dictators in Europe threatened the peace of the world as they sought expansion of their territories while other nations resisted the attempts of the dictators. The German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler asked to expand the German area in Europe and abroad, and his idea of Nazism contributed to the escalation of World War Two. Nazism was a form of Socialism that was characterized by racism and expansionism. Italy also had a great dictator, Benito Mussolini who embraced the idea of Fascism, marked by violence, totalitarianism, and racial discrimination. The pact between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini was a symbol of war in Europe. This may have fuelled the rise and growth of World War 2, and its position as the worst the world had seen in conflicts. They sought revenge against the Allied Powers.
There was a significant rise in issues of civil and social conflicts across the world, and the alignments made the situation worse. The idea of colonialism had been on the rise, and countries sought to show supremacy be gaining more colonies than others. In some cases, nations fought against each other to get the wealthiest jurisdictions as a way of expanding their wealth abroad. Benito Mussolini had begun a war in Ethiopia, in which he employed dangerous chemical weapons that saw the death and injury of thousands of citizens. There was an eruption of violence in Spain that staged fascists against an alliance of communists and democrats. The idea by Hitler to 'unify' all Germans across Europe after the humiliating defeat in World War One was a factor that propelled violence with various European governments. Japan was threatening to colonize and conquer China, and retaliatory acts were on the offing. The Americans sought to stay off the conflicts, but in the end, this proved impossible. As a result, President Roosevelt committed American war-ships to an undeclared war against the Germans in the North Atlantic. The idea of America's neutrality was wiped away when Japan surprisingly attacked their Naval Station at Pearl Harbor.
Hitler and Soviet Union leader, Joseph Stalin signed a pact that saw them attack Poland from two sides in 1939. Hitler invades it from the West prompting the British and French to declare war on German in 1939 September 1st beginning the Second World War. Soviet troops invaded Poland from the East 17 days later leading to her quick fall. Germany invaded Norway and Occupied Denmark the following year (1939), and on the 10th of May 1940 their forces swept through Belgium and the Netherlands in an attack named 'the lighting war' (BLITZKRIEG). Three days the Hitler men attacked the French forces at Sedan, crossing the defensive line mark placed after the end of World War One. The British Expeditionary Force was evacuated from Dunkirk by the sea in late May, and with the pact between Mussolini and Hitler, the war was declared by Italy-German against the French and Britons.
German entered Paris on June 14th, leading to the division of France into two parts. The English Channel which separated the Germans from the British gave the British a defensive advantage against Hitler. Either way, the German forces bombed Britain in numerous attacks, but they were defeated by the Royal Air-force of Britain prompting Hitler to postpone his invasive plans. In 1941, the British began receiving American support in their fight against German forces. Operation Barbarossa saw Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria join the German Axis, thereby overrunning Yugoslavia and Greece. The Pacific war followed between 1941 and 1943, and the after-years saw the British and American allied forces edge towards defeating the Axis. The war came to an end with the 'Potsdam Conference' in 1945.
Effects of World War 2
As stated in the earlier parts of the paper, the ramifications that came with the war were adverse, and some nations still feel the effects in the contemporary society. The most noteworthy result was the loss of lives and displacement of families. An approximated 12 million soldiers lost their lives in the war. About 25million lives of civilians were also lost during the Second World War. Some died from bullets and bombs, while others succumbed to hunger, thirst, inadequate healthcare and diseases, and trauma/stress. There was an atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the casualty number is placed at 160000 people. It was a tragedy to humanity, as people died and millions were displaced. The refugee situation In the world was at a point of crisis.
The destruction of property marked World War 2. Houses, health facilities, school structures and all kinds of buildings, including market structur...
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