World War II

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World War II I INTRODUCTION World War II, global military conflict that, in terms of lives lost and material destruction, was the most devastating war in human history It began in ! # as a $uro%ean conflict between &ermany and an 'nglo()rench coalition but eventually widened to include most of the nations of the world It ended in ! *+, leaving a new world order dominated by the United ,tates and the U,,R -ore than any %revious war, World War II involved the commitment of nations. entire human a
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  World War II I INTRODUCTION World War II, global military conflict that, in terms of lives lost and material destruction, was the most devastating war in human history It began in ! # as a $uro%ean conflict between &ermany and an 'nglo()rench coalition but eventually widened to include most of the nations of the world It ended in ! *+, leaving a new world order dominated by the United tates and the UR-ore than any %revious war, World War II involved the commitment of nations. entire human and economic resources, the blurring of the distinction between combatant and noncombatant, and the e/%ansion of the battlefield to include all of the enemy.s territory The most im%ortant determinants of its outcome were industrial ca%acity and %ersonnel In the last stages of the war, two radically new wea%ons were introduced0 the long(range roc1et and the atomic bomb In the main, however, the war was fought with the same or im%roved wea%ons of the ty%es used in World War I The greatest advances were in aircraft and tan1s II T2$ WOR3D ')T$R WOR3D W'R I Three ma4or %owers had been dissatisfied with the outcome of World War I &ermany, the %rinci%al defeated nation, bitterly resented the territorial losses and re%arations %ayments im%osed on it by the Treaty of 5ersailles Italy, one of the victors, found its territorial gains far from enough either to offset the cost of the war or to satisfy its ambitions 6a%an, also a victor, was unha%%y about its failure to gain control of China ' Causes of the War )rance, the United 7ingdom, and the U had attained their wartime ob4ectives They had reduced &ermany to a military ci%her and had reorgani8ed $uro%e and the world as they saw fit The )rench and the 9ritish fre:uently disagreed on %olicy in the %ostwar %eriod, however, and were unsure of their ability to defend the %eace settlement The U, disillusioned by the $uro%eans. failure to re%ay their war debts, retreated into isolationism ' ! The )ailure of ;eace $fforts During the ! <=s, attem%ts were made to achieve a stable %eace The first was the establishment >! <=? of the 3eague of Nations as a forum in which nations could settle their dis%utes The league.s %owers were limited to %ersuasion and various levels of moral and economic sanctions that the members were free to carry out as they saw fit 't the Washington Conference of ! <!(<<, the %rinci%al naval %owers agreed to limit their navies according to a fi/ed ratio The 3ocarno Conference >! <+? %roduced a treaty guarantee of the &erman()rench boundary and an arbitration  agreement between &ermany and ;oland In the ;aris ;eace ;act >! <@?, A# countries, including all the great %owers e/ce%t the UR, renounced war as an instrument of national %olicy and %ledged to resolve all dis%utes among them Bby %acific means The signatories had agreed beforehand to e/em%t wars of Bself(defense ' < The Rise of )ascism One of the victors. stated aims in World War I had been Bto ma1e the world safe for democracy, and %ostwar &ermany ado%ted a democratic constitution, as did most of the other states restored or created after the war In the ! <=s, however, the wave of the future a%%eared to be a form of nationalistic, militaristic totalitarianism 1nown by its Italian name, fascism It %romised to minister to %eo%les. wants more effectively than democracy and %resented itself as the one sure defense against communism 9enito -ussolini established the first )ascist dictatorshi% in Italy in ! << ' # )ormation of the '/is Coalition 'dolf 2itler, the Führer   >Bleader? of the &erman National ocialist >Na8i? ;arty, %reached a racist brand of fascism 2itler %romised to overturn the 5ersailles Treaty and secure additional Lebensraum  >Bliving s%ace? for the &erman %eo%le, who he contended deserved more as members of a su%erior race In the early ! #=s, the de%ression hit &ermany The moderate %arties could not agree on what to do about it, and large numbers of voters turned to the Na8is and Communists In ! ## 2itler became the &erman chancellor, and in a series of subse:uent moves established himself as dictator6a%an did not formally ado%t fascism, but the armed forces. %owerful %osition in the government enabled them to im%ose a similar ty%e of totalitarianism 's dismantlers of the world status :uo, the 6a%anese military were well ahead of 2itler They used a minor clash with Chinese troo%s near -u1den in ! #! as a %rete/t for ta1ing over all of -anchuria, where they %roclaimed the %u%%et state of -anchu1uo in ! #< In ! #(#@ they occu%ied the main Chinese %orts2aving denounced the disarmament clauses of the 5ersailles Treaty, created a new air force, and reintroduced conscri%tion, 2itler tried out his new wea%ons on the side of right(wing military rebels in the %anish Civil War >! #A(# ? The venture brought him into collaboration with -ussolini, who  was also su%%orting the %anish revolt after having sei8ed >! #+(#A? $thio%ia in a small war Treaties between &ermany, Italy, and 6a%an in the %eriod from ! #A to ! *= brought into being the Rome(9erlin(To1yo '/is The '/is thereafter became the collective term for those countries and their allies ' * &erman 'ggression in $uro%e  2itler launched his own e/%ansionist drive with the anne/ation of 'ustria in -arch ! #@ The way  was clear0 -ussolini su%%orted himE and the 9ritish and )rench, overawed by &erman rearmament, acce%ted 2itler.s claim that the status of 'ustria was an internal &erman affair The U had severely im%aired its ability to act against aggression by %assing a neutrality law that %rohibited material assistance to all %arties in foreign conflictsIn e%tember ! #@ 2itler threatened war to anne/ the western border area of C8echoslova1ia, the udetenland and its #+ million ethnic &ermans The 9ritish %rime minister Neville Chamberlain initiated tal1s that culminated at the end of the month in the -unich ;act, by which the C8echs, on 9ritish and )rench urging, relin:uished the udetenland in return for 2itler.s %romise not to ta1e any more C8ech territory Chamberlain believed he had achieved B%eace for our time, but the word -unich soon im%lied ab4ect and futile a%%easement3ess than si/ months later, in -arch ! # , 2itler sei8ed the remainder of C8echoslova1ia 'larmed by this new aggression and by 2itler.s threats against ;oland, the 9ritish government %ledged to aid that country if &ermany threatened its inde%endence )rance already had a mutual defense treaty with ;olandThe turn away from a%%easement brought the oviet Union to the fore 6ose%h talin, the oviet dictator, had offered military hel% to C8echoslova1ia during the ! #@ crisis, but had been ignored by all the %arties to the -unich ;act Now that war threatened, he was courted by both sides, but 2itler made the more attractive offer 'llied with 9ritain and )rance, the oviet Union might well have had to fight, but all &ermany as1ed for was its neutrality In -oscow, on the night of 'ugust <#, ! # , the Na8i(oviet ;act was signed In the %art %ublished the ne/t day, &ermany and the oviet Union agreed not to go to war against each other ' secret %rotocol gave talin a free hand in )inland, $stonia, 3atvia, eastern ;oland, and eastern Romania III -I3IT'RF O;$R'TION In the early morning hours of e%tember !, ! # , the &erman armies marched into ;oland On e%tember # the 9ritish and )rench sur%rised 2itler by declaring war on &ermany, but they had no %lans for rendering active assistance to the ;oles ' The )irst ;hase0 Dominance of the '/is -an for man, the &erman and ;olish forces were an even match 2itler committed about !+ million troo%s, and the ;olish commander, -arshal $dward migGy(Ryd8, e/%ected to muster !@ million That was not the whole %icture, however The &ermans had si/ %an8er >armored? and four motori8ed divisionsE the ;oles had one armored and one motori8ed brigade and a few tan1 battalions The &ermans. !A== aircraft were mostly of the latest ty%es 2alf of the ;oles. #+ %lanes  were obsolete  ' ! The 9lit81rieg in ;oland ;olish strategic doctrine called for a rigid defense of the whole frontier and antici%ated several  wee1s of %reliminary s1irmishing It was wrong on both counts On the morning of e%tember !,  waves of &erman bombers hit the railroads and ho%elessly snarled the ;olish mobili8ation In four more days, two army grou%sHone on the north out of $ast ;russia, the other on the south out of ilesiaHhad bro1en through on relatively narrow fronts and were sending armored s%earheads on fast drives toward Warsaw and 9rest This was blit81rieg >lightning war?0 the use of armor, air %ower, and mobile infantry in a %incers movement to encircle the enemy9etween e%tember @ and !=, the &ermans closed in on Warsaw from the north and south, tra%%ing the ;olish forces west of the ca%ital On e%tember !, a second, dee%er encirclement closed !A= 1m >!== mi? east, near 9rest On that day, too, the oviet Red 'rmy lunged across the border 9y e%tember <=, %ractically the whole country was in &erman or oviet hands, and only isolated %oc1ets continued to resist The last to surrender was the fortress at 7oc1, on October A ' < The ;hony War ' )rench and 9ritish offensive in the west might have enabled ;oland to fight longer, but until enough 9ritish arrived, it would have had to be mounted mainly by the )renchE )rench strategy, however, was defensive, based on holding the heavily fortified -aginot line The :uic1 finish in ;oland left both sides at loose ends Dismayed, the 9ritish and )rench became %reoccu%ied with schemes to stave off a bloody re%lay of World War I 2itler made a halfhearted %eace offer and at the same time ordered his generals to ready an attac1 on the 3ow Countries and )rance The generals, who did not thin1 they could do against )rance what they had done in ;oland, as1ed for time and insisted they could only ta1e 2olland, 9elgium, and the )rench channel coast $/ce%t at sea, where &erman submarines o%erated against merchant shi%%ing and the 9ritish navy im%osed a bloc1ade, so little was going on after the first wee1 in October that the U news%a%ers called it the ;hony War ' # The oviet()innish War On November #=, after two months of di%lomatic wrangling, the oviet Union declared war on )inland talin was bent on having a blit81rieg of his own, but his %lan faltered The )inns, under -arshal Carl & -annerheim, were e/%ert at winter warfare The oviet troo%s, on the other hand,  were often badly led, in %art because %olitical %urges had claimed many of the Red 'rmy.s senior officers Outnumbered by at least five to one, the )inns held their own and 1e%t fighting into the new yearThe attac1 on )inland aroused world o%inion against the oviet Union and gave an o%ening to the 9ritish and )rench They had long had their eyes on a mine at 7iruna in northern weden that was
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