World War II BeginningsWorld War II officially started in September of 1939 when Nazi Germanyinvaded Poland. Prior to the invasion, a lot of factors were starting tocome together, which eventually led to the invasion. Some of these factorsinclude the global economy, the rise of totalitarianism and facism, and theisolationism of the United States. We will explore these factors in depthto gain a better understanding of how all of these factors led to WorldWar II and what roles the United States played.The Global EconomyFollowing World War I, many nations experienced financial struggles.The victors of World War I decided that the losing nations must pay fordamages caused. Germany suffered most of burden of paying for the war.Do to this heavy burden placed on Germany, the nation began to build agrudge against the victorious nations. This war debt also helped AdolfHitler rise to power.
Rise of Totalitarianism and FascismTotalitarianismA totalitarian state is run by the government in the form of a sin-gle-party dictatorship that controls every aspect of it’s citizens lives. Tothe state, the people have no individual rights. Citizens are also ex-pected to obey the government without question. Those who speak upare quickly silenced. Totalitarian states also favor extreme national-ism; everything done must benefit the state. Propaganda is used heavi-ly to force ideals upon the people. Censorship and terror also play animportant part in maintaining the ideals of totalitarianism.RussiaWhen Lenin died in 1924, Joseph Stalinoutmaneuvered his political rivals to gain con-trol of the government. Stalin’s main goal wasto transform the Soviet Union into a powerfulindustrial state. In 1928, Stalin introduced afive-year plan that would help the Soviet Un-ion achieve that goal. There were two maingoals of the five-year plan, the rapid growth ofindustry and to increase farm productionthrough the collectivization of agriculture. Through many of these five-year plans, several of the nation’s resources were used to build steel
Fascism in ItalyFollowing World War I, Italy fell victim to economic and political prob-lems. Many workers went on strikes and in the countryside, peasantsrevolted, seizing the land of their wealthy landlords. With such turmoiloccurring in the country, the middle class feared a socialist revolution.Using the distress to his advantage, Benito Mussolini gained power inItaly. Shortly after coming to power, Benito. Founded the Fascists party.The Fascists focused on glorifying the state, supporting aggressive na-tionalism, and disapproved of democracy. They felt that if rival politicalparties existed, the state would become divided. In 1922 Mussoliniwas appointed prime minister of Italy and increased his power by ap-pointing Fascists to top positions in the government, censoring thepress, and organizing a secret police.
Japan and MilitarismAfter World War I, Japan went through a period of economic prosperityand a democratic government was on the rise. Shortly following this pe-riod, the United States entered the Great Depression and this effectedJapan greatly. Japan’s economy suffered greatly because the country re-lied on foreign trade. Unable to solve it’s economic issues, the people ofJapan looked to the military instead of the government for help. Takingmatters into their own hands, military leaders began to set up a militarydictatorship. Japan’s system was different from that of other countries.Instead of having a single leader, a small group of military leaders con-trolled the government. This military dictatorship resembled a totali-tarian state. The government arrested critics , imposed censorship, andcreated a secret police to hunt down “enemies” of the state.. In order tostrengthen itself, Japan felt that an empire must be established . Withthis in mind, Japan invaded Manchuria, a province in northeastern Chi-na. China protested to the League of Nations when this occurred. TheLeague of Nations condemned the invasion but did not take any furtheraction.Hideki TojoOne of Japan’s military leaders.
The Rise of Nazi GermanyGermany suffered the most following World War I. The German peoplefaced many problems and looked for someone to blame them on. Extrem-ists on both the right and left threatened to revolt. Inflation also plaguedGermany in the 1920s and slowly the people began to have little faith intheir government. A man by the name of Adolf Hitler gained control of theNazi Party in the 1920s. The Nazi Party was described as being a national-istic, anti-communist, and anti-Semitic organization. He used hatred forthe Jewish people to his advantage. He blamed them for Germany’s defeatin World War I and for the economic problems that followed. Hitler con-vinced the German people that they belonged to a superior “Aryan” racethat was destined for world domination. Similar to the United States andJapan, Germany was affected by the Great Depression, and this causedpeople to find hope in the Nazi Party. Rising to power in 1933, Hitler setup a fascist state in Germany. He utilized the strategies similar to those ofStalin and Mussolini to build upon a totalitarian state. The Nazi party usedpropaganda to call the German citizens into a need for hard work, sacri-fice, and service to the state. The secret police, or Gestapo, arrested any-one who was suspected of opposing the Nazi Rule. Like Stalin, Hilterlaunched massive building programs. He also placed strict regulations onwages and prices. Lastly, Hitler began to build up the German military. Atthis point, Hitler was starting to see his dream of German expansion.
The United States and World War IIThe United states did not officially join World War II until December7th, 1941 when the Japanese attacked the United States naval fleet inHawaii. Prior to this, the United States maintained a sense of isolation-ism, only providing supplies to their allies, Great Britain and France. Af-ter this attack, everyday life for citizens was drastically changed. Someof these changes included rationing and drives for various resources.Winning the War on the Home frontThe citizens of the United states realized thatthey must be ready to make sacrifices for thenation should they be called upon. In theSpring of 1942, the government began a ra-tioning program to set the limits of variousgoods such as gas, food, and clothing. As partof this rationing program, families were is-sued ration stamps that were used to buy everything they needed. Apopular slogan used during this ration period was “Do with less, sothey’ll have enough” with “they” being in reference to American troopsoverseas. In addition to rationing, “victory gardens” were planted bymany to grow their own food. Citizens also worked to collect scrap met-al, aluminum cans, and rubbers. These resources were recycled andused to produce war goods. Bonds were also sold to help pay for thecost of the war.The American WorkerWhen the United States entered the war, many armaments weregoing to be produced, so the American worker played a vital role in theproduction of these war-related materials. With many of the men going
This was kind of unusual because prior to the war, those positions wereheld by men. One of the most famous examples of women in the workforcewas “Rosie the Riveter”.
The United States OverseasThere were several key battles and military campaigns that the Unit-ed States executed during World War II. These include the North Africancampaign, “island hopping”, and the European Theater. The North Africancampaign took place in the North African desert from 1940 to 1943. Instrategic terms, this campaign was important because the Mediterraneanand British African Empire were at risk to be attacked by Italian and Ger-man forces. The Battle of Tunisia was one of the decisive battles of the cam-paign. The battle was fought between German and Italian forces and the Al-lied forces, mainly the United States and Britain. At the end of the fight,more than 275,000 Axis prisoners were taken. Fighting for control of Libyaand parts of Egypt, British forces were able to push the Axis back. Since theAxis forces were so dispersed, the Allies were able to gain the upper handin North Africa.In the European Theater, one of thosemost famous battles was that of Norman-dy. This battle was fought between Ameri-can, British, and Canadian forces invadingWestern Europe. Dwight D. Eisenhowerwas named supreme commander of theAllied Expeditionary Force. The Allies setup a planning staff to plan an invasion,which many people know as “D-Day”. OnJune 6th, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops and30,000 vehicles landed on a 50-milestretch of fortified French coastline. D-Day is the largest seaborne invasionto this date.
In the Pacific Theater, the UnitedStates utilized an “island hop-ping” campaign in which essen-tially the United States wentfrom island to island, defeatingJapanese forces. Some key battlesinclude the Battle of Midway andIwo Jima.The Battle of Midway was a twoday long struggle between theUnited States Pacific Fleet andthe Japanese fleet. In a decisivevictory, the United States de-stroyed four Japanese carriersand good portion of their airstrength. The victory ended theJapanese threat to Hawaii and al-so stopped the expansion of theJapanese Empire in the Pacific. Atthe Battle of Iwo Jima, UnitedStates forces fought for and cap-tured the island of Iwo Jima fromthe Japanese as part of the islandhopping campaign. The battle hassince been immortalized by thephotograph of five U.S. Marinesraising the American flag atopMount Suribachi.
ConclusionFighting with the German forces was concluded on May 7th, after Germanysigned an unconditional surrender. Adolf Hitler resorted to suicide. Japanfollowed suit on September 2nd. World War II changed the lives of many,altering their everyday routines. From the American home front to themultiple war theaters in Europe and the Pacific, World War II was an his-toric period of time that should be studied for ages to come.Resourceshttp://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1661.htmlhttp://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/examining-the-beginnings-of-world-war-ii.htmlhttp://www.history.com/topics/us-home-front-during-world-war-iihttp://fresno.k12.ca.us/divdept/sscience/history/totalitarianism.htm