World War II
World War II describes a global war that took place between 1939 and 1945 although several related conflicts started earlier. The war involved majority of global nations that included all the great powers, which eventually formed two conflicting military alliances. According to Lee (21) World War II is the most extensive war in history and it involved over one hundred million people scattered in over thirty nations. The war was characterized by mass deaths, including the holocaust, as well as strategic destruction of industrial and public centers. As a result, the war attributed to about 85 million deaths, which saw it being marked as the deadliest war in history (Morton 83). The war is said to have officially kicked off on September 1939 when German invaded Poland, which was followed by the declaration of war by France and the UK against Germany. In contest against this decoration, Germany engaged in a sequence of campaigns and agreements with other nations, which enabled it to conquer of control a huge proportion of continental Europe as well as establish the Axis coalition with Italy and Japan (Army War College 22). The Axis powers were contesting against the Soviet Union in annexing for the European territory while the other hand competing with the Allied powers that included the UK as well as the British Commonwealth to gain control over various parts of Africa. This was followed by a declaration of the Soviet Union invasion by the Axis Powers, which ushered the largest theatre of conflict in history (Morton 87). On the other hand, the Japanese Empire, which was intending to control Asia as well as the Pacific and was equally in battle with China, invaded the American and European territories. This enabled it to conquer most of the Western Pacific region but eventually lost the Battle of Midway. This halted the advancement of the Axis powers and subsequently attributed to a sequence of German defeats by the Allied alliance. The war ended with the Western Allied as well as the Soviet Union invasion and the consequent German surrender in May 1945 (Gregory 47). This paper reviews events of the war in order to establish what happened, who was involved, what the American military did in the war, why they got involved, whether they won and what the American role in the war was.
Events of World War II
The World War II was an aftermath of the implications that resulted from the World War I. such implications included radical alteration of the European political arrangement, which resulted from the defeat of Central Powers that included Australia, Germany and the Turkish Empire. Meanwhile, victorious Allies that included the French Empire, Italy, Belgium, Greece as well as Romania gained an immense number of territories, which resulted to the creation of new Nation states out of the collapsed Central Powers. To prevent further global conflict, the League of Nations was founded to enhance collective security and promote settlement of global disputes through diplomatic negotiations (Army War College 35). These efforts however did not bear any fruits as the aftermath of World War I still perpetuated protest among Central powers that hoped to recover territorial and occupancy losses. Such sentiments were particularly expressed by Germany as it incurred severe colonial, monetary and territorial losses, which were perpetuated by the Versailles Treaty. This resulted to a stiff contest between supporters of a new German republic and its opponents. Italy was one of Germany’s entente allies whose loyalty in supporting the new republic was attributed by angered efforts to secure Italian engagement into the war, a promise that Britain and France failed to accomplish through the peace agreement (Dennis 127). Further contest broke between China and Japan after China launched a confederacy campaign against the neighboring warlords. With this campaign resulting to civil war between China and its communist allies, Japan, which had for a long a time sought to conquer China, used this opportunity to invade Manchuria and create its puppet state. China was too weak to resist this invasion and it therefore requested for help from the League of Nations. The request was however rendered invalid by the fact that Japan had withdrawn from the League of Nations and it instead engaged China into a series of battles (Lee 29).
Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler, after failed efforts to defeat the German government, became German’s chancellor at the beginning of 1933. He eliminated democracy and adopted a radical and racially inspired order of governance. He further launched an enormous rearmament campaign, which saw most political scholars predicting a Second global war. These predictions saw various powerful nations securing alliances in preparation for the global war. France for example got into an agreement with Italy to control Ethiopia, which was an important colonial possession that Italy had desired for a long time. Similarly, the UK, Italy and France established the Stresa Front, which was particularly intended to contain Germany. However, the UK engaged in an Autonomous Naval Agreement with Germany, thereby lifting prior restrictions (Army War College 40). On the other hand, the Soviet Union, alarmed by Germany’s intentions to conquer and control various parts of Eastern Europe, engaged in a treaty with France to promote mutual assistance. The pact between France and the Soviet Union however needed to go through a bureaucratic assessment in the League of Nations, which rendered it ineffective. As a result, the United States was concerned with the issues arising in Europe and Asia, and as such, it executed the Neutrality Act in 1935 (Morton 89).
The predicted war broke out in Europe on 1st of September in 1939 when Germany raided Poland under a false claim that the Poles had conducted a chain of sabotage activities against German targets. Two days later, after a British warning to Germany to stop martial operations was ignored the UK and France, followed by the British Commonwealth’s autonomous Dominions declared war against Germany. Germany responded by engaging in U-boat combat against the Allied warships, which later translated into an Atlantic Battle (Gregory 66). The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the Eastern territory thereby dividing the Polish territory into two shares that would be controlled by Germany and the Soviet Union. This resulted into a friendship treaty between the two superpowers, which would allow them to exclusively determine the future of the Polish territory. The signing of the Friendship Treaty saw the Soviet Union coercing the Baltic nations to accept the Soviet Troops within their territory under the “mutual assistance” agreements. Finland however rejected this coercion, which resulted in a Soviet invasion that translated into Winter War and subsequent Finnish concession in 1940 (Murray 134).
Germany attacked Denmark as well as Norway in April 1940 to guard importation of iron products from Sweden as Allies were trying to cut them off by mining the Norwegian waters. Denmark surrendered within two hours of invasion while Norway surrendered after two months. Germany further launched attacks against France as well as various neutral nations that included Belgium and Netherlands. This saw the British forces invading Iceland and Faroes in effort to preempt a potential German attack on the islands. This invasion triggered United States’ interest to protect Greenland, and as such, it engaged in a close collaboration with Danish envoy to create a political framework for official establishment of military bases. Italy attacked France on June tenth in 1941 and claimed to wage war against France and the UK. However, the German’s gained control over Paris and eight days later the French Empire capitulated and was later demarcated into a German and Italian settlement zones (Army War College 42). Hitler offered to end the war in July 1941 but the UK rejected the offer, which saw Germany launching an “air superiority” movement. The plan failed but German launching a strategic bombing exercise against the British cities. Using the newly acquired French ports, Germany enjoyed a significant level of success especially on attacks against the British shipping operations in the Atlantic. However, the British recorded tremendous victory in May 1941 when it sunk the German warship Bismarck. During this time, the neutral America made efforts to help China as well as the Western Allies to win the battle. Its support dated back in 1939 when it amended the American Neutrality Act to support the Allies’ purchase and importation of products (Dennis 129). In 1940, when Germany captured Paris, the US significantly increased its military troops to support the Allies in the battle. Although Roosevelt has vowed to disengage the US into the battle and the American public had continually opposed any direct military participation, the American troops continued to prepare entering the war to defeat Germany. The American engagement into the war led to the establishment of the Tripartite Pact in 1940, which integrated Japan, Italy as well as Germany to form the official Axis Powers. The pact stipulated any nation that would attempt to attack any of the Axis Powers would be forced to wage war against the three countries. The Axis was however expanded in 1940 when three more nations that included Hungary, Slovakia as well as Romania engaged in the Tripartite Pact (Lee 45).
Operations by the Tripartite Pact began with Italy invading the Mediterranean region in October 1940 where it established a blockade of Malta and subsequently subduing British Somaliland. Italy also initiated a Greco-Italian battle following Mussolini’s envy over Hitler’s success. Greece requested the UK for military support, which responded by distributing troops in Crete. This led to Hitler offering support to Italy to stop the British from gaining a foothold in the region as well as safeguard his interests in the Romanian oil (Gregory 77). In December 1940, UK forces launched counter-attacks against the Italian troops in Egypt and East Africa. While these counter-attacks further expanded to North Africa, they were highly successful as Italy lost control over Eastern part of Libya and most of its military troops were taken captive. German however offered assistance to the Italian forces by disbursing military forces in Libya, which drove the Commonwealth forces back to Greece (Morton 93).
With situation relatively stabilizing in Europe and Asia, the Soviets were increasingly wary of growing tensions with Germany while the Japanese were plotting to cease the opportunity created by war in Europe and cease wealthy resources in Southeastern Asia. This brought the two powers together and they signed a joint Neutrality Pact in 1941. Germany retaliated to this arrangement by making significant preparations and subsequently dispensing forces to attack the Soviet Union. These attacks were attributed by Hitler’s belief that Britain was hoping to secure United States’ and the Soviet Union’s support in waging war against Germany hence the reason why it had refused to end the war. He therefore issued a directive to attack the Soviets to eliminate them for plotting against them (Dennis 139). During summer in 1941, Germany secured support from Italy and Romania and invaded the Soviet Union. This invasion translated into significant victory where Germany inflicted severe losses on Soviet’s personnel and material possessions. The attacks in the Soviet Union led to majority of the Axis troops diversifying their operations from France as well as the Mediterranean to the Eastern Front. This resulted to Britain and the Soviet Union reconsidering their grand strategy, and as such, they resolved to establish a military coalition against Germany (Lee 49).
Meanwhile, United States had terminated its trade agreements with Japan after Japan bombed its fleet in Hawaii. As a way of getting back to Japan, America offered to give military support to China when Japan launched its initial invasion in Changsha, which was a strategically significant Chinese city. United States for example banned exportation of aviation gasoline to Japan, blocked other supply routes to Japan as well as supplied China with iron and other mechanical materials to be used against Japan. Japan was however taking advantage of German victories in Europe by invading the Southeast Asian region where it threatened the British as well as Dutch possessions (Dennis 144). In reacting to this move, the US, UK, and other western countries froze the Japanese assets in the East Asian region. Japan, frustrated by the US, UK and Dutch sanctions that seemed to prohibit its progress, started preparing to seize all the European colonies residing in Asia so as to secure a huge defensive perimeter as well as exploit available resources to enhance its progress. However, the US, UK, China and Australia among other western states officially declared war against Japan before it could implement any of its plans. Germany, in solidarity with other Axis countries, supported Japan and waged war against the United States. It justified this attack by claiming that the US had attacked German submarines and commercial ships (Morton 95).
In 1942, the US, UK, Soviet Union and China among other minute or exiled countries agreed to pursue a common objective, which was to defeat Germany. The Americans suggested a direct large-scale invasion on Germany while the Soviet proposed a second front. However, the British suggested engagement of military operations that would focus on peripheral and create a “ring” around Germany. On this note, the British convinced the Americans that engaging in a direct large-scale attack was infeasible, and hence, they should instead aim to drive the Axis powers out of North Africa. Meanwhile, Japan was invading various countries in Southeast Asia where it inflicted severe personnel and material losses on the Allied troops. The Japanese forces also made significant victories in certain parts of China and the Indian Ocean where they bombed the Allied military base (Dennis 149). These simple victories saw Japan becoming overconfident that it could conquer the United States. The victories, however, did not last long as the British and the Americans launched their joint bombing operations against Germany in 1943. They also launching various operations against Japan to breach its Pacific perimeter, eliminate its troops from Aleutians as well as Isolate Rabaul by seizing the neighboring islands. Preparations among members of the Allied Alliance gained momentum when Germany started losing ground on superiority. This took place when Germany started pursuing the Soviet forces at the Kursk Bulge on Fourth of July 1943 (Murray 147). This pursuit led to the German forces exhausting themselves thereby being unable to withstand the well-structured Soviet defenses. On 12 July, the Soviets initiated their counter-offensive operations, which further weakened Germany’s stand in the battle and subsequently indicating that German superiority had ended. This affected German operations especially in the Atlantic, which resulted to significant losses among the German troops and the subsequent termination of possible naval campaigns. On the other hand, the American military troops joined the Chinese forces to retaliate against Japan (Lee 51). They engaged Japan into an expensive battle of attrition while they on the other hand waited for relief from other members of the Allied Alliance. The Allies joined forces with the Chinese and American troops and launched a chain of attacks against the Axis powers. The Soviet Union also intensified its offensive operations against the German forces in regions neighboring the areas where the Allies were operating. This saw the Allies encountering mixed fortunes in that the Japanese launched invasions against British troops in Assam as well as besieged the Commonwealth troops in Imphal (Murray 157). However, in 1944, British troops launched counter-offensive operations that drove the Japanese troops and conquered them at Burma. The western Allies further invaded France and defeated Germany military units in this region. This was followed by the launching of a strategic attack in Belarus, which led to almost a complete demolition of German’s Army operations (Gregory 89). This brought total defeat on the Axis alliance while enhancing significant success on the side of Americans as well as the Allied front. As a result of this defeat, the German troops surrendered to the Allied front and an agreement on “Total Surrender” was signed Seventh of May, 1944. The Americans as well as the Allied front continued with counter-offensive operations against other members of the Axis front and brought their military operations into ruins. However, operations over the next five months were inclined towards Japan as the Allied troop sought for its unconditional surrender. The Americans thus conducted severe bombing on major Japanese cities, which included Hiroshima as well as Nagasaki. This led to Japan’s total surrender and the subsequent signing of surrender documents, which brought the war to an end on Second September, 1945 (Dennis 160).
World War Two a war that was attributed by the negative experiences that various nations encountered during World War I. such nations thus failed to accept defeat, and hence, they sought to wage war in order to recover losses incurred during the first war. Most countries taking part in the Second World War were influenced by Germany, which had experienced severe economic, material and military losses during the first global conflicts. Participants of World War II had distinguished themselves into two forces that included the Axis front and the Allied front. Although America had vowed to maintain a neutral position in the battle, it entered the war in order to get back to Japan after bombing its major cities. As such, America supported China among other members of the Allied Alliance to fight against the Axis powers and eventually defeated them.
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