CONTENTS


MUNICH TO THE OUTBREAK OF THE WORLD WAR II:
SEPTEMBER 1938 TO SEPTEMBER 1939

This fateful year saw Hitler waging two pressure campaigns: the first against Czechoslovakia, the second against Poland.

A) Czechoslovakia

  • Hitler had decided to destroy Czechoslovakia:
    • as part of his Lebensraum(living space) policy, and
    • because he detested the Czechs for their democracy,
    • for the fact that they were Slavs, and
    • because their state had been set up by the hated Versailles settlement.
  • Its situation was strategically important – control of the area would bring great advantages for Germany’s military and economic dominance of central Europe.
  • The propaganda campaign in the Sudetenland:
    • Hitler’s excuse for the opening propaganda campaign was that 3.5 million Sudeten Germans, under their leader Konrad Henlein, were being discriminated against by the Czech government.
    • It is true that unemployment was more serious among the Germans, but this was because a large proportion of them worked in industry, where unemployment was most severe because of the depression.
    • The Nazis organized huge protest demonstrations in the Sudetenland, and clashes occurred between Czechs and Germans.
    • The Czech president, Edvard Benes, feared that Hitler was stirring up the disturbances so that German troops could march in ‘to restore order’.
    • Chamberlain (British PM) and Daladier (French PM) were afraid that if this happened, war would break out.
      • They were determined to go to almost any lengths to avoid war, and they put tremendous pressure on the Czechs to make concessions to Hitler.
    • Eventually Benes agreed that the Sudeten Germans might be handed over to Germany.
      • Chamberlain flew to Germany and had talks with Hitler at Berchtesgaden (15 September), explaining the offer.
      • Hitler seemed to accept, but at a second meeting at Godesberg only a week later, he stepped up his demands: he wanted more of Czechoslovakia and the immediate entry of German troops into the Sudetenland.
    • Benes would not agree to this and immediately ordered the mobilization of the Czech army.
      • The Czechs had put great effort into fortifying their frontiers with Germany, Austria and Hungary, building bunkers and anti-tank defences.
      • Their army had been expanded, and they were hopeful that with help from their allies, particularly France and the USSR, any German attack could be repulsed. It would certainly not have been a walkover for the Germans.
  • The Munich Conference, 29 September 1938
    • When it seemed that war was inevitable, Hitler invited Chamberlain and Daladier to a four-power conference, which met in Munich.
    • Here a plan produced by Mussolini (but actually written by the German Foreign Office) was accepted.
      • The Sudetenland was to be handed over to Germany immediately,
      • Poland was given Teschen
      • Hungary received South Slovakia.
      • Germany, along with the other three powers, guaranteed the rest of Czechoslovakia.
    • Neither the Czechs nor the Russians were invited to the conference.
    • The Czechs were told that if they resisted the Munich decision, they would receive no help from Britain or France, even though France had guaranteed the Czech frontiers at Locarno.
    • Given this betrayal by France and the unsympathetic attitude of Britain, Czech military resistance seemed hopeless: they had no choice but to go along with the decision of the conference.
    • A few days later Benes resigned.
    • Scrap of Paper:
      • The morning after the Munich Conference, Chamberlain had a private meeting with Hitler at which they both signed a statement, the ‘scrap of paper‘, prepared by Chamberlain, promising that Britain and Germany would renounce warlike intentions against each other and would use consultation to deal with any problems that might arise.
      • When Chamberlain arrived back in Britain, waving the ‘scrap of paper’ for the benefit of the newsreel cameras, he was given a rapturous welcome by the public, who thought war had been averted. Chamberlain himself remarked: ‘I believe it is peace for our time.
      • However, not everybody was so enthusiastic: Churchill called Munich ‘a total and unmitigated defeat’; Duff Cooper resigned from the cabinet, saying that Hitler could not be trusted to keep the agreement. They were right.
  • The destruction of Czechoslovakia, March 1939:
    • As a result of the Munich Agreement, Czechoslovakia was crippled by the loss of 70 per cent of her heavy industry, a third of her population, roughly a third of her territory and almost all her carefully prepared fortifications, mostly to Germany.
    • Slovakia and Ruthenia were given self-government for internal affairs, though there was still a central government in Prague.
      • Early in 1939 Slovakia, encouraged by Germany, began to demand complete independence from Prague and it looked as if the country was about to fall apart.
      • Hitler put pressure on the Slovak prime minister, Father Jozef Tiso, to declare independence and request German help, but Tiso was ultra-cautious.
      • On 9 March 1939 the Prague government moved against the Slovaks to forestall the expected declaration of independence: their cabinet was deposed, Tiso was placed under house arrest, and the Slovak government buildings in Bratislava were occupied by police.
      • This gave Hitler his chance to act: Tiso was brought to Berlin, where Hitler convinced him that the time was now ripe. Back in Bratislava, Tiso and the Slovaks proclaimed independence (14 March); the next day they asked for German protection.
    • Next Czech President Hacha was invited to Berlin, where Hitler told him that in order to protect the German Reich, a protectorate must be imposed over what was left of Czechoslovakia.
      • German troops were poised to enter his country, and Hacha was to order the Czech army not to resist.
      • Faced with such a browbeating, Hacha felt he had no alternative but to agree.
      • Consequently, on 15 March 1939 German troops occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia while the Czech army remained in barracks.
      • Slovakia was to be an independent state but under the protection of the Reich, and Ruthenia was occupied by Hungarian troops.
      • Britain and France protested but as usual took no action. Chamberlain said the guarantee of Czech frontiers given at Munich did not apply, because technically the country had not been invaded – German troops had entered by invitation.
      • Hitler was greeted with enthusiasm when he visited the Sudetenland.
    • However, the German action caused a great outburst of criticism: for the first time even the appeasers were unable to justify what Hitler had done – he had broken his promise and seized non-German territory. Even Chamberlain felt this was going too far, and his attitude hardened.
    • Other results:
      • Britain and France had lost the help of a strong ally i.e. Czech.
      • Russia was offended at being left out and more suspicious of Britain and France.
      • The British public celebrated their relief that war had been, for the present, avoided. However, there was growing concern that Hitler was not, as Chamberlain believed, just another politician who was open to negotiation. Instead, increasing numbers of people believed that he would continue to behave aggressively and that war would come, sooner or later. Even Chamberlain began to build up British forces against that possibility.

B) Poland

  • After taking over the Lithuanian port of Memel (which was admittedly peopled largely by Germans), Hitler turned his attentions to Poland.
  • Hitler demands the return of Danzig:
    • The Germans resented the loss of Danzig and the Polish Corridor, at Versailles, and now that Czechoslovakia was safely out of the way, Polish neutrality was no longer necessary.
    • In April 1939 Hitler demanded the return of Danzig and a road and railway across the corridor, linking East Prussia with the rest of Germany.
      • This demand was, in fact, not unreasonable, since Danzig was mainly German-speaking; but with it coming so soon after the seizure of Czechoslovakia, the Poles were convinced that the German demands were only the preliminary to an invasion.
      • Already fortified by a British promise of help ‘in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence’, the Foreign Minister, Colonel Beck, rejected the German demands and refused to attend a conference; no doubt he was afraid of another Munich.
      • British pressure on the Poles to surrender Danzig was to no avail.
      • Hitler was probably surprised by Beck’s stubbornness, and was still hoping to remain on good terms with the Poles, at least for the time being.
  • The Germans invade Poland:
    • The only way the British promise of help to Poland could be made effective was through an alliance with Russia.
    • But the British were so slow and hesitant in their negotiations for an alliance that Hitler got in first and signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR.
      • They also reached a secret agreement to divide Poland up between Germany and the USSR (24 August).
    • Hitler was convinced now that with Russia neutral, Britain and France would not risk intervention; when the British ratified their guarantee to Poland, Hitler took it as a bluff.
    • When the Poles still refused to negotiate, a full-scale German invasion began, early on 1 September 1939.
    • Chamberlain had still not completely thrown off appeasement and suggested that if German troops were withdrawn, a conference could be held but there was no response from the Germans.
    • Only when pressure mounted in parliament and in the country did Chamberlain send an ultimatum to Germany: if German troops were not withdrawn from Poland, Britain would declare war.
    • Hitler did not even bother to reply; when the ultimatum expired, at 11 a.m. on 3 September, Britain was at war with Germany. Soon afterwards, France also declared war.

The road to the second world war:

  • 15 March 1939, the German army invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia.
  • 31 March 1939, Britain promised to defend Poland.
  • 22 May 1939, Italy and Germany signed the Pact of Steel to help each other in the event of war.
  • 23 August 1939, to the dismay of France and Britain, the Nazi-Soviet Non Aggression pact was signed by Germany and Russia. The two nations promised not to fight each other.
  • 1 September 1939, German forces invaded Poland.
  • 3 September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany.

WHY DID WAR BREAK OUT? WERE HITLER OR APPEASERS TO BLAME?

  • The debate is still going on about who or what was responsible for the Second World War.
    • The Versailles Treaties have been blamed for filling the Germans with bitterness and the desire for revenge.
    • The League of Nations and the idea of collective security have been criticized because they failed to secure general disarmament and to control potential aggressors.
    • The world economic crisis has been mentioned, since without it, Hitler would probably never have been able to come to power.
  • While these factors no doubt helped to create the sort of atmosphere and tensions which might well lead to a war, something more was needed.
  • It is worth remembering also that by the end of 1938, most of Germany’s grievances had been removed:
    • reparations were largely cancelled,
    • the disarmament clauses had been ignored,
    • the Rhineland was remilitarized, Austria and Germany were united, and
    • 3.5 million Germans had been brought into the Reich from Czechoslovakia.
  • Germany was a great power again. So what went wrong?

A) Were the appeasers to blame?

    • Some historians have suggested that appeasement was largely responsible for the situation deteriorating into war.
  • They argue that Britain and France should have taken a firm line with Hitler before Germany had become too strong: an Anglo-French attack on western Germany in 1936 at the time of the Rhineland occupation would have taught Hitler a lesson and might have toppled him from power.
  • By giving way to him, the appeasers increased his prestige at home.
  • As Alan Bullock wrote, ‘success and the absence of resistance tempted Hitler to reach out further, to take bigger risks’. He may not have had definite plans for war, but after the surrender at Munich, he was so convinced that Britain and France would remain passive again, that he decided to gamble on war with Poland.
  • Chamberlain has also been criticized for choosing the wrong issue over which to make a stand against Hitler.
    • It is argued that German claims for Danzig and routes across the corridor were more reasonable than the demands for the Sudetenland (which contained almost a million non-Germans).
    • Poland was difficult for Britain and France to defend and was militarily much weaker than Czechoslovakia.
    • Chamberlain therefore should have made his stand at Munich and backed the Czechs, who were militarily and industrially strong and had excellent fortifications.
    • Chamberlain’s defenders, on the other hand, claim that his main motive at Munich was to give Britain time to rearm for an eventual fight against Hitler.
  • Arguably Munich did gain a crucial year during which Britain was able to press ahead with its rearmament programme.
  • John Charmley argues that Chamberlain had very little option but to act as he did, and that Chamberlain’s policies were far more realistic than any of the possible alternatives – such as building up a Grand Alliance, including Britain, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the USSR.
  • This idea was suggested at the time by Churchill, but Andrew Roberts argues that this was never a serious possibility because of the many points of disagreement between them.
  • Robert Self believes that he had very few viable alternatives and deserves great credit for trying to prevent war.
  • Surely any ‘normal’ leader, like Stresemann, for example, would have responded positively to Chamberlain’s reasonable policies; sadly Hitler was not the typical German statesman.
    • Having said all this, arguably Britain and France must at least share the responsibility for war in 1939.
  • As Richard Overy pointed out: It must not be forgotten that war in 1939 was declared by Britain and France on Germany, and not the other way round.

B) Why did the two western powers go to war with Germany?

  • Britain and France had complex interests and motives for war. They too had to take decisions on international questions with one eye on public opinion and another on potential enemies elsewhere.
  • British and French policy before 1939 was governed primarily by national self-interest and only secondarily by moral considerations.
  • In other words, the British and French, just like the Germans, were anxious to preserve or extend their power and safeguard their economic interests. In the end this meant going to war in 1939 to preserve Franco-British power and prestige.

C) Did the USSR make war inevitable?

  • The USSR has been accused of making war inevitable by signing the non-aggression pact with Germany on 23 August 1939, which also included a secret agreement for Poland to be partitioned between Germany and the USSR.
  • It is argued that Stalin ought to have allied with the west and with Poland, thus frightening Hitler into keeping the peace.
  • On the other hand, the British were most reluctant to ally with the Russians; Chamberlain distrusted them (because they were communists) and so did the Poles, and he thought they were militarily weak.
  • Russian historians justify the pact on the grounds that it gave the USSR time to prepare its defences against a possible German attack.

D) Was Hitler to blame?

  • Today very few historians accept Taylor’s theory that Hitler had no long-term plans for war.
  • It is true that some of Hitler’s successes came through clever opportunism, but there was much more behind it than that.
  • Although he probably did not have a long-term, detailed step-by-step plan worked out, he clearly had a basic vision, which he was working towards at every opportunity. That vision was a Europe dominated by Germany, and it could only be achieved by war.
  • This is why there was so much emphasis on rearmament from 1936 onwards. Clearly Hitler intended much more than self-defence.
  • According to Hitler’s biographer, Ian Kershaw, Hitler had never doubted, and had said so on innumerable occasions, that Germany’s future could only be determined through war. … War – the essence of the Nazi system which had developed under his leadership – was for Hitler inevitable. Only the timing and direction were at issue.

 

WORLD WAR II AS A TOTAL WAR

  • The Second World War differed in many aspects from all the previous war which resulted in its characterization as a total war.
  • Total war was a revolutionary departure from traditional theories of conflict. The Second World War was a total war due to the following reasons:
    • It was a war in which all the resources of the State and the whole activity of the nation were mobilised for war purposes.
      • The States had mobilized all the material, intellectual, and moral energies of their people; by implication of the enemy community as a whole–its scientists, workers, and farmers–became legitimate objects of war.
    • The strategic bombing was the instrument of total war.
      • It was directed at the enemy population through attacks on economic targets or domestic morale.
      • It was indiscriminate in its effects and bombing strategy was deliberately aimed not at forces in the field but at the war-willingness and material capacity of the society behind them.
    • The omnipotence of the State was exercised as never before.
      • It took control of the activities of every sphere of life and subordinated them to the exigencies of the war.
      • Food and many other things were rationed, private houses requisitioned, factories controlled, the universal blackout was declared- these and many other compulsions brought the war home to ever family.
      • In a sense everybody was made to contribute to war efforts.
    • The scope of the war was world-wide and so was its strategy.
      • Its battles were fought in all the quarters of the globe- in the ice floes of the Arctic region, in the desert of North Africa, in the jungles of Burma and New Guinea, in the Atlantic Ocean and in the islands of the Pacific in the Far East.
    • The Second World War was characterized by unparalleled mobility. Hitler’s Blitzkrieg or lightning war struck down six nations within a period of three months.

PHASES OF THE WAR

  • Unlike the 1914-18 war, the Second World War was a war of rapid movement; it was a much more complex affair, with major campaigns taking place in the Pacific and the Far East, in North Africa and deep in the heart of Russia, as well as in central and western Europe and the Atlantic.
  • The war falls into four phases:
    • Opening moves: September 1939 to December 1940:
      • By the end of September the Germans and Russians had occupied Poland.
      • After a five month pause (known as the ‘phoney war’), German forces occupied Denmark and Norway (April 1940).
      • In May, attacks were made on Holland, Belgium and France, who were soon defeated, leaving Britain alone to face the dictators (Mussolini had declared war in June, just before the fall of France).
      • Hitler’s attempt to bomb Britain into submission was thwarted in the Battle of Britain (July to September 1940), but Mussolini’s armies invaded Egypt and Greece.
    • The Axis offensive widens: 1941 to the summer of 1942:
      • The war now began to develop into a worldwide conflict.
      • First Hitler, confident of a quick victory over Britain, launched an invasion of Russia (June 1941), breaking the non-aggression pact signed less than two years earlier.
      • Then the Japanese forced the USA into the war by attacking the American naval base at Pearl Harbor (December 1941), and they followed this up by occupying territories such as the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore and Burma, scattered over a wide area.
      • At this stage of the war there seemed to be no way of stopping the Germans and Japanese, though the Italians were less successful.
    • The offensives held in check: summer 1942 to summer 1943
      • This phase of the war saw three important battles in which Axis forces were defeated.
      • In June 1942, the Americans drove off a Japanese attack on Midway Island, inflicting heavy losses.
      • In October, the Germans, advancing towards Egypt, were halted and later driven out of North Africa.
      • The third battle was in Russia, where by September 1942, the Germans had penetrated as far as Stalingrad on the river Volga. Here the Russians put up such fierce resistance that in the following February the German army was surrounded and forced to surrender.
      • Meanwhile the war in the air continued, with both sides bombing enemy cities, while at sea, as in the First World War, the British and Americans gradually got the better of the German submarine menace.
    • The Axis powers defeated: July 1943 to August 1945:
      • The enormous power and resources of the USA and the USSR, combined with an all-out effort from Britain and her Empire, slowly but surely wore the Axis powers down.
      • Italy was eliminated first, and this was followed by an Anglo-American invasion of Normandy (June 1944) which liberated France, Belgium and Holland.
      • Later, Allied troops crossed the Rhine and captured Cologne.
      • In the east, the Russians drove the Germans out and advanced on Berlin via Poland.
      • Germany surrendered in May 1945 and Japan in August, after the Americans had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and one on Nagasaki.

 

IDEOLOGICAL FRONTS IN THE WAR

  • Ideology was not only factor in tensions between nations, but ideological conflict as well as national conflict caused tension.
    • In the formation of rival groups, a common ideology was no doubt an important factor, but the most powerful factor was national interest.
  • Conflict between democracy and dictatorship:
    • After WWI, there was an apparacnt triumph of liberal democracy all over Europe.
    • With the fall of three old Royal dynasties in Europe (Hohenzollern, Hapsburg and Romanoff), democratic constitutions were adopted by almost all the countries of Europe.
    • Europe was confronted with the most complete denial of democratic ideals and institutions.
    • Two types of dictatorship sprang up:
      • Communist as in Russia
      • Fascism and Nazism as in Italy and Germany
    • All these were at one in their denunciation of the fundamental ideas of democracy such as individual freedom, freedom of speech and press and right of the people to participate in government.
    • The rapid spread of these ideas and concept constituted a serious challenge to the Western Europe.
  • Struggle between Fascism and Communism:
    • Triangular contest began to rage between the ideological forces of Communism, Fascism and Democracy.
  • War aims of the Allies-
    • When WWII broke out, Mussolini, who was Hitler’s co-adjudant in war formulated ideological challenge in these words: “The struggle between two worlds can permit no compromise. Either We or They.”
    • Roosevelt and Churchill, declaring objective of the war to be the “unconditional surrender” of Axis powers, said, “unconditional surrender means not the destruction of the German populace, nor of Italian or Japanese populace, but does mean the destruction of philosophy in Germany, Italy and Japan.”
    • Thus the ideology of Allies stood in marked contrast to that of the Axis power.
    • In famous Atlantic Charter in 1941, President Roosevelt summed up the war aims of allies as consisting of “Four Freedoms”-
      • Freedom from fear
      • Freedom from want
      • Freedom of worship
      • Political freedom
    • Chamberlain said, “We are fighting against brute force. I am certain that right will prevail.”
    • Hitler refused to surrender and declared, “No means is left to me than to meet force with force.”

 

EFFECTS OF THE WAR

A) Enormous destruction

  • There was enormous destruction of lives, homes, industries and communications in Europe and Asia.
  • Almost 40 million people were killed: well over half of them were Russians, 6 million were Poles, 4 million Germans, 2 million Chinese and 2 million Japanese. Britain and the USA got off comparatively lightly.
  • A further 21 million people had been uprooted from their homes: some had been taken to Germany to work as slave labourers, and around seven million of these were still in Germany; some had been put into concentration camps, and some had been forced to flee from invading armies. The victorious powers were left with the problem of how to repatriate them.
  • Large parts of Germany, especially her industrial areas and many major cities, lay in ruins.
  • Much of western Russia had been completely devastated, and some 25 million people were homeless.
  • France had suffered badly too: taking into account the destruction of housing, factories, railways, mines and livestock, almost 50 per cent of total French wealth had been lost. In Italy, where damage was very serious in the south, the figure was over 30 per cent.
  • Japan suffered heavy damage and a high death toll from bombings.
  • The most notorious was the Holocaust – the deliberate murder in extermination camps of over five million Jews and hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, mainly in Poland and Russia.

B) There was no all-inclusive peace settlement

  • This was different from the end of the First World War, when an all-inclusive settlement was negotiated at Versailles. This was mainly because the distrust which had re-emerged between the USSR and the west in the final months of the war made agreement on many points impossible.
  • However, a number of separate treaties were signed:
    • Italy lost her African colonies and gave up her claims to Albania and Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
    • The USSR took the eastern section of Czechoslovakia, and the area round Lake Ladoga from Finland, and held on to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which they had occupied in 1939.
    • Romania recovered northern Transylvania, which the Hungarians had occupied during the war.
    • Trieste, claimed by both Italy and Yugoslavia, was declared a free territory protected by the United Nations Organization.
    • Later, at San Francisco (1951), Japan agreed to surrender all territory acquired during the previous 90 years, which included a complete withdrawal from China.
  • However, the Russians refused to agree to any settlement over Germany and Austria, except that they should be occupied by Allied troops and that East Prussia should be divided between Russia and Poland.

C) The war stimulated important social changes

  • In addition to the population movements during the war, once hostilities were over, many millions of people were forced to move from their homes.
    • The worst cases were probably in the areas taken from Germany by Russia and Poland, and in the German-speaking areas in Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia.
    • About ten million Germans were forced to leave and make their way to West Germany so that no future German government would be able to claim those territories.
    • In some countries, especially the USSR and Germany, extensive urban redevelopment took place as ruined cities had to be rebuilt.
    • In Britain the war stimulated, among other things, the Beveridge Report (1942), a plan for introducing a Welfare State.
  • Changing Roles for Women
    • The wartime economy presented women and minorities like African-Americans, Hispanics with new job opportunities.
    • The domestic war effort in countries like United States swept millions of women into the workforce.
    • Women worked in the war industries, in factories, and on farms. They drove trucks, provided logistic support for soldiers, and entered professional areas of work that were previously the domain of men. They enlisted as nurses serving on the front lines, and there was a great increase in the number of women serving for the military.
    • After the War, women started demanding equal rights with men which led to several women movements.
  • African Americans in WWII
    • The availability of new job opportunities in American factories also attracted African Americans. African Americans migrated to major manufacturing areas in the North as well as in the West.
    • Despite racism and segregation in the U.S. military, more than two and a half million African American men registered in the military draft, with more than 1 million serving in the armed forces during World War II.
    • While segregation persisted in the armed forces, some change came on the home front. A. Philip Randolph, an African-American labor leader, presented President Roosevelt with a list of grievances regarding the civil rights of African-American workers in the nation’s defense industry. Randolph planned a huge protest. Fearing such a protest would undermine wartime unity, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order banning discriminatory employment practices in war-related work.

D) The war caused the production of nuclear weapons

  • The first ever use of these weapons, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, demonstrated their horrifying powers of destruction.
  • The world was left under the threat of a nuclear war that might well have destroyed the entire planet.
  • Some people argue that this acted as a deterrent, making both sides in the Cold War so frightened of the consequences that they were deterred or discouraged from fighting each other.

E) Europe’s domination of the rest of the world ended

  • The four western European states which had played a leading role in world affairs for most of the first half of the twentieth century were now much weaker than before.
  • Germany was devastated and divided, France and Italy were on the verge of bankruptcy; although Britain seemed strong and victorious, with her empire intact, the cost of the war had been ruinous.
  • The USA had helped to keep Britain going during the war by sending supplies, but these had to be paid for later.
    • As soon as the war was over, the new US president, Truman, abruptly stopped all further help, leaving Britain in a sorry state: she had overseas debts of over £3000 million, many of her foreign investments had been sold off, and her ability to export goods had been much reduced.
    • She was forced to ask for another loan from the USA, which was given at a high rate of interest; the country was therefore closely and uncomfortably dependent on the USA.

F) Emergence of the superpowers and Cold War

  • The USA and the USSR emerged as the two most powerful nations in the world, and they were no longer as isolated as they had been before the war.
  • The USA had suffered relatively little from the war and had enjoyed great prosperity from supplying the other Allies with war materials and food.
  • The Americans had the world’s largest navy and air force and they controlled the atomic bomb.
  • The USSR, though severely weakened, still had the largest army in the world.
  • Both countries were highly suspicious of each other’s intentions now that the common enemies, Germany and Japan, had been defeated.
  • The rivalry of these two superpowers in the Cold War was the most important feature of international relations for almost half a century after 1945, and was a constant threat to world peace.

G) Decolonization

  • The war encouraged the movement towards decolonization.
  • The defeats inflicted on Britain, Holland and France by Japan, and the Japanese occupation of their territories – Malaya, Singapore and Burma (British), French lndo-China and the Dutch East Indies – destroyed the tradition of European superiority and invincibility.
  • It could hardly be expected that, having fought to get rid of the Japanese, the Asian peoples would willingly return to European rule. Gradually they achieved full independence, though not without a struggle in many cases.
  • This in turn intensified demands for independence among the peoples of Africa and the Middle East, and in the 1960s the result was a large array of new states.
  • The leaders of many of these newly emerging nations met in conference at Algiers in 1973 and made it clear that they regarded themselves as a Third World. By this they meant that they wished to remain neutral or non-aligned in the struggle between the other two worlds – communism and capitalism.
  • Usually poor and under-developed industrially, the new nations were often intensely suspicious of the motives of both communism and capitalism, and they resented their own economic dependence on the world’s wealthy powers.

H) The United Nations Organization (UNO)

  • This emerged as the successor to the League of Nations. Its main aim was to try to maintain world peace, and on the whole it has been more successful than its unfortunate predecessor.

I) Other effects:

  • Fall of axis power representing radical nationalist and militarist power (Germany, Italy and Japan)
  • Division of Europe (Eastern and Western)
  • Division of Germany
  • Europe became main platform of the cold war
  • World became bipolar (USA and USSR)
  • Division of Korea
  • Rise of Third World and NAM
  • Rise of Bretton-Woods institutions
  • Rise of GATT
  • Beginning of new age of Human Rights- as a result of Human Rights Declaration by UN in 1948
  • Progress in science

 

VIDEOS/DOCUMENTARIES TO WATCH FOR

WORLDWAR – II ( PART – 1) :

WORLD WAR – II ( PART – II) :

 

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