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The world has for years been living with the effects of the world wars almost a century after they have come to an end. For the six long years, the world had to endure the harsh economic conditions brought by the war and the massive loss of the loved ones. Families were broken, and many people lost their family members during the war. Economies also collapsed because all the funds were directed towards funding the war. This paper will focus mainly on the Second World War, its progress, and the impact it had on the rest of the world. All the leading world powers played a key role in the Second World War. They were all fighting to attain a global domination and to become the world’s super power. Instead, 60 million people were documented to lose their lives not to forget those who had died and had never been recorded. Countries were also left in ruins after the war, and the majority of them had to start rebuilding from scratch.
The Second World War commonly abbreviated as the WW II was a worldwide clash that took place from 1939 to 1945. The war involved almost all the nations in the world including all of the formidable powers creating two conflicting military associations: the Allies and the Axis. Historically, the Second World War was the most widespread war in history. It had more than 100 million armed workforces mobilized. At the time of the "total war", the chief accomplice put their full economic, engineering, and technical capacities at the service of the war endeavor, obliterated the differences between inhabitant and military wealth (Eubank 49).
The war had mainly been said to have begun on 1 September 1939, when German forces invaded Poland. This resulted in France and countries of the British Empire and the Commonwealth declaring the war on Germany. Germany wanted to establish the largest empire in Europe. The years from 1939 to early 1941 marked the time when Germany captured most of the countries in Europe. The Nazi- Soviet agreements highly influenced on capturing the European countries of the impartial Soviet Union, which captured and annexed six countries in Europe, including Poland. Britain and the Commonwealth countries continued the war against the axis in North Africa and widespread the marine warfare. In June 1941, the European Axis invaded the Soviet Union; this started the biggest land theatre of war in the world’s history, and from that instant on, joined down the key element of the Axis armed forces supremacy. In December 1941, Japan assaulted the United States and the European assets in the Pacific Ocean, speedily conquering large parts of the region. (Dudley 7)
On 1 September 1939, Germany and Slovakia invaded Poland. France, Britain, and other Commonwealth countries declared war on Germany but provided their support to Poland. Britain and France aimed at damaging Germany’s economy by implementing a naval blockade. After signing a cease fire with Japan, the Soviet Union began its invasion into Poland on 17 September 1939. Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland with Lithuania and Slovakia also getting some small shares of the country. In the course of all these happenings, Japan launched its first attack against Changsha, a tactically influential Chinese city, but China revolted by late September.
After the invasion of Poland and a Soviet-German treaty governing Lithuania, the Soviet Union mandated the Baltic countries to permit it to post Soviet troops in their countries as a treaty of "mutual assistance." Finland disagreed with the territorial demands, and, as a result, the Soviet countries invaded it in November 1939. The resulting divergence came to an end in March 1940 with some Finnish dispensations. The United Kingdom and France treated the Soviet invasion as an equivalent of being on the German side. Therefore, they supported the Soviet expulsion from the League of Nations (Mason 100).
The United Kingdom deployed troops to Western Europe, in a phase termed as phony by the British and the sitting war by the Germans. In this event, none of the countries launched the radical attacks towards others until April 1940. Germany and the Soviet Union singed a trade pact in February 1940, according to which the Soviets benefited the German military and industrial equipment in trade for some raw materials to Germany to help avoiding the British barricade (Bullington 100).
In April 1940, Germany launched its attacks at Denmark and Norway in order to secure the iron ore from Sweden. The allies almost disrupted this process. Denmark instantly surrendered, regardless of the Allied assistance; Norway was subjugated within two months. The British dissatisfaction over the campaign by Norway led Winston Churchill to substitute the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in May 1940.
After the resignation of the British Prime Minister, almost immediately, Germany invaded France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg in May 1940. The French Maginot Line faced a faction through the densely wooded Ardennes region incorrectly alleged by French planners as an impassable natural barricade against armored vehicles. In June, Italy assaulted France, affirming war on both the United Kingdom and France two weeks later submitted, and Italy was divided into German and Italian occupation regions and a vacant remnant state under the Vichy administration. On 3 July, the British assaulted the French troops in Algeria to avert its probable apprehension by Germany (Bullington 100).
In the final days of war of France, the Soviet Union engineered its elections in the Baltic States and compulsorily and illegitimately occupied them; it then invaded the area of Bessarabia in Romania. Whereas the amplified collaboration between the USSR and Nazi Germany, which incorporated an extensive economic support, some degree of the military aid, the population trade and border accords contributed to the former de facto by German allies, Soviet conquest of the Baltic States., and Germany wanted to capture North Bukovina. This, together with the rising tensions over spheres of influence showed the difficulty of the further expansion of the Nazi-Soviet association and both states started the countdown to warfare.
During this time, the United States took some necessary steps to help China and the Western allies despite its neutral state. In November 1939, the Americans modified its Neutral Stance Act to permit cash and carry acquisition by Allies. In 1940, following Germany and capturing Paris, the amount of the United States enlarged its marine forces and, after the Japanese invasion into Indochina, America embargoed iron, mechanical parts, and steel against Japan.In September, the United States in advance approved a trade of the American slayers for the British bases. The United States publicity continued to oppose any expressed military involvement into the conflict.
In September 1940, the tripartite treaty brought united Germany, Japan and Italy to sanctify the Axis Powers. The Tripartite agreement predetermined that any nation, with the omission of the USSR, not being in the war invaded any Axis member would be in war against all three. In the meantime, the United States sustained its support to the United Kingdom and China by initiating the Lend-Lease strategy approving the buying of material and other industrial items and putting in place a defense zone straddling nearly half of the Atlantic Ocean protecting the British convoys. As a result, the United States and Germany got engaged into a sustained naval conflict in the Central and North Atlantic by October 1941; despite this the United States continued to be neutral (Corrigan 50).
Hungary, Slovakia and Romania joined the tripartite treaty in November 1940. These nations took part in the next invasion to the USSR and Romania. Romania made the crucial involvement bringing back the area conceded to the USSR and following its leader’s Ion Antonescu aspiration to fight communism. In October 1940, Italy attacked Greece, but within days, Greece revolted and pushed Italy back to Albania. In December 1940, the British Commonwealth forces started countering offensives in the opposition to Italian forces in Italian East Africa ad Egypt. In the early 1941, the Italian forces pushed back into Libya by the Commonwealth forces. When three Italian ships went down to the Royal Navy, the Italian Navy endured some noteworthy defeats putting them out of the commission by transporter assault at Taranto, and defusing more warships at the Cape Matapan.
The Germans got involved supporting Italy. Hitler sent German armed forces to Libya in February, and by April, they had initiated an offensive attack against the weakened Commonwealth forces. In less than one month, the Commonwealth armed forces withdrew into Egypt with the exemption of the overwhelmed port of Tobruk. The Commonwealth tried to extricate the Axis forces in May and June, but they were unsuccessful. In April, following Bulgaria's signing of the Tripartite Treaty, the Germans intruded into the Balkans by attacking Yugoslavia and Greece following a coup. Eventually, they forced the Allies to relinquish after Germany subjugated the Greek island of Crete.
In the Middle East, the Commonwealth forces firstly invalidated a rebellion in Iraq that got the support from the German aircraft from the Vichy-controlled Syria bases, with the aid from the Free French, overrunning Syria and Lebanon to avert the similar occurrences. In the Atlantic, the British people achieved the public confidence boost by plunging the German flagship Bismarck. Conceivably, most notably, during the encounter of Britain, the Royal Air Force had lucratively opposed the Luftwaffe's attack, and the German intimidation campaign ended in May 1941 (Corrigan 56).
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In Asia, notwithstanding numerous attacks from both sides, the battle between Japan and China was at a standstill in 1940. In order to raise anxiety on China by blocking trade routes and positioning Japanese forces better in the occurrence of a war with the Western allies, Japan had the military power of southern Indochina. In August 1940, the Chinese communists instigated an offensive attack at Central China; in retribution, Japan introduced its harsh measures commonly known as the 3-Alls strategy in the engaged areas to diminish human and substance resources for the communists. A continuous aversion between the Chinese communists and the nationalist military finished in armed clashes in January 1941 efficiently ending their collaboration. With the state of affairs in Europe and Asia somewhat secure, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union made some arrangements. With the Soviet cautious of an increasing tension with Germany and the Japanese scheduling to gain from the European warfare by grabbing the resource-rich European assets in Asia, the two sides agreed on a Japanese-Soviet impartiality treaty in April 1941. By distinction, the Germans were progressively preparing an attack on the Soviet Union gathering armed forces on the Soviet border.
On 22 June 1941, Germany and other European Axis members including Finland attacked the Soviet Union in the operation called Barbarossa. The key objectives of this shocking offensive were the Baltic region, Ukraine and Moscow, with an eventual objective of finishing the 1941-year operation in the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line, linking the Caspian and White Seas. Hitler's goals were to remove the Soviet Union as a military power, eliminate Communism, and engender Lebensraum ("living space") by depriving the local population and certification of the entrance to tactical resources needed to overpower Germany's remaining opponents (Bullington 100).
While the Red Army was organizing the calculated counter-offensives prior to the war, Barbarossa mandated the Soviet extreme command to implement a premeditated defense. During the summer, the Axis significantly made gains onto the Soviet territory, exacting massive losses in both workforce and material. (Eubank 79) By the mid August, however, the German military High Command resolute to postpone the offensive of a noticeably exhausted Army Group Centre and sent the Second Panzer Group to strengthen troops proceeding towards central Ukraine and Leningrad. The Kiev attack was overpoweringly victorious, consequential in encirclement, and the removal of four Soviet armies, and it made extra proceeds into Crimea and technologically developed Eastern Ukraine.
In July, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom created a military union against Germany. The British and Soviets attacked Iran to secure the Persian strip and Iran's oil. In August, the United Kingdom together with the United States mutually issued the Atlantic Charter (McIntyre 79).
By the end of the year, at the time the Axis operational intentions in Ukraine and the Baltic area were attained, with only the blockade of Leningrad and Sevastopol enduring, a major attack was against Moscow rehabilitation. After two months of the ferocious battles, the German army almost achieved the outer environs of Moscow, where the worn out troops required postponing their offensive. The Axis forces made the enormous territorial gains, but their movement had failed to realize their main goals. Two key cities stayed in Soviet hands, and the Soviet potential to oppose was not wrecked. The Soviet Union kept a significant fracttion of its military prospective. The blitzkrieg part of warfare in Europe had come to its closure (Bullington 44).
The Soviet union mobilized its reserves in December to attain a numerical equivalence with Axis troops. This, as well as the intellect data that a negligible number of Soviet troops in the East was enough to stop any assault by the Japanese Kwantung armed forces, permitted the Soviets to start a massive counter-offensive that begun on 5 December (Cullen 19).
Japan designed speedily to confiscate the European colonies in Asia to make an enormous defensive boundary extending into the Pacific; the Japanese people would then have the liberty to utilize the resources of Southeast Asia while draining the stretched Allies by combating a protective war. To avert an American involvement while protecting the perimeter, it was further designed to neutralize the United States Pacific convoy from the outset. On 7 December 1941, Japan assaulted the American and British holdings with concurrent offensives against Asia and the Pacific. These incorporated an attack on the American navy at Malaya, Pearl Harbor and Thailand, and the combat of Hong Kong (Dudley 77).
These assaults led the U.S., Britain, Australia, and other Allies officially to assert war on Japan. Germany and the other affiliates of the Tripartite Pact reacted by asserting the war on America. In January, the United States, China, Soviet Union, Britain, and 22 smaller or banished governments issued the statement from the United Nations, which declared the charter of the Atlantic. The Soviet Union did not stick to the assertion; it preserved an impartiality accord with Japan and excused itself from the code of self-determination. From 1941, Stalin determinedly asked Churchill, and then Roosevelt, to start a ”second front” in France. The conflict on the Eastern front became the main theatre of combat in Europe, and the millions of Soviet fatalities dwarfed thousands of the Western Allies (Mason 100).
Germany exploiting uncertain American marine command choices destroyed the Allied shipping off the American Atlantic coast. Despite significant losses, the European Axis affiliates stopped a key Soviet attack at Central and Southern Russia keeping most protective gains they had attained during the preceding year. In North Africa, the Germans opened an attack in January, pushing the British back to the spots at the Gazala Line in February; they were followed by a momentary stillness in a battle which Germany used to organize for their offensives (Cullen 10).
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The Allies established the administrative activities in Austria and Germany. As a result, Germany split into two parts for the eastern and western zones governed by the USSR and the Western Allies, respectively. Degasification plan in Germany led to the examination of the Nazi war criminals and the elimination of ex-Nazis from authority. However, this strategy was aimed at gaining some reprieve and re-unification of former Nazis into West German public (Bullington 48).
In an effort to maintain peace, the Allies created the United Nations, which legitimately came into subsistence on 24 October 1945 and assumed the worldwide affirmation of the Human Rights in 1948, as a universal standard for all the affiliate nations. The union between Soviet Union and the Western Allies started to depreciate before the battle had been over. Germany's territory was divided and led to a creation of two autonomous states - the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany within the boundaries of the Allied and Soviet occupied regions consequently. The rest of Europe also split into the Western and Soviet areas of control. Most eastern and central European nations fell into Soviet zones, which led to the organization of Communist led administrations, with the full or limited help from the USSR occupation authorities. As an outcome, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Albania, and East Germany became the Soviet protectorate nations. Communist Yugoslavia performed a fully independent strategy causing stress for the Soviet Union ( Mason 189).
The post-war division of the world was officiated by two global military powers, the United States-led NATO, and the Warsaw treaty led by the Soviet Union; the long era of political tensions and the military contest between them, called the Cold War, would come with an unprecedented arms race and the surrogate wars (Dudley 56).
In Asia, America seized Japan and controlled the Japanese previous islands in the Western Pacific, while the Soviets captured Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Korea, previously under the Japanese rule, was alienated and seized by America in the South and the USSR in the North between 1945 and 1948. The divided republics surfaced on both sides in 1948, each asserting to be the rightful administration for all of Korea, which led to the Korean War. In China, the communist and nationalist forces recommenced the civil warfare in June 1946. The communist forces were triumphant and formed the People's Republic of China forcing the nationalist forces to withdraw to Taiwan in the late 1949. Arabs in the Middle East responded negatively to the United Nations’ separation Plan for Palestine, and the formation of Israel marked the acceleration of the Arab-Israeli difference. While the European powers tried to hold on to some or all of their colonial territories, their losses of reputation and resources during the warfare submitted this unproductive actions leading to decolonization (Cullen 30).
The universal economy suffered enormously from the war, although different countries experienced different effects. The U.S. came out much wealthier than any other country. The UK and the U.S. followed a strategy of the industrial disarmament in Western Germany in 1945 - 1948. The European economic stagnation was as a result of some global trade interdependencies, and the belated European recuperation took some years. Recuperation started in the mid 1948; this was boosted by the liberalization of the European economic strategy that was the Marshall’s plan (1948 - 1951). The post 1948 West German revival has been termed as a German economic phenomenon. Also, the Italian and French economies bounced back. By disparity, the United Kingdom was in a position of the economic struggle and continued its relative economic turn down for decades. The Soviet Union, in spite of some massive human and material losses, also experienced a swift increase in the production during the instant post-war period. Japan experienced an exceptionally rapid economic development becoming one of the most prevailing economies in the world by 1980s (McIntyre 300).
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