Revenge played a big role in the cruelty and atrocity associated with World War II. One of the best known examples of revenge in WWII are the civilian bombings by both sides. One of the most devastating was the bombing of Dresden, Germany by the Allies on February 13th-15th, 1945.
Many believe that the bombing of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945 by America, were revenge-motivated. They believe that it was unnecessary because the Japanese had already agreed to surrender. It caused the deaths of thousands of civilians and created horrific destruction. Continue reading
World War II became more brutal as time went on. The brutality was definitely not one sided, however. All countries that participated in WWII committed acts of brutality even against the most innocent civilian. Two examples of this are the Allied bombings and the German Holocaust (Final Solution).
In the Nazi party there was the belief that there were “sub-humans” in the world. According to Hitler, these consisted of several races, particularly the Jews. Hitler had the idea and the means: “Wipe out all sub-humans.” A man named Alfred Rosenberg had the theory: “…and this is how we’ll wipe ‘em out.” Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, executed the Final Solution.
The Final Solution was mass killing of all Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and more. Brutal? Cruel? Horrible? Yes. The Einsatzgruppen were the groups who carried out almost half of these murders. Millions of deaths of all kinds of people that were considered “enemies of the state” resulted.
The Allied (British and American) bombings, mainly on Germany, but stretching to all enemy countries like Japan Continue reading
World War II (1939-1945) began with the German invasion of Poland, and its subsequent division between the Soviets and the Germans. On the Eastern front, the war began with full-time Japanese vs. Chinese war. The Soviets then tried to invade Finland in what is known as the Winter War. They failed.
The next step was the invasion of Western Europe by Hitler and his Nazis. He invaded Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Holland and northern France. (Southern France had a government sympathetic and controlled by Hitler). The Germans also tried to takeover Britain in the Battle of Britain—an aerial battle in 1940. The Germans met with defeat in Britain. Italy then entered on the side of Hitler and took another part of France. The Germans then invaded Yugoslavia.
Throughout WWII Spain under the dictatorship of Franco remained neutral. The other countries that remained neutral throughout WWII were Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, Andorra, Liechtenstein, the Vatican City and Switzerland.
The two main events that led to the globalization of WWII were the attack on Pearl Harbor and Operation Barbarossa. Continue reading
During World War I, Japan had been an ally of Britain, France, Italy, Russia and the U.S. After WWI, America decided to gain territories in the Pacific, and it formed the Pacific Defense Triangle. Japan also wanted to expand and it began a rivalry with the U.S. over the Pacific.
At the same time, Japan began expanding into Asia, particularly into China—a now weak country due to their revolutions and civil wars. In 1931 the Mukden Incident occurred and started sporadic warfare between Japan and China, which lasted until 1937. That same year (1937) the Marco Polo bridge incident came about. This officially started World War II in the East. From then until 1945 there was continuous warfare between China and Japan.
Adolph Hitler and his Nazis were another key factor in bringing forth World War II. Hitler was born in Austria-Hungary. His parents both died while he was still young. He made his living off of an inheritance and also painting post cards. Throughout his adolescence Hitler was involved in anti-Semitic movements. This is key because when he came into power Hitler was set upon practically wiping out the Jewish population in Germany and elsewhere. Hitler also fought in WWI and became a corporal.
After the war he was assigned to infiltrate a group called the DAP. Continue reading
The famous Russian Revolution began with the February Revolution of March 1917. (The reason that it’s called the February Revolution, but occurred in March, is that the West had at the time a different calendar than Russia—the West was one month “ahead.”) The February revolution began with several demonstrations about grievances the people had, and ended with the mutiny of the Petrograd Garrison. The result was forty casualties. The Czar, Nicholas II, was urged to abdicate the throne at this time, which he did.
The Provisional government was then instituted. It constituted of several different parties: classical liberal, communist, socialist, etc….
Vladimir I. Lenin, the person everybody associates with the Russian Revolution, now came into the picture. He had been expelled from college, and subsequently had spent four years reading works on radical thought. He had therefore acquainted himself with, and embraced, Marxism and communism.
In 1902 he wrote What is to be done?. In it he discussed how communism would come about. According to Karl Marx communism would inevitably come about through a proletarian (working class) revolution. However, Lenin contradicted Marx and said that the working class was not smart enough to revolt and professional revolutionaries were needed. Continue reading
The Paris Peace Conference (1919), which ended World War I, was a series of closed-door negotiations between Britain, France, Italy and the United States. The Russians did not participate because they had withdrawn from the war due to their revolution. The Germans were not allowed to participate. They were not even granted visas to enter France while negotiations were going on, except in minor occasions. The Germans were handed the results of the conference and were given basically no choice but to accept them, as were the other losing powers.
The Paris Peace Conference contrasted with the Congress of Vienna, which had been an open-door meeting of all the major powers after the French Revolution. France had been allowed to participate, while in 1919 Germany was not. Another contrast between the two was that the major powers didn’t want Germany to get off as easily as France had.
There were several treaties discussed and signed during the Paris Peace Conference. Continue reading
The assassination of the Archduke of Austria and his wife (1914) provided the Austrians with a great reason to get rid of the nationalist Serbians once and for all. However, they needed German help because the Russians had sided with the Serbs. The Germans gave them what is known as the “blank check.”
Following the acceptance of the “blank check”, Austria gave the Serbians an ultimatum: meet our list of demands or we’ll wage war. They gave the Serbs forty-eight hours to respond. The Serbs agreed to most of the demands, but not to all minute details, so the Austrians waged war. Austria invaded the Serbian states and World War I began.
The several countries that entered the war all had different reasons. France wanted territories from Germany, namely Alsace-Lorraine. The British wanted to deal with the threat of a growing Germany. Germany itself wanted to expand, and of course help the Austrians defeat the Serbs. Italy joined the Triple Entente (France, Britain and Russia) and fought for their causes in 1915. Russia* wanted to help their fellow Slavs.
Germany feared a two-front war (Russia and France vs. Germany) and therefore developed a plan to avoid this—namely the Schlieffen Plan. The strategy was to first rapidly attack and defeat the French and then return to fight the Russians. This plan was dependent, however, on the fact that the Russian army was not modernized and was slow to mobilize. Continue reading