Were they always called World War I and World War II?

Were they always called World War I and World War II?

The short answer is no, though it’s hard to pinpoint precisely when the World War I and World War II—or First World War and Second World War—monikers arose. During World War I, of course, nobody knew that a second global conflict would follow closely on the heels of the first, so there was no need to distinguish it as the first of its kind. After initially referring to the “European War,” U.S. newspapers adopted “World War” once America entered the confrontation in 1917. On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, Britons preferred “Great War” until the 1940s—with the notable exception of Winston Churchill, who reminisced about the “World War” in the 1927 volume of his memoir “The World Crisis.”

“World War II,” on the other hand, first appeared in print all the way back in February 1919, when a Manchester Guardian article used the term much in the way people today predict a hypothetical “World War III.” But it was Franklin D. Roosevelt who in 1941 would publicly label the conflict the “Second World War,” and his fellow Americans quickly followed suit. (In Britain, it remained simply “the War” until the late 1940s.) While Roosevelt may have helped popularize the name, it seems he wasn’t entirely satisfied with it. In 1942 he asked the public to propose alternate appellations, and over the next few weeks the War Department received 15,000 submissions ranging from “the War for Civilization” to “the War Against Enslavement.” Neither these nor Roosevelt’s own choice—“the Survival War”—had staying power. “World War II” and “Second World War” it was—and, as a result, “I” or “First” was appended to the clash that preceded it.

World War I vs. World War II

The First World War (WWI) was fought from 1914 to 1918 and the Second World War (or WWII) was fought from 1939 to 1945. They were the largest military conflicts in human history. Both wars involved military alliances between different groups of countries.

World War I (a.k.a the First World War, the Great War, the War To End All Wars) was centered on Europe. The world warring nations were divided into two groups namely ‘The Central Powers’ and ‘The Allied Powers’. The central powers group consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. The Allied powers group consisted of France, Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and (from 1917) the U.S.

World War II (a.k.a the Second World War), the opposing alliances are now referred to as ‘The Axis’ and ‘The Allies’. The Axis group consisted of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Allies group consisted of France, Britain, the U.S., the Soviet Union, and China. World War II was especially heinous because of the genocide of Jewish people perpetrated by the Nazis.

World War II

Two main oversight organizations were responsible for intelligence activities in World War II for the Allies. These were the British SOE, or Special Operations Executive, and the American OSS, or Office of Strategic Services.

The SOE was active in virtually every occupied country in Europe along with native operatives in enemy countries, aiding resistance groups and monitoring enemy activity.

The American counterpart, the OSS, overlapped some of the SOE operations and also had operatives in the Pacific theater.

In addition to traditional spies, these organizations employed many ordinary men and women to covertly provide information on strategic locations and activities while leading apparently normal lives.

The OSS eventually became what is now known as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), America's official spy agency.

Virginia Hall

An American heroine, Virginia Hall came from Baltimore, Maryland. From a privileged family, Hall attended fine schools and colleges and wanted a career as a diplomat. Her aspirations were thwarted in 1932 when she lost part of her leg in a hunting accident and had to use a wooden prosthesis.

Having resigned from the State Department in 1939, Hall was in Paris at the start of World War II. She worked on an ambulance corps until the Henri Philippe Petain-led Vichy government took over, at which point she moved to England, volunteering for the newly-founded SOE.

SOE training completed, she was returned to Vichy-controlled France where she supported the Resistance until complete Nazi takeover. She escaped on foot to Spain through the mountains, continuing her work for the SOE there until 1944, when she joined the OSS and asked to return to France.

Returned to France, Hall continued to help the underground Resistance by, among other things, providing maps to Allied forces for drop zones, finding safe houses and providing intelligence activities. She assisted in training at least three battalions of French Resistance forces and continuously reported on enemy movements.

The Germans recognized her activities and made her one of their Most Wanted Spies, calling her the "woman with a limp" and "Artemis." Hall had many aliases including 'Agent Heckler,' 'Marie Monin,' 'Germaine,' 'Diane,' and 'Camille.'

She managed to teach herself to walk without a limp and employed many disguises, foiling Nazi attempts to capture her. Her success in evading capture was as remarkable as the prodigious work she accomplished.

Still active as an operative in 1943, the British quietly awarded Hall the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire). Later, in 1945, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by Gen. William Donovan for her efforts in France and Spain. Hers was the only such award to any civilian woman in all of WWII.

Hall continued to work for the OSS through its transition to the CIA until 1966. At that time she retired to a farm in Barnesville, MD until her death in 1982.

Princess Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan

A children's book author may seem an unlikely candidate for international spy induction, but Princess Noor defied any such expectation. The great-niece of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy and daughter of Indian royalty, she joined the SOE as "Nora Baker" in London and trained to operate a wireless radio transmitter.

She was sent to occupied France under the code name 'Madeline', carrying her transmitter from safe house to safe house, maintaining communications for her Resistance unit, with the Gestapo trailing her all the way.

Khan was captured and executed as a spy in 1944. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross, the Croix de Guerre and the MBE for her valor.

Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell

Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell was born in 1921 to a French mother and British father. Her husband Etienne Szabo was a French Foreign Legion officer killed in battle in North Africa.

After her husband's death, Bushell was recruited by the SOE and sent to France as an operative on two occasions. On the second of these visits, she was caught giving cover to a Maquis leader. She killed several German soldiers before finally being captured.

Despite torture, Bushell refused to give the Gestapo classified information, so was sent to the concentration camp Ravensbruck, where she was executed.

She was posthumously honored for her work with both the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre in 1946. The Violette Szabo Museum in Wormelow, Herefordshire, England honors her memory as well.

She left behind a daughter, Tania Szabo, who wrote her mother's biography, Young, Brave & Beautiful: Violette Szabo GC. Szabo and her highly decorated husband were the most decorated couple in World War II, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Barbara Lauwers

Cpl. Barbara Lauwers, Women's Army Corps, received a Bronze Star for her OSS work, which included using German prisoners for counterintelligence work and "cobbling" fake passports and other papers for spies and others.

Lauwers was instrumental in Operation Sauerkraut, an operation which mobilized German prisoners to spread "black propaganda" about Adolf Hitler behind enemy lines.

She created the "League of Lonely War Women," or VEK in German. This mythical organization was designed to demoralize German troops by spreading the belief that any soldier on leave could display a VEK symbol and get a girlfriend. One of her operations was so successful that 600 Czechoslovak troops defected behind Italian lines.

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, early code name 'Cynthia', later 'Betty Pack', worked for the OSS in Vichy, France. She was sometimes used as a 'swallow'—a woman trained to seduce the enemy into sharing secret information—and she participated in break-ins. One daring raid involved taking secret naval codes from a safe within a locked and guarded room. Another involved infiltration of the Vichy French Embassy in Washington D.C., taking important codebooks.

Maria Gulovich

Maria Gulovich fled Czechoslovakia when it was invaded, emigrating to Hungary. Working with Czech army staff and British and American intelligence teams, she assisted downed pilots, refugees, and resistance members.

Gulovich was taken by the KGB and maintained her OSS cover under fierce interrogation while assisting in the Slovak rebellion and rescue efforts for Allied pilots and crews.

Julia McWilliams Child

Julia Child was up to much more than gourmet cooking. She wanted to join the WACs or the WAVES but was turned down for being too tall, at a height of 6'2". Following this rejection, she opted to work in research and development out of the OSS Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Among the projects with which she was involved: a workable shark repellent used for downed flight crews later used for US space missions with water landings and supervising an OSS facility in China.

Julia Child handled countless top-secret documents before gaining television fame as The French Chef.

Marlene Dietrich

German-born Marlene Dietrich became an American citizen in 1939. She volunteered for the OSS and served both by entertaining troops on the front lines and by broadcasting nostalgic songs to battle-weary German soldiers as propaganda. She received the Medal of Freedom for her work.

Elizabeth P. McIntosh

Elizabeth P. McIntosh was a war correspondent and independent journalist who joined the OSS shortly after Pearl Harbor. She was instrumental in the interception and rewriting of postcards Japanese troops wrote home while stationed in India. She intercepted and detected orders of numerous sorts, chief among them a copy of the Imperial Order discussing terms of surrender which was then disseminated to Japanese troops.

Genevieve Feinstein

Not every woman in intelligence was a spy as we think of them. Women also played significant roles as cryptanalysts and code breakers for the Signal Intelligence Service (SIS). Genevieve Feinstein was one such woman, having been responsible for creating a machine used to decode Japanese messages. After WWII, she continued to work in intelligence.

Mary Louise Prather

Mary Louise Prather headed the SIS stenographic section. She was responsible for logging messages in code and preparing decoded messages for distribution.

Prather was primarily credited with having uncovered a previously-unnoticed yet distinct correlation between two Japanese messages which led to the decryption of a pivotal new Japanese code system.

Juliana Mickwitz

Juliana Mickwitz escaped Poland during the Nazi invasion of 1939. She became a translator of Polish, German and Russian documents and worked with the Military Intelligence Directorate of the War Department. She went on to translate voice messages.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was a singer and dancer best known at the time as 'the Creole Goddess', 'the Black Pearl' or 'the Black Venus' for her beauty. But Baker was also a spy working undercover for the French Resistance, smuggling military secrets written in invisible ink on her sheet music into Portugal from France.

Hedy Lamarr

Actress Hedy Lamarr made a valuable contribution to the intelligence division by co-producing an anti-jamming device for torpedoes. She also devised a clever way of "frequency hopping" that prevented the interception of American military messages. Famous for the "Road" movies with Bob Hope, everyone knew she was an actress but few were aware she was an inventor of military importance.

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake

New Zealand-born Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, AC GM, was the most decorated servicewoman among Allied troops in WWII.

Wake grew up in Australia, working early on as a nurse and later as a journalist. As a journalist, she watched the rise of Hitler, well aware of the dimension of the threat Germany posed.

Living in France with her husband at the start of World War II, Wake became a courier for the French Resistance. Among the Gestapo's Most Wanted Spies, she was in constant danger, having her phone tapped and her mail read. Nazi Germany eventually put a five million franc price on the head of the woman they called the 'White Mouse'.

When her network was uncovered, Wake fled. Forced to leave her husband behind, the Gestapo tortured him to death trying to obtain her location. She was briefly arrested but released and, after six attempts, fled to England where she joined the SOE.

In 1944 Wake parachuted back into France to assist the Maquis, where she participated in training highly effective Resistance troops. She once bicycled 100 miles through German checkpoints to replace a lost code and was reputed to have killed a German soldier with her bare hands to save others.

After the war she was awarded the Croix de Guerre three times, the George Medal, the Médaille de la Résistance, and the American Medal of Freedom for her undercover achievements.

If it weren't for the USA, Europeans would be speaking German

It's normal for history books to compliment their readers. So it's understandable that the average American thinks their country defeated Hitler. Obviously, it involved the work of many nations, but if a single one gets the most credit, it has to be the Soviet Union.

According to war correspondent Eric Margolis, a ridiculous 75-80 percent of all Axis casualties during World War II were inflicted by the USSR. The Russians lost about 10 million soldiers, with another 15 million wounded and a further 17 million civilian deaths. The U.S. lost 400,000 troops during the war, about 139,000 of them in Europe.

Historians agree that Germany's defeat at Stalingrad was the turning point of the European war. And it was fighting the Soviets on the eastern front that broke the German military. It even destroyed the famed Luftwaffe. Because of this, by the time D-Day rolled around, Germany was bleeding out. The Allies would probably not have been able to succeed in Normandy if the Soviets hadn't already done so much. Then, after taking Berlin in 1945, the USSR turned around and crushed Japan's largest army in 11 days.

It was fully accepted at the time that Stalin saved everyone's butts. Both FDR and Churchill "lavished praise and thanks on the Soviet Union" for its "gigantic effort" in defeating Hitler. It was only with the onset of the Cold War that people stopped giving them credit.


By 1914, trouble was on the rise in Europe. Many countries feared invasion from the other. For example, Germany was becoming increasingly powerful, and the British saw this as a threat to the British Empire. The countries formed alliances to protect themselves, but this divided them into two groups. Germany and Austria-Hungary had been allies since 1879. They had then formed the Triple Alliance with Italy in 1882. France and Russia became allies in 1894. They then joined with Britain to form the Triple Entente.

In 1908, Austria-Hungary had taken over Bosnia, a region next to Serbia. Some people living in Bosnia were Serbian, and wanted the area to be part of Serbia. One of these was the Black Hand organization. They sent men to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria when he visited Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. They all failed to kill him with grenades while he passed through a large crowd. But one of them, a Serbian student named Gavrilo Princip, shot him and his pregnant wife with a pistol.

Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the assassination. Germany supported Austria-Hungary and promised full support should it come to war. Austria-Hungary sent a July Ultimatum to Serbia, listing 10 very strict rules they would have to agree to. Many historians think that Austria-Hungary already wanted a war with Serbia. Serbia agreed to most of the ten rules on the list, but not all of them. Austria-Hungary then declared war on Serbia. This quickly led to a full-scale war. [8] Both countries' allies became involved in the war in a matter of days.

Russia joined the war on Serbia's side because the people of Serbia were Slavic just like Russia and the Slavic countries had agreed to help each other if they were attacked. Since the Russian Empire was a large country it had to move soldiers closer to the war, but Germany feared that Russia's soldiers would also attack Germany. Russia did not like Germany because of things Germany had done in the past to become stronger. Germany declared war on Russia, and began to carry out a plan created long before to fight a war in Europe. Because Germany is in the middle of Europe, Germany could not attack to the east towards Russia without weakening itself in the west, towards France. Germany's plan involved quickly defeating France in the west before Russia was ready to fight, and then moving her armies to the east to face Russia. Germany could not quickly invade France directly, because France had put a lot of forts on the border, so Germany invaded the neighboring country of Belgium to then invade France through the undefended French/Belgian border. Great Britain then joined the war, saying they wanted to protect Belgium. Some historians think that even if Germany had stayed out of Belgium, the British would have still joined the war to help France.

Soon most of Europe became involved. The Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) joined the war on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary. It is not clear why they entered or chose to fight on their side, but they had become friendly to Germany. Although Italy was allied with German and Austria-Hungary, they had only agreed to fight if those countries were attacked first. Italy said that because Austria-Hungary had attacked Serbia first, they did not need to fight. They also had started to dislike Austria-Hungary, so in 1915, Italy joined the war on the Allied Powers' side.

Germany was allied with Austria-Hungary. Russia was allied with Serbia. The German government was afraid that because Austria-Hungary had attacked Serbia, Russia would attack Austria-Hungary to help Serbia. Because of this, Germany felt it had to help Austria-Hungary by attacking Russia first, before it could attack Austria-Hungary.

The problem was that Russia was also friends with France, and the Germans thought the French might attack them to help Russia. So the Germans decided that they could win the war if they attacked France first, and quickly. They could mobilize very quickly. They had a list of all the men who had to join the army, and where those men had to go, and the times of every train that would carry those men to where they would have to fight. France was doing the same thing, but could not do it as quickly. The Germans thought that if they attacked France first, they could 'knock France' out of the war before Russia could attack them.

Russia had a big army, but Germany thought that it would take six weeks to mobilize and a long time before they could attack the Central Powers. That wasn't true, because the Russian Army mobilized in ten days. Also, the Russians drove deep into Austria.

Britain was allied with Belgium, and became quickly involved in the war. Britain had promised to protect Belgian neutrality. Germany passed through Belgium to reach Paris before Russia could mobilize and open up a second front against them. On August 4, 1914, Britain declared war against Germany in support of Belgium. Britain had the biggest empire (it ruled over a quarter of the world). If Germany conquered France, it might take Britain and France's colonies and become the most powerful and biggest empire in the world.

Britain was also worried about Germany's growing military power. Germany was developing its large army into one of the most powerful in the world. The British Army was quite small. The British Royal Navy was the largest and best in the world, and in the 19th century that was enough to keep other naval powers from attacking. Germany was a land power, and Britain was a sea power. But now the Germans were building a large navy. This was seen as a threat to Britain. However, the decision to declare war was taken under its alliance with Belgium in the Treaty of London (1839). The Government might have decided differently. No-one foresaw how long the war would last, and what the terrible costs would be.

The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) went into the war because it was secretly allied to Germany and two Turkish warships manned by German Navy personnel bombarded Russian towns.

Britain also fought against Turkey because the Ottoman Empire was supporting Germany. Britain did not have any animosity towards the Turks. [10] However, by fighting the Turks in the Mesopotamia region (in what is now called Iraq), in the Arabian Peninsula and other places, Britain was able to defeat them with help from the British Indian Army. [11] Later, after the War ended, Britain was able to get some areas from the old Turkish empire which was breaking up, and to add them to the British Empire. [11]

Greece went into the war because its leader supported the Allied cause. Greece and Serbia had become independent, but many Greeks still lived in lands that were once Greek but were now in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Having recently won the Balkan Wars, the Greeks especially wanted to control other land to the north that was under Bulgarian and Turkish rule, so they declared war. Turkey killed most of the Greek army as the Greeks tried to regain parts of Turkey. Another war started when the Greeks bombed a train. Turkey swept Greece back into their own territory. From then on the Greeks never again declared war, while Turkey had one of the biggest armies in the world.

Bulgaria, like Greece and Serbia, was owned by Turkey before Bulgaria broke away from Turkey. Bulgaria claimed a lot of Turkish land as belonging to Bulgaria. The Serbians and Greeks felt cheated because they felt the land belonged to Greece or Serbia. The Greeks and Serbians took back the land which angered Bulgaria and led to the country becoming allies with Turkey. They declared war on Serbia and Greece, but Bulgaria lost this war.

The Russian Revolution makes Russia fight Germany and the Bolsheviks at the same time. Russia surrendered to Germany due to the fact that the Russians were fighting against the Soviets as well. It needed to get out of the war, so they payed Germany lots of German marks to make them stop fighting between them so they could focus on fighting the Soviets.

Most people thought the war would be short. They thought the armies would move around quickly to attack each other and one would defeat the other without too many people getting killed. They thought the war would be about brave soldiers — they did not understand how war had changed. Only a few people, for example Lord Kitchener said that the war would take a long time.

In the beginning of the war, Italy was in the Central Powers. But then Italy changed the side of the Entente Powers because they had promised land across the Adriatic sea.

Germany's generals had decided that the best way to defeat France was to go through Belgium using a plan called the Schlieffen Plan. This was invented by the German Army Chief of Staff, Alfred Von Schlieffen. They could then attack the French army at the north side and the south side at the same time. The German Army went into Belgium on August the 4th. On the same day, Great Britain started a war on Germany, because Britain was a friend of Belgium. The British had said some time before, in 1839, that they would not let anyone control Belgium, and they kept their promise.

When the Germans got to the Belgian city of Liège, the Belgians fought very hard to stop them from coming into the city. The Germans did finally push the Belgians out of the city, but it had taken longer than the German generals had planned. Then the Germans attacked the north side of the French army. The French and the British moved men up to fight the Germans. They could do this because the Belgians had fought so long at Liège. But the Germans pushed the French back at the frontiers, and the British held the Germans back at Mons, but afterwards they also fell back to join up with the retreating French army, until they were stopped at the river Marne. This was the First Battle of the Marne or Miracle of the Marne.

In the East, the Russians had attacked the Germans. The Russians pushed back the Germans, but then the Germans defeated the Russians at the Battle of Tannenberg.

Trench warfare killed great numbers of soldiers. New weapons, such as machine guns, and long-range artillery had an increased rate of fire that cut down huge numbers of soldiers during mass charges, a tactic leftover from older warfare. The men on both sides took spades and dug holes, because they did not want to be killed. The holes joined up into trenches, until the lines of trenches went all the way from Switzerland to the North Sea. In front of the trenches, there was barbed wire that cut anyone who tried to climb over it, and land mines that blew up anyone who tried to cross. Late in the war, poison gas was also an important weapon.

The new machine guns, artillery, trenches and mines made it very difficult to attack. The generals had fought many wars without these, so they ordered their armies to attack in the old style of marching in rows- allowing the enemy to shoot them down easily. At the Battle of the Somme in 1916 60,000 British men died in a single day. It was one of the bloodiest days in the history of the British army. Late in the war the British and French invented tanks and used them to attack entrenched Germans but could not make enough of them to make a big difference. The Germans invented special Sturmabteilung tactics to infiltrate enemy positions, but they also were too little, too late.

The British used whistles to communicate to other soldiers, so before they shelled the German trenches, they would sound the whistle. However, the Germans caught on to this tactic after a while, so after the shelling, when the British soldiers came to finish off the German soldiers, the Germans were ready with their machine guns, because they knew the British were coming.

Airplanes were first used extensively in World War I. Airplanes were not used very much in fighting before World War I. It was the first war to use airplanes as weapons. Airplanes were first used for reconnaissance, to take pictures of enemy land and to direct artillery. Generals, military leaders, were using airplanes as an important part of their attack plans at the end of the war. World War I showed that airplanes could be important war weapons.

Airplanes in World War I were made of wood and canvas, a type of rough cloth. They did not last for a long time. They could not fly very fast at the beginning of the war. They could only fly up to 116 kilometers per hour, or 72 miles per hour. At the end of the war they could fly up to 222 kilometres per hour (138 miles per hour). But they could not fly as fast as planes today. Guns were put on planes for the first time during the war. Pilots, people who fly the plane, used the guns to shoot enemy planes. One pilot used metal sheets, pieces of metal, to armor his airplane. Other pilots began using metal sheets, too. Pilots also made their airplanes better with machine guns, guns that shoot bullets much faster. Machine guns made fighting harder and more dangerous between airplanes.

Pilots had to wear certain clothes when flying an airplane in World War I because they flew high where the air is cold. The pilot's clothes kept them warm and protected them from the wind and cold. Pilots wore a leather coat to protect their bodies. They wore a padded helmet and goggles, large glasses with special lenses, to protect their head and face. They wore a scarf around their neck. The scarf kept the wind from blowing against their neck when they turned their head.

The German leaders decided to use submarines. These submarines were named U-boats, from the German word Unterseeboot (meaning underwater boat). The U-boats attacked passenger ships such as RMS Lusitania carrying civilians to the United Kingdom. They did not follow the laws of war, because the British would be able to easily destroy them if they did. America was selling weapons to Germany's enemies but not to Germany, thus not being neutral ("neutral" means to not take a side during a conflict). Many American and British noncombatants were killed by the submarines.

Germany also wrote a secret telegram note to Mexico in code suggesting that the two countries work together to attack the United States. This note is called the Zimmerman Telegram because it was sent by Arthur Zimmerman. It offered Mexico land in the southwestern United States that the United States took in previous wars. Spies from the United Kingdom found out about the note and told the United States. American people became angry and many decided that they wanted their country to enter the war against Germany. For the Zimmermann Telegram as well as the sinking of American ships by German U-boats, on April 6, 1917 the United States declared war against Germany and joined the Allies. [12]

The defeat of Russia on the Eastern Front caused unrest inside the Empire.

The First Russian Revolution Edit

In 1917, there was a revolution in Russia. The Tsar Nicholas II had to say he would not be Tsar any more, and that the people should have power. At first it was thought that Russia would fight harder now that the Tsar was gone. However, the Russian people did not want to fight anymore, because there was not sufficient food, appropriate armament, or adequate roads to supply its army. The war had been putting burdens on them, and many of them were poor and hungry. They began to hate their new government because it would not stop the war.

The Second Russian Revolution Edit

Then, there was the October Revolution. Two factions fought to rule over Russia. The Mensheviks lost against the Bolsheviks. The leader of the Bolsheviks was Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) a Communist who followed the ideas of Karl Marx. The new government asked the Germans for peace and signed a peace treaty called Brest-Litovsk with the Central Powers in March 1918 at the city of Brest-Litovsk. The Germans and Russians stopped fighting. This gave Germany land in Eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea including the Baltics, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. Finland also gained independence during the treaty.

After the war, the Germans had to agree to the Treaty of Versailles. Germany had to pay approximately $31.5 billion [13] in reparations. They also had to take responsibility for the war. Part of the treaty said the countries of the world should come together to make an international organization to stop wars from happening. This organization was called the League of Nations. The United States Senate did not agree with this, even though it was the idea of the US president, Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow Wilson tried to tell the American people that they should agree, but the United States never joined the League of Nations. Problems with the Treaty in Germany would later lead to the World War II.

Who Were the Allies in World War I?

The Allied Powers in World War I consisted of France, Russia, Great Britain, Japan, Italy and the United States. They fought against a group of European countries known as the Central Powers that were formed by a treaty called the Triple Alliance.

Britain, France, and Russia created the -Triple Entente- which was a treaty intended to unite the three countries against any potential invasion by the Triple Alliance, despite Britain and France previously having different national and economic goals based on colonialism. The Triple Alliance originally consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. Italy eventually left the Triple Alliance and joined the Allied powers later in the war. The Triple Entente was joined by Japan and unofficially by the United States later in the war.

Japan entered the war on the side of the Allied powers after Germany refused to relinquish certain territories to China's control, and in doing so, honored the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance was a treaty made between Britain and Japan. The United States joined the war in 1917 after German submarine crews attacked shipping trade routes, breaking the neutrality between the countries. The United States remained an associated power to the Triple Entente rather than open allies, under the premise of avoiding escalated conflicts with the Triple Alliance.

Why World War I Became the 'Forgotten War'

The Great War, as it was known before we started capitalizing and numbering our world wars, is remembered as anything but "Great" now. If, that is, it's remembered at all. World War I (WWI) remains the only major American war of the 20th century not commemorated with a memorial in the nation's capital in Washington, D.C. WWI lacks the deep historical reverence, at least among many Americans, that World War II or even the Civil War enjoys. It doesn't carry the hardened cachet of the Vietnam War or Korean War. It doesn't boast the acclaimed movies. Or the TV shows.

Yet 100 years after it ended — the armistice between Germany and the Allies that put an end to World War I was signed at 11:11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — scholars continue to highlight ways that the Great War changed America and shapes it even now. It's worth remembering.

Stepping Onto the World Stage

After years of promising to stay out of the conflict in Europe — and winning a second term with the slogan "He Kept Us Out of War" — President Woodrow Wilson finally asked Congress, on April 2, 1917, to go to war. German submarines were attacking practically any boat that crossed their paths, and the Germans were working to lure Mexico onto its side. President Wilson — with at least some portion of the American public behind him (many saw an American intervention as an ennobling effort) — acted. And a full-blown world war was born.

It was during World War I that America first assumed its oversized role in world affairs, which it still holds today. The war also provided the U.S. federal government a chance to flex some newfound power at home, too. World War I began, remember, barely a half-century after the country was nearly ripped apart in its own civil war. In the early 20th century, a united American government — as united as a democracy can be — began to show its strength.

"It was kind of an auditioning, if you will, of the kind of rise of a very large militarized society that we see in World War II and thereafter," says Andrew J. Huebner, a history professor at the University of Alabama and the author of "Love and Death in the Great War."

By the time the Americans landed in Europe and were gathered enough to fight their first real fight — at the Battle of Cantigny in France, on May 28, 1918 — Europe had been at war for more than three years. (The first Battle of the Marne, in Germany's initial push into France, was in September of 1914). By the time 1918 was out, the Americans had helped win the war and justify everything it took to get them there.

How WWI Is Relevant Today

At home, as the military industry took hold, women — still without the right to vote — became instrumental in the war effort. From The National World War I Museum and Memorial, in Kansas City, Missouri:

The role of women in WWI is recognized by many as a stepping stone to passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

African-Americans, too, played a major part in the war. Despite facing racism at home, as many as 400,000 black soldiers served, mostly in segregated companies. Many saw it as an opportunity to gain rights back home. "[C]ivil rights activists were disappointed when Wilson's war for democracy failed to topple Jim Crow at home. For a long time, the historiography ended there," historian Jennifer D. Keene writes in The American Historian. "Recent histories, however, argue that the war was a pivotal moment when new militancy, ideologies, members, and strategies infused the civil rights movement."

Says Huebner: "If you look at the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement, no one would say that World War I compelled it or created those movements. But it sort of pushed the ball down the field on those movements."

The victory itself changed the rest of the world, too, of course. Old empires toppled and new boundaries were drawn, notably in what now is considered the Middle East. Those new boundaries sparked debates that continue today.

And at home in the United States, the growth of federal power in tackling a global war created reverberations regarding civil liberties and surveillance — among many other social topics — that echo years later, notably in America's response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, according to Keene:

History, historians like to say, will teach us if we let it. But because World War I doesn't resonate with the public as other wars do, some of the lessons of the Great War threaten to be lost. That, perhaps, is the biggest reason we need to look back on World War I today.

"We should remember it because people went through it," Huebner says. "One hundred thousand or so Americans dead. A way greater number than that wounded. Imagine that radiating across all the families that experienced it. That deserves to be remembered and honored."

The armistice signed on Nov. 11, 1918, between the Allies and Germany in a rail car in the Compiègne Forest ended the war, but a permanent peace wasn't officially cemented until June 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty severely punished Germany, forcing it to give up 10 percent of its land, all of its colonies, pay billions of dollars in reparations and, most galling to Germans, accept guilt for starting the war. Anger at the treaty in Germany led to the rise of Adolf Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party. When Germany defeated France at the start of World War II, Hitler had the French sign an armistice in the same rail car in the same forest where WWI ended.

The UK declared war on August 4, 1914, and New Zealand joined immediately after. By August 29, New Zealand had successfully captured Samoa—only the second German territory to fall since the war began. Within months, New Zealand troops, alongside those from Australia, began to arrive in Europe. They quickly gained the nickname Kiwis, as an image of New Zealand’s national bird was featured on many of their military badges, emblems and insignias. Incredibly, some 100,444 total New Zealanders saw active service during the First World War—equivalent to 10 percent of the entire country’s population.

English-speaking soldiers frequently found themselves serving alongside French-speaking soldiers in the First World War, often with little chance of one understanding the other. So when French soldiers would exclaim il n’y a plus! meaning “there’s no more!” the English soldiers quickly commandeered the expression and Anglicized it as napoo, which they took to mean finished, dead, or completely destroyed.

History of The Second World War and Peace Settlement

In his book entitled “The Second World War”, Cyril Falls says that the World War II was essentially a war revenge initiated by Germany German National Socialism stood first and foremost for revenge.

The other aims, the ‘living room’ to be obtained by the subjugation of neighbouring states, the absorption of all Teutonic or so-called Teutonic population

The colonisation of agricultural districts like the Ukraine, the control of all major industries in Europe, were either the means of consolidating the revenge once achieved, or the expression of purely predatory instinct such as had always flourished in Prussia and were later on diffused all over Germany Hitler stood for rearmament and revenge and then for loot and German domination.

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(1) The Treaty of Versailles had in itself the germs of the war of 1939. Germany was very badly treated. She was forced to sign the Treaty at the point of bayonet and the Treaty itself was based on the spirit of revenge. Germany was deprived of her colonies and concessions abroad. She was deprived of her territories in Europe. She was cut into two parts by the establishment of the Polish Corridor.

Her navy was completely destroyed. Her army was reduced to an insignificant position. She was deprived of her coal and steel resources and was burdened with reparations which it was impossible for her to pay. Her soil was occupied by the foreign troops to enforce the provisions of the Treaty. The Allied Troops stationed on the German soil did not behave properly towards the people and created unhappy memories.

The French occupation of the Ruhr Valley added insult to injury. The result was that the problems facing the newly created Republic of Germany were so big that it was impossible for her statesmen to cope with them. The democratic states of Western Europe did nothing to help the Weimar Republic to strengthen her hold over the people and she had to meet opposition, often armed, of the extremists from the Right and the Left.

On account of its own nationalistic outlook and reliance on the army, the German Republic was more severe with the Radicals than with the reactionaries. The foundations of democracy in Germany remained as weak as they could be. The political extremists enjoyed legal protection under the Weimar constitution although they themselves did not bother about the legal niceties.

The introduction of proportional representation multiplied the number of political parties in the country and made the ministries unstable. The people of Germany demanded a revision of the Treaty but there was no possibility of getting it done on account of opposition of France which considered the Peace Settlement of 1919-20 as the only tangible guarantee of security. France felt that any concession given to Germany would weaken the whole structure, and hence refused a revision of the Treaty which alone could satisfy the Germans.

The Weimar Republic struggled hard to cope with the situation but ultimately it lost the fight. It was under these circumstances that the Nazi Party began to gain ground on the German soil p .id in January 1933 Hitler, its leader, was appointed the Chancellor. To begin with the Nazis followed a very cautious policy and tried to silence the suspicions of the other powers with regard to their future programme of action.

Hitler took pains to emphasise that he stood for peace and to prove his bona fides, he entered into a Treaty with Poland in 1934 and with England in 1935. When there was a revolt in Austria in 1934, Hitler denied that he had any hand in it The Saar Plebiscite held in 1935 went in favour of Germany. However, after having consolidated their position at home and strengthened their military resources, the Nazis began to unfold their inner aims and objects. The Rhineland was occupied in March 1936. Austria was annexed in 1938.

The Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia were encouraged to demand their union with Germany and Hitler openly backed their demands. As Great Britain had already guaranteed military support to Czechoslovakia there was every possibility of a war.

However, Chamberlain went personally to Germany and ultimately by the Munich Pact, Czechoslovakia was forced to submit to the demands of Germany. War was avoided at the cost of the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia although Chamberlain claimed that he had brought “peace with honour.” Although there was some relief at the idea that war had been averted, many agreed with the view of Churchill that the Munich Agreement was “a total unmitigated defeat” for Great Britain.

The peace which followed the surrender at Munich lasted hardly for 11 months. In defence of policy of appeasement of Chamberlain it was contended that Great Britain was not at all ready for war. After 1919, she had reduced her military strength to a dangerous point in the name of economy. The British army was short of tanks. Although the Royal Air Force was efficient, it was no match for the German Air Force.

There was no conscription in the country. The training of the second line of national defence, the Territorial Army, was hopelessly inadequate. British statesmen, British publicists and the British nation as a whole, were responsible for the sad state of affairs. No British Government, no political party and no organ of public opinion had demanded that the military defence of the country must be put on a war footing.

The voice of Churchill was the solitary voice in the wilderness. The British public opinion and her statesmen ought to have stopped Hitler when he ordered the German troops to march into the Rhineland in March 1936. They ought to have intervened on the occasion of Japanese occupation of Manchuria and the Italian conquest of Abyssinia. They ought not to have allowed Hitler to annex Austria without risking a war.

Even in the case of Czechoslovakia, the British Government ought to have adopted a policy of “no surrender”. As it was, Hitler and his other partners in the Berlin- Rome-Tokyo Axis were allowed to have their conquests without any let or hindrance.

Such an attitude was bound to create an unfortunate impression in the minds of the dictators and encourage them in their aggressive designs. As success followed success, with little more than verbal interference, they same bolder and bolder. They saw no point in stopping when it was so easy to go on.

After the annexation of the rest of Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939, Hitler concentrated his attention on Danzig and the Polish Corridor. He followed the old technique of press campaign in which the atrocities of the Poles over the Germans were condemned.

On 31 March 1939, Chamberlain declared that Great Britain and France would help Poland if she was attacked by Germany. However, Hitler defied the warning and threatened the Poles with dire consequences if they continued to be obstinate.

In April 1939, Great Britain and France guaranteed the independence of Greece and Rumania. Mussolini annexed Albania in April 1939. President Roosevelt appealed on 15 April 1939 to both Hitler and Mussolini to help the cause of peace by giving a 10-year pledge of non-aggression against certain states, but his request was rejected. On 28 April 1939, Germany denounced her naval agreement of 1935 with Great Britain.

She also denounced the non-aggression Pact of 1934 with Poland and demanded the return of Danzig and the right to construct and maintain a rail and motor road across the Polish Corridor to East Prussia. Poland rejected those demands on 5 May 1939.
On 22 May 1939, Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister of Germany, and Ciano, Foreign Minister of Italy, signed a 10-year alliance at Berlin which provided for diplomatic cooperation and consultation, collaboration in the field of war economy and immediate military aid in case any of the two powers was involved in a war. Germany also signed non-aggression pacts with Denmark, Estonia and Latvia. On 23 August 1939, Soviet Russia and Germany entered into a non-aggression Pact by which they agreed not to resort to war against each other.

They were not to support any third power in the event of a war in which one of the signatory powers was involved. Both the states were to consult each other on all matters of common interest and refrain from associating with any group or powers aimed at the other. This pact was a master-stroke of German diplomacy, as thereby Germany was able to avoid a war on two fronts. Soviet Russia agreed to sign the pact because she was disgusted with the attitude of Great Britain and France, and she herself was not so strong as to stand alone against Germany.

After the signing of non-aggression pact between Germany and Soviet Russia, events began to move rapidly. The German and Polish newspapers were already publishing stories of atrocities committed by each other. Hitler bewailed that his “racial comrades” in Poland were being brutally treated. Military preparations were given the final touches. Stories of atrocities were multiplied and boosted. Hitler began to thunder against Poland with greater and greater vehemence. The world was passing through breathless days.

It was in this atmosphere that Germany asked Great Britain on 29 August 1939 that she must arrange to have a Polish delegate with full powers to negotiate in Berlin on the next day. The reply of Great Britain was that the demand was unreasonable and impracticable and the time was not sufficient for that purpose. Germany was asked to submit her demand on Poland through the Polish ambassador.

When Ribbentrop got this reply from the British Ambassador at midnight, he is stated to have read out at top speed in German language his 16 demands whose acceptance alone could avoid the war. Sir Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador in Berlin, asked for a copy of those demands and the reply of Ribbentrop was that “it was now too late as Polish representative had not arrived in Berlin by midnight”.

On 31 August 1939, the German Government broadcast her 16 demands. However, when the Polish ambassador in Berlin tried to communicate those demands to his country, he could not do so as all communications between Poland and Germany were cut off. The German Government declared that the Polish Government had failed to send their representative and also refused to accept the demands within the stipulated time.

Without declaring war against Poland, the German bombers began to rain bombs on Polish cities and German troops invaded the Polish soil on 1 September 1939. In justification of his action, Hitler declared that “no other means is left to me than to meet force with force.”

(1) An ultimatum was sent by Great Britain to Germany requiring the withdrawal of German forces from Poland. Its disregard was followed by the British declaration of war on 3 September 1939 and within a few hours France also declared war against Germany. Hitler’s interpreter Paul Schmidt later described how the Fuhrer received the news of Britain’s ultimatum.

To quote him, “When I had completed my translation, there was silence at first….. For a while, Hitler sat in his chair deep in thought and started rather worriedly into space. Then he broke his silence with…’What are we going to do now’?” That same Sunday morning, Prime Minister Chamberlain broadcast the news that Britain was at war with Germany.

To quote him, “We have a clear conscience, we have done all that any country could do to establish peace, but a situation in which no word given by Germany’s ruler could be trusted, and no people or country could feel themselves safe, had become intolerable For it is evil things we shall be fighting against, brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression, and persecution. But against them I am certain that the right will prevail.”

(2) Another cause of the war was Japanese imperialism. The ambitions of Japan had increased during the World War I. Although both Japan and China had fought on the side of the Allies during the World War I, Japan, was allowed to have many concessions after the war at the expense of China. Japan began to develop her navy. All the emphasis was put on the military strength of the country. By 1931, Japan had become so strong that she intervened in Manchuria and in spite of the protests in the League of Nations, she conquered and occupied Manchuria.

However, that did not satisfy the Japanese ambitions. In July 1937, there started a war between China and Japan although no formal declaration of war was made. One by one the Chinese towns fell into the hands of Japan. Not only Peking, but Nanking also fell before the Japanese forces.

When the World War II broke out in September 1939, the Sino-Japanese war was still in progress. In 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. Earlier, she had joined the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis. Pan-Japanese programme of expansion and conquest was bound to result in war and peace was impossible in such circumstances.

(3) Another cause of the War was the rise of dictatorships in Europe. Although Hitler tried to assure the world that he meant peace, he could not conceal his real ambition for long. Very soon, he embarked upon a career of aggression which ultimately led to war. The same was the case with Mussolini who had established his dictatorship in Italy in 1922. Mussolini and his Fascist followers boasted of reviving the glory of the old Roman Empire.

He was responsible for the conquest and annexation of Abyssinia in 1936. The Italian volunteers went to Spain to help General Franco and were successful in their mission. Italy joined the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1937 and thus the Berlin-Rome- Tokyo Axis came into existence. In May 1939 Italy entered into a 10-year alliance with Germany. In the presence of Axis Powers there could be no peace in the world and no wonder the war came.

(4) There was also a conflict of ideologies between dictatorships on the one hand and democracies on the other. Countries like Germany, Italy and Japan represented one kind of ideology and Great Britain, France and the United States represented another. Mussolini described the conflict between the two ideologies thus, “The struggle between the two worlds can permit no compromise. Either we or they”. Basically the distinction between the two ideologies lay in their different attitude towards the individual in the State. In the case of democracy, the individual was regarded as the creator and the beneficiary of all the state activities.

He could be interfered with only when his acts were prejudicial to the interests of other individuals. Under a totalitarian regime, the individual did not figure anywhere. He was to be merged in the state and sacrificed for the sake of the state. The two ideologies also differed in spiritual, territorial and economic matters. The democratic states stood for the maintenance of the status quo in political and territorial matters and were designated as the “Haves”.

They had no immediate expansionist aims. On the other hand, the Axis states were called the “Have-nots”. On grounds of prestige and strategy, they demanded additional territories. Japan was land-hungry and she was determined to establish her supremacy in the Far East. She was not prepared to accept any compromise and was willing to fight with any country which dared to intervene in her sphere of influence.

The same was the case with Germany and Italy. Hitler not only demanded the return of the colonies which had been snatched away from Germany after the World War I, but he also asked for more territories so that Germany could stand on the same footing as the colonial powers like Great Britain and France. The Germans under Hitler could not understand why Great Britain and France should have great colonial empires and they should have nothing.

They considered themselves to be a ‘Master Race’ and were not prepared to put up with the limitations placed on them and no wonder they were willing to risk a war to achieve their objectives. On the eve of the War in 1939, the world was divided into two armed camps viz., the Axis world and the non-Axis world. Co-existence was impossible between the two camps and one of them had to go tinder. A conflict was absolutely inevitable under the circumstances.

(5) Another cause of the war was the weakness of the democratic states and a sense of over- confidence in their strength among the Axis powers. Soon after the Peace Settlement of 1919-20, Great Britain and France began to drift apart from each other.

Great Britain began to follow a policy of aloofness from European politics and refused to accept any commitment for the preservation of peace. She was bothered more about her business and trade than about the foreign affairs of Europe.

She thought that she was more to gain from the economic recovery of Germany than by quarrelling over the question of reparations, war debts, occupation of the Rhineland, armaments, etc. However, that was not the case with France. After winning victory over Germany, France began to dread Germany. She felt that while the German population was increasing, her own population was declining. Under the circumstances, in the event of a future war, Germany was bound to have the upper hand.

There was also the possibility of Germany having her revenge for her humiliation of 1919. France asked for guarantees from Great Britain and the United States and when she failed to get them, she entered into military alliances with countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, etc. Unfortunately, her alliances were more of liabilities than assets and no wonder she did not enjoy a sense of security.

Under the circumstances, she continued to oppose every effort to revise the Peace Settlement in any way. In 1935, she entered into an alliance with Soviet Russia and made an agreement with Italy but in spite of that, she did not find herself safe and ultimately decided to throw in her lot with Great Britain. Great Britain herself was not ready for war and consequently up to 1938, nothing could be done to stop the aggressors.

If the democratic states had been ready for a war when the Axis powers launched upon a career of aggression, there is reason to believe that a check could have been put on them. However, that was not to be. The weakness of their military strength and the division in the ranks of the democratic states encouraged the Axis Powers. It was too late in the day for them to retrace their steps in 1939 even when they found that the democratic states also meant business and were determined to resist further aggression.

The policy of appeasement also contributed towards war. The various concessions made to Hitler and Mussolini from time to time convinced them that Great Britain and France would never fight whatever the provocation. It was this feeling which encouraged them on the war path. They could not believe that Great Britain could come to the help of Poland when the latter was attacked by Germany.

(6) It was realised by the statesmen of Europe that militarism was one of the important causes of the World War I. It was with that idea in their minds that the League of Nations was established with the primary object of maintaining peace in the world and lessening the causes of tension. The Treaty of Versailles disarmed Germany and it was expected that the other powers would follow suit.

As a matter of fact, Great Britain began to disarm herself gradually and she followed that policy to a dangerous point of national security. France was asked to do likewise but she refused to do so on the ground of national security. The same was the case with the other countries of Europe.

Disarmament Conferences were summoned and very earnest attempts were made to arrive at some workable arrangement, but those efforts were not crowned with success. The result was that when Hitler came to power in Germany he decided to scrap those clauses of the Treaty of Versailles which put limitations on German armaments.

The German air force began to grow and came to be recognised as one of the strongest air forces in Europe. In 1935, conscription was introduced in Germany. The Rhineland was occupied by the German troops in March 1936. All these steps were on the road to militarism. The same was the case in Japan and Italy.

The military preparations of the Axis Powers forced the democratic states to arm themselves. That was particularly so after the Munich surrender in September 1938. Militarism in both the camps was bound to result ultimately in an armed conflict.

(7) Unfortunately, when hostility was growing between the two camps there was no effective international organisation which could bring the leaders of the two camps on a common platform and bring about reconciliation between them. The League of Nations was practically dead. It had ceased to exist as an effective force after her failure on the question of Manchuria and Abyssinia.

Both big and small states lost their confidence in that international organisation and the only alternative left was that the parties should have a trial of strength by an armed conflict. It was unfortunate that the very people who could have worked for the success of the League were not honest and sincere in their actions.

They all tried to use the League to serve their personal ends. Prime Minister Lloyd George tried to utilise the League as an “alternative to Bolshevism”. In the words of Clemenceau, the best use of the League was as “Instrument for perpetuating the Peace Settlement”.

To Germany, the League was a “grouping of the victorious imperialist powers and all secondary states assembled to preserve the fruits of their victory and to maintain the status quo.” To Soviet Russia, the League was “a forum of the imperialists assembled to thwart her new civilisation”.

Gaetano Salvemini says, “The history of the League of Nations between World War I and the World War II was a history of the devices, ruses, deceptions, frauds, tricks and trappings by means of which the very diplomats who were pledged to operate the Covenant of the League managed to circumvent and stultify it. They were its most effective foes since they were undermining it from within, while nationalists, militarists and Fascists were attacking it openly from without in all lands”.

(8) Another cause of the war was the economic needs and material interests of the European powers. It was a struggle for raw materials, markets for exports and colonies for increasing population which had partly brought about the war of 1914 and that struggle did not end then but continued and became even more acute. Both Germany and Italy were struggling hard to acquire colonies for raw materials and markets for surplus goods.

Both of them were equally dissatisfied after the war. Germany was deprived of all that she had and Italy felt that she was not given at the Peace Conference what had been promised to her by the secret Treaty of London of 1915. The same was true of Japan. Germany, Italy and Japan were the poorest in natural resources.

The bulk of undeveloped and underdeveloped regions of the world had been occupied by Great Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States. Out of the 25 essential raw materials and minerals, there were in British Empire adequate supplies of 18 while Germany possessed only 4. The condition of Italy was still worse. She had virtually no coal, little oil and only small iron resources. Japan had no resources in oil, insufficient coal and iron and no surplus land for her ever-increasing population.

During the period of pacification from 1925 to 1929, these countries found markets for their finished goods and also got raw materials. However, the situation was radically changed as a result of the economic crisis. Almost all the countries resorted to a policy of protection to save their own industries.

Everywhere the cry raised was “Buy at home”. International trade came to a standstill. Germany, Italy and Japan suffered terribly. High tariff walls, quotas and embargoes caused wide-spread distress, particularly in the countries which did not possess the raw materials required for their industries.

A feeling of economic suffocation was created on account of the non-availability of raw materials and the absence of markets for manufactured goods. It is these circumstances that brought Germany, Italy and Japan together and they embarked upon a course of aggression. Japan invaded Manchuria, Italy occupied Abyssinia and Germany started a long course of aggression which ultimately led to the World War II.

(9) Another cause of the World War was the dissatisfaction of the national minorities. It is true that the Allied Powers had committed themselves to the principle of self-determination, but in actual practice that principle was not always applied. In the words of Robert Engang, “Its application was conditioned by such factors as economic necessity, military defence religious and political traditions and punishment of the defeated nations.” In some areas of Central Europe, the principle could be applied as the national minorities were intermixed in such a way that the drawing of clear-cut frontiers was not possible.

The result was that the members of one nationality were included in the boundaries of other states in which they were in a minority. It is these minority groups which became the hot-beds of discontent and dissatisfaction. They were encouraged by propaganda from the countries in which the people of their own nationality lived and they demanded their reunion with their mother country or full autonomy.

They asked, “If it is true that World War I was fought for the self-determination of nationalities, why was Austria forbidden to unite with Germany? Why were a large part of Germany put under foreign rule?” Germany under Hitler raised the cry that the Germans were being mercilessly persecuted, and she had every right to liberate them. That served as a convenient pretext for annexing Austria, the Sudetenland and subsequently Poland which led to World War II.

(10) Another cause of the war was the failure of the disarmament efforts. The Peace Settlement of 1919-20 had completely disarmed Germany and the Allied Powers pledged themselves “to apply the same measure to themselves and to open negotiations immediately with a view to adopt eventually a scheme of general reduction.” Many conferences were held inside and outside the League of Nations to achieve the ideal of disarmament, but practically nothing came out of them.

The German Government called upon the Allied Powers to disarm themselves in the same way as she had been disarmed, but the attitude of France was: “Security first disarmament afterwards.” Security could not be had on account of the conflicting interests of Great Britain and France and hence disarmament was not possible. Lloyd George conceded in 1927, “The nations which had pledged themselves to disarmament had not reduced their armaments by a single division, flight of aero planes or battery of guns.”

The refusal of the Great Powers to disarm themselves gave Hitler a handle to arouse the indignation of his countrymen and assert that “rearmament was the only road to power and national achievement.” It was the German rearmament under Hitler which directly led to the war of 1939.

(11) Another cause of the war was the strong feelings of nationalism prevailing in various countries. The Peace Settlement of 1919-20 was made primarily along national lines. The victorious nations were guided solely by their national interests. They ridiculed internationalism as “sickly and wishy-washy”. In many cases, nationalism at this time was more intolerant than before. In Germany, Italy and Japan, the state was worshipped by the people and was considered to be an end in itself.

Their only motive was the extension of the frontiers of their states. In several cases, the dictators rode to power on a wave of popular nationalist enthusiasm. To retain themselves in power, it was necessary that enthusiasm must be sustained and to do this, they resorted to aggression against other countries. The people in the dependencies and colonies also made common cause with one or the other of the big powers and helped precipitate the war which they thought would weaken the big powers and help them in obtaining their own independence.

2. Course of the War:

The World War I was in a sense the last major traditional war. It was fundamentally fought by foot soldiers and with guns. Tanks and aircrafts were ancillary to the fighting which was essentially static. After weeks of battle, the front would have advanced or receded only a few kilometers. The majority of the civilians were still outside the battle area.

The World War II was utterly a new kind of war. It was a mobile war fought by men enclosed in armored cars, tanks and aircrafts in which the battle line might move 50 or 100 kilometres in a day. Millions of civilians were involved as tanks crashed through their towns and dive-bombers dropped bombs containing from ½ to 10 tonnes of TNT equivalent on them.

Only six European countries remained neutral viz., Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. Britain escaped invasion in 1940 by a hair’s breadth. Every other European country with the partial exception of Russia was either occupied or controlled by the Germans and most of them experienced bitter fighting on their soil.

The refusal of Poland to surrender resulted in the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. In spite of stiff resistance put up by the Poles, they were completely defeated. When the Germans were smashing the Polish resistance, the Russians also invaded Poland from the East. The result was that after its conquest, Poland was divided between Germany and Russia.

In the autumn of 1939, Russia attacked Finland. She demanded a part of Finnish territory on the ground that its possession was necessary for the safety of Leningrad. Russia had no faith in German professions of peace and friendship and consequently was trying to take all the necessary precautions. It was feared that Germany might conquer Finland and thereby endanger the safety of Russia.

The Russians con­quered the regions they wanted and ultimately made peace with Finland. Russia also annexed the Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. In April 1940, German troops occupied Denmark. Norway was also occupied after some resistance. In May 1940, Holland and Belgium were attacked and conquered. France was attacked by Germany from the side of Belgium and when Great Britain feared that her army might be entrapped, she evacuated her troops.

After the evacuation of the British troops from Dunkirk, France could not stand against the might of Germany and she surrendered in June 1940. After the collapse of France, Italy also joined the War. Mussolini demanded Nice, Savoy and Corsica. After the entry of Italy into the war, the conflict started between Italy and British forces in North Africa. Mussolini attacked Greece, but the attack was a failure. When the Germans joined the Italians, Greece was conquered. Yugoslavia and Crete were occupied by the Germans.

After the fall of Dunkirk, Great Britain was left all alone in Europe. Her Air Force was the finest in Europe in quality, but not in quantity. Hitler could have attacked England in June 1940 when she was still weak but he missed that opportunity. Under the dynamic leadership of Churchill, Great Britain was able to pull herself up. Churchill promised nothing to his countrymen, but “blood and toil and tears and sweat”.

In this historic speech, he made the following declaration, “We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.” The people of England responded to the call of their leader.

The slogans of “Who wins if England loses”, and “We are not interested in the possibility of defeat it does not exist” were raised. The Germans started their attack of Great Britain in right earnest in the autumn of 1940. The technique they intended to adopt was first to destroy the Royal Air Force and then to invade the country. A large number of aircrafts were sent to England for that purpose, but the Royal Air Force was not beaten.

The Battle of Britain proved to be the determining point of the war. A large number of enemy aircrafts were destroyed and ultimately, the German attack began to slow down. Churchill could rightly boast that “Never in the history of mankind did so many owe so much too so few.” The Germans started the bombardment at night of London and other great cities.

A lot of property was destroyed and many Englishmen lost their lives. However, after some time, the Britishers learned the technique of protecting themselves from air raids and after the construction of air-raid shelters, and widespread use of anti-aircraft guns, the losses became less and less. The Royal Air Force also started attacking the ships and docks in the Channel ports of France and Belgium, Holland and Norway, so that the German preparations for the invasion of England might be frustrated.

To begin with, the American view was that the fall of Great Britain was merely a question of time and hence they did not bother themselves about the same. However, in June 1940, a large number of French ships at Oran were destroyed by the British fleet with a view to avoid their being captured by Germany.

The result was that the Vichy Government of France cut off all diplomatic relations with Great Britain, but the battle of Oran impressed the Americans and they began to feel that the boast of Churchill that he wanted to fight the war to the bitter end was not an empty one. Moreover, it began to be realised that it was not wise to ignore the fate of Great Britain as after her conquest the turn of United States was bound to come.

President Roosevelt was moving cautiously on account of the public opinion in the United States, but when he found a change in that attitude in favour of Great Britain, he transferred 50 Destroyers from the American Navy to the British Navy in lieu of the lease of naval and air bases.

In March 1941, the American Congress passed the Lease-Lend Act by which the United States undertook to help those countries which were fighting against Axis Powers. In August 1941, President Roosevelt and Premier Churchill met on board a British battleship in the Atlantic and drafted a document known as the Atlantic Charter in which the war aims were enunciated.

When Russia was attacked by Germany in June 1941, the mission of Cripps to Russia became successful and an agreement was signed between the two countries in July 1941. The United States sent all the necessary war materials to Great Britain and the Soviet Union to fight against Hitler. In December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and that brought the United States into the war.

General MacArthur was made the Supreme Commander in the Pacific and Lord Mountbatten was given the command of South-East Asia with his headquarters at Delhi. Lord Mountbatten drove out the Japanese from Burma and the Philippines were captured by General MacArthur. There was a lot of fighting in Africa between 1941 and 1943. Abyssinia was conquered by the United Nations.

The Italian Somaliland was also conquered. The British forces advanced into Libya up to Benghazi, but were forced to withdraw. In November 1942, the “Desert Rats” of General Montgomery turned out the Germans and Italians from Libya. Montgomery also conquered Tripoli and advanced into Tunisia. An Italian squadron was defeated by a British fleet in the battle of Cape Matapan near the Greek coast. Many a time, the Island of Malta was attacked by the Italians but it managed to hold its own against the enemy to the end and never surrendered.

In November 1942, American and British troops occupied the French colony of Algeria. North Africa was cleared of Italian and German troops in 1943. In the summer of 1943, the Island of Sicily was captured by English and American troops. The mainland of Italy was attacked. There was a revolt in Italy and Mussolini was arrested, but he managed to escape. In September 1943, Italy surrendered unconditionally. Mussolini was captured in 1945 and was shot by the Italians themselves.

In the winter of 1943-44, preparations were made in England under General Eisenhower for the invasion of the continent. He was assisted by General Montgomery and Air Chief Marshal Tedder. A large number of artificial harbours known as “mulberry” were constructed to be towed across the English Channel to the coast of France.

For the supply of petrol to the invading armies, the Pluto or “Pipe Line under the Ocean” was constructed. By this time, the Royal Air Force had become very strong. It had thousands of well-trained pilots. Both the British and American pilots attacked day and night the war targets in Germany and succeeded in paralysing completely the war industries of Germany. The bombing of military targets of Germany struck terror in the hearts of the people and everything was dislocated in Germany.

The Germans expected an invasion of the continent. But could not make out as to where the invasion was to come. Consequently, they tried to protect the whole of the coast-line facing Great Britain. In June 1944, Normandy was attacked. In spite of hard fighting, the troops of the United Nations were able to make a landing on the mainland.

After getting reinforcements, the United Nations were able to capture Paris and also succeeded in driving out the Germans from the French soil. After completing the conquest of Italy, the army of General Alexander invaded France from the South-East and then the South of France was also cleared of the enemy. The army of General Alexander joined that of Eisenhower on the Rhine.

There was a German counter-attack in December 1944 under Rundstedt, but after some success, the same was repulsed. When the armies under General Eisenhower crossed the Rhine and moved towards the Elbe, the Russians also invaded Germany from the East. The Germans could not fight on two fronts and Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler committed suicide and their successors surrendered unconditionally on 7 May 1945.

After the fall of Germany, the United States and Great Britain concentrated their forces against Japan. On 6 August 1945, an atom bomb was thrown on the city of Hiroshima and it is estimated that more than one lakh of persons were destroyed by one single bomb. Japan was asked to surrender and when she refused, another bomb was thrown on 9 August on the city of Nagasaki. On 14 August, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally.

The World War II was over. It had brought about the death of over 50 million people, including 15 million Russians, 6 million Jews, 3,700,000 Germans, 2 million non-Jewish Poles, 1,600,000 Yugoslavs, 1,200,000 Japanese, nearly one million Italians, 600,000 British, 500,000 Rumanians, 300,000 Frenchmen, 292,000 Americans and 22 million Chinese.

At the end of the War, some 13 million Europeans had been killed in battle and 17 million civilians had died as a result of the fighting. Houses, factories and communications had been shattered on a large scale. Nearly all the major German cities were in ruins and 25 million Russians were rendered homeless. Agriculture was disrupted. Food rationing was everywhere. The Allied troops in Germany were forbidden to give away their rations. In the Don region of Russia, people were eating cats, dogs and grass. Fuel was scarce and millions spent the first two post-war winters in un-heated homes.

3. Peace Settlement:

It is not possible to appreciate the post-war peace treaties without a reference to the conferences, declarations and decisions arrived at by the statesmen of the United Nations during and after the World War II. It was in August 1941 that Roosevelt and Churchill met and issued what is known as the Atlantic Charter.

They pledged themselves to seek no aggrandizement from the War, to respect the rights of all peoples to self-determination, to promote the enjoyment by all of free access to markets and raw materials of the world, to persist in the destruction of Nazi tyranny and seek universal disarmament and peace.On 1 January 1942 was issued the United Nations declaration by which the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and China pledged themselves to employ all their resources for the destruction of the Axis Powers and their satellites.

In January 1943, Roosevelts, Churchill and their military staffs met at Casablanca. In October, 1943 was held a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Russia. In November 1943, Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek met at Cairo to plan the defeat of Japan. The Teheran Conference was attended by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.

It was there that the final plans for victory over Germany were prepared by them along with their Chiefs of Military Staffs and a communique was issued on 1 December 1943. In February 1945, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met at Yalta in Crimea and they made decisions regarding Germany, Poland and Japan. After the fall of Germany, the Berlin or Potsdam Conference was held from 17 July to 2 August 1945. It was attended by Stalin, President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee.

It was decided to set up a Council of Foreign Ministers to do the preparatory work for the Peace Settlement. The Council was to draw up treaties of peace with Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland. After about 15 months of preparatory work, the peace treaties were given a final shape by the 21 participating countries and they were signed on 10 February 1947, in Pans by the representatives of the five enemy states and the Allied Powers.

4. Pace Settlement and Italy:

As regards Italy, she was to give to France small districts in the regions of Little St. Bernard, Mont Thabor, Chaberton, Mont Ceins, Tenda and Briga. She was to give Zara, Pelagosa, Lagosta and other islands along the Dalmatian coast to Yugoslavia. The Istrian Peninsula and most of the remainder of the province of Venetia, Giulia, with Trieste were to become a “Free Territory” to be governed under a statute approved by the Security Council.

For 9 years, the city was a focal point of tension between the Communists and the Western Powers and in 1954, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia agreed that Trieste could return to Italy. Italy was to give to Greece the Rhodes and other Dodecanese Islands. She was to give up her sovereignty over her African colonies and recognise the independence of Albania and Ethiopia. She was to submit to the demilitarisation of frontiers with France and Yugoslavia.

She was not to have atomic weapons, guided missiles and guns with range over 30 Kms. She was not to have mines, torpedoes, aircraft-carriers, submarines, etc. She was not to have more than 200 heavy medium tanks. Her navy was reduced to two battleships, 25,000 officers and men. Her army was reduced to 250,000. Her Air Force was reduced to 200 fighters, and reconnaissance and transport aircraft to 150. She was to pay the Soviet Union 100 million dollars in 7 years. She was to pay 5 million dollars to Albania during the same period.

5. Pace Settlement and Bulgaria:

As regards Hungary, her frontiers of 1 January 1938 with Austria. Her army was limited to 55,000, anti-aircraft artillery to 1,800 men. Navy to 3,500 men, air force to 5,200 men and 90 air planes. Bulgaria was to pay 45 million dollars to Greece and 25 million dollars to Yugoslavia in kind in 8 years.

6. Pace Settlement and Hungary:

As regards Hungary, her frontiers of 1 January, 1938 with Austria and Yugoslavia were restored. She was to give to Yugoslavia three villages west of the Danube. The Vienna award of November 1938 was cancelled. The result was that Transylvania went to Rumania. The army of Hungary was limited to 65,000, air force to 5,000 and air planes to 90. Hungary was to pay 200 million dollars to the Soviet Union and 50 million dollars each to Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

7. Pace Settlement and Rumania:

As regards Bulgaria, her frontiers of 1 January, 1945, were restored. Her army was limited to 120,000, anti-aircraft artillery to 5,000, navy to 5,000 men and 1,500 tons. Her air force was reduced to 8,000 men and 150 air planes. She was to pay 303 million dollars to the Soviet Union in kind in 8 years.

8. Pace Settlement and Finland:

As regards Rumania, her frontiers of 1 January, 1947 were restored, province of Petsamo was given to the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Finnish peace treaty of March 1940 was restored. The Soviet Union gave up leasehold of Hango and acquired 50 years’ lease of Porkkala-Udd area for a naval base. The Finnish army was limited to 34,400, navy to 4,800 men and 10,000 tons, and air force to 3,000 men and 60 air planes. She was to pay 300 million dollars to the Soviet Union in kind in 8 years.

9. Pace Settlement and Austria:

Austria and Vienna were divided into four zones of occupation but in contrast to the treatment of Germany, Austria was allowed to form a national Government in 1945. Although it was decided at Potsdam not to exact reparations from Austria in order to avoid the economic collapse which had occurred after the World War I, the Russians took oil and equipment from their zone. Until 1955, Austria remained an occupied country because the Russians refused to consider its future apart from that of Germany. Then Khrushchev suddenly agreed to a peace treaty on the understanding that the country should be neutral, joining no political or military alliance a having no foreign troops stationed on its sail.

10. Pace Settlement and Germany:

As regards Germany, she was occupied by the Big Four. After its fall in May 1945, it was divided into four zones, each of which was administered separately by one of the occupying Powers. Berlin came under joint occupation and each occupying Power was assigned a sector of the city. An Inter-Allied body was charged with the function of governing the city as a whole. With a view to bring about a coordination of their policies as a whole, an Allied Control Authority was set up for the whole of Germany.

In 1947, Great Britain and the United States established economic unity of their two zones. Their invitation to join them was accepted by France but rejected by the Soviet Union. In June 1948, a new currency was put into circulation in West Germany. In 1948, delegates were chosen from American, British and French zones and from the non-Russian sectors of Berlin to constitute the Constituent Assembly and the Bonn Constitution of 1949 were adopted.

The Russians also framed a constitution for their own zone. Germany was caught in the cold war. In June 1948, the Soviet Union cut off all communications by land and water between the Western zone of Germany and Berlin. The Western Powers resorted to what is known as the Berlin-Airlift which lasted for 10 months. Ultimately the Russians were forced to lift the blockade. In May 1952, the Western states entered into an agreement with West Germany, by which the Federal Republic of Germany got virtual autonomy in foreign and domestic affairs. West Germany was also put under the protection of the NATO. In 1955, she became a member of the NATO.

11. Pace Settlement and Japan:

As regards Japan, a peace treaty was signed with her at San Francisco in 1951. Japan recognised the independence of Korea and gave up all claims on Korean territory including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet. Japan renounced all rights to Formosa and the Pescadores, the Kurile islands, that part of Sakhalin which belonged to Japan since 1905, the Pacific territories governed by Japan under the mandate of the League of Nations, the Antarctic area and the Spratly and Paracel Islands.

All Allied occupation forces were to be withdrawn from Japan within 90 days of coming into force of the treaty. Japan recognised all treaties concluded by the Allies for ending the World War II. She gave up all special rights and interests in China. She agreed to enter into stable and friendly trading and maritime relations with all signatories of the treaty.

It was agreed in principle that Japan was to repair damage and suffering caused by her during the last war. Japan undertook to indemnify those members of the Allied armed forces who had suffered undue hardships as prisoners of war of Japan. Japan recognised her pre-war debts. Soviet Russia did not sign the peace treaty at San Francisco and India entered into a separate peace treaty in 1952.

Were they always called World War I and World War II? - HISTORY

They were called Doc, the medics who attended wounded soldiers in battlefield in World War II. They were usually volunteer conscientious objectors and were the linear descendants of the litter-bearers first introduced during the American Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, prior to which wounded soldiers often being left to die where they had fallen. Huge casualties during the Civil War led to the establishment of an ambulance corps, greatly expanded in World War I. But it was through the efforts of the medics in World War II that the odds of a wounded soldiers surviving surgery or treatment in the mobile field hospital greatly improved.

The medics underwent the same training as infantrymen except for not using weapons. First ridiculed by other soldiers as “pill pushers,” they became greatly loved and admired in combat. They served in foxholes, advanced with the troops during offensives, and went between lines to attend to the wounded, often at great danger to themselves. After a brief examination they would apply a tourniquet if needed, inject morphine, clean up the wound and sprinkle sulfa powder on it, put on a bandage and drag the wounded soldier off the field. Protected by the Geneva Convention, they would display a Red Cross on the helmet, a practice abandoned during the Vietnam War because this became a target for the enemy and that time they were also given weapons to defend themselves. But in World War II they were unarmed, and many were severely injured or killed while attending to the wounded. The chapter on medics in Stephen Ambrose’s book recounts numerous tales of their heroism on the front.


The major powers devoted 50–61 percent of their total GDP to munitions production. The Allies produced about three times as much in munitions as the Axis powers.

Munitions Production in World War II
(Expenditures in billions of dollars, US 1944 munitions prices)
Country/Alliance Year
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 Total
U.S.A. 0.3 1.5 4.5 20.0 38.0 42.0 106.3
Britain 0.5 3.5 6.5 9.0 11.0 11.0 41.5
U.S.S.R. 1.6 5.0 8.5 11.5 14.0 16.0 56.6
Allies Total 2.4 10.0 20.0 41.5 64.5 70.5 204.4
Germany 2.4 6.0 6.0 8.5 13.5 17.0 53.4
Japan 0.4 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.5 6.0 16.9
Axis Total 2.8 7.0 8.0 11.5 18.0 23.0 70.3

Source: Goldsmith data in Harrison (1988) p. 172

Real Value Consumer Spending
Country Year
1937 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
Japan 100 107 109 111 108 99 93 78
Germany 100 108 117 108 105 95 94 85
USA 100 96 103 108 116 115 118 122

Source: Jerome B Cohen, Japan's Economy in War and Reconstruction (1949) p 354

The Allies called themselves the "United Nations" (even before that organization formed in 1945), and pledged their support to the Atlantic Charter of 1941. The Charter stated the ideal goals of the war: no territorial aggrandizement no territorial changes made against the wishes of the people restoration of self-government to those deprived of it free access to raw materials reduction of trade restrictions global cooperation to secure better economic and social conditions for all freedom from fear and want freedom of the seas and abandonment of the use of force, as well as the disarmament of aggressor nations.

Belgium Edit

The sudden German invasion of neutral Belgium in May 1940 led in a matter of 18 days to the collapse of the Belgian army King Leopold obtained an armistice that involved direct German military administration. The King refused the government's demand that he flee with them to Britain he remained as a puppet ruler under German control. The Belgian bureaucracy remained in place and generally cooperated with the German rulers. Two pro-German movements, the Flemish National Union comprising Flemish (Dutch-speaking) separatists and the Walloon (French-speaking) Rexists led by Léon Degrelle (1906–94), supported the invaders and encouraged their young men to volunteer for the German army. [1] Small but active resistance movements, largely Communist, provided intelligence to the Allies. During the Holocaust in Belgium, the Nazis hunted down the 70,000 Jews living in Belgium, most of them refugees, and killed 29,000 of them. [2]

The Germans expected to exploit Belgium's industrial resources to support their war machine. Their policies created severe shortages for the Belgian people, but shipped out far less than Germany had expected. They set up the "Armaments Inspection Board" in 1940 to relay munitions orders to factories the Board came under the control of the German Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer in 1943, and had offices in industrial areas that were supposed to facilitate orders for materiél, and supervise production. However, factory production fell sharply after 1942. Although collaboration with the Nazis, especially among the Flemish, was evident in 1940, it soon faded in importance. Labor strikes and systematic sabotage slowed production, as did the emigration of workers to rural areas, Allied bombing, food shortages, and worker resentment of forced labor. [3]

The Allies retook all of Belgium in September 1944 as the Germans retreated. They reappeared briefly during the hard fighting of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, but were finally expelled in January 1945. The London‐based government‐in‐exile returned, but had to confront the resistance movements that demanded radical political change. [4]

China Edit

China suffered the second highest number of casualties of the entire war. Civilians in the occupied territories had to endure many large-scale massacres, including that in Nanjing, Jiangsu and Pingdingshan, Liaoning [ citation needed ] . In a few areas, the Japanese army also unleashed newly developed biological weapons on Chinese civilians, leading to an estimated 200,000 dead. [5] Tens of thousands died when Kuomintang (Nationalist) troops broke the levees of the Yangtze to stop the Japanese advance after the loss of the Chinese capital, Nanjing. Millions more Chinese died because of famine during the war.

At the end of the war Japan was bombed with two atomic bombs and surrendered. Japan had captured major coastal cities like Shanghai early in the war, cutting the rest of China off from its chief sources of finance and industry. Millions of Chinese moved to remote western regions to avoid invasion. Cities like Kunming ballooned with new arrivals. Entire factories and universities were relocated to safe areas so society could still function. Japan replied with hundreds of air raids on the new capital, Chongqing. [ citation needed ]

Although China received much aid from the United States, China did not have sufficient infrastructure to properly arm or even feed its military forces, let alone its civilians. [ citation needed ]

China was divided into three zones, with the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek(Chiang or Jiang) the southwest and the Communists led by Mao Zedong (Mao) in control of much of the northwest. Coastal areas were occupied by the Japanese, and civilians were treated harshly [ citation needed ] some young men were drafted into the puppet Chinese army.

France Edit

After the stunningly quick defeat in June 1940, France was knocked out of the war part of it, with its capital in Vichy, became an informal ally of the Germans. A powerful Resistance movement sprang up, as the Germans fortified the coast against an Allied invasion and occupied the northern half of the country. [6] The Germans captured 2,000,000 French soldiers, and kept them as prisoners of war in camps inside of Germany for the duration of the war, using them as hostages to guarantee French cooperation. The Vichy French government cooperated closely with the Germans, sending food, machinery and workers to Germany. Several hundred thousand Frenchmen and women were forced to work in German factories, or volunteered to do so, as the French economy itself deteriorated. Nevertheless, there was a strong Resistance movement, with fierce anti-resistance activities carried out by the Nazis and the French police. Most Jews were rounded up by the Vichy police and handed over to the Germans, who sent them to death camps. [7] [8]

War wives Edit

The two million French soldiers held as POWs and forced laborers in Germany throughout the war were not at risk of death in combat, but the anxieties of separation for their 800,000 wives were high. The government provided a modest allowance, but one in ten became prostitutes to support their families. [9] Meanwhile, the Vichy regime promoted a highly traditional model of female roles. [10] After the war, France gave women the vote and additional legal and political rights, although nothing on the scale of the enfranchisement that followed World War I.

Food shortages of the home front Edit

Women suffered shortages of all varieties of consumer goods and the absence of the men in POW camps. [11] The rationing system was stringent and very badly managed, leading to pronounced malnourishment, black markets and hostility to state management of the food supply. The Germans seized about 20% of the French food production, which caused severe disruption to the household economy of the French people. [12] French farm production fell by half because of the lack of fuel, fertilizer and workers even so, the Germans seized half the meat and 20% of the produce. [13]

Supply problems quickly affected French stores, which lacked most items. The government responded by rationing, but German officials set the policies and hunger prevailed, especially affecting young people in urban areas. In shops, the queues lengthened. Some people—including German soldiers who could take advantage of arbitrary exchange rates that favored Germany—benefited from the black market, where food was sold without coupons at very high prices. Farmers diverted meat to the black market, so there was much less for the open market. Counterfeit food coupons were also in circulation. Direct buying from farmers in the countryside and barter against cigarettes became common. These activities were strictly forbidden, and carried the risk of confiscation and fines. Food shortages were most acute in the large cities. Vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition were prevalent. [14]

Advice about eating a healthier diet and home growing produce was distributed. Slogans like "Digging for Victory" and "Make Do and Mend" appeared on national posters and became a part of the war effort. The city environment made these efforts nearly negligible. [15] In the more remote country villages, however, clandestine slaughtering, vegetable gardens and the availability of milk products permitted survival. The official ration provided starvation-level diets of 1,300 or fewer calories a day (5400 kJ), supplemented by home gardens and, especially, black market purchases. [16]

Netherlands Edit

The Dutch famine of 1944, known as the Hongerwinter ("Hunger winter") was a man-made famine imposed by Germany in the occupied western provinces during the winter of 1944–1945. A German blockade cut off food and fuel shipments from farm areas. A total of 4.5 million people were affected, of whom 18,000 died, despite an elaborate system of emergency soup kitchens. [17]

Poland Edit

Food deprivation as a Nazi weapon Edit

The Nazi Hunger Plan was to kill the Jews of Poland quickly, and slowly to force the Poles to leave by threat of starvation, so that they could be replaced by German settlers. The Nazis coerced Poles to work in Germany by providing favorable food rations for families who had members working in the Reich. The ethnic German population in Poland (Volksdeutsche) were given good rations and were allowed to shop for food in special stores. The German occupiers created a draconian system of food controls, including severe penalties for the omnipresent black market. There was a sharp increase in mortality due to the general malnutrition, and a decline in birth rates. [18] [19] [20] [21]

By mid 1941, the German minority in Poland received 2,613 calories (11,000 kJ) per day, while Poles received 699 and Jews in the ghetto 184. [22] The Jewish ration fulfilled just 7.5% of their daily needs Polish rations only 26%. Only the ration allocated to Germans provided the full required calorie intake. [23]

Distribution of food in Nazi occupied Poland as of December 1941 [24]

Nationality Daily Calorie intake
Germans 2,310
Foreigners 1,790
Ukrainians 930
Poles 654
Jews 184(54) [ clarification needed ]

Additionally the Generalplan Ost of the Nazis, which envisioned the elimination of the Slavic population in the occupied territories and artificial famines-as proposed in the Hunger Plan, were to be used. [ clarification needed ]

Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto: 1943 Edit

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, conquering it in three weeks, as the Soviets invaded the eastern areas. During the German occupation, there were two distinct civilian uprisings in Warsaw, one in 1943, the other in 1944. The first took place in a zone less than two square miles (5 km 2 ) in area, which the Germans had carved out of the city and called Ghetto Warschau. The Germans built high walls around the ghetto, and crowded 550,000 Polish Jews into it, many from the Polish provinces. At first, people were allowed to enter and leave the ghetto, but soon its border became an "iron curtain". [25]

Unless on official business, Jews could not leave, and non-Jews, including Germans, could not enter. Entry points were guarded by German soldiers. Because of extreme conditions and hunger, mortality in the ghetto was high. In 1942, the Germans moved 400,000 ghetto residents to Treblinka where they were gassed on arrival. By April 19, 1943, when the Ghetto Uprising commenced, the population of the ghetto had dwindled to 60,000 individuals. In the following three weeks, virtually all died as the Germans fought and systematically destroyed the buildings in the ghetto. [26]

Warsaw Uprising of 1944 Edit

The uprising by Poles began on August 1, 1944, when the Polish underground, the "Home Army", aware that the Soviet Army had reached the eastern bank of the Vistula, sought to liberate Warsaw much as the French resistance had liberated Paris a few weeks earlier. Joseph Stalin had his own group of Communist leaders for the new Poland and did not want the Home Army or its leaders (based in London) to control Warsaw. So he halted the Soviet offensive and gave the Germans free rein to suppress it. During the ensuing 63 days, 250,000 Poles of the Home Army surrendered to the Germans. After the Germans forced all the surviving population to leave the city, Hitler ordered that any buildings left standing be dynamited – 98 percent of the buildings in Warsaw were destroyed. [27]

Soviet Union Edit

During the invasion of the Soviet Union in the early months of the war, rapid German advances almost captured the cities of Moscow and Leningrad. The bulk of Soviet industry which could not be evacuated was either destroyed or lost due to German occupation. Agricultural production was interrupted, with grain crops left standing in the fields. This caused hunger reminiscent of the early 1930s. In one of the greatest feats of war logistics, factories were evacuated on an enormous scale, with 1,523 factories dismantled and shipped eastwards along four principal routes to the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Ural, and Siberia. [28] In general, the tools, dies and production technology were moved, along with the blueprints and their management, engineering staffs and skilled labor.

The whole of the Soviet Union become dedicated to the war effort. The people of the Soviet Union were probably better prepared than any other nation involved in World War II to endure the material hardships of the war – primarily because they were so used to shortages and economic crisis in the past, especially during wartime—World War I had brought similar restrictions on food. [29] Conditions were nevertheless severe. World War II was especially devastating to citizens of the USSR because it was fought on Soviet territory and caused massive destruction. In Leningrad, under German siege, over a million people died of starvation and disease. Many factory workers were teenagers, women and old people. [30]

The government implemented rationing in 1941 and first applied it to bread, flour, cereal, pasta, butter, margarine, vegetable oil, meat, fish, sugar and confectionery all across the country. The rations remained largely stable during the war. Off-ration food was often so expensive that it could not add substantially to a citizen's food supply unless they were especially well-paid. Peasants received no rations and had to make do with any local resources they farmed themselves. Most rural peasants struggled and lived in unbearable poverty, but others sold their surplus food at a high price a few became rouble millionaires, until a currency reform two years after the end of the war wiped out their wealth. [31]

Despite harsh conditions, the war led to a spike in Soviet nationalism and unity. Soviet propaganda toned down extreme Communist rhetoric of the past as the people now rallied to protect their Motherland against the evils of the German invaders. Ethnic minorities thought to be collaborators were forced into exile. Religion, which was previously shunned, became a part of a Communist Party propaganda campaign to mobilize religious people. [32]

Soviet society changed drastically during the war. There was a burst of marriages in June and July 1941 between people about to be separated by the war, and in the next few years the marriage rate dropped off steeply, with the birth rate following shortly thereafter to only about half of what it would have been in peacetime. For this reason mothers with several children during the war received substantial honors and money benefits if they had several children—mothers could earn around 1,300 rubles for having their fourth child and up to 5,000 rubles for their tenth. [33]

Survival in Leningrad Edit

The city of Leningrad endured more suffering and hardships than any other city in the Soviet Union during World War II. Hunger, malnutrition, disease, starvation, and even cannibalism became common during the siege, which lasted from September 1941 until January 1944. Many people lost weight, and grew weaker and more vulnerable to disease. If malnutrition persisted for long enough, its effects were irreversible. People's feelings of loyalty disappeared if they got hungry enough they would steal from their closest family members in order to survive. [34]

Only some of the citizens of Leningrad survived. Only 400,000 were evacuated before the siege began this left 2.5 million in Leningrad, including 400,000 children. Subsequently, more managed to escape especially when the nearby Lake Ladoga froze over and people could walk over the ice road—or "road of life"—to safety. [35] Those in influential political or social positions used their connections to other elites to leave Leningrad both before and after the siege began. Some factory owners even looted state funds to secure transport out of the city during the first summer of the war. [36] The most risky means of escape, however, was to defect to the enemy and hope to avoid governmental punishment.

Most survival strategies during the siege, though, involved staying within the city and facing the problems through resourcefulness or luck: for instance by securing factory employment, because many factories became autonomous and possessed more of the requirements for survival during the winter, such as food and heat. Workers received larger rations than other civilians, and factories were likely to have electricity if they produced vital goods. Factories also served as mutual support centers, and had clinics and other services like cleaning crews and teams of women who would sew and repair clothes. Factory employees were still driven to desperation on occasion and people resorted to eating glue or horsemeat in factories where food was scarce, but factory employment was the most consistently successful method of survival, and at some food production plants not a single person died. [37]

Survival opportunities open to the wider Soviet community included barter and farming on private land. Black markets thrived as private barter and trade became more common, especially between soldiers and civilians. Soldiers, who had more food to spare, were eager to trade with civilians who had extra warm clothes to exchange. Planting vegetable gardens in the spring became popular, primarily because citizens could keep everything grown on their own plots. The campaign also had a potent psychological effect and boosted morale, a survival component almost as crucial as bread. [38]

Many of the most desperate Soviet citizens turned to crime to support themselves. Most common was the theft of food and of ration cards this could prove fatal for a malnourished person if their card was stolen more than a day or two before a new card was issued. For these reasons, the stealing of food was severely punished and a person could be shot for as little as stealing a loaf of bread. More serious crimes such as murder and cannibalism also occurred, and special police squads were set up to combat these crimes, though by the end of the siege, roughly 1,500 had been arrested for cannibalism. [39]

United States Edit

In the United States, farming and other production was increased. For example, citizens were encouraged to plant "victory gardens", personal farms that children sometimes worked on. [40] Sociologist Alecea Standlee (2010) argues that during the war the traditional gender division of labor changed somewhat, as the "home" or domestic female sphere expanded to include the "home front" meanwhile the public sphere—the male domain—was redefined as the international stage of military action. [41]

The Philippines Edit

The Philippines was an American possession on the way to independence (scheduled in 1946) and controlled its own internal affairs. The Japanese invaded and quickly conquered the islands in early 1942. The Japanese military authorities immediately began organizing a new government structure in the Philippines and established the Philippine Executive Commission. They initially organized a Council of State, through which they directed civil affairs until October 1943, when they declared the Philippines an independent republic. The Japanese-sponsored Second Philippine Republic headed by President José P. Laurel proved to be ineffective and unpopular as Japan maintained very tight controls. [42]

Japanese occupation of the Philippines was opposed by large-scale underground and guerrilla activity. The Philippine Army, as well as remnants of the U.S. Army Forces Far East continued to fight the Japanese in a guerrilla war. They formed an auxiliary unit of the United States Army. Their effectiveness was such that by the end of the war, Japan controlled only twelve of the forty-eight provinces. One element of resistance in the Central Luzon area was furnished by the Hukbalahap, which armed some 30,000 people and extended their control over much of Luzon. [43] The Allies as well as the combined American and Filipino soldiers invaded in 1944–45 the battle for Manila was contested street by street with large numbers of civilians killed.

As in most occupied countries, crime, looting, corruption, and black markets were endemic. [44] With a view of building up the economic base of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Japanese Army envisioned using the islands as a source of agricultural products needed by its industry. For example, Japan had a surplus of sugar from Taiwan, and a severe shortage of cotton, so they try to grow cotton on sugar lands with disastrous results. They lacked the seeds, pesticides, and technical skills to grow cotton. Jobless farm workers flock to the cities, where there was minimal relief and few jobs. [45]

The Japanese Army also tried using cane sugar for fuel, castor beans and copra for oil, derris for quinine, cotton for uniforms, and abaca (hemp) for rope. The plans were very difficult to implement in the face of limited skills, collapsed international markets, bad weather, and transportation shortages. The program was a failure that gave very little help to Japanese industry, and diverted resources needed for food production. [46] As Karnow reports, Filipinos "rapidly learned as well that 'co-prosperity' meant servitude to Japan's economic requirements." [47]

Living conditions were bad throughout the Philippines during the war. Transportation between the islands was difficult because of lack of fuel. Food was in very short supply, with sporadic famines and epidemic diseases. [48] [49]

The Japanese tried to remove all Western and American cultural influences. They met fierce resistance when they tried to undermine the Catholic Church by arresting 500 Christian missionaries. The Filipinos came to feel morally superior to the brutal Japanese and rejected their advances. [50] Newspapers and the media were tightly censored. The Japanese tried to reshape schools and impose the Japanese language. They formed neighborhood associations to inform on the opposition. [51]

Britain and Commonwealth Edit

Conscription was the main means for raising forces in Britain and the dominions. This was a reversal of policy from 1914, when too many men who were vitally needed on the home front volunteered for the military. [52]

Britain Edit

Britain's total mobilisation during this period proved to be successful in winning the war, by maintaining strong support from public opinion. The war was a "people's war" that enlarged democratic aspirations and produced promises of a postwar welfare state. [53] [54]

Munitions Edit

In mid-1940, the Royal Air Force (RAF) was called on to fight the Battle of Britain, but suffered serious losses. It lost 458 aircraft in France [ when? ] —more than current production— and was hard pressed. The government decided to concentrate on only five types of aircraft in order to optimise output. They were: Wellingtons, Whitley Vs, Blenheims, Hurricanes and Spitfires. These aircraft received extraordinary priority, which covered the supply of materials and equipment and even made it possible to divert from other types the necessary parts, equipment, materials and manufacturing resources. Labour was moved from other aircraft work to factories engaged on the specified types. Cost was no object. The delivery of new fighters rose from 256 in April to 467 in September—more than enough to cover the losses—and Fighter Command emerged triumphantly from the Battle of Britain in October with more aircraft than it had possessed at the beginning. [55] Starting in 1941, the US provided munitions through Lend-Lease that totalled $15.5 billion [56]

Rationing Edit

Food, clothing, petrol, leather and other items were rationed. Perishable items such as fruit were not rationed. Access to luxuries was severely restricted, although there was also a significant black market. Families also grew "victory gardens", and small home vegetable gardens. Many goods were conserved to turn into weapons later, such as fat for nitroglycerin production. People in the countryside were less affected by rationing as they had greater access to locally sourced unrationed products than people in cities, and were more able to grow their own.

The rationing system, which was originally based on a specific basket of goods for each consumer, was much improved by switching to a points system which allowed housewives to make choices based on their own priorities. Food rationing also permitted the upgrading of the quality of the food available, and housewives approved—except for the absence of white bread and the government's imposition of an unpalatable wheat meal "national loaf". Surveys of public opinion showed that most Britons were pleased that rationing brought equality and a guarantee of a decent meal at an affordable cost. [58]

Evacuation Edit

From very early in the war, it was thought that the major industrial cities of Britain, especially London, would come under Luftwaffe air attack this did happen in The Blitz. Some children were sent to Canada, the US and Australia, and millions of children and some mothers were evacuated from London and other major cities to safer parts of the country when the war began, under government plans for the evacuation of civilians, but they often filtered back. When the Blitz bombing began on September 6, 1940, they evacuated again. The discovery of the poor health and hygiene of evacuees was a shock to many Britons, and helped prepare the way for the Beveridge Report. Children were evacuated if their parents agreed but in some cases they had no choice. The children were only allowed to take a few things with them, including a gas mask, books, money, clothes, ration book and some small toys. [59] [60]

Welfare state Edit

An Emergency Hospital Service was established at the beginning of the war, in the expectation that it would be required to deal with large numbers of casualties.

A common theme called for an expansion of the welfare state as a reward to the people for their wartime sacrifices. [61] This was set out in a famous report by William Beveridge. It recommended that the various forms of assistance that had grown up piecemeal since 1911 be rationalised. Unemployment benefits and sickness benefits were to be universal. There would be new benefits for maternity. The old-age pension system would be revised and expanded, and require that a person retired. A full-scale National Health Service would provide free medical care for everyone. All the major political parties endorsed the principles, and they were largely put into effect when peace returned. [62]

Memory Edit

The themes of equality and sacrifice were dominant during the war, and in the memory of the war. Historian Jose Harris points out that the war was seen at the time and by a generation of writers as a period of outstanding national unity and social solidarity. There was little antiwar sentiment during or after the war. Furthermore, Britain turned more toward the collective welfare state during the war, expanding it in the late 1940s and reaching a broad consensus supporting it across party lines. By the 1970s and 1980s, however, historians were exploring the subtle elements of continuing diversity and conflict in society during the war period. [63] For example, at first historians emphasized that strikes became illegal in July 1940, and no trade union called one during the war. Later historians pointed to the many localised unofficial strikes, especially in coal mining, shipbuilding, the metal trades and engineering, with as many as 3.7 million man days lost in 1944. [64]

The BBC collected 47,000 wartime recollections and 15,000 images in 2003-6 and put them online. [65] The CD audiobook Home Front 1939–45 also contains a selection of period interviews and actuality recordings. [66]

Canada Edit

Canada joined the war effort on September 10, 1939 the government deliberately waited after Britain's decision to go to war, partly to demonstrate its independence from Britain and partly to give the country extra time to import arms from the United States as a non-belligerent. [67] War production was ramped up quickly, and was centrally managed through the Department of Munitions and Supply. Unemployment faded away.

Canada became one of the largest trainers of pilots for the Allies through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Many Canadian men joined the war effort, so with them overseas and industries pushing to increase production, women took up positions to aid in the war effort. The hiring of men in many positions in civilian employment was effectively banned later in the war through measures taken under the National Resources Mobilization Act..

Shipyards and repair facilities expanded dramatically as over a thousand warships and cargo vessels were built, along with thousands of auxiliary craft, small boats and others. [68]

Canada expanded food production, but shipped so much to Britain that food rationing had to be imposed. In 1942 it shipped to Britain 25 per cent of total meat production (including 75% of the bacon), 65% of the cheese and 13% of the eggs. [69]

Ethnic minorities from enemy countries Edit

20% of Canada's population were neither of British nor French origin, and their status was of special concern. The main goal was to integrate the marginalized European ethnicities—in contrast to the First World War policy of internment camps for Ukrainians and Germans. In the case of Germany, Italy and especially Japan, the government watched minorities closely for signs of loyalty to their homelands. The fears proved groundless. [70] In February 1942 21,000 Japanese Canadians were rounded up and sent to internment camps that closely resembled similar camps in the US, because the two governments had agreed in 1941 to coordinate their evacuation policies. [71] Most had lived in British Columbia, but in 1945 they were released from detention and allowed to move anywhere in Canada except British Columbia, or they could go to Japan. Most went to the Toronto area. [72] [73]

Women Edit

Canadian women responded to urgent appeals to make do, recycle and salvage in order to come up with needed supplies. They saved fats and grease gathered recycled goods handed out information on the best ways to get the most out of recycled goods and organized many other events to decrease the amount of waste. Volunteer organizations led by women also prepared packages for the military overseas and for prisoners of war in Axis countries.

With World War II came a dire need for employees in the workplace. Without women to step in, the economy would have collapsed. By autumn 1944 there were twice as many women working full-time in Canada's paid labour force as in 1939: between 1.0 and 1.2 million and this did not include part-time workers or women working on farms." [74] Women had to take on this intensive labour and still find time to make jam, clothes, and undertake other acts of volunteering to aid the men overseas.

Australia Edit

The government greatly expanded its powers in order to better direct the war effort, and Australia's industrial and human resources were focused on supporting the Australian and American armed forces. There were a few Japanese attacks, most notably on Darwin in February 1942, along with the widespread fear in 1942, that Australia would be invaded.

Australia entered the war in 1939 and sent its forces to fight the Germans in the Middle East (where they were successful) and Singapore (where they were captured by the Japanese in 1942). By 1943, 37% of the Australian GDP was directed at the war effort. Total war expenditure came to £2,949 million between 1939 and 1945. [75]

The Curtin Labor Government took over in October 1941, and energised the war effort, with rationing of scarce fuel, clothing and some food. When Japan entered the war in December 1941, the danger was at hand, and all women and children were evacuated from Darwin and northern Australia. The Commonwealth Government took control of all income taxation in 1942, which gave it extensive new powers and greatly reduced the states' financial autonomy. [76]

Manufacturing grew rapidly, with the assembly of high performance guns and aircraft a specialty. The number of women working in factories rose from 171,000 to 286,000. [77] The arrival of tens of thousands of Americans was greeted with relief, as they could protect Australia where Britain could not. The US sent in $1.1 billion in Lend Lease, and Australia returned about the same total in services, food, rents and supplies to the Americans. [78]

New Zealand Edit

New Zealand, with a population of 1.7 million, including 99,000 Maori, was highly mobilised during the war. The Labour party was in power and promoted unionisation and the welfare state. The armed forces peaked at 157,000 in September 1942 135,000 served abroad, and 10,100 died. Agriculture expanded, sending record supplies of meat, butter and wool to Britain. When American forces arrived, they were fed as well. The nation spent £574 million on the war, of which 43% came from taxes, 41% from loans and 16% from American Lend Lease. It was an era of prosperity as the national income soared from £158 million in 1937 to £292 million in 1944. Rationing and price controls kept inflation to only 14% during 1939–45. [79] [80]

Montgomerie shows that the war dramatically increased the roles of women, especially married women, in the labour force. Most of them took traditional female jobs. Some replaced men but the changes here were temporary and reversed in 1945. After the war, women left traditional male occupations and many women gave up paid employment to return home. There was no radical change in gender roles but the war intensified occupational trends under way since the 1920s. [81] [82]

India Edit

During World War II, India was a colony of Britain known as British Raj. Britain declared war on behalf of India without consulting with Indian leaders. [83] This resulted in resignation of Congress Ministries. [84]

The British recruited some 2.5 million Indians, who played major roles as soldiers in the Middle East, North Africa and Burma in the British Indian Army. India became the main base for British operations against Japan, and for American efforts to support China.

In Bengal, with an elected Muslim local government under British supervision, the cutoff of rice imports from Burma led to severe food shortages, made worse by maladministration. Prices soared and millions starved because they could not buy food. In the Bengal famine of 1943, three million people died. [85]

An anti-British force of about 40,000 men (and a few women), the Indian National Army (INA) under Subhas Chandra Bose, formed in Southeast Asia. It was under Japanese army control and performed poorly in combat. Its members were captured Indian soldiers from the British Indian Army who gained release from extreme conditions in POW camps by joining the Japanese-sponsored INA. It participated in Battle Of Kohima and Battle of Imphal. In postwar Indian politics, some Indians called them heroes. [ citation needed ] .

The Congress Party in 1942 demanded immediate independence, which Britain rejected. Congress then demanded the British immediately "Quit India" in August 1942, but the Raj responded by immediately jailing tens of thousands of national, state and regional leaders knocking Congress out of the war. Meanwhile, the Muslim League supported the war effort and gained membership and favors with colonial rulers, as well as British support for its demands for a separate Muslim state (which became Pakistan in 1947).

Hong Kong Edit

Hong Kong was a British colony captured by Japan on December 25, 1941, after 18 days of fierce fighting. The conquest was swift, but was followed by days of large-scale looting over ten thousand Chinese women were raped or gang-raped by the Japanese soldiers. [86] The population halved, from 1.6 million in 1941 to 750,000 at war's end because of fleeing refugees they returned in 1945. [87]

The Japanese imprisoned the ruling British colonial elite and sought to win over the local merchant gentry by appointments to advisory councils and neighbourhood watch groups. The policy worked well for Japan and produced extensive collaboration from both the elite and the middle class, with far less terror than in other Chinese cities. Hong Kong was transformed into a Japanese colony, with Japanese businesses replacing the British. The Japanese Empire had severe logistical difficulties and by 1943 the food supply for Hong Kong was problematic. [88]

The overlords became more brutal and corrupt, and the Chinese gentry became disenchanted. With the surrender of Japan the transition back to British rule was smooth, for on the mainland the Nationalist and Communists forces were preparing for a civil war and ignored Hong Kong. In the long run the occupation strengthened the pre-war social and economic order among the Chinese business community by eliminating some conflicts of interests and reducing the prestige and power of the British. [89]

Germany Edit

Germany had not fully mobilized in 1939, not even in 1941, as society continued in prewar channels. [90] Not until 1943, under Albert Speer (the minister of armaments in the Reich), did Germany finally redirect its entire economy and manpower to war production. Instead of using all available Germans, it brought in millions of slave workers from conquered countries, treating them badly (and getting low productivity in return). [91] Germany's economy was simply too small for a longer all-out war. Hitler's strategy was to change this by a series of surprise blitzkriegs. This failed with defeats in Russia in 1941 and 1942, and against the economic power of the allies. [92]

Forced labour Edit

Instead of expanding the economies of the occupied nations, the Nazis seized the portable machinery and rail cars, requisitioned most of their industrial output, took large quantities of food (15% of French output), and forced the victims to pay for their military occupation. [93]

The Nazis forced 15 million people to work in Germany (including POWs) many died from bad living conditions, mistreatment, malnutrition, and executions. At its peak, forced laborers comprised 20% of the German work force and were a vital part of the German economic exploitation of the conquered territories. They were especially concentrated in munitions and agriculture. [94] For example, 1.5 million French soldiers were kept in POW camps in Germany as hostages and forced workers and, in 1943, 600,000 French civilians were forced to move to Germany to work in war plants. [95]

Economy Edit

Although Germany had about double the population of Britain (80 million versus 46 million), it had to use far more labor to provide food and energy. Britain imported food and employed only a million people (5% of the labour force) on farms, while Germany used 11 million (27%). For Germany to build its twelve synthetic oil plants with a capacity of 3.3 million tons a year required 2.3 million tons of structural steel and 7.5 million man-days of labor. (Britain imported all its oil from Iraq, Persia and North America). To overcome this problem, Germany employed millions of forced laborers and POWs by 1944, they had brought in more than five million civilian workers and nearly two million prisoners of war—a total of 7.13 million foreign workers.

Rationing Edit

Rationing in Germany was introduced in 1939 immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities. Hitler was at first convinced that it would affect public support for the war if a strict rationing program was introduced. The Nazis were popular partly because Germany was relatively prosperous, and Hitler did not want to lose popularity or public support. Hitler felt that food and other shortages had been a major factor in destroying civilian morale during World War I, leading to defeatism and surrender.

Despite the rationing, civilians had enough food and clothing witness Howard K. Smith later wrote that "[f]or a people engaged in a life-and-death war . the German people for two years of war ate amazingly well." The meat ration, for example, was 500 g per week per person. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, however, this changed to 400 g per week, then fell further. Estimating that the meat ration had dropped by up to 80% in five months of fighting in Russia, and citing many other sudden changes in living conditions, Smith wrote that by the time he left Germany in late 1941, "for the first time . the German people are undernourished". [96] The system gave extra rations for men involved in heavy industry, and extremely low starvation rations for Jews and Poles in the areas occupied by Germany, but not to the Poles inside Germany, many of whom had been brought in to perform heavy labor in German war industries.

According to a 1997 post by Walter Felscher to the "Memories of the 1940s" electronic mailing list:

For every person, there were rationing cards for general foodstuffs, meats, fats (such as butter, margarine and oil) and tobacco products distributed every other month. The cards were printed on strong paper, containing numerous small "Marken" subdivisions printed with their value – for example, from "5 g Butter" to "100 g Butter". Every acquisition of rationed goods required an appropriate "Marken", and if a person wished to eat a certain soup at a restaurant, the waiter would take out a pair of scissors and cut off the required items to make the soup and amounts listed on the menu. In the evenings, restaurant-owners would spend an hour at least gluing the collected "Marken" onto large sheets of paper which they then had to hand in to the appropriate authorities. [97]

The rations were enough to live from, but clearly did not permit luxuries. Whipped cream was unknown from 1939 until 1948, as well as chocolates, cakes with rich creams etc. Meat could not be eaten every day. Other items were not rationed, but simply became unavailable as they had to be imported from overseas: coffee in particular, which throughout was replaced by substitutes made from roasted grains. Vegetables and local fruit were not rationed imported citrus fruits and bananas were unavailable. In more rural areas, farmers continued to bring their products to the markets, as large cities depended on long distance delivery. Many people kept rabbits for their meat when it became scarce in shops, and it was often a child's job to care for them each day.

By spring 1945, food distribution and the ration system were increasingly in collapse, due to insurmountable transportation disruption and the rapid advance of the Allied armies from west and east with consequent loss of food storage facilities. In Berlin, at the start of the Battle of Berlin, the authorities announced a special supplementary food ration on April 20, 1945. It consisted of a pound (450 g) of bacon or sausage, half a pound of rice, half a pound of peas or pulses, a pound of sugar, four ounces (110 g) of coffee substitute, one ounce of real coffee, and a tin of vegetables or fruit. They also announced that standard food ration allocations for the next fortnight could be claimed in advance. [98] The extra allocation of rations were dubbed by Berliners Himmelfahrtsrationen, Ascension-day rations, "because with these rations we shall now ascend to heaven" [99]

Nursing Edit

Germany had a very large and well organized nursing service, with three main organizations, one for Catholics, one for Protestants, and the DRK (Red Cross). In 1934 the Nazis set up their own nursing unit, the Brown nurses, which absorbed one of the smaller groups, bringing it up to 40,000 members. It set up kindergartens in competition with the other nursing organizations, hoping to seize control of the minds of the younger Germans. Civilian psychiatric nurses who were Nazi party members participated in the killing of invalids, although this was shrouded in euphemisms and denials. [100]

Military nursing was primarily handled by the DRK, which came under partial Nazi control. Frontline medical services were provided by male doctors and medics. Red Cross nurses served widely within the military medical services, staffing the hospitals that perforce were close to the front lines and at risk of bombing attacks. Two dozen were awarded the highly prestigious Iron Cross for heroism under fire. They are among the 470,000 German women who served with the military. [101]

Displaced persons Edit

The conquest of Germany in 1945 freed 11 million foreigners, called "displaced persons" (DPs)- chiefly forced laborers and POWs. In addition to the POWs, the Germans seized 2.8 million Soviet workers to labor in factories in Germany. Returning them home was a high priority for the Allies. However, in the case of Russians and Ukrainians returning often meant suspicion or prison or even death. The UNRRA, Red Cross and military operations provided food, clothing, shelter and assistance in returning home. In all, 5.2 million were repatriated to the Soviet Union, 1.6 million to Poland, 1.5 million to France, and 900,000 to Italy, along with 300,000 to 400,000 each to Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Belgium. [102]

Refugees Edit

In 1944–45, over 2.5 million ethnic Germans fled from Eastern Europe in family groups, desperately hoping to reach Germany before being overtaken by the Russians. [103] [104] Half a million died in the process, the survivors were herded into refugee camps in East and West Germany for years. Meanwhile, Moscow encouraged its troops to regard German women as targets for revenge. Russian Marshal Georgi Zhukov called on his troops to, "Remember our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our wives and children tortured to death by Germans. We shall exact a brutal revenge for everything." Upwards of two million women inside Germany were raped in 1945 in a tidal wave of looting, burning and vengeance. [105]

Japan Edit

The Japanese home front was elaborately organized, block by block, with full-scale food rationing and many controls over labor. The government used propaganda heavily and planned in minute detail regarding the mobilization of manpower, identification of critical choke points, food supplies, logistics, air raid shelters, and the evacuation of children and civilians from targeted cities. Food supplies were very tight before the heavy bombing began in fall 1944, then grew to a crisis. There was only a small increase of 1.4 million women entering the labor force between 1940 and 1944. Intense propaganda efforts by the government to promote savings and postpone consumer purchases were largely successful, especially on the part of housewives who generally control their family budget. [106] The minister of welfare announced, "In order to secure its labor force, the enemy is drafting women, but in Japan, out of consideration for the family system, we will not draft them." [107]

The weaknesses in the maximum utilization of womanpower was indicated by the presence of 600,000 domestic servants in wealthy families in 1944. The government wanted to raise the birthrate, even with 8.2 million men in the armed forces, of whom three million were killed. Government incentives helped to raise the marriage rate, but the number of births held steady at about 2.2 million per year, with a 10% decline in 1944–45, and another 15% decline in 1945–46. Strict rationing of milk led to smaller babies. There was little or no long-term impact on the overall demographic profile of Japan. [108]

The government began making evacuation plans in late 1943, and started removing entire schools from industrial cities to the countryside, where they were safe from bombing and had better access to food supplies. In all 1.3 million children were moved—with their teachers but not their parents. [109] When the American bombing began in earnest in late 1944, 10 million people fled the cities to the safety of the countryside, including two-thirds of the residents of the largest cities and 87% of the children. Left behind were the munitions workers and government officials. By April 1945, 87% of the younger children had been moved to the countryside.

Civil defense units were transformed into combat units, especially the Peoples Volunteer Combat Corps, enlisting civilian men up to the age of 60 and women to age 40. Starting in January 1945 the government operated an intensive training program to enable the entire civilian population to fight the "decisive battle" with the American invaders using grenades, explosive gliders and bamboo spears. Everyone understood they would probably die in what the government called, the "Grand Suicide of the One Hundred Million." [110] Health conditions became much worse after the surrender in September 1945, with so much housing stock destroyed, and an additional 6.6 million Japanese repatriated from Manchuria, China, Indochina, Formosa, Korea, Saipan and the Philippines. [111]

Civilian Sentiment and Government War Efforts Edit

There was great civilian support for the war by July 1937. [112] The successful Japanese invasion of Manchuria in the early 1930s fueled the rise of aggressive foreign policy and radical nationalism. The Japanese shimbun's and radio station's reporting of the events helped spread this sentiment quickly. Understanding the benefits of educating the populace about the war efforts, the Japanese government soon followed suite. Starting in January 1938, ten minutes of war news was broadcast at 7:30 PM every day. [113]

At the start of the war, the Home Ministry of Japan established more campaigns to generate support for the war. [114] For instance, citizens were encouraged to avoid luxuries and save wealth for the state. The government even reformed its education system by rewriting ethics textbooks to be more nationalistic and militaristic. Schoolchildren were also taught nationalistic songs such as the Umi Yukaba:

"If I go away to the sea,
I shall be a corpse washed up.
If I go away to the mountain,
I shall be a corpse in the grass
But if I die for the Emperor,
It will not be a regret."

In 1937, the Shinmin no michi (The Way of the Subjects) was given to all Japanese citizens in order to teach them how they should behave. Similarly, the Japanese war ministry issued the Senjinkun (Field Service Code) in 1941, which tried to educate the soldiers on how to behave during wartime. Specifically, the Senjinkun contained the famous ideal of no-surrender which inspired many Japanese servicemen to commit suicide than risk capture or surrender. [115] Observation of civilian wartime diaries and letters suggest that the government was successful in garnering massive support for the war. Despite the rationing that causes food shortages, many Japanese were happy to oblige. Sakamoto Kane, Kōchi housewife wrote: "For fish, the community council gave us a distribution of only shrimp and swordfish we can't get either pork or beef. I have the feeling that little by little there will be shortages but that in war, we must aim for frugality even in small ways and we must be careful about waste–for the sake of the country." [116] Such sentiments were very common in Japan.

Further speaking to the success of the Japanese government, there were only

1000 deserters every year for the six years of World War II. In comparison,

40,000 Americans and more than 100,000 British servicemen deserted during World War II. While there was some resistance from the Japanese, most were supportive of the WW II efforts. In fact, many were prepared to fight against the invaders if the opportunity came. In some areas of Japan, women practiced fighting with bamboo spears girls vowed to kill at least one invader before they died children practiced throwing balls in anticipation that they would be throwing grenades at the enemy. [117] There were even reports of mass civilian suicides near the end of World War II, an attempt to avoid capture. This was partially due to loyalty for the emperor and fear tactics from the Japanese government, which had spread misinformation that the American soldiers would commit atrocities against innocent civilians. [118] For the other Japanese civilians, there was a general sense of sorrow at the time of Japan's surrender. Inoue Tarō, a Japanese teenager who was tasked with war work, wrote a statement in his diary at the announcement that Japan had surrendered: "Cry! Let's cry until we can't any longer. Later we'll probably see the outpouring of a new power." [119]

Number of Japanese Soldiers that Deserted or Defected [120]
Year 1939 1943 1944
Defectors 669 20 40
Deserters 669* 1023 1085

*669 is the combined number of deserters and defectors in 1939.

Food Edit

Agricultural production in the home islands held up well during the war until the bombing started. It fell from an index of 110 in 1942 to 84 in 1944 and only 65 in 1945. Worse, imports dried up. [121] The Japanese food rationing system was effective throughout the war, and there were no serious incidences of malnutrition. A government survey in Tokyo showed that in 1944 families depended on the black market for 9% of their rice, 38% of their fish, and 69% of their vegetables. [122]

The Japanese domestic food supply depended upon imports, which were largely cut off by the American submarine and bombing campaigns. Likewise there was little deep sea fishing, so that the fish ration by 1941 was mostly squid harvested from coastal waters. The result was a growing food shortage, especially in the cities. There was some malnutrition but no reported starvation. [123] Despite government rationing of food, some families were forced to spend more than their monthly income could offer on black market food purchases. They would rely on savings or exchange food for clothes or other possessions. [124]

Japanese Rice Supply [125]
Year 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
Domestic production 9,928 9,862 10,324 9,107 8,245 9,999 9,422 8,784 6,445
Imports 2,173 2,546 1,634 1,860 2,517 2,581 1,183 874 268
All rice 12,101 12,408 11,958 10,967 10,762 12,580 10,605 9,658 6,713

Deaths Edit

The American aerial bombing of a total of 65 Japanese cities took from 400,000 to 600,000 civilian lives, with 100,000+ in Tokyo alone, over 200,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The Battle of Okinawa resulted in 80,000–150,000 civilian deaths. In addition civilian death among settlers who died attempting to return to Japan from Manchuria in the winter of 1945 were probably around 100,000. The total of Japanese military fatalities between 1937 and 1945 were 2.1 million most came in the last year of the war and were caused by starvation or severe malnutrition in garrisons cut off from supplies. [126]

Japanese women Edit

According to oral history studied by Thomas R.H. Havens, traditional paternalistic norms proved a barrier when the government wanted to exploit woman power more fully for the war effort. Compulsory employment in munitions factories was possible for unmarried women, but social norms prevented married women from doing that sort of work, in sharp contrast to Russia, Britain, Germany and the United States. The absence of so many young men dramatically disrupted long-standing patterns of marriage, fertility, and family life. Severe shortages of ordinary items, including food and housing, were far more oppressive than governmental propaganda efforts. Japanese women obediently followed orders, and there were no serious disruptions such as rioting over food shortages. [127] Forced prostitution for the benefit of Japanese soldiers created the "comfort women" program that proved highly embarrassing to Japan for decades after the war. Non-Japanese women from colonies such as Korea and Formosa were especially vulnerable. [128]

Beginning in the late 20th century cultural historians turned their attention to the role of women in wartime, especially the Second World War. Sources often used include magazines published—by men—for female readers. Typically fictional and nonfictional stories focused on social roles as mothers and wives, especially in dealing with hardships of housing and food supplies, and financial concerns in the absence of men at war. Problems of fashion wartime were a high priority in such magazines in all major countries. [129] Historians report that the Japanese textile and fashion industries were highly successful in adapting to wartime shortages and propaganda needs. [130] Magazines for teenage girls emphasized they must follow patriotic demands that compelled them to give up their adolescent freedoms and transform themselves from "shōjo", which connotes adolescent playfulness, into "gunkoku shōjo" [girls of a military nation], with significant home front responsibilities. Evacuation of women and children from the major cities, out of fear of Allied bombing, was covered in detail to emphasize willingness to sacrifice for patriotism portrayed through fiction, news articles and photographs. [131] The government controlled all the media, and supervised popular magazines so their content would strategically spread the government's goals and propaganda. [132]

Condition at war's end Edit

Health and living conditions worsened after the surrender in September 1945. Most of the housing stock in large cities was destroyed, just as refugees tried to return from the rural areas. Adding to the crisis there was an influx of 3.5 million returning soldiers and 3.1 million Japanese civilians forcibly repatriated from Imperial outposts in Manchuria, China, Indochina, Formosa, Korea, Saipan and the Philippines about 400,000 civilians were left behind and not heard of again. Meanwhile, 1.2 million Koreans, POWs and other non-Japanese left Japan. The government implemented pro-natalist policies, which led to an increase in the marriage rate, but birth rates remained steady until they declined by 10% in the stress of the last year of the war, and another 15% during the hardship of the postwar period. [133]

The American bombing campaign of all major cities severely impacted the economy, as did the shortages of oil and raw materials that intensified when Japanese merchant shipping was mostly sunk by American submarines. When industrial production was available to the military, for example, 24 percent of Japan's finished steel in 1937 was allocated to the military, compared to 85 percent in 1945. [134] By the end of the war, output percent of the highest capacity was still 100 percent for steel, although only 75 percent for aluminum, 63 percent for machine tools, 42 percent for vacuum tubes, 54 percent cement, 32 percent cotton fabric, and 36 percent for wool. [135]

Severe food shortages were common throughout the war zones, especially in Europe where Germany used starvation as a military weapon. Japan did not use it as a deliberate policy, but the breakdown of its transportation and distribution systems led to famine and starvation conditions among its soldiers on many Pacific islands. [136] Bose (1990) studies the three great Asian famines that took place during the war: Bengal in India, Honan in China, and Tonkin in Vietnam. In each famine at least two million people died. They all occurred in densely populated provinces where the subsistence foundations of agriculture was failing under the weight of demographic and market pressures. In each cases famine played a role in undermining the legitimacy of the state and the preexisting social structure. [137]

A great deal of housing was destroyed or largely damaged during the war, especially in the Soviet Union, [138] Germany, and Japan. In Japan, about a third of the families were homeless at the end of the war. [139] In Germany, about 25% of the total housing stock was destroyed or heavily damaged in the main cities the proportion was about 45%. [140] Elsewhere in Europe, 22% of the prewar housing in Poland was totally destroyed 21% in Greece 9% in Austria, 8% in the Netherlands 8% in France, 7% in Britain, 5% Italy and 4% in Hungary. [141]