|WORLD WAR II SUMMARY -1939 TO 1945|
Essentially, the WWII was a conflict between two coalitions of states, designated the Axis Powers and the Allies or United Nations. The Axis Powers included Germany, Italy, Japan, and their satellites. The Allies consisted the United States, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China, and their Allies.
The war began with the invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1, 1939. And was immediately broadened in scope by declarations of war against Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
Italy entered the war in 1940 and in conjunction with Germany spread the war to Africa. Invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany on June 22, 1941 transformed the war into a general European struggle. And the attack on Hawaii on December 7, 1941, followed immediately by a declaration of war against Japan by the United States. This converted the European war into a global one.
Before the war ended with the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 9, 1945 and of Japan on September 2, 1945, a total of almost seventy nations were involved in the conflict in varying degree, ranging from severance of diplomatic relations to full participation in the hostilities.
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Manchukuo, Mexico, Mongolian People's Republic, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Salvador, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Union of South Africa, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.
Peace Treaties were signed in: Paris, February 10, 1947 San Francisco, September 8, 1951 Vienna, May 15, 1955
CAUSES OF THE WAR
The causes of WW II are too numerous and complex to be generalized. Therefore, the following is a summarization of those causes:
The end of WW I found Europe economically impoverished and politically divided. And faced the possibility of social revolution. The peace treaties provided the establishment of the League of Nations which was a solution for any disputes among nations. The consequences of the treaties were disastrous for the peace of the world.
During the early 1920's Europe experienced an economic depression and the course of European politics was determined largely by the tide of communist revolution which engulfed many countries. In the late 1920's Europe achieved a measure of economic recovery. And at the same time, the Soviet government was dominated by Joseph Stalin. All hope of political stability in Europe was shattered by the results of the depression that hit the United States in 1929. In the 1930's widespread unemployment and acute distress strained social relationships in Europe. The communist movement soon overwhelmed Europe.
The triumph in 1933 of fascism, under the name of National Socialism, or Nazism, in Germany ended the threat of revolution in that country. However, the triumph of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, had more disastrous consequences as time passed.
The German society was transformed into a totalitarian state which had withdrawn from the League of Nations. The League of Nations condemned Germany's action for denouncing the Versailles Treaty which provided the disarmament of Germany. Hitler was to establish Germany as the dominant nation in Europe and one of the leading economic, political and military powers of the world. Hitler's conquests would eventually lead to war. Encouraged by the successes of Japan and Germany, the Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, undertook the conquest of Ethiopia in 1935. Taking advantage of the political crisis resulting from that event, Germany's armed forces reoccupied the Rhineland and later that year established a close relationship with Italy known as the Berlin-Rome Axis and also a pact with Japan known as the Anti-Comintern Pact. Both pacts were intending to combat communism. A civil war soon erupted in Spain and Germany and Italy soon intervened. In 1937, the Japanese took advantage of Europe's preoccupation with the Spanish civil war to extend their conquest of Manchuria.
In 1939, Germany wanted Poland to surrender the Polish Corridor separating East Prussia from the rest of Germany; but Poland refused. On September 1, 1939, The German Wehrmacht ("war machine"), invaded Poland, unleashing the most destructive of all wars.
On September 3, 1939, the British and French governments declared war on Germany. The Polish campaign carefully planned and followed extensive preparations in Poland by German espionage and sabotage agents. The Poles were no match for the German Blitzkrieg ("lightning war"). The German infantry was led by Panzer (armored divisions of numerous tanks) and overhead the Luftwaffe (air force). The Polish armies were destroyed in less than two weeks. The annihilation of Poland was the shortest campaign in military history.
Immediately following the collapse of most European countries, the Germans began to prepare for an invasion of the British Isles. While Hitler was preoccupied with the air assault on the British Isles, his ally Mussolini, created an unexpected and unwelcome diversion, when on October 28, 1940, he invaded Greece and Albania. The main Italian thrust was aimed at the Aegean port of Saloniki. In ten days, aided by the R. A. F., they slowed the Italian offensive to a standstill and then launched a counterattack. The Italians were driven out of Greece in less than a month.
While the Germans were still engaged in the Battle of Britain the Italians were concentrating men and material in Libya in preparation for an offensive to drive the British from Egypt, take Alexandria and control the Suez Canal. During the course of the Angelo-Italian war in North Africa, fighting between British and Italians also took place in East Africa. The British forces consisted of mainly troops from Egypt Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria. And South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and by this time Germany and Italy were in control of virtually all of the European mainland. The Russo-German War which was called "Operation Barbarossa" began at 3 am on June 22, 1941 and was just 175 years to the day after Napoleon's Grande Army invaded Russia. Hitler's invasion stretched 2,000 miles, extending from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. The German blitzkrieg of Russia was shattered by an unusually severe winter which left the Germans neither adequately clothed nor equipped. On December 8, Hitler announced the suspension of further hostilities for the duration of the Russian winter. President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Lend-Lease Act and munitions and supplies flowed into the British Isles in defiance of the German air and sea blockade. And American supplies began to flow into Russia. To protect the North Atlantic sea route, American troops were landed in Iceland and Greenland. The Axis were warned that American warships and planes would fire upon Axis warships in waters vital to the American defense.
THE WAR BECOMES A GLOBAL CONFLICT
With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, Japan transformed the European war into a global war. All the powers were now involved. And Italy and Germany declared war on the United States.
IN BRIEF......THE WAR WITH JAPAN
February, 1st: Allies land on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.
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