The Second World War - A Historical Catastrophe



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Who All Were a Part?


The Second World War, to some extent, can be called a continuation of the first due to the unbearable situation that it created. It was fought among the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) and the Allies (France, Britain, Soviet Union and, to a little extent, China as well)

The United States wasn’t a part of the war when it began, but after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it became a crucial member of the war fighting against the Axis powers.


Prelude


The World War 2 began due to unsolved disputes left behind after the First World War which left Germany in a completely destructed state. In the times of hardships, Adolf Hitler (a man of Austrian origin) rose to the position of the Chancellor on the basis of his merit. But handing Hitler over the position of the Chancellor proved to be a fatal mistake in world history causing the death of millions in the future.

After Hitler became the Chancellor in 1933, he quickly began to gather powers and also declared himself the Supreme Leader of Germany in 1934. This made him the sole person with power in hand in the country and also demolished the democratic rule that had been established in Germany after the First World War.

Hitler saw the pure Aryan race as a superior race and the only one deserving to survive. He sought to build a nation composed of only people belonging to the Aryan race. He also believed in the idea of ‘Lebensraum’ or living space, following which he sought to conquer the neighboring nations of Germany.

He began to work towards his dream by first violating the terms of the Versailles Treaty, capturing back the important resource rich lands of Germany, establishing a full-fledged army and entered into a tri-pact with Japan and Italy to gain power. In early 1938, Hitler occupied Austria and later in the year also captured Czechoslovakia and consolidated the two nations with the German state.


The Pre-War Setup


The aggressive actions of Hitler were not going unnoticed, but the United States and the Soviet Union were busy dealing with issues of their own internal politics then while France and United Kingdom did not want to become a part of another World War and thus remained silent. 

In August 1939, Germany signed the ‘German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact’ which stated that, if, Poland is captured, Germany and the Soviet Union will divide control over the Polish territory. This made it possible for Hitler to establish control over Poland without opposition from the Soviet end.

However, Poland was backed by the support of France and Britain. Adolf Hitler led the German army into Poland on the 1ST of September, 1939 and set up his rule on half of the Polish territory (the other half was under the rule of the Soviets). Two days after this annexation, on 3RD September 1939, France and the United Kingdom declared war over Germany.

Under the ‘German Soviet Nonaggression Pact’, Germany and the Soviet Union joined hands and conquered many territories like those of Finland, Romania and Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).


The Beginning of the Atrocities


After the United Kingdom had declared war on Germany, the British troops had been fighting with the German troops at sea and the powerful German U-submarines sunk about hundred British ships within the first four months of the world war.

In order to attack French troops, Hitler conquered and his troops made their way through Denmark, Belgium and Netherlands and attacked the French troops at Sedan. This put France in a weak position while the rest of the French troops were busy in wars in the south.

Going by the situation, the French rule was about to collapse and on June 10th, Italy declared war on France and Britain too so as to backup German troops.

Due to its weak spot in the war, the French government had to give up ad French territory was divided into two halves, one under the control of Hitler and the other half under the control of Marshal Philippe Petain’s government. The French signed an armistice on 17th June, 1940, accepting defeat to the German forces.

After the attack on France, Hitler changed his focus upon United Kingdom which enjoyed a geographical advantage provided by the English Channel. Due to this, Hitler began attacking Britain via aerial routes and planes, heavily bombing the English territory. This eventually led to the Battle of Britain.


Battle of Britain


The Battle of Britain was a counter-act carried out by the Royal Air Force to protect the British territory from Nazi bombings. It was a completely air based fight and lasted from 10th July to 31ST October, 1940.

However, the continuous conquests of Adolf Hitler made the German troops deprived of resources required for fighting the British. They did not have any navy left after the costly conquest of Norway and their fighter planes were far inferior to those owned by the United Kingdom. Britain’s air defense systems were also developed enough to easily take down German aerial attacks before they could deal any serious damage.


Operation Barbarossa and the Holocaust


Working on the idea of ‘Lebensraum’ and justifying his preference of the Aryan race with the theory of the ‘Survival of the Fittest’, Hitler began all human who, according to him, belonged to inferior races. This only allowed the survival of the Aryan race and many programs and plans were formulated for the extermination of all other races other than the Aryan race, especially the Jews (gypsies, polish, etc.). For those were alive before they were killed too under these plans, there were harsh rules that took away all comforts of life from them and forced them to go into hiding into small confined places.

The operation ‘Barbarossa’ was a code name given by Hitler to the mission to attack Soviet territories in Europe and establish control over them. Even though Adolf Hitler received little success in the beginning with respect to this operation, the Soviets eventually defeated the German forces. The Soviets outnumbered the German forces and were ahead of them in matters of the technology used to fight the war too.

When the Germans were busy fighting wars with the British and the Americans, the Soviets took advantage of the situation and carried out offensive attacks on the German territory in November, 1942. This led to the ‘Battle of Stalingrad’, where the Germans were brutally defeated by the Soviets and the last of them surrendered by January 31st, 1943.


Involvement of America


Japan was looking to expand its territorial reigns during 1941. Following this, 360 Japanese air crafts bombed the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7th, 1941. This resulted in the death of 2,300 American soldiers. Acting upon this, the Congress declared war on Japan on the morning of December 8th. In retaliation, all the axis powers declared war on the United States too.

The U.S. Navy Fleet defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Midway in 1942. This point on, the war took a turn in favour of the Allies.


The Final Phase


On June 6th, 1944, the Allied countries combined their powers and carried out a joint Mission, first, in order to rescue France and then to defeat the Germans. When this happened, all the Allied countries attacked the western front of Germany, and Hitler commanded all German defense units to defend the Western front. However, in doing so, Hitler exposed the entire Eastern front to Soviet troops and vulnerable to Soviet expansion. So did happen and Soviet troops moved into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania and established territorial control.

However, America was determined to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor and dropped atomic bombs on the 6th and the 9th of August in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.


The End


The Second World War came to an informal end on 8th of May, 1945, when Germany surrendered, but the Japanese continued to fight until September and the war finally ended on 2nd September, 1945.

The Second World War resulted in the dismissal of the League of Nations and in its place, The United Nations Organization was set up to prevent another World War.

The Second World War was one of the worst atrocities of history against mankind which saw about 60-80 million deaths within 6 years. The countries that were a part of the war put in all their economic, human, industrial and all other available resources.


Written by - Arnav Mehra

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