The history of WW2 and their aftermath
Second World War or World War 2 is one of the most severe events in the modern world history. Many different countries of the world and more than half of the world population were involved in this armed conflict which caused a huge number of human victims. Thus, the Second World War was one of the most terrible events, in which so many humans were killed and economy of different countries suffered huge losses that resulted in the Cold War as their aftermath.
The First World War has definitely caused the instability in Europe. Additionally, controversial Versailles Treaty resulted in another international conflict called Second World War that became more devastating and terrible. After the National Socialist (Nazi Party) was established, Adolf Hitler got the power in politically and economically unstable Germany and rearmed the nation. For future world domination, he signed some strategic treaties with Japan and Italy. Further, in September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland forcing France and Great Britain to declare war on Germany. Thus, Second World War had begun. In fact, it was that most destructive and cruel war comparing to previous ones taken 40,000,000–60,000,000 humans’ deaths and among them 6,000,000 Jews (Cook et al., 2005, p.11). However, most of them were killed in Nazi concentration camps as part of the Hitler’s Holocaust.
In 1943, Hitler anointed himself as supreme leader getting the power after his appointment to the post of his Reich Chancellor in 1933. He was obsessed with the idea of “pure” German race superiority (he called it “Aryan”), but only war could bring Germany world domination. Staring to ream his country, he breached the terms of the Versailles Treaty and sent his troops to invade Austria in 1938 (Cook et al., 2005, p.20). Moreover, later he annexed Czechoslovakia, but none of the countries such as the Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, or France came into confrontation at that time. However, in August 1939, in Moscow, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin who was the Soviet leader, signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact that meant non-interference of the Soviet Union into German attack on Poland resulting in the partition of Poland between these two states. Moreover, France and Great Britain were required to guarantee Poland the military support in case of German attack. Thus, this Hitler’s actions led to the declaration of war by France and Great Britain and beginning of Second World War.
On September 17, the USSR troops came to Poland. Basically, this country was separated between the Soviet Union and Germany until early 1940 according to the previous Nonaggression Pact. Moreover, Soviet troops directed by Stalin won the Russo-Finish War and occupied Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia (Cook et al., 2005, p.236). Additionally, German navies faced with British merchant shipping experienced the destruction of more than 100 vessels.
On April 1940, Germany concurrently began the military actions in Norway and Denmark. In May German forces arrived to the Netherlands, Belgium, and these invasions were called “blitzkrieg.” In three days, Hitler had a battle with French army at Sedan where it was located at the northern end of the Maginot Line. The German troops used planes and tanks to place France on the collapse verge. At the same time, in June Italian leader Benito Mussolini who had their Pact of Steel with Hitler, declared war against Britain and France (Cook et al., 2005, p.46). In four days, Hitler’s forces governed by Marshal Philippe Petain came into Paris. However, this country was divided into zone of German military occupation and another zone managed by Petain’s government.
Aiming to conquer Great Britain, Hitler began Operation Sea Lion. All summer German aircrafts have been bombing Great Britain simultaneously with night raids on many industrial towns. London in particular suffered significant damage and losses. However, at last the Royal Air Force (RAF) crushed the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) which led to Hitler’s discontinuance. After all these events, the US government began to provide considerable assistance for Great Britain headed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in terms of the Lend-Lease Act that was passed by Congress in first months of 1941.
In early 1941, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary aligned with the Axis Powers known as the Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis. Moreover, Greece, and Yugoslavia were forcibly attached as well. Thus, the conquest of the Balkans by Hitler showed his desire to occupy the Soviet Union’s lands. Hence, on June 22, the German troops made the intrusion of territory of the USSR and this invasion received a code name Operation Barbarossa. The Soviet army, however, had rather qualitative and powerful tanks and planes but they should have been upgraded. Therefore, this and other facts allowed the German army to get closer to Moscow in the middle of July. As Cook et al. admit (2005), “The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 was expected to produce a crushing victory against the great ideological enemy of Nazism” (p.234). However, winter weather and Soviet counteroffensive resulted in the suspension of German offensive till October.
The United States and Britain, in their turn, had military operations with Japanese aggression that led to one of the most tragic events – air attack on the U.S. naval base located at Pearl Harbor on December 1941. Nearly 2,300 people were killed and caused the US declaration of war on Japan. On the contrary, Axis Powers with Germany did the same towards the USA (Cook et al., 2005, p.304). Later, in 1943, after many successful series of attacks, the Allied forces could reach their final aim and invaded Japan. Besides, in 1943 American and British forces won Germans and Italians in North Africa. Moreover, Mussolini’s government fell in the same year but fighting in Italy continued until 1945. After the Battle of Stalingrad on the Eastern Front of WWII and coming harsh winter, the German troops surrendered in 1943.
However, June 6, 1944 was a day known as “D-Day” when the Allied started massive invasion of occupied Europe landing many Canadian, American, and British forces on the beaches of France and Normandy. In his turn, Hitler tried to save Western Europe but was defeated in the east of Germany. Soviet army has passed Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia and soon it occupied most of the German territory. Hence, on May 8 Germany formally capitulated.
In July-August 1945, American President Harry S. Truman, Stalin, and Churchill had a official meeting at the Potsdam Conference to discuss the existing war with Japan in addition to peace settlement in regards to Germany. According to this discussion, France, Britain, the USSR, and the USA will control the post-war Germany. However, only the atomic bomb dumped to Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced Japan to capitulate on September 2. Thus, WW2 made huge losses at any branches of society taken many humans’ lives. Economic collapse, spread of communism through Europe and China and the Cold War between the USA and the USSR were main consequences of the WW2.
Harper (2011) states, “The Cold War was a contest for supremacy between the United States which saw itself as the leader of the “Free World” of capitalist and liberal democracies and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), claiming to lead a Communist or socialist camp” (p.1). Although these two countries fought together against Germany and its allies, they had various claims and retrained distrust of each other. For example, the USA was concerned by possible spread of communism to different countries and Joseph Stalin’s blood-thirsty and tyrannical rule. At the same time, the USSR did not approve that the USA refused for so long time to treat their country as international community legitimate part, and has joined WW2 rather late. Thus, most of American politicians decided to adopt a strategy named “containment” after George Kennan’s Long Telegram in 1946 (Harper, 2011, p.60). Moreover, in 1947, the US President Harry Truman declared before the Congress that the USA has to support free people in their resistance to outside pressures.
The strategy of containment contributed to American arms buildup with “arms race” beginning. Thus, in 1949, the USSR invented atomic bomb, right after this the USA made hydrogen bomb. Later, the Soviets did the same and developed hydrogen threat as well. Moreover, the next branch of competition and domination was space. In 1957, the USSR launched Soviet R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile Sputnik. Next year the USA put into orbit their satellite called Explorer I and the first person who set foot on the moon was American Neil Armstrong in 1967. Besides, together with all these actions the USA established the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to search and remove those people who could be implicated in any Communist activities. It was difficult period for people of any professions in particular for those who worked in the movie industry (in Hollywood). Furthermore, the American fear of Communism victory in the world during the Cold War manifested in war in Korea, the Bay of Pigs invasion, war in Vietnam, etc.
Although American President Richard Nixon tried to smooth the strained relations between countries, next President Ronald Reagan further deepened the Cold War again. His policy called Reagan Doctrine was mostly applied in developing states such as El Salvador and Grenada. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union gradually began to disintegrate the weakening of power in Eastern Europe. However, Mikhail Gorbachev, who became Premier in 1985, led the new policy of economic reform. Moreover, the Berlin Wall (one of the Cold War symbols) was destroyed, and the USSR also collapsed in 1991 which cause the end of the Cold War.
The books of Tim Cook and other authors History of World War II and The Cold War by John Lamberton Harper are rather informative and interesting for reading. Admittedly, they give clear information and include only true facts based on reliable sources. In fact, these books will be exciting to read and to enhance the knowledge about those dramatic periods.
In conclusion, Second World War was one of the most terrible and devastating wars in the world history. It took a drastic number of human lives, broke many people’s fates and substantially damaged the economy of mostly each country in the world. Moreover, one of its negative consequences was the Cold War between the USA and the USSR ended only with the Soviet Union collapse in 1991.
Cook, T., Horton, E., Jorgensen, C., Hughes, M., McNab, C., Somerville, D., … Westwell, I. (2005). History of World War II. New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.
Harper, J.L. (2011). The Cold War. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.