WORLD WAR 2What is war? Websters Encyclopedia Dictionary describes it as: an armed clash between nations or factions in the same nation. Thats how a dictionary describes it, but in fact, it is something much worse.

War is the epitome of what is wrong with human nature. War is devastating. Perhaps no other war was as devastating as World War II. (1)World War II killed more people, destroyed more property, disrupted more lives, and had more far-reaching consequences than any other war in history. It brought about the downfall of Western Europe as the center of world power and led to the rise of the Soviet Union. The development of the atomic bomb in 1945 would begin nuclear war.

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There is no one simple cause to World War II. There were many causes, most of which grew out of World War I. World War II was known as the war to end all wars. Instead of fixing old problems, it actually crated new ones. Germany was mad at the Allies for making it loose its territory. It lost one eighth of its land, and its army and navy were virtually wiped away. If Germany ever got strong again, it would definitely seek revenge.

On September 1, 1939, the German army stormed across the borders of Poland. First came the stuka, dive-bombers that blasted the Polish planes on the ground. Then the German pilots bombed major railroads and highways. After that came the motorcycle infantry the fast soldiers that moved in to finish the job. This was a new kind of war employed by the Germans known as Blitzkrieg, which is a German word meaning lightning war.

The German soldiers were trained for this and the Polish soil was flat and just right for it. Poland had no chance against the German army. Its army had no chance to fight back or even retreat.

Poland was overwhelmed. Within two weeks, Germans surrounded Warsaw, the biggest city in Poland. In a little over a month, Poland was conquered. (2)The war was only nine hours old that September day. The passengers on the British liner the Athena which was traveling from London to Montreal were enjoying themselves. Suddenly someone cried, Look! Theres a torpedo! Almost at once, there was a crashing explosion.

The unarmed ship began to sink. Women and children were rushed into lifeboats. Nearly one hundred people lost their lives that day. This event was an example of the cruelty of war because so many innocent lives were lost.

The British hadnt even done anything yet to protect their ships at sea. Thats why this was such a blatant act of cowardice on the part of the Germans. The sinking of the Athena did however serve as a warning to the world that the Germans would stop at nothing to break British control of the seas. So on September 3, 1939, Britain along with France declared war on Germany. The US however remained neutral. (3)Roosevelt said that Even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or his conscience.

Within weeks he asked Congress to lift the Neutrality Acts arms embargo that prevented Britain and France from buying American weapons. The United States was determined to avoid war though. World War I had left the US billions of dollars in foreign debts that couldnt be collected. There were also moral reparations on the part of the American people.

(4)A congressional investigation revealed that the US manufacturers had made large profits by supplying arms and credit to the Allies during the years of 1914-1917. This lead to the notion that the US participation in World War I had been arranged by Merchants of Death. While the US watched the struggle in Europe, our relationship with China grew worse. The US resented the growth of the Japanese sea and air power in the pacific area. If Japan gained control of eastern Asia it would surely interfere with American trade and business interests there.

(5)Japans brutalities in China and its joining of the Axis powers in 1942 made it clear that Japan would stop at nothing to conquest the free world. For their part, the Japanese were better at what they called Americans interference in their plan to create an Empire in Eastern Asia. They felt that the US stood in their way for further conquests. Still, Japan dared not risk an open break with the US until Hitlers first successes in Russia made it clear that the Axis powers would win the war. (6)Like the Italian fascists, the followers of Tojo (Japans dictator) were willing to risk their necks only on the winning side.

At 7:55 in the morning of December 7, 1941, a messenger boy pedaled his bicycle in the direction of the American naval station in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He carried a telegram from General George C. Marshall, the Chief of Staff in Washington, to the commanding officer of Pearl Harbor. The telegram warned the naval station to be on the alert for a Japanese attack.

(Some say that the telegram was sitting on Secretary of State Hulls desk and that perhaps he and President Roosevelt had some idea that there was going to be an attack.) Suddenly, there was a tremendous explosion. Wow! exclaimed the messenger boy, thats no joke! He dove into a ditch.

He stayed there for the next few hours while bombs fell all around him. There had been signs that something was wrong earlier on. At 6:45 that morning a patrolling American destroyer, the Ward, had found a sunken Japanese mini submarine in waters where the Japanese had no right to be.

(7)Two army privates, working at a radar station, spotted planes many miles away. They were worried, but their lieutenant said they were probably American B-17s. It was a Sunday morning and most of the ship and plane crews were on holiday leave. Then it happened. (8)Flying low out of the morning haze, came the first wave of Japanese bombers.

The bombs began to drop. It was a murderous attack. The battleship Arizona was almost completely destroyed by a direct hit. The Oklahoma, struck by many torpedoes, turned over and sank in shallow waters. In all, some fourteen big warships and many smaller ships were wrecked or damaged. United States planes were smashed to bits on the ground before they ever had a chance to rise.

In a matter of minutes, American naval and air power in the Hawaiian Islands was paralyzed. Nearly 2,500 soldiers, sailors and civilians hid in the fire, most of them Americans. One day later, on December 8, the United States of America declared war on Japan. The speed at which the United States industries converted to wartime production was amazing. When Franklin Roosevelt talked of producing 50,000 airplanes a year, some thought he was crazy. Yet, by 1944 the number of planes produced annually rose to about 100,000. Mass production in the ship industry was also extremely effective.

The average time for building a freighter dropped from a year to less than two months. (9)To raise funds for the war effort, the government increased taxes and war bonds. In 1942 the government extended the income tax to include middle and lower income people for the first time. The war increased employment and workers earnings rose as wartime production brought longer workweeks and overtime. (10)As people had more money and wartime production made consumer goods scarce, prices rose. To combat inflation, in 1942 Congress created the Office of Price Administration, which set up ceilings on consumer products and began to ration goods that were in short supply. Women were a vital part of the war effort.

Women were encouraged to take over the jobs that the men had left behind. Five million women entered the workforce during the war. Rosie the Riveter became a national symbol of the integral contribution women made to the war effort. Women did jobs that were traditionally not theirs. They worked on production lines, in steal mills, on the docks, and in other jobs that required heavy laboring. The need for workers also worked in favor of African Americans. It helped to provide a switch from a focus on agriculture to manufacturing.

Many African Americans left the south and migrated north and West to fulfill jobs in war industries. Towards the end of the war, it was apparent that Japans navy and air force had been almost destroyed and there was virtually no chance for the Axis powers to win the war. But, Japans military obligated them to fight to the bitter end. It was the Samurai code of honor. So Japan took what little planes they had left and turned them into flying bombs. Young men were now Kamikazes, suicidal pilots willing to give up their lives for a Japanese victory.

What could the United States do to combat this terrible danger? The answer was that the United States would have to invade the home islands of Japan. The best solution to end the war quickly seemed to be to make a bomb of enormous power and bomb Japan. That is exactly what the United States did.

They had already offered an ultimatum to Japan to surrender unconditionally and Japan refused to do this. The US was compelled to back up their ultimatum. A German physicist named Albert Einstein (not an American citizen) told Roosevelt that such a bomb was possible. The president immediately went into action and shortly after the bomb was created.

Experiments went under way, and a preliminary bomb was tested in New Mexico. The first bombing of Japan took place in Hiroshima, the second in Nagasaki. This nuclear warfare caused immediate destruction of whole cities and many deaths of innocent people. After Japan was bombed, the war ended. On September 2, 1945, the United States and Japan signed a treaty that officially ended the war. Here we are, 55 years later, and the world has been living in peace (for the most part). We cannot afford another world war however.

It would most likely be a two button war. Almost every country in the world now has nuclear weapons that put the atomic bomb to shame. Another world war really could be the war to end all wars because there are enough nuclear weapons to annihilate the earth and all its inhabitants. War is destructive and useless. It very rarely solves problems and only takes the lives of the innocent. We see this especially with World War II.Words/ Pages : 1,752 / 24

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