Relationships among the victorious allies and the preparations for peace
Section One: Again the Road to War
German discontent over economic depression that struck Germany in 1923 and again in 1930 was attributed to the Versailles settlement
Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party denounced the treaty and used strict discipline to attract people to their platform
Racial theory was at the core of Hitler’s ideology as he sought to strengthen the nation of the volk—a racial group composed of ethnically German people
Involved the removal of inferior groups, like Jews, in order to purify the new Germany
Hitler sought to extend the boundaries of the German nation to include parts of the old Habsburg Empire, especially Austria
Lebensraum (“living space”)
additional land needed to expand the power of the German nation
inhabitants of that land, like the Slavs, would be forced into servitude
In 1933, Germany withdrew from an international disarmament conference and also from the League of Nations.
In 1935, Germany formally renounced the disarmament provisions of the Treaty of Versailles and began building a modern air force and reinstated conscription (army grew to 500,000 men)
League of Nations Fails
Japan invaded Manchuria (in China); China pleas to the League of Nations to impose sanctions against Japan; the League condemned the act put failed to impose sanctions; Japan withdraws from the League and maintained control of Manchuria
The League of Nations condemned Hitler’s rearmament program but took no actions to deter it.
Britain and France felt hypocritical in enforcing this as they both refused to disarm
Stresa Front—Britain and France met with Mussolini promising to use force to maintain the status quo in Europe
Britain violated the Stresa Front by making a pact with Germany that allowed Hitler to build a navy 35% the size of that of Britain’s.
Italy Attacks Ethiopia
In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia and it became clear that the Western Powers had little motivation to resist this action.
League of Nations did condemn the act and imposed an arms embargo that limited loans and credit to Italy.
fearing a German attack, the Czechs mobilized for war and were assured by Britain, France, and the Soviet Union that they would be supported
Hitler had not mobilized for war and was embarrassed by the ordeal
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain attempted to broker concessions between the two opposing sides but to no avail; at a Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally on September 12, 1938 Hitler made a provocative speech that led to rioting in the Sudetenland which was ceded to Germany.
Mussolini suggested a conference in Munich with representatives from Italy, Germany, Great Britain, and France in order to resolve mounting tension due to Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland.
Hitler announced at the meeting, “I have no more territorial demands to make in Europe.”
Soon thereafter, though, the Czech state fell apart as Poland and Hungary tore more territory from it and on March 15, 1939 a German army occupied Prague.
Poland was the next target of German expansion
Germany wanted Poland to restore the formerly German city of Danzig
Germany wanted Poland to allow a railroad and a highway through the Polish Corridor to connect East Prussia with the rest of Germany
As tension mounted between Poland and Germany, Chamberlain announced a Franco-British guarantee of Polish independence.
France and Britain considered seeking help from Soviet Union with this alliance
Secret provisions of this agreement divided Poland between them and allowed Russia to occupy the Baltic states and to take Bessarabia from Romania.
On September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Poland; two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany.
Section Two: World War II (1935-1945)
The German Conquest of Europe
Attack on Poland
“lightening warfare,” or blitzkrieg led to swift victory as a column of fast-moving tanks, supported by air power, devastated Poland
On September 17, Russia invaded Poland from the east and divided the country with Germany.
By July 1940, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had become satellite states of the Soviet Union.
In June 1940, Russia forced Romania to cede Bessarabia.
War on the Western Front
Britain blockaded Germany and meanwhile prepared for war.
France hid behind the Maginot Line.
Many western observers believed this would be a “phony war,” or Sitzkrieg, and it would have little impact on the western powers; however, this view changed when Germany invaded Denmark and Norway and had a staging ground for an invasion of Britain.
In the late spring of 1940, Germany launched an air attack on Belgium (surrendered in two weeks), the Netherlands (surrendered in a few days), and Luxembourg.
British and French armies fighting the Germans in Belgium were forced to flee to the English Channel on the beaches of Dunkirk.
German army bypassed the Maginot Line by launching an invasion of France through Belgium.
Poorly trained French army, led my generals who were not versed in the use of tanks or warplanes, easily fell to the powerful German military.
Mussolini invaded southern France on June 10.
France asked for an armistice less than a week later.
In two months Hitler had accomplished what Germany had failed to achieve in four years of bitter fighting in the previous war.
The Battle of Britain
Winston Churchill became prime minister of Britain in May 1940 and led tough resistance against German control of the continent as he was unwilling to negotiate with Hitler.
Churchill established a close friendship with Franklin D. Roosevelt
US was neutral and politically dominated by an isolationist policy.
Churchill convinced the US to send supplies and warships across the Atlantic to help protect Britain.
Hitler’s attempt to take Great Britain
German air force, or Luftwaffe, began attacking airfields and fighter planes in southeast England, in August 1940
Beginning in early September 1940, the Luftwaffe bombed London for two months straight and killed 15,000 civilians.
The bombing of London strengthened the moral of the British people
Assisted by newly developed radar detection technology and excellent communications, the RAF (royal air force) inflicted heavy losses on the Luftwaffe and forced Hitler to abort his plan to invade Britain.
The German Attack on Russia
Hitler had long planned to extend German “living space” in Russia and the Ukraine and ordered his generals to start planning for the invasion in 1940.
Planned to begin in mid-May 1940 so the Germans would have control of Russia before winter set in.
The Soviet Union was not prepared and were taken by surprise
By November, the German army stood at the gates of Leningrad and an attack on Moscow seemed imminent.
Hitler stalled in August as he debated strategy and the German army withered when winter set in.
This planned blitzkrieg ended in a war of attrition with casualties in the millions on both sides.
Italy in North Africa
Jealous of Hitler’s success in western and northern Europe, and forbidden to seize any in France, Mussolini attacked the British in Egypt
Hitler sent troops to assist the Italians in Egypt and the Balkans
Erwin Rommel, “the Desert Fox,” commanded German troops in North Africa and defeated the British in Libya and forced them back into Egypt.
This unanticipated diversion cost Hitler thousands of troops who he had planned to have in the Soviet Union.
Most horrific aspect of World War II was the inhumanity of Hitler’s racial doctrines
Considered the Slavs Untermenschen, subhuman creatures like beasts
In Poland, the upper and professional classes were jailed, deported, and killed.
In Russia, Hitler and Heirich Himmler (head of the SS) planned to eliminate 30 million Slavs to make room for Germans.
Hitler planned to make Europe Judenrein, or “free of Jews.
The Holocaust saw the murder of nearly 6 million Jews, leaving only 1 million European Jews alive.
The Destruction of the Polish Jewish Community
Poland’s Jewish population had lived for centuries in a climate of anti-Semitism and therefore lived in their own neighborhoods and villages.
Under Russian domination, all those who were not Orthodox Christians—like Lutherans and Roman Catholics, but especially the Jews—were subject to a variety of discriminatory legislation.
Polish Jews used Hebrew as their written language and Yiddish as their primary spoken language.
Jews were the poorest group in Poland as most were excluded from trade unions.
Polish Anti-Semitism between the Wars
Jozef Pilsudski, who dominated the interwar era, favored including Jews as citizens; however, his successors proceeded to implement anti-Semitic policies.
The Polish government nationalized certain industries and excluded Jews from employment in them.
By the late 1930s, the Polish government required businesses to display their owners’ names prominently, which made it easy for people to avoid Jewish shops.
Jews tended to move into careers in law and medicine as they were excluded from civic life.
In general, many Polish Jews attempted assimilation n the interwar era as they adopted the dress, social practices, and language of the Polish majority without actually expecting to be considered Polish.
Jews in Poland had trouble agreeing on a strategy to use the political system as a vehicle to gain more rights.
The Nazi Assault on the Jews of Poland
The Nazis viewed Poland as the chief breeding ground for European Jewry.
Jews in Poland initially forced into ghettos, walled off and guarded sections of cities, following German occupation; disease and malnutrition in ghettos killed many.
Nazis confiscated property and businesses of Jews.
Jewish laborers were sent to work in camps while their families remained in ghettos.
During the second half of 1941, the Nazi government decided to exterminate the Jews of Europe.
From late 1941 througho 1944, the Germans transported Jews from ghettos by rail to death camps in Poland, including Kulmhof, Belzen, Sobibor, Birkenau, and Auschwitz.
In death camps, Jews were systematically killed in gas chambers.
By 1945, nearly 90% of Poland’s Jewish population had been destroyed.
Jews continued to face oppression during Soviet occupation following World War II leading many to seek asylum in Israel.
Explanations of the Holocaust
Fundamental questions raised about the Holocaust
Was it a unique event or unprecedented and unparalleled evil, or was it one specific instance of a more general human wickedness that has found expression throughout history?
Are its roots to be found in flaws in human nature as a whole, or are they unique to the experience of the West or, perhaps, the German people?
Other examples of atrocities; while Hitler attempted the destruction of an entire group of people, they were eliminating social discontent and political rivals.
Stalin in Russia
Mao in China
US dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
How was it possible to carry out such an extensive mass murder of European Jews?
persistence of anti-Semitism in Christianity and western culture
pseudo-scientific racial theories of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
parochial nationalism that developed during the French Revolution which polarized views of “others” and justified terror to promote one’s homeland
scientific and technological advances that gave the modern state the power to command its people through mass media and propaganda which permitted the creation of a totalitarian state
Section Three: the Domestic Fronts
World War II serves as the best example of total war in human history as so many men and women and resources were devoted to the war effort.
It’s That Man Again was a radio broadcast filled with imaginary figures that the entire nation came to treasure.
Strangely, the standard of living for many in Britain improved during the war.
The Soviet Union: “The Great Patriotic War”
War with Germany came as a surprise to Stalin and the Soviet Union as they had arranged a pact with Hitler to divide Poland.
The Soviet Union suffered more than any other nation in World War II.
estimated 16 million people killed
many Soviet troops taken as prisoners
cities and industrial centers were devastated
Germans seized grain, mineral resources, and oil from the Soviet Union
War-time government in the Soviet Union
Through collectivization and centralization of the economy prior to the war, the Soviet Union was already geared for what amounted to a war-time economy.
Soviet government confiscated radios from citizens as they distrusted them; but the government made broadcasts through loudspeakers in cities.
Soviet propaganda stressed patriotism rather than Marxist class-conflict themes
Government issued copies of Tolstoy’s War and Peace which was set during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia
Serge Eisenstein produced the film Ivan the Terrible which celebrated the achievements of the 16th century ruler
Stalin made peace with the Russian Orthodox Church to increase support at home and in Eastern Europe
Section Four: Preparations for Peace
The dominant issue surrounding peace settlements was the conflict that inevitably would emerge between communist Soviet Union and the democratic western nations.
The Atlantic Charter
In August 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill met on a ship off the coast of Newfoundland and agreed to the Atlantic Charter.
charter provided principles for the peace they sought between belligerent nations
foreign ministers of the US, Britain, and the Soviet Union met in 1943 and agreed to cooperate with each other until the enemy has been defeated and to continue cooperation through a United Nations following the war.
Tehran: Agreement on a Second Front
USSR, Britain, and the US met in Tehran where they planned to open a second front in France the next summer (1944).
The most important decision made at this conference was choosing Europe’s west coast as the main point of entry, rather than the Mediterranean; this meant that Soviet forces would occupy Eastern Europe and control its destiny. The western powers did not for see this clearly at the Tehran conference as the Russians were still fighting deep within their own territory.
Churchill and Stalin
The Soviet army drove into the Balkans in August 1944 which led Churchill to meet with Stalin in Moscow; they agreed to the following terms:
Soviet Union could dominate Romania and Bulgaria
Britain would determine the fate of Greece
They would come to a compromise as to what to do with Yugoslavia and Hungary.
USSR, Britain, and the US agreed on what to do with a defeated Germany---disarmament, de-Nazificaiton, and division into four zones of occupation (US, Britain, France, USSR).
Stalin demanded 20 billion in reparations and forced labor but the other powers didn’t agree
Western leaders, particularly Churchill, were not eager to see Russia dominate Eastern Europe.
Stalin knew that democratic, freely elected governments in Poland, Hungary, and Romania would not be friendly to Russia.
Stalin had already set up a puppet government in Poland
Stalin signed an agreement known as the Declaration of Liberated Europe which promised self-determination and free elections to liberated nations.
Meeting in the Crimean in February 1945 with USSR, Britain, and US (at this point the Allies hadn’t crossed the Rhine but the Soviets were within a hundred miles of Berlin.
To encourage Russian participation in an invasion of Japan, Wilson and Churchill made several concessions to Stalin ceding the Soviets Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands, and accommodating some of Russia’s desires in Korea and Manchuria.
Roosevelt laid out his vision for a “United Nations” at the conference.
The last meeting between the Big Three (Truman replaced Roosevelt, Clement Attlee replaced Churchill) in July 1945
Germany had been defeated and atomic bombs dropped on Japan
Russia’s western frontier pushed further into Poland and included most of German East Prussia.
Poland was moved about 100 miles west, at the expense of Germany, to accommodate the Soviet Union.
Allies agreed to divide Germany into spheres of occupation until a final peace was negotiated.
Germany remained divided until 1990.
The Russians were not satisfied with the agreements between the US and Japan and later signed their own agreements with Japan.