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World War II was actually two separate wars. Germany’s attempt to achieve lebensraum (Hitler’s dream of expanded living space for the “superior” Aryan race) incited the war in Europe, while the Japanese attempt to expand their empire, at the expense of China and the European colonial powers, and their attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor instigated the war in Asia.
WWI had been received with excitement, but WWII had not been. WWII involved more countries, 61 against 28, with fronts extending to Asia. Civilian deaths were much higher.
The Great Depression cultivated racial and ethnic stress in the United States and Europe. With the spread of Nazism, it became easier to blame others for the shortage of work opportunities and subsequent poverty. In the U.S., Japanese Americans felt the brunt at the hands of Anglo Americans, to the point that they were placed in concentration camps.
Women did more work during WWII than ever before. They took jobs in defense plants and factories, which made available opportunities to step into occupations formerly considered “men’s” jobs. By 1943, the aircraft industry employed the majority of workers. To recruit women to factory jobs, the “Rosie the Riveter” campaign was created by the government. Not surprisingly, African American women struggled to find work because Anglo American women did not want to work beside them.
The Allies won the war due to the fact that they fought as an alliance, shared their resources, and coordinated their strategies. The war officially ended on September 2, 1945 after the U. S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, forcing them to surrender. However, the Allies accepted the surrender of Germany on May 8, after Hitler committed suicide. It didn’t end like WWI. There was no armistice, no peace conference, and no treaties.
The European economy collapsed, placing the U.S. in position to be the world’s economic powerhouse. The cities of Germany and Japan were ruined because of the bombs. Their military leaders were tried and convicted of war crimes. Japan was placed under the military rule of the U.S.
England was likewise destroyed by bombings. Their economy depended on aid from the United States. Both England and France had to disassemble their colonial empires, losing their world power positions. After defeating the Germans, Russia’s large army, resources, and population ensured that the Soviet Union became, next to the United States, a super power.
Shubert, A., and Goldstein, R. (2012). Twentieth-century europe. [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/
Effects of world war II. Retrieved from http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/westn/effectww2.html