Download Major Themes of World War II

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Implications for the United States
 Rise of fascism and
 United States and
Soviet Union emerge
from the war as major
world powers
 Between groups: ethnocentrism and racial
 Nuremberg Laws
 The Holocaust
 Japanese war crimes in East and
Southeast Asia
 Civilians targeted (45 million as opposed to
only 15 million battle-related deaths)
 Air raids (destroy communities/cities)
 Plundered property
 Concentration/Forced labor/Death
 Internment camps
 Atomic bombs
 Sexual violence against women
 Between countries
 Allied vs. Axis Powers
 German submarines
(improved by recent
development of radar)
 Crytanalysis: the
“breaking” of Enigma
and Purple
 Development of
nuclear weapons
(ends WWII, major
source of America’s
later strength as a
world power)
 The hardships of the Great Depression are exploited by
fascist dictators like Hitler and Mussolini
 Economic improvement, in many cases, is the result of
militarization (overproduction at it’s most effective; with
a guaranteed buyer for your product!)
 The U.S. economy explodes during and after the war,
making it the most successful in the world
 Because of increased economic opportunity on the
Home Front, a more diverse middle class emerges in
 Some of the contributing causes and outcomes of WWII, as unnerving as it may be, can
be attributed to simple factors
 Geography
 Russia’s extremely harsh climate was undoubtedly among the reasons for the German
army’s failure to successfully complete Operation Barbarossa
 Japan’s lack of natural resources (oil, rubber) and their dependence on the U.S. and Great
Britain (who did everything they could to limit Japanese expansion) surely contributed to
their push toward imperialist expansion
 Random chance
 Hitler’s reluctance to pursue the 330,000-strong Allied army who were evacuated at
Dunkirk, and reluctance to pursue Operation Sea Lion has been seen by many historians as
a crucial turning point in a chain of events that eventually cost the Axis powers the war.
 Hitler’s invasion of Russia was also seen as a bad decision
 Recovery of “Enigma”
 Churchill’s plane nearly shot down twice by German AND British bombers
 U.S. perfects weaponized nuclear technology before the Germans or Japanese are able to
 While WWI was really the beginning of the
“special relationship” that exists between the
United Kingdom (Great Britain) and the United
States, this relationship would become
permanently cemented during WWII
 From this time on, Britain, once America’s
greatest enemy, would become her closest ally
 Worked closely together through both World
Wars, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Gulf
War and the War on Terror
 This “special relationship” became the center
of an international coalition which, while it
evolved tremendously over the 20th century, still
exists today
 Reduced tariffs or free trade is
more frequently called for, and
protectionism begins to be seen
as a limitation
 From this period on, trade would
often be used to issue sanctions
to countries that the U.S. felt they
should not support for moral
 Communism
 Human rights abuses
 Beginning of “world police”
mentality (spreading
democracy, preventing the
spread of communism)
 Isolationism would fade
 American “exceptionalism”
would continue to grown in
strength (would only trade
openly with countries with
similar ‘values’)
 Helping to win two world wars and emerging as one of the strongest world powers
was the source of a huge surge of American pride
 World War II is viewed by many as a “battle between good and evil”, a war of ideas
which highlighted the struggle for higher standards of freedom, justice and peace.
 The struggles of all Americans during the war paved the way for the further
redress of long-standing injustices (gender inequality, civil rights, racial
 Those who fought on the Allied side or actively supported the cause became
known as “the greatest generation” to their children and grandchildren.