History World War II Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

World War II, which took place from 1939-1945, was waged by the Allied Nations as a struggle for freedom against the evil and totalitarian regimes that existed in Germany, Italy and Japan.

Leaders of the War

There were several leaders that made decisions that contributed to the start and end of WWII. Adolf Hitler, who became the leader of Germany during the Great Depression, is blamed for WWII. He raised German spirits by telling them of a better future and a better Germany. But in reality, he gave them a war. Hitler planned to expand Germany by taking Austria, Poland, and many other countries. He believed that German people were superior to the rest of the world and wanted everyone to prove this. (Keegan)

Before Hitler, the spirit and nationalism of the German people was very low, but he was able to get the German people to take pride in their country, and nationalism rose. However, this aggressive nationalism and feeling of superiority caused WWII.

Joseph Stalin was one of the most infamous and ruthless leaders of all time. He had the power to control every aspect of life in the Soviet Union, and established a recognized power.

Hitler presented the largest threat to both Europe and the entire world, which caused Stalin to act out of fear. Stalin and other European powers sought alliances to protect themselves against the growing Nazi presence.

During this time, Stalin made a terrible mistake that contributed to the causes of World War II. He made an agreement with Hitler to prevent a Soviet attack, which enabled him to take lands of his own interest without fearing Germany. This pact was only the beginning of a Nazi campaign to take over Europe. The German Army could move with little fear of a strong counter attack, and so felt that it could conquer anything. But Hitler played dirty and planned to turn against the Soviets and invade. So, the U.S.S.R. became anti-Nazi. Despite their lacking military, a result of the purges, Stalin rallied his country for war. He used propaganda to gain support, and personally directed the efforts at war. He was willing to make the sacrifice in lives for war.

Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Britain during WWII, rallied the British people during the war and led his country from the brink of defeat to victory. However, after a sensational rise to prominence in national politics before World War I, Churchill acquired a reputation for erratic judgment in the war itself. (Keegan, Allen)

When WWII started, the U.S. remained neutral. In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease bill that allowed the U.S. To lend materials to Allied nations at war. The Japanese then bombed Pearl Harbor and four days later, the U.S. went to war, although Roosevelt had vowed to keep Americans out of war.

Tools of the War

In World War II, the principal weapons were guns, bombs and tanks, but there were many other tools of warfare as well that led to an Allied victory. All nations involved in WWII launched massive propaganda campaigns to rally the troops, gain political and economic support and demonize the enemy in the eyes of their citizens. (Taylor) Tactics, such as advertisements, posters and films, were used to sway the public opinion and mobilize citizens for war. Persuading the American public became a wartime industry, almost as important as the manufacturing of bullets and planes. The U.S. government launched an aggressive propaganda campaign that was extremely successful in gaining public support. (Allen)

During WWII the Germans used mechanical devices to encrypt their radio messages. The best known of these machines is the Enigma code, which was used to encrypt secret messages between U-boats and military command. The Allies created Enigma machines to simplify the perplexing process of enciphering and deciphering the Enigma code. Bletchley Park was the location of Station X, Britain's code breaking headquarters, where mathematicians and engineers developed arguably the first programmable digital computer, Colossus II, to help break the Enigma. Cracking the Enigma code is believed to have shortened the war by a number of years and contributed to Allied victory. (Taylor)

When World War II began in 1939, the original cyclotron structure was under construction. By early 1941, the same year that the government began to call up professors and students to assist in war-related efforts, the first beam was achieved.

Scientists who were working on the development of a nuclear reactor at the University of Chicago came to the cyclotron to be near a source of neutrons. Their work later became the Manhattan Project, and was involved in the development, testing and delivery of the Hiroshima bomb.

The incredible scope of preparation and planning that the Allies put into their military tactics is one of the greatest things they did and one of the reasons that they were victorious. Their planning was meticulous and their final plan was the result of many years of organized and effective planning. Many people wonder why the Allies waited until 1944 to invade the "fortress" of Europe. However, the Allies had planned the invasion for years before they actually did it. (Keegan)

When the Allied armies began to attack Italy in 1941, Hitler rushed to the aid of his ally, pushing the Allied armies back into Africa. During the next year, the German Armed Forces sought to conquer Russia and Stalin asked the Allies create a second front in the West so that Hitler would have to split his armies. This would require an all-out invasion. However, since the American and British armies were already fighting in North Africa and Sicily poised for an attack on Italy, and the craft required by such a force were not yet produced, so the invasion of Europe from the west would have to wait for another year.

Despite the lack of forces for a European invasion, Allied planners began planning for one. At first two proposals were created and presented, Operations "Roundup" and "Sledgehammer," the former for a stronger, 1943 invasion and the latter for a weaker, 1942 invasion. In 1942, Operation "Roundup" was adopted. However, plans for Operation "Roundup" had to be delayed because the armies were already participating in Operation "Torch," the invasion of North Africa, and its follow-up operations. Also, the required resources were not available yet. In 1943 at the "big three" conference in Tehran, May of 1944 was set as the date of the European invasion.

By 1944, Hitler's Europe had become a seemingly impenetrable 'fortress," protected in the west by the Atlantic Wall, which was an incredible fortified position and a formidable obstacle for the Allied planners. The wall was a massive trench system, reinforced with massive concrete strong points, and was filled with machine-gun nests and pillboxes. By this time, Hitler was also well aware that the Allies would attempt an invasion of France to liberate Europe from Germany. (Taylor")

The Allies decided to begin the invasion by landing a huge army at a place called Normandy Beach, in France. Code-named "Operation Overlord," and commanded by American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allies landed in June of 1944 at five beaches in the Normandy area and attacked the Nazi defenders, dropping thousands of paratroopers behind German lines the night before the seaborne landings. Local French Resistance forces, alerted to the imminent invasion, engaged in behind-the-lines sabotage and combat against the occupying Germans.

While the Allied troops met heavy resistance from the German forces defending the area, they were able to punch inland, securing safe landing zones for reinforcements. The German failure to successfully defend the Normandy area from the Allied liberation forces doomed the "fortress" of Europe and is considered the beginning of the end for Germany.

After the war, the Allies, particularly the U.S., did not want to see…

Sources Used in Document:


Keegan, John. The Second World War. Penguin Books, 1989.

Allen, Thomas. World War II: The Encyclopedia of the War Years, 1941-1945. Random House, Inc., 1996.

A.J.P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War. Atheneum, 1983.

John Keegan. The Face of Battle. Penguin Books, 1987.

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