World War II, Its Causes and Long-Term Effects
The Second World War was an upheaval that involved almost every region across the world from 1939 to 1945. Having claimed the lives of over 40 million people, this conflict must have been catalyzed by numerous unresolved issues that affected different parts of Europe for many years. The biggest question is how such a war got out of hand and eventually changed the world forever. The modern-day world is largely dictated by the aftermath of this great upheaval. This causal analysis digs deeper to understand the real forces that led to the war and how it continues to affect the world today.
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Having been triggered by the unresolved injustices in Europe after the Great War (also known as the First World War), the Second World War resulted in a decisive power shift away from the leading European states (such as Germany, France, and Britain) to the Soviet Union and the United States.
Analysis of the Second World War
The main cause of the Second World War is an issue that has attracted the attention of many scholars, historians, and archeologists across the world. This is the case because there are numerous factors and forces that are believed to have led to this global turmoil. The invasion of Poland by Germany is identified as the main trigger of this war (“World War Two,” 2018). This move forced France and Germany to declare war on Adolf Hitler’s regime. However, the causes of this conflict in Europe are complicated since different unresolved concerns have been mentioned by historians.
The first cause revolves around the Treaty of Versailles (“World War Two,” 2018). Following the end of the Great War, France, the United States, Italy, and Britain developed a plan detailing how Germany was to pay for its role in initiating this turmoil. Although Germany decided to sign the formulated document, it remained discontented with the terms. Germany was forced to accept the blame for triggering the First World War.
It was also supposed to pay around 6,600 million pounds for every damage caused (“World War II,” 2009). The action was also prohibited from having tanks, submarines, and an air force. Some of its territories and lands were taken away. This issue forced many Germans to support a new leader who could address the situation and reclaim the country’s glory (Brickell, 2014). This nation was also finding it hard to pay the required amount of money due to the increasing poverty levels.
The second outstanding cause of this war was Adolf Hitler. From 1934, Hitler began to increase the size of the country’s army. This was against the Treaty of Versailles. He also made several alliances and pacts, such as the Anti-Comintern Pact and the Rome-Berlin Axis Pact. By 1938, Germany was taking back some of its territories that had been taken away. A decisive vote also saw Austria becoming part of Germany.
In 1938, the Munich Agreement was signed, whereby Hitler was allowed to retain the Sudetenland region (“World War Two,” 2018). However, he was requested not to occupy Czechoslovakia. In March 1939, the German army invaded the country. At this time, France and Britain were unprepared for any military action (David, 2015). In September the same year, Hitler invaded Poland. This would result in a declaration of war.
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The third potential cause of this conflict was the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations established in 1919. This organization was formed to maintain global peace after the end of the First World War. From 1920 to 1934, the League imposed trade sanctions and restrictions on nations such as Italy and Japan (“World War II,” 2009). With many nations not involved in the organization, it was impossible to manage various global affairs. This institution’s power was also limited. Since it lacked an army, it was unable to act and stop any act of aggression in Europe and beyond. These factors worked synergistically to trigger World War II.
The absence of appeasement is the fourth force that catalyzed this war. Britain and France believed that Germany’s needs had been ignored in the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler’s demands to have some of the nation’s territories given back were ignored. The Munich Agreement managed to address some of the issues raised by Hitler (“World War Two,” 2018). A similar approach could have been used to promote global peace instead of animosity. The failure to involve different nations and stakeholders to deal with the issues facing Europe would eventually result in this war.
One of the outstanding long-term issues that are referenced by many scholars is the Cold War and its aftermath. The end of World War II resulted in a shift of power. With the European countries dominating the world from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, a new order had emerged characterized by the waves of capitalism and communism. After the war, the United States and the Soviet Union would put the world on a different path (Hampson, 2015).
This upheaval lasted over 40 years and reshaped global relations forever. Revolutionary approaches to militarism, aviation, international relations, and scientific inquire emerged throughout this unrest. At the same time, the economy of the United States would grow rapidly since the war had not been fought on its soil. Today, the world is still divided over the ideals of capitalism and communism.
The second undeniable effect is the peace and harmony that has been experienced in the world over the years. Following the end of the war, the United Nations (UN) was established after revising the bottlenecks associated with the League of Nations. The emerging winners of this conflict would enjoy veto power in the UN. The lessons gained from this war encouraged many people to condemn any form of upheaval that could claim lives (“World War II,” 2009).
Although the UN has been criticized for being following toothless unrests such as the Cold War, the Gulf War, and the emergence of radical or terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, many experts still believe that the organization has been vital in tackling conflicts and wars in different parts of the world.
The third effect is that the world has become militarized than ever before. The Second World War is believed to have led to numerous research activities in the military field. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima, and Nagasaki in Japan saw a new age of nuclear weapons. As a result, the world would never be the same again (Hampson, 2015). Over the years, global society has been grappling with serious threats from dangerous weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). This occurrence or challenge is attributable to the Second World War.
The fourth long-term impact of this war is that it exposed many populations and communities to conditions such as depression, diabetes, heart diseases, and poverty. Such predicaments continue to affect the world to this day (Kesternich, Siflinger, Smith, & Winter, 2014). During this period, those who were involved contracted terminal illnesses due to the absence of coordinated medical care delivery efforts. The outcome was that diseases that had been managed earlier developed to become epidemics. With increasing levels of poverty and lack of education, it was impossible for the world to transform the situation. Kesternich et al. (2014) indicate that lower and middle classes were affected the most. Today, the modern world is affected by these health and social problems. Professionals and experts in the medical field have asserted that such conditions would not affect many people today if the war had not taken place.
The above descriptive analysis has revealed that World War II was triggered by the unresolved disputes and injustices in Europe before and after the Great War and the League of Nation’s failure to implement the idea of appeasement. With many countries across the globe involved in this turmoil, it was impossible to prevent the deaths that occurred between 1939 and 1945. The Second World War resulted in a decisive power shift away from European powers (Germany, France, and Britain).
The Soviet Union and the United States would then find themselves in a new supremacy battle revolving around the notions of communism and capitalism. Although the UN has managed to maintain relative global peace, many diseases, civil unrests, regional wars, terrorism, and nuclear weapons continue to threaten the world today. In conclusion, the Second World War is relevant today because it acts as a reminder of the dangers of large-scale global conflicts and how they can affect the lives of many people for centuries.
Brickell, C. (2014). Networks of affect, male homoeroticism and the Second World War: A soldier’s archive. Social & Cultural Geography, 16(2), 183-202. Web.
David, M. (2015). How World War II shaped modern America. Web.
Hampson, R. (2015). 70 years later: How World War II changed America. Web.
Kesternich, I., Siflinger, B., Smith, J. P., & Winter, J. K. (2014). The effects of World War II on economic and health outcomes across Europe. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 96(1), 103-118. Web.
World War II. (2009). Web.
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World War Two – Causes. (2018). Web.