World Wars and Depression Review for AP World History (page 3)
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The Background of World War I
Three forces interacted to set the scene for World War I:
- Nationalism—an intense pride in one's nation and its people.
- Imperialism—the acquisition of colonies.
- Militarism—the maintenance of standing armies.
Added to these three forces was a system of entangling alliances that complicated international relations in the event of war.
The immediate cause of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a Serbian nationalist protesting against the Austrian annexation of Bosnia. In the aftermath of the assassinations, Germany supported Austria in a declaration of war against Serbia. Serbia, a Slavic nation, was in turn linked to Russia's ethnic policies. By the early twentieth century, Russia's policy of Russification, or insistence on the acceptance of Russian culture by its various ethnic groups, had broadened into a Pan-Slavic movement that was designed to bring all Slavic nations into a commonwealth with Russia as its head. Russia, therefore, began to mobilize its troops in defense of Serbia.
Within a few weeks after the assassination at Sarajevo, the system of European alliances had brought the world into war. Two alliances faced off against each other: the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria; and the Allied Powers of Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, and later, the United States. British Commonwealth members Canada, Australia, and New Zealand took an active part fighting on the Allied side. In 1917, China also declared war on Germany. Subject peoples of Europe's colonies in Asia and Africa participated in the war as combatants and support personnel. Many colonial peoples hoped to be granted independence as a result of their war efforts.
Throughout the early war years the U.S. government sold arms to the Allies, while U.S. bankers lent money to the Allied nations. In 1917, the United States was drawn into World War I by two events: Germany's declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare and Great Britain's interception of the Zimmermann Telegram. The telegram proposed that, if Mexico would enter the war as an ally of Germany, the German government would assist Mexico to recover the territory it had lost to the United States as a result of the Mexican War. U.S. entry into World War I provided the Allies with additional supplies and freshly trained troops, two factors that helped turn the tide of war in favor of the Allies.
Revolution in Russia
In March 1917, Russia's decline as a world power, peasant dissatisfaction, and the human and financial costs of war brought about the end of tsarist rule. A second revolution in October 1917 brought the Bolsheviks, or Communists, into power. The new government, led by V. I. Lenin, decided that Russia was too devastated by revolution to continue the war. In March 1918, Russia and Germany signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which ceded vast amounts of Russian territory to Germany.
The Peace Settlements
Several peace treaties were signed following the war's end in November 1918; the most well known was the Treaty of Versailles between most of the Allied nations and Germany. As a result of the Treaty of Versailles:
- A war guilt clause placed total blame for the war on Germany.
- Germany was assigned reparations payments of $33 billion.
- Germany lost its colonies.
- Alsace and Lorraine were returned to France.
- Germany's military power was severely limited.
- The coal-rich Rhineland was demilitarized.
- A League of Nations was established to work for international peace. The dream of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, the League's future impact was weakened when the United States refused to join. (The United States later signed a separate peace treaty with Germany.) Also, Germany and Russia were forbidden to join the League.
Other Outcomes of World War I
Because of World War I:
- An entire generation of young European men was almost wiped out.
- Italy and Japan were angered at not receiving additional territory.
- The Ottoman Empire was reduced to the area of present-day Turkey.
- China lost territory to Japan and became a virtual Japanese protectorate.
- The Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved.
- The new nations of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia were formed from Austria- Hungary. All three nations contained within their borders a variety of ethnic groups with their own nationalist aspirations.
- Russia lost territory to Romania and Poland. Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania gained their independence.
- Poland was restored to the European map. A Polish Corridor was created to give Poland an outlet to the Baltic Sea.
- The Ottoman Empire was divided into mandates with Great Britain controlling Iraq and Pakistan, and France acquiring Syria and Lebanon.
The Great Depression
The cost of war in Europe devastated the economies of European nations on both sides of the conflict. When Germany announced it was unable to make its reparations payments to the former Allies, Great Britain and France were unable to fully honor repayment of their war debts to the United States. The agricultural sector in Europe and the United States suffered from overproduction that resulted in a decline in farm prices. Farmers in Western Europe and the United States borrowed to purchase expensive farm equipment. Overproduction also resulted in lower prices on plantation-grown crops in Africa and Latin America.
As the economic situation in Europe worsened, banks began to fail. In 1929, when the economy and banking systems in the United States also crashed, the United States was unable to continue its loans to European nations. Global trade diminished, creating massive unemployment not only in Europe and the United States but also in Japan and Latin America.
The economic distress of the Great Depression created various reactions in the political arena. In the West, new social welfare programs broadened the role of government. In Italy and Germany, fascist governments developed. Japan's search for new markets was accompanied by increased imperial expansion.
World War II
Prelude to War
The fragmented political order that was the legacy of World War I combined with the economic distress of the Great Depression created the second global conflict of the twentieth century. Fascist governments (nationalist, one-party authoritarian regimes) arose in Germany and Italy. The Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) Party of Adolph Hitler sought to redress the humiliation Germany had suffered in the Treaty of Versailles and to expand German territory. Fascism in Italy under Benito Mussolini hoped to restore the lost glories of the state. In Japan, competition among extreme nationalists led to the rise of military rule in the 1930s.
Military expansionist policies during the depression created the stage for war:
- In 1931, the Japanese invaded Manchuria. The goal was to create a buffer zone between the Soviet Union and the Japanese and to make Manchuria's coal and iron deposits available to resource-poor Japan.
- In 1935, Hitler began to rearm Germany.
- In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia.
- In 1936–1939, the Spanish Civil War brought into power the fascist regime of Francisco Franco. It served as a dress rehearsal for World War II, as Germany and Italy aided Franco, while the Soviet Union sent supplies and advisers to his republican opponents.
- In 1937, the Japanese invaded China, whose opposition was a threat to their presence in Manchuria. The event signaled the beginning of World War II in Asia.
- In 1938, Hitler proclaimed Anschluss, or the unification of Austria with Germany.
- In 1938, Hitler annexed the Sudetenland, the German-speaking Western portion of Czechoslovakia.
- In 1938, the Munich Conference followed a policy of appeasement, in which Great Britain and France accepted Hitler's pledge to not take any further territory.
- In 1939, Hitler annexed all of Czechoslovakia.
- In 1939, Hitler signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union.
- On September 1, 1939, Hitler attacked Poland, marking the beginning of World War II in Europe.
The Opposing Sides
Two opposing sides arose, with the major powers including:
- The Axis Powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan.
- The Allied Powers—Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.
The Course of War
World War II was fought in two theaters: the Pacific and the European, which included the Middle East and Africa. In an effort to control the oil reserves of Southeast Asia, Japan seized Indochina from France and attacked Malaysia and Burma. When the United States imposed an embargo against Japan as a result of these actions, Japan retaliated by attacking the U.S. fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The Japanese attack brought the United States and its greater industrial power into the war on the side of the Allied powers.
The early years of the war showcased Axis strength. In 1941, the tide began to turn in favor of the Allies when Hitler undertook an unsuccessful winter invasion of Russia and the United States entered the war. When Hitler was forced to withdraw his forces from Russia in 1942, Soviet armies began their advance through Eastern Europe and into Germany. After deposing Mussolini, Allied forces pushed into France and met in Germany in April 1945. Hitler's subsequent suicide was followed by Allied victory in Europe in May 1945.
After victory in Europe, the Soviet Union assisted in the Allied effort against Japan. After the U.S. use of atomic bombs against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, ending World War II.
The Cost of the War
World War II took a devastating toll in human life, killing about 35 million people, including about 20 million in the Soviet Union. The Holocaust, Hitler's elimination of European Jews in gas chambers, took the lives of 6 million. Other groups such as Gypsies, Slavs, political prisoners, and Jehovah's Witnesses were also sent to extermination camps during the Holocaust. More than 300,000 were killed by the Japanese offensive in China, most of them in the city of Nanking. The fire bombings of Japanese cities and of the German city of Dresden added tens of thousands to the death toll. Nearly 80,000 were killed in Hiroshima, and tens of thousands were killed in Nagasaki.
Designing the Peace
World War II peace settlements began before the war had ended:
- In 1943, at the Tehran Conference, the Allied powers decided to focus on the liberation of France, allowing the Soviet Union to move through the nations of Eastern Europe as it advanced toward France. The Soviet Union, therefore, gained ground and influence in Eastern Europe.
- In 1945, at the Yalta Conference, the Soviet Union agreed to join the war against Japan in exchange for territory in Manchuria and the northern island of Japan. The Yalta Conference also provided for the division of Germany into four zones of occupation after the war.
- In 1945, the Potsdam Conference gave the Soviets control of eastern Poland, with Poland receiving part of eastern Germany. It made the final arrangements for the division of Germany and also divided Austria.
After the war had ended:
- The United States occupied Japan.
- Korea was divided into U.S. and Soviet occupation zones.
- China regained most of its territory, but fighting between Nationalist and Communist forces resumed.
- Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia became Soviet provinces.
- Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania were occupied by the Soviet Union.
- Colonies renewed their independence efforts.
- European world dominance ended.
- A new international peace organization, the United Nations, was created in 1945, with the United States among its key members.
- International dominance remained in the hands of two superpowers—the United States and the Soviet Union.
The forces of nationalism, imperialism, and militarism combined with entangling defense alliances produced the first global war of the twentieth century. Postwar peace settlements created new nations without consideration of ethnic differences within those nations. The Treaty of Versailles left Germany economically and militarily devastated and humiliated by the war guilt clause. The costs of war ruined regional economies and world trade, creating a depression that reached most regions of the world. Out of the despair of the Great Depression arose new political institutions, including fascism in Germany and Italy and military rule in Japan. The world found itself at war for the second time in the twentieth century. Millions died in the Holocaust, while the atomic age was launched with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The lessons of war created an attempt at a new world order that included a stronger international organization, the United Nations.
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