IMPORTANT EVENTS: World War II & Beyond

WORLD WAR II

Causes

Dictators come to power in Europe

Totalitarian leaders

Hitler (Germany) & Mussolini (Italy) have fascist dictatorships

Fascism =

-        Nationalism and super-patriotism with a sense of historic mission.

-        Aggressive militarism even to the extent of glorifying war as good for the national or individual spirit.

-        Authoritarian reliance on a leader or elite not constitutionally responsible to an electorate.

-        Cult of personality around a charismatic leader.

-        Reaction against the values of Modernism, usually with emotional attacks against both liberalism and communism

GERMANY (Hitler)

The humiliation imposed by the victors in the Great War, coupled with the hardship of the economic Depression, created bitterness and anger. That anger frequently found its outlet in an ideology that asserted not just the importance of the nation, but its unquestionable primacy and central predestined role in history.

 

In identifying "goodness" and "superiority" with "us," there was a tendency to identify "evil" with "them." This process involves scapegoating and dehumanization. It was then an easy step to blame all societal problems on "them," and presuppose a conspiracy of these evildoers, which had emasculated and humiliated the idealized core group of the nation. To solve society's problems one need only unmask the conspirators and eliminate them.  For Germany, the “them” was the Jews.

 

Example of economic hardship: War Reparations 33 Billion.  =  1922, 162 Marks per dollar / November 1923 = 4,200 Billion Marks per dollar

 

ITALY (Mussolini)

Italy was the birthplace of fascist ideology. Mussolini, a former socialist journalist, organized the first fascist movement in 1919 at Milan. In 1922 Mussolini led a march on Rome, was given a government post by the king, and began transforming the Italian political system into a fascist state. In 1938 he forced the last vestige of democracy, the Council of Deputies, to vote themselves out of existence, leaving Mussolini dictator of fascist Italy.

 

Wanted to capture glory of Old Rome (ancient Roman Images)

 

“Everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

-        Mussolini

 

Allowed private owned business, but with strict control – not a true communistic state

 

Arrested + murdered anyone against him *the state

 

Japan

Population more than doubled in 60 years.  Needed more land, coal, oil, & resources in general.  A generally Democratic government gets over run by a strong military.  Westernized in the late 1800’s...far superior to China...attacked Manchuria in 1931, China in 1937, signed on with Italy & Germany in 1936.  Resented dependence on the US for raw materials (high tariffs prevented independence and wealth)

 

AXIS (as in AXIS of evil “BUSH 2002”) = Germany, Italy & Japan

 

More on Germany’s belief in Us vs. Them

Leading Nazis, and early 1900 influential German biologists, revealed in their writings that Darwin’s theory and publications had a major influence upon Nazi race policies. Hitler believed that the human gene pool could be improved by using selective breeding similar to how farmers breed superior cattle strains. In the formulation of their racial policies, Hitler’s government relied heavily upon Darwinism, especially the elaborations by Spencer and Haeckel. As a result, a central policy of Hitler’s administration was the development and implementation of policies designed to protect the ‘superior race’. This required at the very least preventing the ‘inferior races’ from mixing with those judged superior, in order to reduce contamination of the latter’s gene pool. The ‘superior race’ belief was based on the theory of group inequality within each species, a major presumption and requirement of Darwin’s original ‘survival of the fittest’ theory. This philosophy culminated in the ‘final solution’, the extermination of approximately six million Jews and four million other people who belonged to what German scientists judged as ‘inferior races’.

 

The very heart of Darwinism is the belief that evolution proceeds by the differential survival of the fittest or superior individuals. This requires differences among a species, which in time become great enough so that those individuals that possess advantageous features — the fittest — are more apt to survive. Although the process of raciation may begin with slight differences, differential survival rates in time produce distinct races by a process called speciation, meaning the development of a new species.

 

Hitler believed humans were animals to whom the genetics laws, learned from livestock breeding, could be applied. The Nazis believed that instead of permitting natural forces and chance to control evolution, they must direct the process to advance the human race. The first step to achieve this goal was to isolate the ‘inferior races’ in order to prevent them from further contaminating the ‘Aryan’ gene pool. The widespread public support for this policy was a result of the belief, common in the educated classes, in the conclusion that certain races were genetically inferior as was scientifically ‘proven’ by Darwinism. The Nazis believed that they were simply applying facts, proven by science, to produce a superior race of humans as part of their plan for a better world: ‘The business of the corporate state was eugenics or artificial selection — politics as applied biology.’

(Eugenics = encouraging the production of healthy children, selective breeding)

 

War of Ideas (as portrayed in the West)

-        Freedom of Speech, Worship, from Want, from Fear vs. Racial Superiority, Fascism, Dictatorship

War of Ideas key to motivating American Public

 

US Policies leading to WWII

Appeasement: to keep peace by giving in to someone’s demands

-        1936 Germany marches troops into the Rhineland (breaking the Versailles Treaty)

-        1938 Germany annexes Sudetenland, a portion of Czechoslovakia inhabited by Germans

-        1938 Germany annexes Austria

 

US ENTERS THE WAR

·       France falls within months in 1940

·       USA Helps England financially (Lend-Lease Act)

·       England is bombed relentlessly by Germany

·       USA is Attacked at Pearl Harbor in Dec. 1941

·       3 days later Italy & Germany declare War on the USA

 

The Atomic Bomb

·       Manhattan Project = 1939 Einstein wrote President Roosevelt – incredibly powerful bomb could be built by splitting the nucleus of a Uranium Atom (Einstein suggested the Germans were working on a similar project)

·       Enrico Fermi (left fascist Italy) completed a controlled chain reaction in a lab at University of Chicago

·       Worked in New Mexico, where the detonated the first Atomic Bomb

 

Why drop the BOMB?

·       Russia & the US had agreed that once Germany was defeated – the Russians would assist in defeating Japan (Yalta Conference)

·       Island hopping & Fighting a fanatical Japanese army (And Population) would cost many lives

·       The Potsdam Proclamation, which demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan, was issued. It made no mention of Japan's central surrender condition: the status of the Emperor. Japan rejected the Proclamation.

·       The Japanese believed the Emperor to be a god (this is a key point).

·       To surrender unconditionally meant breaking a 6000 year cultural tradition…losing the Emperor…

·       The USA was aware of this, but still demanded the Emperor step aside as a condition of surrender

·       After the bombing – the Japanese were allowed to keep the Emperor anyway

·       The Emperor was key for the US occupation of Japan after the war – he pledged his peoples compliance and they followed his wishes