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World War II

From DT Online

Supermarine Spitfire Mark Is of No. 610 Squadron based at Biggin Hill, flying in 'vic' formation, 24 July 1940. CH740


Introduction

The Second World War was fought between 1939 and 1945. It involved almost every country in the world each of which could be associated with one of two opposing groupings:

  • The Allies
The main Allied powers were Great Britain, The United States, China, and the Soviet Union. The leaders of the Allies were Franklin Roosevelt (the United States), Winston Churchill (Great Britain), and Joseph Stalin (the Soviet Union). Their shared aim was to create a peaceful post-war world in response to the aggressive actions of the Axis powers who were trying to expand their territories by invading other countries.
  1. Great Britain wanted to ensure a future Europe in which Germany could not rise again as it did in WW1;
  2. United States wanted to end fascism and promote democracy;
  3. China was being attacked by Japan, one of the Axis powers;
  4. Soviet Union wanted to defeat Germany and gain influence in Europe.
  • The Axis
The main Axis powers were Germany, Japan and Italy. The Axis leaders were Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy), and Emperor Hirohito (Japan). They supported each other's ambitions for territorial expansion. They wanted the destruction of the Soviet Union and acknowledged each other’s supremacy in their respective geographic areas.
  1. Germany felt unhappy about the settlements made after WW1 known as the Treaty of Versailles and initiated WW2 in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939
  2. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941, and this led to the United States' entry into World War II.
  3. On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on France and the United Kingdom leading to confrontations in the Mediterranean area, including North Africa, Egypt and the Middle East.
Background

World War 1 (The Great War) had ended at 11am on the 11th November 1918. At Mons, there is a memorial where the last shot was fired in WW1 ending a stalemate which had cost over 16 million lives - it is in almost exactly the same place as where the first shot was fired (see Animated Map). Next to each other at Saint-Symphorien Cemetery in Mons, are the headstones of Private John Parr and Private George Ellison, the first and the last British soldiers to fall in WWI.


Germany and its allies had realised they could not win the war : the army was exhausted, its navy had gone on strike, there was unrest at home and America had joined the conflict because German submarines had sunk some of their ships. Kaiser Wilhelm, Germany's leader, abdicated and Germany signed the Armistice. The following year, Germany also had to agree to the Treaty of Versailles but they were very unhappy about it and thought it too harsh.


The Great War was thought to be 'the war that ends all wars' and in 1920 The League of Nations was established with the aim of securing world peace. Although a good idea, it had little authority and when the Great Depression occurred in 1929 economies throughout the world were badly affected. The result was public unrest, people turning to their armies for help, attempts at territorial expansion to gain natural resources and the rise of Fascism and Imperialism in countries such as Italy, Germany and Japan.


Italy, led by the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, wanted to expand and become the dominant power in the Mediterranean - effectively a new Roman Empire. The League of Nations failed to stop him invading Abyssinia. He supported Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War and allied himself to Adolf Hitler in 1940, at which point he believed it only a matter of time before Britain surrendered.


In Germany, especially following the Great Depression people were poor, jobs were few and prices high so they voted into power Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party who became the Fascist dictator of Germany. He tore up the Treaty of Versailles, and re-built the German army.


Japan was also hit badly by the Great Depression. People lost faith in the government and turned to the army for help. They invaded Manchuria in China, an area rich in minerals and resources. China should have been protected by the League of Nations, established to maintain peace after WW1, but this had proved to be an ineffective organisation.


Design and Technology

Topics involving aspects of the World War II provide many opportunities for Design and Technology activities and might include:


Pages in category ‘World War II’

The following 3 pages are in this category, out of 3 total.

Media in category ‘World War II’

The following 12 files are in this category, out of 12 total.