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World War 2: Causes, Important Events, & Effects for Grade 8 Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) World History Students

Updated on November 3, 2015
Adolf Hitler, one of the most prominent personalities in World War II.
Adolf Hitler, one of the most prominent personalities in World War II. | Source

Major Players

Allied Nations
Axis Powers
Great Britain
Germany
France
Italy
United States
Japan

World War II

  • happened twenty-one years after World War II

  • the most destructive conflict man has ever witnessed

  • on land, sea, air, and under the sea


League of Nations

  • 60 member countries
  • Weak because it had no power to enforce its decisions

Answering the Essential Question

The lack of a stable international organization impeded global peace and development because without a sense of international security and cooperation, there is always this fear of war and division among nations which will also impede the development of science, technology, and the arts.

Other peace efforts

  • World leaders held several conferences to discuss disarmament (reduction or withdrawal of military forces and weapons) and ways to keep peace
    • Kellog-Briand Pact, 1928
      • most ambitious plan
      • war would not be used “as an instrument of national policy”
      • signed by almost every country in the world
      • problem: no punishment imposed on those who broke them
      • small step towards peace

Answering the Essential Question

The thinking that we are superior to others is the easiest way to forego development and focus on competition. Remember Sir Baldo’s illustration about buying more warships because the other country just bought new warships. In the same way, in our day-to-day life, we can apply this in the classroom by not competing with our other classmates, especially our friends in terms of grades.

Cause of World War II

  • Many people still had bitter feelings about the Treaty of Versailles
    • This treaty limited German’s powers
  • Welmar government: “Let’s change the treaty by diplomacy (peaceful talks)
  • Adolf Hitler, later in 1930: “Let’s destroy the treaty altogether”

Adolf Hitler’s ideas started the World War II in Europe.

(1) German rearmament

  • Hitler believed that the Germans were superior to all other races/nationalities
  • said that provisions of this treaty were unfair and said he would want to revise these provisions through peaceful means
  • expanded Germany’s army from 100,000 to 550,000 troops which violated the Treaty of Versailles
  • now, Germany was condemned by Britain and France, However, they did not do anything because they were distracted with their own internal problems in the middle of the Great Depression (economic problem)

(2) Great minds think alike: Italian expansion

  • Italy built up its army just like Germany
  • Benito Mussolini
    • long dreamed of creating a new Roman empire in the Mediterranean
    • invaded Ethopia
      • independent African kingdom that resisted earlier Italian invasions
      • Haile Selassie - Ethopia’s emperor
        • protested to the League of Nations, which declared that invasion was wrong/invalid
        • League of Nations urged its members not to sell arms to Italy
          • only a few members followed, so the sanction did not take effect
      • Ethopia became a part of the Italian colony
    • became a new ally and began to grow closer to Hitler

Answering the Essential Question

A group of nations, or any group in general, would fail to meet their objectives for peace and development if there are members who would refuse to cooperate and take part in their collaborative undertakings.

(3) The Spanish Civil War

  • 1930s - Spain experienced much unrest
  • 1931 - the king was forced to step down and a new government was set up
    • liberals and socialists controlled the government
    • the Catholic Church was no longer the official religion
      • much of its property was confiscated
    • political unrest continued
      • socialist unions staged disruptive strikes and set fire to Catholic converts
      • clergy denounced the policies of the government and monarchists called for the return of the King
  • 1933 - a more conservative government was elected
  • 1936 - a coalition of liberals, socialists, and communists won
    • the government moved against the army by assigning military officers who opposed the republic to remote posts
      • confiscated some large estates, giving the land to the peasants
      • brought a violent response from the right
    • Francisco Franco
      • July 1936 - staged an uprising against the Republican government
    • a civil war began
      • what the generals wanted
        • restore the power of the Church
        • destroy socialism and communism of the Spain
      • what Franco’s followers (Nationalists) wanted
        • creation of a facist state
      • defenders of the government - Republicans/Loyalists
      • Spanish Civil War became an international issue
        • League of Nations failed in trying to stop arms from reaching either side
        • Mussolini and Hitler supplied arms and manpower to the Nationalists
          • The planes over Guernica were German bombers testing the might of German air power
          • Spain offered an excellent battleground to try out new weapons and tactics
          • An alliance is formed: Rome-Berlin Axis
            • October 1936 - Mussolini and Hitler made an agreement recognizing their common political and economic interests
          • Other countries’ stand
            • Soviets - sided with the Republicans, little assistance
            • Britain and France - sided with the Republicans, no assistance
            • United States - indifferent
      • ended in 1939 with a victory for the Nationalists
        • Franco imposed a military dictatorship on Spain
        • The failure to stop the Axis’ intervention in Spain encouraged Hitler and Mussolini to interfere elsewhere.


(4) German expansion

  • Hitler
    • was convinced that the Western states had no intention of using force to maintain the Treaty of Versailles
    • March 7, 1936 - sent German troops into Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles
      • it was a violation of the Treaty because according to the Treaty, it was a demilitarized area
        • Germany was not permitted to have weapons or fortifications there
  • France
    • France had the right to use force against any violation of the treaty
    • But they refused to without British support
  • Hitler
    • 1937 - proclaimed Germany was once more a “world power”
    • was convinced that neither France nor Great Britain would provide much opposition to his plan
    • 1938 - decided to pursue with one of his goals: Anschluss
      • Ancschluss is the union between Germany and Austria (his native land)
        • This was forbidden by the Treaty
      • March 1938 - pro-Nazi Chancellor of Austria asked Hitler to send troops disguised as “a help to maintain order”
        • March 12 - German troops marched into Austria to the cheers of many Austrians
        • March 13 - Austria became part of Germany
      • Other countries’ stand
        • Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister - refused to be alarmed
        • France - a change in government prevented effective response to the Anschluss


(5) Crisis Over Czechoslovakia

  • Hitler’s next objective: destruction of Czechoslovakia
  • September 15, 1938 - he demanded that Germany be given the Sudetenland
    • Sudetenland was in the northwestern part of Czechoslovakia
    • Three million Germans lived there
    • Hitler encouraged the Germans there to demand self-government
      • He promised to come to its aid if the Czech government refused
      • He expressed his willingness to risk “world war” to achieve his objective
  • Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier (France)
    • tried appeasement
      • making concessions to an agressor in order to preserve the peace
      • convinced the unhappy Czechs to give self-government to Sudetenland
    • Hitler responded with even more demands, like the right to send German troops to Sudenteland
  • September 29, 1938 - a conference was arranged hastily in Munich
    • “Four Power conference” with British, French, German, and Italian representatives
      • Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were not invited
    • The agreement
      • Allowed the German troops to occupy Sudetenland
      • Guarded the independence of the rest of Czechoslovakia
    • This was the high point of Western appeasement of Hitler
      • Hitler promised Chamberlain that he had no more demands
      • Chamberlain boasted that the agreement meant there would be “peace for our time”
      • Too bad: Chamberlain believed in Hitler’s promises
  • Unfortunately, Hitler was more convinced than ever that the Western democracies were weak and would not fight
    • He was sure that he could not make a mistake, and he had by no means been satisfied at Munich.
    • His easy victory in Munich may have encouraged him to move more boldly.
  • March 1939 - Hitler invaded and took control of Bohemia and Moravia in western Czechoslovakia
    • In the eastern part of the country, Slovakia became a puppet state controlled by Nazi Germany.
    • March 15, 1939 - Hitler declared that he would be known as the greatest German of them all
  • Hitler’s aggression had made clear that his promises were worthless
    • Chamberlain was shocked
    • Their policy of appeasement rested on the false assumption that Hitler can be trusted

Leading to the Start of World War II

  • German troops occupied Czechoslovakia
  • Hitler began to demand the Polish port of Danzig and the Polish Corridor
    • Again this was a violation of the Treaty of Versailles because the Treaty made it an independent and international city
  • This alarmed Britain and France
    • Chamberlain: Britain would aid Poland if it was attacked
      • Britain set up a military draft and voted for more defense money
    • France vowed to support Poland and hurried to rearm its army
  • Britain and Germany each negotiated with the Soviet Union
    • Joseph Stalin wanted a military alliance with Britain and France
      • Delay in making a pact with Stalin was caused by
        • Fear of communism
        • Doubts about the effectiveness of the Soviet army
    • In the other hand, Hitler feared that the West and the Soviet Union may make an alliance
      • This would mean a two-front war (a war that is fought in more than one geographic location) for Germany
      • Solution: Hitler made his own agreement with Stalin
  • August 23, 1939 - Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact
    • this was done despite Hitler hating communism and the Russians
    • the two nations promised not to attack each other
    • Hitler offered Stalin control of eastern Poland and the Baltic states
    • Results of the pact
      • Germany was able to move against Poland without fear of Soviet interference
      • Soviet Union was promised Hitler would not attack it
        • however, it did not matter to Hitler what he promised— he was accustomed to breaking promises
  • September 1, 1939 - German troops crossed the Polish Border
  • September 3, 1939 - Britain and France declared war on Germany
  • This is the start of World War 2.

Hitler's Conquests in Western Europe

  • September 1, 1939 - the German army launched a new kind of attack: blitzkrieg or lighning war
    • armored columns, called panzer divisions, supported by airplanes, tanks, artillery, and mechanized infrantry
      • Each panzer division was a strike force of about three hundred tanks with accompanying forces and supplies.
    • The Germans bombed Polish cities and destroyed the Polish air force
  • September 27, 1939 - Poland surrendered
  • September 28, 1939 - Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland
    • Stalin feared that Hitler would eventually attack the Soviet Union
      • He made measures to strengthen his defenses
        • He occupied three small Baltic countries
        • The Soviet invaded Finland
          • However, the Soviet Union did not occupy Finland. It just gave up some territories.
  • Winter of waiting - “Phony war”
    • Nothing much happened
  • April 9, 1940 - resumed attacking; blitzkrieg against Denmark and Norway
  • May 10, 1940 - attack on the Netherlands, Belgium, and France
    • through Luxembourg and the Ardennes
  • French troops were sent to man the northeast of the Maginot Line (a series of concrete and steel fortifications armed with heavy artillery along France’s border with Germany)
    • However, they were surprised when the Germans went around instead of across the Maginot Line
      • They attacked France through Belgium
      • They penetrated deeply into france
    • Result: the Allied armies were split
      • French troops and the entire British army were trapped in the beaches of Dunkirk
        • The Royal Navy and citizens with private boats came to the rescue
        • 338,000 troops were saved
        • Those who escaped formed the Free French Forces
      • France stood in the edge of defeat
        • Italy invaded Southern France, which the German Army marched into Paris
  • June 22, 1940 - France surrendered and signed an armistice
    • German armies now occupied about three-fifths of France
    • Northern France - occupied and directly governed by Germany
    • Southern France - puppet state “Vichy France”
      • led by an aged French hero of World War I, Marshal Henri Pétain
      • authoritarian regime under German control
  • Despite this, Britain has not yet been defeated.
    • Britain asks the United States for help
    • However, the United States followed a strict policy of isolationism
      • US neutrality laws prevented the United States from taking sides or becoming involved in any European wars
      • The US had to remain impartial so that they would not be involved in the war
      • Franklin Roosevelt was the US president at that time
        • He believed that the neutrality acts actually encouraged Axis aggression and wanted the acts changed
        • Eventually, the US began to supply food, ships, planes, and weapons to Britain

The Invasion of the Soviet Union

  • “free food” tricked the people to go out of their houses
  • when they went out, they were killed
  • 1941 - Hitler made a surprise attack on Soviet Union
  • In response, Russia implemented the scorced earth policy
    • The Russians allowed the Germans to get into Moscow
    • They knew that it was wintertime and snow was coming
    • They intentionally burned their houses and stayed underground
    • Snow soon covered the ground
    • When the Germans came, they were no people and no resources
    • They couldn’t live because their supply of resources has been drained
    • There were no houses/buildings/places to buy resources
  • In short, winter worked well for Russia

American Entry

  • The Pearl Harbor bombing was the only time that the Americans decided to be part of the war
    • Before this, they had a stand on neutrality
  • It is said that this was an act of treachery
    • Peace talks between the US and Japan were actually in place at that time
    • Representatives of Japan were in the United States
    • Despite this, the Pearl Harbor bombing took place on a Sunday morning
      • This was a time not expected
      • Many soliders were on a day off
  • In response, the US Congress passed the Lend Lease Act
    • This gave its allies free access to food, oil, and materiel (equipment/hardware)
    • For the defense of the United States

D-day

  • June 6, 1944 - Allied invasion of France from Great Britain, along the English channel
    • History’s greatest invasion
    • fought their way past underwater mines, barbed wire, and horri- ble machine gun fire
  • Germans - thought the war was a diversion, slow response
  • In the end, Hitler blamed the Jews for losing the war (anti-Semitism)
  • April 30, 1945 - Hitler committed suicide
  • May 4, 1945 - Germans surrendered
  • May 8, 1945 - VE-Day (victory in Europe)
  • The war in Europe was over

Defeat of Japan

  • Harry S. Truman - US President faced with a decision
    • Will he use the atomic bombs or not?
    • Pros
      • enable the United States to avoid an invasion of Japan
      • American troops wouldn’t suffer heavy casualties
    • Cons
      • only two bombs were available, and no one knew how effective they would be
  • Decision: use the bomb
    • August 6, 1945 - Hiroshima was bombed
    • August 9, 1945 - Nagasaki was bombed
    • Thousands of people died immediately after the bombs were dropped
    • Thousands more died in later months from radiation
  • August 14, 1945 - Japan surrendered (VJ Day)
  • This is the end of World War II

Effects of World War II

  • Creation of the United Nations
    • The League of Nations wasn’t successful in maintaining peace
    • It didn’t have sufficient power/authority to do so
    • Ratifications were made and the United Nations was born
  • Social changes
    • Racial discrimination was dropped especially in the United States
    • The war caused many women to fill in the vacant jobs
    • This opened a wide range of opportunities for women post-war
  • Development of science and technology
    • Airplanes, radars, and other innovative devices which were crucial during wartime saw significant improvements

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