The Irony of World War Two
The Irony of World War Two
Looking back on the “ great war” as World War Two is called we observe lots of interesting things.We see nations make great sacrifices. We see nations put aside their internal squabbles and join together to defeat a common enemy. But the more we examine this war the more ironic it becomes as we see the strange bedfellows fighting for the same cause. This idea comes forward strongly when we look at America’s choice of allies.
At the war’s start
America entered World war Two in December 1941. Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese and Nazi Germany declared war on the United States by the end of this month. Once the United states had entered the war their two strongest allies were Great Britain and the Soviet Union. Allying with Great Britain was a natural and unsurprising Alliance. We not only originally broke away from this nation but also shared a similar culture and legal tradition with this nation.
The other great ally, the Soviet Union, however was strikingly opposite of America and its values. This nation had annihilated its own capitalistic system, something Americans saw as completely subversive. Furthermore the same Soviet regime had abolished such cherished American traditions such as freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.
The Soviet regime looked to eliminate all vestiges of Western Civilization and its values from within its borders and eventually the world. How strange that in one of America’s greatest and most important crusades it not only fought alongside a nation so opposite from itself but also succeeded so splendidly in its endeavor.
The irony of this “Great War” is not finished when we analyze the most powerful
of America’s enemies in this conflict. This foe, Nazi Germany had the incredible quality
of being a society more similar to America than the Soviet Union ever was.
This nation of Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler found itself mire in the horrible
Malaise of the Great Depression yet recovered from it and brought itself into
a time of prosperity, led their optimistic leader Adolph Hitler. This leader, the head
of state brought his economically troubled nation out of its horrible slump not by
destroying capitalism and starting over in a new socialist cause like Stalin. Instead
Hitler used the strength of government to reenergize certain aspects of capitalism
in order to restart this form of economic life.
Does this sound familiar?! Yes it does! This reminds me and many of another
nation in the 1930’s. Yes the nation you guessed was the United States of
America. America under the confident hand of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Expanded the federal government not to destroy capitalism but to help
It get back on its feet.
Our nation had other similarities to Nazi Germany. Although Nazi Germany
persecuted and eventually slaughtered the Jews, it did allow freedom
of religion for all of the non-Jewish religions making Germany more
similar to the United States than the Soviet Union which had outlawed
all religion. Our similarity with Nazi Germany extends past just functioning
of government. America’s ethnic and religious makeup was much closer
to that of Germany than it was of the Soviet Union. America had strong
amounts of German, Protestant and Catholic citizenry similar to Germany
while the Orthodox religion and the Soviet Union’s ethnicities were much
less prevalent in the America of the 1940s.
A Big Question
So a big question pops up that we cannot avoid.
Why did we side with the nation we had very little in common with,
the Soviet Union against a nation we had much more in common with
The answer would seem to reside in the fact that ideology does not
rule every situation. Sometimes ideology must take a back seat to
the pressing needs of the immediate situation. In the early 1940s
we had two tyrannical dictatorships in Europe, the Soviet Union
and Nazi Germany that were in equal in their evil inclinations.
America and our allies however chose to fight Nazi Germany
since the situation of the time forced us to. Nazi Germany had
invaded at least 7 countries by the early 1940’s conquering them
in the process. Soviet Union had only fought Finland to a draw
and had seized a moderate chunk of Poland without firing a shot
after Poland was brutally conquered by the Nazis. We attacked
the Nazis because they moved first in their quest for brutal
conquest of the world
and we had to act before it got any worse.
In closing this is another lesson of World War Two: ideology
doesn’t determine everything. The particular demands of the
particular situation have just as a strong presence in the determining
of wars as any ideological considerations.