World War II: Historical Watershed

World War II watershed
Figure 1.--The totalitarian powers (German, Japanese, and Soviet) had convimved their people tht their leaders were the progressive forces of history and able to secure a utopian future. Many were willing to commit mass murder on a vast scale to secure that future as well as to establish vast colonial empires. Italy was one of those totlitarian powers, but Mussolini was less sucessful in indocrinatng his people. The otalitarian powers acquired enormous military power. And the Germans essentially inventd modern warfare. Thus when Hitler and Stalin lauched the War by invading Poland. the very future of Western civilization was in dounbt. America at the time, the only power capable, of resuing thehe emocracies and confronting the totalitarians was largely unarmed.

World War II was the defining moment of the 20th century if not of all Western civilization. The stakes of the War were enormous. And because of feckless policies adopted by socialist and pacifist voters in the democracies, it was possible that the totalitarian powers might win the war. Had the totalitarians won, their virulent nationalistic policies and brutal treatment of conquered populations--including genocide and enslavement--would have brought about a new dark age in human history. Churchill at the darkest pointbof the War explained the stakes to the British people, "Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science." We find that this is a future that most people in the Third World do not appreciate. NAZI policies in the occupied East showed what Hitler had in mind for the future. And Japanese and Soviet attrocities were also grim. European colonial administrations have a dark history of their own. By the 1930s, however, the worst abuses of the Europeans had past. Colonial spokesmen seeking independence were hounded, but for the most part within limits allowed to speak and promote their goal of independence. Many were allowed to pursue educations in the west. Varying degrees of a free press were allowed. The democracies in short a scociety which were begiinnung to allow home rule and would not accept mass murder to hpld their cilonies. The totalitarian powers What the totalitarian powers had in mind was very different--mass murder and the creation of Helot-like slave populations. Along with World War I, World War II was the great watershed of 20th-century geopolitical history. Germany was devastated. France was reduced to an occupied country. Britain was bankrupted and unable to retain control of its colonies. The War marked the shift of world power from the states of Western Europe to the Soviet Union and America. TheSoviet Union was, howver, one of the totlitarian powers that launced the War as a NAZI ally. Thus World war II murged into the Cold War. The Soviet Union seized Eastern Europe. America rose as the dominate world power. It was the American industrial powerhouse and the massive Russian ground force on the Eastern front that crushed the Germans. After the German surrender (1945), it was American power that prevented the Russians from seizing Western Europe.






CIH







Navigate the CIH World War II pages:
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Biographies] [Campaigns] [Children] [Countries] [Deciding factors] [Diplomacy] [Geo-political crisis] [Economics] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[POWs] [Resistance] [Race] [Refugees] [Technology] [Totalitarian powers]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Return to Main war essay page]
[Return to CIH Home page]




Created: 5:55 PM 7/14/2015
Last updated: 5:55 PM 7/14/2015