Racism was a key aspect of World War II. Racism was a primary factor within in the Axis military alliance. World War as conceived by Adolf Hitler was a racist war. Hitler clearly conceptualizes a great conflict against Jews and the only slightly more preverable Slavs. The Jews Hitler believed had to be purged from German life. This process ebolved into the Holocaust. Aat least some of the Slavs would be allowed to survive because slave labor was needed for the new Reich. And Hitler saw the war as not a German war, but an Aryan war. For this reason, the people of the Nordic countries, the Neterlands, and the British would fit into the new Aryan nation. Hitler was frustated at the beginning of the War because he found himself fighting the British and allied with the Soviets. What he wanted of course was to bee alied with the British and fighting the Soviets which he saw the worst possible combination of Jewish Bolshevicks overseeing the Slavic masses. Not all the people in Germany and racially acceptable countries were acceptable to Hitler. Gyneology became big business in Germany. To enter the SS one had to prove an Aryan ancestry back centuries. Had the NAZIs won the War, the SS would have evolved as a new aristocracy in Germany. The Japanese also had highly racist attitudes which showed in their treatment of Koreans, Chinese, and other subject peoples. Japanese attrocities are less publicized, but resulted in the deaths of even more people than fell victim to NAZI racist policies. Italy was less affected by racist notions. Italian Fascism rather emphasized Italian nationalism and cultureal identity, but Italy proved to be a largely ineffectual military partner in the Axis war effort. Racism was not, however, limited to the Axis. America entered the War as a still largely racist country. The South was still strictly seggregatated with black Americans denied civil rights and precvented from voting. America fought the War with a segregated military. The anti-Japanese prejudice of the time was often intense and was reflected
in the disgraceful internment of Pacific-coast Japanese-Americans simply on grounds of their ethnicity. One interesting aspect is that with all this anti-Japanese feeling, it virtually disapperated after the War. And all kinds of restrictions on Asians as to citizenship, employment, iniversity admission also disappeared. It is a phenomenon I do not fully understand, but have been meaning to address. Such overt descrimination did not exist in Britain, but Britain at the time did not have a substantial minority population. The situation in the colonies was different. The situation in the Soviet Union is more difficult to assess. Communist doctrine was race neutral which was one reason that it appealed to many Jews. Of course Communist neutrality on race does not mean that racist beliefs were no prevalent among Soviet officials.
Earlier wars had been fought over teritory, resources, and religion Modern concepts of nationalism became importasnt in the 19th century. Ideology and race becsame impotant in the 20th century. Often the Holocaust and other race issues are considered as a kind of footnote to the water, although a tragic humanitarian disaster.
Racism was a key aspect of World War II. Racism was a primary factor within the Axis military alliance. Except for the Haitain Revolutiinary wars and American Civil War, race has not been a factor in many wars. This thanks primarily to the NAZIs and Facist allies, made race a major factor in the War. World War as conceived by Adolf Hitler was a racist war. It was not a foot note in the history of the War, tt was a primary German war goal. Hitler clearly conceptualizes a great killing campaign conflict against Jews and the only slightly less objectionable Slavs. The Jews Hitler believed had to be purged from German life. This process evolved into the Holocaust. The German hatred of the Jews and the Holocaust is well known, but only a part of the race war they launched. They planneda ahd had begun a much larger killing program in Eastern Europe--Generalplan Ost. And that was to be just the beginning if their race war. At least some of the Slavs would be allowed to survive because slave labor was needed for the new Reich and NAZI war effort. And Hitler saw the War as not a German war, but an Aryan war. For this reason, the people of the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, and the British would fit into the new Aryan nation. America entered the War as a still largely racist country. These racist ideas, unlike Germany and Japan, did not significantly affect its foreign policy. The South was still strictly seggregatated with black Americans denied civil rights and precvented from voting. America fought the War with a segregated military. The anti-Japanese prejudice of the time was often intense and sharply reflected in American war propaganda that is today very disturbing. There are lots of blatantly racist images of slanted, weaked eyes Japanese with over-sized glasses. Of course this was exacerbated by Pearl Harbor. Anti-German propaganda was not racist, of course, because so many Americans looked like Germans. Anti-Japanese racism was reflected in the disgraceful internment of Pacific-coast Japanese-Americans simply on grounds of their ethnicity. he Soviet Union needs to be considered as a third force in World War II. It was the Soviets along with the Germans who launched the War as a result of the NAZI-Soviet Non-aggression Pact (August 1939), as unlikely allies. The Soviet Unuin unlike Germany was a multi-national state. Both countries, however, proceeded to carry out a long series of aggresons against neighboring countries and terrible attrocities in the countries they occupied. The NAZI attrocities were more race based than the Soviets, but the Soviets carried out ethnic attrocities of their own, deporting several national groups and like the NAZIs set you to destroy Poland as a nationality. And Stalin sought to alter the ethnic balance in the Baltics by deportung Balts and incouraging Russian emigration. The NAZI-Soviet alliance was abruptly broken with the German invasion. And as a result, the Soviets finished the War as key part of the victorious Allied coalition. The racial policies in the Soviet Union is more difficult to assess. Communist doctrine was race neutral which was one reason that it appealed to many Jews. And none other than Lenin was of mixed race origins, includung central Asian ancestors. Of course Communist ideological neutrality on race does not mean that racist beliefs were not prevalent among Soviet officials or as we have noted, Stalin did not pursue a range of racist policies.
Discussions of racism in World War II primarily focus on the German NAZIs. A central tennant of Fascism was hyper-nationalism and with it racism. The NAZIs were only the most extreme manifestation of this. And the Allies also had racist sentiments as well. All to commonly ignored are the racist attitudes prevalent in Asia. This is a complicated issue given the number of countries involved, but racist feelings were prevalent in the three major countries and many smaller countries as well. Chinese racism existd, but was not a major factor in the War. The Chinese from the strt of the War were on the defensive and not involved in occupying other countries. India was a British colony. Again Indian racism was not an important factor in the War, but very strong racist sentiment existed in India. People woth lighter complexions had greater status and skin color was an important factor in Indian marriages. India is a large country and racist attitudes varies regioinally and toward people from different regions. And of course untouchavility was a major problem. This was a caste, but there were racial overlaps as many untouchables had farker skin that the higher-status castes. The Japnese had very strong racist attitudes. While professing pan-Asian values, in fact they looked down on other Asian peoples, a factor in their savage behavior in China and conquered Asian countries. Another country with strong racist attitides was Iran. The country changed its name from Persia to Iran before the war, in part to emphasize the Aryan origins of the Persian people.
World War II was without doubt the most intensly racist war in human history. Race was actually a relatively modern construct in warfare. Race was not a foot note to the War. It was central to the German war effort as in reading of Hitler's Mein Kampf. The NAZIs did not only want to rule foreign lands, they wanted to eradicate many foreign peoples so they could colonize a land cleared of the existing population. It was also important to the Japanese war effort. The Japanese saw themselves in their island nation as a pure people undiluted with immigration from foreign lands, in sharp contrast to America which they saw as a mongrel nation. The Allies did not have racist goals in fighting the War. The Allied populations, however, to vsrying degrees had racist feelings. And in the case of the United states, racist laws existed in parts of the country. It should not be thought that racist attitudes only existed in the West. Given the intensity of the racial amnimus during the War, the aftermath of the War is stunning. The occupation of Germany and Japan was conducted without racial animus. This was obvious in Germany as the Allies were not racially different. It was somewhat surprising in Japan given the racial difference and the terrible war crimes committed by the Japanese military. It would of course have been a very different story had the Axis won the War. There was a sharp shift in racist thought throughout Western Europe an the United States. Western Europeans and Amerucans seeing where racism led began to moderate their attitudes toward other races. This shift was most notable in America which had a substantial non-European population. Prejuduice toward Asian Americans despite the Japanese war crimes poractically disappeared over night. It also set the Civil Rights Movement in motion. Today in the West, one of the worst things you can say about another person is that they are racist. The situation in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe was different. Socialist ideology criticizes racism. Soviet policy, however, included some racist elements. And unlike the West, racist thought while supressed during the Cold War emerged after the fall of the Soviet-imposed Communist regimes. Change in racist attitudes in the Third World was less dramatic. There racial and ethnic differences were less affected by the War.
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