- World War II/temp
Impact of the war
Casualties and atrocities
Between 50 and 70 million people were killed as a result of the war, with about two thirds of them being civilians. Many of these deaths were a result of genocidal actions such as
The Holocaust, and the large number of war crimes committed by German and Japanese forces.
Though not brought to persecution, the Allies committed several controversial actions as well, predominantly
population transfer in the Soviet Union, ethnic internment in the United States, the Soviet massacre of Polish citizens and mass-bombing of civilian areas in enemy territory, most notably at Dresden.
Home fronts and production
In Europe, prior to the start of the war, the Allies had significant advantages in both population and economics. In 1938, the Western Allies (United Kingdom, France, Poland and British Dominions) had a 30% larger population and a 30% higher
gross domestic productthen the European Axis (Germany and Italy); if colonies are included, it then gives the Allies more than a 5:1 advantage in population and nearly 2:1 advantage in GDP.Harrison, Mark. "The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison", pg. 3] In Asia at the same time, China had roughly six times the population of Japan, but only a 89% higher GDP; this is reduced to three times the population and only a 38% higher GDP if Japanese colonies are included. Though the Allies economic and population advantages were largely mitigated during the initial rapid blitzkriegattacks of Germany and Japan, they became the decisive factor by 1942, after the United States and Soviet Union joined the Allies, as the war largely settled into one of attrition.Harrison, Mark. "The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison", pg. 2]
While the Allies ability to out-produce the Axis is often attributed to the Allies having more access to natural resources, other factors, such as Germany and Japan's reluctance to utilize women in the
labour force, [Hughes, Matthew; Mann, Chris. "Inside Hitler's Germany: Life Under the Third Reich", pg. 148] [Bernstein, Gail Lee. "Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945", pg. 267] Allied strategic bombing, [Hughes, Matthew; Mann, Chris. "Inside Hitler's Germany: Life Under the Third Reich", pg. 151] [Griffith, Charles. "The Quest: Haywood Hansell and American Strategic Bombing in World War II", pg. 203] and Germany's late shift to a war economy[Overy, R.J. "War and Economy in the Third Reich", pg. 26] contributed significantly. Additionally, neither Germany nor Japan planned on fighting a protracted war, and were not equipped to do so. [Lindberg, Michael; Daniel, Todd. "Brown-, Green- and Blue-Water Fleets: the Influence of Geography on Naval Warfare, 1861 to the Present", pg. 126] [Cox, Sebastian. "The Strategic Air War Against Germany, 1939-1945", pg. 84]
War time occupation
In Europe, occupation came under two very different forms. In western, northern and central Europe (France, Norway, Denmark, the Low Countries, and the annexed portions of Czechoslovakia) Germany established economic policies through which it collected roughly 69.5 billion reichmarks by the end of the war; this figure does not include the sizable plunder of industrial products, military equipment, raw materials and other goods. [Liberman, Peter. "Does Conquest Pay?: The Exploitation of Occupied Industrial Societies", pg. 42] Thus, the income from occupied nations was over 40% of the income Germany collected from taxation, a figure which increased to nearly 40% of total German income as the war went on. [Milward, Alan S. "War, Economy, and Society, 1939-1945", pg. 138]
In the east, the much hoped for bounties of
lebensraumwere never attained as fluctuating front-lines and Soviet scorched earthpolicies denied resources to the German invaders. [Milward, Alan S. "War, Economy, and Society, 1939-1945", pg. 148] Unlike in the west, the Nazi racial policy encouraged excessive brutality against what it considered to be the "inferior people" of Slavic descent; most German advances were thus followed by mass executions. [Perrie, Maureen; Lieven, D. C. B.; Suny, Ronald Grigor. "The Cambridge History of Russia", pg. 232]
Although resistance groups did form in most occupied territories, they did not significantly hamper German operations in either the east [Hill, Alexander. "The War Behind The Eastern Front: The Soviet Partisan Movement In North-West Russia 1941-1944", pg. 5] or the west [Christofferson, Thomas Rodney; Christofferson, Michael Scott. "France During World War II: From Defeat to Liberation", pg. 156] until late 1943.
In Asia, Japan termed nations under its occupation as being part of the
Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, essentially a Japanese hegemonywhich it claimed was for purposes of liberating colonized peoples. [Ikeo, Aiko. "Economic Development in Twentieth Century East Asia: The International Context", pg. 107] Although Japanese forces were originally welcomed as liberators from European domination in many territories, their excessive brutality turned local public opinions against them within weeks. During Japan's initial conquest it captured 4 million barrels of oil left behind by retreating Allied forces, and by 1943 was able to get production in the Dutch East Indies up to 50 million barrels, 76% of its 1940 output rate.Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt. "Germany and the Second World War - Volume VI: The Global War", pg. 266]
Advances in technology and warfare
During the war, aircraft continued their roles of reconnaissance, fighters,
bombers and ground-support from World War I, though each area was advanced considerably. Two important additional roles for aircraft were those of the airlift, the capability to quickly move high-priority supplies, equipment and personnel, albeit in limited quantities;Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla Mary. "Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History", pg. 76] and of strategic bombing, the targeted use bombs against civilian areas in the hopes of hampering enemy industry and morale. [Levine, Alan J. "The Strategic Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945", pg. 217] Anti-aircraft weaponry also continued to advance, including key defences such as radarand greatly improved anti-aircraft artillery, such as the German 88 mm gun. Jet aircraftsaw their first limited operational use during World War II, and though their late introduction and limited numbers meant that they had no real impact during the war itself, the few which saw active service pioneered a mass-shift to their usage following the war. [Sauvain, Philip. "Key Themes of the Twentieth Century: Teacher's Guide", pg. 128]
At sea, while advances were made in almost all aspects of naval warfare, the two primary areas of development were focused around aircraft carriers and submarines. Although at the start of the war aeronautical warfare had relatively little success,Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla Mary. "Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History", pg. 163] actions at Taranto, Pearl Harbor, the South China Sea and the Coral Sea soon established the carrier as the dominant capital ship in place of the battleship. [Bishop, Chris; Chant, Chris. "Aircraft Carriers: The World's Greatest Naval Vessels and Their Aircraft", pg. 7] [Chenoweth, H. Avery; Nihart, Brooke. "Semper Fi: The Definitive Illustrated History of the U.S. Marines", pg. 180] In the Atlantic,
escort carriers proved to be a vital part of Allied convoys, increasing the effective protection radius dramatically and helping to seal the Mid-Atlantic gap. [Sumner, Ian; Baker, Alix. "The Royal Navy 1939-45", pg. 25] Beyond their increased effectiveness, carriers were also more economical then battleships due to the relatively low cost of aircraft [Hearn, Chester G. "Carriers in Combat: The Air War at Sea", pg. 14] and their not requiring to be as heavily armoured. [Gardiner, Robert; Brown, David K. "The Eclipse of the Big Gun: The Warship 1906-1945", pg. 52] Submarines, which had proved to be an effective weapon during the first World War [Burcher, Roy; Rydill, Louis. "Concepts in Submarine Design", pg. 15] were anticipated by all sides to be important in the second. The British focused development on anti-submarine weaponry and tactics, such as sonarand convoys, while Germany focused on improving its offensive capability, with designs such as the Type VII submarine and Wolf packtactics. [Burcher, Roy; Rydill, Louis. "Concepts in Submarine Design", pg. 16] Gradually, continually improving Allied technologies such as the leigh light, hedgehog, squid, and homing torpedoes proved victorious.
Overland warfare changed drastically from the static front lines experienced during World War I to become much more fluid and mobile. An important change was the concept of
combined armswarfare, wherein tight coordination was sought between the various elements of military forces; the tank, which had been used predominantly for infantry-support in the first World War, had evolved into the primary weapon of these forces during the second.Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla Mary. "Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History", pg. 125] In the late 1930s, tank design was considerably more advanced in all areas then it had been during World War I, [Dupuy, Trevor Nevitt. "The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare", pg. 231] and advances continued throughout the war in increasing speed, armour and fire-power. At the start of the war, most armies considered the tank to be the best weapon against itself, and developed special purpose tanks to that effect.Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla Mary. "Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History", pg. 108] This line of thinking was all but negated by the poor performance of the relatively light early tank armaments against armour, and German doctrine of avoiding tank-to-tank combat; the latter factor, along with Germany's use of combined arms, were among the key elements of their highly successful blitzkriegtactics across Poland and France. Many means of destroying tanks, including indirect artillery, anti-tank guns (both towed and self-propelled), mines, short-ranged infantry carried anti-tank weaponry, and other tanks were utilized. Even with the large-scale mechanization of the various armies, the infantry remained the backbone of all forces.Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla Mary. "Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History", pg. 734] Throughout the war, most infantry equipment was similar to that utilized in World War I.Cowley, Robert; Parker, Geoffrey. "The Reader's Companion to Military History", pg. 221] Some of the primary advances though, were the widespread incorporation of readily portable machine guns, the most notable example likely being the German MG42, and various submachine guns, which were well suited to close quarters combat in urban and jungle settings. The assault rifle, a late war development which incorporated many of the best features of the rifleand submachine gun, became the post-war standard infantry weapon for nearly all armed forces.
In terms of communications, most of the major belligerents attempted to solve the problems of complexity and security presented by utilizing large
codebooks for cryptographywith the creation of various ciphering machines, the most well known being the German Enigma machine. [Ratcliff, Rebecca Ann. "Delusions of Intelligence: Enigma, Ultra and the End of Secure Ciphers", pg. 11] SIGINT(signals intelligence) was the countering process of decryption, with the most notable examples likely being the British ULTRAand the Allied breaking of Japanese naval codes. Another important aspect of military intelligencewas the use of deceptionoperations, which the Allies successfully used on several occasions to great effect, such as operations Mincemeat and Bodyguard, which diverted German attention and forces away from the Allied invasions of Sicily and Normandy respectively.
Other important technological feats achieved during, or as a result of, the war include the worlds first programmable
computers (Z3, Colossus, and ENIAC), the Manhattan Project's development of Atomic weapons, the development of artificial harbours and oil pipelines under the English Channel.
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