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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Main Features and Result of Second World War

Sunday, July 11, 2010 - 0 Comments

Second World War:

Almost a million Australians, both men and women, served in the Second World War. They fought in campaigns against Germany and Italy in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as against Japan in south-east Asia and other parts of the Pacific. The Australian mainland came under direct attack for the first time, as Japanese aircraft bombed towns in north-west Australia and Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney harbour. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) participated in operations against Italy after its entry into the war in June 1940. A few Australians flew in the Battle of Britain in August and September but the Australian Army was not engaged in combat until 1941, when the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions joined Allied operations in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Following early successes against Italian forces, the Australians suffered defeat with the Allies at the hands of the Germans in Greece, Crete, and North Africa. In June and July 1941 Australians participated in the successful Allied invasion of Syria, a mandate of France and the Vichy government, Up to 14,000 Australians held out against repeated German attacks in the Libyan port of Tobruk, where they were besieged between April and August 1941. After being relieved at Tobruk, the 6th and 7th Division departed from the Mediterranean theatre for the war against Japan. The 9th Division remained to play an important role in the Allied victory at El Alamein in October 1942 before it also left for the Pacific. By the end of 1942 the only Australians remaining in the Mediterranean theatre were airmen serving either with 3 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) or in the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Supporter of War II

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Germany and France had been struggling for dominance in Continental Europe for 80 years and had fought two previous wars, the Franco-Prussian War and World War I. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Communist revolutionary movements began spreading across Europe, briefly taking power in both Budapest and Bavaria; in response, fascist and nationalist groups were born. IN 1922, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his fascist party took control of the Kingdom of Italy and set the model for German dictator Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party, which, aided by the civil unrest caused by the Great Depression, took power in Germany and eliminated its democratic government, the Weimar Republic. These two leaders began to re-militarize their countries and become increasingly hostile. Mussolini first conquered the African nation of Abyssinia and then seized Albania with both Italy and Germany actively supporting Francisco Franco’s fascist Falange partying the Spanish Civil War against the Second Spanish Republic (which was supported by the Soviet Union). Hitler then broke the Treaty of Versailles by increasing the size of the Germany’s military, and re-militarized the Rhineland. He started this own expansion by annexing Austria and sought the same against the German-speaking regions (Sudetenland) of Czechoslovakia. The British and French governments followed a policy of appeasement in order to avoid military confrontation after the high cost of the First World War. This policy culminated in the Munich Agreement in 1938, which would give the Sudetenland to Germany in exchange for Germany making no further territorial claims in Europe. In March 1939, Germany annexed the remainder of Czechoslovakia. Mussolini, following suit, annexed Albania in April. The failure of the Munich Agreement pushed the United Kingdom and France to prepare for war with Germany. France and Poland pledged on May 19, 1939 to provide each other with military assistance in the event either was attacked. The following August, the British guaranteed the same.

On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which provided for sales of oil and food from the Soviets to Germany, thus reducing the danger of a British blockade such as the one that had nearly starved Germany in World War I. Also included was a secret agreement that would divide Central Europe into German and Soviet areas of interest, including a provision to partition Poland. Each country agreed to allow the other a free hand in its area of influence, including military occupation.

Outcome and Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

In 1944, the outcome of the war was becoming clearly unfavourable for the Axis. Germany became boxed in as the Soviet offensive became a juggernaut in the east, pushing the Germans out of Russia and pressing into Poland and Romania; in the west, the Western Allies invaded mainland Europe, liberating France and the Low Countries and reaching Germany’s western borders. While Japan launched a successful major offensive in China, in the Pacific, their navy suffered continued heavy losses as American forces captured airfields within bombing range of Tokyo.

In 1945 the war ended. In Europe, a final German counter-attack in the west failed, while Soviet forces captured Berlin in May, forcing Germany to surrender. In Asia, American forces captured the Japanese islands of two Jima and Okinawa while British forces in Southeast Asia managed to expel Japanese forces there. Initially unwilling to surrender, Japan finally capitulated after the Soviet Union invaded Manchukuo and the United States atomic bombs on the mainland of Japan.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuclear attacks during World War II against the Empire of Japan by the United States of America under US President Harry S. Truman. On August 6, 1945, the nuclear weapon “Little Boy” was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, followed on August 9, 1945 by the detonation of the “Fat Man” nuclear bomb over Nagasaki. They are the only instances of the use of nuclear weapons in warfare. The United States Department of Energy estimates that, at Hiroshima, the death toll from the immediate blast was roughly 70,000 with additional deaths occurring in the time soon after the explosion and in the decades that followed. The figures for Nagasaki are slightly less other estimates vary widely, and are as low as 74,000 for Nagasaki. In both cities, the overwhelming majority of the deaths were civilians. The role of the bombings in Japan’s surrender, as well as the effects and justification of them, has been subject to much debate.

On August 15, 1945 Japan announced its surrender to the Allied Powers, signing the Instrument of Surrender on September 2 which officially ended World War II. Furthermore, the experience of bombing led post-war Japan to adopt three Non-Nuclear Principles, which forbids Japan from nuclear armament.

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