How The History Of World War II Shaped The 21St Century

World War II is one of the more deadly of conflicts ever recorded in human history. The impact of the global war of the 20th century that involved almost 100 million people from over 30 countries was to shape the world in which we live today. In theory the war began in 1939 and was a result of related conflicts that happened previously in World War I. What led to the war is not as easy to determine as there was no single event that created one of the darkest periods ever witnessed. Why was this war fought? The end of World War I created much of the instability experienced in certain quarters of the globe that gained momentum and culminated in the Second Word War. It was during this time that Germany, Italy and Japan saw previously unprecedented levels of powerful nationalist feelings develop. This force fanned the flames for the desire of expansion. Germany had set its sights on Northern and Eastern Europe, while Italy and Japan looked towards Africa and Greece, and Asia and the South Pacific respectively.

In adding to its borders, Germany was further motivated by avenging the harsh penalties forced upon it at the end of World War I. The expansion factor was compounded by the competing ideologies of that period. A significant contributor was the Bolshevik Revolution that arose in Russia which was followed by the Russian Civil War, and resulted in the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Fear grew in a number of countries at what they saw as the rise of Bolshevism and communism. There were many interrelated events that happened at the same time frame around the world that initiated the Second World War. In Asia, conflict erupted between Japan and China. In Europe, Germany’s shocking invasion of Poland after annexing Austria and Czechoslovakia which did not create a stir, led to Britain and France declaring war on it. As the conflict progressed, more countries were to join in support of the Allies. Who fought in the war? There were two opposing military forces: Allies against the Axis. On the Axis side were the major players of Germany, Italy and Japan, in addition to minor associates. The major powers of the Axis forces agreed to mutually support each other. The Allied countries were comprised of Britain along with Commonwealth member states, the USSR and the United States.

How does the outcome of the war affect us today? The war may have ended officially in 1945 on August 15th but the repercussion of the conflict was to shape the 21st century too. The war was marked by the startling number of deaths and victims who, although they continued to live, were marred by disease and disabled bodies. European colonialism came to an end. Interest in exploring outer space grew. The women’s rights movement gained momentum and so did the civil rights movements in the United States. The technological advancements in weaponry continue unabated. Despite the deadly impact of nuclear weapons in World War II, nations around the world continue to promote its development, some quite openly while others hide behind more discreet facades.

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