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World War II ending year?

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576563.  Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:50 pm Reply with quote

Curious Danny wrote:
thank you bob for being so aggressive on my points but i would like to point out that my a - level was up to the point when war was declared so my knowledge of the actual war is a bit sketchy.

I can assure you that the aggression was directed not against you, but against the incompetent idiots who taught you.

However, it is ludicrous to suggest nobody wanted a war in 1939 - Hitler wanted a war, just not a World War. He was infuriated by his failure to invade Czechslovakia, remarking "that fool Chamberlain has spoiled my march into Prague".

Hitler did NOT want a war (although he was prepared to wage one). Hitler wanted to annex Czechoslovakia. War is always incidental - nobody ever wants a war. Do you really imagine Hitler standing around a map imagining the opportunity to have a war? Of course he didn't - he stood around a map imagining the opportunity to take over territory without a war.

And unfortunatly, the UK foreign policy at the time was almost entirely self-interested

UK foreign policy (as with all states) is ALWAYS self-interested. There has never been an instance of an altruistic state declaring war on another state simply because it was the right thing to do.

Czechoslovakia was expendable because it was a Central European country of no interest to Britain. Poland was not expendable - not because of some high-minded ideals - but for the simple reason that control of Poland by Germany meant control of the Baltic coastline of Europe.

(Hitler) was convinced that the allies would not intervene in his conquest of Poland but he was wrong.

No he was not. Hitler knew very well that Britain and France would oppose vigorously his invasion of Poland. That was precisely why he agreed a Non-Aggression pact with the Soviet Union. He calculated (correctly) that he could easily defeat both Britain and France if they took any action over the invasion of Poland.

I still say that Germany would in the long-run lose the war as it commited tactical errors that weakened it considerably. It didn't finish Britain off, as Churchill rejected any compromise peace, allowing us to be a thorn in the dictator's side that allowed Hitler to be defeated (The US would have found it hard to participate without Britian's help). Arguably, our intervention in Greece helped topple Germany by delaying Barbossa by six weeks. Germany's failure to set up a war economy and their declaration of war on the USA were also big blunders that cost Hitler the war.

I agree that Germany would ultimately lose the war as it had an unsustainable economic model. But the single biggest factor that shortened the war was the inexplicable decision by Germany to declare war on the US. Make no mistake - despite all the Boys Own comics - Britain was defeated by Germany.

576566.  Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:53 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Sadurian Mike wrote:
Unfortunately for Germany (and previous invaders), the vast distances and practically unlimited manpower reserves were difficult to comprehend for Western European thinking. German troops used to go mad just driving across the plains; it was likened to being lost at sea with no appreciable landmarks for the eye to focus on.

When I was at school, I was taught that a big component of German success at the start of the war was their tactic of blitzkrieg*, i.e. concentrating forces at one point on the border, pouring troops through the gap you made, and rushing into the country to take over before the enemy troops defending the rest of the borders could react effectively enough. Apparently this didn't work so well in Russia because it was such a bloody huge country you couldn't really rush through and take over quickly.

Though, no doubt, bobwilson or someone will tell me that my history teachers lied to me :)

*Even if "blitzkrieg" was not a Nazi invention, or even a word they used to describe it.

Nope - can't disagree with that. History teachers do seem to get some of the minor details right but have an astonishing propensity to lie about the more important major factors.

Curious Danny
576698.  Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:37 am Reply with quote

Sorry but Hitler was obsessed with warfare and struggle - through Nazi support for ideas such as Social Darwinism, he saw war as the highest form of human activity, as shown by statements like:

Mankind has grown strong in eternal struggles and it will only perish through eternal peace.

Struggle is the father of all things. It is not by the principles of humanity that man lives or is able to preserve himself above the animal world, but solely by means of the most brutal struggle.

This was reflected in the chaotic structure of his government with everyone competing for Hitler's attention. Lebensraum and war were intrinsic; Hitler was not building a massive army that was sucking the economy dry so he could show off.

And Foreign Policy does not have to be self-interested as shown by organisations such as the League of Nations and the UN that attempt to stop war through compromise and negotiation. If Britain had offered France support sooner, war might have been averted.

The Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed as Russia was the only power at that time with the vaguest hope of stopping Nazi Germany. Another major failure of Britain was its lack of interest in gaining a soviet alliance, even though Stalin preferred one with the allied democracies, than to the viciously anti-slavic Nazi Germany.

And by 1939, Hitler held France and Britain with supreme contempt and was blinded by his own success. Why should they defend Poland? They promised to garuntee Czechslovakia's independence at Munich but did nothing to stop its annexation. He called his opponents "little worms". The Phony War also showed Britian and France as slow to react.

What counts as defeated? Britain was still an independent nation ruling a quarter of the globe with an ally in the US. I don't think it can be counted as an less than a draw at that point.

576710.  Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:58 am Reply with quote

Afraid I have to agree, I'm not wading in to this in any depth, because I'm not long finished marking a pile of exam scripts on this very subject, but Hitler very much wanted a war. He may not have wanted a global war, but he wanted a limited opportunity to test the effectiveness of his new Wehrmacht.

Sadurian Mike
576715.  Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:05 am Reply with quote

Curious Danny wrote:
Another major failure of Britain was its lack of interest in gaining a soviet alliance, even though Stalin preferred one with the allied democracies, than to the viciously anti-slavic Nazi Germany.

Stalin hated Britain at this point (remember that Britain had sent troops to help the "White" Russians fight the reds during the second Russian Revolution). It is unlikely that any pact between the Soviet Union and Britain would have been worth the paper it was written on.

Curious Danny
576732.  Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:22 am Reply with quote

Thank you exnihilo!
Mike is quite right that Stalin wasn't exactly a fan of Britain (it was actually the civil war not the 2nd revolution that Britain got involved), especially after being barred from Munich, but out of the two countries, he would have tolerated a british alliance more than a german one and it would probably would have made Hitler think twice before he invaded Poland.

Sadurian Mike
576758.  Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:56 am Reply with quote

Well the second (the "October") Revolution led directly to the Civil War, so in many ways the two can be seen as one and the same, especially when it comes to the sides involved, but I'll concede that Britain didn't actually commit troops until the Civil War had started.

Ian Dunn
611650.  Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:28 am Reply with quote

I know this topic has been going on for some time now, but I think I might have to throw another spanner in the works. I've come across something which might provide a different answer to the question: "In which year did the Second World War end?"

The alternative answer is: "It's still going on."

I've found this quite interesting passage in Jonathan Clements' rather fine book Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade (see also Where does "Hello Kitty" come from?), which is taken for some sleeve notes Clements wrote for the DVD release for SHE The Ultimate Weapon.

Hokkaido is also a symbol of the Cold War. In the closing days of World War Two, Soviet Russia declared war on Japan, hoping to seize as much of it as it could before the inevitable Japanese surrender. Fighting in the north was minimal - although a group of heroic young radio operator girls famously committed suicide rather than surrender to the approaching Russians. To this day, two islands off Hokkaido's north coast remain disputed territory, home now to a Russian submarine and oil prospectors.

Hokkaido is not merely the place where the Cold War looks Japan right in the face, it is a reminder that the Russian advance could have proceeded closer to Tokyo, dividing Japan into a communist north and capitalist south, like Korea. For the Japanese, it brings the most unpleasant thought of all - that the horrific devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in speeding a Japanese surrender, may have saved millions of Japanese lives from division and conflict. The captured islands remain such a hot topic in Japan that the country has still not officially signed a peace treaty with Russia. In Hokkaido, at least on paper, World War Two is still raging.

611713.  Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:36 am Reply with quote

Good work Ian, it looks as if you may be on to something here. There are any number of references on the Interwebs to the absence of a formal peace between the USSR / Russia and Japan.

Here, for instance, is the translated transcript of a press conference given by Taro Aso and Vladimir Putin, and here is a report from the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Two questions which we'd need to resolve though. I've done one of them, the other is left as an exercise.

1. Were the USSR and Japan in fact at war? The answer to that one is "yes" - Stalin's Foreign Minister Molotov (yes, he does indeed have a cocktail named after him) informed the Japanese that a state of war would exist as of 9 August 1945. One of several sources. Whether Japan ever declared war back I'm unsure.

2. The USSR no longer exists. Is there any legal framework whereby having been at war with the USSR translated to being at war with Russia as of 8 December 1991. And if there is, what is the situation between Japan and the other fourteen countries which were formerly part of the USSR?

Ian Dunn
611792.  Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:12 am Reply with quote

I believe this is the disputed territory in question, the Kuril Islands.

Curious Danny
611827.  Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:51 pm Reply with quote

Read a very interesting article in the BBC History magazine that said (I believe) that in the long run Germany was going to inevitable lose. Didn't matter if it conquered all of Europe, it would still lose.
The apparent reason is due to a little meeting between Einstein, Eugene Wigner and Leo Szilard on Long Island in 1939.
Szilard, a Hungarian Jew like Wigner, had theorised the possibility of a radioactive chain reaction resulting in a massive explosion in 1933. The German scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann had recently succeeded in creating an incomplete chain reaction.
The 3 men decided to write to the President of the United States, FDR, warning him of the dangers of a Nazi atom bomb. This lead to the Manhattan Project, a project that even the Vice-President didn't know about.
In a way, you could say the war was won the moment that letter was put into the letterbox.

Ian Dunn
612329.  Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:49 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
2. The USSR no longer exists. Is there any legal framework whereby having been at war with the USSR translated to being at war with Russia as of 8 December 1991. And if there is, what is the situation between Japan and the other fourteen countries which were formerly part of the USSR?

These articles might help:[tt_news]=30990

612380.  Sun Sep 13, 2009 4:38 pm Reply with quote

"A little bit", is I think the answer to that.

The top link in particular suggests to me that the state of war which had been ongoing as between Japan and the USSR did indeed translate into a state of war between Japan and Russia upon the dissolution of the USSR.

But what of the other fourteen former members of the USSR? This one seems to be tricky, and a proper answer would probably need someone who knows more about international law than I do.

But here's my best guess. The three Baltic republics had seceded from the USSR before that body was dissolved, and have never joined the Commonwealth of Independent States. They are therefore not sucessor states to the USSR, and are not at war with Japan.

The Belavezha Accord was the formal document which abolished the USSR, and instituted the CIS as a grouping of independent nations. Only Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine were actual signatories to that accord, but a fortnight later Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan also signed up by virtue of the Alma-Ata Protocol. Accordingly, those eleven nations would seem to regard themselves as successor states to the USSR - although Ukraine has since withdrawn from the CIS, and now seems to want to be Central European instead.

The three Baltic Republics never got involved - they made it clear at outset that they wanted to be Central European, and have since joined the EU. Georgia sat on the fence for two years, but eventually signed up for the CIS in 1993 (and withdrew again in 2008 after falling out with Russia).

So the number of countries which are war with Japan is either one, ten, eleven, or twelve.

Another little puzzler to close though. It seems clear that Japan and Russia believe that a state of war technically exists between them. But is that war the Second World War? Or is it a separate war which was started when Russia declared war on Japan in 1945?

612475.  Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:08 am Reply with quote

Since Vera Lynn occupies the top spot in the album chart, I submit that the war is still continuing.

Ian Dunn
612477.  Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:16 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
But what of the other fourteen former members of the USSR? This one seems to be tricky, and a proper answer would probably need someone who knows more about international law than I do.

*Shouts* Is there an expert on international law in the house?


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