WWII Game Changers

Jessie Casimir

#5 Invasion of Poland by Germany

Applying Historical Fact as Evidence

The invasion of Poland by Germany does not only start the second world war, but it is also the first instance of party formation. Poland’s invasion set the Allies and Axis powers into motion and allowed the sides of the conflict to fully separate and form. The invasion took place on September 1, 1939 - and not even two days later, Britain initiates the first move of the Allied powers by declaring war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Such a short lapse of time between the invasion and the first declaration of war against Germany is symbolic of the urgency and formation of opposing parties. The countries involved were not longer undecided on the topic, they began picking sides. Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Britain at the time of the declaration of war against Germany agreed that it was the correct move as he states, “I have to tell you now that no such undertaking [the removal of German troops from Poland] has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany” (Chamberlain). However, not everyone agreed, as many people in Britain had originally nicknamed the decision of Chamberlain as “The Unnecessary War” - as to reflect that it was not their war to fight (Buchanan).

Why was this a “Game Changer”?

The invasion of Poland, and later, the declaration of war by Britain was the first sign of separation and opposition within the conflict - where countries began to pick sides of the conflict. Had Britain not declared war when they did, and the separation of power and opposers not have been initiated - the countries involved of the allied powers and axis powers may have differed greatly. Possibly resulting in a different outcome of the war.

#4 Women in WWII

Similarities & Continuity Over Region

The role of women within WWII transcended all regions and parties of the war. Whether it was the opposing aggressors of the Axis powers, or at home with the Allies; women were key in the functionality and productivity of the armed forces. With all the men away at war, women were temporarily running the country. However; it was their efforts in keeping the war alive and well that is the true game changer. The nations and their respective military and governments pushed for women to support the war with the utmost nationalistic pride (Japanese propaganda includes a Japanese flag, and USA poster contains patriotic colors) and work efforts (USA poster includes Rosie the Riveter and the British poster includes a similar woman and quote to join factories).

Why was this a “Game Changer”?

The work of women in the factories, and their ability to continue the creation of war materials while the men were off fighting is a factor that can truly be credited with keeping the war alive as much as it did. This can be seen by the multiple propaganda pieces from around the world, the idea of implementing women into the workforce in order to support war efforts transcended culture to an influential degree. Keeping the war alive, and the powers strong.

#3 Anti-Semitism

Big image
(Nuremberg: Stürmer Verlag, 1936).

Short Term and Long Term Effect

Anti-semitism is a concept that can be identified as one of the most prominent driving forces behind the Nazi campaign. Though the short term impact of anti-semitic governmental policies was compliance by citizens of Germany, the consecutive years of discriminatory treatment towards those of Jewish faith left the country of Germany collective and strong. Ultimately, these policies allowed for the indoctrination of generations to come. In fact, there were multiple children’s book written on such topics, such as the book pictured above by Elvira Bauer - a book that depicted the Jewish in disgusting creatures. The ongoing implementation of anti-semitic ideals gave a lasting impact, and in the long term - German children grew to be adults with the same views. Germany was “growing” soldiers from birth to Nazi men, hopefully creating an army that will last for generations to come. The children were a product of their environment; and therefore, such anti-semitic views can be recognized today. Though many may believe these ideals were specific to Germany, it is important to recognize that such views were interconnected throughout all regions of the world, including the United States. In fact, a 68 year old rubber plant worker in the city of Chicago stated to an interviewer that he,"...hate[s] the sight of a Jew", and then continued to state, "I am like Hitler when it comes to Jews. They would all leave the country if I had the power"(Dinnerstein). However, it is not only with common working Americans, but also high members of the Catholic church. For instance, a priest in the city of Chicago stated that, "Jews here are the bottom of most of our troubles and will someday suffer for it" (Dinnerstein). Therefore, it can be seen that though some Americans had similar views on anti-semitism, its long term impact on Germany and its ability to create a collective culture has caused the advancement of Germany within the war.

Why was this a “Game Changer”?

The ideological concepts behind anti-semitic behaviors allowed Germany to grow strong as a nation. The people of Germany were able to come together in large masses in agreement over this aspect of social separation, giving them a sense of eliteness that transformed into the war and their views on nationalism. Increased ego and pride in a pure German breed was prevalent. Overall, the discrimination and imprisonment of Jews in Germany allowed for advancements in the German army - especially for items that were unethical to test on humans otherwise. It allowed the war to last for its long duration, while strengthening Germany and their technological advancements until the end, when it ultimately became their downfall as the Allied powers began to realize such injustices.

#2 Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Attack Footage December 7, 1941 US Navy; World War II Japanese Attack

Cause and Effect

The bombings of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 exemplify the direct link between the actions of the United States and the extreme repercussions that can derive from such actions. The date that will forever “live in infamy”, according to the words of FDR, has an undeniable connection to the politically and economical decisions of the United States. The United States had labeled the Japanese nation as an aggressor, due to their plans to assert dominance on the content of Asia. As a result of this classification, the U.S. seized the sale of war materials - such as raw metals and oil - to the nation of Japan. In addition to restricting the trade of materials, the United States also made the decision to support China by supplying them with the necessary materials to combat the Japanese forces. As a result of the trade embargoes and restrictions, Japan felt threatened and wants to make its disapproval known. Hence, the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a way to express the anger of Japan, in fact, it can be seen through the words of Headmaster Kamamura that the continuation of the war was inevitable if the actions of United States did not stop. Kamamura states, “As long as Britain and America support China by providing arms this war will not stop...”(“Japan's War in Colour”). Thus there exists a distinct and direct link between the actions of the United States and the effects of Pearl Harbor.

Why was this a “Game Changer”?

The bombing of Pearl Harbor was an extremely important event of WWII. Had this tragedy not occurred, the involvement of the United States in the war may have remained the same or even become nonexistent. Pearl Harbor was the event that demolished the idea of neutrality in the United States for WWII. It brought chaos home, and allowed the Allies to have another participating member that they may have lost the war without - due to the weakening of their forces in Europe on a day to day basis.

#1 Japanese Surrender - Atomic Bomb

Differences and Change Over Time

Throughout the duration of the second World War, one can observe the difference between Japanese resilience from the beginning of the war to the end. The dropping of the Atomic Bomb is symbolic of this difference, as it triggered one of the only distinct moments in which Japan surrendered and complied to the enemy; thus admitting weakness. In the beginning of the conflicts of the United States and Japan at Pearl Harbor and in the Pacific Theater, the resilience of the Japanese soldiers alluded to the past “code of conduct” for the Samurai warrior - the Bushidō code. These rules that were embedded into the very nature of Japanese culture after the fall of Japanese feudalism are known by many, including the Encyclopedia Britannica, as a major influence on the attitude and behavior of the Japanese soldiers during WWII - especially the virtues of “Yu”(heroic courage) and “Chu” (duty and loyalty) (Encyclopædia Britannica).

As the first prisoner of war to the American forces, Kazuo Sakamaki, a mini-submarine captain of the Pearl Harbor attacks stated, “My willingness to die goes without saying, becoming a prisoner is inexcusable. Even when we are unarmed, to bite with teeth, and to fight to the last is the Japanese spirit” (“Japan's War in Colour”). While a member of the Japanese forces in the Pacific Theater stated that he killed one of his comrades, and justified his actions by stating, “This is also showing our love for a comrade . . . that he will not be taken prisoner”(Johnson). Surely, through these quotes, one can recognize the resilience of the Japanese soldiers. The idea of being taken prisoner is “inexcusable”, and in some cases - as reflected through the Pacific Theater - one may prefer to commit suicide or fall at the hands of their own rather than that of an enemy. In the end, the Atomic Bomb was able to defy such a resilience and cause Japan and its’ people to comply. One can see the difference by comparing the words of Japanese soldiers to that of the surrender contract that the Japanese government agreed to. The formal surrender signed upon the USS Missouri required the Imperial General Headquarters to agree to sign off on documents that bound the nation of Japan to, “by direction of the Emperor and pursuant … surrender to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers” ("Chapter 2"). This surrender document is a valuable tribute to the event and outlined the exact details of compliance. However, it is limited because these are not the exact words of the Imperial General Headquarters, and a signature on such a document does not represent the true views of the nation. Nevertheless, such language and the action of “surrender” to the enemy is not in the nature and training of the Japanese soldiers; however, this exemplifies that circumstance can sometimes alter morals and values.

Why was this a “Game Changer”?

The Atomic Bomb and the surrender succeeding it symbolized the end of the war, and comfortably named the Allies as the victors. Its ability to cause a change, temporarily or permanently, in the fabric of Japanese resistance was a catalyst in the progression of the Allied powers within WWII.

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