World War 2

Unit 7: c. 1900-Present

Main Ideas:

  • The main cause of World War 2 was the rise of totalitarian regimes, which was caused by a variety of factors

  • States used propaganda to boost nationalism, mobilized their colonial & home populations for war, and even repressed some basic freedoms for the war effort

  • New military technology (atomic bombs, airplanes, etc.) led to a high amount of casualties

Causes of World War 2

World War 2 was Caused by the Rise of Totalitarian Regimes  

Key Ideas:

  • World War 2 was caused by the rise of totalitarian regimes that threatened existing peace settlements

    • Nazi Germany was led by the Fascist Adolf Hitler

    • Italy was led by the fascist Benito Mussolini

    • USSR was led by the far-left communist Joseph Stalin

    • Japan had a fascist government

    • All 4 of these totalitarian regimes conquered other territories to showcase their power; even though these went against peace agreements, the other nations couldn't do anything as they were recovering from the Great Depression

    • Eventually, as Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Britain & France didn't have the resources to stop Germany, so they had to wage war against Germany

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  • The rise of totalitarian regimes was allowed by the economic problems of the Great Depression and unresolved tensions from the Treaty of Versailles

    • Germans hated the Treaty of Versailles as they couldn't pay reparations to the Allies → Rallied around Hitler, who promoted an anti-reparation vision

    • Many nations blamed the Great Depression on their current leaders → Allowed totalitarian leaders to gain power as they promoted opposition to the current leaders (who supposedly caused the Great Depression)

Themes of World War 2

Nations Mobilized Extensive Resources for WW2 → WW2 was very Deadly 

Key Ideas:

  • States used propaganda to boost nationalism, mobilized their colonial & home populations for war, and even repressed some basic freedoms for the war effort

    • Many nations promoted propaganda that displayed their enemies in a bad light → Gained popular support for the war

    • Nations mobilized many people and resources from their home country & from their colonies for the war

    • Many nations passed laws to limit the freedom of speech & press during the war as they didn't want any opposition to the war

    • Totalitarian states like the USSR & Germany mobilized extensive resources for the war effort

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  • New military technology (atomic bombs, airplanes, etc.) led to a high amount of casualties

    • World War 2 was like WW1 but more extreme: WW2 had airplanes and atomic bombs, which were very deadly

    • Nations would use airplanes to bomb targets

    • The war ended when the US dropped 2 atomic bombs in Japan, which were both very deadly (killing almost 100k people each)