Why The Allies Won The Second World War History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
The Second World War lasted from 1939 to 1945, which involved most of the world’s nations, organised into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It is considered the most widespread war, with more than 100 million armed forces mobilised. The Allied forces placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, destroying the difference between civilian and military resources. It was the deadliest conflict in human history (Reference), which resulted in over 70 million fatalities caused by military action against civilians, the Holocaust and the use of nuclear weapons in warfare. This essay concerns itself with why and how the allies won the Second World War. Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945, wrote a memoir exploring the reasons for Germany’s defeat prior to his death for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials (reference). From his many reasons, there were 3 critical ones he chose that stood out: the resistance and transformation of the Soviets; the supply of armaments from America; and the Allied air power (reference). This essay focus’ on these three points and the many mistakes the Axis made, however, there is a plethora of reasons why the allies won but cannot fit within the word limit.
In 1942, British forces were close to defeat, the American economy was unprepared for the colossal demands of total war and by 1941 the Soviet army was almost defeated, with two thirds of its industrial capacity captured and its air and tank armies destroyed. As Ribbentrop concluded, ‘Germany could have won'(reference). More than five million Soviet soldiers were captured or killed in six months. The soviets were out classed by Germans that were better armed and better trained. However, within a year Soviet factories were producing more artillery than their German rivals. The Soviet army had commenced a transformation of Soviet forces, producing the first serious defence for the German armed forces when Operation Uranus in November 1942 led to the loss of the German Sixth Army (reference).
In regards to Ribbentrop first reason why the axis lost the war was the transformation of the soviet army. There are a number of reasons for the transformation of Soviet fighting power and morale. Firstly, the soviet army learned a lot from their previous encounters with the German army. The soviet air and tanks were adjusted to copy the Germans, communication and intelligence, training for officers and men was improved and the soviet technology was modernised to match Germany’s (reference). Secondly, the pre-war economic planning and mobilisation helped the regime to run a war on an emergency basis, while the very large amount of workers and factories allowed the soviets to reconstruct its armaments quickly (reference).
Thirdly, until 1942 Stalin closely controlled the army. Political officials of the communist party worked alongside senior officers and reported straight back to the Kremlin, that is the Russian government housing. Stalin came to realise that political control hold the army back and cut the amount politics influenced the army in 1942. Stalin created a deputy supreme commander who worked under him, Marshal Zhukov, and stepped back from conducting the war. The Soviet General Staff demonstrated that they could match the Germans on the battlefield. It was not until later on in the war that Stalin began to regain control, when victory was in sight. Furthermore, from 1942 a flow of food and raw materials continued the Soviet war effort. There was enough food to ensure a meal for every Soviet soldier; most of the Soviet railway was supplied with trains and wagons that were made in America, all helped to keep the Soviet Army fighting. Without Allied help, Stalin said, ‘we would not have been able to cope’.
Ribbentrop second and third reason why the axis lost the war was the efforts and aid provided by America. The aid provided by America in the form of armaments shows just how much the Allied war effort progressed due to the materials provided by United States. America had the surprising ability to convert to the mass production of weapons and war equipment. The transition from peace to war was so rapid; America was able to make up for the negligence of strengthening armed forces by creating a huge material superiority (reference). But above all, the allied war effort was strengthened a great deal due to the nature of American industrial capitalism, with its ‘can-do’ attitude, high levels of engineering skill and smart entrepreneurs (reference). After a decade of recession, the American manufacturers had a lot of employment to absorb, unlike Germany, where full employment was reached well before the outbreak of war. However, it took American forces a substantial period of time before they could compete with their well-trained enemies. This gap in fighting skills explains the decision made in Washington to focus the American war effort on building up its air power.
Roosevelt saw air combat as a key to reduce American casualties. With Roosevelt’s command, the American military was able to develop an air force that surpassed those of Germany and Japan. The key to this strategy was a strategic bombing through long range attacks on the economic and military hubs of the enemy state. Similarly, a strategy like this was already underway in Britain, when America entered the war in December 1941. In January 1943 the two Allies decided to combine their very large bomber forces in an attack against the German economy.
Ribbentrop’s exploration into Germany’s defeat raises valid points, however, there were many mistakes made by Germany and its allies that contributed to their downfall, which are still heavily debated today.
Firstly, Germany was too aggressive to quickly. Europe was still recovering from World War One and the horrors of said event were still fresh. The Treaty of Versailles purpose was to do away with the threat of war in the future and help put the people of Europe’s minds at rest. However, Germany began to disregard the agreement of the treaty once under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. The other European powers ignored this build up as they feared any confrontation would provoke more aggression. Of course, the citizens of the other European powers would want peace, as their minds were committed on maintaining peace at the time. Mothers did not want their children back out in the battlefields, dying at the rate of hundreds, possibly thousands per day. Furthermore, Adolf Hitler became very aggressive and hasty. If Hitler had taken vantage of Europe’s l disregard of his military build up, he could have continued to build up his military, stockpiles, population, and infrastructure. Enduring a few more years of this before acting out their plans would have given Germany the upper hand when it came to winning the war..
Another mistake, yet somewhat controversial, is Hitler’s attack against the Jewish, and any race he saw unfavourable. Hitler never should have taken Anti-Semitism, discrimination and hostility directed against the Jewish religion to a government level. Anti-Semitism was widespread in Europe at the time. What Hitler did was to treat the Jewish population unjustly and make it an official government policy. It began with the removal of rights, then it progressed into public harassment and abuse, and finally into camps. Many of the Jewish people Hitler persecuted could have made up a significant portion of Germany’s war effort Furthermore, Germany would have had access to many desirable and intellectual people. The persecution of the Jewish community drove out many intellectuals who would have been advantageous to Germany, such as Albert Einstein. Therefore, contributing to the downfall of the Third Reich.
Yet another mistake, of which there are many more, was the battle of Dunkirk. May 20th, the Germans got to the English Channel near Abbeville. The German attack had split the Allied lines in two and had cornered the British Expeditionary Force and French forces, up against the coast. Over powered and cornered, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, Lord Gort, immediately began focusing on the evacuation of as many troops as possible. However, the Germans never imagined the possibility of evacuating such a large amount of troops across the Channel. Therefore, an order came down from Adolf Hitler, to have the troops pause to rest and allow the infantry units to catch up. One other reason was the decision made by Hermann Goring, Marshall of the German Air Force, convinced Hitler that the German Air force was capable of defeating the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk. However, this was not the case. If the Germans had realized that their opportunity would swiftly disperse and disappear, and without Goring’s short sighted suggestion, they could have managed an assault on the trapped British Expeditionary Force, in conjunction with the German Air Force as air support. The British Expeditionary Force was the major portion of the British’s land forces. With them disabled it would have been reasonable, in hindsight, for Germany to bring upon Great Britain’s surrender. Yet another of Germany’s many failures which drastically impeded their victory in World War Two.
Concluding this essay, the success of air power in Europe convinced the American leaders to try to end the war with Japan in a similar way. Air power created a short path to victory Military arrogance and political hubris put Germany on the path to a war she could have won only if these expectations had proved true. There are many other factors that explain victory and defeat beside Ribbentrop’s three factors. Yet without Soviet resistance and reform, American armaments and mobilisation, and western air power, the ability of the three major allies to wear down German and Japanese resistance would have been highly questionable.
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