Essay on World War II
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World War II
World war two lasted from 1939 to 1945. It was a global war having been fought in America, Africa, Europe and Asia. The war involved a considerable majority of the world nations including all of the great powers which were divided into two military alliances, the Allies and the Axis (Adamthwaite). The war resulted into an estimated 50-80 million fatalities. The war was considered the deadliest and scariest conflict in human history. The Japanese empire had an aim to dominate the eastern Asia countries that resulted to an outbreak of battle of Wanjialing in 1937 (David and Lawrence). The war however, began officially on 1st September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland after which France and United Kingdom declared subsequent wars against Germany.
Germany and Italy teamed to form the axis power which subdued much of continental Europe. The United Kingdom and other members of the British Commonwealth formed the major allies which fought the Axis in the battle that took place in North Africa and the Atlantic (Ivan).
In June 1941, the Axis invaded the Soviet Union leading to the largest theater ever in the earth and Japan joined the axis powers in December 1941 attacking the United States and
European territories in the Pacific Ocean.
The axis however, stopped to advance in the war. In 1942, Japan lost in Hawaii; the Germans were defeated both in North Africa and Stalingrad in Russia which brought about Italy’s surrender making the Axis retreat in all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded France; the Soviet regained its territories from Germany and its Allies. During 1944 and 1945, the United States conquered Japanese Navy and recaptured the Pacific territories. The war in Europe ended with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies, and the Soviet Union culminating the capture of Berlin by Polish and Soviet Troops and subsequent Germany surrender on 8th May 1945 (Ivan).
Potsdam declaration was a statement that called for surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II. United States president Harry S Truman, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Chairman of Nationalist Government of China Chiang Kai-shek issued the document which stipulated the terms of surrender to the empire of Japan as per the Potsdam conference (Scoenberger). The ultimatum stated that Japan should surrender failure to which she could face “Prompt and utter destruction”.
Potsdam declaration terms of 1945
On July 26, 1945, the Potsdam declaration announcing the terms for Japan surrender was released with a warning of non deviation and denial of choice for alternatives. The terms required for the elimination of those who had deceived the people of Japan and misled them to the war. It stated the occupation of points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies. Its sovereignty was to be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. It also required that the Japanese Military to be disarmed completely. The declaration also called for justice against all the war criminals.
The decision to drop atomic bombs
Japan emperor Hirohito ignored the ultimatum and the terms of the Potsdam declaration. The United States had one day before the Potsdam conference tested its nuclear weapons successfully in New Mexico after the completion of the Manhattan project (ushistory.org). Hurry Truman learned of the success of the project and knew that he faced a decision of unprecedented gravity. He had the capacity to end the war in Japan which would involve unleashing the most terrible weapon ever in history.
The U.S military Policy committee had to make a decision on where to drop the bomb, either Germany or Japan, and on September 18, 1944, the U.S and British leaders agreed to use the bomb against Japan (ushistory.org)
The postwar struggle in Europe.
After Germany’s surrender, tense ties mounted between the U.S and the Soviet Union regarding the disposition of postwar Europe. The Americans had worries on the increasing soviet influence. If the Soviets had joined the war against Japan in mid August as planned, it would had made it worse for the Americans.
At the Yalta conference in February 1945, the Soviet Union secretly agreed to join the war against Japan within three months of Germany’s surrender. The United States wanted to force Japan to surrender before the Soviet Union could enter the war to secure a strong political position after the war.
The U.S believed that if it ended the war through the atomic bomb, it would establish postwar supremacy over the Soviets (Anne).
The expenditure of two billion dollars and mobilization of 120,000 people could be only had been justified by linking this weapon to the end of the war (ushistory.org). The Manhattan project, launched in August 1942, aimed to produce an atomic bomb. The first nuclear test in the world was done in New Mexico desert. America wanted to use the weapon to measure its effectiveness (Anne).
Spirited Japanese army culture
The American army was becoming weary from four years of war, yet the Japanese army was not giving up the fight. Japan had an army of two million strongly stationed in the islands guarding against the invasion.
On July 28, 1945, two days after the issuing of Potsdam declaration, the Prime minister of Japan Suzuki Kantaro declared a press conference and declared the Potsdam communiqué a rehash of the Cairo declaration stating that the government intended to ignore it. This statement appealed to both the Japanese and foreign media as a clear rejection of the declaration. Emperor Hirohito made no move change the government position.
The terms given to Japan in the Potsdam declaration provided for unconditional surrender; which the Japanese military command rejected (ushistory.org).
Truman ironically argued that dropping the bomb saved Japanese lives, as well. The Japanese kamikaze raids of over 3,500 had already brought great destruction to the American lives stating that he had no option to prolong the war further. Truman defended his decision stating that if he could not have used the bomb the war could have led to devastating effects to the American lives. Truman did not, however, differentiate between fire bombing effects in Tokyo and the radiation effects in Nagasaki and Hiroshima (ushistory.org).
The United States wanted to force Japan surrender as quickly as possible to minimize American casualties.
Bombings in Hiroshima
The bombings happened on August 6, 1945; the United States used a massive ten foot atomic bomb, “Little boy”. The mission kicked off from Tinian, a North pacific island in the Marianas, south of Japan. The bomber plane Enola Gay had twelve- man crew, and it hung the bomb on its ceiling. Tibbets was the pilot of Enola Gay.
The Manhattan project navy captain William Parsons was in charge of the weapon in the plane. Approximately fifteen minutes into the flight he began to arm the atomic bomb. The bomb had been created using radioactive elements. The bomb contained 64kgs of uranium and it took 43 seconds to fall from the plane. It took Parsons fifteen minutes to arm the bomb.
At 8:15 am the Enola Gay’s door sprung open and released the bomb missing the target Aioi Bridge by only 800 feet. The casualties estimates that 70000 people died immediately. Fatalities extended to an estimate of 70000 people, who died later from radiation. The goal for the raid was not on a military installation but the entire city (Michael).
Hiroshima bombings aftermath
After the bombing of Hiroshima, Harry Truman issued a statement warning Japan to accept their terms failure to which Japan should expect a rain of ruin from the air the kind that have never occurred (Library). The Japanese government did not react. Emperor Hirohito, the government and the council of war considered four conditions for surrender. They included, non occupation of Japanese islands, Korea or Formosa and the delegation of the punishment of war crimes to the government (Herbert).
On 9 august, the soviet infantry, armor and air forces had launched the Manchurian strategic operation. The soviets invaded the Manchuria region of Japan. Word reached Tokyo of the Soviet Union official declaration of war. This prompted the senior leadership of Japanese Army to conduct martial law all over Japan aiming to stop anyone making peace.
With no indications of surrendering, the United States decided to proceed with dropping a second bomb.
Nagasaki was among the largest sea ports in Japan. It was not in the schedule for large-scale bombing prior to August 9. The seaport had a variety of large companies in Japan which included Mitsubishi Shipyards, Electrical Shipyards, Arms plant and steel and Arms works. It is estimated that, during the time of bombing, the population in Nagasaki was 263000 (Robert).
The bombing aimed at Kokura as the primary target, but due to poor visual resulting from earlier bombings and the technical hitches in the bombardier plane, the planes moved to the secondary target, Nagasaki and dropped 6.4 kilograms of Plutonium over the industrial valley (Robert).
Surrender of Japan
After the attacks on August 9, Hirohito held an imperial conference during which he authorized notifications to the Allies that he would accept their terms on one condition that the declaration does not compromise the sovereignty of Japan. On August 14, the Emperor announced his surrender an announcement made to the Japanese nations.
United States used the Atomic bombs against Japan who had endured in the war for four years with no indicators of surrender. The Japanese had a spirited squad making American army wary of the power it possessed.
The surrender of Germany one of the Axis great powers shifted focus to Japan with competition for military superiority between Soviet Union and U.S.A taking course. America decided to drop the bombs early before the Soviets declared war against Japan. The atomic bombs brought to an end the scariest conflict in the history of the world but left significant effects including the rise of two super powers and cold war.
Adamthwaite, Anthony P. TheMaking of the Second World War. New York: Routledge, (1992).
Anne, Applebaum. Gulag: A History of The Soviet Camps. London: Allen Lane, 2003.
David, Barret and Shyu Lawrence. China In The Anti Japanese War. New York: Viking, 2001.
Herbert, Bix. "Japan's Delayed Surrender: A Reinterpretation." in Hogan, Michael J. Hiroshima in History And Memory. New York: Cambridge UniversityPress, 1996.
Ivan, Berend. Central and Eastern Europe, Detour from Periphery to Periphery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Library, Presidential. "Statement by the president announcing the use of A-bomb at Hiroshima." New York: Presidential library and museum, 6 august 1945.
Michael, Gordon. Five Days In August: How World War II Became Nuclear War. Princetown, New Jersey: Princetown University Press, 2007.
Robert, Johnstone. Nagasaki Atomic Bombing. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Scoenberger, Walter. Decision Of Destiny. Columbus: Ohio University Press, 1969.
Ushistory.org. The Decision To Drop The Bomb. 13 11 2013.