Maharashtra State BoardHSC Arts 12th Board Exam
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Second World War (1939-1945 C.E.)

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Second World War (1939-1945 C.E.):

The Second World War proved to be more destructive than the First World War. It was certainly more extensive than the First World War and its warfare was technologically more advanced.

Causes of the Second World War:

The ‘League of Nations’ intended to avoid conflicts between nations. The Nazis under the leadership of Hitler grabbed power in Germany. Hitler began to escalate Germany’s military power so as to avenge the demeaning conditions imposed on Germany by the Versailles treaty. He focused on increasing the strength of the military as well as the navy. Meanwhile, Soviet Russia, a communist nation was becoming more powerful. It made nations like England, America, and France uneasy. Soviet Russia and imperialist Germany viewed each other as arch enemies. Keeping this in view, England and France ignored Germany’s advances, thinking that it will keep Soviet Russia’s increasing power under control. In 1938, Hitler won the Sudeten province in Czechoslovakia, which was populated in majority by people of German origin. In 1939, he attacked Poland. Actually, Poland was looked upon as a neutral country by all European nations. In spite of this, Hitler attacked and conquered Poland. Therefore, England declared war against Germany.

Gradually, Germany began to grab lands of other European countries in bits and pieces. It had already won Poland at the very beginning of the war. Denmark surrendered to Germany. So did Norway. In a short time, Germany conquered Holland and Belgium and its army marched towards Paris. Germany conquered France too. In May 1940, it attacked England by assaulting the British platoons present at Dunkirk. England, with great caution, moved out two and a half lakh of its soldiers from Dunkirk. In world history, this instance of beating a successful retreat is of great significance. During this period Winston Churchill had taken over control of England, as the Prime Minister after Neville Chamberlain’s resignation from the post.

In 1939, Hitler violated the ‘Non- aggression Pact’, made with Stalin and attacked Soviet Russia. While the Nazi army was marching towards Stalingrad, the Russian army was on the retreat. In the month of November 1943, on reaching Stalingrad, three lakh soldiers of the unsuspecting Nazi army were caught in the trap set up by the Soviet army. Soviet Russia defeated the Germans under the leadership of Marshal Georgy Zhukov. Armies of the allied nations took over Berlin. Hitler went into underground exile and committed suicide. Before this happened, Mussolini was also defeated and died. The Nazi soldiers in North Africa had also surrendered.

Japan entered this war, in support of Germany. In 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and destroyed the American naval base. This resulted in America declaring war against Japan. Thus, the war field of the Second World War expanded further. Later, Japan went on capturing the regions of the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaya, and Singapore. In addition, Japan even marched up to Assam, Arakan, and Imphal. This drove the British to act against Japan’s aggression. When Japan seemed to have been going ahead undaunted with their aggressive policies, America launched aerial attacks on two Japanese cities with atom bombs, first on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. At last, Japan surrendered on 15th August 1945. This put an end to the Second World War.

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