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Rising Sun*
04-11-2007, 09:27 AM
One of the major and distressingly recurrent influences that has led, and currently is leading, many groups and nations into war is the imposition of one group's or one nation's values onto another's. As if this is a historical first!

How about we embark upon an attempt to understand why the other side, being the side opposed to us, got involved in WWII? Ideally without any name calling or other prejudicial or hostile comments. Just put ourselves in our enemies’ shoes for a while.

Ideally, we could ask ourselves how that shocking conflict and the millions of deaths and casualties it caused could have been avoided.

Which just might lead to some insights into where we currently are heading into the next; much bigger; and much longer cataclysm.

So, here’s my starting point on Japan, in a hugely abbreviated form.

For trade and imperial arrogance reasons the Americans forced insular Japan into engagement and trading with the West in the mid-19th century.

Japan developed rapidly, to the extent that it could not sustain its industrial growth from its own resource-poor country.

Japan’s population increased dramatically under the improved conditions, but Japan could not accommodate it. So Japan followed Italy and Ireland in exporting people. Australia, which received almost no Japanese, responded early in the 20th century with immigration policies which excluded Japanese. America, which received many thousands of Japanese, did the same in the early 1920’s. The Japanese, a people no less proud than any other, were humiliated and made resentful.

Meanwhile the Western powers controlled great and profitable concessions in Japan‘s neighbour, China, and many other profitable colonies.

The obvious solution to Japan’s problems was for Japan to expand and take by conquest what it needed or wanted, as the Western powers had done for centuries by colonial expansion.

When Japan did this in China it was faced by Western hostility. When the Great Depression hit it was put at huge trade disadvantage by the West. When it pressed on in China it was hit with crippling economic sanctions by the West, notably in 1941 cutting off oil which within a year would leave Japan unable to attack the West or defend an attack by the West.

In a nutshell, the West, notably America, forced Japan into the international arena from the mid 19th century; exploited it shamelessly; and then backed it into a corner which encouraged it to bite back.

Had the West been less arrogant; less demanding; less exploitative; and more understanding and accommodating of Japan at every step then Japan might never had even thought of going to war.

32Bravo
04-11-2007, 11:05 AM
Interesting how far back we have to go to look for root causes. I would consider World War 2 as really being a continuation of World War 1, particularly in the European theatre. Unfinished business and all. Of course, the roots of WW1 are embedded in the 19th century also. I have been chucking this about as a topic (in my head) for a while and am even more inclined to pursue it following the post regarding WW1 and yours above. I'd be interested to see others' posts on this.

cam77
04-11-2007, 10:41 PM
Interesting how far back we have to go to look for root causes. I would consider World War 2 as really being a continuation of World War 1, particularly in the European theatre. Unfinished business and all. Of course, the roots of WW1 are embedded in the 19th century also. I have been chucking this about as a topic (in my head) for a while and am even more inclined to pursue it following the post regarding WW1 and yours above. I'd be interested to see others' posts on this.

I agree in the European theatre WWII was a continuation of WWI. If it had not been for the harsh sanctions dealt out to the german people after WWI Hitler would not have got to power.

Happy people do not revolt. People who are hungry, unemployed and desperate are more likely to search for someone to blame for there problems and follow a leader who has a clear vision (no matter how we see that vision).

We learned that lesson. Help a country to prosper and they are less of a threat. We helped and encouraged both Japan and German after WWII and they have thrived.

This is my concern with the US, UK and Australia for that matter. People are hurting financially. We were willing to believe our leaders and go to war thinking once Suddam is gone all our troubles would be over. Iraq was our scape goat just as the Jews were to the Germans.

Guess what Suddam is gone and we're no better off. Go figure.

32Bravo
04-12-2007, 05:50 AM
Agree with most.

Without going off topic too much - Iraq = Oil!

Nice pair of Binos, by the way. :)

32Bravo
04-15-2007, 04:20 AM
On hearing of the armistice in 1918 one young man swore revenge:

“When the old gentlemen began to tell us that we were throwing ourselves on the mercy of the victors, I could stand it no longer! Everything went black before my eyes. I tottered and groped myself back to the dormitory, through myself on my bunk and head into my blanket and pillow. So, it had all been in vain!

In vain!..all the sacrifices and privations!
In vain!...the hunger and thirst for months which were often endless!
In vain!..the two million who died!

Would not the graves of the hundreds of thousands who died, open? The graves of those who with faith in the Fatherland, marched forth never to return; would they not open and send silent, mud and blood covered heroes back?..Spirits of vengeance to the homeland, which had cheated them with such mockery? Was this the meaning of the sacrifice which the German mother made to the Fatherland when, with sore heart, she let her best-loved boys march off - never to see them again?
Hatred grew in me! Hatred, for those responsible for this deed! In the days that followed my own fate became known to me – I decided to go into politics!”
Adolf Hitler.

Amrit
04-15-2007, 05:10 AM
Excellent summary, RS. One of the ironies was that Japan saw the British in high esteem, and as an ally, until the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, and the subsequent London Naval Treaties of 1930 and 1936, when the British chose to side with the US position.

It was one of the causes of the ultranationalists in Japan taking the upper-hand in the internal power struggles of the IJN.

Digger
04-15-2007, 05:54 AM
You beat me to it Amrit. The Washington Naval treaty was the first indication to Imperial Japan, the western nations put her on a lower rung of the ladder. whether this was a root cause for Japans actions in 1941 is hard to say as there were other mitigating circumstances.

As for WWI, root causes can be found in the Franco-Prussian war or even the Napoleonic Wars.

Regards digger.

PS Good thread Rising Sun.

Rising Sun*
04-15-2007, 07:51 AM
Here’s a probably contentious proposition, which I happen to believe, for consideration: In WWII Japan’s expansionist theories had moral justification according to Western thought, and Germany’s didn’t. In this area Japan was morally and intellectually superior to Germany.

There was a lot of vigorous intellectual, press, political and commercial discussion in Japan in the 1920's and 1930's about Japan's destiny and place in the world. It was stimulated by Japan's inability to provide the resources for its rapidly expanding industries and to accommodate its rapidly expanding population. This led to what appears, superficially, to be a Japanese version of lebensraum. Unlike the German example, Japan’s theory was based on more noble principles of liberation of colonial peoples rather than the Nazi idea of killing and displacing untermensch to make room for the conquerors.

[Tatsuo Kawai’s relatively short 1938 book “The Goal of Japanese Expansionism” is a concise and masterly exposition of Japanese thinking, which covers some of the following aspects of Japanese thinking. Unlike most pre-war Japanese thinking, it’s still available in English translation.]

Many Japanese quite reasonably saw that the European and American powers had subjugated and exploited Asia and Asians, in the widest geographical and cultural senses, for their own benefit. India, Burma, Malaya, Indo-China, Netherlands East Indies, and so on. Japan saw its destiny as using its power to liberate these oppressed and exploited peoples from the Western colonial yoke. While there is an element of rationalising Japanese territorial and economic expansionist ambitions in these views, they also represented a genuine expression of the resentment Japan and other Asian nations felt for the humiliating treatment and exploitation they had received from the West.

Unlike Nazi lebensraum, which essentially was the idea that Germany’s wants constituted imperative needs which justified the slaughter and displacement of untermensch too weak to hold their territory against the racially and militarily superior Germans, the Japanese expansionist theories were based on a genuine desire to overthrow the colonial powers and to liberate people in those colonies.

The Japanese idea was that the liberated peoples would join a mutually beneficial trading bloc freed of Western exploitation for the benefit of all Asian peoples. Although when we cut through the noble liberation philosophy we end up with Japan conveniently at the head of and benefitting most from this trading bloc.

The reality was that Japan would largely replace the colonial powers at the head of this Japanese controlled trading bloc of Asian nations. Despite the notorious Japanese brutality in various events in China and during WWII, the fact remains that the positive Japanese ideas lacked the negative murderous brutality inherent in Nazi lebensraum ideas.

Viewed in their contemporary context, Japan’s ideas actually represented positive and advanced colonial liberation thinking along the same lines that became orthodox human rights ideas in the West following the collapse of European colonialism in Asia, paradoxically brought on by Japan’s war 1941-45.

Conversely, Nazi lebensraum ideas represented the ‘might is right’ / ‘we do it because we can’ thinking underpinning the colonial expansion of the Western powers before Germany achieved national unity in the latter part of the 19th century, after which it wanted to catch up with the colonial powers when there wasn’t anything left to grab that was worth having. These imperial desires in part underpinned Germany’s ambitions in WWI. By the time the Nazis got into power, these, by the standards of early 20th century Europe unremarkable, imperial desires had been turned into a wholly negative and utterly brutal and inhumane concept which was an aberration in European thinking since the Enlightenment, and earlier.

Japan’s expansionist ideas underpinned by liberation of colonial peoples were much more consistent with the European Enlightenment and with today’s thought on human rights and self-determination.

Japan’s intellectual and moral position was consistent with its rapid adoption of the Western ideas forced upon it as a consequence of Commodore Perry’s blackmail.

Germany’s intellectual and moral position, to the extent that it is represented by Nazi ideas, constituted the abandonment of all the noble principles of European thought that Japan took up.

Amrit
04-15-2007, 08:55 AM
Again some very interesting points RS. The Japanese idea of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" with the underlying slogan of "Asia for the Asians" seemed, at first glance, a great idea. It certainly attracted a number of anti-colonialists in places like Thailand, Indo-China, Burma, and even some in India.

Before the war, the colonial powers were certainly worried by the influence, both direct and indirect, that Japan had on some Asian intellectuals, and fought a continuing battle against these influences.

However, theory and reality sometimes make bad bed-fellows. Many of the groups who allied themselves with the Japanese after their initial conquests soon turned against them. Part of this was, of course, because they saw the change in the fortunes of the Japanesem and turned to the winning side. But there was also the fact that the realities of Japanese occupation, with its inherent brutality, was also an eye-opener.

The Japanese concept of race was just as complex as the Germans, and the earliest to experience this were the Koreans and the Chinese. The ideas of Japanese racial supemacy amongst the Asian people goes back further than the 1920s. In 1882, Fukuzawa Yukichi states in "Japan's Mission in Asia" that Japan had a manifest destiny to lead Asia. The perception of the Japanese superiority was than "vindicated" by their defeat of the Russians in 1905. Right upto the split with the Western, colonial, powers in the late 1920s/ early 30s, the Japanese believed that they had equal rights as the Western nations to build up an empire. Thus, when they invaded China, they honestly believed that they had as many rights as the existing colonials. But what they forgot was that colonial powers don't like competition.

In the end, the idea of the "Asia for the Asians" was probably just a tool to bring on board colonised people for the first stage of the Japanese empire.

Excellent analysis though.

Rising Sun*
04-15-2007, 10:13 AM
Again some very interesting points RS. The Japanese idea of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" with the underlying slogan of "Asia for the Asians" seemed, at first glance, a great idea. It certainly attracted a number of anti-colonialists in places like Thailand, Indo-China, Burma, and even some in India.

Before the war, the colonial powers were certainly worried by the influence, both direct and indirect, that Japan had on some Asian intellectuals, and fought a continuing battle against these influences.

However, theory and reality sometimes make bad bed-fellows. Many of the groups who allied themselves with the Japanese after their initial conquests soon turned against them. Part of this was, of course, because they saw the change in the fortunes of the Japanesem and turned to the winning side. But there was also the fact that the realities of Japanese occupation, with its inherent brutality, was also an eye-opener.

The Japanese concept of race was just as complex as the Germans, and the earliest to experience this were the Koreans and the Chinese. The ideas of Japanese racial supemacy amongst the Asian people goes back further than the 1920s. In 1882, Fukuzawa Yukichi states in "Japan's Mission in Asia" that Japan had a manifest destiny to lead Asia. The perception of the Japanese superiority was than "vindicated" by their defeat of the Russians in 1905. Right upto the split with the Western, colonial, powers in the late 1920s/ early 30s, the Japanese believed that they had equal rights as the Western nations to build up an empire. Thus, when they invaded China, they honestly believed that they had as many rights as the existing colonials. But what they forgot was that colonial powers don't like competition.

In the end, the idea of the "Asia for the Asians" was probably just a tool to bring on board colonised people for the first stage of the Japanese empire.

Excellent analysis though.

I agree with the substance of all of your comments.

My previous post was in the realm of comparing intellectual theory and moral justification rather than implementation.

If we ignore what happened in WWII under the Japanese, I don't doubt that before the war many Japanese had a genuine and well-intentioned belief in the validity and desirability of liberating Asians from colonial subjugation. But, as with so many subsequent instances up to this moment, and certainly into the future, what governments intend and pursue is often rather different to the propaganda they offer to their constituency to generate support for their actions to achieve different aims.

I could not agree more that both the German and Japanese leadership suffered from a racial superiority outlook. This allowed each nation to ignore all international and humanitarian laws and principles to do appalling things to people they regarded as less worthy. But for that, I doubt that either nation would have gone to war.

Given Japan's quite recent introduction to the Western thought which dominated the world, and Japan's history and culture, I still think Japan had a lot more excuses for its, by Western standards, barbaric conduct than did Germany.

AlbertSpeer
04-15-2007, 01:50 PM
I agree in the European theatre WWII was a continuation of WWI. If it had not been for the harsh sanctions dealt out to the german people after WWI Hitler would not have got to power

Bingo!

Egorka
04-15-2007, 03:01 PM
Common! Everyone knows that it was Poles who started the war in 1939!
Study the classics of WW2 history. The best source is Mr. Goebbels.

Walther
04-15-2007, 03:04 PM
And the sanctions imposed on Germany in 1918 mainly by the French were again a revenge for the French defeat in 1871. Bismarck wisely drew his line at defeating France militarily and was strictly against any further sanctions (he suckered the French into declaring war against Prussia (Emser Depesche) which united all German kingdoms against the French, his goal was the unity of Germany, excluding Austria, under Prussia). But against his advise the jingoists (who dreamt of a revenge against France since the Napoleonic wars --> birth of the German nationalist movement, at first it was liberal and republican, but after 1871 it changed to chauvinistic and monarchistic) insisted on imposing huge demands for reparations from France, including not only the handover of the disputed territory of Alsace (Elsass, with it's ethnically mixed German-French population), but also the french industrial heartland of Lorraine (Lothringen) with it's coal mines and steel mills, the French Ruhr area. Additionally the French had to pay a huge amount of money to the Germans, which founded the German industrialisation. This period is in Germany called the "Gruenderjahre" (Foundation years) because of the many enterprises which suddenly sprung up founded with money from France.
As one French writer from the 1890s wrote "Don't talk about the shame, but never forget it!".

Jan

Digger
04-16-2007, 03:31 AM
Hmmm, maybe the French demands for repatriation after WWI were revenged for 1871?

Regards digger.

Rising Sun*
05-08-2007, 08:09 AM
Excellent summary, RS. One of the ironies was that Japan saw the British in high esteem, and as an ally, until the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, and the subsequent London Naval Treaties of 1930 and 1936, when the British chose to side with the US position.


Precisely.

Britain made an unnecessary enemy of Japan at the 1921 Washington Conference by ending its alliance with Japan, under prodding from America, Canada and Australia. Up to that point Japan had regarded its alliance with Britain as a pillar of its foreign and defence policies. Not unlike Australia's view of its alliance with Britain, which fell apart in rather more pressing circumstances a couple of decades later under pressure from the Japanese advances. The difference was that Japan saw its alliance with Britain as confirming its status as an important power, which self-image was damaged by the unilateral termination of the alliance by Britain. Fair weather friends, and all that!

Japan was consistently reminded of its inferior status in the eyes of the Western nations which had forced it into trade with them against its will. Australia's White Australia policy from the beginning of the 20th century. The rejection of Japan's ill-conceived racial equality proposal at Versailles in 1919 (ill-conceived because no colonial nation could accept what was intended by Japan to be a "Japanese equality" clause), largely at Australia‘s instigation. America’s anti-Japanese immigration policy in 1924.

Where Japan had been nominally, and conveniently, an Ally in WWI with the Western Allies, those Allies rapidly treated it with contempt and generated some of the antipathy which would result in WWII.

If the West had treated Japan better, instead of just using it up in WWI, might WWII have been avoided?

tankgeezer
05-11-2007, 03:29 PM
Perhaps it was Peter Sellers, and the Dutchy of Grand Fenwick that started the war,,,,,:)
- Raspenau -

royal744
05-21-2007, 09:06 PM
I agree with the substance of all of your comments.

My previous post was in the realm of comparing intellectual theory and moral justification rather than implementation.

If we ignore what happened in WWII under the Japanese, I don't doubt that before the war many Japanese had a genuine and well-intentioned belief in the validity and desirability of liberating Asians from colonial subjugation. But, as with so many subsequent instances up to this moment, and certainly into the future, what governments intend and pursue is often rather different to the propaganda they offer to their constituency to generate support for their actions to achieve different aims.

I could not agree more that both the German and Japanese leadership suffered from a racial superiority outlook. This allowed each nation to ignore all international and humanitarian laws and principles to do appalling things to people they regarded as less worthy. But for that, I doubt that either nation would have gone to war.

Given Japan's quite recent introduction to the Western thought which dominated the world, and Japan's history and culture, I still think Japan had a lot more excuses for its, by Western standards, barbaric conduct than did Germany.


Maybe..... I think there was Japanese intellectual thought that gave sincere support to the idea of "Asia for the Asians", but I do not believe that the folks at the top of the heirarchy in Japan gave a fig for any of it. It was a useful tool to gull nascent independence movements into abandoning their former or soon to be former colonial masters, but beyond that, I don't think the powers that be in Japan had the slightest intention of granting freedom to anyone. The whole notion of self-determination was completely anathema to the Japanese who had no experience with this other than to lip-sync phrases that lulled people into accepting them. The Japanese, I am certain, thought of themselves as colonial powers, if not in the grand western tradition - was it grand really? - then in whatever tradition that would allow them to be lord and masters in their chosen sphere.

Can we doubt this? Japanese depredations in China, which were already 'old' by the time of the War of Southern Expansion, should have given adequate warning to all what "Co-prosperity" really meant. The Japanese wanted raw materials and if they were free for the taking, so much the better. Most of all, they needed oil and the oil was in Nederlands Oost Indie which was sparsely and poorly defended. Perhaps even incompetently defended.

I cannot over-emphasize this enough: THE JAPANESE HAD TO HAVE OIL to fuel their entire empire. We can debate the relative merits of this or that but at the end of the day, the Japanese were going to get their crude oil or else. Or else the tip of a bayonet.

royal744
05-22-2007, 08:08 AM
Bingo!

This is interesting. Not a single major battle of WWI was fought on German soil. Not a single major German City was destroyed or fell under French or British artillery fire during WWI. None of the destruction - the massive destruction - during WWI occurred on German soil, and the Germans have the cheek to talk about "French revenge" and the "harsh" French terms following the war! Really!

I suppose if Germany had been laid waste, its farms and cities pulverized as the French and Belgian ones had been, then maybe the Germans "might" have had a case, but that never happened. The Germans bloody well should have paid and paid dearly for the destruction they handed out to the French and Belgians while their little burghers went about their lives eating the kaffeekuchen in their well tended streets and well tended shops. What a load of horse-pucky this is.

Yes, there was plenty of venalty on the French side, and Wilson was weak and sanctimonious and outflanked, but frankly, the Franks had a valid case to make. Their generations of young men suffered far greater than the German ones.

Rising Sun*
05-22-2007, 08:15 AM
This is interesting. Not a single major battle of WWI was fought on German soil. Not a single major German City was destroyed or fell under French or British artillery fire during WWI. None of the destruction - the massive destruction - during WWI occurred on German soil, and the Germans have the cheek to talk about "French revenge" and the "harsh" French terms following the war! Really!

I suppose if Germany had been laid waste, its farms and cities pulverized as the French and Belgian ones had been, then maybe the Germans "might" have had a case, but that never happened. The Germans bloody well should have paid and paid dearly for the destruction they handed out to the French and Belgians while their little burghers went about their lives eating the kaffeekuchen in their well tended streets and well tended shops. What a load of horse-pucky this is.

Yes, there was plenty of venalty on the French side, and Wilson was weak and sanctimonious and outflanked, but frankly, the Franks had a valid case to make. Their generations of young men suffered far greater than the German ones.

Uncle Albert hasn't been around for a while.

What a pity.

I'd have liked to see him respond to this post, and weave it into his view of how Germany had to attack Czechoslavakia and Poland, and sundry other points of the compass, because the French and English were bastards at Versailles. After the slightly ignored fact of flogging Germany to the point it couldn't fight any more, which seemed to have a vague elationship with Germany's concessions at Versailles.

Nice post, royal744.

32Bravo
05-22-2007, 09:00 AM
Yes, there was plenty of venalty on the French side,

and it was to later become their Nemesis.

Panzerknacker
05-29-2007, 09:14 PM
I might sound revisionist here but I think germans did. :rolleyes:

Egorka
05-30-2007, 02:42 AM
I might sound revisionist here but I think germans did. :rolleyes:

Yes, it might sound a bit revisionist to some as they say that it was Japan that made the first move.

AllHailCesar
05-30-2007, 10:09 AM
I know I've over simplified things and Im dealing with semantics, but........................whoever made the first aggressive move started the war.
Now, his motives for doing so.....that's another story, of which Iam learning alot from y'all!!

Drake
07-18-2007, 05:08 PM
Hi everyone,
When it comes to WW2 in europe the question who started it is pretty simple to answer: Nazi Germany or even more precisely Adolf Hitler, cause Imho the other idiots of that clique wouldn't have unleashed a war on their own if someone wouldve taken hitler out of the picture. Guess when it came to leaders in the first half of the last century we could ultimately speak of very very bad luck for us germans.
But to limit history just to pivotal dates means to simplify and to really understand the whole complex issue that was europe in the first half of the 20th century goes way beyond what can be discussed in a forum. As some have already stated I believe too that WW2 was a sequel and direct consequence of WW1. The rise of National Socialism wouldn't have taken place, if someone would've knocked some sense into the leaders of europe in 1914.
But even this war was a long term result of the defining european event during the 19th century after the defeat of Napoleon: the rise of germany as a unified nation under Bismarck which could be described as an earthquake to the powerstructure of europe. Foreign politics from all major powers in europe after 1871 was a backpack full of paranoia and egomanism from all sides germans, british, french etc. and in 1914 the shit finally hit the fan.

Rising Sun*
07-19-2007, 08:16 AM
Hi everyone,
When it comes to WW2 in europe the question who started it is pretty simple to answer: Nazi Germany or even more precisely Adolf Hitler, cause Imho the other idiots of that clique wouldn't have unleashed a war on their own if someone wouldve taken hitler out of the picture. Guess when it came to leaders in the first half of the last century we could ultimately speak of very very bad luck for us germans.
But to limit history just to pivotal dates means to simplify and to really understand the whole complex issue that was europe in the first half of the 20th century goes way beyond what can be discussed in a forum. As some have already stated I believe too that WW2 was a sequel and direct consequence of WW1. The rise of National Socialism wouldn't have taken place, if someone would've knocked some sense into the leaders of europe in 1914.
But even this war was a long term result of the defining european event during the 19th century after the defeat of Napoleon: the rise of germany as a unified nation under Bismarck which could be described as an earthquake to the powerstructure of europe. Foreign politics from all major powers in europe after 1871 was a backpack full of paranoia and egomanism from all sides germans, british, french etc. and in 1914 the shit finally hit the fan.

Conventional WWI analysis concentrates on Europe and the intricacies of European politics etc, as it does for WWII.

A significant but too often ignored part of the picture in both wars was Germany's failure, through lack of national identity until Bismarck, to have the colonial possessions and treasures of the other main European powers. Everybody else had grabbed everything and there was nothing much left for the new boy on the block.

‘Lebensraum’ was just another name for colonial, or imperial, German expansion in WWII.

Similar problem for Japanese expansionism under the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, having arrived on the scene too late to get the geography that the European powers had grabbed all around it.

WWII was in part a competition between colonial powers and wannabe colonial powers, following on from failed earlier exercises including WWI.

The unintended brilliance of the whole exercise is that, contrary to the intentions of the have and have not colonialists, WWII destroyed colonialism.

Everybody lost a large part of what they were fighting for, even if took 20 or 30 years.

Except the USSR, which grabbed a big slab of western defence geography to reduce the risks of another Napoleon or Hitler landing on Moscow’s doorstep without an invitation.

And the US, which grabbed the Pacific just about to China and Russia’s shores, and slabs of Western Europe through surrogates. None of which were necessary to stop anyone landing on Washington’s doorstep without an invitation, geographically or historically.

Drake
07-19-2007, 09:14 AM
Conventional WWI analysis concentrates on Europe and the intricacies of European politics etc, as it does for WWII.

A significant but too often ignored part of the picture in both wars was Germany's failure, through lack of national identity until Bismarck, to have the colonial possessions and treasures of the other main European powers. Everybody else had grabbed everything and there was nothing much left for the new boy on the block.

‘Lebensraum’ was just another name for colonial, or imperial, German expansion in WWII.

Similar problem for Japanese expansionism under the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, having arrived on the scene too late to get the geography that the European powers had grabbed all around it.

WWII was in part a competition between colonial powers and wannabe colonial powers, following on from failed earlier exercises including WWI.

The unintended brilliance of the whole exercise is that, contrary to the intentions of the have and have not colonialists, WWII destroyed colonialism.

Everybody lost a large part of what they were fighting for, even if took 20 or 30 years.

Except the USSR, which grabbed a big slab of western defence geography to reduce the risks of another Napoleon or Hitler landing on Moscow’s doorstep without an invitation.

And the US, which grabbed the Pacific just about to China and Russia’s shores, and slabs of Western Europe through surrogates. None of which were necessary to stop anyone landing on Washington’s doorstep without an invitation, geographically or historically.

Jup, that pretty much sums it up for me, too. Wannabees vs. Established Powers as in all the centuries before. Unfortunately it happened to coincide with the rapid development of technology and thus ended in the desasters we know.

alephh
07-19-2007, 09:21 AM
Lot of good points in this thread :-)

One of the problems is: how much back in history you want to go - there will always a cause to everything, so, where do you (want to) stop?


I agree in the European theatre WWII was a continuation of WWI. If it had not been for the harsh sanctions dealt out to the german people after WWI Hitler would not have got to power.

I agree that sanctions were harsh, but it's also worth remembering that once Hitler got power he spent wayyyyy more than those sanction payments were - lesson being: with strong leadership sanctions would have been payable.




_

Rising Sun*
07-19-2007, 09:56 AM
Lot of good points in this thread :-)

One of the problems is: how much back in history you want to go - there will always a cause to everything, so, where do you (want to) stop?

Well, it's mostly the Romans.

If they hadn't ploughed Carthage into the ground with salt, none of this would have happened.

Although several thousand years of Egyptian dominance probably pushed the Romans into it.:D

But I don't want to let the Phonecians off the hook. Or the Etruscans. :D

Egorka
07-19-2007, 09:57 AM
I agree that sanctions were harsh, but it's also worth remembering that once Hitler got power he spent wayyyyy more than those sanction payments were - lesson being: with strong leadership sanctions would have been payable.

Well, but with Hitler those money were indirectly benefiting the German public (until the coffins started to come in) and very large part of the population liked him much for roads and jobs!
This is kind of the other side of the coin.

I have heard that if Germany kept paying they would pay all out in about 1980.

Drake
07-19-2007, 01:11 PM
Actually I think Hitler did very little to deserve the credit he got for the economic revival of germany. He basically cheated by taking jews and women out of the economy and recruiting a good portion of those unemployed into the Wehrmacht. The world economy was getting better again after the great depression, which was none of his doing as well. Germany was even back then a nation that depended highly on export.
I think much of his policy actually hurt the export of germany. Work programms were already on their way from previous governments. He actually cut them drastically, the only programm he kept going was the autobahn which I guess could be sold to him as usefull to the future war machine, despite the fact that just like in WW1 nearly all transport (high ninety percent rates) was done with the Reichsbahn.
As I see it any decent government would have achieved the same economic effects even without war preparations. Might have taken a bit longer, but not that much. A good government like later under Adenauer with Erhard as Secretary of Commerce might have even achieved much more.

Egorka
07-20-2007, 03:26 AM
Drake,

Taking women out of the economy? I am not an expert at all in either economy or pre-war Germany. But as I understand, if you take a woman out and put her husband in, then you do not improve anything except you get 2 stronger pair of hands.
I just can not see how taking women would make a large scale impact. In fact in the USA and UK there was an opposite trend - the war time actually moved women from houses to the working places. I know it is a bit different, but nonetheless similar process.

There were about 500.000 Jews of all ages in Germany in 1939. That is less than 0.6% of the German population in 1939 (85 million). So out of those half a million Jews there whould had been roughly 200.000 males of the working age.

The unemployment rate by 1932 was, as I know, about 30% of work force, i.e. about 9 million or so.

I guess even if you take all the 200.000 jews jobs and give it to Germans it would not make a remarkable impact.

Drake
07-20-2007, 11:32 AM
They were no longer in the statistics, that's what I wanted to say with "taking out of the economy". And of course this was only one of several effects, as you correctly pointed out the total numbers of these two points alone would have been insignificant. Women were suppossed to stay at home and give birth to future aryan warriors in the nazi way of life. They even still refused to allow women in the workforce when the war had already started and it became obvious it would drag on much longer than expected in 1941, because hitler was concerned about the effects on the health of his "breeding machines". The main effect was of course the major deficit spending which to a large extend went into the military build up. But that was anything but good economic politics. Hitler really believed he could simply ignore basic economic principles and build anything he wanted. I don't want to go into details, but the nazi government "cheated" in many ways to generate money. There is plenty of material in the net and in the libraries if someone is really interested in the topic. Problem with the cheating was that it worked only within the Reichs borders. Germany was basically bankrupt in 1938, Inflation only prevented by fixing the prices. Inheriting Austria and the Czech territory with Goldreserves etc. bought about a year where this could still be hidden. It is a common theory that Hitler had to start the war in 1939 or at the latest in 1940 and start to cannibalize on the conquered economies to prevent an abysmal economic crash.

Firefly
07-20-2007, 05:04 PM
When did the seeds of war get sown. Britain and Germany used to be closer than everyone now imagines. Remember that British monarchs in the 19th century and beyond were essentially German. The population of England being Anglo Saxon was also greatly German in origin. They shared essentially the same values and ethics.

The link between the two was like cousins for a long time. The british even offered to transport German troops etc to China.

If this situation had continued into 1914, then the Uk would have done what it always tried to do and remain aloof from a European war.

What changed the british view of the German cousin is Kaiser Bill. He was somewhat jealous of the Empire and the RN. It can be assumed that the Brit attitude to germany changed when he challenged their supremacy at sea. Challenge the UK at sea and you make the Empire very nervous.

So I see the direct link from ww2 as the naval building race of 1900-1910. britain could not afford to be challenged at sea and Germany didnt need to challenge them. So the Brits feel insecure and jump into bed with their traditional enemies of Russia and France.

Britain tipped the scales in ww1, without them we could surmise another 1871.

SO without the naval race, we have no challenge to Briain, no naval race and no alliances with Germanies enemies. Germany wins the 1914-15 war, which does not go global and the world is very different today as there is no collapse in Germany, the royal family rules for the foreseeable future and France and russia give up a bit more territory.

Germany and the UK remain friends.........

All for the sake of a few ships and some envy.....

Of course the fault may be squarely put at the hands of the Royal Family in the UK for not accepting the Kaiser fully...

Who knows........

Drake
07-20-2007, 08:33 PM
Some seeds of war:
- Sad joke of history is, that Wilhelm started the naval buildup, because he wanted a strong alliance with britain and thought they would only deem it worthwile if he had a strong fleet. He also liked the big toys of course.

- British balance of power politics clearly didn't contribute to peace in europe over the centuries. I think it was not a bad idea as a starter, but the problem after germany was established was imho, that they tried to keep it exactly as strong as france, which is pretty stupid, considering the fact that there simply were much more germans. They should have tried with a factored balance of power to give germany the feeling of equality. Germans like the Japanese in Round 2 often felt taken in by the other european powers. They still could've turned the scale whenever they liked.

- French paranoia. They deliberately forged alliances all around germany and didn't have the least impulse to get along.

- Why on earth did this idiotic serb shoot the crown prince. It was just the trigger, but maybe if it hadn't triggered then it never would have. Maybe like with the cuba crisis, where a trigger could've occured anytime but it just didn't happen.

Egorka
07-22-2007, 02:43 PM
Remember that British monarchs in the 19th century and beyond were essentially German.

Really? How come?

Drake
07-23-2007, 01:31 PM
Really? How come?

The european monarchs were all more or less related. What is today known as House of Windsor happened to be the House of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha prior to the outbreak of hostilities in WW1.
The british king george V. was a cousin of wilhelm II., their grandma was queen victoria whose mother and husband were german. I would kick my little cousins ***, if he'd declare war on me, though he would never do that (as he knows he always loses, when we play chess, hehe) :P.
The british always had much more ties with germany than with france, they're even called anglo-saxons ;).
The zar was also a cousin of Wilhelm.
If they had settled their disputes on the occasional grill parties as do other families, it would've saved us a whole lot of trouble.