With a degree in history, I enjoy researching and writing about historical events that the history books tend to gloss over.
Rumbling of War
1939 marked the beginning of what we now call World War II. It was a battle that still resonates through time eliciting feelings of fear, pride, hatred, and sadness. After the Great War of 1914, also known as World War I, what would cause the countries of the world to once again wage war on a global scale? Who was to blame for causing the world to be at war yet again? Most would point the finger of blame squarely at Adolf Hitler, a name that has come to be despised for almost a century. However, the man we all know and hate today, did not begin as the monster the world now sees him as being.
The Young Adolf Hitler
When Adolf Hitler first began to read anti-Semitic pamphlets, he felt, “The whole thing seemed to me so monstrous, the accusations so boundless, that, tormented by the fear of doing injustice, I again became anxious and uncertain.” Further, he often visited predominantly Jewish neighborhoods and watched them in their everyday lives. According to his childhood friend, August Kubizek, Hitler had become infatuated with a young Jewish girl he passed by in his hometown of Linz. Although the claims are unsubstantiated outside of Mr. Kubizek’s claims, it does shine a different light upon the young Adolf Hitler. It was Kubizek who accompanied Hitler to Vienna in 1908 to pursue the arts. Unfortunately, Hitler was met with rejection from several prestigious schools of art.
From Artist to Politician
Hitler soon found himself homeless in the wake of his artistic rejections and thus turned his eye toward politics. It was during this time that he began to read political and anti-Semitic pamphlets more often. Consequently, the more he read, he began to change his mind regarding Jewish people. He began to see them as unclean. He blamed them for everything that was wrong although it was a Jewish store owner who was the most loyal patron of his artwork. Hitler began to claim that Jews produced trashy media that made people think dirty things. As his hatred grew, he began to view the Jewish people as “scribblers who poison men's souls like germ-carriers of the worse sort, on their fellow men”. So, began Hitler’s distrust and disgust of the Jewish people and the horrors that came afterward. Hitler’s struggles as an artist ended when he enlisted in the military during WWI.
Hitler Rises to Power
Adolf Hitler, Austrian by birth, had tried numerous times to enter into government in Germany but was met with resistance. It took members of the Nazi party, who were already in office, to create openings within the government in order to bring Hitler into their ranks. Once there, Hitler was elevated to ruler. Hitler was in fact a popular leader in the beginning. Germany was facing mass unemployment, political violence, and increased authoritarian measures. Nazism was more popular that Italian Fascism ten years earlier. By the early 1930’s both Nazism and Fascism were very popular in Germany and Italy. This began to affect the other countries in Europe where small groups of fascist parties attempted to disrupt the standing democracies. Hitler was the most powerful European dictator by 1938 and had already begun to expand the borders of Germany and this new Imperialism was very obvious to the East.
Land of the Rising Sun
In the East, “Japan has been waging a war of conquest against China, the ultimate object of which was, as has been stated, to make Japan overlord of Asia.” There were calls to the United States to protect other Eastern countries from Japan during the war. Despite this, however, the United States were reluctant to become actively involved in World War II. Nevertheless, America did send money for civilian relief efforts in China but felt that remaining out of the war was the best method to keep democracy alive and protect American citizens. Furthermore, as of February 1941, Theodore Roosevelt did not feel that Japan wanted war with the United States. Yet, in December of that same year, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, HI thus bringing America into the war.
The World After War
WWII ended four years later in 1945 after the American release of two atomic bombs on Japan. Was Adolf Hitler to blame? Were the Japanese? It depends on who you ask. Mr. Hitler was a terrible man who aligned himself with other terrible men and they did unthinkable things. There are numerous conflicting theories and just as many reasons and events happening behind the scenes and years earlier that lit the fuse of war. But it should be said that it was England and France who first declared war on Germany in 1939 for invading Poland to expand its borders. Another thing to consider is that Germany stole from their own people to continue the war effort. Not all Germans were Nazi supporters. They were forced to show allegiance by threat of death and by the end of it all, troops had torn up public water works for the metal to feed the war effort leaving entire cities in shambles and without water. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came to be despised by their own people.
Although historians may forever argue where the blame for WWII should lie, one thing is certain, the events that occurred between 1939-1945 have irrevocably changed the entire world. Today, the vestiges of this war have spurred world citizens to fight for peace and de-nuclearization. In the end, the desire for peace is the legacy of WWII.
Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf: Years of Study and Suffering in Vienna. Accessed May 08, 2017. http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv1ch02.html.
Biddiss, Michael Denis, and Nicholas Atkin. 2009. Themes in Modern European History, 1890–1945. London: Routledge, 2009. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed May 8, 2017).
Roosevelt, Theodore. The Public's Library and Digital Archive. Accessed May 08, 2017. http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1941/1941-02-16b.html.
Brandy R Williams (author) from Virginia on March 18, 2021:
Hello MG, I'm really pleased that you enjoyed this article!
MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 17, 2021:
You have written a nice article that encompasses the entire scenario of that time.