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The World Wars

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The World Wars

World War one began in 1914 and lasted for four years. The reasons for the war beginning aren't very clear cut and neither are the reasons for the United States involvement in this war. Some say it's a case of one thing led to another and created a domino effect, while others think it was looming on the horizon for many years whatever the reasons are the facts are the world went to war in 1914 (1).

A few events leading up to the Great War are significant, such as the assassination of the Arch-duke Franz Ferdinand in June of 1914. The heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne was killed by a Serbian nationalist and so a list of demands was sent to Serbia from Austria-Hungary. The demands were agreed upon by the Serbs, nevertheless war was declared by the Austria-Hungary shortly thereafter (1). This War was fought mostly based on alliances. Russia was Allies with Serbia ans therefore joined the War. Germany had a treaty with Austria-Hungary, and France had a treaty with Russia so they joined the fighting. Great Britain then joined in part to defend France against Germany, but mostly to defend the neutral Belgium against Germany who had invaded the on their way to France. Japan joined because of a military commitment to Britain and Italy avoided the fighting based on a technicality in their treaty with Germany and Austria-Hungary. All these countries were engaged in the Great War for three years while the U.S. continued to proclaim their neutrality (1).

After failed attempts by President Wilson to negotiate peace talks among the warring parties and the Germans refusal to stop their submarine warfare; the U.S. entered the Great War in 1917. This would have been put off longer, but the Germans were interfering with the U.S. commercial shipping. The U.S. had joined Britain, France, Canada, Russia, and Belgium in the fight against Germany, Turkey, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary.

The Germans finally conceded to cease fighting and begin peace talks in November of 1918. The Treaty of Versailles was conceived (2). This treaty demanded Germany to pay large reparations to the victors of this war as well as give up their territory and become a republic. These demands became an irritation to Germans that they would eventually scratch in the next world war thanks to the leadership of a very disgruntled Adolf Hitler.

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Many casualties were suffered during World War One; more than 262,000 Americans were dead, missing or wounded. These are just figures of military casualties; civilian casualties couldn't be counted (3). Although the fighting was wide spread and destructive many technological and military advances were a direct result of this war. While the plane did not play the decisive role that it was to play in later conflicts, the First World War proved their capabilities. It was during this period that the key tasks that aircraft could perform were discovered, experimented with, and refined: observation and reconnaissance, tactical and strategic bombing, ground attack, and naval warfare. With the growing importance and influence of aircraft came the need to control the air, and thus the fighter was born (4). The usage of airplanes became more common during the Second World War.

World War Two

The Second World War was the largest single event in human history, fought across six continents and on every ocean (2 p. 767). In 1939 the fighting began and it didn't end until 1945 with Americans dropping two atomic bombs on two Japanese cities. The World was at war with Germany again, but this time we were fighting against Hitler and his Nazi regime. Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany in 1930.

Nationalists and particularly the Nazi party of Adolf Hitler blamed the decline of the Weimar Republic on the Jews. According to Hitler and his Nazis, the Jews had a hold over the financial on Germany. This is where the mistreatment and cruelty towards German Jews began. Some of the laws that were imposed upon Jews were minor in comparison to the Holocaust, but never the less wrong. Jews living in this time had to give all there silver and gold to the Nazis. The next law was forbidding Jews from owning houses; they had to move into Jewish a housing section. This was all minor compared to what was to come to the unfortunate Jewish people.

While all this was happening with the Jewish people in Germany, Hitler was signing an alliance with Russia which secretly excluded Poland. Italy then decided to join the alliance. With Italy out of the way, and Austria now German controlled, Hitler decided to take Czechoslovakia. Due to the Munich agreement German troops took Sudetenland against will of the powerless Czech government.

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Slovakia was now recognized as independent, until they had to succumb to Nazi-German rule in 1944. Hitler had his plan in place and he was working steadily on conquering Europe.

The War officially began when Hitler and his Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. (2). On September 17, 1939 Russia attacked Poland and they were easily defeated by both armies. After a period of quietness in this war the War resumed in May of 1940 when Germany over ran the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium in an effort to get to France (5). France was overcome by Germany and surrendered after only six weeks. Now that France was occupied by Germany, the Germans began to set up camp and prepare to attack Britain.

This was a war that was mostly fought by air and sea. Here was where the testing and advancing of technology of the First World War came in very handy. With no land forces in direct conflict in Europe, the war in the air attracted worldwide attention even as sea units fought the Battle of the Atlantic and a number of British commando raids hit targets in occupied Europe.

More critical was the war in the air (5). The U.S. came to the aid of their British allies

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