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World War 2

Essay by 24  •  December 1, 2010  •  693 Words (3 Pages)  •  985 Views

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World War II, global military conflict that, in terms of lives lost and material destruction, was the most devastating war in human history. It began in 1939 as a European conflict between Germany and an Anglo-French coalition but eventually widened to include most of the nations of the world. It ended in 1945, leaving a new world order dominated by the United States and the USSR.

More than any previous war, World War II involved the commitment of nations' entire human and economic resources, the blurring of the distinction between combatant and noncombatant, and the expansion of the battlefield to include all of the enemy's territory. The most important determinants of its outcome were industrial capacity and personnel. In the last stages of the war, two radically new weapons were introduced: the long-range rocket and the atomic bomb. In the main, however, the war was fought with the same or improved weapons of the types used in World War I. The greatest advances were in aircraft and tanks.

"For African Americans, World War II was a fight on two fronts. It was a struggle to prevail over the nation's external enemies and a battle against a familiar home-grown foe: bigotry" (Allen). When World War II began in Europe in 1939, blacks demanded better treatment than they had experienced during World War I. Black newspaper editors insisted during 1939 and 1940 that black support for this war effort would depend on fair treatment. They demanded that black soldiers be trained in all military roles and that black civilians have equal opportunities to work in war industries at home.

African Americans were some of the quickest and most energetic to condemn the risings of fascism in Europe. They instantly understood the risks Nazism and its Aryan doctrines imposed on the world. Some had read Hitler's Mein Kampf and had taken offense to its unfavorable comments toward blacks. It was also claimed that in 1936 Hitler had refused to treat African American Olympic stars Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf with common decency in Berlin. Also the knockout of the black idol Joe Louis in 1936 by Max Schmeling had fueled some bitter emotions toward Nazism and it was fueled once again when Louis exacted his complete revenge in 1938.

At the beginning of the war African Americans watched wages skyrocket at plants holding defense contracts but had still not seen a change in the rigid anti-black policy. In 1941 A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a union whose members were mainly black

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