European Conflict Term Paper

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World War II in Europe

WORLD WAR II in the EUROPEAN THEATER Background and History:

World War I was the first modern mechanized war, the largest global conflict in recorded history, and the first time that casualties of a single war numbered in the several millions. The so-called "Great War" or "war to end all war" ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 after the British, French, Russian, and the Americans imposed harsh reparations on Germany for her role in the war. The result in Germany was a large-scale financial crash and the Great Depression whose hardships perpetuated resentment toward her victorious European neighbors and the United States. It inspired widespread anti-

Semitism and made possible the rise of Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party, and according to some historians, virtually guaranteed another European war in the same century1.

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Barely two decades later, Europe was again on the brink of war, with many of the same combatants poised to wage a conflict that would eventually surpass the "Great War" in casualties more than six fold. On one hand, World War II was very similar to its predecessor, in that it began with an unprovoked German attack followed by overwhelming German battlefield successes, but finally culminated in her defeat by the combined allied forces of Britain, France, Russia, and the United States. On the other hand, World War II was a very different type of war in which highly mobile armies replaced a static trench war of attrition; air power was used extensively for strategic bombing and effectively in support of ground troops; and civilian populations were deliberately targeted as part of military strategy. At war's end in 1945, approximately fifty million people had perished, most of them civilian, with Russian casualties

Kowalick, T.M. p.145 accounting for nearly half the total killed. More than sixty years later, World War II is still widely recognized as the most catastrophic event in all of recorded human history to date2.

Term Paper on European Conflict Assignment

Adolph Hitler and the Nazis took power in Germany in 1933 and promptly began rearming the country for war, in clear violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Initially, this helped endear him to German citizens because the production of war materials revitalized the economy, reversed the decade-long national economic depression as well as widespread unemployment. The implied threat of her renewed military power allowed Germany to intimidate Britain, France, and Czechoslovakia to ignore her remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936 and the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenlands in 1938. In capitulating to Hitler, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Germany with Hitler's signature on the Munich Agreement of 1938, announcing, "I believe it is peace for our time." Winston Churchill, who detested the notion of appeasing Hitler, remarked, "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war."

Shortly before war's outbreak in Europe, Hitler executed the 1939 Non-

Aggression Pact with Russia, designed to keep Russia out of the impending European war. Hitler had hoped this would allow Germany to concentrate her military forces on her western borders and avoid a costly war on two fronts with her forces occupied simultaneously on the eastern border with Russia. The Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 also contained a clause for dividing up a conquered Poland with Russia after defeat by Germany.

The War in Europe:

On September 1, 1939, Germany unleashed the combined forces of her powerful Wehrmacht on Poland. The Luftwaffe decimated the obsolete Polish air force, terrifying both her overmatched military and civilian population alike with a ruthless bombing campaign. Then, it punched holes through a thinly-spread border defense and penetrated deep into the heart of Poland using its armor and mechanized infantry, destroying whatever was left of the Polish military from behind its front lines, and eventually occupying the Polish capital, Warsaw, after pulverizing parts of the ancient city to overcome pockets of resistance.

The following April, Hitler's forces rolled into Denmark without resistance and also occupied Norway, with little more difficulty. Germany attacked France in May, rolling in from the Netherlands and Belgium. France had invested very heavily, ever since the end of World War I, in fortifying the Maginot Line, a long series of interconnected bunkers and military installations across its entire border with… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "European Conflict" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

European Conflict.  (2007, September 2).  Retrieved April 11, 2021, from

MLA Format

"European Conflict."  2 September 2007.  Web.  11 April 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"European Conflict."  September 2, 2007.  Accessed April 11, 2021.