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Strategies and Reasoning from both sides of World War II

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Axis Powers’ War Strategy and Shortcomings

1.  What main problems did the Axis Powers encounter throughout World War II?

            Germany, Japan, and Italy came across many different problems concerning their alliance during the war.  Specifically, language barriers and a struggle for power hampered the communication between the three, thus damaging their relationship and alliance.  Though the leaders publicly spoke about their cooperation, this was mainly due to the treaties each was involved in with the other and only a small amount of political and militaristic coordination took place during the war.  However, some evidence suggests that Hitler and Mussolini did share mutual respect between each other unlike the documentation about the association between Tojo and his European counterparts, which shows that he cared very little for Hitler and Mussolini, a reciprocated sentiment.  Many historians believe that the fragility of these relationships existed due to the paranoia and arrogance of each leader pertaining to each one’s power.  These two factors proved particularly detrimental to the Axis Alliance because, separate instead of united, made it much easier for the Allies to prevail.

2.  What motivated the Axis Powers to fight World War II?

            The simple and complete answer is this: each dictator wanted to expand their own totalitarian regime.  Hitler wanted to build up a powerful empire by occupying territory to Germany’s north and south and then, after over-running France, forcing Britain to make Peace.  He then planned on invading the Soviet Union and implementing his European New Order.  This new order consisted of the eradication of Communism and Jews, along with the praise of the Aryan race. 

            Tojo’s goals were similar.  After crippling the Pacific Fleet to eliminate American intervention, he intended to overrun Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, conquer China, and unite all of East Asia under his reign. 

            Mussolini also wished to extend his country’s borders.  He believed he could best achieve this by seizing many parts of northern Africa as a means of controlling the Mediterranean.  Like Hitler, Mussolini adopted Anti-Semitic legislature, but disagreed with Hitler’s Final Solution, and promoted his own political ideology, Fascism.

3.  How did each of the main Axis Powers prepare for World War II?

            Hitler prepared for war first by forcing conscription.  Though this was not hard due to the intense nationalism he inspired in the German people, it was an extremely important step.  Among other weapons and wartime necessities, he also increased the production of airplanes and submarines.  Some historians argue that for as long as six years Hitler had been concentrating all of his resources on preparation for the war that he knew he would fight.  Brilliantly, Hitler also squashed all political opposition in Germany eliminating any possible threat from within his own country, a wartime essential.

            Japanese preparation undoubtedly included arming the military to the best of its abilities.  But, one main thing that the Japanese had to improve on before entering into a large scale war was its economy.  With very little natural resources of its own and no oil access, especially after the United States’ embargo in 1940, the Japanese felt compelled to take hold of current-day Indonesia which greatly helped their war effort.

            Mussolini’s preparation for the war was nowhere nearly as thorough as that of Hitler or Tojo.  He expanded the army and entered into treaties with Hitler but did not do much else.  Many historians consider him to have been extremely inept and incapable of leading a nation in such a large scale war.

4.  What were the key trends in the Axis Powers’ strategies?

            Hitler’s most effectively employed blitzkrieg warfare in World War II.  He would intensely invade a country so as to overwhelm it, and then place his own leaders in the country’s government.  In this way, Hitler avoided Allied interference for awhile because of the speed with which he would cease a land disallowing the United States, Britain, or France from sending aid to the country before he already had total control. 

            Japan hoped to eliminate the threat of the United States at Pearl Harbor and then freely take much less military capable countries.  But, once it became apparent to the Japanese that the Pacific Fleet was still completely capable, the Japanese had to go on the defensive.  Intensely defending every stretch of land, the Japanese hoped to tire out the American military before relinquishing very much territory.  Also, Japan employed kamikaze pilots to help inspire fear in the Americans while hopefully damaging American ships as well.

            Italy hoped, with the help of the Germans, to become a world superpower.  With this in mind, Mussolini employed great propaganda to propagate Italy’s dominance.  He also used intense militarism to try to boost the world’s perception of Italy as a country to be feared, and one as equally powerful as Germany.


Allied War Strategy and Reasoning

1. What was American motivation for entering WWII?

The United States Government chose to enter World War II for to a number of different reasons. Primarily, the US had interest in protecting Britain from Nazi control during the beginning of the war. At the time, the US had been secretly allied with the British, aiding them with supplies and armaments as they predicted that the conflict would become worse as time went on. This support was induced by the signing of the Lend-Lease Act in 1940, which allowed the US Government to provide consistent aid to the British. Thus, entering World War II was a manner by which the US could preserve the well-being of an allied nation, as well as the assets that its relationship with Britain provided. Another major reason for US involvement in World War II was the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. This prompted the US Government to enter the war in order to combat what the entirety of America believed to be a cowardly surprise attack. Because of the losses incurred during Pearl Harbor, many Americans became dead-set on the idea that revenge should be taken on the Japanese.
2. How well prepared for the war was America?

As indicated primarily by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the US was not particularly well prepared for the rigors of World War II. Though the US had secretly given substantial aid to the British for some time, it was not the intention of President Roosevelt to enter the war at the time they did. Despite this, the alliance forged between Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proved to be imperative to the defeat of Axis powers such as Germany. In this respect, the US was well prepared for the war, however, the numbers of US armed forces were still inadequate as of the late 1930’s. To solve this dilemma, Roosevelt and Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall decided to enact the draft, as well as a sense of national pride, and undying patriotism within America. This decision was a key preparation because the war would result in massive casualties. In addition, the population that remained within the US contributed more to World War II than the US citizens have for any other conflict. For example, the production of all household appliances was shut down during this time for the desperate need for scrap metal. Another manner in which the US strove to best opposing nations was the development of nuclear weaponry. Known as the Manhattan Project, the development of these weapons would inevitably lead to Japanese surrender, and the end of the war in August 1945. Though these weapons produced horrific effects, the intricacy and planning put into their construction showed that the US would not allow other countries to cross them.
3. What were key trends in America's offensive strategy?

Upon entering the war, the initial US strategy was simply to eliminate Germany before any other opposing nations. Because the war was fought in Europe, the US was forced to deploy massive numbers of troops to various warfront locations. Though only the attack on Pearl Harbor reached American soil, one of the most important aspects of the US strategy was the contribution by the population that remained within the nation. These citizens built weaponry, machines, and vehicles for the war, as well as sacrificing a great deal of their comforts in an effort to better the US chances of winning the war. Likewise, the US found success in numbers during the war by implementing a draft that provided the military with more troops than it had ever had. The US also used the great deal of citizen support to overproduce vehicles and machinery needed for the war. Upon the conclusion of World War II, hundreds of unused planes were turned into scrap metal. On their offensive fronts, one of the most effective US strategies was ‘Island Hopping’. This tactic allowed the US troops to move closer to the mainland of countries such as Japan while taking land all the while. Another effective tactic were the massive bombings that the US and Britain used to devastate Axis cities. These bombings often included hundreds of planes, lasting until ammunition had been exhausted. These strategic ploys proved very successful during the war, as the US once again showed that it was a dominant force among the world powers.




Works Cited

Books/Scholarly Journals

DiNardo, R.L.  “The Dysfunctional Coalition: The Axis Powers and the Eastern Front in             World War II” in The Journal of Military History, Vol. 60, No. 4, 1996, pp. 711-            715.

Harrison, Mark “Resource Mobilization for World War II: The U.S.A., U.K., U.S.S.R.,             and Germany, 1938-1945” in The Economic History Review, Vol. 41, No. 2,             1988, p. 172.

Klein, Burton “Germany’s Preparation for War: A Re-examination” in The American             Economic Review, Vol. 38, No.1, 1948, pp. 56, 64.

MacGregor, Knox.  Mussolini Unleashed, 1939-1941: Politics and Strategy in Fascist             Italy’s Last War.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

















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