Oral History: World War II

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World War II was one of the most prolific events for our time. It changed the socio-economic and political of the world in so many regards. As it would, it significantly impacted on the American people and how they went about their daily lives. World War II was important because it changed how the worlds greatest nations interacted, gave rise to new technology and breakthroughs in diplomacy. The war was defined by major personalities that included Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, General Dwight Eisenhower, Adolf Hitler of Germany, Joseph Stalin of Russia, Benito Mussolini of Italy and Winston Churchill of Britain. These personalities were crucial to this war as they steered the course of the war based on their ideologies and egos. This war was very important because it was more personal than the first war and, therefore, meant that more countries were invested in it. Secondly, this war was characterized by many war crimes and other significant events such as the German Holocaust and the incessant bombing of civilians (e.g. in London). The use of new technology in attacking the enemy also stood out in the war as is evidenced by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States of America in 1945 using atomic bombs which consequently led to many health problems for the Japanese population millions of years later CITATION AJP61 \l 2057 (Taylor). Thirdly, World War II gave birth to many organizations such as the United Nations that was established to find more diplomatic techniques to deal with the tension between nations rather than resorting to war. Other notable organizations that came up include the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

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Notably, over 85 million people died in this war, one of the largest demographics recorded in history. The war left quite a lasting legacy on so many fronts. First, it led to the creation of democratic states in Italy, Russia and Germany especially after the fall of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. These countries were rid of fascist and dictatorial governments and gave rise to an era of US and Russian superiority. Countries like Germany were able to reconstruct themselves after the unpalatable event of the Holocaust. Secondly, the war greatly impacted the economy of countries like the United States of America as it went into overdrive in manufacturing weapons and industrial tools in order to remain relevant in the war.

It is obvious that the American people changed during and after the war. During and before the war, the typical American listened to the local programming on the radio, went out to church or for ice cream or even work. They even enjoyed going to the movies, but all this changed when Japan attacked at Pearl Harbour, and that is when it dawned on the American citizen that indeed the war was grave and that America was about to get seriously involved in the war CITATION Fra41 \l 2057 (Kluckhohn). The war came as a blessing in disguise as it was the mark of the end of the Great Depression that had plagued America after the First World War. Many unemployed Americans returned to work especially in the manufacturing industry to make the weapons that would propel the United States victory. Secondly, since the nation was going to war, it needed great conscription and mobilization; this necessitated the emergence of the business community who had to oversee production costs. Eventually with time, more Americans jumped onto the war bandwagon as a result of successful war propaganda and put in more concerted efforts to support the war. Many Americans adopted frugality in terms of the use of

metals and rubber that would be reserved for making war weapons. Citizens became more industrious in supporting themselves, and this saw the rise of domestic farming for family consumption.

The war affected different individuals on various levels. For instance, many had their college education interrupted and as a result, they had to enlist in the army in order to fight in the war. Richard was a student at Minot State College in North Dakota when the war started. He vividly remembers having food, gas and clothing being rationed and many communities conducted scrap metal drives in order to build the required armaments that were necessary to win the war. Furthermore, many of the citizens relied on radio reports and accounts to get a hint of were going on during the war. However, the radio served as an alternative outlet for the citizens as it provided a much-needed distraction from the war. Worst of all, Japanese Americans had their citizenship revoked as they were suspected of being spies, especially after the Pearl Harbour attack.

The war affected America personally as compared to the previous war. Firstly, it was directly involved in the war fighting as part of the Allied powers together with Great Britain and Russia (formerly USSR). America experienced some of the most significant inventions of its time at this time such as the atomic bomb. Secondly, citizens had to learn how to be frugal in the face of the war as resources were scarce and expensive. For example, in 1945, engineers developed an electronic brain for the US Army, which was referred to as the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer that served as precedence for the development of code and computers CITATION Ham15 \l 2057 (Hampson).

It is proof that a myriad of information is at our disposal and that technology has played a great role in the preservation of history and the tales told by the people who were personally involved in the war. Of significance are the personal tales of the veterans and ordinary citizens because they experienced the war differently from the leaders at the time and other elitist groups. As America emerged as a superpower, many citizens also developed a heightened sense of patriotism as this confirmed that the United States of America was the great country that it had always claimed to be. Secondly, the war changed the social strata of the world due to the horrifying events such as the German Holocaust. As a result of such genocide, the world aimed to do a better job at protecting the rights of all people. It also confirmed my conviction that political egos often get in the way of rational decisions such as the decision to bomb Pearl Harbour by the Japanese. These wars did not have the interest of the average American in place as it was to gratify the ideologies of the leaders at the time. For instance, Adolf Hitlers quest to conquer the world was an egocentric move that was camouflaged as a venture to restore the dignity of Germany especially after its loss in the First World War.

Conducting this research has taught me a few valuable lessons. Firstly, political ideologies fuel the world and leaders will always bank on them to sway the masses to action. Secondly, history often tends to repeat itself and so it is paramount to learn the lessons to avoid repetition of mistakes. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and events occur again as if we did not experience them already. Secondly, necessity is the mother of inventions, great technological and communication advances were made in this era by different countries in order to exert superiority over the other. This eventually proved beneficial to the rest of the world as it eased how we interacted with each other e.g. the internet. Lastly, man is willing to give greatly of himself especially for a cause that he considers important as evidenced by the millions of men who went to war for their country. War is an invention of man but a necessary ill.

Works Cited

BIBLIOGRAPHY Hampson, Rick. 70 Years later: How World War II Changed America. 18 July 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/07/18/70-years-later-how-world-war-ii-changed-america/30334203/. 15 March 2016.

Kluckhohn, Franklin. Only One Negative Vote as President Calls to War and Victory. 8 December 1941. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/1208.html. 15 March 2016.

Taylor, A.J.P. "Origins of The Second World War." Taylor, A.J.P. Origins of The Second World War. 1961. 1-98.

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