No matter what the outcome of world war 2, the outcome would of still been the result of imperialism in one way or another. There were many causes that headed up to the start of World War 2, some of which can be traced back and connected to the first world war. After the first war, many countries were left in economic ruin; as such they have become vulnerable to being taken over by dictators. Dictators taking charge and many countries vulnerable by the preceding war were up for grabs by countries looking to expand their imperialist foothold. With dictators like Mussolini in Italy, Stalin in Russia, and Hitler and his Nazi party from Germany, they began to take control of the neighboring countries to expand their power and empire; World War 2 broke loose. The end of world war 2 will then determine the shift of power among the involved countries of the war.
In the period before the Second World War began, many countries were going through what is now regarded as the great depression. With the Great Depression, many people have been out of work in the streets with little to no means of survival. During these times countries' governments become unstable and vulnerable to being overrun. The economic crisis that has been going on at the time, left countries vulnerable to being taken over. Countries such as Italy that have been taken over by dictator Mussolini; And Germany later had fallen under the grasp of Hitler and his Nazi party. With other Dictators in Europe such as Franco in Spain and Stalin in Russia nearby, European countries were on guard and wary of another war starting up again.
Nearing the beginning of the Second Countries like Italy and Germany have begun to make their imperialist move and expand into nearby countries. Taking control and building up their armies and resources. However, nothing happened in retaliation to this movement. Since Countries were wary of another war starting, no one wanted to make a move. So much so that they let Hitler do as he liked. This is a policy called Appeasement in the 1930s, Countries like Britain and France did nothing about Hitler taking over Czechoslovakia. With this, they had hoped that Hitler would be pleased with the land he acquired and wouldn't proceed any further. However, this just made Hitler more confident that he can do and take whatever he pleases without any interference. Later on, on September 1st, 1939 Germany took over Poland. In retaliation Britain and France declared War on Hitler and his Nazi nation, and sparked World War 2.
At the beginning of World War 2, these three dictatorships were joined together on the Axis side of the war with the intention of expanding their dictatorship; Alongside the Japanese who were interested in increasing their empire. In the Modern History sourcebook link given on Adolf Hitler: The Obersalzberg Speech, Hitler goes on to tell of his plans to take over Poland and put his imperialist plans in motion by wiping the land of jew men, women, and children, for as it states in Christopher R. Browning’s The Nazi Decision to Commit Mass Murder: Three Interpretation, “What role could Jews have in a German Garden of Eden?” (Browning, 474). Then using the land to stretch their forces across Europe and exterminate those they considered imperfect humans along the way. In that same speech, he states “After all, there are only three great statesmen in the world, Stalin, I and Mussolini… So in a few weeks hence I shall stretch out my hand to Stalin at the common German-Russian frontier and with him undertake to re-distribute the world.” This states the plan he has on uniting with other Dictators in the area to then be able to begin their accession to power and take control of the world. However, this friendship between these fascist nations will not last long.
As the saying goes, there is no honor amongst thieves, the same applies to those who steal land. The friendship that Hitler has spoken of in his speech was only a first stepping stone for him on the road to world domination. In his speech, he goes on to say “Poland will be depopulated and settled with Germans. My pact with the Poles was merely conceived of as a gaining of time. As for the rest, gentlemen, the fate of Russia will be exactly the same as 1 am now going through within the case of Poland. After Stalin's death-he is a very sick man-we will break the Soviet Union. Then there will begin the dawn of the German rule of the earth.” Just like when Germany entered a non-aggression pact with Poland and backed out of it, Hitler planned to do the same with Russia, in so taking control of Russia and their resources, it was only a matter of time.
“In late February and March 1941, Hitler openly and repeatedly called for a ‘war of destruction’ against the Soviet Union involving considerable Wehrmacht participation. The relatively favorable Wehrmacht into realistic planning in the spring of 1941.” (Browning, 479). By late June 1941, Hitler had betrayed their Soviet friends in an attempt to seize control of the USSR and proceed with the extermination of Jews. Because of a strategic retreat on the Russian part and harsh weather, the German surprise attack had failed. Soon after Russia left the Axis side of the war and joined the Allied forces. A couple of years later surrendered to the Allied forces in late 1943, then later Italy proceeds to declare war on Germany and Japan, switching sides to the Allied forces.
Two years later the War ends with the United States dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and then later on Nagasaki, causing Japan, who had attacked most of its neighbors in Asia and surprised to attack and United State Navy base, to accept an unconditional surrender. However, the imperialist factor of the Second World War does not end there. With the unconditional surrender, the Japanese agree to many things from the United States, one of those things being the United States' occupation of Japan. Even though it was seen as a way to help Japan better themselves it's still a country being overtaken and controlled by another, in its purest form, imperialism. In Mire Koikari’s essay Gender, Power and U.S Imperialism: The Occupation of Japan, 1945-1952 in Bodies in Contact, it says “The U.S. objective in occupying Japan was to civilize, modernize, and, most important, democratize this Asian Country that had ‘gone astray’ in the recent war.”(Koikari, 343). Thus making it seem like the united states where doing this for a just cause. The United States is being seen as heroes at this point because they believe that they are helping a nation get back on its feet or find its way after straying away from the path which they deem right and worthwhile. “The lack of attention to U.S. imperialism is not simply an oversight on the part of the scholars, but evidence that U.S. scholarly communities share a strong compulsion to disassociate the United States from colonialism and to perceive it as inherently anti-imperial since its independence from British rule. Thus, for many U.S. scholars, U.S. imperialism is a contradiction in terms.” (Koikari, 344). In the eyes of the victor of the war, it is impossible to be seen as the bad guy.
Americans believe that because they were once the subject of imperialist rule they themselves would know better or are incapable of doing such horrible things to the point where they themselves turn a blind eye to their own actions. On the contrary, the occupation of Japan even as minimal as it may seem, is still a form of imperialism. The crimes committed by the Axis powers in terms of invading and ruling countries prove that either side of the war was capable of imperialist rule. Though the result of the crimes would have been different than just a temporary foothold on a country had the Axis won the war; However it is hard to refuse that World War 2 was an imperialist war.