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Was World War 2 as a Continuation of World War 1: Analytical Essay

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The two deadliest wars in human history, World War 1 and World War 2 had a significant impact on the prevailing world powers of the day. Although the wars have many similarities, they were different in many ways due to their direct causes, execution, and global impact.

Prior to World War 1, political developments such as the shifting of powers, European competition for material resources in Africa and Asia, increases in mutual alliances, and the arms race contributed to the escalation of tension that resulted in global conflict. Many of these developments continued through the interwar period as countries were desperate to develop and expand due to the damaging impacts of the war and the Treaty of Versailles. World War 1 and World War 2 were similar in that they both were caused by militarism, alliances, and nationalism. They were different due to the fact that in World War 1, nations were motivated by access to land and resources whereas in World War 2 nations were motivated by ideologies

Strong militaries were needed to defend the homeland, protect imperial and trade interests abroad, and deter threats. Nearly every major European country engaged in some form of military reform in the late 1800s and early 1900s as well as the interwar period. For example, during the early 1900s German defense spending increased by 73%. This trend continued during the 1930s as Nazi Germany increased its military spending faster than any other nation in peacetime, and the military eventually came to represent the majority of the German economy in the 1940s.

The 1936 Rome-Berlin Axis, a German-Italy military alliance, was in many ways a reintroduction of the Triple Alliance, a secret agreement between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy formed in 1882. Alliances were formed in order to combine military strength but proved to be instrumental in causing both world wars. In World War 1, what began as a conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, became a global war due to Germany coming to the help of Austria-Hungary and Russia coming to the help of Serbia. In World War 2, the Germans invaded Poland because they falsely claimed that Poland was planning, with its allies Great Britain and France, to enclose and dismantle Germany. As explained above, in both wars the development of the ally system set off a chain reaction of militaries coming to the help of their allies in need.

Another similar cause between World War 1 and World War 2 is nationalism. Citizens of the Great Powers in Europe now believed their country was superior culturally, economically, and militarily. Because of this, nationalism gave countries false hope in their identity and made them more aggressive. In World War 1, nationalism contributed to the cause of the war through the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, who fought against Austria-Hungary’s rule over Bosnia. Because of this event, Serbian nationalism played a significant role in starting the war because it created a division between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Similarly, in World War 2, once Hitler came into power Germany was in a depression and had lost all hope. They displayed nationalism as a means of restoring Germany to its previous state. This renewed nationalism led to others supporting the invasion of Poland and the expansion of German power across Europe. This led to the rise of the Nazi party, and the failure of appeasement in Germany which became a distinct cause of World War 2.

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The causes of World War 1 and World War 2 were different in that in World War 1, nations were motivated by access to land and resources whereas in World War 2 nations were motivated by ideologies. An example of this is Japan joining World War 1 on the side of the Allies to gain German Pacific islands. These islands were important to the Japanese because they strengthened their defensive perimeter, allowing them to consolidate their holdings throughout the western Pacific. Conversely, in World War 2, Hitler made political decisions on an “ideological basis” meaning that he perceived the world in a way that was different from the motives of Germany supporting Austria-Hungary in World War 1. Germany was more motivated by the elimination of Jewish people, the need for “living space”, etc. Nevertheless, both wars saw countries trying to upset the power balance in Europe for their own gain.

In both wars the US joined because foreign countries were interfering with the US however the countries and the impact of the interference were vastly different. In World War 1, the immediate cause of US intervention was the Zimmerman Telegram which was a German note to Mexico that offered US territory if they joined the war and supported the German cause. This note was intercepted by the British and given to the US which led them to enter the war on the side of the Allies. Also notable is the sinking of the Lusitania which killed more than 120 U.S. citizens. In the Second World War, the immediate cause was the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan. This had a far greater impact than the Zimmerman Telegram and the Lusitania because thousands of Americans were killed, and hundreds of planes and ships were destroyed. US intervention gave the allies the advantage in both wars due to the US’s beneficial location, and abundance of resources. For example, in World War 2 the US gave significant support to the British to fight Germany as part of the Lend-Lease agreement established in 1941.

In both wars, a certain group of people were singled out for genocide. In World War 1, the Ottomans launched a campaign of deportation and mass killing of the Armenian people killing anywhere from 600,000 to 1.5 million Armenians. In World War 2, the Nazis used the holocaust--the systematic killing of nearly 6 million European Jews in concentration camps. Both genocides were extremely damaging to the inflicted subjects.

Another area of similarities and differences is the technology used in each war. While both wars used revolutionary technology, World War 2 had far more advanced technology. World War 1 popularized the machine gun which completely revolutionized warfare. Because of the machine gun trench warfare was the most common form of warfare. Poisonous gas was also highly effective and thus used often. During the interwar period, nations were motivated to reform and modernize their military. This led to a plethora of innovations. Armored warfare, strategic bombing, close air support, carrier aviation, amphibious warfare, and radio and radar were all developed during this period. World War 2 saw unprecedented forms of warfare. While World War 1 used trench warfare, World War 2 was fought using modern artillery and used submarines, ships, tanks, airplanes, and atomic missiles. Special operations methods were also developed with methods of secret communication. Nuclear warfare developed due to the atomic bomb and was capable of killing tens of thousands of people as seen in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Due to World War 2’s superior technology, the destructive impact was far greater. For context, the US spent $381.8 billion during World War 1 and $4.69 trillion (US Today). Concurrently, World War 2 caused 60 million deaths worldwide compared to 24 million deaths in World War 1. Nevertheless, both wars resulted in significant amounts of damage and all participating countries mobilized all resources to fight. Thus, both wars are considered to be total wars and were the first “total wars” in human history. In World War 1 this damage was seen through the Treaty of Versailles which made Germany take responsibility for the war, limited Germany's army, separated Austria-Hungary, formed the League of Nations, and gave independence to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, and Poland from Russia. Contrarily, World War 2, the war ended with the victory of the Allies over Germany and Japan in 1945 and the issuing of the Paris Peace Treaties. These treaties made Germany accept responsibility for the war, pay financial reparations to the Allies, and limit their army. Because of this, in both wars, Germany was the aggressor and loser. At Germany’s demise, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as rival superpowers which would lead to the Cold War. Additionally, the United Nations was established to facilitate international peace and prevent future conflicts, similar in nature to the League of Nations.

In conclusion, the two deadliest wars in human history, World War 1 and World War 2 had a significant impact on the prevailing world powers of the day. Although the wars have many similarities, they were different in many ways due to their direct causes, execution, and global impact. They were similar in their contextual causes in that both wars were caused by nationalism, militarism, and alliances yet they were different in their direct causes and countries’ motivations. Additionally, the US had a significant impact on both wars but their reason for joining was different. In both wars, genocide occurred in a particular group as well. Lastly, the tech and impact of each war were different.

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Was World War 2 as a Continuation of World War 1: Analytical Essay. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/was-world-war-2-as-a-continuation-of-world-war-1-analytical-essay/
“Was World War 2 as a Continuation of World War 1: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 15 Nov. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/was-world-war-2-as-a-continuation-of-world-war-1-analytical-essay/
Was World War 2 as a Continuation of World War 1: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/was-world-war-2-as-a-continuation-of-world-war-1-analytical-essay/> [Accessed 2 Mar. 2024].
Was World War 2 as a Continuation of World War 1: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Nov 15 [cited 2024 Mar 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/was-world-war-2-as-a-continuation-of-world-war-1-analytical-essay/
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