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388 - Week 1 – Lecture 1 - Introduction .docx

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McGill University
HIST 388
Peter Hoffmann

Week 1 – Lecture 1 History 388 – the Second World War Introduction Paper - size 12, sent to the TA’s, 2 pages double-spaced Origins of the 2WW and the Cold War grew simultaneously WW2 grew out of the WW1 as did the Cold War (Russian Revolution of 1917, which arranged two world systems against each other – the western system (democracy in varying forms and the concept that dominates esp. the USA) vs. the eastern system (Marxism, bolshevism, the Soviet system, and communism) - 1941-1945 = total, world war o historian and philosopher Nolte has argued that the years from 1914-1945 and possibly beyond, constituted at least a European civil war  referred to the 2WW and the inter-war period as a European civil war period so that the origins of the 2WW and the Cold War are closely related dominant figures – at least from 1933 to 1945 – wereAdolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin  Hitler’s dominant concern was the hatred of Marxism and Judaism which he perceived to be synonymous (to Hitler, Marx was Jewish – Marxism was created by Jews BUT actually Marx had been baptised so unless you apply the notion of ‘race’to him, then that evaluation does not hold all that much meaning) - Hitler’s racial meaning of Jewish identity = if the grandparents were Jewish in a cultural or religious sense o Whether they were baptised or not – the criteria o If one had two Jewish grandparents by that definition then one was half Jewish  Measured by religion = RELIGION IS NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DEEMED RACIAL IN A BIOLOGICAL SENSE THOUGH Hitler was not stupid  knew that the business of race was nonsense; knew it was a question of cultural identity rather than biological, racial identity = said so Stalin was not a racist in the sense that Hitler was but he was distrustful to the point of paranoia – not obsessed with the wish to exterminate Nazis or Germans (or any other race – even Ukrainians), but instead enemies of his power - obsessed with exterminating genuine or imagined enemies of his power, in the millions o the ambitions of the two dictators were potentially dictated – both wished to restore and expand empire  Stalin was more ruthless than Hitler = ambition was to revolutionise the entire world but he was flexible in the prosecution of his ambition  Hitler was inflexible in his ambition to conquer the world and to begin with Russia – spoke of it throughout his career from the 1920s and 1930s, years before the attack on the Soviet Union • Although he did explain this aim in different terms – until 1939, he always spoke of lebensraum – geographical space, germanising this space forAryans  mean disposing of the indigenous populations one way or another and settling the area afterwards; if residual indigenous populations remained, they could do so only as slaves • Hitler was also inflexible in his desire, obsession with the extermination of the Jews = so inflexible as to make the project self-defeating o In 1942, when the German front in Russia was in dire need of supplies and replacements e.g. trucks, fuel, ammunition, tanks as well – transport capacity in general, Hitler and his ‘henchmen’were using freight trains to transport Jews to concentration camps  Gave preference to the transport of Jews to concentration camps • Demonstrates his deep-seated obsession which was, in the end, self-defeating o it damaged the war effort as it took precedence over it global conflict between east and west; between global society and Soviet Russia  the USA, the UK, Canada, France and Japan all sent troops to Russia against the Bolshevik revolution and the Red Army, to support the WhiteArmy - since July 1918 = western forces were engaged in Russia against Trotsky’s Red Army as they occupied territory from Murmansk and Archangel to Lake Magyar o troops were landed in multiple locations on the Black Sea - intervention ended in 1920 except for the Japanese who stayed until 1935 o the confrontation continued until 1939 and 1941 – between this period, Britain still regarded herself as an enemy of the Soviet Union and prepared to bomb Russian oilfields in order to prevent Germany benefiting from them Germany and Russia had a pact sinceAugust 1939 – promised each other various things - Germany conceded to Russia – territories, Baltic states, Danube territories - Russia promised to supply Germany with a lot of needed raw materials, inc. war materials, fuels etc. o Britain then planned to bomb their oilfields to demonstrate the point of hostility British-Russian hostility ended with the German attack on the Soviet Union: named by Churchill as the ‘new ally’in 1941 - enemy of my enemy is my friend WW2 had another dimension compared to WW1 – ‘WW1 was fought and decided mainly in Europe; although there were other theatres e.g. theAtlantic, it was genuinely agreed and clear to all that the decision would be obtained in France – the Western theatre, esp. after Russia had left the war in 1917 and the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty with the Central Powers (Germany, Turkey, Austro-Hungary) on 3 March 1918 – spring and summer 1918 it was all between Germany, France, Britain and the USA’ - WW2 had global dimensions quite unlike WW1 – included the entire Pacific theatre (thousands of islands – Hawaii, Midway, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines = substantial amount of islands in the Paci▯idesire particularly to control world resources inc. oil) The Japanese were added from about 1930-31  when they attacked Manchuria  the Japanese after WW1 had tried development and trade to feed their growing population but it did not fully work = a faction of the ruling classes decided that expansion was the answer, beyond the Japanese islands into Indonesia (oil and resources), China etc. = becomes clear that it is difficult to time the beginning of WW2 – did it begin with Japanese expansion – military expansion from 1933, or the Italian attack on Ethiopia in 1935 or the Spanish Civil War in which Republicans and Falangists or fascists fought against each other (Soviets were heavily involved on the republican side in return for payment, whilst the Germans and Italians intervened on the side of Franco) - does that constitute the origin of WW2?! The attack on Poland developed into a world war  7 December 1941 = marks the end of the development of the war into a complete world one Roots of the second world war in the aftermath and peace settlements of WW1 = contained the seeds of belligerism - no one was happy with them and everyone wanted them revised – even the Poles and French whom were largely advantaged o the Polish immediately started a war against Polish claiming some territory that they said was there’s by right, and which was eventually taken back by Russia in 1945 o the French were unhappy and so continued for multiple years after 1919 – occupied the industrial heartland of Germany during peacetime – occupied the Ruhr destruction and establishing a border between the Ruhr population and the rest of the natio
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