world war 2, Armed Camps in world war 2, Mobilization Of Resources, Technological Innovations, Nuclear Weapons, Results of world war 2, world history notes
The nature of modern warfare was the result of two simultaneous processes. First was the idea of ‘nation in arm’ or conscription in the French Revolution. This gave men equality in battle which was denied to them in actual life. This democratization of war transformed wars into mass-wars or people’s war in which civilians and civil-life itself became the proper and sometimes the main target of military strategy. The other was the growth of industrial economy which provided the resources, the organizational techniques and methods of motivation needed to fight mass-wars, thus remodeling them as total wars.
The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed the transformation of war from specialized activity of a professional military group. First into the total mobilization of industrial resources to produce weapons, then into total involvement of entire industrial societies in the process of hurling concentrated mechanized forces against military or civilian targets anywhere on the globe, and finally into a scientific contest to develop weapons of mass destruction. The armament race among major powers continued, fuelled by the profit motives of the private firms such as Krupp in Germany, Vickers Armstrong in Britain, Schneider-Cruesot in France, Skoda in Austria and Putiloff in Russia, collectively known as ‘the merchants of death’.
Massive Mobilization Of Resources
The character of industrial mobilization changed markedly during the World War II. Instead of the mass production of a few key items, as in the First World War, the second global conflict drew on virtually every phase of industry. The new engines of war, tanks, aircrafts, radar etc, were highly complex and delicate. It required an elaborate system of mass production of several million items according to schedules and priorities which went on shifting with new technical developments and the changing emphasis of war strategy. This could be planned only by states at a high level of economic development. When the war came, all major combatants channeled their production capacities into the manufacture of goods for sustenance of war.
During the World War II, European war economies also adopted the American system of mass-production. Standardized interchangeable parts were produced in bulk and the end product was put together on the assembly line.
In five war years, USA economy produced 300,000 military aircraft and 86,700 tanks. Germany produced 44,857 tanks and assault guns in the same period and also produced 111,767 aircraft during 1934-44. It became necessary to conscript the entire economy and civilian life to achieve these military targets.
A high level of armed mobilization, which hovered around 20% for most powers during the Second World War, and which lasted for a few years, produced a kind of social revolution in the employment of women outside the household, temporarily in the World War I and permanently in the World War II. Only Germany avoided this integration of women in the labour market for ideological reasons, as the Nazi State did not consider women worthy of employment outside their houses.
Another important aspect of war was that it was waged as a zero-sum game, i.e., as a war which could only be totally won or totally lost. Unlike the earlier wars which were fought for specific and limited objectives, world wars were waged for unlimited ends. In the Second World War, this found expression in the phrase “unconditional surrender”. The USA removed all restrictions on Allied armament contracts, including those of immediate payment through the lend-lease agreements.
The new military establishments took on many of the features of great industrial enterprises; Modern business method, office organization, system of record keeping. The use of duplicating, sorting and communication equipment and all such paraphernalia for carrying on large industrial operations and emergence of a kind of corporate leadership in the management of military strategy gave military institutions many characteristics of a large business corporation. The army officers became “the managers of violence”.
In most of the belligerent countries, there was suspension of market mechanism in favour of controls and direction designed to ensure the restructuring of national economies according to the needs and priorities of war production. War was no longer a matter predominantly of purely financial costs-but assumed the form of mobilization of all economic resources.
After World War I, fully automatic weapons in the rifle weight class or the Assault Rifles were developed which combined the burst-fire capability of the sub-machineguns with the range and accuracy of the infantry rifle. The better known were German MP-44, and after World War II, the Soviet Kalashnikov and AK-47.
In World War II, anti-aircraft guns became more improved and lethal. The role of field and naval artillery declined-the tank partly relieving its field role and the tactical bomber aircraft its bombardment role. Light and mobile guns were more in demand during World War II. Some important anti-aircraft guns used during World War II were-the Bofors 40 mm gun of US and UK, Soviet M-1939, 37 mm gun and German 88 mm guns. Arrival of Tanks was countered by the development of armour-piercing ammunition.
In the World War II, heavier machineguns were used. The lighter variety of machineguns such as German MG-34 / 42, the Soviet Degtyarev, British Bren and US BAR fired 350-600 rounds per minute. The sub machineguns such as German MP-38 / 40 series, popularly known as ‘burp’ guns, Soviet PPD and PPsh, American Thompson and the British Sten were also used extensively.
Submarines were used on a larger scale in the World War II in the Atlantic by Germany and in the Pacific by the US. US navy’s Agronaut during Inter-war period and Gato and Balao submarines during World War II played decisive role in the naval warfare.
German Zeppelins were early military aircraft used during World War I. Their use did not prove very effective. Later, military aircrafts were improved. The bombers were also improved, with Boeing Aircraft Company producing B-9 bombers in 1931-the progenitor of all modern combat aircrafts.
During the Second World War, chemical weapons were stockpiled but were not integrated into military planning. Military ineffectiveness and fear of retaliation prevented their use. During the World War II, Germany developed V1 and V2 missiles (1944-45) nicknamed in German as ‘Vergeltungswaffen’ (or Vengeance weapons) which became the precursors of modern ballistic missiles.
US entered the World War II in December 1941 and started the Manhattan Project to make atom bomb. Colonel Leslie Groves became the head of the Manhattan Engineer District. In October 1942, after reorganization, J. Robert Oppenheimer became the director of Project Y (group that actually designed the bomb). A plutonium weapon-Trinity was tested in July 1945 in South Central New Mexico. On 6 August 1945 at 8.15 am, local time, a US B-29 bomber named Enola Gay flew over Hiroshima. The untested U- 235 bomb nicknamed Little Boy was air-burst 1900 feet above the city to maximize destruction.
The effects were devastating-about two-thirds of city was completely destroyed and 140,000 persons died by the end of the year (out of a population of 350,000). A second weapon, a duplicate of plutonium-239 implosion assembly which was tested as Trinity, and nicknamed Fatman was planned to be dropped at Kokura on 11 August 1945, but schedule was moved up two days to avoid bad weather, to 9 August, the US bomber, unable to sight Kokura, dropped it on the secondary target of Nagasaki.
Results of War
World War 2 involved mass destruction of physical resources, productive capacities and human resources of both the victors and vanquished. The estimated deaths in the World War II were between 3-5 times the estimated figures for the World War I. It included about 5.1 million Jews. About 20% of total population of the USSR, Poland and Yugoslavia was wiped out in the second war.
The loss of productive capacities was also enormous. About 20% pre-war capital assets of USSR 13% pre-war assets in Germany, 8% in Italy, 7% in France and 3% in Britain were destroyed during the World War II. The night of 9 November 1938, the night of broke glass (Kristallnacht in German) inaugurated the Holocaust (or the mass murder of about 5.1 million European Jews by the Nazis). On the night of 9 November 1938, a number of Jews were killed and about 20-30,000 were sent to concentration camps.
In the World War II, the number of stateless, the uprooted people in Europe were 40.5 million, excluding non-German forced labourers in Germany and Germans who fled before the advancing Soviet armies. About 13 million Germans were expelled from the parts of Germany annexed by Poland and the USSR, from Czechoslovakia and parts of South-Eastern Europe. Other major byproduct of war, partition of India and the Korean War produced 15 million and 5 million displaced persons. The Establish- ment of Israel-another war-effect, uprooted about 1.3 million Palestinians.
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