General History/World War II


Questions on World War ll

1. How did world war ll start?
  2. How did America get involved with world war ll
  3. Why did people volunteer to go into world war ll
  4. How did people feel during world war ll

This is a tall order! Probably much more complicated and extensive than is obvious.
I am sorry the answer is delayed but I have run into some technical problems.
1 & 2: In Asia Japan attacked China already in the mid 1930ies. First by turning Chinese Manchuria into a Japanese puppet state and a couple of years later by attacking also the rest of China. All in order to gain more territory and natural resources. This war was later incorporated into WW2.
In Europe Hitler's Nazi Germany adopted by the later part of the 1930ies - though it was always a part of his political plans - an aggressive expansion policy trying to recover and expand territories lost after WW1 and natural resources - his so called Lebensraum (= living room, or living space). First he annexed Austria into Germany in 1938. Since most Austrians liked this there were no firm protests. Soon afterwards he demanded that the German speaking areas of Czeckoslovakia, the so called Sudeten areas also should be annexed to Germany. This almost resulted in war. France and Britain opposed this but public opinions there and the political wills there were not strong enough yet so he succeeded though he promised not to demand anything more. A promise he quickly broke.In early 1939 he occupied the rest of Czeckoslovakia turning Czeckia into a German protectorate inside Germany and Slovakia into a German puppet state under German protection. He also annexed the Memel area of Lithuania into Germany. Soon after that he started to demand Polish territories. By now British and French patience had run out. In order to avoid a two front war Hitler made a deal with Stalin, the dictator of the Communist Soviet Union promising him the eastern half of Polan and all of Finland, Estonia, Latvia and the rest of Lithuania if Hitler could get the western half of Poland. Britain and France could not offer any similar promises so of course Hitler succeeded. On September 1 1939 he attacked Poland. Britain and France declared war and WW2 in Europe had started.
The aggressive policies of Germany, Italy and Japan had isolated them politically so they had formed an alliance with each other. The Soviet Union was about as aggressive but it was not so apparent yet.
The USA was not involved in this at all but since it did fear the German policies it did give support to Britain and was therefore moved more and more towards the war.
USA also opposed the Japanese war actions in China and as a result stopped selling oil to Japan.
This was a serious decision since Japan depended on that oil. The Japanese quickly made plans to conquer oil producing areas in Asia. To be able to do that they understood that they needed to cripple the US Pacific Navy and they therefore attacked the US naval base of Pearl Harbor on December 6 1941 driving USA into the war.
In the mean time Germany had also attacked its former partner the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 in order to gain territory and natural resources and to eliminate a future rival.
Hitler probably wanted Japanese support against the Soviet Union and in order to get that he quickly - followed by Italy - declared war on the USA. It now truly was a World War.
3, Well some - quite many - did due to duty, patriotism and dislike of Hitler. But most were conscripted so they did not have a choice.
4. I was born at the very end of the war, around 2 months before its end in Europe and around 5 months before its end in Asia, so I have no memories of it. But based on what I have heard and read it was a VERY tough time. A couple of examples. Half of the crews of the British Royal Air Force were killed during the war! About the same number of US air crews in Europe were also killed. The death toll of the German submarine fleet was even higher! This was one of the most terrible - perhaps the very most terrible - wars in human history! So feelings were accordingly!

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Claes-Gustaf Nordquist, M.D.


I have a long and intense interest in European and World History. This also includes Military History - especially as I have been a military physician-surgeon for 15 years. I`m also interested in the history of Science, Technology-Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics.


A life long intense interest. But I'm not a professional historian - though the next best thing, an educated VERY interested amateur!

I'm a Doctor of Medicine, specialist in Medical Oncology, Radiation Therapy and Radiation Protection. But that has no connection to this.
However I do answer such questions too here on and have done so for a long time. For such questions click on the appropriate link: Oncology (General Cancer), Military History, Brain Tumors, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer

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