This section serves as a brief overview. It is by no means comprehensive, if it were, it would be a tome. If you want something a bit more detailed, short of reading a whole library's worth of books and records, go to wikipedia.
Causes of the War (for the US)
Whew, where to start on this one? How about we start at a clear beginning and work backwards in time? Yes? Good.
Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941. The Japanese combined fleet hits the US Pacific fleet. The rest is history, as they say. However, what lead up to this day? First off, the Japanese planned the attack, this was not something done on a whim. One of the main elements that was included in this calculation was the ABCD (American, British, Chinese, and Dutch) embargo against Japan. Japan wasn't receiving nearly enough oil that it needed to sustain itself. Either take what it needs to supplement the losses, or lie down and die (lose China, Manchuria, Korea, the islands it holds, everything it's gained since the turn of the century).
Well, why the embargo? Well, the Japanese army was doing nasty things in China. Rape, murder, pillaging, executions, etc.. Great horrors. Of which, the US populace did not like and the ABCD nations in general. Japan, was encroaching on ABCD holdings (especially China) in the Pacific. The Japanese army had been in China for several years and Manchuria for over a decade. They had held the Korean peninsula since 1910, when it was annexed.
Well wait, back up... Why all the expansion? Japan is an island nation (for those who are geographically challenged). More or less, Japan is devoid of resources. Japan was turned into an industrialized nation starting in the late 1800s (after the American Civil War). America forced Japan to become an 'open nation' (they previously banned all foreigners up until the US thrust open its doors - at gunpoint). So, Japan was becoming industrialized, civilized, and Westernized. Like many nations at that time. The US, France, Spain, Germany, England, etc. the Japanese wanted to create its own empire (after some goading by the United States & England). Not only to secure more resources, but additional labor force, and territory to grow. Additionally, when the Great Depression hit, to help make up for the tremendous losses they suffered economically (the US was the largest silk importer before the depression, Japan provided said silk).
Wait, did I say goading by the Americans and British? Yes, so that China could be opened up to colonization and that Japan act as a 'buffer' to the Russians (who were expanding in the area). So, in sum, did I just say that the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor is the, somewhat direct/indirect cause of US actions half a century earlier?
Makes you wonder...
Joe PublicThe average middle school textbook chapter on WWII history, from what I have personally seen, covers at least the following (too often in about 8 pages, with pictures). Most members of the public have an understanding of these things indented below. Added in (italicized) are other important events and vocabulary words that frequently are skipped or missed.
More will be added at a later date.
Pre-War Years:-Rise of Nazism in Germany-Japanese Aggression in East Asia
-US lend-lease to Soviets and the British
Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941-The Japanese naval and air attack on the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.-The US entry into the war.
-Communism - the evil Soviets
It is your 'job' as a reenactor to fill in the gaps, give it flavor, and make the events personal. History goes beyond names, dates, and locations. History is people, their experiences, beliefs, hopes, dreams, struggles, values, ideas, and ideals. Talking about how GIs lived, what they ate, what they used, what kept them alive, the importance of mail call brings the vague and distant thing called "WWII" back into the here and now. Being able to talk about WWII is one thing, being able to portray it, act it out, is another.
Why study WWII History? What makes it important? What impact does it have today?
WWII defined how our world looks today. The Allies poured billions into the rebuilding of Germany and Japan, both presently are the world's #3 and #4 economies. China exists as a communist nation because of WWII (WWII for Japan, and China, began in 1931) and Japan's occupation of the country. North & South Korea are the way they are due to Japan's actions during the war and the post-war handling of them. Russia turned from possible enemy to ally to competitor to finally our enemy immediately after the war, defining nearly 50 years of world history. WWII defined an entire generation, the Greatest Generation, and propelled the United States (the only country left largely untouched) as the world's super power. America flexed its industrial muscles, produced, and exported goods around the world, the global economy was born. Left unrivaled so long and treated as the 'center of the world' America could be said to have become 'lax' over the past few decades, something, some will say, we're paying for now.
Technological innovations like penicillin, radar, jet propulsion, napalm, the atomic bomb, nylon, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID - think iPass), and the superhighway all have their roots within WWII and formed the world we knew after it. Imagine if Eisenhower did not bring back the idea of a superhighway system to the United States? Where would we be without jet propulsion (rockets! No moon landing or space program). Without the medical advances people would not be living as long, dying younger, higher infant mortality rate. Imagine a world without nuclear weapons (more war? less fear? more fear?).
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