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European History - Essay Example

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World War II can never be fully assessed without looking into World War I. Wars have causes and may start only from some various causes. But war may be a continuation from another one where armistice is properly seen as what was between them. This is what can characterize World War I and World War II as perceived by some historians based on events that happened.
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European History
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European History

Download file to see previous pages... In the making of the Treaty of Versailles that effectively ended World War I, France chaired the peace conference and saw fit to have Germany, the one who started the war be properly punished and the lands it confiscated returned. Germany signed the treaty but proposed some amendments. Still, the treaty was to the consciousness of Germans a reason to have a score settled and that came in World War II. In the opinions of many, the treaty was too harsh on Germany and France is now being seen in bad light
World War II. In 1939, World War II came, and this lasted until 1945.1 The war spread out to Europe, Asia, Mediterranean and Middle East, Africa resulting in Allied victory where casualties were 62 million, and 37 million of these were civilians and 25 million were military. The two groups that were fighting were the Allies composed of Soviet Union, UK and Commonwealth, USA, France/Free France, China, Poland, and Australia; and the Axis composed of Germany, Japan, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Vichy France. 2
World War II was a truly global conflict with untold human misery that began on September 1, 1939 when German invaded Poland. Countries that participated in World War I were the same countries involved in World War II. On September 3, 1939 Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany and Canada followed a week later. Meanwhile, the United States joined the conflict in December 1941 after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour.3
Treaties. After World War II, delegates from 21 member countries of the United Nations met in Paris on July 29, 1946, to draft treaties with Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Finland.4 Representatives of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and France signed the treaties in Paris on Feb. 10, 1947. Border fortifications as provided in the treaties were to be limited only to keeping internal security. Also, guarantees against racial discrimination and the rebirth of fascist governments were provided for.5 Because of the devastating experiences of war that the nations went through especially in World War II, these two guarantees are understandable. Also, the Balkan treaties provided for free navigation of the Danube.
Demands. At the end of the war, millions were rendered homeless, the European economy had collapsed, and 70% of the European industrial infrastructure was destroyed.6 The Eastern victors exacted payment of war reparations from the defeated nations, and in the Paris Peace Treaty, the enemies of Soviet Union which were Hungary, Finland and Romania, were required to pay $300,000,000 each to the Soviet Union. Italy was required to pay $360,000,000, shared chiefly between Greece, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.7 Meanwhile, the Western victors in World War II did not demand compensation from the defeated nations. Instead, a plan established by U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, the "European Recovery Program", better known as the Marshall Plan, called for the U.S. Congress to allocate billions of dollars for the reconstruction of Europe.8 As reflected in Table 1, the breakdown was as follows -

compensation to the wWII victors at 1938 prices
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