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To what extent was the end of World War II a reaction to the past?

The war that raged in the Pacific and in Europe was only one of many conflicts being waged in the early 1940's. Another conflict was taking place between the allies themselves. Not a war but a competition. America and England recognized that the Communist Soviet Union was going to be a major force in world politics and were very concerned about what type of power Josef Stalin might wield. At the same time Stalin was concerned about the power of the United States. The jockeying for position in the new world order was the war within the war.

I.  The New World Order

A. Who would retain control of Europe after WW II ended?

1. The United States and Soviet Union each feared the other would gain too much power.

B. What steps did the United States take during the war to limit Soviet influences after the war?

1. During the war we:

a. Ended the Lend Lease Program.

b. Failed to open a second front so enough

c. Dropped atomic bomb on Japan

 C. How did the wartime conferences help to create a New World Order? Click here for more detailed information on the wartime conferences.

1. (1940) Atlantic Charter—signed an agreement that later became the basis of the United Nation

2. (11/43) Tehran Conference—United States agrees to open up a second front.

3. (10/44) Yalta Conference—FDR gives up Poland. Stalin agrees to have "free and unfettered" elections and also to attack Japan after the war in Europe was over.

4. (7/45) Potsdam Conference—Stalin announces there will not be free elections in Poland and he will never give up Eastern Europe. (He does this to create a buffer zone against possible attack from the west.)

D. What was the plan for Europe and Japan after the war was over?

1. United Nations set up to help prevent another world war.

2. Plan for Europe

a. Germany is temporarily divided into 4 zones. Germany’s capital Berlin divided too. After a democratic government was installed the America, England and France reunited their sectors. Stalin refused to reunite his section, fearing a strong united Germany and wanting to retain control. This creates two Germanies; a democratic West Germany and communist dictatorship East Germany.

b. Democratic government and constitution installed in Germany

c. War crimes trials held in Nuremberg to convict Nazi's who had committed atrocities.

d. Marshall Plan announced. America will rebuild Europe. Prevents another depression/war by rebuilding markets and turning an enemy into an ally. USSR and countries controlled by USSR never take any Marshall Plan money because Stalin feels it’s an imperialist plot against his power.

3. Plan for Japan

a. Japan occupied by United States forces

b. General MacAuthor personally overseas transition to a democratic government.

c. Emperor Hironito allowed to remain as figure head

d. Japan demilitarized

e. America rebuilds Japan so that we can turn an enemiy into an ally and build markets for our goods. This helps to avoid a world wide depression.

f. War crimes trail held in Japan to punish war criminals.

Even the casual observer of history can see that America made dramatically different choices after WWII than it had after WWI. Instead of retreating into an isolationist shell American helped build a new world order that would promote peace and stability. Look at the differences:

After WWI

After WWII

Refused to join League of Nations

America played a leading role in the creation of the United Nations.

Became isolationist. High Tariffs helped to create a depression in Europe.

America got seriously involved in European affairs. Rebuilding Europe and Japan helped to stave off a depression.

The Treaty of Versailles ignored Wilson's 14 points and punished Germany.

The treaties signed by Germany and Japan did not punish either nation. America actually rebuilt them. This created long term, positive relationships between the US and these former enemies.

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