The Second World War: Ambitions to Nemesis

The Second World War: Ambitions to Nemesis

The Second World War: Ambitions to Nemesis

The Second World War: Ambitions to Nemesis


Bradley Lightbody presents a fascinating and accessible history of the Second World War in its global context. Examining the war around general themes from ambition and advance, through expansion and containment, to rout and victory, The Second World War covers all the major theatres and events of the war.From the origins and background to the war to its aftermath and legacy, The Second World War covers:* the pre-war ambitions of Italy, Germany and Japan* the outbreak of the war in Poland* the 'Phoney War'* Blitzkrieg, the Fall of France and the Battle of Britain* Pearl Harbour* the war in North Africa and El Alamein* the final solution* D-Day, the liberation of Italy and deliverance from the concentration camps* the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.This book provides a comprehensive overview of the global ambitions and the global warfare that was the Second World War, making it essential reading for all students of twentieth century world history.


The Second World War was a war of ambitions and denials. The ambitions belonged to Germany, Japan and Italy. All three nations were determined to expand their national frontiers at the expense of neighbouring states. Hitler and Germany wished to dominate central Europe and to reduce Poland and the USSR to the status of vassal states. Hirohito and Japan sought dominion over China and South East Asia. Mussolini and Italy coveted the Balkans and the Mediterranean region in a planned revival of the glories of ancient Rome.

At first the League of Nations, primarily represented by Britain and France, attempted to moderate and to appease the different national ambitions. However, as the demands for expansion escalated appeasement was gradually replaced by denial. The result was a series of wars as Japan, Italy and Germany resorted to military force to secure their national ambitions.

Japan was the first nation to move beyond diplomacy to war with the annexation of Manchuria in September 1931, followed by the invasion of China in July 1937. Italy also defied world opinion with the invasion of Abyssinia in October 1935. Both wars were major acts of aggression, but they remained isolated regional conflicts. However, the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 triggered a chain of actions and alliances that ultimately engulfed six of the world's seven continents in war. In particular, in October 1940 Germany, Japan and Italy signed the Tripartite Pact and united as the 'Axis' powers with the shared ambition of a new world order. The result was global warfare.

The Second World War began at 4.45 a.m. on 1 September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. Franz Honiok was the first recorded victim of the war. Honiok was a Polish prisoner who was murdered by the SS and dumped at the scene of a fake Polish attack on the German radio station at Gleiwitz on the Polish border. Several other border incidents were also staged by the SS, and a further twelve Polish prisoners, all unidentified, were murdered to create the pretext for invasion.

The Second World War finally ended at 11 p.m. on 14 September 1945 with the surrender of Japan. Italy had capitulated in 1943 and Germany was fought to a standstill in the ruins of Berlin in April 1945. The war cost the lives of approximately 55 million people, and many died in the most horrific of circumstances. It is impossible to name the last victim of the war because long after the war had ended many exprisoners and Holocaust survivors died from malnutrition and the injuries sustained during captivity. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki the radiation dose absorbed by the population from the detonation of two atomic bombs in August 1945 also continued to claim lives for decades after the end of the war.

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