France in the World War II
The World War 2 began on September 1, 1939, when the German army invaded Poland. It ended 6 years after with the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945. This was a period of the significant amendments in the whole world. For example, the Hitler’s army managed to conquer one of the most powerful states in Europe, France. The former Empire once ruled by the dynasty of Bourbons, Napoleon Buonaparte and was considered the most progressive country during the times of Republics, it was occupied by German Army within the month after the beginning of the invasion.
Hitler initiated the operation of France, Luxembourg and Belgium invasion on May 10, 1940. In about two weeks both Belgium and Luxembourg surrendered and open their borders for the Nazi Army. The France, which declared the war on Germany, on September 3, 1939, two days after their invasion to Poland, had to ask for the help from their British colleagues. The troops of both countries did their best in order to stop the invasion. However, their attempts were in vain. The battle of Dunkirk was one of the most significant events of that time. During the battle German army surrounded the Allies troops near the city of Dunkirk. Hitler brought a lot of forces to fight the united army of Britain and France. This resulted in a massive evacuation of the Allies troops from Dunkirk. The operation Dynamo, which was aimed at evacuation, lasted till the June 4, 1940. Despite the speeches by Generalle de Gaulle, 20 days after France headed by Marshal Petain signed the documents of surrender in the town of Compiegne. It was the same place where German officials signed the surrender of the World War I. This symbolical moment encouraged the Nazis. Their army was almost invincible until 1942, when the famous battle of Stalingrad changed the course of the war. The decision of Petain is still discussed by the modern historians. On the one hand, the surrender allowed the Axis powers to move through Europe.
On the other hand, the Petain’s action saved Paris and the whole France from bombings. Most probably the cultural heritage of the country still exists only because of the Marshal. After the agreement in Compiegne, the state was divided in two different zone – one was occupied by the German army, and the second was so called free zone, which was ruled by Petain from Vichy. However, the “zone libre” was fully dependent on the decisions of the Nazi government. Therefore, the Vichy Republic was made only to create the image of the state. In October, 1940 the government initiated the anti-Jews laws. According to them, Jews were not deprived of any civil, public, industrial or commercial position. Moreover, the foreigner Jews were immediately sent to the concentration camps once found on the territory of France.
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Meanwhile the French Resistance was fighting with the Nazi regime. The situation got even worse during 1942 when Nazi powers demanded 250 thousand volunteers in order to cover their needs in new soldiers. The Zone Libre got occupied by the Axis powers by November. In 1943 Germany continued searching for workers and soldiers in France. The situation changed only in 1944, when the liberation movement started all over Europe. The famous D-Day landing took place on June 6, 1944 stating the start of the operation Overlord. Thousands of sailors and paratroopers reached the beaches of Normandy and Utah and attacked the Axis forces. Next, the Allies liberated Provence. On August 25, 1944, Paris, the capital of France, finally became French again. That Charles de Gaulle headed Allied troops on a march along famous Champs Elysees in order to celebrate the liberation of citizens. By the end of 1944 France was fully liberated and started to overcome the consequences of the war.
The World War II influenced the political and economic situation in France. Moreover, it harmed the cultural development of the Republic. The country needed years in order to recover from the massacres and horrors of the Nazi regime. Modern France seems to be fully rehabilitated after the war, and it seems that the French people are fully confident in their future despite the economic crisis and cultural problems they face.
World War II can be rightly called one of the most significant events in the history of humanity. It had a significant impact on the development of the entire world, and resulted in the revision of many socio-political doctrines, policies, and principles of international relations.
World War II had many consequences. The USSR lost over 24 million people, both military and civilians, and over 21 million people were left homeless and in poor conditions (Fussell 745). Great Britain and France had both collapsed as empires, and European boundaries had been literally redrawn. The United States of America claimed to lead the reconstruction efforts and started to conduct policy, directed to establishing itself as a new superpower. Thus, modern geopolitical balance of power in the world can also be considered as one of the direct consequences of World War II. Among many others, several consequences of this war are felt even today, such as the increase in baby boomers in the U.S., which has a continued effect on the economy; cold wars and war sensitivity, including the nuclear arms race today; and the establishment of the U.S. as a leading power in the world.
Between the years 1946 and 1964, a sudden and large increase in birthrate was detected in the U.S. The reason for such a dramatic growth in population is still a disputed subject among experts. At first, the U.S. welcomed this phenomenon by passing GI bills to improve education, skills and income. Now, the generation of baby boomers is already retiring, or fast approaching retirement age. Currently, the cost of Social Security is rising faster than the taxed income of the working population (Lavery 56). Due to this fact, nowadays, it has become questionable whether the American economy will be able to afford the future cost of Social Security, as the baby boomer generation continues to retire.
Another consequence of World War II is the continuing Cold War. One might say that it had ended several decades ago, but actually, it still goes on, though now it is not so intense (Lavery 76). Nation states spend billions of dollars to increase military power. Nuclear weapons today have become the weapons of choice. Diplomacy, combined with a demonstration of military power, is often used to pressure leaders who conduct policies which are different from those which the world’s superpowers consider desirable. Wars continue to influence domestic policies and define the full meaning of conflicts.
World War II hit the U.S. economy—the expenditure on military action approximated over 95 million dollars. After it ended, the United States established itself as a superpower and assumed the leading role in post-war reconstruction (Lavery 86). Today, the United States continues to play the role of global benefactor, whether or not their help is required, interfering in domestic policies of a number of states and nations. This results in many government leaders resenting U.S. policy and its superpower status.
After World War II, international conflicts have been perceived differently. A century ago, a war was mostly a local event, concerning only its direct participants (Fussell 87). Now, a war is a process which involves multiple sides, and has consequences which are often difficult to predict. Nuclear arms seem to be the weapon of choice, and nations often feel empowered by displaying their arms for the entire world to see. To promote peace and understanding among nations, a special organization, the United Nations, was established.
The world continues to feel the consequential tremors of World War II through financial and economic woes. Among the most obvious consequences of this war, one can point out an effect of the baby boomers generation on the economy of the U.S., cold wars, nuclear weapon races, and the establishment of the U.S. as a leading power in the world.
Fussell, Jeremy. The War Bible. New York: Penguin Publishers, 2009. Print.
Lavery, Vanessa. One Long Kill. Seattle: Rain City Press, 2011. Print.
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