Posted in World History

WORLD WAR II****

updated on March 14th, 2019

What were the Causes of World War II ?***

  • World War II, like the earlier war, started in Europe and assumed the character of a world war.
  • The fascist countries wanted to re-divide the world for imperialist gains and thus came into conflict with the established power.
  • We know that Germany was politically, militarily and economically shattered by the Treaty of Versailles. She sought revenge and was ready to have a trial of strength with the Allied Powers.
  • The position of Italy was no better. Though Italy joined the Allied Powers during World War I with the hope of imperial gain, she did not gain any colonies after the war. She lost nearly 600,000 people during the war.
  • Both the Fascist and Nazi Parties glorified war and promised to their people that they would bring back the lost glory of their countries through war. They began to follow an aggressive policy of expansion through conquests.
  • Germany annexed Rhineland in 1936, Austria in 1938 and Czechoslovakia in 1938, while Italy attacked Ethiopia. This resulted in social tension and conflicts among European nations.
  • By signing the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, these three powers (Italy, Germany, Japan )committed support to each other. Japan was given a free hand to expand control in Asia and the region of the Pacific while Germany and Italy would have a free hand in Europe.
  • The success of the Soviet Union alarmed the Western Powers.
  • Being capitalist countries, they wanted to check the spread of Communism.
  • So they adopted a systematic policy of favouring Italy and Germany, who were anti-communists.
  • This policy is referred to as the Appeasement Policy.
  • German army which was restricted to 100,000 soldiers after World War I increased her strength to 800,000 soldiers without any protest from the western powers.
  • Even when Hitler put aside the Treaty of Versailles and annexed Rhineland and Austria, the western powers remained silent spectators.
  • In 1937, CivilWar began in Spain between the popularly elected Government and the fascist leader under General Franco. Hitler supplied arms and ammunition to overthrow the democratically elected Government in Spain.
  • The Soviet Union appealed to England for collective action against General Franco. When the whole world sent support to the existing government, England and France did not take any action.
  • This Appeasement Policy reached its climax when Hitler invited the Prime Ministers of Britain and France to Munich in August 1938.
  • The Munich Pact was signed by them in 1938, allowing Germany to annex Sudetenland in the Northern part of Czechoslovakia.
  • Later, the whole of Czechoslovakia was annexed. The Policy of Appeasement strengthened the fascist powers.
  • It was now clear that Britain and France wanted Germany and Italy to act against the Soviet Union.
  • To stall these plans, the Soviet Union signed a pact with Germany by which both agreed not to attack one another.
  • This gave her some time to prepare for future confrontation while Germany obtained the neutrality of the Soviet Union.
  • The scene was set for World War II when Germany attacked Poland on 1 September Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939.

What were Consequences of the War II ?****

  • The war came to an end in September 1945.
  • This was the most destructive war in human history. It caused unprecedented loss of life, property and resources. Big buildings were razed to the ground and thousands of people were uprooted from their homelands.
  • The German Jews were either exterminated or sent to concentration camps.
  • The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were almost wiped off when atomic bombs were dropped on them.
  • The danger of nuclear holocaust was one of the major consequences of the war. Germany was divided into four zones, each under the control of one of the victorious powers.
  • The Nazi Party was banned and the German army disbanded.
  • Japan was placed under US supervision. In 1949, when the monarchy was re-established, US troops were withdrawn.
  • Imperialism weakened with the USA and the Soviet Union emerging as superpowers.
  • The world was now divided into two power blocs – the Communist Bloc headed by SovietUnion and the Western Bloc headed by the USA.
  • The tension and unarmed conflict that developed between these blocs started the Cold War which continued for a very long time.
  • A major impact of the war was the foundation of the United Nations Organisation (UNO)
  • The world has since then undergone many changes. Its political map has changed. A large number of nations of Asia and Africa who had suffered under colonial rule are now independent.
  • Together they are now a major force in the world.

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Posted in World History

The Course of the War (1914-1918)

updated on March 13th, 2019

World War I which started in August 1914 continued till November 1918. During this period many important battles were fought such as the Battle of Marne in 1914, Battles of Verdu, Battle of Somme and Battle of Jutland in 1916.

The year 1917 saw two important developments – one was the entry of USA into the war in April and second was the withdrawal of Russia from the war in November.

Entry of USA in World war 1

  • In 1915, a British passenger ship Lusitania was sunk by German U Boats killing 128 US civilians who were travelling in the ship.
  • The US Senate took a very serious view of this. Besides becoming a powerful nation, Germany would pose a threat to US supremacy.
  • Moreover, USA being the major supplier of arms and ammunition, the continuation of war would result in economic advantage for the US. Keeping all these in view, she decided to join the war in 1917.

Withrwal of Russia from World War 1

Do you remember reading about the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia? One of the main demands of the revolutionaries was peace. So immediately after the Revolution under the leadership of Lenin, Russia withdrew from the war and signed a peace treaty with Germany in 1918.

Collapse of Germany and Austria

  • By July 1918, Germany began to collapse.
  • Bulgaria and Turkey surrendered in September and October respectively.
  • On 3 November 1918, the Austrian Emperor surrendered due to widespread unrest in Austria
  • After similar revolts by the German people, German Emperor Wilhelm II fled to Holland and Germany was proclaimed a Republic.
  • The new government signed an armistice on 11 November 1918, bringing an end to World War I.

USe of New weapons and Strategy

  • In the course of the war, many new weapons such as machine guns, poison gas, liquid fire, submarine and tanks were used.
  • New strategies and military techniques were experimented by both sides.
  • England used naval and economic blockade, tanks and air raids.
  • The French used trench warfare .
  • Germany used U Boats and submarines to sink ships under the sea. and submarines to sink ships under the sea.

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Posted in World History

Causes of World War I

updated on March 13th, 2019

Causes of World War I

Imperialist rivalries among the different nations like England, France, Germany and others were a major cause of the war. Earlier wars were averted because possibilities of acquiring more colonies were still there. But the situation had now changed. Most of Asia and Africa had already been divided up and possibilities of further expansion were not there. It was possible only by dispossessing some imperialist country of their colony. This division of colonies created conditions of war. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Germany had made tremendous economic and industrial progress and left England and France far behind in industrial production. She needed colonies as much as Britain to fulfill her economic needs. In the imperial race, Germany became the main competitor of England. British naval supremacy was also challenged when Germany built the largest warship ‘Imperator’ and built the Kiel Canal connecting the North Sea and Baltic Sea endangering the English coast line. Germany also built a railway line connecting Berlin with Baghdad which made it easier for Germany to send troops or suppliers to the East. But it posed a threat to British colonies there.

Like Germany, all other major powers of Europe and Japan also had their imperialistic ambitions. Italy after her unification wanted Tripoli in North Africa which was under the Ottoman Empire. France wanted to add Morocco to its conquest in Africa while Russia had its ambitions in Iran. Japan had its ambitions in the Far East where she was able to extend her influence after the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Austria had her ambitions in the Ottoman Empire while the United States of America was slowly emerging as a powerful nation. Her main interest was to preserve the independence of trade as it was increasing at a fast pace. The expansion of the influence of any great power was posing a major threat to world peace.

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Imperialism in Africa

updated on March 13th, 2019

Imperialism in Africa

Africa was known as the Dark Continent? Very little information was available about this continent. The missionaries and the explorers were the first to venture into the interiors. There they discovered an immense treasure of ivory, gold, diamond, timber and people who could be made slaves. Africa also had weak political systems, a backward economy and society as well as weak armies. A competition started amongst the European nations to gain power and prestige as well as raw materials and markets for their manufactured goods. The Europeans on the other hand had technologically advanced weapons which helped in their conquests. Till 1875, European possessions in Africa were limited to some forts and trading posts along the coast and a few small colonies. But between 1880 and 1910, the whole of Africa was divided up amongst the Europeans. All important decisions related to Africa and its people were taken on the conference tables of London, Paris, Lisbon and other European capitals for the next 50 years!

France acquired a huge empire in North and West Africa. Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Dahomey, Mali and other areas in West Africa came under the French rule. Britain ruled Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, Rhodesia, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, parts of Somaliland and Libya. Germany ruled over Southwest Africa, Tanganyika, Togoland and Cameroon until German was defeated in World War I. By the time the war started in 1914, only two independent countries were left in Africa – Liberia and Ethiopia. But Ethiopia was taken over by Italy in 1935.

An interesting feature about Imperialism was the slave trade in Africa. The Europeans started importing slaves from Africa to work on the plantations in their colonies in America. There was a regular slave market in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Between 1500 and 1800, nearly 15 million Africans were captured and sold as slaves.

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Posted in World History

RISE OF IMPERIALISM AND COLONIALISM

updated on March 13th, 2019

RISE OF IMPERIALISM AND COLONIALISM By the turn of the 19th century, most of the European countries were industrialised. These countries needed constant supply of raw materials and a ready market for selling the finished goods. So they began to extend control over areas which were not industrialised. The capitalists too needed new places and new industries to invest their surplus capital since these needs could not be fulfilled in their own countries or in neighboring areas. This practice of extending control or rule over the political and economic life of another country is known as Imperialism. This may be done through military or other means. Colonialism meant to acquire colonies and making them dependent by conquest or other means. It was the need for raw materials, markets and places for investment of capital which prompted the imperial nations to conquer lands outside their country. The main feature of Imperialism was economic domination of colonies by an imperial nation through military conquest, political rule or by any other method. The wealth and resources were drained out from the colonies to the imperial countries. The interest of the colonies was subjected to the interests of the imperial country. The country which conquers another land is known as the Imperial Country while the conquered land is known as a Colony. By the end of the 19th century almost all countries of Asia and Africa were under the control of one or the other European nations.


Why do you think these industrialized countries chose Asia and Africa to extend their dominance? This was because these countries were rich in resources but were politically and militarily weak and industrially backward. Unfortunately, they were too far and distant. Without a good means of communication, no countries would be able to make a profit from them. The growth of Imperialism coincided with the growth of transport and communication. Good roads, steamships, railways, and canals were being built by industrialized nations in their own countries and in the colonies. Easy transportation of goods to and from the colonies made things easier for these countries. Troops could also be easily sent to colonies. With the development of telegraph and telephone, messages could be sent easily. Almost every country now came within the easy reach of imperial countries.

Extreme Nationalism became a major force in the extension of Imperialism. For pride, prestige and glory, some countries like Italy and Germany conquered lands belonging to others. By this time, the Europeans who had developed a feeling of racial superiority considered the people of Asia and Africa as backward. According to them, it was ‘the white man’s burden’ to civilise the ‘backward people’. So it was their duty to conquer these countries, spread Christianity and bring enlightenment to them. This feeling provided a moral justification for the conquest of these lands.

This was not difficult as adventurers and explorers played a significant role in inciting a desire among Europeans for conquering lands. They brought back valuable information about the lands they discovered and described the wealth and resources they saw in these remote lands. Do you remember reading the names of many explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan?

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Means of Communication and Transportation

updated on March 13th, 2019

Means of Communication and Transportation

The improvement in the means of transport and communication was a great
encouragement to the Industrial Revolution. The raw materials, finished products, food and people needed a reliable system of transportation. Improvements in bridges and road construction were made early in the 1700’s. They helped to transport the raw materials and factory made products to their destinations. In 1814, George Stephenson built the first steam locomotive engine to run on railway tracks. Soon the steam engines and railways were transporting goods over tracks throughout England and supporting the canal transportation.

During the mid-19th century, wooden steam-powered ships took over the sailing ship. Soon after the iron ship was used for traveling across the ocean. If the first phase of the Industrial Revolution depended on steam, then the second phase depended on electricity. Do you know Michael Faraday had the distinction of inventing the first electric motor? Electricity now became commercially available and was used to run the factories. Faster means of transportation and communication speeding up business transactions, contacts between army units, colonies, countries, and even common people. The invention of the telegraph and the telephone made it possible to communicate anywhere in the world instantly.

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Russian Revolution and Socialist Movement

updated on March 13th, 2019

Russian Revolution and Socialist Movement

The Industrial Revolution had led to an unequal society. On the one hand were the workers who were poor, exploited and without any rights; and on the other were the capitalists who enjoyed all the privileges. At that time, some people began to think about the society that should be based on equality in social and economic terms. Ideas like equality, freedom of speech and democracy gave encouragement in this regard. The idea of socialism, which tries to establish equal society, began to take root. The most powerful and influential ideas of socialism was given by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In the book Das Capital, Marx pointed out that history of all societies is the history of class struggle. According to him the capitalists always try to increase their profits by reducing the wages of the workers which leads to class conflict. He predicted that the struggle will be successful with the end of capitalism and the coming of socialism. This will result in the control of the ownership of the means of production in the hands of the state and the birth of an equal society.

The first practical example of this was the Russian revolution which resulted in the establishment of the first socialist government of the world. Russia was industrially backward and was based on an agrarian economy. Tsar was an autocratic and oppressive ruler; hence the workers and the peasants suffered a lot. The Revolution of 1905 led to the formation of a constitutional monarchy with the formation of the Duma; the members of whom were representatives of peasants, townsmen and gentry. Even after the Revolution of 1905 , the civil rights and democratic representation was limited and hence the unrest continued.

In 1917, occurred another revolution in Russia. It happened because the condition of the Russian workers and peasants, and non Russians living in Russia had become quite miserable under the autocratic rule of Tsar Nicholas II. Exploitation along with inhuman working conditions and huge amount of taxes had made the people rise against him. People were also denied any political rights. Russia had also entered World War I for imperialist gains. But she was unequipped to do so. Thousands of Russian soldiers were killed in World War I as they were ill equipped with no proper warm uniforms and arms to fight in the cold desert of Siberia. Many skilled workers were forced to enlist in the army and fight in the battlefields resulting in their deaths. The nobility were also dissatisfied with Tsar Nicholas II due to his autocratic ways. Famines further worsened the situation in the country. This resulted in labor riots and strikes. Striking crowds attacked courts, prisons and office premises. There was widespread unrest among all sections of society. The army lacked ammunition, the cities lacked food while the peasants failed to get proper return for their produce. The government in the meantime had printed millions of Rouble notes leading to inflation. The situation slipped out of Tsar’s hands.

This situation was further worsened by the writings of Marx and Tolstoy which influenced the people, especially the workers, and led to their political awakening. This led to the formation of the Council of Workers called the Soviets. In February 1917, Tsar was deposed and a Provisional Government was established under the control of the Menshevik Party. But the Government failed to fulfill the demands of the people. Another Party called the Bolshevik headed by Lenin organised the Soviets and replaced the Government in October 1917. This October Revolution was the final stage of the Russian Revolution. It brought to an end the rule of the Tsar and led to the formation of the USSR and a new world order.

In the next lesson you will read more about Industrialisation, Imperialism and the World Wars. You will be able to understand how the Industrial Revolution changed the face of the world and brought about tremendous changes in the life of the people. You will also read the impact it had on the non-industrialised countries of the world and how it led to conflicts which are till today considered to be some of the most horrible wars faced by the world.

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Unification of Germany

updated on March 13th, 2019

Unification of Germany
After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, many Germans wanted an independent Germany. Germany was a confederation of 39 small states, led by Austria and Prussia. These states were always at war with one another, deterring the economic progress of Germany. The King of Prussia, Kaiser William I, chose a Prime Minister Bismarck to unify Germany under the rule of Prussia, and excluding Austria and France completely. Bismarck was fearless and believed in the urgent need for unification in Germany. He started with the modernization of the army, defying the parliament in collecting taxes. His policy came to be known as ‘Blood and Iron’ policy and earned him the nickname of the ‘Iron Chancellor’.

With this improved army, Bismarck encouraged the German population of Schleswig and Holstein to revolt against their ruler Denmark. In 1864, Bismarck joined hands with Austria against Denmark. Bismarck’s next target was Austria. Prussia defeated Austria and formed the North German Confederation. Bismarck promised the province of Venice to Italy and kept her out of the war. Austria was forced to give Venice to Italy, ending the Austrian control in Italy. He also promised territorial compensation to Napoleon III of France and kept it out of the war. He had already secured Russia’s support by helping them in suppressing a revolt in Russian controlled Poland.

The only obstacles to Prussian dominance of Germany were four small German states in Southern Germany and the disapproval of Napoleon III of France. But a disagreement between the two countries led France to declare a war on Prussia. The Franco-Prussian War was quite short. Prussia invaded France in 1871 and defeated the French. Napoleon III abdicated the throne and France was forced to give up Alsace and Lorraine. The remainder of the German states, except Austria, were annexed and joined with Germany. The unification of Germany was complete under Kaiser William I. Soon Germany emerged as the leading power in Europe, building a colonial empire to further German economic interest and increase German influence in the world.

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Unification of Italy

updated on March 13th, 2019

Unification of Italy

In the 18th century, Italy was a collection of states, each having its own monarch and traditions. Some of them were Venetia, two Sicilies, Papal States, Sardinia, Tuscany, etc. During the Middle Ages, the Pope increased their influence in both religious and political matters. The Pope established their own political rule in what were called the Papal States. Soon Italy began to grow in importance. They became centers of political life, banking and foreign trade. During the Renaissance, Italy became even more important than the other states, For many years, France and the Holy Roman Empire fought for the control of Italy. The French Revolution of 1789 played an important role in the history of Italy. The Italian rulers sensing danger in their own country drew closer to the European kings who opposed France. After France became a republic, secret clubs favoring an Italian Republic was formed throughout Italy. From 1796 till 1814, when Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the European powers many Italians had started seeing the possibility of a united Italy free from foreign control.

Many revolutionaries like Mazzini and Garibaldi along with some secret societies kept spreading the idea of an independent unified republic among the Italians. From 1849 onwards, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia which was a monarchy under Victor Emmanuel took an active role in this unification. It was significant that the Italian unification was headed by a monarch. Under his leadership, Cavour the Prime Minister ousted the Austrians form Lombardy, Tuscany, Modena, etc. Garibaldi led the revolt and liberated Sicily and Naples. He handed over the charge of the two states to Emmanuel and declared him the King of Italy. Later, Rome and Venetia joined the Federation of Italian states. The process of unification of Italy began with the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and ended with the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.

This was the time when revolt of 1857 took place in India .

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DISCOVERY OF NEW LANDS

updated on March 12th, 2019

DISCOVERY OF NEW LANDS

The spirit of inquiry encouraged many adventurers to discover new lands. The new trade routes that were discovered changed the history of the world. It is said that ‘God, Glory and Gold’ was the main motive behind these discoveries. But the motive of gold or economic need was the most important. Before the geographical discoveries, Europeans obtained articles like spices, cotton, precious gems, silk, etc. from the Eastern part of the world. They travelled through the Arabic and Islamic territories for the supply of these articles. This was not very convenient and also posed uncertainties. So a direct sea route to South East Asia was discovered as it had a potential of a lucrative trade. The explorers also had another motive, which was to convert the people of the newly found areas to Christianity. It also became a means for them to serve God. In addition, the adventurers also hoped to acquire fame by discovering new lands. Some did indeed become very famous. Have you heard about Vasco da Gama discovering India and Columbus who set out for India but discovered America? Do you know Ferdinand Magellan was the first explorer to lead an expedition around the world? Bartholomew Diaz was another famous explorer.

Why do you think that these great adventures and voyages were sponsored by kings and wealthy people? The tremendous increase in trade and colonization had a great impact on the enhancement of European wealth. One of the most famous kings who sponsored the voyages was the Portuguese King Henry, who is also known as Henry the Navigator. The technological base for these discoveries came from the invention of the compass, astrolabe, astronomical tables and the art of map making. These voyages led to the establishment of trading outpost and colonial empires in different parts Africa, America and Asia. Now commercial focus shifted from Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Many new commodities were added to trade such as tobacco, molasses, ostrich feathers, potato, etc. It also started the inhuman slave trade in America. Slaves were captured from Africa, transported across the Atlantic Ocean and sold to work in plantations in North America.

These trade practices and new sea routes helped the European merchants to accumulate huge wealth which they invested in the development of new machines. This led to the coming of the Industrial Revolution which made them more powerful and wealthy.

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