Afterthe devastating tragedies of World War I, people around the globe believed theyhad experienced “the war to end all wars;” however, in the late 1930s and early1940s, another war broke out and proved to be more destructive and deadly.
Thiswas World War II. While World War I introduced new technologies, like machineguns and biplanes, World War II showed the violent power of concentration campsand nuclear power. Totalitarian leaders also added to the death total becausethese leaders were able to filter what information citizens in their countriescould see. This filtered information targeted whoever the leaders considered tobe “enemies,” and then they created frustrated citizen-filled armies who murderedtheses “enemies,” sometimes by hand. New technologies and targeting civilians werethe main factors that lead World War II to becoming the deadliest war in moderntimes. One of the most recognizable leadersof World War II was Adolf Hitler. In 1933, President Paul von Hindenburgappointed Hitler to become chancellor, but before being appointed, Hitler triedand failed to take over Germany’s government in the city Munich in 1923. TheGerman government arrested Hitler, and while in prison, he wrote aseven-hundred-page book about his life called Mein Kampf (My Struggle).
In this book, Hitler recapped his life inAustria and how he became a “fanatical ‘German Nationalist'” (). However, afterhis mother died, he returned to Vienna, where he became “acquainted withthose…who he was later to fight” (). These people were Jews who gave Hitler a”mild distaste,” and lead Hitler to believe that being Jewish was “worse thanthe Black Death of olden times, and the people were being infected with it” ().
After his book was published in 1926, and several other historical moments includinga global depression in 1929, Hitler’s political party, National Socialist Labor(Nazi) Party, gained a plurality in Germany’s Parliament in 1932 with 37percent. When Hitler eventually became chancellor in 1933, his negativefeelings towards the Jewish faith that he expressed in Mein Kampf became apparent including giving his top aides theresponsibility of implementing the final solution to his Jewish “problem.” The concept of eugenics fascinatedHitler because eugenics believes in improving the quality of human populationsby excluding people that hinder the gene pool. This gave him the best way tosolve his “problem.” Hitler decided to start excommunicating and then executinghis “enemies.” In 1933, Hitler passed laws that banned Jews from severalaspects of life including government service, law practice, and schools. Also,Hitler decided to build the first concentration camp in Germany, Dachau. Thesetypes of camps were basically work prisons with extremely poor, dirtyconditions.
When World War II officially began, with the invasion of Poland,Germany began to put Jews inside of these camps where they worked themselves todeath. But in 1941, the first horrific extermination camp was built in Polandwith a sole purpose of killing enemies to the Nazi regime, Jews, Gypsies, etc.This horror went on to be the Holocaust, and German leadership believed thatthis was perfectly justifiable.
A prevalent example of thisjustification occurred on October 4, 1943, when a powerful leader in Germanynamed Heinrich Himmler gave a speech to an elite army that ran theconcentration camps. In his speech, Himmler gave a very derogatory statementabout Jewish people. He called for the “elimination of the Jews” because theyare “secret saboteurs, agitators, and demagogues” (). What Himmler and theNazis are doing is scapegoating in order to give a “rational” reason to justifytheir actions. Because of this scapegoating, the Nazis killed an astonishing 11million Jews and other enemies of the Nazis by 1945.
However, towards the endof World War II, a new weapon arose and proved to be one of most destructivemoments in history. On August 6, 1945, the United Statesdropped a devastating weapon onto the city of Hiroshima, Japan. This weapon wasa massive five-ton bomb that had killed many thousands of people, but also, theweapon caused lasting effects. This was the nuclear bomb.
This bomb killed overone hundred thousand people and tainted the air in Japan for decades. Onesurvivor of this event, named Akihiro Takahashi, recalled the events of thathistoric day. He remembers being with his class seeing “a B-29 approaching andabout to fly over” them (). Then, a “tremendous noise” was heard beforeknocking Akihiro back “about ten meters” (). The heat from the bomb wasblistering and even managed to melt his clothes down to ashes (). The nuclearbomb also spread radiation throughout Japan leaving horrible, grotesque mutations.The nuclear bomb proved how far weapon advancement had come from times ofswords and horses, to now being able to permanently hurt a country by droppinga massive weapon out of airplanes.
When World War I ended, peoplearound the globe witnessed the destruction and believed that a deadlier warcould not exist. Unfortunately, when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the SecondWorld War began. Although World War I did have horrific killing, World War IIhad taken it a step further. Totalitarian leaders, like Hitler, threw innocentpeople into death prisons where prisoners were deprived of necessitiesincluding clean water and food. And with huge weapon advancements, includingthe nuclear bomb completely annihilating cities filled with people, World WarII has shown that it was the most dangerous and deadliest war in modernhistory.