1. How did the Allied forces win the war in Europe?
2. What were the major events leading up to the outbreak of war in Europe and in Asia?
3. What effect did the Second World War have on American society?
4. How did the United States gain the upper hand in the Pacific sphere?
5. What efforts did the Allies make to shape the postwar world?
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I will answer questions # 1 and 4 here because they are related to one another. In general, the Allies won the war in both theaters largely because they had more industrial capacity and larger populations. They also won because of geographical advantages. Finally, they were helped by mistakes made by their opponents.
The major way in which the Allies won the war was by having more resources both in terms of people and in terms of natural resources. The Allied side (in Europe) included both the United States and the Soviet Union. This meant that the Allies had two countries with very large populations. Both (but particularly the US) had large industrial bases that could be used to make weapons and other things needed for the war. In the Pacific, the US was largely on its own, but it was only fighting Japan, which had a much smaller population and industrial base than the US did.
Particularly in Europe, the Allies had a geographical advantage. The biggest advantage (in both wars) was that no enemy could have much of a chance of touching the mainland US. This meant that American industries could operate unmolested, cranking out huge amounts of materiel. In Europe, the Allies also had the advantage of having Britain and the Soviet Union. Britain, by virtue of being an island and by virtue of its air and sea power, could not be invaded. It therefore was able to hold out and to serve as a staging point for Allied forces as they bombed and then invaded Europe. The Soviet Union was so big that it could simply place its industries in areas that Axis bombers could not reach. The USSR’s size also helped to absorb the German invasion as the Soviets traded space for time.
The Axis also helped the Allies by making a number of mistakes. The Italian invasion of North Africa, for example, caused the Germans to have to expend resources because the Italians failed. The Germans made a huge mistake by invading the Soviet Union. The Japanese might have been able to avoid defeat if they had accepted their gains of 1941 and not tried for more. When they tried to take Midway, they had a serious defeat inflicted on them.
Thus, there were a variety of reasons why the Allies were able to win this war.
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