World War II

Start Your Free Trial

How was World War II a “total war”? 

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write9,154 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

According to the Oxford dictionary, a total war is defined as follows:

A war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, the territory or combatants involved, or the objectives pursued, especially one in which the laws of war are disregarded.

With this definition in mind, we can easily see how World War II was a total war. It was a winner-take-all contest. Whichever side lost would be forced into a total, unconditional surrender. It was not a limited war with limited objectives that used limited firepower to achieve a goal. Instead, the goal was the total crushing of the enemy.

Neither side...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 567 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Brayan Effertz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write892 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


laurto | Student

The definition of a total war is a war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used and the territory fought on and the people involved. It is a war in which laws of war are disregarded. WWII can be considered a total war because of the level of national mobilization, the scale of of the armies, navies, and air forces raised through the active targeting of civilians and disregard for damage.