What is your opinion of World War II?

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There are various opinions that exist about World War II. There are people, known as pacifists, who are against going to war. People with this viewpoint believe that many tactics should be utilized to avoid going to war including the use of negotiation, compromise, diplomacy, and sanctions. These people are...

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against the use of war as an instrument of foreign policy.

Other people believed that World War II was necessary. They felt that reasonable attempts were made to avoid this war. For example, they pointed to the Munich Pact of 1938, an agreement between Germany and Italy with Great Britain and France, as an example of negotiation and compromise. In this agreement, Germany received the Sudetenland in return for a promise to take no more land. However, when Germany broke this agreement by taking the rest of Czechoslovakia in 1939, they believed that war was necessary and inevitable. In the United States, Americans grew more concerned about events in Europe and in Asia in the 1930s and early 1940s. However, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, many people felt the United States had no choice but to join the war on the side of the Allies.

Another question that impacts people’s views about the war is how the war ended. The United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, which led to Japan’s surrender. Some people felt the use of this weapon was justified as it saved many American lives which certainly would have been lost if the United States invaded Japan. Plus, it brought an end to the war. Other people felt the use of the atomic bomb was inhumane, as many innocent Japanese were killed, and the effects of the bomb impacted them for decades after it was used.

There are many different aspects to consider when deciding on your opinion about World War II.

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This is an excellent question for a history student, because hidden in the question is the need to assess the veracity of secondary historical documentation. In other words, one’s “opinion” depends on the rhetoric imbedded in reports, journalistic coverage, personal views expressed by contemporaries, etc. For example, my “opinion” is based not on documentation but on being a child when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, when the Jewish prisoners were released from the concentration camps, when the atom bomb was dropped, when the Marshall Plan was instituted, etc. Consequently my “opinion” is not so much based on historical documentation as on personal experience.  My father drove an ambulance in London.  Your “opinion” will be based on what you have “heard” or read about the war. Were the Nazis purely evil? Was the Normandy Invasion worth the deaths? Was Paris burning? Did the American military/industrial complex want a war? Roosevelt said “I hate war. Eleanor hates war.” Where did you get your “opinion” of WWII? A reasonable source? Or an impassioned source? History books or primary sources?

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