People and Events of World War II


by Kevan Salisbury

The Axis Powers

World War II was started by the Axis Forces, which were comprised of
Germany, Italy, and Japan. They fought against the combined might of almost the
entire world, and, but for a supreme combined effort on the part of America, the
USSR, and Britain, almost won. During the war, the Axis Powers were totalitarian
states, controlled by their respective leader or leaders. These are their
stories.
During World War II, there were three men who were controlling the
Japanese government, none of which liked each other. The first, Emperor Hirohito,
born in 1901, was ruler from 1926 to 1989, the last divine imperial leader of
Japan. During the first nineteen years of his reign he gave over power of the
government to a militant party. The result of this was the war with China from
1937 to 1945 and adherence to the Axis Powers. At the end of the war Hirohito
wanted peace and, in 1945, he unconditionally surrendered to the Allies.
The second, Isoroku Yamamoto, born in 1884, was the reluctant Commander-
in-Chief of Japan\'s naval forces during WW II. He had a clear grasp of the
situation and predicted that against a country like the U.S. or Britain, Japan
would quickly lose the war. He died in 1943, shot down by the U.S. 13th Air
Force in a surgical assassination strike.
The last, Tojo Hideki, was born in 1884, and was the most violent of the
three. He was the leader of the militaristic party that controlled the
government from 1926 to 1945, and the one who commanded the Japanese invasion of
Manchuria in 1937. He controlled all government and military campaigns until
1944, when, as a result of bad military defeats, he resigned as Prime Minister.
Tojo was later arrested, tried, and convicted by an international military court
for conventional war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity.
He was later executed in 1948.
These three men had control over the Japanese government, and allied
themselves to Germany and Italy, thus forming the Axis forces. So, as the
Pacific was being dominated by the Japanese, Europe and North Africa were being
equally terrorized by Germany and Italy, who were under the iron fists of Adolf
Hitler and Benito Mussolini, respectively.
Adolf Hitler was born in 1889, the son of a very low-ranking official,
and a peasant. He wasn\'t very well educated, never completed high school, and
was also rejected from institutes of higher learning because of his lack of
talent. Although he was a poor student, he read non-stop, and it was from books
that he developed his anti-Semitic ideas. For most of his prime, he lived on
meager pay, and this eventually led to his joining the army. Once again, a
lacking of skills stopped his promotion to a higher rank, and he joined the
German Worker\'s Party. It was later renamed the National Socialist German
Workers or Nazi Party, and he was eventually elected as the chairman or Furer.
Hitler wanted to try to overthrow the Weimar Republic, as Germany was
then called, and, after a failed uprising in Munich and his imprisonment, he
decided he would have to use legal means. During his incarceration, he wrote his
book Mein Kampf, or "My Struggle," and planned his next moves carefully.
Hitler\'s emotional speaking gave the most important thing to the poor,
unemployed people of Germany that anyone could have given: someone to blame. He
successfully took over the government by way of power politics, and nazified
politics, business, the news, and all other cultural and social activities.
Over the next few years (about 1934-1936), Hitler directly defied the
unfair (to Germans) Treaty of Versailles by rearming Germany, and making pacts
with the fascist Italian leader Benito Mussolini and the imperialist monarchy of
Japan. None of the European nations tried to stop Hitler\'s actions, despite the
begging and pleading of Joseph Stalin that Hitler planned to rule the world.
Even after Germany annexed Austria-Hungary and Czechoslovakia the nations
refused to do anything. After this the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact was
signed by Hitler and Stalin, and in a secret deal they divided Poland amongst
themselves.
On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland and ten days later
Britain and France declared war on Germany. Hitler quickly overran Denmark,
Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, too, but was prevented from
overtaking Britain.
In 1940, the formation of the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan)
was complete. One year later, in 1941, because of his desperate need for natural
resources and disdain for communism, Hitler attacked the USSR,