Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

What do you consider "the beginning of the war?"

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by DAngelo.Barksdale, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. DAngelo.Barksdale

    DAngelo.Barksdale recruit

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2011
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    I wrote a small post on this on my blog a couple days ago, and I'm interested to hear what you think. For those interested, here was my post:

    "One of the oldest questions, that still doesn’t have a true definitive answer, is “When did World War II start?” To most people, the war started on September 1st, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, setting off a chain reaction, leading to the world’s deadliest conflict. But is it true?
    Many also believe the war began on July 7th, 1937, almost 2 whole years prior to Germany invading Poland. What happened on July 7th will forever be known as the “Marco Polo Bridge incident” (Click here for more info) With the Second Sino-Japanese war, we first saw the ruthlessness and raw power of the Imperial Japanese war machine.
    Those two basic schools of thought are neither right nor wrong, and both contributed significantly to the history of the war."

    Personally, I think you could consider the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese war as the beginning of the war, but the invasion of Poland on Sep. 1st would be considered the beginning of a "World War."
     
  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,719
    Likes Received:
    2,352
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    One could say the September, 1939, start date as a strictly "European" war, and the Sino-Japanese war as an "Asian" war.

    It didn't really become a "World" war until December 11,1941, when Germany and Italy finally declared war on the US, and the US promptly reciprocated.

    A few have "stretched" it to include the Spanish Civil War, but why stop there? If that is to be included, then certainly you must include the Italian invasion of 1935, or even go all the way back to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1932.

    Such was the pattern/policy of appeasement in the 1930's, with the League of Nations, or any of the major powers, refusing to take a hard-liner's stand against any aggressor nation, and only offering up lip-service in support of the invaded nation. Thus, the dominoes had already been falling for sometime before the first shots were fired in Poland.
     
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    6,239
    Likes Received:
    1,865
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    There's some case to be made for 1914.
    One long war, with a twenty year hiatus before final settlement began...

    ~A
     
  4. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    7,217
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Location:
    The Land of 10,000 Loons
    Or why not take it back to the Garden of Eden? ;) Obviously, that's hyperbole (reductio ad absurdum, to be precise).

    Von Poop's suggestion is not unreasonable. The way WW1 ended did arguably lead to WW2. However, WW1 did have an ending. It seems to me that it makes the most sense to pick Dec 11, 1941 as Takao suggested. It was then that these other various conflicts became part of a larger global contest. Before then, did they really have that much to do with each other, notwithstanding the appeasement and failure that was the League of Nations?
     
  5. texson66

    texson66 Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
    Messages:
    3,095
    Likes Received:
    592
    I have to partially agree with Van Poop. The allies were out to punish Germany with relish after the Armistice. Many Germans felt that their diplomats had "stabbed the German military in the back". Add the burden of reparations and the coming depression really set up someone like Hitler to "right the wrongs of the peace of 1918" by taking absolute power over Germany.
     
    Major Mayhem likes this.
  6. Belshon

    Belshon Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    In order for any date other then December 11, 1941, there must, it seems to me, be some collusion between the axis nations to plan the war. If Imperial Japan had discussed their operations for China a case could be made for then. But without some kind of evidence they planned or at least informed one another of plans, I do not see much evidence for a world war before 1941.
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,578
    Likes Received:
    1,487
    Location:
    London, England.
    In that case 27th September 1940 could be put forward - the signing of the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan. These undemocratic countries didn't really advise each other of any of their plans - it simply didn't work like that.

    But for me, and most histories of WWII that I've ever read, the conflict began on September 1st 1939, after which date the World War gradually developed it's own inevitable momentum to eventually include most of the World. After that date, there was no going back.
     
  8. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    5,627
    Likes Received:
    1,003
    I agree with that 100%. I suppose the argument could also be made that the last shot fired on 11 November 1919 was the first shot fired in WWII
     
  9. Drew Childers

    Drew Childers Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2011
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Alabama
    Hyperbole Tom, but not far off. I sat down once last year and connected the dots on wars from WWII to WWI to the Franco-Prussian war and so on and so on to the 1600's, I eventually had to get up and do something else and never went back to it.

    You can of course go forward in the same way with regional conflicts (e.g. Greek Civil War, colonial wars of independence) and the "Cold War". Especially in Europe, one war has begat the next war, generation after generation, so start dates can be arbitrary depending on assumptions, which is what I guess this thread is really about. I was taught in school (many, many years ago) and have always considered, if a date is to be used, the Sep '39 date is as good as any for the "World War".

    If you argue for a date when the various regional combatants start acting as one in some fashion (Sep 40 and Dec 41 as suggested) do you also have to argue the end is when it stopped being a "global conflict" and became a regional (Asian) conflict, i.e. May 7, 45?
     
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    6,239
    Likes Received:
    1,865
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    If interested in the connections between historical wars, and the tangled backgrounds thereof - I have to recommend Paul Kennedy's 'The Rise & Fall of the Great Powers'.
    They forced it on us at Uni, & we all felt a little hard done by at such a brick of a book, but it turned out to be an absolutely storming bit of History. One of those books that makes you go 'hmmm' for years afterwards.
    'Education' is sometimes defined as understanding the connections between things, rather than just knowing a list of stored facts. And Kennedy's book really helps with that linking process in relation to history.

    ~A
     
    syscom3 likes this.
  11. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,815
    Likes Received:
    331
    It might be argued that the war, if not started, at least became inevitable when Chamberlin went to Munich and not only caved in on Hitler's demands, but helped him achieve them. Had France and England stood firm, the Heer was ready to depose Hitler and thus short-circuit the whole war. With no war in Europe I doubt Japan would have embarked on her drive to conquor Asia. Faced with the real possibility of having to fight the USA, Britain, France and the Dutch, I doubt that even the rabid war-lovers in Tojo's cabinet would have started war against such odds. Chamberlin, and the other spineless wimps in Europe, cut the rug out from under the German generals and made them look foolish and conversely, Hitler wise.
     
  12. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    954
  13. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,815
    Likes Received:
    331
    Obviously before 1939--'35 my memory comes up with. What I was pointing out was that had there been no European war then Japan's drive into Indo-China, et al probably wouldn't have happened, or if it did then it probably would have been defeated. Thus, the USA's embargo would have eventually have hurt Japan's war economy to the point they may have had to relinquish their conquests in Manchuria and China. This, in turn, would have probably discredited Japan's militarists. Chamberlin's actions had horrible repercussions around the globe.
     
  14. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    236
    1)I should nott believe the story that the army leaders were ready to depose Hitler in 1938
    2)The Japanese attack on China started already in 1932,before Hitler became chancellor .
    3)Between 1932 and 1940,the Roosevelt administration did nothing against the Japanese attack on China,it is the opposite:it did nothing against the Japanese buying oil and scrap-iron in the US ,to be able to continue their war against China .
     
    urqh likes this.
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,578
    Likes Received:
    1,487
    Location:
    London, England.
    Thank God the USA was ready to move in so quickly, unlike those spineless wimps in Europe.
     
  16. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    954
    I hate to say this and I know its the usual thing...But we have one thread having a go at French for the Rheinland and now one at the Brits for ww2. It wont be long, maybe 30 years before my cousins across the pond have a go at the Brits for starting Iraq Afghanistan and the 2015 war in Lala land
     
  17. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,713
    Likes Received:
    1,501
    I suspect this opinion is going to seem rather "ethnocentric", but the earlier disputes between Japan and the land mass of Asia were little more than border disputes in the early thirties. Another problem was that China wasn’t yet a unified nation, and was undergoing a civil war of its own and not a "recognized" nation really. It wasn’t until 1943 that Chiang Kai-shek was recognized as "President" of China.


    Much the same can be said for the Italian aggression in Ethiopia/Abyssinia, the Fascist Italian forces attacked across the border but the "war" in the area was limited to that spot and no other major nation came to Haile Selassie's aid, or declared war on Italy in response.


    When the League of Nations condemned the Japanese for their aggression, the Japanese walked out of the League, that isn’t the start of war. When the League condemned the Italians and imposed "economic sanctions" on Mussolini’s Italy, all that happened was the black market and smuggling goods for profit increased. Italy might have paid a bit more for some goods, but the Soviets (not yet members of the League) took advantage and set up sales of grain to the Italians. That isn’t a war either.


    However, all other "lead-ups" and possible connect the dots scenes to the invasion of Poland don’t have near the global effect as that aggressive Nazi action did. Britain and its dominions and Commonwealth nations all declared war on Nazi Germany within days of Great Britain itself, this brought in all hemispheres, north/south, east/west. While France’s colonies were slightly less extensive than Britain’s, they too covered the globe in scope. Now, not only were two more nations involved, all their own internal possessions were as well.


    This is not the case in the Spanish civil war, the Italian/Abyssinian or Japanese/Sino conflicts. The conflict which became known as World War Two (so referred to and named by Time magazine in Sept. 1939), most likely can be nailed down to that date more easily than any other, by any stretch of the imagination or definition.
     
  18. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    7,217
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Location:
    The Land of 10,000 Loons
    That's why I think there should be more than just any connection between the historical events. There must be some significant or necessary connection otherwise everything is connected. The question is, where to draw the line. Also, one must consider what "the war" means. But, I've thought about this question as much as I can afford to since I am not a paid historian. ;)

    Very good, VP. You know, I think if my high school history teacher spent less time making us memorize facts and more time discussing how historical events were connected, I might have been more interested in history back then.
     
  19. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    1,240
    Likes Received:
    183
    I'm going to have to go with Sept 2 1939. The war in China up to that point was a sideshow and would be contained to that country.

    Once the industrial powers of Europe began shooting at each other, it wasn't going to be long before the blood would be spilled all over the planet.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,238
    Location:
    Michigan
    But wasn't the war against Poland more or less a "side show" as well until the Germans hit France and the low countries?

    The first combat that grew into the conflict that is called WW1 started between the Japanese and the Chinese. Speculation as to what would have happened had the war in Europe not started turns this into a "what if".
     

Share This Page