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When did WW II start?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Jack B, Dec 4, 2019.

  1. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I tried to search the forum to see if this had been discussed previously, but didn't see anything, so I'd like to throw this question out for discussion or debate. It's largely an academic question, but I think it always relevant to consider the larger context in which specific events occurred.

    So...from your perspective....when did the Second World War start?

    To me the answer is not obvious. 1914? 1918? 1931? 1935? 1937? 1939? I think there are arguments for various 'starting points' for WW II, I'm curious to hear various opinions and reasons. I tend to favor 1937 with the onset of the Sino-Japanese conflict (a continuation of the 1931 hostilities?). However, I have also started to see the events of 1914 through 1945 as a second 'Thirty Years War' that started in Europe and went global.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    You can take your pick, of course. Just don't say who won, I'm still reading.
     
  3. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    No spoilers.....
     
  4. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I think it depends on what you mean. Shooting wars? Psychological intimidation? Negotiation in bad faith? Hitler began arming Germany in 1933 causing the Dawes plan to fall apart. Its inflation of the 20s caused many to lose faith in government which Hitler promised to reverse (and to a degree he did). Japan lusted for raw materials and was uncompromising in seeking them. It probably goes back to the 20s and 30s, especially in light of her feelings of "disrepect" by the Europeans and Americans. I could cite numerous examples of the British, French, and American attitudes which encouraged aggression.
    Oh man. I could write forever. I think Larry is right. You could take your pick of the date and you wouldn't be wrong. I've wrestled with this problem myself.
     
  5. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Hitler's 'four year plan' in 1936 seemed to be directly aimed at launching a war by 1940. Ja? I think he was committed to war in '36. If so, then that could easily be considered a start to the war.

    But, backing up a year, Italy's assault on 'Abyssinia' in 1935 seems to be a solid point to consider for the start of a 'shooting war'. I don't know much about the Italo-Ethiopian war, but this conflict essentially put-paid to the League of Nations, gave Hitler his cue to continue with his militaristic aspirations, and left the allies looking awkwardly into their tea cups. Japan took note and recognized the "Italian Empire" in 1936....before deciding to expand their own empire. The Ethiopian saga starts in '35 but carries on right through '47.

    So, as far as a 'shooting war' goes, I'd give the nod to 3 October 1935 as a starting point.

    Unless August 1914 makes more sense.....
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I don't think it was called WW2 early on for a start...that came later. For Australia it started when Britain declared war against Germany...Australia was automatically at war.
    September 1 1939.
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I would start with the first two major combatants, China and Japan, in direct conflict. Marco Polo Bridge incident.
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I also think 1937 is a good contender, the first members of what would become the Allies and Axis at war with each other, which would continue uninterrupted through 1945.

    But if that was World War II, what do we call the conflict that broke out in Europe on Sept 1, 1939? That was a separate war, 1/3 of the way around the world, until Dec 7/8, 1941. I write 7/8 because the two wars first came together with the Japanese attack on Malaya in the early hours of Dec 8, local time.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    British admiral Jackie Fisher was visiting HMS Vernon, the RN's torpedo training school, in 1919 and told the young officers there to put their weapons away, they would not be needed for twenty years.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I don't have a problem with adding players to the "WWII" conglomerate. We routinely got ETO and PTO, to avoid confusions.

    If we were playing Risk or an Avalon Hill mega game then we'd follow the chronology and add combatants and victims in a kosher sequence.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Hopefully they didn't pay attention to that.
     
  12. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Most Europeans would probably agree with that. In this country, it was just "the war" probably until Pearl Harbour.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The New York Times had a "war news" box on the front page from early on*. People in the US who were aware of a larger world were certainly informed of the spread of the war.

    *Never checked to see when they started that particular item.
     
  14. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    I don't think most people in Britain followed news from further afield at that time, we were a particularly insular country in all senses.
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    GRW likes this.

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