The Rise and Fall of the “Iron Curtain” Essay

The Rise and Fall of the “Iron Curtain” Essay.

“Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum [“I am a Roman citizen”]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!” ~ John F. Kennedy (Introduction)

The Berlin Wall was built in the dead of the night on August 13, 1961 and stood for about 28 years until the Wall finally came down on November 9, 1989.

The history behind the creation and destruction of the Berlin Wall is truly tragic. It was built due to the fact that the relationship between the Soviet Union and the other three Allies was crumbling over different views and once World War II was finally over, it was clearly evident that they weren’t going to be able to resolve their issues. The Allies (Western Germany) wanted to help fix Germany after being conquered and turn it into a democracy, but The Soviet Union (East Germany) disagreed and wanted to make Germany Communist.

Neither side wanted to budge with their views so each side continued life under their completely different controls with the split being within Berlin. While West Germany was prospering, East Germany was falling apart. They could of been compared as night and day from each other. At a certain point, East Germany was losing so many people to West Germany, that in the middle of the night, The Soviet Union built a “rough draft” of the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was a split between East (Communist) and West (Democratic) Germany, but its destruction was almost as sudden as its creation. (Body)

(Why the Berlin Wall was built)

Before the Wall was built, people from either side could “freely” cross the boundaries every day for work or to just visit, but on August 13, 1961, that all changed. A quote that I found by Peter Galante summarized the day the Wall went up perfectly! “It was like splitting Manhattan down the middle of Fifth Avenue from the Battery to the Bronx; like splitting London with a zigzag line from Barnet to Croydon. . . . If you lived on one side and your office was on the other, you couldn’t go to work. . . . If your mother lived on one side and you lived on the other, you couldn’t go visit her. . . . The aim was simple and brutal: to shut a people in and annex to Communist East Germany what she had not been given by agreement, East Berlin.

Its effect was cruel and horrible. At seven in the morning on the first day, a man went to see his child. Barbed wire, concrete blocks and armed police stood between them. For the people, it produced misery. From the people, it produced fortitude and heroism (Galante, 1965).” There are many reason of why the Berlin Wall built. One reason was due to the fact of economic reasons – too many people were moving from East to West Germany and this was crumbling East Germany faster. The second reason was political – West Germany was prospering and East Germany simply was not. (finish) (Why the Wall caused so much controversy)

It is almost bluntly obvious to why the Berlin Wall caused so much controversy among the citizens of both East and West Germany. When the Wall first went up, it abruptly separated entire families, kept people from their jobs, and just basically tore people’s lives apart. No matter what they tried to do, they weren’t able to get through the boarders without some kind of conscience happening – being shot or attacked. People from East Germany tried to apply for visa’s to travel to West Germany and were regularly denied. Little by little, with the communist rule of East Germany locking its people within the city, people slowly but surely became frustrated and upset, which they had every right to be. (talk about different things people did to try and escape from East Germany) (Why is came down)

(What was the aftershock of the wall coming down)

(What is the significance of this event to today’s society) For almost 30 years, the sections of that Berlin Wall that still remain were the iron and concrete embodiment of the symbolic Iron Curtain between western democracies and the Communist world of the Soviet Union. I don’t know if the wall itself has any impact today other than as a reminder of how bad things were in Eastern Europe in the early 1960’s until the end of Communism there in the late 80’s and early 90’s. However, today we think of international terrorism, usually from the Middle East as the major threat, but when it was built by the Soviets and East Germans in August, 1961, the fear of Communism and nuclear war was as strong as the fear of Islamic terrorists, today, maybe stronger. (help?) (Conclusion)

Today, although there is barely anything left of the Berlin Wall besides what is left as memorials of that horrible event, the scares of those 28 years are still “fresh” to those who had to go through or even witness that kind of torture. It is hard for us to truly imagine what life was like during that time. Having your town, city, state split straight down the middle, separated from friends, families, and loved ones for years by concrete and iron, and not being able to see them – that is truly unimaginable. I know I can’t imagine being separated from my family and knowing that if I “tried” to get passed that wall to see them, that I would either be shot, attacked by dogs, or something else, is scary. (need help finishing this)

Bibliography
Galante, P. (1965). The Berlin Wall. London: Arthur Baker Ltd.; 1St Edition edition (1965).

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The Rise and Fall of the “Iron Curtain” Essay

Most Important Turning Point in WW2 Essay

Most Important Turning Point in WW2 Essay.

There’s always a discussion or argument as to what the most important turning point in the war was. This is a very difficult question to answer because every important part of the war happened because of another important part of the war. But is there just one main turning point in the war or could there be multiple?

The Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain took place between August and September 1940. After the success of Blitzkrieg, the evacuation of Dunkirk and the surrender of France, Britain, on the Western front, was by herself.

The Battle of Britain was the closest British Civilians actually got to see any of the fighting in WW2. In July 1940 through to October 1940 a few thousand young men, ably backed by the British Public and the men and women of the RAF ground staff held off the mightiest Air Force assembled up to that point in time. The German Luftwaffe. On September 15th came the last major engagement of the battle.

On that day, the Luftwaffe lost 60 planes while the RAF lost 28. The overall casualties amounted to Germany losing 1,100 planes whereas Britain had lost just over half that amount (650). On September 17th, Hitler cancelled the invasion of Britain. The invasion would not have been possible if the Royal Navy had been able to attack the barges; and, with the RAF in existence the Germans could not hope to attack the Royal Navy.

So, no invasion took place. If Britain had lost the Battle of Britain then Britain would have almost certainly been invaded and probably conquered like the other European countries. But Britain did not lose the Battle of Britain and, so, Britain was not conquered. The continued existence of Great Britain as a fighting nation meant that… Germany needed many men to garrison Western Europe rather than attack Russia because the resistance movements in the occupied countries had support from Britain. When Japan and Germany declared war on America, America, being the biggest industrial power at the time, was able to use Britain as a massive base to store all the aircraft they needed to bomb Germany. The majority of Germany`s artillery was kept back in Europe and Germany on anti-aircraft duties because of these huge bombing raids.

These drains on Germany’s resources meant they were not able to conquer Russia in the quick manner needed. This led to the eventual meat grinder of the Eastern front which swallowed so much of their army and air force. How much difference would those guns, men and ammunition have made at Stalingrad? The Battle of Britain boosted British morale through the roof. This was shown in the famous “never was so much owned by so many to so few.” Speech by Winston Churchill. The British also kicked the Axis out of Africa, forcing Hitler to send much needed supplies and men to assist the failing Afrika Korps. All of this would not have happened if the British had lost the Battle of Britain.

The Enigma Code

The German military used the Enigma cipher machine during WW2 to keep their communications secret. The machine was available commercially during the 1920s, but the military potential of the device was quickly realised and the German army, navy and air force all used a more developed model of the machine to encipher their messages believing that it would make these communications unsolvable to the enemy. The Enigma machine is an electro-mechanical device that relies on a series of rotating ‘wheels’ or ‘rotors’ to scramble plaintext messages into jumbled cipher text. The machine’s variable elements can be set in many billions of combinations, and each one will make a completely different cipher text message. If you know how the machine has been set up, you can type the cipher text back in and it will unscramble the message.

If you don’t know the Enigma setting, the message remains indecipherable. The German authorities believed in the absolute security of the Enigma. However, with the help of Polish mathematicians who had managed to secure a machine before the outbreak of WW2, British code breakers stationed at Bletchley Park managed to exploit weaknesses in the machine and how it was used and were able to crack the Enigma code. Breaking the Enigma ciphers gave the Allies a key advantage, which, according to historians, shortened the war by two years thus saving many lives. In one specific case the team behind the Enigma code were able to inform the British 8th Army at El Alamein of an incoming attack from the Afrika corps.

Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the most major and decisive battles of World War 2 where the Axis fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad. The battle took place between August 23, 1942 and February 2, 1943 and was fought with close-quarters combat and lack of regard for civilian casualties. It is among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare with almost two million casualties. The German attack, led by General Paulus, to capture Stalingrad began in late summer 1942, and was supported by severe Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The German offensive eventually became reduced to building-to-building fighting. Despite controlling nearly the entire city at times, the Germans were unable to shake off the last soviets clinging to their City. Both sides fought vigorously over the city and Stalin ordered his troops, “Not a step back.” The Battle for Stalingrad was rife with sniping on both sides; however the Russians used a tactic no other country did during the war. This tactic was the employing of female snipers on the field, which they did to great effect.

By doing this, the Russian Army was able to fill their ranks further as well as raise morale of troops and civilians by reporting on the lethal effectiveness of the Soviet fighting woman. Morale was one of the most vital things a soldier could have. Without morale a soldier became ineffective and the worst thing for morale was an enemy Sniper. The presence of a sniper was usually revealed to enemy troops by a single shot, followed by the death of one of their comrades. This presented a problem to the remaining troops. Not only were they under fire from an enemy, but they could not see where this enemy was nor could they predict who would be the next victim. Additionally, if the sniper left, there was no way for the opposing men to know unless one of them left cover, and therefore risking his life. The strain of being constantly in danger was increased by the inability of the troops to strike back at the sniper, as well as their anger at the death of their fellow soldiers.

During the Battle of Stalingrad, the Russian snipers, particularly Vassili Zaitsev, proved to cause so much damage to German morale and such a boost to the Russians that German High Command sent in their best sniper, a Major Koning, to hunt down and kill Zaitsev. Unfortunately for the Germans, this plan backfired, and Zaitsev killed Koning, further lifting Russian morale and dropping German fighting spirit to a new low. On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack at the weaker Romanian and Hungarian forces protecting the German flanks. After heavy fighting, the Axis army was cut off and surrounded inside Stalingrad. Adolf Hitler’s resolute belief in no surrender led to more loss of life. Eventually, the failure to save the German Forces and lack of supplies led to the surrender. By February 1943, Axis resistance in Stalingrad had stopped and nearly 125,000 remaining troops of the 6th Army had surrendered, the others were killed.

Only 6,000 soldiers made it back home. The battle lasted 5 months, 1 week, and 3 days. It was Germany’s first major defeat. However by the end of the battle 99% of the buildings in Stalingrad were reduced to piles of rubble. “The siege of September 13, 1942 to January 31, 1943 will inspire forever the hearts of all free people. Their glorious victory stemmed the tide of invasion and marked the turning point in the war of the Allied nations against the forces of aggression.” Franklin D Roosevelt, congratulating Joseph Stalin on the soviet Victory at Stalingrad. This shows that not only did Stalingrad spread morale throughout the U.S.S.R but throughout Allied troops around the world. For the U.S.S.R Stalingrad was it. A desperate last stand against the Axis and total inhalation. Not only were there vital oil sources to the South-East but it was a battle between Stalin and Hitler themselves (considering it was Stalin’s city). After the Battle of Stalingrad German forces never recovered to their earlier strength and so gave up their campaign on the USSR. It was the beginning of the end and retreat for the Axis powers in Russia.

El Alamein

Between 1940 and 1942, the desert war went back and forth over the north coast of Africa. After initial British success, the Afrika Korps (the German army) made a determined advance, gradually beating the British 8th Army back as far as a small town called El Alamein near the Egyptian border. At the end of the First Battle of El Alamein, the Allies suffered about 13,250 wounded, captured, missing, and killed, while the Axis suffered 17,000. The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle lasted from 23 October to 5 November 1942. Germany had: 30,542 casualties, 500 tanks, 254 guns, 84 aircraft. And British and other Commonwealth forces had: 13,560 casualties, 332- 500 tanks, 111 guns, 97 aircraft. After the two battles the world was convinced that the Axis powers, particularly Germany, were not invincible as this was their second major military defeat. A quarter of a million Italian and German soldiers surrendered at El Alamein which was nearly twice the amount that surrendered at Stalingrad four months earlier.

This destroyed Italian moral completely because not only were they crushed at El Alamein, their country became the new frontline, and for Germany It was another momentous disaster. The Battle of El Alamein not only allowed total free access to the Suez Canal for Allied shipping, which was of special importance now that the war had taken on a global nature, but it also stopped the Germans from threatening the Middle-Eastern oil fields, a major supplier of Allied oil reserves. The victory, coupled with joint Allied landings in French Algiers, also finally spelled the elimination of an Axis presence in North Africa and ended the Italian dreams of a ‘new Roman Empire’. There were also strategic implications: the defeat in North Africa began the series of events that led the invasion of mainland Italy and the toppling of the Italian dictator Mussolini. This brought the Italians onto the Allies’ side and left Germany at a strategic disadvantage across the whole of the Mediterranean.

The North African campaign also drew German troops away from the massive battles that were taking place in the U.S.S.R. I have not included D-Day as one of the most important turning points in the war because I believe that the fact that D-Day happened means that the tide had already turned. For the Western Front the tide turned at the Battle of Britain because if Britain had been taken then: America wouldn’t have an Allied country close to Germany, the Allies wouldn’t have been able to win in North Africa and D-Day wouldn’t of been able to happen in the first place. I have also not included Pearl Harbour as a Turning point because I feel Japan only attacked the Americans at Pearl Harbour so they could destroy some of their vital ships and resources.

I think they did this because they knew that war was going to break out between Japan and America at some point and so decided to jump the gun and get the upper hand. This would mean that Pearl Harbour was significant point in the war rather than a turning point. In conclusion I would say that there wasn’t a turning point as such but four main turning points that led do the downfall of Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan. These being: The Battle of Britain, The breaking of the Enigma Code, Stalingrad and El Alamein. This is because the three battles were last chance stands against the mighty German Army, and defeat would have meant loss of highly important resources, land, men and morale. Additionally if the Enigma code had not been broken the war might have raged on for another two or three years and many more millions could have died.

Bibliography
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/russianow/features/9942741/stalingrad-dates-legacy.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/ww2_summary_01.shtml http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/defeat/catastrophe-stalingrad.htm http://bbrown.umwblogs.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_was_so_much_owed_by_so_many_to_so_few http://stalingrad3.weebly.com/index.html
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/battleofbritain.htm
http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/content/machines.rhtm

Most Important Turning Point in WW2 Essay

An Evaluation of the Rule of Joseph Stalin Essay

An Evaluation of the Rule of Joseph Stalin Essay.

Following the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, new powers slowly rose to replace him. One of those people was Joseph Stalin. Stalin was a young revolutionary that fought for independence, and slowly rose through the ranks of the Communist Party, and became the general secretary of the Communist Party in 1922. After Lenin’s death, he and Leon Trotsky fought to be the next dictator of the Soviet Union.

By the late 1920s, Stalin had effectively become the dictator of the Soviet Union. He launched series of reforms in attempt to make the Soviet Union a world power, and wanted to turn the Soviet Union into a socialist state as soon as possible. I think he was a good ruler in building up the nation’s power. He accomplished many of these goals that he set, but forgot about the life of the people (Joseph Stalin (1879-1953)).

When Stalin ruled, heavy industry was emphasized over the production of consumer goods. He wanted to industrialize the nation, and have the Soviet Union become a socialist state as soon as possible One of the first actions he took was launching the first Five-Year Plan in 1928.

Stalin said that the Soviet Union is behind other capitalist countries by fifty to one hundred years and urged the people to overpass the other nations in ten years time. He planned to set up a command economy, and increase the industrial production of steel, coal, oil, iron, and electrical power. Targets for industries were set and the coal and steel production rates grew. By the end of the first and second Five-Year plans, the USSR was a powerful industrial state and its economic position was strengthened, but the people’s lives were forgotten .

Due to the rapid industrialization that was happening, increased food productions were also needed to support the rising need of food for workers and to buy the needed machinery. To support this need, Stalin planned an agricultural reform to collectivize the farms and to stop privatization of land. In collectivization, farms are joined together to farm land, sharing tools and methods of farming. At first, the people rebelled against this plan because it was carried out by force, and the people destroyed livestock and crops.

Then the agriculture gradually built up. Enough food was being produced to feed the rapid industrialization, and modern ways of farming were finally being used. Livestock and wheat productions rose. However, during this time, the people were heavily taxed, food was taken away to feed the city workers which resulted in starvation, and opposition toward the plan was eliminated (The Period of Stalin’s Rule). Kulaks were also almost completely destroyed. Opposition against Stalin was eliminated, many of whom were educated and able to work (The Period of Stalin’s Rule).

Stalin’s plans were able to reform the nation, and bring the nation into power again. The five-year plans were successful in industrializing the nation, and the collectivization provided food for the industrial growth. However, they were accomplished harshly, and human rights were not put into account, and people suffered from starvation, purges, harsh ruling, and were forced to follow in the plans. Stalin ruled successfully in industrializing the nation and building its power, but not successfully in raising the quality of life. Overall, I think he was a good ruler.

Works Cited

“Joseph Stalin (1879 – 1953).” BBC-History- Joseph Stalin (1879 – 1953). 4 November 2008 < http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/stalin_joseph.shtml>.

“The Period of Stalin’s Rule (1924-53).” The Period of Stalin’s Rule. 4 November 2008 .

An Evaluation of the Rule of Joseph Stalin Essay

The League of Nations: Strengths and Weaknesses Essay

The League of Nations: Strengths and Weaknesses Essay.

Some may argue that the League of Nations was a success while other would say it was a total failure, but, failure or not, the concept was far ahead of its time. But nonetheless, the organisation had various flaws that contributed to its downfall. The League was created simply because Woodrow Wilson demanded it, in 1919 after the end of World War I. It was to promote international peace and righteousness. Wilson wanted countries to talk out their problems instead of resorting to violence and war.

It was made of forty-two countries and by the 1930s, the number rose to sixty. There were various flaws in the League, but it still achieved many things in its short life. The League of Nations had four main functions: to stop war from ever happening again, disarmament, to make the world a better place by improving people’s lives, and to enforce the Treaty of Versailles.

The League did not stop war from ever happening again; it is possible that it helped cause World War II, but the League did successfully settle two cases that could have resulted in war.

In Corfu, the League managed to get Italy to leave Greece. In 1925, they also settled disagreements between Greece and Bulgaria. They also persuaded Yugoslavia to leave Albania and stop the dispute over the Aaland Islands. In attempting to settle these disputes, the League forced the Greeks to pay Italy money and apologize even though Mussolini was the one who invaded Greece. Again, in Bulgaria, the League condemned the Greeks and forced them to leave. It appeared as if the League sided mostly with rich and powerful countries. The League could not afford to displease any wealthy countries. It was as if there was one law for the powerful and one for the weak. In the few wars the League managed to stop, they were mostly in favour of the powerful countries.

As for disarmament, I would say this was one of the factors that led to the downfall of the League. The motives behind this action are honorable but if disputes happened, the League had no way of dealing with them. The Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928 which was signed by sixty-five countries and outlawed war, was completely ignored. In the 30’s, the League’s disarmament talks came to a halt. Germany refused to agree because they wanted quality with Great Britain and France. The League had four powers, The Power of the Covenant which kindly reminded countries that they had promised to obey the League’s rules. The Power of Condemnation which said if any countries broke a rule, the league had the power to shake their head and frown disapprovingly.

The Power of Arbitration made the League into councilors who would listen to angry countries and help settle their problems. Lastly, with the Power of Sanctions, the League could stop other countries from trading with it. This was their most influential power but it was absolutely useless. When Japan was being “naughty”, the League applied the Power of Ssanctions which would have devastated Japan because they have had no natural resources and that would have stopped them. ExceptHowever, countries continued to trade with Japan because their economyies was dependent on the Japanese. Again, when Hitler came into power and began invading small, weak countries formed from self-determination; the League didn’t have the power to protect them.

The League did, however, manage to make the world a better place. They did not abolish slavery completely but they freed 200,000 slaves in Africa and Burma. The League significantly cut down on leprosy and malaria which could have killed millions of people. They housed, fed and dealt with over a million Prisoners of war. Made drugs illegal and shut down four large pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland. The League helped Austria and Hungary with their struggling economy.

To enforce the Treath of Versailles, the League forced Germany to pay reparations and made sure they followed the rules. Great Britain, France and Belgium invaded and forced Germany to pay. In 1923, Germany stopped paying. Britain and Belgium did not invade and only France went in. The League of Nations gave the Germans no reason to respect and agree with them. The League took control of Saar and demiliterized Rhineland which made the German’s very vulnerable. In the beginning, the League didn’t even allow Germany to join.

Representation was often a problem among the League. The idea was to encompass all the nations of the world but most of them never joined. The League was mainly made up of European countries. The main powers were France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan. The General Assembly which included all countries, only met once a year. Almost all decisions were left in the hands of the four major powers. The greatest weakness of the League, was it’s lack of the United Sates of America. This took away most of the League’s potential power. At that time, the United States was one of the leading countries in economy and wealth. Since the United States refused to join the League, the two most important members were UK and France who often disagreed with one another.

The League was made up of mostly members from the Alliance whom all had biasts towards the Axis. This biast caused many Axis to struggle in trying to rebuild their countries. One of the most important weaknesses, was that the four powers acted in ways that their countries could benefit. Most of them acted in their own nations interests and very few were committed to the goals of the League. Even though there were four powers, UK and France were the key figures. To pass anything in the League, it needed unamity and all countries had to agree. This made it difficult for them to achieve anything. The league was often indecisive and required unanimouse votes. This made reaction to problems slow, inconclusive and not very effective. Sometimes, impossible.

In conclusion, the League of Nations had it’s strong points and weaknesses. Though they did not achieve much during their short life, the idea alone should have been an achievement. The concept of countries working together to achieve world peace was inconceivable. The League did not have its own power but was mainly dependent on the contributions of other countries. The dependency on countries caused some decisions to be unfair and bias. Though the League of Nations was destroyed during World War II, it gave birth to the United Nations which today, still helps keep world peace.

The League of Nations: Strengths and Weaknesses Essay