Article

World War II Diplomacy and Political Relations

Gerhard L. Weinberg

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0113
World War II Diplomacy and Political Relations

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As World War II recedes into the past, interest in it does not diminish. New publications about it appear steadily, and the public in many countries is clearly receptive. The television channels are so filled with programs dealing with the war that the History Channel is often referred to as the “Hitler Channel.” Three factors appear to be responsible. First, World War II was the largest war in world history, involving almost every country on earth and causing enormous loss of life—over fifty million dead—and unprecedented physical destruction. Second, the sheer drama of enormous victories for one side in the initial stages was followed by the crushing defeat of those who had initiated hostilities with such apparent success. Third, the element that continues to attract attention is the novelty of aspects of the conflict. The vast effort by the Germans to kill as many Jews as they could, now called the Holocaust, and the enormous expansion of bombing from its initiation in World War I are the subjects of controversy and publications. A further element in stimulating the continuing interest in the conflict has been the release—at times in dribbles, at times in torrents—of previously secret or unknown records and accounts of the belligerents. The world in the decades since the war is to a very large extent the product of the war and can be understood only by careful examination of its course and outcome. Debates about the war’s origins, the roles of both major and minor participants, the choices of key leaders, and the course and significance of specific campaigns and weapons have continued since 1945 and are unlikely to end any time soon. In the opening paragraph of The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides wrote, “Indeed this was the greatest movement yet known in history, not only of the Hellenes, but of a large part of the barbarian world—I had almost said of mankind.” The description also fits what has come to be called World War II. In view of the enormity of the war and the vastness of the literature on it, Oxford Bibliographies has divided the wider subject into two parts: the diplomatic and political issues, on the one hand, and the military operations, on the other. Because the broader issues of strategy and alliance politics frequently intersected with military decisions and operations, a certain amount of overlap is unavoidable, but the emphasis here will be on the diplomatic and broader strategic aspects.

Article.  15844 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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