The SWW take place between 1939 and 1945.
It was called the total war because countries employed all the available resources to defeat the enemy, including human, military, economic, and scientific resources. War was waged against the whole population (military forces and civilian population).
Causes of World War II:
- Nationalist Discontent: Germany was unhappy because of the Treaty of Versailles. This discontent gave rise to a desire to recover lost territories.
- Economic Protectionism: During the Great Depression of the 1930s, European governments adopted protectionist policies to reduce imports. This increased tension between countries.
- Expansionist Policies: Germany, Italy, and Japan wanted to expand their territories to acquire more raw materials and satisfy their territorial demands.
- Appeasement Policy: Great Britain supported a policy of appeasement towards Germany and Italy. As a result, the territorial expansion of these countries was tolerated, with the aim of maintaining peace.
In 1939, the civil war in Spain had just ended, and the dictatorship of General Franco was established. During a meeting in Hendaye, Franco asked for certain conditions which were impossible for Germany to fulfill. In the end, Spain remained neutral. Franco collaborated with the Axis and sent the Blue Division (volunteer troops) to support the German army's fight against the Soviet Union on the Eastern front.
The main objective was supplying arms to the troops. Various measures were adopted to achieve this:
- Raw materials (coal, iron...) were overexploited for use in the iron and steel industry (to build planes, boats...).
- Petroleum extraction increased to provide fuel for planes, military vehicles, boats, and submarines.
- Consumer goods industries concentrated on manufacturing military vehicles.
- Scientific and technological research led to the development of new weapons (atomic bombs).