Unit 3 Culminating - World War Two: The Canadian Experience

The Causes of the War

The Rise of Hitler/Appeasement

       If it wasn't for Hitler becoming the leader in Germany, WWII would never have happened. But how did Hitler do this? Due to the harsh penalties of the The Treaty of Versailles, many Germans had pent up anger inside of them, they felt that they deserved to regain what they'd lost. Hitler based his campaign off of these emotions, telling Germans that they were a "master race" above others, and promising them that he'd make them the prosperous country that they once were. Due to the extreme campaign promises he was making, on January 30, 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor, and after he readied his Nazi army, he began to invade countries. The Nazis began with the Rhineland in 1936, then Czechoslovakia in 1938, and Poland in 1939; but it was not until Germany invaded Poland in 1939 till France and Britain declared war on Germany. The reason for this was the Policy of Appeasement, which can best be defined as "giving in to a nation's demands to avoid conflict. There are many reasons why this policy was employed. People felt that the terms of Versailles were too harsh, Hitler constantly lied about his true intentions, but most of all, people wanted to avoid another major war. If Germany and France had simply declared war on Hitler earlier, WWII could have been avoided because Hitler's army was not powerful enough, but as a result of appeasement, WWII occurred.

Canadians in Battle

     WWII was Canada's first time independently declaring war, and they played a significant role throughout it. Some of the more significant battles that Canada participated in are: The Dieppe Raid, and Dday, although Canada's participation is not limited to only these. The Dieppe Raid, also known as "Canada's darkest day" of WWII, was an absolute tragedy. The objective was too relieve Russia of pressure, but unfortunately, those sent to help became helpless themselves! Out of the 6108 men that participated in the Dieppe Raid, 4963 were Canadian, and only 1596 of them returned home without any damage done to them. In addition to this, Canada also suffered the most severe amount of casualties from the raid, with 3367 in total. Due to alerting German coastal defenses by unexpectedly running into a German convoy, poor preparation for the raid, poor weather conditions, and lack of heavy artillery due to conditions on the beach, The Dieppe Raid was an absolute disaster. Dday was another one of the major battles Canada participated in. Canada's role on Dday was to take one of the five designated beaches (Juno) where Allied forces were to land to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany; and they did not fail. In fact, Canada presented the only force that captured all their initial objectives that day, although they suffered 359 deaths, and 1074 total casualties.

The Homefront: Propaganda, Life at Home and Japanese Internment

     Since Canadians were mentally (and physically) unprepared for the War, utilizing propaganda was an extremely necessary measure the government had to take. Around 700 propaganda posters were produced by the Wartime Information Board, and they were featured on: billboards, shop windows, theaters, buses and streetcars, and even matchbox covers. Due to the mass production and wide-spreading of the posters, citizens soon began to memorize and recognize posters.  

Propaganda during WWII.

        After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, Canada's senseless fear that Japanese-Canadians were secretly war spies consumed them, and due to this, in February of 1942, 21000 Japanese Canadians were rounded up and sent to internment camps. This racist act against the Japanese is known as "The Japanese Internment". The role of women also changed. Women were required to fill the jobs that men that had gone to war had left open, and by autumn 1944, the number of women working full-time in Canada was twice what it had been in 1939. Another change the home-front say during the war is rationing. Since ships that were once used to import and export food were instead being used for war purposes, food did not come as abundantly as it did prior to the war. Because of this, rationing became an important part of life during the war. People had to conserve food because they could not simply just go out and buy whatever they needed as easily anymore.

Rationing propaganda during WWII.

     Conscription was also another major aspect of life during the war, especially because Mackenzie King initially promised he wasn't going to use it. Due to a lack of men, and pressure from English-Canada on King for use of all available manpower, conscription was once again employed.

The Holocaust

Along with Hitler's rule came his anti-semitic beliefs, which eventually lead to the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the "state-sponsored" murder of over 6 million Jews. In the beginning, Hitler only placed laws that left Jews at a disadvantage, such as limits on the amount of cash they were allowed to keep, curfews, etc. The next step was to move all Jews into cramped, unsanitary spaces called "ghettos". Next, Hitler decided to move all Jews out of urban areas and into concentration camps where they were subjected to brutality, death, starvation and constant labor without pay; essentially Jews were slaves. Although these acts may seem horrible, they pale in comparison to the final stage of the Holocaust, which was the complete eradication of the Jews. During this stage known as the "Final Solution" every two out of three Jews were murdered. Hitler viewed the Jews as below human, using methods such as incarceration and poison gas chambers mass murder them. Near the end of the war however, the allied forces began liberating the Jews from camps or on death marches as they swept across Europe on their attacks on Germany; and as the war met its end on May 7, 1945, so did the Holocaust. A question often asked in regards to the Holocaust is "why did German citizens support this?" : well, they had no choice. One who apposed Hitler during WWII, was one who apposed living in itself. If a citizen was caught aiding Jews, he/she would be arrested or murdered, most likely for treason charges. Essentially, Hitler used fear to force German citizens to comply.

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