Prompt: In what ways did revenge figure into the strategies of the countries fighting in World War II? In what ways did revenge figure into the strategies of the countries fighting in World War II?
Revenge was a huge motivator, especially during the second half of WWII. In 1944 the Eastern Europeans (knowing they had been greatly wronged by the Germans) took it upon themselves to rid their lands of any and all peoples of German lineage living within their Countries. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Poland teamed up with the Soviets to ruthlessly drive the Germans from their lands. Problem was the Germans living in their lands weren’t soldiers, in fact they were merely civilians who had lived there for generations. Many were women, children, and elderly who had stayed in their home country to avoid the brutality of the war. More than one million German people were wiped out in this vengeance fueled act of violence, making this the most consuming ethnic cleansing in history.
By 1945 almost every country was fueled by revenge, each having had something immense taken from them at this time in the war. In February British and American troops bombed Dresden over several days, vengeance for when the Germans bombed Coventry. In France people began practising “epuration”, or purification. The basics of this was anyone having any relation to the Nazis would either be humiliated or shot. Women suspected of having romanced Nazi soldiers had their heads shaved, swastikas painted upon their foreheads, and they were marched around through town to be belittled and laughed at. Anyone besides women who were suspected to have some relation to the Nazis were shot without any real questioning.
Then the most infamous part of the war occurred, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now my personal stance on this is it was unneeded, horrendously destructive and sociopathic on Truman’s part, and simply a way for America to feel like they had earned back their dignity from Pearl Harbor. But it did stop the war in its tracks, with quite an unnecessary amount of civilian murder. Japan had already completely surrendered at this point, their only plea was to keep their emperor (who was seen as a holy asset by the Japanese people). Now this surrender in itself was very difficult for Japan to do, they were an extremely prideful country that took great severity in their victories and defeats. Surrender in any form was extremely disgraceful for them, and asking to keep their emperor was basic for their culture and spirituality. Not only did America refuse this outright, demanding an unconditional surrender. But they poured a huge bucketful of salt into Japans already stinging wound by atomically ripping the skin off of 146,000 uninvolved Japanese civilians. It was incredibly barbarian in nature and was just an unbacked excuse to prove to the Soviets that America had atomic weapons. It was a horrifying end to a horrifying war, and I’ve been pretty horrified having to look into the details of it. It was the most explosive form of vengeance in WWII, a major disaster that makes me wish America had just stayed out of it entirely. But it did end the war, not surprisingly. So I guess we have to give it that. Lots of painful executions of innocent lives, lots of unnecessary death. I hope we get to research something a little more cheery next time. As someone who loves Japan, and all nationalities for that matter, this was a painful topic to thoroughly examine.