Who Won World War II Research Papers
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Who won World War II? The Americans, in the West, and the Russians, in the East, it is generally said. John Lukacs in his recent book Five Days in London, May 1940 (1999, Yale University Press, New Haven), does not disagree, but points out the following:
- The victory could never have been achieved but for the fact that the war was not lost in May of 1940. This is an obvious point, and empty as such, but Lukacs argues convincingly that in this last week of May, 1940, Hitler came as close as he ever would – and that was very close, indeed – to achieving his primary aim of incontrovertible victory over the Allies and dominion over Western Europe, including the Nazi’s inheritance of the British Empire.
- It is Lukacs’s belief that Churchill’s actions over these five days in May prevented immediate Nazi victory. By the end of his book, Lukacs does not shy away from saying that Churchill saved western civilization. Lukacs makes some even more extraordinary claims. These claims are not extraordinary in the sense that they are difficult to believe, but in how enormous a historical role they make for a man already legendary: Winston Churchill.
While the question of whether or not a single man can be granted credit for winning the world’s greatest war – never mind for saving western civilization – is intriguing, to say the least, it is nearly imponderable. What interests me for the purposes of a research paper is how odd a character was Churchill to play the role Lukacs claims for him, and what an unusual historical moment it was that made it possible – necessary – for such a man to play that role. Lukacs devotes some of his book (but to my mind not enough) to the thesis that the differences between Churchill and his contemporaries as to how to address Hitler and his actions cannot be explained by reference to political differences. Most of Churchill’s opponents were members of his own party. For want of a better word, the differences that have explanatory power were cultural differences. The Churchill that emerges in Lukacs’s book was not so much a master politician as he was the man who most clearly understood the radical change in the world order that was ushered in with the rise of Hitler.