Imperialism during World War II

May we speak of the imperialism during World War II?

Imperialism, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, can be defined as an act of “extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas.” Along with colonialism and nationalism, imperialism was one of the main ideologies leading to World War I. By the eve of World War II, two participants of World War I, Germany and Japan, were slowly gaining power as imperialist countries. Both countries were eager for even greater control and eventually launched a war that resulted in many lost lives and caused waves of chaos throughout the world.

Both Germany and Japan were eager to create a “space for their ‘race’ to expand into and develop” so that they could establish vast empires in Europe and Asia, respectively (Spencer, 2013). In Germany, Hitler and his National Socialist Party rose to power, and their main idea of Nazism became the basis of German imperialism. It was Hitler’s desire to expand his country and establish an extensive empire of “living space” (lebensraum) in Eastern Europe. Additionally, they saw Jews as inferior race and implemented the “Final Solution,” which resulted in the mass murder of all Jews in Europe. Likewise, Japan’s ambition was to create a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” by dominating its neighboring countries. The Meiji Restoration opened the Japanese people’s eyes to the world of advanced technology and established order. They adopted the western concept of Social Darwinism, believing that they were the strongest and the most favored race in Asia.

The war led to the massive death toll caused not only by the battles that occurred worldwide but also by the brutalities committed by the imperialist powers. Among other crimes against humanity, moral ethics and human rights were severely violated. Specifically, Germany and Japan violated women’s rights and killed millions of civilians.


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