Total war
Overview
 
Total war is a war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 in which a belligerent
Belligerent
A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war"...

 engages in the complete mobilization
Mobilization
Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, in order to describe the preparation of the Prussian army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed...

 of fully available resource
Factors of production
In economics, factors of production means inputs and finished goods means output. Input determines the quantity of output i.e. output depends upon input. Input is the starting point and output is the end point of production process and such input-output relationship is called a production function...

s and population.

In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare. In a total war, there is less differentiation between combatants and civilians than in other conflicts, and sometimes no such differentiation at all, as nearly every human resource, civilians and soldiers alike, can be considered to be part of the belligerent effort.
The phrase can be traced back to the 1936 publication of General Ludendorff’s
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

 World War I memoir Der Totale Krieg ("The Total War").
Encyclopedia
Total war is a war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 in which a belligerent
Belligerent
A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war"...

 engages in the complete mobilization
Mobilization
Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, in order to describe the preparation of the Prussian army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed...

 of fully available resource
Factors of production
In economics, factors of production means inputs and finished goods means output. Input determines the quantity of output i.e. output depends upon input. Input is the starting point and output is the end point of production process and such input-output relationship is called a production function...

s and population.

In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare. In a total war, there is less differentiation between combatants and civilians than in other conflicts, and sometimes no such differentiation at all, as nearly every human resource, civilians and soldiers alike, can be considered to be part of the belligerent effort.

Etymology

The phrase can be traced back to the 1936 publication of General Ludendorff’s
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

 World War I memoir Der Totale Krieg ("The Total War"). The concept is extended by some authors back as far as Clausewitz’s
Carl von Clausewitz
Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war...

 classic work On War
On War
Vom Kriege is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz , written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife in 1832. It has been translated into English several times as On War...

as "absoluter Krieg" (however, the relevant passages have been interpreted in diverging ways by different authors), and to the French "guerre à outrance" during the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

.

USAF General Curtis LeMay
Curtis LeMay
Curtis Emerson LeMay was a general in the United States Air Force and the vice presidential running mate of American Independent Party candidate George Wallace in 1968....

 updated the concept for the nuclear age. In 1949, he was first to propose that a total war in the nuclear age would consist of delivering the entire nuclear arsenal in a single overwhelming blow, going as far as "killing a nation".

French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars

The French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

 introduced some of the first concepts of total war. The fledgling republic found itself threatened by a powerful coalition of European nations. The only solution, in the eyes of the Jacobin
Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques , Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton...

 government, was to pour the nation's entire resources into an unprecedented war effort—this was the advent of the levée en masse
Levée en masse
Levée en masse is a French term for mass conscription during the French Revolutionary Wars, particularly for the one from 16 August 1793.- Terminology :...

. The following decree of the National Convention
National Convention
During the French Revolution, the National Convention or Convention, in France, comprised the constitutional and legislative assembly which sat from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795 . It held executive power in France during the first years of the French First Republic...

 on August 23, 1793 clearly demonstrates the immensity of the French war effort, when the French front line forces grew to some 800,000 with a total of 1.5 million in all services—the first time an army in excess of a million had been mobilized in Western history.:
The wars merged into the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 of the First French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 from c1803. Over the coming two decades of almost constant warfare it is estimated that somewhere in the vicinity of five million died—probably about half of them civilians—and France alone counted nearly a million (by some sources in excess of a million) deaths.

In the Russian campaign
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

 of 1812 the Russians resorted to destroying infrastructure and agriculture in their retreat in order to hamper the French and strip them of adequate supplies. In the campaign of 1813 Allied forces in the German theater alone amounted to nearly one million whilst two years later in the Hundred Days a French decree called for the total mobilization of some 2.5 million men (though at most a fifth of this was managed by the time of the French defeat at Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

). During the prolonged Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

 from 1808–1814 some 300,000 French troops were kept permanently occupied by, in addition to several hundred thousand Spanish, Portuguese and British regulars an enormous and sustained guerrilla insurgency—ultimately French deaths would amount to 300,000 in the Peninsular War alone.

Taiping Rebellion

The Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

 (1850–1864) was one of the deadliest wars in history, and the first total war in modern China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. About 20 million people died, many due to disease and famine. It followed the secession of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was an oppositional state in China from 1851 to 1864, established by Hong Xiuquan, the leader of the Taiping Rebellion...

 from the Qing Empire
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

. Almost every citizen of the Heavenly Kingdom was given military training and conscripted into the army to fight against the Imperial forces.

During this conflict both sides tried to deprive each other of the resources to continue the war and it became standard practice to destroy agricultural areas, butcher the population of cities and in general exact a brutal price from captured enemy lands in order to drastically weaken the opposition's war effort. This war truly was total in that civilians on both sides participated to a significant extent in the war effort and in that armies on both sides waged war on the civilian population as well as military forces.

American Civil War

During the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, U.S. Army General Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan
Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

's stripping of the Shenandoah Valley, beginning on September 21, 1864 and continuing for two weeks, was considered "total war". Its purpose was to eliminate foodstuffs and supplies vital to the South's military operations, as well as to strike a blow at Southern civilian morale. Sheridan took the opportunity when he realized opposing forces had become too weak to resist his army.

Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

's 'March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted around Georgia from November 15, 1864 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War...

' in November/December 1864 destroyed the resources required for the South
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 to make war. Sherman is considered one of the first military commanders to deliberately and consciously use total war as a military strategy. General Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 and President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 initially opposed the plan until Sherman convinced them of its necessity.

Scholars taking issue with the notion that Sherman was employing "total war" include Noah Andre Trudeau. Trudeau believes that Sherman's goals and methods do not meet the definition of total war and to suggest as much is to "misread Sherman's intentions and to misunderstand the results of what happened."

World War I

Almost the whole of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 mobilized to wage World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Young men were removed from production jobs to serve in military roles, and were replaced on the production line by women. Rationing occurred on the home fronts. Bulgaria went so far as to mobilize a quarter of its population or 800,000 people, a greater share of its population than any other country during the war.

One of the features of Total War in Britain was the use of government propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 posters to divert all attention to the war on the home front
Home front
Home front is the informal term commonly used to describe the civilian populace of the nation at war as an active support system of their military....

. Posters were used to influence public opinion about what to eat and what occupations to take, and to change the attitude of support towards the war effort. Even the Music Hall
Music hall
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:# A particular form of variety entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts...

 was used as propaganda, with propaganda songs aimed at recruitment.

After the failure of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
The Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Artois was a battle in the First World War. It was a British offensive in the Artois region and broke through at Neuve-Chapelle but they were unable to exploit the advantage.The battle began on 10 March 1915...

, the large British offensive in March 1915, the British Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 John French blamed the lack of progress on insufficient and poor-quality artillery shells
Shell (projectile)
A shell is a payload-carrying projectile, which, as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage sometimes includes large solid projectiles properly termed shot . Solid shot may contain a pyrotechnic compound if a tracer or spotting charge is used...

. This led to the Shell Crisis of 1915
Shell Crisis of 1915
The Shell Crisis of 1915 was a shortage of artillery shells on the front lines of World War I, which largely contributed to weakening public appreciation of government of the United Kingdom because it was widely perceived that the production of artillery shells for use by the British Army was...

 which brought down both the Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 government and Premiership
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 of H. H. Asquith
H. H. Asquith
Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, KG, PC, KC served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916...

. He formed a new coalition government dominated by Liberals and appointed David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 as Minister of Munitions
Minister of Munitions
The Minister of Munitions was a British government position created during the First World War to oversee and co-ordinate the production and distribution of munitions for the war effort...

. It was a recognition that the whole economy would have to be geared for war if the Allies were to prevail on the Western Front.

As young men left the farms for the front, domestic food production in Britain and Germany fell. In Britain the response was to import more food, which was done despite the German introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare, and to introduce rationing. The Royal Navy's blockade of German ports prevented Germany from importing food and hastened German capitulation by creating a food crisis in Germany.

World War II

The Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 can be considered the quintessential total war of modernity. The level of national mobilization of resources on all sides of the conflict, the battlespace being contested, the scale of the armies, navies, and air forces raised through conscription, the active targeting of civilians (and civilian property), the general disregard for collateral damage, and the unrestricted aims of the belligerents marked total war on an unprecedented and unsurpassed, multicontinental scale.

Shōwa Japan

During the first part of the Shōwa era, the governments of Imperial Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 launched a string of policies to promote total war effort against China
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 or occidental powers
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 and increase industrial production. Among these were the National Spiritual Mobilization Movement
National Spiritual Mobilization Movement
an organization in the Empire of Japan established as part of the controls on civilian organizations under the National Mobilization Law by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe....

, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association
Taisei Yokusankai
The was Japan's para-fascist organization created by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on October 12, 1940 to promote the goals of his Shintaisei movement...

.

The National Mobilization Law
National Mobilization Law
was legislated in the Diet of Japan by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on 24 March 1938 to put the national economy of the Empire of Japan on war-time footing after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War....

 had fifty clauses, which provided for government controls over civilian organizations (including labor unions), nationalization
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 of strategic industries, price controls and rationing
Rationing
Rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods, or services. Rationing controls the size of the ration, one's allotted portion of the resources being distributed on a particular day or at a particular time.- In economics :...

, and nationalized the news media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

. The laws gave the government the authority to use unlimited budgets to subsidize war production, and to compensate manufacturers for losses caused by war-time mobilization. Eighteen of the fifty articles outlined penalties for violators.

To improve its production, Shōwa Japan used millions of slave labourers and pressed more than 18 million people
Slavery in Japan
During most of the history of the country, the practice of slavery in Japan involved only indigenous Japanese, as the export and import of slaves was significantly restricted by isolation of the group of islands from other areas of Asia...

 in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

.

United Kingdom

Before the onset of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 drew on its First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 experience to prepare legislation that would allow immediate mobilization of the economy for war, should future hostilities break out.

Rationing of most goods and services was introduced, not only for consumers but also for manufacturers. This meant that factories manufacturing products that were irrelevant to the war effort had more appropriate tasks imposed. All artificial light was subject to legal blackout
Blackout (wartime)
A blackout during war, or apprehended war, is the practice of collectively minimizing outdoor light, including upwardly directed light. This was done in the 20th century to prevent crews of enemy aircraft from being able to navigate to their targets simply by sight, for example during the London...

s.
Not only were men conscripted into the armed forces from the beginning of the war (something which had not happened until the middle of World War I), but women were also conscripted as Land Girls to aid farmers and the Bevin Boys
Bevin Boys
Bevin Boys were young British men conscripted to work in the coal mines of the United Kingdom, from December 1943 until 1948. Chosen at random from conscripts but also including volunteers, nearly 48,000 Bevin Boys performed vital but largely unrecognised service in the mines, many of them...

 were conscripted to work down the coal mines.

Enormous casualties were expected in bombing raids, so children were evacuated from London and other cities en masse to the countryside for compulsory billet
Billet
A billet is a term for living quarters to which a soldier is assigned to sleep. Historically, it referred to a private dwelling that was required to accept the soldier....

ing in households. In the long term this was one of the most profound and longer-lasting social consequences of the whole war for Britain. This is because it mixed up children with the adults of other classes. Not only did the middle and upper classes become familiar with the urban squalor suffered by working class children from the slums, but the children got a chance to see animals and the countryside, often for the first time, and experience rural life.

The use of statistical analysis, by a branch of science which has become known as Operational Research to influence military tactics was a departure from anything previously attempted. It was a very powerful tool but it further dehumanised war particularly when it suggested strategies which were counter intuitive. Examples where statistical analysis directly influenced tactics include the work done by Patrick Blackett's team on the optimum size and speed of convoys and the introduction of bomber stream
Bomber stream
The bomber stream was a tactic developed by the Royal Air Force Bomber Command to overwhelm the German aerial defences of the Kammhuber Line during World War II....

s by the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 to counter the night fighter defences of the Kammhuber Line
Kammhuber Line
The Kammhuber Line was the name given to the German night air defense system established in July 1940 by Colonel Josef Kammhuber.- Description :...

.

Germany

In contrast, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 started the war under the concept of Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

. Officially, it did not accept that it was in a total war until Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

' Sportpalast speech
Sportpalast speech
The Sportpalast or total war speech was a speech delivered by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels at the Berlin Sportpalast to a large but carefully selected audience on 18 February 1943 calling for a total war, as the tide of World War II had turned against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies.It is...

 of 18 February 1943. For example, women were not conscripted into the armed forces or allowed to work in factories. The Nazi party adhered to the policy that a woman's place was in the home, and did not change this even as its opponents began moving women into important roles in production.

The commitment to the doctrine of the short war was a continuing handicap for the Germans; neither plans nor state of mind were adjusted to the idea of a long war until the failure of the operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

. A major strategical defeat in the Battle of Moscow
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

 forced Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, who was appointed as Germany's armament minister in early 1942, to nationalize German war production and eliminate the worst inefficiencies.

Under Speer's direction a threefold increase in armament production occurred and did not reach its peak until late 1944. To do this during the damage caused by the growing strategic Allied bomber offensive, is an indication of the degree of industrial under-mobilization in the earlier years. It was because the German economy through most of the war was substantially under-mobilized that it was resilient under air attack. Civilian consumption was high during the early years of the war and inventories both in industry and in consumers' possession were high. These helped cushion the economy from the effects of bombing.

Plant and machinery were plentiful and incompletely used, thus it was comparatively easy to substitute unused or partly used machinery for that which was destroyed. Foreign labour, both slave labour and labour from neighbouring countries who joined the Anti-Comintern Pact
Anti-Comintern Pact
The Anti-Comintern Pact was an Anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 and was directed against the Communist International ....

 with Germany, was used to augment German industrial labour which was under pressure by conscription into the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 (Armed Forces).

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union (USSR) was a command economy
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

 which already had an economic and legal system allowing the economy and society to be redirected into fighting a total war. The transportation of factories and whole labour forces east of the Urals as the Germans advanced across the USSR in 1941 was an impressive feat of planning. Only those factories which were useful for war production were moved because of the total war commitment of the Soviet government.

The Eastern Front of the European Theatre of World War II
European Theatre of World War II
The European Theatre of World War II was a huge area of heavy fighting across Europe from Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 until the end of the war with the German unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945...

 encompassed the conflict in central
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 from June 22, 1941 to May 9, 1945. It was the largest theatre of war in history in terms of numbers of soldiers, equipment and casualties
World War II casualties
World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population. The tables below give a detailed country-by-country count of human losses.-Total dead:...

 and was notorious for its unprecedented ferocity, destruction, and immense loss of life. The fighting involved millions of German and Soviet
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 troops along a broad front hundreds of kilometres long. It was by far the deadliest single theatre of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Scholars now believe that at most 27 million Soviet citizens died during the war, including some 8.7 million soldiers who fell in battle against Hitler's armies or died in POW camps. Millions of civilians died from starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

, exposure, atrocities, and massacres. The Axis lost some 5.2 million soldiers in the east as well as many thousands of civilians

During the battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

, newly-built T-34 tanks were driven—unpainted because of a paint shortage—from the factory floor straight to the front. This came to symbolise the USSR's commitment to the Great Patriotic War and demonstrated the government's total war policy.

To encourage the Russian people to work harder, the communist government, controlled by Stalin, encouraged the people's love of the Motherland and even allowed the reopening of Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

es as it was thought this would help the war effort.

United States

The United States underwent an unprecedented mobilization of national resources for the Second World War. Conditions on the home front were not as strained as they were in the United Kingdom or as desperate as they were in the Soviet Union, but the United States greatly curtailed nearly all non-essential activities in its prosecution of the Second World War and redirected nearly all available national resources to the conflict, including reaching the point of diminishing returns by late 1944, where the U.S. military was unable to find any more males of the correct military age to draft into service.

The strategists of the U.S. military looked abroad at the storms brewing on the horizon in Europe and Asia, and began quietly making contingency plans as early as the mid-1930s; new weapons and weapons platforms were designed, and made ready. Following the outbreak of war in Europe, and the metastasis of the ongoing aggression in Asia, efforts were stepped up significantly. The collapse of France and the airborne aggression directed at Great Britain unsettled the Americans, who had close relations with both nations, and a peacetime draft was instituted, along with Lend-Lease programs to aid the British, and covert aid was passed to the Chinese as well.

American public opinion
Public opinion
Public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the adult population. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views....

 was still opposed to involvement in the problems of Europe and Asia, however. In 1941, the Soviet Union became the latest nation to be invaded, and the U.S. gave her aid as well. American ships began defending aid convoys to the Allied nations against submarine attacks, and a total trade embargo against the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 was instituted to deny its military the raw materials its factories and military forces required to continue its offensive actions in China.

In late 1941, Japan's Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

-dominated government decided to seize by military force the strategic resources of South-East Asia and Indonesia since the Western powers would not give Japan these goods by trade. Planning for this action included surprise attack
Surprise Attack
Surprise Attack is the debut studio album released by the hard rock band Tora Tora.-Track listing:# "Love's a Bitch"# "28 Days"# "Hard Times"# "Guilty"# "Phantom Rider"# "Walkin' Shoes"# "Riverside Drive"# "She's Good She's Bad"...

s on American and British forces in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya, and the U.S. naval base and warships at Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

. In response to these attacks, the U.K. and U.S. declared war on the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 the next day. Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 declared war on the U.S. a few days later, along with Fascist Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

; the U.S. found itself fully involved in a second world war.
As the United States began to gear up for a major war, information and propaganda efforts were set in motion. Civilians (including children) were encouraged to take part in fat, grease, and scrap metal collection drives. Many factories making non-essential goods retooled for war production. Levels of industrial productivity previously unheard of were attained during the war; multi-thousand-ton convoy ships were routinely built in a month-and-a-half, and tanks poured out of the former automobile factories. Within a few years of the U.S. entry into the Second World War, nearly every man fit for service, between 18 and 30, had been conscripted into the military "for the duration" of the conflict. Strict systems of rationing of consumer staples were introduced to redirect productive capacity to war needs.

Previously untouched sections of the nation mobilized for the war effort. Academics became technocrats; home-makers became bomb-makers (massive numbers of women worked in heavy industry during the war); union leaders and businessmen became commanders in the massive armies of production. The great scientific communities of the United States were mobilized as never before, and mathematicians, doctors, engineers, and chemists turned their minds to the problems ahead of them.

By the war's end a multitude of advances had been made in medicine, physics, engineering, and the other sciences. Even the theoretical physicists
Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

, whose theories were not believed to have military applications (at the time), were sent far into the Western deserts to work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

 on the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 that culminated in the Trinity nuclear test and changed the course of history.

In the war, the United States lost many soldiers, but had managed to avoid the extensive level of damage to civilian and industrial infrastructure that other participants suffered. The U.S. emerged as one of the two superpower
Superpower
A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests...

s after the war.

Unconditional surrender

After the United States entered World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 declared at Casablanca conference to the other Allies and the press that unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender is a surrender without conditions, in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological...

 was the objective of the war against the Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Prior to this declaration, the individual regimes of the Axis Powers could have negotiated an armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

 similar to that at the end of World War I and then a conditional surrender when they perceived that the war was lost.

The unconditional surrender of the major Axis powers caused a legal problem at the post-war Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

, because the trials appeared to be in conflict with Articles 63 and 64 of the Geneva Convention
Geneva Convention (1929)
The Geneva Convention was signed at Geneva, July 27, 1929. Its official name is the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva July 27, 1929. It entered into force 19 June 1931. It is this version of the Geneva Conventions which covered the treatment of prisoners of war...

 of 1929. Usually if such trials are held, they would be held under the auspices of the defeated power's own legal system as happened with some of the minor Axis powers, for example in the post World War II Romanian People's Tribunals
Romanian People's Tribunals
The two Romanian People's Tribunals , the Bucharest People's Tribunal and the Northern Transylvania People's Tribunal were set up by the post-World War II government of Romania, overseen by the Allied Control Commission to try suspected war criminals, in line with Article 14 of the Armistice...

. To circumvent this, the Allies argued that the major war criminals were captured after the end of the war, so they were not prisoners of war and the Geneva Conventions did not cover them. Further, the collapse of the Axis regimes created a legal condition of total defeat (debellatio
Debellatio
Debellatio designates the end of a war caused by complete destruction of a hostile state....

) so the provisions of the 1907 Hague Conventions
Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907)
The Hague Conventions were two international treaties negotiated at international peace conferences at The Hague in the Netherlands: The First Hague Conference in 1899 and the Second Hague Conference in 1907...

 over military occupation were not applicable.

Postwar era

Since the end of World War II, no industrial nations have fought such a large, decisive war. This is likely due to the availability of nuclear weapons, whose destructive power would offset any advantage victory might bring. Where full mobilization of a country's resources such as in World War II could take years, full mobilization of a nuclear arsenal would take days. Such weapons are developed and maintained with relatively modest peace time defense budgets.

By the end of the 1950s, the ideological
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 stand-off of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 between the Western World
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 involved thousands of nuclear weapons being aimed at each side by the other. Strategically, the equal balance of destructive power possessed by each side situation came to be known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), the idea that a nuclear attack by one superpower would result in nuclear counter-strike by the other. This would result in hundreds of millions of deaths in a world where, in words widely attributed to Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

, "The living will envy the dead".

During the Cold War, the two superpower
Superpower
A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests...

s sought to avoid open conflict between their respective forces, as both sides recognized that such a clash could very easily escalate, and quickly involve nuclear weapons. Instead, the superpowers fought each other through their involvement in proxy wars, military buildups, and diplomatic standoffs.

In the case of proxy wars, each superpower supported its respective allies in conflicts with forces aligned with the other superpower, such as in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

See also

  • The bomber will always get through
    The bomber will always get through
    The bomber will always get through was a phrase used by Stanley Baldwin in 1932, in the speech "A Fear for the Future" to the British Parliament...

  • Conscription
    Conscription
    Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

  • Economic warfare
    Economic warfare
    Economic warfare is the term for economic policies followed as a part of military operations during wartime.The purpose of economic warfare is to capture critical economic resources so that the military can operate at full efficiency and/or deprive the enemy forces of those resources so that they...

  • Levée en masse
    Levée en masse
    Levée en masse is a French term for mass conscription during the French Revolutionary Wars, particularly for the one from 16 August 1793.- Terminology :...

  • Conventional warfare
    Conventional warfare
    Conventional warfare is a form of warfare conducted byusing conventional military weapons and battlefield tactics between two or more states in open confrontation. The forces on each side are well-defined, and fight using weapons that primarily target the opposing army...

  • Industrial warfare
    Industrial warfare
    Industrial warfare is a period in the history of warfare ranging roughly from the early nineteenth century and the start of the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of the Atomic Age, which saw the rise of nation-states, capable of creating and equipping large armies and navies through the...

  • Roerich Pact
  • Strategic bombing
    Strategic bombing
    Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...

  • War economy
    War economy
    War economy is the term used to describe the contingencies undertaken by the modern state to mobilise its economy for war production. Philippe Le Billon describes a war economy as a "system of producing, mobilising and allocating resources to sustain the violence".Many states increase the degree of...

  • War effort
    War effort
    In politics and military planning, a war effort refers to a coordinated mobilization of society's resources—both industrial and human—towards the support of a military force...

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