The Impact of Total War


Total War involves Soldiers and Civilians

1. A lot of wars are fought between 2 armies. The term Total War, on the other hand, is often used to describe conflicts where all of a country's resources are considered part of the war effort.

2. So a total war is also a battle between countries' economies, their scientists, their industries, and their civilians. WWII is usually considered to have been a total war.

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Impact of Total War

Hitler had hoped that the wars he was starting would be short (quick victories). This would have meant less disruption to normal life.

1. After some heavy defeats in 1942, Germany prepared itself for total war. In a speech at the Berlin Sportpalast (sports arena) in February 1943, Goebbels stated:

'Total war is the demand of the hour... The danger facing u is enourmous. The efforts we take to meet it must be just as enourmous... We can no longer make only partial and careless use of the war potential at home and in the parts of Europe that we control. We must use our full resources.'

2. This meant that all of Germany's resources had to be directed to help the war effort.

  • Non-essential production (production that wasn't vital to the war effort) stopped, and small non-essential businesses closed. Workers were used in war-related industries instead.
  • Civilian clothes and consumer goods were no longer manufactured.
  • Rationing was a fact of life in Germany from the very start of the war. Food supplies for ordinary families became much more restricted later on.
  • More women were expected to work or join the army. Germen women never fought on the front line - they took mainly clerical and administrative roles. However, many women did help to operate Germany's anti-aircraft defences and served in signals units on the front line.
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Eventually, males between the ages of 13 and 60 who weren't already serving in the military had to join the Volkssturm - a part-time defence force (a sort of German 'Dad's Army').

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1. From 1940, Germany rapidly prepared for bombing. Hundreds of community air raid shelters were built.

2. Auxiliary hospitals and emergency first-aid stations were also established to care for civilian injuries.

3. From 1942, the British and American air forces began bombing German cities more heavily. Around half a million German civilians were killed, and many more were made homeless.

4. Germany was later flooded with refugess from other German territories and from cities like Dresden, Berlin and Hamburg, which were all heavily bombed.

5. Germany struggled to deal with the growing number of refugees. There was little help for people displaced by the war - most struggled to find food and shelter.

German cities were attacked using incendiary bombs - these were designed to cause huge fires. Hamburg and Dresden were both fire-bombed.

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