WW2 Was Fought For Colonies: Were The Allies Very Different From The Germans?

punch cartoon imperialism

The main reason for the Second World War was the quest for land , for colonies. Before the war, Hitler blamed the Allied powers especially Britain and France of being colonial powers. After the First World War the German colonial possessions were taken away and ruled by the League of Nations (read Allies) mandates.

colonialism 1936
World colonial map. 1936

A glance at the map of colonies in 1936 will give us a clear idea of the extent of the colonial empires of Britain and France. Hitler wanted colonies for Germany. He called it lebensraum. He was different from the other European powers only that he wanted to colonise Europe itself while Britain and co. ruled over what they called "savages' and "uncivilised".in Asia and Africa. They had been able to psyche people in these areas that they were not matured enough to rule themselves so they needed the benevolent rule of Britain and France.

French british colonialism

Hitler admired Britain for being able to rule millions in India with only a few hundred thousand Britishers.

Britain was the world's premier colonial power. The Empire played an important role in Britain's World War I victory. The Empire played an even more important role in World war II. Some of the British Empire countries had obtained Dominion status (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa) and voluntarily joined Britain in the War, playing very important roles. Each of the Dominions were by themselves of only limited importance, but when considered as a whole became a major force. Imperial possessions also played roles in the war. The British Indian Army played a key role in the Middle East. The Empire was a major source of raw materials for the British war effort, providing important resources that the Germans lacked. Iraqi oil fueled the British fleet based in Alexandria as well as the 8th Army in the Western Desert. One of the reasons why the British were able to prevail when the Germans failed to win the war in the first 2 years. As in World War I, Germany was not able to win the War which turned into a war of attrition. Unlike World War I, food did not prove to be decisive. In World War II it proved to be oil, which America had in large supply and the British had begun to extract in the Middle East.

Hitler went wrong because instead of dishing out "you-are-not-worthy-enough-to-rule-yourself" theory and psyching the "native" successfully, he was blunt and called the Slavs as "Untermenschen" and wanted to kill or starve them all. Hardly a policy that would work. And it did not work.

English imperialism world domination

If in 1941, Hitler had used the softer British approach to deal with the Ukrainians and Belorussians, Stalin's Russia would have fallen in a few months.

After the Second World War colonialism as a tool of dominating other people was thoroughly discredited and became useless. The British understood this and sensibly withdrew from India in 1947. The French failed to do so and got a hiding at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

Hitler way colonialism conquest military
Hitler should have known that this is not how colonies are nurtured. He should have learnt from the British.
Now the new currency of power projection was America's capitalism and Soviet Union's communism. The latter failed, the former thrives even today. China successfully learnt it from America and is giving the Americans a run for their money.

It all finally boils down to power.


1. Hitler's Empire by Mark Mazower, Chapter "The New Order In World History"
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