| Who is most to blame? |
Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines war crimes as wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including... wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, ...taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Each country that partook in the Second World War had committed war crimes to some degree, along with crimes against peace and humanity. Germany is the most responsible for the atrocities that occurred during World War 2. If Germany had not been in pursuit for power, the war may have been avoided. Japan, U.S.A., USSR, Italy, Vichy France, Britain and Canada, in that order, are also to blame for the cruelties during the war. In such a large scale global conflict, the Axis powers, as well as the Allies were at fault.
The beginning of the 1930s marked the start of Nazi Germany’s exploitation of power. Seeking revenge from the Treaty of Versailles, the Nazis had waged a war of aggression, conspiracies and destruction. This party was infamous for its mass murders, specifically the Holocaust. Over 12 million people were killed during this time, 6 million of those being Jewish. Adolf Hitler, the Nazi ruler, was anti-Semitic, and believed that the Aryans were a superior race. Hitler had stated, “None but those of German blood may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation”. Hitler had ordered the extermination of Jews in concentration camps, located throughout Germany and Poland. Those fit to work were sent to labour camps where they performed hard labour for no pay. The others were sent to their death in gas chambers. Large camps such as Aushwitz exterminated over 6000 people a day [see Figure 1]. The concentration camps were only one of the horrendous crimes the Nazis committed during the war. On 9 November 1938, the day known as Kristallnacht, Nazi soldiers destroyed the homes and offices of Jewish citizens in Germany. The Germans had broken many treaties in the process of gaining control over Europe, including the Munich Agreement; a policy allowing Hitler to take control of the Sudetenland if in return he stopped acquiring more territory. However, in March of 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, disobeying the Agreement. Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Britain had commented, “It is a total defeat. Czechoslovakia will be swallowed up by the Nazis. And do not suppose this is the end. This is only the beginning.” As Churchill predicted, Hitler went on to carry out more indictments. Germany had signed the Nazi-Soviet pact of non-aggression. The Nazis invaded the Soviet Union nonetheless. Experiments were often conducted on the captured Soviet prisoners of war. About 3.4 million prisoners died in these camps, 60% being Soviet. Germany had perpetrated the most crimes against peace and humanity and is therefore the most to blame for this war.
Second to blame for the acts of violence in the war is Japan. Prior to World War 2, Japan had been at war with China. Japan believed that by invading China, they would be able to gain access to natural resources as well as to accommodate for its rapidly growing population. During their quest to satisfy their imperial and expansionist needs, the Japanese were responsible for numerous atrocities, including genocide of Chinese women at the Nanjing massacre, beginning on 13 December 1937. Thousands of women were victims of gang rape and murder, their bodies left on the streets completely exposed. Chinese men were also victims of the massacre. Any men who were captured