WW2: The Resource War – Arsenal of Democracy – Extra History – #1



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To understand nations at war, you have to look at how their economies function. With World War II on the horizon, Europe and Asia dug themselves in for a fight – and a look at each other’s resources told them what to expect. — (Episode details below)

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Why doesn’t this series use the Nazi swastika symbol? James explains:
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European economies were so closely connected that some people expected they have to avoid another world war or destroy their finances, but in fact World War I had taught them how to prepare for just such a scenario. Germany, France, and Great Britain all invested in their military before war broke out. When evaluating these economies to see how war would affect them, we look at four main factors: GDP, population, territorial extent, and per capita income. Broadly, this helps us determine how resilient, expansive, self-sufficient, and developed a nation is. All of those factors determine how a nation must conduct its war. For example, the vast territorial holdings of the British Empire meant that they had vast resources to draw upon but needed a long time to mobilize them, which helped Germany determine that they needed to strike fast and win big if they hoped to win the war before Britain’s full resources came into play. Japan also estimated that they could win a war in the Pacific if they managed to win before the US had been involved for more than 6 months. These calculations drove the early strategies of the Axis powers, but the participation of the US would later prove to be a crucial factor.
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BONUS! Economies of Japan and China before WWII:

GDP (Bn USD-1990)
Japan – 169.4
Japanese Colonies – 62.9
China (exc. Manchuria): 320.5

POPULATION (mil)
Japan – 71.9
Japanese Colonies: 59.8
China (exc. Manchuria): 411.7

TERRITORY (thous sq.km)
Japan – 382
Japanese Colonies – 1602
China (exc. Manchuria): 9800

AVG ANNUAL WAGE (USD-1990)
Japan – 2,356
Japanese Colonies – 1,052
China (exc. Manchuria) – 778

From: “The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison” by Mark Harrison
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32 comments

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  2. Be careful everyone we’re gonna be learning about WW2 today so everytime we talk about the bad guys I want you all to turn and look away. You might be more willing to join them just by looking at them according to my “favorite history channel” EC.

  3. Advanced economies with higher gdp have greater manufacturing capability, and can find resources or synthesise alternatives… you forgot to add 'unless they're modern day Australia', who just buys everything from overseas. Not really applicable to WW2 though I suppose.

  4. The allies had twice the number of troops as the axis powers yet we BARELY eked out a victory due to us. The US of freaking A dropping two suns on Japan. Blitz krieg was a winning tactic. The Germans were VERY good at war. They spread themselves too thin though due to an insane leader.

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