Grade 8 History Lesson 60

World War II: Part 2

Oct. 28, 1940-Dec.7, 1941

     Starting back where we left off in the last lesson with the Britains beating the German Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. While Hitler was strategizing his next move in Europe, Benito Mussolini, the leader of the Fascist regime in Italy started his attack on Greece on October 28, 1940. Mussolini didn’t fare well against the Greeks, and ended up calling on Hitler to bail him out. With the combined power of the two fascist regimes, Greece fell on the April of 1941. Mussolini next aimed to take North Africa, but yet again underestimated his opponent, and was again forced to call on Hitler for rescue. Hitler assigned his best general to take over the invasion of North Africa.

His best general was Erwin Rommel. Erwin Rommel was different from the other Nazi generals, in that he didn’t bow down to Hitlers every wish, and he kept the rules of war. Rommel was a brilliant general, and he followed his orders to lead the North Africa Campaign with his well-trained units named the “Afrika Korps.” He was nicknamed the “Desert Fox” for outsmarting his opponents. Fighting went on for three years in North Africa, and eventually the United States joined in, led by General Georgy S. Patton. The clash was a representation of military genius, but eventually the Allies defeated Rommel’s Afrika Korps. After Rommel lost North Africa, he was a bit unsure of Hitler’s strategies, the more he learned the more he was convinced that Hitler was a lunatic. He eventually agreed to support one of the many assassination attempts against Hitler, but when Hitler found out he committed suicide to protect his family.

Eventually Hitler moved to attack the Soviet Union, to understand this decision I will tell you about the minds of Stalin and Hitler. Obviously the two had a lot in common, both were willing to do anything to get what they wanted, and both had their own network of concentration camps. In 1939 Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler that was called the Nazi-Soviet Pact, proceeding to divide the world between them and their allies. Stalin, despite many warnings from the Americans, the British and his own spies, he was to prideful to accept the fact that Hitler was planning to double-cross him. Eventually Hitler commenced his attack, which he named Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941.

The largest military invasion in history commenced with 3,500 tanks and 1,800 aircraft. It started off successful for the Nazis, who caught the Russians off guard. Hitlers strategy was to hit Russia with three army group simultaneously. One was to hit Leningrad, the other Ukraine, and another Moscow. Unprepared for the invasion, the soviet army faltered against the Nazis. 1.5 million Soviet Jews in Russia were exterminated in what was called the hidden holocaust. By December of 1941 2.4 million Soviet troops had been captured, to be either executed, starved or marched to concentration camps. Knowing this you may now understand Stalin’s counterattacks. Stalin told peasant farmers to burn down their crops and property so that when the Germans passed over, they might not have anything to eat. Had Hitler stuck to his plan he would’ve probably won, however he didn’t. He called some troops from the attack on Moscow to help secure Ukraine. He also wanted to destroy Leningrad more than he wanted Moscow, so he took some troops from the attack on Moscow to attack Leningrad. The troops at Leningrad didn’t fare well. However the troops attacking Ukraine were highly successful, in the battle of Kiev, which was located in the heart of Ukraine, an astonishing thing happened. On September 26, 1941 665,000 soviet’s surrendered, Hitler believed it was the greatest military achievement in history. However winter came early in Russia with snow falling as early as October, and when it wasn’t snowing, it was raining. German equipment was swallowed up by the mud, and German soldiers weren’t equipped with winter uniforms. Expecting to be finished with Russia before winter Hitler scrambled back to try and take Moscow. The Germans got as close as 21 miles from Moscow before they were hit with the harsh winter. One hundred thousand Germans suffered from frostbite while the Russians who were fairly used to the cold, held onto Moscow.

Now it’s time to look elsewhere because while the Nazis were battling the Soviets, the Japanese were planning the attack on Pearl Harbor. To understand this rather “out of place” incident we must look into the backstory. In the mid-1800s Japan was forced to open it’s doors to trade, with this came the need for more “living space.” They started with Manchuria for more resources and provoked the Sino-Japanese War in 1937. After invading China, Japan signed an agreement with Germany and Italy to be allies, this alliance was named the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis for the capital of each country. So why did Japan attack the United States? Well Japan wanted the resources of Southeast Asia, and so did the United States, who had previously sided with China against the Japanese. Not sure how the United States would defend China, they planned to attack the U.S directly. This was the idea of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who believed that his plan would cripple the United States navy, knocking it out as a threat. The Japanese trained extensively for their mission, learning the exact position of of U.S warships and planes. On the morning of December 7, 1941 184 Japanese torpedo bombers bombed Pearl Harbor catching the U.S completely off guard. As it was a Sunday morning, most servicemen were sleeping in, and those awake could hardly make sense of the barrage of bombs. Out of the seven battleship hit, the USS Arizona was hit the hardest, after some bombs hit it’s ammunition storehouse, it exploded and sank into the harbor killing 1,177. When the first wave of planes ran out of ammunition, they sent a second wave, under Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki, 181 more aircraft, continuing the wave of destruction. The attack on Pearl Harbor had lasted one hour and 45 minutes, and while a third attack was considered the Japanese decided to get out while they could, the mission was deemed a success. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and 5 midget submarines while the only incomplete part of the mission was to destroy two valuable carriers that were out at sea. 2,403 Americans died at Pearl Harbor, almost half were on the Arizona, while the Japanese lost 129 pilots.

While the mission was considered a success, the U.S were not knocked out as planned. On December 8, 1941 Congress declared war on Japan, they were joined by Canada and Great Britain a few hours later. As for the Soviet Union, they joined the Allies after getting attacked by Hitler. On the 11th of December Hitler and Mussolini declared war on the United States.

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Grade 8 History Lesson 59

World War II: Part 1

Welcome to the beginning of World War II, a war so big, that it needs four lessons. I’m going to go through some of the background to WWII. Also I’m going to do a little review because some of the lessons so far have had tiny bits of WWII in them.

After the Treaty of Versailles ended WWI, Hitler rose to power, promising to restore Germany to it’s former glory. Starting his campaign towards more living space he invaded and captured Austria in 1938. Next setting his eyes upon a slice of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland, he claimed it was to be the last territorial demand he had to make. After some negotiation between a few nations, the Munich Pact was signed in the same year to give Hitler the Sudetenland. However it was not enough for Hitler and soon he forced the president of Czechoslovakia to surrender it to him.

Next in line was Poland, which was in the way of his ultimate goal, the Soviet Union. However, as of then, Hitler pretended to befriend Stalin, and both nations agreed to divide Poland amongst themselves. The German invasion started on September 1, 1939, While the Russians started their invasion on September 17. This was enough to catch the attention of Great Britain and France, as they both declared war on Germany on September the third of 1939. However they ignored Russia’s part in the invasion of Poland fearing it would be to much, so Stalin went on to capture Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland.

After Russia invaded Finland, both sides stood at a standstill, in what has been called the “phony war.” This standstill did not last long, as in April of 1940 Germany advanced to take Denmark and Norway, which it took in a few weeks. Taking Luxembourg in a few hours, taking the Netherlands in 4 days, Belgium in 18 days, and northern France in six weeks. Hitler deliberately insisted that the French sign a treaty of surrender in the same railroad car, in the same location where Germany was forced to sign an armistice. It was  evident the Germans had changed their tactics, from sitting in the trenches gridlocked, to taking countries in days. The Germans used everything at their disposal all at once in what western journalists described using the word blitzkrieg which means “lightning war.” In the May of 1940 the Germans had cornered 400,000 Allied troops near the small fishing village of Dunkirk, and according to English officials only 45,000 could be saved before the Nazis swept in. However after a moving speech from the newly elected prime minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, a miracle happened. In the evacuation of Dunkirk, German ground troops stalled out for reasons that are still unknown today. And 900 boats of all shapes and sizes aided the Royal Navy in saving 338,229 troops.

Moving onto the Battle of Britain, Hitler believed if could subdue Great Britain, he could win WWII. His plan, nicknamed Operation Sea Lion was to assault Great Britain from the sky with the famous Luftwaffe commanded by Hermann Goering, an overconfident glory seeker. On the other hand Hugh Dowding, the leader of the British air force was calm and calculating. Realizing that the Germans outnumbered them 4 to 1 in aircraft he immediately ordered the production of British Hurricanes and Spitfires. He also allowed the aerial fighting to take place over Britain to cut back on fuel, salvage downed planes, and capture Germans. Though Goering was doing a good job on taking down air bases and factories, things weren’t going as overly expected. Hitler decided to target large cities to frighten the British into submission. However the British had also planned for that and had evacuated citizens to the countryside or subway systems. Despite the measures taken, tens of thousands still died. In the end, Operation Sea Lion was canceled and the Germans were forced to abandon the mission. Leaving the British to commemorate the decisive victory over the Luftwaffe every year on September 15.

Grade 8 History Lesson 58

The Spanish Civil War and the Rise of Francisco Franco

April 1, 1939

     While the Holocaust was spreading in Europe, Spain was suffering over it’s own problems. You see when Ferdinand and Isabella married in 1496, they united Argon and Castile, the largest kingdoms of Spain, they also started a long line of kings and queens. Now the eventual breakdown of of the monarchy was slow and painful, and it lasted 462 years. After losing the monarchy under Isabella II, it was restored under her son, only to lose it again under her grandson, King Alfonso XIII. Under great pressure from Spain’s growing movement for democracy, Alfonso allowed for free elections. When the people voted for a republican style government, Alfonso fled the country, and in his place, republican leaders took control.

The republican leaders wrote a constitution and elected Spain’s first president, however the people wanted their king back. Why? It was about this time that the Great Depression had hit, and many of the citizens were suffering. This cause a great division in Spain, those who supported the new republican government on the left, and those who wanted a king on the right (In Spain the republicans are on the liberal left, to those in America). Each side grew and attracted other various groups. With the left attracting, liberals, socialists, and communists it became the Popular Front. And the right attracting conservatives, army leaders and generals, the Roman Catholic Church, and Fascists it became the National Front. The beginning of the Spanish Civil War occurred when the right-wing Spanish army declared war on the Popular front, on July 17, 1936. The National Front chose Francisco Franco as their leader, he was a general in the Spanish army.

Francisco Franco was born into a military family,so when he joined the military he quickly rose up in ranks. In honor of his high rank, the best man at his wedding was none other than King Alfonso. So when Alfonso fled Spain, the republicans who had seen Franco’s growing power, ordered him off the mainland to a post on the Canary Islands. As mentioned, this didn’t stop the Spanish army from turning to him and naming him their “Generalissimo.” Though he was not a Fascist throughout his entire career, he was a member of a Fascist party called the Falange. Franco was as persuasive, and full of promises as Hitler, and own his own concentration camps. Speaking of Hitler, he admired Francisco, and offered Nazi assistance to the right-wing.

One main reason he did this was to test out new weapons. Hitler chose the small town of Guernica, to test out his weapons, and as most men were out fighting in the civil war, the bulk of the victims were women and children. On the fateful day of April 26, 1927, German warplanes bombed Guernica killing 1,600, and those not killed by the bomb were shot. In memorial Pablo Picasso expressed his feelings in a black, white, and blue painting simply titled Guernica.

After three years, many battles, thousands of political executions, and the loss of half a million lives, the republican leaders surrendered to Franco on April 1, 1939. After this Franco’s power was unshakable, he abolished the constitution, and allowed only one party which was an extension of Falange. When it came to WWII Hitler and Mussolini happily invited Spain to join them, however it was to spent from it’s own civil war. Franco’s regime lasted 36 years until his death, and really it was both oppressive and successful. Oppressive in that 100,000 to 200,000 of Franco’s political enemies were killed. However it was successful for being the only fascist-style government to survive WWII, and restoring prosperity to Spain. Before his death in 1975, he appointed the grandson of Alfonso XIII, Juan Carlos. Carlos ironically reversed all of Franco’s policies, restoring the Spanish parliament. It remains a democratic monarchy today under their son, Felipe VI who inherited the throne in 2014.

Grade 8 History Lesson 57

The Holocaust: Up Close

1933-1945

     Now often times we determine how bad the Holocaust was by numbers, but we cannot forget that each digit was a person that had a life. Today we will be going over the stories of four people by the names of, Anne Frank, Gerda Wiessmann Klein, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Corrie ten Boom. Unfortunately only two of these people survived the Holocaust.

Anne Frank

At thirteen years old, Anne Frank hoped to become a journalist and have the world remember her. Little did she know that her dream would come true. As of then, her Jewish family had moved from Germany to the Netherlands in 1933 to avoid Nazi persecution. Her father Otto Frank owned a company that prospered in Amsterdam, but was forced to sign it over to his non-Jewish partner. After Anne’s sister was given a notice to report to a work camp, the family opted to retreat. They had thought of fleeing to the United States or Cuba, however visas were hard to come by and they resorted to hiding. Their hiding place, a makeshift dwelling above Otto’s business building. They left their house on July 6, 1942, leaving it disheveled so that it might appear that they left the country in a hurry. Relying on Otto’s work associates to bring in groceries and other necessities, and four more resident joined them. However after two years of hiding, they were exposed on August 4, 1944. They were sent to Auschwitz, where Otto was separated from his family. Anne and her sister were assigned to the infirmary, where their mother smuggled her own food to them in hopes to keep them alive. However in October 1944, Anne and her sister were shipped to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, while their mother was kept behind at Auschwitz where she died of starvation. In March 1945 a typhus epidemic swept through Bergen-Belsen, sadly killing Anne and her sister, just weeks before Bergen-Belsen was liberated on April 15, 1945. Otto was the only surviving member of the family, and in his daughter’s honor he published her diary, which was the very thing she had dreamt of.

Gerda Weissmann Klein

Gerda Weissmann was 15 years old when the Nazis invaded in 1939. She and her family were Jewish and Polish, a double negative in Hitler’s eyes. Slowly the Nazis took away their normal lives, prohibiting visits to the theater, rationing food, and taking jobs. Soon the family of four were herded into a crowded ghetto, split up, with Gerda being taken to a work camp. Though it was warm her father insisted she wear snow boots, which would one day save her life. Being relatively healthy, she was tossed between concentration camps, not knowing if she would survive. Weeks before the war ended the Nazis started to clear out their concentration camps, lest they be caught committing horrific crimes against humanity. Forcing thousands on death marches towards Germany, many died however Gerda survived, in part to her snow boots. In May 1945, Gerda woke up in an abandoned factory, as the Nazis had fled the day before. Upon hearing that the war was over, she cried. Going outside she met a soldier who had come to liberate the prisoners, and as she showed him the way to the factory entrance, he opened the door for her. The soldier’s name was Kurt Klein, who Gerda later married. Kurt died in 2002, however Gerda continues to share her story.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not persecuted for being a Jew, instead he was a Christian German. Born in 1906, Bonhoeffer pursued the study of theology in 1923, and in ten years became a Lutheran minister. He gained early fame for writing numerous publications including The Cost of Discipleship which warned Christians against “cheap grace. When the Nazis took over the church, Dietrich and some other pastors had already caught on to Hitler’s evil intentions. Believing that it was his duty to help plot the death of Hitler, he once pretended to join the Nazi ranks. In a bizarre twist of events Bonhoeffer was arrested and detained for minor offense. In prison, he was treated far better as he was related to a high ranking Nazi, and he gathered prisoners for Bible study. He was also engaged to be married after leaving prison. Unfortunately Bonhoeffer was identified to be one of the men involved in a plan to assassinate Hitler. At 39 years old Dietrich died by hanging on April 9, 1945.

Corrie ten Boom

Born in the Netherlands, Corrie found great joy in serving others and helper her father with the family business. When the Nazis invaded in 1940, her father who was a deeply religious man in the Christian faith, protested against the oppression of Jews. Looking for creative ways to help their Jewish friends the ten Booms slowly built a hiding place for the persecuted. They put themselves in danger to hide Jews. However on February 28, 1944 they were betrayed, and Corrie’s whole family was arrested. Miraculously, during the raid on the ten Boom’s home six Jews remained hidden and the hiding spot was never found. Corrie, then 52 years old, her sister, and her father were thrown into the local jail. And in time the ten Boom sisters were shipped by train to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was released on New Years Eve in 1944, due to a clerical error. According to her it was all the Lord’s work. Living to the age of 91, Corrie wrote several books about her life and faith.

 

Grade 8 History Lesson 56

The Holocaust: From Afar

1933-1945

    There’s no easy way to look at the Holocaust, even from afar. Up to 11-17 million died in the Holocaust. Though those mainly persecuted were Jews, however Hitler destroyed anyone else he even considered to be a threat. Hitler didn’t do it alone, with the help of Heinrich Himmler, the SS, the Gestapo, Nazi loyalists, and gas chamber engineers. Hitler built his first concentration camp in March of 1933, it was named Dachau. Built to house five thousand of his opponents, they also served as labor camps. At Hitler’s career went on, 16,000 more camps were built to house Hitlers enemies. For identification, each prisoner had a badge on their sleeves or garments. Jehovah’s witnesses were given purple triangle badges; Communists, red; homosexuals, pink; Romani, black; common criminals, green; and Jews, yellow. Conditions were harsh, the survival rate was 50%, and if you did survive you could be used in one of the ludicrous experiments performed by Nazi physicians.

In 1942 Hitler allowed Heinrich Himmler to begin construction on extermination camps. So Himmler built six in Poland. By the names of Aushwitz II, Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka. The most common method for the killings were gas chambers. Prisoners were handed bars of soap, stripped, and herded into rooms with the signs “bath” and “sauna” to soothe the fear of the unknown. The Nazi Ideology is hard to explain. It’s basically a bizarre mesh of ideas thrown together, mainly evolution, that led some Germans to believe that they were the highest examples of the Aryan race. And that Jews were of a lesser offshoot that were to be considered animals. Though Hitler sought to destroy Christianity, he boasted that it was “God’s will” that the Aryan race survive. The way Hitler spread his twisted ideologies, was when he established himself as the Führer, he took control of the courts, the media, the church, and education. He infiltrated the schools with the German Youth Movement, a club that brainwashed children. So much so that those children grew up to defend National Socialism with their lives in WWII.

Sadly many well-meaning citizens fell for Hitler’s propaganda. Many did not know that Hitler killed or worked 5 to 11 million non-Jews to death. Many did not even know that 6 to 9 million Jews were to be killed. The destruction of 2/3 of Europe’s Jews happened without the vote of the average European.

Grade 8 History Lesson 55

The Rise of Adolf Hitler

1933

     Hitler was born on April 20, 1889. His father,  52 year-old Alois was a customs official who had a very strict personality and was on his third marriage at the time of Adolf’s birth. Hitler as a baby was nicknamed “Adi” and was spoiled by his mother Klara as he was her first child to live past the age of two. After retiring, Alois moved his family around seven times and Adolf was put through five schools. One of those was a Catholic school, in which he joined the choir and took voice lessons. However he was hard to handle, was described as a ringleader, and took to violent arguments with his classmates. Out of all the subjects, Adolf enjoyed world history, mostly because he had an interesting teacher, and he hated pretty much all the other teachers. One of his few friends described Adolf as “He saw everywhere only obstacles and hostility.”

He also argued with his father over whether Austria should be part of Germany. His father was pure Austrian and didn’t want Austria to became part of Germany, however Adolf did. His father also wanted him to be a civil servant, like himself while Adolf wanted to be an artist. He wanted to be an artist and painter so bad that he sabotaged his own education. You see he thought that if he did bad enough in technical school his father would put him in art school. However his father died when he was 13 and his poor marks in middle school gave him an even harder time in high school. As a high school dropout, and the head of the household at age 16, he did as he pleased rather than support his family.

Adolf blew his inheritance on the entrance exam to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. However his ego took a huge blow when in 1907 he was rejected twice and his mother died of cancer. Hitler was sincerely devastated. For five years Hitler found himself poverty-stricken, hardening him. He also believed that the Jewish people were a menace to society. He blamed economic problems on Jews who were prosperous. He also associated all Jews with Marxism, which he hated and considered a growing threat to Germany.

At age 24 he tried to join the army, but failed his physical exam, so he volunteered as a messenger. Hitler saw first hand the Battle of the Some and the Third Battle of Ypres. He was wounded twice, decorated twice for bravery and promoted to corporal. However when the war ended, he buried his head in his hands. With no family, no career, and no friends, there was nothing to live for but the love of war and German power. After WWI Germany was forced to regroup. And so Germany did by setting up the Weimar Republic, which gave Germany a constitution, a president, and a two house parliament. The parliament consisted of the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. Though it looked good on paper, the Weimar Republic was weak and inefficient.

Germany was ripe for revolution and the door was open for new political parties. One such party was the German Worker’s Party, which was started by Anton Drexler. It met in a beer hall in Munich, and was looking for someone to blame for Germany’s defeat in WWI. Adolf Hitler was sent to spy on Drexler and the German Worker’s Party, however as fate had it, Hitler resigned from the army and joined it. He found out that he had a “knack” for politics along with a talent for public speaking, and that people would listen to him. It was around this time also that Hitler decided to trim his mustache down to what is known most commonly as the “Hitler Mustache.”

From 1920-1921, Hitler gained control of the German Worker’s Party and renamed it to the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. “National Socialist” in German is Nationalsozialistische which abbreviated is “Nazi.” Adolf Hitler was masterful at promoting the cause of National Socialism and in 1921 the cause had grown to have 6,000 members. Hitler’s most daring rally was held on November 8-9, 1923. It was more of a revolt than a rally and was so called the Beer Hall Putsh, or Munich Putsh (Putsch means revolt.) Hitler, armed with a gun entered a Munich beer hall along with 600 hoodlums took three Bavarian officials at gunpoint to try and get them to join the Nazi ranks. They didn’t, however Hitler said they did.

For this the Bavarian government sentenced Hitler to prison for five years. However the trial backfired, and brought Hitler positive attention rather than negative. The sentence was reduced to nine months, time which Hitler used to write the first volume of Mein Kampf a mixture in his autobiography and is mission. Upon his release, Hitler finished the second volume of Mein Kampf, and recruited more men into his private army. Originally called the “Brownshirts” they  would become the Shutzstaffel or “SS” for short. By 1932 his Brownshirts numbered 500,000. Hitler continued to use propaganda to sway the crowds to his ideas, and adopted the swastika to be sewn on every banner and uniform.

In 1932, opting for a legal way to rule the nation he ran for president. However he lost to Paul Von Hindenburg, the popular military leader who lead Germany through WWI. In 1933 he maneuvered himself into the position of chancellor, the head of the Reichstag. Still Hitler continued to press on for more Nazi authority by creating an imaginary crisis. Hitler and a the SS burned the Reichstag to the ground and blamed it on the communists. Though this swayed many voters to vote Nazi, the Nazis still fell short of the majority vote. So they passed an emergency act giving Hitler four years of special power. While the Nazis were in power many died of “natural causes” and “suicide” but in reality concentration camps were popping up for anyone who opposed the Nazis. In 1934 Paul Von Hindenburg died, and one day before the Nazis passed a law meshing the position of president and chancellor into one. Which meant that Germany’s chancellor, Hitler was now president. Upon becoming the head of the state, Hitler also became the commander in chief of the army. Soldiers under him were asked to swear personal allegiance to Hitler and chant “Heil Hitler!” with an extension of their right arm towards him.

If you are wondering where the term Third Reich came from, here you go. Reich means empire or realm. The first Reich was under Otto I who formed the Holy Roman Empire in 962, The second Reich was formed under Otto von Bismarck who unified the loosely organized German states. This leads us to the Third Reich which refers to the Nazi empire.

Grade 8 History Lesson 54

Mohandas K. Gandhi

1930

     Today we will be taking a look at someone who didn’t use brute force to get what he wanted, instead Gandhi used peaceful methods to create change. Gandhi was born in 1869 in the city of Porbandar in British India. His parents were middle-class merchants of the Vaishya. Mohandas married at 13, as was Hindu custom, his bride’s name was Kasturba who Mohandas affectionately named “Ba.” In 1888, Mohandas moved to Great Britain to study law for three years. While he upheld most of the Hindu traditions he was raised to he did take dance lessons and study Buddhism and Christianity. Upon graduating from law school he headed home to India, however he found it hard to find a job.

So in 1893 he accepted a one year law position in South Africa. However he found that a steep racism for Indians existed there, after being beaten up, tossed off trains and harassed by white British South Africans. However instead of leaving he stayed, for twenty years to organize Indians in defending their own civil rights. There he also experimented with his famous non violent methods. Instead of organizing militias, he organized strikes and protests, and instead of fighting with weapons, he fought with words. Gandhi named his non-violent movement Satyagraha, which translates as “To seize truth with determination.” Strikes and protests had been done been done before but most were short lived, Gandhi’s protests lasted years at a time. He drew public attention to the British injustice and a compromise was reached to lessen the negative affect of registration cards. Gandhi also encouraged his fellow Indians to fight for the British, as he hoped that their eager participation would raise the status of the Indians among the British. He was rewarded for his roles in the Boer Wars and Zulu Rebellion. In the Zulu Rebellion the British utilized Indians to carry wounded soldiers away from the battlefield. It was while Gandhi was in charge of the “Indian Ambulance Corps” that he would reinforce his aversion to war and violence.

In 1915 Gandhi returned to India. One of the first things he did was set up the Satyagraha movement. One of Gandhi’s biggest issues with India was the inhumane status of “untouchables”, those born into one of the lowest strata of the Hindu caste system. He made it a point to hire untouchables and gave them the positive sounding name of Harijans which means “children of God.” In 1917-1918 Gandhi focused on the poor districts of Champaran and Kheda. They were already under the oppression of wealthy British land-owners when the British raised taxes on them in the middle of a crippling famine. So Gandhi stepped in and rallied the villagers to build schools and hospitals. However, of course the British government felt “threatened” and locked him up. However this proved to be a bad move as hundreds of thousands protested against Gandhi’s imprisonment, and the British government was forced to release him. Once free Gandhi pressured the British government to lift the taxes on poor Indian farmers, and he succeeded.

In 1919 Gandhi led a bigger campaign, this one against the Rowlatt Act, which the British imposed on the Indians to prevent independence. Gandhi successfully fought the Rowlatt Act using peaceful means, however not all Indians were willing to apply his peaceful methods. Because of this Gandhi abandoned his campaign to regroup and hold an extended fast. However the British took advantage of this and a ruthless general ordered his troops to open fire on a group of innocent Indians in Amritsar. About 400 innocent Indians were shot. In 1920 Gandhi pushed his people towards self sustaining industry and the boycott of British-made cloth. He did this by encouraging everyone to spin their own clothes. If you noticed from pictures of Gandhi that he didn’t wear much clothes, that’s because what he wore he spun himself. Like other countries there came a day when India declared its political freedom from Great Britain. India did so under Gandhi while he was a member of the Indian National congress. First on December 31, 1929 members of the congress raised the three color flag of India in the town of Lahore. Second on January 26, 1930 Gandhi and the congress issued a written document declaring India’s freedom from Great Britain. Third Indians, instead of fighting for their freedom with armed militias, boycotted salt in 1930.

You see, in 1882 the British controlled the salt industry in India. They made it Illegal to posses salt that was not British-made, and salt was highly taxed. So Gandhi planned to marched 241 miles to the coast of India and make their own salt. The good thing about salt is that Indians from any walk of life could relate to its essential value. So Gandhi started his journey with 79 men, however over time the crowd grew to stretch two miles. The walk from Ahmadabad to the seaside village of Dandi took 24 days. When Gandhi reached the seashore, he reached down and scooped up a lump of salty sea mud and said, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.” Now because it was illegal for an Indian to make his own salt, most expected Gandhi to be arrested on the spot. However Gandhi had gained worldwide coverage and the British would not dare arrest him in front of the cameras. However after a month of waiting, the British government arrested Gandhi again, this time also arresting 60,000 Indians.

Gandhi formed an even larger campaign called the Quit India Movement. The Quit India Movement was designed to free India from British rule during WWII. However as a result Gandhi and most members of the Indian National Congress were imprisoned by the British. While in prison, Gandhi’s wife died and he contracted malaria. Since the British government didn’t want Gandhi to die in prison, for fear of national backlash, they released him for medical reasons. By the end of WWII about 100,000 Indian political prisoners were released. The fight for freedom hit another roadblock when Muslims and Hindus were no longer willing to cooperate in fighting against Great Britain together. In 1947 the Muslim League formed the new nation of Pakistan, which was divided into two parts. Eastern Pakistan is known as Bangladesh and Western Pakistan is simply Pakistan. This caused millions of Hindus to flood out of the newly formed Pakistan, while millions of Indian Muslims flooded into Pakistan. Conflict was inevitable and possibly millions died. However one day after Pakistan was formed, August 15, 1947, Great Britain set India free. Finally! Sadly Gandhi was assassinated by an Indian Hindu in January 30, 1948 for negotiating peace with Muslims.