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War Aims in the Second World War

The War Aims of the Key Belligerents 1939-1945

Victor Rothwell


This is the first study of the aims that motivated the major powers - the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, Germany and Japan - to fight in the Second World War. The book shows, in a way that has not previously been attempted, how some war aims were constants that were unlikely to be abandoned except as a result of total defeat while others arose and sometimes declined as a result of the fortunes of war. Fresh light is shed on the wartime transition of the United States and the Soviet Union to superpower status, while the author shows that consistency is most evident in Great Britain, content with the international prewar status quo, and Nazi Germany, intent from the first on destroying it and replacing it with a new order in which all liberal and civilised values would be annihilated.

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German war aims map
American war aims map
Soviet war aims map
Japanese war aims map
1. War aims in modern history
2. Germany and Italy
3. Britain and France
4. The United States
5. The Soviet Union
6. Japan and the Grand Allies in East Asia
7. Conclusion

About the Author

Victor Rothwell is Reader in History at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of several books including The Origins of the Second World War (2001), Britain and the Cold War, 1941-47 (1982) and British War Aims and Peace Diplomacy, 1914-18 (1971).


An excellent idea… I know of no single-volume study on the topic.
- Dr David Reynolds, Cambridge
Both books can be read profitably by any and all students and scholars interested in the unfolding of the Second World War. Each author, in short, can take justifiable pride in his work.
- S. P. Mackenzie, University of South Carolina, European History Quarterly
War Aims id a well written work, based on extensive and thorough grounding in the profuse secondary literature, and is highly recommended.
- Russell A. Hart, Hawai'i Pacific University, The Journal of Military History
In this thoughtful analysis Rothwell provides a concise summary of the key belligerents' war aims, something that few other monographs have done … War Aims is a well written work, based on extensive and thorough grounding in the profuse secondary literature, and is highly recommended.
- Journal of Military History
Carefully thought-out and well-constructed… I am familiar with Dr Rothwell's work, above all his book on war aims during the First World War, and it is this book that inspires confidence for a similar one on the Second World War.
- Professor Roger Louis, University of Texas

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