History has always been a cornerstone of the Civil Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in India. It’s a subject that not only provides valuable insights into our past but also helps aspirants understand the trajectory of human civilization, geopolitics, and socio-economic changes. One such captivating facet of history that UPSC aspirants delve into is the World Wars. The global conflicts of the 20th century had far-reaching consequences that continue to shape our world today. To navigate this intricate subject and prepare comprehensively for the UPSC Mains examination, the study of previous year questions is often considered a vital strategy. In this blog series, we’ll take a closer look at the History Optional Subject-Wise Previous Year Questions in UPSC Mains, beginning with a decade-long retrospective exploration of World Wars, spanning from 2013 to 2023. Join us on this historical journey as we unravel the questions, themes, and insights that can help you master this essential part of the UPSC exam.
Understanding the intricacies of World Wars is not just about memorizing facts and dates; it’s about grasping the historical context, the causes, consequences, and the lessons that can be drawn from these monumental events. As we explore the past decade’s UPSC Mains papers, we will not only delve into the questions themselves but also provide in-depth insights, historical analysis, and tips on how to approach these questions effectively. Whether you’re an aspiring civil servant or simply interested in the compelling narrative of the World Wars, this series will serve as a valuable resource. So, gear up for a captivating journey through the tumultuous times of the 20th century as we embark on a quest to unravel the World Wars through the lens of UPSC Mains’ previous year questions.
World Wars History – Previous Year Questions (UPSC CSE Mains History Optional)
• World Wars: 1st and 2nd World Wars as Total Wars: Societal Implications;
• World War I: Causes and consequences; World War II: Causes and consequence
1. What led to the formation of the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis? Indicate its impact on international politics. (1986)
2. ‘The international situation that confronted the peace – makers in Paris was in the brutal realities of history, the result of a temporary redistribution of the balance of power in the world.’ Comment in about 200 words. (1987)
3. Critically examine the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Did he want to introduce a sort of socialism? (1987)
4. “The Anglo-Japanese Treaty (1962) marks a milestone in the development of Japan as an Asiatic power.” Comment in about 200 words. (1988)
5. The treaties made at the Paris Peace conference in 1919-20 were replete with unstable compromises, reflecting more materialism than idealism. Elucidate. (1990)
6. Show how the Spanish Civil War was a prelude to World War II. (1991)
7. ‘Thus the League sought to achieve the profoundest of all psychological revolutions—to transform the war mentality of man into a peace mentality.’ Comment. (1992)
8. Trace the distinct phases of the Sino Japanese War. Assess its political, economic and cultural impact on China, both ‘occupied and free.’ (1992)
9. ‘The Treaty of Versailles was merely an armistice for twenty years.’ Comment. (1993)
10. ‘The Manchurian crisis decided the fate of the League of Nations.’ Comment. (1993)
11. “The perpetuation of the economic malaise was the main cause of the political instability of Europe during the next two decades (1919-39).” Explain. (1994)
12. The Great Depression (1929-34) was “attended by momentous consequences in the economic as well as in the political sphere.” Comment. (1996)
13. “The Communist International and the League of Nations both announced the end of the Balance of Power.” Comment. (1996)
14. Trace the growth of militarism in Japan in the inter-war years. What international reaction did it provoke? (1997)
15. President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal “had the wit to start the political economy in a fresh, more promising direction.” Do you agree? (1997)
16. Trace the rise and growth of the New European Society in the inter-war period. (1999)
17. “Until December 1941 the battlefield of the Second World War was exclusively European and Atlantic; thereafter it became also Asiatic and Pacific.” (2000)
18. Analyse the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 and examine the validity of Germany’s objections to the treaty. (2000)
19. ‘There was not only a difference of principles at Paris (Peace Conference) but a clash of personalities.’ Comment. (2001)
20. ‘The Great Depression (1929-34) was attended by momentous consequences in the economic as well as in the political sphere.’ Comment. (2002)
21. The most important single factor… in the years following 1919 was the French demand for security. Comment. (2004)
22. “Treaty of Versailles contained the seeds of future conflict.” Comment. (2006)
23. “The War’s (First World War’s) most permanent contribution to the spirit of the post-War years was disillusion.” Comment. (2007)
24. “In the long run, the Locarno Treaty (December 1925) was destructive both of the Treaty of Versailles and of the Covenant”. Comment. (2008)
25. “By 1914, the sick man of Europe was no longer just Turkey: it was Europe itself.” Explain. (2011)
26. How did the policy of appeasement escalate the problem of Nazi aggrandizement? (2011)
27. “The peace of Versailies lacked moral validity from the start.” Critically evaluate. (2011)
28. “Any single explanation for the outbreak of the First World War is likely to be too simple. An amalgam of factors intellectual, social, economic as well as political and diplomatic contributed to this horrifying conflict of monumental proportions.” – Explain. (2012)
29. “The Russo-Japanese War helped in the rise of Japan as a great power.” Critically examine in 150 words. (2014)
30. How far is it correct to say that the First World War was fought essentially for the preservation of the balance of power? (2015)
31. “League of Nations is a League of notions.” Comment. (2016)
32. Do you agree with the view that the Treaty of Versailles was a bad compromise between a treaty based upon force and a treaty based on ideas? (2016)
33. Critically examine in 150 words: “18 January, 1871 had been a day of triumph for the strength and pride of Germany and 28 June, 1919 was the day of chastisement. (2017)
34. Why was the First World War termed as the first ‘total’ war in modem history? (2017)
35. Critically examine: “Until December 1941, the battlefield of the Second World War was exclusively European and Atlantic; thereafter it become also Asiatic and Pacific.” (2018)
36. Critically examine: “There are many ways in which the war of 1914-18 was unprecedented, and in human history, entirely novel.” (2019)
37. Critically examine: “The ineffectiveness of the League of Nations to prevent or to check Japanese aggression against China was the first serious blow to its prestige as an agency for providing security.” (2019)
38. Was Czechoslovakia served on a dish to Hitler at Munich? What were its implications? (2019)
39. Do you agree with the statement that the Second World War was history’s most destructive war? Elaborate. (2020)
FAQs on World Wars
1. Why is the study of World Wars history important for UPSC aspirants?
Answer: The study of World Wars history is crucial because it provides insights into major global events and their far-reaching consequences, which still impact our world today. It helps aspirants understand geopolitics, international relations, and socio-economic changes, which are essential for the UPSC examination’s General Studies paper and the optional history paper.
2. What are the key topics within World Wars history that UPSC aspirants should focus on?
Answer: Aspirants should focus on topics like the causes of World War I and World War II, major battles, key leaders, diplomatic negotiations, treaties, consequences, and the impact of the wars on different countries. Additionally, they should be well-versed in the post-war developments, including the formation of international organizations like the United Nations.
3. Are there specific World War-related questions in the UPSC exam, and how should I prepare for them?
Answer: Yes, UPSC frequently includes questions related to World Wars in both General Studies and History Optional papers. To prepare effectively, study previous year questions to understand the pattern and types of questions. Read comprehensive books and use historical sources to deepen your knowledge. Develop a clear understanding of the events and their significance.
4. How can I use World Wars history to enhance my essay and answer writing skills for the UPSC Mains examination?
Answer: World Wars history can be an excellent source for essay and answer writing. Use historical events and their consequences to substantiate your arguments. Develop a clear understanding of causality and draw parallels between past and present to provide a well-rounded perspective in your answers.
5. Can you recommend some essential resources and books for studying World Wars history for UPSC exams?
Answer: Some useful books for studying World Wars history include “A World at Arms” by Gerhard L. Weinberg, “The Second World War” by Sir Winston Churchill, and “The Guns of August” by Barbara W. Tuchman. Additionally, UPSC aspirants should refer to NCERT history textbooks, previous year question papers, and online resources to supplement their preparation.
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