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A Complete Overview of Wwii

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World War II, also WWII, or The Second World War, was a global military conflict that took place between 1939 and 1945. It was the largest and deadliest war in history.

Even though Japan had been fighting in China since 1937, most historians say that the war began on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Within two days Britain and France declared war on Germany, although the only European battles remained in Poland. Germany was not alone. Pursuant to a then secret provision of its non-aggression Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union, Germany was joined in the battle to conquer Poland and to divide Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union on September 17, 1939. The Allies were initially made up of Poland, the British Empire, France, and others. In May, 1940 Germany invaded western Europe. Six weeks later, France surrendered to Germany. Three months after that, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed a mutual defense agreement, the Tripartite Pact, and were known as the Axis Powers. Then, nine months later, in June 1941, while still battling Britain, Germany betrayed and invaded its partner, the Soviet Union, forcing the Soviets into the Allied camp (although they still abided by their non-aggression treaty with Japan). In December 1941, Japan attacked the United States bringing it too into the war on the Allied side. China also joined the Allies, as eventually did most of the rest of the world. By the beginning of 1942, the major combatants were aligned as follows: the British Commonwealth, the United States, and the Soviet Union were fighting Germany and Italy; and the British Commonwealth, China, and the United States were fighting Japan. From then through August 1945, battles raged across all of Europe, in the North Atlantic Ocean, across North Africa, throughout Southeast Asia, throughout China, across the Pacific Ocean and, by air, in Japan.

Italy surrendered in September 1943, Germany in May 1945. The surrender of Japan marked the end of the war, on September 2, 1945.

It is possible that up to 62 million people died in the war; estimates vary greatly. About 60% of all casualties were civilians, who died as a result of disease, starvation, genocide, and aerial bombing. The former Soviet Union and China suffered the most casualties. Estimates place deaths in the Soviet Union at around 23 million, while China suffered about 10 million. Poland suffered the most deaths in proportion to its population of any country, losing approximately 5.6 million out of a pre-war population of 34.8 million (16%).

After World War II, Europe was informally split into western and Soviet spheres of influence. Western Europe later aligned as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Eastern Europe as the Warsaw Pact. There was a shift in power from Western Europe and the British Empire to the two new superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. These two rivals would later face off in the Cold War In Asia, the United States's military occupation of Japan led to Japan's democratization. China's civil war continued through and after the war, resulting eventually in the establishment of the People's Republic of China. The former colonies of the European powers began their road to independence.


1 Causes

2 Chronology

2.1 1939: War breaks out in Europe

2.2 1940: The war spreads

2.3 1941: The war becomes global

2.3.1 European Theatre

2.3.2 Pacific Theatre

2.4 1942: Deadlock

2.4.1 European Theatre

2.4.2 Pacific Theatre

2.5 1943: The war turns

2.5.1 European Theatre

2.5.2 Pacific Theatre

2.6 1944: The beginning of the end

2.6.1 European Theatre

2.6.2 Pacific Theatre

2.7 1945: The end of the war

2.7.1 European Theatre

2.7.2 Pacific Theatre

3 Aftermath

4 Casualties, civilian impact, and atrocities

5 Resistance and collaboration

6 The home fronts

7 Technologies


Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler.Main articles: Causes of World War II, Events preceding World War II in Europe, and Events preceding World War II in Asia

Commonly held general causes for WWII are the rise of nationalism, the rise of militarism, and the presence of unresolved territorial issues. In Germany, resentment of the harsh Treaty of Versailles, specifically article 231 the "Guilt Clause", the belief in the Dolchstosslegende, combined with the onset of the Great Depression fueled the rise to power of Adolf Hitler's militarist National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazi Party); meanwhile the treaty's provisions were laxly enforced, due to the fear of another war. The League of Nations also failed in its mission of preventing war, for similar reasons. Closely related is the failure of the British and French policy of appeasement, which also through fear of war, gave Hitler time to re-arm.

Japan in the 1930s was ruled by a militarist clique devoted to Japan's becoming a world power. Japan invaded China to secure additional natural resources to compensate for Japan's lack of natural resources. This angered the United States, which reacted by making loans to China, giving China covert military assistance (see Flying Tigers), and instituting progressively more inclusive embargoes of raw materials against Japan. The embargo of oil and other raw materials by the U.S. would have eventually wrecked Japan's economy; Japan was faced with the choice of withdrawing from China or going to war in order to conquer the oil resources of the Dutch East Indies. It chose to go ahead with plans for the Greater East Asia War in the Pacific


Main articles: European Theatre of World War II, Middle East Theatre of World War II, Pacific War, Mediterranean Theatre of World



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