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Second World War

01/09/193902/09/1945

World War II (often abbreviated to WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history. This Eastern Front trapped the Axis, most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U.S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers quickly declared war on the U.S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories.

The Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway; later, Germany and Italy were defeated in North Africa and then, decisively, at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, and Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands.

The war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese.

World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts; the victorious great powers—China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—became the permanent members of its Security Council.

The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery and expansion. Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity.

World War II (often abbreviated to WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history. This Eastern Front trapped the Axis, most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U.S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers quickly declared war on the U.S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories.

The Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway; later, Germany and Italy were defeated in North Africa and then, decisively, at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, and Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands.

The war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese.

World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts; the victorious great powers—China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—became the permanent members of its Security Council.

The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery and expansion. Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity.

World War II (often abbreviated to WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Images - World War II
Images - World War II
Images - World War II

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Published in 3/04/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

All events in the topic International Chronology:


01/07/1588Defeat of the Invincible Armada by the EnglishDefeat of the Invincible Armada by the English
01/01/1593Shakespeare writes Richard IIIShakespeare writes Richard III
01/01/1610Galileo invents the telescopeGalileo invents the telescope
01/03/1661Start of the reign of Louis XIVStart of the reign of Louis XIV
01/01/1687Denis Papin constructs the first steam engineDenis Papin constructs the first steam engine
17/05/175615/02/1763Seven Years’ WarSeven Years’ War
05/05/1789Outbreak of the French RevolutionOutbreak of the French Revolution
21/10/1805Battles of Trafalgar and AusterlitzBattles of Trafalgar and Austerlitz
21/02/1821Greece achieves independenceGreece achieves independence
20/06/1837Victoria is crowned Queen of EnglandVictoria is crowned Queen of England
24/11/1859Darwin - On the Origin of SpeciesDarwin - On the Origin of Species
01/12/1865Abolition of slavery in the USAAbolition of slavery in the USA
01/01/1884Construction of the first skyscraper in ChicagoConstruction of the first skyscraper in Chicago
01/01/1905Einstein - Theory of RelativityEinstein - Theory of Relativity
28/07/191411/11/1918First World WarFirst World War
01/01/1929Black Thursday on Wall StreetBlack Thursday on Wall Street
17/07/1936Start of the Spanish Civil WarStart of the Spanish Civil War
01/09/193902/09/1945Second World WarSecond World War
25/03/1957Signing of the Treaty of Rome - creation of the EECSigning of the Treaty of Rome - creation of the EEC
08/03/1965The USA intervenes in VietnamThe USA intervenes in Vietnam
09/11/1989Fall of the Berlin WallFall of the Berlin Wall
02/08/1990Outbreak of the Gulf WarOutbreak of the Gulf War
11/09/20012001 11 September2001 11 September
01/01/200731/12/2008Economic crisisEconomic crisis
01/01/1605Cervantes writes Don QuixoteCervantes writes Don Quixote
25/04/1719Daniel Defoe writes Robinson CrusoeDaniel Defoe writes Robinson Crusoe
09/07/1816Argentina achieves independenceArgentina achieves independence
05/05/1821Death of Napoleon BonaparteDeath of Napoleon Bonaparte
14/09/1822Champollion deciphers hieroglyphicsChampollion deciphers hieroglyphics
01/07/1844Alexandre Dumas publishes The Three MusketeersAlexandre Dumas publishes The Three Musketeers
01/02/1848Marx and Engels publish The Communist ManifestoMarx and Engels publish The Communist Manifesto
12/04/1861Outbreak of the American Civil WarOutbreak of the American Civil War
01/01/1865Tolstoy begins publication of War and PeaceTolstoy begins publication of War and Peace
24/12/1871Verdi's opera Aida is staged in CairoVerdi's opera Aida is staged in Cairo
07/03/1876Bell invents the telephoneBell invents the telephone
26/07/1882Wagner writes ParsifalWagner writes Parsifal
01/01/1885Karl Benz invents the first petrol-powered vehicleKarl Benz invents the first petrol-powered vehicle
13/02/1895Lumiére Brothers – 1st cinema projectionLumiére Brothers – 1st cinema projection
01/01/1899Bayer invents aspirinBayer invents aspirin
01/01/1912Proclamation of the Republic of ChinaProclamation of the Republic of China
14/04/1912Sinking of the TitanicSinking of the Titanic
08/03/1917Russian RevolutionRussian Revolution
01/01/1920Women granted the right to vote in the USAWomen granted the right to vote in the USA
01/01/1921Hitler becomes the leader of the Nazi PartyHitler becomes the leader of the Nazi Party
01/01/1923First broadcasting of images by televisionFirst broadcasting of images by television
27/07/1926Chang-Kai-Check reunifies ChinaChang-Kai-Check reunifies China
01/10/1927The start of sound filmThe start of sound film
18/11/1928Walt Disney creates Mickey MouseWalt Disney creates Mickey Mouse
01/01/1929Soviet Union – Stalin becomes undisputed leaderSoviet Union – Stalin becomes undisputed leader
01/08/1934Hitler becomes leader of German ReichHitler becomes leader of German Reich
01/01/1933Creation of the electronic microscopeCreation of the electronic microscope
15/02/1946First computer – ENIACFirst computer – ENIAC
01/10/1949Establishment of the People’s Republic of ChinaEstablishment of the People’s Republic of China
05/03/1953Death of StalinDeath of Stalin
13/08/1961Construction of the Berlin WallConstruction of the Berlin Wall
22/11/1963Assassination of President Kennedy in DallasAssassination of President Kennedy in Dallas
02/12/1805Battle of AusterlitzBattle of Austerlitz