World War II


May 22, 2022

World War II is considered the last of two worldwide armed conflicts, most often considered to take place in the years 1939–1945. The military conflict involved most of the nations of the world, including all the great powers, and two military alliances, the Allies and the Axis Powers, were formed. It was the most all-encompassing battle in world history, with more than 100 million mobilized soldiers. In a state of total war, the largest warring nations had placed all economic, industrial, and scientific resources available for war effort, and the distinction between civilian and military resources was gone. The conflict was marked by incidents involving the mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust, strategic bombing, the only case of atomic bombs used in war. In total, World War II resulted in between 50 and 70 million deaths, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. Prior to the war, Germany had incorporated and invaded neighboring Austria and Czechoslovakia in the years 1938–1939, and Japan was already at war with China from 1937 onwards. World War II broke out on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, with subsequent declarations of war from France as well as most countries in the British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and agreements, Germany conquered and annexed a significant part of Europe. Under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed territories from six of its European neighbors, including Poland. Britain, supported by the Commonwealth of Independent States, became the only major power to continue the struggle against the Axis powers, with battles taking place in North Africa as well as the protracted Battle of the Atlantic. In June 1941, Germany and its allies in the Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union. The attack developed into the largest land-based war campaign in history, tying up most of the Axis military forces. The majority, about three-quarters, of German military losses during World War II were in battles against Soviet forces. In December 1941, Japan, which wanted dominance over East Asia and the Pacific, carried out the attack on Pearl Harbor and the invasion of European colonies and territories. The advance of the Axis powers was stopped in 1942, after the loss in the decisive battle of Stalingrad, at the same time as Japan lost a number of naval battles against the United States. The defeat of the Axis powers continued through 1943; the Allies invaded fascist Italy, the Americans conquered islands and strengthened the dominance of the Pacific, and Kyiv was liberated by the Red Army towards the end of the year. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded occupied France, while the Soviet Union recaptured all lost territories and invaded Germany and its allies. The war in Europe ended with the conquest of Berlin by Soviet troops, followed by the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan, invaded Manchuku, and the invasion of Japan was imminent. The war in Asia ended on August 15, 1945, when Japan surrendered. World War II changed political landscapes and social structures on a global scale. The United Nations was established to promote international cooperation and to prevent future conflicts. The great powers that won the war - the Soviet Union, the United States, Britain, China and France - became permanent members of the UN Security Council. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers in the run-up to the Cold War, which was to last until the late 1980s. The influence of European powers diminished, and the decolonization of Asia and Africa began. Most countries whose industries had been hit were heading for a new economic boom. Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged in an attempt to stabilize relations after the war.


The start of World War II is generally considered to be September 1, 1939 with those