World War II effectively stopped the world between 1939 and 1945.
To this day, it remains the most geographically widespread military conflict the world has ever seen.
Although the fighting reached across many parts of the globe, most countries involved shared a united effort aimed at ending the aggression of the Axis Powers—Germany, Italy, and also Japan.
Despite the fact that Germany and Japan were technically allies, however, they had vastly different motives and objectives, and their level of cooperation was primarily one of distracting the attention of each other’s enemies rather than of attaining any specific common goals.
Therefore, most studies of the war cover the conflicts with Germany and Japan separately,
dividing treatment of the war between the European and Pacific theaters of operation.
The rise of Nazi Germany and its aggression can be traced directly back to World War I.
Following that war, Germany was economically devastated.
The Treaty of Versailles unfairly placed the full blame for the war on Germany and demanded heavy reparations payments in return.
Although Germany never paid the bulk of these reparations, the treaty humiliated the German people and obstructed the nation’s efforts to rebuild itself and move forward economically and technologically.
Then, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the worldwide Great Depression took a further heavy toll on the country.
As resentment and desperation in Germany grew, radical political parties gained in popularity.
They ranged from Communists to right-wing nationalists.
Among the more extreme activists of the latter category was Adolf Hitler,
who had founded the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (more commonly known as the Nazi Party) in 1920–1921.
By the time of the depression in Germany, Hitler’s party had more than 100,000 members and was growing rapidly, and it began participating in parliamentary elections with increasing success.
In 1933, Hitler pressured the German president, Paul von Hindenburg, into appointing him chancellor—a position from which he was quickly able to consolidate his power.
By 1935, Germany had ceased to recognize the Treaty of Versailles and all the restrictions that accompanied it.
In particular, Hitler announced his intention to fully rebuild Germany’s military forces.
In 1938, Germany began annexing the territories of neighboring countries, including all of Austria and in addition to the most of Czechoslovakia.
When Germany attacked Poland in September 1939, Britain and France aligned against Germany, and the war began.
Like Germany, Japan was severely affected by the Great Depression.
Japan relied heavily upon imported resources and desperately needed more land till expanding population.
Japanese military leaders, who at the time had a strong influence over the civilian government, saw territorial expansion as the best solution.
As a result, beginning in 1931, Japanese forces began occupying territory in the Chinese region of Manchuria. By 1937, Japan and also China were officially at war.
In 1940, the Japanese government announced its intention to establish a “new order in East Asia,” under which the region would be freed of Western influence and guided by Japan.
Japan signed a formal alliance with Germany and in addition to Italy, setting the country on a clear course to enter World War II.
the United States, disapproving of Japan’s actions, placed a heavy trade embargo on Japan, severely restricting its ability to import oil,
scrap metal, and other resources vital to its war effort.
Japan saw itself facing an impossible crisis, and without prompt and decisive action, total collapse was inevitable.
The action Japan chose was a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
This action brought the United States into World War II in both theaters, Europe and the Pacific.
What was the cause of World War II?
World War II began in Europe on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Great Britain and France responded by declaring war on Germany on September 3. The war between the U.S.S.R. and Germany began on June 22, 1941, with the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
The war in the Pacific began on December 7/8, 1941, when Japan attacked the American naval base
at Pearl Harbor and other American, Dutch, and British military installations throughout Asia.
What countries fought in World War II?
The main combatants were the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) and the Allies (France, Great Britain,
the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China).
Who were the leaders during World War II?
The Allied powers were led by Winston Churchill (United Kingdom); Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union); Charles de Gaulle (France); and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman (United States). The Axis powers were led by Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy), and also Hideki Tojo (Japan).
What were the turning points of the war?
The war in the Pacific turned against Japan during the Battle of Midway (June 3–6, 1942),
an American victory that destroyed the Japanese first-line carrier force and, together with the Battle of Guadalcanal,
ended Japan’s ability to prosecute an offensive war.
The tide of the war in Europe shifted with the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad (February 1943).
More than one million Soviet troops and in addition to tens of thousands of civilians died in the defense of the city,
but the destruction of two entire German armies marked the beginning of the end of the Third Reich.
How did the war end?
The Allied landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944, opened a second front in Europe,
and Germany’s abortive offensive at the Ardennes in the winter of 1944–45 marked the Third Reich’s final push in the west. The Red Army advanced from the east and effectively claimed all the territory under its control for the Soviet sphere. The Allied armies converged on Berlin. Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, and also the war in Europe ended on May 8.
The American “island hopping” campaign had destroyed key Japanese installations throughout the Pacific while allowing bypassed islands to wither on the vine.
Hundreds of thousands were killed in firebombings of Japanese cities, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and also Nagasaki in August 1945 knocked Japan out of the war.
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