An Introduction to WWII
World War Two (WWII) was a global war that took place between many of the world’s nations between September 1, 1939 and September 2, 1945. The powers were divided into two opposing military groups, the Allies and the Axis. The “Big Three” Allies were the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the United States. Other Allies included France, China, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippine Commonwealth, Poland, the Union of South Africa, and Yugoslavia. The Allies ultimately won the war.The Axis was comprised of nations that were against the Allies. Its “Big Three” included Japan, Germany, and Italy, as well as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, San Marino, Finland, Iraq, Thailand, Manchuria, Yugoslavia, and many others at various times; some nations entered and later left the Axis (as was also true of the Allies) during the course of the war due to invasion by the Axis or liberation by the Allies.
Click here to view a map of the Allied nations and the Axis nations in December of 1941, and at various points throughout WWII (1).
"The basic causes of World War II were the nationalistic tensions, unresolved issues, and resentments resulting from the First World War (WWI) and the interwar period in Europe, plus the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s. The culmination of events that led to the outbreak of war are generally understood to be the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the 1937 invasion of the Republic of China by the Empire of Japan. These military aggressions were the decisions made by authoritarian ruling Nazi elite in Germany and by the leadership of the Kwantung Army in Japan. World War II started after these aggressive actions were met with an official declaration of war and/or armed resistance" (2).
The United States officially entered WWII on December 7, 1941 with the attack of the Japanese on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Sixteen million served in the armed forces of the United States, and more than 400,000 died (3).
WWII is known today as the deadliest conflict in human history; it is estimated that over 70 million people, the majority of whom were civilians, were killed (2).
The cemetery at Normandy, France for thousands who died in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944
The WWII memorial in Washington, D.C.