World War Two lasted from September 3, 1939, to August 14, 1945. Researchers estimate that over 60 million people died in this war, which damaged Europe’s political and economic standing in the world.
World War Two began in Europe when Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. Conflict quickly arose between other European nations too! During a seven-month period known as the “Phony War, Germany and Russia took over Poland. Consequently, France and Britain exerted economic pressure on Germany and Russia. The “Phony War” ended when Hitler took over France, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The “Allies”, including Britain, France, and the Polish government, then established themselves against the “Axis” powers which included Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Once Hitler established the Axis with his fascist Italian partner Mussolini, he planned to overtake the Soviet Union, which was initially part of his coalition. Before he could overtake the Soviet Union, however, he had to take down Britain. He tried to use U-Boats to destroy communication between Britain and America. Then, he delayed his plan of invading the Soviet Union by several weeks. Finally, on June 22, 1941, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. Regarded by some as “Hitler’s Greatest Mistake” this move lead to massive military casualties, Germany captured over three million Russian prisoners of war, who were ultimately killed by starvation or overworked and enslaved in German camps. Despite the many early victories, the Germans eventually surrendered to the Soviets in February of 1943. The US did not get involved in World War Two until December 9, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. With this infamous attack; Japan and German officially declared war on the US.
Another front of the war of Germany led to deaths of Jews, Romani people, homosexuals, Catholics, and other “racial enemies” of Germany. By the end of the war, six million Jews and thousands of others were executed, starved, gassed, or worked to death in concentration camps. Today, we know this genocide as “The Holocaust”.
Early World War II battles also involved Africa. In November 1942, forces landed in Morocco and Algeria and drove Axis powers into Tunisia. Six months later, the Axis were driven out of Africa entirely.
Toward the end of the war, the Allies created a second European front in Normandy, France. The Germans did not crumble, however, until armed resistance in the Balkans and France aided the Allied effort. On May 7, 1945, World War II officially ended in Europe when the Germans surrendered to Allies in France. It was not until August 14, 1945, that the war officially ended everywhere. When Japan surrender: this date is now celebrated as “V-J Day” (Victory in Japan Day).
World War II led to political and economic devastation in especially in Europe, at home in America, and globally. Weakened in devastating ways, Europe struggled for decades to regain the influence and power it once had.
Atlas of World History, Great Events of the 20th Century