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World War 2 Summary World War 2, also known as the Second World War, was a war fought from

1939 to 1945 in Europe and, during much of the 1930s and 1940s, in Asia. The war in Europe began in earnest on September 1, 1939 with theinvasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, and concluded on September 2, 1945, with the official surrender of the last Axis nation, Japan. However, in Asia the war began earlier with Japanese interventions in China, and in Europe, the war ended earlier with the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945. The conflict spilled over into Africa, included a handful of incidents in the Americas, and a series of major naval battles. It was the largest armed conflict in history, spanning the entire world and involving more countries than any other war, as well as introducing powerful new weapons, culminating in the first use of nuclear weapons. However, despite the name, not all countries of the world were involved; some through neutrality (such as the Eire - though Eire supplied some important secret information to the Allies; D-Day's date was decided on the basis of incoming Atlantic weather information supplied from Ireland - Sweden, and Switzerland), others through strategic insignificance (Mexico). The war ravaged civilians more severely than any previous conflict and served as a backdrop for genocidal killings by Nazi Germany as well as several other mass slaughters of civilians which, although not technically genocide, were significant. These included the massacre of millions of Chinese and Korean nationals by Japan, internal mass killings in the Soviet Union, and the bombing of civilian targets in German and Japanese cities by the Allies. In total, World War II produced about 50 million deaths, more than any other war to date.

A Troubled World In the 1930s, the United States found itself largely preoccupied with the domestic economic troubles of the Great Depression, even as international crises loomed in Europe and Asia. Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy, had begun waging an imperial war in Ethiopiausing chemical weapons like mustard gas, slaughtering thousands of innocent people. A violent civil war raged in Spain, pitting General Francisco Franco's fascists against a motley alliance of communists and democrats. Josef Stalin had risen to absolute power in Russia afterimprisoning and executing many of his political enemies in the Soviet Union. Downtrodden Germans had rallied around Adolf Hitler, their new leader, who called for Aryan redemption after Germany's humiliation in World War I and launched an aggressive campaign to "unify" the German race throughout Europe. And in the East, Japan had invadedManchuria and threatened to conquer China, virtually unchecked by Western powers preoccupied with problems closer to home. Through the troubled years of the late 1930s, Americans did everything they possibly could to avoid being drawn into these growing conflicts abroad. In the end, staying out of World War II proved impossible; by the middle of 1941, President Roosevelt had committed American ships to an undeclared

(and possibly illegal) naval war with Germany in theNorth Atlantic, and on 7 December 1941 any question of America's further neutrality in the conflict ended with the devastating surprise attack by the Japanese against the American naval station at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Worst Conflict in World History Once committed to the war, Americans committed themselves to achieving total victory on two fronts victory over fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in Europe and victory over imperial Japan in the Pacific. Having pursued a policy of isolationism rather than rearmament during most of the 1930s, the United States found itself, at first, woefully unready to engage in combat with the fearsome military juggernauts of Germany and Japan. It took the Americans an agonizingly long time to begin to push back against their fascist enemies. The turning point in the Pacific didn't come until June 1943, when American airplanes crippled the Japanese navy at the Battle of Midway. In Europe, it took even longer for the Americans to open up a proper second front against Nazi Germany; by the time American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day (6 June 1944), the SovietRed Army had already been engaged in a desperate battle of attrition against the Germans on the Eastern Front for three years. To an extent that most Americans today do not recognize, the Soviet Union did the lion's share of the workand took the lion's share of the casualtiesin defeating Adolf Hitler. Victory did eventually comein Europe in May 1945, in Asia three months laterbut it came at a tremendous cost. Worldwide, an estimated 70 million people lost their lives, the majority of them innocent civiliansincluding 6 million European Jews ruthlessly murdered by the Nazis in modern history's worst genocide. Aerial bombingtargeted against both military-industrial targets and civilian moralereduced great cities to rubble, from London to Berlin to Tokyo. Atrocious acts of barbarism war crimes, evenwere committed by soldiers on all sides. Nightmarish new instruments of deathgas chambers, unmanned rockets, atomic bombswere invented and deployed for use against human beings. World War II was, quite simply, the most deadly and destructive conflict in human history. Assessing "The Good War" Why, then, is World War II remembered as "The Good War"? Despite the destruction, death, and devastation, the war helped usher in a new world order, one in which Hitler's Third Reich in Europe was no more, and some of history's most heinous crimes had been exposed and resisted. In the United States, wartime mobilization pulled the American economy out of depression, employing millions. American women and blacks experienced some freedoms unattainable in pre-war society. And on the world stage, the United States earned a new, powerful and coveted role. World War II also marked the beginning of the end of world imperialism as nationalist movements began to triumph over weakened colonial empires. One by one, in the decades following the war, colonized peoples all over the world would gain their independence. In these ways, as historian Jay Winter has argued, 1945 marked the moment when the world broke from its past and moved toward a new era.
Out of all causes of World War II, the desire and ability of Adolf Hitler, in control of Nazi Germany, to dominate Europe and gain control especially of the agrarian resources to the east of Germany was the

primary one. He was allied with the Empire of Japan, which desired to dominate Asia, including the much larger nation of China, as well as Italy (which had ambitions to control parts of the Balkans) and several smaller countries. Hitler had successfully taken control of Austria and Czechoslovakia by early 1939, when Britain and France reversed their policy of appeasement and switched to a policy of deterrence, warning they would declare war if Germany attacked Poland. Hitler thought they were bluffing, and signed an agreement with the Soviet Union in late August that divided up Poland and the Baltic states. Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. Hitler's invasion of Poland drove Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany, and World War II had begun.