No one ever thought the world would give room for destruction to revisit the globe until careless incidences in 1939 proved everyone wrong. Humanity had failed to learn lessons from the catastrophic effects of World War I. Despite the signing of numerous peace agreements among nations to put a lid on global warfare. An unfriendly man-made disaster struck the world from 1939 to 1945. This was known as the Second World War or World War II. It took place two decades after the end of World War I.
The notorious leader, Adolf Hitler of Germany rebuilt his army with the intention of dominating the world with military powers. After taking the mantle of leadership with his Nazi Party, Hitler wanted to revenge on enemy countries, which he believed were causing instability in Germany and the whole of Europe at large. He also wasn’t happy with the terms imposed during the signing of the Versailles Treaty, a treaty the brought to an end the First World War. The world was still relatively at peace as at 1938 even though Japan had issues with China in the Pacific.
When did World War II Start?
The Second World War began in early September 1939 when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland with his strengthened German army. This German cruelty was met with war declarations on its land by Great Britain and France. Because Germany was a superpower on the European continent from 1939 to 1941, Adolf Hitler went on to sign treaties with Italy and Japan to form a union called the Axis Alliance.
When World War II broke out, it was primarily fought between the Axis Alliance and the empires of Great Britain. France was weak in the mid-1940s. Campaigns in East and North Africa also shielded the war from spreading. Wars in the Balkans, Aerial Battle of Britain, Blitz and Battle of the Atlantic also compounded the Second World War. The Axis alliance took a dangerous decision on 22nd June, 1941, when they invaded the Soviet Union. And why?
Entrance of the Soviets and the Americans
The invasion sparked an uncontrollable large theater of war which had never been seen before. The Eastern Front enclosed the Axis alliance (especially Germany) and resulted in a war of attrition. The United States and colonies of Europe in the Pacific were attacked by Japan. Largely inspired and masterminded by the Japanese Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, Japan’s surprise attack on U.S. was at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. In response, the US immediately declared war on Japan. The Axis alliance of Europe supported Japan by waging war against America.
With assistance from several defeated territories and Asian nations, Japan gained a lot of control over the Western Pacific. They were looking for liberation from Western domination. Unfortunately, Japan lost a critical battle in 1942 (the Midway Battle). This halted the advance of the Axis alliance in the Pacific. The conditions even worsened when Italy and Germany got defeated in North Africa. Germany also suffered a series of defeats in 1943 on the Eastern Front.
The Axis started retreating from all fronts when the Allied (US, Soviet Union, China and the UK) invaded both Sicily and Italy, and emerged victorious in the Pacific. The Western Allies also invaded Germany in 1944; the Soviet Union then recaptured all its lost territories and gathered momentum to face Germany and its allies. Between 1944 and 1945, the Japanese Navy got crippled by western powers. The capital of Germany (Berlin) got captured in the process. This became too much for Adolf Hitler; he drank poisonous cyanide with his wife and shot himself dead. Germany had no options left but to surrender unconditionally on 8th May, 1945.
Resolution: Yalta and Potsdam Conferences of 1945
After Germany’s defeat in World War II, the Allies held a conference and discussed the new administration of Germany in the Potsdam Declaration on 26th July 1945. Meanwhile, Japan still refused to quit. For this reason the United States of America was forced to attack two Japanese cities namely, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombs, which were the product of the Manhattan Project, were let lose on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945 respectively. It was the first known use of nuclear weapons in warfare. The devastating effects of the twin bombings pushed Japan to announce its plans to surrender on 15th August 1945. This was the only way for Japan to save itself from future atomic bomb attacks from the US.
The Allies won big in Asia in the Second World War. Germany lost twice. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki virtually brought World War Two to an end. The Second World War surpassed World War I in terms lives lost and damaged cities. Over hundred million people from more than thirty different countries got involved in the Second World War. World War II became the deadliest conflict in the history of humanity.
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The Aftermath of World War II
Fatalities recorded were between 50 -85 million people in China and the Soviet Union. Sadly, a lot of the fatalities were civilians. The Second World War came with massacres including the Holocaust. The Holocaust saw millions of European Jews (over 6 million of them), gays, intellectuals and political critics systematically killed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Additionally, several people died from diseases and starvation across Europe. In the Soviet Union, the death counts crossed into a million people. Many of the deaths came at the hands of the ruthless Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin.
It took the consequences of the First and Second World Wars before world leaders agreed to create the United Nations Organization (U.N.O), now known as the United Nations (UN), on 24th October 1945. The Second World War also resulted in the permanent obliteration of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party.
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Five countries were big winners of World War Two namely, France, US, China, UK and the Soviet Union. These five countries went on to become permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations. The United States benefited from World War II; its economy boomed and dominated the economies of the world. Japan and China also recovered quickly from the war and became powerful Asian economies. Europe’s economy relatively declined for decades. For close to five decades, a cold conflict, the Cold War, between the West and the East caused immense anxieties around the world. It was only after the re-unification of the two Germanys (West and East Germany) in 1990 that Europe, and the world in general, was able to take a sigh of relief.
Barring the relative regional conflicts and sporadic political tensions among nations, the world has done quite okay ever since the Berlin Wall came crushing down. Regardless of the scientific and economic strides that the world has made since WWII, organizations like the United Nations and other nuclear watch-groups such as the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) continue to remain very vigilant, least the world faces the occurrence of another world war.