World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although related conflicts began earlier.
World War I, also known as the First World War, or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918.
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It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis.
A military alliance is an international agreement concerning national security, when the contracting parties promise to support each other in case of a crisis that has not been identified in advance.
A great power is a sovereign state that is recognized as having the ability and expertise to exert its influence on a global scale.
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It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries.
In a state of "total war", the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources.
Total war is warfare that includes any and all civilian-associated resources and infrastructure as legitimate military targets, mobilizes all of the resources of society to fight the war, and gives priority to warfare over non-combatant needs.
In politics and military planning, a war effort refers to a coordinated mobilization of society's resources—both industrial and human—towards the support of a military force.
Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust and the strategic bombing of industrial and population centres, it resulted in an estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities.
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying its morale or its economic ability to produce and transport materiel to the theatres of military operations, or both.
The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide in which Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany and its collaborators killed about six million Jews.
The Empire of Japan aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific and was already at war with the Republic of China in 1937, but the world war is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
An invasion is a military offensive in which large parts of combatants of one geopolitical entity aggressively enter territory controlled by another such entity, generally with the objective of either conquering, liberating or re-establishing control or authority over a territory, forcing the partition of a country, altering the established government or gaining concessions from said government, or a combination thereof.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for the period in German history from 1933 to 1945, when Germany was governed by a dictatorship under the control of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres and sharing the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan.
Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi-Soviet Pact or the German–Soviet Non-aggression Pact, was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively.
The Baltic states, also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations, or simply, the Baltics, are the three countries in northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, abbreviated to USSR, was a socialist state on the Eurasian continent that existed from 1922 to 1991.
The war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the coalition of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, with campaigns including the North Africa and East Africa campaigns, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz bombing campaign, the Balkan Campaign as well as the long-running Battle of the Atlantic.
The Blitz, from the German word Blitzkrieg meaning 'lightning war', was the name used by the British press to describe the heavy air raids carried out over Britain in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War.
The Battle of Britain was a combat of the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force defended the United Kingdom against the German Air Force attacks from the end of June 1940.
The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans with a total area of about 106,460,000 square kilometres, slightly more than half that of the Pacific Ocean.
In June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history, which trapped the major part of the Axis' military forces into a war of attrition.
In December 1941, Japan attacked the United States and European colonies in the Pacific Ocean, and quickly conquered much of the Western Pacific.
The United States of America, commonly referred to as the United States or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
The Axis advance halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway, near Hawaii, and Germany was defeated in North Africa and then, decisively, at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union.
Hawaii is the 50th and most recent state of the United States of America, receiving statehood on August 21, 1959.
The Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
In 1943, with a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Allied invasion of Italy which brought about Italian surrender, and Allied victories in the Pacific, the Axis lost the initiative and undertook strategic retreat on all fronts.
The Allied invasion of Italy was the Allied amphibious landing on mainland Italy that took place on 3 September 1943 during the early stages of the Italian Campaign of World War II.
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major campaign of World War II, in which the Allies took the island of Sicily from the Axis powers.
In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained all of its territorial losses and invaded Germany and its allies.
The Western Bloc or Capitalist Bloc during the Cold War refers to the countries allied with the NATO against the Soviet Union and its allies.
During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in South Central China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands.
The war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops and the subsequent German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
An unconditional surrender is a surrender in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August respectively.
The Potsdam Declaration or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender is a statement that called for the surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II.
Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu - the largest island of Japan.
With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, and the Soviet Union's declaration of war on Japan and invasion of Manchuria, Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945.
Thus ended the war in Asia, cementing the total victory of the Allies.