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World War 2 Facts: A quick timeline of the events that shook the world from 1939 to 1945

Updated on April 28, 2012

'World War 2 Facts' is a hub put together, which as the name suggests, has some facts about World War 2.

Before you read any further, let me stress that written below are facts about World War 2. In no way do I endorse the action of any country, individual or events that have unfolded.

  • World War 2 began on 1 September 1939.

  • More than 60 million people world killed in World War 2.
  • Out of the 60, nearly 40 million were civilians.
  • 85 percent of total deaths were Allied.

  • Poland lost 16% of its total population. More than 5.5 million people died out of which only 240,000 were military deaths.
  • 23 million people died in USSR out of which about 13 million were civilians.
  • 10 to 20 million people died in China. Only about 3 million were military deaths.

  • The Chinese city of Nanjing was subject to the Nanking Massacre in 1937, just before WWII. Roughly 300,000 people died and more than 20,000 women were raped (estimates say that the figure can be between 20,000 and 80,000). This is also known as the Rape of Nanking.
  • During the Nanking Massacre, Japanese soldiers searched door to door for Chinese women and girls who were systematically gang raped and then killed. Many killings were done by stabbing the women in their vaginas with long bamboo sticks or a bayonet.

  • The first major battle of WWII was 'The Invasion of Poland' by Germany. Besides the usual war casualties, 20,000 Poles were killed in more than 700 mass executions.

  • The Schutzstaffel, or the SS undertook the planned execution of more than 11 million people in Europe. This is better known as The Holocaust.
  • More than 6 million Jews died during The Holocaust in concentration camps and mass executions. Adolf Hitler termed this as 'racial hygiene', which was one of his social policies.
  • Mass Executions were carried out by shooting and by other methods like using 'Gas Chambers' and 'Gas Vans'. Gas Vans, were large airtight vehicles which could hold up to 100 people. The engine would be kept running and the exhaust would be piped in to the airtight chambers of the van.
  • It took many victims up to 20 minutes to die in the Gas Chambers and Vans. Death was extremely torturous and soldiers could hear victims screaming and pleading from the Vans as they died.
  • Between December 1941 and June 1942, 97,000 civilians were killed, using Gas Vans.

  • One of the first major setbacks for Germany was the Battle of Britain. Germany failed to destroy Britain's air forces. Many historians see this as the turning point in WWII.
  • League of Nations was an organization formed after World War I. It was later converted into the United Nations.

  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed by the United States on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively.
  • Hiroshima was bombed by an atomic bomb code named as Little Boy.
  • Nagasaki was bombed by an atomic bomb code named as Fat Man.
  • After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, announcers on Japanese radio said ".... all living things, human and animal, were literally seared to death". The bombings caused more than 200,000 deaths and left many with radiation effects that would last a lifetime and scar future generations.

  • Japan surrendered. Emperor Hirohito declared,

".... Moreover, the enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization..."

  • President Harry Truman stated,

".... I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb. It is an awful responsibility which has come to us. We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes."

  • Adolf Hitler was publicly involved in relationships with 3 women. All 3 of them attempted suicide. One survived.
  • Adolf Hitler got married to Eva Braun on 29 April 1945. One day later on 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide by shooting himself while Eva committed suicide by consuming a cyanide pill.
  • Adolf Hitler was speculated to have pervert sexual fetishes.

  • No other war in the history of mankind has come even close to being as destructive, deadly and fearsome as the World War 2.
  • WWII lasted from 1 September 1939 to 2 September 1945. More than 100 nations were involved.
  • The economic cost of World War 2 is estimated at around 3 trillion, 1944 USD.

Check out some some iconic World War 2 pictures and videos

Invasion of Normandy, World War II.
Invasion of Normandy, World War II.
One of the most famous pictures of The Holocaust, World War 2 shows Jews captured by German forces.
One of the most famous pictures of The Holocaust, World War 2 shows Jews captured by German forces. | Source
A model of the Little Boy - The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima on 6 August 1945
A model of the Little Boy - The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima on 6 August 1945
A model of the Fat Man - The bomb that destroyed Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.
A model of the Fat Man - The bomb that destroyed Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      thanks for the info it has helped me lots with my world war 2 project :)

    • princesswithapen profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi Lovera13

      You're right. Many facts of history are often overlooked in history classes. I'm glad you found this hub interesting.


    • Loreva13 profile image

      Lorenzo M Vasquez III 

      7 years ago from El Paso, TX

      Interesting facts especially those on China, something that is not touched much today in history classes.

    • princesswithapen profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks for your feedback, cloudy_cool

      I'm glad you liked my hub.


    • cloudy_cool profile image


      7 years ago from London, UK

      Clearly looks like you've done enough research on this subject.

      This hub is put together beautifully!

      An interesting read. Bookmarking it for a later read.

      Thanks for sharing!!


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