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World War 2 Summary

Updated on May 25, 2017

World War 2

World War 2
World War 2 | Source

World War 2

World War 2, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, caused immense misery to humanity all over the world. It was the deadliest military conflict in the history of humankind. More than 60 million people (around 2.5 percent of the world population) were killed in the war.

Allies and Axis

Many countries were involved in this war. These countries formed two opposing military alliances: The Allies and the Axis. More than 100 million people served in military units worldwide during the war.

Scores of countries joined the major Allied powers to contribute, directly or indirectly, to the defeat of their common enemy the Axis.

New Zealand
South Africa

When Did World War 2 Begin?

Historians believe that World War 2 began on September 1 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. Between 1939 and 1941, Germany formed the Axis alliance with Italy.

When Did Japan Join Germany in World War 2

Japan joined in the Axis in December 1941. In fact some historians are of the opinion that the World War 2 began with the commencement of Second Sino-Japanese War on July 7 1937.

Japan had conquered most of the Western Pacific by 1941. However, the fall of Axis began when Japan lost of series of naval battles in 1942. Axis troops experienced defeat in North Africa.

When Did World War 2 Begin for the United States?

The United States was not part of the war until after the Japanese forces bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.

Fall of the Axis Powers

Germany lost many battles in Eastern Europe in 1943. Allies invaded the Italian mainland in early September 1943. Brazil played a significant role in this invasion. This led to an Italian armistice with the Allies. The US won many battles in the Pacific region. The Axis began to withdraw their forces on many occasions.


Allies invaded France in 1944 on June 6 1944. This day is known as D-Day. They defeated the German troops in France. Around the same time, the Soviet Union won many battles against Germany. By 1945, the US had captured many key Western Pacific islands.

When Did World War 2 End in Europe?

World War 2 ended in Europe when Berlin was captured by the Soviet Union. Germany surrendered on May 8 1945. The US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9 1945).

During the same period, the Soviet Union invaded Manchuria. Kwantung Army, the largest Japanese fighting force, was defeated. Japan surrendered on August 15 1945, thereby ending the war in Asia. The surrender documents were signed aboard USS Missouri.

After World War 2

After the war, Germany was divided into two independent nations: Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic. World War 2 also divided Europe into Western and Soviet spheres of influence.

Has the World War 2 really ended? More than 70 years after the last shot was fired in the war, Russia and Japan remain locked in a stalemate over four wave-battered islands, the Kurile Islands.

Many Russians reside in the Kunashir Island, which according to Japan, is its Northern Territories; it is just 20 kilometers from the Japanese mainland. No peace treaty was ever signed between Russia and Japan to formally end the war hostilities. "There is no war, but there is no peace either," says one woman who lives in the island.

After the capture in 1945, there was a period of uneasy cohabitation before Stalin ordered the forceful eviction of the Japanese population to mainland Japan in 1947.

Today, around 19,000 Russians reside in the disputed islands. If Russia and Japan can find a solution that is acceptable to both sides, a peace treaty can be signed and World War II might finally, formally end.

The Kurile Islands appear like a trail of droplets between Japan and Russia. Historically the boundary between the two nations has been tugged up and down the island chain, but after World War 2 that boundary slid south, hard against the Japanese mainland.

During the last days of the war, the US and the UK promised USSR the Kurile Islands in exchange for fighting Japan. Russia waged a battle to seize the Kurile Islands in 1945. Japan claims the four islands closest to the Japanese mainland are not part of the Kurile chain and the USSR therefore had no right to capture them.

Role of Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler played a major role in the World War 2. He became a chancellor of Germany in 1933. He abolished democracy and espoused a racially motivated revision of the world order.

His decisions resulted in the Holocaust. The holocaust was the mass murder of more than six million Jews during World War 2. This program of systematic state sponsored murder by Nazis is a shameful episode in the history of humankind.

Around two-thirds of the Jews who lived in Europe were killed as a result of the Holocaust. More than two million women and more than one million children were killed.

Adolf Hitler


Japanese POW Camps

Japanese POW camps were used as labor camps. Many prisoners of war were tortured in these camps, thereby resulting in their death. Many were disabled. Some historians say more than 10 million people suffered the atrocities of Japanese military in these camps.

Technology Advances in World War 2

Technology played a major role during the World War 2. Aircraft were used extensively; for reconnaissance, bombing and ground support. Anti-aircraft weapons were used successfully during the war.

Both Axes and Allies used aircraft carriers and submarines. There were many other technological advancements in naval warfare. Land warfare witnessed combined arms and increased mobility. Tank was a primary weapon. Speed, fire power and armor of the tanks were enhanced during the war.

Germany’s use of combined arms was the secret of its success France and Poland. Anti-tank guns, mines, short-ranged infantry anti-tank weapons and indirect artillery were used to destroy tanks. Portable machine guns and assault rifles were used extensively by all the nations participating in World War 2.

World War 2 Inventions and Innovations

Inventions and Innovations
Pressurized cabin
Radio navigation
V-2 rocket
Synthetic rubber
Jet engine
Nuclear power
Synthetic oil
Aerosol can
Ballpoint pen
Freeze dried coffee
VW Beetle
Electron microscope
Color TV
Kidney dialysis machine
Microwave oven
Dynamo-powered torch
Space technologies

United Nations

One positive outcome of World War 2 was the United Nations. In fact the term “United Nations” was in large part derived from the large number of nations that came together in common cause between 1939 and 1945 to defeat the Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy during war. This international organization was established in an endeavor to prevent wars in the future. It had 51 members when it was founded. Today UN has more than 190 members.

The United Nations

The United Nations Flag
The United Nations Flag | Source

World War 2 Triumph or Tragedy

World War 2 is a human tragedy. However, it holds lessons for leaders all over the world. These leaders should just read about World War 2 when ever they feel that they are succumbing to aggression and ambition. Because God forbid if World War 3 occurs, it will lead to annihilation of the human race. We need to pray sincerely that it may never happen.

World War 2

World War 2 Movies

Come and See
The Thin Red Line
Das Boot
Went the Day Well?
The Cranes Are Flying
A Matter of Life and Death
The Big Red One
Grave of the Fireflies

World War 2 Quiz

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World War 2

Could the World War 2 have been avoided?

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We tend to think of World War II and all the atrocities that happened, and people say, 'Never again.' But these things are still happening. The Amnesty International files are big.

— Jimmy Smits


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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 3 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Nice work. It's a great summary of the war.

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 3 years ago

      Thank you!

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