World War II, or WWII, was a global war that was under way by 1939 and ended in 1945. It involved a vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million people serving in military units. In a state of "total war", the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by significant events involving the mass death of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it resulted in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities. These deaths make World War II the deadliest conflict in all of human history.

World War II, or WWII, was a global war that was under way by 1939 and ended in 1945. It involved a vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million people serving in military units. In a state of "total war", the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by significant events involving the mass death of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it resulted in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities. These deaths make World War II the deadliest conflict in all of human history.


Economic and political causes of World War II

  • Aggression by totalitarian powers (Germany, Italy, Japan)
  • Nationalism
  • Failures of the Treaty of Versailles
  • Weakness of the League of Nations
  • Appeasement
  • Tendencies towards isolationism and pacifism in Europe and the United States

Major events of the war (1939-1945)

  • German invasion of Poland
  • Fall of France
  • Battle of Britain
  • German invasion of the Soviet Union
  • Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
  • D-Day (Allied invasion of Europe)
  • Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Major leaders of the war

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt—U.S. President
  • Harry Truman—U.S. President after death of President Roosevelt
  • Dwight D. EisenhowerU.S. general Allied commander in Europe
  • Douglas MacArthur—U.S. general/ Allied commander in Pacific
  • George Marshall—U.S. general
  • Winston Churchill—British prime minister
  • Joseph Stalin—Soviet dictator
  • Adolf Hitler—Nazi dictator of Germany
  • Hideki Tojo—Japanese general
  • Hirohito—Emperor of Japan

Terms to know

  • Genocide: The systematic and purposeful destruction of a racial, political, religious, or cultural group

Elements leading to the Holocaust

  • Totalitarianism combined with nationalism
  • History of anti-Semitism
  • Defeat in World War I and economic depression blamed on German Jews
  • Hitler’s belief in the master race
  • Final solution—Extermination camps, gas chambers


Examples of other genocides

  • Armenians by leaders of the Ottoman Empire
  • Peasants, government and military leaders, and members of the elite in the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin
  • The educated, artists, technicians, former government officials, monks, and minorities by Pol Pot in Cambodia
  • Tutsi minority by Hutu in Rwanda
  • Muslims and Croats by Bosnian Serbs in former Yugoslavia

Outcomes of World War II

  • European powers’ loss of empires
  • Establishment of two major powers in the world: USA & USSR
  • War crimes trials (Nuremberg Trials)
  • Division of Europe—Iron Curtain
  • Establishment of the United Nations
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Marshall Plan
  • Formation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Warsaw Pact

Efforts for reconstruction of Germany

  • Democratic government installed in West Germany and West Berlin
  • Germany and Berlin divided among the four Allied powers
  • Emergence of West Germany as economic power in postwar Europe
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CLIP ONE: HOW DID WWII START?

CLIP TWO: BATTLE OF BRITAIN

CLIP THREE: WORLD WAR II

CLIP FOUR: WWII (WAR FOR RESOURCES)

CLIP FIVE: D-DAY

CLIP SIX: ATOMIC BOMB OVER HIROSHIMA

CLIP SEVEN: NUREMBERG LAWS

CLIP EIGHT: AUSCHWITZ

CLIP NINE: ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

CLIP TEN: CAMBODIAN GENOCIDE

CLIP ELEVEN: RWANDAN GENOCIDE

CLIP TWELVE: BOSNIAN GENOCIDE

CLIP THIRTEEN: HOW DID WWII END?

CLIP FOURTEEN: NUREMBERG TRIALS

CLIP FIFTEEN: THE UNITED NATIONS

CLIP SIXTEEN: UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

CLIP SEVENTEEN: THE MARSHALL PLAN