WorldWar II also known as the Second World War,was a global war that lasted from September 1, 1939 to September 2, 1945. Thewar conflicts began earlier, it involved the vast majority of the world’scountries. They formed two opposingmilitary alliances, the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war inhistory, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30countries. In a state of total war, the major participants threw their entireeconomic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort,erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. The Alliesleaders were Joseph Stalin from Russia, Franklin D.
Roosevelt from UnitedStates of America, Winston Churchill from Great Britain And Chiang Kai-Shekfrom the Republic of China. The Axis leaders were Adolf Hitler from Germany,Hirohito from Japan and Benito Mussolini from Italy. Beforethe war, there were a few events that occurred. The first one was the Invasionof Ethiopia in 1935. Before the war began, the invasion of the Ethiopian Empirewas commited by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy, which was launchedfrom Italian Somaliland and Eritrea. The event resulted in the militaryoccupation of Ethiopia and its annexation into the newly created colony ofItalian East Africa in addition it exposed the weakness of the League ofNations as a force to preserve peace. Both Italy and Ethiopia were membernations, but the League did nothing when the former clearly violated theLeague’s Article X. Germany was the onlymajor European nation to support the invasion.
Italy subsequently dropped itsobjections to Germany’s goal of absorbing Austria. TheSecond event was the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to 1939. When the civil warbroke out in Spain, Hitler and Mussolini lent military support to theNationalist rebels, led by General Francisco Franco.
The Soviet Union supportedthe existing government, the Spanish Republic. Over 30,000 foreign volunteers,known as the International Brigades, also fought against the Nationalists. BothGermany and the USSR used this war as an opportunity to test in combat theirmost advanced weapons and tactics. The Nationalists won the civil war in April1939; Franco, now dictator, remained officially neutral during World War II butgenerally favoured the Axis. Hisgreatest collaboration with Germany was the sending of volunteers to fight onthe Eastern Front. The third event was the Japanese Invasion ofChina. In July 1937, Japan captured the former Chinese imperial capital ofPeking after instigating the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which culminated inthe Japanese campaign to invade all of China.
The Soviets quickly signed a non-aggressionpact with China to lend materiel support, effectively ending China’s prior cooperationwith Germany. From September to November, the Japanese attacked Taiyuan as wellas engaging the Kuomintang Army around Xinkou and Communist forces inPingxingguan. General Chiang Kai-shek deployed his best army to defendShanghai, but, after three months of fighting, Shanghai fell. The Japanesecontinued to push the Chinese forces back, capturing the capital Nanking inDecember 1937. After the fall of Nanking, thousands of Chinese civilians anddisarmed combatants were murdered by the Japanese in that invasion. Thefourth event was the Soviet and Japanese border conflict. During 1930 to 1939,Japanese forces in Manchukuo had border clashes with the Soviet Union and theMongolian Republic.
The Japanese doctrine of Hokushin-ron, which highlightJapan’s expansion, was favoured by the Imperial Army during this time. TheJapanese defeat at Khalkin Gol in 1939, the ongoing Second Sino-Japanese Warand ally Nazi Germany pursuing neutrality with the Soviets, this policy wouldprove difficult to maintain. Japan and the Soviet Union eventually signed aNeutrality Pact in April 1941, and Japan adopted the doctrine of Nanshin-ron,promoted by the Navy, which took its focus to the south, eventually leading toits war with the United States and the Allies The fifth event was European occupations andagreements. In Europe, Germany and Italy were becoming more aggressive. InMarch 1938, Germany annexed Austria, again provoking little response from otherEuropean powers.
Hitler began pressing German claims on the Sudetenland, anarea of Czechoslovakia with a predominantly ethnic German population. Later, Britainand France followed the counsel of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlainand conceded this territory to Germany in the Munich Agreement, which was madeagainst the wishes of the Czechoslovak government, in exchange for a promise ofno further territorial demands. Soon afterwards, Germany and Italy forcedCzechoslovakia to cede additional territory to Hungary and Poland annexedCzechoslovakia’s Zaolzie region.
Duringthe war, in Europe, occupation came under two forms. In Western, Northern, andCentral Europe Germany established economic policies through which it collectedroughly 69.5 billion reichmarks by the end of the war, this figure does notinclude the sizeable plunder of industrial products, military equipment, rawmaterials and other goods. Thus, the income from occupied nations was over 40per cent of the income Germany collected from taxation, a figure whichincreased to nearly 40 per cent of total German income as the war went on. Inthe East, the intended gains of Lebensraum were never attained as fluctuatingfront-lines and Soviet scorched earth policies denied resources to the Germaninvaders.
Unlike in the West, the Nazi racial policy encouraged extremebrutality against what it considered to be the “inferior people” ofSlavic descent. Most German advances were thus followed by mass executions. Althoughresistance groups formed in most occupied territories, they did notsignificantly hamper German operations in either the East or the West untillate 1943. InAsia, Japan termed nations under its occupation as being part of the GreaterEast Asia Cooprosperity Sphere, essentially a Japanese hegemony which itclaimed was for purposes of liberating colonised peoples.
Although, Japaneseforces were originally welcomed as liberators from European domination in someterritories, their excessive brutality turned local public opinion against themwithin weeks. During Japan’s initial conquest it captured 4,000,000 barrels of oilleft behind by retreating Allied forces and by 1943 they were able to getproduction in the Dutch East Indies up to 50 million barrels, 76 per cent ofits 1940 output rate. Duringthe war, there were a lot of advanced technology aircraft used forreconnaissance, as fighters, bombers, and ground-support, and each role wasadvanced considerably. Innovation included airlift and strategic bombing.
Anti-aircraftweaponry also advanced, including defenses such as radar and surface-to-airartillery, such as the German 88 mm gun. The use of the jet aircraft waspioneered and, though late introduction meant it had little impact, it led tojets becoming standard in air forces worldwide. Advanceswere made in nearly every aspect of naval warfare, most notably with aircraftcarriers and submarines. Although aeronautical warfare had relatively littlesuccess at the start of the war, actions at Taranto, Pearl Harbor, and theCoral Sea established the carrier as the dominant capital ship in place of thebattleship. The aftermath of World War II was thebeginning of an era defined by the decline of the old great powers and the riseof two superpowers: the Soviet Union and the United States of America. Alliesduring World War II, the USA and the USSR became competitors on the world stageand engaged in the Cold War, so called because it never resulted in overt,declared hot war between the two powers but was instead characterized byespionage, political subversion and proxy wars.
Western Europe and Japan wererebuilt through the American Marshall Plan whereas Eastern Europe fell underthe Soviet sphere of influence and eventually an “Iron Curtain”.Europe was divided into a US-led Western Bloc and a Soviet-led Eastern Bloc.Internationally, alliances with the two blocs gradually shifted, with somenations trying to stay out of the Cold War through the Non-Aligned Movement.The Cold War also saw a nuclear arms race between the two superpowers; part ofthe reason that the Cold War never became a “hot” war was that theSoviet Union and the United States had nuclear deterrents against each other, leadingto a mutually assured destruction standoff.