Second World War

What was World War II

World War II was an armed conflict that took place between 1939 and 1945, whose main stage was Europe. The conflict spread to different regions of Asia and Africa.

This war was articulated between two blocks: the so-called Axis Powers and the calls Allied Countries.

By then, Germany was under the rule of Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi party, appointed chancellor in 1933.

After ensuring the neutrality of the USSR with the Ribbentrop-Molotov Non-Aggression Pact signed on August 23, 1939, Germany invaded Poland on September 1, which triggered the declaration of war by the great powers against the Third Reich on September 3. of September.

Two years later, Hitler opened the Eastern Front by ordering the “Operation Barbarossa” against the USSR on June 22, 1941. The cruelest battles of the war were fought on the eastern front.

The decisive battle to end the war was known as “Operation Overlord” after the landing of troops in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

After the death of Adolf Hitler on April 30, 1945, Germany signed the surrender on May 8 of the same year, which ended the war.

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conflicting sides

Axis Powers

Among the Axis powers were Germany, Italy, and the Japanese empire. Throughout the process, the Axis Powers had unstable alliances and profited from collaborationism in some occupied countries through puppet governments.

Allied Countries

Among the so-called Allies were France and Great Britain first. After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States joins the Allies and, later, the USSR.

Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa and Yugoslavia will also join. Other countries will provide support through their diplomatic delegations.

Characteristics of World War II

ideological component

The Axis Powers justified their claims ideologically. For Germany and Italy, the ideological base was national socialism and fascism respectively.

For German National Socialism, this was openly joined by the belief in the supremacy of the Aryan race. Along with these ideologies faced communism and capitalist liberalism.

Creation of concentration camps (Jewish holocaust)

The most emblematic feature of the Second World War was the creation of Nazi concentration camps that functioned as forced labor centers and, mainly, as extermination centers.

In them, the German government especially gathered Jews to eliminate them, but also Gypsies, Christian clerics, Communists, Social Democrats, homosexuals and any type of person who was considered an enemy of the regime, immoral, inferior or useless.

Scientific experimentation on humans

During the process of the war, Germany and Japan carried out extremely cruel scientific experiments on human beings. For them they chose people among their prisoners. The German leader of this process was the doctor Josef Mengele. His Japanese counterpart would be Shiro Ishii.

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Blitzkrieg Strategy

Germany advanced in the conflict applying the principle of “blitzkrieg”, which consisted of quickly weakening the enemy through the articulation of artillery, aviation and communications.

Communications monitoring

As for communications, the Germans used a special machine to encrypt their messages called “Enigma”, which meant a real intelligence effort for the Allies to decipher their messages and defeat them.

The Second World War put into effect the system of espionage, communication development for intelligence services and a great policy of ideological propaganda on both sides, taking advantage of the mass media such as radio and cinema, in addition to the press and the poster

See also Media.

Emergence and use of nuclear weapons

In World War II, nuclear weapons of mass destruction made their entrance. They were applied in Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945) as an extreme measure to force the surrender of Japan, the last country of the Axis Powers to resist.

Causes of World War II

  • The ideological confrontation between capitalist liberalism, the communist system and the Nazi-fascist system, which competed to dominate the international territory.
  • The Great Depression began with the crisis of 29, whose impact on the European economy detonated the growth of fascism.
  • The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 which lasted until 1945.
  • Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia-Ethiopia in 1935.
  • The effects of the First World War.
  • The oppressive and humiliating conditions of the Treaty of Versailles for Germany, which prevented the economic reconstruction of the country.
  • Ethnic tensions derived from the territorial division promoted in the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Perception of Jewish economic power as an obstacle to German development.
  • Germany’s expansionist policy in Europe and the failure of the League of Nations to prevent it.
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See also:

  • Great Depression.
  • Crash of 29.

Consequences of World War II

  • It is estimated that approximately:
    • 20 million soldiers.
    • 47 million civilians.
    • Of this figure, 7 million were Jews exterminated in concentration camps.
  • Economic collapse of Europe, which forced financial aid through the Marshall Plan.
  • Strengthening of the United States and the USSR, ideologically opposed, as superpowers.
  • Division of German territory among the Allies into four autonomous zones of occupation after the Yalta Conference. The decision was ratified in Potsdam.
  • Start of the Cold War between the capitalist bloc and the communist bloc.
  • The western occupation zones united and formed the German Federal Republic (FRG) in 1949, to which the USSR responded by forming the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the areas under its control.
  • Creation of the United Nations (UN) in 1945.
  • Start of decolonization processes.
  • Union of Japan to the western bloc, becoming an ally of the United States.

See also:

  • Causes and consequences of World War II
  • Cold War
  • First World War
  • United Nations Organization
  • Decolonization
  • Spanish Civil War