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World War II Overview

Start here for an overview of World War II.

World War II 101
The bloodiest conflict in history, World War II consumed the globe from 1939-1945. Fought predominently in Europe and across the Pacific and eastern Asia, World War II pitted the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan against the Allied nations of Great Britain, France, China, the United States, and Soviet Union. While the Axis enjoyed early...

World War II Europe: The Road to War
The causes of World War II in Europe can be traced to the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I. As a result of economic hardship imposed by the treaty, as well as the Great Depression, Germany embraced the fascist Nazi Party. Led by Adolf Hitler, the Nazis took control of the country and began a program of expansion that culminated...

World War II Europe: Blitzkrieg
Following the outbreak of World War II after the invasion of Poland, Great Britain and France remained on the defensive. After defeating the Allies in Norway, the Germans launched a massive assault, sweeping through the Low Countries and France and forcing British troops to evacuate across the Channel. Standing alone, Britain successfully beat...

World War II Europe: The Eastern Front
Expanding World War II in Europe by invading the Soviet Union in June 1941, Hitler opened a second front that would consume massive amounts of German manpower and resources. After achieving stunning success in the early months of the campaign, the attack stalled and the Soviets began to slowly push the Germans back.

World War II Europe: Fighting in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy
Following the fall of France, the fighting in World War II in Europe shifted to the sands of North Africa. Battling the famed "Desert Fox," Erwin Rommel, the Allies were able to sweep Axis troops out Africa and opened the "soft under belly" of Europe to attack. After landing in Sicily and Italy the Allies steadily advanced north for the...

World War II Europe: The Western Front
On June 6, 1944, the Allies landed in France opening the Western Front of World War II in Europe. Coming ashore in Normandy, Allied forces broke out of their beachhead and swept across France. After stopping the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge, Allied forces fought their way into Germany and, in conjunction with the Soviets, compelled the...

World War II Pacific: Moving Towards War
Following World War I, the West recongized Japan as a colonial power. In a quest for natural resources, Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and China in 1937. These conflicts were condemned by the West, and pressure was exerted on the Japanese goverment to withdrawal. Rather than bow to the West, Japan launched attacks against American and...

World War II Pacific: The Japanese Advance Stopped
During the first full year of World War II in the Pacific, the Japanese won a series of victories over the Allies, capturing the Singapore and the Philippines. In May and June, the Japanese advance was checked at the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway. As a follow up to these victories, the Allies began the long march to Japan by invading...

World War II Pacific: New Guinea, Burma, & China
In addition to operations in the Southwest and Central Pacific, fighting raged across New Guinea, Burma, and China as Allied and Japanese forces fought for control.

World War II Pacific: Advancing Across the Pacific
During World War II, the Allies adopted a strategy of "island hopping" across the Pacific. This approach culminated in the liberation of the Marianas Islands and the Philippines. From the former, US aircraft were able to strike Japan and ultimately deliver the atom bombs which ended the war.

World War II: The Postwar World
The most transformative conflict in history, World War II impacted the entire globe and set the stage for the Cold War. As World War II raged, the leaders of the Allies met several times to direct the course of the fighting and to begin planning for the postwar world. With the defeat of Germany and Japan, their plans were put into action.

World War II Leaders & People
World War II saw the rise of numerous leaders and standout soldiers. In the course of fighting several key individuals became known for their performance on the battlefield. Many of the leaders of World War II went on to assume key positions in the postwar world.

World War II: Weapons
World War II was fought from 1939 to 1945 and saw variety of weapons used in the field. Through the course of the war, weapons of all types evolved greatly and increased incomplexity. World War II greatly advanced technology and the weapons developed helped shape the postwar world.

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