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The Second World is a term used during the Cold War for the industrial socialist states that were under the influence of the Soviet Union. In the first two decades following World War II, 19 communist states emerged all of these were at least originally within the Soviet sphere of influence, though some (notably, Yugoslavia and the People's Republic of China) broke with Moscow and developed their own path of socialism while retaining Communist governments. But most communist states remained part of this bloc until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 afterwards, only five Communist states remained: China, North Korea, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam. Along with "First World" and "Third World", the term was used to divide the states of Earth into three broad categories.
History of the UN
The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.
Due to its unique international character, and the powers vested in its founding Charter, the Organization can take action on a wide range of issues, and provide a forum for its 193 Member States to express their views, through the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other bodies and committees.
The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. Although best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its System (specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make the world a better place. The Organization works on a broad range of fundamental issues, from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations.
The UN has 4 main purposes
- To keep peace throughout the world
- To develop friendly relations among nations
- To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms
- To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals
The Oxford English Dictionary cited the first known usage in the English language to a Scottish newspaper, The People's Journal, in 1848: "A war among the great powers is now necessarily a world-war." The term "world war" is used by Karl Marx and his associate, Friedrich Engels,  in a series of articles published around 1850 called The Class Struggles in France. Rasmus B. Anderson in 1889 described an episode in Teutonic mythology as a "world war" (Swedish: världskrig), justifying this description by a line in an Old Norse epic poem, "Völuspá: folcvig fyrst I heimi" ("The first great war in the world".)  German writer August Wilhelm Otto Niemann had used the term "world war" in the title of his anti-British novel, Der Weltkrieg: Deutsche Träume (The World War: German Dreams) in 1904, published in English as The Coming Conquest of England.
The term "first world war" was first used in September 1914 by German biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel, who claimed that "there is no doubt that the course and character of the feared 'European War' . will become the first world war in the full sense of the word",  citing a wire service report in The Indianapolis Star on 20 September 1914. In English, the term "First World War" had been used by Charles à Court Repington, as a title for his memoirs (published in 1920) he had noted his discussion on the matter with a Major Johnstone of Harvard University in his diary entry of September 10, 1918. 
The term "World War I" was coined by Time magazine on page 28b of its June 12, 1939 issue. In the same article, on page 32, the term "World War II" was first used speculatively to describe the upcoming war. The first use for the actual war came in its issue of September 11, 1939.  One week earlier, on September 4, the day after France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, the Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad used the term on its front page, saying "The Second World War broke out yesterday at 11 a.m." 
Speculative fiction authors had been noting the concept of a Second World War in 1919 and 1920, when Milo Hastings wrote his dystopian novel, City of Endless Night.
Other languages have also adopted the "world war" terminology, for example in French: "world war" is translated as guerre mondiale, in German: Weltkrieg (which, prior to the war, had been used in the more abstract meaning of a global conflict), in Italian: guerra mondiale, in Spanish and Portuguese: guerra mundial, in Danish and Norwegian: verdenskrig, and in Russian: мировая война (mirovaya voyna.)
World War I occurred from 1914 to 1918. In terms of human technological history, the scale of World War I was enabled by the technological advances of the second industrial revolution and the resulting globalization that allowed global power projection and mass production of military hardware. It had been recognized that the complex system of opposing military alliances (the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires against the British, Russian, and French Empires) was likely, if war broke out, to lead to a worldwide conflict. That caused a very minute conflict between two countries to have the potential to set off a domino effect of alliances, triggering a world war. The fact that the powers involved had large overseas empires virtually guaranteed that such a war would be worldwide, as the colonies' resources would be a crucial strategic factor. The same strategic considerations also ensured that the combatants would strike at each other's colonies, thus spreading the wars far more widely than those of pre-Columbian times.
War crimes were perpetrated in World War I. Chemical weapons were used in the war despite the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 having outlawed the use of such weapons in warfare. The Ottoman Empire was responsible for the Armenian genocide, the murder of more than 1,000,000 Armenians during the First World War, as well as the other late Ottoman genocides.
The Second World War occurred from 1939 to 1945 and is the only conflict in which nuclear weapons have been used both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the Japanese Empire, were devastated by atomic bombs dropped by the United States. Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, was responsible for genocides, most notably the Holocaust, the killing of about 6,000,000 Jews and 11,000,000 others persecuted by the Nazis, including Romani people and homosexuals.  The United States, the Soviet Union, and Canada deported and interned minority groups within their own borders and, largely because of the conflict, many ethnic Germans were later expelled from Eastern Europe. Japan was responsible for attacking neutral nations without a declaration of war, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is also known for its brutal treatment and killing of Allied prisoners of war and the inhabitants of Asia. It also used Asians as forced laborers and was responsible for the Nanking massacre in which 250,000 civilians were brutally murdered by Japanese troops. Noncombatants suffered at least as badly as or worse than combatants, and the distinction between combatants and noncombatants was often blurred by the belligerents of total war in both conflicts. 
The outcome of the war had a profound effect on the course of world history. The old European empires collapsed or were dismantled as a direct result of the wars' crushing costs and, in some cases, their fall was caused by the defeat of imperial powers. The United States became firmly established as the dominant global superpower, along with its ideological foe, the Soviet Union, in close competition. The two superpowers exerted political influence over most of the world's nation-states for decades after the end of the Second World War. The modern international security, economic, and diplomatic system was created in the aftermath of the wars. 
Institutions such as the United Nations were established to collectivize international affairs, with the explicit goal of preventing another outbreak of general war. The wars had also greatly changed the course of daily life. Technologies developed during wartime had a profound effect on peacetime life as well, such as by advances in jet aircraft, penicillin, nuclear energy, and electronic computers. 
Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War, there has been a widespread and prolonged fear of a potential Third World War between nuclear-armed powers. The Third World War is generally considered a successor to the Second World War  and it is often suggested to become a nuclear war at some point during the said Third World War, devastating in its nature and likely much more violent than both the First and Second World Wars in 1947, Albert Einstein commented that "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."   It has been anticipated and planned for by military and civil authorities and it has also been explored in fiction in many countries. Concepts have ranged from purely-conventional scenarios to the limited use of nuclear weapons, to the destruction of the planet's surface.
Various former government officials, politicians, authors, and military leaders (including James Woolsey,  Alexandre de Marenches,  Eliot Cohen,  and Subcomandante Marcos  ) have attempted to apply the labels of the "Third World War" and the "Fourth World War" to various past and present global wars since the end of the Second World War, such as the Cold War and the War on Terror respectively. Among these are former American, French, and Mexican government officials, military leaders, politicians, and authors. Despite their efforts, none of the wars have commonly been deemed world wars.
Wars which have been described as "World War Zero" by some historians include the Seven Years' War  and the onset of the Late Bronze Age collapse. 
The Second Congo War (1998–2003) involved nine nations and led to ongoing low-intensity warfare despite an official peace and the first democratic elections in 2006. It has often been referred to as "Africa's World War".  During the early-21st century the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War and their worldwide spillovers are sometimes described as proxy wars waged between the United States and Russia,     which led some commentators to characterize the situation as a "proto-world war" with nearly a dozen countries embroiled in two overlapping conflicts. 
Wars spanning multiple continents Edit
There have been numerous wars spanning two or more continents throughout history, including:
According to an aggressive military strategy known as the Schlieffen Plan (named for its mastermind, German Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen), Germany began fighting World War I on two fronts, invading France through neutral Belgium in the west and confronting Russia in the east.
On August 4, 1914, German troops crossed the border into Belgium. In the first battle of World War I, the Germans assaulted the heavily fortified city of Liege, using the most powerful weapons in their arsenal𠅎normous siege cannons—to capture the city by August 15. The Germans left death and destruction in their wake as they advanced through Belgium toward France, shooting civilians and executing a Belgian priest they had accused of inciting civilian resistance.
The Cold War: The Red Scare
Meanwhile, beginning in 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) brought the Cold War home in another way. The committee began a series of hearings designed to show that communist subversion in the United States was alive and well.
In Hollywood, HUAC forced hundreds of people who worked in the movie industry to renounce left-wing political beliefs and testify against one another. More than 500 people lost their jobs. Many of these 𠇋lacklisted” writers, directors, actors and others were unable to work again for more than a decade. HUAC also accused State Department workers of engaging in subversive activities. Soon, other anticommunist politicians, most notably Senator Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957), expanded this probe to include anyone who worked in the federal government.
Thousands of federal employees were investigated, fired and even prosecuted. As this anticommunist hysteria spread throughout the 1950s, liberal college professors lost their jobs, people were asked to testify against colleagues and “loyalty oaths” became commonplace.
World War II Begins
At 4:45 a.m. on September 1, 1939, the pre-dawn skies lit up over the Baltic Sea as the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on a Polish fortress on the Westerplatte Peninsula as assault troops hidden aboard the vessel stormed the shoreline. The venerable ship that had seen action in World War I fired the first salvos of what would be a second global conflagration. Without a declaration of war, 1.5 million troops stormed Nazi Germany’s 1,750-mile border with Poland. They came from the north, south and west. They came by land, by air and by sea in a quest to regain territory lost by Germany in the Treaty of Versailles and colonize its neighbor.
Polish cavalry moves to the front to meet German invasion (Credit: Popperfoto/Getty Images)
The Nazis overwhelmed the antiquated Polish defenses with their blitzkrieg, or “lightning war,” tactics. German tanks steamrolled into the country. The Luftwaffe destroyed airfields, bombed passenger trains and mowed down civilians indiscriminately with machine-gun fire. Incendiary bombs torched Katowice, Krakow and the capital city of Warsaw. By sea, German warships and U-boats attacked the Polish navy. The 1 million-man Polish military was undermanned and underequipped. So antiquated were some army units that cavalry horses trotted to the front lines to confront the enemy’s mighty armored tanks.
German chancellor Adolf Hitler had rattled his saber at Poland for months. As he had done prior to the occupation of other countries, Hitler claimed that ethnic Germans were being persecuted inside Poland. Addressing the nation hours after the firing of the first shots, Hitler said he acted strictly in justifiable self-defense in response to Polish attacks on German soil the night before. Those attacks were not launched by Poland, however, but were carefully choreographed operations stage-managed by the Nazi propaganda machine as a pretext for an invasion. In the border town of Gleiwitz, S.S. operatives donned Polish military uniforms and seized one of Germany’s own radio stations and broadcast an anti-Nazi message in Polish. Prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were dressed in Polish uniforms, brought to the radio station and shot to make it appear as if they were casualties of the firefight.
Hitler addresses the Reichstag on September 1, 1939 (Credit: Corbis)
“The Polish State has refused the peaceful settlement of relations which I desired, and has appealed to arms,” Hitler wrote of the phony attacks in his proclamation to the army. “In order to put an end to this lunacy, I have no other choice than to meet force with force from now on.”
Throughout the summer of 1939, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union had carried on negotiations for forming a three-way alliance against Germany, but talks broke down over Poland’s refusal to grant Soviet troops the right to enter its territory, a demand the Polish military viewed as no more than a thinly veiled occupation. “With the Germans, we risk losing our freedom,” said Polish commander-in-chief Edward Rydz-Smigly, “with the Russians our soul.” The stymied Soviets instead pursued a separate peace with Germany, and the two countries signed a nonaggression pact on August 23 that contained a secret clause that divided Poland between them. With no threat of a Soviet intervention, Hitler believed he had a free hand to move against Poland. “The way is open for the soldier, now that I have made the political preparations,” he told his military commanders.
Still, Great Britain and France had guaranteed to fight in Poland’s defense, but many Nazi leaders, including foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, believed history would repeat itself and the countries would back down. When Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936 in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Britain and France did not respond militarily. When he annexed Austria two years later, the Western powers had no reply. When he annexed Czechoslovakia in 1939 in violation of the Munich Pact, which had already granted him the Sudetenland, Britain and France still did not respond with force.
THE WORLD BANK AS BUILDER AND ENGINEER
The Bank’s first loan was to France and loans to other European countries followed. But when the 1947 Marshall Plan took over post-war reconstruction efforts in Europe, the Bank quickly shifted to funding infrastructure projects around the world in sectors such as power, irrigation, and transportation. The first loan to a non-European country was to Chile in 1948 for $13.5M USD for hydroelectric power generation. The Bank also initiated a technical assistance program and in 1955 established the Economic Development Institute to provide training to officials from member countries.
During the early years, the Bank evolved to meet the needs of its members. In 1956, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) was established to focus exclusively on the private sector, and in 1960 the International Development Association (IDA) was created to provide resources for less creditworthy members. The IFC’s first loan was to Brazil, in the amount of $2M USD, for the manufacture of electrical equipment. The Bank also mediated three international disputes that had an economic element: the nationalization of Iran’s oil industry the development of the Indus River Water system and the financing for the Aswan High Dam on the Nile.
War in Europe
Mukden Incident and the Invasion of Manchuria (1931)
After winning the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Japan quickly became the dominant power in its region. Russia recognized Korea as a Japanese sphere of influence and removed all of its forces from there and Manchuria, the sparsely populated northeastern region of China. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea as its own with little protest or resistance. Still, Japan was a quickly growing country, both population-wise and economically. It founded the South Manchuria Railway company in Manchuria in 1906, and with that company was able to gain government-like control of the area.
By 1931, the Depression had struck a blow to Japan. The government did little to help Japan’s economy, and in the eyes of its citizens, was weak and powerless. Instead, the public favored the Japanese army, and soon the civilian government had lost control of its military. To the army, Manchuria seemed like an obvious solution to many of Japan’s problems. Manchuria was vast and thinly populated, and would serve as excellent elbow room for an already overcrowded Japan. It was also thought that Manchuria was rich in forests, natural resources, and fertile land. The fact that the Japanese believed themselves to be far superior to the Chinese only moved Japan towards conflict faster. Additionally, the warlord of Manchuria went against Japanese expectations and declared his allegiance to a growing Chinese military movement. So, in 1931, the army staged an explosion at a section of railway near Mukden, a city in Manchuria, as a pretext to invade and annex China. Japan met little resistance, although it did not have support of its own government, and Manchuria was completely occupied by the end of the year. Japan subsequently set up the puppet state of Manchukuo to oversee the newly acquired region. The League of Nations vehemently protested Japan’s aggression, but Japan then withdrew from it.
Japan invades China (1937)
The 1920s saw a weak and politically chaotic China. Warlords of the many provinces of China constantly feuded, and the central government was weak and decentralized, unable to do anything to stop conflict. In 1927 Chiang Kai-Shek gained control of the Kuomintang (the Chinese government) and its National Revolution Army. Chiang led an expedition to defeat southern and central Chinese warlords and gain the allegiance of northern warlords. He was successful, and he soon focused on what he perceived to be a greater threat than Japan, which was communism. But in 1937, the deposed warlord general of Manchuria kidnapped Chiang and refused to release him until he at least temporarily united with the communists against the Japanese threat. The Japanese army responded by staging the Battle of Lugou Bridge, which was supposed to provoke open war between China and Japan. It worked and the Sino-Japanese War began. The beginning of the conflict was marked by the Chinese strategy of giving up land in order to stall the Japanese. It is important to note that the Japanese was not to completely take over China rather, the Japanese wanted to set up puppet governments in key regions that would protect and advance Japanese interests. The fall of Nanjing in the early stages of this conflict saw the beginning of Japanese war atrocities. 100,000-300,000 were killed in the six weeks after Nanjing was captured. Other war crimes committed included widespread rape, arson, and looting.
Anti-Comintern Pact and Tripartite Pact
These were pacts between Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Anti-Comintern pact had been a pact that denounced communism and it was initially signed by Japan and Germany. However, later, as German and Italian relations improved, Italy also signed and this was made stronger later by the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis in 1938. The Tripartite Pact also strengthened the alliance and it was basically a confirmation of the Rome-Berlin-Toyko Axis.
Pearl Harbor and Simultaneous Invasions (early December 1941)
On December 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo carried out a surprise air raid on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the largest U.S. naval base in the Pacific. The Japanese forces met little resistance and devastated the harbor. This attack resulted in 8 battleships either sunk or damaged, 3 light cruisers and 3 destroyers sunk as well as damage to some auxiliaries and 343 aircraft either damaged or destroyed. 2408 Americans were killed including 68 civilians 1178 were wounded. Japan lost only 29 aircraft and their crews and five midget submarines. However, the attack failed to strike targets that could have been crippling losses to the US Pacific Fleet such as the aircraft carriers which were out at sea at the time of the attack or the base’s ship fuel storage and repair facilities. The survival of these assets have led many to consider this attack a catastrophic long term strategic blunder for Japan.
The following day, the United States declared war on Japan. Simultaneously to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan also attacked U.S. air bases in the Philippines. Immediately following these attacks, Japan invaded the Philippines and also the British Colonies of Hong Kong, Malaya, Borneo and Burma with the intention of seizing the oilfields of the Dutch East Indies.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States on 11 December 1941, even though it was not obliged to do so under the Tripartite Pact of 1940. Hitler made the declaration in the hopes that Japan would support him by attacking the Soviet Union. Japan did not oblige him, and this diplomatic move proved a catastrophic blunder which gave President Franklin D. Roosevelt the pretext needed for the United States joining the fight in Europe with full commitment and with no meaningful opposition from Congress. Some historians mark this moment as another major turning point of the war with Hitler provoking a grand alliance of powerful nations, most prominently the UK, the USA and the USSR, who could wage powerful offensives on both East and West simultaneously.
Allied Defeats in the Pacific and Asia (late December 1941-1942)
Simultaneous with the dawn raid on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese carried out an invasion of Malaya, landing troops at Kota Bharu on the east coast, supported by land based aircraft from bases in Vietnam and Taiwan. The British attempted to oppose the landings by dispatching Force Z, comprising the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse, with their escorting destroyers, from the naval base in Singapore, but this force was intercepted and destroyed by bombers before even reaching their objective.
In a series of swift maneuvers down the Malay peninsula, thought by the British to be “impassable” to an invading force landing so far north, the Japanese advanced down to the Johor Straits at the southernmost tip of the peninsula by January 1942. The Japanese were even using tanks, which the British had thought would not be able to penetrate the jungles but they were wrong.
During a short two week campaign the Japanese crossed the Straits of Johor by amphibious assault and conducted a series of sharp battles, notably the battle of Kent Ridge when the Royal Malay Regiment put up a brave but futile effort to stem the tide. Singapore fell on 15 February 1942 and with its fall, Japan was now able to control the sea approaches from the Indian Ocean through the Malacca Straits. The natural resources of the Malay peninsula, in particular rubber plantations and tin mines, were now in the hands of the Japanese.
Other Allied possessions, especially in the oil rich East Indies (Indonesia) were also swiftly captured, and all organised resistance effectively ceased, with attention now shifting to events closer to Midway, the Solomon Islands, the Bismark Sea and New Guinea.
Resistance in the Philippines and the Bataan Death March
The Tide Turns: The Coral Sea
Allies Regroup and the Battle of Midway (1942)
Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, the US military sought to strike back at Japan, and a plan was formulated to bomb Tokyo. As Tokyo could not be reached by land based bombers, it was decided to use an aircraft carrier to launch the attack close to Japanese waters. The Doolittle Raid was carried out by Doolittle and his squadron of B-25 medium bombers, launched from the USS Hornet. The raid achieved little strategically, but was a tremendous morale booster in the dark days of 1942. It also led to the decision by the Japanese military to attack the only logical base of the attackers, the tiny atoll of Midway.
A powerful force of warships, with four large fleet carriers at its core (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu) attacked Midway. The US navy, with the aid of intercepted and decoded Japanese signals, were ready and launched a counter attack with the carriers USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown, destroying all four of the Japanese fleet carriers. This was a devastating blow to the Japanese and is considered the turning point of the Pacific War. The Japanese had largely roamed the Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea, the Malacca Straits and the Indian Ocean with impunity, launching raids from these same four carriers on Allied bases in these areas including Darwin, Colombo and along the Indian east coast. With the loss of these carriers and more importantly their cadre of irreplaceable hard core highly trained naval aviators, the Japanese could no longer maintain an effective offensive and became largely defensive from then on.
Guadalcanal Weakens Japan (August 1942-February 1943)
Buna, Gona, and Rabaul (1943)
Island Hopping (1943- Late 1944)
Island hopping was a campaign of capturing key islands in the Pacific that were used as prerequisites, or stepping stones, to the next island with the eventual destination being Japan, rather than trying to capture every island under Japanese control. Allied forces often assaulted weaker islands first, while starving out the Japanese strongholds before attacking them.
Iwo Jima and Okinawa (Early 1945)
The Atomic Bomb (August 1945)
On August 6, 1945, a lone B-29 bomber, named the Enola Gay, appeared over the skies of Hiroshima. Air raid sirens went off around the city and people ran for their shelters. However, minutes later, the all-clear symbol was given. Although it had been a seemingly harmless run, the B-29 had, in fact, dropped a single bomb (this bomb was called “Little Boy”). This bomb detonated about 1,900 feet over Hiroshima and leveled much of the city within a few thousandths of a second. Tens of thousands were killed immediately and many more would eventually die from the radiation poisoning.
However, Japan did not surrender to the United States, so three days later, on August 9, 1945, a B-29 named Boxcar dropped an atom bomb on the city of Nagasaki (this bomb was called “Fat Man”). Although the bomb was actually more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, the foggy weather conditions and the hilly terrain of Nagasaki somewhat shielded a portion of the city from the worst effects.
This led to an immediate ceasefire with Japan, and surrender a month later.
Analyzing the Effects of World War I
This lesson uses maps from Chapter 3 of Holocaust and Human Behavior to help students visualize and better consider the impact of World War I. While maps do not tell the whole story, they can provide crucial information to help us understand and analyze history. The maps Empires before World War I and The World after World War I begin to illustrate the scope of the impact that World War I had on the countries that fought in it and on the world as a whole. With the information these maps provide, students will be better equipped to make predictions about what happened in the years following the war before they study that history. In this lesson, students will analyze these two maps, look for patterns of continuity and change between the maps, and practice making inferences about the period of history that followed World War I based on what they observe from the maps.
While students will be able to glean important information about World War I and its impact, especially on Germany, from these activities, this lesson will be most effective if students have studied other aspects of the war. Look to Chapter 3 of Holocaust and Human Behavior for readings, primary sources, and other resources that explore aspects of World War I that had an important effect on the history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
- Establish Background for Map Analysis
Tell students that one way to observe and analyze the impact of World War I is by looking at maps of the world before and after the war. Then share the maps Empires before World War I and The World after World War I. Remind students that in this war, the Axis powers were led by Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire (which became Turkey after the war), and the Allied powers were led by Great Britain, France, Italy, Russia (until 1917), and the United States (beginning in 1917).
- Analyze Maps
Whether working individually, in small groups, or as a whole class, guide students through the process below to analyze the maps. Give them several minutes to quietly study each map and write down some answers to the questions that accompany each step of the process.
- Observe: Look carefully at the maps.
- What do the two maps, when viewed together, show about the way the world changed between 1914 and 1920?
- Which empires and countries expanded their territory between 1914 and 1920?
- Which empires and countries had lost territory or no longer existed by the period depicted in the second map?
- Which countries are on the map for 1920 that are not on the map for 1914?
- Analyze: Use what you observed in the previous step to draw conclusions about some of the effects of World War I.
- What patterns do you notice?
- What do these maps suggest about what the victorious countries gained from the war? What do they suggest about what the defeated countries lost?
- What other information about the end of the war, besides these maps, would help you better understand the world in 1920?
- Which countries are on the map for 1920 that are not on the map for 1914?
- Predict: Make predictions about how the changes these maps show might have gone on to affect Europe in the years following the war.
- Which countries do you predict will be vulnerable to attack or intimidation from other countries?
- Which countries appear poised for prosperity and security?
- What can you infer about how the changes illustrated in these maps affected the way citizens of different countries were feeling after the war?
- Observe: Look carefully at the maps.
- Share and Discuss Analysis
Conclude the lesson by inviting students to share and discuss the headlines they wrote (in the Analyze step of the second activity), using the Wraparound teaching strategy.
After analyzing the maps, you might consider as a class the reading Negotiating Peace, about the terms of Germany’s surrender at the end of World War I. After completing the reading and discussing the Connection Questions that follow it, ask students to consider the following:
The countries that joined the war were on one of two sides: the Axis and the Allies.
The Axis Powers at the start of the war were Germany, Italy, and Japan. There were many meetings to create an alliance between these countries.     Finland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Thailand joined the Axis later. As the war continued, some Axis countries changed to join the Allies instead, such as Italy.
The Allied Powers were the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth members, France, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece, Belgium, and China at the start of the war. China had been fighting a civil war. In June 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. In December 1941 came Japan's Attack on Pearl Harbor against the United States. These two large, powerful countries then joined the Allies.
World War I had greatly changed the way of diplomacy and politics in Asia, Europe, and Africa with the defeat of the Central Powers. Empires that sided with the Central Powers were destroyed. The Russian Empire, which did not side with the Central Powers, died as well. The war also changed the borders in Eastern Europe, with many new countries born. The war led to strong irredentism and revanchism. These senses were especially strong in Germany, which had no choice but to sign the Treaty of Versailles.  The Germans also had 13% of their homeland area and all colonies taken away, and they had to pay back a very large sum of money to the Allies.  The size of their army and navy was also limited,  while its air force was banned.
In Italy, nationalists were unhappy with the outcome of the war, thinking that their country should have gained far more territory from the past agreement with the Allies. The fascist movement in the 1920s brought Mussolini to the leadership of the country. He promised to make Italy a great power by creating its colonial empire. 
After the Kuomintang (KMT), the governing party of China, unified the country in the 1920s, the civil war between it and its past ally Communist Party of China began.  In 1931, Japan used the Mukden Incident as a reason to take Manchuria and set up its puppet state, Manchukuo,  while the League of Nations could not do anything to stop it. The Tanggu Truce, a ceasefire, was signed in 1933. In 1936, the KMT and the communists agreed to stop fighting against each other to fight Japan instead.  In 1937, Japan started a Second Sino-Japanese War to take the rest of China. 
After the German Empire was disestablished, the democratic Weimar Republic was set up. There were disagreements between the Germans which involved many political ideologies, ranging from nationalism to communism. The fascist movement in Germany rose because of the Great Depression. Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, became the Chancellor in 1933. After the Reichstag fire, Hitler created a totalitarian state, where there is only one party by law.  Hitler wanted to change the world order and quickly rebuilt the army, navy and air force,  especially after Saarland was reunited in 1935. In March 1936, Hitler sent the army to Rhineland. The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936. The war ended with the nationalist victory, supported by Italy and Germany.
In March 1938, Germany sent its army into Austria, known as the Anschluss, which had only a little reaction from European countries.  Shortly after that, the Allies agreed to give Sudetenland, part of Czechoslovakia, to Germany, so that Hitler would promise to stop taking more land.  But the rest of the country was either forced to surrender  or invaded by March 1939.  The Allies now tried to stop him, by promising to help Poland if it was attacked.  Just before the war, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a peace agreement, agreeing that they would not attack each other for ten years.  In the secret part of it, they agreed to divide Eastern Europe between them. 
War breaks out Edit
World War II began on September 1, 1939, as Germany invaded Poland. On September 3, Britain, France, and the members of the Commonwealth declared war on Germany. They could not help Poland much and only sent a small French attack on Germany from the West.  The Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland soon after Germany, on September 17.  Finally, Poland was divided.
Germany then signed an agreement to work together with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union forced the Baltic countries to allow it to keep Soviet soldiers in their countries.  Finland did not accept the Soviet call for its land, so it was attacked in November 1939.  With peace, the world war broke out.  France and Britain thought that the Soviet Union might enter the war on the side of Germany and drove the Soviet Union out of the League of Nations. 
After Poland was defeated, the "Phoney War" began in Western Europe. While British soldiers were sent to the Continent, there were no big battles fought between the two sides.  Then, in April 1940, Germany decided to attack Norway and Denmark so that it would be safer to transport iron ore from Sweden. The British and French sent an army to disrupt the German occupation, but had to leave when Germany invaded France.  Chamberlain was replaced by Churchill as Prime Minister of United Kingdom in May 1940 because the British were unhappy with his work. 
Axis early victories Edit
On 10 May, Germany invaded France, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg and quickly defeated them by using blitzkrieg tactics.  The British were forced to leave mainland Europe at Dunkirk. On June 10, Italy invaded France, declaring war on France and the United Kingdom. Soon after that, France was divided into occupation zones. One was directly controlled by Germany and Italy,  and the other was unoccupied Vichy France.
By June 1940, the Soviet Union moved its soldiers into the Baltic states and took them,  followed by Bessarabia in Romania. Although there had been some collaboration between the Soviet Union and Germany earlier, this event made it serious.   Later, when the two could not agree to work more closely together, relationships between them became worse to the point of war. 
Then Germany began an air battle over Britain to prepare for a landing on the island,  but the plan was finally canceled in September. The German Navy destroyed many British ships transporting goods in the Atlantic.  Italy, by this time, had begun its operation in the Mediterranean. The United States remained neutral but started to help the Allies. By helping to protect British ships in the Atlantic, the United States found itself fighting German ships by October 1941 but this was not officially war. 
In September 1940, Italy began to invade British-held Egypt. In October, Italy invaded Greece, but it only resulted in an Italian retreat to Albania.  Again, in early 1941, an Italian army was pushed from Egypt to Libya in Africa. Germany soon helped Italy. Under Rommel's command, by the end of April 1941, the Commonwealth army was pushed back to Egypt again.  Other than North Africa, Germany also successfully invaded Greece, Yugoslavia and Crete by May.  Despite these victories, Hitler decided to cancel the bombing of Britain after 11 May. 
At the same time, Japan's progress in China was still not much, although the nationalist and communist Chinese began fighting each other again.  Japan was planning to take over European colonies in Asia while they were weak, and the Soviet Union could feel a danger from Germany, so a non-aggression pact (which was an agreement that both countries would not attack each other) between the two was signed in April 1941.  However, Germany kept preparing an attack on the Soviet Union, moving its soldiers close to the Soviet border. 
The war becomes global Edit
On June 22, 1941, the European Axis countries attacked the Soviet Union. During the summer, the Axis quickly captured Ukraine and the Baltic regions, which caused huge damage to the Soviets. Britain and the Soviet Union formed a military alliance between them in July.  Although there was great progress in the last two months when winter arrived, the tired German army was forced to delay its attack just outside Moscow.  It showed that the Axis had failed its main targets, while the Soviet army was still not weakened. This marked the end of the blitzkrieg stage of the war. 
By December, the Red Army facing the Axis army had received more soldiers from the east. It began a counter-attack that pushed the German army to the west.  The Axis lost a lot of soldiers but it still saved most of the land it received before. 
By November 1941, the Commonwealth counter-attacked the Axis in North Africa and got all the land it lost before.  However, the Axis pushed the Allies back again until stopped at El Alamein. 
In Asia, German successes encouraged Japan to call for oil supplies from the Dutch East Indies.  Many Western countries reacted to the occupation of French Indochina by banning oil trading with Japan.  Japan planned to take over European colonies in Asia to create a great defensive area in the Pacific so that it could get more resources.  But before any future invasion, it first had to destroy the American Pacific Fleet in the Pacific Ocean.  On December 7, 1941, it attacked Pearl Harbor as well as many harbors in several South East Asian countries.  This event led the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Western Allies and China to declare war on Japan, while the Soviet Union remained neutral.  Most of the Axis nations reacted by declaring war on the United States.
By April 1942, many southeast Asian countries: Burma, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and Singapore, had almost fallen to the Japanese.  In May 1942, the Philippines fell. The Japanese navy had many quick victories. But in June 1942, Japan was defeated at Midway. Japan could not take more land after this because a large part of its navy was destroyed during the battle.
Allies are advancing Edit
Japan then began its plan to take over Papua New Guinea again,  while the United States planned to attack the Solomon Islands. The fight on Guadalcanal began in September 1942 and involved a lot of troops and ships from both sides. It ended with the Japanese defeat in early 1943. 
On the Eastern Front, the Axis defeated Soviet attacks during summer and began its own main offensive to southern Russia along Don and Volga Rivers in June 1942, trying to take over oil fields in Caucasus, critical to the Axis for fueling their war effort, and a great steppe. Stalingrad was in the path of the Axis army, and the Soviets decided to defend the city. By November the Germans had nearly taken Stalingrad, however, the Soviets were able to surround the Germans during winter  After heavy losses, the German army was forced to surrender the city in February 1943.  Even though the front was pushed back further than it was before the summer attacks, the German army still had become dangerous to an area around Kursk.  Hitler devoted almost two-thirds of his armies to The Battle of Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest and deadliest battle in this world's time.
In August 1942, because of the Allied defense at El Alamein, the Axis army failed to take the town. A new Allied offensive, drove the Axis west across Libya a few months later,  just after the Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa forced it to join the Allies.  This led to Axis defeat in the North African Campaign May 1943. 
In the Soviet Union, on July 4, 1943, Germany started an attack around Kursk. Many German soldiers were lost because of the Soviets' well-created defenses.   Hitler canceled the attack before any clear outcome.  The Soviets then started their own counter-attack, which was one of the turning points of the war. After this, the Soviets became the attacking force on the Eastern Front, instead of the Germans.  
On July 9, 1943, affected by the earlier Soviet victories, the Western Allies landed on Sicily. This resulted in the arrest of Mussolini in the same month.  In September 1943, the Allies invaded mainland Italy, following the Italian armistice with the Allies.  Germany then took control of Italy and disarmed its army,  and built up many defensive lines to slow the Allied invasion down.  German special forces then rescued Mussolini, who then soon created the German-occupied client state, Italian Social Republic. 
Late in 1943 Japan conquered some islands in India and began an invasion of the Indian mainland. The Army of India and other forces expelled them in early 1944.
In early 1944, the Soviet army drove off the German army from Leningrad,  ending the longest and deadliest siege in history. After that, the Soviets began a big counter-attack. By May, the Soviets had retaken Crimea. With the attacks in Italy from September 1943, the Allies succeeded in capturing Rome on June 4, 1944, and made the German forces fall back. 
The end in Europe Edit
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies began the invasion of Normandy, France. The code name for the invasion was Operation Overlord. The invasion was successful and led to the defeat of the German forces in France. Paris was freed in August 1944 and the Allies continued eastward while the German front collapsed. Operation Market-Garden was the combined aerial invasion of the Netherlands launched on September 17, 1944. The purpose of the invasion was to seize a series of bridges that included a bridge in Arnhem, which spanned the Rhine river. The airborne invasion was called Market. The ground invasion, named Garden, reached the Rhine river, but could not take the Arnhem bridge.
On June 22, the Soviet offensive on the Eastern Front, codenamed Operation Bagration, almost destroyed the German Army Group Centre.  Soon after, the Germans were forced to retreat and defend Ukraine and Poland. Arriving Soviet troops caused uprisings against the German government in Eastern European countries, but these failed to succeed unless helped by the Soviets.  Another Soviet offensive forced Romania and Bulgaria to join the Allies.  Communist Serbs partisans under Josip Broz Tito retook Belgrade with some help from Bulgaria and the Soviet Union. By early 1945, the Soviets attacked many German-occupied countries: Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Hungary. Finland switched to the side of the Soviets and Allies.
On December 16, 1944, the Germans tried one last time to take the Western Front by attacking the Allies in Ardennes, Belgium, in a battle is known as the Battle of the Bulge. This was the last major German attack of the war, and the Germans were not successful in their attack. 
By March 1945, the Soviet army moved quickly from Vistula River in Poland to East Prussia and Vienna, while the Western Allies crossed the Rhine. In Italy, the Allies pushed forward, while the Soviets attacked Berlin. The allied western forces would eventually meet up with the Soviets at the Elbe river on April 25, 1945.
Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, two days after Mussolini's death.  In his will, he appointed his navy commander, Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, to be the President of Germany.  Donitz surrendered to the allies and opposed Hitler's will to have Germany continue fighting.
German forces in Italy surrendered on April 29, 1945. Germany surrendered to the Western Allies on May 7, 1945, known as V-E Day, and was forced to surrender to the Soviets on May 8, 1945. The final battle in Europe was ended in Italy on May 11, 1945. 
The end in the Pacific Edit
In the Pacific, American forces arrived in the Philippines on June 1944. And by April 1945, American and Philippine forces had cleared much of the Japanese forces, but the fighting continued in some parts of the Philippines until the end of the war.  British and Chinese forces advanced in Northern Burma and captured Rangoon by May 3, 1945.  American forces then took Iwo Jima by March and Okinawa by June 1945.  Many Japanese cities were destroyed by Allied bombings, and Japanese imports were cut off by American submarines.
The Allies wanted Japan to surrender with no terms, but Japan refused. This resulted in the United States dropping two atomic bombs over Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945). On August 8, 1945, the Soviets invaded Manchuria, quickly defeating the primary Imperial Japanese Army there.  On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies. The surrender documents were formally signed on board the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, ending the war. 
The Allies managed to occupy Austria and Germany. Germany was divided in half. The Soviet Union controlled the Eastern part, and the Western Allies controlled the Western part. The Allies began denazification, removing Nazi ideas from public life in Germany,  and most high-ranking Nazis were captured and brought to a special court. Germany lost a quarter of the land it had in 1937, with the land given to Poland and the Soviet Union. The Soviets also took some parts of Poland    and Finland,  as well as three Baltic countries.  
The United Nations was formed on October 24, 1945,  to keep peace between countries in the world.  However, the relationship between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union had worsened during the war  and, soon after the war, each power quickly built up their power over the controlled area. In Western Europe and West Germany, it was the United States, while in East Germany and Eastern Europe, it was the Soviet Union, in which many countries were turned into Communist states. The Cold War started after the formation of the American-led NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. 
In Asia, Japan was put under American occupation. In 1948, Korea was divided into North and South Korea, each claiming to be the legal representative of the Koreans, which led to the Korean War in 1950.  Civil war in China continued from 1946 and resulted in the KMT retreating to Taiwan in 1949.  The communists won the mainland. In the Middle East, the Arab disagreement on the United Nations plan to create Israel marked the beginning of conflicts between the Arabs and Israel.
After the war, decolonization took place in many European colonies.  Bad economies and people wanting to rule themselves were the main reasons for that. In most cases, it happened peacefully, except in some countries, such as Indochina and Algeria.  In many regions, European withdrawal caused divisions among the people who had different ethnic groups or religions. 
Economic recovery was different in many parts of the world. In general, it was quite positive. The United States became richer than any other country and, by 1950, it had taken over the world's economy.   It also ordered the Marshall Plan (1948–1951) to help European countries. German,  Italian,   and French economies recovered.  However, the British economy was badly harmed  and continued to worsen for more than ten years.  The Soviet economy grew very fast after the war was over.  This also happened with the Japanese economy, which became one of the largest economies in the 1980s.  China returned to the same production level as before the war by 1952. 
Death and war crimes Edit
There is no exact total number of deaths because many were unrecorded. Many studies said that more than 60 million people died in the war, mostly civilians. The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people,  almost half of the recorded number.  This means that 25% of the Soviets were killed or wounded in the war.  About 85% of the total deaths were on the Allies side, and the other 15% were on the Axis. Mostly, people died because they were sick, hungry to death, bombed, or killed because of their ethnicity.
The Nazis killed many groups of people they selected, known as The Holocaust. They exterminated Jews, and killed the Roma, Poles, Russians, homosexuals and other groups.  Around 11  to 17 million  civilians died. Around 7.5 million people were killed in China by the Japanese.  The most well-known Japanese crime is the Nanking Massacre, in which hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were raped and murdered. There were reports that the Germans and Japanese tested biological weapons against civilians  and prisoners of war. 
Although many of the Axis's crimes were brought to the first international court,  crimes caused by the Allies were not.
Concentration camps and slave work Edit
Other than the Holocaust, about 12 million people, mostly Eastern Europeans, were forced to work for the German economy.  German concentration camps and Soviet gulags caused a lot of death. Both treated prisoners of war badly. This was even the case for Soviet soldiers who survived and returned home.
Japanese prisoner-of-war camps, many of which were used as labour camps, also caused a lot of deaths. The death rate of Western prisoners was 27.1%,  seven times that of prisoners under Germans and Italians.  More than 10 million Chinese civilians were made slaves and had to work in mines and war factories.  Between 4 and 10 million people were forced to work in Java. 
Between 1942 and 1945, Roosevelt signed an order which made Japanese Americans go to internment camps. Some Germans and Italians were included too.
The Allies agreed that the Soviet Union could use prisoners of war and civilians for forced labor.  Hungarians were forced to work for the Soviet Union until 1955. 
Home fronts and production Edit
Before the war, in Europe, the Allies had a larger population and economy than the Axis. If colonies are included, the GDP of the Allies then would be two times that of the Axis.  While in Asia, China had only 38% higher GDP than the Japanese if their colonies are counted. 
The Allies' economy and population compared with the Axis' lessened with the early Axis victories. However, this was no longer the case after the United States and Soviet Union joined the Allies in 1941. The Allies were able to have a higher production level compared with the Axis because the Allies had more natural resources. Also, Germany and Japan did not plan for a long war and had no ability to do so.   Both tried to improve their economies by using slave laborers. 
As men went off to fight, women took over many of the jobs they left behind. At factories, women were employed to make bombs, guns, aircraft, and other equipment. In Britain, thousands of women were sent to work on farms as part of the Land Army. Others formed the Women's Royal Naval Service to help with building and repairing ships. Even Princess Elizabeth, who later became Queen Elizabeth II, worked as a mechanic to aid the war effort. By 1945 some weapons were made almost entirely by women.
In the beginning, women were rarely used in the labor forces in Germany and Japan.   However, Allied bombings   and Germany's change to a war economy made women take a greater part. 
In Britain, women also worked in gathering intelligence, at Bletchley Park and other places. The mass evacuation of children also had a major impact on the lives of mothers during the war years.
Germany had two different ideas of how it would occupy countries. In Western, Northern, and Central Europe, Germany set economic policies which would make it rich. During the war, these policies brought as much as 40% of total German income.  In the East, the war with the Soviet Union meant Germany could not use the land to gain resources. The Nazis used their racial policy and murdered a lot of people they thought non-human. The Resistance, the group of people who fought Germany secretly, could not harm the Nazis much until 1943.  
In Asia, Japan claimed to free colonized Asian countries from European colonial powers.  Although they were welcomed at first in many territories, their cruel actions turned the opinions against them within a short time.  During the occupation, Japan used 4 million barrels of oil left behind by the Allies at the war's end. By 1943, it was able to produce up to 50 million barrels of oil in the Dutch East Indies. This was 76% of its 1940 rate. 
Developments in technology Edit
The war brought new methods for future wars. The air forces improved greatly in fields such as air transport,  strategic bombing (to use bombs to destroy industry and morale),  as well as radar, and weapons for destroying aircraft. Jet aircraft were developed and would be used in worldwide air forces. 
At sea, the war focused on using aircraft carriers and submarines. Aircraft carriers soon replaced battleships.    The important reason was they were cheaper.  Submarines, a deadly weapon since World War I,  also played an important part in the war. The British improved weapons for destroying submarines, such as sonar, while the Germans improved submarine tactics. 
The style of war on the land changed from World War I to be more moveable. Tanks, which were used to support infantry, changed to a primary weapon.  The tank was improved in speed, armour and firepower during the war. At the start of the war, most commanders thought that using better tanks was the best way to fight enemy tanks.  However, early tanks could harm armour just a little. The German idea to avoid letting tanks fight one another meant tanks facing tanks rarely happened. This was a successful tactic used in Poland and France.  Ways to destroy tanks also improved. Even though vehicles became more used in the war, infantry remained the main part of the army,  and most equipped like in World War I. 
Submachine guns became widely used. They were especially used in cities and jungles.  The assault rifle, a German development combining features of the rifle and submachine gun, became the main weapon for most armies after the war. 
Other developments included better encryption for secret messages, such as the German Enigma. Another feature of military intelligence was the use of deception, especially by the Allies. Others include the first programmable computers, modern missiles and rockets, and the atomic bombs.
The actual numbers killed in World War II have been the subject heretofore. Most authorities now agree that of the 30 million Soviets who bore arms, there were 13.6 million military deaths.
*total, of which 7,800,000 battlefield deaths
**Inc. Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, etc.
Deaths among civilians during this war - many resulting from famine and internal purges, such as those in China and the USSR - were colossal, but they were less well documented than those among fighting forces. Although the figures are the best available from authoritative sources and present a broad picture of the scale of civilian losses, the precise numbers will never be known.
Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria
U.S., Britain, France, USSR, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Yugoslavia
- ↑ While various other dates have been proposed as the date on which World War II began or ended, this is the time span that is most frequently cited.
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- Tucker, Spencer C. Roberts, Priscilla Mary (2004). Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 108. ISBN978-1-57607-999-7 .
- Tucker, Spencer C. Roberts, Priscilla Mary (2004). Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 734. ISBN978-1-57607-999-7 .
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