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World War II

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Germany and Japan were winning at the beginning of the war. However, vainness and over-confidence made both countries make to fatal mistakes and lose the war. Most of Germany's allies, such as Austria and Italy, were very weak. Italy was the first country from the axis powers to surrender in 1943. It was followed by Germany in May 1945 and Japan in August 1945. Whatever side you were supporting, WW2 was the most brutal war of all time. 

Germany in Europe

Hitler was always willing to establish an empire which would last for 1000 years. He managed to solve many of Germany's problems, although he used dictatorship, racism and violence. Fascists may have been in power today, but Hitler's main mistake was that he was vain. In 1940, Hitler managed to invade 4 countries: Denmark, Holland, France and Norway. By 1942, part of the USSR, most of Eastern Europe, France, Denmark, Norway, Tunisia, Libya and part of Egypt were under Hitler's control. Unlike the Romans, who needed hundreds of years to invade most of Europe, Hitler wanted to invade the world in a few years. In June 1940, Germany defeated Britain in Dunkirk, France. Although hundreds of weapons were left behind, the British were proud that they managed to evacuate and rescue every single French and English soldiers by using boats and with the help of fishermen and volunteers. People still celebrate during June every year for this victory.  

The Desert Fox

In 1940, Britain started fighting with Italy in North Africa. The Italians, who managed to invade much of North Africa, were nearly defeated by the British before Mussolini asked Germany for help. In 1941, Hitler decided to send one of the most famous generals of the war, perhaps of all time, Erwin Rommel. Rommel has already made an achievement after leading the victorious  7th Tank Division  in the German push to the English Channel. He became a lieutenant general and was placed in command of the Afrika Korps. He achieved a brilliant record as a tactician in desert warfare. He managed to drive the British from Libya to El Alamein, about 150 km west of Alexandria in Egypt. By June 1942, Rommel was promoted and became a field marshal. He was nicknamed the Desert Fox for his cunning tactics. In 1942, he lost an important battle in El Alamein, which made another British general gain fame: Montgomery. There were many battles between Germany and Britain in North Africa and both sides retreated several times. However, subsequent reverses forced Rommel back to Tunis and he returned home to Germany in 1943 before the Germans surrendered. Although, Rommel failed to defeat America and Britain in North Africa, he's still remembered for his tactics. In July 1944, he was accused of aiding Hitler in his criminal acts and he decided to commit suicide by drinking a poison rather than being punished and executed by the allies.   

The Many and the Few

By 1940, Hitler was invading most of Europe but one man was still determined to defeat him: Winston Churchill. Churchill became Britain's Prime Minister on May 10, 1940. Joseph Stalin was fighting against Finland and he was not willing to challenge Hitler while public opinion in America didn't want to interfere  in this  war. Britain was fighting against Germany in the Battle of the Atlantic using submarines and ships. Although they had only 28 submarines near Britain, the Germans were building more, putting Britain in a dangerous position. No one was winning the Battle of the Atlantic so Hitler decided to invade Britain. But that meant that the German pilots must cross the English Channel; Hitler would not risk using ships unless the British planes were destroyed. For that reason, the Battle of Britain was fought in the air. It was the first battle in history to be fought by aeroplanes only. The German pilots began to bomb airfields. By September 17th, 1940, Germany was defeated in the Battle of Britain. But why? The Luftwaffe (German air force) was not big enough to attack the RAF in the English Channel; the British aircraft factories produced a lot of planes while the German leaders underestimated the ability of Britain to replace its bases. Winston Churchill was an outstanding leader while the pilots were incredible. However, the most important reason was the radar. A scientist called Watson-Watt has managed to invent a machine which could detect planes hundreds of metres away. This machine called the RADAR (RAdio Detecting and Ranging) was used by the British in the Battle of Britain. After the battle Churchill said, "Never was so much owed by so Many (British people) to so Few (British pilots)."When Germany was defeated, Hitler decided to attack Britain during the night. This was called the Blitzkreig (German for lightning). Thousands of British people were killed by the Blitz.

Pearl Harbour

While America was making peace talks with Japan, the Japanese air force destroyed the US fleet in Pearl Harbour. After 30 minutes, the harbour was destroyed. On the next day, Franklin Roosevelt, America's President, declared war on Japan, Italy and Germany. The American involvement in WW2 was the second most important reason why Germany lost the war. By December 1941, Germany was fighting against some of the strongest countries in the world: the USA, USSR, Britain and France. To make matters even worse, Germany had only one strong country on its side, Japan, while Austria and Italy were not strong at all. In 1942, Japan's expansion continued after invading East India from Holland, Philippines, Singapore and Malaya from Britain.  

The War of the People

Many people call World War 2, the, "People's War." WW2 was the first war in which more citizens were killed than soldiers. The war affected the lives of more than 350 million people. Many citizens contributed in this war. In Russia, millions of partisans fought in the war. They sabotaged, cut off telephone wires and attack German soldiers. Although Stalin was a wicked dictator, he was an outstanding war leader. He managed to take the land Lenin gave away to the Germans in 1917. When the Germans attacked Russia, Stalin ordered the citizens to move all petrol stations and factories so that Hitler's forces couldn't take advantage of them.

Many cities in Europe were totally damaged. Thousands of people died at the beginning of the war in France and England. Cities like London, Manchester, Liverpool and Coventry were damaged. There were many volunteers in the war, like the LDV (Local Defensive Volunteers). 95,000 British civilians and 173,000 French civilians were killed in this war. However, during the last 3 years in the war, the allies started bombing German cities. More than 800,000 German civilians were killed and cities like Cologne were totally damaged. 

The Home and Kitchen Fronts were very important in this war. Germany and Japan prevented a lot of food from reaching Britain. At that time, two thirds of food in Britain was imported. Many programmes on radios encouraged women to be more economic and cook more food for soldiers and many poor people. The government introduced the system of rationing which forced all people, whether they were poor or rich to buy a limited amount of food from their nearby groceries. Hundreds of thousands of citizens were evacuated from towns and cities to live in villages during the Blitzkreig.

The most appalling aspect of the Nazi regime was the persecution of the Jews. Violent attacks on Jews in Germany began in the 1930s and were continued in all the countries the Germans occupied. Death camps were established for the sole purpose of eliminating the Jews, gypsies, black people, Jehovah's witnesses and communists. Hitler decided to start the Final Solution in 1942 which killed millions of people. 9 million people were killed in death camps, 6 million of them were Jews. 

One fatal mistake

In June 1942, Hitler decided to invade Russia. At first, his army was crashing the Russians who had very old weapons. In August 1943, Hitler ordered his armies in Russia to capture Stalingrad. By November they had taken most of the city. However, as winter started, the Russians counter-attacked. Cut-off, short of food, and without warm clothing in the Russian winter, the German troops surrendered. It was so called in Russia that the oil in the tanks froze and that Hitler asked all of the women in Munich to give away their coats to the soldiers! Also, the Russian roads were pathetic and the Russians were very determined. Hitler made the same mistake Napoleon had made. The German defeat was a major turning point in the war. To make matter even worse for Hitler, the allies invaded Sicily and Italy surrendered in September 1943.. Although the war did go on, for Germany, the war was over! Hitler was no longer was seen making speeches.

D-Day and the Red Army

The Red Army, or the Soviet Army, started driving Germany out of the USSR. In January 1944, Leningrard was free. By April, the Russians invaded Romania. In December, 1944, the USSR, conquered Hungary and Yugoslavia. The Soviet Army captured Warsaw in January 1945. The Russians were willing to invade all of the land between Moscow and Berlin.

In 1944, the allies decided to invade France. They were willing to land their forces in Normandy. This operation was called D-Day. However, the British wanted to trick the Germans by telling them that they were going to land in Calais. But how was this done? The SOE (Special Operations Executive), wrote a message in code ordering a general to send his army to Calais. The message was put into a pocket of a dead English soldier. The body was thrown by a helicopter somewhere near Greece. The German intelligence found the message and the German soldiers went to Calais. By June 1944, France was free. In February 1945, the allies invaded western Germany. By, May 1945, the Russian army approached Berlin. The Russian soldiers found Hitler dead in his underground shelter. Hitler is believed to have committed suicide. This marked the end of the war in Europe.

The Atomic Bomb

Although the Germans surrendered, the Japanese didn't. Their soldiers were more determined than any other people in the world. They believed that they were born to fight. Although the Americans were driving them, they believed that they should do something. President Harry Truman, who succeeded in Franklin D. Rossevelt after a heart attack, learnt that the American group of scientists have conducted a successful experiment of nuclear fission in a squash court. After a few month, Truman saw the first atomic bomb test in the desert of New Mexico. In July 1945, he decided to bomb a Japanese industrial city called Hiroshima. The atomic bomb was separated into small pieces and each piece was carried by a ship. All of the ships met somewhere in the Far East and an aeroplane flew towards Hiroshima. Hiroshima was destroyed on the 6th of August 1945 and 800,000 people were killed in a few seconds. The Japanese didn't surrender yet. Another city was bombed, Nagasaki, on the 9th of August 1945. Many people believe that America shouldn't have dropped the atomic bombs. On the 3rd of September 1945, the Japanese signed an armistice with America.


Results of the War

World War II's basic statistics qualify it as by far the greatest war in history in terms of human and material resources expended. In all, 61 countries with 1.7 billion people, three-fourths of the world's population, took part. A total of 110 million persons were mobilized for military service.

Most statistics on the war are only estimates. The war's vast and chaotic sweep made uniform record keeping impossible. Some governments lost control of the data, and some resorted to manipulating it for political reasons.

A rough consensus has been reached on the total cost of the war. In terms of money spent, it has been put at more than $1 trillion, which makes it more expensive than all other wars combined. The human cost, not including more than 5 million Jews killed in the Holocaust who were indirect victims of the war, is estimated to have been 55 million deadó25 million of those military and 30 million civilian.

Country Soldiers killed Largest no. of soldiers on duty at any one time No. of soldiers mobilized Civilians killed Money lost
Australia 29,295 x x 243 x
Britain 271,311 x x 95,297 320 billion $
British Empire 452,000 8,720,000 x 60,000 x
Canada 39,319 x x unknown x
China 3,500,000 5,000,000 x 10,000,000 100 billion $
Czechoslovakia 10,000 x x 330,000 x
France 205,00 x x 173,000 x
Germany 3,300,000 10,938,000 17,000,000 800,000 472 billion $**
Hungary 120,000 x x 280,000 x
India 36,092 x x 79,498 x
Japan 1,380,000 7,193,000 x 933,000 608 billion $
Italy 279,820 x x 93,000 94 billion $
Poland 120,000 x x 5,300,000 x
Romania 200,000 x x 465,000 x
USSR 13,600,000 12,500,000 30,000,000 7,720,000 200 billion $
Concentration camps x x x 9,000,000 x
Yugoslavia 300,000 x x 1,300,000 x
USA 292,131 12,450,000 16,000,000 5,662 341 billion $*

*The U.S. spent the most money on the war, an estimated $341 billion, including $50 billion for lend-lease supplies, of which $31 billion went to Britain, $11 billion to the Soviet Union, $5 billion to China, and $3 billion to 35 other countries.

**In Germany, bombing and shelling had produced 4 billion cu m (5 billion cu yd) of rubble.

What happened to Germany, Italy and France

When the United Nations was set up, it decided to split Germany into 2 countries: West and East Germany. They reunited in 1990 when the Berlin wall was destroyed. Many Nazis who knew that they would be punished and hanged, decided to commit suicide. East Germany became a communist country. Stalin committed many crimes in Hungary and Romania before he died in 1953. 

Mussoilini escaped to a small island in 1943. In 1945, a group of Italian nationalists assassinated him. A few years later, the people of Italy decided to get rid of King Victor Emmanuel. Japan didn't get rid of its Emperor, Hiro Hito, but he lost power and Japan's real ruler is it's Prime Minister who's elected democratically. Germany, Italy and Japan have a limited and small army, and unlike the Treaty of Versailles, none of the countries are allowed to remove the limits of their armies. 

The United Nations

After the war, a group of nations formed an organization called the United Nations. At first, it had fewer than 50 countries, now it has more than 180 members. Many countries after the war decided to become independent and not to become colonies or protectorates. Some countries, like India, have done that peacefully. However, some countries had to fight to gain independence. Algeria lost moRe than 1 million lives to drive the French out of Algeria. Now, there are very few colonies in the world. In 1948, the UN decided to give Palestine to the Jews so that the Holocaust won't happen again. 5 countries in the UN have the veto. This means that the winners of WW2; China, America, Russia, France and Britain have the right to reject any decision made by the UN.   

The Wars after the War

The Cold War:- between the USSR and the USA. It ended after the collapse of the USSR.

Arab-Israeli Wars:- the Arab countries and Israel hate each other. 1948 War, the 6 Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

Suez Crisis:- Britain, France and Israel vs. Egypt

Cuban Missile Crisis:- Cuba and USSR vs. USA

Kashmir:- India vs. Pakistan

Vietnam War:- North Vietnam, China and USSR vs. South Vietnam and USA

Korean War:- North Korea, China and USSR vs. South Korea and USA

Gulf War:- between USA, UK and other Arab nations vs. Iraq