Getting Started: World War 2

“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side...To them, we have a solemn obligation — the obligation to ensure that their sacrifice will help make this a better and safer world in which to live.”
―Chester W. Nimitz

It was deadliest war in history and the most widespread. World War II or the Second Great War spanned 1939-1945 although related conflicts began earlier. 100 million people from over 30 countries directly participated: nearly every major nation in the world was involved. The war was split on two opposing sides: the Allies and the Axis powers. On the Allies side, there was America, Great Britain, France, Soviet Union and some smaller countries. On the Axis side, there was Germany, Italy and Japan. This was a war marked by great economic, industrial and scientific revolutions as the major war participants entered a state of "total war" in which the lines between military and civilian blurred as the whole country worked toward the war effort. This was also a war known for the great civilian tragedies; 11 million civilians perished in the german Holocaust and 50-85 million perished as a result of the atomic bombs in Japan.

Japan sought to control Asia and the Pacific ocean. As early as 1937 they had invaded China. The Second World War officially started on September 1, 1939 with Germany's invasion of Poland causing France and Great Britain to declare war. This was not the true beginning however; Adolph Hitler of the Nazi party had been rising to power in Germany in the years since World War 1 and brought with him an idea of European domination and creation of a superior race. Between 1939 and 1941, Germany overtook much of continental Europe through treaties and conquest. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Poland, France; they fell like dominos in the path of the Nazi forces. Germany then joined forces with Italy and Japan to form the Axis powers. The only European democracy untouched was Great Britain, isolated by their channel and launching attacks with everything they had.
Destruction in the wake of German Forces

Great Britain and France continued their allied fight against the Axis powers in North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Battle of the Atlantic. In 1941, the European axis powers launched a massive invasion on the Soviet Union; the largest land theater of war in history. Meanwhile in the Pacific, Japan had conquered most islands and by December 1941, they awoke the sleeping giant of the United States by attacking Pearl Harbor Hawaii which led to the United States joining the war.
Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941- "The date that will live in Infamy"

 1942 brought a slow to the Axis advance when Japan lost the decisive Battle of Midway. Germany was defeated in Africa, the Italian surrender and the Soviet victory at Stalingrad the Axis powers were forced to retreat on all fronts. By 1944, the Soviet Union had regained all territorial losses, the Japanese had lost major ground in the pacific and their navy was crippled. June 6, 1944, known as D-Day, brought the invasion of Normandy Beach in France by the allied troops and the Germans were slowly being squeezed to death from both sides in Europe.
Allied Forces land on D-Day

The war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945 with the complete German surrender following an invasion of Berlin by the Soviet troops and a full-scale invasion of Germany by the allied troops.  Japan did not surrender so easily and the United States dropped Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945. The war was over.

World War 2 was arguably the most devastating war in history. The world-wide scale of the war was staggering and the death toll even more so. Though much destruction came from the war, some positive outcomes can be found: the decline of European colonization, the advancement of industry and science, increased respect for women and the formation of the United Nations, an international organization with the goal of preventing another war of the scale of World War 2. The men and women to served in this war are remembered as members of the "great generation". They lived through the worst war there ever was and hopefully will ever be again and were able to rise above the ashes once again to rebuild our world to the state that it is today.
WW2 Memorial in Washington D.C.

I cannot wait to begin my research on World War 2 in London in 14 short days! To have the opportunity to research this topic from the viewpoint of another country then my own is so exciting.

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