WORLD WAR II

In 1945, World War II ended. It was the most terrible war in history. Much of Europe and Asia lay in ruins. About 55 million people had been killed in only six years. More than half of them were civilians (nonmilitary). But many people in many countries felt that they had met and destroyed a great evil. World War II began in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France then declared war on Germany. The United States entered the war in 1941, after Japan bombed a U.S. Navy base in Hawaii. The United States was on the side of Britain and France. AN ANGRY PEACE World War I helped cause World War II. World War I had ended with the defeat of Germany in 1918. Afterward, people in Germany were bitter. They believed that they had been unfairly blamed for the war. They were being made to pay money to victorious Britain and France. They were forbidden to rebuild their army. Japan was bitter too. The Japanese had helped defeat Germany. They felt it was their right to expand their power in Asia. But Britain and the United States blocked them. THE RISE OF DICTATORS In Germany, the Nazis came to power in 1933. Their leader was Adolf Hitler. He blamed Germany’s problems on the Jews. The Nazis admired violence and war. They had no use for democracy. Japan’s government was dominated by its army and navy. By 1940, it had treaties with Italy and Germany. These three countries came to be called the Axis. All three were run by dictators— rulers with total power. In the 1930s, Japan seized parts of China and other Asian countries. Seeing that no one stopped Japan, Italy and Germany decided to expand their territory. Hitler, defying Britain and France, rebuilt Germany’s army. Still no one tried to stop him. In the late 1930s, he took over Austria and Czechoslovakia. On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. World War II had begun. LIGHTNING WAR Germany’s tanks, planes, bombs, and rapid troop movement quickly overwhelmed Poland. This kind of warfare was called blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) because it was so swift. In spring of 1940, Hitler invaded western Europe. Denmark, Norway, Belgium, The Netherlands, and France fell to the blitzkrieg. Hitler was now master of Europe.

The British and Americans led the drive from the west and south. Japanese planes bombed the U. The British were helped by a secret invention. . which spotted German aircraft. D-DAY AND AFTER In 1944. In fierce fighting. They sank or seriously damaged 21 ships. They knew this would mean war with the United States. the Soviet armies stopped the German advance. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. and other Allied forces landed in northern France. 1941. British. On June 22. was expanding its empire in Asia. Germany and Italy controlled much of North Africa. The Soviets pushed into Germany from the east. In November 1942. Hitler wanted to destroy Britain’s air force before invading the country. Then on June 6. 1941. They moved ever closer to Japan. German planes bombed England.S. and Canadian troops invaded Italy. The United States had stopped selling oil and metal to Japan. radar.” Japan.S. Hitler was using most of his forces against the Soviet Union. The United States now joined the Allies (the countries fighting the Axis). So they got in the first blow. American and British planes began bombing Germany from airfields in England. Japanese leaders planned to seize oil fields in Southeast Asia. 1944— known as D-Day—British. U. American. By May 1943. Roosevelt knew that Germany was the more powerful enemy. American.S. On December 7. forces were rolling back the Japanese empire. the Axis armies had fled.Britain remained free. In the Pacific. But most Americans did not want to fight in any “foreign wars. By the end of 1944. Then they started to push the Germans back. Germany never invaded England. the Allies were advancing everywhere. they were within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of Moscow. WAR IN THE PACIFIC In the United States. president Franklin D. meanwhile. But U. they captured island after island in the Pacific. American troops joined the Allies in North Africa. TURNING POINTS Japan had attacked the United States. the Soviet capital. British prime minister Winston Churchill rallied his people to resist. By November. During 1940 and 1941. Hitler had to be defeated first. Now Germany had to fight on two battlefronts—in France and the Soviet Union. In July 1943. Hitler’s armies invaded the Soviet Union. In 1942. most people hated Hitler.

on the city of Nagasaki. Britain and many other nations suffered terrible damage. The United States and the Soviet Union had become the world’s great powers. the Nazis had murdered about 6 million people. Japan still held out. another atomic bomb was dropped. 1945. Neither were Britain and France. Hitler had killed himself a week earlier. The victorious Allies lost four times as many. Japan agreed to surrender. THE WAR ENDS On May 7. 1945. the United States introduced a terrible new weapon. AFTER THE WAR World War II caused enormous destruction. They were preparing to invade Japan itself. In these camps. On August 6. . Axis cities were being heavily bombed by British and American planes. The Americans had captured all the nearby islands. On August 14. more than 20 million died. In the Soviet Union alone. Much of Germany and Japan had to be rebuilt from rubble.By early 1945. Three days later. The Axis suffered about 11 million military and civilian deaths. The world was shocked by Hitler’s death camps. Germany and Japan were no longer military powers after the war. An atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Germany surrendered to the Allies. They included two-thirds of Europe’s Jews.