1945

1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1945th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 945th year of the 2nd millennium, the 45th year of the 20th century, and the 6th year of the 1940s decade. This year also marks the end of the Second World War, the deadliest conflict in human history.

Millennium: 2nd millennium
Centuries:
Decades:
Years:
1945 in various calendars
Gregorian calendar1945
MCMXLV
Ab urbe condita2698
Armenian calendar1394
ԹՎ ՌՅՂԴ
Assyrian calendar6695
Bahá'í calendar101–102
Balinese saka calendar1866–1867
Bengali calendar1352
Berber calendar2895
British Regnal yearGeo. 6 – 10 Geo. 6
Buddhist calendar2489
Burmese calendar1307
Byzantine calendar7453–7454
Chinese calendar甲申(Wood Monkey)
4641 or 4581
    — to —
乙酉年 (Wood Rooster)
4642 or 4582
Coptic calendar1661–1662
Discordian calendar3111
Ethiopian calendar1937–1938
Hebrew calendar5705–5706
Hindu calendars
 - Vikram Samvat2001–2002
 - Shaka Samvat1866–1867
 - Kali Yuga5045–5046
Holocene calendar11945
Igbo calendar945–946
Iranian calendar1323–1324
Islamic calendar1364–1365
Japanese calendarShōwa 20
(昭和20年)
Javanese calendar1875–1876
Juche calendar34
Julian calendarGregorian minus 13 days
Korean calendar4278
Minguo calendarROC 34
民國34年
Nanakshahi calendar477
Thai solar calendar2488
Tibetan calendar阳木猴年
(male Wood-Monkey)
2071 or 1690 or 918
    — to —
阴木鸡年
(female Wood-Rooster)
2072 or 1691 or 919

Events

Below, events of World War II have the "WWII" prefix.

January

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-32279-007, KZ Auschwitz, Eingang
January 27: The Soviet Red Army liberates Auschwitz.

February

Yalta Conference (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) (B&W)
The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, February 4, 1945.
USMC-M-IwoJima-cvr
During the Battle of Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines land on the island, February 19, 1945.

The troopship SS General von Steuben is sunk by the Soviet submarine S-13; 3,608 drown.[4]

March

April

Yamato battleship explosion
The Japanese battleship Yamato explodes after persistent attacks from U.S. aircraft during the Battle of Okinawa, 7 April 1945.
Stars & Stripes & Hitler Dead2
Adolf Hitler, along with his wife Eva Braun, committed suicide on 30 April 1945.

May

Prague liberation 1945 konev
Prague liberated by Red Army in May 1945.
Americans on Okinawa hear of victory in Europe
American soldiers fighting in the Pacific theater listen to radio reports of Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945.
Ww2 158
Marines of 1st Marine Division fighting on Okinawa, May 1945.

June

July

Clement Attlee
26 July – Clement Attlee became British Prime Minister.

August

Nagasakibomb
August 9: The mushroom cloud from the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air.
Shigemitsu-signs-surrender
September 2: Japan signs the Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

September

Zhongshan Warship Tourist Area - Victory memorial - P1540113
August 18: The surrender of the Japanese Army in Central China, 1945-09-18. (Memorial in Wuhan)

October

Flag of the United Nations (1945-1947)
October 24: The United Nations is formed. This was its flag. The modern version is slightly retouched.
Buchenwald Slave Laborers Liberation
October 18: Nuremberg trials begin, after Buchenwald closed.

November

December

Date unknown

Births

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Deaths

January

February

March

Statue de Marcel Callo en l'église Saint Aubin de Rennes
Blessed Marcel Callo

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Nobel Prizes

Nobel medal

References

  1. ^ "ANC-AMurphy". Arlingtoncemetery.org. Archived from the original on September 15, 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  2. ^ "One day they simply weren't there any more..." (PDF). anne frank house. March 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Penicillin Pills May Replace Injection". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 1945-02-16. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  4. ^ "SS General von Steuben [+1945]". WreckSite. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  5. ^ Guinness Book of World Records. 2008. p. 137.
  6. ^ Year by Year – 1945. History International.
  7. ^ Nohlen, Dieter; Stöver, Philip, eds. (2010). Elections in Europe: A data handbook. Baden-Baden: Nomos. p. 1678. ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7.
  8. ^ Mayne, Alan James (1999). From Politics Past to Politics Future: An Integrated Analysis of Current and Emergent Paradigms. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-275-96151-0. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  9. ^ "1945". A WW2 Timeline. Worldwar-2.net. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  10. ^ Smythe, John (1967). Bolo Whistler: The Life of General Sir Lashmer Whistler. London: Muller.
  11. ^ Duncan, George R. "Massacres and Atrocities of World War II". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  12. ^ "Liberatione". Lib.usc.edu. 1945-05-04. Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  13. ^ "Befrielsen 1945 – Tidslinje". Befrielsen1945.dk. 2012-01-02. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  14. ^ Waller, Derek (2010-09-25). "U-Boats that Surrendered". u-boat.net. Retrieved 2014-11-14.
  15. ^ Milcic, Allen. "Croatian Axis Forces in WWII". Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  16. ^ Dizdar, Zdravko (December 2005). "Prilog istraživanju problema Bleiburga i križnih putova (u povodu 60. obljetnice)" [An addition to the research of the problem of Bleiburg and the Way of the Cross (dedicated to their 60th anniversary)]. The Review of Senj (in Croatian). Senj, Croatia: City Museum Senj; Senj Museum Society. 32 (1): 117–193. ISSN 0582-673X. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
  17. ^ Bethell, Nicholas (1974). The Last Secret. London.
  18. ^ Palaich, Michael (1991). "Bleiburg Tragedy". Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  19. ^ a b c d e f "1945 - The Decision to Drop the Bomb". NuclearFiles. Archived from the original on 2010-04-06.
  20. ^ "Brief History (timeline)", AI Topics, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, retrieved 24 August 2016
  21. ^ "1945: Labour landslide buries Churchill". BBC News. April 5, 2005.
  22. ^ Pike, John. "The Soviet Army Offensive: Manchuria, 1945". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  23. ^ Angier, R. B.; Boothe, J. H.; Hutchings, B. L.; Mowat, J. H.; Semb, J.; Stokstad, E. L. R.; Subbarow, Y.; Waller, C. W.; Cosulich, D. B.; Fahrenbach, M. J.; Hultquist, M. E.; Kuh, E.; Northey, E. H.; Seeger, D. R.; Sickels, J. P.; Smith Jr, J. M. (1945). "Synthesis of a Compound Identical with the L. Casei Factor Isolated from Liver". Science. 102 (2644): 227–28. Bibcode:1945Sci...102..227A. doi:10.1126/science.102.2644.227. PMID 17778509.
  24. ^ Hoffbrand, A. V.; Weir, D. G. (2001). "The history of folic acid". British Journal of Haematology. 113 (3): 579–589. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2141.2001.02822.x. PMID 11380441.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Jessup, John E. (1989). A Chronology of Conflict and Resolution, 1945-1985. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-24308-5.
  26. ^ "Discovery of Promethium". Oak Ridge National Laboratory Review. 36 (1). 2003. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-16.

Further reading

  • Ian Buruma. Year Zero: A History of 1945 (Penguin Press; 2013) 368 pages; covers liberation, revenge, decolonization, and the rise of the United Nations.
  • Keith Lowe. Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II (2012) excerpt and text search
  • Walter Yust, ed. 10 Eventful Years, 1937 – 1946 Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1947, 4 vol., encyclopedia yearbook
Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler (German: [ˈadɔlf ˈhɪtlɐ] (listen); 20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; NSDAP). He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Hitler was born in Austria—then part of Austria-Hungary—and was raised near Linz. He moved to Germany in 1913 and was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party (DAP), the precursor of the NSDAP, and was appointed leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923, he attempted to seize power in a failed coup in Munich and was imprisoned. In jail, he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). After his release in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, anti-semitism and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. He frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as part of a Jewish conspiracy.

By July 1932 the Nazi Party was the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, but did not have a majority, and no party was able to form a majority parliamentary coalition in support of a candidate for chancellor. Former chancellor Franz von Papen and other conservative leaders persuaded President Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Shortly after, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as the injustice of the post-World War I international order dominated by Britain and France. His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the abrogation of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I, and the annexation of territories inhabited by millions of ethnic Germans, which gave him significant popular support.

Hitler sought Lebensraum ("living space") for the German people in Eastern Europe, and his aggressive foreign policy is considered the primary cause of World War II in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and, on 1 September 1939, invaded Poland, resulting in Britain and France declaring war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. By the end of 1941, German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa. In December 1941, shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, Hitler declared war on the United States, bringing it directly into the conflict. Failure to defeat the Soviets and the entry of the United States into the war forced Germany onto the defensive and it suffered a series of escalating defeats. In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, he married his longtime lover Eva Braun. Less than two days later, on 30 April 1945, the two committed suicide to avoid capture by the Soviet Red Army; their corpses were burned.

Under Hitler's leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews and millions of other victims who he and his followers deemed Untermenschen (subhumans) or socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. In addition, 28.7 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European theatre. The number of civilians killed during World War II was unprecedented in warfare, and the casualties constitute the deadliest conflict in history.

Allies of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

At the start of the war on 1 September 1939, the Allies consisted of France, Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as their dependent states, such as British India. Within days they were joined by the independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. After the start of the German invasion of North Europe until the Balkan Campaign, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, and Yugoslavia joined the Allies. After first having cooperated with Germany in invading Poland whilst remaining neutral in the Allied-Axis conflict, the Soviet Union perforce joined the Allies in June 1941 after being invaded by Germany. The United States provided war materiel and money all along, and officially joined in December 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. China had already been in a prolonged war with Japan since the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 1937, but officially joined the Allies in 1941.

The alliance was formalised by the Declaration by United Nations, from 1 January 1942. However, the name United Nations was rarely used to describe the Allies during the war. The leaders of the "Big Three"—the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—controlled Allied strategy; relations between the United Kingdom and the United States were especially close. The Big Three together with China were referred as a "trusteeship of the powerful", then were recognized as the Allied "Big Four" in the Declaration by United Nations and later as the "Four Policemen" of the United Nations. After the war ended, the Allied nations became the basis of the modern United Nations.

Members

Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

During the final stage of World War II, the United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively. The United States dropped the bombs after obtaining the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed 129,000–226,000 people, most of whom were civilians. They remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of armed conflict.

In the final year of the war, the Allies prepared for what was anticipated to be a very costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign that devastated 67 Japanese cities. The war in Europe had concluded when Germany signed its instrument of surrender on May 8, 1945. As the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific War, the Japanese faced the same fate. The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945—the alternative being "prompt and utter destruction". The Japanese ignored the ultimatum and the war continued.

By August 1945, the Allies' Manhattan Project had produced two types of atomic bombs, and the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) was equipped with the specialized Silverplate version of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that could deliver them from Tinian in the Mariana Islands. Orders for atomic bombs to be used on four Japanese cities were issued on July 25. On August 6, one of the modified B-29s dropped a uranium gun-type ("Little Boy") bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, on August 9, a plutonium implosion ("Fat Man") bomb was dropped by another B-29 on Nagasaki. The bombs immediately devastated their targets. Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Large numbers of people continued to die from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition, for many months afterward. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.

Japan announced its surrender to the Allies on August 15, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki and the Soviet Union's declaration of war. On September 2, the Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender, effectively ending World War II. The effects of the bombings on the social and political character of subsequent world history and popular culture has been studied extensively, and the ethical and legal justification for the bombings is still debated to this day.

Battle of Berlin

The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, and also known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II.Following the Vistula–Oder Offensive of January–February 1945, the Red Army had temporarily halted on a line 60 km (37 mi) east of Berlin. On 9 March, Germany established its defence plan for the city with Operation Clausewitz. The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were made on 20 March, under the newly appointed commander of Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici.

When the Soviet offensive resumed on 16 April, two Soviet fronts (army groups) attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Red Army encircled the city after successful battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. On 20 April 1945, Hitler's birthday, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin's city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin. On 23 April General Helmuth Weidling assumed command of the forces within Berlin. The garrison consisted of several depleted and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, along with poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Over the course of the next week, the Red Army gradually took the entire city.

Before the battle was over, Hitler and several of his followers killed themselves. The city's garrison surrendered on 2 May but fighting continued to the north-west, west, and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May (9 May in the Soviet Union) as some German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets.

Battle of Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945) was a major battle in which the United States Marine Corps landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during World War II. The American invasion, designated Operation Detachment, had the goal of capturing the entire island, including the three Japanese-controlled airfields (including the South Field and the Central Field), to provide a staging area for attacks on the Japanese main islands. This five-week battle comprised some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting of the Pacific War of World War II.

After the heavy losses incurred in the battle, the strategic value of the island became controversial. It was useless to the U.S. Army as a staging base and useless to the U.S. Navy as a fleet base. However, Navy Seabees rebuilt the landing strips, which were used as emergency landing strips for USAAF B-29s.The IJA positions on the island were heavily fortified, with a dense network of bunkers, hidden artillery positions, and 18 km (11 mi) of underground tunnels. The American ground forces were supported by extensive naval artillery, and had complete air supremacy provided by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators throughout the entire battle.Japanese combat deaths numbered three times the number of American deaths although, uniquely among Pacific War Marine battles, American total casualties (dead and wounded) exceeded those of the Japanese. Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner, some of whom were captured because they had been knocked unconscious or otherwise disabled. The majority of the remainder were killed in action, although it has been estimated that as many as 3,000 continued to resist within the various cave systems for many days afterwards, eventually succumbing to their injuries or surrendering weeks later.Despite the bloody fighting and severe casualties on both sides, the American victory was assured from the start. Overwhelming American superiority in numbers and arms as well as complete air supremacy—coupled with the impossibility of Japanese retreat or reinforcement, along with sparse food and supplies—permitted no plausible circumstance in which the Americans could have lost the battle.Joe Rosenthal's Associated Press photograph of the raising of the U.S. flag on top of the 169 m (554 ft) Mount Suribachi by six U.S. Marines became an iconic image of the battle and the American war effort in the Pacific.

Battle of Okinawa

The Battle of Okinawa (Japanese: 沖縄戦, Hepburn: Okinawa-sen) (Okinawan: 沖縄戦, translit. Uchinaa ikusa), codenamed Operation Iceberg, was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by United States Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. The initial invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945, was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The 82-day battle lasted from April 1 until June 22, 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were planning to use Kadena Air Base on the large island of Okinawa as a base for Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands, 340 mi (550 km) away.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the US Army with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own tactical air force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

The battle has been referred to as the "typhoon of steel" in English, and tetsu no ame ("rain of steel") or tetsu no bōfū ("violent wind of steel") in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of Japanese kamikaze attacks, and the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific, with approximately 160,000 casualties on both sides: at least 75,000 Allied and 84,166–117,000 Japanese, including drafted Okinawans wearing Japanese uniforms. 149,425 Okinawans were killed, committed suicide or went missing, a significant proportion of the estimated pre-war 300,000 local population.In the naval operations surrounding the battle, both sides lost considerable numbers of ships and aircraft, including the Japanese battleship Yamato. After the battle, Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in proximity to Japan in preparation for the planned invasion.

Chinese Civil War

The Chinese Civil War was a war fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led government of the Republic of China and the Communist Party of China (CPC) lasting intermittently between 1927 and 1949. Although particular attention is paid to the four years of Chinese Communist Revolution from 1945 to 1949, the war actually started in August 1927, with the White Terror at the end of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Northern Expedition, and essentially ended when major hostilities between the two sides ceased in 1950. The conflict took place in two stages: the first between 1927 and 1937, and the second from 1946 to 1950, with the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937–1945 being an interlude uniting the two sides. The war marked a major turning point in modern Chinese history, with the Communists gaining control of mainland China and establishing the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, forcing the Republic of China (ROC) to retreat to Taiwan. It resulted in a lasting political and military standoff between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, with the ROC in Taiwan and the PRC in mainland China both officially claiming to be the legitimate government of all China.

The war represented an ideological split between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Nationalist Party of China (or Kuomintang). Conflict continued intermittently until late 1937, when the two parties came together to form the Second United Front to counter the Imperial Japanese Army threat and to prevent the country from crumbling. Full-scale civil war in China resumed in 1946, a year after the end of hostilities with the Empire of Japan in September 1945. Four years later came the cessation of major military activity, with the newly founded People's Republic of China controlling mainland China (including the island of Hainan), and the Republic of China's jurisdiction restricted to Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and several outlying islands.

As of December 2018 no armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed, and the debate continues as to whether the civil war has legally ended. Relations between both sides, officially called the Cross-Strait relations, have been hindered by military threats and political and economic pressure, particularly over Taiwan's political status, with both governments officially adhering to the One-China policy. The PRC still actively claims Taiwan as part of its territory and continues to threaten the ROC with a military invasion if the ROC officially declares independence by changing its name to and gaining international recognition as the "Republic of Taiwan". The ROC, for its part, claims mainland China, and both parties continue the fight over diplomatic recognition. As of 2018 the war as such occurs on the political and economic fronts without actual military action. However, the two separate governments in China have close economic ties.

Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia, or Czecho-Slovakia (; Czech and Slovak: Československo, Česko-Slovensko), was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993.

From 1939 to 1945, following its forced division and partial incorporation into Nazi Germany, the state did not de facto exist but its government-in-exile continued to operate.

From 1948 to 1990, Czechoslovakia was part of the Eastern Bloc with a command economy. Its economic status was formalized in membership of Comecon from 1949 and its defense status in the Warsaw Pact of May 1955. A period of political liberalization in 1968, known as the Prague Spring, was forcibly ended when the Soviet Union, assisted by several other Warsaw Pact countries, invaded. In 1989, as Marxist–Leninist governments and communism were ending all over Europe, Czechoslovaks peacefully deposed their government in the Velvet Revolution; state price controls were removed after a period of preparation. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the two sovereign states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

German Army (1935–1945)

The German Army (German: Heer, German pronunciation: [ˈheːɐ̯], lit. Army) was the land forces component of the Wehrmacht, the regular German Armed Forces, from 1935 until it was demobilized and later dissolved in August 1946. During World War II, a total of about 13 million soldiers served in the German Army. Germany's army personnel were made up of volunteers and conscripts.

Only 17 months after Adolf Hitler announced publicly the rearmament program, the Army reached its projected goal of 36 divisions. During the autumn of 1937 two more corps were formed. In 1938 four additional corps were formed with the inclusion of the five divisions of the Austrian Army after the Anschluss in March. During the period of its expansion under Hitler, the German Army continued to develop concepts pioneered during World War I, combining ground (Heer) and air (Luftwaffe) assets into combined arms forces. Coupled with operational and tactical methods such as encirclements and the "battle of annihilation", the German military managed quick victories in the two initial years of World War II, a new style of warfare described as Blitzkrieg (lightning war) for its speed and destructive power.The infantry remained foot soldiers throughout the war; artillery also remained primarily horse-drawn. The motorized formations received much attention in the world press in the opening years of the war, and were cited as the main reason for the success of the German invasions of Poland (September 1939), Norway and Denmark (April 1940), Belgium, France and Netherlands (May 1940), Yugoslavia (April 1941) and the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941). However their motorized and tank formations accounted for only 20% of the Heer's capacity at their peak strength. The army's lack of trucks (and of petroleum to run them) severely limited infantry movement, especially during and after the Normandy invasion when Allied air-power devastated the French rail network north of the Loire. Panzer movements also depended on rail, since driving a tank long distances wore out its tracks.

Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈluːɪtˌpɔlt ˈhɪmlɐ] (listen); 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron; SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Germany. Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and among those most directly responsible for the Holocaust.

As a member of a reserve battalion during World War I, Himmler did not see active service. He studied agronomy in university, and joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and the SS in 1925. In 1929, he was appointed Reichsführer-SS by Hitler. Over the next 16 years, he developed the SS from a mere 290-man battalion into a million-strong paramilitary group, and, following Hitler's orders, set up and controlled the Nazi concentration camps. He was known for good organisational skills and for selecting highly competent subordinates, such as Reinhard Heydrich in 1931. From 1943 onwards, he was both Chief of German Police and Minister of the Interior, overseeing all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo (Secret State Police). Himmler had a lifelong interest in occultism, interpreting Germanic neopagan and Völkisch beliefs to promote the racial policy of Nazi Germany, and incorporating esoteric symbolism and rituals into the SS.

On Hitler's behalf, Himmler formed the Einsatzgruppen and built extermination camps. As facilitator and overseer of the concentration camps, Himmler directed the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Romani people, and other victims; the total number of civilians killed by the regime is estimated at eleven to fourteen million people. Most of them were Polish and Soviet citizens.

Late in World War II, Hitler briefly appointed him a military commander and later Commander of the Replacement (Home) Army and General Plenipotentiary for the administration of the entire Third Reich (Generalbevollmächtigter für die Verwaltung). Specifically, he was given command of the Army Group Upper Rhine and the Army Group Vistula; he failed to achieve his assigned objectives and Hitler replaced him in these posts. Realising the war was lost, Himmler attempted to open peace talks with the western Allies without Hitler's knowledge, shortly before the end of the war. Hearing of this, Hitler dismissed him from all his posts in April 1945 and ordered his arrest. Himmler attempted to go into hiding, but was detained and then arrested by British forces once his identity became known. While in British custody, he committed suicide on 23 May 1945.

Luftwaffe

The Luftwaffe (German pronunciation: [ˈlʊftvafə] (listen)) was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force.

During the interwar period, German pilots were trained secretly in violation of the treaty at Lipetsk Air Base. With the rise of the Nazi Party and the repudiation of the Versailles Treaty, the Luftwaffe was officially established on 26 February 1935, just over a fortnight before open defiance of the Versailles Treaty through German re-armament and conscription would be announced on March 16. The Condor Legion, a Luftwaffe detachment sent to aid Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, provided the force with a valuable testing ground for new tactics and aircraft. Partially as a result of this combat experience, the Luftwaffe had become one of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced, and battle-experienced air forces in the world when World War II broke out in 1939. By the summer of 1939, the Luftwaffe had twenty-eight Geschwader (wings). The Luftwaffe also operated Fallschirmjäger paratrooper units.

The Luftwaffe proved instrumental in the German victories across Poland and Western Europe in 1939 and 1940. During the Battle of Britain, however, despite inflicting severe damage to the RAF's infrastructure and, during the subsequent Blitz, devastating many British cities, the German air force failed to batter the beleaguered British into submission. From 1942, Allied bombing campaigns gradually destroyed the Luftwaffe's fighter arm. From late 1942, the Luftwaffe used its surplus ground, support and other personnel to raise Luftwaffe Field Divisions. In addition to its service in the West, the Luftwaffe operated over the Soviet Union, North Africa and Southern Europe. Despite its belated use of advanced turbojet and rocket propelled aircraft for the destruction of Allied bombers, the Luftwaffe was overwhelmed by the Allies' superior numbers and improved tactics, and a lack of trained pilots and aviation fuel. In January 1945, during the closing stages of the Battle of the Bulge, the Luftwaffe made a last-ditch effort to win air superiority, and met with failure. With rapidly dwindling supplies of petroleum, oil, and lubricants after this campaign, and as part of the entire combined Wehrmacht military forces as a whole, the Luftwaffe ceased to be an effective fighting force.

After the defeat of Germany, the Luftwaffe was disbanded in 1946. During World War II, German pilots claimed roughly 70,000 aerial victories, while over 75,000 Luftwaffe aircraft were destroyed or significantly damaged. Of these, nearly 40,000 were lost entirely. The Luftwaffe had only two commanders-in-chief throughout its history: Hermann Göring and later Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim for the last two weeks of the war.

The Luftwaffe was deeply involved in Nazi war crimes. By the end of the war, a significant percentage of aircraft production originated in concentration camps, an industry employing tens of thousands of prisoners. The Luftwaffe's demand for labor was one of the factors that led to the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews in 1944. The Luftwaffe High Command organized Nazi human experimentation, and Luftwaffe ground troops committed massacres in Italy, Greece, and Poland.

Member states of the United Nations

The United Nations member states are the 193 sovereign states that are members of the United Nations (UN) and have equal representation in the UN General Assembly. The UN is the world's largest intergovernmental organization.

The criteria for admission of new members to the UN are set out in Chapter II, Article 4 of the UN Charter:

Membership in the United Nations is open to all peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgement of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.

The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.A recommendation for admission from the Security Council requires affirmative votes from at least nine of the council's fifteen members, with none of the five permanent members using their veto power. The Security Council's recommendation must then be approved in the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority vote.In principle, only sovereign states can become UN members, and currently all UN members are sovereign states. Although five members were not sovereign when they joined the UN, all subsequently became fully independent between 1946 and 1991. Because a state can only be admitted to membership in the UN by the approval of the Security Council and the General Assembly, a number of states that are considered sovereign according to the Montevideo Convention are not members of the UN. This is because the UN does not consider them to possess sovereignty, mainly due to the lack of international recognition or due to opposition from one of the permanent members.

In addition to the member states, the UN also invites non-member states to become observers at the UN General Assembly (currently two: the Holy See and Palestine), allowing them to participate and speak in General Assembly meetings, but not vote. Observers are generally intergovernmental organizations and international organizations and entities whose statehood or sovereignty is not precisely defined.

Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich (German Reich) until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich) from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich (Drittes Reich), meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, on 30 January 1933. The NSDAP then began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934 and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the offices and powers of the Chancellery and Presidency. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer (leader) of Germany. All power was centralised in Hitler's person and his word became the highest law. The government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitler's favour. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy. Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen (motorways). The return to economic stability boosted the regime's popularity.

Racism, especially antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime. The Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the master race, the purest branch of the Aryan race. Discrimination and persecution against Jews and Romani people began in earnest after the seizure of power. The first concentration camps were established in March 1933. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, and liberals, socialists, and communists were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. Christian churches and citizens that opposed Hitler's rule were oppressed, and many leaders imprisoned. Education focused on racial biology, population policy, and fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed. Recreation and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, and the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased Germany on the international stage. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, and Hitler's hypnotic oratory to influence public opinion. The government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others.

The Nazi regime dominated neighbours through military threats in the years leading up to war. Nazi Germany made increasingly aggressive territorial demands, threatening war if these were not met. It seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Hitler made a non-aggression pact with Joseph Stalin and invaded Poland in September 1939, launching World War II in Europe. By early 1941, Germany controlled much of Europe. Reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas and a German administration was established in the remainder of Poland. Germany exploited the raw materials and labour of both its occupied territories and its allies. In the Holocaust, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, or shot.

While the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was initially successful, the Soviet resurgence and entry of the US into the war meant the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) lost the initiative on the Eastern Front in 1943 and by late 1944 had been pushed back to the pre-1939 border. Large-scale aerial bombing of Germany escalated in 1944 and the Axis powers were driven back in Eastern and Southern Europe. After the Allied invasion of France, Germany was conquered by the Soviet Union from the east and the other Allies from the west, and capitulated in May 1945. Hitler's refusal to admit defeat led to massive destruction of German infrastructure and additional war-related deaths in the closing months of the war. The victorious Allies initiated a policy of denazification and put many of the surviving Nazi leadership on trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.

Nuremberg trials

The Nuremberg trials (German: Die Nürnberger Prozesse) were a series of military tribunals held by the Allied forces under international law and the laws of war after World War II. The trials were most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, judicial and economic leadership of Nazi Germany, who planned, carried out, or otherwise participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, and their decisions marked a turning point between classical and contemporary international law.

The first and best known of these trials was that of the major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT). It was described as "the greatest trial in history" by Sir Norman Birkett, one of the British judges who presided over them. Held between 20 November 1945 and 1 October 1946, the Tribunal was given the task of trying 24 of the most important political and military leaders of the Third Reich – though the proceeding against Martin Bormann was tried in absentia, while another defendant, Robert Ley, committed suicide within a week of the trial's commencement.

Adolf Hitler, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Hans Krebs and Joseph Goebbels had all committed suicide in the spring of 1945 to avoid capture. Heinrich Himmler attempted to commit suicide, but was captured before he could succeed; he committed suicide one day after being arrested by British forces. Krebs and Burgdorf committed suicide two days after Hitler in the same place. Reinhard Heydrich had been assassinated by Czech partisans in 1942. Josef Terboven killed himself with dynamite in Norway in 1945. Adolf Eichmann fled to Argentina to avoid Allied capture, but was apprehended by Israel's intelligence service (Mossad) and hanged in 1962. Hermann Göring was sentenced to death, but committed suicide by consuming cyanide the night before his execution in defiance of his captors. Miklós Horthy appeared as a witness at the Ministries trial held in Nuremberg in 1948.

This article primarily deals with the first trial, which was conducted by the IMT. Further trials of lesser war criminals were conducted under Control Council Law No. 10 at the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunal (NMT), which included the Doctors' trial and the Judges' Trial.

The categorization of the crimes and the constitution of the court represented a juridical advance that would be used afterwards by the United Nations for the development of a specific international jurisprudence in matters of war crime, crimes against humanity, war of aggression, as well as for the creation of the International Criminal Court.

The Nuremberg indictment also mentions genocide for the first time in international law (Count three, war crimes : "the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian populations of certain occupied territories in order to destroy particular races and classes of people and national, racial, or religious groups, particularly Jews, Poles, and Gypsies and others.")

Second Sino-Japanese War

The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 in which a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalated into a battle.

China fought Japan with aid from the Soviet Union and the United States. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the war merged with other conflicts of World War II as a major sector known as the China Burma India Theater. Some scholars consider the start of the full-scale Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 to have been the beginning of World War II. The Second Sino-Japanese War was the largest Asian war in the 20th century. It accounted for the majority of civilian and military casualties in the Pacific War, with between 10 and 25 million Chinese civilians and over 4 million Chinese and Japanese military personnel dying from war-related violence, famine, and other causes.

The war was the result of a decades-long Japanese imperialist policy to expand its influence politically and militarily in order to secure access to raw material reserves, food, and labor. The period after World War I brought about increasing stress on the Japanese polity. Leftists sought universal suffrage and greater rights for workers. Increasing textile production from Chinese mills was adversely affecting Japanese production. The Great Depression brought about a large slowdown in exports. All of this contributed to militant nationalism, culminating in the rise to power of a militarist fascist faction. This faction was led at its height by the Hideki Tojo cabinet of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association under edict from Emperor Hirohito. In 1931, the Mukden Incident helped spark the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. The Chinese were defeated and Japan created a new puppet state, Manchukuo; many historians cite 1931 as the beginning of the war. The view has been adopted by the PRC government. From 1931 to 1937, China and Japan continued to skirmish in small, localized engagements, so-called "incidents".

Initially the Japanese scored major victories, capturing both Shanghai and the Chinese capital of Nanjing in 1937. After failing to stop the Japanese in the Battle of Wuhan, the Chinese central government was relocated to Chongqing (Chungking) in the Chinese interior. By 1939, after Chinese victories in Changsha and Guangxi, and with Japan's lines of communications stretched deep into the Chinese interior, the war reached a stalemate. The Japanese were also unable to defeat the Chinese communist forces in Shaanxi, which waged a campaign of sabotage and guerrilla warfare against the invaders. While Japan ruled the large cities, they lacked sufficient manpower to control China's vast countryside. During this time, Chinese communist forces launched a counter offensive in Central China while Chinese nationalist forces launched a large scale winter offensive.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the following day the United States declared war on Japan. The United States began to aid China by airlifting material over the Himalayas after the Allied defeat in Burma that closed the Burma Road. In 1944 Japan launched the invasion, Operation Ichi-Go, that conquered Henan and Changsha. However, this failed to bring about the surrender of Chinese forces. In 1945, the Chinese Expeditionary Force resumed its advance in Burma and completed the Ledo Road linking India to China. At the same time, China launched large counteroffensives in South China and retook West Hunan and Guangxi.

Despite continuing to occupy part of China's territory, Japan eventually surrendered on September 2, 1945, to Allied forces following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria. The remaining Japanese occupation forces (excluding Manchuria) formally surrendered on September 9, 1945, with the following International Military Tribunal for the Far East convened on April 29, 1946. At the outcome of the Cairo Conference of November 22–26, 1943, the Allies of World War II decided to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan by restoring all the territories that Japan annexed from China, including Manchuria, Taiwan/Formosa, and the Pescadores, to China, and to expel Japan from the Korean Peninsula. China was recognized as one of the Big Four of the Allies during the war and became one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Surrender of Japan

The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was incapable of conducting major operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent. Together with the British Empire and China, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945—the alternative being "prompt and utter destruction". While publicly stating their intent to fight on to the bitter end, Japan's leaders (the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, also known as the "Big Six") were privately making entreaties to the still-neutral Soviet Union to mediate peace on terms more favorable to the Japanese. Meanwhile, the Soviets were preparing to attack Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea (in addition to South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands) in fulfillment of promises they had secretly made to the United States and the United Kingdom at the Tehran and Yalta Conferences.

On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM local time, the United States detonated an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Sixteen hours later, American President Harry S. Truman called again for Japan's surrender, warning them to "expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth." Late in the evening of August 8, 1945, in accordance with the Yalta agreements, but in violation of the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, and soon after midnight on August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union invaded the Imperial Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Later in the day, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb, this time on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Following these events, Emperor Hirohito intervened and ordered the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War to accept the terms the Allies had set down in the Potsdam Declaration for ending the war. After several more days of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a failed coup d'état, Emperor Hirohito gave a recorded radio address across the Empire on August 15. In the radio address, called the Jewel Voice Broadcast (玉音放送, Gyokuon-hōsō), he announced the surrender of Japan to the Allies.

On August 28, the occupation of Japan led by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers began. The surrender ceremony was held on September 2, aboard the United States Navy battleship USS Missouri, at which officials from the Japanese government signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, thereby ending the hostilities. Allied civilians and military personnel alike celebrated V-J Day, the end of the war; however, isolated soldiers and personnel from Japan's far-flung forces throughout Asia and the Pacific refused to surrender for months and years afterwards, some even refusing into the 1970s. The role of the atomic bombings in Japan's unconditional surrender, and the ethics of the two attacks, is still debated. The state of war formally ended when the Treaty of San Francisco came into force on April 28, 1952. Four more years passed before Japan and the Soviet Union signed the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, which formally brought an end to their state of war.

United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, and is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. In 24 October 1945, at the end of World War II, the organization was established with the aim of preventing future wars. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The UN is the successor of the ineffective League of Nations.

On 25 April 1945, 50 governments met in San Francisco for a conference and started drafting the UN Charter, which was adopted on 25 June 1945 in the San Francisco Opera House, and signed on 26 June 1945 in the Herbst Theatre auditorium in the Veterans War Memorial Building. This charter took effect on 24 October 1945, when the UN began operation.

The UN's mission to preserve world peace was complicated in its early decades during the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union and their respective allies. Its missions have consisted primarily of unarmed military observers and lightly armed troops with primarily monitoring, reporting and confidence-building roles. The organization's membership grew significantly following widespread decolonization which started in the 1960s. Since then, 80 former colonies had gained independence, including 11 trust territories, which were monitored by the Trusteeship Council. By the 1970s its budget for economic and social development programmes far outstripped its spending on peacekeeping. After the end of the Cold War, the UN shifted and expanded its field operations, undertaking a wide variety of complex tasks.The UN has six principal organs: the General Assembly; the Security Council; the Economic and Social Council; the Trusteeship Council; the International Court of Justice; and the UN Secretariat. The UN System agencies include the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, UNESCO, and UNICEF. The UN's most prominent officer is the Secretary-General, an office held by Portuguese politician and diplomat António Guterres since 1 January 2017. Non-governmental organizations may be granted consultative status with ECOSOC and other agencies to participate in the UN's work.

The organization, its officers and its agencies have won many Nobel Peace Prizes.

Other evaluations of the UN's effectiveness have been mixed. Some commentators believe the organization to be an important force for peace and human development, while others have called the organization ineffective, biased, or corrupt.

Wehrmacht

The Wehrmacht (German pronunciation: [ˈveːɐ̯maxt] (listen), lit. defence force) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air force). The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force, fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors. This required the reinstatement of conscription, and massive investment and defense spending on the arms industry.The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics (close cover air-support, tanks, and infantry) to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg (lightning war). Its campaigns in France (1940), the Soviet Union (1941), and North Africa (1941/42) are regarded as acts of boldness. At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow (1941); by late 1942, Germany was losing the initiative in all theatres. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy, doctrine, and logistics readily apparent.Closely cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite later denials and promotion of the myth of the Clean Wehrmacht. The majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy, as part the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare.

During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces (consisting of the Army, Navy and Luftwaffe, the Waffen-SS, the Volkssturm and foreign collaborateur units) had lost approximately 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions. The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes.

World War II

World War II (often abbreviated to WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history. This Eastern Front trapped the Axis, most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U.S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers quickly declared war on the U.S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories.

The Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway; later, Germany and Italy were defeated in North Africa and then, decisively, at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, and Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands.

The war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese.

World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts; the victorious great powers—China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—became the permanent members of its Security Council. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery and expansion. Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity.

World War II casualties

World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. An estimated total 70-85 million people perished, which was about 3% of the 1940 world population (est. 2.3 billion).The tables below give a detailed country-by-country count of human losses. World War II fatality statistics vary, with estimates of total deaths ranging from 70 million to 85 million. Deaths directly caused by the war military and civilians killed are estimated at 50-56 million people,There were an additional estimated 19 to 28 million deaths from war-related disease and famine.

Civilians deaths totaled 50 to 55 million. Military deaths from all causes totaled 21 to 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 5 million prisoners of war. Statistics on the number of military wounded are included whenever available. More than half of the total number of casualties are accounted for by the dead of the Republic of China and of the Soviet Union. The government of the Russian Federation in the 1990s published an estimate of USSR losses at 26.6 million, including 8 to 9 million due to famine and disease. These losses are for the territory of the USSR in the borders of 1946–1991, including territories annexed in 1939–40.

The People's Republic of China as of 2005 estimated the number of Chinese casualties in the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945 are 20 million dead and 15 million wounded.In 2000, the total number of German military dead was estimated at 5.3 million by Rüdiger Overmans of the Military History Research Office (Germany); this number includes 900,000 men conscripted from outside of Germany's 1937 borders, in Austria, and in east-central Europe. Civilian deaths are not included. However, in 2005 the German government put the war dead at 7,395,000 persons (including 4,300,000 military dead and missing) from Germany, Austria, and men conscripted from outside of Germany's 1937 borders.The number of Polish dead are estimated to number between 5.6 and 5.8 million according to the Institute of National Remembrance (2009). Documentation remains fragmentary, but today scholars of independent Poland believe that 1.8 to 1.9 million Polish civilians (non-Jews) and 3 million Jews were victims of German Occupation policies and the war for a total of just under 5 million dead."The Japanese government as of 2005 put the number of Japanese deaths at 3.1 million.

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