A world war is a large-scale war which affects the whole world directly or indirectly. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents or just two countries, with battles fought in many theaters. While a variety of global conflicts have been subjectively deemed "world wars", such as the Cold War and the War on Terror, the term is widely and usually accepted only as it is retrospectively applied to two major international conflicts that occurred during the 20th century: World War I (1914–18) and World War II (1939–45).
The Oxford English Dictionary cited the first known usage in the English language to a Scottish newspaper, The People's Journal, in 1848: "A war among the great powers is now necessarily a world-war." The term "world war" is used by Karl Marx and his associate, Friedrich Engels, in a series of articles published around 1850 called The Class Struggles in France. Rasmus B. Anderson in 1889 described an episode in Teutonic mythology as a “world war” (Swedish: världskrig), justifying this description by a line in an Old Norse epic poem, "Völuspá: folcvig fyrst i heimi" ("The first great war in the world".) German writer August Wilhelm Otto Niemann had used the term "world war" in the title of his anti-British novel, Der Weltkrieg: Deutsche Träume (The World War: German Dreams) in 1904, published in English as The Coming Conquest of England.
In English, the term "First World War" had been used by Charles à Court Repington, as a title for his memoirs (published in 1920); he had noted his discussion on the matter with a Major Johnstone of Harvard University in his diary entry of September 10, 1918.
The term "World War I" was coined by Time magazine on page 28b of its June 12, 1939 issue. In the same article, on page 32, the term "World War II" was first used speculatively to describe the upcoming war. The first use for the actual war came in its issue of September 11, 1939. One week earlier, on September 4, the day after France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, the Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad used the term on its front page, saying "The Second World War broke out yesterday at 11 a.m."
Speculative fiction authors had been noting the concept of a Second World War in 1919 and 1920, when Milo Hastings wrote his dystopian novel, City of Endless Night. Other languages have also adopted the "world war" terminology, for example; in French: "world war" is translated as guerre mondiale, in German: Weltkrieg (which, prior to the war, had been used in the more abstract meaning of a global conflict), in Italian: guerra mondiale, in Spanish and Portuguese: guerra mundial, in Danish and Norwegian: verdenskrig, and in Russian: мировая война (mirovaya voyna.)
World War I occurred from 1914 to 1918. In terms of human technological history, the scale of World War I was enabled by the technological advances of the second industrial revolution and the resulting globalization that allowed global power projection and mass production of military hardware. Wars on such a scale have not been repeated since the onset of the Atomic Age and the resulting danger of mutually-assured destruction. It had been recognized that the complex system of opposing alliances (the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires against the British, Russian, and French Empires) was likely to lead to a worldwide conflict if a war broke out. Due to this fact, a very minute conflict between two countries had the potential to set off a domino effect of alliances, triggering a world war. The fact that the powers involved had large overseas empires virtually guaranteed that such a war would be worldwide, as the colonies' resources would be a crucial strategic factor. The same strategic considerations also ensured that the combatants would strike at each other's colonies, thus spreading the wars far more widely than those of pre-Columbian times.
War crimes were perpetrated in World War I. Chemical weapons were used in the First World War despite the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 having outlawed the use of such weapons in warfare. The Ottoman Empire was responsible for the Armenian genocide, the death of over one million Armenians during the First World War.
The Second World War occurred from 1939 to 1945 and is the only conflict in which atomic bombs have been used. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan, were devastated by atomic bombs dropped by the United States. Nazi Germany was responsible for genocides, most notably the Holocaust, the killing of six million Jews. The United States, the Soviet Union, and Canada deported and interned minority groups within their own borders, and largely because of the conflict, many ethnic Germans were later expelled from Eastern Europe. Japan was responsible for attacking neutral nations without a declaration of war, such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is also known for its brutal treatment and killing of Allied prisoners of war and the inhabitants of Asia. It also used Asians as forced laborers and was responsible for the Nanking massacre where 250,000 civilians in the city were brutally murdered by Japanese troops. Non-combatants suffered at least as badly as or worse than combatants, and the distinction between combatants and non-combatants was often blurred by belligerents of total war in both conflicts.
The outcome of World War II had a profound effect on the course of world history. The old European empires either collapsed or were dismantled as a direct result of the wars' crushing costs and, in some cases, their fall was due to the defeat of imperial powers. The United States became firmly established as the dominant global superpower, along with its ideological foe, the Soviet Union, in close competition. The two superpowers exerted political influence over most of the world's nation-states for decades after the end of the Second World War. The modern international security, economic, and diplomatic system was created in the aftermath of the wars.
Institutions such as the United Nations were established to collectivize international affairs, with the explicit goal of preventing another outbreak of general war. The wars had also greatly changed the course of daily life. Technologies developed during wartime had a profound effect on peacetime life as well, such as by advances in jet aircraft, penicillin, nuclear energy, and electronic computers.
Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War, there has been a widespread and prolonged fear of a potential Third World War between nuclear-armed powers. The Third World War is generally considered a successor to the Second World War and is often suggested to become a nuclear war, devastating in nature and likely much more violent than the First World War and the Second World War combined; in 1947, Albert Einstein commented that "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." It has been anticipated and planned for by military and civil authorities and has been explored in fiction in many countries. Concepts have ranged from purely-conventional scenarios, to limited use of nuclear weapons, to the complete destruction of the planet's surface.
Various former government officials, politicians, authors, and military leaders (including the following people: James Woolsey, Alexandre de Marenches, Eliot Cohen, and Subcomandante Marcos) have attempted to apply the labels of the "Third World War" and "Fourth World War" to various past and present global wars since the closing of the Second World War, for example, the Cold War and the War on Terror, respectively. Among these are former American, French, and Mexican government officials, military leaders, politicians, and authors. Despite their efforts, none of these wars are commonly deemed world wars.
The Second Congo War (1998–2003) involved nine nations and led to ongoing low-level warfare despite an official peace and the first democratic elections in 2006. It has often been referred to as "Africa's World War". During the early-21st century the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War and their worldwide spillovers are sometimes described as proxy wars waged between the United States and Russia, which led some commentators to characterize the situation as a "proto-world war" with nearly a dozen countries embroiled in two overlapping conflicts.
The two world wars of the 20th century had caused unprecedented casualties and destruction across the theaters of conflict. There have been several wars that occurred with as many or more deaths than in the First World War (16,563,868–40,000,000), including:
|An Lushan Rebellion||13,000,000||36,000,000||China||755||763||9|
|Conquests of Timur||15,000,000||20,000,000||Asia||1369||1405||37|
|Qing dynasty conquest of the Ming dynasty||25,000,000||25,000,000||China||1616||1662||47|
|World War II||40,000,000||85,000,000||Global||1939||1945||6|
There have been numerous wars spanning two or more continents throughout history, including:
|Late Bronze Age collapse||Egypt, Anatolia, Syria, Canaan, Cyprus, Greece, Mesopotamia||1200s BCE||1150s BCE||40–50|
|Greco-Persian Wars||Greece, Thrace, Aegean Islands, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Egypt||499 BCE||449 BCE||50|
|Peloponnesian War||Greece, Asia Minor, Sicily||431 BCE||404 BCE||27|
|Wars of Alexander the Great||Thrace, Illyria, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Babylonia, Persia, Afghanistan, Sogdiana, India||335 BCE||323 BCE||12|
|Wars of the Diadochi||Macedon, Greece, Thrace, Anatolia, Levant, Egypt, Babylonia, Persia||322 BCE||275 BCE||47|
|First Punic War||285,000
||400,000||Mediterranean Sea, Sicily, Sardinia, North Africa||264 BCE||241 BCE||23|
|Second Punic War||616,000
||770,000||Italy, Sicily, Hispania, Cisalpine Gaul, Transalpine Gaul, North Africa, Greece||218 BCE||201 BCE||17|
|Roman–Seleucid War||Greece, Asia Minor||192 BCE||188 BCE||4|
|Roman–Persian Wars||Mesopotamia, Syria, Levant, Egypt, Transcaucasus, Atropatene, Asia Minor, Balkans||92 BCE||629 CE||721|
|First Mithridatic War||Asia Minor, Achaea, Aegean Sea||89 BCE||85 BCE||4|
|Great Roman Civil War||Hispania, Italy, Greece, Illyria, Egypt, Africa||49 BCE||45 BCE||4|
|Byzantine–Sassanid wars||Caucasus, Asia Minor, Egypt, Levant, Mesopotamia||502 CE||628 CE||126|
|Muslim conquests||Mesopotamia, Caucasus, Persia, Levant, The Maghreb, Anatolia, Iberia, Gaul, Khorasan, Sindh, Transoxania||622||1258||636|
|Arab–Byzantine wars||Levant, Syria, Egypt, North Africa, Anatolia, Crete, Sicily, Italy||629||1050||421|
|Crusades||1,000,000||3,000,000||Iberian peninsula, Near East, Anatolia, the Levant, Egypt.||1095||1291||197|
|Byzantine–Ottoman Wars||Asia Minor, Balkans||1265||1479||214|
|European colonization of the Americas||2,000,000||100,000,000||Americas||1492||1900||408|
|Ottoman–Habsburg wars||Hungary, Mediterranean, Balkans, North Africa, Malta||1526||1791||265|
|First Anglo-Spanish War||Atlantic Ocean, English Channel, Low Countries, Spain, Spanish Main, Portugal, Cornwall, Ireland, Americas, Azores, Canary islands||1585||1604||19|
|Dutch–Portuguese War||Atlantic Ocean, Brazil, West Africa, Southern Africa, Indian Ocean, India, East Indies, Indochina, China||1602||1663||61|
|Thirty Years' War||3,000,000||11,500,000||Europe, mainly present-day Germany||1618||1648||30|
|Second Anglo-Spanish War||Caribbean, Spain, Canary Islands, Spanish Netherlands||1654||1660||6|
|Nine Years' War||Europe, Ireland, Scotland, North America, South America, Asia||1688||1697||9|
|Europe, North America, South America||1701||1714||13|
|War of the Quadruple Alliance||Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, North America||1718||1720||2|
|Third Anglo-Spanish War||Spain, Panama||1727||1729||2|
|Europe, North America, India||1740||1748||8|
|1,500,000||Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia||1754||1763||9|
|American Revolutionary War||North America, Gibraltar, Balearic Islands, India, Africa, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean||1775||1784||8|
|Europe, Egypt, Middle East, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, Indian Ocean||1792||1802||9|
||7,000,000||Europe, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Río de la Plata, French Guiana, West Indies, Indian Ocean, North America, South Caucasus||1803||1815||13|
|Crimean War||255,000||1,000,000||Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, North America, Southeastern Europe, Black Sea||1853||1856||3|
|22,345,162 (casualties by all wars started in the Cold War with Gulf War, Vietnam War, Korean War, Algerian War, Iran–Iraq War, Nigerian Civil War or Soviet–Afghan War included)||+94,000,000 ( 22 millions of people killed by all civil wars started in Asia, South America and Africa + number of people killed in Asia and Europe by the Communist governments, with casualties of Soviet famine of 1946–47, Cambodian genocide, Cultural Revolution, and Great Leap Forward included)||Global||1947||1991||44|
World War II began last week at 5:20 a. m. (Polish time) Friday, September 1, when a German bombing plane dropped a projectile on Puck, fishing village and air base in the armpit of the Hel Peninsula.
In the 1940s and 1950s conventional wisdom held that the population of the entire hemisphere in 1492 was little more than 8,000,000—with fewer than 1,000,000 people living in the region north of present-day Mexico. Today, few serious students of the subject would put the hemispheric figure at less than 75,000,000 to 100,000,000 (with approximately 8,000,000 to 12,000,000 north of Mexico).
The Allies of World War I or Entente Powers is the term commonly used for the coalition that opposed the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria during the First World War (1914–1918).
By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, the major European powers were divided between the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. The Entente was made up of France, the United Kingdom and Russia. The Triple Alliance was originally composed of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, which remained neutral in 1914.
As the war progressed, each coalition added new members. Japan joined the Entente in 1914. After proclaiming its neutrality at the beginning of the war, Italy also joined the Entente in 1915. The United States joined as an "associated power" rather than an official ally. 'Associated members' included Serbia, Belgium, Greece, Montenegro and Romania.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.Axis powers
The Axis powers (German: Achsenmächte; Italian: Potenze dell'Asse; Japanese: 枢軸国 Sūjikukoku), also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis" (also acronymized as "Roberto"), were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.
The Axis grew out of the diplomatic efforts of Germany, Italy, and Japan to secure their own specific expansionist interests in the mid-1930s. The first step was the treaty signed by Germany and Italy in October 1936. Benito Mussolini declared on 1 November that all other European countries would from then on rotate on the Rome–Berlin axis, thus creating the term "Axis". The almost simultaneous second step was the signing in November 1936 of the Anti-Comintern Pact, an anti-communist treaty between Germany and Japan. Italy joined the Pact in 1937. The "Rome–Berlin Axis" became a military alliance in 1939 under the so-called "Pact of Steel", with the Tripartite Pact of 1940 leading to the integration of the military aims of Germany, Italy and Japan.
At its zenith during World War II, the Axis presided over territories that occupied large parts of Europe, North Africa, and East Asia. There were no three-way summit meetings and cooperation and coordination was minimal, with slightly more between Germany and Italy. The war ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Axis powers and the dissolution of their alliance. As in the case of the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, with some nations switching sides or changing their degree of military involvement over the course of the war.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.Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia.
Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it was the largest (nearly 2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (1.8–2 million killed, wounded or captured) battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses.The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting; both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River.
On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army's flanks. The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army stay in Stalingrad and make no attempt to break out; instead, attempts were made to supply the army by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food. The remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted five months, one week and three days.Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme (French: Bataille de la Somme; German: Schlacht an der Somme), also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the World War I fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. The battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies and was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front. More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. The Battle of the Somme was fought in the traditional style of World War I battles on the Western Front: trench warfare. The trench warfare gave the Germans an advantage because they dug their trenches deeper than the allied forces which gave them a better line of sight for warfare. The Battle of the Somme also has the distinction of being the first battle fought with tanks. However, the tanks were still in the early stages of development, and as a result, many broke down after maxing out at their top speed of 4 miles per hour.
The French and British had committed themselves to an offensive on the Somme during Allied discussions at Chantilly, Oise, in December 1915. The Allies agreed upon a strategy of combined offensives against the Central Powers in 1916, by the French, Russian, British and Italian armies, with the Somme offensive as the Franco-British contribution. Initial plans called for the French army to undertake the main part of the Somme offensive, supported on the northern flank by the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). When the Imperial German Army began the Battle of Verdun on the Meuse on 21 February 1916, French commanders diverted many of the divisions intended for the Somme and the "supporting" attack by the British became the principal effort.
The first day on the Somme (1 July) saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army, which was forced out of its first position by the French Sixth Army, from Foucaucourt-en-Santerre south of the Somme to Maricourt on the north bank, and by the Fourth Army from Maricourt to the vicinity of the Albert–Bapaume road. The first day on the Somme was, in terms of casualties, also the worst day in the history of the British army, which suffered 57,470 casualties. These occurred mainly on the front between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt, where the attack was defeated and few British troops reached the German front line. The British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army; the Territorial Force; and Kitchener's Army, a force of volunteer recruits including many Pals' Battalions, recruited from the same places and occupations.
The battle is notable for the importance of air power and the first use of the tank. At the end of the battle, British and French forces had penetrated 10 km (6 mi) into German-occupied territory, taking more ground than in any of their offensives since the Battle of the Marne in 1914. The Anglo-French armies failed to capture Péronne and halted 5 km (3 mi) from Bapaume, where the German armies maintained their positions over the winter. British attacks in the Ancre valley resumed in January 1917 and forced the Germans into local withdrawals to reserve lines in February, before the scheduled retirement to the Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line) began in March. Debate continues over the necessity, significance and effect of the battle.Causes of World War II
Among the causes of World War II were, to a greater extent, the political takeover in 1933 of Germany by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party and its aggressive foreign policy, and to a lesser extent, Italian Fascism in the 1920s, and Japanese militarism preceding an invasion of China in the 1930s. The immediate cause was Germany invading Poland on September 1, 1939, and Britain and France declaring war on Germany on September 3, 1939.
Problems arose in Weimar Germany that experienced strong currents of revanchism after the Treaty of Versailles that concluded its defeat in World War I in 1918. Dissatisfactions of treaty provisions included the demilitarization of the Rhineland, the prohibition of unification with Austria (including the Sudetenland) and the loss of German-speaking territories such as Danzig and Eupen-Malmedy despite Wilson's Fourteen Points, the limitations on the Reichswehr making it a token military force, the war-guilt clause, and last but not least the heavy tribute that Germany had to pay in the form of war reparations, which became an unbearable burden after the Great Depression. The most serious internal cause in Germany was the instability of the political system, as large sectors of politically active Germans rejected the legitimacy of the Weimar Republic.
After his rise and take-over of power in 1933 to a large part based on these grievances, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis heavily promoted them and also ideas of vastly ambitious additional demands based on Nazi ideology, such as uniting all Germans (and further all Germanic peoples) in Europe in a single nation; the acquisition of "living space" (Lebensraum) for primarily agrarian settlers (Blut und Boden), creating a "pull towards the East" (Drang nach Osten) where such territories were to be found and colonized; the elimination of Bolshevism; and the hegemony of an "Aryan"/"Nordic" so-called Master Race over the "sub-humans" (Untermenschen) of inferior races, chief among them Slavs and Jews.
Tensions created by those ideologies and the dissatisfactions of those powers with the interwar international order steadily increased. Italy laid claim on Ethiopia and conquered it in 1935, Japan created a puppet state in Manchuria in 1931 and expanded beyond in China from 1937, and Germany systematically flouted the Versailles treaty, reintroducing conscription in 1935 with the Stresa Front's failure after having secretly started re-armament, remilitarizing the Rhineland in 1936, annexing Austria in March 1938, and the Sudetenland in October 1938.
All those aggressive moves met only feeble and ineffectual policies of appeasement from the League of Nations and the Entente Cordiale, in retrospect symbolized by the "peace for our time" speech following the Munich Conference, that had allowed the annexation of the Sudeten from interwar Czechoslovakia. When the German Führer broke the promise he had made at that conference to respect that country's future territorial integrity in March 1939 by sending troops into Prague, its capital, breaking off Slovakia as a German client state, and absorbing the rest of it as the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia", Britain and France tried to switch to a policy of deterrence.
As Nazi attentions turned towards resolving the "Polish Corridor Question" during the summer of 1939, Britain and France committed themselves to an alliance with Poland, threatening Germany with a two-front war. On their side, the Germans assured themselves of the support of the USSR by signing a non-aggression pact with them in August, secretly dividing Eastern Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence.
The stage was then set for the Danzig crisis to become the immediate trigger of the war in Europe which started on 1 September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France then gave Germany an ultimatum to withdraw, which Germany ignored, and Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Following the Fall of France in June 1940, the Vichy regime signed an armistice, which tempted the Empire of Japan to join the Axis powers and invade French Indochina to improve their military situation in their war with China. This provoked the then neutral United States to respond with an embargo. The Japanese leadership, whose goal was Japanese domination of the Asia-Pacific, thought they had no option but to pre-emptively strike at the US Pacific fleet, which they did by attacking Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
Meanwhile, Nazi Germany had brought the Soviet Union into the war as an active belligerent by attacking eastwards in Operation Barbarossa (June 1941).Central Powers
The Central Powers (German: Mittelmächte; Hungarian: Központi hatalmak; Turkish: İttifak Devletleri / Bağlaşma Devletleri; Bulgarian: Централни сили, translit. Tsentralni sili), consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria—hence also known as the Quadruple Alliance (German: Vierbund)—was one of the two main coalitions that fought World War I (1914–18).
It faced and was defeated by the Allied Powers that had formed around the Triple Entente. The Powers' origin was the alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1879. Despite having nominally joined the Triple Alliance before, Italy did not take part in World War I on the side of the Central Powers; the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria did not join until after World War I had begun, even though the Ottoman Empire had retained close relations with both Germany and Austria-Hungary since the beginning of the 20th century.Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and noted sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his adventurous lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two non-fiction works. Three of his novels, four short-story collections, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.
Hemingway was raised in Oak Park, Illinois. After high school, he reported for a few months for The Kansas City Star before leaving for the Italian Front to enlist as an ambulance driver in World War I. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms (1929).
In 1921, he married Hadley Richardson, the first of what would be four wives. The couple moved to Paris, where he worked as a foreign correspondent and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the 1920s "Lost Generation" expatriate community. His debut novel, The Sun Also Rises, was published in 1926. After his 1927 divorce from Richardson, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer; they divorced after he returned from the Spanish Civil War, where he had been a journalist. He based For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) on his experience there. Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940; they separated after he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II. He was present at the Normandy landings and the liberation of Paris.
Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea (1952), Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in two successive plane crashes that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life. Hemingway maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida (in the 1930s) and Cuba (in the 1940s and 1950s). In 1959, he bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho, where, in mid-1961, he ended his own life.Gallipoli Campaign
The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale (Turkish: Çanakkale Savaşı), was a campaign of the First World War that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula (Gelibolu in modern Turkey). The Entente powers, Britain and France, sought to weaken the Ottoman Empire by taking control of the straits that provided a supply route to Russia, the third member of the Entente. The invaders launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula, to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The naval attack was repelled and after eight months' fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign was abandoned and the invasion force was withdrawn. It was a costly and humiliating defeat for the Allies and for the sponsors, especially Winston Churchill.
The campaign was a major Ottoman victory in the war. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the history of the state, a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire retreated. Arabs formed a substantial force in the Gallipoli Peninsula being part of the 72nd and 77th regiments. According to several sources, Arabs made up two thirds of the 19th Division under Colonel Mustafa Kemal (Kemal Atatürk). The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the declaration of the Republic of Turkey eight years later, with Kemal, who rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli, as president. The campaign is often considered to be the beginning of Australian and New Zealand national consciousness; 25 April, the anniversary of the landings, is known as "ANZAC Day", the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in the two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).Normandy landings
The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.
Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on D-Day was far from ideal and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable. Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.
The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 US, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled, using specialised tanks.
The Allies failed to achieve any of their goals on the first day. Carentan, St. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold which the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.
Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area now host many visitors each year.Pacific War
The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China (including the 1945 Soviet–Japanese conflict).
The Second Sino-Japanese War between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China had been in progress since 7 July 1937, with hostilities dating back as far as 19 September 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. However, it is more widely accepted that the Pacific War itself began on 7/8 December 1941, when Japan invaded Thailand and attacked the British colonies of Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong as well as the United States military and naval bases in Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines.The Pacific War saw the Allies pitted against Japan, the latter aided by Thailand and to a much lesser extent by the Axis allied Germany and Italy. The war culminated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other large aerial bomb attacks by the Allies, accompanied by the Soviet declaration of war and invasion of Manchuria on 9 August 1945, resulting in the Japanese announcement of intent to surrender on 15 August 1945. The formal surrender of Japan ceremony took place aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. After the war, Japan lost all rights and titles to its former possessions in Asia and the Pacific, and its sovereignty was limited to the four main home islands. Japan's Shinto Emperor was forced to relinquish much of his authority and his divine status through the Shinto Directive in order to pave the way for extensive cultural and political reforms.U-boat
U-boat is an anglicised version of the German word U-Boot [ˈuːboːt] (listen), a shortening of Unterseeboot, literally "underseaboat." While the German term refers to any submarine, the English one (in common with several other languages) refers specifically to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First and Second World Wars. Although at times they were efficient fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, they were most effectively used in an economic warfare role (commerce raiding) and enforcing a naval blockade against enemy shipping. The primary targets of the U-boat campaigns in both wars were the merchant convoys bringing supplies from Canada and other parts of the British Empire, and from the United States to the United Kingdom and (during the Second World War) to the Soviet Union and the Allied territories in the Mediterranean. German submarines also destroyed Brazilian merchant ships during World War II, causing Brazil to declare war on the Axis powers in 1944.
Austro-Hungarian Navy submarines were also known as U-boats.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 of 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.Western Front (World War I)
The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918.
Between 1915 and 1917 there were several offensives along this front. The attacks employed massive artillery bombardments and massed infantry advances. Entrenchments, machine gun emplacements, barbed wire and artillery repeatedly inflicted severe casualties during attacks and counter-attacks and no significant advances were made. Among the most costly of these offensives were the Battle of Verdun, in 1916, with a combined 700,000 casualties (estimated), the Battle of the Somme, also in 1916, with more than a million casualties (estimated), and the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres), in 1917, with 487,000 casualties (estimated).To break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front, both sides tried new military technology, including poison gas, aircraft and tanks. The adoption of better tactics and the cumulative weakening of the armies in the west led to the return of mobility in 1918. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 was made possible by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that ended the war of the Central Powers against Russia and Romania on the Eastern Front. Using short, intense "hurricane" bombardments and infiltration tactics, the German armies moved nearly 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the west, the deepest advance by either side since 1914, but the result was indecisive.
The inexorable advance of the Allied armies during the second half of 1918 caused a sudden collapse of the German armies and persuaded the German commanders that defeat was inevitable. The German government surrendered in the Armistice of 11 November 1918, and the terms of peace were settled by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.World War I
World War I (often abbreviated as WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, and the two moved to a war footing.
A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe. By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France, Russia and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy (the Triple Alliance was primarily defensive in nature, allowing Italy to stay out of the war in 1914). Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and, after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved. General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; on the 31st, Austria-Hungary and Germany did the same, while Germany demanded Russia demobilise within 12 hours. When Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th; France ordered full mobilisation in support of Russia on 2 August.German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to rapidly concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks, then shift forces to the East before Russia could fully mobilise; this was later known as the Schlieffen Plan. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France. When this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day; the Belgian government invoked the 1839 Treaty of London and in compliance with its obligations under this, Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August. On 12 August, Britain and France also declared war on Austria-Hungary; on the 23rd, Japan sided with the Entente, seizing German possessions in China and the Pacific. In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Alliance, opening fronts in the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in and drew upon each powers' colonial empires as well, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe. The Entente and its allies would eventually become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary, Germany and their allies would become known as the Central Powers.
The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917 (the Eastern Front, by contrast, was marked by much greater exchanges of territory). In 1915, Italy joined the Allied Powers and opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans. The United States initially remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade effectively prevented the Germans from doing the same the U.S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies. Eventually, after the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, and the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U.S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces would not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but ultimately the American Expeditionary Force would reach some two million troops.Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, and Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918. The 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, and the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive. This offensive was initially successful, but the Allies rallied and drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated, signing the Armistice of Mudros. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti. With its allies defeated, revolution at home, and the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918.
World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural, economic, and social climate of the world. The war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous revolutions and uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, France, the United States, and Italy) imposed their terms on the defeated powers in a series of treaties agreed at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the most well known being the German peace treaty—the Treaty of Versailles. Ultimately, as a result of the war the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian Empires ceased to exist, with numerous new states created from their remains. However, despite the conclusive Allied victory (and the creation of the League of Nations during the Peace Conference, intended to prevent future wars), a Second World War would follow just over twenty years later.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 III
World War III (WWIII or WW3) and the Third World War are names given to a hypothetical third worldwide large-scale military conflict subsequent to World War I and World War II. The term has been in use since at least as early as 1941. Some have applied it loosely to refer to limited or smaller conflicts such as the Cold War or the War on Terror, while others assumed that such a conflict would surpass prior world wars both in its scope and its destructive impact.Because of the development and use of nuclear weapons near the end of World War II and their subsequent acquisition and deployment by many countries, the potential risk of a nuclear devastation of Earth's civilization and life is a common theme in speculations about a Third World War. Another major concern is that biological warfare could cause a very large number of casualties, either intentionally or inadvertently by an accidental release of a biological agent, the unexpected mutation of an agent, or its adaptation to other species after use. High-scale apocalyptic events like these, caused by advanced technology used for destruction, could potentially make the Earth's surface uninhabitable.
Prior to the beginning of the Second World War, the First World War (1914–1918) was believed to have been "the war to end all wars," as it was popularly believed that never again could there possibly be a global conflict of such magnitude. During the Interwar period between the two world wars, WWI was typically referred to simply as "The Great War." The outbreak of World War II in 1939 disproved the hope that mankind might have already "outgrown" the need for such widespread global wars.
With the advent of the Cold War in 1945 and with the spread of nuclear weapons technology to the Soviet Union, the possibility of a third global conflict became more plausible. During the Cold War years, the possibility of a Third World War was anticipated and planned for by military and civil authorities in many countries. Scenarios ranged from conventional warfare to limited or total nuclear warfare. At the height of the Cold War, a scenario referred to as Mutually Assured Destruction ("MAD") had been calculated which determined that an all-out nuclear confrontation would most certainly destroy all or nearly all human life on the planet. The potential absolute destruction of the human race may have contributed to the ability of both American and Soviet leaders to avoid such a scenario.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.