World War II

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World War II,

1939–45, worldwide conflict involving every major power in the world. The two sides were generally known as the Allies and the AxisAxis,
coalition of countries headed by Germany, Italy, and Japan, 1936–45 (see World War II). The expression "Rome-Berlin axis" originated in Oct., 1936, with an accord reached by Hitler and Mussolini. The Axis was solidified by an Italo-German alliance in May, 1939.
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Causes and Outbreak

This second global conflict resulted from the rise of totalitarian, militaristic regimes in Germany, Italy, and Japan, a phenomenon stemming in part from the Great DepressionGreat Depression,
in U.S. history, the severe economic crisis generally considered to have been precipitated by the U.S. stock-market crash of 1929. Although it shared the basic characteristics of other such crises (see depression), the Great Depression was unprecedented in its
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 that swept over the world in the early 1930s and from the conditions created by the peace settlements (1919–20) following World War IWorld War I,
1914–18, also known as the Great War, conflict, chiefly in Europe, among most of the great Western powers. It was the largest war the world had yet seen.
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After World War I, defeated Germany, disappointed Italy, and ambitious Japan were anxious to regain or increase their power; all three eventually adopted forms of dictatorship (see National SocialismNational Socialism
or Nazism,
doctrines and policies of the National Socialist German Workers' party, which ruled Germany under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1945.
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 and fascismfascism
, totalitarian philosophy of government that glorifies the state and nation and assigns to the state control over every aspect of national life. The name was first used by the party started by Benito Mussolini, who ruled Italy from 1922 until the Italian defeat in World
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) that made the state supreme and called for expansion at the expense of neighboring countries. These three countries also set themselves up as champions against Communism, thus gaining at least partial tolerance of their early actions from the more conservative groups in the Western democracies. Also important was a desire for peace on the part of the democracies, which resulted in their military unpreparedness. Finally, the League of NationsLeague of Nations,
former international organization, established by the peace treaties that ended World War I. Like its successor, the United Nations, its purpose was the promotion of international peace and security.
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, weakened from the start by the defection of the United States, was unable to promote disarmament (see Disarmament ConferenceDisarmament Conference,
1932–37, meeting for the discussion of general disarmament. The first systematic efforts to limit armaments on an international scale, in either a quantitative or a qualitative sense, occurred at the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907.
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); moreover, the long economic depression sharpened national rivalries, increased fear and distrust, and made the masses susceptible to the promises of demagogues.

The failure of the League to stop the Second Sino-Japanese WarSino-Japanese War, Second,
1937–45, conflict between Japanese and Chinese forces for control of the Chinese mainland. The war sapped the Nationalist government's strength while allowing the Communists to gain control over large areas through organization of guerrilla units.
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 in 1931 was followed by a rising crescendo of treaty violations and acts of aggression. Adolf HitlerHitler, Adolf
, 1889–1945, founder and leader of National Socialism (Nazism), and German dictator, b. Braunau in Upper Austria. Early Life

The son of Alois Hitler (1837–1903), an Austrian customs official, Adolf Hitler dropped out of high school, and
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, when he rose to power (1933) in Germany, recreated the German army and prepared it for a war of conquest; in 1936 he remilitarized the Rhineland. Benito MussoliniMussolini, Benito
, 1883–1945, Italian dictator and leader of the Fascist movement. Early Career

His father, an ardent Socialist, was a blacksmith; his mother was a teacher.
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 conquered (1935–36) Ethiopia for Italy; and from 1936 to 1939 the Spanish civil warSpanish civil war,
1936–39, conflict in which the conservative and traditionalist forces in Spain rose against and finally overthrew the second Spanish republic. The Second Republic
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 raged, with Germany and Italy helping the fascist forces of Francisco FrancoFranco, Francisco
, 1892–1975, Spanish general and caudillo [leader]. He became a general at the age of 32 after commanding the Spanish Foreign Legion in Morocco.
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 to victory. In Mar., 1938, Germany annexed Austria, and in Sept., 1938, the British and French policy of appeasement toward the Axis reached its height with the sacrifice of much of Czechoslovakia to Germany in the Munich PactMunich Pact,
1938. In the summer of 1938, Chancellor Hitler of Germany began openly to support the demands of Germans living in the Sudetenland (see Sudetes) of Czechoslovakia for an improved status. In September, Hitler demanded self-determination for the Sudetenland.
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When Germany occupied (Mar., 1939) all of Czechoslovakia, and when Italy seized (Apr., 1939) Albania, Great Britain and France abandoned their policy of appeasement and set about creating an "antiaggression" front, which included alliances with Turkey, Greece, Romania, and Poland, and speeding rearmament. Germany and Italy signed (May, 1939) a full military alliance, and after the Soviet-German nonaggression pact (Aug., 1939) removed German fear of a possible two-front war, Germany was ready to launch an attack on Poland.

World War II began on Sept. 1, 1939, when Germany, without a declaration of war, invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany on Sept. 3, and all the members of the Commonwealth of Nations, except Ireland, rapidly followed suit. The fighting in Poland was brief. The German blitzkrieg, or lightning war, with its use of new techniques of mechanized and air warfare, crushed the Polish defenses, and the conquest was almost complete when Soviet forces entered (Sept. 17) E Poland. While this campaign ended with the partition of Poland and while the USSR defeated Finland in the Finnish-Russian WarFinnish-Russian War,
1939–40, war between Finland and the Soviet Union. After World War II broke out in Sept., 1939, the USSR, never on cordial terms with Finland, took advantage of its nonaggression pact (Aug.
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 (1939–40), the British and the French spent an inactive winter behind the Maginot LineMaginot Line
, system of fortifications along the eastern frontier of France, extending from the Swiss border to the Belgian. It was named for André Maginot, who was French minister of war (1929–32) and who directed its construction.
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, content with blockading Germany by sea.

From Norway to Moscow

The inactive period ended with the surprise invasion (Apr. 9, 1940) of Denmark and Norway by the Germans. Denmark offered no resistance; Norway was conquered by June 9. On May 10, German forces overran Luxembourg and invaded the Netherlands and Belgium; on May 13 they outflanked the Maginot Line. Their armored columns raced to the English Channel and cut off Flanders, and Allied forces were evacuated from DunkirkDunkirk
, Fr. Dunkerque, town (1990 pop. 71,071), Nord dept., N France, on the North Sea. It is a leading French port with daily ferry service to Ramsgate and Dover, England.
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 (May 26–June 4). General WeygandWeygand, Maxime
, 1867–1965, French general, b. Belgium. A career army officer, he was (1914–23) chief of staff to Marshal Foch, and in 1920 he directed the defense of Warsaw against the Soviet army and turned the tide of the Russo-Polish War in favor of Poland.
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 had replaced General GamelinGamelin, Maurice Gustave
, 1872–1958, French army officer. During World War I he served on General Joffre's staff and as a division commander. He was made chief of the French general staff (1931) and chief of staff of national defense (1938).
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 as supreme Allied commander, but was unable to stop the Allied debacle in the "battle of France." On June 22, France signed an armistice with Germany, followed by an armistice with Italy, which had entered the war on June 10. The VichyVichy
, city (1990 pop. 28,048), Allier dept., central France, on the Allier River. Vichy's hot mineral springs made it one of the foremost spas in Europe, with a casino (now a convention center) and grand hotels.
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 government was set up in France under Marshal PétainPétain, Henri Philippe
, 1856–1951, French army officer, head of state of the Vichy government (see under Vichy). In World War I he halted the Germans at Verdun (1916), thus becoming the most beloved French military hero of that conflict.
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. Britain, the only remaining Allied power, resisted, under the inspiring leadership of Winston ChurchillChurchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer,
1874–1965, British statesman, soldier, and author; son of Lord Randolph Churchill. Early Career

Educated at Harrow and Sandhurst, he became (1894) an officer in the 4th hussars.
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, the German attempt to bomb it into submission.

While Germany was receiving its first setback in the Battle of BritainBattle of Britain,
in World War II, series of air battles between Great Britain and Germany, fought over Britain from Aug. to Oct., 1940. As a prelude to a planned invasion of England, the German Luftwaffe attacked British coastal defenses, radar stations, and shipping. On Aug.
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, fought entirely in the air, the theater of war was widened by the Italian attack on the British in North Africa (see North Africa, campaigns inNorth Africa, campaigns in,
series of military contests for control of North Africa during World War II. The desert war started in 1940 and for more than two years thereafter seesawed between NE Libya and NW Egypt.
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, by the Italian invasion (Oct. 28, 1940) of Greece, and by German submarine warfare in the Atlantic Ocean. Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria joined the Axis late in 1940, but Yugoslavia resisted German pressure, and on Apr. 6, 1941, Germany launched attacks on Yugoslavia and Greece and won rapid victories. In May, Crete fell.

Great Britain gained a new ally on June 22, 1941, when Germany (joined by Italy, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Finland), invaded the Soviet Union. By Dec., 1941, German mechanized divisions had destroyed a substantial part of the Soviet army and had overrun much of European Russia. However, the harsh Russian winter halted the German sweep, and the drive on Moscow was foiled by a Soviet counteroffensive.

War Comes to the United States

Though determined to maintain its neutrality, the United States was gradually drawn closer to the war by the force of events. To save Britain from collapse the Congress voted lend-leaselend-lease,
arrangement for the transfer of war supplies, including food, machinery, and services, to nations whose defense was considered vital to the defense of the United States in World War II. The Lend-Lease Act, passed (1941) by the U.S.
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 aid early in 1941. In Aug., 1941, President Franklin Delano RooseveltRoosevelt, Franklin Delano
, 1882–1945, 32d President of the United States (1933–45), b. Hyde Park, N.Y. Early Life

Through both his father, James Roosevelt, and his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, he came of old, wealthy families.
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 met Churchill on the high seas, and together they formulated the Atlantic CharterAtlantic Charter
, joint program of peace aims, enunciated by Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States on Aug. 14, 1941.
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 as a general statement of democratic aims. To establish bases to protect its shipping from attacks by German submarines, the United States occupied (Apr., 1941) Greenland and later shared in the occupation of Iceland; despite repeated warnings, the attacks continued. Relations with Germany became increasingly strained, and the aggressive acts of Japan in China, Indochina, and Thailand provoked protests from the United States.

Efforts to reach a peaceful settlement were ended on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan without warning attacked Pearl HarborPearl Harbor,
land-locked harbor, on the southern coast of Oahu island, Hawaii, W of Honolulu; one of the largest and best natural harbors in the E Pacific Ocean. In the vicinity are many U.S. military installations, including Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam (a merger of U.
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, the Philippines, and Malaya. War was declared (Dec. 8) on Japan by the United States, the Commonwealth of Nations (except Ireland), and the Netherlands. Within a few days Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

The first phase of the war in the Pacific was disastrous for the Allies. Japan swiftly conquered the Philippines (where strong resistance ended at Corregidor), Malaya, Burma (Myanmar), Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), and many Pacific islands; destroyed an Allied fleet in the Java Sea; and reached, by mid-1942, its furthest points of advance in the Aleutian Islands and New Guinea.

Australia became the chief Allied base for the countermoves against Japan, directed by Gen. Douglas MacArthurMacArthur, Douglas,
1880–1964, American general, b. Little Rock, Ark.; son of Arthur MacArthur. Early Career

MacArthur was reared on army posts and attended military school in Texas.
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, Admiral NimitzNimitz, Chester William
, 1885–1966, American admiral, b. Fredericksburg, Tex. A graduate of Annapolis, he was chief of staff to the commander of the submarine force of the Atlantic Fleet in World War I.
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, and Admiral HalseyHalsey, William Frederick, Jr.
(Bull Halsey) , 1882–1959, American admiral, b. Elizabeth, N.J., grad. Annapolis, 1904. In World War II he led (Jan., 1942) a spectacular carrier raid against the Marshall Islands and Gilbert Islands, and during the campaign in the Solomon
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. The first Allied naval successes against Japan were scored in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, where U.S. bombers knocked out the major part of Japan's carrier fleet and forced Japan into retreat. Midway was the first decisive blow against the Axis by Allied forces. On land the Allies took the offensive in New Guinea and landed (Aug. 7, 1942) on GuadalcanalGuadalcanal
, volcanic island (2009 pop. 93,613), c.2,510 sq mi (6,500 sq km), South Pacific, largest of the Solomon Islands. Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, is there. The island is largely jungle. Mt. Makarakombou rises to 8,028 ft (2,447 m).
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 in the Solomon Islands.

The Turning Point

Despite the slightly improved position in the Pacific, the late summer of 1942 was perhaps the darkest period of the war for the Allies. In North Africa, the Axis forces under Field Marshal RommelRommel, Erwin
, 1891–1944, German field marshal. He entered the army in 1910 and rose slowly through the ranks. In 1939, Adolf Hitler made him a general. Rommel brilliantly commanded an armored division in the attack (1940) on France. In Feb.
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 were sweeping into Egypt; in Russia, they had penetrated the Caucasus and launched a gigantic offensive against Stalingrad (see VolgogradVolgograd
, formerly Stalingrad,
city (1989 pop. 999,000), capital of Volgograd region, SE European Russia, a port on the Volga River and the eastern terminus of the Volga-Don Canal. As a transshipment point, the port handles oil, coal, ore, lumber, and fish.
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). In the Atlantic, even to the shores of the United States and in the Gulf of Mexico, German submarines were sinking Allied shipping at an unprecedented rate.

Yet the Axis war machine showed signs of wear, while the United States was merely beginning to realize its potential, and Russia had huge reserves and was receiving U.S. lend-lease aid through Iran and the port of Murmansk. The major blow, however, was leveled at the Axis by Britain, when General MontgomeryMontgomery, Bernard Law, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
, 1887–1976, British field marshal. Educated at Sandhurst, he entered the army in 1908 and served in World War I.
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 routed Rommel at AlameinAlamein, El
or Al Alamayn
, town, N Egypt, on the Mediterranean Sea. It was the site of a decisive British victory in World War II (see North Africa, campaigns in).
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 in North Africa (Oct., 1942). This was followed by the American invasion of Algeria (Nov. 8, 1942); the Americans and British were joined by Free French forces of General de Gaullede Gaulle, Charles
, 1890–1970, French general and statesman, first president (1959–69) of the Fifth Republic. The World Wars

During World War I de Gaulle served with distinction until his capture in 1916. In The Army of the Future (1934, tr.
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 and by regular French forces that had passed to the Allies after the surrender of Admiral DarlanDarlan, Jean François
, 1881–1942, French admiral. A career naval officer, he became commander of the French navy in 1939 and joined the Vichy government (see under Vichy) in 1940 as minister of the navy. After the fall of Pierre Laval, Darlan was made (Feb.
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. After heavy fighting in Tunisia, North Africa was cleared of Axis forces by May 12, 1943.

Meantime, in the Soviet stand at Stalingrad and counteroffensive resulted in the surrender (Feb. 2, 1943) of the German 6th Army, followed by nearly uninterrupted Russian advances. In the Mediterranean, the Allies followed up their African victory by the conquest of Sicily (July–Aug., 1943) and the invasion of Italy, which surrendered on Sept. 8. However, the German army in Italy fought bloody rearguard actions, and Rome fell (June 4, 1944) only after the battles of Monte CassinoMonte Cassino
, monastery, in Latium, central Italy, E of the Rapido River. Situated on a hill (1,674 ft/510 m) overlooking Cassino, it was founded c.529 by St. Benedict of Nursia, whose rule became that of all Benedictine houses in the world.
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 and AnzioAnzio
, Lat. Antium, town (1991 pop. 33,497), in Latium, central Italy, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a seaside resort with a fishing industry. A Volscian town, it was captured by Rome in 341 B.C. and became a favorite resort of the Romans.
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. In the Atlantic, the submarine threat was virtually ended by the summer of 1944. Throughout German-occupied Europe, underground forces, largely supplied by the Allies, began to wage war against their oppressors.

The Allies, who had signed (Jan. 1, 1942) the United NationsUnited Nations
(UN), international organization established immediately after World War II. It replaced the League of Nations. In 1945, when the UN was founded, there were 51 members; 193 nations are now members of the organization (see table entitled United Nations Members).
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 declaration, were drawn closer together militarily by the Casablanca ConferenceCasablanca Conference,
Jan. 14–24, 1943, World War II meeting of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at Casablanca, French Morocco.
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, at which they pledged to continue the war until the unconditional surrender of the Axis, and by the Moscow ConferencesMoscow Conferences,
meetings held between 1941 and 1947 at Moscow, USSR. At a conference in Sept.–Oct., 1941, American and British representatives laid the basis for lend-lease aid to the USSR in World War II. In Aug., 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and W.
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, the Quebec ConferenceQuebec Conference,
name of two meetings held in Quebec, Canada, in World War II. The first meeting (Aug., 1943) was attended by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, Prime Minister W. L.
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, the Cairo ConferenceCairo Conference,
Nov. 22–26, 1943, World War II meeting of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of China at Cairo, Egypt.
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, and the Tehran ConferenceTehran Conference,
Nov. 28–Dec. 1, 1943, meeting of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin at Tehran, Iran.
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. The invasion of German-held France was decided upon, and Gen. Dwight D. EisenhowerEisenhower, Dwight David
, 1890–1969, American general and 34th President of the United States, b. Denison, Tex.; his nickname was "Ike." Early Career

When he was two years old, his family moved to Abilene, Kans., where he was reared.
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 was put in charge of the operation.

Allied Victory in Europe

By the beginning of 1944 air warfare had turned overwhelmingly in favor of the Allies, who wrought unprecedented destruction on many German cities and on transport and industries throughout German-held Europe. This air offensive prepared the way for the landing (June 6, 1944) of the Allies in N France (see Normandy campaignNormandy campaign,
June to Aug., 1944, in World War II. The Allied invasion of the European continent through Normandy began about 12:15 AM on June 6, 1944 (D-day). The plan, known as Operation Overlord, had been prepared since 1943; supreme command over its execution was
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) and a secondary landing (Aug. 15) in S France. After heavy fighting in Normandy, Allied armored divisions raced to the Rhine, clearing most of France and Belgium of German forces by Oct., 1944. The use of V-1 and V-2 rockets by the Germans proved as futile an effort as their counteroffensive in Belgium under General von RundstedtRundstedt, Karl Rudolf Gerd von
, 1875–1953, German field marshal. He proved his exceptional abilities in World War I. In World War II he commanded in the Polish campaign (1939), in the French campaign (1940), and in Russia (June–Dec., 1941). From Mar., 1942, to Mar.
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 (see Battle of the BulgeBattle of the Bulge,
popular name in World War II for the German counterattack in the Ardennes, Dec., 1944–Jan., 1945. More than a million men fought in what is also known as the Battle of the Ardennes. On Dec.
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On the Eastern Front Soviet armies swept (1944) through the Baltic States, E Poland, Belorussia, and Ukraine and forced the capitulation of Romania (Aug. 23), Finland (Sept. 4), and Bulgaria (Sept. 10). Having evacuated the Balkan Peninsula, the Germans resisted in Hungary until Feb., 1945, but Germany itself was pressed. The Russians entered East Prussia and Czechoslovakia (Jan., 1945) and took E Germany to the Oder.

On Mar. 7 the Western Allies—whose chief commanders in the field were Omar N. BradleyBradley, Omar Nelson,
1893–1981, U.S. general, b. Clark, Mo. A graduate of West Point, he served in World War I and filled various army administrative and academic posts before assuming (1943) command of the 2d Corps in World War II.
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 and Montgomery—crossed the Rhine after having smashed through the strongly fortified Siegfried Line and overran W Germany. German collapse came after the meeting (Apr. 25) of the Western and Russian armies at Torgau in Saxony, and after Hitler's death amid the ruins of Berlin, which was falling to the Russians under marshals ZhukovZhukov, Georgi Konstantinovich
, 1896–1974, Soviet marshal. He fought in the October Revolution (1917) and in the civil war (1918–20), which brought the Bolsheviks to power, and saw action against the Japanese on the Manchurian border (1938–39) and in the
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 and KonevKonev, Ivan Stepanovich
, 1897–1973, Soviet field marshal. In World War II he reconquered (1944–45) Ukraine and S Poland from the Germans, took Silesia, and participated in the conquest of Czechoslovakia and the capture of Berlin.
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. The unconditional surrender of Germany was signed at Reims on May 7 and ratified at Berlin on May 8.

Allied Victory in the Pacific

After the completion of the campaigns in the Solomon Islands (late 1943) and New Guinea (1944), the Allied advance moved inexorably, in two lines that converged on Japan, through scattered island groups—the Philippines, the Mariana Islands, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. Japan, with most of its navy sunk, staggered beneath these blows. At the Yalta ConferenceYalta Conference,
meeting (Feb. 4–11, 1945), at Yalta, Crimea, USSR, of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.
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, the USSR secretly promised its aid against Japan, which still refused to surrender even after the Allied appeal made at the Potsdam ConferencePotsdam Conference,
meeting (July 17–Aug. 2, 1945) of the principal Allies in World War II (the United States, the USSR, and Great Britain) to clarify and implement agreements previously reached at the Yalta Conference.
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. On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States first used the atomic bombatomic bomb
or A-bomb,
weapon deriving its explosive force from the release of nuclear energy through the fission (splitting) of heavy atomic nuclei. The first atomic bomb was produced at the Los Alamos, N.Mex., laboratory and successfully tested on July 16, 1945.
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 and devastated HiroshimaHiroshima
, city (1990 pop. 1,085,705), capital of Hiroshima prefecture, SW Honshu, Japan, on Hiroshima Bay. It is an important commercial and industrial center manufacturing trucks, ships, automobiles, steel, rubber, furniture, and canned foods.
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; on Aug. 9, the second bomb was dropped on NagasakiNagasaki
, city (1990 pop. 444,599), capital of Nagasaki prefecture, W Kyushu, Japan, on Nagasaki Bay. It is one of Japan's leading ports. Shipbuilding is the chief industry; machinery and electronics manufacturing and fishing are also important.
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. The USSR had already invaded Manchuria. On Aug. 14, Japan announced its surrender, formally signed aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2.

Aftermath and Reckoning

Although hostilities came to an end in Sept., 1945, a new world crisis caused by the postwar conflict between the USSR and the United States—the two chief powers to emerge from the war—made settlement difficult. By Mar., 1950, peace treaties had been signed with Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Finland; in 1951, the Allies (except the USSR) signed a treaty with Japan, and, in 1955, Austria was restored to sovereignty. Germany, however, remained divided—first between the Western powers and the USSR, then (until 1990) into two German nations (see GermanyGermany
, Ger. Deutschland, officially Federal Republic of Germany, republic (2015 est. pop. 81,708,000), 137,699 sq mi (356,733 sq km). Located in the center of Europe, it borders the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France on the west; Switzerland and Austria on
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Despite the birth of the United NationsUnited Nations
(UN), international organization established immediately after World War II. It replaced the League of Nations. In 1945, when the UN was founded, there were 51 members; 193 nations are now members of the organization (see table entitled United Nations Members).
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, the world remained politically unstable and only slowly recovered from the incalculable physical and moral devastation wrought by the largest and most costly war in history. Soldiers and civilians both had suffered in bombings that had wiped out entire cities. Modern methods of warfare—together with the attempt of Germany to exterminate entire religious and ethnic groups (particularly the JewsJews
[from Judah], traditionally, descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, whose tribe, with that of his half-brother Benjamin, made up the kingdom of Judah; historically, members of the worldwide community of adherents to Judaism.
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)—famines, and epidemics, had brought death to tens of millions and made as many more homeless. The suffering and degradation of the war's victims were of proportions that passed the understanding of those who had been spared. The conventions of warfare had been violated on a large scale (see war crimeswar crimes,
in international law, violations of the laws of war (see war, laws of). Those accused have been tried by their own military and civilian courts, by those of their enemy, and by expressly established international tribunals.
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), and warfare itself was revolutionized by the development and use of nuclear weapons.

Political consequences included the reduction of Britain and France to powers of lesser rank, the emergence of the Common Market (see European Economic CommunityEuropean Economic Community
(EEC), organization established (1958) by a treaty signed in 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany (now Germany); it was known informally as the Common Market.
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; European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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), the independence of many former colonies in Asia and Africa, and, perhaps most important, the beginning of the cold warcold war,
term used to describe the shifting struggle for power and prestige between the Western powers and the Communist bloc from the end of World War II until 1989. Of worldwide proportions, the conflict was tacit in the ideological differences between communism and
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 between the Western powers and the Communist-bloc nations.


There is a vast amount of literature on World War II, particularly official publications and memoirs. Among notable personal accounts are Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (1948, repr. 1951); Omar H. Bradley, A Soldier's Story (1951, repr. 1970); Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War (6 vol., 1948–54); Harry S. Truman, Memoirs (2 vol., 1955–56); Field Marshal Montgomery, Memoirs (1958); Charles de Gaulle, Complete War Memoirs (1964, repr. 1967); Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences (1964); Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich (1970).

See also H. R. Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler (1956); W. L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960); A. J. P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War (1961, repr. 1963); S. E. Morison, Two-Ocean War (1963); A. R. Buchanan, The United States and World War II (1964); A. Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (rev. ed. 1964); B. Collier, The Second World War (1967, repr. 1969) and The War in the Far East, 1941–1945 (1969); B. H. Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War (1970); P. Calvocoressi and G. Wint, Total War (1972); M. Fourcade, Noah's Ark (tr. 1974); H. Michel, The Second World War (tr. 1974); J. Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad (1975) and The Road to Berlin (1983); M. Hastings, Overlord (1984), Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944–1945 (2004), Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944–45 (2008), and Inferno: The World at War, 1939–1945 (2011); R. Spector, Eagle against the Sun (1984); O. Bartov, The Eastern Front, 1941–45 (1985); M. Gilbert, The Second World War (rev. ed. 1991); S. Hynes et al., ed., Reporting World War II (2 vol., 1995); R. J. Overy, Why the Allies Won (1997); M. Beschloss, The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman, and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany (2002); A. Schom, The Eagle and the Rising Sun: The Japanese-American War, 1941–1943 (2004); E. Yellin, Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front during World War II (2004); T. Hasegawa, Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan (2005); B. Shepherd, War in the Wild East (2005) and The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War (2011); C. Merridale, Ivan's War (2006); R. Atkinson, The Liberation Trilogy (3 vol., 2007–13); N. Baker, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization (2008); A. Roberts, The Storm of War (2009, repr. 2012); J. Bodnar, The "Good War" in American Memory (2010); I. Kershaw, The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944–1945 (2011); A. Roberts, The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War (2011); I. W. Toll, Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941–1942 (2011), The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942–1944 (2015), and Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944–1945 (2020); A. Beevor, The Second World War (2012); I. Buruma, Year Zero: A History of 1945 (2013); E. Hotta, Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy (2013); R. Overy, The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War over Europe, 1940–1945 (2014); N. Stargardt, The German War: A Nation under Arms, 1939–1945 (2015); see also I. C. Bear and M. R. D. Foot, ed., The Oxford Companion to World War II (1995).

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World War II

the war (1939--45) in which the Allies (principally Britain, the Soviet Union, and the US) defeated the Axis powers (principally Germany, Italy, and Japan). Britain and France declared war on Germany (Sept. 3, 1939) as a result of the German invasion of Poland (Sept. 1, 1939). Italy entered the war on June 10, 1940 shortly before the collapse of France (armistice signed June 22, 1940). On June 22, 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union and on Dec. 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked the US at Pearl Harbor. On Sept. 8, 1943 Italy surrendered, the war in Europe ending on May 7, 1945 with the unconditional surrender of the Germans. The Japanese capitulated on Aug. 14, 1945 as a direct result of the atomic bombs dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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