Thursday, July 15, 2004

World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This is a detailed article on World War II at Wikipedia. As with all Wikipedia content, you can volunteer to edit this article if you want to do so.

From the site:

World War II was the most extensive and costly armed conflict in the history of the world, involving the great majority of the world's nations, being fought simultaneously in several major theatres, and costing approximately 55.5 million lives (see below). The war was fought mainly between an alliance of the British Commonwealth, France, the United States, the Soviet Union, and China—collectively known as the Allies; and the Axis Powers, an alliance between Germany, Italy, and Japan. Most of the fighting occurred in the Atlantic theatre in and around Europe, and in the Pacific theatre in the Pacific and East Asia.

The German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 is the most common date in the West for the start of World War II. Others cite the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 as the war's beginning, or even the 1931 Japanese incursion into Manchuria. The war in Europe ended with the surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945, but continued in Asia and the Pacific until September 2, 1945, when Japan surrendered.

The war was significant in that it was the first war in which air power was a significant factor. Indeed, the first combat operation in World War II was a German bombing attack against Poland, while the last combat operation was a thousand-aircraft bombing attack on Japan, on August 14, 1945. The war also saw the re-emergence of the United States from its isolationism, the destruction and rebuilding of Germany and Japan into major industrial powers, the advent of the atomic bomb, and the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as global superpowers. The war also directly led to the United Nations, which was founded by the victorious Allies in order to prevent such a large and destructive conflict from ever happening again.

The war caused more civilian casualties than any war in history. This was partly due to its unprecedented scale, the first uses of mass aerial bombings against civilian populations (a policy initiated by the German Luftwaffe against Poland, and later used more extensively against German cities by the Allies), and the first application of industrial age technology to enable the mass killing of unwanted civilians in extermination camps. In total, World War II caused the deaths of about two percent of the population of the world.

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