The Second World War

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1. The Second World War

The Second World War was a military conflict that took place between 1939 and 1945. The war involved almost all of the European countries, Japan, the United States, China, and the European colonies in North Africa, Asia, and Oceania. This conflict involved total war: countries employed all the available resources to defeat the enemy, including human, military, economic, and scientific resources. In addition, war was waged against the whole population, both the military forces and the civilian population.

1.1. The Causes of the War

The reasons for the outbreak of war were the following:

  • Nationalist Discontent: At the end of the First World War, both Germany and Italy were unhappy. Germany was unhappy because the Treaty of Versailles had obliged it to give up territory to Poland and Czechoslovakia; areas with a large German population. Italy was unhappy because it hadn't been given the territories it wanted in the Mediterranean, despite being one of the victorious countries. In both cases, this discontent gave rise to a desire to recover lost territories.
  • Economic Protectionism: During the Great Depression of the 1930s, European governments adopted protectionist policies to reduce imports. These measures forced countries to find new markets for their products. This increased tensions between countries. Germany, Italy, and Japan implemented economic policies based on autarky and rearmament.
  • Expansionist Policies: Germany, Italy, and Japan wanted to expand their territories to acquire more raw materials and satisfy their territorial demands.
  • Appeasement Policies: Great Britain supported a policy of appeasement towards Germany and Italy. As a result, the territorial expansion of these countries was tolerated; the aim being to maintain peace.

The Formation of Opposing Sides

The Axis

In 1936, Germany and Italy signed a pact. In the same year, Germany signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan to defend itself against the Communist USSR. Italy joined this alliance in 1937. The alliance between these three countries became known as the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis in 1940. Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR in 1939, in which they agreed not to fight each other and to divide Poland between them.

The Allies

: Great Britain, faced with the imposibility of stopping German and Italianexpansion, abandoned its appeasement policy and signed a pact of mutual support with France in 1939. That same year, after Germany attempted to annex Danzig (a Polish city with a German population), Great Britain, France and Poland also signed a defence agreement in which they agreed to help each other in the case of a German attack.War broke out in Europe on 1 September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. In support of Poland, France and Great Britain declared war against Germany. The USSR.
acting in accordance with the pact of non-aggression it had with Germany, occupied the eastern territories of Poland and Finland
In 1941, the USA joined the war following an attack by Japan. The USSR also joined the war in 1941 when it was invaded by Germany, breaking the pact of non-aggression it had signed two years previously.

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