The Second World War

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The instability left in Europe after World War I prompted another international conflict known as the Second World War. It began in 1939 and proved more devastating than any other wars because between 40 and 50 million lost their lives by 1945 when the war ended (Bell 3). Adolf Hitler in a country (Germany) facing economic and political instability, reamed the nation through his Nazi Party and signed treaties with Japan and Italy with the mission of dominating the world (Bell 340). Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. The Great Britain and France decided to retaliate; hence marking the beginning of World War II (WWII) (Ross 10). This paper attempts to present everything regarding the Second World War based on the timeline and other aspects.

Events and Factors that Provoked WWII

The First World War adversely affected Europe, and in several aspects, WWII grew out of it based on the issues that remained unsolved. The unstable German both politically and economically caused by the harsh conditions that the Versailles Treaty imposed escalated the rise of Hitler together with his National Socialist Party (Parker 2). The reason is that Hitler offered what the Germans considered as a better option than what the sitting government that was willing to go by the treaty set after WWI. In 1933, Hitler became Reich Chancellor, and by 1934 he had declared himself as the supreme leader (Führer) (Parker 5-7). In the mid-1930s he started reaming Germany, this happened secretly and in violation of the Treaty of Versailles (Parker 11).

Germany, Japan, and Italy (Axis Powers) agreed with the Soviet Union (Bell 357). In 1938, Hitler attacked Austria, and in 1939 Germany annexed Czechoslovakia (Parker 17). Around this time, the US was too busy with the internal politics and seeking solutions to the Great Depression to check the aggression of Hitler. The Great Britain and France were as well not ready for the confrontation. In 1939 late August, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact (Bell 357). The following month, Hitler attacked Poland from the West (Ross 30). Two days after this invasion, France and the Great Britain declared war on Germany, and this is how WWII broke out (Parker 15). On the 17th September 1939, Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east (Parker 22). By 1940, Soviet and German had conquered and divided the control of Poland as per the Treaty of Nonaggression Pact (Parker 9). Thus, the Versailles Treaty, the economic and political instability of Germany, Japanese expansion, the Great Depression among other factors facilitated the Second World War.

WWII in the West from 1940 to 1941

In 1940 April 9, Hitler invaded Norway and Denmark simultaneously (Bell 357). On the following day, his forces swept through the Netherlands and Belgium (Ross 30). After that, German troops struck the forces of French at Sedan (Parker 32). In late May, the British Expeditionary Force got evacuated from Dunkirk, but the French forces on the south mounted a doomed resistance (Parker 39). On the verge of France breakdown, Italy under the leadership of Benito Mussolini enforced the Pact of Steel between him and Hitler (Ross 30). This resulted in Italy declaring war against Britain and France in 1940 June 10 (Bell 357).

Hitler’s troops entered Paris. Under Marshal Philippe Petain’s leadership, France requested armistice two nights after this invasion (Bell 362). Consequently, the German attention was on Britain which possessed a great defensive advantage given that the English Channel Separated it from the Continent (Ross 35). For Hitler to pave ways for amphibious warfare, he bombed the Great Britain extensively in the entire summer of 1940 leading to severe casualties among the civilians (Bell 336). Eventually, the Royal Air Force defeated the German Air Forces in what is known as the Battle of Britain (Parker 117). For this reason, Hitler had to suspend his invasion plans. With the defensive resources of Britain reaching its limits, Prime Minister Churchill started receiving vital aid from the United States under the Lend-Lease Act which the Congress passed in 1941 (Parker 58).

Operation Barbarossa from 1941 to 1942

In early 1941, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary had joined forces with the Axis Powers (Ross 45). Around that time, Hitler’s troops had spread across Greece and Yugoslavia (Parker 62). Hitler’s conquest of Balkans formed the precursor to its primary objective; that is, invading the Soviet Union and taking control of the Lebensraum race (Bell 49). The other primary objective of Hitler was to get Jews wiped out throughout Europe (Ross 42). Therefore, in the “Final Solution” now called Holocaust, approximately 6 million Jews died (Ross 42). In the mid-1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, under the code known as Operation Barbarossa (Bell 68). Notably, the Soviet Union tanks and aircraft far much outnumbered those of Germany. However, their aircraft technology to a large extent was outdated (Parker 63). The surprise attack, consequently, helped the Germans reach close to Moscow by July (Parker 63). Nonetheless, the disagreement between Hitler and the commanders delayed their mission until October when the German troop advance further. Again, the Soviet Union counteroffensive and the onset of the harsh winter stalled Hitler and his team (Parker 63).

WWII in the Pacific from 1941to 1943

With the Great Britain fighting Germany in Europe, the US was the only country that could combat Japanese aggression (Parker 87). By late 1941, Japanese was in war with China pushing for territory expansion (Parker 82). The same year December 7, Japan invaded the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor by surprise leading to deaths of over 2000 of the American troops (Ross 35). President Franklin Roosevelt sought the Congress approval to declare war against Japan. The US Congress approved the president request on December 8, and this how the United States joined the WWII. Following this move, Germany among other Axis Powers declared war on the US. The US move brought a turning point in the Second World War. The string of Japanese empire victories came to a halt when the United States Pacific Fleet defeated Japan in the Battle of Midway, in the mid-1942 (Parker 93). The Allied Powers also emerged victorious on 1942 August to early 1943 on a battle on Guadalcanal (Parker 94). Throughout 1943, the Allied naval forces carried out aggressive counterattacks against Japanese on the islands of Japan along the Pacific (Parker 94). Finally, the Allied forces advanced to their target, the Japanese homeland.

Toward Allied Triumph in WWII from 1943 to 1945

By 1943, the US and British forces had defeated Germany and Italian forces in North Africa (Parker 95). The government of Mussolini fell in the mid-1943, but the Allied fight against Germans in Italy continued till 1945 (Parker 183). Similarly, the Soviet Union counteroffensive launched ended the Battle of Stalingrad by November 1942 (Ross 75). The defeat of German troops in this area was attributed to factors such as harsh weather due to winter and the lack of medical and food supplies. By January 1943, they surrendered (Parker 181).

In the mid-1944, the Allied forces started a massive invasion of Europe. Many American, British, and Canadian soldiers landed on Normandy beaches (Parker 243). Following this, Hitler directed all his remaining troops to Western Europe; this eased the defeat of Germans in the east (Parker 243). The Soviet Union soldiers soon advanced into Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, whereas Hitler directed his troops to fight the British and Americans in the Battle of Bulge; that is, between 1944 December and 1945 January (Ross 36). Before the Allied forces conducted the land invasion of Germany, they aerially bombarded Germans in 1945 February (Parker 23). Germany, eventually, made a formal surrender on May 8, 1945 (Parker 23). By this time, Hitler was already dead; he committed suicide in April (Bell 360).

The End of the Second World War in 1945

During the Potsdam Conference held between July and August 1945, President Harry Truman (who took office after Roosevelt’s demise), Stalin, and Churchill discussed the peace settlement with Germany, and the ongoing war with Japan (Ross 38). Regarding the post-war of Germany, they agreed that Germany would be divided into four zones, and each will be under the control of the four nations; the US, Britain, France, and Soviet Union (Ross 38). However, on the divisive issue concerning the future of Eastern Europe, Truman and Churchill agreed with Stalin because they wanted the Soviet Union to join them in the war against the Japanese empire (Parker 261). The Okinawa and Iwo Jima campaigns led to severe casualties resulting in fears that land invasion of Japan will be costlier (Parker 231). Thus, Truman authorized the used atomic bomb against Japan by attacking Nagasaki and Hiroshima. After this, Japan surrendered and accepted the Potsdam declaration hence leading to the end of the Second World War.

To sum up, WWII proved more devastating than other international conflicts that occurred before it. More than 40 million lost their lives and many properties destroyed. Various countries joined the war at different times for various reasons. It lasted for six years (1939-1945).

Works Cited

Bell, Philip Michael Hett. The Origins of the Second World War in Europe. Routledge, 2014.

Parker, Robert Alexander Clarke. The Second World War: A Short History. Oxford University Press, 2001.

Ross, Stewart. Causes and Consequences of the Second World War. Evans Brothers, 2003.

November 13, 2023

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World War II

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