Portal:World War II
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Portal:World War II

The World War II portal

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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, although conflicts reflecting the ideological clash between what would become the Allied and Axis blocs began earlier. The vast majority of the world's countries--including all of the great powers--eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most global war in history; it directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. In a state of total war, 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.

The Empire of Japan aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific and was already at war with the Republic of China in 1937, but the world war is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939, the day of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the 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. The war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the coalition of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, with campaigns including the North Africa and East Africa campaigns, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz bombing campaign, and the Balkan Campaign, as well as the long-running Battle of the Atlantic. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history, which trapped the Axis, most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan attacked the United States and European colonies in the Pacific Ocean, and quickly conquered much of the Western Pacific. The Japanese conquests were perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance; as such, several armies from the conquered territories aided the Japanese.

The Axis advance halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway, and Germany and Italy were defeated in North Africa and then, decisively, at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. In 1943, with a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy which brought about Italian surrender, and Allied victories in the Pacific, the Axis lost the initiative and was forced into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained all of its territorial losses and invaded Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in South Central 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 subsequent 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 and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, Japan formally surrendered on 2 September 1945. Thus ended the war in Asia, cementing the total victory of the Allies.

World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the world. 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 the United Nations Security Council. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 46 years. Meanwhile, the influence of European great powers waned, while the decolonisation of Africa and Asia began. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery. Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and to create a common identity.

The World War II Portal

Clockwise from top left: Commonwealth troops in the desert; Chinese civilians being buried alive by Japanese soldiers; Soviet forces during a winter offensive; Carrier-borne Japanese planes readying for take off; Soviet troops fighting in Berlin; A German submarine under attack.

World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict. It began as the joining of what had initially been two separate conflicts, with the first beginning in Asia in 1937 (the Second Sino-Japanese War) and the other beginning in Europe in 1939 (the German and Soviet invasion of Poland).

The war split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history, and placed the participants in a state of "total war", which erased the distinction between civil and military resources and resulted in the complete activation of a nation's economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort. Over 70 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.

The Allies won the war, and as a result, the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as the world's leading superpowers. This set the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 45 years. The United Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another such conflict. The self-determination spawned by the war accelerated decolonization movements in Asia and Africa, while Europe itself began moving toward integration.

Featured article

3/3's Insignia
3rd Battalion 3rd Marines (3/3) is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps, based out of K?ne'ohe, Hawai'i, and consisting of approximately 800 Marines and Sailors.Known as "America's Battalion", the unit falls under the 3rd Marine Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division.The battalion was originally at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in 1942 and saw action on both Bougainville and Guam during World War II. Following the war, it was disbanded until 1951, when it was reformed in California. The battalion was alerted for possible deployment during the 1956 Suez War and the 1958 intervention in Lebanon. In 1965, the Marines of 3rd Battalion were deployed to Vietnam and participated in Operation Starlite, the first major Marine engagement of that conflict. The battalion continued to see major action through the Vietnam War and was rotated back to the United States in 1969. Around the end of the Vietnam War, 3rd Battalion was deactivated for a second time in 1974.


Selected equipment

USS Wisconsin, photographed at sea in her 1980s configuration.
The armament of the Iowa-class battleships has undergone a massive evolution since the first Iowa-class ship was laid down in June of 1940; The Iowas remain among the most heavily-armed ships the United States ever put to sea. The main battery of 16-inch (406 mm) guns could hit targets nearly 24 miles (39 km) away with a variety of artillery shells, from standard armor piercing rounds to tactical nuclear charges called "Katies" (from "kt" for kiloton).The secondary battery of 5-inch (127 mm) guns could hit targets nearly 9 miles (14 km) away with solid projectiles or proximity fused shells, and were equally adept in an anti-aircraft role and for damaging smaller ships. When commissioned these battleships carried a fearsome array of 20 mm and 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, which were gradually replaced with Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles, Phalanx anti-aircraft/anti-missile gatling gun systems, and electronic warfare suites. By the time the last Iowa-class battleship was decommissioned in 1992, the Iowas had set a new record for battleship weaponry: no other battleship class in history has had so many weapons at its disposal for use against an opponent.


Selected battle

Dead soldiers and destroyed tanks from the Japanese 17th Army lie at the mouth of the Matanikau River after a failed assault on U.S. Marine positions on October 23 - 24, 1942.
The Battle for Henderson Field, also known as the Battle of Henderson Field or Lunga Point by the Japanese, took place October 23 – October 26, 1942 on and around Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The battle was a land, sea, and air battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and was fought between the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy and Allied (mainly United States (U.S.) Marine and U.S. Army) forces. The battle was the third of the three major land offensives conducted by the Japanese during the Guadalcanal campaign.In the battle, U.S. Marine and Army forces, under the overall command of Major General Alexander Vandegrift, successfully repulsed an attack by the Japanese 17th Army, under the command of Japanese Lieutenant General Harukichi Hyakutake. The U.S. forces were defending the Lunga perimeter, which guarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, that had been captured from the Japanese by the Allies in landings on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. Hyakutake's force was sent to Guadalcanal in response to the Allied landings with the mission of recapturing the airfield and driving the Allied forces off of the island.


Selected image

Battle of Okinawa

The American aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill burns after sustaining two successive kamikaze strikes within thirty seconds during the Battle of Okinawa on May 11, 1945. Nearly 350 died, making this the deadliest kamikaze attack on a US ship during World War II. Although badly damaged, the carrier was able to return to Puget Sound Navy Yard under her own steam.

Selected biography

Sir Michael Francis Addison Woodruff was an English surgeon and scientist principally remembered for his research into organ transplantation. Though born in London, Woodruff spent his youth in Australia, where he earned degrees in electrical engineering and medicine. Having completed his studies shortly after the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Australian Army Medical Corps, but was soon captured by Japanese forces and imprisoned in the Changi Prison Camp. While there, he devised an ingenious method of extracting nutrients from agricultural wastes to prevent malnutrition among his fellow POWs.At the conclusion of the war, Woodruff returned to England and began a long career as an academic surgeon, mixing clinical work and research. Woodruff principally studied transplant rejection and immunosuppression. His work in these areas of transplantation biology, led Woodruff to perform the first kidney transplant in the United Kingdom, on 30 October 1960.


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"The moment the first American soldier sets foot on the Japanese mainland, all prisoners of war will be shot."
Hideki Tojo, June, 1945

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From the World War II task force of the Military history WikiProject:

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Battle of Kiev (1943)Battle of Ko ChangColditz CastleSpiritual national defenceTuskegee Airmen
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Battle of Uhtua-KiestinkiBattles of Repola-RukajärviBattle of SiiranmäkiBattle of ?uckBattle of RówneBattle of W?odzimierz Wo?y?skiBattle of LubartówBattle of MiednikiBattle of Jod?aFrancis BlanchainShinshou DraengerChrister Lyst HansenHolocaust slave labor litigationOve KampmanLeague for Combat PolicyFrederick Charles LoughJulien MelineOperation BigotOperation MittelmeerOperation RichardOtto ProgramMartin PoppelRoehm's AvengersDorothy TartierePoul BruunRaoul BoulangerSerge Asher-RavanelBattle of West Ukraine (1941)Battle of ZunyiFree Dutch Forces (draft, please assist) • Liberation of Denmark (currently redirect) • Operation Vado (currently redirect) • Finnish 19th Division (Continuation War)Finnish 11th Division (Continuation War)Finnish VII Corps (Continuation War)Finnish VI Corps (Continuation War)Finnish IV Corps (Continuation War)Finnish Cavalry Brigade1st Jaeger Brigade2nd Jaeger BrigadeFinnish 1st Division (Continuation War)168th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)71st Rifle Division (Soviet Union)Group OinonenA.S. Ksenofontov (ru) • Ponomarev Dmitry Grigorievich (ru) (ref); Siege of Tobruk (June 1942) (ref)
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Princess Irene BrigadeBattle of Bay of ViipuriDemilitarisation; Martha DesrumeauxMochitsura HashimotoOperation CascadeOperation Tan No. 2Burma Area ArmyBattle of CourlandBattle of Munda PointBattle of Voronezh (1943)Drive on Munda PointFirst Battle of KharkovRace to BerlinMarie FourcadeVictor Strydonck de BurkelDonald BlakesleeOperation NordwindBattle of Skerki BankMichael Sinclair (soldier)Battle of MaastrichtBattle of ZeelandLandings on RendovaNew Georgia counterattackOperation WaterfallPetsamo-Kirkenes OffensiveRaid on ChoiseulAmerican-British-Dutch-Australian CommandBattle of Viru HarborBattle of Wickham AnchorageWestern New Guinea campaign (and the individual battles of the campaign) • Operation Blockbustermore
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Twelfth Army (United Kingdom)4th Airborne Division (United Kingdom)5th Airborne Division (United Kingdom)XVI Corps (United Kingdom)Battle of DakarBattle of the Lys (1940)Battle of ZeelandBattle of the GrebbebergFranco-Thai WarBattle of Ko ChangSwitzerland during the World Wars; Berthe Fraser
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Battle of Borneo (1941-42)Garderegiment Fuseliers Prinses IreneJapanese invasion of French IndochinaJapanese invasion of ThailandLuxembourg in World War IINew Georgia CampaignOperation CartwheelOperation ChastiseRoyal Netherlands Motorized Infantry BrigadeSolomon Islands campaign
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