Portal:World War II

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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

German battleship Schleswig-Holstein, shelling Westerplatte, September 1, 1939.
The Invasion of Poland, 1939, which precipitated World War II, was carried out by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and a small German-allied Slovak contingent.The invasion of Poland marked the start of World War II in Europe, as Poland's western allies, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, declared war on Germany on September 3, soon followed by France, South Africa and Canada, among others. The invasion began on September 1, 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, and ended October 6, 1939, with Germany and the Soviet Union occupying the entirety of Poland. Although the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany soon after Germany attacked Poland, very little direct military aid was provided (see Phoney War and Western betrayal). Following a German-staged "Polish attack" on August 31, 1939, on September 1, German forces invaded Poland from the north, south, and west. Spread thin defending their long borders, the Polish armies were soon forced to withdraw eastward.


Selected equipment

Char T-34.jpg
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1941 to 1958. It is widely regarded to have been the world's best tank when the Soviet Union entered World War II, and although its armor and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it is credited as the war's most effective, efficient and influential design.First produced at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukraine), it was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout World War II, and widely exported afterwards. It was the most-produced tank of the war, and the second most-produced tank of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series.A 1996 publication showed that the T-34 was still in service with twenty-seven countries.The T-34 was developed from the BT series of fast tanks, and was intended to replace both the BT-5 and BT-7 tanks and the T-26 infantry tank in service (Zaloga & Grandsen 1984:66, 111).At its introduction, it was the tank with the best balanced attributes of firepower, mobility, and protection in existence, although initially its battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, lack of radios and poor tactical employment.


Selected battle

Anti-aircraft shell bursts, fired at attacking Japanese aircraft, fill the sky above USS Enterprise (center left) and her screening ships during the battle on October 26, 1942.
The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 26, 1942, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Santa Cruz or in Japanese sources as the Battle of the South Pacific (南太平洋海戦?), was the fourth carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and the fourth major naval engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the lengthy and strategically important Guadalcanal campaign. In similar fashion to the battles of Coral Sea, Midway, and the Eastern Solomons, the ships of the two adversaries were rarely in direct visual range of each other. Instead, almost all attacks by both sides were mounted by carrier or land-based aircraft.In an attempt to drive Allied forces from Guadalcanal and nearby islands and end the stalemate which had existed since September 1942, the Imperial Japanese Army planned a major ground offensive on Guadalcanal for October 20–October 25, 1942.


Selected picture

Japanese Instrument of Surrender
Credit: United States Navy

General Douglas MacArthur signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender as Supreme Allied Commander during formal ceremonies on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Behind General MacArthur are Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright and Lieutenant General A.E. Percival.

Selected biography

GOC Malaya in December 1941
Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival, CB, DSO and Bar, OBE, MC, OStJ, DL, (26 December 1887 – 31 January 1966) was a British Army officer and World War I veteran. He built a successful military career during the interwar period but is most noted for his involvement in World War II, when he commanded the forces of the British Commonwealth during the Battle of Malaya and the subsequent Battle of Singapore.Percival's surrender to the invading Imperial Japanese Army force was and remains the largest capitulation in British military history, and it permanently undermined Britain's prestige as an imperial power in the Far East.However, current knowledge about the years of under-funding of Malaya's defences and the inexperienced, under-equipped nature of the Commonwealth army makes it possible to hold a more sympathetic view of his command.Arthur Ernest Percival was born on 26 December 1887 in Aspenden Lodge, Aspenden near Buntingford in Hertfordshire, England, the second son of Alfred Reginald and Edith Percival (née Miller).


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Selected quote

"Fellow Australians

It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that, in persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain is at war, and that, as a result, Australia is also at war...

There was never any doubt as to where Great Britain stood... There can be no doubt that where Great Britain stands, there stands the people of the entire British world."
Prime Minister Robert Menzies, 3 September 1939

Topics

World War II
Theatres Main events Specific articles Participants

Prelude
Causes
in Europe
in Asia

Main theatres
Europe
Eastern Europe
China
Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa
Asia and the Pacific
Atlantic

General timeline
Timeline

1939
Invasion of Poland
Winter War

1940
Invasion of Denmark/Norway
Battle of France
Battle of Britain

1941
Invasion of the Soviet Union
Battle of Moscow
Attack on Pearl Harbor

1942
Battle of Midway
Battle of Stalingrad
Second Battle of El Alamein

1943
Battle of Kursk
Guadalcanal campaign
Invasion of Italy

1944
Battle of Normandy
Operation Bagration
Battle of Leyte Gulf
Operation Market Garden
Battle of the Bulge

1945
Battle of Iwo Jima
Battle of Okinawa
Battle of Berlin
End in Europe
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Surrender of Japan

more...

Blitzkrieg
Cryptography
Equipment
Home Front
Military engagements
Production
Resistance
Technology

Civilian impact and atrocities
Nanking Massacre
Holocaust
Siege of Leningrad
Bataan Death March
Dutch famine of 1944
Bengal famine of 1943
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Unit 731
Strategic bombings
Comfort women
Allied war crimes
German war crimes
Japanese war crimes

Aftermath
Effects
Casualties
Expulsion of Germans
Denazification
Cold War
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Decline of the British Empire

The Allies
Australia Australia
Belgium Belgium
Brazil Brazil
British Raj British India
Canada Canada
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
Egypt Egypt
El Salvador El Salvador
France France (after June 16, 1940: Free France Free France)
Greece Greece
Netherlands Netherlands
New Zealand New Zealand
Norway Norway
Commonwealth of the Philippines Philippines
Poland Poland
Taiwan Republic of China
South Africa South Africa
Soviet Union Soviet Union
United Kingdom United Kingdom
United States United States
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia

more...

The Axis
Bulgaria Bulgaria
 NDH
Empire of Japan Japan
Finland Finland
France Vichy France
Hungary Hungary
Kingdom of Italy Italy
Nazi Germany Germany
Romania Romania
Thailand Thailand
Slovakia Slovakia

more...


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

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