The World War II Portal
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.
The 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland was a military operation that started without a formal declaration of war on 17 September 1939, during the early stages of World War II, sixteen days after the beginning of the Nazi German attack on Poland. It ended in a decisive victory for the Soviet Union's Red Army. In early 1939, the Soviet Union tried to form an alliance against Nazi Germany with the United Kingdom, France, Poland, and Romania; but several difficulties arose, including the refusal of Poland and Romania to allow Soviet troops transit rights through their territories as part of collective security. With the failure of the negotiations, the Soviets shifted from their anti-German stance and on 23 August 1939 signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany. As a result, on 1 September, the Germans invaded Poland from the west; and on 17 September, the Red Army invaded Poland from the east.The Soviet government announced that it was acting to protect the Ukrainians and Belarusians who lived in the eastern part of Poland, because the Polish state had collapsed in the face of the German attack and could no longer guarantee the security of its own citizens. The Red Army entered the eastern regions of Poland with seven field armies and between 450,000 and 1,000,000 troops.
His Majesty's Ship Royal Oak
08) was a Revenge-class battleship
of the British Royal Navy
, torpedoed in Scapa Flow
by the German submarine U-47
on 14 October 1939. Launched in 1914 and completed in 1916, Royal Oak
first saw action at the Battle of Jutland
. In peacetime, she served in the Atlantic
fleets, coming under accidental attack on more than one occasion. The ship became the centre of worldwide attention in 1928 when her senior officers were controversially court-martialled
. During a twenty-five year career, attempts to modernise Royal Oak
could not address her fundamental lack of speed, and by the start of the Second World War
, she was no longer suited to front-line duty.Royal Oak
was anchored at Scapa Flow
when she became the first of the five Royal Navy battleships and battlecruisers
sunk in the Second World War. The loss of life was heavy: of Royal Oak
complement of 1,234 men, 833 were killed that night or died later of their wounds.
The second Battle of Smolensk (7 August 1943 – 2 October 1943) was a Soviet strategic offensive operation conducted by the Red Army as part of the Summer-Autumn Campaign of 1943 in the Western USSR. Staged almost simultaneously with the Battle of the Dnieper (13 August – 22 September), the offensive lasted two months and was led by Generals Andrei Yeremenko commanding the Kalinin Front and Vasily Sokolovsky commanding the Western Front. Its goal was to clear the Nazi Germany presence from the Smolensk and Bryansk regions. Smolensk had been under German occupation since the first Battle of Smolensk in 1941.Despite an impressive German defense, the Red Army was able to stage several breakthroughs, liberating several major cities including Smolensk and Roslavl. As a result of this operation the Red Army was able to start planning for the liberation of Belorussia. However, the overall advance was quite modest and slow in the face of heavy German resistance, and the operation was therefore accomplished in three stages: August 7–20, August 21–September 6, and September 7–October 2.
Hovhannes Khachatury Bagramyan
was a Soviet Armenian
military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union
. During World War II
, Bagramyan was the first non-Slavic
military officer to become a commander of a Front
. He was among several Armenians in the Soviet Army
who held the highest proportion of high ranking officers in the Soviet military during the war,and one of fifty Armenians who attained the rank of General in the same period.Bagramyan's experience in military planning as a chief of staff allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany
. He was given his first command of a unit in 1942, and in November 1943 received his most prestigious command as the commanding officer (CO) of the 1st Baltic Front
. As the CO of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives
which moved westward and pushed German forces
out of the Baltic republics
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"I said, to the people of the Philippines whence I came, I shall return. Tonight, I repeat those words: I shall return!"
- — Douglas MacArthur, 30 March 1942
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