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World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global conflict that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries, including all of the great powers, fought as part of two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. Many participants threw their economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind this total war, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. Aircraft played a major role, enabling the strategic bombing of population centres and the delivery of the only two nuclear weapons ever used in war.
To prevent a future world war, the League of Nations was created during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The organisation's primary goals were to prevent armed conflict through collective security, military and naval disarmament, and settling international disputes through peaceful negotiations and arbitration.
Adolf Hitler, after an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the German government in 1923, eventually became the Chancellor of Germany in 1933 when Paul Von Hindenburg and the Reichstag appointed him. He abolished democracy, espousing a radical, racially motivated revision of the world order, and soon began a massive rearmament campaign. Meanwhile, France, to secure its alliance, allowed Italy a free hand in Ethiopia, which Italy desired as a colonial possession. The situation was aggravated in early 1935 when the Territory of the Saar Basin was legally reunited with Germany, and Hitler repudiated the Treaty of Versailles, accelerated his rearmament programme, and introduced conscription.
In November 1939, the United States was taking measures to assist China and the Western Allies and amended the Neutrality Act to allow \"cash and carry\" purchases by the Allies. In 1940, following the German capture of Paris, the size of the United States Navy was significantly increased. In September the United States further agreed to a trade of American destroyers for British bases. Still, a large majority of the American public continued to oppose any direct military intervention in the conflict well into 1941. In December 1940 Roosevelt accused Hitler of planning world conquest and ruled out any negotiations as useless, calling for the United States to become an \"arsenal of democracy\" and promoting Lend-Lease programmes of aid to support the British war effort. The United States started strategic planning to prepare for a full-scale offensive against Germany.
The diversion of three quarters of the Axis troops and the majority of their air forces from France and the central Mediterranean to the Eastern Front prompted the United Kingdom to reconsider its grand strategy. In July, the UK and the Soviet Union formed a military alliance against Germany and in August, the United Kingdom and the United States jointly issued the Atlantic Charter, which outlined British and American goals for the post-war world. In late August the British and Soviets invaded neutral Iran to secure the Persian Corridor, Iran's oil fields, and preempt any Axis advances through Iran toward the Baku oil fields or India.
Post-war division of the world was formalised by two international military alliances, the United States-led NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The long period of political tensions and military competition between them, the Cold War, would be accompanied by an unprecedented arms race and number of proxy wars throughout the world.
The global economy suffered heavily from the war, although participating nations were affected differently. The United States emerged much richer than any other nation, leading to a baby boom, and by 1950 its gross domestic product per person was much higher than that of any of the other powers, and it dominated the world economy. The Allied occupational authorities pursued a policy of industrial disarmament in Western Germany from 1945 to 1948. Due to international trade interdependencies, this policy led to an economic stagnation in Europe and delayed European recovery from the war for several years.
Aircraft were used for reconnaissance, as fighters, bombers, and ground-support, and each role developed considerably. Innovations included airlift (the capability to quickly move limited high-priority supplies, equipment, and personnel); and strategic bombing (the bombing of enemy industrial and population centres to destroy the enemy's ability to wage war). Anti-aircraft weaponry also advanced, including defences such as radar and surface-to-air artillery. The use of the jet aircraft was pioneered and, though late introduction meant it had little impact, it led to jets becoming standard in air forces worldwide.
Other technological and engineering feats achieved during, or as a result of, the war include the world's first programmable computers (Z3, Colossus, and ENIAC), guided missiles and modern rockets, the Manhattan Project's development of nuclear weapons, operations research, the development of artificial harbours and oil pipelines under the English Channel. Penicillin was first developed, mass-produced and used during the war.
The term world war was first coined in September 1914 by German biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel. He claimed that \"there is no doubt that the course and character of the feared 'European War' ... will become the first world war in the full sense of the word,\" in The Indianapolis Star on 20 September 1914.
German industrial strength significantly increased after 1871, driven by the creation of a unified Reich, French indemnity payments, and the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. Backed by Wilhelm II, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz sought to use this growth in economic power to build a Kaiserliche Marine, or Imperial German Navy, which could compete with the British Royal Navy for world naval supremacy. His thinking was influenced by US naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan, who argued possession of a blue-water navy was vital for global power projection; Tirpitz had his books translated into German, while Wilhelm made them required reading for his advisors and senior military personnel.
The United States Navy sent a battleship group to Scapa Flow to join the Grand Fleet and provided convoy escorts. In April 1917, the United States Army had fewer than 300,000 men, including National Guard units, compared to British and French armies of 4.1 and 8.3 million respectively. The Selective Service Act of 1917 drafted 2.8 million men, although training and equipping such numbers was a huge logistical challenge. By June 1918, over 667,000 members of the American Expeditionary Forces, or AEF, had been transported to France, a figure which reached 2 million by the end of November. However, American tactical doctrine was still based on pre-1914 principles, a world away from the combined arms approach used by the French and British in 1918. US commanders were initially slow to accept such ideas, leading to heavy casualties and it was not until the last month of the war that these failings were rectified.
On 27 June 1917 the Germans used the biggest gun in the world, Batterie Pommern, nicknamed \"Lange Max\". This gun from Krupp was able to shoot 750 kg shells from Koekelare to Dunkirk, a distance of about 50 km (31 mi).
On both sides there was large scale fundraising for soldiers' welfare, their dependents and for those injured. The Nail Men were a German example. Around the British empire there were many Patriotic Funds, including the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, Canadian Patriotic Fund, Queensland Patriotic Fund and, by 1919, there were 983 funds in New Zealand. At the start of the next world war the New Zealand funds were reformed, having been criticised as overlapping, wasteful and abused, but 11 were still functioning in 2002.
A generation of innocent young men, their heads full of high abstractions like Honour, Glory and England, went off to war to make the world safe for democracy. They were slaughtered in stupid battles planned by stupid generals. Those who survived were shocked, disillusioned and embittered by their war experiences, and saw that their real enemies were not the Germans, but the old men at home who had lied to them. They rejected the values of the society that had sent them to war, and in doing so separated their own generation from the past and from their cultural inheritance.
The 'Age of Totalitarianism' included nearly all the infamous examples of genocide in modern history, headed by the Jewish Holocaust, but also comprising the mass murders and purges of the Communist world, other mass killings carried out by Nazi Germany and its allies, and also the Armenian Genocide of 1915. All these slaughters, it is argued here, had a common origin, the collapse of the elite structure and normal modes of government of much of central, eastern and southern Europe as a result of World War I, without which surely neither Communism nor Fascism would have existed except in the minds of unknown agitators and crackpots.
During World War I (1914-18) rotogravure sections captured the details and intensity of the fighting, introduced technological innovations to a curious and interested American public, and documented the work and play of the home front. These pictorials were important tools for promoting U.S. propaganda and influenced how readers viewed world events. Images from the battlefields and dramatic coverage of casualties from the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat contributed to the U.S. decision to join the war.
Narrator: In the summer of 1917, at docks up and down the eastern seaboard, thousands of American soldiers boarded ships bound for France. They were the vanguard of a new American army, about to enter the most destructive war the world had ever known. 59ce067264