World War II, also known as the Second World War was a global war that took place between 1939 and 1945. It involved nearly all the major and influential countries of the world. The Second World War was a ‘total war’. The countries participating in the wars used all their resources, even those that did not belong to them. Here is an overview of second world war and also 35 amazing World War 2 facts for Kids.
Second World War – The Beginning:
The Second World War was in a way, the continuation of the First World War. After having lost the First World War, Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, where they had to give up all its land. The treaty also stated that Germany would pay all the damages caused by the war. Besides, the treaty laid the clause that Germany could have just a small army, with no submarines, air force or tanks.
In 1933, the Germans elected Adolf Hitler, who promised to get back the seized land from other countries and restore the country’s dignity and strength. He even vowed to tear up the Treaty of Versailles. Soon after coming to power, Hitler began invading Czechoslovakia and Austria. On 1st of September 1936, the German forces led by Adolf Hitler stormed into the Polish frontier. World War 2 began on 3rd of September 1939 when France and Britain declared war on Germany after Hitler refused to abort his invasion of Poland.
During the war, the German forces advanced through Europe and by the summer of 1941, they had invaded Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia and the USSR.
At the time when Germany was fighting for power in Europe, Japan wanted to gain control over the whole of Asia and Hawaii. In 1937, two years before the Second World War had officially begun; Japan, under Emperor Hirohito, attacked China, bringing both the nations into years of conflict. Japan’s unexpected victory over the czarist Russia in the Russo-Japanese War opened the door for the Japanese in the Pacific and Asia.
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Who Were The Allies And Axis In The Second World War?
The Second World War was fought chiefly between two major alliances – the Axis and the Allies.
The countries under the Axis were Germany, Italy and Japan. The Tripartite Pact allied Italy, Germany, and Japan.
The countries under the Allies were Belgium, Australia, Canada, China, Brazil, Denmark, New Zealand, United Kingdom, India, France and Greece among others.
The Leader Of World War 2:
Here are a few prominent leaders of the Allies:
1. Neville Chamberlain:
Neville Chamberlain was the Prime Minister of the Great Britain at the start of the World War 2. He resigned a year after the war after the disastrous Norwegian campaign. The members of the House of Common regarded him as a weak leader. He was even blamed for the loss of Norway to the Germans. On May 1940, the members of the Liberal Party and Labor Party refused to serve in his proposed National Government. Chamberlain realized that a National Government would be impossible as long as he was a leader and thus resigned. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill.
2. Winston Churchill:
Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Britain during the most of the war, from 1940 to 1945. During the Battle of Britain, the speeches of Churchill boosted the morale of the British.
3. Joseph Stalin:
Stalin was the brutal dictator of Russia. Just a few years before the World War 2, Stalin imprisoned or murdered almost all the senior military officers and millions of Russian citizens in an unprecedented wave of political terror.
4. F.D. Roosevelt:
Roosevelt was the President of the United States of America from 1933 to 1945. He declared the war on Japan after bombing the Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, Roosevelt could not live long enough to celebrate the victory of the Allies.
5. Harry Truman:
Harry Truman became the President of United States in the final year of the Second World War. It was Harry’s decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan.
6. Charles de Gaulle:
Charles de Gaulle was the French general who led Frace in its fight against Germany. He became the President of France after the Second World War.
7. Michael Savage:
Michael Savage, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, joined the World War 2 beside Britain when the war started.
8. William King:
William King, the Prime Minister of Canada, entered the Second World War beside Britain when the war started.
Leaders Of The Axis Power:
1. Adolf Hitler:
Adolf Hitler, born on April 20th, 1889, served in the Bavarian army during the first World War and soon rose to become the leader of Nazi Germany during the second World War. Under his leadership, the Nazis attempted to make Germany the most powerful empire in the world. In pursuit of the same, Hitler ordered the extermination of over 11 million people, the majority being Jews. He wanted to create what he thought was the best and the strongest race. His policy of extermination also included the Roma (gypsies), the Roman Catholics, homosexuals, physically and mentally challenged people and anyone who did not meet Hitler’s standards for ‘racial purity’. This mass killing was called the Holocaust.
As the war was ending, when it became apparent that the Germans would not win, Hitler retreated to a bunker with this partner Eva Braun. He committed suicide on 30th April 1945.
2. Benito Mussolini:
Mussolini, the Prime Minister of Italy, joined the forced with Adolf Hitler to fight the allied powers. He was later sacked and executed by his own people.
3. Hideki Tojo:
Hideki Tojo was the Prime Minister of Japan from October 1941 to July 1944. As a Prime Minister, Hideki Tojo was responsible for the attack on Hideki Tojo.
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Second World War – The Orgin:
A single event could not be said to be the source of World War 2. Several events combined led to the outbreak of the Second World War. Some include:
- The US Navy developed plans to prepare for a naval war with Japan in 1890. War Plan Orange would be updated continuously and regularly as the technology advanced, which greatly aided the United States during the Second World War.
- The time between the first and second world wars was a period of worldwide instability, which was called the Great Depression. It began in 1930. It was at this time some nations, including Italy, Germany and Japan developed intense nationalist feelings, which led to the desire for expansion. Italy wanted to invade Greece and Africa, Germany wished to rule over the whole of Asia and South Pacific and Germany wanted to gain control over the Northern and Eastern Europe. Apart from this, Germany also had an added motivation of overturning and avenging the harsh terms forced on it by the Treaty of Versailles.
- The Competing ideologies also fanned the blazes of international tensions. The Bolshevik Revolution during the First World War, followed by the Russian Civil War had turned the USSR into a sprawling communist state. The capitalists and Western Republics also feared the spread of the Bolsheviks.
- In Germany, Italy and Romania, the ultra-conservative groups rose to power in reaction against communism.
Second World War – The Initial Moves.
- On the 7th of July 1937, a skirmish near the Marco Polo Bridge in China led to the open warfare between Japan and China. The outclassed Chinese military traded space for time. They withdrew themselves deeply into the large county just to extend the Japanese supply of the lines. They even hoped to gain assistance from other nations. During the course of the war, around 1 million Japanese troops were engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to subdue China.
- Germany proved the effectiveness of combined arms warfare in which armor, artillery, infantry, and aircraft worked in coordination. This type of war also required rapid communication. This type of war was known as Blitzkrieg, also known as the lightning war.
- Just two weeks after Germany invaded Poland; Joseph Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler. The USSR and Germany had secretly agreed to divide Poland between them. Just before the end of the month, Poland capitulated.
- In 1940, Germany shocked the world by defeating Netherland, France and Belgium. The operations began on the 10th of May with attacks on Holland and ended on the 25th of June when France signed a treaty that divided the country into occupied and unoccupied zones. The Germans controlled the occupied areas, and a new French government ruled the free zone.
- On the 10th of July, the on-air war over Britain began, which was termed as the Battle of Britain. Britain also opposed the Italian and German force on the waters of the Atlantic and in the deserts of North Africa. The United States was technically neutral that time, but provided Britain with all the supplies that it needed.
Entry Of The United States Of America:
The United States entered the war in 1941 when Japan bombed the Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. On 8th of December 1941, the United States declared the war on Japan.
On 6th August 1945, Enola Gay, a B29 Super Fortress bomber of the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Just after three days, it dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Over 225000 people were killed because of the bombing. Thousands of people later died from the radiation poisoning in these attacks.
Effects Of War On The Common People:
World War 2 brought a lot of hardship and suffering to thousands of people. The German bombers made terrifying night raids, and food items were strictly rationed. In order, the escape the atrocities, people had to undertake several protective measures. Some of them included:
- Women and children were evacuated from cities to the countryside. Some kids were even sent to stay with strangers, away from all the bombing.
- People always carried gas masks to protect themselves from any possible gas attack.
- Doors and windows were blacked out to make it harder for the enemies to spot where they lived.
The End Of The War:
The World War 2 ended on 15th August 1945. In 1944, an Allied Army crossed Britain to free France from the Nazi rule. A year later, the Allied armies invaded Germany, forcing the Germans to surrender on 8th May 1945. Japan surrendered after the nuclear attacks on its two major cities, Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Although the war ended in the summer of 1945, it was not officially over until President Harry Truman issued the “Proclamation of formal cessation of World War II hostilities”. It was decreed on 31st December 1946.
Social Change Resulting From The Second World War:
The Second World War also laid the groundwork that permitted post-war social changes. Some of the changes include:
- The World War 2 ended the European Colonialism. The European Nations were weakened by the war, with the people being left war-weary.
- The Leftist revolts in Asia and Africa ended with the colonial powers withdrawing.
- In America, the African Americans who had served the military faced the same discrimination as before even after the war. Martin Luther King Junior ended the segregation, discrimination in employment and all the associated social ills.
- In South Africa, the conservatives defeated the moderate coalition and instituted a new Government that issued stricter racial policies.
- The Second World War also paved the way for the women’s right movement. In several nations, the women went out to work in large numbers when the men were away at war. They demonstrated that they could also handle non-traditional words like welding.
- Besides the social changes, technology also became a part of the daily life. Nuclear power provided energy to the homes and industries. The expansion of plastic and chemical industries, the invention of the microwave oven and improve radar and sonar were a few of the many changes brought over by the Second World War.
World War 2 Facts For Kids:
Here are a few more information and facts about World War 2 for kids that you can share with your child.
- The war covered almost all the territories in Europe, the Atlantic, China, Middle East, the Pacific, South-East Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean.
- The first ever battle to be fought in the air is the Battle of Britain, between the British and German airplanes.
- A few countries remained neutral during the Second World War. Such countries were Sweden, Spain, and Switzerland.
- The main planes fought in the Second World War were Hurricane and Spitfire. These airplanes tried to destroy the German bombers before they could attack the British cities and towns.
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- The number of US soldiers serving the Second World War was 14,112,566. The number of the soldiers wounded was 671,486.
- Around 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. Hitler targeted Jews the most because he blamed them for Germany losing the First World War. He also said that Jews were dangerous not just for the Germans, but also to the society. It is one of the interesting world war 2 facts for children.
- Luftwaffe, the German air force, used both fighters and bombers for attacking. They used the bombs for destroying the towns and cities, and the soldiers stopped the RAF fighters from destroying the German bombers. The most famous fighter airplane of the Germans was the Messerschmitt. The main bombers were the Dornier, the Junkers, and the Heinkel.
- United States President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Union Leader Joseph Stalin were fondly known as the ‘big three’. It is one of the interesting facts about world war 2 for kids.
- 80% of the Soviet males born in 1923 did not survive the World War 2.
- Between the years 1939 and 1945, the Allies dropped around 3.4 million tons of bombs. That’s around an average of 27700 tons of bombs every month.
- The war killed more people than any other war in the human history. It is said that about 50 to 70 million lost their lives during the Second World War. The official numbers could never be confirmed because of the staggering number of deaths. Just to put the number in your perspective, the entire population of the United Kingdom is around 64 million. The nations suffering the highest military and civilian losses are:
- USSR: 42,000,000
- Germany: 9,000,000
- China: 4,000,000
- Japan: 3,000,000
- 2/3 of Allied bomber crews were lost for each plane destroyed.
- Do you know what the ‘Siege of Leningrad’ is? During the Second World War all, the roads of Leningrad were closed so that nobody could go out or come in even to get food. The siege lasted for over 900 days.
- D-Day is a term that the military used while planning an event. ‘D’ does not stand for anything. During the Second World War, the code name for the D-Day was ‘Operation Overload’. By the D-Day, 35% of the German soldiers were wounded at least once, 11%, twice, 6% thrice, 4% four times and 2% more than four times.
- Adolf Hitler’s plan of invading Britain was called ‘Operation Sea Lion’.
- The Germans lost 136 Generals, which averages to be one dead General in every two weeks.
- The renowned Nuclear physicist Niels Bohr was rescued just in time from German-occupied Denmark. The Danish resistance fighters provided him with a covering as he tried to run out of the back door. But he stopped shortly just to grab a beer bottle, which he described as ‘precious water’. He reached England still clutching the bottle containing beer. This is an interesting facts for kids about world war 2.
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- 433 Medals of Honor were awarded during the Second World War. 219 were given out after the death of the recipient.
- The youngest US serviceman was a 12-year-old boy named Calvin Graham. He was wounded in combat and was given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age.
- German Me-264 bombers were well capable of bombing the New York City, but they thought it wasn’t worth the effort.
- One of the Japanese methods of destroying the tanks was by burying a large artillery shell with just the nose exposed. When the tank came close to a soldier, they would whack the shell with a hammer.
- The Graf Spee never sank as the scuttling attempt failed. The ship was later bought by the British.
- There was no such thing as a mediocre fighter pilot during the Second World War. A fighter could either be a target or an ace. An instance of this is that Japanese expert Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 90 planes.
- The United States Army also brought 3 complete Coca Cola bottling plants to North Africa along with the equipment needed for the war.
- Hitler even executed 84 German generals.
- The Koreans were among the first ‘Germans’ to be captured in Normandy. They were forced to fight for the Japanese Army until the Russians captured them. The Russian Army then forced them to fight for them until they were captured the German Army. The Koreans were finally captured by the US army.
- The German Air Force has 2 armor divisions, 22 infantry divisions and 11 paratroop divisions. None of these were capable of airborne operations. But the German Army had air troops that were capable of airborne operations.
- The Germans lost 40 to 50% of their aircraft during the Second World War to accidents. The Russians destroyed 500 German aircraft by ramming them midair.
- The United States Army had more ships that US Navy.
- The Germans had lost 110 Division Commanders in combat.
- At the time of Pearl Harbor, the shoulder patch of the United States Army’s 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS and Hitler’s private train was named ‘America’. All these were later changed because of PR purpose.
- Germany’s power grid was much more vulnerable than Hitler had ever realized. An estimate is that if only 1% of the bombs dropped on the German Industry were instead dropped on the power plants, the entire German industry would have collapsed.
- Japan and Russia have still haven’t signed a peace treaty to end the Second World War because of the Kuril Islands Dispute.
- Queen Elizabeth served as a driver and mechanic in the Second World War.
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- 40000 men served on the U-Boats during the Second World War. Out of these, 30000 never returned.
We hope the aspiring historian in your house enjoy reading the facts and information on World War 2. If you have any more facts about world war 2 for children to add to the list, then tell us by commenting below!
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