Second World War - Civil Services Preparation Online! UPSC & IAS Study Material

Second World War

by Devender 10-Jun-21

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Just like the First world war, the second world war also started from Europe and assumed the term of World war. The western countries turned their eyes to the aggression of Japan, Italy, and Germany.

These fascists countries' ambitions were not satisfied, they were planning another division of the world and therefore, a conflict started between these fascists powers and already established Imperialist powers.

Causes of World War II

The policy of western powers to diverge the aggression of fascist countries towards the Soviet Union failed when Soviet signed the non-aggression pact with Germany. Due to this, a war began between the Western powers- Britain & France and Fascist countries. Within a time span of few months, it became a world war and involved almost every country in the world.

  • The Invasion of Poland:
  • East Prussia was separated from Germany after the First world war. The city of Danzig was the barrier that separated Prussia from Germany. This city was made free of German control. Hitler demanded to return the Danzig city back under German control but Britishers denied this demand.

  • German armies marched into Poland on 1st September 1939
  • After two days, Britain and France declared war on Germany
  • Therefore, this invasion marked the beginning of the World War
  • Poland didn't get any aid from anywhere
  • Thus, within 3 weeks German armies completed the conquest of Poland
  • Despite the declaration of war, there was not much actual fighting for months
  • Germany invaded both Norway and Denmark between the period of September 1939 to April 1940
  • This period of war is known as the "Phoney War"

After the invasion of Poland by Germany, Soviet Union also attacked eastern Poland and occupied back the territories which were part of the Russian empire. Many believed that it was part of the pact signed between Germany and the Soviet Union. In 1940, Soviet Union also occupied the Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania which got freedom after the First World war. It also went to war against Finland in November 1939.


  • Conquest of Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and France:
  • Germany started its invasion of Norway and Denmark in April 1940 and completed the conquest within 3 weeks. In Norway, Germany got help from Quisling.

    He was the leader of the fascist party in Norway. They set up a puppet government in Norway. The name "Quisling" has come to mean "A traitor who betrays his country by collaborating with foreign invaders".

  • After, Germany started the conquest of Belgium and Holland in early May
  • They completed it before the end of May
  • Now, German armies started their marched into France
  • By 14 June 1940, the capital city of Paris was under German control without any fight
  • Italy also decided to join its ally Germany by this time
  • French government surrendered and signed a truce with Germany on 22 June 1940
  • Acc. to the Truce, half of France was occupied by Germany
  • The Remaining part was under the French government but on the condition that the French army would be disbanded and provided to help German armies in France

The French government was ruled by Vichy. After defeating France, Germany became the supreme power in Europe. The war conducted by Germany with great speed is known as "blitzkrieg" meaning a lighting war.


  • The Battle of Britain:
  • After the fall of France, Britain was the only major power left in Europe. Germany thought Britain will also surrender as it was not left with any allies.

  • German air force started bombing on Britain in August 1940 to threaten it into surrender
  • The Royal air force of Britain did heroics to stop air raids
  • It also carried out air raids on German Territories
  • Under the leadership of Winston Churchill, Britain successfully defended against the air raids
  • During this time, Italy attacked North Africa and Greece

These Italian attacks were repelled but Germany was able to conquer the Balkans - Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and also large parts of North Africa.


  • German Invasion of Soviet Union:
  • Germany has conquered all of Europe except Britain so Hitler decided to attack the Soviet Union in June 1941, despite the non-aggression Pact. Hitler always wanted the Soviet Union because of the vast territory and resources the Soviets had.

  • In the first phase of the war, Germany had many significant victories
  • Vast areas of Soviet were wasted and Leningrad was under German control
  • German troops started marching towards Moscow
  • The Soviet Union build up their military strength
  • Despite the early wins, the German onslaught was stopped
  • Soviet resisted German forces heroically and German hopes of a quick victory were shattered

This German invasion opened the door for new partnerships. Britain, the Soviet Union, and America got together to fight against this aggression. Soon after this invasion, Britain and US got together and promise aid to the Soviet Union against Germany. Agreements were signed between Soviet Union & Britain and Soviet Union & US.


    • Attack on Pearl Harbour:
    • Japan was also a part of three fascist powers along with Germany and Italy. Japanese conducted a massive raid on the American naval base at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii without any declaration of war in Dec 1941.

    • The American Pacific Fleet that was stationed there was destroyed
    • The US lost 20 Warships, 250 aircraft and 300 people were killed
    • The US was completely unaware of this attack
    • American and Japanese governments were negotiating to settle disputes in Asia & the Pacific
    • But this attack showed that Japan was keen to take over Asia and the Pacific but itself
    • After this, Second World War truly began
    • US declared war on Japan and Germany & Italy declared war on US

    America entered the war, with this many countries also joined America against the fascist powers. Japan won many significant victories in Asia and was able to conquer Malaya, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and numerous other areas within six months of the attack on Pearl Harbour. Fascist powers reached their peak in the middle of 1942 but after that, their fall began.


    • Battle of Stalingrad:
    • In January 1942, 26 nations including Britain, America, Soviet Union, etc. signed a declaration known as the United Nations Declaration. These nations made amends to use all their resources in the war until victory was achieved.

      They promised to corporate with each other against the common enemy and not have separate peace treaties.

    • The battle of Stalingrad was one of the most important turning points of the World War
    • German invasion of Moscow was met with huge resistance and it was repulsed
    • Then, Germany launched an offensive on Southern Russia
    • German troops reached the outskirts of the city of Stalingrad in August 1942
    • The civil population of the city joined with the army to stop foreign invaders
    • After 6 months of the war, German troops and officers surrendered
    • Germany lost around 3 lakh soldiers in this battle. This battle basically turned the tides against the fascist powers.


    • Opening of the Second Front:
    • Now, the fascist countries began to suffer. Japan failed to conquer Australia and Hawaii. The fascist army was destroyed in North Africa which was also a turning point. US and Britain troops were able to occupy Sicily and soon, many sections of Italy turned against Mussolini.

    • Mussolini was arrested and a new government was formed
    • This new government joined the war against Germany
    • However, German troops attacked Italy and freed Mussolini
    • British and US troops entered Italy to throw Germans out of it
    • On the other hand, Soviet Union was winning major victories against Germans
    • The Soviet Union was able to enter Czechoslovakia & Rumania which had been under German control
    • In July 1944, American and British troops reached the coast of Normandy in France. It played an important role in the defeat of Germany. This was known as the opening of the second front.

      It pressured Germany to fight on different fronts. Since then, German troops were always on run from one front to another. The Soviet Union was demanding this second front for a long time as it would compel Germans to concentrate on many fronts.


      End of War in Europe

      After June 1944, the German army had to fight on three different fronts against the allied forces and even in Italy, British and US troops were advancing. Many parts of France including Paris were freed and troops of allied forces were marching towards Belgium and Holland.

      Even on the eastern front, German troops were collapsing. The Soviet army from the east was closing on Germany along with other allied troops from the west. Soviet army entered Berlin in May 1945. Hitler committed suicide after this and Germany surrendered to allied powers unconditionally.

    • Nuke Attack on Japan:
    • Even after the surrender of Germany, war was still going on in Asia and it continued for another 3 months. Britain and the US were able to conduct successful operations against Japan in the Pacific, Philippines, and Burma but Japan was still holding large parts of China.

    • An atom bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6th August 1945
    • The atom bomb is considered the deadliest weapon developed during the war
    • A single bomb was able to obliterate the whole city
    • On 9th August 1945, another bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki
    • The city got totally destroyed
    • The Soviet Union also declared war on Japan during this time
    • Soviet started military operations against Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea
    • Japan also accepted the surrender to allied forces on 14th August but actually surrendered on 2nd September. With the surrender of Japan, the Second World War was concluded.


      Damage caused by the War

      The Second World War turned out to be the most destructive war in history. More than 50 million people lost their lives in this war and out of those 28 million were civilians. Some countries lost a large percentage of their population. Besides human lives, the economical & material resources of the whole world were badly damaged.

      Many beautiful and historical cities were almost completely destroyed and many new weapons of mass destruction found their way into the world but Atom Bomb was the leader of that group.

    • Fascist countries Brutality:
    • The fascist powers turned a large part of Europe into graveyard and slave camps. In Germany and territories, that came under Germany, nearly 6 million Jews were killed. Millions of people were sent to concentration camps and were killed.

      Many of these camps were death camps where new ways of killing people were introduced. People were being brunt alive in gas chambers and prisoners were made to dig graves, were shot, and then buried in the same graves. German Nazis were leading in torturing and brutality among fascist powers.

      Many of these brutalities came to light after the defeat of Germany and when people who survived these camps told the stories of what happened there. The brutalities caused by the Japanese in their territories were no less than Germans. They used to carry inhuman experiments on people.

    • Use of Atom Bomb by the USA:

    The atom bomb was first made by the USA during the Second World War. The project to develop the Atom Bomb was taken up by US when some scientists approached US. They suspected that Germany was making the Atom bomb.

    Atom Bomb was first tested in July 1945 but Germany had already surrendered by then. Many people who helped in developing Atom bomb appealed to the government to not use this bomb against Japan.

    They suspected that it would bring a race in the production of Atomic weapons if it was used on Japan but the government used it on Japan and did it twice. The government justified the use of Atom bombs as it brought the end of the war immediately.

    However, many people thought it was to establish US superiority over the world as it was the only country that possessed this weapon at that time.




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