It is estimated that during the conflict 27 million soldiers and 25 million civilians died, including 6 million Jews.
The conflict was divided between the Allies and the Axis:
- Allies : England, United States, Soviet Union and France.
- Axis: Germany, Italy and Japan.
The Axis countries won the initial battles of the conflict, then there was a balance of power between these groups and, finally, the Allied countries win the war, in 1945.
Here are some of the highlights of this conflict:
1 – Invasion of Poland by Germany (1939)
One of the main reasons for the Second World War was the expansionist desire of the German Empire . By 1938, Hitler had already annexed Austria and territories of what was then Czechoslovakia to his empire and Poland was his other target. Important events of world war ii
Anticipating a German invasion, Poland signed an agreement with France and England. Through this agreement, these countries pledged to provide military support to Poland if Germany invaded their territory.
On September 1, 1939, German troops invaded Polish territory and started fighting. Poland’s army was not well equipped and could not resist the attacks, nor could it count on the support of France and England as provided for in the agreement.
The German victory in this invasion was mainly due to its blitzkrieg strategy, called Blitzkrieg , an innovative tactic that combined attacks by land and air. Two days after this invasion, England and France declared war on Germany and World War II officially began .
2 – Babi Yar Massacre (1941)
On September 29 and 30, 1941, a mass shooting lasting about 40 hours would leave nearly 34,000 people dead in the city of Kiev, Ukraine, during the Nazi occupation of the city.
Kiev was known for its large Jewish community and the name of the massacre refers to the place where the shooting took place, a ravine called Babi Yar. Important events of world war ii
This massacre was carried out by the Einsatzgruppen – a Nazi extermination group that operated against Jews. Kiev had been under Nazi rule since the 19th of September 1941 and on the 24th some buildings used by the Nazi administration were bombed.
These had already been installed by the Soviet secret police before the German occupation, but regardless, the Nazis decided to take revenge for the action by executing the Jews.
They put up posters around the city calling on Jews to come to the designated place with their documents and money. According to the posters, anyone who did not attend the scene would be shot.
Believing that the Nazis would do nothing against the Jews and that the summons could be a resettlement, 33,000 people turned up at the scene.
Over the next 36 hours, these people were systematically shot and their bodies were later exhumed to leave no trace of the massacre.
3 – Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944)
The siege of Leningrad, a city in the Soviet Union, was an action of brutal violence by Nazi troops during World War II. Despite having signed a non-aggression pact in 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union were rivals and the possibility of a conflict was almost inevitable. Important events of world war ii
Hitler’s first (1889–1945) attack on the Soviet Union was Operation Barbarossa , in 1941, when an estimated 3.6 million troops from Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The German army came very close to the capital Moscow, but the Soviets managed to push them back.
The Germans then left for Leningrad. The Soviets believed that the German army would attack the city, but the strategy was different: the Nazis surrounded the city and did not let anyone in or out.
The city was besieged for approximately 900 days. Gradually, access to food and water became difficult and the number of people dying of hunger or epidemics increased every day.
4 – Attack on the American naval base Pearl Harbor (1941)
Japan, since the 1930s, adopted an aggressive and imperialist posture of territorial expansion in Asia, especially in relation to China. Added to this posture, Japan and the United States, throughout the 20th century, already disputed some regions and their relationship became more tense. Important events of world war ii
On December 7, 1941, Japan unexpectedly attacked the American naval base Pearl Harbor , located in Hawaii. The target was chosen because of Japan’s territorial expansion interests in the Pacific Islands.
This attack caused about 2500 deaths, but the objective of the action – which was the complete destruction of the naval base – was not achieved. Many American vessels were damaged, but the US shipping industry was able to recover the losses in a short time.
From this attack, the United States declared war on Japan, a conflict that would only end with the surrender of Japan after the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
5 – Battle of Stalingrad (1943)
The Battle of Stalingrad – one of the bloodiest conflicts of World War II – took place between Germany and the Soviet Union and lasted from July 1942 to February 1943. Important events of world war ii
Stalingrad was a Soviet city where there was an important industrial park and a strategic oil crossing. Their invasion was part of Operation Barbarossa, which sought to dominate the cities of Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad.
The attack on the city began with a bombardment and then the invasion of troops by land. Hitler became obsessed with conquering this city and concentrated a lot of resources on this battle.
The conflicts that took place in the city were extremely bloody, reports from the Soviets said that the situation was hellish and desperate.
The Soviets resisted due to the daily supply of soldiers, the support of the population in combat and the express orders of Stalin (1878-1953) forbidding his soldiers to retreat. In addition, German troops had difficulty adapting to the region’s low temperatures. Important events of world war ii
Weakened and unable to face the Soviet offensive, in February 1943 the Germans surrendered.
6 – Invasion of Normandy (1944)
The invasion of Normandy, on the northern coast of France, took place on June 6, 1944. Part of France was taken by the Germans and this invasion was carried out by the allied countries, with the intention of making the German troops retreat.
On that day, also known as D-Day , about 1 million soldiers from allied countries entered French territory through the beaches of the Normandy region.
The victory of the Allies in this invasion was due to the surprise factor – the Germans imagined the invasion of the territory, but they were wrong about where it would happen. In addition, General Eisenhower (1890-1969) of the United States received intercepted information from the Nazis, which facilitated the attack. Important events of world war ii
This episode, along with the Battle of Stalingrad, marked the beginning of the Allied victory in the world conflict .
7 – Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945)
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima – it was the first time this type of weapon was used in human history.
The reason the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese city was the attempt to force the surrender of that country. Japan had refused to sign the Potsdam Declaration , a document that set out Japan’s terms of surrender.
Made of uranium, this bomb caused the immediate death of at least 70,000 people. After the dropping of the first bomb, Japan refused to surrender, as it did not believe the United States would have another atomic bomb.
With the refusal to surrender, on August 9, the United States drops the second atomic bomb, this time on the city of Nagasaki. Important events of world war ii
More powerful than the first bomb, it ended up causing less destruction due to the geographic conditions of the city. As it was made up of many hills and mountains, some parts were protected.
These attacks destroyed much of Japanese cities and caused inestimable damage to life . In addition to the people who died at the time of the explosion and in the days that followed, the affected population had to deal with the consequences of radiation for the rest of their lives.
After the second attack, the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, declared the country’s surrender and World War II was officially ended worldwide.