From the start of the war in 1939 until the Empire of Japan finally surrendered in 1945, the Second World War resulted in the most deaths and global devastation in human history, as it's estimated that over 50 million people were killed in the conflict. Are you an expert on the ins and outs of this deadly war? Here's a quiz where you can find out.
The after effects of World War I, along with the economic depression that hit the world in the 1930s, created the perfect breeding ground for another major conflict to emerge. In fact, the signs of the coming war were present well before the latter half of the '30s. When war finally erupted and countries picked sides, there was no turning back until one side gave an unconditional surrender. Surrender finally came in 1945, as the Allies managed a string of massive victories against the Axis Powers.
How much do you know about the growing conflict, the war and the aftermath of it all? Can you recall the names of the most important battles and figures from the war? Do you know how WWII changed the way battles are fought?
When you're ready to test your knowledge on the Second World War, give this quiz a shot and see if you can blow it out of the water.
Even prior to the invasion of Poland, Germany made moves to strengthen its position in Europe and prepare for a coming conflict. These moves included annexing Austria and forming an alliance with Italy and Japan. Great Britain and France watched as the future war machine built itself up.
Adolf Hitler rose to power in a devastated Germany that was looking for answers to their economic woes after World War I. Through charisma, antisemitism and promises of rebuilding Germany, Hitler was able to use the internal discord in the country to propel the Nazi Party to the forefront of German politics.
In the long run, Germany did not plan on sticking to the Nonaggression Pact made with Russia. However, Germany knew it had to keep Russia on the sidelines at the start of the war, particularly with the invasion of Poland and the decision to conquer France.
Blitzkrieg involved the use of motorized weaponry, such as tanks, to quickly overwhelm the opposition into surrender. The strategy was effective for Germany because they did not have the resources for a drawn-out war.
Britain was on the verge of collapse in 1940, as Germany tried to press its position across the English Channel. When discussing the role of the Royal Air Force in defending Britain, Winston Churchill said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
Japan launched the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 in an attempt to cripple the United States Pacific Fleet before it became involved in the war. The Japanese managed to hit all eight battleships in the harbor, sinking four of them. However, all U.S. carriers were out of the harbor at the time, saving the Pacific Fleet from complete destruction.
As Adolf Hitler sought to liberate Germans living in Czechoslovakia, Britain sent Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to negotiate a settlement as to not start another European war. Initially, the negotiations appeared to work out, and Chamberlain returned to Britain with the assurance that the German expansion would go no further. That was not the case, of course.
Launched under code name "Operation Weserubung," Germany's invasion of Norway was a strategic move that provided Germany with a coastline to control the North Atlantic. It also set up a buffer between Britain and Sweden, which Germany relied on for supplies of iron ore.
Serving in World War I, where he was wounded and taken prisoner, Charles de Gaulle had plenty of military experience that prepared him for the Second World War. When France sought an armistice agreement at the start of the war, de Gaulle was one of the main opponents, encouraging his French brethren to fight instead.
Germany believed that a bombing campaign against Britain's most important city would hurt British morale for the war. Though the initial strikes were successful, Germany eventually had to turn to surprise night bombing, as Britain had effectively countered their attacks during the day.
The Tripartite Pact divided the world into two spheres of influence. Japan was given control over Greater East Asia, while Germany and Italy were allowed to take control of Europe.
The Heer was the result of Adolf Hitler's policy of rearmament, which was significantly expanded with the rise of the Nazi Party in 1933. The successful rebuild of the German army was one of the reasons the country was so successful in achieving short, decisive victories early in the war.
Though there were skirmishes along the border of Egypt, both Italy and Britain played it safe at the start of the North African Campaign. However, with the surrender of France in 1940, Italy finally felt confident enough to launch an attack against the British in Egypt, though supply problems eventually halted their advancement.
With 3 million soldiers and over 3,000 tanks, the German invasion of Russia hit the Russians by surprise due to the treaty the two countries had signed. The invasion proved costly for both sides, resulting in over 20 million deaths.
Though the Soviet forces in Moscow managed to hold off a German offensive against the city, it was at Stalingrad that the Russians managed to land a decisive defeat against the Germans. The victory came after the Russian winter set in, starving and freezing many of the German invaders.
Benito Mussolini spent his younger years working as a journalist, where he promoted socialist ideas that often sought to incite violence. He eventually split from the Socialist Party and started his own newspaper, where he continued to promote the overthrow of the Italian government.
A major contributor to the Allied victory in Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the most popular men in America when the war came to an end in 1945. Though Eisenhower opposed the presidency, he was eventually talked into running because of the demand for his leadership across the country.
On June 6, 1944, over 150,000 soldiers from America, Britain and Canada landed on the beaches of Normandy. The Germans had the beaches heavily fortified, but they did not know where the landing would take place, forcing German units to remain stationed elsewhere.
When the German Sixth Army finally surrendered to the Russians, the bloody fighting and starvation had taken its toll, but around 90,000 German soldiers were still alive. However, of those captured, only 5,000 would make it out of the Russian prison camps alive.
The Tehran Conference gave the three great leaders of the United States, Britain and Russia the first opportunity to meet and discuss how to address both the war in Europe and the war in the Pacific. They decided that the war in Europe should be handled first, then they could focus their efforts on the Empire of Japan.
In his final attempt to re-secure Europe, Adolf Hitler aimed to split the Allied army by using a surprise blitzkrieg. The initial assault was successful, but General George Patton managed to move the Third Army to Bastogne, where they staved off the German attack.
By the end of 1942, the Soviets were being hammered hard by the German advancement into their country. In an effort to relieve their new ally, the other Allied nations landed troops in North Africa to divert German forces away from the Eastern Front.
Italian rebels overthrew and arrested Benito Mussolini in 1943, but the Germans still held onto Northern Italy, with a particularly strong hold over Rome. When Allied forces finally took back Rome, the people of the city rushed out onto the streets to praise their liberators.
After Japan failed to crush U.S. fleet carriers in the Pacific during the attack on Pearl Harbor, they devised a plan to draw them out into open waters and launch an ambush attack. Breaking the Japanese code signaling this attack, the United States was properly prepared and sunk four Japanese fleet carriers, decimating the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Following a two-month campaign to capture the Malayan Peninsula, the Empire of Japan finally set their eyes on Singapore, securing a victory in about 15 days. The British defeat and the surrender of around 80,000 troops was one of the most devastating losses in British history.
Paris was under the control of Nazi Germany for more than four years when it was finally liberated by the French 2nd Armored Division assisted by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. Initially, there were plans to delay the liberation of the city, but General Charles de Gaulle demanded the plan be put forth or he would order the attack himself.
The Battle of the Coral Sea proved that aircraft carriers would be the future of warfare, as they became the most dominant force at sea. However, during the battle, both sides missed opportunities to land critical blows against their opponent, as they were just figuring out how an air-sea battle worked.
President Harry Truman became a critical figure in the post-war era after the defeat of Germany and Japan. He was particularly instrumental in developing the U.S. policy to contain communism, even leading the country into the Korean War in 1950.
Joseph Stalin pitted two of his military commanders, Georgy Zhukov and Ivan Konev, against one another as they advanced to capture Berlin. The goal here was to capture Berlin as quickly as possible so other Allied nations, especially the United States, could not claim the victory.
Made up of heavy fortifications, the Siegfried Line ran for more than 390 miles from Kleve in the north to Weil am Rhein in the south. The fortifications consisted of thick bunkers containing machine guns and tank traps made of concrete walls, mines and barbed wire.
Adolf Hitler held out in an underground bunker as the assault on Berlin commenced. As the city above him along with its people crumbled, Hitler took a cyanide capsule, then shot himself with a pistol.
As the war in the Pacific was coming to an end, the United States sought to capture Iwo Jima because of the three airfields located on the island. Since the island was so close to Japan, they hoped to use these airfields to launch an invasion of the Japanese mainland.
The devastation initially caused by dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was significant, killing over 100,000 soldiers and civilians. However, the effects from the radiation after the bomb was dropped were just as devastating, causing tens of thousands of deaths in the months to come.
The division of Berlin was viewed as the division between democracy and communism that would come to define the Cold War era. Both the United States and the USSR became the two most dominant world powers during this time.
Overseeing Allied forces in the Pacific, Douglas MacArthur was given the honor of accepting Japan's surrender on September 2, 1945. When the war ended, he helped rebuild the Japanese economy and establish a new constitution in the country.