World War II
World War II was a truly global war lasting from 1939-1945. It started when German Chancellor Adolf Hitler led a German invasion of Poland, followed quickly by Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and many other European countries.
In addition to his desire to dominate Europe – and eventually the world – Hitler also strove to “cleanse” Germany of the Jewish race. Up to six million Jews were murdered by Hitler’s Nazi forces, as well as Poles, homosexuals, trade unionists, and many others. Britain and France declared war on Germany shortly after the invasion of Poland.
Japan wanted to establish a dominating presence in East Asia and China, and eventually joined forces with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers. The Allies rallied to fight the Axis, and eventually included the Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and China as well as many other countries in Europe and around the world. In fear, the United States forced all Japanese Americans to live in desolate, isolated camps around the country until after the war.
The U.S. joined the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, having previously tried to stay out of the conflict. After several devastating defeats in Midway, Stalingrad, and Normandy, the Axis lost its momentum and was finally defeated completely in 1945. In all, the war eventually killed over 70 million people (mostly civilians).