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World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict, the joining of what had initially been two separate wars. The first began in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War; the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland.[1] This global conflict split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. It involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread and largest war in history, propelling the participants into a state of "total war", which erased the distinction between civil and military resources, as nations focused their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities toward winning (and ending) the war. Over 60 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.[2] The financial cost of the war is estimated at about a trillion 1944 U.S. dollars worldwide,[3][4] making it the most costly war in capital as well as lives.

The Allies were victorious, and from among them emerged two superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union, the tension between them setting the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 45 years. The United Nations was formed in hopes of preventing further international conflicts. The self determination spawned by the war accelerated decolonization movements in Asia and Africa, while Europe itself began moving toward integration.[5]

See also Outline of World War II. Articles related to World War II are presented in the alphabetical index below:

World War II articles
Alphabetical index: 0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Campaigns  |  Countries  |  Equipment
Lists  |  Outline  |  Timeline  |  Portal  |  Category


  1. ^ Official military histories in Commonwealth nations refer to the conflict as the Second World War, while the United States' official histories refer to the conflict as World War II. English translations of the official histories of other nations tend to resolve into English as Second World War also, for example zweite weltkrieg in German. See C.P. Stacey Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, for example. "Official" usage of these terms is giving way to popular usage and the two terms are becoming interchangeable even in formal military history.
  2. ^ Dunnigan, James; Albert Nofi. Dirty Little Secrets of World War II: Military Information No One Told You About the Greatest, Most Terrible War in History, William Morrow & Company, 1994. ISBN 0-688-12235-3
  3. ^ Mayer, E. (2000) "World War II" course lecture notes on (Victorville, California: Victor Valley College)
  4. ^ Coleman, P. (1999) "Cost of the War," World War II Resource Guide (Gardena, California: The American War Library)
  5. ^ "World War II". The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  


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