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World War II

May 29, 2021
We begin at the end of the First World War. After the defeat of the Central Powers, harsh conditions are imposed on the defeated. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire are dismantled. According to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany loses its colonies and many territories. This especially benefits Poland, which recreates itself and gains access to the sea, dividing Germany in two. The German army must be limited to 100,000 men without heavy weapons or air power. Ultimately, Germany and her allies are solely responsible for the war and must pay all reparations. The German people see the treaty as a humiliation. The only consolation for the country is that, since there was no fighting on its territory, its infrastructure and industry are intact.
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Meanwhile, the victors also do not unanimously agree on the treaties. In Italy, public anger is increasing because the country does not obtain all the territories promised by the allies, in addition to suffering a high death toll, some 600,000 soldiers. In the United States, the Senate goes against President Woodrow Wilson's wishes and does not ratify the Treaty of Versailles, so the United States does not join the new League of Nations. This international organization is tasked with preserving peace and developing cooperation between nations. However, Russia, which became the USSR after the Bolshevik Revolution and a civil war, is excluded from the League of Nations.
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Weakened and frustrated by the loss of European territories, Russia finds itself isolated while the West fears the spread of communism. The United Kingdom focuses its attention on its immense empire that covers almost a quarter of the planet's land surface. France, whose northern regions are particularly affected by the war, finds itself without strong allies in the effort to defend the Treaty of Versailles, which is rejected by the German people. In Germany, high debt and speculation in the mark cause hyperinflation. The country slows down payments for war reparations. In reaction, France and Belgium, counting on these payments for their own reconstruction, send troops to occupy the Ruhr, a rich industrial region.
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Hyperinflation reaches its peak. 1 dollar, which in 1914 was worth about 4 marks, in November 1923 was quoted at 4,200,000,000,000 marks. Some bills become less valuable than the paper they are printed on. The United States and the United Kingdom propose a plan to adjust the German debt and provide credit to the country so that it can reactivate its economy. The United States then lends to Germany, which resumes paying war reparations to the victors, who in turn are indebted to the United States for purchasing weapons and equipment on credit during the war. The United States thus becomes the backbone of the

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economy.
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After a year of reforms, Germany returns to growth. Tensions decrease and the country is even admitted to the League of Nations. The global economy is booming, with the United States leading the way. The abundance of raw materials and the development of chain work in factories accelerates production and lowers prices. In Italy, Mussolini's fascist party gains full dictatorial power by banning all other political parties. The Wall Street crash occurs in New York and causes the most serious economic crisis of the 20th century. Its repercussions are global. Germany is severely affected: 30% of its population is unemployed and poverty is skyrocketing.
The government in power is held responsible for the situation, fueling the rise of extremism. In the legislative elections of 1932, the far-right NSDAP party, also known as the Nazi party, wins. Its president Adolf Hitler is placed as head of government. In a short time he eliminates all opposition and gains absolute power. The Weimar Republic is replaced by the Third Reich. Hitler's ambition is to unite the German peoples - whom he considers "superior" - into one great nation. He wants to annul the Treaty of Versailles and annihilate Jews and Marxists. The country leaves the League of Nations, suspends war reparations payments and reinstates compulsory military service.
In reaction, France and the United Kingdom organize a weak protest. Hitler sees this as an opportunity to massively revive the German military industry. In 1935, Italy launched a policy of colonial expansion. Her armies enter Abyssinia, an independent country and member of the League of Nations. Despite occupying his capital, Italian forces face continued resistance and the exiled emperor of Abyssinia would never sign an armistice. In Spain, a civil war pits the Republicans against the nationalists of General Francisco Franco, who has military support from Italy and Germany. The two countries take the opportunity to seek rapprochement and become allies by forming the Rome-Berlin Axis.
Germany also signs an alliance with the Empire of Japan, which invaded Manchuria in 1931. Japan now takes advantage of a civil war in China, pitting nationalists against communists, to declare war on the country. Japan takes over new territories and massacres the population. In Austria, the local Nazi party, after applying much pressure, manages to officially annex the country to Germany. Hitler now wants to take over the Sudetenland, a Czechoslovakian territory where 3.5 million Germans live. France and the United Kingdom, trying to avoid a new war, betray their Czechoslovak ally by authorizing the invasion of the territory. However, six months later, Germany violates the agreement and invades the entire country.
Slovakia becomes a satellite state of Germany. Hungary, which lost two-thirds of its territory after World War I, allies itself with Germany. Hitler now looks at the Polish runner. He issues an ultimatum to Poland, who rejects him. France and the United Kingdom then announce that they would support Poland in the event of a German invasion. Meanwhile, Italy invades Albania, while in Asia, a border incident between Manchukuo - dominated by Japan - and Mongolia - a Soviet ally - is followed by a battle between the Japanese and Soviet armies. Despite its alliance with Japan, Germany does not intervene as the country prepares to invade Poland.
Germany even signs a non-aggression pact with the USSR. A secret protocol delimits the spheres of influence of the two powers in Poland and Eastern Europe. After its defeat, Japan abandons its westward expansion and instead focuses its attention on the south. On September 1, Germany attacks Poland without a formal declaration of war. In reaction, France and the United Kingdom declare war on Germany. The Polish armies are quickly overwhelmed by Germany's new combat strategy known as Blitzkrieg. It involves concentrating maximum force at certain points to quickly break through a front line, surround enemy pockets, and neutralize them. Even though German forces are concentrated in the East, the Allies do not take advantage of the situation and remain stationed on the borders, instead preparing for a war of attrition as they did during World War I.
The Soviet Union, in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, invades eastern Poland. The two powers prevail and occupy the country. Then the USSR focuses on Finland. When the latter refuses to renegotiate the border, which Russia considers a threat to Leningrad due to its proximity, the Red Army begins an invasion. But it faces greater resistance than expected and, despite its clear numerical superiority, the USSR struggles to win. Finally, peace is signed and the border is pushed back. But the Winter War turns out to be a fiasco for the USSR, which does not go unnoticed by Hitler, who sees it as a weakness of the Red Army.
In the West, the Allies threaten an important iron supply route that passes through Norway and supplies 50% of German industry. In reaction, Germany invades Denmark and Norway. Maintaining its momentum, the Reich launches an invasion of the Benelux. The French and British, fearing a new Schlieffen plan, similar to that of World War I, quickly send a large part of their forces north to form a common front with the Belgian and Dutch armies. But Germany, as it did in Poland, launches a blitzkrieg. After massively bombing a weak point, their Panzer tanks break through the front line and head to the sea, which they reach within a week. 1.5 million allied soldiers are surrounded.
In a few days, more than 330,000 British and French soldiers are evacuated through the port of Dunkirk, which is taken on June 4. The German armies then charge into Paris. Italy takes the opportunity to declare war on France, opening a new front in the south. The new head of the French government, Marshal Philippe Pétain, is forced to ask for an armistice. But General Charles De Gaulle, exiled in London, asks the French to continue the fight. After the signing of the armistice, Pétain's government moved to Vichy, leaving the southeast and the French colonies under his control. Germany occupies the north and the Atlantic coast.
The British begin capturing and destroying French ships. In the East, the USSR, still aligned with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, takes over the Baltics and Bessarabia without a battle. Hitler now wants to invade Britain. But the island is too well defended by the Royal Navy, so air strikes are launched. The British RAF and the German Luftwaffe periodically clash, causing heavy losses on both sides. But the British fleet regenerates faster than the German fleet, forcing it to review its strategy. The British air force installations then become the target of bombing. On the night of August 24, a German plane misses its target and bombs a London neighborhood.
In retaliation, Britain bombs Berlin the next day. Hitler is furious. The battle takes a new turn. Both fields are beginning to target cities. Although London is periodically bombed, the Germans fail to dominate the war. Hitler then plans to abandon this front to focus his attention on the USSR. On September 27, Japan joins Germany and Italy in signing the Tripartite Pact. Despite their alliance, Germany and Italy are not fighting the same war. Mussolini concentrates his forces on the conquest of new colonies: from Libya to Egypt, from Italian East Africa to British Somaliland and from Albania to Greece. But it is a failure for his troops who retreat against the British and Greek armies, while the Royal Navy dominates the Italian fleet.
Germany is forced to intervene to prevent the Mediterranean basin from falling entirely into British hands. Another objective is to protect Romanian oil, which is vital for Germany. A German army is sent to Libya, while another heads to the Balkans. After Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, it is now Bulgaria's turn to join the Axis. In a few weeks Yugoslavia and Greece are invaded. On June 22, Germany and its allies launch a surprise military invasion (the largest in history) against the USSR, which de facto passes into the allied camp. Finland takes the opportunity to join the offensive and try to recover its lost territories.
On paper, nothing can stop the Wehrmacht, which is by far the best army in the

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. Large-scale blitzkriegs are launched, allowing the capture of some 3 million soldiers who would be tortured and starved to death in the fields. While behind the front lines, German mobile militias are tasked with massacring Jews and Bolsheviks. To support the USSR, the allies open a supply route through the Caucasus. But the route seems threatened by the Shah of Iran, who shows sympathies towards Germany. The USSR and the United Kingdom then decide to invade the country. In the USSR, the German advance is slowed by the immensity of the battlefield and the poor condition of the roads.
Furthermore, the Germans underestimated the Red Army, which despite heavy losses, quickly regenerated with the arrival of new troops from the East, where a non-aggression treaty was signed with Japan. A new front is created at the gates of Moscow, after which the German troops suffer a punch that falls from the sky. In a few days the temperatures drop below -30 degrees Celsius. Ill-equipped, German forces suffer as the Soviets counterattack and push back the front line, which then stabilizes. What Hitler feared is happening: around 80% of his army would find itself trapped in a war of attrition. On the Asian front, to counter Japan's expansionist policy, the United States imposes an embargo on oil and steel, essential resources for the country's industry and military.
However, in the southeast of the continent, in the European colonies, there are large reserves of oil, iron and rubber. While the European powers are worried about the war on the old continent, Japan believes it can quickly seize these lands. The only threat in the region is the United States and mainly its powerful Pacific fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. Japan decides to attack strongly and by surprise to delay any military intervention by the United States as much as possible. On December 7, without a declaration of war, the Japanese air force bombs the military port of Pearl Harbor. The offensive is successful, although the damage is limited.
The United States, already supplying arms to the United Kingdom, the USSR and China, joins the Allies. But it would take a few months torepair your fleet, accelerate your arms race and enter the Pacific. Japan takes advantage of this delay to successfully begin its conquest of Southeast Asia. Civilians are largely targeted throughout the war. Japan massacres populations in conquered countries. In Europe, Nazi concentration camps, initially intended to imprison political opponents, became extermination factories. Jews, gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals and people with disabilities are exterminated there. Pockets of resistance are organized both in the occupied territories and in Germany.
In Western Europe, resistance is mainly non-violent and manifests itself through strikes, refusal to collaborate, propaganda, sabotage and intelligence. In the East, mainly in Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece and in the occupied Soviet territories, militias launch guerrilla wars against the invaders. In the Atlantic Ocean, German submarines, called U-boats, attempt to blockade Britain by sinking commercial ships supplying the island. The United States, for its part, secretly embarks on research to develop atomic weapons. Furthermore, the country is now preparing to participate in the Pacific. Within two months, two decisive battles ended Japanese expansion. On the Eastern Front, Hitler launches a new offensive, this time focused solely towards the south, targeting the important oil reserves of the Caucasus and cutting off the Allied supply route.
Axis troops quickly reach the gates of Stalingrad, but the Soviets fiercely defend the industrial city. In the South Pacific, the Allied forces, led by the United States, launch a counterattack with the aim of advancing from island to island until they reach Japan. Additionally, the United States uses submarines to sink ships carrying resources to Japan. In Egypt, British troops win a decisive battle that definitively expels the Italian-German forces from the country. While in the West, an Allied landing allows the rapid capture of the French colonies. In retaliation, the Germans and Italians invade Vichy France. In the USSR, while the German 6th Army managed to seize 90% of Stalingrad with great difficulty, a Soviet counterattack takes place outside the city.
They expel the Romanian troops that form the rearguard and surround the 300,000 German soldiers in the city. After two months of resistance, they are forced to surrender. In Africa, the last Axis troops are defeated. The allies control the continent and now set their sights on southern Europe. A first landing takes place in Sicily. On the Eastern Front, Hitler tries to maintain the advantage by launching a new offensive on Kursk, which leads to the largest tank battle in history. Under pressure, Stalin urges his allies to open a new front in the West. The United Kingdom and the United States want to first weaken and demoralize Germany by intensifying bombings against industrial centers and cities.
Hamburg, the country's second city, is practically devastated. At Kursk, despite heavy losses, the Soviets prevail and dominate the Germans. In Italy, after the fall of Mussolini, a British landing threatens the country. The new government signs an armistice with the allies. But the Germans anticipate this scenario and quickly take control of the Italian territories. Now that an Allied victory seems possible, Stalin for the USSR, Churchill for the United Kingdom, and Roosevelt for the United States meet in Tehran to prepare for the end of the war. The three leaders agree to better coordinate, soon open a second front in Europe through two landings in France, and provide military support to the communist resistance led by Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia.
In the east, the siege of Leningrad ends after 872 days and has claimed the lives of at least 1 million civilians. In the West, after the bombing of German factories that produce synthetic fuel based on coal, the allies are ready to open a new front. The largest military landing in history allows troops from mainly the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada to gain a foothold in Normandy, while the USSR, for its part, launches a huge offensive that in two months pushes the Germans back 600 kilometers. In France, while a second landing takes place in the South, General De Gaulle enters a liberated Paris.
On multiple fronts, allied advances liberate countries one by one. Only the Yugoslav resistance alone expels the German troops. Once again, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt come together to prepare for the post-war period. Roosevelt obtains the future creation of the United Nations that would replace the League of Nations. Countries that declare war on Germany before March 1 would be allowed to take part, triggering a wave of war declarations with few consequences. It is also decided to recreate Poland. But Stalin refuses to give up the conquered territories. Therefore, Polish territory would be transferred to the West to the detriment of Germany, which in turn would be divided and occupied by the victors.
The USSR also vows to declare war on Japan after Germany surrenders. The last four months of the Reich prove to be the deadliest. In concentration camps, on battlefields and among populations, an average of 30,000 people die every day. Berlin is finally surrounded by the Soviets. Hitler, who had taken refuge in his bunker, committed suicide 2 days before the fall of the city. The capitulation of the Third Reich is signed in Reims on May 7 and ratified in Berlin the following day. In Potsdam, the victors decide the fate of the vanquished. Italy loses its colonies. Germany, as expected, is divided and occupied, while the east of the country becomes Polish.
The continent's new borders would lead to large-scale ethnic cleansing. The Polish and German minorities would be expelled to their new country. Finally, an ultimatum is issued to Japan, demanding its unconditional surrender. Japan ignores the ultimatum. The country has been heavily bombed by the United States for several months. More than 60 large industrial cities have already been devastated. The United States then drops 2 atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while the USSR begins to invade Manchukuo, southern Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands. Finally, on September 2, Japan surrenders. The country would be occupied by the United States until 1952.
In the West, the USSR and the United States agree to a provisional division of Korea. Finally, in Indochina, the French regain control of their former colony, but face opposition from some Vietnamese groups demanding independence. Colonial empires around the world weaken as independence movements gain momentum, sparked by heavy involvement in war and high death tolls. World War II is the deadliest war in history, with an estimated 75 million deaths, of which 66% are civilians. The Soviet Union and China are by far the worst affected, while in China the civil war between communists and nationalists resumes. Almost 3 million tons of bombs were used in Europe, devastating the continent.
Many cities are destroyed, mainly in Germany. The continent is divided: the East under Soviet influence and the West under American influence. For the first time, Germany and France would join together to revive the economy and preserve peace through the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, predecessor of the European Union. At the international level, the United Nations is created and assigned the task of preserving peace. Other international organizations such as NATO, the IMF and the World Bank are also created. From an energy point of view, the great powers begin a nuclear race and fight to control the world's oil resources.
The rivalry accelerates between the USSR and the United States. The two superpowers would embark on a Cold War.

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