Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga steams through heavy north Pacific seas, en route to attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, early December 1941. Carrier Zuikaku is at right. Frame from a motion picture film taken from the carrier Akagi. The original film was found in 1943.
The build up was slow, at least six years, but on September 3, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany and this can probably be taken as the “Official” start of World War II.
Germany had been working on it through most of the 1930s. Hitler, appointed German Chancellor in January, 1933, had has his one goal –- the revitalization of his country from the humiliation of a World War I defeat, and the creation of an empire that would dominate Western Europe.
He withdrew his country from the League of Nations, stepped up German rearmament, remilitarized the Rhineland in violation of various treaties, occupied Austria, took over parts of Czechoslovakia, and invaded Poland.
Japan, on the other hand, invaded China in 1931 and through the rest of that decade continued to move further and further into attempting to control China. The start of World War II in Europe gave Japan the excuse to make its move into dominating the whole Pacific area.
America stood on the sidelines, not wanting to become involved in another war and may have stayed that way, except for Japan’s fatal mistake of bombing Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. America immediately declared war on Japan and then Germany and Italy.
The whole world was now virtually at war, certainly all the Northern Hemisphere and some countries, notably Australia and South Africa, in the South as well.
The end came with the suicide of Hitler and the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan in August, 1945. From 1939 until the formal surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, almost 60 million people died in this worst of all wars.
Credits: www.historyofengland.net; US Army; US Marine Corps.; US Navy; Tatyana Gordeeva, German Culture at http://www.germanculture.com.ua; US Dept. of State; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) USA.
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