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World War II Facts

World War II | General Knowledge for Young Learners - Class 1

  • The war lasted six years and one day. 
  • WWII began on September 1st 1939. 
  • WWII ended on September 2nd 1945. 
  • The war began when Germany invaded Poland. 
  • Great Britain declared war against Germany on September 3rd 1939. 
  • Germany was led by Adolf Hitler - the leader of the Nazi party. 
  • Hitler had extreme anti-Semitic beliefs, which meant that he wanted to eradicate Jewish people. 
  • Jewish people were sent to concentration camps under Hitler's rule, where they lived in poor conditions and were forced to work. 
  • The war had two sides: the Allies and the Axis powers. 
  • Great Britain was bombed heavily during the Blitz. 
  • The United States was also involved in the war. 
  • It's estimated that 55 million people died. 
  • Most women stayed at home and took over the men's jobs when they went to fight in factories. 
  • Both sides used poison gas in battles. 
  • Winston Churchill helped the Allies to victory. 
  • Some countries, such as Spain and Switzerland, were neutral and didn't get involved in the war. 
  • This was the second world war of the 20th Century. The first took place between 1914 and 1918. 
  • The Battle of Britain was the first ever battle to be fought only in the air using aeroplanes. 
  • Great Britain had two Prime Ministers during the war: Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill. 
  • It was Japan that officially ended the war on 2nd September 1945.

What Was World War II?

  • The second world war - also known as World War II - was one of the largest conflicts of the 20th Century. It involved many countries across the world, including Great Britain, although most of the war was fought in Europe. 
  • It started when Germany invaded Poland, although there were several factors that contributed to the war. One of the most famous figures of the war was Adolf Hitler, who attempted to take control of Europe along with the Nazi Party. 
  • Great Britain, along with other countries such as France, joined the war to stop Hitler and his allies. The war lasted six years and Hitler was eventually defeated. However, millions of lives were lost in the process. 
  • World War Two was an incredibly significant event in world history and we still mourn the millions who died at events in the 21st Century. Many children, teachers, and parents may know someone who fought in the war and its impact can still be felt today.

When Did World War II Start and Finish? 

World War II | General Knowledge for Young Learners - Class 1World War Two started 3rd September 1939. It officially ended 2nd September 1945, although fighting in many parts of the world ended before this.

Who Fought in World War II?

  • The two main groups of countries fighting in World War Two were known as ‘The Allies’ and ‘The Axis’.
  • The Allies were made up of countries including Great Britain, France, Russia, China, Australia, New Zealand, India, The Philippines, South Africa and the USA.
  • The main Axis powers were Germany, Italy and Japan. Other countries who sided with the Axis powers included Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
  • Winston Churchill (Great Britain), Franklin D Roosevelt (USA), Charles de Gaulle (France) and Joseph Stalin (Russia) were Allied leaders.
  • Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy) and Hideki Tojo (Japan) were the main Axis leaders.

How Did World War II Start? 

 There were many things that led to the outbreak of World War Two:

  • World War One ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1918. The terms of the treaty stated that Germany had to reduce its army, navy and other forces and pay reparations to some of the countries they had fought against. These reparations came to billions of pounds. This caused lots of financial problems in Germany. At one point, a loaf of bread cost so much money, you had the carry the money in a suitcase!
  • In the 1920s, a man named Adolf Hitler started a group called the National Socialist Party (also known as the Nazi Party). The group’s main beliefs were: Germany needed more land; all people who spoke German should live in one country; the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were unfair to Germany; certain groups of people were superior and people of the Jewish faith were inferior to everyone else.
  • Hitler became leader of Germany in 1933 and began to rearm. Germany began to invade other countries.
  • On 1st September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The United Kingdom had done a deal with Poland and other countries to protect them. On 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany.

Key Events of World War II

World War II | General Knowledge for Young Learners - Class 1World War II | General Knowledge for Young Learners - Class 1World War II | General Knowledge for Young Learners - Class 1

The Holocaust

  • A key part of Hitler’s ideology was extreme anti-semitism (hatred of Jews and a belief that they are inferior to others). It isn’t known how Hitler’s anti-semitism started.
  • 9th and 10th November 1938 was known as Kristallnacht (‘Night of the Broken Glass’). Synagogues were burned, Jewish businesses were looted and dozens of Jewish people were killed.
  • As more of Europe was invaded, persecution of Jewish people increased. They were barred from schools and universities and many lost their jobs. They were forced to live in overcrowded areas called ghettos where they had little to eat or drink.
  • Areas known as concentration camps were built, and Jewish people were transported to them on cattle trucks. On arrival, the young, elderly and sick were immediately killed. Others were forced to work under terrible conditions, many of them dying.
  • Six million Jewish men, women and children were killed in the Holocaust.
  • As well as Jews, many other groups of people were put in concentration camps. These included people who had spoken out against Hitler, gay people, non-white people, gypsies and disabled people.
  • Many Jewish people use the term ‘Shoah’ to describe the Holocaust.
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