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World War II
World War II: The War Against Fascism

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States of America was forced to emerge from years of isolationism and enter the worst conflict in world history.

The seeds of the Second World War were sown when totalitarian regimes rose in Germany, Italy, and Japan (the countries responsible for forming the Axis Powers). Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader of Germany, in seeking to expand his country's territory, invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium and France in 1939-40. Despite the efforts of Great Britain and other Allied countries, Germany ran virtually unchecked through Europe in the first few years of the war, but was stopped short of an invasion of England as the British held their own in the air-based Battle of Britain. On the Eastern front, early victories against the Soviet Union were counterbalanced by monumental losses at the Battles of Leningrad and Stalingrad.

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Early U.S. involvement in the war was on an indirect level, as America delivered valuable supplies to Allied comrades. However, that involvement became official after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a day that in the immortal words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt would "live in infamy." With U.S. aid, the Allies began to recapture the territory which had been lost to the Nazis in the early days of the war. Victories in North Africa and Sicily in 1943 exerted pressure on the Axis powers, and Italy ceased to be an enemy after Mussolini was ousted in the summer of 1943.

American, British, and Canadian troops invaded German-occupied France on June 6, 1944 -- an event which would forever be known as D-Day. The invasion and subsequent Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944 eventually turned the tide of the war in favor of the Allies. Germany's defeat became a foregone conclusion when Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945; final surrender would come eight days later. It was then that the world had to come to terms with the slaughter of millions of people -- mostly Jewish -- under the Nazi regime.

In the Pacific Theater, the U.S. and Japan waged a back-and-forth struggle, with Japan scoring early victories in the Philippines and the South Pacific. The U.S. halted the Japanese advance at the Battle of Midway on June 5, 1942, one of the first battles in naval history where neither of the main fleets came within sight of each other. Fierce fighting in Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima ensued, with the Allies coming out on top only after heavy losses. The Battle of the Philippines in 1944 was the beginning of the end for Japan, as the Japanese Navy was all but wiped out by Allied forces.

Fire bombs were dropped on Tokyo and other Japanese cities in early 1945, but despite the damage, Japan was still reluctant to concede defeat. U.S. President Harry Truman subsequently authorized the dropping of atom bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which occurred on August 6 and 9, 1945. Japan surrendered unconditionally on September 2, 1945.

The statistical results of World War II were stunning: all told, approximately 61 million people lost their lives, with the Soviet Union (over 25 million) and China (11 million) suffering the most fatalities, most of them civilians. As a result of the war, the United States emerged as the world's leading military and economic power, and geopolitical boundaries changed radically, with the Soviet Union controlling most of Eastern Europe. The strained relations between these two nations would set the stage for the Cold War, which would define global politics for decades to come.

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Spanish-American War @ - Offers videos for sale along with several articles about the conflict.

The World of 1898 - Library of Congress project includes chronologies, maps, literature of the war, biographies and articles.

Spanish-American War Centennial - Includes photographs, first-hand accounts, profiles of weapons, and propaganda.

Naval Historical Center - Explores elements of the various naval engagements and offers profiles of the Americans involved.

A War in Perspective - New York Public Library offers an overview of the war era.

Centennial of the Spanish-American War - Gives a background of the war's causes and effects.

Remember the Maine - View photos and interactive maps while reading a summary of the war's events.

Motion Pictures - Download video files and view photos from the conflict. - Locate articles, documents, links, and a wealth of essays.

National Museum of Health and Medicine - Read accounts of how U.S. Army medical personnel dealt with the problems of fighting a war overseas.

West Point Atlas

Find detailed maps of important World War II locations and events.

European Theater

Pacific Theater


World War II History Archive
Peruse biographies of military legends and important leaders from the conflict. Discussions
Chat with others about World War II.

Veterans Stories
Read first-hand accounts of the war, from soliders and commanders on both sides.

Museums and Memorials
Find contact information for World War II museums and memorials.


Special Features

Get a comprehensive overview of the planning and execution of the Normandy invasion.

Pearl Harbor History Directory
Spotlight on the surprise attack includes an overview of events and useful links.

USS Arizona Memorial
Tribute is dedicated to the warship which was lost at Pearl Harbor.

Hart's War
Read about this World War II prison drama starring Bruce Willis.

Rarey's Sketchbook
Read about a young cartoonist's exploits with the 379th Fighter Squadron.

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