What year was World War II?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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While there is little debate regarding the dates for which World War II was considered at an end, there is considerable debate regarding precisely when it began.  Many Americans view the start of World War II with the Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. Naval and Army installations in Hawaii, especially the massive naval base at Pearl Harbor, the date for which was December 7, 1941, what U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt memorably termed “a date which will live in infamy.”  For most of the rest of the world, however, the war began much earlier.  The rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany emboldened his ally in Italy, Benito Mussolini, to engage in a series of military incursions in Africa, especially, Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935.  Similarly, Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1937 is considered by many in Asia as marking the start of the global conflagration.  Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, having already occupied the region known as the Sudetenland per the Munich Agreements with Great Britain, is also considered a reasonable date to mark the start of the war.  A more reasonable event to signify the beginning of the “world war,” however, could be the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, and that is the date that this educator would use.  (Germany’s invasion would be followed in a matter of days by the Soviet Union’s invasion of eastern Poland, per the terms of the infamous pact previously concluded between Hitler and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.)

Another key date that preceded the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the official U.S. entry into the war was Germany’s June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, despite the aforementioned pact between the two dictators.  It should also be noted that the United States had been acting as an unofficial participant in the European war well-before the December 1941 attacks on Hawaii.  In late 1939, Roosevelt convinced Congress to repeal the Neutrality Act so that he could initiate what would become a massive series of aid shipments to Great Britain and France, with the latter’s aid ceasing after the fall of Paris to German forces in June 1940.  For purposes of discussion, all the above considered, the best date to mark the start of the war is September 1939, when German forces rolled into Poland.

The dates marking the end of World War II are much easier to determine.  The war in Europe officially ended with Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945, and the war in the Far East ended following the U.S. atomic bombings of two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in August 1945.  Japan officially surrendered on August 15, 1945.

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tyler-k | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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World War 2 began on September 1, 1939 and ended on September 2, 1945. It began when Germany invaded Poland. Technically, different countries will give different dates on when things began and ended depending on when they became involved with the war. But it officially began on September 1 of 1939.

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amysor | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

World War II officially started on September 1st, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Although, the dates vary for countries. For example, for America its on  , since we tried to stay neutral, but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor offically brought us into the war on December 7, 1941. World War II officially ended on May 8th, 1945, when the Germans surrendered to the allies.

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