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The United Kingdom, France and Italy formed the Stresa Front in April in order to contain Germany, a key step towards military globalization ; however, that June, the United Kingdom made an independent naval agreement with Germany, easing prior restrictions. The Soviet Union, concerned by Germany's goals of capturing vast areas of Eastern Europe , drafted a treaty of mutual assistance with France.
Before taking effect though, the Franco-Soviet pact was required to go through the bureaucracy of the League of Nations, which rendered it essentially toothless. Hitler defied the Versailles and Locarno treaties by remilitarising the Rhineland in March , encountering little opposition due to appeasement.
The Kuomintang KMT party in China launched a unification campaign against regional warlords and nominally unified China in the mids, but was soon embroiled in a civil war against its former Chinese Communist Party allies  and new regional warlords. In , an increasingly militaristic Empire of Japan , which had long sought influence in China  as the first step of what its government saw as the country's right to rule Asia , used the Mukden Incident as a pretext to launch an invasion of Manchuria and establish the puppet state of Manchukuo.
China appealed to the League of Nations to stop the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Japan withdrew from the League of Nations after being condemned for its incursion into Manchuria. The two nations then fought several battles, in Shanghai , Rehe and Hebei , until the Tanggu Truce was signed in Thereafter, Chinese volunteer forces continued the resistance to Japanese aggression in Manchuria , and Chahar and Suiyuan.
The war began with the invasion of the Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy Regno d'Italia , which was launched from Italian Somaliland and Eritrea. Both Italy and Ethiopia were member nations, but the League did little when the former clearly violated Article X of the League's Covenant.
When civil war broke out in Spain, Hitler and Mussolini lent military support to the Nationalist rebels , led by General Francisco Franco. The Soviet Union supported the existing government, the Spanish Republic.
Over 30, foreign volunteers, known as the International Brigades , also fought against the Nationalists. Both Germany and the Soviet Union used this proxy war as an opportunity to test in combat their most advanced weapons and tactics. The Nationalists won the civil war in April ; Franco, now dictator, remained officially neutral during World War II but generally favoured the Axis. In July , Japan captured the former Chinese imperial capital of Peking after instigating the Marco Polo Bridge Incident , which culminated in the Japanese campaign to invade all of China.
The Japanese continued to push the Chinese forces back, capturing the capital Nanking in December After the fall of Nanking, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants were murdered by the Japanese. In March , Nationalist Chinese forces won their first major victory at Taierzhuang but then the city of Xuzhou was taken by Japanese in May.
In the mid-to-late s, Japanese forces in Manchukuo had sporadic border clashes with the Soviet Union and Mongolia. The Japanese doctrine of Hokushin-ron , which emphasised Japan's expansion northward, was favoured by the Imperial Army during this time.
With the Japanese defeat at Khalkin Gol in , the ongoing Second Sino-Japanese War  and ally Nazi Germany pursuing neutrality with the Soviets, this policy would prove difficult to maintain. Japan and the Soviet Union eventually signed a Neutrality Pact in April , and Japan adopted the doctrine of Nanshin-ron , promoted by the Navy, which took its focus southward, eventually leading to its war with the United States and the Western Allies.
In Europe, Germany and Italy were becoming more aggressive. In March , Germany annexed Austria , again provoking little response from other European powers. Soon the United Kingdom and France followed the counsel of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and conceded this territory to Germany in the Munich Agreement , which was made against the wishes of the Czechoslovak government, in exchange for a promise of no further territorial demands.
Although all of Germany's stated demands had been satisfied by the agreement, privately Hitler was furious that British interference had prevented him from seizing all of Czechoslovakia in one operation.
In subsequent speeches Hitler attacked British and Jewish "war-mongers" and in January secretly ordered a major build-up of the German navy to challenge British naval supremacy. In March , Germany invaded the remainder of Czechoslovakia and subsequently split it into the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and a pro-German client state , the Slovak Republic.
Greatly alarmed and with Hitler making further demands on the Free City of Danzig , the United Kingdom and France guaranteed their support for Polish independence ; when Italy conquered Albania in April , the same guarantee was extended to Romania and Greece. The situation reached a general crisis in late August as German troops continued to mobilise against the Polish border.
In August 23, when tripartite negotiations about a military alliance between France, the United Kingdom and Soviet Union stalled,  the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. Immediately after that, Hitler ordered the attack to proceed on 26 August, but upon hearing that the United Kingdom had concluded a formal mutual assistance pact with Poland, and that Italy would maintain neutrality, he decided to delay it.
In response to British requests for direct negotiations to avoid war, Germany made demands on Poland, which only served as a pretext to worsen relations.
On 1 September , Germany invaded Poland after having staged several false flag border incidents as a pretext to initiate the attack. The United Kingdom responded with an ultimatum to Germany to cease military operations, and on 3 September, after the ultimatum was ignored, France, the United Kingdom, Australia , and New Zealand declared war on Germany.
The alliance provided no direct military support to Poland, outside of a cautious French probe into the Saarland. On 8 September, German troops reached the suburbs of Warsaw. The Polish counter offensive to the west halted the German advance for several days, but it was outflanked and encircled by the Wehrmacht. Remnants of the Polish army broke through to besieged Warsaw. On 17 September , after signing a cease-fire with Japan , the Soviets invaded Eastern Poland  under a pretext that the Polish state had ostensibly ceased to exist.
Despite the military defeat, the Polish government never surrendered. Germany annexed the western and occupied the central part of Poland, and the Soviet Union annexed its eastern part; small shares of Polish territory were transferred to Lithuania and Slovakia. On 6 October, Hitler made a public peace overture to the United Kingdom and France, but said that the future of Poland was to be determined exclusively by Germany and the Soviet Union. The proposal was rejected,  and Hitler ordered an immediate offensive against France,  which would be postponed until the spring of due to bad weather.
The Soviet Union forced the Baltic countries —Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the states that were in the Soviet "sphere of influence" under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact—to sign "mutual assistance pacts" that stipulated stationing Soviet troops in these countries.
Soon after, significant Soviet military contingents were moved there. Meanwhile, Nazi-Soviet political rapprochement and economic co-operation   gradually stalled,   and both states began preparations for war. In April , Germany invaded Denmark and Norway to protect shipments of iron ore from Sweden , which the Allies were attempting to cut off.
On the same day, Germany launched an offensive against France. To circumvent the strong Maginot Line fortifications on the Franco-German border, Germany directed its attack at the neutral nations of Belgium , the Netherlands , and Luxembourg.
The United Kingdom was able to evacuate a significant number of Allied troops from the continent by early June, although abandoning almost all of their equipment. Eight days later France signed an armistice with Germany ; it was divided into German and Italian occupation zones ,  and an unoccupied rump state under the Vichy Regime , which, though officially neutral, was generally aligned with Germany. The Battle of Britain  began in early July with Luftwaffe attacks on shipping and harbours.
The German strategic bombing offensive intensified with night attacks on London and other cities in the Blitz , but failed to significantly disrupt the British war effort  and largely ended in May Using newly captured French ports, the German Navy enjoyed success against an over-extended Royal Navy , using U-boats against British shipping in the Atlantic. In November , the United States was taking measures to assist China and the Western Allies, and amended the Neutrality Act to allow "cash and carry" purchases by the Allies.
The Tripartite Pact stipulated that any country, with the exception of the Soviet Union, which attacked any Axis Power would be forced to go to war against all three.
In late summer through early autumn Italy conquered British Somaliland and made an incursion into British-held Egypt. In October Italy attacked Greece , but the attack was repulsed with heavy Italian casualties; the campaign ended within days with minor territorial changes. The Italian Navy also suffered significant defeats, with the Royal Navy putting three Italian battleships out of commission by a carrier attack at Taranto and neutralising several more warships at the Battle of Cape Matapan.
Italian defeats prompted Germany to deploy an expeditionary force to North Africa, and at the end of March Rommel 's Afrika Korps launched an offensive which drove back the Commonwealth forces. However, the Yugoslav government was overthrown two days later by pro-British nationalists.
Germany responded with simultaneous invasions of both Yugoslavia and Greece , commencing on 6 April ; both nations were forced to surrender within the month. In the Middle East, in May Commonwealth forces quashed an uprising in Iraq which had been supported by German aircraft from bases within Vichy-controlled Syria. With the Soviets wary of mounting tensions with Germany and the Japanese planning to take advantage of the European War by seizing resource-rich European possessions in Southeast Asia , the two powers signed the Soviet—Japanese Neutrality Pact in April Hitler believed that the United Kingdom's refusal to end the war was based on the hope that the United States and the Soviet Union would enter the war against Germany sooner or later.
In November , negotiations took place to determine if the Soviet Union would join the Tripartite Pact. The Soviets showed some interest, but asked for concessions from Finland, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Japan that Germany considered unacceptable.
On 18 December , Hitler issued the directive to prepare for an invasion of the Soviet Union. They were joined shortly by Finland and Hungary. Hitler's objectives were to eliminate the Soviet Union as a military power, exterminate Communism, generate Lebensraum "living space"  by dispossessing the native population  and guarantee access to the strategic resources needed to defeat Germany's remaining rivals. Although the Red Army was preparing for strategic counter-offensives before the war,  Barbarossa forced the Soviet supreme command to adopt a strategic defence.
During the summer, the Axis made significant gains into Soviet territory, inflicting immense losses in both personnel and materiel. By the middle of August, however, the German Army High Command decided to suspend the offensive of a considerably depleted Army Group Centre , and to divert the 2nd Panzer Group to reinforce troops advancing towards central Ukraine and Leningrad.
The diversion of three quarters of the Axis troops and the majority of their air forces from France and the central Mediterranean to the Eastern Front  prompted the United Kingdom to reconsider its grand strategy. By October Axis operational objectives in Ukraine and the Baltic region were achieved, with only the sieges of Leningrad  and Sevastopol continuing. The blitzkrieg phase of the war in Europe had ended. By early December, freshly mobilised reserves  allowed the Soviets to achieve numerical parity with Axis troops.
In , the United States had renounced its trade treaty with Japan, and beginning with an aviation gasoline ban in July , Japan became subject to increasing economic pressure. To increase pressure on China by blocking supply routes, and to better position Japanese forces in the event of a war with the Western powers, Japan invaded and occupied northern Indochina. Chinese nationalist forces launched a large-scale counter-offensive in early In August, Chinese communists launched an offensive in Central China ; in retaliation, Japan instituted harsh measures in occupied areas to reduce human and material resources for the communists.
German successes in Europe encouraged Japan to increase pressure on European governments in Southeast Asia. The Dutch government agreed to provide Japan some oil supplies from the Dutch East Indies , but negotiations for additional access to their resources ended in failure in June The United States, United Kingdom and other Western governments reacted to this move with a freeze on Japanese assets and a total oil embargo.
Since early the United States and Japan had been engaged in negotiations in an attempt to improve their strained relations and end the war in China. During these negotiations Japan advanced a number of proposals which were dismissed by the Americans as inadequate. Frustrated at the lack of progress and feeling the pinch of the American-British-Dutch sanctions, Japan prepared for war.
On 20 November a new government under Hideki Tojo presented an interim proposal as its final offer. It called for the end of American aid to China and for lifting the embargo on the supply of oil and other resources to Japan. In exchange Japan promised not to launch any attacks in Southeast Asia and to withdraw its forces from southern Indochina. Japan planned to rapidly seize European colonies in Asia to create a large defensive perimeter stretching into the Central Pacific.
The Japanese would then be free to exploit the resources of Southeast Asia while exhausting the over-stretched Allies by fighting a defensive war. These attacks led the United States , United Kingdom , China, Australia and several other states to formally declare war on Japan, whereas the Soviet Union, being heavily involved in large-scale hostilities with European Axis countries, maintained its neutrality agreement with Japan.
On 1 January , the Allied Big Four  —the Soviet Union, China, the United Kingdom and the United States—and 22 smaller or exiled governments issued the Declaration by United Nations , thereby affirming the Atlantic Charter ,  and agreeing to not to sign a separate peace with the Axis powers. During , Allied officials debated on the appropriate grand strategy to pursue.
All agreed that defeating Germany was the primary objective. The Americans favoured a straightforward, large-scale attack on Germany through France. The Soviets were also demanding a second front. The British, on the other hand, argued that military operations should target peripheral areas to wear out German strength, leading to increasing demoralisation, and bolster resistance forces.
Germany itself would be subject to a heavy bombing campaign. An offensive against Germany would then be launched primarily by Allied armour without using large-scale armies. At the Casablanca Conference in early , the Allies reiterated the statements issued in the Declaration by the United Nations, and demanded the unconditional surrender of their enemies.
The British and Americans agreed to continue to press the initiative in the Mediterranean by invading Sicily to fully secure the Mediterranean supply routes. By the end of April , Japan and its ally Thailand had almost fully conquered Burma , Malaya , the Dutch East Indies , Singapore , and Rabaul , inflicting severe losses on Allied troops and taking a large number of prisoners. In early May , Japan initiated operations to capture Port Moresby by amphibious assault and thus sever communications and supply lines between the United States and Australia.
The planned invasion was thwarted when an Allied task force, centred on two American fleet carriers, fought Japanese naval forces to a draw in the Battle of the Coral Sea. With its capacity for aggressive action greatly diminished as a result of the Midway battle, Japan chose to focus on a belated attempt to capture Port Moresby by an overland campaign in the Territory of Papua.
Both plans started in July, but by mid-September, the Battle for Guadalcanal took priority for the Japanese, and troops in New Guinea were ordered to withdraw from the Port Moresby area to the northern part of the island , where they faced Australian and United States troops in the Battle of Buna-Gona. By the start of , the Japanese were defeated on the island and withdrew their troops.
The first, an offensive into the Arakan region in late , went disastrously, forcing a retreat back to India by May Despite considerable losses, in early Germany and its allies stopped a major Soviet offensive in central and southern Russia, keeping most territorial gains they had achieved during the previous year.
The Germans split Army Group South into two groups: The Soviets decided to make their stand at Stalingrad on the Volga. By mid-November, the Germans had nearly taken Stalingrad in bitter street fighting. The Soviets began their second winter counter-offensive, starting with an encirclement of German forces at Stalingrad ,  and an assault on the Rzhev salient near Moscow , though the latter failed disastrously.
In mid-February, after the Soviet push had tapered off, the Germans launched another attack on Kharkov , creating a salient in their front line around the Soviet city of Kursk.
Exploiting poor American naval command decisions, the German navy ravaged Allied shipping off the American Atlantic coast. In August , the Allies succeeded in repelling a second attack against El Alamein  and, at a high cost, managed to deliver desperately needed supplies to the besieged Malta. In June the British and Americans began a strategic bombing campaign against Germany with a goal to disrupt the war economy, reduce morale, and " de-house " the civilian population. After the Guadalcanal Campaign, the Allies initiated several operations against Japan in the Pacific.
In the Soviet Union, both the Germans and the Soviets spent the spring and early summer of preparing for large offensives in central Russia. Within a week, German forces had exhausted themselves against the Soviets' deeply echeloned and well-constructed defences,  and for the first time in the war Hitler cancelled the operation before it had achieved tactical or operational success.
On 12 July , the Soviets launched their own counter-offensives , thereby dispelling any chance of German victory or even stalemate in the east. The Western Allies fought through several lines until reaching the main German defensive line in mid-November.
German operations in the Atlantic also suffered. By May , as Allied counter-measures became increasingly effective , the resulting sizeable German submarine losses forced a temporary halt of the German Atlantic naval campaign. From November , during the seven-week Battle of Changde , the Chinese forced Japan to fight a costly war of attrition, while awaiting Allied relief.
On 27 January , Soviet troops launched a major offensive that expelled German forces from the Leningrad region , thereby ending the longest and most lethal siege in history. This delay slowed subsequent Soviet operations in the Baltic Sea region.
The Allies had mixed success in mainland Asia. In March , the Japanese launched the first of two invasions, an operation against British positions in Assam, India ,  and soon besieged Commonwealth positions at Imphal and Kohima. After reassigning several Allied divisions from Italy, they also attacked southern France.
Paris was liberated on 25 August by the local resistance assisted by the Free French Forces , both led by General Charles de Gaulle ,  and the Western Allies continued to push back German forces in western Europe during the latter part of the year. An attempt to advance into northern Germany spearheaded by a major airborne operation in the Netherlands failed. In Italy, Allied advance also slowed due to the last major German defensive line.
The Soviet advance prompted resistance forces in Poland to initiate several uprisings against the German occupation. However, the largest of these, in Warsaw and a national uprising in Slovakia , did not receive Soviet support and were subsequently suppressed by the Germans. In northern Serbia , the Red Army , with limited support from Bulgarian forces, assisted the Partisans in a joint liberation of the capital city of Belgrade on 20 October.
A few days later, the Soviets launched a massive assault against German-occupied Hungary that lasted until the fall of Budapest in February In the Pacific, US forces continued to press back the Japanese perimeter. In mid-June , they began their offensive against the Mariana and Palau islands , and decisively defeated Japanese forces in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
These defeats led to the resignation of the Japanese Prime Minister, Hideki Tojo , and provided the United States with air bases to launch intensive heavy bomber attacks on the Japanese home islands. In late October, American forces invaded the Filipino island of Leyte ; soon after, Allied naval forces scored another large victory in the Battle of Leyte Gulf , one of the largest naval battles in history.
On 16 December , Germany made a last attempt on the Western Front by using most of its remaining reserves to launch a massive counter-offensive in the Ardennes and along the French—German border to split the Western Allies, encircle large portions of Western Allied troops and capture their primary supply port at Antwerp to prompt a political settlement.
They agreed on the occupation of post-war Germany, and on when the Soviet Union would join the war against Japan. It two weeks, the offensive had been repulsed, the Soviets advanced to Vienna , and captured the city. In early April, Soviet troops captured Königsberg , while the Western Allies finally pushed forward in Italy and swept across western Germany capturing Hamburg and Nuremberg. American and Soviet forces met at the Elbe river on 25 April, leaving several unoccupied pockets in southern Germany and around Berlin.
Soviet and Polish forces stormed and captured Berlin in late April. In Italy, German forces surrendered on 29 April. On 30 April, the Reichstag was captured, signalling the military defeat of Nazi Germany,  Berlin garrison surrendered on 2 May. Several changes in leadership occurred during this period. Benito Mussolini was killed by Italian partisans on 28 April.
Total and unconditional surrender was signed on 7 and 8 May , to be effective by the end of 8 May. In the Pacific theatre, American forces accompanied by the forces of the Philippine Commonwealth advanced in the Philippines , clearing Leyte by the end of April They landed on Luzon in January and recaptured Manila in March. Fighting continued on Luzon, Mindanao , and other islands of the Philippines until the end of the war.
A devastating bombing raid of 9—10 March was the deadliest conventional bombing raid in history. In May , Australian troops landed in Borneo , over-running the oilfields there. American naval and amphibious forces also moved towards Japan, taking Iwo Jima by March, and Okinawa by the end of June. On 11 July, Allied leaders met in Potsdam, Germany. They confirmed earlier agreements about Germany,  and reiterated the demand for unconditional surrender of Japan, specifically stating that "the alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction".
The Allied call for unconditional surrender was rejected by the Japanese government, which believed it would be capable of negotiating for more favourable surrender terms. Between the two bombings, the Soviets, pursuant to the Yalta agreement, invaded Japanese-held Manchuria and quickly defeated the Kwantung Army , which was the largest Japanese fighting force,  thereby persuading previously adamant Imperial Army leaders to accept surrender terms. The Allies established occupation administrations in Austria and Germany.
The former became a neutral state, non-aligned with any political bloc. The latter was divided into western and eastern occupation zones controlled by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. A denazification programme in Germany led to the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the Nuremberg trials and the removal of ex-Nazis from power, although this policy moved towards amnesty and re-integration of ex-Nazis into West German society.
Germany lost a quarter of its pre-war territory. Among the eastern territories, Silesia , Neumark and most of Pomerania were taken over by Poland,  and East Prussia was divided between Poland and the Soviet Union, followed by the expulsion to Germany of the nine million Germans from these provinces,   as well as three million Germans from the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.
By the s, one-fifth of West Germans were refugees from the east. The Soviet Union also took over the Polish provinces east of the Curzon line ,  from which 2 million Poles were expelled ;   north-east Romania,   parts of eastern Finland,  and the three Baltic states were incorporated into the Soviet Union.
In an effort to maintain world peace ,  the Allies formed the United Nations , which officially came into existence on 24 October ,  and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in as a common standard for all member nations.
The alliance between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union had begun to deteriorate even before the war was over. Germany had been de facto divided, and two independent states, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic ,  were created within the borders of Allied and Soviet occupation zones.
The rest of Europe was also divided into Western and Soviet spheres of influence. Communist Yugoslavia conducted a fully independent policy , causing tension with the Soviet Union. Separate republics emerged on both sides of the 38th parallel in , each claiming to be the legitimate government for all of Korea, which led ultimately to the Korean War.
In China, nationalist and communist forces resumed the civil war in June Communist forces were victorious and established the People's Republic of China on the mainland, while nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan in While European powers attempted to retain some or all of their colonial empires , their losses of prestige and resources during the war rendered this unsuccessful, leading to decolonisation.
The global economy suffered heavily from the war, although participating nations were affected differently. The United States emerged much richer than any other nation, leading to a baby boom , and by its gross domestic product per person was much higher than that of any of the other powers, and it dominated the world economy.
Recovery began with the mid currency reform in Western Germany , and was sped up by the liberalisation of European economic policy that the Marshall Plan — both directly and indirectly caused. The Soviet Union, despite enormous human and material losses, also experienced rapid increase in production in the immediate post-war era. Estimates for the total number of casualties in the war vary, because many deaths went unrecorded. Most suggest that some 60 million people died in the war, including about 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians.
The Soviet Union lost around 27 million people during the war,  8. An estimated 11  to 17 million  civilians died as a direct or as an indirect result of Nazi racist policies, including mass killing of around 6 million Jews , along with Roma , homosexuals , at least 1. In Asia and the Pacific, between 3 million and more than 10 million civilians, mostly Chinese estimated at 7. General Yasuji Okamura implemented the policy in Heipei and Shantung.
Axis forces employed biological and chemical weapons. The Imperial Japanese Army used a variety of such weapons during its invasion and occupation of China see Unit   and in early conflicts against the Soviets.
The Soviet Union was responsible for the Katyn massacre of 22, Polish officers,  and the imprisonment or execution of thousands of political prisoners by the NKVD , along with mass civilian deportations to Siberia , in the Baltic states and eastern Poland annexed by the Red Army. The German government led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party was responsible for the Holocaust killing approximately 6 million Jews , as well as for killing 2.
Soviet POWs were kept in especially unbearable conditions, and, although their extermination was not an official goal, 3. Nazi Germany extensively used forced labourers ; about 12 million Europeans from German occupied countries were used as a slave work force in German agriculture and war economy.
The Soviet Gulag became a de facto system of deadly camps during —43, when wartime privation and hunger caused numerous deaths of inmates,  including foreign citizens of Poland and other countries occupied in —40 by the Soviet Union, as well as Axis POWs.
Japanese prisoner-of-war camps , many of which were used as labour camps, also had high death rates. After , the number reached 10 million. About , of these Javanese labourers were sent to other Japanese-held areas in South East Asia, and only 52, were repatriated to Java. In Europe, occupation came under two forms. In Western, Northern, and Central Europe France, Norway, Denmark, the Low Countries, and the annexed portions of Czechoslovakia Germany established economic policies through which it collected roughly In the East, the intended gains of Lebensraum were never attained as fluctuating front-lines and Soviet scorched earth policies denied resources to the German invaders.
In Asia, Japan termed nations under its occupation as being part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere , essentially a Japanese hegemony which it claimed was for purposes of liberating colonised peoples. In Europe, before the outbreak of the war, the Allies had significant advantages in both population and economics. In , the Western Allies United Kingdom, France, Poland and British Dominions had a 30 per cent larger population and a 30 per cent higher gross domestic product than the European Axis powers Germany and Italy ; if colonies are included, it then gives the Allies more than a 5: The United States provided about two-thirds of all the ordnance used by the Allies in terms of warships, transports, warplanes, artillery, tanks, trucks, and ammunition.
Additionally, neither Germany nor Japan planned to fight a protracted war, and were not equipped to do so. Aircraft were used for reconnaissance , as fighters , bombers , and ground-support , and each role was advanced considerably.
Innovation included airlift the capability to quickly move limited high-priority supplies, equipment, and personnel ;  and of strategic bombing the bombing of enemy industrial and population centres to destroy the enemy's ability to wage war.
The use of the jet aircraft was pioneered and, though late introduction meant it had little impact, it led to jets becoming standard in air forces worldwide. Advances were made in nearly every aspect of naval warfare , most notably with aircraft carriers and submarines. Although aeronautical warfare had relatively little success at the start of the war, actions at Taranto , Pearl Harbor , and the Coral Sea established the carrier as the dominant capital ship in place of the battleship.
The British focused development on anti-submarine weaponry and tactics, such as sonar and convoys, while Germany focused on improving its offensive capability, with designs such as the Type VII submarine and wolfpack tactics. The tank , which had been used predominantly for infantry support in the First World War, had evolved into the primary weapon. This, along with Germany's use of combined arms, were among the key elements of their highly successful blitzkrieg tactics across Poland and France.
Most major belligerents attempted to solve the problems of complexity and security involved in using large codebooks for cryptography by designing ciphering machines, the most well known being the German Enigma machine. Notable examples were the Allied decryption of Japanese naval codes  and British Ultra , a pioneering method for decoding Enigma benefiting from information given to the United Kingdom by the Polish Cipher Bureau , which had been decoding early versions of Enigma before the war.
Other technological and engineering feats achieved during, or as a result of, the war include the world's first programmable computers Z3 , Colossus , and ENIAC , guided missiles and modern rockets , the Manhattan Project 's development of nuclear weapons , operations research and the development of artificial harbours and oil pipelines under the English Channel.
Joseph Stalin Franklin D. Roosevelt Winston Churchill Chiang Kai-shek. Adolf Hitler Hirohito Benito Mussolini. Over 16,, Civilian dead: Over 45,, Total dead: Over 8,, Civilian dead: Over 4,, Total dead: Timeline of World War II. Causes of World War II. Italian invasion of Ethiopia Main article: Diplomatic history of World War II.
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European Accessibility Act proposed.
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