World War 2 – Causes, Course, Aftermaths, Outcomes of World War II | UPSC Notes PDF

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

2nd World War or World War 2, was one of the most destructive wars fought in the world’s history. September 3, 1939, was officially declared as the 2nd World War date, and it continued till 1945. Almost thirty countries of the world were involved in the war. World War 2 countries were divided into Axis powers and the Allies. The Allies declared war against Axis power. The Allies successfully won World War 2 after a series of constant wars for six years.

The 2nd world war cost the lives of millions of people because of genocides, diseases, massacres, and starvation. Many causes contributed to the beginning of World War 2, the major being the humiliation by the treaty of Versailles after the First World War. Below you will get to know all the causes, course, aftermaths, and outcomes of World War 2, along with the basic overview and the countries involved in the war.

World War 2

World war 2 was fought between the Axis powers and the Allies. The Axis powers include Japan, Italy and Germany. On the other hand, the Allies comprised the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, France and China (to a lesser extent).

World War 2 began on September 3, 1939, and after a course of events, it ended on May 7th, 1945. Here is a basic overview of World War 2-

World War 2 Highlights Details
World War 2 date September 3, 1939
World war 2 was fought between Axis powers and the Allies
World war 2 countries – Allies Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, France and China
2nd world war countries – Axis Powers Japan, Italy and Germany
World War 2 was ended on May 7th, 1945

Causes of World War 2

The causes of World War 2 include humiliation by the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Japan, the growth of Fascism and Nazism, neglect of minority interests, military alliance, Germany’s attack on Czechoslovakia and Poland’s invasion by Germany. These causes are explained below-

  • The Treaty of Versailles: A total of 12 countries signed the Treaty of Versailles to mark the end of World War I. The treaty resulted in compensation for the war. It has provisions for Germany’s disarming. Poland was given the Polish corridor, and France was given the Saar Coal mine for fifteen years.
  • Rise of Japan: Japan evolved as an imperialist, and the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo axis became a concern.
  • Growth of Fascism and Nazism: The war and violence were strongly glorified by Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy. However, in contrast, Communism was the major concern in the West, and Italy and Germany started massive militarization.
  • Neglect of minority interests: WWI resulted in the formation of new countries like Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. However, minorities were ignored while drawing boundaries.
  • Military Alliance: The important powers were divided into Axis Powers (Japan, Italy, and Germany) and Allies (USSR, USA, France, Britain, and China). These powers were led by Stalin in the USSR, Roosevelt in the USA, and Churchill in Great Britain.
  • Germany’s attack on Czechoslovakia: Germany broke the Munich Pact signed between Britain and Germany in 1938. Germany seized Czechoslovakia and re-attacked it.
  • Germany’s invasion of Poland (Immediate Cause): The Danzig city and Polished corridor were annexed by Germany. Thus, on 1st September 1939, a war was declared by France and Britain on Germany.

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Course of World War 2

World War 2 began on September 1, 1939, when Britain and France declared war on German, i.e., 2 days after Germany attacked Poland. Initially, a non-aggressive bond was signed by Hilter with the Soviet Union. However, an invasion was launched by the Soviet Union on Poland from the east. It started various campaigns against Finland and took over Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. After it invaded Poland, it conquered Belgium, Norway, and Denmark in 1940.

At that moment, only Britain was emerging against Germany. In June 1940, Italy joined the war with Germany to invade Britain, but Britain was powerful. Total air superiority was required to conquer Britain. Thus, the air force of Germany attacked London and southeast England. Numerous wars were fought between them, and lastly, it was successful in invading Britain.

In September 1940, Egypt was invaded by Italian troops. After constant wars, the Italian army was defeated by the British. Though the Italian army faced a defeat, Field-Marshal Rommel commanded the German troops who pushed the British troops back in February 1941. At the end of 1941, the Japnese air force attacked Pearl harbour in Hawaii after the US joined the war.

In continuation of Hilter’s invasion, it conquered Romania, Hungary, and Finland. In May 1942, New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore and Burma came under the control of Japan. At the end of 1942, the tides turned against the Axis, and after a course of six years, the World War ended on On May 7th, 1945, when Nazi Germany surrendered at Reims in France. However, the official surrender began in Berlin o May 9th, 1945.

2nd World War Timeline

The timeline of World War 2 is given as follows-

Timeline of 2nd world war Events in World War 2
November 11, 1918 World War 1 ends
January 30, 1933 Hitler appointed German Leader
September 1, 1939 World War 2 begin
September 17, 1939 Soviet Union invades Poland
September 27, 1939 Warsaw Captured
April 8, 1940 Norway invaded
June 14, 1940 Paris falls to Nazis
December 7, 1941 Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor Brings US into World War 2
July 1942-February 1943 Battle of Stalingrad signals beginning of End for Germany
August 1945 Atomic bombs bring World War 2 to an End

Aftermaths of World War 2

World War 2 came out as the deadliest war in the world’s history, as more than seventy-five million people lost their lives. It includes not only military personnel but also civilians. They died for various reasons, including starvation, diseases, mass bombings, massacres, and genocides. As a result of World War 2, Germany lost 1/4th of its pre-war territory. The international military alliances formalised the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact and United States-led NATO, the two post-war divisions of the world.

The nationalist and communist forces resumed the civil war in China in June 1946. Japan’s occupation was led by the United States. Not only this, but the US also administered the former islands of Japan in the Western Pacifics. The people’s Republic of China was formed on the China mainland in 1949. The war affected the global economy. However, the United States dominated the world economy and became a much richer nation.

The currency reform began in mid-1948 in Western Germany for the recovery of the world’s economy. Though the world experienced a huge loss in economy, materials, and humans, the world rapidly recovered and experienced fast growth in production.

Outcome of World War 2

World war 2 resulted in the end of the idea of imperialism and colonialism. Along with this, the German and Italian dictatorships came to an end. World War 2 marked the following-

  • The USA, France, and Germany controlled West Germany
  • The USSR controlled East Germany.
  • The Nationalist movements began to strengthen in Asia and Africa.
  • More than 5 crore people died, of which 2.8 were civilians while 2.2 crores were soldiers.
  • It led to unemployment, low growth, and similar economic problems.
  • USA and USSR emerged as two superpowers, which resulted in the cold war.
  • Third-world countries separated out.
  • The United Nations Organisation was formed in 1945.

World War 2 UPSC

World War 2 is an unforgettable series of events in Human history that led to the loss of various lives and resulted in global changes in terms of economy and other sections. Thus, World War 2 UPSC forms an essential part concerning the civil services exam, especially the IAS Exam. The aspirants need to have a fair idea of the causes and aftermath of World War 2. They can also download the PDF with the link provided above.

Download World War 2 Notes PDF

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