Today marks the eightieth anniversary of the formal beginning of World War II. It was on this date in 1939 that United Kingdom and France declared war on Nazi-controlled Germany and their ally Italy following their invasion of Poland two days before.
The history of the war can be traced back to the end of the Great War, now known as World War I. Following that global conflict, the United Kingdom and France forced Germany to pay for all of their expenses during the war, even though this was a long-brewing conflict with issues on both sides. But after the war, Adolf Hitler infiltrated the Nazi party then took it over. He used the unfairness of Germany's treatment combined with racial prejudices against Jewish people to rise to power. Hitler then began the Holocaust in order to exterminate all those, particularly the Jewish community, whom he deemed to hurting the German people. He also began invading neighboring countries in an attempt to take over the Earth. He allied with fellow fascist nation Italy, made a pact with Imperialist Japan, and formed a peace treaty with the Soviet Union. These powers, called the Axis of Power, managed to keep making appeasement agreements with the United Kingdom and France. However, the invasion of Poland on September 1st, using a blatantly false-flag operation, proved to these powers, known as the Allies, that Hitler and Germany could not be appeased and that force was necessary.
Unfortunately for the Allies, while they had been struggling to deal with the Great Depression Germany had been building up their military might. The Axis invaded the weakened France eventually forcing their surrender under overwhelming force. Germany then set their sites on attacking the United Kingdom while Italy invaded Africa. Meanwhile, Japan sought to expand their empire and began a devastating invasion of China and the Soviet Union. Germany then betrayed the Soviet Union and their non-aggression pact with an invasion thus turning their ally into an enemy.
The biggest turn in the war came with the forces of Japan launched a surprise strike against the United States of America destroying its naval fleet at Pearl Harbor. The attack prompted the isolationist government into action. With the United States, who had been using their isolation to build their military, and Soviet Union part of the Allies the progress of the Axis stalled and eventually reversed. The Allies launched the famous D-Day invasion eventually freeing France from German control. Axis failures in Africa eventually led to the Italian people to turn against their government and join the Allies towards the end of the war. With Allied forces closing in on both sides, Hitler committed suicide and eventually the Soviet Union took the German capitol of Berlin forcing the German's surrender. At the same time, the United States allied with Australia demonstrated superior naval force in the Pacific Theatre. After the United States developed the first atomic weapons and used it twice on Japan, the only such time in human history an atomic weapon was used on an enemy, Japan surrendered on September 2nd, 1945 formally ending the war.
The war was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in anywhere between seventy and eighty-five million deaths. It involved over one-hundred million people from over thirty nations. The conclusion of the war saw a major shift in global politics. Europe had been the major power on the planet before but the war left the continent devastated. They were no longer able to maintain control over their colonies in Africa and Asia. Since the American continents were spared from the war due to a buffer zone by both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the United States of America emerged as the most powerful nation on Earth. The Soviet Union emerged as the second most powerful nation. However, their differing political ideologies resulted in a series of non-combative aggression known as the Cold War, which became the primary driving force of the following decades. Following the war, a new method of dealing with enemies emerged where the victor would actually help the loser. The Allies formed the United Nations, an international organization designed for cooperation and based on a failed idea for the follow-up to the previous World War.
The war had a major impact on popular culture. During the war, comic books exploded onto the scene. The short story formats, small size, and cheap price were ideal for soldiers heading overseas. Numerous characters were created that then entered popular culture and continue to last to this day. Jerry Siegel created Superman while Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America for Marvel Comics to appeal to pro-American ideals. Numerous people fought in the war. Kirby was there for the Normandy Invasion. Stan Lee wrote training films and manuals. Eddie Albert fought in the Pacific Theatre. Brian Keith was an aerial gunner.