4. THE SECOND World War (I) 4.1 THE COMBATANTS 1 September 1939: WW2 began after Germany invaded Poland. The conflict lasted for almost six years (ending on 5 August 1945) Nations at war were divided into two groups: The Allies, led by France and the United Kingdom and The Axis Powers, led by Germany and Italy. 4.2 THE CAUSES OF THE WAR :a) Germany’s desire for revenge after the humiliation suffered at the Treaty of Versailles b) Economic depression c) The rise of totalitarian regimes. D) Imperialist and militaristic policies.=Japan had invaded Manchuria (1932) Italy annexed Abyssinia (1935) and Albania (1939) Germany, claiming the territories of German population, annexed: Austria (1938)and The Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia (1939). E) The League of Nations failed to put a stop to these aggressive policies. 4.3 THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WAR a) Scale=Sixty countries were involved in the war. Operations took place in the Pacific, Atlantic, Europe and Africa. A hundred million soldiers were called to fight. Eight hundred million civilians suffered occupation, bombardment and hardship. It is estimated that the Second World War affected 90% of the world population in some way. B) Duration=As a consequence of Germany’s initial victories, it took a long time to reconquer the occupied territories. C) Extreme cruelty=t is characterized by atrocities such as: Genocide.Deportation Systematic torture and Creation of concentration and extermination camps. There were millions of refugees and extreme suffering by the civil population. D) Other characteristics: Powerful and sophisticated weapons were used (tanks, planes, and the Atomic Bomb) . National economies were dedicated entirely to the war effort. 5. THE SECOND World War (II) 5.1 THE FIRST STAGE (1939-1941) = Victories of the Axis Powers. Germany launched a “blitzkrieg” or lightning warà concentrating a great force of tanks and planes to break through enemy lines. Thanks to Russia’s neutrality, the Nazis conquered most of Western Europe (Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Low Countries and France). United Kingdom managed to stop them. Italy supported Germany and attacked France from the south. France was forced to sign an armistice and recognize the division of its territory: An occupied territory under German control and A collaborationist government in the south established in the city of Vichy. The Nazis went on to conquer: North Africa,The Balkans and Started the invasion of Russia, reaching Moscow and Stalingrad (1941). 5.2 THE SECOND STAGE (1941-1945) =In 1941 Japan destroyed the American fleet at Pearl Harbour, and this provoked the USA to join the war. The fortunes of the Axis Powers began to change: Japan was confronted by the USA in the Pacific. The British achieved victories over the Germans in North Africa .The Russians stopped the German advance at Stalingrad. Italy was invaded by the Allies. During the Normandy invasion (1944): The Allies advanced from the west into Germany and The Red Army coming from the east entered Berlin in April 1945. Hitler committed suicide only two days after Mussolini had been captured and executed. In August 1945, after the USA’s nuclear attack on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered and the Second World War came to an end.