The Second World War 1939-1945

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The Second World War 1939-1945

The Second World War (1939-1945) set the allied powers (France, Poland, Great Britain, the Commonwealth countries, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Greece, the USSR, the United States, China and some South American countries) against the totalitarian powers (Germany, Italy, Japan, Hungary, Slovakia, etc.).

It followed Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany. Large numbers of intellectuals and artists left Germany and the Eastern European countries, because of their opposition to Nazi ideas and anti-Semitism. Hitler controlled a powerful army, the Wehrmacht. In 1936, it occupied the left bank of the Rhine, then Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938-39. A blitzkrieg in Europe made possible a German advance into Poland, Belgium, France, Denmark and Norway (1939-1942). On June 22, 1940, Marshal Pétain signed an armistice with the Germans and established his headquarters in Vichy, while in London on June 18, General de Gaulle called for resistance.

The Führer continued his advance towards the East and the Mediterranean countries during 1942 and 1943. At long last, Allies landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The Caen memorial and the numerous military cemeteries commemorate those dramatic moments.

The provisional government formed in Algiers by General de Gaulle transferred to Paris. The Leclerc division entered Alsace. In 1945, the Yalta conference brought Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin together. Germany was completely surrounded and surrendered on May 8, 1945. In August 1945, two American nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japon, putting a brutal end to the second worldwide conflict, branded by the unspeakable horror of the concentration camps.