The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to World War II:

World War II, or the Second World War was a global military conflict that was fought between September 1, 1939, and September 2, 1945. The war pitted two major military alliances against each other: the Allies of the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, China and others against the Axis of Germany, Japan, Italy and others. Over 60 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.[1]

The Second World War was known for modern warfare and tactics such as air warfare, strategic bombing, blitzkrieg and the first, and only, use of nuclear weapons in warfare. It is also known for the numerous war crimes committed during its duration, mostly by Axis forces but also by Allied forces, that left tens of millions of civilians dead through genocides, massacres and starvation; such as the Holocaust, Three Alls Policy, Genocide of ethnic Poles, Unit 731, Nanjing massacre, Hunger Plan and the Warsaw Uprising.

Causes of World War II

Main article: Causes of World War II

Participants in World War II

Main article: Participants in World War II

The Axis powers

Main article: Axis powers

Major Axis powers

Main article: Tripartite pact

Other Axis powers

The Allied powers

Main article: Allies of World War II

The 'Big Five' major allies

Main article: Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council

Other major allies

People in World War II

Leaders in World War II

Axis leaders

Main article: Axis leaders of World War II

Allied leaders

Main article: Allied leaders of World War II

Military forces of World War II

British Army during the Second World War

Military history of France during World War II
Military history of the United States during World War II
Red Army
National Revolutionary Army
Military history of Germany
Imperial Japanese Army
Royal Italian Army during World War II

Timeline of World War II

Main articles: Timeline of World War II and List of World War II battles

The following list includes some of the largest events in World War II:


Main article: Timeline of World War II (1939)


Main article: Timeline of World War II (1940)


Main article: Timeline of World War II (1941)


Main article: Timeline of World War II (1942)


Main article: Timeline of World War II (1943)


Main article: Timeline of World War II (1944)


Main article: Timeline of World War II (1945)

World War II by region

Theatres and major campaigns

Main article: List of theatres and campaigns of World War II


Main article: European Theatre of World War II


Main article: Pacific War


For all theatres in Africa, see: African theatres


By country

Main article: World War II by country





The Americas

War crimes

Main article: War crimes in World War II

The Second World War was characterized by many instances of War crimes:


See also: Outline of Genocide studies

The Holocaust

Main article: The Holocaust

Other genocides


Mistreatment of civilians

Technology during World War II

Technology during World War II

Equipment of World War II

Vehicles of World War II

Weapons of World War II

Other initiatives in World War II

Propaganda during World War II

Main article: Propaganda in World War II

Common military awards

Soviet Union

United States

United Kingdom

France and Belgium


Nazi Germany

Aftermath of World War II

Main article: Aftermath of World War II

The end of World War II

Immediate events

The post-war world

World War II - related media

See also


  1. ^ The Kingdom of Italy was an axis power until it changed sides to the Allies after an armistice in 1943. After the armistice, the Italian Social Republic was set up as a German puppet state still under Mussolini.
  2. ^ As the Slovak Republic, a German client state
  3. ^ During the Continuation War
  4. ^ From June 1941
  5. ^ From December 1941
  6. ^ China had been fighting an undeclared war against Japan since 1937, with various other conflicts since 1931. On December 9, 1941, they officially joined the war
  7. ^ In June 1940, France surrendered and a government-in-exile, Free France, was formed that fought with the Allies until the Provisional government was formed in 1944
  8. ^ Yugoslavia was occupied after an invasion, but there were prominent partisan groups that continued fighting
  9. ^ The emperor was the titular leader of Japan and had the final say on decisions, but his power was still (somewhat) limited. The Prime Minister (Fumimaro Konoe and later Hideki Tojo for most of the war) held immense political power, and thus the emperor was not a dictator in the way Hitler or Mussolini were[2]
  10. ^ Victor Emmanuel III was the Italian head of state and did overrule Mussolini on certain occasions (such as refusing to join the Second World War until 1940 and even deposing him in 1943), but Mussolini used more de facto power and influence than the king
  11. ^ Stalin was neither the head of state nor the head of government, but he held de facto dictatorial power
  12. ^ Harry S. Truman from April 1945
  13. ^ Neville Chamberlain until May 10th 1940 and Clement Attlee from July 1945
  14. ^ China was fragmented at the time due to a halted civil war and legacies of the warlord era; thus, other leaders such as Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communists and various warlords (such as Li Zongren, Yan Xishan and (initially) Zhang Xueliang) had significant power. However, Kai-shek was the leader of the nationalists which allied with the communists and controlled most of China during the Second World War
  15. ^ And Slovakia
  16. ^ Other dates have been proposed, but September 1, 1939, is generally accepted
  17. ^ The United States Congress did not officially declare war until the next day
  18. ^ Signed on September 3, declared on September 8
  19. ^ Undeclared from 1937 to 1941, this war merged into World War II in 1941


  1. ^ Dunnigan, James; Albert Nofi. Dirty Little Secrets of World War II: Military Information No One Told You About the Greatest, Most Terrible War in History, William Morrow & Company, 1994. ISBN 0-688-12235-3
  2. ^ Bix, p. 457.


On-line documents
  • WW2 People's War—A project by the BBC to gather the stories of ordinary people from World War II
  • The World at War (1974) is a 26-part Thames Television series that covers most aspects of World War II from many points of view. It includes interviews with many key figures (Karl Dönitz, Albert Speer, Anthony Eden etc.) (Imdb link)
  • The Second World War in Colour (1999) is a three episode documentary showing unique footage in color (Imdb link)
  • Battlefield (documentary series) is a television documentary series initially issued in 1994–1995 that explores many of the most important battles fought during the Second World War.
  • The War (2007) is 7-part PBS documentary recounting the experiences of a number of individuals from American communities.