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|Great Patriotic War|
Clockwise from top left: Chinese forces in the Battle for Indochina, Italian howitzer guns during the North African Campaign, German dive bombers over France, British naval forces heading toward Japan, Wilhelm Keitel signing the German surrender to the French Army (1940), Soviet troops in the Battle of Paris
|Commanders and leaders|
| Axis leaders|| Allied leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
| Military dead:|
Over 8 million
Over 4 million
Over 12 million
| Military dead:|
Over 16 million
Over 45 million
Over 61 million
The Great Patriotic War also call the Second Great War by the British, was a global conflict between the United Allies Coalition and the League of Axis Powers. The Empire of Japan aimed to dominate East Asia and was already at war with the Republic of China in 1937, but the world war is generally said to have begun on 1 May 1939 with the invasion of Germany by Vichy France and subsequent declarations of war on France by Poland and Britain. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany formed the Axis alliance with Italy, conquering or subduing much of continental Europe. The United Kingdom and the other members of the British Commonwealth and the Soviet Union were the only major Allied forces continuing the fight against the Axis, with battles taking place in North Africa as well as the long-running Battle of the Atlantic. In 22 June 1941, Japan joined the Axis, attacked the USSR and European territories in the Pacific Ocean, and quickly conquered much of the West Pacific. In 14 August 1941, the European Axis launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, giving a start to the largest land theatre of war in history, which tied down the major part of the Axis' military forces for the rest of the war.
The Axis advance was stopped in 1942, after Japan lost a series of naval battles and European Axis troops were defeated in North Africa and, decisively, at Stalingrad. In 1942, the Western Allies invaded England, and the United Kingdom regained all of its territorial losses. In 1943, with a series of French defeats in Eastern Europe, the surrender of Italy, and Allied victories in Asia-Pacific theater, the Axis lost the initiative and undertook strategic retreat on all fronts. In late 1943, the Soviet Union liberated Germany and in 1944, the Western Allies invaded France and its allies.
The war in Europe ended with the Western Allies invaded France and capture of Paris by British, Soviet, Polish and German troops and the subsequent French unconditional surrender on 31 December 1944. During 1945 and 1946 the United States defeated the Japanese Navy and captured key West Pacific islands. In August 1945, the Soviet Union dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese as the invasion of the Japanese archipelago became imminent, and the United States commence the invasion of Japan. The Empire of Japan surrendered on 9 May 1946, ending the war in Asia and cementing the total victory of the United Allies Coalition over the League of Axis powers.
Great War radically altered the political map, with the defeat of the Central Powers, including Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire; and the 1905 Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia. Socialist revolution across Eastern Europe leaked it way to the west. The Treaty of London and the war made both France and Germany to have economic crisis and loose colonial possessions. The British Empire, remaining neutral during the Great War manage to hold it empire together by spending much of it money it colonial efforts and not supporting it on it allied, France. Meanwhile, existing victorious Allies such as Belgium, Italy, Greece and Romania gained territories, while new states were created out of the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the Russian and Ottoman Empires. Despite the pacific movement in the aftermath of the war, the losses still caused irredentist and revanchist nationalism to become important in a number of European states. Irredentism and revanchism were strong in Germany and France because of the significant territorial, colonial, and financial losses incurred by the Treaty of Versailles. Under the treaty, France lost around 13 percent of its home territory, while German annexation of other states was prohibited, reparations were imposed, and limits were placed on the size and capability of the country's armed forces and lost all of its overseas colonies. Meanwhile, the Russian Civil War had led to the creation of the Soviet Union.The German Empire was dissolved in the German Revolution of 1918–1919 and a Communist government, later known as the German Socialist Republic, was created with the help of the Soviet Union and Germany manage to stabilize its country while France was still crumbling. The interwar period saw strife between supporters of the new republic and hardline opponents on both the right and left. Although Italy as an Entente ally made some territorial gains, Italian nationalists were angered that the promises made by Britain and France to secure Italian entrance into the war were not fulfilled with the peace settlement. From 1922 to 1925, the Fascist movement led by Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy with a nationalist, totalitarian, and class collaborationist agenda that abolished representative democracy, repressed socialist, left wing and liberal forces, and pursued an aggressive foreign policy aimed at forcefully forging Italy as a world power — a "New Roman Empire".
After Adolf Hitler flees from Germany to France, he begins a nationalist movement starting from Vichy and spreads into Paris. It grows larger and becomes the Vichy Nationalist Forces Party, or simply Vichy. VPNF won numerous elections in France between 1922 and 1926 until Hitler death in 1926 by Charles de Gaulle-led socialist Free French Forces, who were in a power struggle for the French government. In the aftermath of the French Civil War, VNFP created a totalitarian single-party state led by the Vichy. Germany continued to support the Communist republic which triumphed over the Nationalist Socialist Party in September, 1930.
Domestic support for the VNFP rose and, President Albert Lebrun appointed Marshal Pétain as Premier of France in 1933. Pétain and his government voted to reorganize the discredited Third Republic into an authoritarian regime. He abolished democracy, espousing a radical, racially motivated revision of the world order, and soon began a massive rearmament campaign. France officially became Vichy France and the Action Française monarchist overthrow the Third Republic and enthroned Henry VII. France, to secure its alliance, allowed Italy a free hand in Ethiopia, which Italy desired as a colonial possession. The situation was aggravated in early 1935 when the Territory of the Saar Basin was legally reunited with Germany and Pétain repudiated the Treaty of London, accelerated his rearmament programmed and introduced conscription.
The Kuomintang (KMT) party in China launched a unification campaign against regional warlords and nominally unified China in the mid-1920s, but was soon embroiled in a civil war against its former Chinese Communist allies. In 1931, an increasingly militaristic Japanese Empire, which had long sought influence in China as the first step of what its government saw as the country's right to rule Asia, used the Mukden Incident as a pretext to launch an invasion of Manchuria and establish the puppet state of Manchukuo. The two nations then fought several battles, in Shanghai, Rehe and Hebei, until the Tanggu Truce was signed in 1933. Thereafter, Chinese volunteer forces continued the resistance to Japanese aggression in Manchuria, and Chahar and Suiyuan.
Hoping to contain Germany, France and Italy formed the Stresa Front. The Soviet Union, concerned due to France's goals of capturing vast areas of Europe, wrote a treaty of mutual assistance with Germany. However, in June 1935, the United Kingdom made an independent naval agreement with Germany, easing prior restrictions. The United States, concerned with events in Europe and Asia, passed the Neutrality Act in August. In October, Italy invaded Ethiopia, and France was the only major European nation to support the invasion. Germany subsequently dropped its objections to France's goal of absorbing Alsace-Lorraine.
Pétain defied the London and Locarno treaties by re-militarizing the Alsace-Lorraine in March 1936. He received little response from other European powers. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in July, Pétain and Mussolini supported the fascist and authoritarian Nationalist forces in their civil war against the Soviet-supported Spanish Republic. Both sides used the conflict to test new weapons and methods of warfare, with the Republican winning the war in early 1939. In October 1936, France and Italy formed the Rome-Paris Axis. A month later, France and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, which Italy would join in the following year. In China, after the Xi'an Incident the Kuomintang and Communist forces agreed on a ceasefire in order to present a united front to oppose Japan.
Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935)
The Second Italo–Abyssinian War was a brief colonial war that began in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy (Regno d'Italia) and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire (also known as Abyssinia). The war resulted in the military occupation of Ethiopia and its annexation into the newly created colony of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI).
Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
France and Italy lent support to the Nationalist insurrection led by General Francisco Franco in Spain. The Soviet Union supported the existing government, the Spanish Republic, which showed leftist tendencies. Both France and the USSR used this proxy war as an opportunity to test improved weapons and tactics. The deliberate Bombing of Guernica by the French Eagle Legion in April 1937 contributed to widespread concerns that the next major war would include extensive terror bombing attacks on civilians. The Republicans won the war in April 1939; their Francisco Franco bargained with both sides during the war, but never concluded any major deals and was arrested by Republican forces. José Sanjurjo send volunteers to fight under Soviet command during the Great Patriotic War until Spain officially declared war on the Axis powers and allow the Allies to use its territory for Operation: Market Garden.
Japanese invasion of China (1937)
In July 1937, Japan captured the former Chinese imperial capital of Beijing after instigating the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which culminated in the Japanese campaign to invade all of China. The Soviets quickly signed a nonaggression pact with China to lend materiel support, effectively ending China's prior co-operation with France. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek deployed his best army to defend Shanghai, but after three months of fighting, Shanghai fell. The Japanese continued to push the Chinese forces back, capturing the capital Nanjing in December 1937 and committed the Nanking Massacre.
In June 1938, Chinese forces stalled the Japanese advance by flooding the Yellow River; this maneuver bought time for the Chinese to prepare their defenses at Wuhan, the city was taken by October. Japanese military victories did not bring about the collapse of Chinese resistance that Japan had hoped to achieve; instead the Chinese government relocated inland to Chongqing and continued the war.
Germany invasion of Czechoslovakia (1938)Main Article: Fall Grün
After months of border disputes and political differences socialist Germany invaded Czechoslovakia on September 28, 1938 (Unternehmen Südost or Operation Southeast), encountered minimal resistance, and annexed Bohemia and Moravia to the Republic; Germany gave nominal independence to Slovakia and installed Josef Tito as head of state of the satellite.
These clashes convinced some factions in the German government that they should focus on conciliating the French government to avoid interference in the war against Czechoslovakia and instead turn their military attention southward, toward the Balkans and Italian holdings in the Mediterranean, and also prevented the sacking of experienced French military leaders who would later play a vital role in the coming war.
European occupation and agreement
In Europe, France and Italy were becoming bolder. In March 1938, encouraged by the response of the European leaders after the invasion of Ethiopia, Mussolini began pressing Italian claims on the Venetia and parts of Lombardy, areas of Austria with a predominantly ethnic Italian population; and soon Britain and Germany conceded this territory to Italy in the Milan Agreement, which was made against the wishes of the Austrian government, in exchange for a promise of no further territorial demands. France began pressing French claims on the Alsace-Lorraine, an area of Germany with a predominantly ethnic French population; and soon Great Britain and Soviet Union conceded this territory. In March 1939, Soviet Union invaded Armenia and subsequently annexed it into a constituent republic.
In August 1939, Japan and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov–Matsuoka Pact, a non-aggression treaty with a secret protocol. The parties gave each other rights to "spheres of influence" (China and south Manchuria for Japan; Mongolia, Sakhalin Islands, north Manchuria and Port Arthur for the USSR). It also raised the question of continuing Korean independence.The agreement was crucial to Stalin because it assured that Russia would not have to face the prospect of a two-front war after it defeated France.
Alarmed, and with Philip Pétain making further demands on Ruhr, Poland and Britain guaranteed their support for German independence; when Italy conquered Albania in April 1939, the same guarantee was extended to Poland and Greece. Shortly after the Soviet-British pledge to Germany, France and Italy formalized their own alliance with the Pact of Steel.
Course of the War
War breaks out in Europe
In September 7, 1939, France and Belgium (which was a French client state at the time) invaded Germany. On 17 September Poland and Britain, followed by the fully independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth, – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa – declared war on France but provided little military support to Germany other than a British pre-emptive strike at Dunkirk. Britain also began a naval blockade of Germany on 18 September which aimed to damage the country's economy and war effort.
The Germans did not surrender; they established a German Underground State and an underground Home Army, and continued to fight with the Allies on all fronts outside Germany. About 300,000 German and 100,000 Polish military personnel were evacuated to the Baltic countries; many of these soldiers later fought against the French in other theatres of the war. During this time, Japan launched its first attack against Changsha, a strategically important Chinese city, but was repulsed by late September. Despite stubborn resistance in Corregidor, the Philippines were eventually captured in October 1939, forcing the government of the Philippine Republic into exile.
On 17 November, after signing a cease-fire with Spain, France invaded. Following the French invasion Germany, the Soviet Union invaded the Baltic countries to allow it to station Soviet troops in their countries under pacts of "mutual assistance" and for preparation for an invasion from France. Finland rejected territorial demands and was invaded by the Soviet Union in November 1939. The bitter Finnish resistance to the Soviet offensive in the Karelian Isthmus lavished with the Soviets occupation of Finland, the resulting conflict ended in March 1940 with Finnish concessions and led to the signing of Soviet-Finnish armistice on relatively mild conditions, with a subsequent shift to the Allied side by Finland. France, treating the Finland peace treaty as tantamount to entering the war on the side of the Allies, responded to the Soviet invasion by supporting the Axis invasion of the Finland.
Western Europe (1940-41)
In Western Europe, British troops deployed to the Continent, but were defeated again at Normandy, and in a phase nicknamed the Phoney War by the British and "Etrange Guerre" (strange war) by the French, neither side launched major operations against the other until April 1940. France and Sweden entered a trade pact in February 1940, pursuant to which the French received Swedish military and industrial equipment in exchange for supplying raw materials to France to help circumvent the Allied blockade. During the summer of 1941, France implemented there post-war economic plan for Germany, Monnet Plan, giving France control over the German coal and steel areas of the Ruhr area and Saar and using these resources to bring France to 150% of pre-war industrial production.
In April 1940, France invaded Denmark and Norway to secure shipments of iron ore from Sweden, which the Allies were about to disrupt. Denmark immediately capitulated, and despite Allied support, Norway was conquered within two months. In May 1940 Britain invaded Iceland to pre-empt a possible French invasion of the island. British discontent over the Norwegian campaign led to the replacement of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with Winston Churchill on 10 May 1940. France invaded Poland and Netherlands on May 10, 1940. The Czechoslovakians had concluded an alliance with France days before, preventing an invasion, while Netherlands was overrun using blitzkrieg tactics in a few days, respectively. Polish and German troops were forced to evacuate the continent at Königsberg, abandoning their heavy equipment by early June. On June 10, Italy invaded Germany, declaring war on both USSR and Germany; twelve days later Poland surrendered and was soon divided into French occupation zones, and an unoccupied German rump state under the Nazi regime. On July 3, the British attacked the French fleet in Algeria to prevent the French from attacking the Suez Canal.
In June, during the last days of the Battle of Poland, the Soviet Union rigged elections in the Baltic States and forcibly and illegally annexed them it then annexed the region of Bessarabia in Romania. This, as well as growing fears over Polish lines collapsing demonstrated to France that it could no longer keep France's interests safe and the Japanese-Soviet political rapprochement and economic co-operation gradually stalled, and both states began preparations for war.
With Poland neutralized, France began an air superiority campaign over Britain (the Battle of Britain) to prepare for an invasion. The campaign nearly failed, and the invasion plans were postponed by September. The ALV had successfully broken the Royal Air Force's assault, and the French bombing campaign continued in May 1940. On September 17, France invaded Britain. These landings were successful, and led to the defeat of the British Army units in England. London was captured on October 15 and the French continued to push back British forces in during the latter part of the month. An attempt to advance into Wales spear-headed by a major airborne operation ended with a failure. After that, the France slowly pushed into Scotland, unsuccessfully trying to cross the river Tweed in a large offensive. By early November, French forces advance also slowed down, when they ran into the last major British defensive line. After the British counteroffensive, Battle of Britain head into a stalemate which won’t be break for almost two more years.
Using newly captured British ports, the French Navy enjoyed success against an over-extended Royal Navy, using submarines against British shipping in the Atlantic. Italy began operations in the Mediterranean, initiating a siege of Malta in June, conquering British Somaliland in August, while the British began making an incursion into Egypt in September 1940. Japan increased its blockade of China in September by using several bases in the northern part of French Indochina.
Throughout this period, the neutral United States took measures to assist China and the Western Allies. In November 1939, the American Neutrality Act was amended to allow "cash and carry" purchases by the Allies. In 1940, following the French capture of Warsaw, the size of the United States Navy was significantly increased and, after the Japanese incursion into the Philippines, the United States embargoed iron, steel and mechanical parts against Japan. In September, the United States further agreed to a trade of American destroyers for British bases. Still, a large majority of the American public continued to oppose any direct military intervention into the conflict well into 1941.
At the end of September 1940, the Tripartite Pact united Japan, Italy and France to formalize the League of Axis Powers. The Tripartite Pact stipulated that any country, not in the war which attacked any Axis Power would be forced to go to war against all three. During this time, the United States continued to support the United Kingdom and China by introducing the Lend-Lease policy authorizing the provision of materiel and other items and creating a security zone span roughly half of the Pacific Ocean where the United States Navy protected British convoys near Australia. As a result, Japan and the United States found themselves engaged in sustained naval warfare in the South and Central Pacific by October 1941, even though the United States remained officially neutral.
The Axis expanded in November 1940 when Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Romania joined the Tripartite Pact officially forming the League of Axis Powers. Romania would make a major contribution to the Axis war against the USSR, partially to recapture territory ceded to the USSR, partially to pursue its leader Ion Antonescu desire to combat Communism. In October 1940, Italy invaded Greece and conquered the Greek island of Crete within days. In December 1940, British Commonwealth forces began counter offensives against Italian forces in Egypt and Italian East Africa. By early 1941, with Italian forces having been pushed back into Libya by the Commonwealth, Churchill ordered a dispatch of troops from Africa to bolster the Greeks. The Italian Navy also suffered significant defeats, with the Royal Navy putting three Italian battleships out of commission by a carrier attack at Taranto, and neutralizing several more warships at the Battle of Cape Mattapan.
The French soon intervened to assist Italy. Petain sent French forces to Libya in February, and by the end of March they had launched an offensive against the diminished Commonwealth forces. In under a month, Commonwealth forces were pushed back into Egypt with the exception of the besieged port of Tobruk. The Commonwealth attempted to dislodge Axis forces in May and again in June, and succeeded on both occasions. In early April, following Bulgaria's joining of the League of Axis powers, the Italians intervened in the Balkans by invading Yugoslavia following a coup; here too they made rapid progress, eventually forcing the Allies to evacuate after Italy conquered the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade by the end of May.
The Allies experience more successes during this time. In the Middle East, Commonwealth forces first quashed a coup in Iraq which had been supported by French aircraft from bases within Vichy-controlled Syria. Then, with the assistance of the Free French Forces, invaded Syria and Lebanon to prevent further such occurrences. In the Mediterranean, the British scored a much-needed public morale boost by sinking the French flagship Richelieu.
In Asia, despite several offensives by both sides, the war between China and Japan was stalemated by 1940. In order to increase pressure on China by blocking supply routes, and to better position Japanese forces in the event of a war with the Western powers, France gave Japan military control of southern Indochina. In August of that year, Chinese Communists launched an offensive in Central China; in retaliation, Japan instituted harsh measures (the Three Alls Policy) in occupied areas to reduce human and material resources for the Communists. Continued antipathy between Chinese Communist and Nationalist forces culminated in armed clashes in January 1941, effectively ending their co-operation.
With the situation in Europe and Asia relatively stable, France, Japan, the US, and the Soviet Union made preparations. With the Americans wary of mounting tensions with France and the Japanese planning to take advantage of the European War by seizing resource-rich European possessions in Southeast Asia, the two powers signed the American-Japanese Neutrality Pact in April 1941. By contrast, the Japanese were steadily making preparations for an attack on the Soviet Union, amassing forces on the Soviet border.
Axis attack of the U.S.S.R. (1941)
On June 22, 1941, all Japanese offensive operations in China stopped, Japan invaded the USSR in the Amur-Lena Offensive. The primary targets of this surprise offensive was the entire Sakhalin Island, Vladivostok and Mongolia, with an ultimate goal of ending the 1941 campaign near the Yenisei river, effectively crippling the centralized Soviet's ability to resist any further advances.
On June 30, the Japanese Army invaded across the Siberian border from Manchukuo and Sakhalin Island. Japanese battleship Musashi bombarded Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Vladivostok on the Russian coast. The Japanese had initial success with the invasion, but were stopped at Vladivostok. A Russian tank division counterattacked and the Japanese line barely held on, and finally stabilized after a few days of good weather for Japanese air force to operate. All diplomatic relations between the US and Japan were stopped afterward. As Operation Fuyu Samurai began, Sakhalin belong to the Japanese, but the battles on the mainland continue to be a stalemate and was draining the Soviet's manpower and resources.
On 29 July 1941, the Japanese were checked at the Battle of Lake Khasan. Although the battle was a Soviet victory, the Japanese dismissed it as an inconclusive draw, and on 11 August 1941 decided to move the Japanese-Mongolian border up to the Khalkhin Gol River by force. After initial successes the Japanese assault on Mongolia was checked by the Red Army that inflicted the first major defeat on the Japanese Kwantung Army. These early clashes led to the sacking of experienced Soviet military leaders such as Georgy Zhukov, who would later play a vital role in the defense of Moscow.
On 7 August 1941, France, along with other European Axis members, invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Charlemagne. Axis powers main objectives were to eliminate the Soviet Union as a military power, exterminate Communism, and guarantee access to the strategic resources needed to defeat remaining rivals.
Although the Red Army was preparing for strategic counter offensives before the war, Amur-Lena and Charlemagne forced the Soviet supreme command to adopt a strategic defence. Since Soviet forces were being focus in the Russian Far East against the Japanese, USSR was caught completely off guard by Operation Charlemagne but quickly reorganizes and began to counterattack the invasion. During the fall, the Axis made significant gains into Soviet territory, inflicting immense losses in both personnel and materiel. By the middle of November, however, the French Army High Command decided to suspend the offensive of a considerably depleted First French Army, and to divert the 1st Mechanized Brigade to reinforce troops advancing toward central Ukraine and Stalingrad. The Kiev offensive was successful, resulting in encirclement and elimination of two Soviet armies, and made further advance into Crimea and industrially developed Eastern Ukraine (the First Battle of Kharkov) possible.
The diversion of three quarters of the Axis troops and the majority of their air forces from France and the central Mediterranean to the Eastern Front prompted United States to reconsider its grand strategy. In July, the US and the Soviet Union formed a military alliance against France and Japan. The British and Soviets invaded Iran to secure the Persian Corridor and Iran's oil fields. In August, the United Kingdom and the United States jointly issued the Atlantic Charter.
By October, when Axis operational objectives in Ukraine and the Baltic region were achieved, with only the sieges of Leningrad and Sevastopol continuing, a major offensive against Moscow had been renewed. After two months of fierce battles, the French army almost reached the outer suburbs of Moscow, where the exhausted troops were forced to suspend their offensive. Large territorial gains were made by Axis forces, but their campaign had failed to achieve its main objectives: two key cities remained in Soviet hands, the Soviet capability to resist was not broken, and the Soviet Union retained a considerable part of its military potential. The first phase of the war in Europe had ended.
By early December, freshly mobilized reserves allowed the Soviets to achieve numerical parity with Axis troops. This, as well as intelligence data that established a minimal number of Soviet troops in the East sufficient to stall any attack by the Japanese Kwantung Army, allowed the Soviets to begin a massive counter offensive that started on 5 December along a 1000 km (620 mi) front and pushed French troops 100–250 km (62–160 mi) west.
After Japanese victory during the Battles of Khalkhyn Gol, Japanese Kwantung Army succeeded their objectives in securing Mongolia and Zabaykalsky Krai, eliminating three Soviet armies. On 12 January 1942, Japan launches a massive-offensive on the Krasnoyarsk Krai in order to encircled Soviet forces fighting in the heavily defended Sakha Republic.
The war break out in the Pacific
France successes in Europe encouraged Japan to increase pressure on European governments in south-east Asia. The Vichy France agreed to provide Japan oil supplies from French Indochina, while refusing to hand over military control of the colonies. Dutch government, by contrast, agreed to a Japanese occupation of Dutch East Indies. The United States, United Kingdom and other Western governments reacted to the seizure of East Indies with a freeze on Japanese assets, while the United States (which supplied 80 percent of Japan's oil) responded by placing a complete oil embargo. That meant Japan was essentially forced to choose between abandoning its ambitions in Asia and the prosecution of the war against Soviet Union, or seizing the natural resources it needed by force; the Japanese military did not consider the former an option, and many officers considered the oil embargo an unspoken declaration of war.
Japan planned to rapidly seize European colonies in Asia to create a large defensive perimeter stretching into the Central Pacific; the Japanese would then be free to exploit the resources of Southeast Asia while exhausting the over-stretched Allies by fighting a defensive war. To prevent American intervention while securing the perimeter it was further planned to neutralize the United States Pacific Fleet from the outset, but with war inevitable the US prepared for a preventive strike on Japan. Japan's declaration of war against the United States is delivered before their attack begins. On December 7 (December 8 in Asian time zones), 1941, the U.S., thanks to British intelligence, strikes two Japanese naval bases and bombs the city of Kyoto as the opening blow in a war against the Japanese Empire. In retaliation, Japan attacked British and American holdings with near-simultaneous offensives against Southeast Asia and the Central Pacific. These included an invasion of the Hawaii Islands, landings in Thailand and Malaya and the battle of Hong Kong.
Axis advances stalls (1942-1943)
These attacks led the U.S., Britain, China, Australia and several other states to formally declare war on Japan. France and the Axis states responded by declaring war on the United States. In January, the United States, Britain, Soviet Union, China, and 22 smaller or exiled governments issued the Declaration by the United International Community, thereby affirming the Atlantic Charter, and taking an obligation not to sign separate peace with the Axis powers.
From 1941, Stalin persistently asked Churchill, and then Roosevelt, to reopen the 'second front' in England. The Soviet Western and Eastern fronts became the major theatre of war in Europe and Asia and the many millions of Soviet casualties dwarfed the few hundred thousand of the Western Allies; Churchill and Roosevelt said they needed more preparation time, leading to claims they stalled to save Western lives at the expense of Soviet lives. In England, raids of Allied commandos on strategic targets, culminating in the disastrous Devon Raid, demonstrated the Western Allies' inability to launch an invasion of England without much better preparation, equipment, and operational security.
At the Lisbon Conference in early 1943 the Allies issued a declaration declaring that they would not negotiate with Japan and demanded their unconditional surrender while agreed to push for peace with the remaining Axis, mainly France. The British and Americans agreed to continue to press the initiative in the Mediterranean by invading Sicily to fully secure the Mediterranean supply routes. The British and Soviets agree on further operations in the Balkans to bring Turkey into the war, and in May 1943 the Americans commitment to limit their operations in the Mediterranean to an invasion of the Spanish mainland and to invade France in 1944.
Meanwhile, by the end of April 1942, Japan and its ally Thailand had almost fully conquered Burma, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, and Rabaul, inflicting severe losses on Allied troops and taking a large number of prisoners. Japanese forces also achieved naval victories in the South China Sea, Java Sea and Indian Ocean, and bombed the Allied naval base at Darwin, Australia. The another Allied success against Japan was a Chinese victory at Changsha in early January 1942. These easy victories over unprepared opponents left Japan overconfident, as well as overextended.
France retained the initiative as well. Exploiting dubious American naval command decisions, the French navy ravaged Allied shipping off the American Atlantic coast. Despite considerable losses, European Axis members stopped a major Soviet offensive in Central and Southern Russia, keeping most territorial gains they had achieved during the previous year. In North Africa, the French launched an offensive in January, pushing the British back to positions at the Gazala Line by early February, followed by a temporary lull in combat which France used to prepare for their upcoming offensives.
Western Front (1942-43)
On 11 January 1942, the Western Allies invaded western England and Wales. After reassigning several Allied divisions from Scotland, they also attacked south into England. These landings were successful, and led to the defeat of the French Army units in Great Britain. London was liberated by the local resistance assisted by the Free British Forces on 14 March and the Western Allies continued to push back French forces in southern England during the latter part of the month.
During 1942 Allied officials debated on the appropriate grand strategy to pursue. All agreed that defeating France was the primary objective. The British favoured a straightforward, large-scale attack on France through Spain and the English Channel. The Soviets were also demanding a second front. The Americans, on the other hand, argued that military operations should target peripheral areas in order to throw a "ring" around France which would wear out French strength, lead to increasing demoralisation, and bolster resistance forces. France itself would be subject to a heavy bombing campaign. An offensive against France would then be launched primarily by Allied armour without using large-scale armies. Eventually, the Americans persuaded the British that a landing in France was infeasible in 1942 and they should instead focus on driving the Axis out of North Africa.
Pacific War (1942)
In early May 1942, Japan initiated operations to capture Port Moresby by amphibious assault and thus sever communications and supply lines between the United States and Australia. The Allies, however, prevented the invasion by intercepting and defeating the Japanese naval forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Japan's next plan, motivated by the earlier Doolittle Raid, was to seize Midway Atoll and lure American carriers into battle to be eliminated; as a diversion, Japan would also send forces to Alaska for major offensive. In early June, Japan put its operations into action and the Americans, attempting to break the Japanese naval codes in June, were unaware of the plans and force dispositions and this knowledge could have prevented their decisive defeat at Midway against the Imperial Japanese Navy.
The US defeat in Midway forces Douglas MacArthur to take over the Allied command in the Pacific and the U.S. sacrifices its "Europe first" war plans in order to defend the Pacific and West Coast. By the end of 1942, 90% of US Armed Forces were concentrated in the Asian-Pacific theater.
With its capacity for aggressive action secured as a result of the Midway battle, Japan chose to focus on a belated attempt to capture Port Moresby by an overland campaign in the Territory of Papua. The Americans planned a counterattack against Japanese positions in the southern Solomon Islands, primarily Guadalcanal, as a first step toward capturing Rabaul, the main Japanese base in Southeast Asia.
Both plans started in July, but by mid-September, the Battle for Guadalcanal took priority for the Japanese, and troops in New Guinea were ordered to withdraw from the Port Moresby area to the northern part of the island, where they faced Australian and United States troops in the Battle of Buna-Gona. Guadalcanal soon became a focal point for both sides with heavy commitments of troops and ships in the battle for Guadalcanal.
By the start of 1943, the Japanese were defeated on the island and withdrew their troops. In Burma, Commonwealth forces mounted two operations. The first, an offensive into the Arakan region in late 1942, went effectively, forcing a Japanese retreat back to China by May 1943. The second was the insertion of irregular forces behind Japanese front-lines in February which, by the end of April, had achieved dubious results.
Soviet Counter Offensive (1942)
By the end of January 1942, a major Soviet offensive expelled French forces from the Leningrad region. The following Soviet offensive was halted on the pre-war Estonian border by the French 19th Army Corps aided by Estonians hoping to re-establish national independence. This delay slowed subsequent Soviet operations in the Baltic Sea region. The successful victories of Soviet troops prompted resistance forces in Germany and Poland to initiate several uprisings, and the largest of these, in Warsaw and Berlin, as well as a Slovak Uprising in the south, were assisted by the Soviets and were able to successfully fight French forces, so much so France retreated from Slovakia. These uprising made France divert strategic forces from the eastern front which will greatly helped the Soviets reach coming victory.
On Axis's western front, the Axis defeated Soviet offensives in the Kerch Peninsula and at Kharkiv, and then launched their main summer offensive against southern Russia in June 1942, to seize the oil fields of the Caucasus and occupy Kuban steppe, while maintaining positions on the northern and central areas of the front. The French split the 4th Army Corps into two groups: 1st Infantry Division struck lower Don River while 604th Regiment de Pionniers struck south-east to the Caucasus, toward the Volga River. The Soviets decided to make their stand at Stalingrad, which was in the path of the advancing French armies.By mid-November, the French had nearly taken Stalingrad in bitter street fighting when the Soviets began their second winter counter offensive, starting with an encirclement of French forces at Stalingrad and an assault on the Rzhev salient near Moscow, though the latter failed disastrously. On 31 November, Turkey joins the sides of the Allies and the British forces quickly move throw launching a massive offensive into the Caucuses to relieve Soviet forces in Stalingrad. By early December 1942, the French Army had taken tremendous losses; French troops at Stalingrad had been forced to surrender and the front-line had been pushed back beyond its position before the summer offensive. In mid-January, after the Soviet push had tapered off, the Axis launched another attack on Kharkov, creating a salient in their front line around the Russian city of Kursk.
North Africa/Western Europe & Mediterranean (1942-43)
By November 1941, Commonwealth forces had launched a counter offensive, Operation Crusader, in North Africa, and reclaimed all the gains the French and Italians had made. In the West, concerns the Japanese might use bases in Vichy-held Madagascar caused the British to invaded the island in early May 1942. This success was offset soon after by an Axis offensive in Libya which pushed the Allies back into Egypt until Axis forces were stopped at El Alamein.
In August 1942, the Allies succeeded in repelling a second attack against El Alamein and, at a high cost, managed to deliver desperately needed supplies to the besieged Malta. A few months later, the Allies commenced an attack of their own in Egypt, dislodging the Axis forces and beginning a drive west across Libya. This attack was followed up shortly after by an Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa. The now pincered Axis forces in Africa withdrew into Tunisia, which was conquered by the Allies in March 1943.
In early 1943 the British and Americans began the "Combined Bomber Offensive", a strategic bombing campaign against France. The goals were to disrupt the French war economy, reduce French morale, and "de-house" the French civilian population.
Allies gain momentum (1943-44)Following the Guadalcanal Campaign, the Allies initiated several operations against Japan in the Pacific. In May 1943, Allied forces were sent to eliminate Japanese forces from the Aleutians, and soon after began major operations to isolate Rabaul by capturing surrounding islands, and to breach the Japanese Central Pacific perimeter at the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. By the end of March 1944, the Allies had completed both of these objectives, and additionally neutralized the major Japanese base at Truk in the Caroline Islands. In April, the Allies then launched an operation to retake Western New Guinea.
In the Soviet Union, Soviets spent the early spring of 1943 making preparations for large offensives in Central Russia. After France initiated a full military withdrawal on 30 February on the Eastern Front, a united British/Soviet forces launches Operation: Zhar-Ptitsa, the liberation of Eastern and Central Europe. On 4 March 1943, Soviet forces attacked France around the Kursk Bulge and with a week achieving outstanding victory.
Western Allies launched an invasion of Sicily on 9 April. In early April 1943, following an Italian armistice with the Allies, the Western Allies invaded the Italian mainland, which resulted in the region joining the Allies, thereby persuading Turkey to attack Bulgaria. Great Britain later disarms Italian forces, seizing military control of Italian areas, and creating a series of defensive lines, resulted in the ousting and arrest of Mussolini later that month. Benito Mussolini was killed by Italian partisans on 28 April. Italian forces began withdrawing from the Greek mainland in late March 1943, British forces then landed in April 1943, liberating Athens by 24 April 1943. On May 10, the British strategic offensive in western Bulgaria cut off and destroyed the considerable French Balkan Army there and triggered a successful coup d'état in Bulgaria, followed by the country shift to the Allied side.
Allied victories on all fronts (1943)
On 12 June 1943, the Soviets launched their own counter offensives, thereby dispelling any hopes of the French Army for victory or even stalemate in the east. The French attempted to stabilize their eastern front along the hastily fortified Panther-Wotan line; however, the Soviets broke through it at Smolensk and by the Lower Dnieper Offensives. On 20 August 1943, the Soviets launched a strategic offensive in Belarus (known as "Operation Bagration") that resulted in the almost complete destruction of the French Seventh Army. By late August 1943, the Soviets had liberated Crimea and largely expelled Axis forces from Ukraine, resulted in the encirclement and destruction of defending French forces, allowing the Soviet Army to resume its strategic advance farther into Eastern Europe.
Soon after that, another Soviet strategic offensive forced French troops from Ukraine and Eastern Poland. In late-October 1943, the Soviets and Poles attacked in Poland, pushing from the Vistula to the Oder River in Germany, and overran East Prussia. The British and Red Army's strategic offensive in eastern Romania cut off and destroyed the considerable French troops there and triggered a successful coup d'état in Romania, followed by the country shift to the Allied side.
The Japanese launched another massive offensive on Far East Front to retake Krasnoyarsk. Within a week, Japanese forces had exhausted themselves against the Soviets' deeply echeloned and well-constructed defenses and, for the first time in the war, Tōjō cancelled the operation before it had achieved tactical or operational success. The Soviet victory at Kursk and Krasnoyarsk heralded the downfall of Axis superiority, giving the Soviet Union the initiative on all fronts.
French operations in the Atlantic also suffered. By May 1943, as Allied countermeasures became increasingly effective, the resulting sizable French submarine losses forced a temporary halt of the French Atlantic naval campaign. In November 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met with Chiang Kai-shek in Cairo and then with Joseph Stalin in Tehran. The former conference determined the post-war return of Japanese territory, while the latter included agreement that the Western Allies would invade France in 1944 and that the Soviet Union would allow American forces into Siberia to fight alongside the Soviets against the Japanese.
From November 1943, during the seven-week Battle of Changde, the Chinese forced Japan to fight a costly war of attrition, while awaiting Allied relief. Soviets also made incursions into eastern Mongolia, which were repulsed by the Japanese troops.
Pacific War (1944)
The Allies experienced mixed fortunes in mainland Asia. In March 1944, the Japanese launched the first of two invasions, an operation against British positions in Assam, India, and soon besieged Commonwealth positions at Imphal and Kohima. In May 1944, British forces mounted a counter offensive that drove Japanese troops back to Burma, and Chinese forces that had invaded northern Burma in late 1943 besieged Japanese troops in Myitkyina. The second Japanese invasion attempted to destroy China's main fighting forces, secure railways between Japanese-held territory and capture Allied airfields. By June, the Japanese had conquered the province of Henan and begun a renewed attack against Changsha in the Hunan province.
By the start of July, Commonwealth forces in Southeast Asia had repelled the Japanese sieges in Assam, pushing the Japanese back to the Chindwin River while the Chinese captured Myitkyina. In China, the Japanese were having greater successes, having finally captured Changsha in mid-June and the city of Hengyang by early August. Soon after, they further invaded the province of Guangxi, winning major engagements against Chinese forces at Guilin and Liuzhou by the end of November and successfully linking up their forces in China and Indochina by the middle of December.
In the Pacific, American forces continued to press back the Japanese perimeter. In mid-June 1944 they began their offensive against the Mariana and Palau islands, and decisively defeated Japanese forces in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. These defeats led to the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Tōjō and provided the United States with air bases to launch intensive heavy bomber attacks on the Japanese home islands. In late October, American forces invaded the Filipino island of Leyte; soon after, Allied naval forces scored another large victory during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history.
Allies close in (1943-44)
In October 22 1943, Soviet Red Army troops advanced into Yugoslavia and forced the rapid withdrawal of the French 4th Army Corps in Yugoslavia to rescue them from being cut off. By this point, the Communist-led Partisans under Marshal Josip Broz Tito, who had led an increasingly successful guerrilla campaign against the occupation since 1941, controlled much of the territory of Yugoslavia and were engaged in delaying efforts against the Italian forces farther south. In northern Serbia, the Red Army, with limited support from Bulgarian forces, assisted the Partisans in a joint liberation of the capital city of Belgrade on 20 November. A few days later, the Soviets launched a massive assault against Hungary that lasted until the fall of Budapest in December 1943. Subsequently, British forces invade Yugoslavia in January 1944.
On 4 November, U.S., British, and Soviet leaders met for the Malta Conference. They agreed on the occupation of post-war Europe, and on when the Western Allies would invade Japan.
In 23 November, the Soviets invaded Silesia and Pomerania, while the Soviets advanced to Vienna. By November, the Soviets advanced to Vienna, while Soviet forces stormed Berlin in late December. On 30 December 1943, the Reichstag was captured, signaling the liberation of Berlin. The Soviets crossed the Elbe south and north of the Ruhr, encircling the French Army of the Rhine, and reach the Rhine River on 25 January 1944. On 31 January 1944, Germany and Soviet Union attempted a desperate measure for success on the Eastern Front by using most of its remaining reserves to launch a massive offensive in the Ardennes to attempt to split France, encircle large portions of French troops and capture their primary supply port at Antwerp in order to prompt a political settlement. By 14 February, the offensive had been repulsed with no strategic objectives fulfilled.
On 15 May the Allies launched Operation Market Garden – the invasion of French Catalonia between Reus and Perpignan. The U.S. Seventh Army and British IX Corps making up UK 6th Army Group rapidly consolidated this beachhead and liberated western and southern France in a month, and advanced north up the Rhone valley. Their advance only slowed down as they encountered regrouped and entrenched French troops in the Vosges Mountains. Finally, they co-operate on an invasion of the Pas de Calais on 6 August.
On 24 October 1944, after eight months of revision and planning, the Soviet Union invaded eastern France. The French-fortified Maginot Line and the Axis forces in Belgium were circumvented by a flanking movement through the thickly wooded Ardennes region, mistakenly perceived by French planners as an impenetrable natural barrier against armored vehicles.
Allies victory, Axis collapse
In March 2, 1944, two brigades of about 7000 Soviet Russian GPU troops, backed by tanks, warplanes and artillery with mustard gas, the Soviets invaded Xinjiang. Sheng's Manchurian army was being severely beaten by an alliance of the Han Chinese Ili army led by the Han general Zhang Peiyuan, and the Chinese Muslim 36th Division led by the Chinese Muslims general Ma Zhongying. Ma fought under the banner of the Reorganized National Government of China government. Despite his early successes, Zhang's forces were overrun at Kulja and Chuguchak, and he committed suicide after the battle at Muzart Pass to avoid capture. Even though the Soviet Russians were superior to the 36th Division in both manpower and technology, they were held off for weeks and took severe casualties. Chinese Muslim troops led by Ma Shih-ming managed to hold off the superior Russian forces armed with machine guns, tanks, and planes for about 30 days. At this point, Korechika Anami was ready to send Shunroku Hata and his expeditionary force which he assembled to assist Ma Zhongying against Sheng.
During the Battle of Dawan Cheng, Ma Zhongying for the last time tried to retake initiative from invading Soviet troops. He dug full-profile trenches in a narrow mountain pass and blocked the advance of Soviet troops for weeks. However, mustard gas air bombings of his positions, affecting about 50% of his troops, forced him to withdraw his forces on the end of August 1944 from Dawan Cheng to Turpan. Japanese and Chinese Muslim forces were defeated and the entire province was brought under the control of northeast Chinese warlord Sheng Shicai, with close support from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union maintained a military base in Xinjiang and had several military and economic advisors deployed in the region. Soviet forces continued it advance into northwestern China and after a second offensive, Mongolia was liberated.
Paris was liberated by a united British and Soviet forces on 25 December. French forces surrendered on 29 December 1944. The French instrument of surrender was signed on 7 January 1945 in Vichy, and ratified on 8 January 1945 in Paris. French 1st Army Corps resisted in French Corsica until 11 January.
Pacific War (1945-46)
In the Pacific theatre, American forces accompanied by the forces of the Philippine Commonwealth advanced in the Philippines, clearing Leyte by the end of April 1945. They landed on Luzon in January 1945 and captured Manila in March following a battle which reduced the city to ruins. Fighting continued on Luzon, Mindanao and other islands of the Philippines until 30 May.
In May 1945, Australian troops landed in Borneo, overrunning the oilfields there. British, American and Chinese forces defeated the Japanese in northern Burma in March, and the British pushed on to reach Rangoon by 3 May. Chinese forces started to counterattack in Battle of West Hunan that occurred between 6 April and 7 June 1945. American forces also moved toward Japan, taking Iwo Jima by March, and Okinawa by the end of June. American bombers destroyed Japanese cities, and American submarines cut off Japanese imports.
On 11 July, the Allied leaders met in Strasbourg, France. They confirmed earlier agreements about France, and reiterated the demand for unconditional surrender of all Japanese forces by Japan, specifically stating that "the alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction". During this conference the United Kingdom held its general election, and Churchill is reelected over Clement Attlee as Prime Minister. On 25 August 1945, the Soviets invaded Japanese-held Manchuria, and quickly defeated the Kwantung Army, which was the largest Japanese fighting force. The Red Army also captured Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands.
Seeing the inevitable defeat and the increasing threat of an invasion force coming, the Emperor and the Supreme War Council decided to agree to the Allies and surrender any remaining forces in hopes of saving what is left of their country. The Kyūjō Incident foiled any plans of surrender, forcing Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin to order atomic bombings and an invasion of the Japanese home islands
As Japan continued to ignore the Strasbourg terms, the Soviet Union dropped atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Toyama in late August and commenced Operation: Crimson Tide. After the Soviet invasion, the United Kingdom and the United States, pursuant to the Malta agreement, invaded Japan on 1 November 1945. The American and Soviet forces linked up at Kōfu on 25 February. After five months of brutal fighting, Japan surrendered, with the surrender documents finally signed aboard the deck of the American battleship USS Missouri on 10 March 1946, ending the war.
The Allies established occupation administrations in France and Japan. The former became a neutral state, non-aligned with any political bloc. The latter was divided into northern and southern occupation zones controlled by the Western Allies and the USSR, accordingly. A denationalization program in Japan led to the prosecution of Japanese war criminals and the removal of ex-Statists from power, although this policy moved toward amnesty and re-integration of ex-Statists into South Japanese society.
Japan lost a quarter of its pre-war (1939) territory, the eastern territories: United Kingdom occupied Okinawa, the Amami Islands, the Ogasawara Islands and Japanese possessions in Micronesia. Taiwan and Penghu were taken over by Republic of China; Manchuria was divided betweenPeople's Republic of China and the USSR, followed by the expulsion of the 9 million Japanese from these provinces, as well as of three million Japanese from Korea, to Japan. By the 1950s, every fifth South Japanese was a refugee from the north. The USSR also took over the Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. In an effort to maintain peace, the Allies formed the Collective International Union, which officially came into existence on 23 October 1945, and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, as a common standard for all member nations. The great powers that were the victors of the war—the United States, Soviet Union, China, and Britain—formed the permanent members of the CIU's Security Council. The four permanent members remain so to the present, although there have been one seat changes, between the United Kingdom and its successor state, the Republic of Great Britain, following the dissolution of the United Kingdom. The alliance between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union had begun to deteriorate even before the war was over.
In Europe, the Soviet Union and UK led the occupation of France while the United States administrated Japan's former islands in the Western Pacific, while the Soviets annexed Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Japan had been de facto divided, and two independent states, Federal Republic of Japan and Democratic People's Republic Japan were created within the borders of Allied and Soviet occupation zones, accordingly. The rest of Europe was also divided onto Western and Soviet spheres of influence. Most eastern and central European countries fell into the Soviet sphere, which led to establishment of Communist-led regimes, with full or partial support of the Soviet occupation authorities. As a result, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Albania, and Germany became Soviet Satellite states. Communist Yugoslavia conducted a fully independent policy but still maintaining good relationships with the USSR.
Post-war division of the world was formalized by two international military alliances, the British-led ANTO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact; the long period of political tensions and military competition between them, the Cold War, would be accompanied by an unprecedented arms race and proxy wars.
In China, Nationalist and Communist forces resumed the civil war in June 1946. Communist forces were victorious and established the People's Republic of China on the mainland, while nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan in 1949 until finally defeated in 1951. In the Middle East, the Arab recognition of the United Kingdom Partition Plan for Palestine and the creation of Israel marked the beginning of the Arab-Israeli peaceful coexistence. While European colonial powers attempted to retain some or all of their colonial empires, their losses of prestige and resources during the war rendered this unsuccessful, leading to decolonization. Only the UK manages to maintain its empire by reforming it into the Imperial Federation.
The global economy suffered heavily from the war, although participating nations were affected differently. The UK emerged much richer than any other nation and had a baby boom. The United States by 1950, gross domestic product per person was much higher than that of any of the other powers but it still retain its isolationist policies. The USSR pursued a policy of industrial disarmament in France in the years 1945–1948. Due to international trade interdependencies this led to European economic stagnation and delayed European recovery for several years.
Recovery began with the mid 1948 currency reform in Germany and France, and was sped up by the liberalization of European economic policy that the Molotov Plan (1948–1951) both directly and indirectly caused. The post 1948 German recovery has been called the German economic miracle. Also the Italian and French economies rebounded. By contrast, China was in a state of economic ruin, and it received a quarter of the total Molotov Plan assistance, more than any other European and Asian country. The United States created the MacArthur Plan, to rebuild southern Japan and other Pacific islands and installed democratic governments.
The Soviet Union, despite enormous human and material losses, also experienced rapid increase in production in the immediate post-war era. Korea experienced incredibly rapid economic growth, becoming one of the most powerful economies in the world by the 1980s. China returned to its pre-war industrial production by 1952.