World War 2 was a global military conflict, that involved most of the countries of the world. With approximately 40 million dead, it is considered by many, the most deadly armed conflict in all of history. The war saw two blocs: the Axis and the Allies fight against each other in Europe, Africa, East Asia and Pacific.
- Germany (Third Reich)
- Fascist Italy
- Empire of Japan
- Soviet Union
- United Kingdom and their dominions
On 1 September 1939, Poland was attacked by fascist Germany. UK and France declared war on Germany, but did little to help them, which is why it is called Phoney War (no battles took place). Poland was overrun by German forces and their capital - Warsaw fell on 28 September. Earlier, on 17 September, Soviet forces crossed Polish border, without declaration of war and annexed largely Belarussian and Ukrainian eastern part of Poland.
In April 1940, German attack on Norway and Denmark was launched. Denamark surrender without fight and fights for Norway lasted 2 months. In May 1940, Germany launched attack on Netherlands and Belgium, which were occupied in matter of weeks. On 10 June Germany attacked France evading its most heavily defended positions and circumventing Maginot Line and Frech and British forces in the north. France surrendered and was split between puppet Vichy France and German occupation zone.
Italy fought the British in Egypt and Libya, with Axis troops eventually defeated by British Army. Germany attacked Yugoslavia, which was defeated in several days and Greece, despite being supported by the British fell in less than one month. Germany attacked UK with Luftwaffe, but German air force was defeated by Royal Air Force.
On 22 June 1941, Axis (with the exception of Japan) attacked USSR, In the early phase of the war, German troops moved quickly forward, although they soon encountered heavy Soviet defenses Battles of Lviv, Minsk and Kaunas were all lost by Soviet army, but dealt heavy damage to German war machine. By 1942, German forces had conquered Lithuania, Belarus and parts of Latvia and Ukraine. Soviet defences on the rivers of Daugava and Dnieper were attacked in January, especially in the region of Smolensk, as it had weaker defences and was relatively close to Moscow. Even though at first Axis forces achieved large succeses, eventually their army was cut of and defeated.
Germany was far from being defeated, though. Another attack was launched in Dnipropetrovsk, moving the frontline 100 km to the east. In winter of 1943, the front was moved back to Dnieper river. In early 1943, Soviets started their counterattack. In late 1943, they entered Romania and Bulgaria and Hungary surrendered in January 1944.