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Second World War

The Second World War, also known as World War II, was started by Germany on 1 September 1939 with the German attack on Poland and the subsequent declaration of war against Germany by France and the United Kingdom. The Second World War was the most destructive war of human history to date. The war was fought by two alliances, the Allies, with France, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China and the United States (among others) on the one side and the Axis with Germany, Japan and Italy on the other. During the Second World War between 60 to 70 million people died. In the beginning of the war, German troops occupied large areas of Eastern and Western Europe. The German troops fought a brutal war of extermination which killed millions of people. They persecuted and killed the Jewish population of the occupied territories (Shoah, ‘catastrophe’ in Hebrew). In the context of the multiple genocide, the Germans also persecuted and murdered Sinti and Roma (“gypsies”, Porajmos in Romani), and other ethnic groups and declared them “inferior races” (Holocaust). The German regime further persecuted and murdered homosexual people and transgenders as well as people with mental or physical disabilities. Beginning in 1943, the German troops were continually pushed back by the allied forces. The war was characterised by its global scope, area bombings, the first use of nuclear weapons and the general brutal warfare. The Second World War ended in Europe with the Allies victory and the German capitulation on 8 May 1945 and in Asia with the surrender of Japan on 2 September 1945.