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World War II (WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that was underway by 1939 and ended in 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million people serving in military units. In a state of "total war", the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it resulted in 50 million to over 73 million fatalities. These deaths make World War II by far the deadliest conflict in human history.[1] The Empire of Japan aimed to dominate East Asia and was already at war with the Republic of China in 1937,[2] but the world war is generally said to have begun on 1 September, 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France 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. Following the Molotov--Ribbentrop Pact, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories between themselves of their European neighbours, including Poland. The United ...
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