75 years since the end of World War II

Europe will mark 75 years since the end of World War II in a sombre mood as the coronavirus pandemic forces the cancellation of elaborate ceremonies even as Berlin declares an exceptional holiday for the first time.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will join President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in laying wreaths at Neue Wache – Germany’s main memorial to the victims of war and dictatorship, followed by a speech by the president.

The Second World War was the most brutal and bloody conflict in human history. The crimes and cruelties that were perpetrated surpassed anything that humanity could have imagined in its worst nightmares.

World War II lasted from about 1939 AD until 1945 AD. It began with the invasion of Poland by Nazi German in August 1939. It then ended with the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the surrender of Japan in August 1945.

To this day, World War II remains the most geographically widespread military conflict the world has ever seen. It involved over 30 countries including all of the great powers formed in two opposing military alliances: the Axis including Germany, Italy, and Japan; and the Allies with France, Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States, and to a lesser extent China. The war was also the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 40 million fatalities, including the deliberate genocide of The Holocaust, strategic bombing, starvation and disease, and the first use of nuclear weapons. World War I led inexorably to World War II, but World War II conclusively ended that chapter of geopolitical history. This great watersheds of 20th-century marked the decisive shift of power in the world away from the states of Western Europe and toward the rival superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union, setting the stage for the Cold War.

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