When Was WW2?
When did WW2 start?
This seemingly simple question actually has several answers. They are all correct answers, depending on your definition of what WW2 is.
- Do you think WW2 began when the first of the regional wars within WW2 started? If so, your answer is 7 Jul 1937, which was when Japan invaded China; some scholars actually date the invasion all the way back to 1931, when Japan occupied the northeastern region of China known as Manchuria, though they are a minority, as officially war was not declared between China and Japan until 1937.
- Do you think WW2 began when conflict had spread to multiple continents? Then your answer is 1 Sep 1939, which was when Germany and Russia invaded Poland; although war had been underway for two years in Asia by this time, Russo-German aggression expanded war to Europe, Africa, and the Atlantic Ocean. Most publications cite this date as the start of WW2.
- Do you think WW2 began when all major players had all major players and joined in, and all regional wars that made up of WW2 had started? If so, then your answer is 7 Dec 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and started the Pacific War. With that attack, the last of the major players, the United States, finally formally took a side.
When did WW2 end?
Germany capitulated on 7 May 1945 after Soviet troops entered her capital city of Berlin. Emperor Showa (known as "Emperor Hirohito" in some English sources) announced the intention for the Japanese surrender on 14 Aug 1945, and the surrender ceremony took place in Tokyo Bay on 2 Sep 1945. While the guns fell silent in 1945, from an international law sense the state of war continued until the Treaty of San Francisco was signed in Sep 1951; it went into effect in Apr 1952, finally officially ending the costliest war in human history.
Next: Why Did WW2 Take place?
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945