How did World War II End? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Tammie Mihet

Tammie has taught elementary school for 14 yrs. and holds an MA in Instructional Technology

The ending of World War II came in two stages. In this lesson, discover how the Allies gained victory over the two fronts in the world's second great war.

Victory

You are fast asleep when suddenly you're awoken by a loud shout. At first, you feel a sense of fear, but you realize that the streets outside your apartment near Times Square are alive with action. You hear car horns, shouts of jubilee, and spontaneous celebration. What has happened? Then your mother rushes in, her eyes red with joyous tears and tells you: World War II is over! Japan has followed in the footsteps of Germany and has surrendered!

On August 14, 1945, celebrations like this one erupted all over America as news of Japan's surrender spread. However, this wasn't the only victory celebration of WWII. The first one had come over three months earlier, on May 8, 1945, with the surrender of Germany in Europe.

To truly understand how all this came about, we need to step back in time and visit the two fronts, or areas of conflict, of WWII.

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European Front

The European front of WWII was where the Allied powers fought against Germany and Italy, members of the Axis powers. Remember, the Allied powers consisted mainly of forces from the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. The Soviets were originally fighting alongside Germany against the Allies, until Germany made the devastating mistake of invading their own partner, the Soviets. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why the Soviet Union switched sides!

So what events led to the war ending on the European front? Let's take a look.

German Soldiers in the Battle of Stalingrad
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  • Battle of Stalingrad (July 17, 1942 - Feb. 2, 1943). Many people believe this was a turning point. In this battle, the Soviets stopped the advancing German army and were able to start moving them back west, towards Germany.
  • Invasion of Italy (September 16, 1943). The Allied powers invaded Italy, which led to their surrender a year later and the death of their leader, Mussolini.
  • Battle of the Bulge (December 16, 1944 - January 27, 1945). This was the last major German advance on the Allied forces, and Germany was defeated.
  • Battle of Berlin (Germany) and Hitler's death. As the Soviets advanced into Berlin, Hitler knew he had lost the war. On April 30, 1945, he committed suicide.

Seven days later, on May 8, the German army surrendered unconditionally and people all over Europe celebrated in victory! But WWII still raged on another front.

Pacific Front

The Pacific front was an area consisting of the Pacific Ocean and many of its islands, where the Allies fought against Japan. Here are the major events that led to an Allied victory on this front.

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