World War II Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
World War II, from 1939-1945, was a horrible war fought by many countries. In this lesson, you will learn about the war, how good people saved others, and what happened afterwards.

World War II: the Allies and the Axis

World War II took place from 1939-1945 and cost many lives. There were two sides in the war: the Allies, which included the United States, the Soviet Union (today that is Russia), Great Britain, France, China, and many other countries; and the Axis: Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy.

Europe, 1941-1942: the blue areas were controlled by the Axis, the red were the Allies, and the white countries were neutral
World War II in Europe

The main reason the war started in the first place was that the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, wanted to control the world. They also wanted to get rid of all of the Jews that lived in Europe in a Holocaust, which means total destruction of a group of people. But most of the rest of the world didn't like this, and so they went to war. Sweden and Switzerland managed to stay out of the war by saying they were neutral. They would not take a side in the war.

The Nazis arrest Jews in Warsaw, Poland, 1943
Jews Being Arrested in Warsaw, Poland

Destruction and Hope

The war tore Europe apart. The British sent many of their children to Canada and Australia to escape the war. In London, to escape German bombs falling from the sky, people would hide in the London subway.

Even though there were so many terrible things happening, some people were able to help the Jews and other people the Nazis were trying to kill by hiding them. A family in Holland tried to save a girl named Anne Frank and her family. They almost did it, but Anne was captured and died in 1945. In a way, Anne Frank managed to live forever. Her diary is now a famous book.

The End of the War

The Axis powers came close to winning the war. Until 1941, Germany, with the help of Italy, controlled nearly all of Europe, and Japan controlled much of Asia. Things weren't looking good.

Then, in an incredible twist of fate, the British were able to steal a German secret message machine called Enigma. Alan Turing and a team of scientists managed to unlock the code, which helped the Allies win the war (also, in doing so, they had built one of the world's first computers).

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