Second World War – Behind the News


To understand how
the Second World War began, you actually have to go back
to the end of the first. In 1919, leaders of the countries
which had fought in World War One came together in France
to sign a peace treaty. It was called
the Treaty of Versailles and it officially blamed Germany
for the war. It forced it to make big repayments and hand over control
of some of its land. It also banned it from having armed forces. The treaty had a huge impact
on Germany, which was already poor
and struggling after the war, and a lot of German people
were angry with their leaders. An up-and-coming politician
tapped into that anger. His name was Adolf Hitler. Hitler was a convincing speaker
and he won fans talking about ways to restore Germany
to its former glory. He also spoke about his racist views
and his hatred of Jewish people. In 1933,
Hitler became Germany’s chancellor. His Nazi Party soon changed the way
the country was run and Hitler started
calling himself Fuhrer, or Supreme Leader. (SHOUTS IN GERMAN) He was obsessed with the idea
of a pure German race, which he called Aryan, and he wanted that race
to control all of Europe. Hitler started secretly building up
the German Army. Then, in 1938,
the Nazis invaded Austria. At first, other European countries, which were still recovering
from the last war, did not really react. In fact, some signed agreements
with Germany to stay peaceful. But that changed on 1 September 1939
when the Nazis invaded Poland. MAN: The Mad Dog of Europe
has at last plunged civilization into a new world war. Britain and France and their allies
declared war on Germany and later its allies,
which included Italy and Japan. The fighting spread across the globe. In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and more countries
joined the fighting. In 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor,
a US naval base in Hawaii, bringing America into the war. That same year, the Soviet Union –
a group of states including Russia – had joined the fight
against the Nazis. Meanwhile, in Germany
and German-occupied countries, something really sinister
was happening. The Nazi regime
was rounding up people that didn’t fit into its plans
for an Aryan race. Millions of people,
most of them Jewish, were killed in what’s now known
as the Holocaust. For a while, it looked like Germany
was actually going to win the war, but a big turning point was D-Day
when Allied forces carried out the biggest ever land,
air and sea mission to take back Nazi-occupied Europe. MAN: Adolf Hitler
was presumably alive until the last days of Berlin. By the best evidence,
he is now dead. Just over a year later,
Germany had surrendered. The representative
of the German High Command signed the act
of unconditional surrender. Today is Victory in Europe Day. (CHEERING) While Europe celebrated,
Japan hadn’t surrendered… ..and in August 1945, the US made the decision
to drop two nuclear bombs on Japan, with devastating results. NEWSREADER: 126,000 died. Japan surrendered and the most destructive war
in history was finally over. It’s not known exactly how many
people died in World War Two, but it’s thought to be somewhere
between 70 and 85 million. The war changed the way
the world looked. The US and the Soviet Union
became global superpowers and the United Nations was founded in the hope that another world war
would never happen again.

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