World War II, or the Second World War, was a worldwide military conflict, the amalgamation of what had initially been two separate conflicts. The first began in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War; the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. (1 September 1939 is the "consensus" start-date.)
This global conflict split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allied Forces and the Axis Powers. Spanning much of the globe, World War II resulted in the death of over 70 million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. The war saw NaziGermany's systematic genocide against the Jews of Europe, an act that has come to be called the Holocaust. The war also saw the first deployment of atomic weapons.
Germany subdued most of continental Europe by way of conquest by mid-1940. Only the United Kingdom was in the position to continue fighting Germany and Italy in North Africa and in the North Atlantic. This changed in June, 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The United States remained neutral until December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked several U.S. and European possessions in the Pacific.
The tide turned against the Axis in 1942, with Japan losing the Battle of Midway, Axis troops meeting defeat in North Africa, and Germany meeting defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad, which commenced in 1942 and ended in 1943. From then on, the Axis were on a continued state of retreat until their total defeat.
The war ended in defeat for the Axis in 1945. Germany and Japan were forced into unconditional surrender; Germany in May, 1945 after the Soviet capture of Berlin; and Japan in August of that year, after the deployment of the first atomic bombs by the U.S.
The United States and the Soviet Union emerged from the war as the world's two superpowers.
World War II is a frequent setting in the works of Harry Turtledove, particularly his alternate history works. There are several stories that are set during or after World War II, but have their point of divergence in the period between 1937 and 1945. There are several stories that are set in timelines in which World War II took a different course or reached a different resolution. However, Turtledove rarely describes the exact course of the altered war in detail.
In most instances, what is known about the altered war can be summed up in a few paragraphs, and this article should include those versions of World War II.
The versions of World War II that are fictitious from beginning to end and which Turtledove writes about in extensive detail should be given separate articles. As of this writing there are only three such versions:
The Second Sorcerous War saw the resurgence of Alemania, which had recovered from its defeat in the previous conflict. The Leader of Alemania, a man whose unexplained evil was the subject of speculation for decades to come, led a brutal extermination campaign against ethnic groups he disliked. Nevertheless, Alemania was defeated in this war as well.
The Soviet name for World War II, the Great Patriotic War, entered into the vocabulary of its allies and enemies alike after it won the Cold War. The Soviet Union suffered mightily during the war, a fact it never let the world forget. Even after the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union kept a tight reign on Germany, its primary adversary from 1941-1945.
In June 1942, the United States sent a fleet of three aircraft carriers and assorted troopships and destroyers to retake the islands. The Japanese navymet the Americans, sinking two of the carriers (the Saratoga and the Yorktown) and forcing a retreat. Embarrassed, the United States continued its production. In 1943, the United States returned, with a massive fleet, comprising some 7 aircraft carriers, 5 light carriers, close to a dozen escort carriers, several destroyers, and troop carriers. This invasion proved to be the end of Japanese rule in Hawaii, as the Japanese naval contingent was destroyed, and the Japanese supply line, already taxed, was broken completely. American forces landed at Oahu, and after a period of bitter fighting, were able to subdue Japan's ground forces.
Hawaii then became the launching pad for the American war effort in the Pacific theater.
The Axis emerged from the Second World War victorious, as the United States remained neutral, leaving the rest of the world to its own devices. Germany occupied most of Europe after it defeated Britain and the Soviet Union. Germany and its ally Italy carved up Africa, taking colonies from the vanquished Allies. Germany also took control over the bulk of the Middle East and India. Germany's co-belligerent, Japan, asserted its hegemony over the rest of Asia.
Roughly a generation later, Germany and Japan defeated and occupied the U.S. during the Third World War.
In 1942, the Germans attempted to bring World War II to the United States' shores by arming that country's discontented whiteSouthern subjects with weapons, smuggled to the port of New Orleans. The alertness of a group of FBS agents foiled this plan, and America remained peaceful.
Although World War IIended officially in Europe on 8 May 1945 with the surrender of Germany, conflict and violence continued beginning on 9 May, with the nationwide uprising staged by the German Freedom Front under the leadership of NaziReichsprotektorReinhard Heydrich. The uprising continued on even after the surrender of Japan in August and September, 1945. The mounting casualties provoked many in the United States to question the value of a continued occupation, especially since the war had been deemed "won".
World War II ended on the Russian front on 19 February 1943, when German Field Marshal Erich von Manstein shot Adolf Hitler for an insult. Germany, under the new leadership of Manstein, offered a separate peace with the Soviet Union, which was accepted. Subsequently, all German forces from the Eastern Front were redeployed to secure Europe, and prevented the United States and the United Kingdom from gaining a toehold on the Continent, although the British did take Sicily and make it a de facto part of their empire. The United States focused its attention on Japan, invading it in 1945. The Soviet Union also invaded, taking the northern islands.
In the aftermath, global politics were dominated by the Anglo-American alliance, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union, in a three-way cold war, briefly interrupted by a Russo-American war in 1953 which ended status quo ante bellum, a situation which still persisted in 1979.
Though most of the major combatants of World War II--and their mutual antagonisms--survived the war against the Race, the threat represented by the continued presence of the Conquest Fleet remained sufficient to keep the human powers from resuming hostilities after the Peace of Cairo for fear that the Race would exploit divisions in the alliance system which had stalemated it to conquer the rest of the planet.