In September 1939, Britain entered into what would become the world’s most devastating war to date. Learn all about the events that changed the lives of millions in our World War 2 facts….


World War 2 facts

World War 2 facts

1. World War 2 was a battle between two groups of countries

– the “Allies” and the “Axis“. The major Allied Powers were Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States. The major Axis Powers were Germany, Italy and Japan.


2. Before World War 2 began, Germany was ruled by a man named Adolf Hitler

Together with the Nazi Party, he wanted Germany to rule Europe. To gain more land and power, on 1 September 1939 German troops invaded Poland. After Hitler refused to stop the invasion, Britain and France declared war on Germany – World War II had begun.

World War 2 facts

3. During the course of the war, German forces advanced through Europe

By the summer of 1941 they had invaded France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Yugoslavia* and the USSR*.


Did you know that we have a FREE downloadable Second World War primary resource? Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike!



4. Millions of Germans were imprisoned and killed because they didn’t fit the image of the ‘perfect’ German

Hitler wanted to create what he thought was the “best” and strongest race – and to the Nazi Party, this excluded certain groups, such as Jews, Gypsies and those with physical and mental disabilities. In an attempt to eliminate a “racial enemy” outside of Germany, such groups were also persecuted in the countries invaded by German forces.

World War 2 facts

5. The group most heavily targeted by the Nazis were the Jews

Around six million Jewish people were killed during World War 2 in one of history’s most terrible events – the Holocaust. Racist in his views, Hitler blamed Jewish people for Germany losing World War I and claimed they were dangerous to German people and society.

6. Around the same time that Germany fought for power in Europe, Japan wanted to control Asia and the Pacific

In 1937 (before World War 2 had officially begun) under Emperor Hirohito, Japan attacked China, bringing the two nations into years of conflict.

World War 2 facts

7. The US didn’t join the war until 1941, when Japan attacked the United States

– at their Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. On 8 December 1941 (the very next day), the US declared War on Japan and, in turn, its German allies.



8. Some countries remained ‘neutral’ in World War 2

Such countries were Spain, Sweden and Switzerland – who chose not to join either side.

World War 2 facts

9. The Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945

In 1944, an Allied army crossed from Britain to free France from Nazi rule. One year later, Allied armies invaded Germany, forcing the Germans to surrender. After nuclear attacks on Japan’s major cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan also surrendered to Allied forces in August the same year. World War 2 had ended.

Did you know we have a FREE downloadable Anne Frank primary resource? Perfect for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike, the resource introduces children to the young girl whose tragic tale from WWII became a story of hope.

10. Around 64 million people died in World War 2

– that’s more than the entire population of the United Kingdom.
World War 2 facts

With thanks to Dr. Matthew Thomas from the National Army Museum and Ian Kikuchi from the Imperial War Museum, London.

*Yugoslavia was a country established in 1918 in south-east Europe, which included modern-day Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
*USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the Soviet Union) was a former country which included modern-day Russia, Ukraine and Estonia, as well as other socialist states.


What did you think of our World War 2 facts? Let us know by leaving a comment below.




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  • mikey

    Sad but cool

  • Jose Miranda

    It was a transcendental event for humanity that we must avoid repeating because today there is greater military power and with several countries that have nuclear bombs. It would be a universal disaster without losers and winners.

  • your mom

    this website is pretty good!


    Really good facts helped a lot on my project :]

  • max

    good job homework is easy and fun

  • noni

    Hey thanks nat geo! the facts were really interesting and helped alot with my project :) cya soon in another comment section:P

  • bob


  • Bob

    This is very nice it help me so much.

  • cool

  • Jayden Ta

    Thank you Nat Geo, you helped me with my project!

  • person

    amazing but sad

  • lazer


  • love it

  • saskia

    I learned so much from this and it really helped me with my task

  • saskia ❤


  • TomTom

    nice facts

  • Dennis R. Hall

    3/ & in Africa they invaded Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, British Somaliland; & and Britain in the Channel Islands; 6/ & Italy wanted to control large tracts of Africa to include Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti & British Somaliland. 8/ Portugal was neutral and so was Eire: if the former held sympathies for Britain the latter was a non belligérant sympathiser of Nazi Germany to the extent of mourning Hitler’s death, generously welcoming German children after the War Marshall Plan funds asssisting the war weary countries, and responding to an invitation to join NATO with a “....only if you give back our six counties”. Who needs enemies with friends like that ?

  • zakaria

    you guys are nice

  • Good info it is very useful

  • GreenieTurtle

    Loved the facts!

  • Skylar

    This was very helpful, thank you!

  • g.f.s.

    my great-grandmother fought in WW2 aged only 15, and survived ! :)

  • Mugisa Nicholas

    Facts are true