World War 2: Facts & Information for Kids

World War 2, also called World War II or WWII, is considered the biggest war in global history. The war engaged over 30 countries, and it lasted six years in total.  World War II affected nearly every region of the world in the early to mid-1900s, so it is important to understand when, where, and how this massive war happened.

Adolf Hitler was a key figure of World War 2
Adolf Hitler was a key figure of World War 2

Included below are facts and figures that cover significant events within and surrounding World War 2. You will find how the war happened, why the war began, and what occurred during the war.

  • World War II began September 1, 1939, in Poland
    • It ended September 2, 1945, in Germany.
    • The war lasted six years and one day.
  • The war began when Germany invaded Poland with the intent to take it over and share the land with the Soviet Union.
    • The French and British armies guaranteed to support Poland if Germany invaded.
    • Hitler invaded Poland after sighing a treaty with the Soviet Union called the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact.
    • Great Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3.
  • World War II had two sides: The Axis and the Allies.
    • The Allies this group was led by Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States of America.
      • Other Allies include Canada, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, the Netherlands, India, Mexico, Belgium, and Zimbabwe.
    • The Axis: this group was led by Germany, Italy, and Japan.
      • The Axis were joined by nations taken by Nazi Germany: this includes Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia.
  • Germany invaded Denmark and Norway after it won Poland.
    • The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium were original neutral, but they were brought into the war after the German invasion.
    • France surrendered after defeating Belgian forces and French forces in Northern France.
    • France surrendered the northern half of their country to the Germans.
  • The British faced air assaults in August and September of 1940. They defended Britain and won the Battle of Britain.
    • The Germans were unable to land because of British defense.
    • These air attacks on London were known as the ‘Blitz.’
    • 1/3 of London was destroyed from the 11 weeks of air attacks.
  • Adolf Hitler was the leader of Nazi Germany. He convinced the German people to reclaim land and improve the German economy.
    • The Nazi regime believed in creating a superior human race, or “master race.”
  • The Holocaust was the persecution and murder of millions of individuals that the Nazi regime deemed unfit for their new world.
    • Jewish individuals were targeted by the Nazis.
    • Gay men were targeted.
    • Jehovah’s Witnesses were targeted.
    • Gypsies were targeted.
    • Mentally Handicapped and Disabled individuals were targeted.
  • People targeted, as well as prisoners of war, were sent to internment camps.
    • In internment camps, prisoners were starved, worked, beaten, and killed in the masses.
    • The Germans set up six internment camps in Poland
    • Auschwitz-Birkenau is one of the most well-known extermination camps.
  • The Soviet Union joined the Allies in 1941 after the Germans invaded the Soviet territory and tried to overtake Moscow.
    • The German invasion of the Soviet Union was a violation of the German-Soviet Pact.
    • The Soviet Union pushed German troops back and prevented Moscow from being taken.
  • The United States declared war on the Axis after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
  • Italy joined the Axis forces in June 1940.
    • Italy invaded the south of France.
    • Italy was unhappy with the share given and promised to them by the Germans, so they attacked Greece in October of 1940.
  • The Italians were led and directed by Benito Mussolini.
    • He was a fascist dictator.
  • German troops went to the Mediterranean because Italy could not effectively fend off British troops in North Africa.
    • The United States military assisted British troops in North Africa in 1942. Working together, the Allies took Sicily in 1942.
    • The British Royal Air Force bombed industrial parts of Germany in the same year.
  • The United States and British forces turned the tide of the war by landing troops in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
    • This battle at Normandy is referred to as D-Day.
    • Over 150,000 soldiers in the Allied forces landed in France.
    • The battle forced the Germans to retreat into Germany.
  • United States troops made their way into Germany on September 11, 1944.
    • Germans tried to resist the Allied Armies in Belgium and France called The Battle of the Bulge. The Germans were not successful.
  • The Soviet Union battled to free Poland and force Hungary to surrender to the Allies in January 1945.
  • The Allied forces surrounded Berlin on March 7, 1945.
    • Hitler committed suicide when the Allies began to make their way closer to the capital.
    • Germany surrendered to the Western Allies on May 7 and the Eastern Allies on May 9.
  • The Japanese still fought after the German surrender.
    • This is referred to as the war in the Pacific.
  • The Japanese formally surrendered to the Allies on September 2, 1945, when the United States dropped to atomic bombs on Japanese cities.
    • The first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
    • The second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
  • On September 2, 1945, World War II was finally over.

Unbelievable Facts & Information About World War 2

Now that you have learned a little bit about World War II from our previous list find out some more facts, figures, and statistics that you may not have known.

  • By the end of the war, there were an estimated 55 million deaths worldwide.
  • Women were a great asset during World War II.
    • Some women worked in factories to make bullets and equipment for soldiers.
    • Some women served in the Armed forces in a position that did not involve combat.
  • The Battle of the Bulge was the deadliest and largest battle for the United States military.
  • Japanese pilots used a technique called a “Kamikaze,” which means ‘diving wind.” In these attacks, pilots would intentionally crash their plane into enemies in a suicide crash or collision.
  • Josef Mengele, who worked for Nazi Germany, ran many experiments on prisoners captured by the German army as well as prisoners in internment camps. His experiments included generic experiments on twins and children.
  • Norvell Gillespie, a horticulturist, and editor of a gardening magazine created several patterns used for camouflage.
  • American decided that if another atomic bomb needed to be used against Japan, the government decided that the bomb would be dropped on Tokyo.
  • The Nazis implemented a campaign to burn millions of books and confiscate art. The items they seized were those deemed unfit for the new German world and not fitting with German ideas.
  • The Nazi flag was designed and introduced to Germany by Hitler.
  • The Russians had the first paratroopers, which inspired the United States to open a school to train paratroopers.
  • Japan and Italy used the same poison gas used in World War I in battles across World War II.
  • The Oleander was the first flower to regrow and bloom in the area of Hiroshima after the atomic bomb dropped.
  • Nazis stole some babies they came across in Poland and moved them to Germany to be adopted by German families under the Nazi regime.
  • Spain and Switzerland were neutral during World War II, so they did not join the Axis nor the Allies.

Read more about World War One

Cite this article as: "World War 2: Facts & Information for Kids," in History for Kids, April 20, 2024,