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Some countries were friends with certain countries and not others! France and Britain were friendly with each other. Germany and Italy were friendly with each other. To find out how the Second World War started we have to look back at the First World War. This map of Europe shows some of the countries involved. World War I began in 1914 and lasted until 1918. It was supposed to be ‘The war to end all wars’. Countries had formed friendships or alliances with each other. Different countries began to build up their armies and build bigger, more powerful ships. By September 1918 the German High Command realised that the war was lost. The Armistice was signed at 11 a.m. on November 11th 1918. In 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Many people were determined to stop war happening again. A League of Nations was established to enable countries to keep peace. Germany was made to take the blame. Germany was made to pay out huge sums of money in compensation. They were also made to give up some land. Germany was also forced to reduce the size of her armies and to sink her ships. As a result the country became bankrupt. The country had no money, people had no jobs and were starving. Some people resented the status and money that others, such as Jews had. Jews were persecuted and made to give up their jobs and money Adolf Hitler rose to power with promises to help the German people. He set up youth groups and spoke at rallies. All over Europe, people began to suffer as jobs disappeared. Germany began to re-build her ships and build up her armies. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain believed that he could negotiate with Adolf Hitler. He met Herr Hitler at Munich in 1938 and declared the meeting was successful, ‘Peace in our time’ he said. Unfortunately not! Germany, with the support of her allies, continued to invade other countries. In September 1939 Britain issued an ultimatum, after Germany invaded Poland. It was ignored, so war was declared. War was declared on September 3rd 1939. Air raid sirens sounded, but it was a false alarm. The evacuation of children began. Before WWII: Remains the leading European power, despite taking lumps as a victor in WWI, and the interwar Global Depression. As a result, hesitant to oppose Germany as it started to become aggressive and difficult during the 1930s. During WWII: Declares war on Germany in 1939, after its invasion of Poland. Most powerful navy of the European powers, but the British army was not prepared. We offered troops to France, Norway, Middle East, Africa, India, Greece to assist in the invasion of Italy and the Pacific/Asian Theatre. After WWII: Part of the big 3 powers that decided the fate of post-war Europe. Like all other European nations, suffered a high loss of life, and economic damaged. It did lose most of its empire, as many countries that had belonged to it before the war now wanted independence. Invaded by Nazis in 1940 to provide base of operations for its invasion of France. Liberated by the Allies as they closed in on Germany in 1944/45. They were neutral until conquered by Nazi Germany in 1940. Liberated by Allies in 1944. Before WWII: Experienced economic and political turbulence during interwar years, leaving it vulnerable to future German and Soviet expansionist ambitions. During WWII: In 1939, invaded by Nazi Germany from the west, and the Soviet Union from the east. Despite resistance, was quickly conquered and occupied. West and Central Poland would fall to the Nazis, and Eastern Poland to the Soviets. Poland would serve as a battleground throughout the war, utterly devastating the nation. In addition, millions of Poles (including about 3 million Polish Jews) were exterminated by the Nazi regime. Conquered by Russia in 1944, as Red Army pursued the Nazi army back to Germany. After WWII: The Soviets rigged the post-war election to ensure the installation of a communist government. Poland would remain under Soviet control/influence until the collapse of the USSR in 1990. When the war started Poland was counting on France and Great Britain. These countries were bound by a treaty with Poland, that in the case of aggression they would help. Poles were convinced that when France and Great Britain became officially in state of war with Germany they would start fighting. But nothing happened, on either the British or the French side. The war started in the time when Polish economy was finally recovering after years of international crisis from the early thirties. The Polish sovereign state at that time was very young. Polish independence between the First and the Second World War lasted for no more than twenty years, after over a hundred of years of partitions between Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The war brought terrible economic losses as it destroyed infrastructure, housing etc. Poland was in fact the most destroyed country in the world, except for Germany and Japan who were the aggressors. The war also brought terrible human losses - six million Poles, half of them Jewish and half of non-Jewish. The fact that over 90% of Polish Jews were murdered during the war is horrible and at the same time well known around the world. What is less well known is that every Polish family lost somebody also, either in combat against Germany or Soviet Union, or in German extermination and labour camps, or in Siberia.