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World War II (abbreviated WWII or WW2), or the Second World War, was a worldwide military conflict which lasted from 1939 to 1945. World War II was the amalgamation of two conflicts, one starting in Asia as the Second Sino-Japanese War and the other beginning in Europe with the Invasion of Poland.
This global conflict split a majority of the world's nations into two opposing camps: the Allies and the Axis. Spanning much of the globe, World War II resulted in the deaths of over 60 million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.
World War II was the most widespread war in history, and mobilized more than 100 million military personnel from 61 nations. Total war erased the distinction between civil and military resources and saw the complete mobilization of a nation's economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort; nearly two-thirds of those killed in the war were civilians. The Holocaust, which was largely conducted in Eastern Europe, resulted in the systematic killing of around or even more than six million Jews and other social and political minorities by Axis forces.
The conflict ended in an Allied victory. As a result, the United States and Soviet Union emerged as the world's two leading superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War for the next 40 years. Self determination gave rise to decolonization/independence movements in Asia and Africa, while Europe itself began traveling the road leading to unification.