The irrational aggressiveness of the Axis powers teaches us not to expect our enemies to be reasonable.
Seventy-five years ago, the world blew up in just six months.
World War II ostensibly started two years earlier, when Germany invaded Poland. In truth, after the rapid German defeat of Poland in September 1939, the conflict was mostly confined to Western Europe for nearly the next two years. By summer of 1940, only Britain had survived Hitler’s European victories.
The dormant European war only went global on June 22, 1941, when Germany suddenly surprise-attacked the Soviet Union, its former partner.
America and Asia were still not directly involved in the 1941 expansion of the war until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and British Malaya on December 7–8.
Yet the war was even then not truly global until Germany and Italy inexplicably declared war on the United States on December 11.
America was suddenly mired in a two-front war on land, sea, and in the air against the Axis powers — from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert, and from the coast of Florida to China.
These three calamitous events of 1941 marked the real beginning of World War II, in which some 65 million perished, more than 60 percent of them civilians.
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