World War II began on September 1, 1939; that was 80 years ago. It started when Germany bombed Poland. A group called the Nazis controlled Germany and Adolf Hitler was their leader.
World leaders met in Poland this week to remember what happened all those years ago, and show respect to those who suffered during the war. Vice President Mike Pence said gave a speech to celebrate the Polish people. The German president asked for forgiveness for the past event.
Hitler wanted to expand his Germany and to get rid of all the people he didn’t like – especially Jewish people. Germany occupied Poland for over five years, and the Nazis killed about three million Jewish citizens – about 24% of the Polish population. But the Nazis didn’t stay in Germany and Poland. They attacked over 20 countries in Europe and Africa.
How did Hitler get the support of the people for his war? He used propaganda. Propaganda is information that, whether true or not, is used to convince people to believe a certain way. It is really just another way of saying lies. Before the attack on Poland, for example, the Nazis spread fake news of Polish people attacking a German radio station. Hitler and the Nazis spread a lot of information, some true and some false, that convinced the people that they were in the right to invade Poland and the other counties that were attacked in World War II.
The Human Cost
Hitler really didn’t like anyone who wasn’t German. His idea of Germany was only for people of German blood, and no one else was welcome. In fact, historians think that about six million Jews were killed by the Nazis, either directly or because they died of starvation or disease. Historians think that between 70 and 80 million people died during World War II. That’s almost 3% of the world population.