Chapter 9: Epilogues
From: Cliffsnotes: The Second World War
Historians are divided on when World War 2 ended. Some place the end as early as November 1944, when the U.K. sued for peace. Others place it as late as June 1951, when Chiang Kai-Shek unified all of China and Tibet not ceded to Japan. We've provided students a timeline below, a credible argument can be made for several points.
1944, November: The United Kingdom sues for peace, receives generous terms.
1945, February - March: Germany takes Switzerland. The Japanese issue a private ultimatum to a weakened U.K., demanding all Pacific colonies. The United Kingdom appeals to Germany, which issues a public guarantee of all British possessions. Japan backs down, and decides to move north, declaring war against the Soviet Union. The hidden price for guaranteeing the U.K. becomes quickly evident: British agreement to not interfere in the future German annexation of Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Nordic countries.
1945, April: The Soviet Union agrees to cede a large portion of Eastern Siberia, but not Vladivostock or the Kamchatka Peninsula, to Japan, leading to peace. This quick victory emboldens Japan.
1945, July: Japan declares war on the United States, and on the newly-independent Philippines, expecting a quick victory. Japan quickly takes the Philippines and most American outposts in the Pacific, including Wake and Midway, but soon discovers that the United States, despite a lack of war preparations, is a much more tenacious opponent. Germany annexes the Netherlands and Belgium. Belgium surrenders, but the Dutch move a government in exile to Java.
1945, December: The Netherlands surrender after Germany invades Java and detonates the world's first atomic bomb on an empty plain as a demonstration.
1946 to 1948: Japan and the United States fight to a standstill in the Pacific, with the Japanese being slowly driven back.
1947, January: Seeking to improve relations with the United States, Germany begins offering industrial support for the war effort, similar to lend-lease. The United States accepts.
1947, April: After almost three years of war, the United States, occupying several Japanese islands, offers a return to pre-war borders (not including the Philippines), which an exhausted Japan quickly accepts. Historians largely consider this a Japanese defeat, and the immense costs of the war inflicted a five year economic depression on Japan. In China, Chiang Kai-Shek begins his successful campaign to unite all of China under his rule.
1947, April - June: The Third Reich annexes the Nordic countries and the Baltics. This marks the first, and only, use of nuclear weapons against civilians, as the Germans use nuclear weapons when Sweden and Finland reject ultimatums. The horrifying nature of radiation is soon discovered, and Germany faces widespread condemnation. Hitler issues a rare formal apology, and announces a ban on any future use of nuclear weapons by the Reich. Despite this, the Soviet Union, the United States, and the Empire of Japan all begin developmental work on similar weapons.
1949, November: After the fall of Cuba to communism, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom announce the formation of "The Axis" - a "defensive alliance against both Imperial and Soviet aggression". Both Japan and the Soviet Union denounce the Pact as an attempt by colonialist powers to rule the world.
1951, June: Chiang Kai-Shek crushes the last resistance in Tibet, reuniting and expanding China.
After the end of the war in China, an uneasy peace fell over the World. This, of course, turned into the three-way Cold War that continues to this day. The re-election of FDR to replace Lindbergh (who was blamed for American unpreparedness when they were attacked by Japan) in 1952 threatened to shatter the Axis, but strengthened economic ties and the fall of several South American countries (Argentina, Chile, and Brazil) to the Comintern/Soviet bloc more than counteracted FDR's personal dislike of the Reich. Most historians agree that FDR's decision to pursue a more realistic, less idealistic foreign policy was the wisest choice available to him, and it ushered in a continuing relationship between the Reich, the British Empire, and the United States, making these three countries the most powerful in the world.