No war in history killed more people or destroyed more property than World War II. Seventeen million combatants--and an unknown number of civilians--lost their lives in the conflict. Altogether, 70 million people served in the armed forces during the war; of these, some 7.5 million Soviet troops died in World War II, along with 3.5 million Germans, 1.25 million Japanese, and 400,000 Americans. Civilian deaths were even higher. At least 19 million Soviet civilians, 10 million Chinese, and 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the war.
More than any previous war in history, World War II was a total war. Some 70 nations took part in the war, and fighting took place on the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in the seas surrounding Australia. Entire societies participated in the war either as soldiers and war workers, while others were persecuted as victims of occupation, bombing, and mass murder. In the United States the war had vast repercussions: it ended depression joblessness, brought millions of married women into the workforce, initiated sweeping changes in the lives of the nation's minority groups, and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life. In addition, World War II marked the beginning of the nuclear age.
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