Difference Between WW1 and WW2 -

WW1 vs WW2

Though there have been wars, skirmishes, and battles between countries and civilizations going on earth since time immemorial, two wars in 20th century, that involved major countries of the world and caused devastation and deaths on a huge scale are WW1 and WW2. While WW1 lasted for 4 years, WW2 continue for almost 6 years and resulted in redrawing of boundaries and major reshuffle in political powers of the world. There are many similarities and differences in the two wars that changed the face of the world. The outcome of both the wars was horrific to say the least with millions losing their lives and destruction on a mass scale. Let us take a closer look at the two great wars that took place on the face of the earth in 20th century.


Mainly confined to Europe and also referred to as Great War before 2nd World War, WW1 began in 1914 and continued till 1918. It was the killing of Franz Ferdinand (heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary) by a Bosnian student that triggered a chain of events that culminated in a full scale war between major powers of the world. Austria and Hungary invaded Bosnia that caused resentment and bitterness in many European nations. Europe at that time was divided into countries that had strategic political and military alliances. This intricate network saw nations aligning and forming fronts. While Germany declared war on Russia, France and Britain declared war on Germany as Germany invaded Belgium that was considered neutral and thus France and Germany moved to protect it from Germany. Russia did not want Austro Hungarian influence spreading to the Balkans. As a result, the world got divided between the allies and the central powers. With Russia, Britain, France, USA and some other nations on the side of the allies and Germany and Austria on the side of the central powers (Italy did not join despite having a treaty with them), the Great War continued for 4 years with Allied powers becoming victorious and Germany wisely acknowledging defeat. Millions of lives were lost and property destructed. Political boundaries were redrawn when truce was finally called with the League of Nations taking Birth to avert such future wars.


WW2 was a truly global war in the sense that its theater was not confined to Europe and there were several fronts in many parts of the world. The war was fought at a greater scale and there were 7 times more casualties than WW1. The world got divided into Allies and the Axis powers and the warring nations used all their economic and social might to emerge victorious. WW2 is considered the deadliest war on the face of the earth with 100 million lives lost. It began in September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland which was resented by France and gradually all commonwealth countries along with Britain joined to oppose Polish invasion by Germany. The axis powers that included Germany, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, marched ahead and captured much of Europe.

Germany and Italy were fascist powers at that time led by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini respectively, and both had expansionist plans. Hitler in particular believed in the superiority of the Nazi race and wanted to dominate other countries and bring them under German rule. Japan also was the aggressor, as it wanted to have influence in China and in 1931 invaded Chinese district of Manchuria. The war soon spread to other parts of the world with Japan invading Soviet Union and Mongolia.

The war gained momentum with Allied being joined by the US. Britain received massive help from its colonies in Asia in its war efforts and slowly, the Allies were able to turn the tables on the Axis powers. The focal point of WW2 came in 1945 with Pearl Harbor attack by Japan that infuriated US and resulted in dropping of Atom bombs by the US in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On 15th of August, Japan finally surrendered. Elsewhere, Benito Mussolini was killed and Hitler committed suicide on 30th April, 1945, signaling the defeat of the Axis powers and victory for the Allies.

United Nations was born on 24th October 1945 ostensibly to maintain peace and to prevent future wars. While the countries that were on the side of the Axis powers were decimated, the Allies that emerged victorious became powerful in the years to come. USA and USSR emerged as the super powers with Britain becoming drained because of its war efforts.

In brief:

World War 1 vs World War 2

• WW1 was mainly confined to Europe while WW2 had entire world as its theater.

• Warfare and arms used in WW1 were primitive in nature and the war was mainly fought digging trenches. On the other hand, airpower was heavily used in WW2 with atom bombs dropped in Japan being termed as the Holocaust.

• Radio got invented which was heavily used in WW2 while there were only landline phones in WW1

• Germany suffered defeats in both WW1 and WW2 but while it wisely acknowledged defeat in WW1, Hitler chose to fight till the bitter end in WW2 leading to mass destruction

• WW2 saw 7 times more casualties than WW1

• There was only Mustard gas as WMD in WW2 while Atom bombs were used for the first and last time as WMD in WW2

• League of Nations was born with the end of WW1 while the end of WW2 gave birth to United Nations

• WW1 was based on imperialism while WW2 was a result of the clash of ideologies

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