The underlying causes of World War 2 were:

  • The political takeover in 1933 of Germany by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, which violated the Versailles Treaty with an aggressive foreign policy.
  • The deep anger and humiliation of Weimar Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles that punished Germany for causing WW1. The Treaty focused on the demilitarization of Germany’s Rhineland; the prohibition of uniting with Austria; the loss of German-speaking territories, such as the Sudetenland; the loss of overseas colonies; and the heavy financial reparations imposed on Germany.
  • Japanese invasion of Manchuria and China.
  • Italian invasion of Ethiopia.
  • An agreement with Germany and the Soviet Union in August 1939 to divide up Eastern Europe.


The direct cause of World War 2 was Germany’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, resulting in France and Great Britain declaring war on Germany on September 3,1939. On September 17,1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. By early 1940, Germany and the Soviet Union had divided Poland. Stalin’s army then occupied the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and defeated Finland in a separate war. In the meantime, the war was at sea, where the British and the Germans faced off in battle. German U-boats sank more than 100 merchant ships headed for Britain. Next in April of 1940, Germany invaded Norway and Denmark. On May 10, the German army initiated a “blitzkrieg” through Belgium and the Netherlands, crossed the Meuse River and attacked French troops at Sedan at the northern end of the Maginot Line. The German army successfully broke through the Maginot line, forcing the British Expeditionary Force to be evacuated by sea from Dunkirk in late May. On June 14, 1940, the German Army entered Paris, resulting in an armistice that divided France into two zones -one occupied by the Germans and the other by Vichy France under Marshal Phillippe Petain, a French hero in the Great War.

Throughout the summer of 1940, German planes incessantly bombed Britain with night raids on London and other industrial centers resulting in heavy damage and civilian casualties. In the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force (RAF) defeated the German Air Force (the Luftwaffe). The United States was still bound by the Neutrality Act after WW1. However, President Franklin D. Roosevelt convinced the U.S. Congress to pass the Lend-Lease Act in early 1941 to supply crucial aid to Britain. By early 1941, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary aligned with the Axis powers to overrun Greece and Yugoslavia. The invasion of the Balkans was the first step in the invasion of the Soviet Union. In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. It was a massive invasion, consisting 3 million soldiers, 3,000 tanks, 7,000 artillery pieces and 2,500 airplanes. The German invasion was along an 1,800-mile front, taking the Soviets unprepared. By July, the German army became bogged down by rainstorms, as well as the Soviets’ scorched earth strategy. The Soviets burned crops, destroyed bridges and dissembled steel and munitions plants. The plants were shipped west by trains and reassembled in the west and put back into production. The Germans advanced near Moscow, but the Soviets brought up fresh troops from their western reserves, stopping the German advance. As the cold winter rolled in, the Germans were not equipped for the treacherous winter. By November, the German army had suffered over 730,000 casualties. The Soviet counterattacks during the winter months took their toll on the German army and its equipment. During this time, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii inflicting heavy damage on naval vessels and buildings, resulting in the United States declaring war on Japan, while Germany declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941. The German-Soviet war continued until May 9, 1945, as the Soviets advanced on Germany, meeting up in Germany with Allied troops. Germany surrendered on May 7,1945.

WWII in “The Wars Among the Paines”

“The Wars Among the Paines” details the participation of the Paine twins – Thomas and Robert – in the United States war in Europe, starting on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Paine twins were the sons of Thomas Pinkerton Paine, who followed in their father’s footsteps to Cornell University. They received their ROTC commissions as 2nd lieutenants, when they graduated from Cornell in June of 1940. Thomas joined the First Infantry Division (Big Red One) and charged Omaha Beach on D-Day. His journey from Omaha Beach, through the hedgerows of France, through the Siegfried Line on to Germany is detailed in Chapter 35, Reconciliation? of “The Wars Among The Paines.” His Twin brother, Robert Treat Paine, joined the 82nd Airborne Division and jumped behind enemy lines the night before D-Day behind Utah Beach. His story of fighting with the French Resistance in Paris, his involvement in Operation Market Square and the Battle of the Bulge are detailed in Chapter 26 of “The Wars Among The Paines.” I hope you enjoy this novel of the bravery of the Paines’ family of citizen soldiers.


Australia 39,700 40,400
Austria 251,000 384,000
Belgium 12,000 88,000
Canada 42,000 43,600
China 3 – 4,000,000 20,000,000
Czechoslovakia 25,000 345,000
Finland 95,000 97,000
France 217,600 567,600
Germany 5,533,000 6.6 – 8,800,000
Greece 20 – 35,000 300,000 – 800,000
Hungary 300,000 580,000
Italy 301,400 457,000
Japan 2,120,000 2.6 – 3,100,000
Korea 378 – 437,000
Latvia 227,000
Lithuania 353,000 353,000
Malaya 101,000 101,000
Netherlands 17,000 301,000
Philippines 57,000 500 – 1,000,000
Poland 240,000 5,600,000
Soviet Union 8.8 – 10,700,000 24,000,000
United States 405,400 418,500
Yugoslavia 446,000 1,000,000

An estimated 70-85 million people died in WORLD WAR 2, the deadliest military conflict in history.
# the civilian casualties in India were the result of the Great Bengal Famine, brought on by the British diverting food from India to Europe.

Many of the Soviet civilian casualties were the result of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. During the German withdrawal, the retreating German Army destroyed eight million houses.


BATTLE DEATHS 15,000,000






Austria 50,000 36
Belgium 25,000 60
Belorussia 245,000 65
Bohemia/Moravia 80,000 89
Bulgaria 11,400 14
Estonia 1,500 34
France 90,000 26
Germany 130,000 55
Greece 65,000 80
Hungary 450,000 70
Italy 7,500 20
Latvia 70,000 77
Lithuania 220,000 94
Luxembourgh 1,950 50
Netherlands 106,000 76
Poland 2,900,000 88
Russia 107,000 11
Slovakia 71,000 80
Ukraine 900,000 60
Yugoslavia 60,000 80


The Wars Among the Paines

by John M. Millar

“The Wars Among the Paines” documents the Paine family’s saga as citizen soldiers through America’s wars: WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Find out what are the consequences of their experiences both fighting in the wars and leading anti-war movements.

About the Author

John M. Millar grew up in Central Pennsylvania; and graduated from Cornell University in 1966. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966-1969; graduated from Officer Candidate School in July 1967; served as a First Lieutenant with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969; and received two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal and a Commendation Medal from the U.S. Army. From the Vietnam government, Millar received the Vietnamese Honor Medal and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross for joint operations.