The first world war erupted in 1914 and introduced the world to the horrors of trench warfare, as well as lethal new technologies like poison gas. It ultimately cost the lives of over 16 million military and civilians and ended with the collapse of the sprawling Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian empires that had existed for centuries, paving the way for the formation of numerous new nations. The conflict ushered in an era of political turmoil and social upheaval that lasted long after the last shot was fired.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s the world was gripped by a second great depression, and resentment over the perceived mistreatment of colonial nations by imperial powers grew. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by Gavrilo Princip of Bosnian nationalist terrorist organization the Black Hand Gang in Sarajevo in June of 1941 led to diplomatic and governmental miscalculations that saw a domino effect of war declarations initiated.
In December of 1941 Japan, tired of American trade embargoes, attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Within a month Germany had declared war on the USA, and Japan invaded the British territories of Hong Kong, Malaya, Burma, and Singapore in Asia.
The Soviet advance on the Eastern Front finally defeated German troops, and Hitler committed suicide in April 1945 as the Allied forces entered Berlin. Then, in August of that year, with her troops decimated on the field and her cities subjected to massive daylight bombing (the ‘Blitz’), Japan surrendered.