World War II was the worst war in history and killed more people than any other war before. It lasted from 1939 to 1945 and, starting out from Europe, spread to nearly every part of the world.


About 17 million soldiers died during six years of the war. Even more civilians -  men, women, and children - died from bomb attacks, illnesses or starvation. Millions of Jews died in German concentration camps. The war left many other people without jobs and homes.


Many cities and industries in Europe and Asia were completely destroyed by bombs, and large areas of land were devastated.

Image Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-646-5188-17 / Opitz / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

  • attack = the act of using weapons, like guns and bombs, against an enemy
  • civilian = person who is not a soldier in a war
  • concentration camp = place where people are kept as prisoners and are treated very badly
  • destroy = to damage completely
  • devastate = to destroy completely
  • Jew =  member of a group of people who come from ancient Hebrews; many of them live in Israel
  • soldier = person who fights for a country in a war
  • spread = extend to
  • starvation = suffer or die because you do not get enough to eat