Online World War II Indexes and Records - WWII
During World War II , many South Africans saw military service. The Union of South Africa participated with other British Commonwealth forces in battles in North Africa against Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps, and many South African pilots

During World War II , many South Africans saw military service. The Union of South Africa participated with other British Commonwealth forces in battles in North Africa against Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps, and many South African pilots joined the Royal Air Force and fought against the Axis powers in the European theatre .

On the eve of World War II, the Union of South Africa found itself in a unique political and military quandary. While it was closely allied with Great Britain , being a co-equal Dominion under the 1931 Statute of Westminster with its head of state being the British king, the South African Prime Minister on 1 September 1939 was J.B.M. Hertzog – the leader of the pro-Afrikaner and anti-British National Party . The National Party had joined in a unity government with the pro-British South African Party of Jan Smuts in 1934 as the United Party .

Hertzog's problem was that South Africa was constitutionally obligated to support Great Britain against Nazi Germany . The Polish-British Common Defence Pact obligated Britain, and in turn its dominions, to help Poland if attacked by the Nazis. When Adolf Hitler 's forces attacked Poland on 1 September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany two days later. A short but furious debate unfolded in South Africa, especially in the halls of power in the Parliament of South Africa. It pitted those who sought to enter the war on Britain's side, led by Smuts, against those who wanted to keep South Africa neutral, if not pro-Axis, led by Hertzog.

During World War II , many South Africans saw military service. The Union of South Africa participated with other British Commonwealth forces in battles in North Africa against Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps, and many South African pilots joined the Royal Air Force and fought against the Axis powers in the European theatre .

On the eve of World War II, the Union of South Africa found itself in a unique political and military quandary. While it was closely allied with Great Britain , being a co-equal Dominion under the 1931 Statute of Westminster with its head of state being the British king, the South African Prime Minister on 1 September 1939 was J.B.M. Hertzog – the leader of the pro-Afrikaner and anti-British National Party . The National Party had joined in a unity government with the pro-British South African Party of Jan Smuts in 1934 as the United Party .

Hertzog's problem was that South Africa was constitutionally obligated to support Great Britain against Nazi Germany . The Polish-British Common Defence Pact obligated Britain, and in turn its dominions, to help Poland if attacked by the Nazis. When Adolf Hitler 's forces attacked Poland on 1 September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany two days later. A short but furious debate unfolded in South Africa, especially in the halls of power in the Parliament of South Africa. It pitted those who sought to enter the war on Britain's side, led by Smuts, against those who wanted to keep South Africa neutral, if not pro-Axis, led by Hertzog.

World War II (often abbreviated to WWII or WW2 ), also known as the Second World War , was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although related conflicts began earlier. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries —including all of the great powers —eventually forming two opposing military alliances : the Allies and the Axis . It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. In a state of total war , the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort , erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources.

World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history , marked by 50 million to 85 million fatalities, most of which were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres , the deliberate genocide of the Holocaust , strategic bombing , starvation, disease and the first use of nuclear weapons in history. [1] [2] [3] [4]

The start of the war in Europe is generally held to be 1 September 1939, [9] [10] beginning with the German invasion of Poland ; Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, [11] [12] or even the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. [13] [14]

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