World War I vs. World War II: Key Differences

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Difference between World War I and World War II

Few conflicts have wrought such significant changes to the world as a whole than World War I and World War II. You only have to look at the names to realize that these are some of the more significant conflicts that the world has been involved in, and they are leagues ahead of other wars in terms of casualties and cost. World War II was a much bigger conflict than World War I in every sense of the word of course, but they do have some similarities. This comparison article takes a look at the more significant aspects of each.

World War I
World War II


World War I took place from 1915 to 1918, and was mainly fought in Belgium, France and Gallipoli. World War II, which took place from 1939 to 1945, was fought in a much bigger arena, involving conflicts on several fronts including Southeast Asia, Africa, and Russia.


Both wars were partially the results of increased militarism by Germany, but World War I was the result of an alliance between the United States, Great Britain and France against Germany. In World War I, virtually all the countries involved were unanimous in their support for the cause. Conversely, many of the countries that later became involved in World War II were at first hesitant to join in. In fact, the United States didn't join in the conflict until its own interests were threatened by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.


While World War I was a traditional conflict in the sense that it involved a war fought between nations, World War II was more a conflict brought about by opposition to ideologies and political systems, in this case Germany's. This would perhaps explain the near-unanimous support for World War I by the nations involved. During World War II, many of the countries that were later involved in the conflict were at first hesitant to join in. World War II was also partly the result of opposition to the expansion efforts of Japan and Germany.  In any case, both wars were partially the result of opposition to the ruling class, and they were both partially responsible for the rise in communism.


World War I

  • Took place from 1915 to 1918
  • Almost eagerly joined in by almost all participating nations
  • Was more a conflict between nations as opposed to a battle of ideologies
  • Caused in part by increased German militarism
  • Resulted in the formation of the League of Nations
  • Partly encouraged the rise of communism in Europe
  • Was fought mainly in Belgium, France and Gallipoli

World War II

  • Most countries involved were far less enthusiasm to join in
  • More a war of ideologies and political systems
  • Caused in part by German militarism
  • Resulted in the formation of the United Nations
  • Encouraged the rise of communism in colony nations
  • Took place from 1939 to 1945
  • Was fought in many parts of the world


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