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From 1939 to 1945, thirty countries were at war. Fourteen countries and their colonies remained neutral until World War II ended, but in one way or another, every nation was affected by the international conflict.
See the fact file below for more information on the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa in WWII or alternatively, you can download our 23-page WWII: Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ORIGINS OF WWII
- The death and destruction of World War I was so horrible that it was called “the war to end all wars”. Yet, the agreement to end World War I did not resolve the problems that resulted.
- To prevent war from happening again, the League of Nations was founded in 1919. The goal was that future disputes between countries would be settled by negotiation rather than by force.
- However, not all countries joined the League, and the League had no army to prevent military aggression.
- Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles and had to accept guilt for the war, pay reparations, and was prohibited from having a large military.
- After the war, the world was hit with depression. Economies shrunk, trade was reduced, businesses closed, prices fell, banks failed, and unemployment rose. Germany responded with the rise of Adolf Hitler, who promised to restore German wealth and power.
- In 1936, Hitler ordered German troops to enter the German-speaking areas of the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. At this point, France and Britain were not prepared to go to war.
- In that same year, Hitler made alliances with Italy and Japan, forming what was called the Axis Powers.
- In March 1939, he invaded Czechoslovakia. Then, on September 1, 1939, German troops invaded Poland. Britain and France immediately declared war on Germany. World War II had begun in Europe.
- Economic depression also hit Japan. They turned to their army in order to find a solution to their economic problems.
- The Japanese army invaded China, an area rich in minerals and resources, and continued its way to Korea and the rest of the Asian countries.
- Japan felt that its expansion could be threatened by the US military, so Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941. World War II had begun in Asia.
WWII IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AND MIDDLE EAST
- The campaign in the Mediterranean and Middle East was considered one of the most complex, interrelated, extensive, and most enduring campaigns of WWII.
- Italy declared war on France and the United Kingdom on June 10, 1940. Immediately thereafter, the fleets of Italy, France, and the United Kingdom engaged in the Battle of the Mediterranean.
- This was followed by the Siege of Malta and then the Italian invasion of France on June 20. Italy gained a 31-mile demilitarized zone inside France that included 28,500 people and the town of Menton.
- The main combatants in the Mediterranean were the British Mediterranean Fleet, Italian Royal Fleet, French Fleet, Vichy French Fleet, and the German Navy.
- Middle East combatants involved Iraqi, Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese military forces. Most of these countries supported the Axis powers.
- They believed that an Axis victory might be their best hope of gaining Arab control of Palestine.
- However, Allied military campaigns were victorious because they were better equipped and better trained.
- Australian, Free French, British, and Indian units invaded Syria and Lebanon from Palestine on June 8, 1941. By July 14, Syria and Lebanon surrendered.
- British and Soviet forces then invaded and occupied Iran.
WWII IN AFRICA
- North Africa was one of the main arenas of war, where both Axis and Allied forces fought for territories and power.
- The battle was a struggle for control of the Suez Canal and access to oil from the Middle East and raw materials from Asia.
- In 1939, hundreds of thousands of West African soldiers were sent to the front in Europe during the war.
- Libya was an Italian colony, while Egypt belonged to Britain.
- Italy invaded Egypt in September of 1940, and in a December counterattack, British and Indian forces captured some 130,000 Italians.
- From 1940 to 1941, the British forces fought against the Italians in East Africa. They soon pushed back the Italian forces at the Battle of Gondar in Ethiopia.
- The late-1942 Allied Operation Torch landings in Northwest Africa defeated the remaining enemy forces.
- There were battles against Vichy France forces, which then changed sides. Then, the Allies finally encircled the Axis forces in northern Tunisia and forced them to surrender.
WWII: Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa in WWII across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use WWII: Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the period from 1939 to 1945, when thirty countries were at war. Fourteen countries and their colonies remained neutral until World War II ended, but in one way or another, every nation was affected by the international conflict.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- WWII: Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa Facts
- Countries at War
- WWII Map
- Picture Analysis
- The African Hero
- The Warrior
- Wisdom of War
- New World
- Call for Peace
- World Without War
- United Nations
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.