World War III (also called the Great War of 1962) was a global conflict in which nuclear weapons were the main weapons used. After only about two days, the world was left in ruins, and the human race was nearly annihilated.
World War I and World War II Edit
In 1914, Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia as a response to the assassination of heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Several other countries would be pulled into war for various reasons. The main belligerents of the war included the Allied Powers, which, by the end of the war, would mainly include Serbia, France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Belgium, and the United States, and the Central Powers, which mainly included Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. During the war, Russia would break into a civil war which ended with the foundation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), also called the Soviet Union. The Treaty of Versailles (1918), which ended World War I, completely reshaped the borders of Europe, and humiliated Germany, setting the stage for World War II.
In 1939, Germany under Nazi leader Adolf Hitler (as well as the Soviet Union) invaded Poland. France and Great Britain declared war on Germany in response, leading to World War II. Germany formed an alliance with Italy and Japan, which became known as the Axis Powers. Germany later invaded the Soviet Union, and Japan would attack the United States at Pearl Harbor. As the U.S. island hopped in the Pacific against Japan, they would assist in the fight against Germany in western Europe with Great Britain and France, while the Soviets fought the Nazis in the east. In 1945, the war ended, with the Soviet Union capturing Berlin, and the United States dropping two atomic bombs on Japan.
Cold War Edit
Following World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union became the two world superpowers, and would soon find themselves in rivalry. The world would be split into the democratic Western Bloc, aligned with the United States and NATO, and the communist Eastern Bloc, aligned with the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. In 1945, the United Nations was founded. The United States and Soviet Union were both in this organization, along with 49 other important nations of the world. By October of 1962, there were 110 members.
The United States and Soviet Union found themselves in a nuclear arms race. They pursued long-range nuclear missiles which could strike each other's territory with the same catastrophic damage as the bombs used on Japan. In 1957, the Soviets launched the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile. Also in 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the first Earth satellite, sparking the Space Race.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in 1949, including the original countries of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1952, they were joined by Greece and Turkey, and West Germany in 1955. The Warsaw Pact was founded in 1955, which by 1960 included Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and the Soviet Union.
Germany had been split into two countries, the democratic west and communist east. The capital city of Berlin had also been split, even though it was deep in East German territory. Berlin became the main route for East Germans to emigrate to the West. This sparked the Berlin Crisis of 1961. As a result, East Germany erected the Berlin Wall in August, 1961 to stop its population from fleeing to the west. In 1945, it was agreed that Allied personnel could move freely through each sector of Berlin. American and Soviet troops found themselves in a standoff in Berlin in October of 1961. Eventually, the wall was accepted as an alternative to war.
Before World War II, China had been in a state of civil war since 1927, faced with communist revolutionaries. As the Japanese threat loomed however, China unified in 1936 to defend themselves from Japan. The civil war continued in 1946, and the communists gained power in China in 1950, and aligned themselves with the Eastern Bloc. In 1956, Nikita Krushchev denounced Joseph Stalin and Stalinism, leading to the Sino-Soviet Split. By 1961, China denounced Soviet Communism.
Following World War II, Korea, formerly under Japanese control, was split into the democratic South Korea, and communist North Korea. This division deepened as the armed forces of each side engaged in conflicts along the border. In June of 1950, Kim il-Sung, leader of North Korea, commanded an invasion of South Korea, attempting to unite the country once again. The invasion led to intervention by the United Nations. The intervention nearly unified Korea until the intervention of China and the Soviet Union. In 1951, the war reached a stalemate until an armistice was signed in 1953 to end hostilities.
Starting in 1946 was the Indochina War, in which the Viet Minh and other groups in French Indochina fought for their independence from France. By 1954, French forces left Indochina in defeat, and some new countries were formed out of the region, including Vietnam. Conflict remained in Vietnam however, as the East recognized the communist North Vietnamese state based in Hanoi, and the West recognized the democratic South Vietnamese state based in Saigon. Communist insurgents appeared in South Vietnam called the Viet Cong, which supported the Hanoi state. North Vietnam would give aid to these rebels. By 1962, there were American forces in Vietnam aiding the South on a small scale.
From 1940 to 1944, a man named Fulgencio Batista was the president of the island nation of Cuba, in the Caribbean Sea about 100 miles from U.S. shores. Just before the election in 1952, Batista seized power in Cuba once again through a military coup, and became a dictator of the country. A movement arose, called the 26th of July Movement, which opposed Batista's rule. These revolutionaries attacked a Cuban military barracks on July 26, 1953. The Cuban Revolution began. The Revolution, led by Fidel Castro, was actually quite small, but guerilla tactics allowed the revolutionaries to gain control of the country by the beginning of 1959. Initially, the 26th of July Movement was not a socialist movement, and Castro was not openly a communist. But when he took control over Cuba in 1959, he established a socialist regime, which became increasingly communist. Many Cubans were unhappy with this new system, and a counter-revolutionary sentiment brewed among them.
Tensions rose between the new regime and the United States. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his administration devised an invasion plan using Cuban counter-revolutionaries and CIA agents to remove Castro from power. It was in April of 1961 when newly elected President John F. Kennedy would carry out this plan. The invasion, to be known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, was an absolute disaster from the very beginning. It lasted two days and was a complete failure. The invasion only rose tensions between the US and Cuba.
The War Edit
Missile Crisis Edit
On October 14, 1962, U-2 spy planes of the United States Central Intelligence Agency discovered that the Soviets were constructing nuclear missile sites in Cuba. When the situation was reviewed by President Kennedy, he created Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM) to advise him on the best course of action. Most members of the council, including the President's own brother, Robert F. Kennedy, would come to believe an invasion was best On October 22, Kennedy would meet with congressional leaders who demanded action, and later gave a speech to the nation informing the public of the situation. On the 25th, Kennedy set up a blockade to stop Soviet ships from reaching Cuba, but the blockade was unsuccessful.
On the morning of October 26, President Kennedy decided a full-scale invasion was the best way to deal with the crisis. He ordered that the U.S. Armed Forces begin preparing immediately, and the Pentagon went to DEFCON 2. On the 27th, Kennedy delivered an unpublicized speech to Congress declaring an invasion of Cuba would occur in a few days, and that the Continuity of Operations plan would be carried out immediately. Most government officials were immediately escorted to nuclear bunkers. The U.S. military takes about four days to fully prepare.
Course of the War Edit
On the morning of October 29, 1962, at about noon, the United States launches a full force invasion of Cuba. There are air strikes against the missile sites. The Navy bombs landing beaches and other objectives in western Cuba, near Tarará, just east of Havana, mainly using the USS Independence and USS Enterprise. Marine forces land on these beaches soon after. Meanwhile, the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions parachute onto several airfields across the the island. Clashes with Soviet forces on the island are unavoidable.
A few hours after the invasion of Cuba, the Soviet Union sends tanks into West Berlin in Germany. Like in Cuba, clashes between American and Soviet forces are unavoidable. The city descends into chaos.
On the morning of October 30, Castro took control of the remaining missiles and launched them across the United States. Minutes later, the U.S. enters DEFCON 1, and retaliates against Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other Eastern Bloc nations with nuclear strikes. Worldwide nuclear war follows. This nuclear stage of the war only lasts a few hours. Some forces around the world continued to fight each other even after the nukes, but this fighting really goes nowhere.
About 55% of the American population was killed in the war. About 60% the world population was destroyed. More would die in the 25 year nuclear winter which followed the war. In most parts of the world, the winter began to calm around ten years after the war, but didn't completely end until around 1987. Every world government ended up collapsing. Even in countries which weren't as greatly affected by the war. Most of Cuba itself was basically sunken.
No other war in history was as devastating as this one. And it's unlikely any event like this could ever happen again.