I apologize for having two active questions, but this one is really puzzling me. Was World War II referred to WWII while it was going on? I mean in the late '30’s until '41 it was still pretty much a Europe war and localized Asian war. When did it become known as WWII and was it called anything else during the conflict?
Until about the time Germany invaded Poland in 1939, apparently, World War I continued to be referred to as “The Great War.”
You also see oddball terminology from time to time in older literature like “Kaiserian War” for WWI and “Hitlerite War” for WWII.
The Russian name for WWII translates as “The Great Patriotic War”. I think the Chinese name translates as something all the lines of “Great War to Resist the Japanese”.
“War of Resistance Against Japan” is the Chinese name for the 2nd Sino-Japanese War; they call WWII “the Second Great World War” (the same name the Japanese use).
Incidentally, I’ve found that the Japanese generally only use the term WW2 when discussing the European theater. Otherwise they make reference to “the Pacific War” or “the Sino-Japanese War” (the 1st Sino-Japanese War has a different name in Japanese). They generally don’t seem to feel a strong link between what happened in Asia and what happened in Europe.
Anyone happen to know if the Chinese have a similar mindset?
A quick search of the Chicago Tribune historical database turns up a reference in 1935 to Mussolini saying he was prepared for World War II.
The first actual reference, in that paper I found, is in October of 1940 about how the Axis will break the British
Here’s an article from “American Heritage” magazine from 1991 on the various names people tried to give it when it was happening. Most people wanted to call it World War II but FDR kept trying to find a catchier name.