World War Two (causes and impacts)

Where can I find information about the causes and impacts of World War Two?

Image: SC 164079 from Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health and Medicine on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 13/01/21


World War II started in 1939 when many countries, including New Zealand, declared war on Germany when it attacked Poland.

The rise of Fascism and Hitler's need for expansion were two of the many factors that led to the Second World War. By the time it ended in 1945, almost every country in the world had been affected.

General Websites

These websites will explain more about the causes of WW2 and the impacts it had worldwide.

Britannica School Middle

Britannica School Middle is part of EPIC, which is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Type in 'World War II' into the search box and and select the link World War II (1939 - 1945) .
  • Select Buildup to War to read about the causes of WW2 and Consequences of the War to find out about its impacts.
  • You can choose to read at a higher or lower level by selecting from the Article Reading Level from the top of the page.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

DK Find Out!

DK Find Out! is a great site for finding reliable information about all kinds of topics, including historical topics like World War II.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About DK link on this website to find out what the Agency’s mission and values are.


This site has a range of articles, diagrams and images on history, biography, geography, science and sport. It's easy to read, interesting and also includes some educational games on these subjects.

  • Look under the heading History for a link to World War 2.
  • Under Overview you will find Causes to WW2.
  • This page includes information about key people involved in the war, a timeline, main battles fought and events that will help you understand the impact the war had on many countries.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

Impacts in New Zealand

These New Zealand websites have been selected because they tell us how the war affected us, even though we were so far away from all the main battlefields.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Scroll down the page to Sections and choose the Government and Nation.
  • Next, choose War and Defense and select Second World War.
  • Then go to Legacy to read about the impact the war had on women, our relationship with the rest of the world, the landscape and the economy of New Zealand.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.


NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .govt or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

NZ On Screen

NZ On Screen is a collection of television, film and music videos on New Zealand history, culture, society, and politics.

  • Type 'Second World War' into the search box and select the tab called Titles.
  • Look for the videoWar Years which is about contribution to the WW2 and how it changed life in New Zealand.
  • Also watch The Black Legacy about the Māori Battalion's loss of lives in the in the war.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg [Second World War]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.


There are lots of books written about the causes and impacts of the Second World War - check your school library or public library for some titles.

Here are some we recommend:

SCIS no: 1936749
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