Victory garden poster, World War 2 1945 Bumper Sticker
World War II, or the Second World War (often abbreviated WWII or WW2), was a global military conflict between 1939 and 1945, which involved most of the world's nations, including all great powers, organised into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. The war involved the mobilisation of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history. In a state of "total war," the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Over seventy million people, the majority civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. The start of the war is generally held to be September 1, 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by most of the countries in the British Empire and Commonwealth, and by France. Many countries were already at war before this date, such as Ethiopia and Italy in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and China and Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War. Many who were not initially involved joined the war later, as a result of events such as the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and British colonies, and subsequent declarations of war on Japan by the United States, the Netherlands, and British Commonwealth. In 1945, the war ended in a victory for the Allies. The Soviet Union and the United States subsequently emerged as the world's two superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War which lasted for the next 46 years. The United Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another world conflict. The acceptance of the principle of self-determination eventually accelerated decolonization movements in Asia and Africa, while Western Europe itself began moving toward integration. Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" — in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. Making victory gardens become a part of daily life on the home front. Amid regular rationing of canned food in Britain, a poster campaign ("Plant more in '44!") encouraged the planting of Victory Gardens by nearly 20 million Americans. These gardens produced up to 40 percent of all the vegetable produce being consumed nationally. It was emphasized to home front urbanites and suburbanites that the produce from their gardens would help to lower the price of vegetables needed by the US War Department to feed the troops, thus saving money that could be spent elsewhere on the military: "Our food is fighting," one US poster read; in Britain the slogan "Dig for Victory" was ubiquitous. Although at first the Department of Agriculture objected to Eleanor Roosevelt's institution of a Victory Garden on the White House grounds, fearing that such a movement would hurt the food industry, basic information about gardening appeared in public services booklets distributed by the Department of Agriculture, as well as by agribusiness corporations such as International Harvester and Beech-Nut. Victory gardens were planted in backyards and on apartment-building rooftops, with the occasional vacant lot "commandeered for the war effort!" and put to use as a cornfield or a squash patch. During World War II, sections of lawn were publicly plowed for plots in Hyde Park, London to publicize the movement. In New York City, the lawns around vacant "Riverside" were devoted to victory gardens, as were portions of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. In 1946, with the war over, many residents did not plant Victory Gardens in expectation of greater produce availability. However, shortages remained in the United Kingdom. The Fenway Victory Gardens in the Back Bay Fens of Boston, Massachusetts and the Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota, remain active as the last surviving public examples from World War II. Most plots in the Fenway Victory Gardens now feature flowers instead of vegetables while the Dowling Community Garden retains its focus on vegetables. Since the turn of the century there has existed a growing interest in Victory Gardens. A grassroots campaign promoting such gardens has recently sprung up in the form of new Victory Gardens in public spaces, Victory Garden websites and blogs, as well as petitions to both renew a national campaign for the Victory Garden and to encourage the re-establishment of a Victory Garden on the White House lawn.