For questions spanning a significant proportion of the 20th century. Questions focused on the latter decades should consider using the contemporary-histroy tag. Individual tags exist for specific decades.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

9
votes
5answers
2k views

Why did the Germans fall behind the Americans in the development of the atomic bomb after an initial lead?

I actually know certain facts about this matter, but am seeking guidance in interpreting these facts into "theories." 1) Theory 1, Economic: The Americans spent something like $2 billion (in money of ...
9
votes
4answers
10k views

Why was Germany held accountable for WW1? [closed]

The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to accept all responsibility for the war. If the war was initially due to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian assassins, why was Germany to ...
9
votes
4answers
606 views

What is this strange uniform?

Colonel John Tiltman wears a very strange uniform in this picture, dated 1919. The original webpage where I saw the picture is http://www.colossus-computer.com/colossus1.html.
9
votes
2answers
440 views

When did we figure out that Venus was too hot for humans?

Today it's well known that the surface of Venus is incredibly hot, over 800 °F (427 ºC). Depictions of Venus in fiction, however, used to portray it as something close to Earth temperatures, ...
9
votes
3answers
176 views

Were there any political checks on the U.S. executive during their covert support of the military junta of Pinochet?

U.S. secretary of state Kissinger- with the support of the executive- actively supported the overthrow of Chilean president Allende in favor of the military dictatorship of Pinochet. After the fact, ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Interaction between Ataturk and Lenin

Are there any records related to the relations between Turkey and USSR in 1920's? I know about the letter from Ataturk to Lenin (in Turkish) but nothing more.
9
votes
1answer
928 views

How were diplomats and their staff's treated when World War II was declared?

This could be a large and varied subject so i will restrict it to the 20th century and give two instances. In Sept 39 after Poland was invaded the British diplomat in Berlin handed a note to the ...
9
votes
2answers
736 views

Why did Operation Market Garden go ahead when the allies knew German armor was in the area?

Montgomery's ill-fated operation to capture the Rhine crossing at Arnhem was ingenious but fatally flawed. Evidence suggests that the Allies knew there were German armoured units in the town a few ...
9
votes
2answers
554 views

Were there any pilots that declined to carry out the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Were there any pilots that refused (or politely declined) to take part in the operations of "Fat Man" and "Little Boy," knowing the destruction these would cause? Similarly, were there any scientists ...
9
votes
1answer
522 views

Who was head of Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1907-1908

Do we know the names of people who would have made the decision not to admit Hitler in 1907 and 1908? Who was President of the Academy?
9
votes
1answer
1k views

In WW2, which midget submarine program was the most successful?

In WW2, which midget submarine program was the most successful? I know at least Great Britain and Japan had midget submarines and used them during the course of the conflict. Which WW2 combatant had ...
9
votes
2answers
190 views

Did Trotsky serve as a hate-figure in PRC propaganda?

Maoism and Trotskyism share some similar ideas (by Maoism I am referring specifically to the guiding philosophies of the PRC during Mao's rule, and by Trotskyism I mean the beliefs of Trotsky, not ...
9
votes
3answers
854 views

When passports/border checks became widespread?

I was reading the Wikipedia on passports, and there were numerous important dates in passport history, but I didn't find any date when passports became widely used documents for travelling. I see ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Did the Olympics make the Star Spangled Banner the US national anthem?

A long, long time ago, I remember watching a TV miniseries about the first Olympics of the modern era in 1896. One of the amusing substories I remember involved the USA's National Anthem and the ...
9
votes
3answers
837 views

To what extent did Gandhi affect the factors that led to the partition of India?

From the collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, we can learn that he was not as vehemently opposed to the Partition of India as one would expect. (See here) Probably no one is more distressed than I ...
9
votes
2answers
448 views

What was the contemporary German public opinion on the Herero Genocide?

The genocide took place during 1904-1907, organized by General von Trotha. Wikipedia says: Von Trotha's methods caused a public outcry which led the Imperial Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow to ask ...
9
votes
1answer
5k views

What was Gandhi's post-factum view of the Partition?

Gandhi was vehemently opposed to the Partition of India and tried to avoid it. But what was his stance on it once it had happened? Did he accept it as fait accompli or did he envision some scheme for ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

What happened to the S.A. (Sturmabteilung; “Stormtroopers”) after The Night of the Long Knives?

I'm reading The Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany by Warren B. Marris, Jr. (Nelson-Hall, Chicago), 1982 for an eassay. It outlines the power that the Sturmabteilung (abbreviated S.A., trans ...
9
votes
1answer
203 views

Did hanging tyres from Mostar's bridge help at all to protect it?

At various points (e.g. 00:14) in this BBC documentary on Mostar's Stari Most (Old Bridge) you can see dozens of car tyres hanging from the bridge prior to its destruction in the Croat-Bosniak ...
9
votes
1answer
291 views

When did retailers stop wrapping purchases in paper and twine?

Listening to stories from relatives, it sounds like it was a near-universal practice (in the US, before the 1970s) to wrap retail purchases with brown paper and twine. Searching for information about ...
9
votes
1answer
460 views

What was the Soviet role in Syria during the Cold-War?

It is my understanding that the Soviet Union supported governments in Syria during the cold-war primarily as a counter-balance to American influence over regional powers particularly Saudi Arabia and ...
9
votes
1answer
151 views

Did Britain briefly recognize Mahmud Barzanji as King of Kurdistan?

The wiki entry on Mahmud Barzanji is very poorly written and very far from neutral. I turned to the Russian entry which is at least well-written and contains many interesting facts - some of them ...
9
votes
1answer
528 views

What do “zones of influence” mean, according to the Treaty of Sevres after WWI?

After its defeat in World War I, European powers partitioned the Ottoman Empire, annexing some of its territories, and setting up other territories as their "zones of influence". What do the zones of ...
9
votes
1answer
156 views

How were British personnel employed in the colonies after independence

A lot of colonies continued to employ British citizens in their government even after attaining independence. But how were these employees paid (in local currency, or in pounds)? Was it not considered ...
9
votes
1answer
756 views

Did Goebbels realize that his wife used to know Arlozorov?

One of the versions for Arlozorov's 1933 murder (not solved to this day!) is that it had something to do with his early friendship with Magda Goebbels. This is what wikipedia says, soberly hedging its ...
9
votes
0answers
467 views

Did Franco really ask “Why? Are they going somewhere?”

The story goes that Franco on his deathbed in 1975 hears the noise of a crowd outside and asks what it is. And is told: "The people of Spain have come to say goodbye" Franco replies: "Why? ...
9
votes
0answers
172 views

How many firearms were owned by civilian population between 1836 and 1912 in USA?

How many firearms in total were owned by civilian population between 1836 and 1912 in USA (cumulatively, not simultaneously)? The timeframe is what I would consider "Old West" timeframe, but starting ...
9
votes
2answers
366 views

Ethnic Germans in Russian service in Poland

General Brusilov wrote in his memoirs that a few years before the war he was serving in a high military position in Russian-controlled Poland and that he was appalled by the fact that all Russian high ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

During the U.S. Prohibition, how did they get away with drinking alcohol?

I have heard about countless stories talking about people drinking during the Prohibition. How was this possible? How did they get away with drinking alcohol without getting caught?
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Where was the pre-war (ww2) border between Poland and Germany?

I am interested in mapping the pre-war (WWII) border between Poland and Germany. Is there any data available in a public resource? Can anyone describe waypoints along the border in terms of modern ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Who were the Wright brothers' competitors?

I heard that there was a person who was sponsored by the government to make the first flying airplane. The Wright brothers beat him to it and this made him really depressed and he gave up his career. ...
8
votes
4answers
491 views

Did the USA win the counter insurgency war in the Vietnam war?

What happened in the aftermath of the Tet offensive to the Viet Cong? Was it actually broken or did it just incorporate into the North Viet Nam army? Edit: I am fully aware that the USA lost the ...
8
votes
4answers
681 views

How common were horses at the beginning of the 20th century?

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, in North America and Australia, how common were horses? Was it easy for every man or boy to own a decent riding horse, or were they relatively expensive and ...
8
votes
4answers
540 views

Chronology of Political Party Alignment with “Left” and “Right”

I once heard it said that U.S. political parties (Republicans and Democrats) have both spent the last century becoming increasingly liberal, such that 21st century Republicans now hold the same ...
8
votes
1answer
430 views

What are the reasons why the capital of Turkey is Ankara rather than Istanbul?

Are there any reasons for the capital's move?
8
votes
1answer
1k views

How was titanium transported from Soviet Union to Area 51 for Oxcart?

Oxcart was one of its kind, a sophisticated aircraft designed during the Cold-War era. Its body was made up of titanium. Titanium was only found in substantial quantities in the then Soviet Union. The ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

GDP per capita of major combatants before and after WWII?

Perhaps this is difficult to measure and maybe not even a good metric for anything meaningful, but what was the GDP and GDP per capita for nations around the world immediately before World War II? ...
8
votes
1answer
182 views

Suffragettes vs. Einstein

A long time ago -- either when I was in school, or via some documentary -- I learned that Einstein had to face a public immigration hearing in 1933 [edit: probably it was a naturalization hearing in ...
8
votes
2answers
354 views

Where did the so-called “Jap Skulls” end up?

I have read that there was a disturbingly common practice of American soldiers in the Pacific theater of WWII to take the skulls of dead Japanese soldiers as trophies to take home, give to ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

How were dogs used in WW1

I know that dogs were used in WW1. I know that they weren’t vital, but didn’t play a reasonable role in helping the soldiers in the trenches. However, there is one thing that confuses me: How were ...
8
votes
1answer
303 views

What was Poland's involvement in Vietnam War?

So far I've found a few stories about Poland's involvement in Vietnam War: historycy.org (in Polish) Operation Marigold Multinational UN peacekeeping force International Commission of Control and ...
8
votes
2answers
478 views

What are the scholarly opinions on the idea of the “European Civil War”?

On Wikipedia, I ran into an article talking about World War I to World War II and some of the adjacent wars before WWI as being a "European Civil War" or a "Second Thirty Years War". What is the ...
8
votes
2answers
108 views

Did the German authorities respell Polish names to be more German during the time of the Empire?

How were Polish names handled by Prussian and German authorities during the times of the German empire? It is well known there was intense Germanisation throughout the area, for example all location ...
8
votes
1answer
248 views

1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic - Experience

From the spring of 1918 to the early months of 1919, the Spanish flu pandemic ravaged the world, killing an estimated 50 million to 100 million people. It came in three waves, with the last ...
8
votes
1answer
529 views

How did the Falasha make contact with Jews outside Ethiopia?

I just read a book about an expedition to Ethiopia, The Last of Free Africa, published 1928. The author Gordon MacCreagh writes: An astounding fact which should be of absorbing interest to Jews ...
8
votes
1answer
127 views

What institutional precursors enabled labor unions to emerge in the United States?

What institutions and/or organizations existed in the United States before the structured and recognizable labor unions formed as a visible sign of organizations to come? How did these predecessor ...
7
votes
11answers
2k views

Destruction of iconic structures in wars of the 20th century and later

I was thinking about this question I just asked, and I wonder whether the potential destruction of such an iconic building is even a realistic fear. Has there been any incident of deliberate ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the current U.S. monetary standard? [closed]

Despite my greatest efforts, I could not find any information about what standard the U.S. is using at this time. Apparently, we used to be on a gold standard. What about now? Do we even have a ...
7
votes
6answers
294 views

Has there been other settlements in occupied territories in recent history?

The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank (and other territories) is quite controversial, including its legality and its impact on the peace process. I'm wondering if there was any similar ...
7
votes
4answers
710 views

Why didn’t Britain use its vast navy to get past trench warfare?

Before the start of World War I there was a large arms race between Britain and Germany and although Britain didn’t come out with the largest army – they had by far the largest navy in the world. This ...