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.

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23
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7answers
34k views

Why did Italy abandon its alliance with Germany in WW1 and join the Allied side?

Before WW1 Italy was part of an alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, yet it didn't join them when the war started and it even joined the Allied side later during the war. Why did Italy do this? ...
5
votes
2answers
489 views

What does a slitterman do?

On my Great-Uncle's Naval Entry Form, it says: Occupation upon entry: Slitterman (paper) I found this article, which says a slitterman is: A representative for the Travellers Aid Society ...
21
votes
5answers
605 views

What were the reasons for making Prohibition a constitutional amendment?

What were the reasons that the Prohibition in the United States was passed as a constitutional amendment, rather than a normal federal law, or a set of state laws?
5
votes
1answer
213 views

How big was the percentage of white people in the USA who were not against granting the blacks equal rights? [closed]

How big was the percentage of white people in the USA who were not against granting the blacks equal rights at the time when the blacks finally got the equality of rights (which I think was in 1964). ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

How common was smoking in first half of the 20th century?

When watching movies that were made in first half of the 20th century, one can see many people are smoking (cigarettes), but it is not they smoke all time long. I refer to the movies, because they ...
0
votes
0answers
111 views
19
votes
4answers
2k views

What were the Allies' plans for if they caught Hitler alive?

Hitler committed suicide in 1945, but I'm curious as to what would have happened to him if he hadn't. Did the Allies have any formal plans as to what they would do with Hitler if they caught him ...
60
votes
12answers
15k views

Why didn't Imperial Japan attack the Soviet Union during World War 2?

Japan and the Soviet Union shared a common border in Manchuria and the German invasion of the Soviet Union weakened the Soviets greatly. In view of the advantages to Japan in seeing the Soviet Union ...
1
vote
2answers
90 views

Did the University of California and University of Geneva award honorary degrees to Inazo Nitobe?

According to Inazo Nitobe (author of "Bushido: The Soul of Japan") timelines written in Japanese, he was awarded honorary degrees from "University of California" (Kariforunia Daigaku, カリフォルニア大学) in ...
10
votes
4answers
460 views

How to validate a historical source

You can learn and understand history various ways such as learning in a university, reading books, being taught by someone with a background in history, watching TV, browsing the internet, or, in my ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Before entering WW II, why was the US so against Japanese aggression in China but did nothing about Germany in Europe?

The US was very vocal against Japanese aggression in China in the 1930's and early 1940's but said nothing against German aggression in Europe. The US finally placed an embargo on sending oil and ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the significance of “Flappers” in American history?

The Flapper image of the 1920's American history of cosmetics seems to transform the cultural image of the feminine. However, I cannot piece together exactly how this change came about. I read about ...
-4
votes
1answer
121 views

Borisov aktion of 23 July , 1941 [closed]

I'm looking, following a similar former request, for info, regarding certain actions performed by einsatzgruppen of the SS in Barysaw on 23 July, 1941....couldn't find anything on the web but could be ...
3
votes
1answer
225 views

What were common reasons people attended executions in mid 1930s.?

In The Green Mile movie (1999) the main character is a guardian in jail and performs death penalty executions. One can see that on such executions some external people come to watch (as "external" I ...
1
vote
2answers
189 views

Why weren't Baden, Würtemberg and Bavaria independent states ever restored? [closed]

The southern german states of Baden, Würtemberg and Bavaria were independent states until 1871. Their historical background is quite different from the northern Germany which was dominated by Prussia ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Machine gun specs in WW1 [closed]

I know that machine guns were a vital part of world war 1. I know that they were mainly used in the trenches as fixed position weapons. However, I would like some specifications about the machine gun ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What percentage of British and American troops were involved in direct combat with enemy in World War II

How large a proportion of British and American troops were involved in direct combat with the enemy in World War II? What was the casualty rate among those men?
3
votes
1answer
163 views

Usage of German camoflage during World War II

Although most do not know this, Germans used camouflage during the war. The grey uniform was only ceremonial. However, they are pictured without the camo 99% of the time so I'd like to ask, during ...
5
votes
4answers
404 views

Why did Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng receive different punishments for their role in the Xi'an Incident?

Having failed to persuade Chiang Kai-shek to abandon war with the communists and instead unite to fight Japan, Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng finally opted for force and captured Chiang in the Xi'an ...
8
votes
3answers
1k 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. ...
4
votes
3answers
172 views

When and what was the maximum extent of Nationalist China?

The Republic of China (1912–49) claimed a large area of land, the most notable difference compared to present-day China being the inclusion of Mongolia. However, it's my understanding that at no point ...
4
votes
1answer
144 views

What is / are the specific reason(s) for Vyacheslav Molotov's fall from grace with Joseph Stalin?

From the 1930's through World War 2, Vyacheslav Molotov seemed to be the face of the Soviet Union in most diplomatic circles. Sometime after the war he lost favor with Stalin. Some reports say to the ...
7
votes
2answers
277 views

Nationhood of Bhutan and Nepal in Indian subcontinent

During the period around Independence, India, under Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel's programme to unite the subcontinent, was getting Princely states to accede to Union of India. There were around 570 ...
8
votes
2answers
329 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
352 views

Why would staff officers carry swords during combat, in World War II?

I realise one purpose as ceremonial, as depicted in Lieutenant General Hatazō Adachi's surrender (eg this picture), but when Isoroku Yamamoto was killed, his white-gloved hand [was still] ...
8
votes
2answers
180 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
109 views

What did Central America export in the early 20th century other than coffee and bananas?

Coffee and bananas dominated the Central American economy after the turn of the century, accounting for 75% of the region's exports in 1930. Central America became very dependent on the fortune of ...
6
votes
1answer
170 views

What was Poland's involvement in Vietnam War?

So far I've found a few stories about Poland's involvement in Vietnam War: Operation Marigold Multinational UN peacekeeping force International Commission of Control and Supervision Unfortunately ...
9
votes
4answers
9k 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 ...
30
votes
3answers
12k views

Did World War II-era bombs actually whistle?

In WWII-era films and newsreels, aerial bombs are often shown making a whistling sound as they fall; starting high pitched, then decreasing as the bomb approaches the Earth (example here, starting at ...
0
votes
1answer
284 views

What effect did the Mafia have during World War 2?

I have heard that the Mafia cooperated with different governments in WW2. How extensive was this cooperation and was it effective?
8
votes
3answers
976 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
2answers
517 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
634 views

Income distribution of major combatants before and after WWII?

This question about GDP per capita of major combatants before and after WWI made me wonder how these GDPs were distributed. Do we know the Gini coefficient (or a similiar metric) for the major ...
3
votes
0answers
157 views

What preparations went into the Tehran Conference of 1943?

The Tehran Conference during World War 2 was a hugely important meeting, and perhaps more importantly, a hugely dangerous proposition. Having all those leaders together in one place risked utter ...
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 ...
1
vote
4answers
367 views

Why did the Government of India Act create separate electorates for the depressed classes?

The Communal Award, in 1932, conceded to the demands of B.R. Ambedkar and the ilk to have separate electorates for depressed classes. But Gandhji held fast unto death to undo this. So, Poona Pact ...
28
votes
5answers
2k views

Has Britain's 1940 invasion of Iceland been downplayed by historians?

On the face of it Operation Fork (Britain's invasion of Iceland in 1940) wasn't so terribly different from Germany's territorial landgrabs in 1939 and 1940. Britain and her allies will have ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

What was the fate of most SS members after World War II?

What happened to most of the members of the SS after the war? Were they punished?
14
votes
2answers
1k views

What are those X in top of the flag?

Well, I was wondering. What are those crosses in the top of the flag when we visualize military battleplans? For instance, take a look in a map of the Battle for El Alamein: The Free French ...
22
votes
4answers
11k views

Why didn't the US choose to demolish Tokyo with an atom bomb?

Tokyo was Japan's capital. Why didn't the US choose Tokyo to demolish with Atom Bomb? Bonus Question: What factors decided to bring Hiroshima and Nagasaki on table?
0
votes
1answer
204 views

Who inherited from the pre- World War II German states?

The German states (aka Länder) have been completely reshaped after WWII and I wonder: Which current German states inherited laws and state-owned property from the former pre-WWII states? In states ...
17
votes
4answers
5k views

What did Germany do after World War II to recover so successfully that it became more prosperous than its WW2 victors?

Germany lost in World War II. Being the loser, its economy started at a disadvantage compared to her World War II victors in the aftermath of WW2. However, Germany managed to recover more ...
7
votes
11answers
1k 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
1answer
243 views

Where was the U.S. president when Captain McGonagle was awarded?

The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a United States Navy technical research ship, USS Liberty, by Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy motor torpedo boats, on 8 June 1967, ...
14
votes
6answers
927 views

Were there any war movies made during WW2 that were well regarded by front-line American soldiers?

I've read in a few places that American soldiers during WWII (meaning men who had actually seen combat, not rear echelon troops) preferred light comedy or romance movies to the sanitized propaganda in ...
9
votes
2answers
10k views

How many people in the US starved to death during the Great Depression?

I was trying to look this up earlier and could not easily find reliable information on the internet, mostly due to a new popular claim that 7 million people starved to death in the Great Depression! ...
1
vote
1answer
151 views

What is wrong with Russian claim that 7 million people starved to death in the Great Depression in the USA? [duplicate]

An article published in Russia claims that 7 million people are demographically unaccounted for during the Great Depression in the USA, and can therefore be assumed to have died as a result of the ...
4
votes
1answer
116 views

Was Jawaharlal Nehru virtually a Buddhist?

At the end of this conversation (in the podcast version at 46'30") about Ashoka the Great scholar of Buddhism Richard Gombrich made this remark: The Indian flag has [Ashoka's] wheel of the dharma ...
1
vote
0answers
31 views

Sources for researching the MKULTRA program [closed]

What kind of sources are available for researching the MKULTRA program? Is it actually possible to research the subject when most of the official documents are lost?