Questions related to aspects of World War II (1939-1945 AD). An international conflict whose major participants were the fascist countries of Germany, Italy, and Japan engaged against the allied nations of the UK, France, USSR, and the USA. The conflict began with the German invasion of Poland and ...

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Did Hitler not intend a major war while invading Poland?

A J P Taylor in his book "The Origins of the Second World War" writes, "Hitler never intended a major war and at most was prepared for only a limited war against Poland." "In 1938-39, the ...
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Did the poor performance of the Red Army in the Winter War significantly contribute to German underestimation of the USSR's military capacity?

Wikipedia says in the article on the Winter War: Perhaps more importantly, the very poor performance of the Red Army encouraged Hitler to think that an attack on the Soviet Union would be ...
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Soviet reaction to Battle of the Denmark Strait

At the time of the Battle of the Denmark Strait - 1941-05-24 - Soviets were still officially friendly with Germany. I wonder what the reaction to the battle was, e.g., Did they send an official ...
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Did Hitler make the right decision for Germany when he called off Operation Zitadelle (during the Battle of Kursk)?

On the night of 9/10 July, the Western Allies mounted an amphibious invasion of Sicily. Three days later, Hitler summoned Günther von Kluge and Erich von Manstein to his Wolfsschanze ...
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Did Japan ever pay Russia war reparations after WW2? Why or why not?

Russia had the largest number of casualties during WW2, and Russia had taken many Japanese prisoners. So, why didn't Russia receive a reparation from Japan to help boost Russia's economy after the ...
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What Was the State of German Tank Design In Between the World Wars?

I am reading about the Spanish Civil War in a book by Antony Beevor entitled "The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939". According to Beevor while the nationalists were able to control ...
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Plans for More Nuclear Warfare in Japan during WW2

When reading about Operation DownFall I noticed that if Japan had not surrendered following the nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki there could have been at least 7 more Nuclear Bombs ready for ...
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Did Stalin want to restore the Russian Empire's borders?

On one hand, it seems so because the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact defined the border between the two spheres of influence to be the border of the Russian Empire before WWI. On the other hand, the USSR ...
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Did any of the 50 Destroyers swapped for bases with Great Britain in 1940 sink any Axis military vessels?

In 1940 the United States traded fifty mothballed WW1 Destroyers to England in exchange for land rights in areas of the British Empire. Were any of those fifty ships credited with sinking an Axis ...
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How was occupied France governed during World War II?

During the occupation of France during World War II, how was the area governed? Specifically, were local governments still allowed and who handled normal police activities? If local Frenchmen did ...
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Were there any German operations to destroy supply routes in the Persian corridor in WWII?

Germany used its naval fleet to stop allied arctic supply route to the USSR. Were there any German operations, in Iran and Iraq (who were pro-German) to throttle allied supply routes through the ...
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Tito's partisans loyalty

Why was Tito able to rally the loyalty of so much of the young people in ex-Yugoslavia, and the royalist Draza Michailovich (Драгољуб "Дража" Михаиловић) was not? The so-called chetnicks, loyal to the ...
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What changed Japanese attitude to POWs in inter-war period?

I have read this excellent answer in which @Semaphore provides sources confirming that German defenders of Tsingtao were treated very well during World War I, which even lead to some tradition in ...
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How did diplomats of the Axis powers travel and communicate among themselves in World War II

In World War II, Japan and the European Axis powers had to communicate over strategy and other things. Also, their diplomats must have had to go to their own countries sometimes. After the USSR ...
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Were any of the major battle plans in WWII changed last minute by officers on the ground?

I haven't found any consistent reference to a particular battle wherein the battle plans were changed by a lower level officer on the ground at the last minute. Specifically, a major battle plan, not ...
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How much oil was spilled by the naval combatants during WW2?

The war at sea took a huge toll during WW2. Has there been an official estimate of how much oil was spilled into the oceans during the world wide conflict?
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Why did the French insist on reclaiming Indo-China after WWII?

After WWII France was in rebuilding mode, and yet they insisted on trying to reclaim Indo-China. It would seem that in the new world order this did not make much sense for a country that was trying to ...
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Did American policymakers seriously consider scaling down Lend Lease Aid to the Soviet Union after the battle of Kursk?

In 1941, Senator (and future President) Harry Truman famously said, "If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany." ...
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How successful were Einsatzkommando Tunis and how much was Rommel complicit?

This Einsatzkommando was headed by SS officer Walter Rauff and according to his wikipedia article it had great effect on the local Jewish population. An example is given, a quote from a German TV ...
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How did the way commanders ask their troops to deal with the immediate death of their comrades vary by country/culture during WWII?

I have researched extensively but may not be asking the right question. I am interested in learning how military forces were asked to deal with the death of their comrades immediately after the fact ...
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Nazism and Jewish persecution awareness during the WW2 years [closed]

I've always wondered how is it possible that an entire nation and beyond (Germany) wasn't aware of the Jewish persecution during the WW2 years or, if they were, that they did nothing to stop it. Were ...
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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 ...
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Can anyone identify this warship?

The picture is of a ship that my late father is believed to have served on, I can find no identification marks on the photograph, so even a type of vessel would be a great help, as I have no records ...
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Did the German Enigma machine use multiple encryption keys?

The German Enigma machines are the key for German victories during the early years of World War II. When the Allies managed to capture few Enigma machines and decode then the face of war began to ...
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To what degree did women participate in the air war during WW2?

I read that Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak and Katya Budanova, the latter is in the above picture, were fighter pilots in the Soviet Air Force during World War II. Since I cannot find other fighter ...
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What factors discouraged the Nazis from focusing all their forces on the Caucasus region during Operation Barbarossa?

Instead of splitting his invasion force into three groups, it appears to be more sensible to focus on taking over the Caucasus region first. At the time, Baku, a Caucasus oil metropolis accounted for ...
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Which city was attacked by Nazi-German war flights in India during WW2?

Nazi-Germany ran a bombing raid over India, in WW2. Which city was bombed, and what effect did it have? i.e how many casualties, or was transport closed down.
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How many Germans were killed in action in the taking of Paris, 1940?

Could the following possibly be true? Quote from Andrew Roberts, The Storm of War, 2009, p. 330: The original quote can be found here: The Beginning of the Road, by Vasili I. Chuikov, p. 158. ...
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What is the current location of the “Cauldron of Trun and Chambios” from August 1944?

I am trying to document my grandfather's participation in World War II, and have come across a letter written by a German military official informing my grandfather's parents that their son is missing ...
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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 ...
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What were Rommel's views on the Nazi crimes?

Erwin Rommel is often portrayed as the chivalrous Nazi. I've read on the internet that he once proposed to Hitler that a Jew be appointed a Nazi official, but I'm not able to verify that. What were ...
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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 ...
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What effect did awareness of devastating bombing at home have on the fighting spirit of German troops on the Eastern front?

German troops fighting in Russia must have been aware of the destruction of their cities back home by American and British bombing. Knowing that their loved ones were in danger and that their ...
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What happened to the French gold at Martinique during WW2

I am curious as to what happened to the gold stored on the island of Martinique by the French during WW2, I know that the French controlling the island switched sides a few times, and that there were ...
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What was the British version of enigma machine

At the time the Germans were using the enigma machine what were the British using to encrypt their messages and was it ever broken?
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Did France & Italy continue to develop and manufacture sophisticated military hardware once under German control?

Both France and Italy were designing and building advanced vehicle engines, motorcyles, aero engines and airframes through the 1930s and early 1940s. In the case of those advanced economies of ...
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Rommel's letter to his wife from November 16, 1942

I'm looking for the original German version of Erwin Rommel's letter to his wife Lucie Rommel from November 16, 1942. You can find the English translation on page 354 of "The Rommel Papers". The ...
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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 ...
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In WWII, why did people not run away from executions?

In several videos and photos you see people getting round up. In the photo below they're at the site of a mass grave and can clearly see they're going to die. Why does nobody try to run away? Same ...
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Did The Soviet Union Need Both Prongs to Succeed At the Battle of Stalingrad?

In November, 1942, three months after the battle of Stalingrad began, the Soviet Union, launched Operation Uranus, a counterencirclement of the German forces in and around the city, in two prongs. ...
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Were there reasons for Japan to go to war with US aside from US owning Philippines?

Right after the Spanish-American War in 1898, the US acquired the Philippines from Spain. At that time, local leaders desired Philippines independence. The Philippines-American War was fought around ...
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What was Finland's role in the siege of Leningrad?

My understanding was that Finland was not really pro Nazi Germany, but merely wanted to recover the lands lost to the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939-40. That is, "the enemy of my enemy is my ...
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Rosie the Riveter and “We Can Do It!”

I have read that Rosie the Riveter is a symbol of the American woman who worked in factories instead of men during the Second World War. She appears to be associated with the slogan “We Can Do It!” ...
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Why didn't Henry A. Wallace become President in 1945?

Henry A. Wallace was Roosevelt's vice-president during WWII. Shortly before Roosevelt's death (82 days) following a slow decline in health, the Conservative wing of the Democratic Party started an ...
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Has this newspaper printed the wrong picture (as well as a baffling caption)?

Yesterday's Daily Express decorated its WW1 piece with a picture and caption. Link to the story here. It was picked up on Twitter by @philipoltermann: Missed this at the time: Express invents ...
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Why did the British have so few destroyers going into World War II?

In September, 1940, Britain traded a number of its New World naval base sites for 50 "overaged' (old) destroyers in the so-called "Destroyer Deal." That doesn't seem like a large number of destroyers, ...
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Why did Allied invasion of France occur only in 1944 and not earlier?

Stalin (quite understandably) had demanded that the Allies open a Second Front as early as 1942, yet this did not happen till June 1944. Why did it have to wait till so late?
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Is there any research explicitly contradicting facts in Suvorov's “Icebreaker” book series claiming that Stalin intended to attack Hitler in 1941?

Viktor Suvorov is a somewhat famous ex-GRU spy who defected and wrote a series of books. The most (in)famous and sensational were a series of books on World War II, starting with "Icebreaker", which ...
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How did the Germans get homes again after WWII?

After a large number of homes were destroyed in the war, how did the average German become a homeowner again? I know about the Marshall Plan, but this question does not refer to how the economy in ...
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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 ...