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 ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

9
votes
2answers
4k views

Were soldiers in the World Wars paid?

There have always been professional soldiers however during the world wards there were vast conscription to encourage young men to join up for "King and Country". Presumably there was some sort of ...
9
votes
1answer
661 views

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?
9
votes
1answer
418 views

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 ...
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
5answers
2k views

Why did Hitler not order the use of poison gas in combat?

From what I know, Hitler wanted Germans to fight, quite literally, to the last, and he wouldn't have minded terribly if every last German died fighting the enemy. So why did he never use poison gas ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
8
votes
4answers
977 views

What is the historical evidence behind the claim that the Soviet armies perpetrated mass rapes during their stay in Germany?

Besides accounts from Anthony Beevor's book and research done by Sander & Johr, which some members of the amateur historian community dismiss as biased and revisionist, are there any other source ...
8
votes
3answers
516 views

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 ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
699 views

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!” ...
8
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

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, ...
8
votes
2answers
745 views

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?
8
votes
1answer
491 views

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
849 views

Did Germany produce ammunition with depleted uranium?

Albert Speer in a footnote in Inside the Third Reich states, "During 1940 1200 metric tons of uranium ore had been seized in Belgium." Later in the book, Speer states, "In the summer of ...
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
305 views

Did Japan make a contribution to World War II way out of proportion to its estimated relative GDP? [closed]

I was surprised to read these 1938 figures (admittedly estimates) of 1938 GDP for the major combatants of World War II. In round figures, the U.S. had $85 billion, the Germans $42 billion, Britain ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Why did Central and South American nations participate in WWII?

Somewhat related question: Did either of the World Wars involve South or Central America? I've always been interested in why so many South American and Central American countries took the side of the ...
8
votes
3answers
430 views

Why would the heads of the Manhattan Project have been imprisoned in the event of its failure?

In The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, Secretary of War Henry Stimson is quoted as saying, after the Trinity test and Potsdam declaration but before the bombing of Hiroshima: I have ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Were there any successful attempts by the Allies to “turn” groups of Axis soldiers?

Toward the end of World War II, Germany had to utilize non-German soldiers, some of them from occupied countries like Poland and the Ukraine. At places like Omaha Beach, Normandy, individual Poles ...
8
votes
2answers
395 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
475 views

What kind of wood was the standard decking for Aircraft Carriers in World War 2?

I know that both Japan and the United States used wooden decks on their WWII Aircraft Carriers. Was there a specific, "ideal" standard type of wood that was utilized by either country? If so, what ...
8
votes
2answers
498 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
655 views

Soviet-German friendship propaganda posters (1939‒41)

Upon reading Putin’s New Nostalgia article by Timothy Snyder, I was specifically intrigued by one particular historical point he mentioned. Given the charged nature of current events, and Snyder’s ...
8
votes
2answers
389 views

Why did antique guns and swords from the Franco-Prussian War make part of the demilitarization program to which Germany was subjected?

As is well known, after the WW2 ended, the U.S. imposed a strong program of demilitarization to Germany. Can anybody explain the reason why the "antique guns and swords from the Franco-Prussian ...
8
votes
2answers
169 views

How were the British and French Mandates in the Levantine area involved in WWII?

We all know the role of Egypt as a British protectorate at the time in WWII and the many battles fought in there. My question is, what is the role of the other British and French possessions in the ...
8
votes
3answers
238 views

Books on the history of modern China for pleasure reading? [closed]

I'm interested in learning about this history of modern China, which to me means roughly the 19th-20th centuries. I'm kind of interested in the industrial development of China, and its role during the ...
8
votes
1answer
372 views

What were French actions against Germany during September 1939?

In Poland "Phoney war" is treated as betrayal by UK and France, who only declared war against Germany and did not perform any other actions. This combined with Soviet attack on 17th September is said ...
8
votes
1answer
799 views

How did Churchill and Stalin intend to translate the percentages in the “Percentages agreement”?

In "percentages agreement", Stalin and Churchill allegedly divided Southeastern Europe to sphere of influences of the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. According to Churchill's account quoted by ...
8
votes
1answer
673 views

Is there any footage and/or photos of Germans surrendering towns and cities in the Western Front?

I heard that unlike the surrender ceremonies in the Eastern front, those on the western front were arranged to be solemn, festive and pompous, especially when the cities were conceded without ...
8
votes
2answers
419 views

What were the military justifications for the bombing of Dresden?

I have seen an assertion that Dresden was the only major German city no to put up a protracted resistance to the Soviet Army. The person who asserted this declined to provide references; I still do ...
8
votes
2answers
408 views

Identify WW2 ammo

I found some ammo, which I think is from World War II. The cartridges are stamped WRA 42 and DEN 42. I do not know what the big piece is. It has a stamp: N2117 III Does anyone know what the big ...
8
votes
2answers
267 views

Was Churchill a poor HR manager?

The key problem in the delegation of authority is to match the delegatee's character and experience with the tasks appointed to him/her. I got an impression that Churchill's record in this field is ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Why and how were east Brandenburg, Pomerania and Silesia taken away from Germany after WW2?

These areas have always been German, in fact Pomerania and Brandenburg were both part of Prussia since the 1700's. Why did the Soviet Union do this, and how did the victorious powers justify taking ...
7
votes
7answers
914 views

At what point did Soviet armored units have qualitative parity with Wehrmacht armored units?

Was the T-26 a match for the Panzer II,III, and IV in the early stages of Barbarossa? The T-34 has been given a lot of credit as the tipping point where Soviet technology created a weapons platform ...
7
votes
2answers
408 views

Could you help me identify this photograph that was taken shortly after World War 2?

Could you help me identify this photograph? All I know is that it was taken shortly after World War 2.
7
votes
4answers
375 views

Were some Yugoslav “nationalities” more pro-Axis/Allied than others during World War II

"Yugo" (South) slavia, is actually a motley collection (mixed bag in the American idiom) of groups such as the Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Dalmatians, Macedonians, Bosnians, and others. During World War ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Was the Flakpanzer IV used against infantry? If not, what was?

I know it's not good to take video games' word for it when it comes to history. However, in the game "Company of Heroes 2", the German team can deploy an "Ostwind" Flakpanzer IV, which to my ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the basis of Russian criticism of Antony Beevor's work? [closed]

Some Russian sources make claims to the effect of "Beevor is revisionist and anti-Soviet propagandist". What is the basis for this criticism? For the antecedents of the question, see here.
7
votes
4answers
5k views

Are the “bone fields” of the Stalingrad encircled battlefields real?

In this podcast by Dan Carlin's Hardcore history show, Dan mentions that there are areas inside of the Stalingrad pocket where human remains are openly visible above ground, exposed to the weather. ...
7
votes
1answer
994 views

Why did the Germans not pull everyone back for the defense of Berlin?

In the wikipedia article for the 1945 Prague Uprising implies that there were still a large number of German troops stationed in Czechoslovakia; atleast 40,000 of them, including crack SS armored ...
7
votes
1answer
377 views

Who was in charge of the Barysaw massacre (20 October 1941)?

I'm looking for information about the Barysaw Massacre of 20 October 1941. Who performed it and who was in charge of this operation?
7
votes
2answers
649 views

What other war crimes trials besides Nuremberg were held after WWII?

Why were the Nuremberg trials after WWII for the Germans only? The same charges used against the the Germans could be easily extended to the Japanese or possibly Italians. They have committed as much ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Did either of the World Wars involve South or Central America?

Were any South or Central American nations besides Brazil involved (not necessarily officially) in either of the World Wars? If any were, I'd appreciate information on their degree of involvement.
7
votes
2answers
199 views

How is the photography printing on newpaper is possible in the WW2 era?

How is the photography printing on newpaper is possible in the WW2 era? For example, how is the photo on the newpaper at the below link is possible especially on HD quality? ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Why were so few Luftwaffe attacks flown against the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944?

Why were so few Luftwaffe attacks flown against the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944? I understand there were roughly 200 aircraft available in France/Belgium, and yet there were only 2 aircraft that ...
7
votes
2answers
607 views

What was the maximum percent of the Soviet territory that was under Nazi control?

What was the percent of the Soviet territory that was under Nazi control at maximum extent?
7
votes
4answers
394 views

Has any other book in history been as “prescriptive” as Mein Kampf?

Hitler's signature work, "Mein Kampf", was written while he was in prison (!), following the failure of his so-called "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich in 1923. In the book, he laid out in excruciating ...
7
votes
1answer
198 views

German submarine force ceasefire on May 4 1945

Many sources say that a general ceasefire order was issued by Doenitz to German submarines on patrol on May 4, 1945. We know that the German instrument of surrender was signed in the early morning ...