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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Does the reversal of the ribbon on a military medal (South Africa / UK; WWII) carry meaning or is it simply an error?

My father was showing me his father's WWII medals for service in the South African military. Having found images depicting the official order of wear I noticed that some had reversed ribbons. I ...
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Are there reports of Nazi scientists vomiting at the sight of Japanese medical experiments? [on hold]

Michael Oh, a missionary to Japan who I just wrote about in an answer on SE, has claimed on multiple occasions that: Nazi scientists who visited Japanese medical experimentation facilities vomited ...
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5answers
15k views

Number of bullets used in WW2

I have wondered if there are any estimates on the number of bullets used in World War 2. I have thought about the question but cannot even get a plausible attack strategy.
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1answer
633 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 ...
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1answer
136 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 ...
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6answers
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Why were Spain and Portugal neutral / not invaded in WWII?

Why was not Spain and Portugal involved in World War II with either side? Was not Franco sympathetic with the Axis powers given the help they offered during the civil war? Also, given their ...
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58 views

Everyday Life in Vichy France [closed]

How did the war happening on either side affect life, until it finally rolled over them? What happened to cafes when coffee was in short supply? Would a cigarette butt on the sidewalk set off a little ...
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1answer
323 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 ...
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4answers
320 views

Why are only the Normandy landings referred to as D-Day?

Thinking about the anniversary of the Normandy landings, I was struck that the terms D-Day and H-hour were used to denote the start time of all allied military operations. Are there any specific ...
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1answer
147 views

How were snipers used on the western front during WW2?

When the topic of snipers in WWII comes up, it's almost always about Soviet snipers and the eastern front. What about the western front? I'm specifically interested in how or if the British, American, ...
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4answers
369 views

Why were the 8th Route Army better at fighting the Japanese than the Nationalists were?

Numerous sources have noted the (Communist) 8th Route Army's effectiveness in its resistance against Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) occupation; British, American observers, even Japanese commanders have ...
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Did Alan Turing's colleague Peter Hilton brother die? [on hold]

The recent film The Imitation Game detailed Alan Turing's successful efforts to crack Enigma, the German encoding used to encrypt radio messages. Eventually Turing cracks Enigma, and he and his ...
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3answers
1k views

Why did Germany not attack Turkey during WW2?

Most of us might have heard something about the Geo-strategic position of Turkey. She connects two continents to each other and provides a bridge between the relatively advanced Europe and the ...
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2answers
274 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 ...
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2answers
291 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] ...
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3answers
160 views

What was American anti-tank doctrine during WWII on paper, and how did it differ from in practice?

What was the prevailing doctrine in the US Army on how to deal with German tanks during WWII? In an ideal situation, what sort of unit (anti-tank infantry, tank destroyers, towed AT guns, etc.) would ...
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2answers
236 views

What is the most noteworthy defection of a member of the Nazi party to the Allies during WWII?

During WWII, before it became clear the Nazis were going to lose, is there any especially noteworthy examples of a member or members of the Nazi party defecting to the Allies? I'm aware noteworthy is ...
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11answers
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 ...
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2answers
165 views

When did the Soviet Union stop blaming the Entente for WW2?

In the fall 1939 the SU blamed Britain and France for starting WW2 exclusively (i.e., no blame was put on Germany). It shifted the blame to Germany after 1941-06-22 (obviously). When was the last time ...
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2answers
137 views

German offensives between Normandy and Bulge?

In regards to World War II, I always hear about the great number of Allied victories won between the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. Very little is spoken of German victories. ...
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1answer
189 views

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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3answers
899 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 ...
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2answers
129 views

Was the attempt to take Stalingrad a distraction to the original objectives of the German Sixth Army during Case Blue in 1942?

If the objective of Sixth Army was to close the Volga to Russian shipping while simultaneously protecting the left flank of the Caucasus forces, then attacking Stalingrad could be seen as a ...
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5answers
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How did Nazi Germany finance itself during WW2?

How did Nazi Germany finance itself during the war? They produced a large amount of war material during 1939-1945, but how was this production financed? What were Germany's revenue streams that ...
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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 ...
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3answers
482 views

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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4answers
6k views

How did Germany produce such an impressive portfolio of officers for WW2?

von Runstedt Model Dietl Guderian von Manstein Rommel Kesselring (who was an able commander both on land and in the air) Richtofen Donitz Raeder All of these German names have been featured heavily ...
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1answer
252 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?
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3answers
906 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? ...
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2answers
491 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 ...
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1answer
612 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 ...
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0answers
153 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 ...
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3answers
228 views

What is the source of the claim that Enigma codebreaking efforts shortened the Second World War by years and saved millions of lives? [closed]

Since the release of the film The Imitation Game, it has been widely asserted that The cracking of Germany’s Enigma code shortening the war by two to four years and saving an estimated 14 ...
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2answers
142 views

German invasion of Poland details

In this Hitler speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tran_0-lC5c Hitler claims that during the conflict with Poland, he gave orders to the Luftwaffe to commit the war in a "humane manner" IE: ...
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1answer
516 views

WWII: Did the entire war depend on breaking the ENIGMA cipher? [closed]

I recently watched this great historical movie called Enigma (2001) As I saw the movie, a British general claimed that the entire war was depended on breaking the Enigma cipher? Is this really a ...
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5answers
2k views

How did the Nazis plan to defeat America during World War II?

Yamamoto famously advised against a war with the United States, because he could tell how powerful they would be once they got going. The Nazis, however, declared war on the United States of their ...
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3answers
764 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 ...
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5answers
3k 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 ...
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2answers
240 views

History of the Wehrmacht after the surrender

Wikipedia tells us, that: Following the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht, which went into effect on 8 May 1945, some Wehrmacht units remained active, either independently (e.g. in ...
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2answers
178 views

France vs Germany in 1940: equipment vs. organization [closed]

Many times I heard that in 1940 France had more tanks than Germany and that French tanks were better than German ones. Is it indeed so? What about airplanes?
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1answer
2k views

Why haven't Russia and Japan signed a peace treaty after WW2?

I have read that Russia and Japan, which had been fighting long before World War I, are still at war, at least technically, since they have not signed a peace treaty at the conclusion of World War II. ...
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4answers
413 views

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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4answers
982 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?
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1answer
100 views

What happened with North African oil during the Second World War? [closed]

From everything I have seen, the war in North Africa was solely about getting oil from the Middle East. Had oil simply not been discovered in North Africa during the time of the war?
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4answers
2k views

Could The Soviet Union have continued fighting World War II without Caucasus oil?

In 1942, Germany's Fall Blau was initially aimed at capturing or interdicting shipments of oil from the Caucasus to the rest of the Soviet Union. Even though armies were diverted to Stalingrad and ...
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2answers
294 views

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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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 ...
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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?
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During the Normandy landings, were any German naval assets brought to bear against the Allies?

I know the allied fleet suffered heavy losses during the operation: Naval losses for June 1944 included 24 warships and 35 merchantmen or auxiliaries sunk, and a further 120 vessels damaged. ...
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174 views

What made Stalingrad a turning point in the second world war?

Operation "Barbarossa" the german plan to invade the Soviet Union was a colossal success until Stalingrad. Capturing one third of European Soviet Union and having the Luftwaffe taking monopoly of the ...