Questions tagged [world-war-two]

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, China, the USSR, and the USA. The conflict began with the German invasion of Poland and formally ended with the American victory over Japan.

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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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Why didn't Japan take Pearl Harbor when they had the chance?

Japan successfully wiped out America's defenses at Pearl Harbor, and they knew they were going to before they set out, so why didn't they take some paratroopers with them to seize the harbor from the ...
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Were kamikaze pilots an effective strategy for Japan?

history.howstuffworks.com claims kamikaze pilots were not overly effective. Wikipedia states that there was no noticeable increase in number of ships lost even as kamikaze pilots became more common, ...
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What did Germany do in World War II about the different rail gauge in the Soviet Union?

One reason it was so hard for Germany to invade Russia/the Soviet Union in World War II (and I) was because the Russians had a different (wider) railroad gauge than that of most of the rest of Europe, ...
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Did the Soviet army intentionally send troops (e.g. penal battalions) running over minefields?

You can hear this story/claim stated in various way, from just regular troops doing it, to just penal battalions, to strenuous denial nobody ever did this in the Soviet army. (Just look at a Quora ...
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Why couldn't Japan crack the Navajo Code in WW2, when they captured a Navajo native speaker?

All quotes come from r/askhistorians comment by User druidofdarrowdelf, but it doesn't answer my own questions. The Japanese captured a Navajo POW, Joe Kieyoomia, who wasn't part of the Code Talker ...
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Was Anne Frank's story common?

I've been reading the Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank. Prior to reading it, I always assumed that her story was somewhat typical of Jews living in countries that Germany occupied, or even in ...
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When/how did Harry Truman give the order to bomb Hiroshima?

Am I correct in assuming that Truman and only Truman had the authority to order the bombing of Hiroshima? After all, it was the very first A-bomb and procedures may not have been formalized yet. It ...
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Why were the drawings of Colossus burnt after WW2 and why was its very existence “of course” kept secret?

After VJ Day, suddenly it was all over. Eight of the ten Colossi were dismantled in Bletchley Park. Two went to Eastcote in North London and then to GCHQ at Cheltenham. These last two were dismantled ...
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Why did Chamberlain act to appease Hitler leading up to the outbreak of World War 2?

There are accounts that British Prime Minister Chamberlain sought to appease Hitler because he just didn't want Britain involved in a war at that time. Others also argue that Chamberlain was naive and ...
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Why are military uniforms often flared or poofy above the knee?

I've often wondered why do various uniforms have those "poofs" on the outsides of the legs just above the knee? Was there a particular purpose to this, or a practical reason, or was it just the result ...
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Were well-connected Germans able to park their sons in Norway during WWII?

Reading Antony Beevor's "The Second World War" he makes the point several times that a peculiar obsession of Hitler's was the defence of Norway and that there were close to half a million German ...
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Did a kamikaze ever impact the hull of a ship, as opposed to the deck?

All kamikaze videos I've seen show the plane dive bombing into the deck of a ship. The photos I've seen also appear to always show a burning deck or tower. What I want to know is, did any kamikaze ...
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How did Nazi 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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What was the reason for Soviet troops to withdraw from Yugoslavia in World War II?

For all these countries that the Red Army entered (Poland, Romania, part of Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary), the procedure was straightforward. Once the Soviets beat the Germans they become de facto ...
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Was the Wehrmacht a mechanized army?

I read random descriptions of Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, and I got the impression that besides tanks, the armies carried with them millions of horses and that the bulk of the soldiers were ...
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Normandy: Why did the landing craft open on the front?

I assume this beach scenario was typical on D-Day. (Graphic violence) It shows a landing craft reaching the shore, where it lowers a hatch on the front of the craft, exposing the invading soldiers to ...
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Why did the USA invade Okinawa instead of one of the many other islands in southern Japan

There are many other islands in southern Japan that seem large enough for B29 runways (the current runway is 2 miles). Why didn't the USA pick the island of least resistance? I'd assume Okinawa was ...
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What pretext did Hitler use to justify Operation Barbarossa?

At the beginning of WW2, Nazi Germany orchestrated the infamous Gleiwitz Incident, which was used by Hitler to publicly declare, that since 5:45 we are returning fire. The invasion of Poland ...
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How was the United States able to produce excellent tanks in 1942?

Most military histories of the war in North Africa, and especially those produced from a British point-of-view, emphasise the greenness of the American troops which landed there in 1942. There is a ...
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WW2: Did US marines and soldiers really go into action with unbuckled helmet chin straps?

(Note: links go to realistically portrayed scenes of WW2 combat.) I am watching Youtube clips of WW2 miniseries, like The Pacific and Band of Brothers. Based on a non-scientific survey of these ...
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What was the purpose of Nazi extermination camps?

Why did they spend money and effort to build the infrastructure and organization, collect, transport and house the prisoners while execution on the spot would presumably be easier and less costly? I'm ...
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Did Heisenberg undermine the German atomic bomb by deliberately hiding his expertise from the Nazis?

In his massive book Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb, Thomas Powers says that Heisenberg, who never became a Nazi and balked at the immorality of building a bomb for Hitler, did ...
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Why did Roosevelt and Churchill use voice-based telecommunication, instead of simpler text-based options which were easier to encrypt?

Roosevelt and Churchill used an extremely sophisticated telephone encryption system, SIGSALY, to communicate during WWII. In fact, they did not use it all the time because apparently it changed the ...
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Did the United States have a third atomic bomb to drop on Japan?

On 15 August, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan announced its surrender to the United States, signing the instrument of surrender on 2 September, officially ending the war. The question ...
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How beneficial were war bonds to the US during WWII

I've been watching classic cartoon shorts from Disney and Warner Brothers. So many devoted time to encouraging Americans to buy war bonds. Did money collected from war bonds amount to a significant ...
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What was the role of the Soviet Navy during WWII?

Most books about WWII speak of the naval battles of Allied and Axis powers during the war, but none about the Soviet Navy. The Soviets had an active fleet at the time - why did it not engage the ...
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How were Kurds involved (or not) in the invasion of Normandy?

In defending his decision to withdraw from northern Syria and cease supporting Kurdish fighters in the face of the 2019 Turkish invasion, Donald Trump said: [The Kurds] didn’t help us in the second ...
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Was the tugboat ever part of a WWII battle group?

It would seem a pretty logical addition to a WWII battle group to have one of more tugs for the capital ships (heck, any ship), yet I don't see much evidence of that. Let me elaborate. I was an Army ...
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Were there any Germans in Japan after the surrender of Germany in May, 1945 and if so, what happened to them?

I assume there were potentially hundreds of German advisers, etc. in Japan at the time of the German surrender. Is there evidence that they tried to reach Allied troops to surrender to them? Did some ...
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Was the London Blitz accidentally started by lost pilots?

In Connie Willis's All Clear, one of the characters makes reference to the Blitz thus: ... the German pilots who got lost didn't mean to start the London Blitz The universe this series is set in ...
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What was the plan for an abort of the Enola Gay's mission to drop the atomic bomb?

Following up on this answer... @mark, in the answer, writes that "[i]n the event that the crew of Enola Gay had to abort their mission, they had no intention of trying to land with the bomb still ...
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What concessions did Hitler demand from the Poles before 1939?

On Wikipedia, it is stated that: Earlier, Hitler's foreign policy worked to weaken ties between Poland and France, and attempted to manoeuvre Poland into the Anti-Comintern Pact, forming a ...
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How to rebut Holocaust denial argument?

I came across a Holocaust denier who claims that there is a plaque outside Auschwitz which says that the Nazis murdered 1.5 million people there (mostly Jewish). However, the plaque used to say 4 ...
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Why did Chamberlain remain Prime Minister of Britain until 10 May, 1940?

WW2 officially began on 1 September 1939, but Churchill did not become Prime Minister until 10 May 1940. Neville Chamberlain, the same leader of appeasement with Hitler, remained Prime Minister all ...
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Given their reputation for fighting to the last man in the Pacific, why did 700,000 Japanese troops surrender in Manchuria?

I just read this. It says: On August 8, 1945 ... the Soviet Union launched the invasion of Manchuria, a massive military operation mobilizing 1.5 million soldiers against one million Kwantung Army ...
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Why did the Japanese expect the United States navy would attack the Home Islands?

Kantai Kessen, the Japanese naval strategy for a Pacific war, amounted to (simplified) "The American fleet will cross the Pacific to attack Japan. At that time, we will engage and defeat them." ...
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Was the Italian campaign a strategic mistake?

Background In September 1943, the Allied forces invaded Southern Italy in combined airborne/amphibious operations in Reggio di Calabria (Operation Baytown), Salerno (Operation Avalanche) and Taranto (...
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Why was Switzerland not attacked during the two World Wars?

Why in WW1 or WW2 or ever nobody invaded Switzerland? All other countries was in some wars. How Switzerland do it and should we learn from them? I hear that many people with power have money in swiss ...
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In WWII, what were the major differences in tank combat on the eastern and western fronts?

Nearly every nation deployed tanks in World War II. What are some differences in tactics between the eastern front in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the western front in France, the Low Countries, and ...
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Did Germany's role in WW2 affect the historical perception of its role in WW1?

In the recent Wonder Woman movie (which I know is not an historical essay) I understand that the Germans are treated as the bad guys, almost like nazis although I am pretty sure that Germans in WW1 ...
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What was Japan's grand strategy in WW2?

I am trying to understand the Japanese Grand Strategy in WW2 when it comes to handling the US. My current understand, based primarily on extensive Wikipedia reading is as follows: Motivation: The ...
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Are tanks the only reason for the abandonment of trench warfare?

The First World War in the West was for 4 years restricted to trench warfare. Gaining enemy territory cost many human lives for both sides. The main (or maybe most spectacular) battles were Verdun and ...
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Did Churchill and Roosevelt know about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, or the following secret pacts between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union?

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany prior to, and during WWII. It seems that the actions of the two countries after the invasion of Poland ...
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Why did the Allies Invade French North Africa?

Question: Why did the allies invade Vichy French North Africa? Operation Torch was the name of the Anglo American Invasion of French North Africa. Both of the American most ...
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What was Hitler like in private?

The image of Hitler is very well-formed in the modern public imagination: stern, stoic, focused, commanding and intimidating, with a powerful oratory skill and a terrifying ability to stir up passion ...
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At which point in time did the majority of German population become aware of the Holocaust?

I've read the wikipedia pages on Responsibility for the Holocaust and German Resistance to Nazism but the answer is not clear. It's established that large numbers of Germans were aware of the ...
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Were there military operations that targeted individual enemy commanders?

Operation Vengeance (1943) was a US military operation aimed specifically to kill Japanese Admiral Yamamoto. It looks like something weird in contemporary era: are there any similar military ...
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Was Japan known to be a potential threat to the USA in the 10 year period prior to 1941

In the years leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack, did non-military Americans see Japan as a potential threat to the USA?
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Did a unit of 40 men hold off Rommel's “ghost division” for 18 days?

I found the following baffling claim on a Wikipedia article regarding the "Chasseurs Ardennais" in World War II: A unit of only 40 men held off the combined arms of the German forces, ...

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