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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
37
votes
3answers
19k views

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 ...
36
votes
2answers
10k views

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 ...
35
votes
6answers
16k views

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 ...
34
votes
5answers
11k views

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 ...
34
votes
2answers
17k views

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 ...
33
votes
8answers
3k views

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 ...
33
votes
6answers
6k views

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 ...
33
votes
4answers
5k views

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 ...
33
votes
2answers
34k views

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 ...
32
votes
2answers
7k views

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 ...
32
votes
4answers
9k views

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 ...
32
votes
1answer
4k views

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 ...
32
votes
2answers
7k views

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 ...
31
votes
6answers
11k views

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 ...
31
votes
2answers
5k views

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 ...
31
votes
5answers
8k views

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 ...
31
votes
1answer
8k views

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 ...
31
votes
2answers
5k views

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 ...
30
votes
6answers
10k views

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 ...
30
votes
3answers
6k views

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 ...
30
votes
5answers
10k views

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 (...
30
votes
8answers
14k views

Did Heisenberg undermine the German atomic bomb by deliberately hiding his expertise from the Nazis?

Source. 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 ...
30
votes
2answers
6k views

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 ...
29
votes
11answers
4k views

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 ...
29
votes
4answers
5k views

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 ...
29
votes
4answers
5k views

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 ...
29
votes
7answers
5k views

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 ...
29
votes
1answer
5k views

What became of Nazi Germany's embassies in neutral countries?

This picture shows the German embassy in Stockholm very near the end of World War II (with the flag lowered to mark Hitler's death). Germany surrendered on the 8th May 1945. The Flensburg government ...
28
votes
5answers
4k views

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 ...
28
votes
5answers
8k views

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." ...
28
votes
5answers
2k views

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 ...
27
votes
10answers
12k views

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 ...
27
votes
7answers
9k views

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?
27
votes
3answers
7k views

Why were there so few American deaths in the Bataan Death March?

There was estimated to be 500-650 American deaths during the Bataan death march while there was estimated to be 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino deaths, according to Wikipedia. I can't wrap my head around why ...
27
votes
3answers
17k views

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 ...
26
votes
11answers
12k views

Why wasn't the Republic of Ireland invaded (by either side) in WW2?

Ireland was neutral in WW2, however it was never invaded (by either side). How come? Why wasn't Ireland invaded by the UK to prevent the Germans invading? Why didn't germany invade ireland? It would ...
26
votes
7answers
9k views

Why did the US drop nuclear bombs on a weakened Japan? [closed]

Why did the United States drop two nuclear bombs on the Japanese mainland? It appeared that Japan was ready to surrender.
26
votes
6answers
12k views

Why did Hitler not concentrate more on North Africa?

The Germans knew that oil would be crucial to the war and that they would likely need to capture new sources for the war effort. The main oil-producing regions at the time that might be captured were ...
26
votes
4answers
3k views

When planning Barbarossa, did Germany conceive of the Soviet migration of heavy industry?

Wikipedia has a very tiny article on this. Basically, when Barbarossa was launched, the Soviet Union started evacuating the factories. They were migrated to places beyond the Ural Mountains. I'm ...
26
votes
3answers
7k views

What was the longest a World War II submarine could stay at sea without being resupplied?

The US Balao-class and Gato-class submarines had enough provisions to stay on patrol for 75 days. Information on other long-range submarines has proved hard to find, although this site mentions ...
26
votes
5answers
4k views

Which WW2 belligerents provided military brothels?

Did any of the other belligerents of WW2 besides Japan and Germany provide their troops with authorized military brothels?
25
votes
8answers
5k views

Operation Vengeance and Individual Targeting of 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 ...
25
votes
3answers
7k views

What were the Allies' plans 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 alive?...
25
votes
14answers
34k views

What was the ratio of German to Soviet losses on Eastern front during different stages of the war?

I've read somewhere that the ratio of Soviet to German casualties on the Eastern front was 1.4 for the whole war. But what about data for different stages of the war? (this ratio wasn't constant after ...
25
votes
3answers
11k views

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 ...
25
votes
2answers
473k views

How many troops died on D-day?

How many troops (allied and axis) died at Normandy beach on June 6th, 1944? I've searched all over the internet, but can't find an accurate number.
25
votes
2answers
11k views

Why is Thailand considered an Axis power in WWII?

I read a Wikipedia article about military history of Thailand and it left me a taste of anti-Thai bias. It is known that Thailand in 1940 (after the fall of Paris and establishment of Vichy ...
24
votes
3answers
7k views

Was Roosevelt the “biggest slave trader in recorded history”?

In the introduction to The Liberation of the Serfs, Jürgen Georg Backhaus writes: The largest transaction in unfree labour ever recorded occurred in Yalta; more than 6.5 million prisoners of war ...
24
votes
6answers
6k views

What happened to US's Lend-Lease machinery given to the Soviet Union?

Although most sources say that the Russians were supplied with great amounts of equipment and food as part of Lend-Lease program, I have not in all my years living in Russia seen US labeled machinery. ...
24
votes
4answers
19k views

How many lives were estimated to have been saved by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs?

**President Truman in a August 9, 1945 radio address to the American people, outlined the reasons why we dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (and later Nagasaki) I realize the tragic significance ...