226 votes
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Why didn't Germany blockade the Strait of Gibraltar during WW2?

...but if the Strait is guarded such that they can't get them without braving an enfilading strafe of torpedoes, then it wouldn't do much good even if they knew where they are. From this comment by ...
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  • 53k
129 votes
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Why didn't Wehrmacht soldiers refuse to kill civilians?

Saying that no Wehrmacht soldier ever refused to kill civilians or PoWs is wrong, there are documented instances of this happening. It's just that this did not happen often enough to make a difference....
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123 votes
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Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

I have not lived in Berlin or Moscow, but I have lived in Toronto and (very close to) Val d'Or. The winter temperatures for these two locations closely match Berlin and Moscow: December ...
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109 votes
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Why didn't Hitler have more submarines in the English channel?

The English Channel is too shallow in many places to be safe for U-Boats. The operating depth for the Type VII submarine was up to 230 meters, while the English Channel is only 45 meters deep in many ...
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101 votes
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Why did the Germans spare Allied troops trapped at Dunkirk?

Although we know a great deal about the events surrounding Hitler's "Halt Order" at Dunkirk, the truth is that the reasons behind it are not completely understood by historians, even now. It is a ...
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74 votes

Why didn't Wehrmacht soldiers refuse to kill civilians?

Concerning your questions, beyond the original "why didn't they refuse" one: the massacres definitely caused psychological problems for many soldiers, even the SS - to the point that Himmler ...
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69 votes

Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

Average temperatures are irrelevant, unless you plan to repeat the battle every year. What matters is the temperature at the time. To quote Wikipedia: The European Winter of 1941-1942 was the ...
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63 votes

Why did the Germans spare Allied troops trapped at Dunkirk?

It's easy to ask these questions after the fact, but a primary reason was that what we now know as the Miracle of Dunkirk was basically unthinkable. It is easy to forget that in reaching the coast, ...
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  • 103k
55 votes

Why didn't Hitler have more submarines in the English channel?

In addition to the other answers, WWII submarines were primarily surface vessels which could submerge for combat. They had very limited speed, visibility, and battery range underwater. The batteries ...
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  • 53k
49 votes
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Why weren’t the Dutch and Belgian borders fortified with wire, trenches, mines, etc., as it became clear Germany would invade during WW2?

No, it wouldn't have worked. ... what reasons could have led the Allied decision makers ... You're making a mistake here: before hostilities began, both The Netherlands and Belgium had (repeatedly) ...
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46 votes

Normandy: Why did the landing craft open on the front?

The LCVP or Higgins boat was designed with one primary goal: to land a large number of troops quickly. Therefore it was important that: Troops can disembark as quickly as possible LCVPs can land ...
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44 votes
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Normandy: Why did the landing craft open on the front?

They still do it that way: LCU Replacement in Preliminary Design, Anticipating 2022 Fleet Debut If the beaches are heavily defended, the Navy is supposed to bombard them prior to the landing. ...
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40 votes

Why didn't Germany blockade the Strait of Gibraltar during WW2?

Gibraltar during the war had a quite formidable British naval presence (Force H), an airfield, and significant coastal gun emplacements easily capable of covering the entire strait. The primary ...
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  • 12k
35 votes

Why didn't Hitler have more submarines in the English channel?

Other answers have explained why basing the U-boats in the English Channel was a poor idea for the Germans. Here's what actually happened: In spring 1944, most of the U-boats were based in the ports ...
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34 votes

Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

Other answers have dealt with the main things but I think you are missing one important point. Even assuming that Berlin and Moscow are equally cold there is a huge difference between holding your ...
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33 votes

Why did Allied invasion of France occur only in 1944 and not earlier?

It depends on how you define "Second Front." The Allies opened a "second front" in North Africa in November, 1942. That was huge because the battle of Stalingrad was going on at the same time. ...
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  • 103k
31 votes

How did the Allies achieve air superiority on Sicily?

To begin with, when the air campaign ahead of Operation Husky (the campaign that culminated with the invasion of Sicily) began, the Allies already had a significant numerical superiority over the Axis ...
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30 votes
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Why did the Germans not encircle and besiege Stalingrad?

A number of things went wrong in the German advance on Stalingrad. One of them is that after Paulus made it to the Volga in late August, 1942, he was supposed to chase the Russians into Stalingrad ...
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30 votes

Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

Part of the Third Reich's military problem was its devastating quick early victories. Germany invaded France rapidly alongside a ~900 km front line, adopting the WWI strategy to enter via Belgium ...
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30 votes

What German torpedo problem was discovered in 1942?

As I think this may be the answer to your question what problem was discovered in 1942 related to the torpedos hydrogen venting system. The problem was that when vented anywhere but on the surface (...
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25 votes
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Why did the Allies lose the Battle of France (1940)?

The main reason was that the allies were prepared to fight WW1 all over again. The Germans had very different ideas. The allies were ready to fight a static trench war in Belgium. Problem was that ...
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22 votes
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During the Normandy landings, were any German naval assets brought to bear against the Allies?

The Kriegsmarine had no direct effect on the invasion, but did have an indirect one: they laid a lot of mines. The coastline was protected by large numbers of naval mines, and more would be laid by U-...
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  • 53k
22 votes
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Why did the USSR stop in the Winter War against Finland in 1940?

The relevant archives are still closed and, I think, will continue to be closed for a long time. One, thus, has to look for memoirs of former Soviet leaders (of that time). Three of them wrote such ...
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  • 6,021
22 votes
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How did the Axis intend to hold the Caucasus?

Had the Germans succeeded in breaking the Red Army, they would have been able to hold on to the Caucasus. If not, the war would have been lost anyway. From the beginning of the war in the East, ...
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21 votes
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Why were 40,000 German troops left in Prague instead of pulled back to defend Berlin?

There are a number of reasons why the Germans did not pull back for the defense of Berlin. The short answer is that they simply couldn't. The Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS were still ordered to conduct ...
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  • 767
21 votes

How did the Axis intend to hold the Caucasus?

This is detailed in Führer directive 45. It was incredibly easy. By just winning the war. Details for this were variously named Fall Blau, Operation Brunswick, Operation Edelweiss… As you see, there ...
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20 votes

Why was Stalin surprised by the German attack in June 1941?

David Glantz in his book Barbarossa: Hitler's Invasion of Russia 1941 mentions several contributing factors. Stalin wanted to believe that Hitler would hold to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. This is ...
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  • 2,997
20 votes

Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?

The Russian winter was a contributing factor. The German winter is not like the Russian plains winter where the German army advanced. The German army was reportedly still wearing summer uniforms when ...
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  • 225
19 votes

Did Erwin König Exist?

I seriously doubt that Maj. Erwin König, or any "German supersniper sent out to get Zaytsev" existed, let alone an effort to "remove him from history" after Zaytsev killed him. Since there cannot be ...
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