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World War Two History Links
World War Two Timeline
|A short history of World War
World War II was a war fought from 1939 to 1945 in Europe,
and from at least 1937 to 1945 in Asia. It was the largest
armed conflict the world has ever seen, spanning the entire
world and involving more countries than any previous war
- and fought with powerful new weapons, culminating in
the first use of two atomic bombs, whose very existence
had been a tightly-held secret. The conflict ravaged civilians
more than had any previous wars of the modern era, and
served as a backdrop for genocidal killings by Germany,
the Soviet Union, and Japan. World War II caused a greater
number of deaths, about [61 million], more than any previous
World War I aftermath
The origins of the war in Europe can be traced to the
end of World War I. In the Treaty of Versailles, Germany
was punished with the payment of reparations of war to
the victorious nations. The Treaty also placed important
restrictions on the German military.
The severe economic reparations helped bring on a serious
economic crisis, hyperinflation, and civil unrest in Germany
that made possible the rise of the National Socialist
Oddly, Germany's wartime adversaries were far more serious
about enforcing the economic reparations than the military
restrictions on Germany. Under Adolf Hitler, Germany began
re-asserting itself in Europe, clandestinely remilitarising
in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles.
In 1936 the German army reoccupied the Rhineland. Germany
annexed Austria in the spring of 1938; Hitler then planned
to attack and conquer Czechoslovakia, on the pretext of
alleged mistreatment of the (largely Germanic) population
of the Sudetenland.
Britain had guaranteed the security of Czechoslovakia
and it seemed war must break out at this point when the
British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, appealed
to Hitler, and flew to Munich, where the British and French
leaders agreed to the cession of the Sudetenland to Germany.
Czech representatives were not allowed at the conference;
their government strongly opposed giving up the Sudetenland
but were powerless in the face of German military might
and British and French unwillingness to fight for them.
It should be remembered that the rapidly rearming Germany
had militarily stolen a march on Britain, which was completely
unprepared for war at this time. Chamberlain's infamous
act of appeasement, which has been widely seen as cowardly
submission, was explained by Chamberlain as an effort
to buy time in which to rearm.
Start of the war in Europe
Germany finally became engaged in full-scale war on September
1, 1939 after the Germans invaded Poland, with whom both
Britain and France had pledged guarantees (see Polish
September Campaign 1939).
Soon after, on September 17, the Soviet Union invaded
Poland from the east, as had been agreed to between Hitler's
Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, and his Soviet
counterpart, Vyacheslav Molotov. Under this joint attack Poland fell quickly, with
last large operational units surrendering October 5 (However
Poland was fighting to the end of the war, contributing
much to the final defeat of Nazi Germany).
Germany on the one hand, and France and Britain on the
other, settled into a period of quiet maneuvering while
they mobilized for conflict. This relatively non-confrontational
period between the major powers lasted until May, 1940,
and was known as the Phony War. Several other countries,
however, were drawn into the conflict at this time. The
USSR conquered the Baltic, and also attacked Finland but
fought it to a stalemate in the Winter War. Germany invaded
Denmark and Norway, ostensibly as a defensive maneuver
against potential British occupation of those countries.
Germany finally ended the Phony War when it turned west.
In a sweeping invasion of the Low Countries that bypassed
French fortifications along the Maginot Line, Germany
conquered Belgium and the Netherlands then turned the
might of its army on France. France fell unexpectedly
quickly, leaving Britain to stand alone against Germany.
Fortunately for Britain, much of its ground forces escaped
capture in the final days of that campaign through a heroic
naval rescue from the French harbor of Dunkirk.
Britain's resistance to the threat of German invasion
was dogged. An outnumbered RAF fought a long, ultimately
successful airwar with the Luftwaffe during the early
days of the war, a conflict known as the Battle of Britain.
London was later heavily bombed, as were many industrial
cities such as Birmingham and Coventry, and strategically
important cities, such as the naval base at Plymouth.
In reprisal for the bombing of Lubeck in 1942, Hermann Goering launched the Baedeker Blitz, a campaign of morale-destroying
bombings aimed at many beautiful English cities of little
military importance such as Exeter, Bath and Norwich.
Britain's supply lines with America were severely impacted
by the German use of U-boats to sink both military and
mercantile shipping in the Battle of the Atlantic.
On June 22, 1941, the Germans launched a surprise invasion,
codenamed Operation Barbarossa, against their erstwhile
Russian allies. The German Army pushed deep into Russia,
overrunning the Red Army at times. But with the capture
of Moscow apparently imminent, Hitler suddenly ordered
his generals to divert their main thrust south in order
to conquer Ukraine. This diversion cost the German Army
valuable time; by the time they again set their sights
on Moscow, the armored assault was slowed by the autumn
mud, and then stopped cold when the Russian winter struck.
The German army, which had not expected such a prolonged
campaign, suffered great loss of life as the chilling
winds and lack of planning took their toll.
The next spring the German army continued to push forward,
and in November 1942, with the German army at the "gates
of Stalingrad", Moscow only 100 miles away, and the oil
fields of Grozny in reach, the Red Army held strong. Factors
such as indecision by Hitler, dissent among the higher
ranked German officers, a long distance to their supplies
and a second Russian winter, combined to result in a prolonged
battle in the streets of Stalingrad. Heavy losses affected
both sides in the battle for Stalingrad, also known as
the greatest military bloodbath in recorded history. An
estimated 2 million people perished in this battle, including
500,000 civilians. It was the first major defeat of the
German army, and they never regained their momentum, allowing
the Russian armies to eventually chase the Germans all
the way back to Berlin.
The Germans also suffered defeat at the hands of the British
in North Africa in late 1942. In the two battles at El
Alamein in June and late October - early November, the
British under General Montgomery pushed the Germans out
of Egypt, westward towards Tunisia. After American troops
landed in Algeria in Operation Torch, the Allies completely
pushed the Germans out of Africa in 1943.
The war in Asia
Japan had invaded China in the early 1930s and had been
actively engaged in military action there since 1937.
In an effort to discourage Japan's war efforts in China,
the United States, Britain and the government in exile
of the Netherlands(still in control of oil-rich Indonesia),
stopped trading oil and steel (both war staples) with
Japan. Japan saw this as an act of aggression as it needed
the oil for its war efforts, and on December 7, 1941,
the Japanese navy attacked the American Fleet at Pearl
Harbor. Japan then invaded and conquered countries across
Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including the Dutch East
Indies (now Indonesia).
At the same time Germany declared war on the United States,
drawing America into a two theater war. America had until
then remained out of the conflict, though providing military
aid to Britain through the Lend-Lease program.
The end of the war
Germany's power was eventually broken by the disastrous
Russian campaign, while the ultimately successful invasion
of France from the Normandy beachheads by the Western
allies on June 6, 1944 opened up a third front. Incessant
bombing of Germany's infrastructure and cities caused
great casualties and disruption. Internally, Hitler survived
a number of assassination attempts, the most serious was
the July 20 Plot in which Hitler was slightly injured.
In Operation Market Garden the allies attempted to capture
bridges, to open the way into Germany and liberate the
northern Netherlands. However the failure to capture the
bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem delayed the advance. When
all was lost for the Germans, Hitler committed suicide
in his bunker along with his lover, Eva Braun. The Russians
took Berlin, and Germany was partitioned by the Allies.
The final surrender documents were signed by General Alfred
Jodl on May 7, 1945. May 8 was declared V-E (Victory In
The Japanese expansion throughout the Pacific and Asia
was halted by their devastating defeat at the Battle of Midway, where they suffered crippling losses to their
carrier fleet. From then on the Japanese fought a defensive
war, as the U.S. began an island hopping campaign across
the Pacific. Hard-fought battles at Tarawa, Iwo Jima,
Okinawa, and others resulted in horrific casualties on
both sides, but the Japanese were finally driven back.
Faced with the loss of most of their experienced pilots,
the Japanese resorted to Kamikaze tactics in an attempt
to slow the U.S. advance. Meanwhile, Tokyo and other Japanese
cities suffered greatly from attacks by American bombers.
Japan finally surrendered after the cities Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, both industrial and civilian targets, were destroyed
by atomic bombs . The final surrender was signed September
2, 1945, on the battleship U.S.S. Missouri. Following
this period, General Douglas MacArthur established base
in Japan to oversee the postwar development of the country.
This period in Japanese history is known as the occupation.
Probably because of the example of World War I, compensation
was not demanded of the defeated nations. On the contrary,
a plan created by U. S. Secretary of State George Marshall,
the Economic Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall
Plan, meant billions of dollars being used by the US Congress
for the reconstruction of Europe. The portion of Europe
occupied by the Soviet Union did not participate in the
plan. At the same time, the United States consolidated
its military presence and links in Europe as preparation
against possible Soviet aggression.
|World War II Timeline - A year
by year summary of events
|The combatants after 1941 were:
Other Allied powers
- Soviet Union
- United Kingdom
- United States
- France -- Free French
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Other Axis Powers
- Germany -- Nazi Germany
|Major naval engagements of
World War Two
|Major figures of World War
|Major bombing campaigns of
World War Two
- "The Blitz"
|To learn more - use these online
Convoy HX72 und U-100
- Chronicles a U-boat attack on an allied merchant
convoy during the Battle of the Atlantic, and provides
a tribute to the merchant navy and merchant seamen during
World War 2.
Authority on World War II - A comprehensive collection
of authorities, directories, articles, education, community
related to the Second World War.
- Hospital Ships of Army Transport Service - During World War II the Army Transport Service operated a total of 24 hospital ships which were manned by "civilian" crews.
Normandy 44 - 90th US Division - Tribute to the Men
of the 90th US Infantry Division who liberated Periers
(France) in 1944
- Aviation in
Newfoundland and Labrador - A brief look at air and
army base development and World War Two/post-war operations.
Corregidor Memorial Foundation of New Mexico, Inc.
- To preserve the memory of the New Mexico defenders of
Bataan and Corregidor.
- The Battles of Winter
War - General and detailed information about the Finnish-Soviet
Winter War, November 30th 1939 - March 13th 1940
Black Watch - Personal biography, original photographs
and documents. Dedicated to the veterans of the "Chindits",
fighting behind the Japanese lines in Burma in 1944.
- Where Did Canada's Army Fight in World War II? - Canadian Army Troops Fought the Axis Powers in Europe and Asia
- Civvy street
in World War Two - Stories of civilian life in Bristol,
England during the Second World War. Includes related
links and image and audio galleries.
- 2d Infantry
Division in WW II - History of the Second Infantry
Division in World War Two. Includes battles, organic units,
medals earned, shoulder patches, statistics, veterans'
message board, and photo album.
- Drop Zone Virtual
Museum - A memorial of World War II through the first-person
accounts of airborne soldiers.
- Finding Granddad’s War -To discover the grandfather he never knew, Badger began tracking down dozens of World War II veterans from his grandfather's unit. Through their stories and recollections, Badger began to reconstruct a very personal vision of his grandfather and the war. Illustrations throughout.
- Dresden air raid.
Some information about the raid itself.
War Memoirs - Personal memories of the British 14th
Army campaign in Burma 1940-1945.
- In Hell
There Is A Place Called Death's Railway - Stanley
Willner's experience as a prisoner of war of the Japanese
at the River Kwai. Includes image gallery and links to
- Island Farm
POW CAMP 198 / Special Camp 11 - Island Farm German
POW CAMP 198, Special Camp 11.
- Kodiak Alaska Military
History - WWII and Cold War structures remaining on
Kodiak Island explained.
- US Army Special Operations in World War II - "Ranger units captured positions critical to the success of amphibious landings in the Mediterra-nean, France, and the Philippines. Partisans advised by American military personnel provided essential intelligence to American forces and harassed enemy troops in support of American operations in Italy, France, the Philippines, and Burma..."
for the History of World War II - Good allround presentations
by Professor Gerhard Rempel, Western New England College
- understandable for laymen.
of the Winter War in Finland - History and lessons
of the Winter War between Finland and Stalin's Red Army.
We Forget - A tribute to the author's father and other
veterans. Site includes photos of, and by, this gentleman,
who served with the Dutch army in Holland and Indonesia.
We Forget: World War II - Essays, pictures, timelines,
and more dealing with all aspects of WW II in all theatres.
Art Internet Database - An government-sponsored German
database of art objects either stolen by the Nazis or
for which no legal proprietor has been found.
of World War Two - A history of the Second World War
through maps. Includes critical battles and campaigns
such as Dunkirk, Barbarossa, Stalingrad, Kursk, D-Day,
Normandy, Berlin and others.
and Atrocities of the Second World War - "A compilation
of facts gathered from various sources including encyclopaedias,
almanacs, biographies, magazines and newspapers, and from
the many books published since the end of WWII"
Code Talkers - The United States Marine Corps employed
Navajo volunteers in communications security roles in
the Pacific Theater during World War Two. The Japanese
were never able to break the code when the Navajo spoke
in their native language. Includes articles and links.
- The Nazi Children's
Home Page - Norwegian self-help group for those whose
parents were members of a fascist or national socialistic
movement during the war.
Infantry Division - History of an American division
fighting in Germany during World War Two. Includes text
history, photo gallery, and annual reunion information.
1940 - Describes the German invasion, with Orders
of Battle, battle descriptions, historical background,
politics etc. It concentrates on the Norwegian side of
- On The Brink of War - "At daybreak on the first day of September, 1939, the residents
of Poland awakened to grave news..."
World War II Pages - A general WW II resource - Adolf
Hitler biography, leaders, important dates, books, casualty
figures and trivia.
Poster Girls of World War II - Posters of women and
girls used as propaganda during World War II
Raid on Munich - The actual accounting of a bombing
raid over Germany during WW2, and the capture,imprisonment
and forced Death March that ensued.
Reminiscence of War 1939-45 - Personal memoir by James
Glass, a scot who served in the army in North Africa,
Palestine, Syria, Iraq (as Kingston's Column) and Iran.
- Ruins of
the Reich - Video tour traces the rise and fall of
the Third Reich thru the ruins of its monuments and buildings.
Ruins include Hitler's Wolffs Lair hdqtrs and Mountain
retreat. Tannenburg, sub pens.
World War Posters - The planning, design and reception
of British Home Front propaganda posters of the Second
- Shadow's Folly
- Vehicle listings for participants in World War II. Tanks,
self-propelled tanks, half tracks, armored cars, etc.
of the 3rd Infantry Division, US Army - The official
website of The Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, US
Story of Oscar Schindler - A member of the Nazi Party,
a gambler, an alcoholic and a shameless womanizer of the
worst sort - and at the same time, one of the greatest,
if not the greatest, humane figure in the horrors of Holocaust.
- 50th Anniversary
of D-Day - US Army Rangers WWII veterans return to
Grandcamp, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, in Normandy,France,
for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in June 1994.
Armored Division - 12th Armored Division served in
Europe during WWII
- 6th Armored
Division . - Devoted to the history of the "Super
Sixth" 6th Armored Division, one of Patton's spearheading
units of the Third Army. Includes unit histories, personal
stories, and contact information about the post-war Association
and its final reunion in September 2000.
Combat Engineers of WWII - Formed in New England,
in 1943, it consisted mostly of men drafted in the New
England area. The former soldiers of this group have formed
the 150th Combat Engineer Battalion Association.
- The 70th Infantry
Division Association Home Page - A site dedicated
to the veterans of the 70th Infantry Division, the "Trailblazers".
The division served in France and Germany from Dec. 1944
to May 1945.
Infantry Regiment - Unit history of HQ Company, 2nd
Batallion, 112th Infantry Regiment. Normandy, liberation
of Paris, Huertgen Forest, Battle of Bulge. Casualty list,
citations and medals, bibliography, links.
Mountain Division's 85th Regiment - History of the
85th Mountain Infantry, prepared for the officers and
men who fought with the Regiment in Italy.
- Axis History Factbook - Information on the Axis nations of the Second World War - Germany & Austria.
American Airborne's German Heritage - The German roots
of the United States' airborne units of World War Two.
- Tule Lake Pilgrimage
- July 2000 - A living reminder of the injustices
committed against Japanese Americans during World War
Gardening in W.W. II America - A multimedia presentation
containing historical information about "Victory Gardening"
efforts in support of the war.
- War Gunner
- Photos, links and information on the British Expeditionary
Forces, Vimy Ridge, Dunkirk and North Africa from the
perspective of an Oxfordshire soldier. Also includes a
discussion of army cooking and recipes.
Point Atlas - European Theater - A collection of 83
maps which chart the progress of the war in Europe and
World War II Page - World War II essays, book reviews,
timelines and links.
World at War - Detailed and well-illustrated day-by-day
history of the war, with links to other sites appropriate
to each event. Contains a discussion forum and message
- World War
2 Battlefield Relics - See what relics can still be
found from World War 2 in this virtual museum.
War 2 in Yugoslavia - Orders of battle and other resources
relating to the war in the Balkans.
- World War II -
Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I - A history of United
States Air Force prisoners of war at Stalag Luft I, a
World War II prison camp located in Barth, Germany. Includes
personal stories, photos, artwork, books, documents, and
the secret camp newsletter.
- World War
II Factbook - A searchable chronology of critical
military and political events during the war with coverage
of special topics such as casualties, ship losses and
the Nuremberg trial. Includes bibliography and links to
War II in Europe Timeline - Complete WW II in Europe
timeline with photos, text and over 100 links.
War II Marines - A site for WW II Marines. Numerous
links. Sites for finding your buddies, history, message
War II Memoirs-3rd Infantry Division - Graphic Official
Photos and descriptions of S/Sgt. William Heller of the
3rd Infantry Division, 3rd Signal Company. From North
Africa, Sicily, Italy Southern France, and Germany in
World War II.
War II: The Homefront - A ThinkQuest site devoted
to World WarII
War Two: America's time - If bit were not for the
intervention of the United States, Adolf Hitler would
have taken complete control of Europe, and maybe even
War Two Links - Subject directory on the Second World
War arranged by nationality and topics. Includes links
to websites, books, and videos.
- WWII Resources
- Comprehensive collection of primary source materials,
some on-site, some links to elsewhere.
for "World War II" on
View and browse through some wonderful aviation art.
The only museum in the Nation devoted to the history of
the military forces of the State of Texas. An important
tool for informing citizens about the values and events
that shape our modem world.
U.S. Aces of World
Brief biographies and stories of high scoring
American fighter pilots of World War Two.
Books about World War Two