Portal:World War II

The World War II Portal

Clockwise from top left: Commonwealth troops in the desert; Chinese civilians being buried alive by Japanese soldiers; Soviet forces during a winter offensive; Carrier-borne Japanese planes readying for take off; Soviet troops fighting in Berlin; A German submarine under attack.

World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict. It began as the joining of what had initially been two separate conflicts, with the first beginning in Asia in 1937 (the Second Sino-Japanese War) and the other beginning in Europe in 1939 (the German and Soviet invasion of Poland).

The war split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history, and placed the participants in a state of "total war", which erased the distinction between civil and military resources and resulted in the complete activation of a nation's economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort. Over 70 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.

The Allies won the war, and as a result, the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as the world's leading superpowers. This set the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 45 years. The United Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another such conflict. The self-determination spawned by the war accelerated decolonization movements in Asia and Africa, while Europe itself began moving toward integration.

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Mauthausen concentration camp (known from the summer of 1940 as Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp) grew to become a large group of Nazi concentration camps that were built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, roughly 20 km east of the city of Linz.Initially a single camp at Mauthausen, it expanded over time to become one of the largest labour camp complexes in German-controlled Europe.Apart from the four main sub-camps at Mauthausen and nearby Gusen, more than 50 sub-camps, located throughout Austria and southern Germany, used the inmates as slave labour. Several subordinate camps of the KZ Mauthausen complex included quarries, munitions factories, mines, arms factories and Me 262 fighter-plane assembly plants.In January 1945, the camps, directed from the central office in Mauthausen, contained roughly 85,000 inmates.The death toll remains unknown, although most sources place it between 122,766 and 320,000 for the entire complex. The camps formed one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany, and were the last ones to be liberated by the Western Allies or the Soviet Union. The two main camps, Mauthausen and Gusen I, were also the only two camps in the whole of Europe to be labelled as "Grade III" camps, which meant that they were intended to be the toughest camps for the "Incorrigible Political Enemies of the Reich".

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The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both the other competitors and more than met the Air Corps' expectations. Although Boeing lost the contract due to the prototype's crash, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing's design that they ordered thirteen B-17s. The B-17 Flying Fortress went on to enter full-scale production and was considered the first truly mass-produced large aircraft, eventually evolving through numerous design advancements, from B-17A to G.The B-17 was primarily employed in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial, civilian and military targets. The United States Eighth Air Force based in England and the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy complemented the RAF Bomber Command's nighttime area bombing in Operation Pointblank, to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for Operation Overlord. This machine was nicknamed the "Flying Fortress" because of its eight machine guns and three cannons.

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The Ardennes Offensive (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive on the Western Front and was launched towards the end of World War II. It was also Adolf Hitler's last offensive in the war. This offensive was called Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (Operation The Guard on the Rhine) by the German armed forces (Wehrmacht). It was officially named the Battle of the Ardennes by the U.S. Army, but it is known to the general public simply as the Battle of the Bulge. The “bulge” was the initial incursion the Germans put into the Allies’ line of advance, as seen in maps presented in contemporary newspapers.The offensive was launched in the Ardennes. The German offensive was supported by subordinate operations known as Unternehmen Bodenplatte, Unternehmen Greif, and Unternehmen Währung. Germany’s planned goal for these operations was to split the British and American Allied line in half, capturing Antwerp, Belgium, and then proceeding to encircle and destroy four Allied armies, forcing the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis Powers’ favor.

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Landing at the Battle of Normandy
Credit: U.S. Army's First Division
The Battle of Normandy (D-Day) is one of the best-known battles of World War II. The invasion force included 4000 landing craft, 130 warships for bombardment and 12,000 aircraft to support the landings. To convince the Germans the invasion would come to the Pas de Calais, the Allies prepared a massive deception plan, called Operation Fortitude. An entirely fictitious First U.S. Army Group was created, with fake buildings and equipment, and false radio messages were sent.

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Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky , September 30, 1895 December 5, 1977) was a Soviet military commander, promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943. He was the Soviet Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of Defense during World War II, as well as Minister of Defense from 1949 to 1953. As the Chief of the General Staff, Vasilevsky was responsible for the planning and coordination of almost all decisive Soviet offensives, from the Stalingrad counteroffensive to the assault on East Prussia and Königsberg.Vasilevsky started his military career during the First World War, earning the rank of captain by 1917. At the beginning of the October Revolution and the Civil War he was conscripted into the Red Army, taking part in the Polish–Soviet War. After the war, he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a regimental commander by 1930. In this position, he showed great skill in the organization and training of his troops. Vasilevsky's talent did not go unnoticed, and in 1931 he was appointed a member of the Directorate of Military Training. In 1937, following Stalin's Great Purge, he was promoted to General Staff officer.

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"The moment the first American soldier sets foot on the Japanese mainland, all prisoners of war will be shot."
Hideki Tojo, June, 1945


World War II
Theatres Main events Specific articles Participants

in Europe
in Asia

Main theatres
Eastern Europe
Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa
Asia and the Pacific

General timeline

Invasion of Poland
Winter War

Invasion of Denmark/Norway
Battle of France
Battle of Britain

Invasion of the Soviet Union
Battle of Moscow
Attack on Pearl Harbor

Battle of Midway
Battle of Stalingrad
Second Battle of El Alamein

Battle of Kursk
Guadalcanal campaign
Invasion of Italy

Battle of Normandy
Operation Bagration
Battle of Leyte Gulf
Operation Market Garden
Battle of the Bulge

Battle of Iwo Jima
Battle of Okinawa
Battle of Berlin
End in Europe
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Surrender of Japan


Home Front
Military engagements

Civilian impact and atrocities
Nanking Massacre
The Holocaust
Siege of Leningrad
Bataan Death March
Dutch famine of 1944
Bengal famine of 1943
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Unit 731
Strategic bombings
Comfort women
Allied war crimes
German war crimes
Japanese war crimes

Expulsion of Germans
Cold War
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Decline of the British Empire

The Allies
British India
El Salvador
France (after June 16, 1940: Free France)
New Zealand
Republic of China
South Africa
Soviet Union
United Kingdom
United States


The Axis
 Independent State of Croatia
 Vichy France


Things you can do

From the World War II task force of the Military history WikiProject:

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...to referencing and citation   ...to coverage and accuracy   ...to structure   ...to grammar   ...to supporting materials 
Popular pages
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Battle of Kiev (1943) Battle of Ko Chang Colditz Castle Spiritual national defence Tuskegee Airmen
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Battle of Uhtua-Kiestinki Battles of Repola-Rukajärvi Battle of Siiranmäki Battle of Łuck Battle of Równe Battle of Włodzimierz Wołyński Battle of Lubartów Battle of Miedniki Battle of Jodła Francis Blanchain Shinshou Draenger Christer Lyst Hansen Ove Kampman League for Combat Policy Julien Meline Operation Bigot Operation Mittelmeer Operation Richard Otto Program Martin Poppel Roehm's Avengers Dorothy Tartiere Poul Bruun Raoul Boulanger Serge Asher-Ravanel Battle of West Ukraine (1941) Battle of Zunyi Liberation of Denmark (currently redirect) Operation Vado (currently redirect) Finnish 19th Division (Continuation War) Finnish 11th Division (Continuation War) Finnish VII Corps (Continuation War) Finnish VI Corps (Continuation War) Finnish IV Corps (Continuation War) Finnish Cavalry Brigade 1st Jaeger Brigade 2nd Jaeger Brigade Finnish 1st Division (Continuation War) 168th Rifle Division (Soviet Union) 71st Rifle Division (Soviet Union) Group Oinonen Operation Vesuvius (currently redirect) Capture of Kassala (currently redirect) Liberation of Lille Battle of Pankow Brandenburg–Rathenow Offensive Japanese internment of European civilians during World War II Miranda de Ebro concentration camp The Holocaust in the Netherlands (current redirect) German occupation of the Netherlands (current redirect) Axis occupation of Monaco Soviet home front during World War II Labour Charter (Vichy France) Berles-Monchel and Aubigny-en-Artois massacres Febvin-Palfart massacre 1941 Nord-Pas de Calais miners' strike
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Princess Irene Brigade Battle of Bay of Viipuri Demilitarisation Free Dutch Forces Martha Desrumeaux Mochitsura Hashimoto Operation Cascade Operation Tan No. 2 Burma Area Army Battle of Courland Battle of Munda Point Battle of Voronezh (1943) Drive on Munda Point First Battle of Kharkov Race to Berlin Marie Fourcade Victor Strydonck de Burkel Donald Blakeslee Operation Nordwind Battle of Skerki Bank Michael Sinclair (soldier) Battle of Maastricht Battle of Zeeland Landings on Rendova New Georgia counterattack Operation Waterfall Petsamo–Kirkenes Offensive American-British-Dutch-Australian Command Battle of Viru Harbor Battle of Wickham Anchorage Western New Guinea campaign (and the individual battles of the campaign) Operation Blockbuster Operation Cooney The Holocaust in France Knowledge of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe Francoist Spain and the Holocaust Japan campaign more
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Twelfth Army (United Kingdom) 4th Airborne Division (United Kingdom) 5th Airborne Division (United Kingdom) XVI Corps (United Kingdom) Battle of Dakar Battle of the Lys (1940) Battle of Zeeland Battle of the Grebbeberg Franco-Thai War Battle of Ko Chang Switzerland during the World Wars Berthe Fraser Western Allied invasion of Germany LXXXIII Army Corps (Wehrmacht)
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Battle of Borneo (1941–42) Battle of Imphal Garderegiment Fuseliers Prinses Irene Japanese invasion of French Indochina Japanese invasion of Thailand Luxembourg in World War II New Georgia Campaign Operation Cartwheel Operation Chastise Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade Solomon Islands campaign Battle of Radom Seishin Operation Moravia–Ostrava Offensive Panzerjäger
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Tobrouk (WWII) [pt] 5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment [ru] Novorossiysk-Taman Operation [ru] 1943 Novorossiysk Operation [ru] 1943 Air Battles over Kuban [ru] Battle of Rostov (1943) [ru] Battle of Olshansky [ru] Nalchik-Ordzhonikidzevskaya Operation [ru] Bukrinsky Landing [ru] Cape Tarhan Landing [ru] 1942 Sudak Landing [ru] Mozdok-Malgobek Operation [ru] Alexander Sergeyevich Ksenofontov [ru] Henri de Vernejoul [fr] André Bergeret [fr] Battle of Nice [fr] Liberation de Saint-Malo [fr] Battle of Seuil Valley [fr] René-Jean-Paul Cassagne [fr] Cameroun's rallying to the Free French [fr] Battle of Bouno-Misaki [ja]

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