Portal:World War II

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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.

Featured article

The Mauthausen parade ground – a view towards the main gate
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".

Selected equipment

The Verdeja was a series of light tanks developed in Spain between 1938 and 1954 in an attempt to replace German Panzer I and Soviet T-26 tanks in Spanish service. The program was headed by Captain Félix Verdeja Bardales and led to the development of four prototype vehicles, including a self-propelled howitzer armed with a 75 mm gun. It was designed as an advanced light tank and was one of the first development programs which took into account survivability of the crew as opposed to the protection of the tank. The tank was influenced by several of the light tanks which it was intended to replace, including the Panzer I and T-26, both of which were originally used during the Spanish Civil War. The Verdeja was considered a superior tank to the T-26 after a lengthy testing period, yet was never put into mass production.Three light tank prototypes were manufactured between 1938 and 1942, including the Verdeja 1 and the Verdeja 2. Interest in the vehicle's development waned after the end of the Second World War. Despite attempts to fit a new engine in the Verdeja 2 and convert the Verdeja 1 into a self-propelled artillery piece, ultimately the program was unofficially canceled in favor of adopting the US M47 Patton Tank in 1954.

Selected battle

United States Marines wade ashore on Tulagi Island on August 7, 1942.
The Battle of Tulagi and Gavutu–Tanambogo was a land battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, between Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied (mainly United States (U.S.) Marine) ground forces. It took place August 7 – August 9, 1942, on the Solomon Islands, during the initial Allied landings in the Guadalcanal campaign.In the battle, U.S. Marines, under the overall command of U.S. Major General Alexander Vandegrift, successfully landed and captured the islands of Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo among which the Japanese Navy had constructed a naval and seaplane base. The landings were fiercely resisted by the Japanese Navy troops who, outnumbered and outgunned by the Allied forces, fought and died almost to the last man.At the same time that the landings on Tulagi and Gavutu–Tanambogo were taking place, Allied troops were also landing on nearby Guadalcanal, with the objective of capturing an airfield under construction by Japanese forces. In contrast to the intense fighting on Tulagi and Gavutu, the landings on Guadalcanal were essentially unopposed. The landings on both Tulagi and Guadalcanal initiated the six-month long Guadalcanal campaign and a series of combined-arms battles between Allied and Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area.

Selected picture

Credit: Bill Genaust

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is a historic photograph taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal. It depicts five United States Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the flag of the United States atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.Bill Genaust, who was standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder with Rosenthal about thirty yards from the flag raising, was shooting motion-picture film during the flag-raising. His film captures the flag raising at an almost-identical angle to Rosenthal's famous shot.

Selected biography

Hovhannes Bagramyan
Hovhannes Khachatury Bagramyan was a Soviet Armenian military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union. During World War II, Bagramyan was the first non-Slavic military officer to become a commander of a Front. He was among several Armenians in the Soviet Army who held the highest proportion of high ranking officers in the Soviet military during the war,and one of fifty Armenians who attained the rank of General in the same period.Bagramyan's experience in military planning as a chief of staff allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany. He was given his first command of a unit in 1942, and in November 1943 received his most prestigious command as the commanding officer (CO) of the 1st Baltic Front. As the CO of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives which moved westward and pushed German forces out of the Baltic republics.

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Selected quote

"The people of England will curse themselves for having preferred ruin from Churchill to peace from Hitler."
William Joyce, 2 August 1940


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
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
Australia Australia
Belgium Belgium
Brazil Brazil
British Raj British India
Canada Canada
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
Egypt Egypt
El Salvador El Salvador
France France (after June 16, 1940: Free France Free France)
Greece Greece
Netherlands Netherlands
New Zealand New Zealand
Norway Norway
Commonwealth of the Philippines Philippines
Poland Poland
Taiwan Republic of China
South Africa South Africa
Soviet Union Soviet Union
United Kingdom United Kingdom
United States United States
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia


The Axis
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Empire of Japan Japan
Finland Finland
France Vichy France
Hungary Hungary
Kingdom of Italy Italy
Nazi Germany Germany
Romania Romania
Thailand Thailand
Slovakia Slovakia


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