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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A propaganda poster calling on Australians to avenge the sinking of Australian Hospital Ship Centaur by the Japanese submarine I-177 in May 1943
Although Australia was remote from the main battlefronts, there was considerable Axis naval activity in Australian waters during World War II. A total of 54 Axis ships, both German and Japanese warships and submarines, entered Australian waters between 1940 and 1945 and attacked ships, ports and other targets. Among the best-known attacks are the sinking of HMAS Sydney by a German raider in November 1941, the bombing of Darwin by Japanese naval aircraft in February 1942, and the Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in May 1942. In addition, many Allied merchant ships were damaged or sunk off the Australian coast by submarines and mines. Japanese submarines also shelled several Australian ports and submarine-based aircraft flew over several Australian capital cities.The Axis threat to Australia developed gradually and until 1942 was limited to sporadic attacks by German armed merchantmen. The level of Axis naval activity peaked in the first half of 1942 when Japanese submarines conducted anti-shipping patrols off Australia's coast, and Japanese naval aviation attacked several towns in northern Australia.


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Char T-34.jpg
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1941 to 1958. It is widely regarded to have been the world's best tank when the Soviet Union entered World War II, and although its armor and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it is credited as the war's most effective, efficient and influential design.First produced at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukraine), it was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout World War II, and widely exported afterwards. It was the most-produced tank of the war, and the second most-produced tank of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series.A 1996 publication showed that the T-34 was still in service with twenty-seven countries.The T-34 was developed from the BT series of fast tanks, and was intended to replace both the BT-5 and BT-7 tanks and the T-26 infantry tank in service (Zaloga & Grandsen 1984:66, 111).At its introduction, it was the tank with the best balanced attributes of firepower, mobility, and protection in existence, although initially its battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, lack of radios and poor tactical employment.


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USS Enterprise (center left), maneuvering radically under aerial attack and afire on August 24, 1942. Anti-aircraft shell bursts directed at the attacking Japanese dive bombers are visible above the carrier.
The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons (also known as the Battle of the Stewart Islands and, in Japanese sources, as the Second Battle of the Solomon Sea (第二次ソロモン海戦), took place on August 24–August 25, 1942, and was the third carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and the second major engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Guadalcanal Campaign. As at Coral Sea and Midway, the ships of the two adversaries were never in direct visual range of each other. Instead, all of the attacks by either side were carried out by either carrier or land-based aircraft.After several damaging air attacks, the naval surface combatants from both the United States of America (U.S.) and Japan withdrew from the battle area without either side securing a clear victory. However, the U.S. and its allies apparently gained a greater tactical and strategic advantage from the battle than Japan because the Allied forces suffered fewer losses than the Japanese, who lost a significant number of aircraft and experienced aircrews.


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Calisthenics at Manzanar
Credit: Ansel Adams
Female internees practicing calisthenics at Manzanar War Relocation Center, California. In 1943, Ansel Adams was invited to photograph the everyday life of the Japanese American internees in the camp. Adams' intent was to "show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, (…) had overcome the sense of defeat and despair by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment."

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Otto Moritz Walther Model was a German general and later field marshal during World War II. He is noted for his defensive battles in the latter half of the war, mostly on the Eastern Front but also in the west, and for his close association with Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He has been called the Wehrmacht's best defensive tactician. Although he was a hard-driving, aggressive panzer commander early in the war, Model became best known as a practitioner of attrition warfare—his associate, General Erhard Raus, called it "zone defence".It emphasised strong fortifications, a reluctance to give ground (although not an absolute refusal to withdraw), and the importance of not allowing major enemy breakthroughs. This approach brought him much success, but his death in 1945 meant he would later be overshadowed by his rivals who advocated manoeuvre warfare.Model first came to Hitler's attention before World War II, but their relationship did not become especially close until 1942.


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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

Topics

World War II
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Prelude
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in Europe
in Asia

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

General timeline
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1939
Invasion of Poland
Winter War

1940
Invasion of Denmark/Norway
Battle of France
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1941
Invasion of the Soviet Union
Battle of Moscow
Attack on Pearl Harbor

1942
Battle of Midway
Battle of Stalingrad
Second Battle of El Alamein

1943
Battle of Kursk
Guadalcanal campaign
Invasion of Italy

1944
Battle of Normandy
Operation Bagration
Battle of Leyte Gulf
Operation Market Garden
Battle of the Bulge

1945
Battle of Iwo Jima
Battle of Okinawa
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End in Europe
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Blitzkrieg
Cryptography
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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
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Aftermath
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Expulsion of Germans
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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
Kingdom of Egypt Egypt
El Salvador El Salvador
French Third Republic France (after June 16, 1940: Free France Free France)
Kingdom of Greece Greece
Netherlands Netherlands
Dominion of New Zealand New Zealand
Norway Norway
Commonwealth of the Philippines Philippines
Poland Poland
Republic of China (1912–1949) Republic of China
Union of South Africa South Africa
Soviet Union Soviet Union
United Kingdom United Kingdom
United States United States
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The Axis
Kingdom of Bulgaria Bulgaria
 Croatia
Empire of Japan Japan
Finland Finland
 Vichy France
Kingdom of Hungary (1920–1946) Hungary
Kingdom of Italy Italy
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Kingdom of Romania Romania
Thailand Thailand
 Slovakia

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

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Battle of Kiev (1943)Battle of Ko ChangColditz CastleSpiritual national defenceTuskegee 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 Mittelmeer • Operation Richard • Otto Program • Martin Poppel • Roehm's Avengers • 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 Cavalry Brigade • 1st Jaeger Brigade • 2nd Jaeger Brigade • 168th Rifle Division (Soviet Union) • 71st Rifle Division (Soviet Union) • Group Oinonen • Operation Vesuvius (currently redirect) • Capture of Kassala (currently redirect) • Battle of Pankow • Brandenburg–Rathenow Offensive • Japanese internment of European civilians during World War II • Miranda de Ebro concentration camp • 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 (1940) • Febvin-Palfart massacre (1940) • German massacres of French colonial prisoners of war • 1941 Nord-Pas de Calais miners' strike • Spitfire funds • Good War (historiography) • Nederlandsche Oost Compagnie • West African Pioneers • 2nd Marching Battalion of Ubangui-Shari • Bataillon du Pacifique • Persecution of freemasons in Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe • Mohammed El Maadi • Légion Français des Combattants
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Princess Irene BrigadeBattle of Bay of ViipuriDemilitarisationFree Dutch ForcesMartha DesrumeauxMochitsura HashimotoOperation CascadeOperation Tan No. 2Burma Area ArmyBattle of CourlandBattle of Munda PointBattle of Voronezh (1943)Drive on Munda PointFirst Battle of KharkovRace to BerlinMarie FourcadeDonald BlakesleeOperation NordwindBattle of Skerki BankMichael Sinclair (soldier)Battle of MaastrichtBattle of ZeelandLandings on RendovaNew Georgia counterattackOperation WaterfallPetsamo–Kirkenes OffensiveAmerican-British-Dutch-Australian CommandBattle of Viru HarborBattle of Wickham AnchorageWestern New Guinea campaign (and the individual battles of the campaign) • Operation BlockbusterOperation CooneyThe Holocaust in FranceKnowledge of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and German-occupied EuropeFrancoist Spain and the HolocaustJapan campaignVolcano and Ryukyu Islands campaignmore
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Twelfth Army (United Kingdom)4th Airborne Division (United Kingdom)5th Airborne Division (United Kingdom)XVI Corps (United Kingdom)Battle of DakarBattle of the Lys (1940)Battle of ZeelandBattle of the GrebbebergFranco-Thai WarBattle of Ko ChangSwitzerland during the World WarsBerthe FraserWestern Allied invasion of GermanyLXXXIII Army Corps (Wehrmacht)
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Battle of Borneo (1941–42)Battle of ImphalGarderegiment Fuseliers Prinses IreneJapanese invasion of French IndochinaJapanese invasion of ThailandLuxembourg in World War IINew Georgia CampaignOperation CartwheelOperation ChastiseRoyal Netherlands Motorized Infantry BrigadeSolomon Islands campaignBattle of RadomSeishin OperationMoravia–Ostrava OffensivePanzerjäger
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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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