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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German battleship Schleswig-Holstein, shelling Westerplatte, September 1, 1939.
The Invasion of Poland, 1939, which precipitated World War II, was carried out by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and a small German-allied Slovak contingent.The invasion of Poland marked the start of World War II in Europe, as Poland's western allies, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, declared war on Germany on September 3, soon followed by France, South Africa and Canada, among others. The invasion began on September 1, 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, and ended October 6, 1939, with Germany and the Soviet Union occupying the entirety of Poland. Although the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany soon after Germany attacked Poland, very little direct military aid was provided (see Phoney War and Western betrayal). Following a German-staged "Polish attack" on August 31, 1939, on September 1, German forces invaded Poland from the north, south, and west. Spread thin defending their long borders, the Polish armies were soon forced to withdraw eastward.


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Pennsylvania leading battleship Colorado and cruisers Louisville, Portland, and Columbia into Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, January 1945
A battleship is a large, heavily armored warship with a main battery consisting of the largest calibre of guns. Battleships are larger, better armed, and better armored than cruisers and destroyers.Battleship design continually evolved to incorporate and adapt technological advances to maintain an edge. The word battleship was coined around 1794 and is a shortened form of line-of-battle ship, the dominant wooden sailing warship during the Age of Sail. The term came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, now referred to as pre-dreadnought battleships. In 1906 the launching of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design, and battleships constructed subsequently were referred to as dreadnoughts. Battleships were a potent symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. The global arms race in battleship construction in the early 20th century was one of the causes of World War I, which saw a clash of huge battle fleets at the Battle of Jutland. The Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s limited the number of battleships but did not end the evolution of design. Both the Allies and the Axis Powers deployed battleships of old construction and new during World War II.


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A United States Marine stands near some of the fighting positions on Hill 123 on "Edson
The Battle of Edson's Ridge, also known as the Battle of the Bloody Ridge, Battle of Raiders Ridge, and Battle of the Ridge, was a land battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II between Imperial Japanese Army and Allied (mainly United States Marine Corps) ground forces. It took place September 12–September 14, 1942 on Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands, and was the second of three separate major Japanese ground offensives in the Guadalcanal campaign.In the battle, U.S. Marines, under the overall command of U.S. Major General Alexander Vandegrift, repulsed an attack by the Japanese 35th Infantry Brigade, under the command of Japanese Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi. The Marines were defending the Lunga perimeter that guarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, which was captured from the Japanese by the Allies in landings on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942. Kawaguchi's unit was sent to Guadalcanal in response to the Allied landings with the mission of recapturing the airfield and driving the Allied forces from the island.


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USS Pennsylvania leading USS Colorado, USS Louisville, USS Portland, and USS Columbia into Lingayen Gulf before the landing on Luzon, Philippines in January 1945.
Credit: United States Navy
The battleship USS Pennsylvania leads USS Colorado, USS Louisville, USS Portland, and USS Columbia into Lingayen Gulf before the landing on Luzon, Philippines in January 1945. Battleships and other big gun naval vessels that served in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II were used primarily for offshore bombardment of enemy positions and as anti-aircraft screens for aircraft carriers.

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George Jones
Air Marshal Sir George Jones KBE, CB, DFC (18 October 1896 – 24 August 1992) was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He rose from being a private soldier in World War I to Air Marshal in 1948. He served as Chief of the Air Staff from 1942 to 1952, the longest continuous tenure of any RAAF chief. Jones was a surprise appointee to the Air Force’s top role, and his achievements in the position were coloured by a divisive relationship during World War II with his head of operations and nominal subordinate, Air Vice Marshal William Bostock. Jones first saw action as an infantryman in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, before transferring to the Australian Flying Corps the following year. Initially an air mechanic, he undertook flying training in 1917 and was posted to a fighter squadron in France, achieving seven victories to become an ace. After a short spell in civilian life following World War I, he joined the newly-formed RAAF in 1921, rising steadily through training and personnel commands prior to World War II.


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"I said, to the people of the Philippines whence I came, I shall return. Tonight, I repeat those words: I shall return!"
Douglas MacArthur, 30 March 1942

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
Timeline

1939
Invasion of Poland
Winter War

1940
Invasion of Denmark/Norway
Battle of France
Battle of Britain

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
Battle of Berlin
End in Europe
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Surrender of Japan

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Blitzkrieg
Cryptography
Equipment
Home Front
Military engagements
Production
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Technology

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

Aftermath
Effects
Casualties
Expulsion of Germans
Denazification
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
Kingdom of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia

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The Axis
Nazi Germany Germany
Kingdom of Italy Italy
Empire of Japan Japan
 Slovakia
Kingdom of Bulgaria Bulgaria
 Independent State of Croatia
Finland Finland
 Vichy France
Kingdom of Hungary (1920–1946) Hungary
Kingdom of Romania Romania
Thailand Thailand

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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 • 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) • 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 • Luxembourgers in the Wehrmacht
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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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