World War II
Germany’s war strategy was assumed by Hitler from the first. When the successful campaign against Poland failed to produce the desired peace accord with Britain, he ordered the army to prepare for an immediate offensive in the west. Bad weather made some of his reluctant generals postpone the western offensive. This in turn led to two major changes in planning. The first was Hitler’s order to forestall an eventual British presence in Norway by occupying that country and Denmark in April 1940. Hitler took a close personal interest in this daring operation. From this time onward his intervention in the detail of military operations grew steadily greater. The second was Hitler’s important adoption of General Erich von Manstein’s plan for an attack through the Ardennes (which began May 10) instead of farther north. This was a brilliant and startling success. The German armies reached the Channel ports (which they had been unable to reach during World War I) in 10 days. Holland surrendered after 4 days and Belgium after 16 days. Hitler held back General Gerd von Rundstedt’s tanks south of Dunkirk, thus enabling the British to evacuate most of their army, but the western campaign as a whole was amazingly successful. On June 10 Italy entered the war on the side of Germany. On June 22 Hitler signed a triumphant armistice with the French on the site of the Armistice of 1918.
Hitler hoped that the British would negotiate an armistice. When this did not happen, he proceeded to plan the invasion of Britain, together with the elimination of British air power. At the same time preparations were begun for the invasion of the Soviet Union, which in Hitler’s view was Britain’s last hope for a bulwark against German control of the continent. Then Mussolini invaded Greece, where the failures of the Italian armies made it necessary for German forces to come to their aid in the Balkans and North Africa. Hitler’s plans were further disrupted by a coup d’état in Yugoslavia in March 1941, overthrowing the government that had made an agreement with Germany. Hitler immediately ordered his armies to subdue Yugoslavia. The campaigns in the Mediterranean theatre, although successful, were limited, compared to the invasion of Russia. Hitler would spare few forces from Operation Barbarossa, the planned invasion of the Soviet Union.
The attack against the U.S.S.R. was launched on June 22, 1941. The German army advanced swiftly into the Soviet Union, corralling almost three million Russian prisoners, but it failed to destroy its Russian opponent. Hitler became overbearing in his relations with his generals. He disagreed with them about the object of the main attack, and he wasted time and strength by failing to concentrate on a single objective. In December 1941, a few miles before Moscow, a Russian counteroffensive finally made it clear that Hitler’s hopes of a single campaign could not be realized.
On December 7, the next day, the Japanese attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. Hitler’s alliance with Japan forced him to declare war on the United States. From this moment on his entire strategy changed. He hoped and tried (like his idol Frederick II the Great) to break what he deemed was the unnatural coalition of his opponents by forcing one or the other of them to make peace. (In the end, the “unnatural” coalition between Stalin and Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt did break up, but too late for Hitler.) He also ordered the reorganization of the German economy on a full wartime basis.
Meanwhile, Himmler prepared the ground for a “new order” in Europe. From 1933 to 1939 and in some instances even during the first years of the war, Hitler’s purpose was to expel the Jews from the Greater German Reich. In 1941 this policy changed from expulsion to extermination. The concentration camps created under the Nazi regime were thereby expanded to include extermination camps, such as Auschwitz, and mobile extermination squads, the Einsatzgruppen. Although Catholics, Poles, homosexuals, Roma (Gypsies), and the handicapped were targeted for persecution, if not outright extermination, the Jews of Germany, Poland, and the Soviet Union were by far the most numerous among the victims in German-occupied Europe some six million Jews were killed during the war. The sufferings of other peoples were only less when measured in their numbers killed.
At the end of 1942, defeat at El-Alamein and at Stalingrad and the American landing in French North Africa brought the turning point in the war, and Hitler’s character and way of life began to change. Directing operations from his headquarters in the east, he refused to visit bombed cities or to allow some withdrawals, and he became increasingly dependent on his physician, Theodor Morell, and on the large amounts and varieties of medicines he ingested. Yet Hitler had not lost the power to react vigorously in the face of misfortune. After the arrest of Mussolini in July 1943 and the Italian armistice, he not only directed the occupation of all important positions held by the Italian army but also ordered the rescue of Mussolini, with the intention that he should head a new fascist government. On the eastern front, however, there was less and less possibility of holding up the advance. Relations with his army commanders grew strained, the more so with the growing importance given to the SS (Schutzstaffel) divisions. Meanwhile, the general failure of the U-boat campaign and the bombing of Germany made chances of German victory very unlikely.
Battles - The Mesopotamian Front
This section contains details of the major actions fought on the Mesopotamian Front - present-day Iraq - during the First World War.
These include the many epic struggles fought along the banks of the River Tigris from the seemingly unstoppable advance of the British throughout 1915 to the resurgence of their Turk opposition in 1916 culminating in the British humiliation at Kut-al-Amara in April 1916.
British fortunes revived however with the appointment of Sir Frederick Stanley Maude as regional Commander-in-Chief, as success after success finally led to complete British victory in the region in October 1918.
Click here to view a map of pre-war Palestine and Mesopotamia.
|Capture of Basra||Opened 5 November 1914|
|Battle of Qurna||Opened 3 December 1914|
|Battle of Shaiba||Opened 11 April 1915|
|Capture of Amara||Opened 31 May 1915|
|Battle of Nasiriyeh||Opened 27 June 1915|
|Capture of Kut-al-Amara||Opened 28 September 1915|
|Battle of Es Sinn||Opened 28 September 1915|
|Battle of Ctesiphon||Opened 2 November 1915|
|Siege of Kut-al-Amara||Opened 7 December 1915|
|Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad||Opened 6 January 1916|
|Battle of the Wadi||Opened 13 January 1916|
|Battle of Hanna||Opened 21 January 1916|
|Battle of Dujaila||Opened 8 March 1916|
|First Battle of Kut||Opened 5 April 1916|
|Battle of Khanaqin||Opened June 1916|
|Second Battle of Kut||Opened 13 December 1916|
|Battle of Khadairi Bend||Opened 9 January 1917|
|Battle of Nahr-al-Kalek||Opened 26 February 1917|
|Capture of Baghdad||Opened 11 March 1917|
|Samarrah Offensive||Opened 13 March 1917|
|Seizure of Falluja||Opened 19 March 1917|
|Battle of Jebel Hamlin||Opened 25 March 1917|
|Battle of Shiala||Opened 11 April 1917|
|Battle of Istabulat||Opened 21 April 1917|
|Battle of the Boot||Opened 30 April 1917|
|Battle of Ramadi||Opened 28 September 1917|
|Capture of Tikrit||Opened 5 November 1917|
|Battle of Sharqat||Opened 29 October 1918|
Saturday, 22 August, 2009 Michael Duffy
A "Communication Trench" was a narrow trench constructed at an angle to a defensive trench to permit concealed access to the defensive trench.
- Did you know?
France’s military brothels: Hidden history of the First World War
Prostitution and war often go hand-in-hand. But this is perhaps most true of the First World War, where even the French government played a part in the sex industry – a legacy that continued almost to up to today.
“You could find anything you wanted in the brothels in the surrounding area and at the camps. It was a mêlée, a hard, dangerous and disgusting business. Fifty, sixty, up to a hundred men of all colours and races to see every day, all under the constant threat of air raids and bombardments.”
These are the words of Dr Léon Bizard in his memoirs of the First World War. He was describing the daily routine of a hidden army operating in the shadows of the one fighting on the front lines - the thousands of sex workers that catered to the soldiers of the Great War.
‘Where there are soldiers, pimps quickly follow’
Prostitution flourished from the moment fighting began in the summer of 1914 – supply rising to meet the demand of soldiers who, far from their families and plunged into the hell of war, found themselves in need of female companionship.
“You can die at any moment, from one second to the next. When there is the opportunity to respond to desire, there are no restraints,” explains Lieutenant Colonel Christian Benoit, author of a book on the military and prostitution entitled ‘The Soldier and the Whore’.
For centuries, soldiers and sex workers have shared history, he tells FRANCE 24. In fact, he says, they are inseparable.
"This is explained by the fact that the armies are groups of young, unmarried men who have the need occasionally to be with a woman, not always for sex by the way, but also for company.
“This mass of men provides clients for prostitution. Where there are soldiers, pimps quickly follow.”
With the mobilisation of vaster quantities of men than had ever been seen before, the phenomenon reached new heights in the First World War.
Prostitution became rife in areas close to the front lines, as well as in nearby towns and villages, says Benoit.
“Some of the inhabitants took up prostitution. Others were also brought in. These were apocalyptic scenes, real slaughterhouses.”
Disease quickly spread – an estimated 20 to 30 percent of men contracted syphilis during the war, including both soldiers and the civilian population.
France’s military-run brothels
Soon, the military doctors became concerned and during the summer of 1915, the French army began taking measures to stop the scourge, setting up clinics to treat infected men.
“The doctors took the opportunity to interrogate the men to find out who they caught the disease from so they could find the woman in question and treat her,” says Benoit. “But [the men] were often unable to remember.”
Eventually, the French state took an even more drastic step and began taking direct control of, or even setting up, brothels across the country.
Known as Military Campaign Brothels (BMCs), they had already been used by the French army in the previous century during the conquest of Algeria – but never before on home soil.
These appeared in particular near training camps, often set up in the countryside “where there was no regulated prostitution or medical screening”, says Benoit.
Not all of France’s allies took such a tolerant view. The US, for example, banned its soldiers from visiting brothels entirely.
“They preferred to control their soldiers with the following system: any man who had sex had to report it within three hours at medical station for prophylactic treatment. If they got sick without following this procedure, they were fined half their pay.”
This approach did not always have the desired effect: when the Americans landed in France at the port of Saint-Nazaire, their attendance of illegal brothels contributed to the spread of syphilis in the city.
A lasting legacy
The end of the combat in November 1918 inevitably brought a decline in prostitution. But the French military’s dalliance in the murky world of prostitution continued long after the last shots of World War One were fired.
It continued to operate brothels right up until the end of the 20th Century.
“It was outside the law of course,” says Benoit, “but the use of subcontracting – the army would start a relation with a local pimp who would supply the girls – gave the system its ambiguity.”
BMCs were used by the army in North Africa and Germany during the Second World War and, despite the outlawing of brothels in France in 1946, during the Indochina War of the late 40s and early 50s.
Right up until 1978, four BMCs were being operated in metropolitan France, serving the French Foreign Legion. The final state-run brothel -- in Kourou, French Guiana -- did not close its doors until 1995.
“A local pimp had filed a complaint for unfair competition,” explains Benoit.
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World War II: Women at War
For the nations who were deeply involved in World War II, the war effort was total, with women volunteering in huge numbers alongside men. At home, women filled traditionally male positions, taking both active and supporting positions in factories, government organizations, military auxiliaries, resistance groups, and more. While relatively few women were at the front lines as combatants, many found themselves the victims of bombing campaigns and invading armies. By the end of the war, more than 2 million women had worked in war industries. Hundreds of thousands had volunteered as nurses or members of home defense units, or as full-time members of the military. In the Soviet Union alone, some 800,000 women served alongside men in army units during the war. Collected here are images that capture some of what these women experienced and endured during the war. A note: Most of the captions are from the original sources from the 1940s, complete with the frequent use of the term "girl" to describe young women. (This entry is Part 13 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II)
Symbolic of the defense of Sevastopol, Crimea, is this Russian girl sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who, by the end of the war, had killed a confrimed 309 Germans -- the most successful female sniper in history. #
Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl looks through the lens of a large camera prior to filming the 1934 Nuremberg Rally in Germany. The footage would be composed into the 1935 film "Triumph of the Will", later hailed as one of the best propaganda films in history. #
Japanese women look for possible flaws in the empty shells in a factory in Japan, on September 30, 1941. #
Members of the Women's Army Corps (WAC) pose at Camp Shanks, New York, before leaving from New York Port of Embarkation on February 2, 1945. The women are with the first contingent of Black American WACs to go overseas for the war effort From left to right are, kneeling: Pvt. Rose Stone Pvt. Virginia Blake and Pfc. Marie B. Gillisspie. Second row: Pvt. Genevieve Marshall T/5 Fanny L. Talbert and Cpl. Callie K. Smith. Third row: Pvt. Gladys Schuster Carter T/4 Evelyn C. Martin and Pfc. Theodora Palmer. #
Woman workers inspect a partly inflated barrage balloon in New Bedford, Massachusetts on May 11, 1943. Each part of the balloon must be stamped by the worker who does the particular job, also by the work inspector of the division, and finally by the "G" inspector, who gives final approval. #
With some of New York's skyscrapers looming through clouds of gas, some U.S. army nurses at the hospital post at Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York, wear gas masks as they drill on defense precautions, on November 27, 1941. #
Three Soviet guerrillas in action in Russia during World War II. #
An Auxiliary Territorial Service girl crew, dressed in warm winter coats, works a searchlight near London, on January 19, 1943, trying to find German bombers for the anti-aircraft guns to hit. #
The German Aviatrix, Captain Hanna Reitsch, shakes hands with German chancellor Adolf Hitler after being awarded the Iron Cross second class at the Reich Chancellory in Berlin, Germany, in April 1941, for her service in the development of airplane armament instruments during World War II. In back, center is Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering. At the extreme right is Lt. Gen. Karl Bodenschatz of the German air ministry. #
The art assembly line of female students busily engaged in copying World War II propaganda posters in Port Washington, New York, on July 8, 1942. The master poster is hanging in the background. #
A group of young Jewish resistance fighters are being held under arrest by German SS soldiers in April/May 1943, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter. #
More and more girls are joining the Luftwaffe under Germany's total conscription campaign. They are replacing men transferred to the army to take up arms instead of planes against the advancing allied forces. Here, German girls are shown in training with men of the Luftwaffe, somewhere in Germany, on December 7, 1944. #
Specially chosen airwomen are being trained for police duties in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). They have to be quick-witted, intelligent and observant woman of the world - They attend an intensive course at the highly sufficient RAF police school - where their training runs parallel with that of the men. Keeping a man "in his place" - A WAAF member demonstrates self-defense on January 15, 1942. #
The first "Women Guerrilla" corps has just been formed in the Philippines and Filipino women, trained in their local women's auxiliary service, are seen here hard at work practicing on November 8, 1941, at a rifle range in Manila. #
Little known to the outside world, although they have been fighting fascist regimes since 1927, the Italian "Maquis" carry on their battle for freedom under the most hazardous conditions. Germans and fascist Italians are targets for their guns and the icy, eternally snow-clad peaks of the French-Italian border are their battlefield. This school teacher of the Valley of Aosta fights side-by-side with her husband in the "White Patrol" above the pass of Little Saint Bernard in Italy, on January 4, 1945. #
Women of the defense corps form a "V" for victory with crossed hose lines at a demonstration of their abilities in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on November 14, 1941. #
A nurse wraps a bandage around the hand of a Chinese soldier as another wounded soldier limps up for first aid treatment during fighting on the Salween River front in Yunnan Province, China, on June 22, 1943. #
Women workers groom lines of transparent noses for the A-20J attack bombers at Douglas Aircraft's in Long Beach, California, in October of 1942. #
American film actress Veronica Lake, illustrates what can happen to women war workers who wear their hair long while working at their benches, in a factory somewhere in America, on November 9, 1943. #
Ack-Ack Girls, members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), run to action at an anti-aircraft gun emplacement in the London area on May 20, 1941 when the alarm is sounded. #
Two women of the German anti-aircraft gun auxiliary operating field telephones during World War II. #
Young Soviet girl tractor-drivers of Kirghizia (now Kyrgyzstan), efficiently replace their friends, brothers and fathers who went to the front. Here, a girl tractor driver sows sugar beets on August 26, 1942. #
Mrs. Paul Titus, 77-year-old air raid spotter of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, carries a gun as she patrols her beat, on December 20, 1941. Mrs. Titus signed-up the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. "I can carry a gun any time they want me to," she declared. #
Steel-helmeted, uniformed Polish women march through the streets of Warsaw to aid in defense of their capital after German troops had started their invasion of Poland, on September 16, 1939. #
Nurses are seen clearing debris from one of the wards in St. Peter's Hospital, Stepney, East London, on April 19, 1941. Four hospitals were among the buildings hit by German bombs during a full scale attack on the British capital. #
Life magazine photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White wears high-altitude flying gear in front of an Allied Flying Fortress airplane during a World War II assignment in February 1943. #
Polish women are led through woods to their executions by German soldiers sometime in 1941. #
These Northwestern University girls brave freezing weather to go through a Home Guard rifle drill on the campus in Evanston, Illinois on January 11, 1942. From left to right are: Jeanne Paul, age 18, of Oak Park, Illinois, Virginia Paisley, 18, of Lakewood, Ohio Marian Walsh, 19, also from Lakewood Sarah Robinson, 20, of Jonesboro, Arkansas, Elizabeth Cooper, 17, of Chicago Harriet Ginsberg, 17. #
As they await assignment to their permanent field installations, these Army nurses go through gas mask drill as part of the many refresher courses being given them at a provisional headquarters hospital training area somewhere in Wales, on May 26, 1944. #
Movie actress Ida Lupino, is a lieutenant in the Women's Ambulance and Defense Corps and is shown at a telephone switch board in Brentwood, California, on January 3, 1942. In an emergency she can reach every ambulance post in the city. It is in her house and from here she can see the whole Los Angeles area. #
The first contingent of U.S. Army nurses to be sent to an Allied advanced base in New Guinea carry their equipment as they march single file to their quarter on November 12, 1942. The first four in line from right are: Edith Whittaker, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Ruth Baucher, Wooster, O. Helen Lawson, Athens, Tennessee, and Juanita Hamilton, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, #
With practically every member present, the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, District of Columbia, hears its second woman speak other than a member, as Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, wife of China's Generalissimo, pleads for maximum efforts to halt Japan's war aims on February 18, 1943. #
U.S. nurses walk along a beach in Normandy, France on July 4, 1944, after they had waded through the surf from their landing craft. They are on their way to field hospitals to care for the wounded allied soldiers. #
A French man and woman fight with captured German weapons as both civilians and members of the French Forces of the Interior took the fight to the Germans, in Paris in August of 1944, prior to the surrender of German forces and the Liberation of Paris on August 25. #
A German soldier, wounded by a French bullet, is disarmed by two members of the French Forces of the interior, one a woman, during street fighting that preceded the entry of allied troops into Paris in 1944. #
Elisabeth "Lilo" Gloeden stands before judges, on trial for being involved in the attempt on Adolf Hitler's life in July 1944. Elisabeth, along with her husband and mother, was convicted of hiding a fugitive from the July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler. The three were executed by beheading on November 30th, 1944, their executions much-publicized later as a warning to others who might plot against the German ruling party. #
An army of Romanian civilians, men and women, both young and old, dig anti-tank ditches in a border area, on June 22, 1944, in readiness to repel Soviet armies. #
Miss Jean Pitcaithy, a nurse with a New Zealand Hospital Unit stationed in Libya, wears goggles to protect her against whipping sands, on June 18, 1942. #
62nd Stalingrad Army on the streets of Odessa (The 8th Guard of the Army of General Chuikov on the streets of Odessa) in April of 1944. A large group of Soviet soldiers, including two women in front, march down a street. #
A girl of the resistance movement is a member of a patrol to rout out the Germans snipers still left in areas in Paris, France, on August 29, 1944. The girl had killed two Germans in the Paris Fighting two days previously. #
Grande Guillotte of Normandy, France, pays the price for being a collaborationist by having her hair sheared by avenging French patriots on July 10, 1944. Man at right looks on with grim satisfaction at the unhappy girl. #
Women and children, some of over 40,000 concentration camp inmates liberated by the British, suffering from typhus, starvation and dysentery, huddle together in a barrack at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in April 1945. #
Some of the S.S. women whose brutality was equal to that of their male counterparts at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Bergen, Germany, on April 21, 1945. #
A Soviet woman, harvesting a field torn by shells only a short time ago, shakes her fist at German prisoners of war as they march eastward under Soviet guard in the U.S.S.R., on February 14, 1944. #
In this June 19, 2009 photo Susie Bain poses in Austin, Texas, with a 1943 photo of herself when she was one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II. Bain is one of 300 living WASP members that hoped at the time to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill passed and on March 10, 2010, more than 200 WASP veterans attended a ceremony to be presented with the Congressional Gold Medal. #
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Gallery for Italian Front, Second World War - History
For almost six years from 1939 to 1945 Britain fought the toughest war it had ever experienced. World War II was total war - every person, every business, every service was involved.
Britain did not fight alone, the war also involved many countries. World War II involved 61 countries with 1.7 billion people (three quarters of the world's population).
Fifty million people lost their lives and hundreds of millions people were injured.
How did the Second World War start?
After World War One ended in 1918, Germany had to give up land and was banned from having armed forces.
In 1933 the German people voted for a leader named Adolf Hitler, who led a political party in Germany called the National Socialists or Nazis. Hitler promised to make his country great again and quickly began to arm Germany again and to seize land from other countries.
Shortly before 5am on Friday 1st September, 1939, German forces stormed the Polish frontier. Tanks and motorised troops raced into the country over ground, supported by Stuka dive bombers overhead. A total of 1.25 million Germans soldiers swept into Poland
When did World War Two begin?
World War Two in Europe began on 3rd September 1939, when the Prime Minister of Britain, Neville Chamberlain, declared war on Germany. It involved many of the world's countries.
Click on the play button below to hear Chamberlain's speech (now the full speech)
Why did the Second World War start?
The Second World War was started by Germany in an unprovoked attack on Poland . Britain and France declared war on Germany after Hitler had refused to abort his invasion of Poland.
End of Second World War
When did World War II end?
© Copyright - please read
All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the author Mandy Barrow.
World War II
Only in June 1940, when France was about to fall and World War II seemed virtually over, did Italy join the war on Germany’s side, still hoping for territorial spoils. Mussolini announced his decision—one bitterly opposed by his foreign minister, Galeazzo Ciano—to huge crowds across Italy on June 10. Italy’s initial attack on the French Alps in June 1940 was quickly cut short by the Franco-German armistice. The real war for Italy began only in October, when Mussolini attacked Greece from Albania in a disastrous campaign that obliged the Germans, in 1941, to rescue the Italian forces and take over Greece themselves. The Germans also had to lend support in the hard-fought campaigns of North Africa, where eventually the decisive second battle of El-Alamein (October 1942) destroyed the Italian position and led to the surrender of all of Italy’s North African forces in May 1943. Meanwhile, the Italians had lost their extensive empire in eastern Africa, including Ethiopia, early in 1941 and 250,000 Italian troops in Russia, sent to help the German invaders, suffered untold hardships. The epic winter retreat of the Alpine division left thousands dead. In all, nearly 85,000 Italian troops failed to make it home from Russia.
In short, the war was an almost unrelieved succession of military disasters. Poor generals and low morale contributed much to this outcome—the Italian conscripts were fighting far from home for causes in which few of them believed. In addition, Italy had few tanks or antitank guns clothing, food, vehicles, and fuel were all scarce and supplies could not safely be transported to North Africa or Russia. Italian factories could not produce weapons without steel, coal, or oil, and, even when raw materials were available, production was limited because the northern Italian factories were subject to heavy Allied bombing, especially in 1942–43. Heavy attacks destroyed the iron ore production capacities on Elba, off the Tuscan coast, and damaged several industrial zones, particularly in northern Italian cities such as Genoa, La Spezia, Turin, and Milan. Naples and other southern cities also were bombed, as was the San Lorenzo district of Rome. (The San Lorenzo air raid, carried out by U.S. forces in July 1943, killed more than 3,000 people.)
Bombing indeed was one of the causes of the first major strikes since 1925. In March 1943 the leading factories in Milan and Turin stopped work in order to secure evacuation allowances for workers’ families. By this time civilian morale was clearly very low, food shortages were endemic, and hundreds of thousands of people had fled to the countryside. Government propaganda was ineffective, and Italians could easily hear more-accurate news on Radio Vatican or even Radio London. In Friuli–Venezia Giulia, as in Italian-occupied Slovenia and Croatia, the local Slavic population supported armed Resistance movements, and anti-Italian terrorism was widespread. In Sicily landowners formed armed bands for possible use against mainland interference. On the mainland itself the anti-Fascist movements cautiously revived in 1942 and 1943. The Communists helped to organize strikes, the leading Roman Catholics formed the Christian Democratic Party (now the Italian Popular Party) in 1943, and the new Party of Action was founded in January 1943, mainly by republicans and Radicals. Leading Communists began to reenter Italy, and their party began to put down deep roots across the country. By this time most of the leading clandestine parties were more willing to work together to overthrow fascism. In March 1943 they signed an agreement to do so.
A further consequence of the war was the internment of hundreds of thousands of Italian emigrants across the world, especially in Britain and the United States. Italians, even with strong anti-Fascist credentials, were rounded up and sometimes stripped of their citizenship. This draconian policy left a legacy of bitterness and recrimination which lasted for years on both sides.
In Germany, Hitler used propaganda to support his war effort. Actress, dancer, and photographer Leni Riefenstahl made documentary films for the Nazi Party during the 1930s and Hitler's consolidation of power. She escaped punishment after the war after a court found that she was not herself a Nazi party member.
In America, films and plays promoting participation in the war and anti-Nazi films and plays were also part of the overall war effort. Women actresses played in many of these. Women also wrote some of them: Lillian Hellman's 1941 play, The Rhine, warned of the rise of the Nazis.
Entertainer Josephine Baker worked with the French Resistance and entertained troops in Africa and the Middle East. Alice Marble, a tennis star, secretly married an intelligence operative and when he died, was convinced to spy on a former lover, a Swiss banker, suspected of having records of Nazi finances. She found such information and was shot in the back, but escaped and recovered. Her story was told only after her death in 1990.
Carole Lombard made her final film as a satire about the Nazis and died in a plane crash after attending a war bond rally. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared her the first woman to die in the line of duty in the war. Her new husband, Clark Gable, enlisted in the Air Force after her death. A ship was named in Lombard's honor.
Perhaps the most famous pin-up poster in World War II showed Betty Grable in a swimsuit from the back, looking over her shoulder. The Varga Girls, drawn by Alberto Vargas, were also popular, as were photos of Veronica Lake, Jane Russell, and Lane Turner.
U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940&ndash1947
Over 36 million World War II draft registration cards from multiple registrations filled out by men aged 18–44.
U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
Over 10 million draft cards of men aged 45-65 who registered for the fourth WWII draft in 1942.
U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942&ndash1954
Hospital admission cards for U.S. Army personnel during WWII and the Korean War.
Honolulu, Hawaii, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), 1941&ndash2011
Find images of all gravestones and memorial from the final resting place of more than 13,000 service personnel who died during WWII.
WWII U.S. Navy Muster Rolls, 1938&ndash1949
This collection of more than 33 million records give facts about WWII enlisted Navy personnel, like occupational specialty and service number.
WWII Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941&ndash1945
An index of 30,000 records containing the names of prisoners of war, plus their ranks, service numbers, units and prison camp information.
WWII Missing in Action or Lost at Sea
More than 80,000 names of military personnel reported Missing in Action or Lost at Sea during World War II.
Stars and Stripes Newspaper, Pacific Edition
Images of the Stars and Stripes newspaper distributed to U.S. servicemen and women in the Pacific, 1945&ndash1963.
U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records
Collection of more than 8 million names of U.S. Army enlistees during WWII, 1938&ndash1946.
Young American Patriots Military Yearbooks
Photos and short biographiess of approximately 60,000 soldiers from Young American Patriots, a commemorative yearbook series published shortly following World War II.
Find out more
The Second World War by Winston Churchill (6 vols, 1948-54, and subsequently)
Why the Allies Won by Richard Overy (Pimlico Press, 1996)
The Road to War by Richard Overy and Andrew Wheatcroft (Penguin Books, 2000)
Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk by Len Deighton (Vintage/Ebury, 1996)
A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War by Williamson Murray and Allan R Millett (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000).List of site sources >>>