25+ Pictures From World War II
World War II ended in 1945, but we are still baffled that it happened at all. Luckily, we have many pictures that will reveal more about that awful and dangerous time. We have to open our eyes because the world seems on the verge of another major conflict, and we definitely don't want something like this to happen again. Let's check out these images!
Transporting the Fat Man Atomic Bomb
The Fat Man was its codename, and this nuclear was thrown over the city of Nagasaki in Japan on August 9, 1945. It marked the second time that a nuclear weapon was deployed in the war, and it was the third time in history that a nuclear explosion happened. Fat Man was created by the people at Los Alamos Laboratory with plutonium from the Hanford Site.
They threw it from the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Bockscar, and the pilot was Major Charles Sweeney. It had that nickname because of its wide shape, but they also called the Mark III. The first detonation of a similar weapon was the Trinity nuclear test on July 16 that same year in New Mexico. Two more explosions happened in Operation Crossroads in 1946. Fat Man was retired in 1950 after they developed Mark 4.
Testing an atomic bomb for the first time in New Mexico on July 16, 1945
Speaking of atomic bombs, the Trinity nuclear test started what would be called the Atomic Age, and they detonated the test at the Alamogordo Test Range. The plutonium-filled device had 19 kilotons, and it created a hole that expanded over 300 meters all around. Nothing close to that had ever been tried before, and the whole country was lighted by the detonation. Some compared it to daylight sun.
America accelerated its nuclear efforts as they feared that Nazi Germany would do so soon. German chemist Otto Hahn, his assistant Fritz Straßmann and Lise Meitner created the first nuclear fission in 1938. Later on, Albert Einstein sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to warn about the German nuclear program.
The Enola Gay B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima
This Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber was the first aircraft that deployed an atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. It was called “Little Boy”, and they threw it over the city of Hiroshima in Japan, almost destroying it completely. Enola Gay was also used for the second attack as weather reconnaissance. Their plan was to bomb the city of Kokura, but due to clouds and smoke, they changed to Nagasaki.
When the war ended, they returned the Enola Gay to the U.S. Roswell Army Air Field in New Mexico. They flew to Kwajalein for the Operation Crossroads in 1946 for nuclear tests but didn’t use it at Bikini Atoll. They later sent to the Smithsonian Institution, and it was parked outside prey to burglars. Afterward, it was stripped in parts and sent to a storage facility in Maryland.
Replica of the Fat Man that was dropped on Nagasaki
They built the Fat Man in August 1945 on Tinian, and the Project Albert employees were responsible. They placed the plutonium core in an ellipsoidal aerodynamic bombshell, and it was signed by 60 people such as Rear Admiral William R. Purnell, Brigadier General Thomas F. Farrell, and Captain William S. Parsons.
Then, they placed on the B-29 which was nicknamed Bockscar after the former pilot Captain Frederick C. Bock, who, along with his crew, flew the Great Artiste. Major Charles W. Sweeney and his team, including Commander Frederick L. Ashworth from Project Alberta, flew the bomb to its destination.
Combat engineers eating on top of ammunition crates in 1941
During World War II, the American army presented the K-ration, which was an individual daily meal for soldiers from airborne troops to other forces. It had breakfast, supper, and dinner packed into 3 separate units in one box. It was created by Ancel Keys, who was hired in 1941 by the U.S. War Department to make non-perishable food that soldier could carry in their pockets.
Keys went to supermarkets to choose cheap food that gave a lot of energy at the same time. He gathered tough biscuits, dry sausage, candy, and chocolate. He had a 28-ounce, 3,200-calorie meal prepared, which was test by six soldiers in an army base close by. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was great for relieving hunger. They were meant for short durations only. It was later nicknamed “paratrooper ration” because they were the first to try it out.
Gunner on the B-17 Flying Fortress
This kind of aircraft was four-engine heavy bomber created in the 30s by the United States Army Air Corps. Boeing competed with Douglas and Martin for a contract to make 200 bombers. Their prototype Model 299/XB-17 went beyond the air force expectations. Sadly, the prototype crashed, and they lost the contract to the Douglas B-18 Bolo, but the air force ordered 13 B-17s for more tests.
It went through many tests and design changes after that, and soon became the third-most produced bomber in history, just behind the B-24 and the Ju 88. It was used mostly for daylight bombings against Germany in WWII. The USAAC promoted the craft as fast, high-flying, and long-range with lots of defensive weapons.
Hitler and officers looking at the 800mm railway gun
This is the Schwerer Gustav (Heavy Gustaf), which was created in the 30s by Krupp in Darlowo. Its main purpose was destroying the forts of the French Maginot Line, which were the strongest of the time. The gun weighed 1,490 short tons and could fire shells that weighed 7.7 short tons with a range of 47 km. It was made before the Battle of France, but it was not ready when the action started.
However, the Wehrmacht's Blitzkrieg soon made the French surrender, and they didn’t need to destroy the forts in the end. The Soviet Union created a Gustav later on for the Battle of Sevastopol, during Operation Barbarossa, which destroyed munitions hidden underground. It was later moved to Leningrad, and it's believed that they wanted to use during the Warsaw Uprising.
Soviet soldiers outside Berlin in 1945
It’s expected that this photo was taken sometime before, during or after the Battle of Berlin, which was called the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviets. It was later known as the Fall of Berlin, and it was one of the last big offensives of World War II. After the Vistula-Oder Offensive from early 1945, the Red Army stopped around 27 miles east of Berlin.
The German forces had a plan to defend the city with Operation Clausewitz, and the first attacks outside the city were led by the new commander, General Gotthard Heinrici. However, the Soviet forces managed to surround the city before the Battle of Berlin, thanks to the battle of Seelow Heights and Halbe.
Bombing in London in September 1940
The image was probably one of the bombings from the German campaign known as The Blitz, which happened between 1940 and 1941. The British press called it that after the German word for “lightning”. The air attacks targeted industrial places, towns, and cities starting with London right near the end of the Battle of Britain in 1940.
It was a confrontation between the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force in the UK. However by September 1940, the Luftwaffe had failed, and the German Luftflotten decided to attack London to bait the RAF Fighter Command in a huge battle. Hitler and his Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring bombed the capital of England for 56 days. The most important was a daylight attack on September 15.
German soldiers on Warsaw and Poland on September 1, 1939
The invasion of Poland marked the beginning of World War II. It began on September 1st, 1939 after Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The Soviet soldiers marched on Poland on September 17 after they stopped fighting against the Japanese. The campaign ended on October 6 after Germany and the Soviet Union had controlled and added the country to the German-Soviet Frontier Treaty.
The Germans attacked from the North, South, and West, after the Gleiwitz, and the Slovak army joined the Germans. The Polish were defeated in September after the Battle of Bzura, and the Germans clearly had the advantage. Polish forces kept retreating, hoping to defend the Romanian Bridgehead and waiting for help from France and the UK.
Ships in Pearl Harbor after the Japanese bombing
Pearl Harbor is one of the most famous attacks during World War II when the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service bombed the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. This happened on December 7, 1941, and it marked the United States official entry into World War II. The Japanese called the strategy Hawaii Operation and Operation AI.
It was a preemptive move because Japan didn’t want the US to get involved in Japan’s actions in Southeast Asia. Japan was going towards territories belonging to the UK, the Netherlands, and the US. They also attacked US-held land like the Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island as well as the British-dominated Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Fire lights to stop aircrafts in Algiers on November 24, 1942
This was most likely part of Operation Torch, the Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa, and it was meant to alleviate the pressure of Allied forces in Egypt. They hoped to later invade Southern Europe more easily. It was also the “second front” that the Soviet Union wanted after the German invasion in 1941.
The region was ruled by Vichy French people, who were on Germany’s side for the most part. However, differing opinions led to a lot of support for the Allies. General Dwight D. Eisenhower led the offensive with a 3-attack strategy that went for Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers, to quickly move toward Tunis. Casablanca was captured, although it put some resistance and had horrible weather. The operation succeeded, and the French forces had to collaborate with the Allies.
Women in Britain at the Balloon storage building
This is a storage facility for barrage balloons which act much like kites and defend against air attacks because they make it for difficult for enemies to navigate. The design was meant to stabilize the balloon and decrease drag, which meant that it could work on higher altitudes with harsher wind conditions. It was better than spherical balloons.
Some of them had small explosives that would be detonated right next to the aircraft to destroy it. They are not the best option against high-flying attacks because the weight of such a long cable is too much. The British Balloon Command was created in 1938 to protect cities and strategic areas such as ports and harbors. They were originally meant to defend against dive bombers that normally flew from 5,000 feet. They would have to fly higher and be exposed to anti-aircraft fire.
Wedding of Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was the Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was Hitler’s closest friend and confidant. Goebbels was great at public speaking, especially while promoting his antisemitism. He advocated more discrimination and the deaths of Jews during the Holocaust.
He was a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Heidelberg, and he hoped to become an author. Goebbels joined the Nazi Party in 1924 and worked with Gregor Strasser. He was later named district leader for Berlin in 1926 when he started using propaganda to advertise the party and its agenda. When the Nazi took over power in 1933, Goebbels was given the control of the media in Germany.
The men of Tiger 1 with the 88mm ammunition
The Tiger I was a German heavy tank used during this war, and it was deployed in Africa and Europe in 1942. It was mostly used by heavy tank battalions. Its full name was “Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E”, and it was the first German Army fighting vehicle as it had an 8.8 cm KwK 36 gun. More than a thousand were made between August 1942 and 1944. After that, the Germans preferred the Tiger II.
It was known as one of the best designs of the time, but it was “over-engineered” with expensive material, and it cost too much to make. It also had some track failures and couldn’t go to many places because it consumed too much fuel. It was reliable but too costly in the end. Additionally, it was hard to move it through different terrains.
As mentioned before, Operation Torch hoped to conquer North Africa to move through Southern Europe better. The attack on Oran, Algiers, and Casablanca was great, but they hoped to secure Tunis and later Tunisia. That would give them access to moving supplies through Tripoli and Rommel’s army in Libya. But Tunis was near the Axis airfields of Sicily and Sardinia.
Therefore, it would’ve been too risky. The Allies could only choose 3 places, and Eisenhower was adamant about Oran and Algiers. They chose to land on through the east with Bône and moved quickly to Casablanca. One of the main concerns of this Operation was Spain, which they feared would join the Axis and close off the Straits of Gibraltar.
The Battle of Stalingrad
This battle was the largest fight in WWII, as Germany and his allies fought against the Soviet Union for the city of Stalingrad, which is modern Volgograd in the South of Russia. It had close-quarter combats and direct attacks on civilians. More than 2 million people participated and most of them died, were injured, or captured in the combat.
The Germans failed to conquer the city and the High Command withdrew their forces to the Western Front. It started in August 1942, when Germany used the 6th Army and part of the 4th Panzer Army. They also had fierce bombing from the Luftwaffe that destroyed the city. It later developed into combat in every house. The Germans gained a lot of ground, but on November the Soviets had Operation Uranus, which attack the Romanian and the Hungarians protecting the German armies.
German prisoners in Anzio, Italy
British Eighth Army General Bernard Montgomery invaded Italy through Sicily on September 1943. They later advanced to the mainland through Reggio and Taranto. The US Fifth Army General Mark Clark attacked through Salerno. It was meant to trap German forces that could be sent to Russia or France to help defend from the cross-Channel invasion the Allies planned for 1944.
The British liked this plan more than the Americans, and when Mussolini fell, they hoped to capture the city of Rome, one of the main points of the Axis. After sea attacks, the Allies moved toward the north, which is difficult due to the Italian Apennine Mountains. The Germans took advantage of this land to attack, and the Allied forces had to stop at the Gustav Line, which was near the Garigliano River.
B-17G was brought down over Cologne, Germany
Before they created long-range fighter escorts, the B-17s had a .50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns for the bombings in Europe. When the war turned even nastier, Boeing improved the design with more armament and armor. They upped it from four .50 in machine guns and one .30 in nose machine gun in the B-17C to thirteen .50 in machines for the B-17G.
Unfortunately, the aircraft couldn’t evade attackers well, and they needed to be flown perfect leveled to deploy the bombs. Most of them were attacked easily. In 1941, a survey revealed that most of the bombers shot down by German had left the formation. The US came up with a bomb-group formation that led into a combat box formation which helped protect all the B-17s thanks to machine guns.
French refugees in a quarry
During the Liberation of Normandy in 1944, a lot of French people had to live in quarries near Fleury Sur Orne. In fact, more than 20,000 refugees lived in these places. The operation was the largest amphibious invasion conducted by the Allies to attack the German fronts in Normandy right on the northern coast of France. It happened on June 6, 1944.
The Allies developed a beachhead from their Operation Overlord after the first day, which was called “D-Day”. The forces came of the US, Britain, Canada, and some free French armies. Later on, forces from Poland in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and the Netherlands provided help, along with the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the Royal Norwegian Navy.
The liberation of Paris on August 26, 1944
Paris had been occupied by the Germans since June 14, 1940, and eight days later, the French signed an armistice with the Nazis. The Allied forces came to liberate the city on August 24, 1944, and the next day, the French 2nd Armored Division came to Paris with the help of the US 4h Infantry Division. The following day, most of the German troops had scattered, and Major General Philippe Leclerc led a city-wide celebration, while still finding some German resistance.
Later that day, German General Dietrich von Choltitz, the army governor of Paris at the time, was captured. He was forced to give up the city to the French, although Hitler had told him to destroy it. General Charles Gaulle took government and gave a speech at the City Hall, which gave the French full credit for the liberation.
“Paris! An outraged Paris! A broken Paris! A martyred Paris! But … a liberated Paris! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the help of the armies of France, with the support and the help of all of France, of the fighting France, of the only France, the real France, the eternal France!”
German prisoners on March 26, 1945
During the final months of WWII, the Allies forces had planned the invasion of Germany fully, and they captured the east and west bank of the Rhine River. They crossed the river on March 22, 1945, and went through western Germany through the Alpines in the south where they encountered the US 5th Army that came from Italy.
Soon, they captured Berchtesgaden, and the Nazis had no hope of escaping through the mountains. They were forced to surrender on May 8, 1945, and most US historians have known this time as the “Central Europe campaign”.
Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin
This is an image of the famous Yalta Conference, also called the Crimea Conference and the Argonaut Conference which was held from February 4 to 11 in 1945. The leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union met to discuss Germany and what would happen to Europe after the war. It happened near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, and they used the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov Palaces.
It was also meant to give a purpose to the newly liberation people after the Nazi control. Europe was torn was war, and they had to rebuild. Unfortunately, the Yalta Conference was heavily criticized after the Cold War started, which divided the continent. Yalta was the 2nd of 3 big conferences during wartime. The first one was the Tehran Conference of November 1943, and the 3rd was the Potsdam Conference in July 1945.
Nazi event in 1939
Hitler will always be known as one of the major dictators of the 20th century and the leader of Germany’s Nazi Party. He took advantage of the economic problems of the time to take power of the country in 1933, and his invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, started the Second World War. By 1941, Nazi armies had occupied many places in Europe.
His antisemitism led to the deaths of 6 million Jews as well as other victims of the Holocaust because he was also obsessed with the Aryan race supremacy. After Allied forced invaded Germany, he killed himself in his bunker in April 1945.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's funeral on April 12, 1945
Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945, was a huge surprise to the world, but the people close to him were worried about his health. However, the public had no idea, but he started to deteriorate after his reelection campaign. But, images from the Yalta conference did show that he wasn’t as healthy as he pretended to be at the time.
He left for the Yalta Conference on January 20 in secret and gave a speech to Congress about it on March 1. His people were surprised by his frail demeanor, and six weeks later, he died in Warm Springs, Georgia. They placed his body in the Ferdinand Magellan train to return to Washington on April 14, and his body was carried through a military procession.
The war ended on May 8, 1945
This image shows Victory in Europe Day, also known by the British as VE Day and V-E Day in North America, and it celebrates the day when Nazi Germany officially surrendered to the Allies during WWII. It happened on May 8, 1945. Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, and the surrender was officiated by his replacement Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz.
Most countries in Europe celebrate the end of the war on May 8, but Russia, Belarus, and Serbia do it on May 9, as well other Soviet bloc countries when the Soviet Union and Communism fell. Israel also celebrates VE Day on May 9th because of its many immigrants from the Soviet bloc, but it’s not a public holiday.
Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945
Early that day, representatives of the nine Allied countries were aboard the 45,000-ton battleship known as the U.S.S. Missouri, and the Japanese tendered their surrender. General MacArthur said that the Japanese did not gather "in a spirit of mistrust, malice or hatred but rather, it is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to that higher dignity which alone benefits the sacred purposes we are about to serve”.
However, they were not saluted by the high-ranking officers of the Allies. It was later revealed that the US had planes ready with bombs in case the Japanese planned to betray them, especially because so many important people were on that battleship. It would have been a suicide mission but effective nonetheless.
The return of the 86th Infantry Division on June 17, 1945
This Infantry Division was also part of WWI, and they are currently called the 86th Training Division, which has a base in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Members of the group work in Active Army, Reserve, and National Guard to give all of them Decisive Action Training Environment each year. It was also known as the “Black Hawk Division”.
It nicknamed in honor of Sauk Leader Chief Black Hawk. Frederic McLaughlin was the commander of the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the Division during World War I, and he was later given a franchise of the National Hockey League in 1926. He based in Chicago and named the team Chicago Black Hawks in honor of the division.
Hiroshima after the war in March 1946
On August 6, 1945, the US dropped Fat Man on Hiroshima, and on August 9, they did the same on the city of Nagasaki. They killed more than 300,000 people, including those that died instantly and those that perished later from radiation and other wounds. On August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender to the Allies.
Historians today still question the Truman administrations’ motives for throwing the bombs. After the peace negotiations of Yalta and Potsdam, the divide between the Soviet Union and the West became even more pronounced. Some experts believed that the US used the attack on Japan to intimate the Soviet Union, and not as a military strategy. According to Campbell Craig, professor of international relations at Cardiff University,
“The bomb was so top secret that there were no formal meetings about it, there was no official discussion about what to do, there wasn't the kind of decision-making process that we have with most kinds of policy. So a lot of our opinions about what really drove the United States to drop the bomb is guesswork.”
The Arizona during Pearl Harbor
The USS Arizona was a battleship built in the 1910s by the US Navy. It was created in honor of the 48th state recently added to the union, and it was the second and last Pennsylvania class of "super-dreadnought" battleships. It was commissioned in 1916, but it didn’t see action in World War I. After the war, The Arizona was one of the ships that escorted President Woodrow Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference.
It was sent to Turkey in 1919 during the Greco-Turkish War, and it was later part of the Pacific Fleet. It was redesigned in 1929-1931, but it was mostly used for training between wars. During the Long Beach earthquake on March 10, 1933, the crew helped the survivors. In 1940, the entire Pacific Fleet was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to intimate the Japanese Empire.
The Nuremberg Trials in Germany in 1945
These were several military tribunals after the end of World War II where the Allied countries prosecuted a lot of high-ranking members of the Nazi Party. Leaders of all aspects participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes. So, they needed to face justice under international law and the laws of war. They were held in Nuremberg, Germany.
The decisions made in these trials changed classical and current international law forever. The most recognized trials were the first as 24 members of the Third Reich, and Sir Norman Birkett, one of the judges, called “the greatest trial in history”. Among the defendants were Martin Bormann, who had died in May 1945, and Robert Ley, who killed himself before the trial began. Hitler and Goebbels also committed suicide to avoid being captured. Heinrich Himmler tried to kill himself but was caught right before. He killed himself later under the arrest of the British forces.
A demolition carrier
This is also known as the Goliath tracked mine, or by its German name “Leichter Ladungsträger Goliath”. It was an unmanned ground vehicle, mostly for quick demolition, used in World War II. The Allies knew them as beetle tanks. The Wehrmacht used them, and they carried 60 to 100 kilograms of explosives. They could destroy tanks, bridges, and buildings as well as distract formations.
They were single-use defenses, meaning that they were destroyed themselves after the detonation. The Goliaths were used in Anzio, Italy in 1944 against the Polish during the Warsaw Uprising. They were later seen in the beaches of Normandy during D-Day. They were also found in the Maritime Alps in the south of France.
The Tiger II
The Tiger II is the German heavy tank that succeeded the Tiger I. Its designation was “Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B”, and they later shortened it to Tiger B. Its informal name was Königstiger, which was Bengal tiger in German. Some called it Royal Tiger or King Tiger, especially the American forces. It used Tiger I’s thick armor with the armor sloping from the Panther medium tank.
It weighed 70 tons and had a 3.9 to 7.3 in armor in the front. It was armed with an 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 anti-tank cannon. The chassis was used as the starting point for the Jagdtiger turretless Jagdpanzer anti-tank vehicle. It was used by heavy tank battalions in the German Army and the Waffen-SS, and its first combat was during the Allied invasion of Normandy.
B-17 Flying Fortress
After World War II, the B-17 was retired from the Army Air Force. After recovering most of them and sending back to the US, they scrapped for parts and melted down. However, some of them remain for second-line work like VIP transport, sea rescue, and photo-reconnaissance. The Strategic Air Command, used them this way until 1949.
In 1947, the US Army Air Forces were disbanded, and the independent US Air Force was created. Most B-17s were sent to the USAF. They called it “Dumbo” for air-sea rescues and were used to carry lifeboats. They were used to support the B-29 attacks in Japan.
The Berlin Cathedral in the 30s
After Hitler was named Reich Chancellor, the Nazis invaded the Berlin Cathedral and had a service for a SA soldier who had been killed. It was the first state funeral of the Third Reich. The Cathedral Directorate, which had close relations with the Prussian state church, supported the new leaders, especially after the “Day of the Potsdam”.
The National Socialist party used “Volksgemeinschaft”, national community, to gather the support of the two big churches, and many Protestants were encouraged to participate in this new dawn. In 1933, many went back to churches with joy. When the true nature of the Third Reich surfaced, Cathedral Dean Richter hoped to distance himself, but they had to adapt themselves to the new regime. They had to let them fly swastika flags for big events.
Hitler n Lustgarten, Berlin before the war started
Hitler gave a moving speech that day in Lustgarten, right before the war. He said, “Earlier there were people who declared, 'An end to the battle! Never again war!'-while internally they let the battle rage on. I know that motto, 'Never again war.' It is my own motto as well. It is to that end that I made Germany strong once more and had it stand on its own feet.”
“However, in order to remain so strong and steadfast, so that no tumult abroad can endanger peace at home, it is necessary to end that fight for all time which otherwise will prevent us from making our strength felt abroad,” he continued. “Not 'never again war' should be our motto, but rather 'never again civil war! Never again class struggle! Never again internal fighting and discord!'"
Hitler's 50th Birthday parade
On April 18, 1939, Germany declared that April 20 would be a national holiday. Many parties were celebrated in the country and also in the Free City of Danzig. British historian Ian Kershaw said that the celebrations organized by Joseph Goebbels were "an astonishing extravaganza of the Führer cult. The lavish outpourings of adulation and sycophancy surpassed those of any previous Führer Birthdays”.
Hitler was in the lead car of 50 white limousines that arrived at the East-West Axis, in the Welthauptstadt Germania, which they planned to make the capital city after their victory in World War II. There was a torchlit procession from representatives of the entire country, and Hitler watched it from the balcony of the Reich Chancellery.
Another returning ship after V-Day in 1945
This is the troopship called Queen Elisabeth, and long with the Queen Mary, it was used to transport soldiers during the war. They could reach high speeds and outrun German U-boats and could hold more than 15,000 people plus 900 crew members. During the war, it transported more than 750,000 soldiers and traveled through 500,000 miles.
It takes 5 to 7 days to travel from the East Coast to the British Isles, and the picture looks totally crowded because everyone was on the deck while arriving at the harbor. Eisenhower’s memoirs revealed that some soldiers complained that it took a long time to bring them back to the US. During a gathering with the troops, the president asked them if they would rather be crammed like crazy or wait. The soldiers chose the former.
The carriage of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp
The Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, and it opened in 1940. It was originally a jail for political prisoners in southern Poland, but it soon became a camp where Jewish people and enemies of the German state were sent to die in gas chambers, or they were used for slave labor. Some prisoners were also part of horrible medical experiments by Josef Mengele.
During World War II, which happened between 1939 and 1945, more than a million people died in Auschwitz. When the Soviet army was approaching the camp in January 1945, the Nazi evacuated and had more than 60,000 prisoners sent to other locations. When the Soviets arrived, they saw hunger-stricken people and many corpses left behind.
Airgunner posing with his B24 bomber
This picture shows Major David G. Bellemere and the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber “Tepee Time Gal”. He was wearing the typical uniform of the time consisting of M4 flak helmet with Polaroid B-8 goggles, flak jacket, F-2 electrical flying suit with B-3 jacket, A-14 oxygen mask, the gloves, and Ugg airmen boots. The swastikas on the plane symbolized all the German planes that were shot down.
The bombs signify how missions the plane has flown. Many pilots became fond of their aircraft and would take good care of them. It was one of the only things they could personalize. Additionally, the plane carried them away from the fire to safety. Furthermore, the work a pilot does on his plane will live on long after they were gone, although there is a chance that the aircraft would be scrapped.
The Battle of the Bulge
The Germans launched a major campaign known as Operation Mist, the Ardennes Offensive, and also known as the Battle of Bulge. The purpose was to push the front line of the Allied forces west of northern France to northwestern Belgium. It was nicknamed the Battle of Bulge, because the German allegedly made a “bulge" in the Ardennes forest while trying to push through the American defenses.
It was the largest battle fought on the Western front. There were initially 250,000 German soldiers from 14 divisions with five panzer divisions. They went against 80,000 Americans, and they attacked the weakest part of their defensive line because the Americans believed that the Ardennes were too difficult to go through. Furthermore, the heavy fog didn’t allow the detection of the German movement, and the Americans were forced to retreat.
A hit on a B-17 in 1944
America allied with Britain to destroy the Nazi industrial capacity, and they used Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortresses” as well as Consolidated B-24 “Liberators” in bases over the English countryside. The Americans bombed in the daylight, while the British hit at night. Almost 1,000 heavy bombers would participate in a raid with a 3-dimensional formation.
The formation had them almost stacked one over the other for more intense attacks. However, they lost a lot of people because, as mentioned earlier, bombers couldn’t evade attacks well. Later on, they developed long-range fighter aircraft that could escort the bombers to the targets. This decreased their losses significantly.
P-47 Thunderbolt had .5 machine gun belts
This is the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, a World War II fighter aircraft, which had a primary armament of eight .50-caliber machine guns, and it could hold five-inch rocker or a bomb load of 2,500 pounds. When loaded, it could weigh around eight tons; so, it was one of the heaviest fighters of the time. P-47 was built based on the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine.
This was used by the US Navy and the Us Marine Corps. The aircraft worked best as a short and medium-range escort fighter for high altitudes. The cockpit was roomy and over a bubble-like vista. The modern ground-attack aircraft known as the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II was named in honor of the P-47.
Giant Nazi Plane
This crazy flying device is massive, and it comes from the Me 321 military glider, which Hitler planned to use to invade England. It was known as the largest land-based transport of World War II and called the Messerschmitt 323 Giant. The Nazi had a huge problem in their hands. They needed to transport heavy equipment and many cars through the English Channel for their invasion.
Many proposals were sent from the Luftwaffe High Command to Junkers and Messerschmitt on October 1940, and they had 14 days to make it. The “super-glider” was able to carry an 88mm gun or a Panzer IV tank. They chose the Junkers proposal because it had a high-grade lumber design, but they had to scrap it for another one because it cost so much to build. Find out more here.
French mothers during gunfire in 1944
D-Day is a date that a lot of people still remember. It was the largest amphibious military invasion, and the Allied forces had to suffer through harsh weather and German gunfire to get to Normandy. There were many deaths, but luckily, the Allies won the battle that would end World War II and finally defeat the Nazis.
However, there are some things about the date that not many people know. Eisenhower almost quit days before D-Day, and Hitler thought his forces were ready for the Allied invasion, but he was sorely wrong. They thought the city of Calais would be the best spot for the Allies to start. So, they added 3 huge gun batteries. However, the rest of the coastline was left almost defenseless because they had no money and few men left.
The destruction of the London hospital
At the time, London had 9 million people living in an area so big that it was hard to defend. After experiencing the attack of the German forces in WWI, the British calculation that every ton of bomb dropped would kill around 50 people in the capital. In 1922, the enemy could drop around 75 tons per day, but with tech advancements, that number increased to 644 in 1937.
Therefore, a 60-day attack would mean 600,000 dead and around 1.2 million injured, and by 1938, they imagined that the Germans would try to drop 3,500 tons on the first day of the war, and then 700 tons each day for weeks. Germans also had poison gas and bacteriological warfare. Military theorist Basil Liddell-Hart estimated that 250,000 would die or be injured in the first week of the war.
It might seem odd that a beauty pageant is taking place at such a time, and it was a bit after the war. This is the Neatest Figure competition hosted at the Lido in Margate, England in 1946. The girls wore hoods so that judges wouldn’t be partial to their faces and only saw their bodies. Beauty contests have been around for hundreds of years, and they depend on the traditions of each society.
However, it seems that long ago, some Beauty pageants were weirder than others. In the 30s, the Americans were obsessed with “Miss Lovely Eyes”, where the contestants would hide almost everything about themselves except their eyes. The British started holding this contest decades later, but their participants were in numbered stalls and their faces were hidden with yashmaks.
Soldier saying goodbye
Many of the pictures you see remembering these tenders moments appeared in a 1944 issue of LIFE Magazine, and it was their Valentine’s Day edition. There were couples embracing at New York’s Pennsylvania Station in 1943, and the text read: "They stand in front of the gates leading to the trains, deep in each other's arms, not caring who sees or what they think. Each goodbye is a drama complete in itself, which Eisenstaedt's pictures movingly tell.”
“Sometimes the girl stands with arms around the boys' waist, hands tightly clasped behind. Another fits her head into the curve of his cheek while tears fall onto his coat. Now and then the boy will take her face between his hands and speak reassuringly. Or if the wait is long they may just stand quietly, not saying anything. The common denominator of all these goodbyes is sadness and tenderness, and complete oblivion for the moment to anything but their own individual heartaches."
A hurt American soldier
This is George Lott, who was 22 at the time, and he was injured by German mortar fire. As you can see, doctors are trying to mold plaster casts on his body, and the picture was taken in 1944. The story was published in LIFE Magazine in January 1945, where photographer Ralph Morse showed many images of the American medic, and his travel from the battlefield if France to a veteran’s hospital in the US.
The article said, "George Lott is a name on a list of 663,859 names. These are the casualties of the U.S. armed forces. Of the total, 143,108 have been killed, 380,880 have been wounded, 77,931 are missing and 61,940 are prisoners. George Lott was wounded." According to LIFE, Morse followed the wounded medic "on a 4,500-mile odyssey by ambulance, train and plane, through two more field dressing stations and five hospitals in France and England and home to the U.S.”
Soldiers looking at the damage
It must take a lot of power to damage those tanks. Many people might wonder what happens to the people inside when the tanks are hit by a shell. According to a personal recount, if the gunner had a sabot round, and the hit entered through the armor, the uranium rod would vaporize and the effect would destroy the tank from the inside out.
It was like a fireball, and nothing was left. If the gunner had a HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank), the hit on the armor creates a detonation at the base of the round. It turns into vaporizing metal that burns its way through the body of the tank. Once it reaches the inside, the crew gets showered with spall metal, vapors of toxic gasses and over-pressurizations. Therefore, it would be hard to survive.
A carrier brought down
You would not believe the number of sailor and marines that had died around aircraft carriers. Around 8,500 people died from 1948 to 1988, and that’s when relatively safe to fly off on the tarmac. More than 12,000 aircraft disappeared, but the number of losses during combat is relatively small compared to the casualties during take-off and land-on.
There are several reasons like the fact that a ship doesn’t stand still. Aircraft carriers have to keep 34 mph of wind on their deck to boost for take-off and that’s the reason why large carriers are almost always nuclear power. The steam pusher the decks and sends the plane up about 170 mph to give it enough force to keep going.
A Japanese Kawanishi H8K after an air battle
This is a flying boat that was used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service during the war for patrolling at sea. The Allied forces said that it was called “Emily”. It was a four-engine aircraft and was built for long-range and timely patrols. It was also used for bombing missions over the ocean. The prototype flew in January 1941, and the complete version fought for the first time in March 1942.
“Emily” was also filled by defensive armament, which was admired by Allied pilots whenever they saw in the Pacific region. Aircraft historian René Francillon called it "the most outstanding water-based combat aircraft of the Second World War”.
A prisoner from April 1945
Under the command of George C. Gross, the 743rd Tank Battalion freed 2,141 camp prisoners from a train that had been abandoned in the small town of Farsleben – 12 miles north of Magdeburg. It originally came from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and the prisoners were to be taken farther to Germany to be killed before the allied armies caught them.
The train was overrun by the battalion, and Gross along with his crew watch over the people while others looked for food for them. They later received help from the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and American units that provided food and housing for the refugees that were later saved from other German villages.
The trenches during the Battle of Bulge
As mentioned earlier, the Battle of Bulge resulted in many losses for the Americans. The Nazi killed 72 soldiers in the town of Malmedy in Ardennes. According to historian Stephen Ambrose “of the 600,000 GIs involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 were captured, and 40,000 were wounded” by the end of the war.
The US had to surrender at the Schnee Eifel, and the capitulation also showed the internal problems within the American army. General Eisenhower had to execute Private Eddie Slovik for desertion. It was the first of the kind since the Civil War. Things only turned around when the weather allowed American bomber aircraft to push the German positions.
They are military parachutists, and they are normally part of the airborne force. They were used for the first time during this war, to distribute troops and transport them. They are most commonly employed during surprise operations against airfields or bridges. The Germans had the Fallschirmjäger, the first paratroopers trained for large-scale maneuvers.
The Allies called the “green devils” as they were very effective at commando raids. They were also famous for giving their best effort even when things seemed against them. However, they were not used as parachutists that often. Rather, Fallschirmjäger were recognized for their fighting skills and were commanded by Kurt Student through the Second World War.
A warplane destroyed and the remains landed on a beach
Air and anti-aircraft warfare were the major parts of World War II, and it was all about the industries that produced these devices. German and Japan depended on these forces because they were part of most of their strategies. The Axis didn’t see strategic bombers as an advantage, and they didn’t plan against the Allied bombings.
But, Britain and the US were all over the strategic bombing and controlling battlefields thanks to air attacks as well as their soldiers. Both these allies built long-range bombers that could easily travel right to the enemy, and their air forces could also win over in the combat fields.
Lt. McCune gives order during the training of the Us Army Air Corps 99th Pursuit Squadron
They were in charge of flying Raytheon T-1 Jayhawks, and the current crew members painted the tails of their aircraft red as an homage to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, which were known as “Red Tails”. They are now known as the 99th Flying Training Squadron (99 FTS) and are based at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas.
The squadron was created during the Second World War as the first flying unit for African-American soldiers, which they called Tuskegee Airmen. They served all over Europe. After the war, they were used as a flight training unit, but they were inactivated in the late 40s. Luckily, they got reactivated in 1988 as flight trainers once again.
20. Crowds near the VW factory in 1938
Not many people know that the VW Beetle was created thanks to the Nazis. Adolf Hitler laid the plans for the Volkswagen factory located in Wolfsburg more than 80 years ago. It was actually a huge German success. Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche were behind the Beetle. Porsche was a famous engineer, while Hitler was an impactful politician.
According to Wolfram Pyta, professor at the University of Stuttgart, "These two were made for each other." Along with historians Nils Havemann and Jutta Braun, Pyta has written about Porsche, and Volkswagen wouldn’t have happened without Hitler. "Hitler needed a creative mind to produce his compact car suitable for mass production," Pyta noted. "And Porsche needed political backing to enable him to build it without financial pressure."
Child being rescued
Children were the most affected by Nazi killings in the Holocaust. According to calculations around 1.5 million children, mostly Jewish, were murdered at the time. Some were killed outright while others died due to Nazi actions. The party actually encouraged killing the kids of the “dangerous” groups because of their racial beliefs. It was a preventive measure.
They targeted Jewish children but also Polish and Romani children, as well as kids with mental or physical issues. They murdered the children for their agenda but also for revenge from partisan attacks. The earliest killings happened in action T4, where disabled kids were gassed with carbon monoxide, starved to death, given lethal injections or hanged.
Baseball game during the war at Sportman's Park in St. Louis
During World War II, around 500 Major League Baseball players had to become soldiers. The sport continued from 1942 to 1945, but it wasn’t the same with so many men away. Sportswriter Frank Graham referred to it as “the tall men against the fat men at the company picnic”. Stars such as Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial, who joined the military at the time, were not placed in front lines.
They played service ball in the mainland US and Hawaii, to entertain the troops before they went to war. However, those without big reputations were sent to combat, including many minor leaguers. Ad hoc games were often played by the soldiers, but it was never formal. Once the Nazis surrendered in 45, the Army decided to set up a bunch of competitive games to keep the men occupied.
A female welder
Most people have heard of Rosie the Riveter, but not about Winner the Welder. In the 40s, after the US joined WWII after Pearl Harbor, many men enlisted. That left their welding jobs empty. However, ships, vehicles, and everyone needed welding, especially during war. Therefore, the women of America stepped up to the job.
16 million women – more than half the workforce - in the US were given jobs during the war. A quarter of them worked in the war industry, and shipyards offered the best wages. America was still trying to rise after the Great Depression, and women started welding. It was a great job to keep their families fed, and it was a way to contribute to the fight overseas.
The Battle of Saipan
This was a Pacific campaign that happened during the war. It was fought on the island of Saipan, part of the Mariana Islands. It expanded from June 15 to July 9, 1944. The Allied forces left Pearl Harbor on June 5, 1944, the day before Operation Overlord happened in Europe. The US 2nd Marine Division, the 4th Marine Division, and the Army’s 27th Infantry Division were led by Lieutenant General Holland Smith.
They defeated the 43rd Infantry Division of the Imperial Japanese army, which was led by Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito. The Japanese lost 29,000 men and the island, which advanced the resignation of Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō. The region was also left vulnerable to the US Army Air Forces and their B-29 bombers.
American soldiers in the Philippines
The US had control of the Philippines, but the Japanese planned an invasion, which was later known as the Battle of the Philippines or the Fall of the Philippines. It happened from December 8, 1941, to May 8, 1942. The defending forces had the advantage in numbers, as well as the Commonwealth units, but the Japanese used first-line troops and their concentrated their forces to take over Luzon on the first month.
The Japanese thought that the campaign was victorious, and they advanced their operations for Borneo and Indonesia. Therefore, they took their best forces from the Philippines in January 1942, and the decision allowed the American and the Filipinos to keep defending the island for 4 months longer. Of course, they later fell to the Japanese, and it’s considered the worst military defeat in US history.
The USS Philippine Sea with snow
This was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers from the US Navy, and the first ship was named in honor of the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The ship was launched on September 5, 1945, when World War II ended, and it was endorsed by the Governor of Kentucky’s wife. It served in the Atlantic Ocean to oversee several deployments to the Mediterranean Sea and a trip to Antarctica for Operation Highjump.
It was later sent to the Korean Peninsula when the Korean War started, and it was used to send aircraft to help troops on the United Nations arear during the Battle of Pusan Perimeter. It was later used for Inchon Landings and the 2nd Battle of Seoul. The Philippine Sea had 3 tours in Korea, for which it received 9 battle stars.
Making the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6s at Erla Leipzig
This fighter aircraft was a major part of the Luftwaffe’s force. It went into operation in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, and it was still used by the end of World War II. It was one of the most advanced of the time, with characteristics such as an “all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear”.
It was designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser for Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in the mid-30s. Later models changed to include most tasks like bomber escort, all-weather fighter, ground-attack aircraft and more. It was given to several states during WWII and used by other countries years after it ended.
Leaving for war
Stories of love in times of war are plenty, but there was a couple that never reunited, and the woman left behind, Peggy Harris, never found out what happened to her lover. She said goodbye to Lt. Billie Harris, who departed when Eisenhower ordered the invasion of Normandy. The woman from Vernon, Texas never got a telegram or a note to explain what her husband lived through in WWII.
She never remarried, explaining, “Billie was married to me all of his life, and I choose to be married to him all of my life.” Billie was first reported missing, but then accounts said that he would be returning soon. Peggy later received a letter that he had been killed and buried in one cemetery, and then another letter came that named another cemetery. They later told her that it might not be his remains in either. Find out more here.
Avro Lancaster with an open bay
The Avro Lancaster was a World War II heavy bomber, and it was designed along with the Handley Page Halifax as well as the Short Stirling. The Royal Air Force used it during the war. Its origins go back to the late 30s when the Air Ministry Specification demanded a medium bomber that would be used around the world.
It was built as the next Manchester, which retired in 1942 due to trouble. The designer was Roy Chadwick, and it had four Rolls-Royce Merlins. One version even had a Bristol Hercules engine. It was deployed into service with the RAF Bomber Command in 1942 and used during night-time bombing campaigns. Other models were being produced, but this one remained the main heavy bomber of the RAF.
A Messerschmitt Me 323
This was a German military transport aircraft as well, and around 213 were ever made. It was a variant of the Me 321 military glider and the largest land-based transport during the war. It was designed because the Germans needed some to carry on Operation Sea Lion, which was the invasion of Great Britain. The DFS 230 was great in battle after its service in Belgium, and it was later used in the invasion of Crete in 1941.
But, they needed something better to cross the English Channel, especially to carry heavy equipment. They later gave up on Operation Sea Lion, but the Germans still needed a heavy-duty carrier. Their eyes were not turned toward Operation Barbarossa, which was the invasion of the Soviet Union.
The P-51B Mustang
The P-52 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and bomber used during World War II and the Korean War. It was designed by the North American Aviation in 1940 after a request from the British Purchasing Commission. They originally asked to build Curtiss P-40 and gave them the license for the RAF. However, the NAA decided to come up with a new, modern design.
The prototype NA-73X was launched on September 9, 1949, around 100 days after the agreement, and it flew on October 26. It had an Allison V-1710 engine, and it was used by the RAF for reconnaissance and as a fighter-bomber. They later replaced the Allison with Rolls-Royce Merlin, which allowed for higher altitudes.
More than 100,000 Allied soldiers died in Europe
World War II is still the deadliest event in history, and around 70 to 85 million people died. That constituted 3% of the world’s population at the time. Some statistics may vary, but most deaths caused by the war, including armies and civilians that perished, range around 50 to 56 million. The rest of the losses were the result of famine and diseases instigated by the war.
Around 5 million prisoners of war died while captured. More than half of the deaths came from the Republic of China and the Soviet Union. According to a publication by the Russian Federation in the 1990s, it’s estimated that the Union lost 26.6 million, as well as 8 to 9 million to famine and illnesses.
On one in four men from U-Boats made it alive
Speaking of deadly situations, men that served in U-Boats rarely survived. After the fall of France in 1940, the German submarine forces had units in the Biscayan coast. When the war heated, more than 100 were sent and returned from Brest, Lorient, St. Nazaire, La Pallice, and Bordeaux monthly.
They were hard to defeat, and by 1941, they always sank war material and food that the British needed. The British needed to solve this problem, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip Joubert told the Operational Research Section to solve the issue.
William Hitler in the American Military
This is William Patrick Stuart-Houston, who was the Irish-German nephew of Adolf Hitler. He was born to his half-brother, Alois Hitler Jr. and Irish wife Bridget Dowling in Liverpool, England. He later moved to Germany, hoping to take advantage of his uncle’s power. Hitler was Chancellor at the time, and William found a job at Reichskreditbank in Berlin, where he worked most of the 30s.
He later worked for the Opel vehicle factory and later as a salesman. He would threaten his uncle hoping to get a better job, but when Adolf told him to give up his British citizenship, William sensed a trap. He left for the United States, although he continued to threaten his uncle. William later served in the US Navy during World War II, and later became an American citizen.
Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford loved this picture
Ford might be one of the best brands in America, especially due to their vehicles- from trucks to Mustangs. In fact, the Model T was such a groundbreaking invention that it changed the industry. However, Henry Ford was one of Hitler’s main friends in America years before the war. It's said that he shared many of the same beliefs as the Aryan leader.
The company had strived to rise over that past, but they might never be able to forget it. Furthermore, Ford was hardly the only American entrepreneur interested in Nazi Germany. General Motors – their main rival – had a German division, and they made aircraft pieces for the Luftwaffe.
League of German Girls?
This image made rounds online and claimed to show members of the League of German Girls, the female group of the Nazi Party youth movement. They were apparently going through a uniform inspection during World War II. The caption read: “A photograph taken during World War II shows members of the League of German Girls during a uniform inspection.”
However, this image is from a 1958 movie called ‘Blitzmädels an die Front’, which translates to Women Soldiers at the Front, which depicted the role of women in the war. In WWII, the German ‘Wehrmacht’ was intensely attacked after the invasion of Normandy, and women were used as couriers at the front line for the air force.
The U-1206 that sank because of a toilet
The U-1206 was built in 1944, and it was a type of 7C U-boat with a new kind of toilet that permitted the submarine to go deeper to avoid Allied attacks. It had an intricate high-pressure valve system, and it needed proper training to use. Captain Karl-Adolf Schlitt and his team were trained during 1944, and they were sent to patrol in 1945 in the North Sea.
However, the trip that started on April 6, 1945, only lasted 8 days. On April 14, 1945, one member of the crew – some say it was the captain – used the toilet and had trouble. An engineer was called to figure out what happened and he opened the wrong valve.
Hiroo Onoda, who refused to surrender
He was an intelligence officer of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, who refuse to surrender even after the end of the war in 1945. He held on in the Philippines for another 29 years until his last commander traveled to the island to give him the relieve order of the Emperor in 1974. He was a second lieutenant of the army, and the penultimate Japanese soldier to surrender.
Teruo Nakamura surrendered in later that year. He was born on March 19, 1922, in the Wakayama Prefecture of Japan. He went to work at the Tajima Yoko Company in Wuhan, China at the age of 17. At 18, he enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army Infantry.
The German Ringtrichterrichtungshoerer
Acoustic locations were used to find ship during fogs, but during the wars, they detected aircraft. When radar was introduced, they were not as useful anymore. However, at the time, it was a crucial part of national defense.
The best detector was the German Ringtrichterrichtungshoerer (RRH), which detected British night bomber formations. It could find objects at distances of 12 kilometers, and it helped determine the size depending on the weather. It had an accuracy of 2 degrees.
The pain of such a time cannot happen again. We have to come together in a world has become so small thanks to technology. Let us know which image was the most striking for you. If you liked this article share it with your friends who love history. See you next time!