Interested in World War Two?
Whilst the outbreak of hostilities that began the First World War can be blamed on a number of contributory factors, the reasons for the start of the Second World War are much more clear cut, namely the rise of National Socialism in Germany and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler.
By the late 1930s, Hitler had already formed alliances with Japan (whom had eyes on China) and Italy (whom wished to expand their territories over the nearby Balkan states). Hitler had risen to power partly due to his intentions to reclaim the lands of historic German that were lost following the end of the First World War.
In late 1938, Poland declined an alliance with Germany, and intelligence came through that Hitler was intent on invading Poland. Britain and France warned Germany that any invasion would lead to war. Hitler did not think such a war likely, and invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. The Soviet Union initially sided with Germany, and joined in with the Polish occupation. Britain and France followed through with their threat and declared war on September 3.
Two key events turned the war in the allies’ favor, namely the Germany invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, which brought the USA into the war. It wasn’t until April 1945 when the Germany army was defeated, and Hitler took his own life. Japan surrendered in September the same year, after the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The amount of people killed during the conflict is thought to have topped 60 million.
If you wish to learn more about this global conflict, here are the top ten sites you can visit to do so.
1. BBC History – World War Two – www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/
Once again, the UK’s public broadcaster comes out on top. You can work your way through a detailed time-line of the war, from the invasion of Poland to the dropping of the bomb on Nagasaki. Each event is bullet-pointed, but then expands into a detailed article. There are also a number of insightful pieces about other aspects of the war, including a biography of Winston Churchill, leader of the allied forces.
2. The World War Experience Center – www.war-experience.org
The mission of this site is clear – to collect together as many surviving eye-witness accounts and testimonies as possible from people who actually lived through the days of the Second World War. The center was established in 1999, and has since become a unique and valuable resource for anyone who wishes to study this period in our shared world history. This is a non-profit making organization, so donations are always welcome.
3. The World at War – http://www.euronet.nl/users/wilfried/ww2/ww2.htm
The way the internet used to be. This site says it was completed in 1998! Since then it has been visited by four and a half million people. This site is an absolute treasure trove of WWII information, with the whole chronology of the conflict set out in detail (complete with animated tanks running everywhere). There is also a useful list of World War Two museums that can be visited.
4. World War II : The Homefront – http://library.thinkquest.org/15511/
This is another personal (and ancient – the site boasts that it is ‘Netscape Ready’) site, and is aimed at kids of high-school age and mainly from a United States perspective. The site’s main strength lies in its expansive A-Z of World War information. There is also a unique ‘simulation’ in which the lives of five fictitious families are followed from September 1943 to June 1944, and visitors are encouraged to add their own entries to the family’s online journals.
5. The National Archives – http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/worldwar2/
A marvellous collection of resources, including animated maps, original documents, films, photographs and audio files. You can work through all aspects of the conflict, and despite this being a UK site, not just from a European perspective. The ‘Theaters of War’ section has maps from all areas of the globe. This site is worth visiting just for the fascinating interactive maps alone, as they give a really visual sense of the progress of the war from all quarters.
6. History – World War 2 – www.history.co.uk/explore-history/ww2.html
The web-site of the TV channel History contains all you need to learn about the 1939-45 conflict, from its beginnings to the defeat of Nazi Germany, from the troops on the front line to the people who remained at home. It features expert video-guides, authentic archive footage, and defining photographs. You can learn about all aspects of the war, including the German genocide, the evacuations of Britain and the US entry to the conflict following the attack on their home soil.
7. WW2History.com – http://ww2history.com/
A site founded by renowned author and film-maker Laurence Rees, who is also the former head of the BBC TV History department. His site is a wonderful collection of multi-media resources, all detailing several aspects of the war from a unique and personal perspective.
8. Second World War – www.secondworldwar.co.uk
Another personal site, but an exceedingly decent one, if a little over-run by the inevitable adverts. Here you will find multiple links to all kinds of resources, as well as information on recommended books about the war, and all sorts of bizarre trivia, such as the name of Hitler’s Dog (A German – what else? – Shepherd called ‘Blondie’).
9. World War Two Battlefields – www.battlefieldsww2.com
A site that lists the hundreds of WWII battlefields, spread all over mainland Europe, complete with photo galleries, site descriptions and an interactive map. This site retains its neutrality in offering versions in English, German, French and Danish, but sadly doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2011.
10. World War 2.org.uk – http://worldwar2.org.uk/
This web-site is mainly aimed at UK students studying for either their GCSEs or A Levels, but there is enough information on here to occupying anyone with an interest in the conflict. There are many special sections, including ones of the Attack on Pearl Harbour, the famous Diary of Anne Frank, the Blitz and The Battle of Britain.