second world war history

The misery of the Kindertransport children

4 November 2023 9:00 am

Wrenched from their parents and familiar surroundings, the young refugees found safety in Britain, but were tolerated rather than cherished, says Andrea Hammel

Passports out of hell

5 August 2023 9:00 am

Roger Moorhouse describes how various diplomats stationed in Europe risked their positions to issue as many forged ‘tickets to safety’ to Jews as possible

The sheer tedium of life at Colditz

17 September 2022 9:00 am

Given the prisoners’ histories, it’s not surprising there were so many attempted breakouts from Colditz, says Clare Mulley

The nondescript house that determined the outcome of the second world war

27 August 2022 9:00 am

Sometimes the struggle for a single small strongpoint can tip the whole balance of a greater battle. One thinks of…

More stirring stories of little ships

13 August 2022 9:00 am

‘I found this story by accident,’ begins Julia Jones’s Uncommon Courage, referring to documents belonging to her late father that…

Operation Chariot succeeded because it was unthinkable

21 May 2022 9:00 am

Eighty years ago, just after midnight on 28 March 1942, the British destroyer HMS Campbeltown crept up the estuary of…

Has the role of resistance in the second world war been exaggerated?

26 February 2022 9:00 am

When in 1941 Winston Churchill famously declared that the newly formed Special Operations Executive, set up to encourage resistance movements,…

Why did Britain lock up so many innocent refugees in 1940?

12 February 2022 9:00 am

Despite prostrate Germany’s need for the return of its men, in Britain we didn’t release our prisoners of war until…

Father Christmas battles through the Blitz

11 December 2021 9:00 am

When the shrill air raid sirens blared their familiar warning cries over the city at 6.01 p.m. on 29 December…

Spitfires of the sea: the secret exploits of the Royal Navy’s 15th Motor Gun Boat Flotilla

9 October 2021 9:00 am

Fast boats and fast women have been the ruin of many a poor boy. But they can also prove a…

How a small Mediterranean island determined the outcome of the second world war

12 June 2021 9:00 am

If you can tell the difference between Jack Hawkins and John Mills, and between a Stuka and a Sten gun,…

The road to firebombing Tokyo was paved with good intentions

5 June 2021 9:00 am

In the 1930s, a group of American airmen had a dream. Air power, they believed, would do away with the…

Why did Hitler’s imperial dreams take Stalin by surprise?

15 May 2021 9:00 am

The most extraordinary thing, still, about Operation Barbarossa is the complete surprise the Wehrmacht achieved. In the early hours of…

Stalin as puppet master: how Uncle Joe manipulated the West

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Of the two dictators who began the second world war as allied partners in crime but ended it in combat…

Break-out and betrayal in Occupied Europe

10 October 2020 9:00 am

Für dich, Tommy, ist der Krieg vorbei. However, many British servicemen, officers especially, didn’t want their war to be over.…

Monuments to the second world war are looking increasingly dodgy

4 July 2020 9:00 am

Most monuments are literally set in stone — or cast in bronze to better survive the weather. Being enduring, they…

They took a lot of flak: the lives of the Lancaster bombers

6 June 2020 9:00 am

Those of us who write occasionally about military aviation can only admire the compelling personal experience that John Nichol brings…

It’s still impossible for Horst Wächter to recognise his father as a Nazi war criminal

18 April 2020 9:00 am

In 1926, while putting in place the repressive laws and decrees that would define his dictatorship, Mussolini appointed a new…

The nightmare of Okinawa made Truman decide to use the atom bomb

11 April 2020 9:00 am

The US operation of 1945 to take the island of Okinawa was the largest battle of the Pacific during the…

The Far East Campaign of 1941-5 is the new focus of Daniel Todman’s comprehensive history

4 April 2020 9:00 am

To begin not at the beginning but at the end of the beginning. Or rather, to begin at another beginning,…

For Jews in Occupied France, survival was a matter of luck

28 March 2020 9:00 am

Late in his life, I asked my uncle René about his exploits in wartime France. What I knew was that…

Hiding from the Gestapo in plain sight in Berlin

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Of the many bleak moments that have lodged in my mind since reading this extraordinary book the most unshakeable is…

The Pearl Harbor fiasco need never have happened

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

It is sometimes said that intelligence failures are often failures of assessment rather than collection. This is especially so when…

The deadly war game of the Battle of the Atlantic

11 January 2020 9:00 am

My father served in the Royal Navy during the second world war. He drank over-proof rum and smoked unfiltered cigarettes,…

Poland was no walkover for the Reich

30 November 2019 9:00 am

‘The victor will never be asked if he told the truth,’ Hitler remarked on the eve of invading Poland in…