World War 2 Records & Newspapers
World War 2 officially started on September 1, 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, and it continued until 1945 when both Japan and Germany surrendered. 16 million American soldiers served in World War 2, along with the civilian supporters that worked behind the scenes for the war effort.
World War 2 records are comprehensive and contain information about the various military branches, as well as data on the civilian units that helped with the war. These types of World War 2 records include the civilian nurses corps and presidential papers that often documented personal participation in the war effort.
Many of the World War 2 records are organized by military branch and unit instead of by individual, and the best place to begin a World War 2 records search is by starting with the military personnel discharge form. This form details the soldier's rank, dates of service, service number, awards and unit. There are also POW records, as well as World War 2 records, pertaining to African American soldiers and the role of women in the war.
World War 2 Timeline
1938: Germany invaded and took over Austria in March. Part of Czechoslovakia was given to Hitler during the Munich Conference by England and France, who were trying to prevent another world war by appeasing Hitler.
1939: Hitler and his army attacked Poland on September 1 using their signature Blitzkrieg, meaning "lightening war." When Hitler refused to withdraw his troops, England and France declared war.
1940: The Battle of Britain was Germany's major effort to take over Great Britain, and this battle was fought in the air with massive air strikes in Britain's airspace beginning in July. The major bombing ended in October with an English victory.
1944: The Normandy Invasion was a turning point in World War 2, when the Allied Forces decided to invade from the west while continuing to attack Nazi forces from the east. This amphibious invasion began on June 6, better known as D-Day.
World War 2 Newspaper HeadlinesFairbanks, Alaska
The major headline on September 4, 1939 for the Fairbanks Daily News in Alaska was "Second World War Breaks." This World War 2 newspaper headline came after news of the ultimatum issued by Great Britain and France to Hitler after his army invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.
Although Europe greatly wanted to avoid another world war, after Hitler let this ultimatum expire without pulling troops out of Poland, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. This was followed closely by New Zealand, Egypt and Australia also declaring war on Germany.
Other World War 2 newspaper headlines included "British Take Offensive in China Cities," which described the British defense force already in China attacking Germans at the German Tennis Club in Shanghai, as well as in several other Chinese cities where German citizens resided in international concession areas. Other World War 2 newspaper headlines described France's release of air, land and sea troops rushing to help Poland and also described the sound of heavy artillery already being heard in areas of Luxembourg.
President Roosevelt, in a smaller World War 2 newspaper headline, declared that the US would remain neutral in this war, despite the German bombing of the American Ambassador in Warsaw, Poland. President Roosevelt's decision to enact the neutrality law was also written about as America pledged to remain removed from World War 2, despite the Navy stating its ships already stationed in the Pacific would stay.
Also described in the smaller World War 2 headlines was the torpedo attack already made by the Germans on the British steamer Athenia, which had around 1400 refugee passengers that were mostly Canadian with some Americans. The Athenia was bound from Glasgow to Montreal when it was bombed 300 miles east of the Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland.New Castle, Pennsylvania
World War 2 newspaper articles in the New Castle News published on May 26, 1944, in Pennsylvania, supported the major headline "Allies Open Rome Drive" that was splashed across the front page, along with "All-Out Offensive Against Italian Capital Under Way". These World War 2 newspaper articles detailed the Allied forces movements as they invaded Italy. Hitler and Mussolini united Germany and Italy with the Rome-Berlin Alliance, so invading Italy was a key component in World War 2.
One of the main World War 2 newspaper articles discussed the importance of this first land victory for the Allied troops against the Axis (Germans and Italians) troops in an effort to capture the Italian peninsula. The main Italian fighting front was the Gustav-Hitler line, and this World War 2 newspaper article described the Allied forces gaining important ground there.
Another important World War 2 newspaper article described the advance on occupied Rome as Cisterna and Littoria fell to the Allied troops, which included the U.S. Fifth Army. Germans were reported as retreating from Central Italy and heading towards the north to make a final stand.
A more cheerful World War 2 newspaper article described how liberated Italians welcomed American troops and gave them flowers and other gifts in gratitude.
On the Pacific front, a World War 2 newspaper article talked of General MacArthur's troops advancing on Dutch New Guinea's Maffin Bay in an effort to capture the important airdrome there. This strike was reported to have resulted in large numbers of Japanese casualties as they were defeated by American troops, and the American casualty list was reported as much lighter in comparison, according to this World War 2 newspaper article.Joplin, Missouri
World War 2 newspaper stories were rampant throughout the war, and the headlines from the Joplin Globe on April 25, 1945 were no exception. World War 2 newspaper coverage on this day in history includes the main headline "Reds Drive Deeper Into Berlin." The sub-headline beneath read "3 Allied Armies Race Across Southern Germany." This is referring to when Soviet and American troops met at the Elbe River in Germany in order to continue on towards Munich. This was an important day, as the combined troops took out Ulm, an important communications hub for Germany.
Berlin was reported as being in flames, as a reporter flew over the city to deliver an eye-witness report. Russian armies united at Berlin to complete its fall as Nazi headquarters. This World War 2 newspaper article also detailed the sight of 20,000 to 30,000 unarmed Germans heading toward Allied lines in one of the largest mass surrenders to date. Hitler was also reported as being in hiding, despite the reports delivered by Hamburg radio that Hitler remained in Berlin. Other rumors were reported that ghost trains were taking high ranking Nazi officials into hiding.
Other World War 2 newspaper coverage described the allied forces destroying Germany's 125-mile defense line in Italy. The American troops crossed the Po River, and with other Allied troops, helped capture the Italian naval base at La Spezia along with Ferrara and Modena. Modena was an essential road junction and industrial city near Bologna, and Ferrara was the German anchor for areas south of the Po River. The fall of these Italian cities and military bases was an important turning point in the war.
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