Culture & Literature
World War II

World War II January - February 2015

World War II magazine covers every aspect of history's greatest modern conflict with vivid, revealing, and evocative writing from top historians and journalists. Each issue provides a lively mix of stories about soldiers, leaders, tactics, weapons, and little-known incidents of the war, including riveting firsthand battle accounts and reviews of books, movies, and video games. And the most authoritative magazine on the war features a striking design that highlights rare, archival photographs and detailed battle maps to convey the drama and excitement of the most famous battles and campaigns.

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6 Issues

in this issue

2 min.

Ronald H. Bailey (“Serious Fun”) loves to read and write history at his old farmhouse on a dirt road in upstate New York. A former correspondent and senior editor for the weekly Life magazine, he has contributed articles to World War II on subjects ranging from U-boat warfare to German prisoners of war in the U.S. He is the author of 17 books, including four on World War II, and the co-author of a bicentennial history of West Point. Gavin Mortimer (“Time Travel”) has authored more than a dozen books on different aspects of military warfare including a history of Merrill’s Marauders and the definitive account of the British Special Air Service in World War II. The British writer’s most recent work, published in August by Zenith Press, is The First…

3 min.
weider reader

MHQ: THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF MILITARY HISTORY Hard Traveling Winston Churchill called the Arctic convoy route to theSoviet Union “the worst journey in the world.” For thousands of American and British sailors, the voyage was something more visceral. The Murmansk Run was vital to supplying the Soviets. During 1941–1945 some 40 convoys totaling more than 800 merchant ships, including 350 under the American flag, started the 1,500-mile journey between Loch Ewe in northern Scotland or Reykjavík, Iceland, and Murmansk, or the White Sea ports of Molotovsk or Archangel. On the 10- to 12-day northbound voyage, transports carrying heavy equipment, fuel, arms, munitions, clothing, and food steamed with escorts through the Norwegian and Barents Seas. They were boxed in east and south by German-held coastlines, west and north by ice. In spring and summer,…

4 min.

Reflections in Armor I loved your article “Profiles in Cold Steel” (September/October 2014). I recognize the significance of Chrysler and Ford’s production in the Midwest, but would be remiss not to point out the contributions to the war effort of the small town of Berwick, Pennsylvania, and the American Car & Foundry Company. At its peak, ACF-Berwick employed 9,135 workers from 177 northeastern Pennsylvania municipalities, and produced 40 Stuart light tanks a day, along with millions of artillery shells, hundreds of rail cars, and other items. Every armored vehicle produced in the United States for World War II utilized at least some Berwick armor plate. One in every eight American-made armored vehicles was built at ACF-Berwick. Hitler even selected the ACF as one of 19 targets for his “Amerika Bomber” program. GEORGE…

1 min.
the better to see you with

In “The High Price of Valor” (September/October 2014) there are photos of a submarine deck gun crew and others firing on a Japanese sampan. If I’m not mistaken, all those men are wearing their helmets backward. Was there a reason for this? H.G. “WOODIE” SPROUSE DELAND, FLA. Research Director Jon Guttman explains: The answer to your question is rather prosaic. The front lip on the versatile American “steel pot” offered protection from the sun and overhead shrapnel, but for naval gun crews—when a clear view of the action from sea level to the air, from which an enemy plane could appear, was paramount— that was not necessarily an asset. Naval gunnery personnel on larger vessels had specialized helmets, but for those on smaller vessels—PT boats and “pigboats” among others—given standard issue, it…

1 min.
not so good, after all

General Hans Graf von Sponeck was supposed to be one of the good Germans. Defying Adolf Hitler’s order that he stand fast in December 1941 as the Soviets were counterattacking, Sponeck withdrew, perhaps saving 10,000 soldiers from death or capture. Court-martialed—Hermann Göring presided—and condemned to death for disobedience in 1942, Sponeck had his sentence commuted to seven years in prison. Fellow prisoners at Germersheim Fortress included Norwegian resistance fighter Odd Solem, who befriended Sponeck. On July 23, 1944, amid reprisals after an attempt on Hitler’s life, Sponeck died by firing squad. Postwar Germany celebrated him as a resister, erecting monuments and naming streets and buildings for him. In 1966, the Luftwaffe named a base in Germersheim for him. However, Sponeck’s record was darker than his legend. In Ukraine, he had his…

1 min.

In a first since September 1939, cantors and rabbis were ordained in Wroclaw, Poland. On September 2 four clerics and three singers were ordained at the only surviving prewar synagogue in the city, which once was Breslau, Germany. After the war most Jews left Soviet-dominated, anti-Semitic Poland, but in recent years Jewish culture has become more visible. The ceremony marked the 75th anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Poland and the 160th anniversary of the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau, which Nazis destroyed in 1938. The Coast Guard Academyfootball team dedicated its 2014 season to Jimmy Crotty, an academy graduate captured at Corregidor who died in a Japanese prison in 1942. Crotty captained the school’s 1933 team and graduated in 1934, 80 years ago. The 1934 yearbook shows Crotty as a senior and…