Culture & Literature
World War II

World War II January/February 2016

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 (“Secret Doings in Dayton”), who has written many books and articles about World War II, grew up in Franklin, Ohio, a small town about 20 miles south of Dayton and its top-secret code-breaking project. Bailey was astonished to learn that a technician suspected of enemy spy activities lived less than a mile from his childhood home. Hermann Balck (“Storm Across the Meuse”) wrote the memoir from which this article is excerpted, Ordnung im Chaos (“Order in Chaos”), in 1981; the German general died in 1982. The first English-language edition of his work was published in 2015, translated by David T. Zabecki and Dieter J. Biedekarken. Zabecki, World War II magazine’s chief military historian, holds a PhD in military history from Britain’s Royal Military College of Science. Biedekarken was…

3 min.

At the End, a Near Ace I thoroughly enjoy World War II magazine and I especially enjoyed David Sears’s article “White-knuckle Countdown to Peace” in the September/October 2015 issue about the closing days of the Pacific War with Task Force 38. Regarding an item on page 38, the USS Hancock-bound VF-6 Hellcats that tangled with several Japanese fighters were led by Lieutenant Herschel A. Pahl, not Paul Herschel. Retired Captain Pahl described this wild dogfight in his self-published 1988 autobiography Point Option. He was credited with one kill, as were his wingmen Daryl Grant and Ray Killian. This brought Pahl’s total to four, one shy of an Ace. I served under Captain Pahl during his “twilight tour” as Professor of Naval Science at the University of Nebraska NROTC unit from 1969 to 1972.…

2 min.
japan allows overseas military engagements

For the first time since 1945, Japan’s government has authority to send troops to fight overseas. In September, the Diet passed a bill reinterpreting the country’s pacifist postwar constitution to allow Japanese forces to provide logistical and even armed support to the United States and other allies. Opposition lawmakers tried to stall the measure by mobbing the presiding committee chairman and attempting to rip his microphone from his hands. Legislators from the majority party broke up the scrum, encircling the chairman in a scene the New York Times compared to a rugby match. The final vote took place in the middle of the night. Enactment was a win for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has long sought to represent Japan as a “normal” nation that does not have to account and…

2 min.
rumored nazi treasure zone draws gold diggers

For decades a legend has enticed treasure hunters: In spring 1945, Germans fleeing Soviet troops steered a train hauling perhaps 300 tons of plundered gold into a tunnel near Ksiaz Castle in southwestern Poland, also known as Lower Silesia– but never emerged. In August explorers Andreas Richter, a German, and Pole Piotr Koper, acting on that legend, caused a sensation when they claimed to have used ground-penetrating radar to locate the “gold train.” A Polish treasure hunter, Krzysztof Szpakowski, subsequently said he’d discovered a tunnel network near the site Richter and Koper pinpointed, apparently part of a vast complex ordered by Adolf Hitler. The area was said to be studded with wartime mines, a risk that promised to slow official inquiries but did not deter gold diggers, who poured into the…

2 min.
burmese honor guerrilla leader

Aged former guerrilla fighters of Burma’s Karen ethnic minority marked the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan by praying and singing hymns at the grave in Yangon, Myanmar, of “Grandfather Longlegs”—Major Hugh P. Seagrim. The eccentric British Army officer led them against Japanese occupiers. “He gave his life,” veteran Saw Berny, 92, told the Associated Press. “We have never stopped praying for him because he loved our people. From 1942 to September 1944, Seagrim—a towering Southeast Asian version of Lawrence of Arabia, fond of native dress and given to carrying a Bible in a musette bag—led Karen guerrillas against occupation forces. The Karen, who number between 5 million and 7 million, speak a language related to Tibetan and reside mostly in southern Myanmar. A minority, including many who followed Seagrim, practices…

3 min.
the reading list

It’s been said of Winston Churchill that he won the war twice: first in office as Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, then by writing about it—which earned him the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature. How did other World War II memoirists do? We asked Carlo D’Este, an acclaimed historian and biographer of wartime Allied leaders, to assess recollections from men in the cohort he knows so well. Crusade in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower (1948) “Ike’s remarkable account of the war he directed in Europe, with all its challenges and uncertainty, was written without the assistance of a ghostwriter and reflects in highly personal terms his role as the Allied Supreme Commander.” The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (1958) “While some consider it self-promoting, Monty’s account of the war is actually very well balanced and offers…