Culture & Literature
World War II

World War II September - October 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.

Aleta Burchyski (“Time Travel”) is a former associate editor at World War II magazine. She is currently copy editor at Outside magazine, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since moving to the state, visiting the Trinity Test Site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated, has been at the top of her weekend-excursions list. Stuart D. Goldman (“Russia’s Rock”) has been scholar in residence at the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research since 2009. From 1979 to 2009, Goldman was a Russian specialist at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress. Before that, Goldman served on the Pennsylvania State University international studies faculty. He holds a PhD in history from Georgetown University. His book, Nomonhan, 1939: The Red Army’s Victory That Shaped World War II (Naval Institute Press),…

4 min.

Backdrop to History I enjoyed the story on the Third Reich’s holiday resort at Prora (“Hitler-Era Resort Undergoes Revival,” May/June 2015). Although never completed, the site was used by the Red Army after the war and then housed the East German army’s Erich Habersaath Military Technical School. It was also the location of one of military history’s most surreal moments. On October 2, 1990, all East German personal assembled in full uniform. After the band played the East German national anthem and a short speech was given, the East German flag was lowered. The following day, October 3—German Unity Day—all personnel gathered once more, now wearing the uniform of the Bundeswehr, the unified armed forces of Germany. The military band played Deutschland über alles, the troops all saluted, and an army walked…

1 min.
prelude to pearl

M. Albert Collins A historical novel that chronicles the lives of a young US naval intelligence officer, a ruthless German spy, a cosmopolitan Japanese maiden, and an ambitious Japanese naval aviator in the tumultuous decade leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the years immediately before the Second Sino-Japanese war, Francis Marian, a young sailor with a “photographic memory,” is enlisted by the Office of Naval Intelligence to gather secret information on Japan as it extends it tentacle’s into China and southeast Asia. International businessman, Werner Breidstein, actually a German spy, comes to Manila where he spars with Marian while gathering intelligence on Japan’s escalating expansion into China, Indochina, and the islands of the Central Pacific as war with the United States draws closer and closer. The two men share a…

3 min.
rethinking wartime souvenirs

The spoils of war—Lugers, German medals and pins, Wehrmacht helmets, Nazi flags—came home in footlockers, boxes, and packages, whether to memorialize fallen friends or impress girls stateside. But European Theater booty also crossed the line into theft. Ignoring repeated warnings from General Dwight D. Eisenhower, GIs not only took legitimate souvenirs but also robbed churches, homes, castles, and museums of valuable jewelry, art, and ancient books, simply because they could. Some swag is returning to its origins, thanks in part to the Monuments Men Foundation. Started by oil man and author Robert Edsel, the foundation celebrates the Allied military’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, which protected and recovered art in war zones, and has expanded its brief to retrieving items looted by Allied soldiers. The foundation has helped return 18…

1 min.
ss accountant admits complicity

In a German court, “the accountant of Auschwitz” charged with being an accessory to 300,000 counts of murder declared himself “morally complicit” in the concentration camp’s horrors. Gröning, 94, voiced repentance but said his guilt is such that he cannot ask for forgiveness. “As concerns guilt before the law, you must decide,” he told Judge Franz Kompisch. The case was to wrap up in the summer. After being conscripted, the former bank accountant volunteered in 1940 to join what he called the “dashing and zestful” Schutzstaffel. At Auschwitz, Gröning kept records of cash that he and guards took from prisoners. In November 1942, he watched an SS soldier silence a crying baby by fatally dashing the infant against a truck. He also saw prisoners gassed. Repelled, Gröning sought a transfer…

2 min.
bestiality on exhibit

The American captives assumed the men in white smocks were doctors, not science-minded murderers who intended to use them like lab rats. “They never dreamed they would be dissected,” said Dr. Toshio Tono, who participated in the 1945 “experiments” as a student at Kyushu University’s School of Medicine in Fukuoka, Japan. The school’s faculty is admitting the institution’s stained history; since April a campus museum has included an exhibit on vivisection of American POWs. On May 5, 1945, after a Japanese fighter rammed a B-29 near Fukuoka, the bomber’s crew bailed out. Japanese authorities captured at least eight survivors and turned the men over to the medical school, where for 19 days doctors treated them like lab animals, injecting seawater to test a saline substitute, ripping out a man’s liver to…