Humanity's best and worst were displayed for all the world to see.note
World War II, or the Second World War (often abbreviated as WWII or WW2), was a global war fought from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations and nation-states — including all the great powers — which eventually formed two loose, opposing military alliances: the Allies or Allied powers (China, France, the UK, the USA, the USSR among others) against the Axis powers (chiefly Nazi Germany
, Fascist Italy
and Imperial Japan
World War II is most commonly described as having been fought in two main theaters of war. The European Theater was the conflict between the Allied Powers against Germany, Italy and their European allies. This conflict was fought not only in Europe, but in the Atlantic Ocean and North Africa. This conflict began with the invasion of Poland in September of 1939 and ended in May 1945 with the fall of Berlin and Prague. The Pacific Theater was the conflict fought between the Allies and Imperial Japan in the Pacific Ocean and Asia, which also included some action in the Indian Ocean. This conflict was born out of the Second Sino-Japanese War
which started when the Japanese Empire invaded China in July 1937. This war became part of the 'world war' proper when Japan attacked American and British territories in December 1941.
It was the most intensive and extensive war in history, with more than 100 million people serving in military units. In a state of "total war", the major participants eventually placed their entire financial, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, thereby erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by significant events involving (organized) massacres and genocides, including the Holocaust, large-scale aerial bombardment of civilian populations and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it resulted in some 50 to 70 million dead (some higher estimates go to a nice, round 100 million) - making this war the deadliest and costliest conflict in human history.
Tropes originating from the war:
- Adolf Hitlarious: This was how the Allied media portrayed Hitler at the time. With the revelation of the Holocaust lending credibility to the idea of Hitler being portrayed as a nationalistic buffoon. It's gotten a resurgence in recent years.
- All Germans Are Nazis: Unfortunately, though the war is long past, the ugly shadow of Nazi Germany endures, and inevitably colors some perceptions of the German people or some political debates and Internet discussions.
- America Wins the War: American popular media depictions of the war are often accused of ignoring the contributions of other nations to winning the war. Russian media might as well be accused of Russia Wins The War, although they usually pay attention only to Eastern Theatre, where it was Truth in Television.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: The Trope Maker in the world's consciousness. The truth is a lot more complex. While few people (like General de Gaulle) saw the point in fighting on once France had 'already lost' The Battle Of France - Marshall Pétain's coup had a lot of popular support - and they saw no hope of Germany ever being defeated, but once it became clear that Germany would lose the war (Stalingrad, North Africa, Kursk) resistance groups formed and were ready to welcome The Allies' return with some of the best espionage work the world has ever seen. General de Gaulle's Free French Forces also contributed several thousand combat troops to battles such as Bir Hakeim, Monte Cassino and Ouistreham (on Operation Overlord's D-Day), and once France was liberated they formed an army several hundred thousand strong to take over support roles and free up Anglo-American troops for the front lines.
- Les Collaborateurs: The Trope Namer was the Government of Vichy in France. See also The Quisling below.
- Final Solution: Trope Namer and Trope Codifier. Nazis referred to die Endlösung der Judenfrage, "the Final Solution to the Jewish Question."
- It should be noted the image most people gained from the popular media (crematoria, burning pits, gas chambers, fierce guards with dogs, experiments on people and so on) comes from the final phase of the Holocaust, the extermination of Hungarian and Transylvanian Jews, when the death industry finally broke down overloaded with dead bodies. This is the plain reason for which we have survivors to tell the tales, because at that moment there were people to escape or survive. Previous campaigns of mass murder (euthanasia of the mentally disabled, extermination of the Soviet prisoners, extermination of Jews in Operation Reinhard camps in Poland) were so efficient they barely left any survivors.
"Auschwitz was a walk in the park compared to Treblinka"
- Hershl Sperling, Holocaust survivor
- Iwo Jima Pose: Trope Maker, Trope Namer, and Trope Codifier. Associate Press photographer Joseph John Rosenthal took a photo depicting five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the US flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. It has since become one of the most iconic images in history, and the photo has come to symbolize US Marine operations in the Pacific Theater. It also formed the basis for the US Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
- La Résistance: The Trope Namer was active during this war in France, but every occupied country had a resistance movement to one degree or another. Some countries actually had more than one movement - e.g. a communist one plus a monarchist one (it wasn't unusual for them to end up fighting each other as well). China had so many turncoats-turned-resistance fighters-turned-bandits that the historical community generally wrings its hands and splits it up into local and regional warlords, nationalist guerrillas, communist guerrillas and Chinese Communist Party guerrillas, with some room for overlap.
- Music to Invade Poland to
- Nazis with Gnarly Weapons
- No Swastikas: The entire rationale behind the taboos on the swastika and the Rising Sun, in fact.
- The Quisling: Trope Namer Vidkun Quisling, who betrayed his country to the Nazis and got stood up in front of a firing squad after the war. Other Quislings of World War II include President Wang Jingwei, Marshal Philippe Pétain and Prime Minister Pierre Laval of France and General Andrei Vlasov of The Soviet Union. Quisling, Laval and Vlasov were (tortured and) executed, Pétain's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment due to his advanced age and (by that time) severe dementia, and Jingwei died of natural causes before the war was over.
- Many, many Reichstropen.
- Stuka Scream: Trope Maker, Trope Namer, and Trope Codifier. Some versions of the German Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber were fitted with Jericho-Trompete sirens, which would make a distinctive screaming sound to intimidate the targets of their attacks. American SBD Dauntless dive bombers had holes in their dive flaps that had a similar effect, the sound being described as a banshee wail.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Nazi Germany developed some advanced technologies that were ahead of their time, such as the first operational jet airplanes, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. German scientists also played a key role in the development of the the US and Soviet ballistic missile and space programs after the war. But no jetpacks.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The trope became popular because of the German occupation of Europe, the Nazis' war crimes and the Holocaust.
- Wartime Cartoon
Si monumentum requiris, circumspicenote