53 Amazing Colorized Photos of World War 2

World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world’s countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. In a total war directly involving more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. Aircraft played a major role in the conflict, enabling the strategic bombing of population centres and the only two uses of nuclear weapons in war. World War II was by far the deadliest conflict in human history; it resulted in 70 to 85 million fatalities, a majority being civilians. Tens of millions of people died due to genocides (including the Holocaust), starvation, massacres, and disease. In the wake of the Axis defeat, Germany and Japan were occupied, and war crimes tribunals were conducted against German and Japanese leaders.

World War II is generally considered to have begun on 1 September 1939, when Nazi Germany, under Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland. The United Kingdom and France subsequently declared war on Germany on 3 September. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union had partitioned Poland and marked out their “spheres of influence” across Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan (along with other countries later on). Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid-1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire, with war in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz of the UK, and the Battle of the Atlantic. On 22 June 1941, Germany led the European Axis powers in an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the Eastern Front, the largest land theatre of war in history.

Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with the Republic of China by 1937. In December 1941, Japan attacked American and British territories with near-simultaneous offensives against Southeast Asia and the Central Pacific, including an attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor which resulted in the United States declaring war against Japan. Therefore the European Axis powers declared war on the United States in solidarity. Japan soon captured much of the western Pacific, but its advances were halted in 1942 after losing the critical Battle of Midway; later, Germany and Italy were defeated in North Africa and at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Key setbacks in 1943—including a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland, and Allied offensives in the Pacific—cost the Axis powers their initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned towards Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945, Japan suffered reversals in mainland Asia, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key western Pacific islands.

The war in Europe concluded with the liberation of German-occupied territories, and the invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the fall of Berlin to Soviet troops, Hitler’s suicide and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender on its terms, the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, on 6 August, and Nagasaki, on 9 August. Faced with an imminent invasion of the Japanese archipelago, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, and the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August, then signed the surrender document on 2 September 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies.

World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts, great powers—China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—became the permanent members of its Security Council. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century-long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery and expansion. Political and economic integration, especially in Europe, began as an effort to forestall future hostilities, end pre-war enmities and forge a sense of common identity. (Wikipedia)

Private D.B.MacDonald, Royal Canadian Regiment (1CID) Campobasso, southern Italy, October 1943.
A Sherman tank of the 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, during the offensive in the province of North Rhine-Westphalia; April 1945.
The crew of HM Submarine ‘UNISON’ display their ‘Jolly Roger’ at Devonport, Plymouth, having returned from a successful 16 months in the Mediterranean. 1943
Pfc. Richard Larock, of ‘E’ Company, 119th Infantry Regiment, 30th US Infantry Division, relaxes after a day of fighting by playing piano in a wrecked German beer hall. 8 October 1944
He was killed in action two days later near Aachen on the 10th of October 1944, aged 31.
A British soldier standing guard on a beach in southern England. October 1940
Prime Minister Winston Churchill, cigar in mouth, gives his famous ‘V’ for victory sign during a visit to Bradford, Yorkshire. 4 December 1942.
Canadian Sgt. Harold A. Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders’ Scout and Sniper Platoon.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visiting bomb damaged streets in the East End of London. October 1940
Aldwych Underground Station in London, during the Blitz. October 1940
Three Germans (on the right is a Panzer commander) pose with a knocked out French AMC Somua S 35 Command tank on the Western Front during the ‘Fall of France’ in May/June 1940.
German soldiers pose in front of the abandoned French FCM-2C heavy tank “PICARDIE” No.92 of 51 E BCL in north-eastern France. Late June 1940.
British troops with a French Hotchkiss H39 tank in Steinland, Norway, May/June 1940.
Deck crew spot-checking Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless dive bombers of bombing squadron VB-12 on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3), October 1943.
Members of the 2/2nd Australian Independent Company on their return to camp after a twelve day patrol in the Ramu Valley, Dumpu, New Guinea. October 1943.
“Wait For Me Daddy!” – 1 October 1940
Depicts a young boy (Warren Bernard) in Eighth Street, New Westminster, B.C., reaching out to his father, as he marches off to serve in the Second World War.
Armourers load 500-lb MC bombs on a Vickers Wellington B Mark III of No. 150 Squadron RAF at Blida, Algeria, for a night raid on Bizerte.December 1942 – May 1943
A Luftwaffe Bf109E-1 garners attention after a forced landing near Queen Anne’s Gate, Windsor Great Park, Berkshire. September 1940
The commander of a Panzer III Ausf H of Stab (HQ) Panzer Regiment 8, 15th Panzer Division, Deutsches Afrika Korps scans the horizon with his binoculars.
Libya, North Africa. September 1942.
F/Lt. Sidney Bregman from Toronto with his 441 Squadron RCAF Spitfire IX, 9G-Q MJ627 at B70 Airfield, Belgium, September 1944.
Messershmitt Bf109, Martuba, Libya, February 1942.
Members of the British 1st Airborne Division, safe in the grounds of the Missionary College in Nijmegen, on Tuesday 26th September,1944, after being successfully evacuated across the Rhine from Arnhem.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine, sit on board a naval auxiliary patrol vessel as it travels down the river Thames towards docks in east London. 25 September 1940
German soldier with binoculars guarding a trench in Staraya Russa prior to the Battle of Kholm, Soviet Union, January 1942.
Princess Elizabeth watching parachutists during a visit to airborne forces at Netheravon Airfield, Salisbury, in England in the run-up to D-Day. 19 May 1944
Workers at the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company celebrate the handing over of the first of many Valentine MK2 tanks made for the Russian front , in front of a workshop in Smethwick, England.September 1941.
Universal carriers of 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers pass a wrecked German Nebelwerfer rocket launcher near Ceprano, Italy. 28 May 1944.
An abandoned German Panzer PzKpfw IV tank which had been backed into a house for cover, north of the River Marano, during the Battle of San Marino. September 17 1944.
The crew of a Crusader tank Mk II prepare a meal in North Africa. September 1942
War Correspondent Alan Wood is seen typing his despatch, while Airborne troops in the background consult a map during Operation ‘Market Garden’, Holland, 18 September 1944.
A group of anxious Polish youngsters watch a German air raid on the city of Warsaw. 14 September 1939
Soviet T-34 tanks of the 3rd Guards Tank Army on the streets of Lviv, Ukraine. Summer 1944
No. 1 Gun, 75mm howitzer of ‘D’ Troop, 2nd Battery, 1st Airlanding Light Regiment, 1st Airborne Division in the Oosterbeek perimeter. September 21, 1944
Squadron Sergeant Major Watt, HQ, B Squadron, 1st Wing, Glider Pilot Regiment, takes aim from the first floor front balcony of the Hartenstein Hotel, Oosterbeek, near Arnhem in The Netherlands. Saturday, September 23, 1944
Paratroopers of the British Army’s 1st Airborne Division taken as POWs by Germans during the Battle of Arnhem. 20 September 1944.
Sgt. Wilson, Privates P.J. Kraft and Henry Edward Looker, infantrymen of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division in Pelikaanstraat, Nieuwpoort, Belgium. September 1944
Discharged Japanese soldiers crowd around trains at Hiroshima Railroad Station as they take advantage of free transportation to their homes after the end of the war. September 1945
A Supermarine Spitfire Vc, operated by 12th USAAF, crash landed on the beach of Paestum near Salerno (Italy) on the 9th of September 1943.
Czechoslovak pilots of No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF and their British flight commanders grouped in front of a Hawker Hurricane Mark I, at Duxford, Cambridgeshire. September 1940
A German mortar team operating an 8 cm. Granatwerfer 34 close to a ‘knocked out’ T-34/76 Soviet tank near Stalingrad. September 1942
The Battle of Stalingrad. September 1942.
German soldiers prepare a 5 cm PaK 38 (L/60) anti-tank gun for action on the outskirts of Stalingrad. September 1942.
Panzer VI ‘Tiger I’ (211) of 2./s.Pz.Abt. 503 during ‘Operation Zitadelle’ in the Belgorod area of Russia. Early August 1943.
Finnish soldier guarding the line at the Riihiö sector, October 1942.
Sherman tanks of the 1st Canadian Armored Brigade in Italy, advancing towards the Gothic Line. 26 August, 1944
A French soldier of the Leclerc Division riding a tank is greeted by Parisians on August 25, 1944 in front of the city hall during the Liberation of Paris.
Canadian Landing Craft on the beach at Dieppe – August 19, 1942.
Sherman tank of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment covers soldiers of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division in Rue des Ursulines in Falaise, Lower Normandy. August 17, 1944
Local girls giving apples to a Sherman crew of the Irish Guards outside of a Bakery in Aalst, Holland. 18 September, 1944.
A German Kriegsmarine Bootsmann wielding a machete knife taken from the immobilised and deserted Churchill tank of B Squadron, 8 Troop Calgary Regiment (14th Canadian Tank Regiment). Taken on the Puys beach at Dieppe shortly after the failed raid. 19 August 1942
A Soldier of the 311th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division, 1st US Army, uses a burning German convoy for shelter as he draws a bead on enemy in the woods near Honnef, Germany. March 1945
Irish Guards and the crew of an M4 Sherman tank outside of a Texaco Garage in Aalst, Holland. 18 September, 1944
A Sapper from the Royal New Zealand Corps of Engineers probes at the earth in the search for more mines after lifting (digging out) a German Tellermine, near Tripoli, Libya, on the 22d of January, 1943.
Men of the 328th Infantry Regiment, US 26th Infantry Division riding on an M8 ‘Greyhound’ light armored car of the 735th Tank Battalion near Neustadt, Germany. April 5 1945.

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