the second world war

A stubborn Conservative PM attempting to negotiate with Germany? Not Theresa May but Neville Chamberlain

13 April 2019 9:00 am

When lists are compiled of our best and worst prime ministers (before the present incumbent), the two main protagonists of…

Ernst Jünger in Paris in 1941

Ernst Jünger — reluctant captain of the Wehrmacht

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Ernst Jünger’s journals are full of insights into the the second world war, but reading this cool, calculating captain of the Wehrmacht can be dispiriting, according to Alex Colville

The Yamato wheels in a tight curve in an effort to avoid aerial bombardment

The spectacular suicide mission of the world’s greatest battleship

10 March 2018 9:00 am

In April 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato — the largest and heaviest in history — embarked upon a suicide mission.…

The BBC’s battle for Britain

25 November 2017 9:00 am

The camouflage-painted, smoke-blackened entrance to London’s 1940s Broadcasting House, moated with sandbags and battered by bombs, provided its staff with…

Mussolini’s fall from grace

11 November 2017 9:00 am

These days it is fashionable to claim Mussolini as a fundamentally decent fellow led astray by an opportunist alliance with…

How Nazi Germany became a top tourist destination

12 August 2017 9:00 am

We don’t usually think of Hitler’s hated henchman Heinrich Himmler, architect of the Holocaust of European Jewry, as a comic…

Lyudmila Pavlichenko at Sevastopol, 6 June 1942. Her total confirmed kills during the second world war amounted to 309, including 36 enemy snipers

Russia’s monstrous regiment of women

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Klara Goncharova, a Soviet anti-aircraft gunner, wondered at the end of the second world war how anyone could stand to…

Obsessed with the occult: Hitler and Helmut Schreiber, head of the Magic Circle, at the Obersalzberg in 1943

Did Hitler’s obsession with the occult lose him the war?

17 June 2017 9:00 am

When he came to power Hitler had a dowser scour the Reich Chancellery for cancerous ‘death rays’. Before flying to…

Astrid Lindgren during the second world war. By 1945 she was suffering from depression and insomnia

Astrid Lindgren’s second world war diaries make for crisp, painful reading

22 October 2016 9:00 am

There’s a glorious scene in Astrid Lindgren’s first Pippi Longstocking book in which her fearless, freckled heroine strides to the…

A stylish Parisienne catches the eye of a German officer at the Auteuil races, March 1941

Keeping up appearances in 1940s Paris

2 July 2016 9:00 am

‘La France,’ as everyone knows, is female. Perhaps this is due to gendered assumptions about the beauty, cuisine and couture…

Franco’s bloody finale

19 March 2016 9:00 am

One afternoon in the early 1990s, an elderly gentleman from Alicante told me of the tragedy that had occurred at…

Marlene Dietrich, George Orwell and the rebirth of a nation

20 February 2016 9:00 am

The purpose of Lara Feigel’s book is to describe the ‘political mission of reconciliation and restoration’ in the devastated cities…

Shock and awe in Coventry, 14 November 1940

21 November 2015 9:00 am

On 14 November 1940, at seven in the evening, the Luftwaffe began to bomb Coventry. The skyline turned red like…

Members of the Hitler Youth clear debris after an air raid on Berlin, August 1944

The swastika was always in plain sight

24 October 2015 9:00 am

Ordinary Germans under the Third Reich did have wills of their own, argues Dominic Green. Most actively embraced Nazi ideology, and were aware of the extermination of the Jews. As the war worsened for them, what did they think they were fighting for?

A soldiers best friend (Photo: Getty)

The beloved, mistreated and traumatised dogs of war

26 September 2015 8:00 am

If you love dogs and or live with one — I declare an interest on both counts — there is…

What drove Europe into two world wars?

19 September 2015 8:00 am

Sir Ian Kershaw won his knight’s spurs as a historian with his much acclaimed two-volume biography of Hitler, Hubris and…

The second world war — according to Stalin’s ambassador to London

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Ivan Maisky was the Russian ambassador in London from 1932 to 1943, and his knowledge of London, and affection for…

Members of the Maquis study the mechanism and maintenance of weapons dropped by parachute in the Haute-Loire

The facts behind France’s most potent modern myth

29 August 2015 9:00 am

Patrick Marnham unravels some of the powerful, often conflicting myths surrounding the French Resistance

Ghosts of the past haunt Pat Barker’s bomb-strewn London

29 August 2015 9:00 am

If the early Martin Amis is instantly recognisable by way of its idiosyncratic slang (‘rug-rethink’, ‘going tonto’ etc) then the…

A Sikh member of the Indian Army Services Corps at Dunkirk, 1940

Britain didn’t fight the second world war — the British empire did

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Had it not been for the empire, Britain might have lost the second world war, says William Dalrymple. The war certainly lost Britain the empire

Making do on frogs’ legs and 4,500 brace of grouse

27 June 2015 9:00 am

This big, bristling, deeply-furrowed book kicks off with a picture of the British countryside just before the second world war.…

Out of the woods: American forces attack a German machine gun post, December 1944. The grim determination of the Allies, whose heroism kept the Germans at bay, helped pave the way for the final Russian advance on Berlin

Mud, blood and war crimes on both sides – the struggle for the Ardennes was one of the bitterest of the second world war

16 May 2015 9:00 am

Both German and Allied troops could be accused of war crimes in the struggle for the Ardennes. It’s a tragic and gruesome history, involving heavy casualties — but flashes of black humour make it bearable, says Clare Mulley

Hitler with the Goebbels family in the late 1930s

Joseph Goebbels: Hitler’s ‘little doctor’ was devoted unto death

9 May 2015 9:00 am

It is ironic that this weighty biography of Hitler’s evil genius of a propaganda minister is published on the day…

'The Cuckoo Crying before Dawn’ (1943) is Edward’s largest known watercolour.

The world of Thessyros: an icky erotic fantasy

2 May 2015 9:00 am

Lore has it that those viewing naughty books in the British Museum could once do so only with the Archbishop…