World War II

On December 10, 1941, Joy Cummings poses with one of the four cherry trees vandalized at Washington, DC's Tidal Basic.

After Pearl Harbor, Vandals Cut Down Four of DC's Japanese Cherry Trees

In response to calls to destroy all the trees, officials rebranded them as "Oriental" rather than "Japanese"

Swallows Nest in Crimea

For Russia, Annexing Crimea Means Reclaiming "Paradise"

Crimea's idyllic scenery has drawn Russian tourists for years

A mosquito of the genus Anopheles.

Nazi Scientists Wanted to Use Mosquitoes to Send Diseases Behind Enemy Lines

The Nazi SS ran an entomological research facility

Lieutenant Daniel J. Kern and Karl Sieber examining a panel of the Ghent Altarpiece, 1945.

The Path of the Monuments Men Through Europe

Chart the course the Monuments Men took to safeguard Europe's treasures during World War II

Walker Hancock, Lamont Moore, George Stout and two unidentified soldiers in Marburg, Germany, June 1945.

The True Story of the Monuments Men

Without the work of these curators and professors, tens of thousands of priceless works of art would have been lost to the world forever

The Grand Fleet, 1916. This sketch was made by Muirhead Bone, who, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defence "became the first official war artist in 1916"

The British Employed Official War Painters in Both World Wars

Between 1939 and 1945 the War Artists Advisory Committee purchased about 6,000 pieces of art from over 400 artists



From our readers

World War II Just Took Another Life As Relic Bomb Explodes

An old bomb just killed one and injured eight in Germany

Troops encountered ruin across Europe (in Palermo, the bombed-out church of Sant’Ignazio). In that city, recalled war correspondent Richard Tregaskis, “buildings were smashed into the street as far as one could see.”

How the Monuments Men Saved Italy’s Treasures

As Allied Forces fought the Nazis for control of Europe, an unlikely unit of American and British art experts waged a shadow campaign

The Siberian taiga in the Abakan district. Six members of the Lykov family lived in this remote wilderness for more than 40 years—utterly isolated and more than 150 miles from the nearest human settlement.

For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II

In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga

1950 depiction of a smoldering New York after a nuclear attack

Hiroshima, U.S.A.

In 1950, a popular magazine depicted what an atomic bomb would do to New York City—in gruesome detail

MI5 Master interrogator Lt. Col. Robin "Tin Eye" Stephens, commandant of Camp 020

The Monocled World War II Interrogator

Robin "Tin Eye" Stephens became known for "breaking" captured German spies without laying a hand on them

Left: Lisa and Minter Dial, on their way to the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Right: Minter's ring

Minter’s Ring: The Story of One World War II POW

When excavators in Inchon, Korea discovered a U.S. naval officer's ring, they had no knowledge of the pain associated with its former owner, Minter Dial

Zygmunt Aksienow rescued a caged canary as a "sign of the normal life I was used to."

Capturing Warsaw at the Dawn of World War II

As German bombs began falling on Poland in 1939, an American photographer made a fateful decision

From 1942 through 1945, more than 400,000 Axis prisoners were shipped to the United States and detained in camps in rural areas across the country.

German POWs on the American Homefront

Thousands of World War II prisoners ended up in mills, farm fields and even dining rooms across the United States

Using this small compass, survivors of the SS Alcoa Guide were rescued after being attacked by a German submarine.

Finding One’s Way Through War-Torn Waters

A small compass that guided a lifeboat full of World War II seamen to safety goes on display at the Museum of American History

Charles Carl Lutz issued protective letters to 8,000 Hungarian Jews for emigration to Palestine.

Five Rescuers of Those Threatened by the Holocaust

Righteous good Samaritans came from across the world to save Jews and others from concentration camps

Before Email, There Was V-mail

A history of the method used to transmit letters during World War II

Amber Room

A Brief History of the Amber Room

Dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World," the room that once symbolized peace was stolen by Nazis then disappeared for good

The Institution's treasures were under 24-hour guard until World War II's end. The superintendent of the Shenandoah National Park selected five residents of Luray and the vicinity to serve as guards. "All fine men thoroughly conscientious in their duty," these guards were led by Lynn Black (far left, front row), and protected the collections against sabotage, theft and fire.

In the Event of War

How the Smithsonian protected its "strange animals, curious creatures" and more

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