The World War II Basic Facts Quiz

By: Tasha Moore
Image: Wiki Commons by Army

About This Quiz

We invite you to sieve through gripes among the Allied and Axis powers with our World War II drill. This quiz is chock full of international intrigue, suspense, victories and devastating losses. As the saying goes: "All is fair in love and war"; we'd absolutely love for you to prove your World War II know-how!

World War II resulted in a string of monumental world changes. The United Nations was formed, the concept of Israel materialized and the arms race that was the Cold War of the 20th century kicked into full gear. The Second World War was a massive global conflict and lasted six years and one day. The United States emerged as a dominant world superpower, having demonstrated astounding nuclear weapons capability. Britain beefed up its intelligence gathering and decoding wits with the infamous bombe machine, a device that accelerated the Allied forces' win in the end.

World War II alliances were essential, and strange bedfellows emerged as a result. Germany promoted a pro-Aryan agenda, yet embraced Japan to take care of the East Asian side of the globe, and the U.S. officially recognized a major Communist entity for the first time ever.

Pick your best guesses concerning Second World War movers and shakers in just a few scrolls!


Is it a challenge for you to identify the start of World War II?

Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939 was a major cause of World War II. German forces invaded Prague in March 1939, a move that antagonized British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

What was the name of the Axis powers adversaries?

During World War II, the Axis powers were comprised of Germany, Japan and Italy. The Allies were formally organized in 1942, and leading nations included the United States, the United Kingdom, China and the Soviet Union.

What was the name of the formal agreement that officially recognized the Allied powers during World War II?

The Declaration of United Nations was the affirmation of alliance among the Allies following the Pearl Harbor tragedy that triggered the United States's participation. Allied powers signed the agreement as a result of a summit meeting, nicknamed "Arcadia," held from December 1941 until January 1942.

What event compelled the United States to enter the Second World War formally?

On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces orchestrated a surprise bomb attack at Pearl Harbor naval base in Honolulu, Hawaii. On December 1, the Japanese navy altered the radio call signals of its ships, and U.S. intelligence personnel could not track Japan's ship fleet, including aircraft carriers.

Do you see the date on which the Second World War ended?

American five-star General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan's surrender on September 2, 1945. Most historians agree that the Cold War, which has been described as a military and geopolitical struggle for power between the Soviet Union and Western powers, began on that date.

Can you recognize the leader of Germany during World War II?

Many historians assert that Adolf Hitler, leader of the German Nazi party, was the only world leader who truly pursued the Second World War. In his seminal text "Mein Kampf," Hitler regards World War I as "the supreme experience" and eagerly sought retribution for Germany's defeat in 1918.

Among the options, choose the United States president who was in office during the Second World War.

Upon the death of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, 33rd U.S. President Harry S. Truman was sworn in as commander in chief. Truman reluctantly accepted the role, describing April 12, 1945 as the day "the whole weight of the moon and the stars fell on me."

Do you see the name of the state that the United States acquiesced to officially recognizing in order to win the war?

President Woodrow Wilson first espoused the policy of not recognizing the Communist regime. Wilson refused to legitimize "a government which is determined and bound to conspire against our institutions." In November 1933, Roosevelt's administration diplomatically recognized the WWII ally.

Can you identify the conflict between China and Japan that occurred simultaneously with World War II?

The War of Resistance to Japan, or the Second Sino-Japanese War, took place between July 1937 and August 1945. What began primarily as an ideological conflict between East Asia's most powerful countries eventually merged with the greater World War.

Germany formed an Axis alliance first with ________?

The Axis was first known as the "Rome-Berlin Axis" around which Germany and Italy believed "Europe would rotate in the future." On Nov. 1, 1936 in Milan's cathedral square, Italy's dictator Benito Mussolini declared the alliance. Geographically, Rome and Berlin lie roughly on the same longitude.

The United States stopped Japan's southward occupation of which protectorate?

On Aug. 7, 1942, the United States stopped Japan's occupation of the Solomon Islands, which began earlier that year. The U.S. sank the 3,280-foot Japanese battleship known as the Hiei, which was found off the shores of Guadalcanal in January 2019.

Choose the name of the prisons that German Nazi's used to hold Jews captive.

Adolf Hitler called for the extermination of European Jews, people he believed hindered Germany's success. To this end, the Nazi regime established concentration camps that were used for the systematic destruction of Jews, Gypsies, the handicapped and non-Aryan people.

Whom did Adolf Hitler task with executing the first phase of the Nazi's "Final Solution"?

Hitler's "Final Solution" included the extermination of 6 million Jews, as well as other "enemies." Reich leader Heinrich Himmler designed plans to establish Dachau, which was the first concentration camp. Dachau was to be used for eliminating Social Democrats and Communists.

Is it a challenge for you to ID the second in command of Germany's Third Reich?

Herman Goering oversaw the elaborately orchestrated looting of jewels and other financial assets of Jewish Europeans during the War. Bank documents confirm that Nazis and their associates hid their plunder in Swiss, German and Lichtenstein banks.

What was the geopolitical concept that motivated Japan's efforts to dominate the Asia-Pacific region?

In 1938, Japan Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro called for a pan-Asian "New Order" in response to the mass-occupation of Asian states by western powers. Japan Foreign Minister Matsuoka Yosuke termed the order "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere," in August 1940 in an effort to consolidate power.

Who was the leader of the Soviet Union during the Second World War?

Josef Stalin is known for his brutal leadership style, especially during the war. Stalin included family members and friends among the millions whom he executed. Stalin perceived as a threat anyone he felt knew too much about him.

What U.S. military building was constructed at the dawn of World War II?

The U.S. War, Navy and State Building near the White House is where the Army secretary, then called the secretary of war, and the Army chief were housed prior to August 1939, when the Pentagon was established. The military brain of the U.S. had occupied the War, Navy and State Building for 51 years.

Are you able to guess the U.S. World War II military intelligence agency?

The Office of Strategic Services was the forerunner of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Economists joined military personnel at the intelligence agency, as well as at a few other federal entities, to help conquer the Axis powers.

Do you know the major general who led the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during wartime?

The Office of Strategic Services, the U.S. wartime intelligence agency, developed weapons specific to World War II events, including fake Gestapo badges and cameras that resembled tobacco pipes. The agency was instrumental in helping to facilitate the Allied invasion of North Africa in 1942.

Quickly choose the name of Italy's World War II head of state.

Toward the end of the Second World War, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was executed in April 1945 during a failed escape to Switzerland. Many in Mussolini's entourage who tried to flee with were also killed, including his mistress Claretta Petacci.

Before embracing fascism as a wartime ideology, Benito Mussolini was a ________?

At the start of his career, Mussolini and his cohorts destroyed printing presses of his opponents, pummeled strikers and assassinated dissenters before Mussolini marched to Rome and seized power. The dictator's successful invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 emboldened his resolve.

Name the Japanese ruler who led his nation through World War II.

Emperor Hirohito, who reigned in Japan for 62 years, was born on April 29, 1901. He was removed from his parents' care to be raised in isolation and primed as an emperor. Hirohito perished from cancer at 87.

Can you name the day Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in northern France?

On June 6, 1944, approximately 153,000 Allied troops invaded Normandy to force Nazi Germany out of France. It's been estimated that it took 50,000 vehicles, 11,000 airplanes and 5,000 ships to pull off the mission.

What is the term for the mass killing of Jews during World War II?

Approximately six million European Jews perished at the hands of Nazis in extermination camps. The ethnic cleansing campaign involved the use of gas chambers as well as other means and lasted from 1941 to the end of the war.

See if you can select the war's British prime minister.

British Prime Minister Winston Spencer Churchill was a relative of the Duke of Marlborough, a celebrated English soldier of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The World War II politician first began his career as a soldier in the Fourth Hussars regiment.

In Germany's Third Reich, who was appointed propaganda minister for the Second World War?

The Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels frequently recorded assorted events, meetings and experiences in a daily journal. He thoughtfully made the connection between the Allied D-Day invasion of June 1944 and the fourth anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation, which also occurred in northern France.

A German film director tasked with the role of promoting Aryan superiority was ________?

Adolph Hitler called on Germany's artists to portray Aryan superiority in culture pieces, such as movies, art and literature. Leni Riefenstahl's propagandist content was some of the most successful in rallying fellow Germans to endorse the belief.

Name the Italian prime minister who succeeded Benito Mussolini immediately after his death.

King Vittorio Emanuele III called for Mussolini's arrest and designated Marshal Pietro Badoglio as prime minister. The ousting of Mussolini shocked the Nazis. Adolph Hitler did not trust Badoglio and sent Nazi military reinforcements into central and northern Italy after Badoglio's appointment.

Do you recall the date that Allied forces liberated Belgium?

Allied forces on Europe's western front managed to cross the English Channel in late January 1945. After they had traversed France, the armies liberated Belgium as well as Luxembourg and regions of the Netherlands.

How well do you know the first battle when Britain defeated the Nazis in North Africa?

British Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery assailed Italian and German troops during the Battle of Alam Halfa that lasted from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, 1942. British intelligence played a major role in defeating Axis troops.

Identify the location in Britain where mathematicians decoded Axis intelligence information which significantly aided the Allied war victory.

During World War II, the bombe machine decoded information ciphers that were generated by the Axis powers. British scientists of the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park engineered the device.

What was the code name of the atomic bomb development project?

Before the war, an Austrian scientist attested that German chemists had split the uranium atom, a feat that many believed would cause a massive explosion. In 1939, Albert Einstein asked President Franklin Roosevelt to start an atomic program. The project began at Columbia University in 1940.

Nazi forces surrendered on ________?

Between May 5 and May 7, 1945, a multitude of Nazi military units surrendered. German troops in Italy capitulated on May 2 as Allied forces invaded Trieste. A few days prior to the May 2 surrender, Hitler committed suicide.

Do you see the nickname of the first atomic bomb?

On July 16, 1945, Manhattan Project scientists detonated the "Trinity" bomb at the Alamogordo Air Base in New Mexico. An inward blast of forceful explosives propelled two plutonium hemispheres to collide, which created the explosion.

What type of bomb did the United States detonate over Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945?

Of the roughly 343,000 residents of Hiroshima, 66,000 perished instantly as a result of the bomb. The United States exploded a plutonium bomb over Nagasaki, Japan on Aug. 9, 1945, swiftly eliminating approximately 39,000 Japanese inhabitants.

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