Second World War Collection

Sir Martin writes:

The Second World War was among the most destructive conflicts in human history; more than forty-six million soldiers and civilians perished, many in circumstances of prolonged and horrifying cruelty. During the 2,174 days of war between the German attack on Poland in September 1939 and the surrender of Japan in August 1945, by far the largest number of those killed, whether in battle or behind the lines, were unknown by name or face except to those few who knew or loved them; yet in many cases, perhaps also numbering in the millions, even those who might in later years have remembered a victim were themselves wiped out. Not only forty-six million lives, but the vibrant life and livelihood which they had inherited, and might have left to their descendants, were blotted out: a heritage of work and joy, of struggle and creativity, of learning, hopes and happiness, which no one would ever inherit or pass on.

Sir Martin with the publisher Lord Weidenfeld, Second World War,1989.
Sir Martin with the publisher Lord Weidenfeld, Second World War,1989.

On This Day: 8 May 1945

“In Berlin, half an hour before midnight on May 8, a further signing took place of the Reims surrender; the signatories for the German High Command being Grand Admiral von Friedeburg, signing his third instrument of surrender in four days; General Hans-Jurgen Stümpff, Head of the German Air Force, and Field Marshal Keitel.  Four Allied witnesses added their names to the surrender document:  Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder for the Allied Expeditionary Force, Marshal Zhukov for the Supreme High Command of the Red Army, General de Lattre de Tassigny, General Commanding-in-Chief of the First French Army; and General Carl Spaatz, commanding the United States Air Forces.” 

The Second World War, A Complete History


Read more about Sir Martin’s inspiration and interest in world war history, his blogs, films and book talks: Sir Martin & The First & Second World Wars

The Second World War: A Complete History

Book Club Choice May 2022 A history of the Second World War that covers all the war fronts, the fighting on land, at sea and in the air, the activities of resistance and partisan groups, espionage, secret intelligence, strategy and tactics, war leaders, generals, admirals and air marshals, individual acts

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It was the most massive, complex, and spectacular amphibious assault ever attempted – the long – awaited turning point in the bloodiest and most savage war in history. But when 7,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft, and 150,000 troops converged on the coast of Normandy on 6 June 1944, the outcome of

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The Coming of War, 1939: Jackdaw

A folder, designed for schools, containing a dozen facsimile documents including the front page of the News Chronicle of 13 September 1938 announcing Chamberlain’s meeting with Hitler, a statement signed by Chamberlain and Hitler, 30 September 1938, and a poster announcing the provision of gas helmets for babies in August

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