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  • Writer's pictureMichael Baker

WW2: A World at War

Updated: May 10

It's obvious that the Second World War was a global conflict, even more so than WW1, yet we still tend to look at it from a national perspective, which creates false assumptions and skewed parameters. But, equally, these national narratives are very diverse, spread as they are across Europe, the Middle East, the USSR and the Asia-Pacific region, and representing big and small countries, winners and losers, the free and the occupied. To take one tiny detail: VE Day on 8 May in Western Europe is Victory Day on 9 May in Russia. That's because the formal German surrender to the Allies in Berlin was signed late in the evening of 8 May 1945, so did not officially register in Moscow (which lay in a different time zone) until it was May 9. In Putin's Russia today, that difference only goes to underline what is seen as the unique nature of the Soviet contribution to what they call the Great Patriotic War. So, essentially, different combatant countries in WW2 fought different wars, and see and remember the conflict differently as a result. When you marry this sort of detail with the global dimension of the Second World War, you are confronted with a very complex phenomenon indeed. In the second series of Unknown Warriors, launched yesterday, leading historians examine the conflict from a global perspective, and in so doing re-introduce some of the nuance and complexity that, over time, our accepted narratives of WWII have erased or diminished.

If you think you know about WW2, it's time to think again.


An Understanding History Podcast

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