What Do You Know About the Major Turning Points of WWII?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: wikimedia

About This Quiz

In every armed conflict, politicians and generals make the decisions that can completely alter the war’s outcome. And during the Second World War, the stakes were never higher. As the Axis of Germany, Italy and Japan threatened to consume the globe, the Allies rose up in opposition. In this incredible quiz, what do you know about the biggest turning points of World War II?

Before it ended, WWII ensnared almost every country on the face of the planet. As Hitler’s forces rocked Europe and North Africa, the Empire of the Rising Sun captured island after island in the Pacific Theater. In 1939 and 1940, it seemed as though nothing could stop their relentless attacks. What do you recall about the critical points of the early war?

French lines crumbled. Britain quavered in the shadow of the Luftwaffe. America was shattered at Pearl Harbor. Everywhere, it seemed, evil triumphed. But the Royal Air Force held fast. And the United States, spurred by one surprise attack, girded for a war of survival. Do you know which battles marked major shifts in the war’s momentum?

From Warsaw to Paris, from Okinawa to Hawaii, it wasn’t just a war – it was the apocalypse. Take this WWII quiz now and see what you know about the turning points of this legendary conflict!

The violence of World War II's European Theater kicked off with which major event?

On September 1, 1939, Hitler sent his armies to invade Poland. This act of violence triggered WWII in Europe.


In May 1940, which Allied city fell to German arms?

It was one of the war's darkest months. In May 1940, German forces strolled into Paris, which had surrendered rather than be destroyed. A major Allied city was in Nazi hands.


What incredible event unfolded in France at the end of May 1940?

The German army forced French and British troops all the way to the coast of France. But a frantic Allied evacuation rescued hundreds of thousands of troops and took them to Britain, in what's now called the Miracle at Dunkirk.


How did the shorthanded Allies manage to rescue trapped troops during the Dunkirk evacuation?

British officials pleaded with civilians to loan or even drive their boats across the English Channel to Dunkirk -- hundreds heeded the call, saving hundreds of thousands Allied soldiers from becoming Nazi POWs.


What happened on July 20, 1944?

On July 20, 1944, German dissidents tried to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb. But a heavy table deflected the blast, saving the Fuhrer's life … and prolonging the insanity of the Third Reich.


In 1937, Japan went to war with which nation?

In 1937, Japan began its war with China, in effect kicking off WWII in the Pacific. Millions of Chinese troops and civilians would perish in the years-long conflict.


After failing to conquer Britain by air, Hitler decided to attack which country?

In June 1941, Hitler was infuriated at the inability of his forces to subdue Britain. Rather than wait for the Western Front to stabilize, he launched an attack on the Soviet Union.


In Operation Barbarossa, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. How many troops did he deploy against the Red Army?

Hitler sent 3 million German troops to invade the USSR. In doing so, he depleted the number of men he could've used on the slowly-crumbling Western Front.


In the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, which country declared war on America?

In just days, the U.S. went from virtual bystander to a nation under siege. As America buckled from the devastation at Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States.


Which air battle turned the tide of the European Theater?

In July 1940, the Battle of Britain began, pitting the German Luftwaffe against Britain's Royal Air Force. Hurricanes and Spitifires parted the skies with a hail of lead, sending Nazi planes spiraling into the sea.


Which battle featured a titanic clash of tanks?

In the summer of 1943, the world witnessed the biggest armored battle in history. The Battle of Kursk saw the Germans and Soviets facing off with thousands of tanks, and the Red Army hung on for an important victory.


How did the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor reshape the war?

Before Pearl Harbor, America was on the fence with regard to military action. Afte the attack, the U.S. dove headlong into war in both the Pacific and European theaters.


Which naval battle was a major turning point of the Pacific theater?

At the Battle of Midway, the Japanese aimed to crush what was left of the U.S. Navy. Instead, the Americans sprung a trap … and sent four Japanese carriers to a watery grave. The Japanese navy never recovered from these incredible losses.


In November 1942, the Soviet Union launched a mission called Operation Uranus. What was this operation?

Operation Uranus was a major Soviet offensive at the Battle of Stalingrad. It was a desperate attempt to push the Germans back from a critical Soviet stronghold.


At the Battle of Stalingrad, a major Soviet offensive encircled the German 6th army. What were Hitler's subsequent orders?

Hitler made a grave error in ordering his 6th Army to stay and fight, even while trapped by the Soviets. In the end, he lost the entire army … a fact that had tremendous implications for the rest of the war.


What happened on June 6, 1944?

In the history of human warfare, few days have had the significance of June 6, 1944. It was D-Day, the attempted Allied invasion of Normandy.


How many Allied ships took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy?

The Allies organized the biggest amphibious assault in history for D-Day. More than 7,000 ships took the fight to the Atlantic Wall in hopes of sending the Germans running. They did.


On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops liberated which area?

It was a momentous accomplishment in the European theater. Soviet troops got an intimate look at the Holocaust on January 27, 1945, when they liberated the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.


What was the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot"?

In June 1944, American forces were vastly superior to the Japanese. The "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" found the Americans blasting plane after enemy plane right out of the sky.


In December 1944, which country launched a major surprise offensive in northwest Europe?

It was the last major German offensive of the war, a surprise attack that became known as the Battle of the Bulge. A modest American unit was the only force standing in the way of the revitalized blitzkrieg.


At the Battle of the Bulge, how many American troops died during ferocious winter fighting?

Amidst the bone-freezing cold, American troops remained in their foxholes under heavy fire, unable to retreat. Nearly 19,000 of them died turning back the German offensive.


Which battle is often called the single biggest turning point of the European War?

At Stalingrad, the Soviets made their stand. It was one of the biggest battles in human history, and in the end the Red Army stood tall … sending the Germans to a crushing defeat.


Operation Barbarossa was a major German offensive along a ______-mile front

On June 22, 1941, Hitler flung 3 million soldiers into a 2,000-mile Soviet front. At first, the Germans advanced steadily, but spread too thin, their momentum eventually faded.


At the Battle of Berlin, German troops used which new weapon to great effect?

At the Battle of Berlin, Germans unleashed newfangled anti-tank rockets, destroying thousands of Soviet tanks in the process. But would these powerful weapons be enough to turn the tide of the battle?


Adolf Hitler killed himself during which battle?

And the world rejoiced at the news. Trapped on all sides by vengeful Soviet soldiers, Hitler shot himself during the Battle of Berlin. It was the final nail in the coffin of the blood-frenzied Third Reich.


With the Japanese refusing to surrender in the Pacific War, what fateful decision President Truman make?

An invasion of Tokyo would've been a bloothbath for both sides, something that Truman wanted to avoid. Instead, he unleashed two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima and one on Nagasaki, in hopes of forcing the Empire to capitulate.


How did the majority of the Japanese cabinet respond to America's atomic attack?

Who's scared of a couple of mushroom clouds? Most top Japanese officials thumbed their noses at America's nuclear weapons. It was only when a much scarier threat emerged that they began to reconsider their stance.


In August 1945, which country invaded a Japanese territory called Manchuria?

On August 9, 1945, the USSR sent its men to attack Manchuria, a Japanese puppet state. Suddenly, Japan found itself fending off the fearsome Red Army.


How did Japan respond to the Soviet attack on Manchuria?

When the Soviets made it clear that they intended to take the war to Japan, the Japanese knew they were out of options. The Red Army attack, paired with America's atomic bombs, convinced the Empire to surrender.


Where did Japan officially surrender to the Allies?

On September 2, 1945, the Allies breathed a sigh of war-weary relief. Aboard the USS Missouri, a battleship deployed near Tokyo, the Japanese signed an official surrender, and WWII was over.


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