Answers: World War Two Quiz
Spoiler Warning: This page contains the answers to the World War Two Quiz. The original quiz is located here: World War Two quiz. Yeah, I’ve slipped in a few personal opinions below, it’s my blog, hehe. And by the way, if you know little or nothing about World War Two and have been freely using World War Two analogies, I’m going to be calling you names. Consider yourself warned.
Scoring the quiz is easy. If you quickly and easily could answer the vast majority of the questions, or at least discuss the options at length, you are qualified to both talk about World War Two and even use World War Two analogies in your debates! If you answered “I don’t know” to the majority of the questions, congrats, you’re an honest person who needs to do more studying before engaging in World War Two discussions. If you get a lot of them wrong, you need to hit the books, but at least you now understand the blank looks you got (or worse) when you tried to discuss WW2 or use WW2 examples/analogies.
1. DDay was the turning point of World War II.
C. Not really, but it was an important battle.
D. I don’t know.
2. How many of the five landing zones on DDay did Americans invade:
A. 40% of them.
B. 80% of them.
C. 100% of them.
D. I don’t know.
The answers here are 1. C and 2. A. These two questions test whether your knowledge of World War Two came from history or Hollywood. Since most Americans get their war knowledge from Hollywood, they think DDay was a decisive (if not the decisive) battle of World War Two, and that it was primarily if not entirely an American operation. While it was an important battle, the outcome of the war was no longer in doubt by the time it occurred. And while the Americans were certainly the most important Allied force in the western front, only two of the five beaches invaded on DDay were invaded by Americans. Two other beaches were British landing zones, and the fifth beach was invaded by the Canadian army.
Trivia: The DDay invasion was the largest seaborne invasion in history as well as being the most carefully planned and prepared for battle in history. Allied victory at DDay was virtually assured. Even then, Eisenhower had prepared in advance a statement to be issued in case the landing failed.
3. Who had more tanks in 1940, when Germany defeated France in six weeks of fighting?
C. I don’t know.
4. The stunning German victories in early WW2 over Poland, France, and initially over Russia were primarily due to:
A. Surprise attack.
B. The Germans outnumbered their opponents.
C. The Germans had better tanks, planes, and weapons than their enemies.
D. All of the above.
E. None of the above.
F. I don’t know.
These two questions test knowledge of the blitzkrieg, the German “secret weapon” that allowed Germany to conquer France, Poland, several smaller countries, and much of Russia in 1939-1941. The correct answers are 3. B and 4. E. While surprise, numbers, and weapons played some role in some of the German conquests, the overwhelming reason for their success was the blitzkrieg or infiltration tactics. The Germans realized they could mass their tanks in panzer (tank) units, blitz through enemy front lines, and wreak havoc in the enemies backfield and surround (and cut off from supply) entire enemy armies. Other nations were prepared to refight World War One where long static front lines were the norm, and were largely unprepared for this new way of waging war.
Trivia: By 1942-43 anti-tank mines and hand held anti-tank weapons had for all practical purposes ended the blitzkrieg as a viable tactic, what successes it had after that were in situations where an enemy was badly outclassed and the terrain was very favourable to blitzkrieg tactics.
5. The USA declared war on Hitler’s Germany after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
A. True, Roosevelt vowed to destroy all fascism after Pearl Harbor.
B. False, Germany declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor.
C. I don’t know.
6. Japan attacked the USA because:
A. They hated America.
B. They needed oil.
C. They wanted to expand their empire.
D. I don’t know.
The answers here are 5. B and 6. B. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that Hitler declared war on the USA after Pearl Harbor, a lot of people are surprised to learn that. I included the question to debunk the implicit assumption (or outright claim!) that the US entered World War Two to fight fascism or spread freedom. The USA entered World War Two when Germany and Japan went to war with us.
In question 6, Japan attacked the USA because the US embargoed their oil after Japan invaded French Indochina, and then issued an ultimatum that was conditional on Japanese acceptance before they would even negotiate. A Japanese desire to have an Empire also figured in for sure, but their need to capture a source of oil was the proximate cause of their decision to go to war. Hatred of America played little or no role in Japan’s decision to attack America.
Trivia: Hitler decided that for political reason it was crucial to declare war on America before America declared war on Germany. It was and is a controversial decision on his part, because it is by no means certain that Roosevelt would ask Congress for a war with Germany as well as Japan, and it was by no means certain Congress would have agreed to attack Germany. By making the decision for the USA, Hitler gave the Americans a huge propaganda victory.
7. For the Japanese, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a great ________ victory.
C. political (public opinion)
D. I don’t know.
The correct answer here is A, a tactical victory. The Japanese destroyed or sank five battleships, three destroyers, three cruisers and destroyed hundreds of American planes at the loss of only a handful of planes themselves. A stunning victory in terms of battle losses. Strategically it was more of a wash, while it forced the Americans to change their war plans, it also forced the Americans to rely on their aircraft carriers which as it turned out was the best thing to do.
A very good case can be made that if the Japanese hadn’t attacked Pearl Harbor, the American battleship fleet would have sailed to the Philippines and been sunk with greater loss of life and no chance of recovery. (Four of the five battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor were refloated and back in action within a year, only the USS Arizona was so badly damaged that it couldn’t be salvaged, and is preserved as a war memorial/war grave to this day.)
Politically the attack was ultimately a disaster for Japan, it united the American public in a way that hadn’t been seen before or since, paving the way for Roosevelt’s eventual insistence on unconditional surrender, and eliminating any real chance for a negotiated end to the war.
If you don’t clearly understand the difference between strategy and tactics as it applies to war or even a game of chess, you have no business even discussing how to fight a war, let alone express an opinion on the subject. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but frankly I’m sick of people who couldn’t play a game of chess to save their life holding strong opinions on how a war should be fought. You don’t need to be an expert on a subject to have an intelligent opinion, but you at least have to have some grasp of the basics. If you can’t play a decent game of chess, I’m really not even interested in how you think a war should be fought.
Trivia: If the Japanese had attacked the American oil storage facilities and drydock facilities at Pearl Harbour it would have crippled the American war effort and very possibly changed the course of the war significantly. Even a few bombs and strafing runs would have done incalculable damage, their failure to do so remains one of the mysteries of history.
8. World War Two started in:
D. I don’t know.
B, 1939 is the answer. Virtually all historians date the start of World War Two with the German attack on Poland in September of 1939. France and England declared war within days and the fight was on.
Trivia: Some people will say that technically the war started when the Japanese attacked China in 1931, if you answered A because of that you are perfectly correct. (And give yourself a bonus smart ass point.)
9. How many US soldiers were killed and wounded by insurgents in Japan and Germany after they surrendered?
A. Thousands, Fascist German/Imperial Japanese guerrillas fought for years.
B. None, not counting a few killed fighting Japanese who didn’t know the war was over.
C. I don’t know.
The answer to question nine is B, none. This question is to illustrate the idiocy of comparing the occupation of Iraq to the occupation of Germany and Japan after World War Two. The fact that Americans freely and safely travelled around Germany and Japan after the war should have scotched the analogy from the get go, there are also many other extremely significant differences between these occupations. Basically, anyone who uses the occupation of Germany/Japan as an analogy for the occupation of Iraq is an idiot or a liar.
10.Did you cheat on this test?
B. Yes, I looked up some answers.
C. Yes, I figured out some answers from the context.
D. Yes, B and C.
This one is for personal introspection, no comment is necessary.
11. Bonus Question, name the tank illustrated above.
The tank in question is a German Panther Tank, it was designed and built in response to the superb Russian T-34 tank, which was a nasty surprise when the Germans first encountered it. The Panther was easily one of the finest tanks of the war, some people maintain it was the best tank in the world until the mid 50s. For example when it engaged the US Sherman tank in battle, five Shermans were lost for every Panther.
The Panther was however expensive and had maintenance issues, and was never available in large numbers. And by the time it really got into production, the war was already going very badly for the Germans. I don’t know what version the one pictured above is, I’m not that much of a detail guy. A great fan page with pictures is here, and the Wikipedia article is here.
Like all guys, I think tanks are really cool, which is why I included this question. Maybe I will blog more on tanks in the future. If this quiz gets received favourably I will do others, a Vietnam War one would be good, that’s certainly in the same ballpark as World War Two when it comes to brain dead analogies and general ignorance. Every war is different and people that don’t grasp this are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, or worse, commit even worse mistakes. Which pretty much sums up why we made such a mess of it in Iraq, many Americans (especially the Bush Administration) seem to think that Iraq was just a new version of World War Two. Sigh.
I hope my readers enjoyed this quiz, in fact I hope they learnt some stuff. Comment away please, it took a long time to write this and I would love feedback. If I made any factual errors, I need to hear about them. And I really want to know if I should go to the trouble of writing future quizzes.
I have now added a Vietnam War Quiz.
(The above image is public domain and may be reproduced and used freely.)