IMDb Polls

Poll: Ten Key Milestones in WW2 Timeline

Why does World War 2 fascinate so much?

There are many reasons for that: the war has impacted history so significantly no one can possibly imagine our modern world without its influence. Secondly, many images are part of our universal heritage: Hitler spitting his hatred to cheering crowds, Churchill's broadcasted speeches, Spitfires fighting Messerschmitts, the "Day of Infamy", bombed cities, the nuclear mushroom, resisting civilians and skeletal people in striped pajamas carrying in haggard gazes the horrifying mark of human barbarity.

All these elements have inspired since the end of the war countless movies and documentaries, among them many masterpieces and maybe WW2's edge over WW1 is its narrative. The various key moments that punctuated these six bloody years were the kinds of turning points that made the reality even more dramatic than fiction. And the narrative is even more effective because the enemy's actions were pretty horrific and ultimately, the good side won (though calling it a clean victory would be an offense to the civilian casualties).

Anyway, not asking for an objective historical answer but just your personal opinion, here are 10 key milestones in the WW2 timeline, ranked in chronological order: which one do you consider the most dramatic or important?

After voting, you might discuss the list here

(the images might not totally correspond to the option's title)

This poll was inspired by the Apocalypse series

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!
     

    The Pianist (2002)

    BLITZKRIEG (Sep 39- Jun 40): From the invasion of Poland to the Nazi army literally steamrolling all over Northwest Europe. Why is it significant? Because that's the way it started and if it wasn't for the in extremis evacuation of British soldiers in Dunkirk (France), UK couldn't have been the last rempart of civilization against the Nazi expansion.
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    The Battle of Britain (1969)

    BATTLE OF BRITAIN (Jul - Oct 40): Britain resisting Blitz terror and valiantly keeping the Nazis at a distance thanks to the bravura of RAF ace pilots and the populations' involvement. Why is it significant? Because it's the first decisive victory against the Nazis, the first blow against their moral, the first time they were held back and learned that their enemy also meant business.
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    Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

    ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR (Dec 7, 1941): Japan's surprise attack on the naval base of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, catching America totally off-guard. Why is it significant? Not only because it lead to the US official entry into WW2, thus restoring a certain balance in the fight but also because it showed how serious and well-equipped an enemy, the constantly underestimated Japan was. The attack's success prompted Japan to expand its territories in Southeast Asia.
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    Midway (1976)

    BATTLE OF MIDWAY (Jul 4-7, 1942): The US Navy sinking four Japanese fleet carriers in the middle of the Pacific. Why is it significant? America needed a victory but it was more than a symbolic revenge, it stopped the Japan advance in the Pacific and caused material and human losses that could never be replaced. Had the US lost the battle, the continuation of the war might have been more problematic. The US first victory in the Pacific is certainly one of the major turning points of the War.
  5. Vote!
     

    Enemy at the Gates (2001)

    BATTLE OF STALINGRAD (Aug 42, Feb 43): The inevitable climax of a mad project that started with the Nazis invading Russia in Operation Barbarossa (Jun 41), the pivotal fight between Germany and its allies and the Soviet Union lead to one of the bloodiest battles of warfare with 2 million total casualties. Why is it significant? Because it stopped the German expansion to the East once and for all, and that defeat reversed the tide of war in Europe, allowing the Soviet Union to recover its territories and march toward Berlin. Also because the Soviet resistance (men and women) awakened a giant, just like Pearl Harbor did to the US.
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    Saving Private Ryan (1998)

    THE D-DAY (Jun 6, 44): The Allied invasion in Normandy in Operation Overlord. Why is it significant? Because it was the make-it-or-break-it moment of the war, because it allowed the Allied troops to start marching through Europe and get every occupied parcel of European territory back to its population, because of the whole narrative (long delays, bad weather, Intelligence, German resistance...) and for another subtle reason, it prevented the Soviet Union from being the unique triumphant force of Europe and eventually going a little further than Berlin. For all these reasons and maybe more, the D-Day is certainly the most pivotal date of World War 2.
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    Battle of the Bulge (1965)

    BATTLE OF THE BULGE (Dec 44, Jan 45): The German campaign that stopped the Allied invasion through the Ardennes for more than a month and almost cast doubts within the Allies. Why is it significant? While it's obvious that the Allies would have won on the long term, the battle marked the first German counteroffensive campaign but also its last offense, it was truly the last obstacle to the march toward Berlin but one with a severe cost for it was the second deadliest battle of the US army after Normandy.
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    Germany Year Zero (1948)

    BOMBING ON DRESDEN (Feb 45): The US-British attack on the capital of Saxony, Dresden. Why is it significant? While not the first Allied attack that killed civilians, it was the first that truly raised that 'moral' aspect of warfare from their perspective. Indeed, while the Axis was the legitimate villain, the Allies could question whether they crossed the line between immoral acts and war crimes. But on a strategic standpoint, the attack did bring Germany as far down as possible and proved to the Nazi leaders that their enemy could be as ruthless as they were during the Blitz.
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    Life Is Beautiful (1997)

    THE LIBERATION OF BUCHENWALD (Apr 11, 45): The Allied army under the commandment of Eisenhower liberating the camp of Buchenwald and discovering the horrific extent of Nazi barbarity. Why is it significant? This one speaks for itself: the realization of how far racism and hatred can truly go, perhaps the furthest in humanity's history. The Allies could realize how misguided they were when they chose to ignore the Jews' pleas before the war and German civilians could see with their eyes the price of their apathy. The liberation of Buchenwald followed by the other camps lead to the first prosecution for crime against humanity and gave its full meaning to the term that became a global standard of human right by now. the Holocaust remains one of the ugliest stains of our history.
  10. Vote!
     

    Hiroshima (1953)

    ATOMIC BOMBINGS OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI (Aug 45): The US launching two nuclear weapons on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japan to surrender and the war to stop. Why is it significant? Not just because it marked the end of the war, but because of its death toll, there have been deadly battles and bombings but not so many deaths in such a short span of time: ten thousands in seconds. The bombings raised the same moral questions as the Holocaust and established the nuclear weapon as one heavy Damocles sword pending over the future of the world. In a way, like the ending of WW1, that one established the New Order with the US sending a message to the Soviet Union about its military power. The Cold War could begin.

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