How Much Do You Know About WWI and WWII?

By: Olivia Cantor
Image: Wiki commons

About This Quiz

The period from 1914 to 1945 was only 31 years, and yet it contained the two worst conflicts in the history of humanity. World War One lasted for four years and was the first great war in history not only to touch most of the world's nations - whether on their territory or at least involving some forces from them - but also to fear industrialized warfare. It wiped out a generation of young men and laid waste to a continent. 

World War Two spanned 1939 to 1945 and was even worse, killing the best part of 100 million people in not just the first fully industrialized war, but also the first fully mechanized genocide in the form of the Holocaust.

What is less understood about these wars is that they are brackets around a pivot in human history, a kind of culmination of the Enlightenment's struggle against the forces of monarchy and imperialism that in some form or another, had stood athwart every society since Roman times.

In the first Great War - as it was then known - empires fell, from the Austro-Hungarian to Tsarist Russia to the Ottomans. This created a vacuum that democracy, with its still relatively new-fangled and unfashionable notions about all people being born equal and having the right to self-determination, could not immediately fill. 

Into this space, as Churchill put it, "crawled the Hitlerite monster" of the fascist Nazi regime, along with other new ideologies that competed for space: anarchism, communism, and the ultimately victorious democracy. It was a time of great loss, great chaos, and great hope, and to study it is to honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for the victory of equality. Let's see if you were paying attention to this pivotal period.

In both World War I and World War II, which country was the most prominent enemy of the warring nations?

Germany was the prominent country that made World War I and II "possible." But today Germany is a peace-loving nation and has made amends and reparations where they are due.

In both world wars, what term was given to the “good guys” fighting the war?

The “good guys” during the war were called the Allied Powers. During WWI, they were led by Great Britain, France, Ireland, and Russia. Other countries, like the USA, later joined. During WWII, almost the same countries were involved as allies, but more countries later joined, like China and India.

In which continent did the World War I fighting originated?

It was in Europe where the initial fighting of WWI took place. But since other nations joined the efforts, the war spread to other regions as well.

Meanwhile, the “bad guys” of World War I were called this.

Germany was at the helm of the Central Powers during WWI. They were joined by Austria-Hungary when they were still under a dual monarchy union, as well as Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire.

Though the majority of the players remained the same, with additional players added later, what term was used to call the “bad guys” of World War II?

World War II’s Axis Powers included mighty countries like Germany and Italy from Europe. From Asia, they were joined by Japan.

What is the term given to the biggest war crime committed against the Jews during World War II?

The Holocaust is the collective term used to refer to the massacre of thousands of Jews during World War II. It is said that many generations were wiped out because families and clans were killed during that time.

During World War II, a young Jewish girl in hiding wrote a diary about her life. What was her name?

Anne Frank and her family hid in Amsterdam where she wrote a diary of life during the German occupation. The diary survived and was later published into a book entitled The Diary of A Young Girl.

Who is the infamous German leader whose notoriety reached mythical levels during World War II?

Adolf Hitler was the leader of Germany when World War II broke out. His legacy is one that the world will never forget.

It was during World War I when this huge land battle vehicle was introduced. What was it?

The modern-day military tank made its debut from the Allied Powers side. It was first seen during the Battle of the Somme in France.

World War II spread outside of Europe, mainly because of this Axis Power’s intention of having a kind of “Asia for the Asians” type of imperial rule. What country is this?

Japan’s WWII efforts were maneuvered under Admiral Hideki Tojo’s reign. He was the country's Prime Minister at the time.

America didn’t really want to join World War I but changed its mind when the Lusitania was bombed. What is the Lusitania?

America was trying to be neutral during WWI until the British passenger ship, Lusitania, was bombed by a German submarine. Nearly 2,000 passengers were killed, and about 128 of these passengers were Americans — so the USA declared war on Germany about two years later.

America was forced to join World War II when the Japanese bombed this place in Hawaii. What was this place?

Pearl Harbor was the site of a US naval base in the 1940s. When the Japanese bombed this base, the USA declared war against the Axis Powers.

These German airships shaped like long cucumbers flew above Britain to bomb populated areas during WWI. What were they called?

Aside from the usual biplane bomb raids over Britain, huge airships called Zeppelins also hovered above cities and dropped bombs everywhere. Even the residential areas were targeted.

When they say “The War to End All Wars,” which war are they referring to?

World War I was known by many names, such as "War of the Nations” and “The Great War.” But it was also known as “The War to End All Wars.” WWII proved that wrong...

In which century did both World Wars happen?

Both wars happened during the 20th century. WWI was from 1914 to 1919, while WWII was from 1939 to 1945.

It was during World War I when soldiers started digging long ditches to base themselves in. What term did they call these ditches?

The long trenches were basically narrow passageways that can hide a fully standing man underneath it., below ground level. The soldiers had to step up to peek outside of it to see if the enemy was coming.

What term did they call the area in between the two opposite trenches nearest the warring sides?

The warring sides both dug trenches to protect their side. But the trench nearest their enemy’s side was alongside the area known as No Man’s Land where, if you stepped out onto it, you could get fired upon by both sides.

What kind of pet bird was trained to carry messages for the Allied Forces during WWI?

Pigeons were easily trained during wartime efforts to carry messages for the Allied forces. However, the Germans also chose hawks to be trained to intercept these pigeons.

What was the name of Adolf Hitler’s political party which ruled terror during World War II?

Germany’s Nazi Party was a political party ruled by Adolf Hitler at that time. Everyone affiliated under this party became part of Nazi Germany under Hitler’s lead.

What was the name of the German encrypted communication machine that the Allied Forces were trying to break and decrypt?

The Enigma machine is the military communication device used by the Germans during WWII. British Mathematician Alan Turing’s efforts in breaking the Enigma code is perhaps the most familiar in popular culture -- as Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed in the film, "Imitation Game."

World War I’s beginnings can be traced back to a deed done to the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. What happened to him?

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia when a Bosnian Serb assassinated their Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The country’s allies soon joined the war effort and declared war on countries that were also the allies of their enemies.

Which country did Germany invade which ignited World War II?

Germany wanted to expand its control and to pick up from the “shame” of surrender during World War I. So they started their European invasion by invading Poland first, then other countries followed suit, like France, Norway, Netherlands, and Belgium — which characterized the start of World War II.

What did they call the WWII areas where Jews were imprisoned and, in some instances, killed or died due to inhumane conditions?

Jews were sent to various concentration camps after they were stripped of their property and belongings. They were made to work in such camps, and lived -- or died -- under inhumane conditions.

What was Japan hit with, which prompted it to finally surrender, ending WWII in the process?

Under America’s efforts, the government tested atomic bombs in their lands first to see if they would work. When they did, two were dropped in Japan, prompting their surrender.

Armistice Day is a holiday observed in parts of Europe because it signified the end of WWI. What is an armistice?

Armistice Day is usually commemorated every November 11th. It is to commemorate the armistice or the truce that the warring countries signed to eventually stop the war.

The Treaty of Versailles is the utmost final peace treaty signed by Germany to put an end to WWI and forced the country to pay reparations to war-affected countries. In which European country was it signed?

The Paris Peace Conference, held in France, was called on and attended by more than 30 countries to talk about the terms of the peace pact signed to end the war. The culminating document that came out of that gathering was called the Treaty of Versailles, which Germany eventually signed and abided by.

The Bataan Death March was the 60+ mile forced transfer -- on foot -- of American and Filipino soldiers captured by the Imperial Japanese Army. In which Asian country did this war crime happen during WWII?

The Bataan Death March was comprised of around 60,000 soldiers who rode and walked from one province to another in the Philippines. Many Filipino and American soldiers who were prisoners of war participated in this march, and many were killed or died along the way.

What were the two Japanese cities hit by atom bombs during WWII?

Hiroshima was the first Japanese city to suffer from the atomic bomb drop, which killed around 140,000 people. The Nagasaki bomb drop killed 80,000.

The Ottoman Empire was part of the Central Powers during World War I. What is the modern-day country name of this former empire?

The Ottoman Empire was a huge force to reckon with during the early era. That’s why Germany aligned with them for warfare. Today, the former empire is the modern-day Turkey.

Normandy was the site of the June 6, 1944, invasion which led to the crumbling of the German control during WWII. What was this date called?

D-Day is the term used for the day Normandy was invaded by a huge effort of Allied Powers. It was an important day which signified the start of the demise of Nazi Germany’s rule.

US President Franklin Roosevelt made a moving speech about Pearl Harbor’s bombing date to be “a date which will live in __.”

The famous Pearl Harbor Speech is also known as the Infamy Speech. Its famous opening line goes like this: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Hitler was to Germany during WWII, as ______ was to Italy.

Benito Mussolini was the Italian Prime Minister during WWII. He was the dictator who led the National Fascist Party of the country.

When the men were off fighting the war, who took over their industrial duties back home?

The women held up the home front during wartime in more ways than one. For the first time, women were allowed to work in industries deemed “for men only.” This led to a more active role and a more democratic participation of women in public life and the professional realms as well.

During WWII, US President Franklin Roosevelt died. Which US President succeeded him, and took over in the yet unfinished war efforts?

In April 1945, US President Franklin Roosevelt died in office. Harry Truman, occupying the office of the Vice President at that time, was sworn in to take over as president.

Winston Churchill was an important name in the Allied front during World War II. What country was under his command during WWII?

Sir Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II. He left an important legacy for his wartime efforts as well as his lifelong contribution to the UK government and the country.

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