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World War II

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"We are going to win this war because we have the best men. And they, personally, will escort Adolf Hitler to the gates of Hell."
Chester Phillips[src]

World War II, or the Second World War (often abbreviated as WWII or WW2), was a global war that was under way by 1939 and ended in 1945. It involved a vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. Various advanced weapons were made during the war, and the Axis conquered many countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

The Allied response was the creation of the first super soldier, Captain America, who became a symbol of freedom and justice. The war became much more complicated when the Nazi SS general Johann Schmidt separated his HYDRA division from his Nazi backers to start his own global conquest. The war ended with the complete victory for the Allies, who defeated both the Axis and HYDRA.


Leading up to World War II

Hitler's Rise to Power

"So many people forget that the first country the Nazis invaded was their own. You know, after the last war, they... My people struggled. They... they felt weak... they felt small. Then Hitler comes along with the marching, and the big show, and the flags, and the, and the..."
Abraham Erskine to Steve Rogers[src]

The devastation of the Great War (as World War I was known at the time) had greatly destabilized Europe, and in many respects World War II grew out of issues left unresolved by that earlier conflict. In particular, political and economic instability in Germany, and lingering resentment over the harsh terms imposed by the Versailles Treaty, fueled the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist (Nazi) Party.[1]

The Third Reich

Hitler opera

Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Führer.

"Wagner's line of thought is intimately familiar to me. What is celebrated is not the Christian religion of compassion, but pure and noble blood...blood whose purity the brotherhood of initiates has come together to guard. A divisive process is taking place in terms of world history. The man who sees the meaning of life in conflict will gradually mount the stairs of a new aristocracy... "
Adolf Hitler[src]

After becoming Reich Chancellor in 1933, Hitler swiftly consolidated power, appointing himself Führer (supreme leader) in 1934. Obsessed with the idea of the superiority of the "pure" German race, which he called "Aryan," Hitler believed that war was the only way to gain the necessary "Lebensraum," or living space, for that race to expand.

In February 1934, Hitler watched one of Richard Wagner's operas at the Deutsches Opernhaus in Berlin. There he met Johann Schmidt, the physicist who revealed him his theory that tales of the Asgardians and other heroes of Norse mythology could be more history than myth. Hitler was intrigued by Schmidt's ideas, but Hitler's associate Ernst Kaufmann, head of the Sturmabteilung's special weapons division, was less impressed. Though Hitler ordered Kaufman to arrange a meeting between him and Schmidt, when Hitler left the scene, Kaufman threatened Schmidt that he would kill him if he approached Hitler again. However, the same night, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutzstaffel, recruited Schmidt. Four months later, to gain support from the German Army for his regime, Hitler ordered the assassinations of all higher officers of the Sturmabteilung, including Kaufmann, who was killed by Schmidt, who then took control of Kaufmann's weapons program and formed his own SS division, HYDRA.[2]

In the mid-1930s, Hitler began the rearmament of Germany, secretly and in violation of the Versailles Treaty. After signing alliances with Italy and Japan against the Soviet Union, Hitler sent troops to occupy Austria in 1938 and the following year annexed Czechoslovakia. Hitler's open aggression went unchecked, as the United States and Soviet Union were concentrated on internal politics at the time, and neither France nor the United Kingdom (the two other nations most devastated by the Great War) were eager for confrontation.[citation needed]

Spanish Civil War

HYDRA vehicle

A HYDRA Mini Tank attacks Guernica, Spain.

In 1936, civil war broke out in Spain between the left-leaning Republicans and the right-wing Nationalists. Other world powers lent varying degrees of support to both sides. For example, the Soviet Union supported the Republicans, while the Nazis supported the Nationalists. To ensure a Nationalist victory, Hitler ordered various armed units of his government to provide military support to them. These included the regular German military, the Wehrmacht; and the special weapons division HYDRA. The battles that were fought here were to be a proving ground for the newly-rearmed German military, who would apply what they learned when war broke out in 1939. Much damage was done during the Spanish Civil War, both by conventional weaponry as well as by the advanced technology HYDRA used. British Agent Peggy Carter, who was embedded deep within HYDRA, smuggled footage of an advanced exoskeleton out of Nazi hands, and revealed that the damage in the city of Guernica, which previously had been attributed to the Luftwaffe, was actually wrought at the hands of HYDRA's tanks and battle armor.[3]

Outbreak of World War II (1939)

Nazi flag

The war flag of the Wehrmacht flies over occupied Europe.

"The Third Reich represents the greatest threat to liberty and justice the world has ever seen."
Chester Phillips to Howard Stark[src]

In late August 1939, Hitler and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which incited a frenzy of worry in London and Paris. Hitler had long planned an invasion of Poland, a nation to which the United Kingdom and France had guaranteed military support if it was attacked by Germany. The pact with Stalin meant that Hitler would not face a war on two fronts once he invaded Poland, and would have Soviet assistance in conquering and dividing the nation itself. On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland from the west; two days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany, beginning World War II.

On September 17, Soviet troops invaded Poland from the east. Under attack from both sides, Poland fell quickly, and by early 1940 Germany and the Soviet Union had divided control over the nation, according to a secret protocol appended to the Nonaggression Pact. Stalin's forces then moved to occupy the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and defeated a resistant Finland in the Russo-Finish War. During the six months following the invasion of Poland, the lack of action on the part of Germany and the Allies in the west led to talk in the news media of a "phony war." At sea, however, the British and German navies faced off in heated battle, and lethal German U-boat submarines struck at merchant shipping bound for Britain, sinking more than 100 vessels in the first four months of World War II.[citation needed]
Hitler the Avengers

Hitler salutes the passing German troops.

World War II in the West (1940-41)

The Fall of Western Europe

"You know how many Frenchmen it takes to defend Paris?"
"How many, Dugan?"
"I dunno. They've never tried."
Dum Dum Dugan and Gabe Jones[src]
On April 9, 1940, Germany simultaneously invaded Norway and occupied Denmark, and the war began in earnest. On May 10, German forces swept through Belgium and the Netherlands in what became known as "blitzkrieg," or "lightning war" in English. Three days later, Hitler's troops crossed the Meuse River and struck French forces at Sedan, located at the northern end of the Maginot Line, an elaborate chain of fortifications constructed after World War I and considered an impenetrable defensive barrier. In fact, the Germans broke through the line with their tanks and planes and continued to the rear, rendering it useless. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was evacuated by sea from Dunkirk in late May, while in the south French forces mounted a doomed resistance. With France on the verge of collapse, Benito Mussolini of Italy put his Pact of Steel with Hitler into action, and Italy declared war against France and Britain on June 10.[citation needed]

The British prisoners of war in the custody of the Nazi SS division HYDRA.

The Battle of Britain

On June 14, German forces entered Paris; a new government formed by Marshal Philippe Petain (France's hero of World War I) requested an armistice two nights later. France was subsequently divided into two zones, one under German military occupation and the other under Petain's government, installed at Vichy. Hitler now turned his attention to Britain, which had the defensive advantage of being separated from the Continent by the English Channel. To pave the way for an amphibious invasion (dubbed Operation Sea Lion), German planes bombed Britain extensively throughout the summer of 1940, including night raids on London and other industrial centers that caused heavy civilian casualties and damage. The Royal Air Force (RAF) eventually defeated the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) in the Battle of Britain, and Hitler postponed his plans to invade. With Britain's defensive resources pushed to the limit, Prime Minister Winston Churchill began receiving crucial aid from the U.S. under the Lend-Lease Act, passed by Congress in early 1941.[citation needed]

The war Behind the Scene

Stark Phillips expo

Colonel Chester Phillips recruits Howard Stark into the Strategic Scientific Reserve.

"But...we're not at war with Germany."
"The general consensus in the White House and the War Department is that that this is a temporary condition."
Howard Stark and Chester Phillips[src]

Seeing that Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich are the greatest threat to the free world, the American president Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the formation of the Strategic Scientific Reserve, an Allied deep science agency which would battle Nazi super weapons. The commander of the Strategic Scientific Reserve was Colonel Chester Phillips of the United States Armed Forces, who persuaded the industrialist Howard Stark to join the agency.[4]

In November 1940, at Castle Kaufmann in the Bavarian Alps, Johann Schmidt, the commanding officer of the Nazi Schutzstaffel's research division HYDRA, injected himself with the Super Soldier Serum made by professor Abraham Erskine. The serum made him stronger, but it also disfigured his face, and he became known as the Red Skull. Erskine was rescued from the castle by Peggy Carter, the British agent who infiltrated HYDRA. Erskine was brought to the US where he joined the Strategic Scientific Reserve.[4]

Operation Barbarossa (1941-42)

"The Reich shall win because we are unified. In blood as in purpose. While our enemies...are the polyglot peasants of Europe and the mongrel masses of North America."
Colonel Lohmer[src]

By early 1941, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria had joined the Axis, and German troops overran Yugoslavia and Greece that April. Hitler's conquest of the Balkans was a precursor for his real objective: an invasion of the Soviet Union, whose vast territory would give the German master race the "Lebensraum" it needed. The other half of Hitler's strategy was the extermination of the Jews from throughout German-occupied Europe. Plans for the "Final Solution" were introduced around the time of the Soviet offensive, and over the next three years more than four million Jews would perish in the death camps established in occupied Poland. The extermination was carried out mainly by Heinrich Himmler's infamous SS troops.

On June 22, 1941, Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union, codenamed Operation Barbarossa. Though Soviet tanks and aircraft greatly outnumbered the Germans', their air technology was largely obsolete, and the impact of the surprise invasion helped Germans get within 200 miles of Moscow by mid-July. Arguments between Hitler and his commanders delayed the next German advance until October, when it was stalled by a Soviet counteroffensive and the onset of harsh winter weather.[citation needed]

Discovery of the Tesseract

Schmidt Tesseract 2

Johann Schmidt prepares to put the Tesseract into Arnim Zola's machine.

"The energy we have just collected could power my designs. All my designs. This will change the war."
"Doctor Zola, this will change the world."
Arnim Zola and Johann Schmidt[src]

After researching history, Johann Schmidt learned about the mythical Tesseract, an object of unlimited power which was left on Earth by the Asgardians centuries earlier. Believing it to be real he began searching for it, knowing it would give him power. In March 1942, Schmidt and his army invaded Tønsberg, Norway, looking for the Tesseract. After entering a church, Schmidt encountered the Church Keeper who refused to tell him where the object was. However, Schmidt found the Tesseract in the wall and shot the church keeper with his gun.[1]

After gaining the Tesseract, Schmidt returned to his base in the Alps and gave the object to his top scientist, Arnim Zola, for studying. The Tesseract was shown to be so powerful that its energy could help the Axis powers conquer the entire world.[1]

World War II in the Pacific (1941-43)

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

America learns about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"At approximately eight A.M. local time, Japanese aircraft attacked the main base of the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, just outside Honolulu..."
―Radio broadcast[src]

With the United Kingdom facing Germany in Europe, the United States of America was the only nation capable of combating Japanese aggression, which by late 1941 included an expansion of its ongoing war with China and the seizure of European colonial holdings in the Far East. On December 7, 1941, 360 Japanese aircraft attacked the major U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, taking the Americans completely by surprise and claiming the lives of more than 2,300 troops.[2] The attack on Pearl Harbor served to unify American public opinion in favor of entering World War II, and on December 8 Congress declared war on Japan with only one dissenting vote. Germany and the other Axis Powers promptly declared war on the United States. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the United States would build fifty thousand planes to fight the armies of Hirohito and Adolf Hitler.[5] Howard Stark supported the American war effort by building one hundred thousand planes for the United States Armed Forces.[6]

America Strikes Back

"Roosevelt won't go just after Japan—we'll be at war with Hitler and Mussolini soon enough."
Steve Rogers[src]

After a long string of Japanese victories, the U.S. Pacific Fleet won the Battle of Midway in June 1942, which proved to be a turning point in the war. On Guadalcanal, one of the southern Solomon Islands, the Allies also had success against Japanese forces in a series of battles from August 1942 to February 1943, helping turn the tide further in the Pacific. In mid-1943, Allied naval forces began an aggressive counterattack against Japan, involving a series of amphibious assaults on key Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. This "island-hopping" strategy proved successful, and Allied forces moved closer to their ultimate goal of invading the Japanese homeland.[citation needed]

The Tide of War Turns (1943)

German Defeats


A newspaper report about the Nazi successes on Eastern Front.

"Hitler speaks of a thousand year Reich, but he cannot feed his army for a month. His troops spill their blood across every field in Europe. But he is still no closer to achieving his goals."
"And I suppose you still aim to win this war through magic?"
Johann Schmidt and Roeder[src]

In North Africa, British and American forces had defeated the Italians and Germans by 1943. An Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy followed, and Benito Mussolini's government fell in July 1943. However, the German troops immediately occupied northern and central Italy, slowing the advance of the Allies.[1]

On the Eastern Front, a Soviet counteroffensive launched in November 1942 ended the bloody Battle of Stalingrad, which had seen some of the fiercest combat of the war. The approach of winter, along with dwindling food and medical supplies, spelled the end for German troops there, and the last of them surrendered on January 31, 1943.[1]



Johann Fennhoff hypnotises a young soldier

"The war has damaged us all has it not Agent Sousa? We will never be the men we once were."
Johann Fennhoff[src]

In 1943, Johann Fennhoff was stationed in an army camp for the Soviet Armed Forces. While at the camp, he was reading a book called "The Tragic Life of Doctor Faustus". During his reading, he was interrupted by a surgeon, who wanted his assistance during an amputation of the leg of a soldier, called Ovechkin. He was hesitant at first, but agreed to help nonetheless. Fennhoff used his hypnosis-technique on the soldier, who focused on the memory of a game of chess he had with his mother before he enlisted in the army. As Ovechkin was completely focused on the memory, the surgeons could amputate his leg without Ovechkin feeling any pain.[7]

Project Rebirth

Steve Kruger

Steve Rogers captures Heinz Kruger.

"You don't win wars with niceness, Doctor. You win wars with guts."
Chester Phillips to Abraham Erskine[src]

In June 1943, as part of the Strategic Scientific Reserve's Project Rebirth, Abraham Erskine recruited the sickly Steve Rogers into the US Army. Rogers and other potential candidates for the Super Soldier experiment were moved to Camp Lehigh. Colonel Chester Phillips and Peggy Carter put the candidates through a series of physical tests. Meanwhile, Johann Schmidt, having discovered Erskine's whereabouts, sent his agents to kill him.

Following a week of evaluation, Erskine picked Rogers as the subject for the Super Soldier experiment based on his strength of character, knowing that the serum will react to that character. Phillips was not impressed with the choice. A day later, Rogers underwent Erskine’s Super Soldier treatment and experienced a transformation which increased his strength and stamina. Heinz Kruger, an assassin sent by Schmidt, infiltrated the secret Strategic Scientific Reserve laboratory in Brooklyn where the experiment was held and killed Erskine. Kruger escaped but was captured by Rogers who was unable to stop Kruger from killing himself rather than be interrogated.[1]


Hutter death

Schmidt's weapon vaporizes Sturmbanführer Hutter.

"My apologies, Doctor, but we both knew HYDRA could grow no further in Hitler's shadow. Hail HYDRA!"
Johann Schmidt to Arnim Zola[src]

Meanwhile, the German armies began to suffer serious defeats. The Battle of Kursk in July 1943, with which Adolf Hitler hoped to turn the tide of war on the Eastern Front in his favor again, ended in the devastating defeat of the German forces.

Hitler, who funded Johann Schmidt's research for years, now expected from HYDRA's scientists to make new weapons for the German armed forces. But the army never received promised weapons. Schmidt ignored all Hitler's calls.

Worried, Hitler sent three loyal SS officers, Oberstgruppenführer Roeder, Gruppenführer Schneider, and Sturmbanführer Hutter, to Schmidt's base. Schmidt's visitors were intrigued by the unusual uniforms and equipment used by the soldiers of HYDRA, but they told Schmidt that the Führer feels that "the Red Skull" was indulged long enough. Provoked, Schmidt showed them his Tesseract powered cannon. But when they discovered that he intends to nuke Berlin and overthrow Hitler, Schmidt vaporized them all to silence them. Though Schmidt didn't start an open war against the Axis, HYDRA no longer worked for the Nazi Germany.

Shortly after, a battle was fought near Azzano in Italy between the American troops and the German Army. A company of HYDRA soldiers joined the battle, wiping out the Germans with their pulse rifles and capturing almost the entire American unit.[8] The prisoners were soon transported to the Austrian HYDRA Weapons Facility where they were forced to work as slaves.[1]

Captain America

USO Preformer

Steve Rogers as Captain America.

"Sir, if you're going after Schmidt, I want in."
"You're an experiment. You're going to Alamogordo."
"The serum worked."
"I asked for an army and all I got was you. You are not enough."
Steve Rogers and Chester Phillips[src]

Rather than risk their only super soldier in combat, the US military leaders decided to use Rogers as a public relations tool, having him appear around the country at War Bond rallies as Captain America. The new hero soon became the subject of war movies and comic books. Meanwhile, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Strategic Scientific Reserve to concentrate its efforts on combating HYDRA.

Soon, Rogers' War Bond show turned into a USO Tour show and was sent into Italy. In November 1943, Captain America was met with derision from soldiers who have actually been through months of grueling combat. When Steve found out about the casualties sustained by the 107th, the unit of his friend Bucky Barnes, he planned an impulsive rescue mission. Aided by Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, he flew behind the German lines into Austria, where he parachuted near one of HYDRA's bases in the Austrian Alps, halfway between Kitzbühel and Klagenfurt.

Cap and Peggy 1

Captain America returns from his first successful mission.

Captain America sneaked into the base and freed 400 captured Allied troops including Barnes, Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan, Gabe Jones, Jim Morita, James Montgomery Falsworth, and Jacques Dernier. During the battle between the freed prisoners and HYDRA guards, Captain America confronted Schmidt and his top scientist Arnim Zola. After attacking Rogers and punching a hole in his shield, Schmidt ripped off his face mask to show him what Erskine's serum did to his face. While Rogers and Barnes were stunned, Schmidt escaped in a plane while Zola took his car. Rogers and Bucky were able to escape from the facility before it blew and walked with the released prisoners all the way back to Colonel Chester Phillips' base in Italy.[1]

Toward Allied Victory in World War II (1944)

The Howling Commandos

HYDRA Uber Tank

Captain America attacks the HYDRA Uber Tank.

"So, let's get this straight."
"We barely got out of there alive, and you want us to go back?"
"Pretty much."
"Sounds rather fun, actually."
Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Steve Rogers, and James Montgomery Falsworth[src]

While the US Army fought against the regular German troops, Steve Rogers was ordered to battle HYDRA's forces across the Nazi-occupied Europe. Dressed in a new uniform provided by Howard Stark and equipped with the new shield made from the only available piece of Vibranium, he assembled his own personal team of soldiers. The unit, named the Howling Commandos, was composed of men which Captain America freed from HYDRA in Austria. Soon, they embarked on several raids against HYDRA, destroying many of their factories.[1]


"Maybe you'll get away, for now. But I'll never top hunting you. Me, and all those millions who think like me. Because you and your HYDRA buddies aren't facing a man in this war. You're facing an ideal. That all people deserve to be free. And you can't kill an ideal with bullets...or smother it with bombs."
Captain America to a HYDRA agent[src]

During the first months of 1944, when the German air force launched the last "Blitz", Johann Schmidt sent a group of HYDRA agents to London to steal some blueprints from the Strategic Scientific Reserve. The agents were successful, but while they were trying to reach their submarine to escape back to Germany, they were discovered and chased by Captain America who managed to capture all of them.[9]

A German scientist, Wernher von Braun, developed the world's first long-range guided ballistic missiles: the V-2s. Hundreds of V-2 rockets, or Vergeltungswaffe 2 (Retribution Weapon 2) were launched by the Wehrmacht, targeting London.[10]


Cap vs HYDRA

Captain America fights against the soldiers of HYDRA.

"Embrace your superiority, Hauptmann. Leave your inferiors to their doom. Or perish with them. These are your only choices."
Johann Schmidt to Captain America[src]

In April 1944, Captain America infiltrated a castle controlled by HYDRA on an island in the Nazi-occupied Danish Straits.[11] After defeating a soldier equipped with the advanced exo-skeleton battle suit, he took control of a tank and used its laser cannon to kill several HYDRA soldiers.[12] The Howling Commandos soon joined him in cleaning the place, and they finally broke into the control room, where they found Schmidt himself. However, "Schmidt" was actually only a remote controlled "sonogram", an image formed of sound waves, one of Arnim Zola's many inventions. They saw that Schmidt was studying a mystical Viking Runestone found in the castle. Schmidt remotely sent a catastrophic surge to the site through the "Vita-batteries", intending to destroy the castle. Speaking through sonogram, Schmidt gave Captain America the choice of dying with the Commandos, or saving only himself. However, Captain America managed to slow the relic from exploding too early to make time for the Commandos to escape.[13]

The Mediterranean

"The doctors here took the name of their organization―"HYDRA"―pretty literally. They were researching means of cell regeneration to enhance the combat effectivness of Axis soldiers."
Gabe Jones to Captain America[src]

When the scientists of HYDRA developed the thunder lance torpedoes, the submarine Leviathan used them to destroy the Allied merchant freighter in the Mediterranean. However, Captain America, who was traveling on the sunken ship, boarded the submarine and captured it. Captain America and the Howling Commandos infiltrated the HYDRA U-base where they discovered that the mysterious "Hydra Serum" merged the entire base's staff into one octopus-like creature. Captain America decided to take the creature to Howard Stark to separate it back into individual men.[14]

Battle of Finow

Battle of Finow

Russian victims of the Midnight Oil chemical weapon

"I was only spared because I had a gas mask to protect myself. My comrades were not so lucky. My brother wasn't so lucky. When I found him, he had no eyes. Pieces of his flesh had been bitten off."
―Ivchenko to Howard Stark[src]

In June 1944, Johann Fennhoff and his brother were among the soldiers deployed to fight in Finow, Germany. Choosing to wear a gas mask, he was not affected when General John McGinnis deployed the invention called Midnight Oil. Fennhoff's brother was killed in the massacre that resulted. Fennhoff discovered his beloved brother's corpse without eyes and with pieces of his flesh ripped off, showing that he had suffered a horrifically painful death.[15]


Cap prisoners

Wehrmacht soldiers surrender to Captain America on Utah Beach on June 11, 1944.

"General Patton has said that wars are fought with weapons but are won by men."
Chester Phillips[src]

On June 6, 1944–remembered as "D-Day"–the Allies began a massive invasion of Europe, landing 156,000 British, Canadian and American soldiers on the beaches of Normandy, France. In response, Adolf Hitler poured all the remaining strength of his army into Western Europe, ensuring Germany's defeat in the east. Soviet troops soon advanced into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania, while Hitler gathered his forces to drive the Americans and British back from Germany in the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945), the last major German offensive of the war.[citation needed]

Siege of Bastogne

In December 1944, Bastogne was the site of an engagement between Allied and German forces. One of the soldiers fighting on the American side was Daniel Sousa[16]. While fighting, Sousa was in the femur by shrapnel, necessitating an amputation.[17]

The End of the War in Europe (1945)

Reshaping Europe

Big three

Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin at the Yalta Conference.

At the beginning of February 1945, the heads of all three major Allied countries, the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, had a meeting near Yalta in Crimea. The Big Three agreed to require Germany’s unconditional surrender and began plans for a post-war world.[18]

Zola's Imprisonment

Skull Zola

Johann Schmidt and Arnim Zola examine the destroyed HYDRA factory.

"You are failing! We are close to an offensive that will shake the planet, yet we are continually delayed because you cannot outwit a simpleton with a shield!"
"This is hardly my area of expertise! I...I merely develop the weapons. I...I cannot fire them."
"Finish your mission, doctor. Before the American finishes his."
Johann Schmidt to Arnim Zola[src]

By the beginning of 1945, Captain America and the Howling Commandos progressively managed to destroy most major HYDRA operations, depriving Arnim Zola of any real ability to work on his scientific projects. Eventually he had to be moved via armored train, which Captain America and the Howling Commandos attacked. In the ensuing battle, Bucky fell off the train, seemingly dying, but Zola was captured and handed over to Allied forces.[1]

Planning the Last Battle

Zola captured

Zola in the Strategic Scientific Reserve base.

"Schmidt believes he walks in the foot steps of the Gods. Only the world itself will satisfy him."
"You do realize that's nuts, don't you?"
"But the sanity of the plan is of no consequence."
"And why is that?"
"Because he can do it!"
Arnim Zola and Chester Phillips[src]

Meanwhile, Arnim Zola was brought to the Strategic Scientific Reserve base where he was questioned by Colonel Chester Phillips. Phillips noted that his lack of the Cyanide Pills normally used by HYDRA agents to prevent capture suggested that he did not want to die personally. Zola told him everything he knew about HYDRA and revealed Schmidt's plans of world domination.[1]

HYDRA's Defeat

US Army attack

The US Army attacks Schmidt's base.

"Tomorrow, HYDRA will stand master of the world. Born to victory on the wings of the Valkyrie. Our enemies weapons will be powerless against us. If they shoot down one plane, hundreds more will rain fire upon them! If they cut off one head, two more shall take its place. Hail HYDRA!"
Johann Schmidt[src]

Though the Third Reich crumbled, HYDRA was finally ready to launch an offensive that would shake the planet. With the giant super bomber, the Valkyrie, and its flying nuclear bombs, Schmidt intended to bring America to its knees by destroying the entire East Coast of the United States.[1]


Schmidt's last moments

As a diversion, Captain America attacked Schmidt's base. He was captured, and just as Schmidt prepared to kill him, the Howling Commandos broke in, followed by the US Army detachment led by Colonel Chester Phillips and Peggy Carter. After the fierce battle, the base was captured, but Schmidt escaped on the Valkyrie and was preparing to carry out his plan of world domination. Rogers was able to get aboard the plane and battled Schmidt for the final time. In the wake of the battle, Schmidt touched the Tesseract and disappeared. Rogers, realizing that there was no safe place to put the plane down without risking the weapons going off, decided to crash the plane in the Atlantic. After the final assault, Rogers was presumed missing in action.[1]

Reinhardt doctors

Werner Reinhardt conducts his experiments

Unaware of the Red Skull's defeat, the HYDRA General Werner Reinhardt continued his experiments with a dangerous new weapon known as the Obelisk, which had the power to kill anyone it came into contact with. Reinhardt collected a group of men and women of various ages and races to touch the Obelisk and test how it killed people. Eventually one of the captured villages, a woman named Jiaying was able to touch the Obelisk without being harm, causing it to glow a strange golden color. As Reinhardt ordered the woman to be experimented on, one of his lieutenants came in to inform him of Schmidt's demise at the hands of Captain America.


General Werner Reinhardt and his men are captured by the Strategic Scientific Reserve.

Werner Reinhardt attempted to empty the HYDRA Research Facility in Austria and escape with several mysterious artifacts of unknown origin. But the facility was attacked by the Howling Commandos and a group of US Army soldiers led by Peggy Carter. The surviving HYDRA members were taken into custody. Before he was taken away, Reinhardt warned Peggy that if one head was cut off, two more would grow, indicating that HYDRA will survive.[19]

The Fall of the Reich

Keitel surrender

Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, signing the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.

In February 1945, an intensive aerial bombardment preceded the Allied land invasion of Germany. The last German offensive on the Eastern Front at the Lake Balaton area in March 1945 was easily stopped by the overwhelming Soviet forces. By the time Germany formally surrendered on May 8, Soviet forces had occupied much of the country. Adolf Hitler was already dead, having committed suicide on April 30 in his bunker in Berlin. Many of his deputies, including Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutzstaffel, also committed suicide.[citation needed]

On May 9, 1945, the German Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel had to sign the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany at Soviet headquarters in Berlin.[20]

World War II Ends

Victory Day

The people of Britain celebrate the end of the war.

"My old man had a philosophy: peace means having a bigger stick than the other guy."
"That's a great line, coming from a guy selling the sticks."
"My father helped defeat Nazis. He worked on the Manhattan Project. A lot of people, including your professors at Brown, would call that being a hero."
Tony Stark and Christine Everhart[src]

At the Potsdam Conference of July-August 1945, U.S. President Harry S. Truman (who had taken office after Roosevelt's death in April), Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin discussed the ongoing war with Japan as well as the peace settlement with Germany. Post-war Germany would be divided into four occupation zones, to be controlled by the Soviet Union, Britain, the United States and France. On the divisive matter of Eastern Europe's future, Churchill and Truman acquiesced to Stalin, as they needed Soviet cooperation in the war against Japan.

Heavy casualties sustained in the campaigns at Iwo Jima (February 1945) and Okinawa (April-June 1945), and fears of the even costlier land invasion of Japan led Truman to authorize the use of a new and devastating weapon–the Atomic Bomb–on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August.[21] The new weapon was the product of the Manhattan Project, made by some of America's best scientists, including Howard Stark.[22] On August 10, the Japanese government issued a statement declaring they would accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, and on September 2, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan's formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.[citation needed]


Paperclip team

The former Nazi scientists recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D.

"The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. After the war, S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded, and I was recruited. The new HYDRA grew, a beautiful parasite, inside S.H.I.E.L.D."
Arnim Zola to Captain America and Black Widow[src]

World War II proved to be the most devastating international conflict in history, taking the lives of some 35 to 60 million people, including 6 million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis. Millions more were injured, and still more lost their homes and property. The legacy of the war would include the spread of communism from the Soviet Union into eastern Europe as well as its eventual triumph in China, and the global shift in power from Europe to two rival superpowers–the United States of America and the Soviet Union–that would soon face off against each other in the Cold War later on.

Howling Commandos Mourning

The Howling Commandos raise a toast to the memory of Captain America.

In a pub in London, the Howling Commandos toasted to their fallen comrade Captain America. Howard Stark attempted to find him, but was unsuccessful, although he found the Tesseract at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean.[1]

Many key players in the former Nazi political regime and Wehrmacht were arrested after the war, and prosecuted at the Nuremberg Trials, such as the chief of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel. He, along with many others, such as Ernst Mueller, were hanged after the trials concluded for Crimes against Humanity and Crimes against Peace, among other charges.[17] A new peacekeeping and intelligence agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., was formed by Colonel Chester Phillips, Howard Stark and Peggy Carter, to absorb the Strategic Scientific Reserve and expand upon its mandate. At the same time, the United States started Operation Paperclip, an effort to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States and deny their scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union. Among the scientists recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. was Arnim Zola, who used his new position to slowly rebuild HYDRA. Therefore, even though the Allies won the war, the core of their enemy survived to fight another day.[23]

The devastation wrought by the Second World War left a permanent impact on the course of human history. It helped define the modern world and, consequently, the violence of modern warfare. Eventually, the destruction of World War II and what followed would come to be evaluated by the sentient computer program known as Ultron, seventy years after the end of the conflict. As a peacekeeping program, Ultron's analysis of World War II and the resulting global unrest was instrumental in his decision to eradicate humanity.[24]


Appearances for World War II

In chronological order:


External Links

Wars and Conflicts in Earth History
Asgard-Jotunheim War (965 - 2011) • World War II (1939 - 1945) • Johann Fennhoff's Campaign (1946) • Cold War (1947 - 1991) • Battle of Puente Antiguo (2011) • Aldrich Killian's War (2011 - 2012) • Chitauri Invasion (2012) • Second Dark Elf Conflict (2013) • HYDRA Uprising (2014) • War on HYDRA (2014 - 2015) • S.H.I.E.L.D. Civil War (2015) • Ultron Offensive (2015) • War against the Inhumans (2015) • Inhuman Outbreak (2015 - 2016) • Grant Ward's Campaign (2015) • Avengers Civil War (2016)

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