Official Histories of the Second World War
Not to be outdone by the detailed and sprawling history of New Zealands involvement in the Second World War, the Australian military undertook one of the longest and largest historical endeavours the nation has ever seen. The 22 volumes, written by 14 authors, were published by the Australian War Memorial over a 25-year period between 1952 and 1977.
As after the Great War, Canada did not issue a collected official history of the war, but commissioned a series of historical works that, taken together, enable readers to form a comprehensive picture.
Owing to the magnitude of the German defeat, it took more than thirty years before the first official work on the Second World War was started. Originally planned as a ten-volume work, the expanding research necessitated the split of some volumes into two seperate books. Published by the historical section of the German Army, the Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt, the resulting work titled “Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg” progresses from a more operational outlook to a more inclusive viewpoint in later volumes, examining in detail the terrors war brought to Europe.
The History of the Second World War is the official history of Britain’s contribution to the Second World War and was published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO). The immense project was sub-divided into areas to ease publication.
The transcribed name of the official Japanese history of the Second World War is “Senshi Sosho”. Its a monumental work, covering virtually all aspects of the war except the Japanese war crimes. The Senshi Sosho totals 102 volumes that consist of 34 volumes on the Imperial General Headquarters, 37 volumes on the Army, 21 volumes on the Navy, nine volumes on the aerial war the Army and one volume of chronology.
The fifty volume series covers all areas of New Zealand’s involvement in the Second World War, from detailed accounts of particular battalions, to the political and economic background and consequences, to full accounts of particular episodes and campaigns.
The number of studies and books published by the US military on the Second World War alone fills a small library. Official histories do not only exist for the Army and the Navy, then the two arms of the US military, but also for the nascent forces of the Air Force and the Marines, and of course for countless other organisations like the Corps of Engineers or the Coast Guard.
The first official history of the Soviet Union in the Second World War was published from 1960-64 by a collective and describes the war following Germanys attack on the USSR. Subsequent works published documents and statistics, but neither the six-volume official history nor most of the subsequent publications have ever been translated to English.