How Much Do You Know About the Famous Uprisings of WWII?

John Miller

Image: Stefan Bałuk via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

By the late 1930s, it was clear to many people around the world that the Third Reich and the Empire of the Rising Sun would not rest until they'd satisfied their imperialistic desires for more territory and power. So it wasn't surprising when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, and Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 wasn't really all that shocking. As the Axis swarmed in and occupied lands in both the Pacific and European theaters, many locals were left behind. Some submitted to the invading forces -- others took up arms against them. What do you really know about the famous uprisings of the Second World War?

In some places, revolt was a choice, a courageous call to arms amid occupying soldiers with big guns and superior numbers. In others, other than accepting death by starvation or gas chamber, rebellion was the only real option. In Poland, men, women and children made their own weapons, planned for many months, and then rose up against the brutality of the Germans. The Warsaw Uprising was the most famous revolt of WWII ... and its outcome became yet another tragic story for the ages.

Find any weapon you can, be it an ancient pistol or a rock, and wait for the secret signal. Then, join the fray of this treacherous WWII uprising quiz!

It was a deadly enterprise. Which major occupied city rose up against the Nazis in WWII?

In mid-1944, the innocents of Warsaw had had enough. They initiated a major, coordinated rebellion. The Warsaw Uprising became one of the best-known resistance efforts of the war.

It was no minor enterprise. How long did the bloody Warsaw Uprising last?

The Warsaw Uprising was a cleverly calculated rebellion, one meant to catch the Germans at a weak moment. For 63 days, the uprising caused immense bloodshed throughout some of the city’s most vulnerable areas.

During WWII, it became infamous. What was Treblinka?

Treblinka. One word says it all for those who know their WWII history. It was a German death camp ... but prisoners created an historic moment.

During the war, captives in the Treblinka death camp received news that the Germans were losing the war. So why did they fear even more for their lives?

In Treblinka, many prisoners got news of Allied gains ... and worried. Their fear? The Germans would murder every prisoner and then run for their own lives.

The Warsaw Uprising was the work of many people. How much help did the locals have in their rebellion?

The fighters in the occupied city figured that the Allies would jump to help them. They were wrong. The uprising’s warriors had very little help from outsiders.

At the Treblinka death camp, prisoners seized the moment. What did they do?

The prisoners in Treblinka forced their way into a weapons room. They grabbed guns and started their uprising in earnest knowing that the guards would be on them in seconds.

About 300 prisoners took part in the Treblinka death camp revolt. How many survived the attack and resulting manhunt?

About three hundred prisoners revolted at Treblinka. Perhaps 100 survived. Many perished before they reached the prison fence.

It was one of the most famous rebellions of the war. Where did the Białystok Ghetto uprising take place?

The Poles never gave up. In 1943, residents of the Białystok Ghetto rose up. It was sparked by a German declaration that many locals would be forcibly deported from the area.

Hundreds rose. Many fell. How many weapons did the warriors of the Białystok Ghetto uprising have?

They would’ve preferred a lot more. At the Białystok Ghetto uprising, hundreds of people revolted ... with just 25 rifles and a scattering of homemade firearms.

Revolt is contagious. How did the Warsaw Uprising affect the prisoners at Treblinka?

The prisoners at Treblinka took much hope from the Warsaw Uprising. Their resolve stiffened ... and they followed through on their daring plan.

What was the number one goal of the bitter Warsaw Uprising?

The people in Warsaw languished under German occupation. They wanted the Nazis gone ... no matter the price in blood.

The Białystok Ghetto uprising was doomed from the start. At the end, what did the leaders of the revolt do?

The Białystok Ghetto uprising was much smaller than the Warsaw Uprising. It was no less dedicated. The leaders of the revolted killed themselves rather than be caught.

When the Warsaw Uprising began, how did the fighters fare?

With their cache of arms and intelligent coordination, the warriors of the Warsaw Uprising seized much of the central area of the city. Holding on to their gains was another matter.

The "Resistance" was particularly famous in which WWII-ravaged country?

The French Resistance became an iconic force against the Nazis in WWII. Cleverly, they undermined German efforts every second of every day.

German leaders despised the French Resistance. In 1941, what measure did the Nazis take?

In 1941, fearing widespread revolt by the Resistance, the Nazis took thousands of French civilians hostage. It was an outrageous escalation.

How did the French "Milice" affect the French Resistance?

The Milice was a Nazi-operated French militia. It found Frenchmen hunting their own kind ... and after the war, they too were hunted .. and executed by their countrymen.

During the Warsaw Uprising, which country airlifted in supplies to the embattled fighters?

Winston Churchill felt the agony of the Polish fighters. Unable to convince the Allies to contribute, he sent British planes to drop supplies to the rebels in what became known as the Warsaw Airlift.

How long did it take German high command to receive news of the Warsaw Uprising?

Within 30 minutes, the Reich knew all about the Polish uprising in Warsaw. They were quite pleased about this development -- it gave Nazi leaders cause to destroy the city.

Why did the Poles want to start the Warsaw Uprising BEFORE the Soviets arrived to liberate them?

If the Soviets arrived at Warsaw, a battle between the Red Army and the Nazis would destroy the city. The Poles resolved to revolt before that happened.

Retribution was severe. How many Polish civilians were killed during the Warsaw Uprising?

This was WWII, after all, where casualty numbers were always high. Around 200,000 Polish civilians were killed in the uprising, many of them executed as a matter of revenge.

They were Polish heroes. What does "Armia Krawoja" mean in English?

Poland was one of the first to fall to the Reich. But from start to finish the Armia Krawoja, or Home Army, made them pay in blood.

During the Warsaw Uprising, Soviet troops near the city received calls for help. What did they do?

Polish fighters hoped that the Allies would join the fray once they made progress in Warsaw. But Soviet generals received their cries for help ... and did nothing.

“Werwolf" was a resistance group in which country?

Not all Germans liked the Nazis. "Werwolf" was an anti-Nazi group in Germany ... but it didn’t manage to accomplish much during the war.

Alexander Pechersky was a heroic rebel. Where was he from?

Alexander Pechersky was a Soviet soldier — and a Jew — imprisoned at the Sobibor concentration camp. But he was no ordinary POW.

At the famous Sobibor death camp uprising, Alexander Pechersky screamed which code words to start the revolt?

After exhaustingly detailed planning, the Sobibor uprising began with the stabbings of Nazi officers. Then, Pechersky screamed, "Hurrah, the revolt has begun!"

The Warsaw Uprising was surprisingly effective. What was one major flaw?

The rebels of the uprising captured most of the city. But they failed to clear paths to one another ... and were thus isolated. This turned out to be a problem.

It wasn’t always bulllets. Kazimierz Piechowski was famous for which feat of defiance?

Kazimierz Piechowski and three other prisoners of Auschwitz pulled off an incredible feat. They dressed in German SS uniforms, stole an SS car ... and drove unscathed from the notorious death camp.

Some people were too scared to participate in the Sobibor camp uprising. What happened to them?

No, sometimes there is no justice. A few dozen Sobibor death camp rebels survived the war. Ironically, the prisoners who opted not to take part were all executed. On German leadership orders, the camp was immediately closed, destroyed ... and turned into a tree farm.

The Germans finally won the day. What happened in the wake of the Warsaw Uprising?

After about two months of bitter fighting, the Germans put down the Warsaw Uprising. And then? They completely destroyed the city.

Fighting during the Warsaw Uprising was vicious. Heinrich Himmler compared the fighting to what?

Himmler witnessed the carnage of Warsaw and was taken aback. He compared the relentless fighting to the infamous Battle of Stalingrad.

At the Treblinka death camp, most prisoners were killed when?

Treblinka was a literal slaughterhouse. Nine out of 10 prisoners were killed within two hours of their arrival.

The Wola massacre was a bloody, murderous rampage committed by which nation?

As Germany regained control during the Warsaw Uprising, the Third Reich’s leaders ordered mass executions in retribution. In the infamous Wola massacre, German troops may have murdered as many as 100,000 people ... and then burned the bodies.

Before the Warsaw Uprising, what was life like in the ghettos?

The ghettos of Warsaw were utterly horrifying before the uprising. Starvation and diseases killed more than 100,000 people in the years before the revolt.

Polish leaders-in-exile saw the USSR approaching Warsaw and feared what?

One reason the rebels pulled the trigger on the revolt as the Red Army approached Warsaw -- they feared that the Soviets would simply replace the Germans as occupiers. It was an unfathomable thought.

The Soviet army did capture one small part of Warsaw from the Germans … and then halted their advance. Why?

No one is precisely sure why the Red Army stopped its advance in Warsaw. But many historians speculate that Soviet leaders wanted the Germans and Polish rebels to destroy each other, making it easier for the communists to take over the area.

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