- For its Earth-X equivalent see World War II (Earth-X)
- "Man had no interest in splitting the atom until World War II. I'm just trying to make this world a better place, one war at a time."
- —Vandal Savage on World War II[src]
World War II was a war that occurred on Earth One in 1940s. Among the opposing sides were the Nazis, the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan and the United States. Originally, World War II was supposed to end in 1945, but when a time aberration occurred in 1942, the war continued until 1947. This resulted in many more casualties, but the war still ended with an eventual Nazi defeat. This aberration was prevented by the combined efforts of the Legends and the Justice Society of America, causing World War II to end in 1945, as it was supposed to.
Schemes of Vandal Savage
Vandal Savage alluded to World War II when discussing his motivations, hinting that he was somehow behind the ignition of the conflict. For Vandal Savage, each war, each conflict represented a push that would allow humanity to progress further in technology, making the world a better place in the long run. Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, was later called a "rank amateur" in comparison to Vandal Savage as far as conquerors go, according to Rip Hunter.
In 1944, the commune of Saint-Lô, France became a battlefield in the war, with the Nazis and the United States as the opposing sides. Sergeant Rock served as a combatant in the United States Army at that time, fighting the Nazis. As the two sides were at the midst of battle, the time-traveling Vandal Savage has arrived to claim his prize, a meteor from Thanagar, a source of great powers. On the battlefield, Rock has seen Kendra Saunders, a recent escapee of Savage, and wondered whether she was running away from the Nazis, and from whom else, if not them. Rock gave Kendra a pen and paper to write with, before allowing her to stuff the note in his helmet. He was promptly stabbed with a knife thrown by Vandal Savage. His helmet eventually entered the possession of Rip Hunter aboard the Waverider.
A military caravan, led by a Nazi officer, took hold of the Thanagarian meteor and was transporting it near Saint-Lô when it was confronted by Vandal Savage. Speaking to the officer in German, Vandal Savage demanded for the meteor to be handed over to him. The officer did not take the immortal's demands seriously, ordering him to move, only to be attacked by Vandal. The struggle was soon joined by the members of Rip Hunter's team, who, fighting both the Nazis and Vandal Savage, tried to make sure that the meteor would not end in Savage's hands, while his prisoners, Kendra Saunders and Scythian Torvil, would escape. The battle ended with all the Nazis present dead or otherwise knocked out .
During World War II, every country was trying to develop their ultimate weapon. The United States had "the Manhattan Project", the Nazis had "das Uranverein", and the Japanese created the "Mirakuru", a chemical substance that was based on stem cell research and genetic therapies, decades ahead of their time, able to affect the physiological and mental state of human beings, turning them into superhumans with a mutation that rapidly increased cell regeneration, but at the cost of mental deterioration, much like the Velocity serums of the future, which could turn their users into meta-human speedsters, with negative effects for the mind. Additionally, the United States had a secret service-aligned vigilante team called the Justice Society of America on their side, an organization that included meta-humans and other extraordinary members, who would go on successful secret missions against the Nazis.
A submarine of the Japanese Imperial Navy crashed at the Chinese isle of Lian Yu at one point during the war. The submarine contained many bodies of people affected by the Mirakuru, as well as a stash of said substance.
Due to the timeline aberrations that started to appear throughout history after the fall of the Time Masters, there was a possibility for the reality, in which the Nazis attacked New York City, United States with a nuclear missile in 1942, to cement in time (in this reality, the Nazis would still lose World War II by 1947, but with even more casualties on all sides). Adolf Hitler's plan for this operation included the abduction of Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric and the cooperation of Damien Darhk, who provided the Nazis with uranium. A number of Nazi secret agents were sent to a Physics symposium, where they prepared to abduct Dr. Einstein, disguised as decorated members of the military, whose exquisite decorations were instantly recognized by Rip Hunter and Mick Rory as fake. After realizing their cover was blown, the Nazis opened fire at the symposium, before being killed by Rip Hunter. In the meantime, Mick Rory and Martin Stein conducted a "friendly" abduction of their own, taking Einstein to the Waverider. The other Nazis, spied on by Sara Lance and Ray Palmer, were conducting a deal with Damien Darhk, who later acted as the commander of a Nazi U-boat located in the waters near New York.
The Legends countered the Nazis' plan and went on to stop a Nazi U-boat under command of Damien Darhk from destroying the city. In his anger, Darhk ordered a nuclear attack on the Waverider, which was hit by the missile, but not before scattering its crew throughout the timeline, with Mick Rory left on the drifting timeship underwater, placed in time stasis. After being rescued by Oliver Queen and Nate Heywood in 2016, Mick used the time ship to gather the Legends once again, who traveled back to the time period before the symposium and, in the guise of CIA, prompted Albert Einstein to inform the public of Mileva Maric and her accomplishments, forcing the US government to keep both of the Einsteins safe, disrupting the Nazis' plans. Meanwhile, on the U-boat, a Nazi naval officer came into conflict with Damien Darhk over the disruption of their plans. After the Nazi suggested using another bomb, Damien denied, double-crossing the organization, and saying that his partner wants to "move on to other things". His partner being the Reverse-Flash, all of Nazis aboard the U-boat were immediately slaughtered by the meta-human speedster's devastating attack.
In the French theater of World War II of 1942, the Justice Society of America was sent on a mission to oppose the Nazi German occupants. However, the Legends, back on the Waverider, found out about another aberration that would end with the deaths of the Justice Society, probably related to Eobard Thawne's biomolecular enhancer ending up in the hands of Baron Krieger. The Legends joined the Justice Society on their mission, ending up in two confrontation with the troops of Nazi Germany, led by the SS-Standartenführer Baron Krieger. During the battles, Krieger used the biomolecular enhancer, mutating into a meta-human berserker dubbed "der Übermensch". In this form, Krieger was so powerful that he necessitated a United States Air Force bombing run to get rid of.
The Soviet Union's experience during World War II would later influence Dr. Valentina Vostok's motivation behind "Operation Svarog", which would allow the Union to rise again, stronger than before, defeating the United States in the Cold War thanks to the use of Firestorm Matrix, the key to creating a Soviet Firestorm.
Although the Justice Society of America members like Amaya Jiwe thought that fighting Adolf Hitler would unite the United States and the Soviet Union, the two powers ultimately ended up in a world-spanning rivalry called the Cold War. As USA's friendship with the Soviet Union ended, the Justice Society continued fighting as what was known as the "Iron Curtain" descended over Central and Eastern Europe. A diplomatic cable from 1956 from the British ambassador warned the JSA about Soviet spies in their midst, leading to President Eisenhower suspecting Todd Rice/Obsidian as the traitor, a suspicion likely biased due to prejudice towards Rice's homosexuality. The team, lacking Rice, was sent into Leipzig, Germany, now under Soviet military control, on a secret mission. They never made it back.
The supplies of Mirakuru on Lian Yu were discovered by Anthony Ivo and his team many years after the war. The superweapon was ultimately used by Slade Wilson to create an army of super-strong individuals that would wreak havoc upon Starling City.
- "Keep Your Enemies Closer" (mentioned)
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
- "Attack on Central City" (mentioned)
Behind the scenes
- Historically, World War II was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although related conflicts began earlier. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers, eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries.
- In DC Comics, the depiction of World War II changed depending on age and continuity. In the original 1940s stories, heroes such as Batman and Superman used to fight in the war, or somehow support the war effort. These events were later retconned, with other superheroes and supervillains being depicted as veterans of World War II, while previous stories ended up as part of alternate continuities, such as Earth Two.