IWM London

Free exhibition

Enigma machine on display in the Turning Points gallery
Enigma Machine © IWM (COM 228)

Explore key moments of the Second World War through people’s lives and the objects on display. Discover the role of strategic bombing and the fighting fronts in Russia and Africa, through to the D-Day landings.


Trunk belonging to Leonard and Clara Wohl
Trunk belonging to Leonard and Clara Wohl © EPH (2472)


Facing growing persecution as Jews, Leonhard and Clara Wohl felt they had to get out of Germany. Their daughters had already reached Britain safely.

In the summer of 1939 the Wohls booked tickets to Chile, sending their belongings ahead, some in this trunk. Two weeks before they hoped to leave war broke out, trapping them in Germany and the couple later died in Auschwitz. Only their belongings survived, reaching their daughters in Britain in 1947.

This is one of many personal stories and objects on display in Turning Points.


Japanese Mitsubishi Zero fighter plane on display in the Turning Points gallery
Mitsubishi Zero A6M3 fighter © IWM (2010.220.2)


Made in 1943, this Mitsubishi A6M fighter (the Zero fighter) was flown by the Imperial Japanese Navy from the large airbase on Taroa, one of the Marshall Islands. It was badly damaged in combat. But Japan’s lack of resources and its problems supplying aircraft spare parts meant that it could not be repaired. Judged beyond fixing, the Zero was shoved off the runway into the jungle.

The decaying wreck of this Japanese Zero fighter was found on a Pacific island 50 years after the war. Under the suffocating cover of the jungle, large pieces of the Zero disappeared. But what survived offers tantalising clues of its vanished history: a British bullet lodged in the fuselage and a dried Lotus flower, carried by Japanese pilots for luck.