The most destructive war in human history was the Second World War which started on September 1, 1939, and ended on September 2, 1945. This war that lasted five years killed almost 60 million service personnel and civilians and the nations directly affected as a result were USSR, China, Japan, and Germany. It came to an end after the suicide of Adolf Hitler as Germany surrendered and when the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This war was the largest armed battle that introduced nuclear as well as some other new powerful weapons, the effects of which can be seen even now in Japan. It also gave birth to two superpowers of the world that were the USA and the USSR, something that would lead directly into the Cold War era. In the end, victory came into the hands of the Allies. There are many common facts about WWII, however, there are plenty of those that history simply chooses to ignore. So, we decided to do the digging and compiled a list of 15 facts about WWII that history simply ignored.
15. Flaws Of The German U-boat
One of the most dangerous weapons used against the Allies in WWII was the German U-boat. Still, we never get to hear about the other end of the story and how the Germans used to manage everything on these vessels. According to statistics, only one in five members of the crew of a U-boat survived the war. While the anti-submarine weapons and a large network of radars made the life of U-boat crew pretty bad, it was nothing compared to the threat that was the submarine toilet.
It was quite a daunting task to use a submarine toilet during a deep plunge and it required some expertise to operate it otherwise the whole submarine would be at risk of drowning. To solve this issue, a new toilet was introduced in which the person using it required the help of another person to operate it properly. One of the notable instances of the toilet disaster happened when a Captain who failed to use the toilet properly resulted in the release of Chlorine gas. This forced the submarine to resurface, allowing the Allies to track it and force the entire crew of the submarine to surrender.
14. Kidnapping of Polish babies
Around 50,000 babies and children were kidnapped who resembled the Nazi definition of a pure German. They were then put up for adoption where they could be adopted by German couples who did not have a child of their own.
As the Nazis killed millions of Polish men and women, many children became orphans. To address this issue, the Nazis very cleverly kidnapped them to be sent back to Germany. These children, when they grew up were pushed into forced labor and were used as slaves while those who did not resemble German children were eventually murdered or tortured. Many of these children were later discovered once the Allies seized control of Germany and despite countless efforts, only a small percentage of them were able to return back to their homes.
13. Animal Deaths During WWII
Among some of the other statistics that we get to read about WWII, the one that most of you never thought of and read about are the deaths of both domestic and wild animals. A large number of animals were killed not only during WWII but also during WWI.
Zoo animals had to face the worst during the war; they are bombed into pieces and even slaughtered out of desperation when nothing was available for soldiers and people to eat. Those that did manage to survive the war died later on because of a number of unfavorable conditions like inappropriate weather and lack of food. Out of the 3,175 animals placed in the old Berlin zoo, only 91 survived after the zoo was completely destroyed. In fact, the first bomb dropped on Berlin by the Allies managed to kill the only elephant housed in the Berlin zoo. Airstrikes were one of the biggest contributing factors since the objective was to always destroy cities and towns.
12. Technological Advancements Due To WWII
While World War II was one of the worst things to happen to the world, it also led to a great number of technological advancements in almost every walk of life and these advancements changed the lives of people all around the globe. Many new ways were discovered to preserve food and import them from one place to another as juice pouches, canned food, Cheetos, granola bars and processed meat are all examples of these discoveries.
People were able to figure out more scientifically advanced methods of keeping their food fresh for a longer time. Many kitchen appliances were also reinvented such as the microwave which can now be found in almost every household. Other luxuries such as modern air travel can also be attributed as the by-product of discoveries that were made during the war.
11. The Reason Why Germany Actually Lost
At one point during the war, it seemed as if there would be no stopping the Nazis, however, racism was the prime reason that led to their downfall. One of the initial disadvantages that the Germans had to face because of their hatred towards the Jews was that many of the competent people had left Germany. Among these were many genius individuals who would later go on to work with the Allies.
Another big reason was that the Germans had forced many of the Czech prisoners to work for them and these people took revenge by consciously tampering with machinery mechanisms and rifle sights. Many of the Belgians and other slaves also played their role in the disruption of guidance systems for important equipment. In the end, all of the above factors combined with poor strategy near the end of the war and bad decisions resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany.
10. Not All German Soldiers Were Nazis
One of the biggest misconceptions that people seem to have about the German army is that all the soldiers who were a part of it were Nazis. That is simply not true. Many of them had strong Prussian roots which meant that these soldiers were to reject any ties with a political agenda.
It was specifically stated for the Wehrmacht soldiers to not be affiliated with any political parties, which of course also included the Nazi party. Many people refute this argument with the fact that all the German soldiers had a Swastika on their uniform, however, they forget the fact that the German flag at the time had a giant Swastika on it. More than 25 assassination attempts were made on the life of Adolf Hitler throughout his reign and almost all of these were carried out by German soldiers and in some case, SS officers.
9. Story Behind The Swastika
Back in the old times, it was known as the symbol of spiritual power. It was heavily used by the Nazis as they adopted the idea and titled it as a symbol of ‘National Socialism’. It was associated with the Nazi party and Nazi Germany which is why for them, it was a symbol of nationalistic pride. On the other hand, however, because of its association with the Nazis, it became a sign of terror and Anti-Semitism for the Jews and other enemies.
It was also considered as a figure of racial supremacy and threat only because it was related to Nazism. This sign was used on the badges and flags of government and military organizations and also for the Germany Hunting Society. The Allies on the other hand also displayed the symbol proudly to represent their number of kills and hatred towards the Nazis. Most British pilots would carve out Swastikas on their planes for every enemy that they managed to take down.
8. Role Of Queen Elizabeth 2 During The War
Something that a lot of people will be surprised to find out is that the eldest daughter of King George 4 of Great Britain served as a driver and mechanic during World War II. She then went on to become Queen Elizabeth 2 after the war. It is quite a surprising fact that Queen Elizabeth was the only member of the royal family who ever joined or worked for the military during World War II.
Currently, she is also the only living head of any state who participated in the Second World War. She was very eager to be a part of the war efforts and to make a contribution towards her nation despite her father not permitting her to do so. She stood against all odds and joined the women’s auxiliary territorial service after which she got training as a mechanic and truck driver in London. At that time, she was only 18 years old.
7. Creation Of Artificial Moonlight
The British were so clever that they were able to invent artificial moonlight to aid their night-time combat. To make this work, the British employed the use of fire air-bursting artillery shells and searchlights that made dense clouds of smoke over a target after which as a follow up, they used to fire tracer ammunition of different colors.
This created bright spots of light on the ground which helped the troops to find their way. The colorful tracers were used to pinpoint where armor, infantry, and other groups would need to attack. This technique helped the British throughout the war and can be counted as one of the reasons behind their success.
6. Use Of Chemical Weapons By The Allies
While chemical weapons were heavily used throughout World War I, their use was considered illegal by the time WWII came around. Throughout the duration of the conflict, only one incident was recorded which marked the use of chemical weapons during this war which was surprisingly done by the Allies.
The US military was importing canisters of mustard gas at the Italian port of Bari for the chemical war against Germany but before that could be done, the ships were bombed by German Luftwaffe, destroying the chemical cargo stores before they could be used. So as a result, a total of 27 cargo ships were destroyed and over 2000 military personnel and civilians were killed. For many years, both the Americans and the British kept denying the fact that there were any chemical weapons on board the ships, however, the truth couldn’t be kept hidden and was brought to light.
5. Countless Nazis Got Away Scot-Free
Almost everyone is aware of the atrocities that the Nazis committed during the Second World War. We saw some of the most inhumane treatments which were given to the people who were put into concentration camps. This would lead many to believe that the Nazis would be punished for their crimes after the Allies won, however, this never actually happened.
Apart from some of the notorious Nazi officers, more than 400,000 German soldiers got to walk away without any sort of repercussions. A sudden influx of POWs was new for the United States and it was decided to put them into prison camps where they were well fed and all of their needs taken care of. Most of these prisoners got to return home after the war in 1946 where they still stayed in touch with their American friends and later moved to the U.S. where they were able to gain citizenships.
4. Foreigners Were Recruited In The SS
The Waffen-SS was the armed wing of the German Nazi Party. It would serve alongside the regular German army throughout World War 2 and be notorious for carrying out direct orders from Adolf Hitler. The Nazis had a racial policy which meant that only those who fit the requirements of being an Aryan were allowed to join.
This requirement later turned out to be quite ironic since the SS ended up recruiting volunteers from all over the world. Initially the volunteers were only selected from specific European countries, however, they were later brought in from different ethnicities including Indonesian, Ukrainian, and even Indian soldiers.
3. Allied War Crimes During WWII
The Nazis weren’t the only people committing war crimes during World War 2. This is something that doesn’t get highlighted much in history books, however, it is a dark chapter of our history whether you like it or not.
The Allies were also responsible for causing some of the most horrific war crimes during the war. One of these was the bombing of Dresden, carried out by almost 2,000 Allied bombers, resulting in the death of more than 25,000 innocent civilians. This was done specifically to instill fear in the enemy, something the Allies termed as “exploiting the confused conditions of Dresden”. Countless other crimes consist of murdering captured soldiers and keeping body parts of enemy soldiers as trophies.
2. Why The War Actually Started
The entire act of World War 2 was over a ‘false flag incident’. Known famously as the Gleiwitz incident, it involved a number of Nazi Germans who dressed up as Polish military personnel and took over a German radio station which was in Upper Silesia Germany. A short anti-German message was broadcast from this station. This ‘endorsed’ the German invasion of Poland at least in their eyes.
The German troops removed the border between Germany and Poland that assured the raid of Poland in Germany and this signaled the beginning of World War 2. The incident was prepared by Nazi Germany to invade Poland and to provoke the Germans. Their goal was achieved and Poland was invaded, marking the official beginning of World War 2.
1. The American Operation Paperclip
As we mentioned earlier, many of the technological advancements that we have today are the result of research that was carried out during World War 2. After the war, the United States launched one of the biggest operation which involved recruiting some of the most brilliant German minds.
This explains how the U.S. led most of the technological revolution in the world after the war. Named Operation Paperclip, it was a huge success during which more than 1500 scientists were recruited and then employed in the U.S. A notable example of this is Wernher von Braun, the mind behind the V1 and V2 rockets, whose research eventually helped develop the Saturn V rocket.
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