World War II was humanity’s darkest hour. Most people thought that had been achieved with the first World War but this turned out to be merely a small taste of just how little regard there was for human life those days.
Those six years (1939-1945) of brutal warfare between Allied nations and Axis forces have had a deep impact in our civilization. The genocide of the Jewish people is thought to have resulted in six million deaths, a number dwarfed by the war’s total body count – over 100 million.
This conflict has had far-reaching implications in several spheres of our society. Our political movements, interpretation of history, scientific developments, and the very fabric of our society have been shaped by what happened before, during, and after World War II.
Understandably, humanity has been entranced by those events for a few decades. Thousands of books, films and documentaries pile up to form a monument to our culture’s fascination with the bloodshed, genocide, and death that took place during those gruesome years.
This has given rise to some of the most shocking conspiracy theories ever gathered around a single event.
20. British Army Planned To Go behind Churchill’s back
Vichy France was the regime put in place by Nazi Germany to rule southern France, following the successful invasion of the country in 1940. While officially a neutral force, Vichy France was heavily connected with the Nazi regime since it owed its very existence to the agreement reached with Hitler.
This makes it all the more surprising to think that British army officials held meetings with representatives from Vichy France to discuss a potential armament of its military, behind Winston Churchill’s back. Given the plan never went past its embryonic stage, military officials thought it best not to bring it up with the British PM.
As the two countries fought in Syria and Madagascar, some of their officials discussed arming eight French army divisions in anticipation of a potential liberation mission beginning in Bordeaux and La Rochelle, made possible with the cooperation of the Vichy government.
19. Hitler’s deputy and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death
Rudolf Hess was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to life in prison in 1946 for war crimes. He eventually died on 17th August 1987 in Berlin’s Spandau prison, with the report of his death being filed between 25th August and January of the following year.
The delay in the filing of the report is one of the several incongruities surrounding his apparent suicide. His suicide note was written only “a few minutes before” dying but his son alleges it was penned two decades earlier when Hess suffered from a life-threatening perforated ulcer.
His allegation is built on the sign-off used by his father which he had stopped using around 1969, the fact he hadn’t mentioned his grandchildren who were only born a few years later and the 93-year-old’s frailty rendering him incapable of terminating his own life with an electrical chord. Who had what to gain from silencing Hess?
18. Hitler survived WWII and moved to South America
The official story is that Adolf Hitler and his girlfriend Eva Braun committed suicide in his bunker as Soviet troops surrounded Berlin and the Third Reich’s demise became a certainty in the eyes of the Führer.
Some claim Hitler did not die in Berlin in 1945, but in Argentina 17 years later as an old man after raising two daughters. Others claim the Nazi leader ended up in Brazil instead. The skull fragments initially found and thought to belong to him turned out to originate from a young woman’s skull.
Soviet officials confirmed that this initial suspicion turned out to be wrong and presented a certified match in dental records which convinced officials across all Allied nations. Of course, there’s also the impossibility of having escaped in such dire circumstances. Would they have anything to lose if he turned out to have survived?
17. Why did Hess fly to Scotland only to be captured and detained?
The Nazi commander flew a plane over the United Kingdom and parachuted his way into Scotland in 1941 where he was unfortunate to suffer a “citizen’s arrest” at the hands of ploughman David McLean, who was wielding a pitchfork.
His family had extremely limited contact with him since his arrest, leading credence to the theory that the man imprisoned in Spandau prison as Hess was merely a doppelganger. They argued that he flew to Scotland out of a desire to achieve peace and an alliance between Germany and the UK, as he believed the two nations to be natural allies against the Soviet Union, which was invaded by Germany six weeks later.
His files are still classified information, with some conspiracy theorist’s believing they’ll be so indefinitely. Apparently when his proposed terms for peace were dismissed, Hess is alleged to have warned the Allies about the impending Holocaust only to be ignored.
16. West Germany And The US Knew Adolf Eichmann’s whereabouts eight years before his capture
After having escaped an Allied prison camp, Eichmann was the highest Nazi official still at large. Sometimes referred to as the architect of the Holocaust, Eichmann was in charge of the system that killed six million Jews.
He was captured in Argentina in 1962 by Israeli agents who brought him back to Jerusalem, where he was tried and hanged after having been found guilty of crimes against humanity. However, there have been claims the US and West Germany’s intelligence agencies knew of his hiding place as early as 1954.
Why was he not caught then? The prevailing theory is that there was a fear in West Germany about Eichmann revealing the name of other Nazi members involved in the Holocaust. He sat on hundreds of meetings where the logistics of the genocide were discussed – how many officials who now worked in the post-Nazi German government could he have named?
15. Churchill ordered Mussolini’s assassination to protect his reputation
It’s no secret Winston Churchill hated communism. In 1927, he praised Mussolini’s antagonistic movement by saying ‘Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world… If I were Italian, I am sure I would have been with you entirely’.
Although this was acceptable in the days before being a fascist was associated with aligning with Nazi Germany’s genocidal ideas, it became the precise opposite by the war’s end. Some theories implicate Churchill in Mussolini’s assassination, supposedly organising a highly skilled two-man team to carry out the task.
Why did Churchill seem to have such a vested interest in Mussolini’s demise? To prevent the surfacing of letters in which the British PM praises the Italian leader. He even chose to holiday under a false name close to where Mussolini was killed, but no documents were ever found.
14. The Bush family was linked with Hitler’s rise to power
George Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush was a director and shareholder of several firms who had dealings with financial supporters of the Nazi party in Germany. These companies were also known to have profited from this involvement.
These dealings continued until they were halted by the seizure of the company’s assets under the 1942 Trading with the Enemy Act. Although no evidence suggests Prescott Bush was a Nazi sympathizer, he represented Fritz Thyssen’s interests in the US.
Fritz Thyssen had financed Hitler’s rise to power before falling out with him at the end of the 1930s. He profited massively from Germany’s pre-war rearmament as the owner of Germany’s largest steel and coal company. This company also used labour force from Nazi concentration camps during the war. How unaware was Bush of the shady dealings of the man whose business interests he representing in the US?
13. Nazi Germany beat the Soviet Union by a few days in declaring war
Most people will be aware in some way or another that it was Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, who kicked off the bloodiest conflict known to mankind by annexing several Central and Eastern European countries before advancing onwards into the territory belonging to modern day Russia. From that point onwards, the Soviet Union merely defended itself when it finished what Hitler started.
However, a recent theory has recuperated a Stalin speech that indicates the USSR had been investing in heavy industry for years in order to build a war machine capable of bending Europe to its will. It was only by virtue of its efficient military tactics that the Nazi army was able to advance so quickly through the Soviet lines, as the Red Army was completely surprised. Does that eliminate the last trace of communist righteousness about the events in WWII?
12. Germany’s High Command Offered to Sabotage the Nazi troops
The Walkyrie assassination attempt on Hitler has been a very well documented case of self-sabotage on the part of the German army. The goal was to remove Hitler from power by any means necessary, thereby removing the last obstacle in achieving peace.
There are conspiracy theories which suggest it wasn’t the only one. In the summer of 1943, an emissary of the German High Command, Count Helmuth James von Moltke, made a secret visit to the OSS (former CIA) in Istanbul, Turkey, offering to turn Wehrmacht forces against the Nazi troops who were still loyal to Hitler, and make a separate peace deal with the Allied nations. If true, this could have ended the war a year earlier and avoided further losses on both sides. Perhaps that’s why we’re still wondering.
11. Fourth Reich: The Return of Nazi Power Post-WWII
A disturbing theory has emerged stating Nazi Germany was planning to institute a Fourth Reich based on the unification of European countries. You could be forgiven for describing this organization as an evil twin of the present-day European Union.
Based on a document known as the Red House Report, this theory states how, in 1944, Nazi officials were planning to operate in the dark with the help of German industrialists after Germany’s impending military defeat. These industrialists would channel money through Switzerland and lay the ground for the Nazi’s return to power on the back of a united confederation of European countries. Let’s hope this one doesn’t prove true.
10. General Patton’s assassination claims
General Patton’s death in December 1945 is one of the lasting mysteries from WWII. Although he had sustained serious injuries in a car accident crash in Manheim, he was presumed to be well on his way to making a full recovery. According to this theory, George S. Patton, arguably America’s greatest combat general during this conflict, was assassinated.
Why? Patton wanted to beat the Russians to Berlin and was furious about being held back from chasing the fleeing German Army by his superiors on several occasions. This move allowed for several German counter-offensives which ultimately cost a further loss of American lives, all in the name of a shady agreement to let the Soviet Union rule Eastern Europe in the war’s aftermath.
9. President Roosevelt had knowledge about an impending attack by Imperial Japan
In a pre-war poll, nearly 90% of Americans opposed the US joining the war, being further reassured by President Roosevelt in a 1940 speech which stated: “Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” However, FDR was planning precisely the opposite by sending an emissary to meet Churchill in Jan 1941 with a message reassuring the British-American alliance.
During the early days of WWII, FDR goaded Germany several times by freezing its assets and helping the UK’s military. Nazi Germany did not react, prompting Roosevelt to focus on provoking Japan into attacking the US, which would result in public support for the Americans to join the war. A memo by Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum urged 8 actions to lead Japan into attacking America. FDR enacted all 8 steps. Coincidence?
8. Nazi graveyard in the Amazon forest
In what seems like a semi-decent plot for a Hollywood blockbuster, this theory reveals die-hard Nazis planned to relocate to the Amazonian forest where they would populate the area with an Aryan-inspired master race, forming a ‘foreign Fatherland’.
The plan was called, ‘The Guayana-Projekt: A German Adventure on the Amazon’ and it aimed to colonize the area much like the pioneers in the Wild West in North America. The graveyard proves that they were at least exploring it in some capacity, although life in this region wasn’t exactly easy. We are left to wonder what purpose drove the Nazi there before defeat in WWII forced them to flee to Brazil and Argentina to live in hiding.
7. Self-inflicted atomic disaster?
In the summer of 1944, at the Port Chicago Naval Munitions base, the American ship SS E.A. Bryan was packed with over 4,000 tonnes of explosives, in what was by far the largest WWII military disaster. It caused the biggest loss of black Navy seamen in the whole war.
That dreadful explosion has been conveniently forgotten, with little to no mention payed of its existence, which begs the question – why? A new theory has emerged suggesting the explosion might have been a secret atomic bomb test. While the temptation to ignore this theory is understandable, the truth on this matter has to come out.
6. The 1933 Reichstag fire was a Nazi ploy
German prosecutors have overturned the conviction of Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe, who had been accused of burning down the German parliament building in 1933. He was tried, convicted, and executed on charges of high treason in the following year.
This event has been widely associated with the Nazi’s rise to power by several conspiracy theories. By associating a known communist to the act they were able to manipulate public sentiment against communism and capitalize on it by getting to power, and leading Germany and the rest of Europe into a disastrous war which resulted in a catastrophic and unprecedented loss of life.
5. George W. Bush’s grandfather intended to install a fascist regime in the United States
A recent investigation has given rise to a new theory which implicates several powerful American businessmen, including Prescott Bush (remember him?), in an attempt to overthrow the American government and implement policies associated with Nazism and fascism.
When combined with the theory stating Prescott Bush was heavily involved with the financing of the Nazi party, a theory that many believe to be true, this chilling assumption speaks of an attempted coup by several businessmen associated with companies like Heinz, Colgate and General Motors.
The coup never went ahead as it allegedly failed to get support but the then-US Ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, has gone on record speaking of the close ties between these families and the Nazi Party and their displeasure with Roosevelt’s progressive policies.
4. A Nazi-gold rush
In what is a more light-hearted take on conspiracy theories involving Nazi Germany and WWII, the Nazi-gold theory has been widely investigated and reported on.
Partly made up of sketchy accounts of gold stashed away in obscure caves by Adolf Hitler and his entourage and testimonies of sunken boats known to have been carrying bountiful treasures of gold and silver, this theory has kept treasure-hunter from all over the world awake at night for several decades.
It has provided enough material for several books and films but there is some truth behind some of these reports, which perhaps explains why so many devote time and obscene amounts of money into uncovering these treasures.
3. The Nazi ice fortress
In what is perhaps a manifestation of our predilection for stories where a villain has resurfaced from being cryogenically frozen, the story of Adolf Hitler and his Antarctic ice bunker is one of the most interesting conspiracies in the WWII “mythology”.
The start of this belief can be traced back to Admiral Karl Donitz’s 1943 claim: “The German submarine fleet is proud of having built for the Fuhrer, in another part of the world, a Shangri-La on land, an impregnable fortress.”
2. A Nazi-Scottish state
A former leader of the Scottish National Party, Arthur Donaldson, has been portrayed as a Nazi sympathiser by several sources. The extent of his association with the German regime has been a frequent topic of several WWII conspiracy theories but an MI5 report has confirmed his sympathy with Hitler’s regime.
Donaldson told a secret agent he believed the German invasion of the UK would be a success and there were already plans to install a Nazi government in Scotland. This movement would bring about disarray in the UK, which would thwart England’s war efforts while presenting a Nazi Scotland, propped up by Germany, as a viable alternative to force the UK into a new regime.
1. Were the United States taken by surprise?
There are more questions than certainties with this particular theory. With nearly all the major nations in the world engaged in the bloodiest conflict know to Man, why did the most powerful nation in the world seem so ill-prepared?
Some theories have linked FDR with prior knowledge of the Pearl Harbour, but these fail to explain why the United States would purposely allow an attack only to see Japan gain superiority in the Pacific. It seems President Roosevelt was aware of the fact war was coming, as shown by his ad-hoc military assistance of the UK and continued sanctions to Germany.
War was inevitable and FDR knew it. Was the wait merely a failed exercise in managing public opinion?
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