50 Things About World War II You Weren’t Taught In School
1. Fanta was invented in Germany when the war made it difficult to bring in Coca-Cola syrup from the US. (Snopes)
2. The SS officer who captured Anne Frank and her family bought her book to see if he was mentioned. He wasn’t. (Haaretz)
3. Russia and Japan still haven’t signed a peace treaty to end WWII due to a dispute over sovereignty of the Kuril Islands. (Deliveringdata)
4. The lift cables of the Eiffel Tower were cut by the French when Germany occupied France in 1940. As a result German soldiers had to climb to the top to fly the swastika flag. (Rarehistoricalphotos)
5. The last Japanese soldier to surrender did so in 1974, 29 years after WII was over. (The Guardian)
6. A radio belonging to a British POW was hidden so well that when the soldier visited the camp 62 years later he found it right where he left it. (BBC)
7. Leonard Dawe, a crossword compiler for the Telegraph, used D-Day operation code names as the answers to his puzzle a month before D-Day. MI5 interrogated him only to discover that it was a random coincidence. (Historic-UK)
8. HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen was a Dutch warship covered with tree branches to disguise it as a tropical island. (HSNA)
9. Two doctors in Poland discovered that the Nazis would not deport anyone to a concentration camp who tested positive for typhus in fear that the disease would spread. The two injected Jews and non-Jews in their city with a vaccine containing dead Epidemic Typhus that would test positive but have no adverse effects, saving approximately 8,000 lives. (JewishVirtualLibrary)
10. Queen Elizabeth II joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service and was trained as a driver and mechanic. (Dailymail)
11. Canada declared war on Japan before the US did after the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Publications.GC.ca)
12. Juan Pujol Garcia was a double agent who was awarded both the German Iron Cross and the Member of the British Empire award. (Badassoftheweek)
13. After the Treaty of Versailles, Ferdinand Foch said “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.” 20 years later WWII broke out. (MilitaryHistory)
14. The Taj Mahal was covered with a scaffold to camouflage it as a stockpile of bamboo and misguide bombers. (Old.YouNews)
15. The Mosque of Paris gave sanctuary to Jews by giving them Muslim IDs and hiding them in their underground caverns. (MessyNessyChic)
16. Royal Air Force sergeant Nicholas Alkemade fell 18,000 feet without a parachute and survived with only a sprained leg. (Leicestermercury)
17. There’s a Twitter account that narrates WWII as it happened on this day and time in 1944 onwards. (Twitter)
18. To prevent the Germans from finding out that the British had RADAR onboard aircraft, the British started a rumour that their pilots had excellent night vision from eating lots of carrots. This rumour has continued to today as many people think carrots improve eyesight. (WashingtonPost)
19. The President of Czechoslovakia, Emil Hacha, suffered a heart attack upon hearing of Hitler’s plan to bomb the capital. (BusinessInsider)
20. 80% of all Soviet males born in 1923 died in World War II. (RandomHistory)
21. Due to a metal shortage during the war, Oscar statuettes were made of painted plaster. (Oscars)
22. Approximately 5,500 leftover bombs are discovered and defused in Germany every year. (Discovery)
23. World War II cost each person in the US $20,388. (NY Times)
24. Hitler’s nephew, William Patrick Hitler, fought for the US Navy against his uncle. (AmericanInWWII)
25. Winston Churchill lost the 1945 election just two months after winning the war. (HistoryToday)
26. Hitler order the collection of 200,000 Jewish artifacts to be displayed at the end of the war in a trophy case called The Museum of an Extinct Race. (Independent)
27. The Polish Army trained a brown bear named Wojtek to move crates of ammunition. After the war he lived at the Edinburgh Zoo. (TheSoldierBear)
28. During the war, Canada gave out buttons to people who tried to enlist but were refused due to medical reasons to show their willingness to fight. (Veterans.GC.ca)
29. When chocolate became scarce due to rationing an Italian pastry maker named Pietro Ferrero started adding chopped hazelnuts to chocolate to stretch the supply. The product, Pasta Gianduja, was renamed Nutella in 1964. (Mental Floss)
30. Hitler never visited a single concentration or death camp. (Telegraph)
31. In the fall of 1940, Japan bombed China with fleas infected with bubonic plague. (BBC)
32. All venomous animals at the London Zoo were killed at the beginning of the war in case the zoo was bombed and the animals escaped. (ZSL)
33. While serving as a commander of a motor torpedo boat, John F. Kennedy and his crew were hit by a Japanese destroyer and stranded in the Solomon Islands. Kennedy carved a message into a coconut shell and asked two natives to bring it to the nearest Allied base. They succeeded and Kennedy was rescued. The coconut shell was preserved as a paperweight on his desk in the Oval Office. (LettersOfNote)
34. Tsutomu Yamaguchi is the only person the Japanese government recognizes as having survived both the Hirsoshima and Nagasaki bombings. (Independent)
35. The country with the largest number of WWII causalities was Russia, with over 21 million.
36. For every five German soldiers who died in WWII, four of them died on the Eastern Front.
37. It is estimated that 1.5 million children died during the Holocaust. Approximately 1.2 million of them were Jewish and tens of thousands were Gypsies.
38. In World War II, the youngest serviceman in the US military was Calvin Graham — age 12. Graham lied about his age when he enlisted in the US Navy. His real age was not discovered after he was wounded.
39. In 1941, more than 3 million cars were manufactured in the US. Only 139 more were made during the entire war.
40. In World War II, British soldiers got a ration of three sheets of toilet paper a day. Americans got 22.
41. Polish Catholic midwife Stanisława Leszczyńska delivered 3,000 babies at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust in occupied Poland.
42. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps that the Marine Corps.
43. Over 100,000 Allied bomber crewmen were killed over Europe.
44. The Auschwitz Concentration Camp Complex was the only place where prisoners were given identification number tattoos. The practice began in 1941 when Russian POWs were stamped on the upper-left breast. Jews started receiving tattoos (on their forearms) in 1942.
45. Poison gas was first used in WWI to break the trench warfare stalemate. Though all powers had chemical weapons, only Japan (in China) and Italy (in Ethiopia) used them during WWII.
46. WWII casualties totaled between 50 and 70 million people. More than 80% of this total came from four countries: Russia, China, Germany, and Poland. More than half of these casualties were civilians, most of whom were women and children.
47. Russia and the Red Army were accused of several war crimes, including systematic mass rape (over 2 million German women aged 13-70 were allegedly raped by the Red Army) and genocide. (source)
48. Between 1939 and 1945, the Allies dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs, which averaged to 27,700 tons per month.
49. Eighty percent of Soviet males born in 1923 didn’t survive WWII.
50. World War II was the most destructive conflict in history. It cost more money, damaged more property, killed more people, and caused more far-reaching changes than any other war in history.
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50 Things About World War II You Weren’t Taught In School Reviewed by Katerina Pap on 12:11 PM Rating: