1Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad during World War 2 killed more civilians than the bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki combined. The Soviet casualties during the siege were bigger than combined American and British casualties during the entire war.
2. During World War 2, many countries had sold off most of their gold as well as their foreign investments, to pay for the war. By 1947, United States had accumulated 70% of the world’s gold reserves.
3. During World War 2, the Japanese made American and Filipino soldiers walk 96.6 km or 60 miles. They were subjected to physical abuse and given little to no food and water. With the death of thousands of soldiers, it is called the “Bataan Death March.”
4. During World War 2 soldiers would keep photos of their loved ones under clear grips on their pistols. These were known as “sweetheart grips” and soldiers made these grips themselves using plexiglass salvaged from downed aircraft.
5. Only 91 of the 3,175 animals at the Berlin Zoological Garden survived World War 2. The first 15 minutes of an allied bombing raid in November of 1942 killed 30% of the zoo’s population. Of eight elephants, only one survived.
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6Battle for Britain
During World War 2’s “Battle for Britain,” the British Home Guard were so under-equipped that many volunteers received neither weapons nor uniforms, with many improvising shotguns and explosives.
7. The British Royal Navy and Royal Marines invaded Iceland during World War 2 to prevent Nazi occupation. This operation was codenamed Operation Fork and its only casualty was a suicide.
8. During World War 2, Ford Motor Company produced a B-24 bomber every 63 minutes.
9. During World War 2, over 120,000 Japanese Americans were held in concentration camps around America, most without any reason except for their race. It wasn’t publicly acknowledged as a human rights violation by the US government until four decades later.
10. The Death Match was a historic World War 2 football match between the occupying German forces, Falkelf, and a team of Ukrainian locals. It was intended to showcase the German sporting superiority, but they lost 5-3, not realizing that the opposing team members were former Dynamo Kiev players.
11German Goof Up
During World War 2, an inexperienced German aircrew read their compass upside down and unwittingly landed in RAF Woodbridge. The plane gave the allies invaluable info about the German radar system.
12. Mariya Tsukanova was a Soviet medic during World War 2. She saved dozens of lives, and took up a machine gun, and fired it until she lost consciousness from injuries. Being outnumbered, she was brutally tortured and executed by the Japanese. She was named “Hero of the Soviet Union” posthumously.
13. During World War 2, American pilots flew P-51 Mustangs in very long-range missions operating from the island of Iwo Jima. These 7+ hour missions involved flying 3 hours across the open Pacific to targets in Japan and then 3+ hours return flight. Threats included bad weather, flak, enemy planes, etc.
14. Some of the important decisions for Germany during World War 2 could not be made because Hitler was sleeping (and he liked to sleep up until noon). On D-Day invasion, the German officers couldn't get further command from Hitler, because of strict orders not to wake him up for any reason.
15. When German intelligence discovered the phrase “Kilroy was here” during World War 2, Hitler believed Kilroy was the name of a high-level Allied spy.
The autistic spectrum and the distinction between “high functioning” and “low functioning” autism were discovered by Hans Asperger in an attempt to save children in his clinic from the Gestapo during World War 2, who killed disabled children in preparation for the Holocaust.
17. Over 800,000 women served in the Red Army during World War 2, a significant portion of whom did so in combat roles. There were female snipers, machine-gunners, anti-air gunners, tank crews, and even pilots, with some bomber regiments being made up entirely of women, including the ground crews.
18. Winston Churchill got Iran to change its name to Persia, to avoid confusion with Iraq during World War 2.
19. Nazis left behind so many of their Karabiner 98k rifles at the end of World War 2 that they ended up being used for the rest of the 20th century all over the world, and some were even used in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
20. During World War 2, when the allies lost the battles of the Java Sea and the Sunda strait, HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen evaded Japanese aircrafts by camouflaging itself with jungle foliage giving it the appearance of a small island. It was the only one of three ships to escape Java.
21The Momsen Lung
“The Momsen Lung” was a device that was invented during World War 2 to escape from submarines that sank over the depth of 100ft. It recycled oxygen in your breath while filtering C02. It was used only once, in 1944, by 9 members of the USS Tang after it torpedoed itself and sank in 180 feet of water.
22. Agatha Christie wrote a novel in 1941 about World War 2 code breaking featuring a character named Major Bletchley. She was investigated by MI5 due to this name, but it turned out that the name she chose was entirely coincidental and unrelated to the then-secret code-breaking facility in Bletchley Park.
23. During World War 2, 18 American shipyards produced 2710 Liberty ships (a type of cargo ship). This was at a rate of 3 ships every 2 days. Each ship took an average of just 42 days to complete.
24. During World War 2, the USA implemented a nationwide “Victory Speed Limit” of 35 mph to conserve gasoline and rubber for the war effort.
25. During World War 2, morale among the British Army (in desert campaigns) was directly proportional to the supply of tea that they had. This was due to them brewing it all the time in order to drink the foul-tasting water they were supplied with, as it came from fuel cans.