Unrelenting Reality of World War II: 50 Brutal Facts – Part 2

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26Soviet Soldier

Soviet Soldier

In Stalingrad during World War 2, the average life expectancy of a Soviet soldier was just 24 hours.

27. During World War 2, about 250,000 Filipinos were promised US Citizenship and Veteran Benefits for aiding the US in fighting Japan. Then the USA reneged its offer and only about 4000 got any benefits at all.

28. During World War 2, a group of prisoners at Auschwitz succeeded in blowing up one of the crematoriums using gunpowder smuggled one teaspoon at a time from the nearby munitions factory where some prisoners were forced to work.

29. The Navajo code is the only spoken military code never to have been deciphered. During World War 2, since only 30 non-Navajo people could understand Navajo, the US used Navajos as code talkers. They could encode, transmit, and decode a three-line message in 20 seconds, versus 30 minutes for machines.

30. A diabetic woman named Eva Saxl synthesized her own insulin in a basement during World War 2, saving not only her own life but the lives of over 200 people in the Shanghai Ghetto who would have died when legal insulin became unavailable.

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31Indian Army

Indian Army

During World War 2, India produced the largest volunteer army in world history, over 2.5 million men. Winston Churchill called their bravery “Unsurpassed.” At least 38 Indians were awarded the Victoria Cross or the George Cross.

32. Hazel Ying-Lee who was the first Chinese-American woman to fly for the US military during World War 2, once had to make an emergency landing in a field in Kansas. A nearby farmer chased Hazel around her plane with a pitchfork, screaming to his neighbors that the Japanese were invading.

33. Color Blind people can see the differences in texture and brightness more intensely than normal people and were even used in World War 2 to spot camouflage.

34. Just as the USA entered World War 2, serial bomber George Metesky informed NYPD that, as a patriot of his country, he would make no bomb threats for the duration of the war. He stayed true to his word.

35. During World War 2, the Allies used the price of oranges in Paris as an indicator of whether railroad bridges had been bombed successfully.

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36National School Lunch Act

National School Lunch Act

The National School Lunch Act was passed in USA in 1946, in part, because of the number of draftees that were rejected during World War 2 due to being malnourished.

37. Poland's Boy Scouting association was transformed into an armed resistance force during World War 2. Its members fought in the Warsaw Uprising, assassinated SS officials, and even liberated a concentration camp.

38. Willem Kolff created the first dialysis machine in the Netherlands during World War 2. Lacking materials, he used sausage casings, tin cans, a washing machine, and saltwater. He also saved more than 800 people from the Nazis by hiding them in his hospital. He later also invented the artificial heart.

39. There is a ‘Richter scale for human calamity’ called the Foster scale. According to the Foster scale, World War 2 was the most disastrous event in human history with a score of 11.1, the Black Death ranks number 2 at 10.9, and World War 1 at number 3 with 10.5.

40. The 442nd Infantry Regiment, a largely Japanese American unit that served during World War 2, did so while their families were held in internment camps. Their motto was “Go for Broke” and they were the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.

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41Tatra T97

Tatra T97

Volkswagen was sued by Czechoslovakian car maker Tatra before World War 2 because the original Beetle was so similar to the Tatra T97. After Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938 the lawsuit was canceled by the Nazis.

42. Wolfgang Doeblin was a Jewish-German mathematician fighting for the French during World War 2. He committed suicide at the age of 25 after his company was surrounded by enemy forces. A sealed letter he had sent to the French Academy of Sciences was finally opened in 2000, revealing that he had already proven a famous result in stochastic calculus.

43. The United States occupied Greenland during World War 2 to prevent it from being captured by the Nazis. After the war ended, they offered to buy it from Denmark for $100 million, but Denmark refused.

44. During World War 2, British secret services created a special edition of Monopoly for prisoners of war held by the Nazis. The games were distributed by fake charity groups created by the secret services and contained maps, compasses, real money, and other objects useful for escaping.

45. During World War 2, British code breakers became so proficient at cracking German messages that it was jokingly said it would've been quicker for a German commander to call Bletchley Park to get his orders.

46War Graves

War Graves

The German War Graves Commission still finds over 25,000 bodies from World War 2 every year.

47. During the Battle of Stalingrad, German soldiers suffered more casualties attempting to take a single apartment building (Pavlov’s House) than they did taking over the city of Paris.

48. The most successful and feared allied spy of World War 2 was an American woman with a prosthetic leg named Virginia Hall. She escaped France on foot through the Pyrenees mountains, re-entered before D Day, and organized havoc behind the Nazi lines.

49. During World War 2, British newspapers falsely claimed that the Germans rendered down soldiers’ corpses to make soap, candles, and nitroglycerin. As a result, when the news of the Holocaust reached Britain during World War 2, the government assumed it was another made-up atrocity story.

50. The largest number of graves of any cemetery for U.S. personnel killed during World War 2 is located in Manila, Philippines. It has 17,206 graves, 16,636 of which were U.S. personnel.

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