The Second World War lasted from 1939 to 1945 and was the largest military conflict in human history to date. No war had claimed more lives, cost more money, driven military developments more and changed the balance of power in the world more. No matter how many facts you already know about WW2, we can certainly tell you a few things you didn’t know yet. So stay tuned for our 222 facts about World War II.
1. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Air Force was responsible for the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Since the Japanese had attacked without prior declaration of war, the USA was seeking revenge. Therefore, “Operation Vengeance” was launched, which ended with the killing of Admiral Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.
2. Polish midwife Stanisława Leszczyńska took charge of the delivery of more than 3,000 babies in the concentration camp during her captivity at Auschwitz. However, it is estimated that only 30 lasted until the liberation of the camp.
3. Oskar Schindler was even interrogated and arrested several times by the Gestapo for favoring Jews and paying bribes to the SS. Thanks to good contacts, he was repeatedly released and continued his rescue efforts unperturbed.
4. In preparation for the 1936 Olympic Games, the anti-Jewish policy of the German Reich was relaxed and antisemitic signs were removed.
5. In order to break German air sovereignty, the Allies deployed 1,200 airplanes on D-day to protect the ground troops.
6. To conceal the nature of D-Day, “Operation Fortitude” was launched. With the help of dummy tanks and planes as well as false practice maneuvers, the British let the Nazis believe that an invasion could take place somewhere near Calais or even in Norway. In false radio messages, whole armies were invented and even details of soldiers’ weddings and sporting events were spread to support the authenticity.
7. The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II began at 7:55 and lasted almost two hours.
8. Elvis Presley gave a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor in March 1961 to raise funds for the construction of the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Thus the entertainer contributed more than ten percent of the construction costs with the 50,000 dollars raised.
9. When Hitler visited Paris during World War Two, activists cut the elevator cables of the Eiffel Tower so that he had to climb the stairs all the way to the top.
10. While Jews in Germany owned about 100,000 businesses before Hitler seized power, only about 9,000 remained in 1938 due to the progressive expropriation by the Nazis.
11. The U.S. was already preparing for a third atomic bombing over Japan. Fortunately, the Japanese prevented this move by surrendering.
12. Kyoto did not become part of the U.S. atomic bombing campaign against the Japanese because Acting Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson had spent his honeymoon there in the past.
13. The Buchenwald concentration camp offered the SS guards even a small zoological facility, while the inmates lacked the most necessities.
14. Some survivors of Hiroshima showed an unusual reaction. Due to the high radiation dose, they were subjected to, their fingernails turned black and bled slightly when cut. We have more frightening facts about Hiroshima and Nagasaki for you.
15. The former U.S. Marine soldier Guy Gabaldon was able to catch about 1,300 Japanese soldiers during World War Two. The Japanese soldiers were hiding in a cave and Guy Gabaldon sneaked in. He convinced them that their cave was surrounded. After everyone was handcuffed he called for support.
16. The attack on Pearl Harbor was deliberately set for a Sunday because the Japanese hoped that US soldiers would be less alert on that day.
17. Instead of Nagasaki, the ancient castle town of Kokura was originally to be the second target of the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan. However, due to dense clouds and smoke from nearby bombing, the city was spared, and Nagasaki was obliterated.
18. Victims of the U.S. atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki regularly receive free health examinations and treatment. Even second-generation victims are legally entitled to assistance from the Japanese government.
19. Even after the concentration camps were liberated, their inmates still died because of the horrors of the past.
20. When the “Schindler camp” was evacuated in 1944, Schindler succeeded in transferring the entire camp, including inmates and his factory, to his native town of Svitavy at his own expense. His workers were thus saved from certain death a second time.
Read more: 15 impressive facts about Oskar Schindler
21. With more than 500 kills, the Finnish soldier Simo Häyhä is the sniper with the highest number of confirmed kills in a war. He fought during the Second World War and killed mainly Soviet soldiers. The Red Army called him “The White Death”.
22. Within the first six months of “Operation Barbarossa”, the Wehrmacht advanced from Poland to just outside Moscow. Around 16 million Soviet citizens had to be evacuated because of the Germans’ rapid progress.
23. During the Second World War, the British BBC broadcasted its news to Nazi-occupied Europe and started each news broadcast with a live recording of the sound of the Big Ben bell. German physicists were able to determine the weather in London from the sound, which was important information for the German Luftwaffe. When the British secret service found out about it, the live recording of Big Ben was replaced by an old recording to give the Germans wrong weather information. Looking for more London facts?
24. Veterans who were stationed in Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack can have their ashes scattered at the old anchorage of their ship after their death.
25. After the German occupation of France in 1940, the French car manufacturer Citroën was forced to build vehicles for the Nazis. However, workers of the car manufacturer manipulated the oil dipsticks of their cars in such a way that the Nazis assumed that there was enough oil when maintaining the engine, although this was not the case. As a result, the vehicles repeatedly suffered engine seizures and the Nazis were unable to move forward. Do you want more facts about France?
26. About two-thirds of the Jews living in Europe during World War II were killed by the Nazi regime.
27. The fireball of the Hiroshima atomic bomb had a diameter of 1,200 feet (370 meters) and the temperature at the surface of the cloud was up to 10,830 degrees Fahrenheit (6,000 degrees Celsius).
28. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, one of the Japanese pilots had to make an emergency landing of his plane on the Hawaiian island of Niʻihau. Nishikaichi Shigenori was warmly welcomed by the unsuspecting inhabitants and even a luau was held for him.
29. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida spoke the famous words “Tora! Torah! Tora!”, which translated “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” mean and express that the Japanese managed to sneak up like a tiger and completely surprise their victim. After the war, he turned to Christianity and settled permanently in the USA.
30. After the explosion of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, many people did not die from the unimaginable pressure or heat but suffocated. The explosion consumed so much oxygen that there was simply not enough left to breathe.
31. Six days after the second atomic bombing in World War II, Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.
32. About 0.6 to 1.2 miles (one to two kilometers) from the center of the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion, six ginkgo trees burst into flames during the disaster and still sprouted a few years later. They were the only plants in the area to survive the devastating blast. Today, the trees are still alive and can be found in the temple complex in Housenbou.
33. About one million women fought for the Soviet Union during World War II.
34. Stalin was warned of the impending German invasion of the Soviet Union, but he ignored the reports, trusting the non-aggression pact with Hitler. Just in the last ten days before the invasion, he was informed 47 times by the secret service.
35. With the Blitzkrieg strategy, Hitler succeeded in the Second World War in bringing almost all of Continental Europe under the control of the Axis Powers within about three years.
36. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft, five submarines, and 129 soldiers during their attack on Pearl Harbor.
37. On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USA actually fired the first shot. More than an hour before the attack, the minesweeper Condor discovered the periscope of a Japanese submarine and sank it.
38. Dwight D. Eisenhower was responsible for the successful invasion of Normandy in World War II and was elected President of the United States nine years later.
39. About 90 percent of the Jewish population living in Poland at the time and 18 percent of the total population perished during World War II.
40. After the concentration camps were liberated, the Americans forced the population living nearby to witness the horror of the Nazis.
Read more: 24 terrible facts about the Holocaust
41. During World War II, over eleven million members of the Wehrmacht and SS were taken prisoners of war.
42. The development of chemical drugs can be traced back to the Nazis. For example, scientists in the Third Reich discovered an active substance that helped soldiers to march 55 miles (90 kilometers) without stopping.
43. About 70 million soldiers combined fought for the Allied and Axis powers during World War II.
44. After Mussolini was executed together with his mistress in 1945, their bodies were hung in a square in Milan.
45. The atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 was ironically named “Little Boy”. Three days later, Nagasaki was hit by “Fat Man”.
46. Not even two months after Adolf Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor, the first concentration camp was opened near Dachau.
47. A few seconds after the detonation of the Hiroshima atomic bomb at an altitude of 2,000 feet (600 meters), the temperature on the ground was between 5,400 and 7,200 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000 and 4,000 degrees Celsius).
48. The V2 rocket launched by the Germans during World War II was the world’s first long-range rocket and also the first man-made object to enter space.
49. Although the German tanks were inferior to the models of the opponents, the tank units were able to win numerous victories in the Blitzkrieg. The Wehrmacht, in contrast to the enemy, used its tanks in a very concentrated manner.
50. Among all prisoners of war in World War II, Soviets in German captivity had the highest average mortality rate at 57.5 percent. That of Germans in Soviet captivity, by contrast, was “only” 35.8 percent.
51. Nazi Germany used Blitzkrieg as a reaction to the long-lasting and material-intensive trench warfare in World War I and because of its exposed position in the center of Europe.
52. In 1945 and 1948 Josef Stalin was proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize.
53. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, 2,403 US soldiers were killed and 1,178 wounded.
54. Teikou Bank in Hiroshima used the U.S. Mosler safe, which withstood the destructive force of the atomic bomb and protected the documents inside. The bank then sent a letter of thanks to the manufacturer of the safe after the disaster.
55. With over 89,000 wounded and 19,000 killed, the Battle of the Bulge in World War II became the bloodiest battle in that war for the United States.
56. The Atlantic Wall, which was intended to prevent the invasion of Western Europe during World War II from succeeding, was built by 260,000 workers.
57. In the 1930s, the Nazis persecuted people even if only the grandparents were of Jewish faith – regardless of the faith of the persecuted person himself.
58. During WW2, Hajimi Fuji volunteered for the kamikaze but was refused because he had a wife and two children. His wife then drowned her two young girls and herself.
59. More than 156,000 American, British, and Canadian soldiers landed on June 6, 1944, at the so-called Omaha Beach in about 5,000 ships.
60. Oskar Schindler’s seven lists contained more than 1,000 Jews whom he allegedly needed in his factory. Because the factory produced shell casings and was thus important for the war, he was granted the Jewish workers.
Read more: 10 Interesting Facts about Francisco Franco
61. During the Second World War, British soldier Digby Tatham-Warter was known among his comrades for always taking an umbrella along into battle so that his own comrades could identify him better and would not accidentally shoot him. He even managed to capture a German car after stabbing the driver in the eye with his umbrella.
62. During World War II, the Allies estimated the production rate of German tanks by comparing the serial numbers on captured tanks. The production rate of tanks was estimated at 256 units per month. After the end of the war, the actual production rate was discovered: 255 tanks per month.
63. In the Third Reich, there were 24 main concentration camps and a total of 3,846 camps.
64. The Jewish boxer Salamo Arouch was imprisoned in a concentration camp during World War II and was forced to fight against other inmates. The loser was shot or gassed.
65. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima killed an estimated 80,000 people as late as August 6, 1945, and Nagasaki directly killed about 40,000 people on August 9.
66. In 1944, Oskar Schindler ordered his employees to produce only defective grenades, as he did not want to contribute to the war success of the German Reich.
67. An estimated 72.5 million people died in World War II, about one-third of whom were in the military.
68. Adolf Eichmann, the “architect of the Holocaust” was hanged in Ramla near Tel Aviv on June 1, 1962. His ashes were scattered in the sea so that he had no final resting place.
69. During World War II, the USA used Navajo Indians to transmit radio messages. Since there was no algorithm behind it, the encryption was impossible for the Axis powers to crack.
70. By the end of 1945, about 140,000 people had died because of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. That was about 40 percent of the city’s population at the time.
71. During World War II, the Syrian brown bear “Wojtek” repeatedly supported Polish soldiers by bringing important military transports to them on the battlefield. In return, he was awarded the rank of non-commissioned officer.
72. About 80 percent of German soldiers in World War II died on the Eastern Front.
73. The Hiroshima bomb was made of uranium-235, while the Nagasaki bomb was made of plutonium-239.
74. Some historians argue that it was not the dropping of the two atomic bombs that caused Japan to surrender in World War II, but the preceding declaration of war by the Soviet Union on August 8, 1945, and the invasion that followed the next day.
75. The plane that dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was named “Enola Gay”
76. It was not until 1956 that the last German soldiers were released from Soviet captivity. Until then, they were used as punitive laborers in coal and copper mines and about 380,000 soldiers died in the POW camps.
77. Nazi Germany as well as Japan and Great Britain worked on a “death ray” during World War II. With the help of electromagnetic radiation, enemy soldiers were to be physically and psychologically injured or even killed. In Great Britain, the research did not lead to the desired success, but it did lead to the development of radar, which gave the Allies a decisive advantage. We have many more facts about the United Kingdom for you!
78. Because the Wehrmacht overran the Benelux countries in its Blitzkrieg against France, French and British soldiers were cut off from their comrades and pushed further and further towards the North Sea. From Dunkirk, some 330,000 soldiers were then evacuated in a spectacular rescue operation before the city was taken by the Germans.
79. The mortality rate in Russian POW camps was about 60 percent in 1943.
80. During World War II, London became the center of eight countries at the same time. It was a safe haven for the governments-in-exile of Poland, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Yugoslavia.
81. About 5.5 million German soldiers and 1.8 million civilians died during World War II.
82. Under the invented name of Max Heilinger, the SS opened numerous bank accounts to deposit money and valuables from the victims of the Holocaust. Even furniture, artwork, and dental gold were stolen, auctioned, and the proceeds subsequently deposited in the bank accounts.
83. Josef Stalin’s paranoid ideas and cruelty could have been caused by his brain disease atherosclerosis.
84. On D-Day, 29 floating tanks were to reach Omaha Beach to support the infantry. Unfortunately, 27 of them sank due to the high waves after they were released three miles (five kilometers) off the French coast. This made the invasion of this stretch of coast much more difficult.
85. The German Wehrmacht succeeded in conquering France, Belgium, and the Netherlands within only six weeks.
86. Since Hitler’s rise to power, there have been 20 unsuccessful attempts on his life.
87. Although according to historians Japan was already on the verge of surrender, the USA still justifies the devastating atomic bomb attacks against the Japanese Empire by claiming that they prevented an invasion by the USA and thus saved many lives.
88. The invasion of Normandy on D-Day turned the Second World War in favor of the Allies.
89. The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust is January 27, since on that day the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp was liberated.
90. More than 916,000 aircraft, about 280,000 tanks, and nearly 1.1 million pieces of artillery were produced during World War II.
91. With the passing of the Nuremberg Laws on September 15, 1935, Jews were deprived of their German citizenship and excluded from public life.
92. Hitler never visited an extermination camp himself.
93. Originally, D-Day was scheduled for June 5. But the Royal Air Force’s chief meteorological advisor James Martin Stagg was able to convince Eisenhower to postpone it by one day in order to prevent a disaster due to an impending storm.
94. During World War II, the Nazis almost succeeded in producing weapons-grade plutonium in occupied Norway. But a Norwegian special commando under Joachim Rønneberg was able to destroy the plant producing the necessary heavy water in February 1943.
95. The first aerial bomb to hit Berlin in World War II did not kill one person, but it did kill one of the nine elephants in the Berlin Zoo.
96. In Spain, under Franco’s rule from the Second World War onward, some 300 concentration camps were set up, in which up to a million political opponents and dissidents were imprisoned. However, there were no gas chambers as in the Third Reich.
97. During the Second World War, the Japanese newspaper “Osaka Mainichi Shimbunein” reported on a competition of a special kind. Two officers bet on who could kill 100 enemy soldiers with a sword first. Both died before they could win the competition.
98. An important factor in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II was the cracking of the Enigma code by Briton Alan Turing, who worked for months with his at Bletchley Park to decipher it.
99. Although Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had concluded a non-aggression pact, the Wehrmacht attacked the Red Army on June 22, 1941, on the flimsy grounds that the Soviets had previously violated the pact.
100. An estimated 13 million children lost their lives in World War II.
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101. During World War II, the Nazis had the largest mobile gun ever built. The “Schwerer Gustav” weighed 1,350 tons and could fire projectiles 80 centimeters in diameter and weighing 7.1 tons up to 47 kilometers. However, the gun was used in only one battle – the battle for Sevastopol – as 5,000 men were needed to operate it.
102. The Allies chose Normandy as the place of invasion to surprise the Germans. The Germans thought that Calais would be the most likely location, partly because it was the least distant from Great Britain.
103. National Socialists burned books written by Jewish authors in 1933. Ironically, one of these authors – Heinrich Heine – wrote 110 years earlier “Where one burns books, one will, in the end, burn people.”
104. During World War II, women in France who had relations with German soldiers were shaved bald so that everyone could see that they had betrayed their country.
105. During World War II, Germany’s 1,162 submarines destroyed 2,634 enemy ships.
106. Calvin Graham was the youngest U.S. soldier in World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 under false pretenses at the age of 12 and took an active part in combat operations. After being injured at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, he received the Purple Heart but was eventually discharged in 1943 because his true age was made known by his mother.
107. By 1942, some 500 military brothels had been set up for the amusement of German combatants in occupied Europe. It has been proven that about 34,100 European women were forced into prostitution in them. Even in concentration camps, there were such brothels.
108. During the Blitzkrieg in World War II, the German infantry units were far superior to the enemy because they carried significantly more rifles and mortars and thus had much more firepower.
109. As German soldiers pushed further east in World War II, mobile gas vans were even used to kill Jews and other minorities. Gas chambers were installed in trucks, where victims were killed by CO2 or exhaust fumes.
110. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. son of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, led a division during D-Day and died the following month on the battlefield in Normandy.
111. During World War II, the Japanese had developed the world’s first intercontinental weapons. Between 1944 and 1945, the Japanese released some 9,000 hydrogen-filled balloons carrying a bomb to fly toward the United States. After 30 to 60 hours, a few hundred of the balloons, called “Fu-Go”, actually reached North America but did little damage. Only six people – five children and a pregnant woman – died as a result at a picnic in Oregon. Since Pearl Harbor occurred before U.S. entry into World War II, these six people were the only war casualties in the continental United States. In our article, you can read many other exciting facts about Japan.
112. The physicist Bernard Waldman was part of the Manhattan Project and was supposed to act as a cameraman during the flight to Hiroshima to film the detonation of the atomic bomb. To accurately capture the extent of the devastation, he had been equipped with a special high-speed camera. Unfortunately, he forgot to open the shutter of the camera, so that the recording failed.
113. When the head of the Auschwitz concentration camp – Rudolf Höß – was accused in court of killing 3.5 million people, he replied “No, only two and a half million. The rest died of disease and hunger.”
114. After British soldiers liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, it was burned to the ground to prevent the spread of typhus.
115. The Russian winter was the Wehrmacht’s most effective opponent during the Blitzkrieg against the Soviets. Since Hitler did not expect a long battle, the soldiers were not prepared for the cold weather, so the tide turned with the cold snap.
116. Spanish dictator Francisco Franco declared his neutrality after Italy entered World War II, so Spain never officially entered World War II. However, Francoist Spain nevertheless supported the Axis powers through both military action and supply deliveries.
117. The Nazis conducted countless experiments on prisoners during World War II. People were subjected to great cold, bones and nerves were transplanted without anesthesia, prisoners were infected with malaria, treated with electric shocks, and burned with phosphorus, and then the treatment was researched.
118. During his tenure from 1999 to 2011, the mayor of Hiroshima wrote a letter of protest to the leader of the country responsible after each atomic bomb test to make a statement against nuclear weapons.
119. After the Second World War, Oskar Schindler regularly traveled to Israel to visit the Jews he saved.
120. During World War II, Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Japanese aircraft, which rose from the fleet of 65 ships anchored north of Hawaii.
121. Shortly before the atomic bombing, Japanese radars detected approaching U.S. aircraft but did not consider them a threat because of their small numbers, so no countermeasures were taken. One of these aircraft was the deadly Enola Gay bomber.
122. An important factor in the success of the German Blitzkrieg strategy was the targeted deployment of the dive bombers Junkers Ju 87.
123. On August 6, 1945, when Hiroshima was the victim of a U.S. atomic bombing, the final day of a three-day tournament of the board game “Go” was being held 3.1 miles (five kilometers) from Ground Zero. During the explosion, the building was damaged, and spectators were injured, so the final match had to be interrupted. Nevertheless, the match continued after the lunch break and was decided the same evening. White won.
124. Nazi Germany stockpiled several million potato beetles because they wanted to use them against England to plunge the country into famine. However, more than 40 million of them would have been needed, but could never be obtained.
125. Eizō Nomura was the survivor of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima who had the shortest distance to the explosion center. He was just 170 meters from ground zero in the basement of a building.
126. The term “D-Day” generally refers to a selected day for the start of a military operation. The “D” simply stands for “day”. Similarly, there is also the H-Hour, which defines the exact time of the beginning of a military action.
127. During World War II, the U.S. Army collaborated with Walt Disney to develop a gas mask that looked like Mickey Mouse, in order to make children less afraid of a poison gas attack.
128. In the Battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet Union lost more soldiers with over one million killed than the United States and Great Britain lost in all of World War II combined.
129. Although the Japanese wanted to prevent a war by attacking Pearl Harbor, they achieved exactly the opposite. On December 8, the USA officially entered World War II.
130. During World War II, female U.S. Marines were called BAMs (Broad-Assed Marines) and male HAMs (Hairy-Assed Marines).
131. In the Third Reich, there were two different types of camps. In concentration camps such as Buchenwald, prisoners died of hard work, hunger, cold, and disease. Extermination camps like Auschwitz, on the other hand, had as their sole objective the large-scale killing of prisoners by industrial methods.
132. Because of Japan’s desired territorial expansion in the Pacific region and similar U.S. interests, a Pacific war seemed inevitable in 1939. To discourage the Americans, the Japanese decided to land a fatal first strike by attacking Pearl Harbor.
133. The attack on Pearl Harbor was intended to weaken the Pacific fleet of the Americans and aircraft carriers, in particular, were in the focus. But in fact, none of the aircraft carriers of the Pacific fleet was in port that day.
134. Adrian Carton de Wiart fought in both World Wars and he was shot in his head, his leg, his hips and his ear. He also survived a plane crash and when the doctors were unwilling to amputate two of his fingers, he bit them off. When he was later asked about his time during the war he replied “I had enjoyed the war”.
135. In the bombing of London by the Nazis on September 7, 1940 and May 16, 1941, known as “The Blitz”, 40,000 civilians died and over a million buildings were destroyed or at least damaged.
136. Like Adolf Hitler, Mussolini also called himself “The Leader”, as that is the meaning of his self-conferred title “Il Duce”.
137. China lost the third most soldiers in World War II, with more than three million casualties. Ahead of that was Germany, with more than 4.4 million, and the Soviet Union, with more than 8.6 million dead soldiers. Here are some more exciting facts about China.
138. When the first V2 rocket hit London during World War II Wernher Von Braun, the man credited with designing the rocket for the Germans, said that “the rocket worked perfectly, except for landing on the wrong planet”.
139. Dr. Josef Mengele conducted cruel research on some 1,500 pairs of twins during World War II, and only about 200 people survived. In most cases, one of the twins was injected with chemicals or pathogens that resulted in death. The second twin was then killed and both bodies were autopsied for comparison.
140. The largest tank battle ever fought was the Battle of Kursk in World War II. During this battle, 6,000 tanks, two million soldiers, and 4,000 aircraft were used.
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141. During World War II, the Nazi regime had built a 1,668-mile-long (2,685-kilometer-long) Atlantic Wall that stretched from Finland to the Spanish peninsula. The goal of D-Day was to create a line of defense consisting of over 8,000 bunkers, tunnels, hundreds of heavy guns, thousands of smaller cannons and millions of tons of steel and concrete.
142. On the night of March 9-10, 1945, 334 U.S. bombers dropped napalm on Tokyo. It is estimated that well over 100,000 people were directly killed in what became known as “Operation Meetinghouse”, making this attack on the Japanese capital the deadliest bombing of World War II.
143. “Quisling” is a term for “traitor” in some languages. It is particularly well known in Norway, as the Norwegian politician Vidkun Quisling collaborated with the Nazis after the Axis invasion and was subsequently installed as prime minister. After the war, he was executed for treason on October 24, 1945.
144. More than 30 states fought in World War II.
145. D-Day is still the largest amphibious invasion in history.
146. During World War II, a U.S. outpost in the Philippines was ambushed by 100 Japanese soldiers as John R. McKinney stood guard. For more than 36 minutes, he fought the men with his light machine gun, then also in hand-to-hand combat, eventually killing 38 of the attackers. For his unprecedented courage that day, Harry S. Truman awarded McKinney the Medal of Honor in 1946.
147. During World War II, Adolf Hitler gave the order to spare the British city of Blackpool from bomb attacks, as he intended to go on holiday there after Germany had won the war.
148. Nearly 1.2 million Jews fought for the Allies against Nazi Germany during World War II. Of these, about 550,000 served in the U.S. armed forces, 500,000 in the Soviets, 100,000 in the Polish Army, and 30,000 in the British Army.
149. Up until his death, F. Scott Fitzgerald was convinced that he had achieved nothing in his life. Two years later, his book “The Great Gatsby” was sent to soldiers in World War II and became an immediate success. To this day, the book sells about 500,000 copies every year.
150. Adolf Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939.
151. Since 1964, in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb, the “flame of peace” is burning in Hiroshima, which will only be extinguished once all nuclear weapons on the earth have been eliminated.
152. The five french beaches belonging to the German bridgehead were given the code names Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno by the Allies.
153. During World War II, the French weightlifter Charles Rigoulet was sent to a Nazi prison. He broke out by bending the metal rods of his prison cell and was even able to free several other fellow prisoners.
154. Blitzkrieg was not an invention of Hitler but was already proposed in the 19th century by Carl von Clausewitz.
155. For the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese Navy managed to cover more than 3,500 miles (almost 5,600 kilometers) unnoticed and hit the Americans hard without warning.
156. The artist Joseph Beuys fought for the Nazis in the Luftwaffe during the Second World War and in 1944 his plane crashed and he survived.
157. To show his solidarity with Adolf Hitler, the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco had the clocks in the country set back by one hour. Since then, Spain has been in the wrong time zone. Actually, the country should be in the same time zone as London.
158. Hitler planned to build the “Hall of the People” in Berlin or “Germania”. It would have been 1,050 feet (320 meters) high at its peak and would have had a floor space of about 408,600 square feet (38,000 square meters). It is assumed that the air breathed by the mass of people in the huge domed building would even have led to cloud formation and precipitation.
159. Historians estimate that about 20 million people were killed by Stalin’s regime.
160. Mussolini said of Hitler that he was an “old sentimentalist”.
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161. On D-Day alone, some 4,400 Allied soldiers died under the hail of bullets from Nazi Germany. Another 73,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives in the ensuing fighting in Normandy.
162. The soldier Jack Churchill went into every battle of the Second World War carrying a sword, bagpipes and a longbow. During a mission in France, he even achieved the only confirmed kill by longbow during the Second World War. His comrades therefore nicknamed him “Mad Jack”.
163. Starting in 1939, Jews in the Third Reich had to wear a yellow star to identify them as Jews. Such an identification already existed in the Islamic world in the 12th century.
164. The British developed the DD Tank, a floating Sherman tank, during World War II. Originally the term stood for “Duplex Drive Tank” but was also jokingly pronounced “Donald Duck Tank”.
165. Just over a month after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the powerful Makurazaki typhoon hit the city, killing 2,000 people.
166. The German term “Bombenwetter” (literally: “bomb weather”) can be traced back to the fact that this weather offers ideal conditions to make out targets when bombing a city. The word originated during the Second World War.
167. The USS Arizona, which sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor, still leaks about nine quarts (more than nine liters) of oil every day. The ship was refueled with 1.5 million gallons (over 5.6 million liters) the day before the attack.
168. Francisco Franco was the only European dictator who continued to rule until the 1970s. Hitler killed himself in 1945, Mussolini was shot by partisans in 1945, and Stalin died of a stroke in 1953.
169. The soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division wore a swastika in their logo for 15 years. However, after Hitler came to power in 1933, the symbol was replaced.
170. In the six days after D-Day, 326,000 soldiers, 104,000 tons of material and 54,000 vehicles landed in Normandy. By the end of June, a total of 850,000 men had landed.
171. On the night of D-Day, over 13,000 Allied paratroopers landed in Normandy to knock out communications equipment and bring important bridges under their control.
172. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle during World War II. It lasted from 1939 to 1945.
173. To protect London from air raids by the Third Reich, thousands of so-called barrage balloons were used. Fastened to the ground with a steel cable, the medium-sized balloons could rise to a height of 1,500 meters. Since the thin ropes were barely visible, attacking aircraft were forced to fly much higher. This greatly reduced their hitting accuracy and, at the same time, brought the fighter planes back within range of the higher aimed antiaircraft guns.
174. After Stalin’s first wife Ekaterine Svanidze died, he said at her funeral “This creature softened my heart of stone. She died and with her died my last warm feelings for humanity.”
175. During his time as Führer, Adolf Hitler had 84 of his generals executed.
176. During the Second World War, the city of Constance was largely spared from Allied bombing raids. Unlike other German cities, Constance did not cut off electricity at night. Allied pilots could therefore hardly distinguish the city from neighboring Switzerland, where the lights also remained on at night. In order to avoid mistakes, no bombs were dropped in the region.
177. World War II saw the world’s first military use of paratroopers in a battle. As early as 1940, the Germans used paratroopers in the invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Norway.
178. During World War II, the Nazis attempted to cover the river Alster as part of their “Operation Invisibility Cloak”. They covered parts of the river with wood and wire, built dummy houses and planted trees on the frozen river, as they suspected that the Allies were using the Alster for orientation. The objective was to save Hamburg’s city center from more severe bomb damage. However, this hope was not fulfilled.
179. Henry Ford became the first American to be awarded the Order of Merit of the German Eagle on July 30, 1938. Hitler, a car enthusiast, was a great admirer of Ford’s assembly line manufacturing and admired him for his anti-Semitic book “The International Jew”, published in 1922. A portrait of Henry Ford even hung next to Hitler’s desk for this reason.
180. Since 1943, Hitler has used opioids and cocaine to pep up before his speeches, as he gradually lost his natural charisma during the war.
Read more: 25 unusual facts about Adolf Hitler
181. During World War II, Queen Elizabeth worked as a mechanic for the British troops.
182. The Soviet Union took approximately three million German prisoners of war during World War II.
183. Not only Jews, but also millions of Sinti, Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, disabled, and homosexuals fell victim to the organized killings by Nazis.
184. The German Blitzkrieg in World War II began on September 1, 1939 with the unexpected invasion of Poland, which ended on September 27 with the capitulation of the Polish capital Warsaw.
185. Of the eight warships damaged by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the attack on Pearl Harbor, as many as six were put back into service after extensive repairs.
186. By today’s standards, the Nazis took assets worth between 230 and 320 billion dollars from the Jewish population.
187. In their concentration camps, the Nazis made lampshades from the skin of the murdered.
188. When Adolf Hitler took power in the German Reich, Aryanization began, the aim of which was the complete suppression of Jewish life. In the process, Jews were either forced to sell their businesses below value or were forcibly expropriated.
189. When in 1940 Adolf Hitler banned the public display of colored people in Germany, he was the first state leader to take action against the so-called “human zoos”.
190. Because oleander was the first flower to bloom again after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, it is the official flower of the city.
191. Erich Hartmann was the most successful fighter pilot of all time. He was credited with 352 confirmed kills in 1,404 missions during World War II.
192. Eisenhower had already prepared a statement in which he took all the blame for the failure of “Operation Neptune” on D-Day and emphasized the bravery of the soldiers.
193. Oskar Schindler’s last wish was to be buried in Jerusalem.
194. Onoda Hirō was a Japanese intelligence officer who believed that the proclamation of the end of World War II was only a ruse by the Allies and therefore continued to hold his position 29 years after the end of the war. Only when his former superior, who was now a bookseller, visited him in 1974 could Onoda be convinced that the war was over.
195. Because the German Wehrmacht surprised its opponents with the Blitzkrieg, they often fled, so that the Third Reich was able to conquer countless heavy weapons.
196. The term Holocaust comes from the Greek word “holokauston” and means sacrifice by burning.
197. During World War II, all venomous and deadly animals in the London Zoo were killed to prevent them from escaping into the city and killing anyone in case the zoo was bombed.
198. In the six years of the Second World War, around 810,000 aircraft were produced. Of these, 37 percent were produced in the USA alone, 20 percent in the Soviet Union and 16 percent in Great Britain.
199. During World War II, the frigid winter on the Eastern Front resulted in numerous cases of frostbite among unprepared German soldiers, requiring the amputation of some 15,000 limbs.
200. Although the German soldiers at the Allied landing in Normandy, with 50,000 soldiers, were less than a third of the Allied manpower, they were able to hold off the attackers for several days due to the massive defense installations. It took eight days to occupy the 50-mile-long (80-kilometer-long) coastal strip.
Read more: 22 Facts about D-Day – The Decisive Day
201. The USS Nevada was a warship of the U.S. Pacific Fleet that almost sank in the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, the soldiers on board ran her aground for rescue, so she could be repaired and reused. One of her later missions was to assist in the attack on Normandy by firing on the German positions. So although it was almost destroyed by the Axis powers on the day that led to the United States entering World War II, it was able to provide necessary support on the day that heralded the Allied victory over the Axis powers.
202. During World War II, U.S. defense spending rose to more than 40 percent of gross domestic product.
203. Tsutomu Yamaguchi is officially the only person to survive two atomic bombings. He was working in Hiroshima when the first atomic bomb hit the city. As he was driving home to Nagasaki, despite severe injuries, the second bomb had just hit. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 93.
204. During the Second World War, the US Army maintained a tactical deception unit. It consisted of numerous artists, film set designers and actors. Their task was to create vehicle dummies and to simulate operations. Soldiers called their friends in this unit the “Ghost Army”. We have written an exciting article about the Ghost Army.
205. In preparation for D-Day, Normandy was bombed for three months to destroy bridges, railroads, and positions. An estimated 60,000 civilians were killed.
206. 66 million years ago, an asteroid with a diameter of 6.2 to 9.3 miles hit the Yucatan peninsula – at the time still a shallow sea. The Chicxulub impact had a force of at least 200 million Hiroshima bombs and directly and indirectly, caused the extinction of up to 75 percent of all plant and animal species living at that time. Want to read more facts about prehistory?
207. The landing mission on D-Day ran under the name “Operation Neptune”. It was part of the invasion of Normandy, which was called “Operation Overlord”.
208. To boost combat morale in World War II, Stalin issued Order No. 227, “Not one step backward!” It stated that soldiers were to be placed behind their own ranks and that fleeing soldiers were to be shot immediately. In fact, however, most of them were only arrested.
209. Oskar Schindler succeeded in setting up his own camp for his Jewish factory workers, which offered significantly better conditions, in part because he supplemented their food rations with food from the black market. The SS rarely entered the camp, and when they did, Schindler warned the inmates with a beep.
210. World War II was the most expensive war ever for the United States. By today’s standards, 4.1 trillion dollars was spent by the end of the war.
211. The Christmas tree that is set up every year on London’s Trafalgar Square is always given to the British by Norway. This tradition has existed since 1947 and is intended to express the Norwegians’ gratitude for the support by the British during the Second World War.
212. Originally, Oskar Schindler employed Jews in his factories because they represented a comparatively cheap labor force. Only with the increasing persecution of Jews did the idea of salvation emerge in him.
213. One of the original Schindler lists was offered in an eBay auction in 2013 for a starting price of three million dollars but did not receive a single bid.
214. Within 29 weeks, Harry Truman rose from US Senator to Vice President of the United States and then to President of the United States before becoming the first man to order the launch of a nuclear bomb.
215. With more than 7.3 million casualties, China lost more civilians in World War II than any other country. Poland mourned more than 5.6 million deaths, the Soviet Union probably well over 4.5 million, and Germany over three million civilians.
216. One of the highest-ranking officers in the U.S. armed forces, Lieutenant General Lesley McNair, was killed in Normandy during “Operation Quicksilver” by friendly fire.
217. Adolf Hitler’s nephew William Patrick Hitler emigrated to the USA in 1939 and even fought alongside the Americans against Nazi Germany during the Second World War. He was even awarded the Purple Heart for his accomplishments during the war. After the war, however, he changed his name to William Patrick Stuart-Houston.
218. Of the six million Jews killed by the Nazi regime, 25 percent alone were industrially murdered within three months as part of “Operation Reinhardt”.
219. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was called “Operation Z” during planning.
220. Photos document that Hitler practiced the poses in his speeches in front of the mirror.
221. The heatwave from the Hiroshima atomic bomb was so great that the shadows of people and objects were burned into the ground. They are called “Hiroshima shadows” or “haunting shadows”.
222. The Buchenwald concentration camp had to be built by the later prisoners themselves.
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