Top 10 Facts Of World War 2
World War II is widely considered as the deadliest war in history. Mass civilian deaths, human experiments, weaponry advancement — it was an all-out war. Check out some of these not-so-known facts during the period:
1. The British Security Service MI5 had a counter-espionage system — the Double Cross or XX.
This deception operation used Britain-based Nazi agents to spread the wrong information to their controllers. The agents used ‘secret writing’ as a means of communication with the handlers. When this became ineffective (agents caught by postal censorship authorities), they switched to wireless sets. With their strategic deception, the enemy ended up being duped about the place and date of an Allied Offensive.
2. The Allied Forces dropped 3.4 million tons of explosives across Europe and Asia.
More than 70 years later, unexploded ordnance are still being found. Why? With the thousands of bombs being delivered monthly in WW2, about 5-15% did not detonate. Also known as explosive remnants of war, any discovery will trigger a military response. First is evacuation. Second, the bomb may be detonated or defused but it will be a controlled explosion.
3. Unit 731 planned a long-distance biological attack to the US.
This is the Imperial Japanese Army’s covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit. They’re known for conducting lethal and horrific human experiments — vivisections without anesthesia and frostbite testing to name a few. One of the wildest schemes they concocted was called Cherry Blossoms At Night which will supposedly bring pilots who will infect US with plague-infected fleas and trigger an epidemic. It took an atomic bomb to stop them from pursuing the plan.
4. Japan and Russia didn’t sign a formal peace treaty to end hostilities between them.
So technically, they’re still at war. However, earlier this year, news have been circulating about the possibility of signing a peace treaty AFTER more than 60 years post-WWII. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been attempting to urge talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
5. Nazi literally means ‘simple minded’.
When Adolf Hitler took office, his party was called Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. Before the rise of National Socialist German Workers’ Party or NSDAP, NAZI was used as a colloquial word for ‘simple minded’ or even a derogatory term for a foolish person or backwards peasant. This is why opponents eventually shortened the party’s name and referred to it as ‘Nazi.’
6. 32-year-old Hanns Scharff is the most accomplished German interrogator.
Often called the “Master Interrogator” by the Luftwaffe, Hanns was able to obtain crucial military secrets not with torture but by the use of kindness. More than 90% of the POWs he questioned ended up revealing a treasure trove of important details regarding plans, weapons and aircraft. It’s not surprising that he ended up being friends with some of them after the war.
7. German occupation of Denmark lasted for approximately six hours.
The attack on Denmark was only a part of Operation Weserübung Süd. This plan is centered on the invasion of a more strategic location — Norway and its coastal waters which will be used for the iron ore shipping. Being outnumbered and unprepared, the ground campaign against Denmark became the ‘briefest operation of the Second World War.’
8. In World War 2, Fanta was created in lieu of Coca-Cola.
Because it was getting difficult for Coca-Cola to import the key syrup ingredient to Germany due to trade embargo, the head of the company Max Keith decided to use ingredients which are readily and currently available (whey and apple pomace). Thus, the fruit-flavored soda Fanta (from the word ‘Fantasie’) was born.
9. Adolf Hitler has never reached the summit of the Eiffel Tower even after the Fall of France.
After Germany invaded Paris, some French fighters cut the lift cables of the Eiffel Tower. Therefore, the only way for Hitler to get to the top and hoist his swastika flag was to climb the 1,710 steps. German soldiers had to scale it to hoist their flag which was so big it was blown away just a few hours later. They then used a smaller one. In 1944, when the Allied Forces were already near Paris, Hitler commanded the demolition of the tower to the military governor General Dietrich von Choltitz but he disobeyed the order. Shortly after the Liberation of Paris, the elevator started working again.
10. After the war, thousands of female survivors supposedly on their way back to their homes fell victims to rape.
Perhaps one of the most horrific acts stemming from World War 2 was the ‘Rape of Europe’. It was a painful journey and yet, for those who did manage to arrive home, they ended up with either of two things: destroyed houses or someone else occupying them. Even though the war has ended, most survivors had nothing and therefore constantly struggled to survive.