You might have heard how World War II was one of the most gruesome conflicts ever to have left its mark on Europe, and the rest of the world, too. But nowadays, young people might know less and less about it, and sometimes, it is essential to revisit some facts regarding wars so that we can make sure that humankind does not repeat the same mistakes time and again.
Without further ado, here are ten crucial facts about WWII that you should know about.
It didn’t affect Europe only
We know how Americans saved the day both in WWI and in WWII, and so it’s logical that they were involved directly, but what some of us might not be aware of is that not every armed conflict happened in Europe. In actuality, the campaigns of the Axis powers expanded all over the world, from Western Egypt to Tunisia and some were even fought in the Pacific. Who hasn’t heard about the Pearl Harbor disaster?
The American forces were responsible for removing the Japanese from power in the Pacific front, as it had conquered Hong Kong, Malaya, Burma, Singapore, the Philippines, as well as the Dutch East Indies.
It was a continuation of WWI
Following WWI, Germany was forced to pay an immense amount of debt to the other countries that had become involved in the conflict. Having been found guilty for this war when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, it was only natural that the Germans felt angered, humiliated, and frustrated because of the verdict.
It didn’t take that much effort on the part of Adolf Hitler to take advantage of that anger and turn it into a destroying force. In fact, when he ran for German Chancellor in the 1930s, what he promised to his voters was that he would restore the country’s days of glory.
Almost 60 million people died throughout WWII
The Holocaust claimed the lives of six million Jews, and no matter how many efforts some might try to make to convince others that it never happened, it was a disaster in every respect for this culture. Not only Jews were affected by the policies introduced by the Germans as many Gypsies found themselves and died in concentration camps, as well.
Aside from these two minorities, one of which is religious and the other is ethnic, there were dozens of people who died on the front and in the cities that were wiped out from the face of the Earth. The rest died from disease and extreme hunger as toward the end, there was a point where food and water had become scarce in many towns across Europe.
The Japanese are known for being unique for a variety of reasons, but during WWII, their uniqueness had an entirely different meaning. They used Kamikaze airships to crash into Allied ships and they were manned by real soldiers who lost their lives destroying American warcrafts. The estimate is that they managed to do so with over 300 US ships and as such, the lives of over 15,000 American soldiers were lost.
The United States were involved way before Pearl Harbor
As we’ve noted above, the US was an important ally for Europe both in WWI and in WWII. Initially, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was president at that time, declared that the country would remain neutral but in 1941, following the Lend-Lease Act, the US started providing both financial and military aid to the Allied forces.
The battle of Stalingrad is said to have been the turning point of WWII. Hitler was obsessed with the idea that the Germans would somehow manage to conquer Russia, as they had a variety of other European countries.
In 1942, Hitler ordered that this city should be captured, and the German forces were sorely defeated once Stalin concentrated an impressive number of soldiers in that area; furthermore, civilians were not allowed to leave the town premises.
Everything started with the invasion of Poland
Despite the weaponry technology of those times not being as evolved as what it is today seeing how soldiers weren’t all equipped with rifle scopes, the whole event was started when Poland was invaded by Germany on September 1st, 1939. Within just weeks of penetrating the country’s border, the German forces managed to conquer the capital city of Warsaw.
Following this victory, Germany invaded and successfully annexed West Prussia, Upper Silesia, Poznan, as well as Danzig, which had been a free city up to that point.
Infantry weapons evolved a lot during the war
It goes without saying that no one used a crossbow in battle, but the fact is that Germany made unbelievable technological progress over the course of WWII. Developed in Nazi Germany at the beginning of the 1940s, the Sturmgewehr 44 was by far one of the most effective weapons used in combat, but it was also one of the first mass-produced assault rifles that made a difference in warfare.
However, its mass production began in 1944, and needless to say, by that point it had become almost clear that the war wouldn’t have been won by the Germans.
The Europe Recovery Program
We’ve already mentioned how the US interference was crucial for the Allied forces winning the war, but we haven’t noted how the Americans also played an important part in getting Europe on its feet again.
As one might imagine, a war that lasts for so long as WWII did, will inevitably leave its mark on the people and the industries of every country on a continent. George Marshall, who was the US Secretary of State at that time, crafted and announced the Marshall Plan on June 5th, 1947 at Harvard. The plan basically gave $12 billion to Western European countries to help them rebuild their economies and aid with ensuring political stability.
WWII Soldiers had toilet paper rations
To end in a somewhat funny note, perhaps you didn’t know that British soldiers had 3 sheets of toilet paper per day whereas Americans got 22.5 sheets.