17 Interesting Facts That Most People Don’t Know About WW2

World War II was one of the most significant events in human history that shaped the world we live in today. It lasted six years, involved almost every nation, and claimed millions of lives. While we have a general knowledge of the significant events and figures of the war, some fascinating facts and stories remain unknown for the best part. We reveal some of the most exciting facts that offer a unique glimpse into the war that changed the world forever.

1 – The US Was Actually Way Ahead

American Flag
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Comparatively, the United States was fully mechanized by 1942. However, Germany only made it 30-40% of the way to being fully mechanized by the end of the war.

2 – LGBTQIA+ People Were Also In Camps

Pride rainbow lgbt gay flag being waved in the breeze against a sunset sky.
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There were more than just Jewish people in concentration camps. Disabled people as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ community were also in camps. After the war, gay people were moved to other camps and never released.

3 – “Cultural” Escape

Kyoto Japan
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Nagasaki was not initially shortlisted as one of the target cities for the atomic bomb until just a few weeks before the U.S. detonated the most potent weapon mankind had ever known. Kyoto topped the list until the then Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, influenced its removal on the premise of cultural heritage.

 4 – “Necessity Is The Mother of Invention”

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Because of the American trade embargo against Nazi Germany, fewer Coca-Cola ingredients were available. The Germans then invented Fanta, which sold three million cases in 1943. The name is gotten from the German word “Fantasie” by the Head of Cocacola, GmBH, Max Keith, urging his team to use their imagination.

5 – Enemies With Mutual Benefit

Castle Itter
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The battle of Castle Itter is one rare instance of the U.S. Army and German Wehrmacht, amongst others, fighting side by side against the SS (combat branch of the Nazi Party). The second, termed “Operation Cowboy,” was fought in the Czechoslovakian village of Hostau against the same foe, this time to save horses.

6 – The Bear Soldier

Wojtek the Polish Bear Soldier
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This Syrian Bear named Wojtek was officially enlisted in the Polish II Corps with the rank of Private and eventually promoted to Corporal. He assisted with moving ammunition crates and leisure with the troops. After the war, he lived out his days at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland.

7 – Are Carrots Good for Night Vision?

young boy with carrot enjoying life in countryside
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The idea that this might be true stemmed from the propaganda the British used to prevent the Germans from discovering how they intercepted bombers on night raids: radars. They made a press release stating that carrots were helping their pilots with night vision.

8 – Australian Owen

Australian Army WWII
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The only Australian gun used by the Australian Army between 1942 and 1971 was conceived by a 17-year-old named Evelyn Owen, for which he got £10,000 in royalties and from the sale of patent rights.

9 – The Three-Sided Korean

Yang Kyoungjong
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Yang Kyoungjong is a Korean soldier who fought for three different sides during WW2 – Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army, and later the German Wehrmacht—the only soldier in history to have that record.

10 – “Operation Bernhard”

British Currency
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WW2 had advanced beyond the claim to the geographical territory. The economy was critical to winning the war. For Germany, the plot was to infuse vast amounts of forged pound bills into the British economy to induce inflation. The plot was leaked, and the opposition put arrangements in place to stall the plan.

11 – Code Talkers

Code Talkers
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The Navajo Code Talkers, a group of 29 Navajo men who developed a code based on the intricate, unwritten Navajo language, were chosen by the Marine Corps leadership. The code mainly employed word association by associating important concepts and military strategies with Navajo words.

12 – Escapee Turned President

George H W Bush Military
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In September 1944, nine American pilots were shot down while conducting bombing raids on Chichi Jima, a small island 700 miles (1,100 km) south of Tokyo. Eight of these soldiers were captured and executed. The Ninth and only to have escaped the enemies eventually became the 41st President of the United States of America, George W.H. Bush. He was 20 at the time.

13 – Loyalist

Hiroo Onoda
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After the war, a Japanese soldier, Hiroo Onoda, refused to surrender but hid in the Philippines for 29 years till his former commander came to formally relieve him of his duty on Emperor Shōwa's order. Trained as an intelligence officer, his rank was Second Lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army.

14 – Deserter

Soldier Silhouette
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Edward Donald Slovik was court-martialed and executed for desertion. His was the only execution carried out of the more than 21,000 American soldiers sentenced for desertion in WW2. This includes 49 death sentences.

Shaken from the shellings that welcomed him in France, Slovik requested a less threatening assignment but was refused. He then submitted a letter to his commander confessing to desertion. A confession he declined to renounce even when advised.

15 – “The Québécois Rambo”

Rambo III, Sylvester Stallone
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The reconnaissance mission into Zwolle involved Private Leo Major and Corporal Wilfred Arsenault. They were to gain intel on the German force and possibly contact the Dutch Resistance before a planned attack occurred. Although Arsenault was killed after accidentally giving their position away, Major decided to play “Rambo.” His efforts saved the Dutch town from an artillery attack. They earned Major a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and the nickname “the Quebecois Rambo.”

16 – Singer Spy

Josephine Baker
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Josephine Baker used her influence as a celebrity to gather information from the high-ranking officials of the Axis Alliance. She passed it on without suspicion to the head of French counterintelligence, Jacques Abtey. She did the same successfully after the invasion of France by the Germans, giving information about German airfields, harbors, and troop concentrations in France. After the war, Baker was awarded the Resistance Medal and the Croix de Guerre. She was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur.

17 – Finnish Fine Line

Finland Flags
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Aligning themselves with their interest at every turn, Finland played a fine game of “No permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interest.” Hence their initial participation in the war was in defense against the Soviets. Then, they fought the Continuation War against the same enemy in alliance with the German forces and the other Axis Powers and finally alongside the Allied Forces to expunge the Germans from Finnish territory.

Source: Reddit.