World War II, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, was a global conflict that engulfed the majority of the world’s nations. Triggered by the aggressive expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, and its allies, the war saw the formation of two major opposing military alliances: the Allies, led by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, among others, and the Axis, consisting of Germany, Italy, and Japan, among others.

The war witnessed significant battles and atrocities, including the Holocaust, resulting in the loss of millions of lives.

33 World War II Facts

1. The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is coated with an anti-graffiti chemical. It was manufactured by the very same company that made the Zyklon B gas that was used in concentration camp gas chambers during WW2. – Source

2. Nine American crewmen survived when their warplane crashed during World War 2. Eight of them were captured by the Japanese and eaten. Only one survived because he was picked up by a passing submarine. That survivor is George H.W. Bush. – Source

3. A Korean soldier during WW2 was enrolled in the Japanese Imperial Army. Eventually, he was captured and forced to fight for the Red Army. Later he was captured again and forced to fight for the Wehrmacht (Germany). Making him a veteran of three armies. – Source

4. The German city of Konstanz was not bombed by the Allied Forces during World War II, because the city left all its lights on at night, thus fooling the Allied bombers into thinking it was actually a city of Switzerland. – Source

5. Adrian Carton de Wiart, a British officer who fought in the Boer War, WWI & II, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor wouldn’t amputate them. He later stated, “Frankly I had enjoyed the war.” – Source

6. An Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer, who fought in World War II, Hiroo Onoda never surrendered in 1945. Until 1974, for almost 30 years, he held his position in the Philippines. His former commander traveled from Japan to personally issue orders relieving him from duty in 1974. – Source

7. During World War II, Russia forced battalions of convicts to run through minefields, search and clear them ahead of the advancing troops. – Source

8. During World War II, A woman slipped and fell at the top of the stairs of Bethnal Green tube station in London. It was being used as a bomb shelter. The resulting domino effect killed 176 people. – Source

9. SS Wien of Austria was sunk in 1918 during World War I. It was raised again, salvaged, refitted and returned to service as SS Po. It was sunk again in 1941 during World War II. – Source

10. During World War II, British officer, James Hill captured two Italian tanks using only his revolver, but was wounded while attempting to capture his third tank. – Source

11. During WW2, a Russian pilot, Alexey Maresyev was shot down over Nazi Germany. He dragged himself 18 days to Soviet territory and had to have his legs amputated. Later, he mastered the use of prosthetic devices and returned to flying combat missions. – Source

12. After World War II, Denmark declined an offer of $100,000,000 from the United States to buy Greenland. – Source

13. Netherlands sends Canada 10,000 tulips each year as a thank-you gesture for sheltering their Dutch princess during WW2. – Source

14. German pilots used to intentionally rupture their eardrums during WW2 to prevent air pressure issues. Similarly, the Bajau people of the Pacific rupture their eardrums to help them in diving and hunting at sea. – Source

15. Marius A. Langbein, a German spy was sent to Canada during WW2. He decided to use his funds to move to Ottawa and then surrendered to Canadian authorities. During trial, Jury let him go because he didn’t do any damage or even spy – Source

16. A WW2 American private in the Italian Campaign single-highhandedly forced the surrender of 4 machine gunners and captured 10 Italian prisoners. He was stripped of his medals for being a dog. – Source

17. After WW2, there emerged a Jewish assassin group nicknamed “Nokmim” who sought out those who terrorized Jews and/or their families during the war and meticulously executed them. – Source

18. The Red Army (Russian) defeated 75-80% of deployed German forces during WW2. The US/UK forces only defeated 20-25%. – Source

19. The official gesture that accompanied the Pledge of Allegiance was so similar to Hitler’s Nazi salute that Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the change to the hand over heart during WW2. – Source

20. The death star trench sequence in Star Wars was inspired by the RAF dam-busting missions during WW2. – Source

21. During WW2, Italy delivered an ultimatum to Greece demanding they accept Italian occupation. The Greeks replied with “Then it is war”. In the ensuing fight, the outgunned Greeks put Italy on the defensive, forcing Germany to intervene, diverting resources from the upcoming invasion of the USSR. – Source

22. During WW2 three bombs hit a single church in Malta (Pictured above). Two of them just bounced off and did not explode. The last one pierced the church roof, landing among a congregation of 300, but did never exploded. – Source

23. The Polish Army had a bear as an enlisted soldier during WW2 that ended up being an important part of the Battle of Monte Cassino. – Source

24. Switzerland claimed neutrality during WW2 and therefore thousands of people deposited their hard-earned money in Switzerland. When the depositors died, the relatives were denied any access to their funds, funds that the banks continued to make interest off. They also funneled hundreds of millions into Nazi Germany. – Source

25. The total casualties of the USA, Britain, and France during WW2 put together roughly equaled the casualties of the Soviets in the decisive battle of Leningrad only. In total, Soviet casualties are 26 times that of other allies. – Source

26. Fritz Haber, a German chemist created a process of producing fertilizer that makes about half of the world’s food today. He also created chlorine gas in WW1. After his death, what he created to be a pesticide was used in WW2 gas chambers. – Source

27. Lauri Törni was a soldier who during WW2 served both the Finnish Army and the Waffen SS of Nazi Germany, both decorated him highly. After the war, he immigrated to the US and became a highly decorated Green Beret, serving as inspiration for John Wayne’s Green Beret. He died in Vietnam. – Source

28. During WW2, Britain shipped most of its gold reserves and foreign securities to Canada in crates labeled as “Fish”. They were stored for years in an office building in downtown Montreal, where about 5000 people worked throughout the war without having a clue about what was hidden in their basement. – Source

29. USA firebombed Tokyo during WW2 resulting in 100,000 deaths, which was more than Hiroshima or Nagasaki. – Source

30. There is a separate US cemetery in France for US soldiers, who were executed for rape or murder during WW2. – Source

31. During WW2, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles lost so many players to military service that they temporarily merged the two teams into a single one and unofficially referred it as “The Steagles” – Source

32. While returning from a bombing run during WW2, Norman Jackson of the Royal Airforce was wounded. He strapped on a parachute before climbing out of the aircraft and onto the wing with a fire extinguisher, all while his airplane was flying at 140 mph, in order to put out the fire in the starboard wing fuel tank. – Source

33. Germany was forced to pay for all losses and damages to the Allies after WW1. They just finished paying it in October 2010. The WW2 debt is still outstanding. – Source

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Last Update: July 20, 2023