War is an inseparable part of human history. Each age had a major war that became the foundation for tales, songs, heroes and epic stories. Our age’s major war is World War II, it is by far the most destructive war ever waged, with a staggering death toll that has no parallel to this day. The scale of the war theatre was truly global, covering three continents and two oceans.
Again, as in previous ages it sprouted numerous tales and songs and new age entertainment such as movies, radio novels and video games.
Lasting whole 6 years, this war opposed the Allies and the Axis. Germany, Italy, Japan and several other nations had formed the Axis, while the Allies consisted of the USSR, The United Kingdom and the USA.
Many new weapons and tactics were introduced during this war, eventually won by the Allies, establishing new super powers and starting the Cold War that lasted for the next 45 years.
Because of technological breakthroughs made prior to the war, this conflict was documented better than any other preceding it. We have more than just written information, hundreds of hours of cinematic footage have survived the conflict and many of them became the basis for the modern interpretations of the war.
There are however a lot of facts that were either forgotten, ignored or rigorously covered up by certain parties through the years.
We have dug up many of those and compiled them for you. Read below to learn some of the least known facts about WWII.
1. The German U-Boat, a less known side of the story.
We’ve all seen movies, games and other media portrait the infamous U-Boat as one of the deadliest weapons in WWII that was stopped only thanks to a daring attempt that succeeded in capturing the “Enigma” and thus allowing the Allies to be one step ahead of this perfect war machine.
The truth is, that even before the capture of the “Enigma” the U-boats had a pretty hard time, while carrying out their missions. They were constantly being hunted. Actually just one of every five German submariners survived the war. However the submariners had more than just the exploding depth charges to worry about. Life on board was different than what one is used to ashore, everything in a submarine is made to work at great depths, including the one thing that everyone had to use every day – the toilet.
To operate a U-boat toilet during a deep dive in an effective and clean way was an engineering marvel, but it was quite daunting for the crew. While being submerged, the U-boat’s toilet required an operator sitting outside, who is assisting for the flushing process. It took the coordinated actions of the one using the toilet and the operator outside to safely flush the contents of the bowl. And as you probably guessed there were incidents due to wrong usage.
In one such case the Captain of the U-boat missed a step in the flushing procedure, which caused a release of Chlorine gas on deck. In order to avoid suffocation of the crew, the U-boat had to resurface, allowing the Allies to detect and capture them.
2. Polish orphans being kidnapped
Poland is one of the countries that experienced the worst consequences of WWII. It was the first country to experience the German Blitzkrieg, and the occupation that followed. Many people lost their lives, and many children became orphans. As the occupator that runs the country, the Germans had to take care of this. Their solution was to separate the children by appearance. Those who matched their “pure race” criteria were sent to Germany, where they were adopted by German couples or used for child labor. Those who didn’t match the criteria had even worse fate, being tortured and killed.
It is estimated that close to 50 000 children and babies had been sent to Germany. Very few of them eventually returned to their homes, despite countless post-war efforts.
3. Animal casualties in WWII
Most people tend to forget that the casualties of WWII were not only people. Animals have always suffered the deeds of men, and that is no exception during WWII. While farm animals and wild ones were largely far from the conflict, some war used in the war effort and were always close to the battlefront.
However the worst effects of the war came down on the zoo animals. Being encaged they had nowhere to run, and even if they survived the bombings, starvation was what awaited them.
One of the worst cases was the Berlin Zoo. The fact is that the first bomb dropped over Berlin, fell in the zoo and killed their only elephant. Eventually the Berlin zoo was completely destroyed and only 91 out of 3175 animals survived the attack. Many of them died later due to starvation and low temperatures.