The Second World War is probably one of the most documented historical conflicts in history.
There are countless books, TV shows, and movies about this period of time and its participants—and yet there are still some things that most people don’t know about it. Below are 10 surprising facts you didn’t know about WW2.
The US didn’t want to get involved, but when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, they had no choice but to retaliate.
They called it a date which will live in infamy. But America didn’t just retaliate with the attack on Pearl Harbor; they also dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people. In total, WWII cost 60 million lives.
World War II is one of the most well-known wars in history. Hitler could have been stopped early on if not for some key mistakes. First, it was extremely difficult to find a way into his inner circle because he surrounded himself with people that admired him and would do anything for him.
Second, when Britain and France declared war on Germany after it invaded Poland, Hitler’s popularity increased; many Germans believed that their country had been betrayed by its allies.
Britain was almost defeated in 1940 and had to be saved by the United States, who became its closest ally.
The war would not have been won without the work of the intelligence services, especially Bletchley Park, which decrypted German military communications and helped speed up the end of the war.
The Soviet Union suffered the most casualties in World War 2, with estimates ranging from 10 to 12 million. This was a result of Nazi forces invading the Soviet Union on June 22nd, 1941.
The Soviet Union lost about 9.1 million military personnel and about 1.3 million civilians by the end of the war on May 9th, 1945.
One of the most surprising things about World War 2 is that Japanese Americans were interned in camps. The US government ordered them to leave their homes and go to camps because they were considered a possible threat.
At least 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced into these camps, which became overcrowded quickly. Even though many of them had been born in America and never even visited Japan, they were still imprisoned for no reason other than the color of their skin.
The Holocaust could have been prevented. The Nazis wanted to kill all Jewish people, but many countries in Europe did not want them to. They refused to accept Jewish refugees and turned them away at their borders.
When the war started, they refused to give Jews refuge in any of the countries they controlled. If they had accepted these refugees, millions of lives could have been saved.
The atomic bombs may not have been necessary to end the war. America’s victory over Japan was assured by a simple naval blockade, which would have starved the Japanese into submission.
In fact, the Soviets’ entry into the war on August 8 would have been more than enough to force a surrender. But with atomic weapons in hand, President Harry Truman had no choice but to use them.
The Cold War started during WW2 when the Soviet Union and the United States became suspicious of each other’s intentions, especially after the division of Germany. It ended in 1991 with the end of the Soviet Union.
It’s hard to believe, but there were many female soldiers in World War 2. At the beginning of the war, many countries such as Britain and America didn’t allow women to enlist. But as the war progressed and more men were sent overseas, these countries began recruiting female soldiers for non-combat roles on the front lines.
The Soviet Union had one of the most active female military forces with over 800,000 women serving in combat roles at one point in 1943.
Animals were used in combat during World War II. Dogs were deployed to find people in the rubble of bombed-out buildings or to locate wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
Horses were used to pull artillery guns. Rats were trained to sniff out bombs, and pigeons were used as wartime messengers.