There are of course many interesting facts about World War 2, but we will save you several years of reading by focusing primarily on the following 10 quite bizarre and interesting facts about WW2 that aren’t often talked about.
Quick facts and figures
- World War 2 started when Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland in an unprovoked attack on 1st September 1939. Two days later, the UK and France declared war on Germany.
- The war lasted 6 years and 1 day, ending on 2nd September 1945.
- It’s reported that a staggering 75 million people lost their lives because of World War 2.
- The Soviet Union suffered the worst human losses, with an estimated 27 million civilian and military deaths.
5. MI5 – Clever as always…
During World War 2, the MI5 had a programme called the ‘Double Cross System’, it was a counter-espionage system that relied on spies and double agents to spread disinformation, for example, agents leaked falsified information to Germany by reporting that their bombs were hitting the intended target in Central London, but in reality, missing every single time. With that in mind, the Germans never corrected their aim and continued to undershoot for the rest of the war.
Another disinformation plan was Operation Mincemeat. The British attached falsified, top-secret documents to a corpse and dumped it off the coast of Spain. When the German High Command got hold of the documents, they were fooled into believing that British forces planned to invade Greece and Sardinia and quickly moved to intercept.
In reality, the intended target was Sicily and the allies took on the axis powers by surprise and while the Nazis had trouble identifying these spies and double agents, Britain’s ‘Double Cross’ system was extremely successful! In fact, after the war, it was discovered that every single agent that Germany sent to Britain had either been apprehended or simply surrendered. The only exception was one agent who was never detected because he committed suicide.
6. So many bombs remain undiscovered
An incredible number of bombs were dropped during World War 2. It has been estimated that the allies dropped 3.4 million tonnes of explosives across Europe and Asia. That’s 27,000 tonnes every month! What’s even scarier is that anywhere between 5 and 15% never detonated, which can only mean one thing… They are still buried beneath our feet, waiting to explode at any given moment. In Germany alone, over 5,500 bombs are discovered every year.
7. Biological Attacks!
During the final months of the war, the horrifying Japanese unit called ‘Unit 731’ planned for a long-distance biological attack on the United States, the attack had no military value but was seen as a final attempt to talk the US out of invading the Japanese mainland. They called it Operation Cherry Blossom. One evening five submarines were to be sent across the Pacific Ocean with each carrying three aircraft loaded with plague-infected fleas.
The submarines would then surface near the coast of San Diego and launch several Kamikaze attacks on the city. The plague would, in turn, infect and kill off the population. The operation was to be carried out on 22nd September 1945. However, because the US used an equally-devastating weapon, the atomic bomb, only a month before Operation Cherry Blossom, the plans never took place.
8. Has World War 2 even finished?
9. German interrogation…
The most successful German interrogator of World War Two was a man named Hans Scharf. What’s interesting is that despite all the horrible things that occurred during the Second World War, he never once used torture techniques to conduct his interrogations, instead he treated prisoners with kindness and respect, pretending to be their friend.
Hans was well known for taking his prisoners on a stroll through the nearby woods, but he did not use these nature walks as a time to directly ask the inmates obvious military-related questions. Instead, he relied on the prisoners’ growing desire to speak to anyone outside of their isolated captivity, in doing so, prisoners often revealed bits and pieces of useful information. Bit by bit, they unravelled key pieces of information without ever realising they had done so. His techniques were so successful that after the war, he has lectured around the US, including at the Pentagon about this unusual interrogation strategy.