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World War II – Part 3

There are 99 points that cover the most important events in World War II. This is well done historical material. This is the third installment, items 51-75:

51.The Nazis killed millions of Poles. But they thought that some Polish babies and children looked German and kidnapped about 50,000 of them to be adopted by German parents to become “Germanized.”

52. Special units run by the SS called Einsatzgruppen (task forces) followed the German army’s invasion of countries. They would force Jews to dig a pit and then shoot them so they would fall into an open grave. It is estimated that the Einsatzgruppen killed 1.4 million Jews.

53. Prisoners called Sonderkommando were forced to bury corpses or burn them in ovens. Fewer than 20 of the thousands of Sonderkommando survived, though buried and hidden accounts of some were found later at camps.

54. Several famous actors were decorated during WWII. For example, Henry Fonda won a Bronze Star in the Pacific, Walter Matthau was awarded six battle stars while serving on a B-17, and David Niven was awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit. Christopher Lee was a pilot in the Royal Air Force and also won a number of awards.

55. John Wayne (Marion Robert Morrison) starred in 14 WWII movies; however, due to a football injury, he never actually served in the war.

56. Hitler kept a framed photo of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, on his desk. Henry Ford also kept a framed photo of the Nazi leader on his desk in Dearborn, Michigan. In Mein Kampf, Hitler included some anti- Semitic views attributed to Ford.

57. On January 31, 1945, Private Eddie Slovik was shot for desertion, the first American executed for the crime since the Civil War and the only one to suffer this punishment during WWII.

58. Although Japan fought on the side of Britain, France, and the U.S. during WWI, it felt cheated by its failure to gain much territory when the peace treaty was composed. Additionally, in the 1920s, its government came under control of fanatical nationalists and allied with the army, which eventually prompted Japan to side with Germany .

59. After its defeat in WWI, Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Germany lost all its overseas empires as well as land to its neighbors, and it was prevented from maintaining a large army. Most Germans opposed the treaty, and their resentment would eventually undo the settlement, leading to WWII.

60. The Great Depression had a ripple effect throughout the world. It prevented Germany from paying WWI reparations, which forced Great Britain and France to default on their debts to the U.S. which, in turn, sowed discontent throughout the globe.

61.The most decorated unit ever in U.S. history is the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke” It consisted of Japanese-American volunteers. Together they won 4,667 major medals, awards, and citations, including 560 Silver Stars (28 of which had oak-leaf clusters), 4,000 Bronze Stars, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and one Medal of Honor, plus 54 other decorations. It also held the distinction of never having a case of desertion.

62. Norvell Gillespie, the garden editor of Better Homes and Gardens, designed the camouflage print for U.S. service uniforms in WWII.

63. The greatest tank battle in history occurred between the Germans and Russians at the Kursk salient in Russia from July 4-22, 1943. More than 3,600 tanks were involved.

64. The largest Japanese spy ring during WWII was not in the US but in Mexico, where it spied on the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

65. Prisoners of war in Russian camps experienced an 85% mortality rate.

66. Germany had a total of 3,363 generals during the war while the US had just over 1,500.

67. The vast majority of German war criminals passed themselves off as refugees at displaced persons camps when the war ended, thereby gaining freedom.

68. Before Nazi Germany decided to eliminate the Jews by gassing them, it had considered sending them to the island of Madagascar .

69. If it became necessary to drop a third atom bomb on Japan , the city that would have been the target was Tokyo .

70. The greatest loss of life ever sustained by the U.S. Navy occurred on July 30, 1945. The USS Indianapolis was shot by Japanese submarine I-58. Captain Charles McVay, commanding officer of the cruiser, was the only US Navy officer ever to be court-martialed for losing a ship in war.

71. Calvin Graham was only 12 years old when he enlisted in the US Navy. He won a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart before the Navy found out how old he was.

72. Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi party, was the last person to have been incarcerated in the Tower of London .

73. While in prison, Hitler envisioned the development of a ‘people’s car” or Volkswagen, from the word volk, meaning ‘people’ or ‘nation’

74. On December 8, 1941, Britain and the US declared war on Japan . On December 11, Germany declared war on the US. The US is the only nation Germany formally declared war on.

75. The Nazis called their rule the Third Reich (1933-1945). The First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire (962-1806). The Second Reich was the German Empire of 1871-1918. The Weimar Republic was from 1919-1933.

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