concerned veterans for america

World War II – Part 4

There are 99 points that cover the most important events in World War II. This is well done historical material. This is the final installment, items 76-99:

76. At the behest of the Nazi regime, book-burning campaigns took place in Berlin and other German cities between March and June 1933, with senior academics and university students incinerating books deemed to contain ‘un-German’ ideas. Authors targeted by the book-burning campaign included Jack London, H.G. Wells, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein. A century before Hitler, the German poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) predicted: “Where one burns books, one will, in the end, burn people.”

77. In the 1930s, the US Army had only about 130,000 soldiers, making it the sixteenth largest force in the world, smaller than Czechoslovakia, Poland, Turkey, Spain, and Romania.

78. In a bizarre move, Hitler’s deputy and confidant Rudolf Hess parachuted into Scotland on May 10, 1941, to negotiate a peace agreement. The British concluded he was mentally unstable. He was kept as a POW and given a life sentence at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial.

79. On July 14, 1941, the Soviets introduced a new weapon, the Katyusha, which could fire 320 rockets in 25 seconds. More than 50 years later, the Katyusha remains an effective weapon.

80. After the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor , President Roosevelt searched for a bulletproof car. However, because government regulation prohibited spending more than $750 to buy a car, the only one they could find was Al Capone’s limo, which had been seized by the Treasury Department after he was arrested for tax evasion. FDR said, “I hope Mr. Capone won’t mind.”

81. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement toward Hitler is generally thought to have been a mistake, but his defenders claimed that it bought Britain time to prepare for war.

82. In the 1928 elections, less than 3% of Germans voted for the Nazi party. In 1938, Hitler was Time magazine’s man of the year.

83. That Nazi salute was modeled on the salute of Italian Fascists, the ancient Romans, as well as ancient Germans. The raised arm resembles a raised spear.

84. Hitler designed the Nazi flag. Red stood for the social idea of Nazism, white for nationalism, and the black swastika for the struggle of the Aryan man.

85. Large, inflatable barrage balloons were used to protect major towns and cities in Britain from air raids. The balloons were launched before a raid and trailed a network of steel cables beneath them. Bombers had to fly high to avoid becoming tangled in the cables, thus reducing their accuracy.

86. The main success of the Blitzkreig or “lightening war” was due to tank units supported from the air by dive-bombers, such as the Junkers Ju87 (Stuka). The Stukas were fitted with sirens, which sounded like screaming to terrify the population.

87. Because the Norway leader Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945) actively collaborated with Germany after its occupation, his name has entered the Norwegian language as a word for traitor

88. Throughout occupied Europe, many people actively collaborated with the Germans. As their countries were liberated, some locals took revenge against the collaborators by beating or shooting them or by shaving the female traitors heads.

89. In 1974, a Japanese soldier named Hiroo Onoda (1922- ) came out of the jungle of the Pacific island of Lubang . He had been hiding there for 29 years, unaware that his country had surrendered.

90. Japan and Russia never formally ended hostilities after WWII. Plans for them to sign an official peace treaty in 2000 failed because Japan wanted Russia to return four offshore islands it had taken after the war.

91. Author Ian Fleming based his character ‘007’ on the Yugoslavian-born spy Dusko Popov (1912-1980). Popov spoke at least five languages and came up with his own formula for invisible ink. He was the first spy to use microdots, or photos shrunk down to the size of dots. He obtained information that the Japanese were planning an air strike on Pearl Harbor , but the FBI did not act on his warning. Popov later lived in the U.S. in a penthouse and created a reputation as a playboy. He wrote an account of his wartime activities in his novel Spy, Counterspy (1974).

92. From 1942, US Marines in the Pacific used the Navajo language as their secret code. The language didn’t have the vocabulary for existing WWII technology, so existing words had to be given new meanings. For example, the word for ‘hummingbird’ (da-he-ti-hi) became code for fighter plane. Around 400 Navajo Indians (Code Talkers) were trained to use the code, and the Japanese never cracked it.’

93. The Russians were the first to have paratroopers, which they exhibited in 1935. The Allies did not catch up until 1940, when the Central Landing School opened near Manchester .

94. The most important medical advance that saved soldiers’ lives during WWII was the blood transfusion.

95. In 1939, the Nazis began an euthanasia’ program in which 80,000 to 100,000 Germans who were disabled, mentally retarded, or insane were murdered. The program was based in Berlin at No. 4 Tiergartenstrasse and became known as the T-4 program.

96. The Auschwitz Concentration Camp Complex was the only place where prisoners were given identification number tattoos. The practice began in 1941 when Russian POWs were stamped on the upper-left breast. Jews started receiving tattoos (on their forearms) in 1942.

97. Poison gas was first used in WWI to break the trench warfare stalemate. Though all powers had chemical weapons, only Japan (in China) and Italy (in Ethiopia) used them during WWII.

98. Formed as a personal protection service for Hitler, ‘SS’ is an abbreviation of Schuftzstaffel (Protective Echelon). Virtually a state within a state, the SS was headed by Heinrich Luitopold Himmler (1900-1945) and carried out massive executions of political opponents and ethnic minorities. It was divided into two groups, the Allgemeine-SS (General SS) and the Waffen-SS (Armed SS).

99. WWII casualties totaled between 50 and 70 million people. More than 80% of this total came from four countries: Russia, China, Germany, and Poland. More than half of these casualties were civilians, most of whom were women and children.

Join the discussion

Further reading

blog soldier sanding in front of american flag

Movie of the Month for September

Troops, your viewing assignment for the month of September is to watch The Greatest Beer Run Ever. At a time when the Vietnam War was at its height...

blog soldier sanding in front of american flag

Movie of the Month for August

Troops, your viewing assignment for the month of August is to watch the award-winning short film The Paper Boy. The City of Joy is that melting pot...

blog soldier sanding in front of american flag

Movie of the Month for July

Troops, thanks for your patience while we got the website back online! Your viewing assignment for July is to watch Our Kind of Love. This is a...

Get Denny's Newsletter

Receive news and updates from Denny