140 Awesome Facts About World War 2

Facts About World War 2: World War II was a global military conflict involving most of the world's nations, including the Great Powers. They were divided into two opposing military alliances: friend and axis (enemy). More than 10 crore army personnel were deployed in this war, making it the most extensive war in history. 

The leading nations participating in the "total war" phase channeled their entire economic, industrial and scientific capabilities into the war effort and erased the distinction between military and civilian resources. More than 70 million people died in this war, most of them civilians, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.

140 Awesome Facts About World War 2

Interesting Facts About World War 2

  • The Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945.
  • The Axis Powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan.
  • The number of US soldiers in the war was 16,112,566.
  • The war was also known as WW2 or the Second World War.
  • At least 1.9 billion people served as soldiers in WW2.
  • Overall, German civilian deaths totalled as many as 600,000.
  • London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights from 7 September 1940.
  • 27 Royal Navy ships were sunk by U-boats in a single week in autumn 1940.
  • The Allied Powers consisted of Britain, France, China, Russia, and the US.
  • Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt were known as the ‘the big three’ of this War.
  • The Nazi Hunger Plan led to the deaths of over 2,000,000 Soviet prisoners in 1941
  • World War II was a battle between two groups of countries- the Allies and the Axis.
  • Berlin lost around 60,000 of its population to Allied bombing by the end of the war.
  • Some countries including Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden remained passive in the War.
  • Britain had lost over 2,000,000 gross tons of merchant shipping before the end of 1940
  • Soviet and British troops invaded Iran on 25 August 1941 in order to seize oil supplies
  • Rommel reclaimed Tobruk on 21 June 1942, winning thousands of tonnes of oil in the process.
  • Around 64 million people died in World War II; it is more than the entire population of the UK.
  • In spring 1943 Soviet forces amounted to 5,800,000, whilst the Germans totalled around 2,700,000.

Fascinating Facts About World War 2

  • At this time, as many as 180,000 people per night sheltered within the London underground system.
  • The death toll on the Eastern Front was over 30,000,000. This included a vast amount of civilians.
  • The rubble from bombed cities was used to lay runways for the RAF across the south and east of England.
  • The first British air raid on a concentrated civilian population was over Mannheim on 16 December 1940
  • The Allies used 3.4 million tons of bombs. 27,700 tons of bombs were dropped on an average every month.
  • By 1941, Germany had invaded France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, the USSR, and Greece.
  • In one of the biggest holocausts in the world, around six million Jews were murdered during World War II.
  • Ghettos developed in Poland from September 1939 as Nazi officials began dealing with the ‘Jewish question’.
  • The leaders of the Axis powers were: Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy), and Hideki Tojo (Japan).
  • After the war, Italy paid around $360 million as war damages to Yugoslavia, Greece, Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Albania.
  • Allied casualties on D-Day amounted to around 10,000. German losses are estimated at anywhere from 4,000 to 9,000 men.
  • The Battle of Sedan, 12-15 May, provided a momentous breakthrough for the Germans. They streamed into France thereafter.
  • An estimated 60 per cent of the 1,750,000 Japanese troops who died in World War Two were lost to malnutrition and disease
  • The first ever battle to be fought in the air is known as the Battle of Britain, between the German and British airplanes.
  • By 1945 the Soviet could call on over 6,000,000 troops, whilst German strength had been reduced to less than a third of this.

Cool Facts About World War 2

  • 55,000 British civilian casualties were sustained through German bombing before the end of 1940. This included 23,000 deaths.
  • In 1943, a significant defeat for the Germans was their forced waving of the white flag (a symbol of surrender) at Stalingrad.
  • The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. It signalled the start of what is commonly referred to as the Pacific War.
  • The island of Iwo Jima was bombed for 76 days. Only after this did the American assault fleet arrive, which included 30,000 marines.
  • Before the World War II began, Germany was ruled by Adolf Hitler. He formed the Nazi party and wanted Germany to rule all of Europe.
  • The Germans had reached Paris by 14 June. The French surrender was ratified in the armistice agreement signed at Compiègne on 22 June.
  • Perhaps as many as 2,000,000 Jews in the western Soviet Union were murdered between 1941 and 1944. It is known as the Shoah by Bullets.
  • Within a week over 325,000 Allied soldiers had crossed the English Channel. By the end of the month around 850,000 had entered Normandy.
  • The RAF’s first 1000-bomber air raid was conducted on 30 May 1942 over Cologne. Although only 380 died, the historic city was devastated.
  • Over 1,000,000 civilians died during the siege of Leningrad. It began in September 1941 and lasted until January 1944 – 880 days in total.
  • Nazi Germany engaged in a rapid process of rearmament through the 1930s. They forged alliances and psychologically prepared the nation for war.

Historical Facts About World War 2

  • The first kamikaze attacks occurred on 25 October 1944. It was against the American fleet at Luzon as the fighting intensified in the Philippines.
  • 130,000 Allied soldiers travelled by ship over the Channel to the Normandy coast on 6 June 1944. They were joined by around 24,000 airborne troops.
  • Britain and France remained committed to appeasement. This was despite some internal dissent, in the face of increasingly inflammatory Nazi actions.
  • Only two types of airplanes were used in the Battle of Britain- bombers (for dropping bombs on cities) and fighters (for attacking enemy airplanes).
  • The first holocaust happened in the concentration camp of Auschwitz, in the year 1942. An estimated 1.1 million Jews were killed here during the war.
  • Around 8,000,000 French, Dutch and Belgian refugees were created during the summer of 1940. Masses of people fled their homes as the Germans advanced.
  • Around 6,000,000 Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Including the diverse range of non-Jewish victims, the total death toll was upwards of 12,000,000.
  • The war involved nearly all countries of the world for as long as it lasted, making it history’s most massive and influential global battles ever fought.
  • The US stayed out of the war until Japan attacked it on 7 December 1941, at their Naval Base in Pearl Harbor. The next day, the US declared war on Japan.
  • The Soviets amassed 2,500,000 troops and took 352,425 casualties, over a third of which were deaths, in the fight for Berlin between 16 April and 2 May 1945
  • A new government of pro-Germans took power in Iraq in April 1941. By the end of the month it was forced concede ongoing British access through its territory.
  • The Allies sustained over 200,000 casualties in the Battle of Normandy. German casualties totalled a similar amount but with a further 200,000 taken prisoner.
  • Carbon dioxide-filled chambers were in use to kill mentally handicapped Poles from November 1939. Zyklon B was first used at Aushwitz-Birkenau in September 1941.
  • Germany renewed the Naval Enigma machine and codes in February 1942. These were finally broken by December, but could not be read consistently until August 1943.

Wierd Facts About World War 2

  • After the nuclear bomb attacks on Japan’s major cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan also surrendered to the Allied forces in August 1945, marking an end to WWII.
  • 3,800,000 Axis soldiers were deployed in the initial invasion of the Soviet Union, codenamed Operation Barbarossa. Soviet strength in June 1941 stood at 5,500,000.
  • The battle for Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-3, resulted in around 2,000,000 casualties alone. This included 1,130,000 Soviet troops and 850,000 Axis opponents.
  • Operation Tiger resulted in the loss of 91 British tanks. Only 12 panzers were immobilised in return. General Sir Claude Auchinleck, ‘the Auk’, soon replaced Wavell.
  • Between July 1942 and January 1943 the Japanese were driven from Guadalcanal and eastern Papua New Guinea. They had ultimately resorted to scavenge for roots to survive.
  • 34,000 French civilian casualties were sustained in the build up to D-Day. This included 15,000 deaths, as the Allies implemented their plan to block major road networks.
  • Roosevelt announced the establishment of the Pan-American Security Zone in the North and West Atlantic on 8 March 1941. It was part of the Lend-Lease Bill passed by Senate.
  • Up to 350,000 concentration camp prisoners are thought to have died in pointless death marches. These occurred as the Allied advance accelerated into both Poland and Germany.
  • Goebbels used news of the death of President Roosevelt on 12 April to encourage Hitler that they remained destined to win the war. The Soviet war machine and the Eastern Front
  • The Germans employed Blitzkrieg tactics. They used armoured vehicles and aircraft to make rapid territorial gains. This military strategy was developed in Britain in the 1920s.
  • Britain lost its first submarine to friendly fire on 10 September 1939. HMS Oxley was mistakenly identified as a U-boat by HMS Triton. The first U-boat was sunk four days later.
  • The territories under the grip of World War II were: Europe, China, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the regions along the Mediterranean, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans.
  • Over 400 seamen died as the USS Oklahoma sank. Over 1,000 perished aboard the USS Arizona. In total the Americans sustained around 3,500 casualties in the attacks, with 2,335 dying.
  • The Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed on 23 August 1939. The Pact saw Germany and the USSR carve up central-eastern Europe between themselves and pave the way for German invasion of Poland.

Mind-Blowing Facts About World War 2

  • Single Allied bombing operations over Hamburg and Dresden in July 1943 and February 1945 killed 40,000 and 25,000 civilians, respectively. Hundreds of thousands more were made refugees.
  • 90 Axis ships were sunk in the Mediterranean between January and August 1941. This deprived the Afrika Korps of essential new tanks and the food required to ward off hunger and illness.
  • German battleships flippantly seized an American transport ship on 3 October 1939. This early act helped to turn public favour in the US against neutrality and towards helping the Allies.
  • Singapore was surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. General Percival then abandoned his troops by escaping to Sumatra. By May the Japanese had forced Allied withdrawal from Burma.
  • This meant its aircraft were outnumbered by the Luftwaffe’s. The Luftwaffe could deploy 1,029 fighter aircraft, 998 bombers, 261 dive-bombers, 151 reconnaissance planes and 80 coastal planes.
  • Germany ignored the Maginot Line however. The main thrust of their advance into France moving through the Ardennes in northern Luxembourg and southern Belgium as part of the Sichelschnitt plan.
  • Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany at 11:15 on 3 September 1939. Two days after their invasion of Poland, his speech was followed by what would become the familiar sound of air raid sirens.
  • The atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945. Together with Soviet intervention in Manchuria, forced the Japanese into surrender that was officially signed on 2 September.
  • 100,000 mentally and physically disabled Germans were murdered between the start of the war and August 1941. Hitler had ratified an official campaign of euthanasia to rid the nation of such ‘Untermenschen’.
  • Hitler outlined his intentions to conquer vast territories for a new Reich in Mein Kampf (1925): ‘The plough is then the sword; and the tears of war will produce the daily bread for the generations to come.’
  • The Second Sino-Japanese war began in July 1937 with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. This was carried out against a backdrop of international appeasement and is regarded by some as the start of World War Two.
  • 2 American destroyer ships and 188 aircraft were destroyed at Pearl Harbor. 6 battleships were beached or damaged and 159 aircraft damaged. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft, an ocean-going submarine and 5 midget subs.

Spooky Facts About World War 2

  • British non-aggression at the start of the war was derided at home and abroad. We now know this as the Phoney War. The RAF dropped propaganda literature over Germany, which was humorously referred to as ‘Mein Pamph’.
  • The leaders of the Allied powers were: Great Britain prime minister Winston Churchill, US president Franklin D Roosevelt, the Soviet Union chairman Joseph Stalin and China chairman and military leader Chiang Kai-shek.
  • The RAF’s Fighter Command suffered its worst day of the battle on 31 August. Amid a large German operation, the Fighter Command suffered its heaviest losses on this day, with 39 aircraft shot down and 14 pilots killed.
  • From March 1941 until the following February, codebreakers at Bletchley Park had great success. They managed to decipher German Naval Enigma codes. This made a significant impact in protecting shipping in the Atlantic.
  • The French Army was one of the largest in the world. The experience of World War One however, had left it with a defensive mentality that paralysed its potential effectiveness and engendered a reliance on the Maginot Line.
  • A further 191,000 Allied troops were evacuated from France in mid-June. Although the heaviest ever losses in a single incident at sea were sustained by the British when the Lancastria was sunk by German bombers on 17 June.
  • Total civilian deaths during the Blitz were around 40,000. The Blitz effectively ended when Operation Sealion was abandoned in May 1941. By the end of the war about 60,000 British civilians had died through German bombing.
  • The Soviet government awarded the ‘Order of Lenin’ (the highest civilian award of the USSR) with the title “Hero City of the Soviet Union” as a tribute to all the people who had endured the most grueling sieges in history.
  • Hitler invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, to attain more land and power, thus starting World War II. When Hitler refused to cease the invasion, Britain and France declared war on Germany, paving way for a war on a global scale.
  • The Bismarck, Germany’s famed warship, was decisively attacked on 27 May 1941. Fairey Swordfish bombers from the HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier inflicted the damage. The ship was scuttled and 2,200 died, whilst only 110 survived.
  • The Soviet Lend-Lease agreement with the United States secured supplies of raw materials, armaments and food, which were vital to maintaining the war machine. It prevented starvation over the crucial period of late 1942 to early 1943.
  • Operation Bagration, the great Soviet offensive of 1944, was launched on 22 June with a force of 1,670,000 men. They also had almost 6,000 tanks, over 30,000 guns and over 7,500 aircraft advancing through Belarus and the Baltic region.
  • Britain gained a morale-boosting victory in a naval engagement in Argentina on 17 December 1939. It saw the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee scuttled in the River Plate estuary. This was the only action of the war to reach South America.

Information About World War 2

  • On the eve of Operation Compass, General Sir Archibald Wavell could call on only 36,000 troops while facing 215,000 Italians 42. Rommel wore British tank goggles on top of his cap as a trophy following the capture of Mechili on 8 April 1941
  • The Nazi invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 was the final straw for the British. Britain had guaranteed Polish sovereignty after Hitler flouted the Munich Agreement by annexing Czechoslovakia. They declared war on Germany on 3 September.
  • Mussolini declared war on the Allies on 10 June. His first offensive was launched through the Alps without German knowledge and ended with 6,000 casualties, with over a third being attributed to frostbite. French casualties reached only 200.
  • The roll-out of death camps by the Nazis at Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka was named Aktion Reynhard in ‘rememberance’ of Heydrich. Heydrich had died after the contamination of wounds suffered in an assassination attempt in Prague on 27 May 1942.
  • The Nazi regime ensured that they took the maximum material benefit from their mass murders. They re-used the possessions of their victims as raw materials for the war effort, gifts for their soldiers and clothing for Germans bombed out of their homes.
  • The Allies lost around 15,000 airborne troops in the unsuccessful Market Garden operation in September 1944 88. The Allies crossed the Rhine at four points over the course of March 1945. This paved the way for the final advance into the heart of Germany.
  • The attempted Soviet invasion of Finland in November-December 1939 initially ended in comprehensive defeat. It also resulted in Soviet expulsion from the League of Nations. Eventually however the Finns were beaten into signing the Moscow Peace Treaty on 12 March 1940.
  • The miraculous evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk saved 193,000 British and 145,000 French troops. Although some 80,000 were left behind, Operation Dynamo far exceeded the expectation of rescuing only 45,000. The Operation used 200 Royal Navy ships and 600 volunteer vessels
  • Hitler’s plan to invade Britain in the summer of 1940 was called ‘Operation Sea Lion.’ After conquering France, Hitler planned to defeat his greatest rival, the Great Britain. The Great Britain was protected from the Germans by the English Channel and their undefeatable British navy.
  • The Allies broke out from Tobruk in November 1941 with vastly superior resources. They had an initial 600 tanks against 249 panzers and 550 aircraft, whilst the Luftwaffe had only 76. By January, 300 Allied tanks and 300 aircraft had been lost but Rommel had been pushed back significantly.
  • Stalin turned his nation into a war-production machine. This was despite the German output of steel and coal being respectively 3.5 and over 4 times greater in 1942 than in the Soviet Union. Stalin soon changed this however and the Soviet Union was thus able to produce more weaponry than its enemy.
  • In July 1944 Majdanek became the first camp to be liberated as the Soviets progressed. It was followed by Chelmno and Aushwitz in January 1945. The Nazis destroyed a number of death camps, such as Treblinka after an uprising in August 1943. Those remaining were liberated as the Allies advanced on Berlin.
  • Axis troops deployed in the Battle of France amounted to about 3,350,000. At the start they were matched in number by Allied opponents. By the signing of armistice on 22 June, however, 360,000 Allied casualties had been inflicted and 1,900,000 prisoners taken at the expense of 160,000 Germans and Italians.
  • The RAF had around 1,960 aircraft at its disposal in July 1940. That figure included around 900 fighter aircraft, 560 bombers and 500 coastal aeroplanes. The Spitfire fighter became the star of the RAF’s fleet during the Battle of Britain though the Hawker Hurricane actually took down more German aircraft.
  • Britain dates the start of the battle as 10 July. Germany had begun carrying out daylight bombing raids on Britain on the first day of the month, but attacks intensified from 10 July. In the initial stage of the battle, Germany focused their raids on southern ports and British shipping operations in the English Channel.
  • Four Japanese aircraft carriers and a cruiser were sunk and 250 aircraft destroyed in the Battle of Midway, 4-7 June 1942. It marked a decisive turning point in the Pacific War, at the expense of one American carrier and 150 aircraft. The Japanese suffered just over 3,000 deaths, around ten times more than the Americans.
  • One of Churchill’s most famous speeches was about the Battle of Britain. As Britain was bracing itself for a German invasion, Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a speech to the House of Commons on 20 August in which he uttered the memorable line: Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
  • In September 1940 America gave Britain 50 destroyer ships in exchange for land rights for naval and air bases on British possessions. These ships were of First World War age and specification, however. 66. Otto Kretschmer was the most prolific U-boat commander, sinking 37 ships. He was captured by the Royal Navy in March 1941.
  • The German death toll was far higher than Britain’s. By 31 October, the date on which the battle is generally considered to have ended, the Allies had lost 1,547 aircraft and suffered 966 casualties, including 522 deaths. The Axis’ casualties – which were mostly German – included 1,887 aircraft and 4,303 aircrew, of whom 3,336 died.
  • It was part of a longer-term invasion plan by the Nazis. The Nazis’ plans for an invasion of Britain, codenamed “Operation Sealion”. Hitler ordered planning to begin for an invasion of Britain on 2 July 1940. But the Nazi leader specified air and naval superiority over the English Channel and proposed landing points before any invasion.
  • The Nazi party excluded specific groups of society – the Jews, Gypsies, and people with any mental or physical disability. In an attempt to get all “pure Germans,” such groups were also persecuted in other countries invaded by the Germans. Millions of Germans were imprisoned and killed by the Nazi party because they didn’t fit into the image of Hitler’s “perfect” Germans.
  • An invasion of Britain would then be only possible if the Germans defeated Britain’s air power through bombing. This air-bombing operation was called “Early Day” and was carried out by the chief of Luftwaffe (The German Air Force), Göring. But the victory of the RAF (The Royal Air Force of Britain) ended this possibility for Hitler and paved the way for his eventual defeat.
  • Germany launched its main offensive on 13 August. Condensation trails left by British and German aircraft during a dogfight on 18 September 1940. The Luftwaffe moved inland from this point, focusing its attacks on RAF airfields and communication centres. These attacks intensified during the last week of August and the first week of September, by which point Germany believed the RAF to be nearing breaking point.
  • The major Allied offensive at Alamein in October 1942 reversed the losses sustained in July. It began with the deception of the Germans using plans devised by Major Jasper Maskelyne, a successful magician in the 1930s. 50. The surrender of 250,000 Axis troops and 12 generals signalled the end of the North African Campaign. It occurred after the Allied arrival in Tunis on 12 May 1943. Ethnic cleansing, race war and the Holocaust
  • The Luftwaffe launched around 1,000 aircraft in one single attack. On 7 September, Germany shifted its focus away from RAF targets and towards London, and, later, other cities and towns and industrial targets also. This was the start of the bombing campaign that became known as the Blitz. On the first day of the campaign, close to 1,000 German bomber and fighter aircraft headed to the English capital to carry out mass raids on the city.
  • Poland’s losses were overwhelming during the German invasion of September and October 1939.Polish losses included 70,000 men killed, 133,000 wounded and 700,000 taken prisoner in the defence of the nation against Germany. In the other direction, 50,000 Poles died fighting the Soviets, of whom only 996 perished, following their invasion on 16 September. 45,000 ordinary Polish citizens were shot in cold blood during the initial German invasion.
  • The Siege of Leningrad (8 September 1941- 27 January 1944) is also known as the 900-day siege. Germany along with its Finnish allies invaded Leningrad (a major industrial center of the Soviet Union) in June 1941. Leningrad’s entire population was able-bodied and got mobilized to build fortifications around the city. Leningrad’s defenses stabilized soon, but from November it was almost encircled with its supplies cut off. This blockade created by the Germans led to the death of 650,000 Leningraders, mostly from starvation and shooting from German artillery. Spare food and medical supplies came in with great difficulty. However, by 1943, the Soviet army ruptured the German blockade and allowed supplies to reach Leningrad. In January 1944, the Soviets drove the Germans out from their city, ending the siege.
  • The British had developed an air defence network that gave them a critical advantage. In an effort to improve communication between radars and observers and aircraft, Britain came up with a solution known as the “Dowding System”. Named after its chief architect, the RAF Fighter Command’s commander-in-chief, Hugh Dowding, it created a set of reporting chains so that aircraft could take to the skies quicker to react to incoming threats, while information from the ground could reach aircraft quicker once they were airborne. The accuracy of the information being reported was also greatly improved. An aircraft spotter with the Royal Observer Corps scans the skies for Nazi aircraft from a rooftop during the Battle of Britain. The system could process huge amounts of information in a short space of time and made full use of the Fighter Command’s relatively limited resources.

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