World War II still casts a long shadow over humanity, and for good reason. The war saw some of the worst atrocities that humans have committed.
Since so many people are always talking about the war, and since so much of it was documented, you’d think that we would all be a little better at remembering the facts.
But as it goes, humans aren’t infallible. When it comes to WWII, there are six big facts that we almost always get wrong when we discuss the war.
6. D-Day wasn’t exactly a secret
For some reason, we like to say that D-Day was the “best-kept secret of the war.” The reality is that it’s kind of remarkable that D-Day even happened.
There were a ton of missteps along the way: a soldier sent top-secret plans to a family member. Then, the plans popped up in crossword puzzles across the UK.
One of Eisenhower’s friends from college even leaked the plans while at a party!
On top of that, the wife of a Spanish spy was so sick of the food in the UK that she threatened to leak the invasion plans just so she could go back home to Spain.
5. Resistance groups hated each other
Sure, they all banded together to fight the Germans, but when they weren’t fighting, the groups didn’t exactly get along.
Once they knew the Germans weren’t going to win, groups of resistance fighters in Greece and Yugoslavia killed each other to see who would lead from then on out.
4. The Enigma Code wasn’t that important
The Enigman cipher is what made it possible for the Allies to spy on the communications exchanged between members of the German military.
It’s celebrated as a huge step forward for the Allies. But it turns out that the Enigma Code wasn’t exactly as big of a deal as The Imitation Game might have lead you to believe.
The United States actually made its own breakthrough when they cracked the Japanese Purple code, which lead to the victory at Midway.
Cracking the Purple code is also how the US found out that Germany planned to attack the Soviet Union, and that Japan would not surrender if attacked.
3. Pranks were weapons
Sure, bombs and tanks are important in war, but an old-fashioned prank could go a long way.
German production was often stymied by simple acts of disobedience. For example, one could pee on the wires in a V-2 rocket and disable it.
In another move, French military officer and punchcard operator René Carmille essentially hacked the German system that was used to track Jews for deportation. The result? He delayed the executions of thousands of people.
2. Switzerland was neutral but not peaceful
The story goes that Switzerland was neutral during WWII, right? This is technically true, but the nation was a hot mess during the war.
In fact, the Swiss frontier became something of a third front during the war. The British wrecked Zurich and Basel, and the Swiss accepted German planes so they could defend their nation.
1. An important battle was in Mongolia
Two weeks before the war began in Europe, a fierce battle raged… in Mongolia. Yes, Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939, but Russian soldier Georgy Zhukov led a charge against the Japanese who were in Mongolia that summer.
It’s rarely mentioned these days, but the Battle of Khalkyn Gol was the largest tank battle ever at the time.
Did you already know all of these, or did something surprise you? Let us know what you think in the comments!