World War II was a significant event in world history for several reasons. Most people know about the mass genocide that occurred in Europe during this war, but don’t know much about the way the war affected ordinary citizens or how things deteriorated to the point that Hitler and Mussolini were able to take power. Read on for 10 facts everyone should know about World War II so that history never repeats itself.
1. Germany only declared war on one country: The United States. Throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s, Hitler occupied and seized many European countries. However, Germany did not declare war on any European country. Europe to give him Czechoslovakia in an attempt to appease his desire for conquest; this only whetted Hitler’s appetite and he seized many other surrounding countries–all without declaring war on a single one. Italy, however, declared war on France and England.
2. Germany captured over 135,000 British soldiers and over 95,000 U.S. soldiers during World War II. Prisoners of war were treated cruelly. However, some of them were able to escape because International Red Cross workers hid maps, money and weapons inside Monopoly kits that were shipped to POWs in German war camps.
3. The United States and the Soviet Union were on the same side during World War II. After the war ended, the Cold War began and the United States and Soviet Union became enemies. However, World War II was a war between fascism and communism, and the United States fought against Hitler and other fascists.
4. The United States responded to the bombing of Pearl Harbor by viewing all Japanese-Americans suspiciously. Many Americans of Japanese descent living in the Western United States were placed into internment camps and held there throughout the war.
5. The United States ignored the war in Europe until the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941 forced the US to enter. The United States quickly declared war on Germany, Italy and Japan after the bombing.
6. Hitler was able to begin systematically murdering Jews and others who didn’t conform to Nazi ideals because most people didn’t stand up for minorities. By the time people realized how Hitler’s policies could affect them as well, he had a lot more power, making resistance impossible.
7. In addition to murdering 6,000,000 Jews, Hitler murdered 6,000,000 non-Jews during the Holocaust. He targeted Catholics, disabled people, gypsies and non-heterosexuals in addition to Jews. Anyone who did not fit his ideal of “blond hair and blue eyes” was a target of discrimination and was eventually put into concentration camps.
8. The war in Africa and Russia ended in 1943 with German surrender; this was the beginning of the end of Hitler’s regime. Without this surrender, Hitler might have eventually won World War II. Italy surrendered in 1943 as well after Allied troops invaded it. The Nazis seized Rome two days after Italy’s surrender.
9. Japan was the last to surrender. By May 1945, Hitler had committed suicide and Germany had surrendered. Italy had already surrendered in 1943. The war with Japan went on until August 1945, when Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bomb.
10. World War II was one of the most expensive wars in history. The massive spending related to this war helped stimulate the economy in the United States, which was still struggling to recover from the Great depression.
Krystina Malinowski is an avid blogger who writes for various businesses such as NetQin.