Five facts about the Second World War –

A Second World War It was the largest conflict in the history of humanity in terms of intensity, financial and human resources mobilized and the number of victims. Over the six years of conflict, violence spread across different continents, resulting in the deaths of approximately 70 million people.

Great highlights of the Second World War were the construction of concentration camps by Nazi Germany, especially in Poland, which aimed to enslave and exterminate Jews, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, etc. Furthermore, during World War II, atomic weapons were used for the first time, launched by the USA against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Topics in this article

Mind Map – World War II

*To download the mind map, click here!

Regarding the Second World War, we have separated some curiosities and little explored facts:

During World War II, they were created in the United States ten concentration camps in different parts of the country to shelter the population of Japanese Americans. The construction of these concentration camps was the result of war hysteria that strengthened the xenophobia against citizens of Japanese descent.

Xenophobia against Japanese-American citizens was something that existed in the United States at least since the beginning of the 20th century and became stronger after the United States was attacked by Japan in Pearl Harbor in 1941. In total, more than a hundred One thousand people were relocated to these concentration camps and found terrible living conditions in these places. The last concentration camp in the United States was closed in 1946.

During World War II, Japan, driven by its xenophobic nationalism and radical militarism, committed a series of war crimes. One of the places where several people were victims of brutality committed by the Japanese army was the facilities of Unit 731. This unit was created under the name “Kwangtung Army Epidemic Protection and Water Supply Unit” and its primary function was to control the quality of the water used by the Japanese army based in China.

However, secretly, Unit 731 was used by the Japanese army to carry out a series of macabre studies on live human guinea pigs and promote studies for the development of chemical and biological weapons. Thus, as stated by historian Max Hastings:

Thousands of captured Chinese were murdered in tests carried out at the unit’s base near Harbin, many undergoing vivisection without the benefit of anesthetics. Some victims were tied to stakes so that anthrax bombs could be detonated around them. Women were infected with syphilis in the laboratory; civilians in the region were kidnapped and injected with fatal viruses1.

Those involved with Unit 731’s experiments were not punished as war criminals as part of an agreement between the US and the doctors.

3. Quisling traitor

In April 1940, the Nazis put an end to months of stagnation and began the invasion of Norway. The invasion of Norway had been authorized after double postponement of the operation that would lead to the invasion of Holland, Belgium and France. Thus, Norway emerged as an alternative for the Nazis to have control over a strategic air support position that would guarantee access to Swedish iron production.

Don’t stop now… There’s more after the advertising 😉

The invasion of Norway by the Nazis took place after Hitler was convinced by Admiral Erich Raeder and by the pro-Nazi Norwegian Vidkun Quisling. When the Nazis invaded Norway, Quisling briefly became head of the collaborationist government and Quisling’s role in convincing Hitler to invade his own country caused his surname “Quisling” to become a noun in the English language to mean refer to people who are traitors or who turn against their own country.

One of the saddest episodes of the entire Second World War was the Holocaust, responsible for the deaths of 6 million people, the majority of whom were of Jewish origin. Throughout the war, the Nazis created different mechanisms and ways of finding and exterminating Jews, especially in Eastern Europe. At first, the Nazis used the Einsatzgruppendeath squads responsible for locating and executing all Jews in the areas where they operated.

A particular event related to the performance of the Einsatzgruppen It took place in the city of Kiev, which at the time belonged to the Soviet Union (currently Ukraine). Shortly after the conquest of the city, a building occupied by the Nazis was bombed, which enraged the Nazis. As a reprisal, the local Nazi command authorized the execution of all Jews still living in Kiev.

Reports say that the Nazis gathered a crowd of Jews in one part of the city and began a riot. shooting that, over 36 hours, was responsible for the deaths of more than 33 thousand people. This event known as “Babi Yar massacre” was one of the biggest massacres that took place during the war, and reports say that the place where the bodies were buried drained of blood for months.

5. Gigantic cannons

During the years of conflict, the Nazi war machine worked obstinately to develop more effective weapons for use in war. The megalomania and ingenuity of the Nazis caused them to build the largest cannons that were used during World War II.

The cannons were named Schwerer Gustav It is Dora, and its construction was a request from the Nazi command so that the Krupp – armaments industry – built a weapon capable of destroying the French fortifications of Line Maginot. Krupp’s efforts led to the construction of these two cannons, which, in the words of a Nazi general, were an “extremely impressive but absolutely useless piece of engineering.”two.

The Schwerer Gustav was particularly used during the siege of SevastopolSoviet city located in the Crimea region in a battle that resulted in the deaths of 25,000 Germans and the use of fifty thousand tons of artillery ammunition3.

Schwerer Gustav’s duties were:

  • Weight: 1350 tons

  • Greeting: approximately 47 meters

  • Crew: 4,000 men responsible for assembling the tracks and handling the cannon

  • Caliber: 800mm

  • Weight of the projectiles: 7 tons

  • Range of shooting: 39 km to 47 km away

  • Cadence of the shots: 1 shot every 45 minutes, with a maximum of 14 shots per day.

HASTINGS, Max. Inferno: the world at war 1939-1945. Rio de Janeiro: Intrínseca, 2012 p. 448.
twoIdem, p. 319.
3Idem, p. 320.

By Daniel Neves
Graduated in History