A battle as destructive and wide-ranging as World War II naturally brings many myths that are assumed to be authentic, even if they aren’t. Most of these myths have been disproved many times, but some of them still exist as fringe conspiracies or rumors held by outsider scholars. This war was a very complicated global struggle. Many lives were taken, and that’s why it’s very easy to speculate about the legends and what happened. Let’s look at some of the WWII myths and their facts. All these WWII myths would have altered the course of history. And war should have never occurred in the first place, conflict should always be dealt with in a constructive manner. Thanks to researchers, the facts that should have been known in the first place are now in the open. Let’s look at our compiled list of World War II myths debunked:
15. France Surrendered to Germany Without a Fight
The fact that Germans did in World War II what they could not do in a 4-year period in World War I in one and a half months, is totally oversimplified. Even though it’s true that the French men surrendered to the Germans quickly, they fought hard during the Battle of France. They destroyed over 800 German tanks and inflicted over 150,000 casualties.
The French army’s failure was caused by their poor tactics, indecisive leadership, inadequate logistics, and commanders fighting a defensive war to avoid a repeat of World War I’s high casualties.
14. A Ukrainian Soccer Team Was Shot After They Beat a Nazi Team
The ‘deathmatch’ between the German team Flakelf and the Ukrainian team Start FC took place. However, the players didn’t get executed afterward. No research has proved that a German official instructed the Ukrainians to lose or else they would die, as claimed by many historical accounts.
However, there is a probability that some players would have been shot as retaliation for an act of resistance. These players are immortalized outside the Dynamo Kyiv stadium, the famous soccer team in Ukraine, in a statue.
13. US Soldiers Abandoned Thousands of Cars They Had Plundered From Nazi to Rot in a Forest in Belgium
The images of the Belgian car graveyard are indeed haunting. The cars have been abandoned for over 70 years, but no one knows who left those cars there and the reasons behind them; it’s a mystery.
Many believe that US soldiers dumped the vehicles but locals say that it’s a car boneyard like any other. If you look at the pictures, you’ll note that some cars were manufactured after the war, between the 60s-70s. The car graveyard was permanently cleared in 2010.
12. Adolf Hitler Let 330,000 British Troops Flee at Dunkirk
The “halt order” at Dunkirk would prove to be the most controversial military action to be employed during a war. German tanks stopped to regroup for two days, and at the same time, the British troops were evacuated from France. Many have said that Hitler did this on purpose.
However, there isn’t a military reason that would have made Hitler allow the British army to escape just because his army needed to rest and rearm. Hitler was also sure that his air force would destroy the British army on the beaches.
11. Adolf Hitler Was Unquestionably in Control of the German Soldiers
Even though Hitler was a military genius, at the end of the day he was the Fuhrer and a very captivating leader. Most of the soldiers stayed at Hitler’s hidden military base. Shockingly, the German Navy was extremely loyal to the state, but they didn’t trust the politicians and their shenanigans.
Erich Raeder actively resisted all the attempts that were made to Nazify the Navy. After his inevitable resignation, his successor let the Nazi mentality seep in but kept the party at bay. The Navy even had a rule that those who joined and were members of the Nazi Party had to leave before they could take part in any mission.
10. German Troops Attacked the Soviet Union Because the Soviets Wanted to Invade Germany
These WWII myths are more of a conspiracy theory held by some fringe war scholars. It started with Viktor Suvorov, a Soviet intelligence officer, who defected in the late ’80s to the United Kingdom.
He claimed that Joseph Stalin introduced conscription and reduced the Red Army’s minimum age to gain manpower while instructing German maps to be issued to the soldiers in the field.
Many historians have dismissed this theory although they agree that Stalin may have ordered the invasion of Germany. But, this must have happened after some years because the Red Army was re-organizing and modernizing.
9. Hitler Became the Nazi Party Leader After Winning by One Vote
This urban legend is very far from the truth. Adolf Hitler won the Nazi party leadership by a big margin (553-1) during the party elections in 1923. It’s true that the party did not win many seats during the 1933 elections in Germany.
This was the final election that was held before the country became a one-party state. However, this didn’t have any impact on the power the Nazis had.
8. A Japanese General Yamashita Concealed Tons of Gold in Underground Tunnels and Caves in the Philippines
Although it hasn’t yet been proven that Yamashita ordered the burying of gold worth billions of dollars in massive underground tunnels and caves, there is little evidence to show that he didn’t.
There was a court case that was highly publicized between Ferdinand Marcos, the deposed Filipino president, and a Filipino treasure hunter over gold that was purportedly stolen from Yamashita treasure. However, it has never been conclusively proven where the stolen gold came from.
7. Prisoners of Nazi War Were Punished Heavily and Got What They Deserved
Being a Nazi prisoner must have been very tough. The truth is, most prisoners got away scot-free. America took in more than 400,000 German prisoners. The U.S. had little experience in dealing with such prisoners. Some of them were rounded up and taken to prison camps. They were treated well.
They were offered food, wine, and beer. The prisoners even related well with the locals but there must have been some misunderstandings in the beginning. After they had returned to their homeland, some kept in contact with their American friends and eventually went back to America.
6. When the French Soldiers Surrendered After a Heavy Battle That Lasted Six Weeks, Hitler Danced a Jig and Was Captured on Camera
When accepting that the French had surrendered, World War I soldier Adolf stepped back slightly because he was in shock. The slight step was captured on film. But, allied propagandists edited it into Hitler dancing a jig.
It showed the terrifying Nazi leader bouncing like a child. This film was meant to stir up mockery and outrage from Hitler, and it did its job.
5. The German Military was Completely Crushed on D-Day
Contrary to popular belief, all thanks to popular World War II Hollywood films, the D-Day invasion wasn’t the crushing blow that made the Nazi military ultimately weak which led to their defeat. Rather it was the eastern front where huge battles with the Soviet military actually weakened the Axis war machine which the Allies exploited to the fullest.
Some of the fiercest and bloodiest battles of World War II like the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk, the Battle of Moscow, the Battle of Berlin, etc, were all fought between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and during the later stages of the war Soviets constantly defeated the Axis forces which led to their ultimate defeat.
4. There Was a Single Decisive Reason for the Allied Victory
There was a range of factors like superior production, superior training, better communication, better military maneuvers, better intelligence, better alliances, better supply lines, stronger economies, better equipment, better leadership, etc. that led to the Allied victory over the Axis.
3. The Atomic Bomb Caused Japan to Surrender
Ever wondered why Japan didn’t surrender after the first atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima? Why was there a need to drop another bomb after 3 days on Nagasaki? The thing is the Japanese were taking too many losses in their major cities regularly in Allied bombings and it actually didn’t make a difference to them when Hiroshima was wiped out.
Japanese initially thought maybe Americans were bluffing about some kind of new powerful bomb from hell and they decimated Hiroshima through some routine large air raid. It was only after a second atomic bombing and some confirmed reports from radar operators who never detected any large formation of bombers that the Japanese realized that there was indeed some new kind of single powerful bomb that could wipe out entire cities.
This again wasn’t much indifferent to them than being destroyed by USAF air raids. What actually led to eventual surrender was the relaxations that they got from the Americans in the surrender agreement as well as the sudden Manchurian invasion by the Soviet Union.
2. The Axis Couldn’t Have Won the War
Few people know that Nazi Germany actually laid the foundations for most of the modern warfare-related technologies that modern militaries use today like stealth technology, jet aircraft, atomic bombs, assault rifles, modern tanks, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, anti-tank weapons, etc.
Nazis would have eventually perfected many of their prototypes and earlier models if they would have gotten some more years and some respite from the constant bombing raids from the Allies in the later stages of the war.
1. The Largest Civilian Loss of Life Happened in Europe
Most people think that Europe saw most people dead during World War 2, but as a matter of fact, the death toll in Asia was super duper higher.
More people (including soldiers and civilians) died in the USSR and China (approximately 32,624,000 people) alone than pretty much in the entire Europe (including American forces in Europe).
Did you like our list of World War II myths debunked? Feel free to leave a comment!