facts you never knew about world war 2
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- 1. The Second World War
- 2. Michael Wittmann Hans-Ulrich Rudel Eric Hartmann
- 3. History According to Hollywood From the hundreds of films made by Hollywood on the Second WorldWar you could be forgiven for getting the impression that the Allies hadthe greatest soldiers, airmen and seamen of all time.
- 4. You would also get the impression from Hollywood that the Allies achieved stupendous victories against overwhelming odds.
- 5. Facts Are Stubborn ThingsHowever, the facts are that the German Wehrmacht was almost alwaysoutnumbered by the Allies and very inadequately supplied.
- 6. Yet they produced the top tank commanders,
- 7. commandos andparatroopers of the war.
- 8. The Luftwaffe, despite being outnumbered on every front, and starvedof fuel and supplies, produced the top air Aces of all time.
- 9. OutnumberedAt the start of WWII, well over 4 million Polish, French and British soldiers confronted just over 2 million German soldiers.
- 10. However the German army was far better trained.
- 11. The Polish Campaign On paper, Polands 600,000standing army could swell to 2.5 million men in uniform.In fact the Polish Army outnumbered the German Armyat the beginning of September 1939.
- 12. Poland had concentrated most of its 30 divisions in an offensiveforward position,close to the German frontier.
- 13. BlitzkriegWithin the first three days ofthe campaign1-3 September 1939,the Luftwaffe destroyed thePolish Air Force.
- 14. The German Army used its Blitzkrieg tactics to punch through the Polishdivisions encircling them and cutting off their supply lines.
- 15. The Western FrontOn the Western front on the eve of 10 May, 1940, the German Army confronted a superior force of French, British and Belgian troops.
- 16. The impressiongiven bypropaganda and Hollywood films is that the Germans had an overwhelmingsuperiority in tanksand aircraft.
- 17. On The Ground In fact, the Allies had 3,124 tanks as against2,580 for the Germans.In addition, the alliedtanks had thicker armour and heavierweapons mounted on their tanks.
- 18. However as the allies tended to deploy their tanks as infantry support weapons, the German Panzer formations broke through and encircled the allied forces with breath-taking speed.
- 19. War in The Air The Allied planes were roughly equal to the number of aircraft in theLuftwaffe. However, while the British Spitfire was superior, most of the FrenchAir Force aircraft were hopelessly out classed by the German Messerschmidts.
- 20. War At SeaThe Germany Navy, the Kriegsmarine,was completely unprepared for war.
- 21. Only 25 U-boats were fitted for Atlantic service at the onset of WWII.Britain had far more submarines than Germany had!
- 22. Of course in terms of battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, etc., nothing could match the Royal Navy.
- 23. The Largest Conflict In HistoryAt the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, 22 June 1941, Germany faceda Soviet Army of 5, 774,000. The Soviet Union had 316 divisions, 117,600 artillery pieces, 25,700 tanks and 18,700 combat air craft.
- 24. The German Wehrmacht at this time had 5,200 tanks of which3,350 were committed to the Eastern front.This gave the Soviets a 4 to 1 advantage in armour.
- 25. The Luftwaffe had just over 4,000 aircraft to oppose the 18,700 aircraftin the Soviet Air Force.
- 26. Operation BarbarossaOperation Barbarossa was the largest military operation ever launched to that date.
- 27. It was fought over a 2,900 km frontand involved 600,000 motor vehiclesand 750,000 horses for the German and European volunteers of this operation to liberate Russiafrom communism and end the Soviet threat to Europe.
- 28. Unprecedented In the first day, one quarter of theSoviet Unions Air Force was destroyed.
- 29. The German Blitzkrieg tactics devastated the Red Army andmade stupendous progress.
- 30. By October over 3 million Red Army soldiers had been taken as Prisoners of War.
- 31. Logistical NightmareHowever the further the Wehrmacht advanced into Russia,the more their logistical complications were compounded.
- 32. The Russian infrastructure was primitive. Their dirt roads turned to mud.To supply the frontline troops became an almost impossible assignment.
- 33. AmericanIndustryBolstered theSoviet Union What no one hadanticipated was thevast amount of aid which the United States of America would give to the Soviet Union.
- 34. Even before America entered WWII officially, vast quantities of militaryhardware began being flown, shipped and trucked into Russia via Alaska,Persia and Murmansk.
- 35. Gifts To StalinAn official list of military hardware supplied by the USA to the USSR from 1941, includes:
- 36. 7,056 tanks;
- 37. 14,795militaryaircraft;
- 38. 51,503 jeeps;375,883 trucks;35,170 motorcycles;
- 39. 8,071 tractors; 8,218 artillery pieces; 131,633machine guns; 345,735 tonnes of explosives;
- 40. 1,981 locomotives; 90 cargo ships;
- 41. 4,478,000 tonnes of food supplies;
- 42. $1,078,965,000 of machines and equipment;
- 43. 2,670,000 tonnes of petroleum products; 49,860 tonnes of leather; 3,786,000 tyres;
- 44. 15,417,000 pairs of army boots; 106,893,000 tonnes ofcotton; building equipment valued at $10,000,910,000;
- 45. non-iron metals 802,000 tonnes;along with 29 tankers; 433combat ships, aswell as mobile bridges, railroad equipment,aircraft radio equipment andmany other items.
- 46. British and Canadian Aid to the USSRThis does not include the very generous aidgiven by Great Britain to the Soviet Union.
- 47. Britain supplied 5,800 aircraft,
- 48. 4,292 tanks and 12 minesweepers.
- 49. Canada supplied the Soviet Union with 1,188 tanks, 842 armoured cars, a million shells and 208,000 tonnes of wheat and flour.
- 50. There is no doubt that without the Western aid the Soviet Union wouldnt have been able to survive a year.
- 51. stock-photo-poland-after-yalta-conference-february-3543822
- 52. Yet, very few books havedealt with the overallhuman cost of death bygovernment (The BlackBook of Communismbeing one exception).
- 53. Many Stories Waiting to be ToldOne wonders why no Hollywood film seem to have focused on thelargest military offensive in the history of warfare, some of the largest battles in history,
- 54. some of the largest battles in history, and some of the greatest Air Acesand Tankers, which came out of that colossal conflict.
- 55. Eric Hartmann Fighter Ace The top Air Ace of all time was Erich Hartmann. In almost three years,Erich Hartmann accumulated an incredible352 aerial victories.Hartmann was born 19 April1922, in Weissach.
- 56. At age 19, he joined the Luftwaffe and was posted to the Eastern front in Jagdgeschwader 52 in October 1942. He scored his first killin November and his second three months later.
- 57. Operation CitadelHowever during Operation Citadel, the greatest tank battlein history, the battle of Kursk, which began on 5 July 1943, Hartmanns score began to mount.
- 58. His staffel was assigned to protect the Wehrmachts Panzersfrom Soviet il-2 sturmoviks armoured, tank-busting aircraftarmed with twin 37mm cannon.
- 59. The Battle of KurskFlying a Me.109, Hartmann took off on the morning of 7 July,as the sun rose in Northern Ukraine at 3am, Adler, theGerman forward spotting post, radioed through a report of agroup of between ten to twenty Russian aircraft headingWest. Hartmann gained altitude and spotting the sturmoviks, he ordered an attack.
- 60. SturmoviksWith its armour and rear-gunner, the sturmovik was a tough target.Hartmann dived below, picked up airspeed then banked around andcame up behind and underneath the Il-2saiming for the ventral oil radiator.
- 61. He closed to one hundred meters before firing.As blue flames and black sooty smoke streamed from the Sturmoviksradiator, he had scored his 22nd victory of the war.
- 62. As the Russian formation began to break up, he targeted another Il-2.At 150m he opened fireand more blue flame and black smoke poured from his 23rd air victory.
- 63. BeforeBreakfastHe landed at 4am and was scrambled backinto the air at 5:50,where he downedanother sturmovikand a LaGG-3fighter.That made4 victoriesbefore breakfast.
- 64. DogfightLater that afternoon he led his staffel up again and engaged in a sprawling dogfight with Soviet LaGG-3 fighters. He quickly shot down 3 enemy fighters, making it 7 victories for one day.
- 65. Fighter Ace By August 1943,he had shot down50 Soviet aircraft.Before the end of the year he had downed 148Soviet aircraftand earned hisKnights Cross.
- 66. Shot DownHe was shot downand captured, 12 August 1943.During themonumental tank battle of Kursk,Hartmann shotdown 32 sturmoviksbefore being himselfhit.
- 67. He crash landed, and removed the precious clock of the BF109,before being captured by Russian infantry.
- 68. He managed tojump out of a moving truck and plunged into a field of tallsunflower plantswith bullets whiningoverhead.Hartmann successfully madehis way back to the German lines.
- 69. Highly DecoratedBy 2 March 1944, he had reached a total of 202,earning him the Oakleaves. He was awarded the 3rd Reichs highest military decoration:The Knights Cross to theIron Cross, with Oak leaves and Swords with Diamonds.
- 70. This was only awarded to 27 soldiersthroughout WWII, 12 of whom were Luftwaffe pilots.
- 71. DownfallAt the end of WWII, in May 1945, his co
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