World War II is by far the biggest and deadliest conflict in human history. More than 100 million soldiers took part from 30+ countries were involved, while the number of casualties is estimated to be between 70 million and 85 million.
With this in mind, it is understandable that the history lessons you get in school leave a lot of stuff out when covering WWII. Here are some of the most interesting facts you might not have been taught.
Last Japanese Soldiers to Surrender
Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945. However, this didn’t mark the end of the Japanese involvement in the war, at least for two soldiers. Hiroo Onoda and Teruo Nakamura didn’t surrender until 29 years after the war officially ended. Onoda was in hiding in the Philippines, while Nakamura lived in a small hut on Morotai Island, where he was originally stationed. They were both discovered and surrendered in 1974.
Two Polish Doctors Saved 8,000 Jews with Typhus
Two Polish doctors, Dr. Eugene Lazowski and Stanislav Matulewicz Lazowski, managed to save the lives of 8,000 Jews during World War II. The doctors discovered that the Nazis wouldn’t take anyone with a typhus diagnosis to concentration camps as they feared widespread infection and considered the disease deadly. This prompted the duo to inject Jews with dead Epidemic Typhus bacteria, which caused the person to test positive for typhus but had no negative effects of the disease itself.
Island with No Enemies
On August 15, 1943, Allied forces arrived on the Pacific island of Kiska with the intention to recapture it from the Japanese army as part of Operation Cottage. More than 100 soldiers died during the operation, but none were killed by the enemy. It turned out that the Japanese soldiers had already left the island. Instead, the casualties were a result of friendly fire, booby traps, and other hazards.