A conflict as wide-ranging and destructive as World War II naturally gives birth to a number of urban legends and myths that become "common knowledge" - despite not actually being true. Many have been refuted numerous times, and some exist only as rumors or fringe conspiracies held to by a few outsider scholars. World War II was a complex global struggle, that took the lives of many, and it can be hard to know what legends about this war and this period of history are actually true, and which are completely false.
These myths and urban legends about World War II, range from Hitler's jubilant jig to the conspiracy theories that say FDR knew Pearl Harbor was about to be bombed. First we look at what the WW2 myth is, then at the reality - which sometimes is stranger than the myth itself. These World War Two facts and fictions will surprise and enlighten you.Need more World War 2 information? Check out the war's pivotal battles, most influential people, and the many films telling the stories of WWII.
France Surrendered without a Fight
France rolled over to Germany in 1940 without resisting because the French are cowards.
The fact that Germany did in six weeks during World War II what they couldn't do in four years in World War I is grossly oversimplified. While it's true that France surrendered quickly to Germany, French troops fought hard in the Battle of France, inflicting over 150,000 casualties and destroying over German 800 tanks. The French army was let down by indecisive leadership, poor tactics, bad logistics, and commanders trying to fight a defensive war and avoid the high casualties of World War I.
Hitler Let the British Escape at Dunkirk
Adolf Hitler allowed 330,000 British troops to escape destruction on the beaches at Dunkirk in 1940 as a sporting gesture, or because they were fellow white people.
The Dunkirk "halt order" would prove to be one of the most controversial military actions of the war. German tanks were ordered to halt and regroup for two days at the exact same time as British troops were being evacuated from France. Some have alleged Hitler did this on purpose, and Hitler himself, late in his life, said it was a "sporting gesture" to Churchill.
Returning GIs Abandoned Thousands of Cars in Belgium
Unable to bring them home, US soldiers abandoned thousands of vintage cars that had been plundered from Nazi Germany, leaving them to rot in a Belgian forest.
The pictures of this Belgian car graveyard, abandoned for 70 years, are indeed haunting. But as to who left the cars there and why - that's a mystery. Urban legend says the cars were dumped there by US GIs, but locals say it's just a car boneyard, no different from any dumping ground anywhere else.
The Death Match
A soccer team made up of Ukrainian players was shot after beating a Nazi team.
The so-called "death match" between the ad-hoc Ukrainian team Start FC and German occupier team Flakelf did take place. But the players weren't executed en masse afterwards, and no research has found proof that any German official told the Ukrainians to lose or die, as many historical accounts of the time claim.