The Second World War was a total war in the sense that every facet of the societies involved was geared toward the war effort. Fought in the air, seas, and on land, World War II was also a conflict of words. This collection of dramatic quotations showcases the most memorable and unusual lines to emerge from the most devastating conflict in human history.
Sophie Scholl was a member of the White Rose, a nonviolent resistance group of student activists who distributed anti-Nazi leaflets in Munich in 1942-3. They also scrawled anti-war slogans on the walls around Munich using black tar paint.
Scholl was arrested, along with her brother Hans and another member of the group, Christoph Probst, by the Gestapo and subjected to a show trial in 1943. She refused to remain silent and interrupted the judge several times. She also refused to give up the names of any other members of the group and accepted her predetermined fate, arguing she did the best thing for her nation and that she had no regrets.
After her execution by guillotine on February 22, 1943, copies of the White Rose's sixth leaflet were smuggled to the UK and dropped on German cities by Allied planes.Fascinating quote?
You are ready! A man has to be alert all the time if he expects to keep on breathing. If not, some German son-of-a-b*tch will sneak up behind him and beat him to death with a sock full of sh*t. There are 400 neatly marked graves in Sicily, all because one man went to sleep on the job - but they are German graves because we caught the b*stard asleep before his officer did.
Patton's colorful language made him a favorite of the rank and file, but his diction wasn't appreciated by fellow officers, who thought it was unprofessional. In addition, his tendency to make unwise remarks in public exasperated his superiors. The profanity of the speech guaranteed it would never appear in any newspaper, but postwar accounts of soldiers who were addressed by Patton corroborate the infamous line.
The address is probably best known from the opening scene of the 1970 film Patton, starring George C. Scott. In real life Patton was a bit more soft-spoken than Scott's gravelly cadence might have us think.Fascinating quote?
I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and my life is much simplified thereby. If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.
- Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the prospect of supporting the USSR against Germany, June 22, 1941
Context: The characteristically pithy quote was made in reference to the German incursion into the Soviet Union in 1941. While Churchill's extreme disdain for Communism was well documented, he had no reservations over backing Stalin in the struggle against Nazi Germany. The opening stages of the German invasion of the Soviet Union were initially successful, but bad weather, a determined enemy, and the sheer size of Russia saw Operation Barbarossa grind to a halt by the winter.Fascinating quote?
December 22, 1944
To the German Commander,
N U T S !
The American Commander
The ill-fated Ardennes counteroffensive of 1944, also known as the Battle of the Bulge, was a last-gasp attempt by the Germans to drive the Allies out of Western Europe, which saw some initial German gains soon reversed. American forces at Bastogne, Belgium, were surrounded by German panzer divisions, and on the morning of December 22, a German officer approached the American lines to discuss a surrender.
The American commander Anthony McAuliffe was awakened to news of the demand and muttered "nuts!" as he gathered his clothes. When he asked his staff for an appropriate reply to the German demands, an aide suggested his initial remark would be hard to beat. So the pithy quip was typed up and sent back to a presumably unamused German officer.
The town was relieved with the arrival of American reinforcements on December 27, 1944. The last desperate German gamble failed.Fascinating quote?