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.1374Fascinating 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.13715Fascinating quote?
'Fight, People, For Your Freedom! Do Not Surrender To Evildoers! I Will Be Killed But There Are Those Who Will Avenge Me!' (Final Words Of Lepa Radić)
Long live the Communist party! Long live the partisans! Fight, people, for your freedom! Do not surrender to evildoers! I will be killed but others will avenge me. I am not a traitor of my people. Those whom you are asking about will reveal themselves when they have succeeded in wiping out all you evildoers. To the last man.
- Last words of Lepa Radic, February 8, 1943
The Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941 was brief, with surrender coming after just 11 days. Although the military was defeated, partisans continued to resist the occupation for the duration of the war. The efforts of the partisans were a major drain on Axis resources already stretched thin by conquests and occupations across the continent.
Lepa Radic was just 17 when she was arrested during a major crackdown on partisans in 1943. She refused to give up any information under torture, and when she was given one last chance to save her own life, she instead delivered her defiant final words. She was commemorated with the Order of the People's Hero by the Yugoslav government in 1951.1187Fascinating 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.12812Fascinating quote?