40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years
40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years

40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years

Khalid Elhassan - February 14, 2020

40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years
A V2 rocket launch. Wikimedia

7. “Vengeance Weapon 2”

The V2, or “Vengeance Weapon 2”, was the world’s first ballistic missile. It carried a ton of explosives to the edge of space, then plunged at unstoppable speeds to explode over its target. It was a revolutionary technological feat. It was also one of history’s most wasteful weapons. V2s inflicted relatively little damage that did not justify the vast resources devoted to their production. Those resources would have better aided the German war effort had they gone to more effective weapons programs or other uses.

Roughly three thousand V2s were fired between September, 1944, and Germany’s surrender nine months later. They did not all reach their targets, but even if they had, at one ton of explosives per V2 warhead, that would have been 3000 tons of explosives dropped on enemy cities over nine months. During the same period, the RAF routinely dropped over 3000 tons of explosives on a German city in a bombing raid. The US Air Force also frequently exceeded that 3000 ton total in single bombing raids.

40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years
B-17s over Germany. Imgur

6. The Wasteful V2s

While the Germans tried to blast Allied cities with rockets, the Allies blasted German cities far more thoroughly with bombers, which were reusable, and thus far more economical. Most Allied bombers returned to base, reloaded, and returned the next day or night. Each Allied bomber dropped more explosive tonnage on a German city than a V2 dropped on an Allied city, and unlike the V2, most Allied bombers repeated the process dozens of times.

During its nine months of use, the 3000 tons of explosives dropped by V2s killed 2754 people. Most were not soldiers, but civilians whose deaths, while tragic, did not impede the Allied war effort by much. By contrast, it is estimated that over 20,000 workers, mostly slave laborers, died while manufacturing the V2. That gave V2s the tragic distinction of being the only weapons system in history whose production cost more lives than did its actual use.

40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years
Poster printed by German occupation authorities announcing the match. Wikimedia

5. WWII’s Most Dramatic Athletic Event

One of WWII’s most dramatic stories revolves around a soccer match that took place in German-occupied Kiev on August 6th, 1942. The game pitted Ukrainian side Start FC, composed mainly of Dynamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Kiev professional players, against a German team named Flakelf. The locals won 5 – 1.

Three days later, the two teams met for a rematch, that once again ended in the Ukrainian side beating the Germans, this time 5 – 3. The Germans turned out to be sore losers: upset that Slavic Untermenschen had trounced Aryan ubermensch, they rounded up and arrested the Ukrainian players, and had them executed. It is a gripping story, but it did not happen.

40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years
The Death Match. Bundesarchiv Bild

4. Snitching, Not Sore Losership, Doomed the Ukrainian Soccer Players

German side Falkelf and Ukrainian team Start FC – whose players worked in a factory under Nazi management – actually did meet for two matches on August 6th and 9th, 1942. About a week later, the Gestapo arrested eight Start FC players. Five of them were eventually executed.

However, the arrests had nothing to do with the matches against Flakelf. Members of another Ukrainian team, that had been humiliatingly trounced by Start 8 – 0, had snitched to the German authorities, informing them that several Start players were former members of the NKVD (the KGB’s forerunner).

40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years
Statue in front of the Dynamo Kiev stadium, memorializing the executed Ukrainian players. Ground Hopping

3. Birth of the Death Match Myth

Five of the eight Start FC players picked up by the Gestapo were eventually executed. However, their deaths were unrelated to their performance on the pitch against a German, and had more to do with their activities off the pitch against the German occupation authorities. Some of the Start FC players, as former NKVD agents, were suspected of having engaged in recent sabotage activities against the German occupation.

Engaging in resistance against the Nazis was heroic in of itself, but it was not nearly as dramatic as the “Death Match” narrative. Soviet authorities, eager to portray the heroism of the civilian populace during the war, decided to improve upon and embellish the story. After the war, the “Death Match” theme inspired a popular Soviet novel, and a hit movie, Third Time. As the murdered Start FC players, they are commemorated in a statue in front of Dynamo Kiev’s stadium.

40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years
Pervitin. Is It Paleo

2. The Nazi Super Soldiers

Early in WWII, the Germans swept through Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and France. The blitzkrieg’s speed and fury, and reports of “Nazi Super Soldiers”, alarmed observers. German success owed much to innovative tactics that integrated infantry, armor, and air, into a seemingly irresistible juggernaut. However, the Allies were baffled by the inexplicable energy and tirelessness of the German soldiers, who seemed indefatigable, advancing and fighting day and night, with little or no rest.

The reason was crystal meth, or Pervitin, which German troops were encouraged to pop in order to fight fatigue. The packaging read “Alertness Aid“, to be taken “to maintain wakefulness“. It was accompanied by a warning that it should only be used “from time to time“. However, once they began popping Pervitin, few heeded the warning. Things got worse when medical authorities realized that the effects of cocaine overlap substantially with those of amphetamines, with the added “benefit” that cocaine produces greater euphoria. So cocaine was added to Pervitin.

40 Historical Facts Accepted as Real For Many Years
A tweaking SS member. American Heroes Channel

1. German Soldiers Were Not Indefatigable: They Were Tweaking

The German military authorities’ spicing of Pervitin with cocaine resulted in an even more addictive drug cocktail. Millions in the German military could not get enough of their crystal meth, and especially not enough of their crystal meth after it got laced with cocaine. Many wrote home, requesting their loved ones to send them Pervitin via military mail.

A typical example was Heinrich Boll, a German postwar author who won the 1972 Nobel Prize for literature. In a May 20th, 1940 letter to his parents, 22-year-old Boll begged them to send him some Pervitin, which he said not only kept him alert but also chased away his worries.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

All That is Interesting – How Drugs Like Pervitin and Cocaine Fueled the Nazis’ Rise and Fall

Clark, Alan – Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-1945 (1985)

Cracked – 5 Historical Landmarks (That Are Total Frauds)

Cracked – 5 People You Didn’t Realize Were Fictional Characters

Dixon, Norman F. – On the Psychology of Military Incompetence (2011)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Battle of Plassey

History Collection – Mad Myths in History that Just Won’t Go Away

Falk, Stanley L. – Seventy Days to Singapore: The Malayan Campaign, 1941-1942 ­(1975)

Glantz, David – When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (1995)

Groves, Leslie R. – Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project (1983)

Guardian, The, September 25th, 2016 – High Hitler: How Nazi Drug Abuse Steered the Course of History

Hastings, Max – Armageddon: The Battle For Germany, 1944-1945 (2005)

Murphy, David E. – What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa (2005)

History Collection – Untrue Historic “Facts” It’s Time to Erase

New York Times, March 17th, 2017 – Debunking a Myth: The Irish Were Not Slaves, Too

Overy, Richard – Russia’s War: A History of the Soviet Effort, 1941-1945 (1998)

Ranker – 22 ‘Facts’ About World War II That Just Aren’t True

Rhodes, Richard – The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986)

Rolling Stone, August 17th, 2017 – Donald Trump’s Golf Course Plaque Honors Fake Civil War Battle

History Collection – Popular Historic “Facts” That Are Actually False

Smithsonian Magazine, August, 2004 – In Search of William Tell

SOF Rep – On This Day in History: The Only Death Sentence For Desertion in WWII is Carried Out

Southern Poverty Law Center – How the Myth of Irish Slaves Became a Favorite Meme of Racists Online

United States Army – The Army Lawyer: A History of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, 1775-1995 – The Execution of Private Slovik (2005)

History Collection – Hitler’s Nazi Troops Were Hooked on Meth

Wikipedia – The Death Match

Wikipedia – Eddie Slovik

Wikipedia – Malayan Campaign