Many or most people are familiar with the basics and broad strokes of World War II. It began in 1939, and ended in 1945. Hitler kicked it off by invading Poland. The Germans beat and conquered France. There was a Battle of Britain in the air. There was a huge fight between the Germans and Soviets and Germans on the ground. The Japanese surprised our navy at Pearl Harbor. D-Day. It ended with atom bombs. However, in a conflict that lasted so long, involved so many people, and covered such wide swathes of the globe, there are bound to be many fascinating facts that are less widely known. Following are just a few of them:
40. The Germans Began Their Blitzkrieg in the West by Capturing an “Impregnable” Fortress in 24 Hours
Fort Eben-Emael on the Belgian-Dutch border, built between 1931-1935, was designed to defend Belgium against a German attack. Positioned in a strategic location astride the likeliest German invasion route, with artillery dominating vital bridges and roads leading into Belgium, Eben-Emael was the world’s largest fortress, reputed to be impregnable, and the toughest stronghold on earth. 80 German paratroopers captured it and its 1200 defenders in 24 hours, in a daring assault on May 10-11, 1940.