WWII (Poland & Nazi Germany) #4

As you’ve probably noticed, the Nazi beliefs were incredibly brutal and outright evil. ┬áThere’s a reason the swastika is outlawed in Germany (barring historical reasons). There’s a reason the Nazi is always the bad guy in movies.

And here’s the fact that’s probably been drilled into your head since the first mention of WWII in your history classes: The Nazis hated the Jews.

Here’s the thing; the Nazis hated a lot of people, based mainly on race. The disabled, African-Germans, the Roma, homosexual men, and Slavs, in particular, Poles. Basically, anyone besides ‘Aryans’ and the Japanese (allies and all).

If you were to compare on a scale of 1-10, one being least desirable and ten being most, Jews would get 0 and Poles would get a 1 in the Nazi mindset.

Poland was Hell on earth during WWII; the Germans put in charge of them were instructed to shoot on sight if a Pole was caught helping a Jew, and Poles were considered second-class citizens, if even that.

But see, what the big difference was between the treatment of the Jews and the Poles was that the Jews were meant to be eliminated immediately, as soon as possible. The Poles, however, were meant to be eventually eliminated, used up as slave labor gradually and then have their lands taken over by Aryans. They attempted to eliminate Polish culture entirely.

And to get rid of the Poles, they were used up in several ways: kidnapping of ‘racially superior’ children; slave labor in Germany and Poland; killings, especially of soldiers, priests, teachers, officials and anyone deemed ‘intelligentsia‘.

Essentially, it was a really bad time to be a Pole.

In spite of this, the Poles number among the largest group of Righteous Among the Nations.

Despite it all, the Poles emerged from World War II with a passion for their country and a will to survive. There’s a reason that Poland is referred to as the Phoenix country; it’s always risen from the ashes, alive again.

WWII (Romania) #3

So you probably don’t know much about Romania’s involvement in World War II. ┬áNever fear, you’re about to know some of it!

Romania started out in the war as a neutral country; 1939, Britain and France were promising that they would protect Romania’s independence (same thing they promised Poland, by the way). As you might have guessed, when France fell and Britain retreated off of the continent, that left Romania in a pretty sticky situation.

On one side, the Soviet Union loomed, eager for more land, like a kid making grabby hands at someone else’s food. On the other, they had Nazi Allies, particularly Hungary. Just to note, Hungary and Romania have historically liked each other about as much as the average cat loves a bath.

The King of Romania tried to hold on to neutrality by giving up chunks of land to the countries around them (some to the Soviet Union, some to Bulgaria, some to Hungary), but that made him really unpopular. So a general overthrew him, and the Iron Guard took over.

You know how Italy was fascist during WWII? Well, now Romania was too. And the Iron Guard was merciless, particularly towards Jews.

So the guy in charge of Romania decided they had to choose a side, and they went with Nazi Germany, which made life even more horrible for the Jews in the country.

Funny thing about Nazi Germany: they tended to invade their allies. About 50,000 troops showed up in Romania, and now Romania was the breadbasket for the Nazi empire.

Another funny thing about Nazi Germany: they didn’t feel like paying for the food, oil, and other products, so they simply didn’t. Inflation soared in Romania, and conditions became fairly miserable.

And before you ask, yes, they did have concentration camps. On a sobering note, Romania has the second highest death toll for Jews among Nazi Germany and its allies: more than 200,000. Most of the Jews in Romania escaped death, however.

The relationship between Germany and Romania was cut off by the Soviet Union, which German and Romanian troops had both been fighting on the Eastern Front. Romania was invaded and Germany lost its supply of food and materials.

WWII (Japan & Hong Kong) #1

You know how I mentioned Hong Kong in the last post? Well, Hong Kong has its own history as well.

Zip back to the Opium Wars: China is defeated and humiliated, forced to concede Hong Kong to Britain. But here’s the thing: Hong Kong is nothing at this point. They get some salt from it and not much more. The place that would one day host one of the most dense populations in the world was more sparsely populated than toast with a teaspoon of Nutella on it.

Then why did Britain even want it? The thing about Hong Kong is that it was nicely situated, not too far from Macau and other European trading ports. And the British didn’t have their own trading port like the Portuguese, so they saw an opportunity to make money with a bit of investment, and they took it.

Zipping back to WWII times, Hong Kong is very profitable, with a population of about 1,500,000 people. However, what it also is is very far away. And with Britain’s forces spread thin fighting Germany, there is almost nothing to spare for Hong Kong.

Mostly Canadian troops end up there to defend Hong Kong. From what? Imperial Japan, that has been gobbling up land like a child with a full, mostly unprotected cake. The nations surrounding Japan are no match for it; China has already been taking a severe beating since the thirties, and Korea has been under Japan’s thumb since 1910.

So, 1942, Japan is bearing down on Hong Kong. The defenders are no match for the superior numbers of Japan, and they are overwhelmed. Raping, killing, and looting is going on unchecked, as is characteristic of Imperial Japan. The attack started around the same time as the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the bombing in Darwin, Australia.

And it lasts until Christmas day, when finally, the British government surrenders Hong Kong to Japan in order to stop the widespread killing and raping. This day is known as Black Christmas.

Hong Kong stays in Japanese hands until the end of the war. By the end, through mistreatment, fleeing Chinese, and general starvation, the population in Hong Kong is 500,000 roughly.

Hong Kong’s future, however, is bright after the war, and especially after the Communists win control of China, but that’s another story.