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Category: History

5 Key World War Two Battles That Were Won By Narrow Margins

For just over six years, there were over 5,000 battles that made up World War II, perhaps the most well known conflict in human history. It has been nearly 80 years since the war’s conclusion, but there are certain battles that still stand out and are talked about to this day. Here are some of those key battles that had razor thin margins for victory on either side.

5. Battle of Stalingrad

Starting in August of 1942 and lasting for just over five months, the Battle of Stalingrad was fought by the Soviets alone against the Axis in one of the bloodiest battles in human history. The Soviets were outnumbered initially, but more people joined the cause and eventually there were over 1 million Soviets in total. More than 1.1 million Soviets lost their while over 800,000 Axis, but the Soviet resolve resulted in a narrow victory that decimated the German and Italian armies.

4. Battle of Normandy

Perhaps the most famous battle of World War II, Operation Overlord saw over a dozen Allied countries storm the beaches of France and it was a rough start for the Allies. The Allies would recover, though, establishing a stronghold that would then expand into France to help recapture the country. All in all, the casualties were over 225,000 for the Allies and 288,000 for the Axis over the course of nearly three months. The narrow battle has been well documented, especially in film.

3. Battle of Iwo Jima

Another one of those well documented battles that we still see recreated on the big screen today, the Battle of Iwo Jima took place between only the United States and Japan in the latter country’s Volcano Islands. In terms of logistics, this should have been an easy battle for the Americans. There was no land for Japan to retreat and the air/water support made it so that the U.S. wouldn’t lose in the long run, but Japan still put up a fight for more than a month. Iwo Jima turned into a U.S. base at the cost of 27,000 casualties.

What the Meaning of History and 4 R...
What the Meaning of History and 4 Reasons Why It’s Important to Study It?

2. Battle of Crete

While the Greek army wasn’t a big player in World War II, the country’s land still played a big part with their ~11,000 soldiers that fought to defend Crete from Germany and Italy. Along with the U.K., New Zealand and Australia, the Allies fought off the Axis invasion at first, but things started to go south. When reinforcements from Germany arrived, the Allies fought hard for nearly two weeks but came up short as the Axis claimed victory on June 1, 1941. However, German forces lost a lot of aircraft in the battle that would play a big part in the final years of war.

1. Battle of the Bulge

In the most pivotal battle of World War II, the Germans had a plan to completely surround the Allied forces and could’ve won them the war. What resulted, though, was the Battle of the Bulge being fought in several countries including Belgium and Germany. It took the final weeks of 1944 and first few weeks of 1945 to complete, but the Battle of the Bulge was an even fight that was ultimately won by the Allies, setting up the completion of the war.

Top 5 Most Insane Dictators

Were they insane when they rose to ultimate power, or did the power they possessed cause these men to become deranged? History is filled with dictators who had one thing in common … they thought more of their own personal wealth, power and glory than for the well-being and happiness of their fellow countrymen.

Is there something about absolute power that drives a person absolutely insane? Let’s take a look at five dictators who should help you make up your mind.

Francois Duvalier

Haitian dictator and medical doctor Francois Duvalier held power in Haiti from 1957 to 1971.

Duvalier claimed to be Baron Samdi, the Voodoo spirit of death. He also claimed responsibility for John F. Kennedy’s assassination by way of a Voodoo curse. He sent someone to collect the air around Kennedy’s grave which he would then use to control Kennedy’s soul.

During his reign, Duvalier indoctrinated Haitian children with a political catechism that included his variant of The Lord’s Prayer which began like this, “Our Doc, who are in the National Palace for life, hallowed be Thy name by present and future generations …”

In 1958, Clement Barbot led a failed coup to overthrow Duvalier. When a manhunt failed to find Barbot, Duvalier imagined Barbot had transformed into a black dog. Duvalier subsequently had all black dogs in Haiti shot.

Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-il was the supreme leader of North Korea between 1994 and 2011. Beliefs circulated in his “official” biography stated that Kim had the power to control the weather and that he neither urinated nor defecated.

Kim was a huge fan of James Bond films which he believed to be documentaries. Perhaps that’s why he traveled with his own bevy of beautiful women referred to as his “Pleasure Squad.”

North Korean news sources were forced to report that he was the greatest golfer to ever exist, consistently finishing 38 under par and averaging four or five holes-in-one every single game.

While his people suffered and starved under economic hardships, he lived lavishly. Special flights from Japan delivered expensive cuts of sushi. He had a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and over 20 thousand Hollywood movies. He spent $350,000 on brandy and $20 million importing 200 Mercedes-Benz luxury sedans.

Francisco Macias Nguema

Francisco Macias Nguema was dictator of Equatorial Guinea from 1968 until his overthrow in 1979. As the son of a witch doctor, Nguema believed he too had magical powers. After saying that his powers would keep the power plant running, the entire capital remained in darkness. He shut down hospitals and Western medicine was banned in favor of his witch doctor powers.

He was responsible for the exile or death of more than half of the 300,000 people who lived in Equatorial Guinea, giving the nation the nickname, “Dachau of Africa.” His execution methods, which included crucifixion, were gruesome. He executed the governor of the public bank and hid all the money under his jungle hut bed. He ordered the execution of all his mistresses’ former lovers. He had a huge collection of human skulls which he used to talk to ghosts.

He abolished the word “intellectual” and closed all libraries and schools. All people who wore glasses were executed.

He changed the national motto to, “There is no other God than Macias Nguema.”  He was executed by firing because his magical doctor powers couldn’t stop bullets either.

Saparmurat Niyazov

Saparmurat Niyazov was first elected president of Turkmenistan and then later became dictator, serving between 1985 and 2006.

Niyazov authored a book, Ruhnama, which means “Book of the Soul.” It was to be given equal respect to the Quran in mosques, otherwise the mosques faced demolition. School students were required to read it. People had to memorize it to get a driver’s license. Niyazov informed the citizens of Turkmenistan that he had an agreement with Allah, that anyone reading the book three times would automatically go to heaven. Niyazov even sent a copy into space for aliens to read.

He instituted many strange rules and regulations. People were to chew on bones to preserve their teeth instead of seeking dental care. Recorded music, car radios and lip-syncing were outlawed. Young men were not allowed to grow beards or long hair.

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein, who ruled over Iraq between 1979 and 2003, based his regime on one of his hero’s – Stalin. He tortured and murdered thousands of his own people, believing he had to rule with an iron fist to keep his country intact – it was divided by religion and ethnicity.

Although using blood to write the Quran is forbidden in every sect, branch and offshoot of Islam, that didn’t stop Hussein. He had blood regularly withdrawn over a two-year period – a total of 27 liters. This blood was used to transcribe 605 pages of the Quran. Blood donations experts say it would take at least nine years to safely donate that much blood.

Speaking of books, Zabiba and the King, is thought to be written by Hussein. The CIA isn’t convinced he wrote it, however, but credits him with at least supervising its writing.