Here’s 6 Interesting Leftovers From WWII

Posted: January 24, 2017 in Fun Facts, History, Things I Love, War

My crack staff here at Shoe: Untied recently came across the interesting story of my man Andras Toma, a Hungarian speaking bro who sat in a Russian nuthouse for 53-years because the medical staff there thought he was talking gibberish. True story, and I posted it in our “True Fact o’ the Day” series. Anyhoo, that whole sordid affair got me to thinking. Are there any other leftovers from World War II? With this is mind I put my best researcher, Hansi Rajapakse, on the case. Hansi is a young lass from Sri Lanka who knows her way around the internet like you would not dream. Hansi has a degree from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, which I happen to know is a real place because I looked it up. Anyway, Hansi Rajapakse? Good. But enough about that little tech geek.

On to her findings, which are actually quite fascinating. Let us proceed . . .


Wait. What? The soft drink? Yes, that one. This pop made by The Coca-Cola fanta_12Company originated in Nazi Germany in 1941.  When Germany could no longer import Coca-Cola syrup from the USA due to the wartime trade embargo, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland created a new product for the German market using only ingredients left over from German food production at the time.  Then, after the war, the Coca Cola Corporation regained control of the plant, formula and the trademarks to the new Fanta product. That’s wild, man.



german_anti-smoking_adCool factoid: German doctors were the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer, and it was Nazi Germany which led the first public anti-smoking campaign in modern history.  The Nazi regime conducted much research on the effects of smoking on health and introduced measures such as banning smoking on public transport, regulating it in public places, raising tobacco taxes, and imposing restrictions on tobacco advertising.  It also coined the term “passive smoking”. Germany’s anti-tobacco campaign was driven by Adolf Hitler’s personal distaste for tobacco.  He had been a heavy smoker in his early life (smoking 25-40 cigarettes daily) but gave up the habit. The German anti-smoking campaign collapsed along with the Third Reich in 1945 when American cigarette manufacturers quickly entered the German black market.  Later, as part of the Marshall Plan, the US sent tobacco to Germany free of charge.


uss-arizonaAt the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 the USS Arizona was fully loaded with nearly 1.5 million gallons of fuel in preparation for a scheduled trip from its base in Hawaii to the mainland.  It obviously never made the trip, being destroyed the next day in the surprise attack by bombers from the Japanese Navy.  Despite the fires fed by the oil that infamous day, around 500,000 gallons still lingers in the ship’s submerged wreckage. Over 70-years later it is still seeping out into the harbor at a rate of 9-quarts per day.  Despite environmental concerns, US government agencies are reluctant to perform extensive repairs to the Arizona due to it being classified as a war grave.  The oil that still coats the surface of the water surrounding the ship is referred to as the “Tears of the Arizona.” Sad, man.


In early 1945 the US government, anticipating a land invasion of Japan, heartordered a surge in the production of Purple Heart medals to cope with the mass casualties expected all the way through 1947.  Over 1.5 million were produced for the war effort during WWII.  The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the subsequent Japanese surrender meant that they weren’t needed by that generation of soldiers – they were issued instead to their sons, grandsons and great-grandsons in the wars which followed in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. That’s good I guess?


frida_lyngstad_3Here’s a good one. Musical group ABBA’s Frida Lyngstad was one of thousands of children who grew up in Scandinavia shunned and persecuted as  “German children”, because they were the offspring of Norwegian mothers and occupying German soldier fathers. Frida was born in a small village in northern Norway in November 1945, the result of a liaison between her mother, Synni, and a German named Alfred Haase.  Frida’s mother and grandmother were branded as traitors by their community and were forced to moved to Sweden in 1947, where Frida’s mother died of kidney failure a short time later. Frida was brought up by her grandmother in Sweden believing that her father had died during the war on his way back to Germany as his ship was reported to have sunk.  However, at the height of ABBA’s fame in 1977 a German teen magazine published Frida’s complete biography, where it was seen by her half-brother, Peter Haase, who asked his father if he had been in Frida’s village during the war.  A few months later, Frida met her father in Stockholm for the first time. Crazy story.


For a few weeks every year in autumn and spring, the leaves on a patch of forest-swastikaLarch trees within a pine forest in Brandenburg, northeastern Germany would change color.  The yellow larch leaves would contrast with the deep green of the pines and create the distinct shape of a swastika.  The “Forest Swastika” went largely unnoticed until 1992, when the reunified German government ordered aerial surveys of all state-owned land.  It is thought a forester may have invited local Hitler Youth members to plant the trees in commemoration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday.  Authorities, concerned that the site might become a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis, eventually obscured the design in 2000 with the felling of a number of the Larch trees.

So there ya go. If you enjoyed this you can thank Hansi in the comments section.


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