World War II was a bloody war that brought conflict and bloodshed to all corners of the world. It was a tragic and pivotal event in history that reshaped the world and directly affected much of the world’s population. Over 80 million people, both military and civilian, lost their lives as a direct result of the war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. There has been much written about the key figures involved in the war, including Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin, the policy-makers, and much is known about strategies and actions of both the Allied and Axis Powers. Truth be told, World War II is one of the most talked-about events of the 20th century, if not in world history. There have been numerous books, television shows, and films produced about this brutal war.
As might be expected, in wartime, just about anything can occur and usually does. However, very few would expect some of the strange reports that came out of the war; those of ghost planes, a UFO attack over California, the complete disappearance of a group of jets, or even famous government relics that went missing. Throughout the war, these things occurred and many more even stranger events and, even after seventy years, many of them remain unsolved. Some have been attributed to the fog of war or perhaps to the confusion that follows the devastation of battle. Others, though, lack rational explanation and remain baffling. Here are fifteen of the strangest unsolved mysteries of World War II.
15 The Mysterious Death Of Subhas Chandra Bose
Subhas Chandra Bose was the leader of the Indian Nationalists during World War II, and opposed British rule to the point of seeking aid from both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. He is remembered as a defiant patriot and a hero of India. To the Allies, he was a traitor. Throughout the war, Bose dodged British surveillance and attended covert meetings with Axis commanders. All of this is pretty much accepted as fact. What is disputed, however, is the apparent death of Bose; reportedly, on the eve of an Allied attempt to capture and try Bose for treason.
14 The Battle Of Los Angeles
It was in the early morning hours of February 25, 1942; just three months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The U.S. had just entered World War II and the military was on high alert when it responded to what was believed to be another unprovoked attack above the skies of California. Witnesses reported a large, round object, glowing pale orange, in the skies above Culver City and Santa Monica, cruising along the Pacific coast.
13 Die Glocke, The Nazi Bell
It was called Die Glocke, German for “The Bell.” Reportedly this wundewaffe, “wonder weapon,” was code-named Project Chronos and was given the highest classification. It was said to resemble a giant metallic bell, hence the name, approximately 2.7 meters wide and 4 meters high. It was composed of an unknown metal and based out of Der Riese, a facility near the Wenceslaus mine in Poland, near the Czech border. The Bell contained two counter-rotating cylinders said to contain a metallic liquid called Zerum-525. Through an unknown process, when activated, The Bell would emit an effect zone of approximately 200 meters. Within this zone, crystals would form in animal tissue; blood would coagulate and separate, while plants would rapidly decompose. Reportedly, many of the original scientists died horribly during the initial tests. The weapon was also able to rise off the ground and hover in the air as it was meant to be launched over the Northern Hemisphere, detonating in the jet stream releasing its deadly radioisotopes causing the death of millions.
12 The Nazi Ghost Train
The legend says that, in the final days of World War II, in April 1945, with Soviet forces fast approaching, Nazi soldiers loaded valuables onto an armored train in Breslau (now Wroclaw), Poland. The train departed and headed west toward Waldenburg (now Walbrzych). It’s about a 40-mile (60-km) trip and, somewhere along the way, the train, with all its valuable cargo, vanished in the Owl Mountains. Reportedly, the train was filled with Nazi treasure, including gold and precious metals looted from Jewish families. Over the years, many have tried to find the legendary “ghost train,” but none have. Historians claim that there is no definitive proof that the train actually ever existed. While it is true that, during the war, Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler ordered the creation of a network of underground tunnels in the Owl Mountains, as part of Der Riese, a Nazi secret facility, there is no concrete indication that a train was ever hidden inside.
11 WWII Ghost Planes
Few can imagine watching a plane soar through the sky only to disappear into thin air, but for many World War II veterans, it was almost a common occurrence. Those planes, called ghost planes, went missing in action during the war, only to return and be sighted decades later, long after the war ended. One common location where this is witnessed is the infamous Peak District in northern Derbyshire, in England. Over 50 planes have crashed there and it has gained a reputation for being a hotspot of ghost plane activity.
10 The Disappearance Of Raoul Wallenberg
Swedish businessman Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg is considered a hero of World War II. He was a humanitarian who saved around 60,000 Jews from Nazi-occupied Budapest in Hungary, providing them with forged passports, food, medical treatment, and shelter. However, when the Soviet Red Army marched through Eastern Europe, he was arrested on suspicion of espionage. In 1945, Wallenberg all but disappeared into the hands of the Soviets. Later, the Soviets claimed that Wallenberg had died a prisoner at Lubyanka Prison, on July 17, 1947. They claimed he passed away suddenly in his cell of apparent heart failure. Prison records indicate the prison doctor certified the death and had the body cremated without an autopsy.
9 Hitler's Missing Globe
It has to have been the world’s most famous globe. Charlie Chaplin parodied it in his film, The Great Dictator. This massive globe, known as “The Führer Globe” or “The Columbus Globe for State and Industry Leaders,” was specially built for Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler. It was huge, easily as large as a small group of people and it was Hitler’s prize possession. It sat in a custom-built stand in his office at the New Reich Chancellery and, after the war, it disappeared.
8 Erwin Rommels' Hidden Treasure
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was one of the most respected military commanders of Nazi Germany during World War II. He was the famous Desert Fox, popular with the German public and fiercely dedicated to his nation. He was so dedicated that, in 1944, when it looked like the tides of war were turning against Germany, Rommel attempted to hide treasures to avoid them being captured by encroaching enemy armies. The valuables were seized by German forces during the Tunisian campaign. The story goes that Rommel entrusted four elite Waffen-SS divers with treasures that included 440lbs of gold bullion, silver, precious stones, and artwork. The divers were instructed to bury the stash deep in the sea. No one is quite sure where this occurred, but many believe it was around the many underwater caves that can be found off the eastern coast of Corsica, in the Mediterranean Ocean. They say the treasure would be worth at least an estimated £20 million ($26.8 million).
7 Foo Fighters
No, we’re not talking about Dave Grohl’s band, but the World War II phenomena after which his band was named. The term was used by Allied pilots during the war to describe the unidentified flying objects they encountered, originally coined by America’s 415th Night Fighter Squadron. The term became formally adopted by the U.S. military in November 1944. Believed originally to be secret Nazi aircraft sent for reconnaissance, most pilots reported seeing strange glowing balls of light that maneuvered around their aircraft at night, flying at great speed. Sometimes the mysterious lights would chase the planes, other times just keeping pace with them. Usually radar operators were unable to see the mysterious UFO’s on their screens, but sometimes they could confirm their existence.
6 Where Is The Infamous Nazi Blutfahne Flag?
The Blutfahne, or Blood Flag, is the Nazi hakenkreuz (the infamous angled swastika) flag that was used in the failed 1923 Munich Beer Hall Putsch in Germany. During the Putsch, the flag became soaked in the blood of dying Nazi Brown Shirts (SA) who were killed in the conflict. The flag then became one of the most honored objects of the Nazi Party. It was used in ceremonies and was greatly valued by Adolf Hitler. Reportedly designed by Hitler himself, the flag became the key Nazi symbol. The story goes that the flag was rescued from the armed conflict and hidden until Hitler was released from prison, whereupon it was presented to him to commemorate their cause.
5 The Pearl Harbor Ghost P-40
One of the most intriguing ghost plane reports of World War II, this story involves the P-40 fighter that got shot up and crashed near Pearl Harbor. Doesn’t sound too mysterious, right? Only this plane was witnessed a year after the Japanese attack and, when investigated, no pilot’s body was found in the cockpit.
4 Who Were The Auschwitz British 17?
This mystery lay dormant for more than sixty years after the end of the war. In 2009, an excavation at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland uncovered a mysterious document. It was a list that contained the names of seventeen British soldiers believed to have been prisoners of war. With names like Osborne, Lawrence, Gardiner, Lamb, Symes, Saunders and Holmes, eight of those listed had small marks next to their names. Many believe that indicates that those eight had been executed along with many other captured British soldiers during the war. However, others are unconvinced.
3 Who Turned In Anne Frank?
Most people know something of the tragic story of Anne Frank. She was a young German Jew, fifteen years old, living in hiding with her family in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. She and her family were captured by the Gestapo in 1944, and sent to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. Young Frank died there, but left behind her now-famous diary, written while living in hiding. Her father, Otto Frank, survived the concentration camps and published her diary as a testament to her life. What has remained unknown all these years is exactly who tipped off the Gestapo and revealed the family’s hiding place?
2 The Amber Room
It was called the Eighth Wonder of the World. The legendary Amber Room from the Catherine Palace of Tsarkoye Selo, near St. Petersburg, was known worldwide prior to World War II. It was actually built in Prussia in the 18th century and then transported in pieces to Russia as a royal gift to Tsar Peter the Great in 1716. The room was entirely comprised of beautiful amber panels, with gemstones, gold leaf trim and mirrors. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, the Amber Room was disassembled and transported to Königsberg in East Prussia and displayed at the Königsberg Castle.
1 The Disappearance of Flight 19
This is probably the most famous mystery of the war, although technically it occurred some months after the war’s conclusion. Flight 19 was a group of five TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers involved in a training flight off the coast of Florida. It was December the 5th, 1945; Lt. Charles Taylor was in charge of a navigation training flight that originated from the Naval Air Station, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Sometime during the exercise, Lt. Taylor reported that his compass was malfunctioning and that he couldn’t ascertain the flight’s position. It was decided that all the planes would stick together and, when one ran out of gas and had to ditch in the ocean, all the planes would ditch together. The tower lost contact with the flight and it was presumed they had run out of gas and had to make an emergency water landing. A PBM Mariner flying boat was dispatched to try to locate the ditched planes’ location. However, mysteriously enough, the tower lost contact with the Mariner as well. The planes and all of the men disappeared, six planes and 27 men in total; all assumed dead; but how?
The Navy’s investigation originally placed the blame on Lt. Taylor; however, they later changed the official report to reflect the loss of planes to “Cause Unknown.” They have never been able to determine with any certainty the reason for Flight 19’s disappearance, nor the loss of the PBM Mariner. No bodies and no aircraft have ever been found. The mystery has only added to the Bermuda Triangle legend.
Sources: history.com, firstpost.com, timesofindia.indiatimes.com, dailymail.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk
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