Oracle of History

Guiding you through the ages

Archive for the category “World War 2”

From Zero to Hero: The Birth of Superheroes

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In the era of the superhero franchise, many don’t seem to know the historical backdrop that led to the stardom of some of the world’s most iconic characters.

Prepare for your minds to be blown!

The truth is that some of these guys became superhero giants for a reason. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s due to content or just good timing.

Holding Out For A Hero

Let me take you back to 1933, a year many high schoolers may know as the year of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. It was also the year the character of Superman was created by two young men from Cleveland Ohio, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

What do these two events have to do with each other?

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Well, this may surprise you, but I can make a direct connection between the rise of Hitler and the popularization of Superman. The main ingredient? The need for hope!

Picture the scene – Adolf Hitler, practically a nobody, blitzes through Europe and manages to create an entire doctrine based on fear…successfully.

By the time 1939 came around, no one had managed to stop him. He was the ultimate villain who had yet to face his superhero arch nemesis. A fact which may have been troubling to the children of the U.S.A whose only interaction with the man was through the radio news bulletins.

In fact, some may argue that if Hitler had successfully taken over Europe that his next stop would have been the U.S.

BONUS : If you want an idea of what a Nazi controlled U.S. would have looked like then I would definitely check out the mini series “The Triangle.” It’s about the Bermuda Triangle and although it is a mediocre show I would watch it for the one scene with the alternate universe of Nazi America – Super trippy and scary!

Thankfully, Superman comes onto the scene as a comic book in 1938. A natural superhero, his mighty powers and caring heart make him the perfect specimen of American creativity to defeat the evil Hitler – well, the idea of him at least!

Thus hope was born once again!

Although it is not said explicitly, I truly believe that the reason why Superman became as popular as he did was because he managed to bring hope to children and adults alike during a dark time in world history.

Captain America 

Much like Superman, quite a few people dislike Captain. His backstory isn’t dark and he gains his strength in hope – not in revenge.

Once again I will shatter your illusions and tell you that he is a dirScreen Shot 2014-04-17 at 13.45.32ect response to World War 2. When the character first appeared in 1941, he was an instant success. Mostly because he symbolized the troops still fighting.

If Captain America could defeat the Axis villains then so could the fathers/brothers/husbands out there now.

To prove my point, check out this great cartoon from Dorkly that could say it better than I ever could.

This is all to say that there is more to these “bland” characters than meets the eye – at least from a historical perspective.

The Aftermath

So what happened after World War 2?

Well, people got more cynical. They were disillusioned by their government through easily accessible information via television and a propaganda free press. The Vietnam War changed the way Americans saw warfare forever.

Children and Adults were no longer looking for their perfect warrior. They wanted heroes that were more like them – with flaws and all.

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This paves the way for characters like Batman, Spiderman and even Iron Man. These were superheroes they could relate to. “Normal” guys who had to rise from the ashes after great tragedy. There is also a moral ambiguity to these characters that show that they’re human.

Except for the fact that both Batman and Iron Man were billionaires, I see their point.  I think one of the reasons Batman is still so popular today is that he lives in a world that’s not so different from our own, but with gadgets and crazy villains!

In the same way, Spiderman is about a teenage boy who gets bitten by a radioactive spider. His story is the fantasy of every bored high school student. Thus the popularity of spidey grew!

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Bottom line, we like to feel connected to fictional characters, and after World War 2 we no longer aspired to the super soldier.

We were looking for the hero we deserve 😉

Do you think we’ve found it?

Bonus

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More than meets the eye

Everyone pretty much knows the events of World War 2, but your basic education often skips over some of the more interesting parts of warfare.

So I’ve decided that this important time in history deserves more than your basic high school treatment.

Here are 3 things that they haven’t told you about the war and its legacy – guaranteed most likely to impress the people in your life.

The Ghost Army 

During the war, being artistic wasn’t always a bad thing. In fact, the U.S. army encouraged artists to join up for the 23rd HQ Special Troops a.k.a The Ghost Army. Their job was to practice the art of deception.

You may ask, how would you do that? Well they had many tools at their disposal:

– Inflatable army vehicles

– Fake radio transmissions/ sounds

– Material to impersonate other U.S. army divisions

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Inflatable Tank during World War 2

They successfully carried out 20 staged deceptions and were involved in some of the most important moments of the war. They even helped revolutionise warfare.

If you think it sounds interesting (and I certainly did!) then I would suggest checking out The Ghost Army documentary. It can give you more details than I ever could with the bonus of some funny stories from Ghost Army veterans.

Russia and Japan are still fighting a war?!

Neither Russia or Japan have actually signed an official peace treaty between them, ending World War 2.

The reason? The Kuril Islands

ImageThese Islands off the coast of Japan, but close enough to Russia, were disputed then and are still an issue to.this.day

NB: Researching this felt like reading a really poorly written soap opera where they continue the story, but replace the actors.

Maybe they should try following the saying: Let bygone be bygones?

The secret to winning a game of Monopoly 

The never ending board game actually served a purpose during the war. It allowed Red Cross workers to get escape tools to the Prisoners of War in German camps.

ImageThis was in your basic kit:

  • European currency was hidden within the Monopoly money. As in Francs (FR), Lira (IT) and Deutschmark (GER)…they didn’t have euros yet!
  • A metal file was hidden in the board to help them escape
  • There was a compass hidden in a piece, like the shoe or thimble.
  • Silk maps of the camp were hidden in the hotel pieces

For added effect, please use this fact during a game of Monopoly to Wow your friends 😉

*Sigh* why couldn’t we just all get along?

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