9 World War II Facts Every History Buff Should Know

  • American marines in 1942
American marines in 1942
Keystone/ Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Nearly 80 years after the final shots were fired, the shadow of World War II continues to loom large over the modern world. The scale and impact of the conflict were so profound that the story of this chapter in history has been retold in countless books, films, TV shows, video games, and more. It’s not difficult to understand why: From 1939 to 1945, the Second World War plunged nearly every part of the globe into a violent clash that altered the course of history, impacting virtually every aspect of human civilization, from politics to art to science. Here are nine facts about World War II that every history buff should know.

Photo credit: Ken Hawkins/ Alamy Stock Photo

The Father of Computer Science Spent the War Cracking Nazi Codes

In 1940, the Germans began communicating using a nearly unbreakable code, encrypted with a machine called Enigma that rendered it indecipherable to nearly every Allied codebreaker. The complex cipher was finally broken by British mathematician and scientist Alan Turing, who later developed the mathematical framework for modern computer science. Working with a team of cryptanalysts, Turing built a computing machine called the Bombe that was capable of deciphering the Enigma code. Thanks to the breakthroughs of Turing and his colleagues, the British were able to decode encrypted Nazi messages in less than an hour, a development that changed the course of the war.

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