War is hell. It costs lives, shatters souls and picks at the spare threads that hang from society's seams until the whole thing unravels like a cheap Christmas sweater. War, indeed, is hell. But, man -- all morality and sanctity of human life and blah blah blah aside -- sometimes it just looks plain friggin' crazy, doesn't it?
12World War II Sure Had Some Creative Setpieces
Oh, come on -- that's a still from an Indiana Jones movie. Even the soldier looks shoddily greenscreened into that clearly fake, overdramatic movie set. Some half-mechanical Nazi insect monster is going to pop out of that giant Iron Cross jack-in-the-box, and then Hellboy's going to charge on screen and punch him right in his fascist wang.
But nope: It's totally real. In 1913, the people of Leipzig, Germany, pooled all their money together to build an immense monument to the 1813 Battle of Leipzig, a defining moment in German history when an allied army defeated Napoleon. And we guess they figured the best way to do that was to re-create one of the more preposterous sets from The Chronicles of Riddick:
Via Wikimedia Commons
"With monuments like this to inspire us, nothing unfathomably vile could ever happen in Germany!"
Now let's fast forward past a few decades of boring civil engineering and construction and get to the action: As the Americans fought their way across Eastern Germany, 150 SS fanatics holed up in the monument and packed the sucker full of enough ammo and food to hold on until their Necromonger reinforcements could arrive. What they didn't count on was the one thing America had in abundance: moxie.
Well, that, and a shitload of artillery. After a steady pounding from the big guns, shell-shocked SS troopers eventually emerged from their bunker, took a look back at the Bond villain lair they'd just crawled out of ...
... and reluctantly conceded that, yeah, they were probably the bad guys all along.
11Seas of POWs
In 1939, Stalin and Hitler plunked two straws into a single milkshake and became best buds forever when they signed the Treaty of Non-Aggression Between Germany and the Soviet Union. Then, in 1941, Hitler got a memo reminding him that he was an evil asshole (he knew he'd forgotten something), so he dropped everything and rushed off to go break the pact. Operation Barbarossa saw the Nazi war machine storming across the German/Russian border. Taking the Soviets by surprise, the Germans captured around 5,500,000 POWs -- that's five and half MILLION Russian prisoners of war -- prisoners that they obviously didn't have room for in the backs of their tiny, efficient German cars. So when the POWs asked where they'd be doing their time, the Germans pointed to "over there" and quietly insisted "It is too a prison."
"OK, half of you be the fence and the other half of you be the prisoners."
Unsurprisingly, with no roofs over their heads, a bunch of callous Nazi wardens in charge and only the cold, unfeeling bosom of Mother Russia to nestle up against at night, the camps were a living hell. The casualties were so unfathomably high that even telling you the number would instantly ruin even the greatest comedy article (it was a soul-shattering 3.3 million. Dang. We were on a roll here, too).
But if it's even the smallest consolation, the Russians got to paint their own lovely pastoral scene out of Nazis when the war ended:
"Does anyone know that song about Eskimos and vaginas?"