#2. The Attack on Pearl Harbor Almost Went on for Days
The attack on Pearl Harbor, admittedly one of the worst days in American history, does not even come close to the Michael Bay movie it almost was (or the Michael Bay movie it unfortunately became). Several of the Japanese commanders in charge of the attack wanted to keep the assault going for another wave that would have pretty much destroyed the island, crippled the Pacific Fleet, and added several years to World War II, potentially extending the conflict well into the next decade and overriding all the doo-wop records and Honeymooners episodes people were supposed to be occupied with in the 1950s. Also, it would've seriously encroached on the Korean War, and that war gets so little attention as it is.
We hope our new commemorative clothing line changes that.
According to this book, the initial surprise attack on Pearl Harbor went so well for the Japanese that virtually all of their carrier commanders wanted to stay in Hawaii for the next few days, utterly devastating the American oil reserves, ammunition stores, dry docks, and repair facilities. The absent American aircraft carriers (which were the targets of the attack in the first place) would be drawn back to Hawaii, but with Pearl Harbor obliterated, they would essentially be like a bunch of sick old men with shattered kneecaps trying to break up a gang fight.
But the proposed "third wave" was voted down by Japanese Admiral Chuichi Nagumo because his forces were spread out and in need of refueling. Basically, he didn't want to push his luck and wind up losing all six of Japan's aircraft carriers simply because his commanders wanted to bro down all of a sudden. So he packed up and steamed back to Japan, content that the attack had been a resounding success, when in reality all it had done was successfully enrage the United States into joining the war.
But really, World War II is full of terrifying near-misses like this. And if you're saying, "Who cares, the Axis would still have lost as long as the Allies had the Soviet Union on their side," you're right. Which brings us to the scariest near-miss of all ...
#1. The Soviet Union Almost Teamed Up With Hitler
What if Batman and the Joker teamed up against Superman? Or God and the Devil teamed up against Gandhi? That would be weird, right? Almost as weird as when the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany hopped into bed together in 1939.
There's this chapter of World War II that history classes kind of skim over, which is that Germany and the Soviet Union began the war with a non-aggression pact, which basically said that although the two countries weren't necessarily allies, they wouldn't interfere with each other's plans to take over whatever parts of Europe they fucking felt like. When Japan and Italy joined the party in 1940, Germany invited the Soviet foreign minister to Berlin to officially extend the offer of Axis membership and discuss how half of the goddamned world was going to be split up among them like some kind of dictator fantasy league.
That's them at the signing of the non-aggression pact. Note Stalin in the back right with his Mario mustache.
So what stopped them? Hitler suddenly remembered at the last possible minute that he was the daffiest shithead in history, and he abandoned the talks and decided to invade Russia instead.
If you listen to the only known recording of Hitler speaking like a normal person instead of trying to shout all of the crazy out of his lungs, you'll hear him open up about how his decision to invade the USSR quickly became the stupidest thing he'd ever done outside of whatever barbershop brain stroke led to that haircut and mustache. Russia, of course, turned out to be a wall of ice that he kept smashing his armies against with little effect.
Stalin, sensing that his uneasy friendship with Germany had come to a close, quickly sided with the Allies, essentially tossing Hitler and his buddies into a two-front war that, as we've pointed out before, killed any possible chances of Hitler's supervillain scheme coming to fruition.
For more close calls in history, check out 7 Random Animals That Decided The Course of History and 6 Random Coincidences That Created The Modern World.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out A Terrifying True Fable That Will Make You Never Lie Again.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover why our history won't matter in 10 years anyway.
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