The Nazis had no records of either a "Major Konig" or the school where he supposedly taught. Say what you will about the Nazis, but they were meticulous note-takers. The opponents' stated positions are inconsistent with historical record, and attempts to pinpoint exactly when this happened have been met with little more than dismissive hand-waving. But Zaitsev's winning shot -- his crane kick, as it were -- seems the most ridiculous. His story is that he waited it out until the afternoon sunlight was at the perfect angle to reflect off Konig's scope, giving away his position. This wasn't merely a Nazi sniper; this was the guy who taught Nazi snipers. Why would he make such a rookie mistake?
So what really happened? At best, Zaitsev shot some Nazi nobody, and the USSR propaganda machine took control to boost morale. At worst, they made the story up completely, and Zaitsev went along with it. Good thing we live in a country where nobody would ever make up some elite sniper BS and use it as jingoistic propaganda.
Roosevelt Didn't Spare That Teddy Bear
Teddy Roosevelt is a man of many legends, most of them deserved. It's said that one day in 1902, while hunting in the backwoods of Mississippi, Teddy was offered the opportunity to kill a captured bear. This was the early 20th century version of letting your guest have the biggest chicken wing. Appalled by the gesture, and out of solidarity for his fellow beast, Roosevelt spared its life. This whole thing inspired a local toymaker to create the "teddy bear." Honestly, it's weird that more iconic toys don't come out of hunting mishaps.
Of course, it's obvious this story is bullshit as soon as you hear that Roosevelt let the bear go without trying to wrestle it. In actuality, he did refuse to kill the bear ... but then ordered his helpers to kill it for him. They slit its throat and carried it back to camp, where they all dined on roasted bear over the course of several days. It's not clear why anyone felt the need to make up a story when "I heard he once ate a whole bear" was right there. It is clear, however, who did it: That most wretched of creatures, the political cartoonist.
Clifford K. Berryman/The Washington PostThough this may have easily been about Teddy's decision to not kill and eat that man
It was this cartoon that inspired the creation of the teddy bear, a toy which itself went on to become a symbol of the Republican Party during the 1904 elections. These toy bears were handed out as promotional materials intended to associate Roosevelt with family values and softness, which had to have been his campaign manager's idea. If Roosevelt had his way, every voter would have gotten a swift punch in the mouth, which he called "a gentleman's handshake."
Adam has a Twitter and a Facebook, as well as a newsletter about depressing historical facts (i.e. the best kind of historical facts). Britni Patterson writes traditional mysteries when she's not trying to spread propaganda in the favor of adding a third day to the weekend. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or at her website.
Friendly reminder that the 4th-best Teddy is still Teddy Ruxpin.
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