TIL Heroin was synthesized in 1897 at Bayer pharmaceutical by German chemists looking for a less potent form of morphine. Bayer marketed heroin as a "non-addictive morphine substitute" for cough suppressants.
TIL Charles Kuentz fought for the Germans during WW1 but became a French citizen after his homeland, Alsace-Lorraine, was taken back by France after the war. When France surrendered to Germany in 1940 he became a German citizen until the fall of the Third Reich which again made him a French citizen.
TIL American soldiers in the Pacific theater of WW2 always used passwords containing the letter 'L' due to Japanese mispronunciation, a word such as lollapalooza would be used and upon hearing the first two syllables come back as 'rorra' would "open fire without waiting to hear the rest".
TIL While attacking a series of machine gun nests during WW2, Daniel Inouye had most his right arm shot off while arming a grenade. He pried the grenade out of his severed hand and destroyed a bunker with it before finishing the last resistance in the bunker with a one-handed Tommy gun burst.
TIL During the Second Battle of the Aisne the French took 40,000 casualties on the first day alone and within the following twelve days casualties rose to 120,000 men being dead, wounded, and missing.
TIL Cyanide pills were distributed to audience members of the last Berlin Philharmonic concert on 12 April 1945 as Allied forces approached Berlin and the surrender of Germany seemed imminent.
TIL A survivor of the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire went into the building four times in search of his date and lived with third degree burns on 55% of his body, fourteen years later he burned to death in a car accident.
TIL The isolated territory in France called ‘Zone Rouge’ is estimated to take no fewer than 700 years to completely clean due to shells, chemicals, remains, and other waste from World War 1.
TIL During the comic book speculator boom, knockoffs of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were made with names like Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils, and Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos.
TIL The Battle of the Somme ended with roughly 420,000 British, 200,000 French, and 500,000 German casualties, the result of the 141-day battle was the British frontline moving just 6 miles into German territory.
TIL Christopher Nolan was attracted to the idea of Dunkirk because of its inherent contradiction to the Hollywood formula : the Battle of Dunkirk was not a victory, did not involve America, and yet demanded big-scale production to be put on screen.
TIL Teddy Roosevelt’s son at age 56 was the oldest man and only general to land by sea during D-Day. He survived the landings after successfully guiding troops inland under heavy fire but passed away about a month later due to heart problems.
TIL Historians believe the fate of Christianity hinged on the Battle of Tours where an Arab invasion force was defeated by a Frankish force in present-day France, preventing the spread of Islam to all of Western Europe and preserving Christianity as the religion of Europe.
TIL Erwin Rommel had an affair with a 20-year-old fruit seller that produced a daughter, Gertrud. Rommel stayed in touch with Gertrud throughout his life and she knit him a plaid scarf which is seen in many of his pictures from the African campaign of WW2.
TIL 100 years ago the Battle of Messines began with the detonation of 19 mines under German front lines which killed 10,000 troops in 20 seconds, considered the deadliest non-nuclear, man-made explosion in history.
TIL The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is the only land surface on Earth where the Sun is continuously up for six months and then down for six months, causing the year to be divided into two long "days".
TIL Francisco Coronado, Spanish explorer in search for the Seven Cities of Gold, inadvertently "transformed life” for the Great Plains Indians when a number of his horses escaped. Within a few generations the Indians mastered horsemanship and greatly expanded the range and scope of their activities.
TIL Roger Williams, Puritan leader during colonial America, tried and failed to pass a law in 1652 banning slavery in Rhode Island. By the early 1700s, Newport, Rhode Island became the leading port for slaves in the Triangular trade.
TIL Of James Hadfield who suffered eight sabre wounds to the head in 1794 and believed the Second Coming of Jesus would be advanced if he was killed by the British government, he attempted to assassinate King George III and was acquitted by reason of insanity.
TIL William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony and born in 1590, has descendants that include Christopher Reeve, John Lithgow, Sally Field, Clint Eastwood, Julia Child, and the Baldwin brothers.
TIL The British army had less than 48,000 troops at the onset of the American Revolutionary War, in less than four decades the army grew to more than 250,000 over the course of the Napoleonic Wars.
TIL William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, was a year old when his father died so he was sent to live with his grandfather, who died two years later so he was sent to live with his mother, she died one year later.
TIL The military drills for George Washington’s troops in the Revolutionary War, written by Friedrich von Steuben, had to be translated every single night from Prussian to French and then from French to English so Washington could command his troops the next morning.
TIL Of 'Shark Island', a concentration camp in German South West Africa (currently Namibia) where victim's bodies were "buried in a few inches of sand at low tide, and as the tide came in the bodies went out, food for the sharks."
TIL Of the "Storm that saved Washington", a heavy thunderstorm that occurred less than a day after British troops set fire to several public buildings in the capital, the storm extinguished all the fires and drove the British troops away while badly damaging their ships.