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World War II: Blitzkrieg and Initial Days of Fighting.

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2 World War II: Blitzkrieg and Initial Days of Fighting

3 Steps to War-Poland Hitler demanded Polands port city of Danzig but the Poles wouldnt give in. Hitler was ready to fight, but concerned about USSR, so…

4 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (1939) 1.Agreement between Germany & USSR; agreed not to attack one another for 10 years. 2.In a secret provision the two nations divided Poland in half: 3.One week later Germany invaded Poland 4.Britain and France had vowed that if Poland was attacked they would go to war. WORLD WAR TWO BEGINS

5 WWII Themes Technology-from the Blitz to A-bomb & in between Diplomacy-Allies cooperate Total War-civilian casualties

6 Poland Faces A Blitzkrieg (September 1, 1939) Blitzkrieg- Lightening Warfare New Technologies = Success Air attacks combined with rapid troop movement Poland fell within one month German air force targeted railroads

7 French and German Plans for the Battle of France 1940 French anticipated the Germans attacking through the north as they did in World War I so they developed the Dye Plan to counter such an attack Built the Maginot Line in the south to protect the border (recalling the trench warfare of WWI)

8 Maginot Line A line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, machine gun posts and other defenses which France constructed along her borders with Germany and Italy The fortifications did not extend through the Ardennes Forest which was considered impassable

9 Surprise in the Ardennes On May 12, 1940 Germany attacked through the weakly held Ardennes region Penetrated Allied defenses and then began to envelop them

10 Penetration With Hoths and Guderians successes, the Germans had a 40 mile breakthrough from Dinant to Sedan –Pushed through seven armored divisions toward the English Channel

11 Sedan Dinant Ardennes

12 The Panzers Race To The Channel Battle of France: May 14-24, 1940


14 Dunkirk was the last evacuation port available to the Allies.

15 Dunkirk

16 Moving in for the Kill German forces pressed the Allied armies trapped in the north, from south and east, into the English Channel. Meanwhile, German infantry divisions reinforced the southern flank of the German penetration. But…. Dunkirk Harbor ablaze from German bombing

17 Halt Order Hitler halted the German armor –German armor had suffered heavy losses and would be needed to conquer the rest of France –Luftwaffe called upon to finish the job Luftwaffe unable to destroy the British and French –Bases in western Germany were further away from Dunkirk than British planes were from their bases on the British Isles 340,000 Allied troops were evacuated

18 Italy Joins the Axis On June 10, 1940, Mussolini declared war on Britain and France and four months later invaded Greece Mussolini will end up being a troublesome ally for Hitler

19 French Surrender and Vichy France On June 16, the French asked for an armistice In July, France was divided into two sections –One was ruled directly by the Germans –The other was led by the Vichy government that collaborated with German plans including the plunder of French resources and the forceful deportations of tens of thousands of French Jews to concentration camps across Europe

20 Auftragstaktik German interwar doctrine emphasized: –decentralized, mission-oriented orders (Auftragstaktik) –speed and exploitation of enemy weaknesses maximized by troop commanders taking the initiative (understand commanders intent) –close integration and cooperation between combat branches (mobile warfare required armor, infantry, and artillery) –leadership from the front

21 Battle of Britain The Germans developed two plans to take Britain –Operation Sea Lion, an amphibious landing on the British coast –A great air offensive to gain air superiority and destroy the British industrial base Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour. (Winston Churchill)

22 Hitlers Attack on Britain Hitler made an offer of peace When Britain refused, Hitler planned to subdue Britain. He cannot allow an anti-Nazi Britain…(why not?)

23 The Advantage of Being An Island with Superior Naval Power Churchill talks about the incredible advantage of superior sea power- very hard to invade. –Enemy might be able to sneak across, but even then, how can it defend its supply lines? Necessities of perfect weather for a good invasion… high tide, half moon, clear weather… the problem is that the enemy can calculate these dates as well… can be prepared… For this reason, he argues that Britain has always been safe… even more so in WWI when steam power took away the ability of the aggressor to wait for favorable winds to help them but drive the defender away. However, there was a new intangible in WWII –… air power.

24 Basic German Invasion Plan… Operation Sea Lion Construct a Naval corridor –cordon off the shortest straight line between France and Britain –line it with minefields and subs, and ferry the German army across… Churchill claims that Britain could have torn this minefield up, destroyed the subs, and crushed this invasion he also says that this was the most heavily fortified section of the British coast…

25 The Odds Churchill estimated that at the beginning of the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe forces outnumbered the RAF 3-1, but there was considerable home field advantage for the British –Partly this is because of fuel… Luftwaffe only had about 10 minutes of fighting time over England before having to head back to refuel. –Also, Enigma (bigger story here) and radar Churchill describes the need to defend a long coastline in Britain meant to set up forces on the perimeter that would stall the enemy and then the largest possible reserve for quick counterattack… (what he accused the French of not doing in the Battle of France… )

26 RAF Planes Hurricane… first RAF plane with a top speed of over 300 mph… 8 machine guns in the wings… (gets rid of synchronizing gear) 1,715 Hurricanes flew with Fighter Command during the period of the Battle It is estimated that its pilots were credited with four-fifths of all enemy aircraft destroyed in the period July-October 1940.

27 Hurricane…


29 Spitfire The Spitfire has always attracted more attention than the Hurricane, and is undoubtedly one of the most famous aircraft ever built. Its graceful lines combined with outstanding handling qualities to produce a "dream plane" extremely fast, and in comparison to contemporary types was second to none. 8 machine guns in wings


31 Luftwaffe Messerchmitt machine guns in the nose and two in the wings The various strengths and shortcomings of the Messerschmitt, the Hurricane, and the Spitfire largely cancelled out in combat.

32 Stuka Dive Bomber Won great success in battles of Poland and France, but in the Battle of Britain proved to be almost helpless without fighter cover


34 Air battles between the Luftwaffe and the RAF occurred through the late summer and fall (1940) Operation Sea Lion would have to be launched by late September or it would have to wait through the winter…would the RAF hold out RAF started to crack because of damage to its fighter command…. –Ive read one historian who claims England came within one week of permanently losing the air war Churchill, in desperation, bated the Germans by bombing Berlin –Hitler had promised never to bomb London if German cities were not bombed –Goering (head of Luftwaffe) had promised that German cities would never be bombed Churchills Gamble

35 The London Blitz The bombing of Berlin caused a change in tactics –The Germans altered their focus from an attack on British air power to an attack on Englands civilian population –tried to bomb the Brits into submission through terror bombing of London.. London was bombed after this for 57 consecutive nights… Problem of underground shelters during incendiary bombings? –Solution? – To the roof!

36 Thus, the Battle of Britain had two phases –The attack on the RAF And –The attack on London, known as the London Blitz

37 The Bombing of London were a Relief to Churchill London can take it. RAF is being reconstituted By October, Hitler gave up on the bombing of Britain –Too late to launch Sea Lion Instead, Hitler decided to deal with England via the War in the Atlantic (Wolf Packs) –Starve the British out


39 Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

40 The Eastern Front Hitler had strategic and ideological reasons for invading Russia –Strategically he knew that the Soviet Union and the US were critical to Britains willingness to keep fighting –He also felt he needed the agricultural and raw material resources of Eastern Russia –Ideologically he viewed the Soviet Union as an amalgamation of his greatest enemies, the Jews and the Slavs

41 Operation Barbarossa Hitler based his plan on the assumption he could destroy the Soviet Union within one year Critical to his success would be to catch and destroy the Soviet Army at the border areas If that did not occur, the Russians could use their vast territory to trade space for time and cause the Germans huge logistical problems

42 Operation Barbarossa On June 22, 1941, Hitler invaded Russia in Operation Barbarossa The operation encompassed a total troop strength of about 4 million men, making it the biggest single land operation ever Benefiting from initial surprise, by the end of July Hitler had occupied a portion of Russia twice the size of France

43 Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow With the Germans successes in the north and south, Hitler assumed that Stalins regime was on the verge of collapse He authorized an advance on Moscow before the onset of winter Already however the Germans were suffering from serious supply shortages –By September the supply system was only meeting current tactical consumption needs –No supply stores for the winter season were being built

44 Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow The Germans caught the Russians unprepared and made great advances The Soviet Army seemed on the verge of collapse At this point the weather broke and autumn rains turned the roads to mud The German advance stalled, allowing the Russians to hurry reinforcements from the interior

45 Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow Despite dropping temperatures and critical supply shortages, the German high command pressed on with the attack The German soldiers were still in summer uniforms and suffered terribly German soldier during the battle of Moscow

46 Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow Stalin responded to the crisis by rushing his best commander, Georgi Zhukov, to defend Moscow Zhukov waged a delaying defense in front of Moscow; the first time the Soviets took advantage of their ability to trade space for time In the meantime he pulled reinforcements from as far away as Siberia to defend Moscow Zhukovs plan was to allow the Germans to exhaust themselves and then go on the offensive

47 Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow By Dec 4 the Germans had clawed their way to Moscows outskirts, but they could not continue –That night temperatures were -25 degrees Fahrenheit –One infantry regiment suffered 300 frostbite casualties –On Dec 6 the Soviets counterattacked

48 Operation Barbarossa : Battle of Moscow Rundstedt, the German commander of Army Group South, ordered a retreat and Hitler fired him Field Marshall Walther von Reichenau replaced Rundstedt and confirmed the withdraw order and then suffered a heart attack Hitler was in the midst of a high command crisis and lost confidence in his generals Field Marshall Walther von Reichenau

49 Strategic Situation On Dec 7, 1941, Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor In spite of his troubles in Russia, Hitler decided to support Japan and also declare war on the US Now the US would join with Britain to adopt a Europe First strategy that would destroy Hitler

50 Operation Barbarossa : Battle of Moscow As the Russians pushed forward, Hitler refused to allow a retreat and relieved or court-martialed generals who did so Hitler named himself commander-in-chief of the army –Each military service began to operate increasingly independently and Germany suffered from a lack of an overall strategy

51 Operation Barbarossa : Battle of Moscow On the Eastern Front the Germans stiff resistance and control of crucial roads and supply centers slowly took the punch out of the Russian counterattack The German Army survived but it suffered losses from which it never recovered Both sides licked their wounds and prepared for renewed operations in the spring

52 Stalingrad As spring 1942 approached, German commanders recommended remaining on the defensive but Hitler believed the Germans must destroy Soviet military potential before the American industrial power could come into play Hitler developed a plan to capture Soviet oil –At first Hitler considered Stalingrad of little importance other than the fact that its capture might block the movement of petroleum up the Volga River


54 Stalingrad On June 28 the Germans launched their summer offensive The Germans made good headway with one advance moving east toward Stalingrad and the Volga River and another moving south into the Caucasus In August Hitlers erratic attention swung from the Caucasus to Stalingrad

55 Stalingrad On Aug 24 the Germans attacked Stalingrads suburbs and began fighting their way into the city Hitler began shifting forces from the Caucasus to Stalingrad The nature of the urban fighting favored the defenders and the Soviets mounted a stubborn defense Stalingrad began to drain the German army but Hitler would not back off

56 Stalingrad





61 On Nov 19 the Soviets launched a massive counterattack north of Stalingrad Hitlers overly centralized and completely out-of-touch command system broke down in the face of the Soviet onslaught The Soviets encircled Stalingrad and Hitler ordered his commanders to stand fast anyway By this point in the war, no one was willing to confront Hitler

62 Stalingrad All attempts to breakout or break through failed and on Feb 2 the Germans surrendered –Out of 250,000 soldiers trapped in the Stalingrad pocket, approximately 90,000 became prisoners –Barely 5,000 survived the war German POWs

63 Greatest Extent of Axis Control

64 The Eastern Front Ultimately enormous logistical shortcomings made Barbarossa a failure –Germany proved capable of fighting battles very well, but was less capable of fighting a war of prolonged duration In the total four years of fighting on the Eastern Front, an estimated 4 million Axis and 9 million Russians were killed in battle 20 million Soviet civilians were killed as a result of extermination campaigns against Jews, communists and partisans, casual massacres, reprisal killings, diseases, and (sometimes planned) starvation.

65 Next North Africa and Italy

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