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Three theaters of World War II

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1 Three theaters of World War II
World War II was fought in three different areas of the world: Europe, North Africa, and Asia and the Pacific Islands. The war began after the German Invasion of Poland in 1939 and ended in August 1945 when the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. WWII divided most of the world into two hostile alliances. By the war’s end, 49 nations joined the Allied Powers led by England, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The Axis Powers numbered nine nations and were led by Germany, Italy, and Japan.

2 No war in history cost as many lives,
caused as much destruction, or covered as much territory as World War II.

3 By the time the United States entered World War II at the end of 1941, Axis powers controlled virtually all of western Europe and North Africa.

4 "German Leader Adolf Hitler in German Occupied France Posing in Front of Eiffel Tower"
The plan was to break the Polish forces into small groups and overwhelm them. France and Britain declared war on Germany, but couldn’t send aid to Poland in time. In the first months of the war, Germany had launched a new kind of attack on Poland. It was called Blitzkrieg, meaning “lightning war” in German. After conquering Poland, Hitler waited for seven months before unleashing a blitzkrieg against Denmark and Norway. Forces of planes, tanks, artillery, and mechanized infantry swiftly swept through Polish defenses. They surrendered within one month.


6 France massed troops along the Maginot line, a set of fortifications in the northeast, hoping to prevent a German invasion. In Mid-May, the Germans simply bypassed these fortifications and attacked France through Belgium. Within a few days, the Germans had penetrated deeply into the country, and by the end of the month had pushed a combined British and French army across France to Dunkirk on the English Channel.

7 About 20,000 British and 140,000 French troops were safely evacuated across the channel to Great Britain leaving valuable equipment behind.

8 On June 10th Italy invaded southern France, and on June 16th the German army marched into Paris.
In Southern France, the Germans oversaw the creation of a puppet state, known as Vichy France because its capital was at Vichy. France surrendered, with Germany occupying the northern two thirds of France and directly taking over the government.

9 Hitler had tricked the world
Hitler had tricked the world. He had repeatedly assured the Allies he would not invade France. France had fallen in less than two months under the terror of Hitler’s blitzkrieg strategy. Hitler’s troops encountered thousands and thousands of weeping French when they rolled into Paris. Hitler’s armies were now fighting battles, and winning them, all over Europe. His planes and submarines dominated the world in a type of warfare never before seen.

10 British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, unpopular because of his appeasement policy with Hitler, had been forced to resign. Winston Churchill replaced him. He was an inspiring leader and his courage and determination rallied British spirits. After the French surrender, Britain stood alone against the Axis forces. If he conquered Britain, Hitler would have at his disposal the workshops, shipyards, and slave labor of western Europe. He might even have the powerful British fleet of ships as well. This frightening possibility posed a threat to American security. A German invasion of Britain seemed certain. Hitler planned to first weaken and demoralize the British before invading them. Accordingly, Hitler ordered German bombers to attack British cities and defense installations.

11 London Bomb shelters From August 1940 to June 1941, thousands of German planes bombed ports, industrial centers, and air defenses throughout England. This was known as the Battle of Britain. Cities were bombed night and day. Thousands of children were evacuated to the northern parts of the island. Those that remained in London spent the nights in subway stations for safety.

12 Firefighters hosed down flaming buildings and rescue teams dug trapped people out of the rubble.
In the United States, Americans wondered how much longer they could stay out of the war. With the fall of France, Roosevelt had called upon his nation to build huge air fleets and a two-ocean navy. In September 1940 congress enacted the first peacetime draft in American history.

13 Royal Air force propaganda poster: quote by Winston Churchill---a tribute to the skill and courage or Royal Air Force pilots during the Battle of Britain and the offensive against Germany in Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) counterattacked the German planes with skill. British fighter pilots were aided by radar, a recent British invention. With radar, the British could detect the approach of enemy planes. The British downed some 2,300 German planes and lost about 900 of their own.

14 Despite the fact that whole sections of cities were destroyed, and more than 40,000 citizens were killed, the British held firm. The British were able to retaliate by even more devastating attacks upon German cities. Hitler canceled plans for an invasion of Britain. He shifted his efforts eastward with a massive invasion of Russia on June 22, The success by the British was a major turning point in the war. Almost ¼ of the RAF fighters were killed during the campaign.

15 The North African Front:
Map 3 German General Erwin Rommel, The Desert Fox When the United States entered the war, the allied Powers decided on a “beat Hitler first” strategy. First priority: defeat the Axis Powers in Europe. Then mobilize more troops to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. Erwin Rommel was called “The Desert Fox” because of his success securing much of North Africa for the Axis Powers. He became Hitler’s favorite military man. Even his enemies respected is military genius. Roosevelt and Churchill’s first joint (together) military move was a major offensive in North Africa.

16 Control of North Africa was important to the Allies for several reasons:
Control of the Mediterranean so the Axis Powers didn’t control it an make an increased threat to the Western Hemisphere Control of this region allowed the Allied troops to invade Europe from the South. Germany was close to controlling North Africa, the Suez Canal, and the oil fields of the Middle East.

17 Operation “Torch” British and American forces
Launched in the fall of 1942 Several attacks aimed at encircling the troops of General Rommel and destroying the Italian forces in Africa The African campaign was headed by American General Eisenhower and British Generals Montgomery and Clark Involved 850 ships in a surprised landing After months of bitter fighting in the Tunisian desert, forced Rommel’s surrender.

18 After Rommel surrendered, he returned to Germany
After Rommel surrendered, he returned to Germany. Allied victories toward the end of the war caused him to lose faith in Hitler. Rommel then took part in the attempt on Hitler’s life, but committed suicide. El Alamein and Operation Torch: The Road to Berlin Began in Africa

19 On September 8, 1943, Italy announced its withdrawal from the war.
The start of the Allied invasion of Sicily - zero hour has arrived and the men of the Allied forces receive the word 'Go. The second phase of the Allied offensive was the invasion of Sicily and Italy. American General George Patton and British General Montgomery led their troops to overrun Sicily in just over a month. Italians became fed up with Mussolini’s incompetence, forced his resignation, and replaced him with Marshal Pietro Badoglio who immediately negotiated peace with the Allies. On September 8, 1943, Italy announced its withdrawal from the war. The Allies slowly but steadily pushed the German troops northward in Italy.

20 Two years later Mussolini, together with his mistress, was lynched by his own people. Both bodies were hung up by the heels for public display. The actual conquest of Italy was difficult. Hitler ordered his troops NOT to surrender. German forces did not surrender until the war had nearly ended.

21 The Struggle on the Eastern Front
On Map 4: Color in where the Eastern Front was fought. Use one color. (in between the red lines) The Struggle on the Eastern Front Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June, Hitler believed that a lightning attack would bring about a quick defeat before winter. He was wrong. German soldiers in trenches during the Battle of Stalingrad

22 Hitler sent a force of 3 million German soldiers who succeeded in pushing back Soviet forces.
As the Soviets withdrew, they destroyed farm equipment and crops hoping this “scorched earth” police would not let the Germans have supplies. After four months of fighting, the Germans had overrun the Ukraine and were approaching Leningrad and Moscow. Stalin asked the Allies for 3 things: Massive aid Recognition of his territorial demands in eastern Europe Establishment of a second war front in western Europe His requests were not met. This contributed to the post-war tensions between the Soviet Union and the other Allies.

23 The German advance came to a stop
The German advance came to a stop. The Russians, with their immense manpower, were able to put up a fierce defense. As a result, German troops were caught in a 700 miles long front facing a severe winter without equipment for the cold weather. The German siege of Leningrad lasted for over two years. During this time, the city’s population dropped from 4 million to 2.5 million as a result of fighting, starvation, and disease.

24 The Germans were desperate for more oil supplies so shifted their offensive southward to the rich oil fields located between the Black and Caspian Seas. Hitler ordered a major strike against Stalingrad, an important industrial center. The Russians held firm, fighting with passion. Late October 1942, the German army again faced a cold winter. Troops were battered and exhausted from four months of steady fighting. Hitler insisted the troops hold their ground. Destruction of Stalingrad, October 1942

25 On November 19, the Soviet army delivered its counterattack.
Within four days, the Soviets encircled and trapped a German general and 100,000 of his men between the Don and Volga Rivers. The Soviet Army held its position for 7 weeks of severe winter and fierce combat. General von Paulus as POW in center The German general finally surrendered. A month later, the Red Army began to drive the German invaders back along the Eastern Front. The Russian offensive ended Hitler’s dream of conquering the Soviet Union. Germany’s surrender on its Eastern Front made for a dramatic shift in the war.

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