Presentation on theme: "The political and military leaders of the countries that went to war in 1939 believed that they had learned the lessons of WWI. Some, however, had learned."— Presentation transcript:
The political and military leaders of the countries that went to war in 1939 believed that they had learned the lessons of WWI. Some, however, had learned more than others...
Strategies France and Britain: They could see no farther than fighting a defensive war. Aimed to protect themselves against air attacks and to weaken the Germans through a naval blockade. Felt their strengths were in their defences, and hoped the USA would join the war soon.
Strategies Germany: They felt they had to become the aggressors. To suit this strategy, they developed a new method of attack known as blitzkrieg or lighting war.
What is Blitzkrieg? A method of attack designed to make defence impossible The attack begins with the simultaneous airforce bombing of Enemy airfields Enemy communications Enemy transportation network Enemy positions
What is Blitzkrieg? At the same time as the bombing, A ground invasion begins A large number of mechanized units focus on breaking through the enemy’s line in one spot. Once they break through, they use their superior speed to surround the enemy and prevent them from retreating.
Result: The two strategies meant that as Hitler was fighting in Poland, he did not need to worry about an attack from the west. He knew that the British and the French would wait for him to attack them!
Fighting in Poland Germany had a vast superiority in men and machines: 63 total German divisions, 6 of them armoured 32 total Polish divisions, 11 of them cavalry, 1 armoured 2,000 modern German aircraft 600 mostly old, outdated Polish aircraft
The war in Poland When the blitzkrieg began, most Polish aircraft were destroyed on the ground. The Polish army was unable to deal with the speed of the German attack. By October 1, 1939, the Germans were in Warsaw (Polish capital) and the USSR had occupied the eastern half of Poland. The fighting was over!
Response in France and Britain The French and British did not attack, despite their declaration of war against Germany and their guarantee to defend Poland! So what DID they do? Call up conscripts into the army Speed up production of war supplies Issue gas masks to civilians Encourage the building of bomb shelters
Basically, France and Britain were bracing for an attack! They felt safe enough to do this because of the Maginot Line. This was a line of immense fortifications that had been built along the German – French border. The French were confident that the Germans would never be able to break through this defensive line.
So what did the Germans do? Hitler was not in a hurry to attack either. The allied naval blockade was not hurting Germany, as it was still able to trade with most of its neighbours.
Result: The Phoney War In the six months following the German victory in Poland, no fighting between the two sides took place!
The end of the Phoney War In March of 1940, the British and the French realized that their blockade wasn’t working. They decided to step up their actions! They added more ships to the blockade. They decided to cut off Germany from its supply of Swedish iron, by taking over the Norwegian port from which the iron was shipped.
BUT... Hitler realized what they were planning to do! The Germans landed a force in Norway before the Allies could get there! The Allies had not prepared to fight the Germans – their assaults on the German positions failed miserably.
Results: Norway surrendered to Hitler and became another part of his growing empire. The French and the British were humiliated. The British government collapsed, and a new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, took over. At the same time, the German plans for the invasion of Western Europe were being put into place...