Treaty of Versailles Fascism Failure of the League of Nations Japanese imperialism Economic problems worldwide- depression
Shortly after signing a nonaggression pact with Russia, Hitler was ready for all out war. On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland. This attack on Poland marked the official beginning of World War II.
German forces used a new tactic known as blitzkrieg. German for “lightning war” it consisted of powerful fast moving planes and ground forces. An air strike would begin attacks followed by fast moving columns of tanks and mobile artillery. Behind the tanks and artillery were foot soldiers looking for any remaining resistance.
Although Poland was ill prepared to stop the German blitzkrieg, it did have the support of the French and British. Shortly after Hitler invaded Poland, France and Britain declared war on Germany. Following the win in Poland Hitler took Denmark and Norway, then looked to take France.
French and Allied troops rushed to stop the Germans from breaking through France from the Netherlands and Belgium. At the same time the Germans began a push through the dense forest of the Ardennes. French leaders thought that the thick forest of the Ardennes would stop the Germans but German tanks emerged from the forest and overwhelmed the French.
Germany easily defeated the resistance in France and controlled much of the country. The Germans placed the remainder of France in the hands of French officials that cooperated with Hitler. Many French leaders escaped to Britain and organized a resistance to help liberate their country.
After the fall of France, the British stood alone in opposition against Germany. Great Britain was under a new leader: Winston Churchill. Hitler knew it would be hard to take Britain. Hitler's plan to take England, called Operation Sea Lion, began with an air attack over Britain.
Known as the Battle of Britain, thousands of German airplanes ran bombing missions over England. Although Hitler’s planes destroyed much of England, the British held on with the leadership of Winston Churchill.
Once Hitler realized he could not take Britain he focused on an attack on Russia. In 1941 Hitler broke his nonaggression pact with Stalin. At first the Russians were no match for the German military. However, as the Germans pushed deeper into Russia they were halted by the Russian winter. The Germans troops lacked equipment and worked poorly in the Russian weather. Eventually the Russians began to fight back and started to push the Germans back.
While war raged in Europe many Americans wanted to avoid getting involved in another conflict. However, America was helping the Britain and the Allied Powers through the Lend-Lease Act. a program under which the United States supplied Great Britain, the USSR, Republic of China, Free France, and other Allie nations with materiel and money between 1941 and August 1945. Although America wanted to avoid conflict, in 1940 a draft was held to build up the military’s rank in the event of war.
In Southeast Asia, the Japanese moved its forces into an oil and rubber rich Allied Controlled colonies. They resented the fact that these Asian resources were controlled by non-Asian countries. In response America banned the sale of oil to Japan. This move was meant to slow down the Japanese war machine.
Japan continued to talk peace with the United States while in secret they were planning for war. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet harbored at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese believed that it would take the U.S. at least 2 years to recover and they would have time to take other areas and then defeat the U.S.
The attack on Pearl Harbor caused many Americans who had previously wanted peace to call for war. On December 8, 1941 the U.S. Congress declared war on Japan. Arizona Memorial
Soon the Allies began to focus on Italy. The invasion of Italy was launched on the island of Sicily. After some light resistance, the Italian government eventually removed Mussolini from power and the Allies made plans to take the Italian mainland.
While the German advance into Russia was slowed down, the Germans were able to take key cities in Russia. Stalingrad was on of Russia’s largest industrial cities. It was named in honor of Joseph Stalin. The battle that took place there was one of the most brutal of the war.
During the Battle of Stalingrad, the Germans bombed the city into rubble. Although the Russians were pinned in the city they fought fiercely from the rubble of the city. Stalin was determined to hold the city that was his namesake.
On June 6, 1944 or D-Day the allies launched over 150,000 troops on the shores of Normandy in France. (the D doesn’t stand for anything) Lead by American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, D-Day was launched in an effort to liberate Europe from Nazi control. American and Allied forces met heavy resistance but were able to push back the German army.
After D-Day, Allied troops pushed from both the west and east towards Germany. Hitler order a last massive assault in December of 1944. While the Germans made some advances, they could not break through Allied lines. The German advance created a “bulge” in Allied lines, thus it became known as the Battle of the Bulge.
With the Soviets and Allied forces pushing on Germany from both sides, Hitler took his own life in a underground bunker in Berlin. In April of 1945, Soviet and American troops met in Berlin. Berlin and Germany surrendered that same day. Finally in May of 1945 Germany officially surrender to the allies. May 8, 1945 was officially called V-E Day. (Victory in Europe Day)