World War II Campaigns (1939-45)


Figure 1.--The Wehrmacht by 1939 as a result of a massive NAZI military spending campaign had outclassed every other country in world and was ready for war. Even more importantly, Adolf Hitler desired a war. Britain and France were no longer willing to appease him, but did mot possess the military force to effectively oppose a now well-armed Germany. This German unit was photographed in June 1939, only a few months before Hitler launched his war. Note the little boy trying to stay in step with the soldiers.

World War II began with the NAZI invasion of Poland (1939). Historians often note the earlier Japanese seizure of Manchuria (1931) and invasion of China (1937). The NAZI invasion was followed by a British and French declaration of war, but failure to come to Poland's assistance. Within only a few days, the Soviets joined the NAZIs in invading Poland, followed by a series of other invasions of their own. The NAZI success in Poland was followed by a string of startling military successes, especially the invasion and defeat of France (1940). The NAZI successes were puncutated by the victory of the RAF in the Nattle of Britain (1940). The Italians joined their Axis partner after the defeat of France was already largely achieved. Almost from the beginning, however, the Italians proved more of a drag on the NAZI war effort than an assett. The War was tranformed when Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union and then without any effort to coordinate opetrations, the Jsapanese bombed Pear Harbor. Historians argue about the turning point of the War. After a series of almost uniterupted victories, the War turned against the Axis in second half of 1942. The Red Army bled the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Font while the Western allies ponded German cities. Finally the German losses in the East combined with growing Allied air power enabled the Western Allies to renter the Continent with the D-Day landings. What followed was a string of Allied victories, although achieved at great cost. Finally after Hitler's suiside and the fall of Berlin the NAZIs surrendered (1945). The Japanese surenderd after America dropped the A-Bomb and the Soviets invaded Manchuria (1945). The War included land, air, and sea campaigns conducted on different continents. It was, however, in Europe that the outcome of the War was determined.

Chronology

World War II began with the NAZI invasion of Poland (1939). Historians often note the earlier Japanese seizure of Manchuria (1931) and invasion of China (1937). The NAZI invasion was followed by a British and French declaration of war, but failure to come to Poland's assistance. Within only a few days, the Soviets joined the NAZIs in invading Poland, followed by a series of other invasions of their own. The NAZI success in Poland was followed by a string of startling military successes, especially the invasion and defeat of France (1940). The NAZI successes were puncutated by the victory of the RAF in the Nattle of Britain (1940). The Italians joined their Axis partner after the defeat of France was already largely achieved. Almost from the beginning, however, the Italians proved more of a drag on the NAZI war effort than an assett. The War was tranformed when Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union and then without any effort to coordinate opetrations, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Historians argue about the turning point of the War. After a series of almost uniterupted victories, the War turned against the Axis in second half of 1942. The Red Army bled the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Font while the Western allies ponded German cities. Finally the German losses in the East combined with growing Allied air power enabled the Western Allies to renter the Continent with the D-Day landings. What followed was a string of Allied victories, although achieved at great cost. Finally after Hitler's suiside and the fall of Berlin the NAZIs surrendered (1945). The Japanese surenderd after America dropped the A-Bomb and the Soviets invaded Manchuria (1945).

Operations

World War II included land, air, and sea campaigns. The various campaigns were conducted in in different theaters or continents. It was, however, in Europe that the outcome of the War was determined. The Allies recognized this an adjusted their campaign accordingly. The Axis failed to reach a consensus on this and as a result never effectively coordinated their operations. Histories of the War often focus on the land campaigns. Certainly the cataclismic struggle on the Eastern front between the two great totalitarian powers, NAZI Germany and the Soviet Union, in large measure determined the outcome of the war. Here the air campaign was not the dominant area of operation. The air campaign in the West, however, was critical to the outcome of the War. This included both the Battle for the North Atlantic and the sucees of D-Day permitting Allied armies to reach the Reich. A critical theater was the North Atlantic. A German victory at sea with their U-boat packs would have almost guaranteed German dominance in the West. The Allied air campaign not only destroyed German war industries, but it broke the back of the Luftwaffe. Without air support, the Germans were unable to resist the growing power of Allied land forces.

Theaters

World War II was the most titantic war in human history. Operations encompased the globe even reaching into remote Arcticic areas and steemy Pacufic jungles that few people knew. There were several important theaters of operations. These included Northern Europe, the Eastern Front, the Mediterranean, China-Burma-India, and the Pacific. Even before America entered the War, the decession was taken that NAZI Germaby was the great danger. The Western Allies thus afopted a Germany Strategy. Thus when Hitler broke his Non-Agression Pact with Stalin and attacked his Soviet ally, both Britain and America hastened to aid the Soviet Union. The scale of war on the Eastern Front is difficult to comprehend. Victory here may have brought Hitler victory. He gambled on on victory in one emmense stroke--Barbarossa (1941). The Wehrmacht almost succeeded. The Soviets, however, held at Moscow and delivered an enormous blow on the Wehrmact. The Soviets achieved this victory basically on their own. The subsequent campaign was a massive bloodletting. But the Soviets gradually gained the advanyaged, enprmously aided by Americam Lend Lease supplies. While the War was settled on the Eastern Front, but the other theaters were of considerable importance. Britain by defying the NAZIs (1940) meant that Hitler could never focus exclusively on the Soviet Union. Brtain's defiance also helped to complicate Hitler's attempt to organize an anti-Bolshevick cruasade in Europe. Britain also was the platform for the strategic bombing campaign (1941-45) as well as the eventual breeching of Festung Europa (1944). The Mediterranean was of lesser importance, but it was where the Wehrmacht taught the British and Americans how to fight modern mobile warfare. With the failure of NAZI Germany to defeat the Soviet Union, Japan ever after its stunning success at Peall Harbor (1941) and series of victories in South East Asia and the Pacific (1942) did not have the industrial capacity to succeed in a protacted war. The Japanese militarists like Hitler gambled. They convinced themselves that America would not have the moral fortitude to fight. It was also a dreadful miscalculation.







CIH






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Created: 3:57 AM 7/11/2005
Last updated: 4:00 AM 1/26/2012