World War II European Campaigns


Figure 1.--Too often in military hstory what happens to civilians and especially children were lost. After the failure of Operatin Market Garden (September 1944), food became increasingly scarce in the German controlled areas of the Netherlands. By the time the Allies crossed the Rhine to liberate them (March 1945), the Dutch were starving. These children were photographed in Rotterdam. VanRijin

The war in Europe began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. After the so-called Phony War, the German offensive in May 1940 overwealmed the British and French leving Hitler the master of Western Europe. Britain for more than a year stood along against the German juggernaught. Deterred by the RAF from invading Britain, Hitler launched the Wheremacht on the Soviet Union (June 1941), launching the greatest srtuggle in the history of warfare. Although staggered by the German onslaught the Red Army held in front of Lenningrad and Moscow. Incredibly a few days after the Soviets launched their Winter offensive, devestating the German front line, Hitler declared war on the United States (December 1941). The war had been transformed and the NAZis now faced an Allied colalition of staggerin proportions. Whole Axis armies were cut of and destroyed at Stalingrad (January 1943) and North Africa (May 1943). The invasion of Sicily and then Italy itself knocked Italy out of the War. The Red Army dealt the Wehrmacht a desestating blow in the greatest tank battle in history at Kursk (July 1943). The D-Day invasion of France (June 1944) presented the badly weakened Wehremacht with a two front war. The German army in France was mauled at Falaise. The last German offensive occurred again in the Ardenes (December 1944). Allied armies were penetrating into Germany from east and west (March 1945). The Allies encountered the unimagenable beastiality of the NAZIs as they over ran concentration camps in Poland and Germany. The Soviets took Berlin and Hitler shot himself (April 1945). Admiral Donnitz replacing Hitler ordered the military to surrender (May 1945).

First Phase (1939-41)

The war in Europe began with the German Blitzkrieg of Poland (September 1939). After the so-called Phony War, the German western (May 1940) overwealmed the British and French with the Luftwaffe and Panzer offensive. The fall of France left Hitler the master of Western Europe. The Royal air Foirce's valliant stand against theLuftwaffe made a cross-channel invasion of Britain impossible. Britain for more than a year stood along against the German juggernaught. Deterred by the RAF from invading Britain, Hitler launched the Wheremacht on the Soviet Union (June 1941), launching the greatest srtuggle in the history of warfare. Although staggered by the German onslaught the Red Army held in front of Lenningrad and Moscow. Incredibly a few days after the Soviets launched their Winter offensive, devestating the German front line. After the Japanese carrier attack on Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the United States (December 1941).

Dramatic Change (1941-42)

Few wars can be divided into two such very different periods. During the first phase, the German Whermacht drove all before them, defeating its unprepared and poorly armed opponents (France here was an exceotion) and appeared unstopable. Only the British survived thanks to the Channel by the narrowest of Margins. Then in a very short window of time )June-December 1941) there were remarkable changes. Hitler invaded the Soviet Union forcing the Soviets into the Allied camp. And then just at the time that Barbarossa and the ability of the NAZIs to win the war failed, the Japanese attacked the American nval base at Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into the War. Abd durung the second phase of the War within only months, the string of German victories ended and the War becomes a long stream of Allied victories in North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific. German and Japanese tenacity meant that they were bloody, costly victorie, but victories never the less.

Second Phase (1942-45)

Hitler had transformed the War in of 1941. Hitler began the war dominant in Western Europe facing only a bealgered but undefeated Britain. Within a 6-months period he invaded or declared war on first the Soviet Union (June 1941) and the United States (December 1941). The NAZis not only suffered a staggering defeat in front of Moscow (December 1941), but now faced an Allied colalition of staggering proportions and economic resources. Whole Axis armies were cut of and destroyed at Stalingrad (January 1943) and North Africa (May 1943). The invasion of Sicily and then Italy itself knocked Italy out of the War. The Red Army dealt the Wehrmacht a desestating blow in the greatest tank battle in history at Kursk (July 1943). The D-Day invasion of France (June 1944) presented the badly weakened Wehrmacht with a two front war. The German army in France was mauled at Falaise. The last German offensive occurred again in the Ardenes (December 1944). Allied armies were penetrating into Germany from east and west (March 1945). The Allies encountered the unimagenable beastiality of the NAZIs as they over ran concentration camps in Poland and Germany. The Soviets took Berlin and Hitler shot himself (April 1945). Admiral Donnitz replacing Hitler ordered the military to surrender (May 1945).







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Created: June 25, 2000
Last updated: 5:31 PM 1/30/2012