World War II
World War II (often abbreviated to WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War or World War 2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war. The war is credited to being started by Adolf Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany.
Timeline of Events
- Invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany: 1 September
- Evacuation of Britian children begins: 1 September
- Warsaw surrenders after four weeks of war: 27 September
- Soviet Union invades Finland, starting the Winter War: 30 November
- Isoroku Yamamoto begins preparations on pearl harbor: January
- Invasion of Denmark and the Invasion of Norway: April 9
- Japan and Soviet union neutrality pact: 13 April
- Invasion of Belgium, Invasion of Luxembourg, Invasion of Netherlands, Invasion of France: May 10
- Winston Churchhill becomes Prime minister: May 10
- Evacuation of Dunkirk: 27 May to 2 June
- Surrender of France to Germany: 22 June
- Battle of Britain, RAF establishes Air control over Britain: 10 July
- Occupation of Indochina by the Japanese, Imposition of sanctions by US begins:21 July
- US gives Britain 50 destroyers in Lend Lease Plan: 3 September
- The Blitz begins: 7 September
- Hideki Tojo establishes power in Japan: 16 October
- Roosevelt is reelected for a third term: 5 November (note: this is before declaration of war)
- British carriers sink Italian ships in Taranto: 11 November
- Bombing of Coventry: 14 November
- Bombing of Pearl Harbor: 7 December
- Invasion of Philippines, Invasion of Malaya, Invasion of Hong Kong: 8 December
- Prince of Wales, and Repulse sunk by Japanese airforce: 10 December
- Germany and Italy declare war on US: 11 December
- Hong Kong capitulates: 25 December
- Britain drives Italy out of Egypt, British invasion of Libya:5 January
- Erwin Rommel arrives with Afrika Korps in North Africa: 13 February
- Singapore surrenders to the Japanese: 15 February
- Bombing of Darwin by the Japanese: 19 February
- Roosevelt signs Lend-Lease Act: 11 March
- Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia and invasion of Greece: 6 April
- Bataan in Philippines falls to the Japanese: 9 April
- Doolittle Raid: 18 April
- Battle of Coral Sea: 8 May
- Invasion of Crete by the fallschirmjäger: 20 May
- Sinking of ''Bismarck'': 27 May
- Japanese conquer Dutch East Indies, Philippines, and Burma: 31 May
- Battle of Midway: 7 June
- Operation Barbarossa begins: 22 June
- Britain and Soviet union mutually agrees to fight together against Nazi Germany: 12 July
- Battle of New Guinea: 12 July
- Baste Indian Nationalists launch Quit India against British occupation: 14 July
- Henderson Airfeild captured by US in Battle of Guadalcanal: 8 August
- Atlantic Charter: 9 August
- The Siege of Leningrad begins: 8 September
- Murder of 30 thousand Jews outside Kiev at Babi Yar:29 September
- Battle of Moscow Germans halted advance: 5 December
- Wannsee Conference: 20 July
- Bombing of Cologne, British terror bombing of German Civilian targets begins: 30 May
- Rommel pushes British back to El Alamein: 30 June
- Battle of Dieppe, heavy losses by Canadians and British: 19 August
- Battle of Stalingrad begins: 13 September
- End of battle of El Alamein: 2 November
- Operation Torch: 8 November
- Roosevelt and Churchill met in Casablanca: 14 January
- Battle of Stalingrad ends with Friedrich Paulus surrender: 31 January
- Surrender of axis at Tunisia: 13 May
- raids on the Ruhr dams, Brits bomb dams: May 17
- U boats withdraw from alantic, into the base of aces: May 24
- Operation Husky and Invasion of Sicily: 10 July
- Battle of Kursk 12 July
- Bombing of Hamburg, terror bombing continues: 24 July
- Mussolini dismissed as head of Italian government by Monarch: 25 July
- Invasion of Italy by allies, Nazi Germany resists:3 September
- Tehran conference Stalin meets with the capitalists to determine spheres of influence of conquered Europe: 28 November
- battle of Monte Casino, allies suffered heavy losses against the 2nd fallschirmjäger: 15 February
- Monte Casino captured: 18 May
- D-Day, the beginning of the end of the Thousand-Year Reich: 6 June
- Battle of the Philippine sea:19 June
- Battle of Imphal Japan attempted to attack Indian mainland: 22 June.
- Battle of Saipan: 9 July
- July 20th Plot, assassination of Hitler by anti-communists failed.
- Warsaw Uprising: 1 August
- Liberation of Paris by the anti-fascists: 24 August
- Liberation of Brussels: 3 September
- First use of V-2's:8 September
- Operation Market Garden Largest Airborne Assault in history commences: 17 September
- Battle of Layte Gulf, US navy defeats Japanese navy: 26 October
- Roosevelt's fourth term in office: 7 November
- Battle of the Bulge begins, Germany's last offensive on the western front: December 16
- Soviets advance in eastern Germany, the Great Patriotic war nears an end: 13 January
- Red army liberates the surviving Jews from Auchwitz: 27 January
- Yalta Conference to further discuss and finalize spheres of influence with Stalin,Churchill, and Roosevelt: 4 February
- Bombing of Dresden: 13 February
- Marines land on Iwo Jima: 19 February
- Bombing of Tokyo US terror campaign increases: 9 March
- Marines first touches foot on Okinawa conflict lasts until June:1 April
- Roosevelt dies: 12 April
- Mussolini captured and hung upside down by Italian Communist Resistance (see Italian Communist Party): 28 April
- Hitler and his wife Eva Braun took suicide (although it is alleged otherwise): 30 April
- Battle of Berlin ends:2 May
- VE day:9 May
- Potsdam Conference: 17 July
- Churchill is defeated in general election by the labour party, Clement Attlee takes PM: 26 July
- US nukes Hiroshima resulting in mass loss of life: 6 August
- Soviet invasion of Manchuria: 9 August
- US nukes Nagasaki resulting in mass loss of life: 9 August
- Japan surrenders to the US: 14 August
- Official surrender on USS Missouri
The treaty of Versailles have put Germany into an oppressive semi-colonized nation after the First World War. There as massive reparations and Germany had lost land. The treaty was very one sided which was contrasted by the stalemate that the great war ended up as militarily. The fallout was a large mass of agitated Germans angry at the amount of reparations and perceived and real injustices done to them via the allied powers. As a result, a mass movement of proletarians decided to declare independence in a Bavarian Council Republic colloquially known as the Bavarian Soviet Republic. Once the newly formed republic had been squashed by the Freikorps the puppet government Wiemar Republic held ideological dominance over the Germanic peoples.
During this time a ton of radical organizations sprouted and gained popularity all across the spectrum mostly due to the contempt of the treaty and foreign political dominance of their nation. The Communist party of Germany(KPD) surged in membership along with the national socialist German workers party headed by anti-capitalist idealist Anton Drexler at the time.
Later Hitler entered the NSDAP in July 1919 and it became a pro-capitalist party organized to combat Bolshevikism. The Socialist part of the name was kept in by the executive committee. In 1921 to 1922 the Grew further in size through hitlers speaking skills and the cultural deterioration due to the Wiemar Republic's liberal economic policies. With Hitlers increasing dominance in the party leadership the party became centered around national and racial issues, otherwise considered toxic. The Swastika became its symbol.
The National Fascist Party in Italy rose to power by the end of October 1922.
In 1923, failing to meet the harsh reparation payments, France acquired the Rhur region. At this time Whilhem Cuno resigned and the KPD attempted to seize power. This provoked a reaction to the Attempted revolt which brought the NSDAP to twenty thousand members. In November of the same year Hitler attempted to seize power otherwise known as the Beer Hall Putsch. The Nazi's have gathered a couple thousand and planed a march through Munich. This ended in a clash with the military, murdering 16 and placing Hitler in jail, and the Ban of the Nazi party, and the party's subsequent fracture. While in jail Hitler wrote Mien Kampf. After hitler came out of jail the Nazi party was unbanned and its former designation of it being a paramilitary party was dissolved. The Social Democrats have Gained dominance during this time and the three arrows was a popular symbol of anti-communism, anti-fascism, and anti-monarchism.
Nazi German invasions
"The Nazis found collaborators in almost every country that they invaded. In one Lithuanian town, a crowd cheered while a local man clubbed dozens of Jewish people to death. He then stood atop the corpses and played the Lithuanian anthem on an accordion. German soldiers looked on, taking photographs."  - Alex Ross
Until D-Day the majority of direct activity against the Axis by the Western Allies after take over of Continental Europe, pertained to aerial and marine combat.
The Air War in Europe
American and British bombing raids destroyed German industrial production is a common claim, however despite the destruction they wielded, the impact remained low until the later stages of the war. Even according to Western historians Strategic bombing only began to wear down German economy in 1944, and the first 1000 bomber raid only occurred in 1942, in the bombing of Cologne, and was not repeated for many months. The USSR did not sit idly either, with most of the Luftwaffe tied up tangling with the Soviet Air force in the East.
“In the first half of 1944, battle casualty rates for every 1,000 bomber crewmen serving six months in combat included 712 killed or missing and 175 wounded: 89 percent. By one calculation, barely one in four U.S. airmen completed twenty-five missions over Germany, a minimum quota that was soon raised to thirty and then thirty-five on the assumption that the liberation of France and Belgium and the attenuation of German airpower made flying less lethal.” ― Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Night: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 
“Allied air forces flying from England lost twenty bombers a day in March; another three thousand Eighth Air Force bombers were damaged that month. Morale problems could be seen in the decision of nearly ninety U.S. crews in March and April to fly to neutral countries, usually Sweden or Switzerland, to be interned for the duration.” ― Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 
Additionally US bombers often had to land in the USSR after a mission, without which they would have not been able to fly home and would have ended up on the bottom of the English Channel or a burning wreck in France. A prominent example is Operation Frantic.
Battle of the Atlantic
Mirroring the First World War, U-boats - which Germany had secretly spent the inter-war period redeveloping - became a primary military force against the Allies acting as convoy hunters and silent killers of massive Battleships.
Starting in 1933, with the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, Stalin began to industrialize the USSR for war. Having reportedly read Hitler's Mein Kampf, Stalin knew exactly what Adolf Hitler's plans for Europe and the World were, and spent most of the 1930s repeatedly petitioning the French, British and Polish Governments to form an Anti-Fascist alliance and preemptively destroy the Nazi threat before it became too powerful. Hitler and Stalin spent the 1930s denouncing each other, as each built up their respective nations for War. During the Munich Crisis of 1937, Stalin threatened to Invade Germany if Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, and likewise, Hitler formalized the Anti-Comintern Pact between Various nations throughout Europe to specifically spite Stalin's antifascist efforts. Nevertheless, Stalin's repeated petitions to the League of Nations and Western Europe proved fruitless. And, a few days before Germany invaded Poland, Stalin sent a mission to Germany to formalize a non-aggression pact with Germany, much like the one they'd made with Japan. The infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact assured that neither Germany nor the USSR would attack each other for a period of ten years (which both sides knew was not going to last) but also contained numerous secret clauses: The USSR would not interfere with Germany's conquest of Europe, and Germany would not interfere with the USSR if they were to retake numerous territories lost to them in the aftermath of the Russian Civil War - Particularly Karelia, near Finland, the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Bessabarabia (Moldova) in Romania; and the territories of Brest and Grodno (occupied by Poland but historically a part of Belarus) and numerous territories claimed by Western Ukraine but occupied by Poland. When World War II started, both sides adhered to the treaty, and two weeks after the Invasion of Poland the USSR occupied their claimed territories. In 1940 the Soviets annexed the Baltics and occupied Bessabarabia (Moldova) and went to war with Finland over Karelia in what became the rather disastrous Winter War of 1939-40.
The time bought by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact served valuable for the USSR, it allowed them to complete the construction of the Stalin line and move precious industry to the Ural Mountains, far out of reach from the Germans. Soviet generals estimated the USSR would be ready for war with Germany by October 1942, but, they were not granted this luxury and Germany invaded on 22 June 1941.
Originally, the USSR was totally unprepared for the Soviet Invasion - Stalin reportedly ignored reports of German military buildup at the border and refused to allow Soviet forces to mass at the border as well. Georgy Zhukov later wrote in his memoirs in 1957 that Stalin was right - if they had massed their forces then they would've been destroyed then and there. In the initial six months of the war, Germany performed extremely well, making rapid advances deep into Soviet territory, occupying all of Belarus, the Baltics, Ukraine and surrounding the city of Leningrad, besieging the city. The Germans took hundreds of thousands of prisoners and SS-Ostgruppen troops committed unspeakable horrors against the Slavic people living there, whom they considered "Untermenschen". Yet, by December 1941, four months after the campaign was supposed to have ended, the Nazis had, by their count, defeated the Red Army three times over. Not only that, but there was the worry that the Soviets could potentially be much stronger and more advanced than they had initially assumed - when the Nazis had invaded, the Soviets were going through a major update of their equipment. Sightings of T-34 and KV-1 tanks were rare, but there were several recorded instances where a single example of those tanks inflicted massive casualties on the Germans. In 1941, at Raseinai, a small town in Lithuania, a lone KV-2 (or KV-1) heavy tank decimated the 6th Panzer division and held the entire town by itself for a whole day before running out of ammunition and being destroyed. Similarly, Army Group Center reported a lone T-34 tank having ripped through 13 divisions by itself before getting knocked out. By December the Russian winter (which was relatively mild by Russian standards) decimated the Germans, who did not expect the campaign to have lasted this long. German vehicles sank into the mud and snow and equipment froze up, allowing the Red Army time to prepare their defenses and rebuild their disorganized army.
The Great Purge had a massive impact on the Red Army's fighting capacity and many slots for officers were filled with inexperienced soldiers who were just there to replaced those that'd been purged. Over the course of the war this effect was gradually made negligible, but not before a massive amount of Red Army soldiers were taken prisoner or killed and the Nazis had penetrated deep into Soviet territory. The Nazis continued to advance throughout 1942, albeit at a much slower pace. The Soviet strategy of "defence in depth" was working, the City of Leningrad was holding out, and the Nazis were forced to, at times, fight for strategic points several times to wrestle it from control of stubborn Soviet defenders (See Battles of Kharkov). Additionally, Soviet resistance behind enemy lines was overwhelming, and continued to be a constant thorn in the German's side for the rest of the war. In November 1942 Significant portion of Wehrmacht Army Group South under General Friedrich Paulus began an assault on the City of Stalingrad, along the river Volga, and eventually succeeded in doing so - only to be immediately cut off and surrounded by the Red Army's Stalingrad Front, Don Front and Red Army South. The Battle of Stalingrad continued into February 1943 and resulted in overwhelming victory for the Red Army. The 6th Army had been utterly destroyed and a significant portion of Army Group South was crippled. Around a million or so Germans in the battle were either captured or killed, effectively halting any ability the Germans had to advance into Soviet territory, bringing the invasion to a standstill. This caused a panic amongst the German ranks, who quickly organized a new attack along the Kursk salient in an attempt to restart the push forward. Initially starting with a skirmish at Prokhorovka, the larger Battle of Kursk was one of the largest tank battles to ever take place, and resulted, again, with a tactical victory for the USSR, thus ending the German's ability to stage offensives in any capacity. All this has occurred despite Lend-Lease shipments being rather minor before Stalingrad and only picking up after, so that their main role was really to facilitate victory rather than stave off defeat, enabling a more rapid advance by the Red Army on the way to Germany.
The Germans continued on the offensive regardless of the Soviet counterattack being much stronger than German attempts at advances. By January 1944, the Siege of Leningrad was lifted, and one year later to the day (25 January) Red Army soldiers of the 244th Rifle division discovered the Auschwitz concentration camp, subsequently liberating the 8,000 or so prisoners still detained there. In April 1945 the Battle of Berlin began, as the crumbling and shattered German Reich made one last stubborn defence against the so-called "Asiatic hordes". Hitler killed himself in his bunker on 1 May 1945, the same day the Soviet Flag was raised above the Reichstag. A few days later, it was hung there permanently, and on 9 May 1945, the remnants of the German Government led by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz unconditionally surrendered to the Worker's and Peasant's Red Army of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The USSR had borne the brunt of Nazi terror during the War, with some 89% of all Nazi war efforts being focused on the eastern front.
After the War
WW-2 would scarcely end before the beginning of the Cold War broke out.
Myths about the USSR in WW-II
Given the nature of the Cold War after WW-2, Western Historiography only waited a few years for the dust to settle, before openly pursuing anti-Sovietism in their works on the war and the country in general. Quickly the former "fellow allies" were again demoted to being demonized caricatures of subhuman mongoloids ready to charge over the Fulda Gap to rape and pillage and oppress. The Nazis were quietly whitewashed into 'good chaps' who had been led astray by the madman Hitler whose inhuman insanity was supposedly only second to the caricature of Stalin's. The Soviet role in the war, slowly turned from liberator to lesser evil and finally an equal evil, in the minds of people, all through a mix of half-truths and lies by omission.
'Rape of Berlin'
A common claim is that the USSR beat the Germans by throwing their poorly-armed troops into a meat grinder, overwhelming them with bodies, with losses of 10 to 1 according to some, as a result of poor military command, allegedly due to the Purges of the RKKA.
In reality the Soviet High Command understood the problems of warfare well, having proven it against Japan for several years on the Manchurian and Mongolian borders and in other small conflicts. According to meticulous post-Soviet archival work by G. I. Krivosheev in Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses, the total number of men (and in the Soviet case, ~1 million women) who passed through the armed forces of the USSR was 34,476,700 and through Germany's was 21,107,000. Of these, the “irrevocable losses” (the number of soldiers who were killed in military action, went MIA, became POWs and died of non-combat causes) was 11,285,057 for the USSR, 6,231,700 for Germany, 6,923,700 for Germany and its occupied territories, and 8,649,500 for all the Axis forces on the Eastern Front. Thus, the total ratio of Soviet to Nazi military losses was 1.3:1. Hardly the stuff of “Asiatic hordes” of Nazi and Russophobic imagination, (that said, also contrary to popular opinion, Mongol armies were almost always a lot smaller than those of their enemies and they achieved victory through superior mobility and coordination, not numbers).
The problem is that during the Cold War, the historiography in the West was dominated by the memoirs of Tippelskirch, who wrote in the 1950s citing constant Soviet/German forces ratios of 7:1 and losses ratio of 10:1. This has been carried over into the 1990s (as with popular “historians” like Anthony Beevor), although it should be noted that more professional folks like Richard Overy are aware of the new research. Note also that cumulatively 28% and 57% of all Soviet losses were incurred in 1941 and 1942 respectively – the period when the Soviet army was still relatively disorganized and immobile, whereas for the Germans the balance was roughly the opposite with losses concentrated in 1944–45.
The idea that there were two soldiers for every rifle in the Red Army, as portrayed in the ahistorical propaganda film Enemy at the Gates, is a complete figment of Western propaganda. From 1939 to 1945, the USSR outproduced Germany in aircraft by a factor of 1.3, tanks by 1.7, machine guns by 2.2, artillery by 3.2 and mortars by 5.5, so in fact if anything the Red Army was better equipped than the Wehrmacht.
Early in the war the Soviets understood that a precision built bolt action rifle with sights graduated to 1200 meters was an expensive option and one that required considerable time and resources to train huge numbers of troops on. The Mosin–Nagant - of which they made 37,000,000 - was a good weapon but one that only a small percentage of their infantrymen could use to maximum potential and as with all bolt guns was cursed with a slow rate of fire and a limited capacity. The soviets realized sooner than anyone else that 90% of infantry combat takes place at close range (<=200 meters) where full power cartridges like their 7.62mm X 54R were over powered and the bolt action rifles that fired such heavy hitters had a low rate of fire. Soviet doctrine demanded that in meeting engagements their troops should be able to establish direct fire superiority quickly and then maneuver under the cover of that high volume of fire.
Of course the Germans wanted the same capability but were too slow to implement the changes required in time. The German Solution was to place light belt fed machine guns with high rates of fire such as the MG-34 with its ~900 round/min rate of fire with infantry platoons. Thus the German squad armed predominantly with bolt action rifles and a few short-range MP-40 submachine guns, centered around a base of fire from the MG-34.
The Soviets had two solutions:
- On one level the Soviets adopted the same solution as the Germans with the 7.62mm X 54R DP-28 drum fed light machine gun acting as the base of fire and the rest of the unit armed with bolt action rifles.
- Another Soviet solution was the creation of SMG battalions where the predominant weapon was the easy to manufacture PPSh-41 sub machine gun (1000 rounds/min) that was supported by DP-28 LMG and designated marksmen armed with either Mosin–Nagant bolt guns or SVT-40 semi automatic rifles. These units could send clouds of lead at German troops while in the attack at a dead run.
Compare; 20 Germans with 1 MG-34, 4 MP-40s and 15 bolt action rifles facing 20 Soviets with 2 DP-28s, 6 SVT-40s and 12 PPSh-41s. The German unit is over matched with respect to the volume of fire it can deliver. It took less time and effort to train a submachine gunner than an effective rifleman.
Western Countries Secured Victory Against Hitler
Germany deployed 60 divisions on the Western front, vs 200 against the USSR. The US and Britain killed 8 times less Hitlerites than the USSR
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as an Alliance
Katyń Massacre blame
Lend-Lease saved the USSR
This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling.
One of the most prevalent myths about World War II was the mythology of German super-aces - especially for the luftwaffe and panzers - who took out hundreds of their enemies while in comparison their allied counterparts never achieved such numbers. In contrast to the war time dismissal of German Propaganda, Cold War historians took these inflated numbers seriously and at this time they are widely accepted as factual numbers. Figures like Hans-Ulrich Rudel or Erich Hartmann whose numbers are extraordinary were the peak of a large number of such "aces". Unlike the USSR or USA, who may have occasionally denied losses in public purely for morale, the Nazi government did so not only because of public morale but also ideological insanity: They were the master race, they COULDN’T lose to Untermensch; Slavs and Jews and Negroes, as that would mean their entire race rhetoric was wrong and they weren't special! It is telling that much of the archives were burned or otherwise destroyed in the last days of the war, and that the remaining propaganda numbers do not add up to losses reported by allied forces in either public or secret reports. The fact remains that German kill-loss ratios are neither consistent with data from other countries, and it has a far higher lack of objectivity in comparison to any of the allied countries, especially given the post-war/Cold War situation.
- ↑ https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/30/how-american-racism-influenced-hitler
- ↑ Rick Atkinson (2013). The Guns Last Night: The War in Western Europe. p. 351.
- ↑ Rick Atkinson (2007). The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. p. 496.
- ↑ Stalin's Wars by Geoffrey Roberts, page 164
- ↑ Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won; Chris Chant, Small Arms
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