WW II

World War II World War II was one of the deadliest and most destructive
wars this world has seen. The origins of the war were in Germany where
Adolf Hitler became the leader and started ethnic cleansing, killing any
Jewish person, gypsy, homosexual or any other person whom he considered
“inferior.” Another cause of the war was the attempted invasion of Ethiopia
by Italy, which they eventually occupied in 1936 despite British and French
opposition. Germany appeared to be winning the war, taking over the
Rhineland, Czechoslovakia,
France, Belgium and other pieces of land, up until 1942 when the tides
turned in favor of the Allies. The Japanese naval airpower was devastated
by the Americans and Hitler had recently been defeated at Moscow. Shortly
after Italy was defeated and expelled from the war and Germany’s forces
were slowly deteriorated. The war officially ended when the Japanese
surrendered following the detonation of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. Hitler began holding meetings with others who thought like him,
blaming Jewish people for the problems in Europe. The Communists
continually tried to break up the meetings of the group who came to be
known as the National Socialist Party in 1923. The
National Socialist Party, led by Goering, Hess, Rosenberg, and Roehm, was
outraged with France for occupying the Ruhr. In 1924 Hitler was sentenced
to a four-year prison term for a demonstration where twenty people were
killed. He only ended up serving thirteen months of the term but it
provided sufficient time for him to outline his book Mein Kampf, which
means “My Struggle” in German. The President of the German State, Marshal
Hindenburg, was eighty-three years old as of 1930 and was persuaded to view
Hitler as the next
Chancellor of the Reich. Hitler was called to Berlin by the President and
on
January thirtieth, 1933 he became the Chancellor of Germany. Hitler’s first
acquisition was his reoccupation of the Rhineland, a small portion of
western
Germany in 1936. Just three years later German soldiers had already taken
over
Czechoslovakia. In early September of the same year Germany took over
Poland,
France and Great Britain declare war on Germany, and Norway, Portugal,
Spain, and Ireland all declare neutrality. Later in the year Turkey signs a
pact with
Britain and France giving them mutual assistance and the Soviets attack
Finland.

In April of 1940 the Danish king announced that Norway was surrendering to
Germany and one month later Belgium does the same. France, under constant
attack, gave into Germany in mid June. Italy, sided with Germany, decides
that it needs control of the Suez Canal so it invades Egypt on September
thirteenth.

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In October after Hitler’s constant nagging, Spain joins the war in exchange
for military, agricultural, and territorial demands. On June twenty-second,
1941
Germany begins Operation Barbarossa, the code name for the invasion of the
U.S.S.R. Hitler’s plan was to have his army, 3,200,000 men, split into
three groups; one moving north towards Leningrad, one moving towards
Moscow, and one moving south towards Kiev. By the time his army had taken
Kiev it was already
September and as they moved north towards Moscow winter set in early.

Hitler’s forces were stuck in the bitter cold of winter. In December a
Soviet counter-attack forced the Germans to withdraw from Moscow. This was
the first sign that Hitler’s powerful army could in fact be stopped and
that he was bound to make a mistake at some time. Another Allied force, the
British, were also having good luck. In Libya the British were able to
split the army under Rommel, forcing him to retreat. Early in the morning
of December seventh, 1941 a fleet of 189 Japanese aircraft began attacking
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The first wave of planes destroyed anything it could
find, including American aircraft, battleships, destroyers, cruisers, and
submarines. The second wave followed shortly and attacked everything the
first wave had missed. Anti-aircraft fire was able to deter a third wave,
but an incredible amount of damage had already happened. In only one hour,
forty five minutes the Japanese air forces wrecked and capsized two
battleships and three were resting on the bottom. Nineteen war ships had
been hit and 150 aircraft had been disabled. In all over 2,400
American lives were lost, 2,086 from the Navy and 237 from the Army. As a
result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor the United States, with many of the
Latin
American countries, declared war on Germany, Japan and Italy. Although many
countries declared war against the Axis nations, only the United States,
Brazil, and Mexico actually sent troops to fight. At this point the war
started to turn in favor of the Allies. The first major win for the
American forces was at the
Battle of the Coral Sea. After the dust settled at Coral Sea the Japanese
lost three heavy cruisers, two destroyers, and more than twenty other
ships. Just a month later the Americans won another decisive battle at
Midway. American forces spotted the Japanese fleet before it was able to do
any extensive damage to the island. By the end of the battle the Japanese
were in full retreat after the loss of four carriers, two large cruisers,
three destroyers, and various other auxiliary craft. In the U.S.S.R. the
Germans had resumed their offensive, now with their primary target as
Caucasus, for the oil, and their secondary target as Stalingrad. The
Germans had a chance to attack Stalingrad while it was nearly defenseless,
however they waited and attacked after Soviet reinforcements arrived. It
appeared as though they would capture Caucasus but a fuel shortage plagued
them. In October 1942 the German army had lost twenty-two divisions and the
rest were ordered by Hitler to fight to the last man against the reinforced
Soviets. 22,500 German soldiers under Paulus surrendered inside Caucasus
after losing nearly 200,000, 100,000 dead and 91,000 captured. The only
logical place the Allies could find to attack was Italy, but they first had
to go through
Sicily which was guarded by two islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa. Even
though the attack on Pantelleria destroyed only two of the fifty-four shore
batteries, the Italians flew a white flag when a ship neared the island.

The attack on
Sicily by the Allies didn’t start well, but they soon got things
straightened out and the Seventh army had gained an important position on
the island. On July twenty-fifth Mussolini, the leader of the Italians,
resigned and was immediately imprisoned, only to be freed by Nazis several
weeks later. The Italians surrendered Sicily unconditionally on September
second and their fleet sailed towards Malta. The Eighth army landed on the
southern tip of Italy and moved north, while the Fifth army landed further
up the west coast at Salerno. The
Fifth army nearly faced defeat but gained the advantage once heavy armor
arrived. The Fifth and Eighth armies joined forces 45 miles southeast of
Salerno and moved there way to Foggia, then Naples. Shortly after the
Italians abandoned
Sardinia and Corsica. Operations in the Soviet Union continued throughout
1943, with Germany launching their final offensive in July. The Battle of
Kursk followed shortly, proving to be the greatest tank battle ever. At
first the
Soviets forced the Germans behind the Dnieper river, followed by ten German
divisions retreating from the Taman Peninsula to Crimea. Kharkov, Donets,
Taganrog, Poltava, and Smolensk were all liberated by the Soviets by mid
September. The Soviets took a short break and resumed their offensive on
October seventh. In order to prepare for a winter offensive the Soviets
rested and stockpiled after nearly defeating Manstein and Kleist. 1944
began well for the
Allies, as they invaded and conquered the Marshall Islands in late January.

The attack was split into three groups. The first was a task force who
annihilated the defenses of seven different islands. The second was a group
of reinforced marines who took down the islands of Roi and Namur in only
four days of close combat. The final group landed at Majuro, an island
wanted for its deep harbors.

However, the island had already been evacuated by the Japanese and it was
taken over without any fighting. The Japanese air base at Engebi was
captured after the loss of 500 Americans’ lives. On February sixteenth the
naval base of Truk was raided and 201 enemy planes and twenty-three ships
were destroyed at the cost of seventeen American planes. Less than a week
later 135 planes and eleven surface ships were destroyed at the island of
Saipan. Just a month later
American forces captured New Guinea which brought them within 300 miles of
the
Philippines. By the spring of 1944 the Soviets reclaimed nearly all of
their own country and began pushing into the Balkans and Poland. The siege
at Leningrad was won after two and a half years. A very important target
for the Soviets was the Odessa-Lvov railway. In just two days they had
reached the railhead at
Volochisk fifty miles away. General Zhukov, who also led the mission to
disable the railway, took over the German base at Uman which gave them the
crucial position they needed. Zhukov’s next move was to disable another
rail line which delivered supplies through Poland to the German forces in
the Ukraine. Zhukov, along with Konev, isolated the German forces in the
Ukraine and the area was liberated by April of 1944. Now the only German
troops left in the U.S.S.R were those in Crimea. The Fourth Ukrainian
Front, under General Tolbhukin, defeated the German seventeenth army by the
twelfth of May. The Normandy invasion, often called D-Day, began on June
sixth, 1944 when American, British, and Canadian forces landed on the
Cotentin Peninsula. The objective of the invasion of
Normandy was to regain France which had been taken over by Germany earlier
in the war. The initial attack was spit into three divisions. The first
division landed near Bayeax-Caen and was composed of British and Canadian
troops. The second and third divisions were both American and landed at
Omaha Beach and Utah
Beach, respectively. In order for the troops to get across the English
Channel a massive convoy of ships was needed. 5,000 Higgins boats and other
small ship-to-shore craft were needed, making the mission the largest ever
on water.

The British-Canadian offensive, as well as the one at Utah beach, went well
and both were positioned by nightfall. However, the circumstances at Omaha
Beach, primarily the fortified bluffs, proved to be a much tougher fight
for the
Americans. On the first day the objectives failed and German forces put up
a struggle for the following four days. The landing forces totaled fourteen
divisions from Britain and sixty divisions from America. Opposing them were
fifty German infantry divisions, thirty-six of which were stationed on the
western coast, and ten Panzer divisions. Hitler had been working on a long
range rocket, called the V-1, which he would use against London for the
previous three years and perfected it around the time of the Normandy
invasion. Later in the summer the V-2 was developed which had longer range
and harder hitting power.

With these tactical weapons Hitler was able to strike at England from a
safe distance and used this advantage. Britain was bombed 1,100 times and
Liege and
Antwerp were bombed over 1,600 times. On June twenty-seventh the first port
had fallen to American force after 1,500,000 troops had landed at Normandy
and secured it. The Americans broke through on a road towards a small, but
heavily defended town called Brittany. The Germans fought to the death and
it proved to be the bloodiest battle in the west. By August nineteenth
German forces were in full retreat all along the line and Paris was
liberated on August twenty-fifth.

The port of Antwerp was capture on September fourth and Verdun was taken
without a fight. Allied forces continued to deal a beating on Germany but
were slowed drastically by gasoline shortages. The Soviet forces broke
through the
Mannerheim line just four days after the Normandy invasion and the war
between the U.S.S.R and Finland virtually stopped, even though negotiations
didn’t happen until later. One hundred Soviet divisions reached the German
front on
June twenty-third, followed by the defeat of the German occupied Vitebsk,
Orsha,
Mogilev, and Zhlobin. The German Ninth Army was nearly non-existent and the
German Fourth Army was in full retreat. Two different encircling moves by
the
First Ukrainian Front forced Romania out of the war on August twenty-fifth.


Bulgaria removed itself from the war the next day. The Axis forces were
rapidly losing forces and the war. Hitler was able to concentrate 250,000
troops to a small area near the U.S. VIII Corps without foreign
intelligence knowing. Early in the morning of December sixteenth, 1944
Hitler’s army attacked and brought complete surprise to the Allies, it was
known as the Battle of the Bulge. Hitler himself thought up the plan, but
actions by the Allies turned a nearly devastating onslaught into a stunning
victory. Ardennes, Bastogne, and St. Vith were all very important places
during the Battle of the Bulge. At their highest point the German’s came
within a few miles of the Meuse River and unknowingly passed by an Ally
supply within a quarter mile. Germany continued to pour troops into the
battle which stabilized by Christmas Eve. When the skies finally cleared
the Allies aircraft began bombing the German armor and trains, which were
at a near standstill. Hitler eventually decided to withdraw from the
Ardennes on January twenty-first, but only after losing 120,000 men. Iwo
Jima was an important tactical position in the Pacific War and the
Americans were willing to sacrifice much for it. They sent in 60,000
officers, followed by the
Fifth Fleet. By February twenty-seventh, 1945 the Americans had won over
half the island and on March fifteenth the fighting stopped after nearly
20,000
American casualties. Okinawa was the last island needed before the direct
attack of Japan itself. Okinawa was invaded and quickly destroyed, followed
by the
Tenth Army moving towards Japan. It was here that the kamikaze technique,
flying an airplane with a warhead attached to it, against war ships and
other targets.

The Tenth Army was the largest amphibious movement in the Pacific War,
comprised of 1,427 ships. Okinawa was readily waiting for the arrival of
the Americans on the south side of the island, with 100,000 soldiers and an
intricate system of fortification in the coral and limestone rock. The
Japanese fleet then came out and intercepted the American fleet. The
Soviets, after rapidly expelling the
Germans from their own country, took a little longer to move into Germany.

The
Soviets did go full force, sending all four of their armies into Germany,
north and south of Breslau. By mid-February they had already taken over
Bunslau, which is a mere 125 miles from Berlin. Zhukov reached Oder, then
Posen along the Warta
River, within sixty miles of Berlin. During February of 1945 the armies in
the west were having trouble making it up the Rhine. The U.S. Third Corps
followed the Germans over the Rhine Bridge after being commanded to “Get
five divisions across as quickly as possible.” by Eisenhower. The Americans
were able to get across the bridge so quickly that the Germans didn’t even
have time to demolish it. The U.S. First and Ninth Armies linked on April
first near
Paderborn and held the German Army Group B and two corps of Group H in
captivity. After constant air attacks the remaining 325,000 men and 30
general officers surrendered. The Third U.S. Army took Frankfurt, then
Kassel. The
Seventh U.S. Army crossed the Rhine near Worms and joined with the Third
near
Darmstadt. As a result of this massive movement of Allied forces, the
German defense in the west basically fell apart. Eisenhower decided to halt
many of his troops, knowing that the Soviet forces would be coming through
on the other side, fearful that the two allies might mistake each other for
enemy. The
Americans met the Soviets at Torgau on April twenty-fifth. The Soviet army
continued onward toward Berlin and had the city enveloped the same day.

Hitler, choosing not to flee with many of his advisers, committed suicide
on April thirtieth, knowing that there were Soviet forces just above his
bunker. The
Berlin forces surrendered on May second. The war on the front next to Italy
was surrendered on April twenty-ninth. Mussolini, the ex-dictator of Italy
and his mistress, were killed after attempting to escape from imprisonment.

On May fifth a representative of Doenitz, the inherited leader of Germany,
offered a surrender of all troops in Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and
Schleswig-Holstein.

Even though the war had ended in Europe, the battle in the Pacific
continued.

Bombing Japan seemed to be the most effective way to eat away at the
Japanese forces. On July sixteenth, 1945 news that the nuclear bomb at
Alamogordo, New
Mexico, was a success was rushed to President Truman. Even though the bomb
was originally intended for Berlin, Truman decided that the weapons could
also be used to force a quick surrender in the Pacific. On July twenty-
sixth America joined Britain and China in issuing an ultimatum for
unconditional surrender. On
August sixth, after Japan ignored the ultimatum, a B-29 bomber appeared
over
Hiroshima and then sped away. A few moments later the first atomic bomb to
be dropped on humans detonated, killing and injuring about half the city’s
population, 320,000 people. Three days later a second atomic bomb was
dropped on
Nagasaki. The second bomb did less damage, killing and injuring 80,000
people because the bomb was off target. On August tenth the Japanese
declared that they would accept the terms of the Potsdam ultimatum. The
second world war was officially over on September second, aboard the
Missouri where the Japanese signed a document ending all fighting.

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