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The War - a concise history 1939 - 1945 by Louis L. Snyder
(notes from the book)
Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1964 paperback (orig. published in 1960)éö£
Front cover (photo)
Back cover (photo)
WWII was fought by the greatest number of men in history over the largest area of the world's surface. As time rolls by, the events from 1939 to 1945 come more into focus. This book's purpose is to present in concise form the story from Warsaw to Tokyo Bay.
Introduction by Eric Sevareid, June 1960
With WWI died values and assumptions of humanitarian progress that had grown for 100 years. "It was in WWII we learned to question the meaning of a 1,000 years of belief in the human spirit and shivered in the cold stench of medieval mania loosed from the catacombs of the Dark Ages, for this time men saw in the Germanic insanity mass butchery following from deliberate purpose, down to the last neat medical chart showing the stress-resistance behavior of the lower bowel under hydraulic pressure."
- reshuffled the political world of nations; loosened the ties of the old empires and brought new ones.
- awakened millions of black and yellow people.
- brought the USA to the old world to stay.
- strengthened Russian Communism, by weakening other societies and by leaving Communist armies astride them.
- made students of many of our men who returned searching for the meaning of personal life. And made neurotics and gangsters of others.
- made England healthier.
- ended the dictatorships of Germany, Italy, and Japan.
- cleared a dangerously long path ahead for the Bolshevist's world plan.
In waw an individual's personal character comes out: weakness, bestiality, heroism.
Part 1 - Prelude: The Road to War
Chapter 1 - "The Altar of Mars"
Sept. 1, 1939: Blitzkrieg in Poland. Without a declaration of war, simultaneously from East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, and Slovakia, Hitler's war machine invaded Warsaw. The Blitzkrieg technique was quick and mobile thanks to their tanks. Poland didn't know what hit them!
September 17, 1939: Russia invaded Poland from the east. Stalin and Hitler had made a deal to split up Poland. Within 2 days the Red troops held 1/2 of Poland, including the oil fields of Galacia, also blocked Hitler's direct road to the oil of Rumania.
TheGermans tried weapons of propaganda, such as posters and dropping leaflets to give up, but the Poles were stubborn and fought.
September 28, 1939: Foreign Ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov met to divide up Poland.
- The Germans got 73,000 square miles, much mining and manufacturing areas, with 22 million people.
- The Russians got 77,000 square miles of Poland, including major oil resources and 13 million people.
More than 70,000 Polish troops fled to France and England.
Leading Polish officials fled to Rumania.
Dr. Robert Ley, head of the German Labor Front, forced tens of thousands of Poles into slave labor for the Nazi war machine.
Nazi Police Chief Heinrich Himmler began extermination of Poles and Jews by firing squads and gas chambers.
Historian E. L. Bogart estimated in the early 1930s the cost of WWI was $331 billion, plus interest payments on loans, pension, care for veterans, and effects on human life.
1880 Great Britain produced about 2 1/2 times iron ore as Germany, by 1909 Germany almost doubled the British rate of production.
The German economy suffered when they lost WWI in 1918 Treaty of Versailles.
Inflation of 1923 devalued Germany's money. The Western nations helped out with the Dawes Plan (1924) and the Young Plan (1929). Then the depression of 1929 stopped the outside aid.
Then came Hitler, controlled the system, abandoned the Weimar Republic's welfare economy and placed in a war economy.
"Nationalism" may be much to blame for WWII. It's hard to define and its meaning changes with the course of history. It's a state of mind, an act of consciousness, a psychological fact; a symbol by society for security. It's artificially constructed; deeply rooted in the past; utilizes primitive feelings of man, including love of birthplace and hatred of foreigners (xenophobia).
In the 20th century nationalism spread to Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, to countries, unlike the West, had no experience with individual liberty.
Another basic cause for both World Wars was a lack of regulating the relations between nations; no international organizaion.
There were two international Peace Conferences organized by Czar Nicholas II of Russia and held at The Hague in 1899 and 1907.
After WWI the League of Nations was created to promote international order the brain-child of Jan Smuts, a South African leader.
Wilson believed in the League of Nations and reluctantly even accepted some of the harsher terms of the Treaty of Versailles (the treaty of peace with Germany) in return for support of the League. Back home isolationist Republicans were upset about the League. Wilson tried to convince the county, but he failed and the U.S. didn't participate in the League of Nations. In his book "Triumph and Tragedy" Churchill says that the League was ruined by the U.S. not joining.
After 1931 came major disputes that the League failed to resolve:
- Japanese aggression against China.
- Italy in Ethiopia.
- The problems arising from the Spanish Civil War.
August 27, 1928: 15 nations signed the Kellogg-Briand Paris Peace Pact. By 1933 63 nations had signed it.
1921 - 1922: President Harding called the Washington Naval Conference. As a result of the agreed naval limits the U.S. destroyed part of its fleet.
The World Disarmament Conference began in Geneva in 1932. President Hoover suggested a 1/3 reduction of land forces and total abolition of tanks, bombing planes, and large mobile guns. Hitler wanted to arm to equal France. This was denied. October 1933 Germany quit the League of Nations. The Conference fell apart.
1935 - 1936: the London Naval Conference of 1935-1936 was called when Japan demanded equality with the U.S. and Great Britain. Things fell apart and the Great Powers resumed unlimited naval construction.
Proponents of disarmament argued that arms races always lead to war. The other side advocated preparedness: the best way to prevent war was to be so powerful an aggressor would never attack. The debate ended by the emergence of Hitler.
1939: the stop-Hitler coalition (Britain, France, Rumania, Greece, Poland) seemed to have an edge on the Axis (Germany, Italy, Hungary, Spain). The Allies had advantage in sea power, but the Axis was superior in submarine strength. Ther airforces were about equal.
Chapter 2 - "From Mancuria to Anschluss: Stages of Axis Aggression"
1914, Japan violated Chinese neutrality by landing troops around Kiaochow, which Germany had leased from China in 1898.
January 1915: Tokyo gave Pres. Yuan of China a list of demands written on War Office stationary. The U.S. protested and Japan withdrew most of the demands.
Japan saw Manchuria as a 1/2 million miles of potential wealth: iron, coal, copper, lead, manganese, oil shale, gold. Also a buffer state vis-á-vis Soviet Russian, and surplus Japanese could live in Manchuria.
As early as 1919 the Dai Nippon Kokusuikai (Greater Japan National Essence Society) had gathered a million members. The Kokuhousha (National Foundation Society) was preaching a xenophobic nationalism.
Political assassinations began. A coup attempt in Japan failed when senior officers refused to go along with the conspirators.
September 18, 1931: Japan captured Mukden and 10,000 Chinese sodiers.
Japan completed their conquest of all of China in January 1932.
Then Japan turned south. 23,000 lives lost, 20,000were Chinese. Continued destroying the countryside, raping women, slaughtered prisoners.
March 1932: Japan transformed Manchuria into the "independent" Republic of Manchukuo (State of Manchu).
This was the first preliminary bout of WWII; The beginning of a chain reaction.
October 1935: Italy invaded Ethiopia.
- A semi-civilized country of 450,000 square miles.
- One of the oldest Christian nations in the world.
- In northeast Africa.
- Its economy was primarily agricultural, but its resources were potentially gold, silver, manganese, tin, copper, asbestos, potash, sulphur, mica, and some coal and iron.
The Ethiopian force was small and poorly armed; it was a slaughter.
50 of the 54 League of Nations agreed on economic sanctions on Italy, but didn't include an oil embargo which would have crippled her.
The Hoare-Laval Plan was born in December 1935.
- Italy would be granted about 2/3 of Ethiopian territory in exchange for about 3,000 sq. miles connecting Ethiopia with the port of Assab in Eritrea.
- The public reaction to this plan caused Sir Samuel Hoare, the British foreign secretary, to resign.
- Fascist-minded French premier, Pierre Lava, left office a few weeks later.
May 9, 1936: King Victor Emmanuel III was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia. Within a month Mussolini organized Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somaliland into Italian East Africa. In 1937 the Duce (Mussolini) himself took over the position of Minister for Italian Africa.
The deposed monarch, Haile Selassie, went to Geneva, Switzerland and pleaded to the League of Nations, but they did nothing.
July 16, 1936: the League ended sanctions against Italy.
A year and a half later Italy resigned from the League of Nations.
The Spanish Civil War, 1936 - 1939
20th century Spain was politically unstable, corrupt, inefficient. A few thousand grandees owned more than a half the land, 1 1/2 million owned only 2%, 2 million people owned no land.
- After 1919, political chaos, economic distress, social unrest.
- 1921 in Spanish Morocco, a Spanish army of 20,000 men was wiped out by guerilla Riffs under Abd-el-Krim.
- Sept. 23, 1923 Capt. General Primo de Rivera seized the government with the acquiescence of Alfonso XIII, established a military dictatorship.
- Jan. 28, 1930, Rivera resigned and fled to France in exhile.
- April, 1930, Alfonso followed Rivera to France in exhile.
- The new president, Niceto Alcala Zamoro.
- New laws against monarchy, army, Church, aristocracy, all pillars of the Old Regime similar to the French Revolution a century and a half earlier.
- Rightist parties gained power in the 1933 elections suspended the new land laws and anticlerical legislations.
- Then followed uprisings, seizures of estates by the peasants, church burnings, martial law, and political assassinations.
A fascist group called the Falange (or Phalanx) was founded by Antonio Primo de Rivera, son of the former dictator. Assistance came from Mussolini and Hitler.
The oppostion to Fascism in Spain was the Popular Front.
- The Popular Front consisted of middle-class liberals, Radical Republicans, Socialists, Syndicalists, and Communists.
- Opposed to the Popular Front were monarchists, clericals, Conservative Republicans, and Fascists.
- In the 1936 general elections they obtained 260 seats in the Cortes, the opposition 213 seats.
- Terror from both Right and Left.
1936, some generals wanted General José Sanjurjo as generalissimo and dictator, to install but was killed in a plane crash. So their next choice was Francisco Franco.
- Age 32
- had organized the Spanish Foreign Legion in Morocco.
- had worked with French Marshal Henri Pétain to suppress a native revolt led by the ubiquitous Abd-el-Krim.
- 1934 was appointed chief of the general staff.
- 1936 he was dismissed when the Popular Front came to power and he became military governor of the Canary Islands.
- When Sanjuro died Franco flew to Morocco to lead the mainland army.
July 17, 1936: Franco led a revolt, most generals and their men went along, but the navy and air force remaind loyal to the government.
Sept. 27, 1936: The Fascist Rebels captured Toledo. This began 3 years of civil war.
The Rebels had 10 times as many planes, tanks, and artillery as the Popular Front and quickly conquered the western half of Spain.
By 1938 Franco controlled 2/3 of Spain.
March 28, 1938: Madrid surrendered, Franco now controlled all of Spain.
Hitler and Mussolini aided Franco. The papacy gave its spiritual support to Franco. When Italian troops left Italian soil for Spain, they received the papal blessing.
As early as November 1936, Soviet Russia sent technicians and matériel into Spain to help fight the Fascists. Communists trained in Moscow to fight in Spain included Tito of Yugoslavia and Dimitrov of Bulgeria.
From all over the world sympathizers with the Spanish Republic sent brigades to fight in Spain. The "Abraham Lincoln Brigade" recruited in the U.S. Author George Orwell went to Spain to fight.
Officially France, Great Britain, and the U.S. remained neutral on the Spanish civil war.
Thanks to German and Italian support, Franco established a totalitarian dictatorship in Spain.
- Restored the privileges of the Old Regime to army, clergy, and upper classes.
- Returned land to the grandees.
- Restored sequestered properties to the Church.
- Reinstated clerical control over education.
- Abolished labor unions, forbade strikes.
- He commenced a reign of terror against all political opponents, arrested between 500,000 and 2,000,000 political prisoners.
April 7, 1939: Franco joined the Anti-Comintern Pact, directed against Communism. Madrid was now with the Rome-Berlin Axis.
(In 1936 Mussolini and Hitler called their joint forces an "Axis", and all European states were supposed to revolve around Germany and Italy like a wheel revolves around its axle.)
Sept. 27, 1940: Japan formally joined the union, now called the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, or the "Pact of Steel".
After 8 years, the Spanish Republic was no more. A million people killed, bitterness, poverty.
The "China Incident", 1937
March 1933: Baron General Sadao Araki, Japanese war minister and leader of the war party, said that the Manchurian trouble has arisen, an alarm bell for the Japanese people, someday all nations will look up to the doctrine of "Kodo" (Way of the Emperor"). It was evident that Japan's goal was to someday rule the world.
December 1934: American ambassador in Tokyo, Joseph C. Grew, reported to Secretary of State Cordell Hull that the aim of the Japanese militarists was to obtain trade control and predominant influence in China, the Philippines, the Straits Settlements, Siam, the Dutch East Indies, the Maritime Provinces, and Vladivostok.
1934: The Roosevelt Administration extended a $50 million credit to China through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Warplanes were sold to China, and pilot training. This caused resentment in the Nipponese war party.
Some fanatical Japanese took action against more moderate Japanese.
- the "Zaibatsu" were businessmen who wanted expansion but without war.
- the Genro, or Elder Statesmen, also wanted expansion but at a moderate pace.
- March 1932 a group of army cadels, navy officers, and civilians, members of a secret patriotic society known as the Blood Brotherhood League, assassinated Baron Dan Takuma, chairman of the board of the Mitsui corporation.
- May 15, 1932, they killed Tsuyoshi Inukai, last of the parliamentary prime ministers.
Feb. 20, 1936: Elections returned a majority of liberals to Parliament the terrorists were infuriated.
- 6 days later 1,400 officers and enlisted men seized central Tokyo.
- attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Admiral Keisuke Okada, but failed.
- killed Admiral Makoto Saito, the former prime minister who had become Lord Privy Seal to the Emperor.
- killed General Watanabe, the inspector-general of military education.
- killed Finance Minister Korekiyo Takahashi.
November 25, 1936: Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact (directed against international communism) with Germany.
June 1937: General Hideki Tojo, chief of staff of the Kwantung Army, told Tokyo that Japan must strike China before Chiang Kai-shek (the Nationalist leader) and the Communists could join together.
July 7, 1937: Conflict in China at the Marco Polo bridge near the village of Lukouchiao. The Japanese claimed the Chinese had attacked them first.
Japanese troops streamed into North China.
- December 1937, Nanking.
- October 1938, the great port of Canton.
- October 1938, Hankow.
- The Chinese, led by Chiang Kai-shek, resisted but failed.
- Reports of the Japanese committing murder, torture. Mothers watching their babies beheaded and then submit to rape.
The Japanese conquest turned to a stalemate as they advanced deep into China.
- guerilla attacks
- manpower and matérial drained away
- too many Chinese!
Feb. 1939: Japan seized the island of Hainan, thereby obtaining a base from which to attack French Indo-China.
May 1939: Japan bockaded the British settlement in Tientsin.
Eventually the Japanese-Chinese war was merged into the greater conflict of WWII.
The Fall of Austria, 1938
- After WWI Austria was bankrupt, trade shattered. To some extent was rehabilitated by the League of Nations.
- Politically was in two parts: the Reds, dominantly Socialists, representing workers and intellectuals, and the Blacks, representing the Fascist, agricultural, and clerical interests.
- Hitler wanted Anschlus (union) between Germany and Austria. He encouraged Austrian Nazis to attack the regime of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfus. Terror began: street fights, bombings, shootings, attacks on officials.
- July 1934, a coup was attempted, Dollfus was assassinated. Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg succeeded him.
- Hitler chewed out Schuschnigg and gave him a list of demands. Schuschnigg gave in, and resigned.
- March 11, 1938, Seyss-Inquart was appointed Chancellor of Austria.
- March 12, 1938, Vienna was occupied by Germany.
- Austrian independence ended. Hitler added 6,500,000 citizens to his Greater Reich. He now had access to Austria's iron and timber, he won the key to the Danubian communications system, established geographical contact with Italy, and surrounded Czechoslavakia, the Bohemian bastion.
- Austrian President Miklas resigned.
- Schuschnigg was imprisoned.
- At least 30,000 arrests were made within a few days. Jews, socialists, Catholics, anyone suspected of anti-Nazi sentiments, all went to Gestapo torture chambers.
March 15, 1935: Hitler created the "Luftwaffe", the German air force.
March 16, 1935: Hitler repudiated all treaty limitations on armaments and established universal military service.
Allied war propagandists blamed WWI on Wilhelm II, the German militarists, Germann industrial magnets, and the Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold. They alleged that the Great German General Staff planned the war for 40 years. But most historians believe all the Great Powers were equally responsible, from unresolved economic clashes, national rivalries, sword-rattling.
Unlike WWI, the origin of WWII can be blamed on Hitler and Nazi Germany. Hitler clearly wanted to conquer Europe and ultimately control the world.
Clues to Hitler's mind are found in his book "Mein Kampf" his life story and his blueprint for Germany's future.
- a hodgepodge of history and fantasy
- he paraphrases some of the world's worst literature, including the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion".
- it became the Bible of the National Socialist movement, all party members and civil servants were required to buy it.
- sold more than 5 million copies.
Hitler installed a totalitarian state:
- destroyed opposing political parties.
- destroyed trade unions, took their property.
- abrogated all individual rights.
- coordinated every phase of national life, including Church, press, education, and army.
Hitler wanted to regain Germany's prestige as a World Power, to bring about a restoration of her former colonies, to promote Pan-Germanism ("One Reich, One People, One Fuehrer"), to revive the Drang nach Osten (Drive to the East), end the "Shame of Versailles".
November 5, 1937: Hitler outlined to his military leaders the steps for aggression against other countries.
- "German politics must reckon with its two hateful enemies, England and France..."
- to conquer Czechoslovakia and Austria simultaneously, to remove any threat from the flanks in case of a possible advance westward.
Hitler desired war. The German people became more and more convinced of his infallibility as he delivered one crippling blow after another to the system of Versailles. Politically illiterate Germans had little understanding of what was happening to them.
The German people are to blame in part by their national tradition of discipline and obedience, ground into the Germans by a combination of worship of the State (inspired by the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel), Prussian intransigence, and militarism.
Ther German officers' corps are to blame, too. They didn't desire world conquest like Hitler, but they failed to check the terrible offenses of Hitler. Their excuse was that a soldier honors his oath and carries out his orders.
After the Nazis conquered Austria, it was obvious Czechoslovakia was next.
- had been created in 1919 after WWI out of the three former provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian Silesia, plus the two former Hungarian provinces of Slovakia and Ruthenia.
- had become a model of democratic discipline, the most advanced liberal state between the Rhine and Soviet Russia.
- economically prosperous, were located most of the old Austro-Hungarian industries, including the famed Skoda steel and armaments.
- in the Danubian basin had different nationalities. The German minority were treated more generously then any other minority in the postwar world, but they complained anyway.
- in 1935 Konrad Henlein, leader of the Sudeten Nazis, received 60% of the German vote.
February 1939, in the Germanh Reichstag, Hitler outlined the "horrible conditions" of the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia. Hitler announced to the world that Germany will protect the Sudeten Germans against their Czech oppressors.
The German press denounced Czech "atrocities" against the German minortiy in Czechoslovakia.
May 1938: two Germans were killed in a frontier incident. Hitler used this as an excuse to send troops to the border. Czechoslovakia sent 400,000 troops to the border. France, Britain, and Soviet Russia agreed to support Czechoslovakia. Hitler withdrew his troops for the time being.
May 30, 1938: Hitler told his generals that on October 1 he will smash Czechoslovakia: "Operation Green".
Summer of 1938, the Nazi press attacked the Czechs.
Puppet Henlein's Nazi followers used weapons of agitation, terror, threats, and bluffs inside Czechoslovakia.
September 12, 1938: In a violent speech, Hitler said he intended to come to the aid of the oppressed Sudeten Germans.
September 13, 1938: After some prearranged incidents, President Benes proclaimed martial law.
Hitler demanded that the Sudeten territory become a part of the Third Reich or there will be war.
September 26: Speaking in Berlin, Hitler assured the world that if the Sudeten problem were solved, Germany would make no more territorial claims in Europe.
At the Munich talks it was agreed that Germany could have 1/3 of Czechoslovakia and 1/3 of the population. The German army would move in October 1. Great Britain and Germany signed a treaty of friendship.
Hitler made new demands:
- wanted a military highway built across Czechoslovakia.
- demanded the right to decide on the disposal of Slovakia and Ruthenia, naming himself as arbiter as to how much land was to be ceded to Hungary and Poland.
March 15, 1939: Emil Hacha, then president of the Czechoslovak Republic, signed a treaty which turned his country into a German protectorate. The German army entered Prague. Czechoslovakia ceased to exist.
British prime minister Neville Chamberlain couldn't do much at the time because his country was not ready for war they needed more time.
After the fall of Czechoslovakia it was obvious that if Hitler were not stopped, all eastern Europe would fall to the Third Reich. And then what about France, Britain, and the British colonies?
Chamberlain tried to strengthen an alliance system in both East and West to stop Hitler. But without Moscow it was hopeless.
August 23, 1939: Hitler and Stalin signed a nonaggression pact.
- both countries ageed not to resort to war against each other.
- a secret protocol designated the Baltic states as a Soviet sphere
- a secret protocol divided Eastern Europe into eventual German and Russian spheres. The Baltic states would be designated as a Soviet sphere of influence Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland. This bargain made it possible for Hitler to launch his war! (An eyewitness said that when Hitler learned that Stalin would sign the pact, he went hysterical, banging on the walls, and shouted: "I have the world in my pocket!"
- September 1939, Germany and Russia invaded Poland and each took 1/2 the country.
September 3, 1939: Britain and France declare war on Germany. Roosevelt said he hopes the U.S. will keep out of the war.
September 29, 1939: The Soviet Union forced Estonia to sign a treaty permitting the U.S.S.R. to establish military garrisons and naval and air bases on Estonian soil.
October 5, 1939: A similar treaty with Latvia.
October 10: A similar treaty with Lithuania.
The U.S.S.R. made similar demands of Finland, but they refused to lease or sell part of their soil for a foreign military base.
- predictibly, the U.S.S.R. and Communist press began attacking Finland.
- the Finns were accused of attacking Soviet border patrols.
- November 30th, Russian planes were bombing Helsinki and Viipuri.
- December 14th, the Soviet Union was kicked out of the League of Nations.
- More than 100,000 Russians invaded Finland at 5 different points. The world was amazed at how well this little Baltic republic fought them off.
- All over the World countries sent supplies to help out the Finns.
- The Soviets changed their strategy by concentrating on attacking the Finns at their strong point, the Mannerheim Line. The Finns were outnumbered 50 to 1.
- March 11, 1940, Finland gave up and accepted Stalin's terms. Finland lost more territory to the Soviet Union than was previously demanded.
- Stalin won, but it cost him about 200,000 Russians. Only about 25,000 Finns died.
- More than 400,000 Finns refused to live under Soviet domination, so they moved over the new boundry lines.
November 23, 1939: Hitler told his generals he will attack France and England soon.
Hitler was afraid Britain might cut off Germany's iron supply from Sweden through Norwegian territorial waters past Denmark. So early in 1939 Hitler planned to invade Denmark and Norway.
April 9, 1940: Germany told to Danish government that the Allies planned to use Scandinavia as a battleground, and since the Scandinavian countries can't defend themselves, Hitler would move in to "protect" them.
Germany cut off all Denmark's communications with the outside world.
Germany takes over Denmark without much resistance.
April 9, 1940: Germany conquers Norway.
- German navy suffered a heavy loss of ships.
- the Norwegian cabinet was headed by Norwegian Major Vidkun Quisling. He told the people to cease resistance. Backed by a small group of Norwegian Nazis, traitor Quisling cooperated with them. (a Norwegian firing squad later shot him after the Hitler regime collapsed in 1945.)
April 14, 1940: A small British force of 1,500 troops landed in Norway and was destroyed by the Germans.
Hitler had strategically located bases from which his planes could dominate all Scandinavia, imperil British shipping, and strike at Britain. He had diverted dairy products, fish, minerals, metal ores, and timber from the Allies. Confiscated Norway's gold reserves.
Most of the Norwegian fleet, 4th largest in the world, escaped the Nazis and joined the Allies helped supply Britain with oil and food.
Hitler now had under his control:
- 80,000,000 Germans
- 14,000,000 Poles
- 7,000,000, Czechs
- 3,000,000 Norwegians
- 3,750,000 Danes
The Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, all formerly tied to Denmark, were occupied by British and Canadian forces.
Hitler's plan to conquer the West was an assault on the Low Countries Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg. Then France, and then England.
To prepare for the invasion of Holland there was some fifth-column activity.
- German "tourists", "salesmen", and "students", prepared the way for invasion.
- stole uniforms of Dutch policemen, postmen, railway conductors.
- controlled key bridges, waterworks, canals.
May 10, 1940: Germany invaded Holland.
- Some were dressed in Allied uniforms.
- The Hague gave the usual Nazi explanation, that Britain and France were preparing to invade the Low Countries.
- May 14, Rotterdam, Holland was bombed. Between 30,000 and 50,000 civilians were killed.
- The Germans tried to capture Queen Wilhelmina, members of the royal family, and government leaders, but they escaped in a British destroyer with only the clothes on their backs.
- May 15, the Dutch gave up.
- The Dutch army lost 10,000 men, 1/4 of its strength.
- Hitler placed Holland under the control of Arthur von Seyss-Inquart, who had helped hand over Austria to the Third Reich.
- The Dutch began a campaign of passive resistance. The German occupation authorities complained that the Dutch did not understand "the true spirit of the New Order."
May 10, 1940: The Germans attacked the Low Countries along the western front from the North Sea to Luxemburg. In Belgium it was the same pattern: fifth columnists, no ultimatum, then Blitzkrieg.
May 28, 1940: 400,000 Belgian troops surrendered to the Germans.
May 10, 1940: Germany conquered Luxemburg
- small country of 300,000 people.
- Germany to the east, Belgium on the north and west, France on the south strategically important!
- Grand Duchess Charlette fled first to France, then to the U.S.
- thousands of the citizens were taken to Germany for slave labor.
The House of Commons didn't like Neville Chamberlain's leadership of Britain, so they kicked him out. May 10, 1940 Winston Churchill replaced him as Prime Minister.
- was made First Lord of Admiralty in 1911. Together with Lord Fisher, prepared the navy for its great test of WWI.
- 1925 joined Stanley Baldwin's government as chancellor of the Exchequer, and made the decision that returned England to the gold standard.
- critic of Chamberlain's appeasement policy, he urged the House of Commons to recognize Hitler as a danger to Europe and the World.
- as new prime minister he acted swiftly, he revitalized Britain's energy. Churchill turned out to be one of the great war leaders of history.
May 28, 1940: Leopold III, King of Belgium, really blew it when he ordered his troops to surrender to the Germans. This gave the Germans the opportunity to race across southeastern Belgium and then toward Abbeville 15 miles from the French channel coast. The whole British Expeditionary Force, plus French, Poles, and Belgians, were trapped. They had to leave the continent and the only port was Dunkirk. The BBC called on British civilians to help rescue the troops. Needed was all boats between 30 and 100 ft.
- this was "Operation Dynamo" it lasted from May 26 to June 4, 1940.
- 887 vessels, civilian craft and naval units, speedboats, yachts, paddle steamers. This was one of history's strangest armadas. Fishermen, bankers, dentists, butchers, were all a part of it.
- traffic across the Channel was a nightmare.
- they rescued 338,226 men from Dunkirk. 139,911 were French and Belgian, the rest were British.
Chapter 5 - "From Sitzkrieg to Blitzkrieg: The Collapse of France"
In Mein Kampf Hitler called France "Germany's irreconcilable and mortal enemy."
France had 800,000 combat troops, 5,500,000 trained reserves, male population of 20,000,000. Supposedly the strongest in Europe militarily.
The Maginot Line
- the world's most elaborate fortification system.
- planned for years but began construction in 1929 by France's War Minister André Maginot.
- cost a 1/2 billion dollars and it stretched from Switzerland to Montmédy.
- underground forts, six levels.
- but this was only a "fixed" defense, not mobile.
May 18, 1940: Premeir Paul Reynard reconstructed his cabinet. May 19, replaced General Maurice Gustave Gamelin with General Maxime Weygard as supreme commander of the army.
After the Battle of Flanders, the German troops went southward for a Blitzkrieg against France.
June 3, 1940: German air raid on Paris.
June 5, 1940: Hitler sent 100 divisions to attack four points across the Somme into northern Normandy; south Amiens directed at Paris; down the Oise River toward the French capital; and around the northern flank of the Maginot Line. The Luftwaffe was unopposed and bombed the French troops below.
Weygard soon lost control of "Europe's finest army".
All of France degenerated into panic, terror, hysteria, confusion. Mass exodus of the civilian population thousands fled Paris on carts, bikes, taxis, bakery vans, whatever they could. German pilots bombed and shot the civilians on the roads from Paris dead bodies everywhere.
June 11, 1940: the government believed defending Paris was suicidal, so they left and went to Tours.
June 10, 1940: 400,000 Italians invaded France through the Riviera. (March 18, 1940 Hitler and Mussolini had met at the Brenner Pass. From then the Italian Press and radio stepped up its campaign for war. Not much enthusiasm among the Italians, but Mussolini wanted his war.)
June 10, 1940: The Italian foreign minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano (Mussolini's son-in-law), told the French ambassador that Italy is at war with France starting tomorrow, June 11. Fifteen minutes later the British ambassador was given an identical message.
Italy's entry into the war brought an army of 1,000,000 men, a navy of more than 700,000 tons, and about 4,000 planes. The effect on France was negligible Hitler had already won there.
Italy's entry meant spread of fighting in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Suez, and North Africa.
June 12, 1940: Winston Churchill flew to Tours, France and persuaded France's cabinet to carry on the war from North Africa.
June 14, 1940: Germans entered Paris, which was pretty much deserted, everything in shambles. Within hours the swastika was flying from every prominent and historical structure in the city.
Premeir Reynard said "All is lost." On June 10 & 13 he appealed to Roosevelt for help, asked the U.S. to send "clouds of airplanes".
June 16, 1940: The Germans announced they had pierced the Maginot Line and were pushing the French across the Loire.
June 16: Churchill proposed that France and Great Britain combine into a France-British union, but the offer was rejected.
June 16: Reynauld resigned, was replaced by Marshall Henri Pétain, who surrendered immediately by radio broadcast he said it is no use to fight.
June 16: German armies were in control of 1/4 of France.
June 21: In the Compiégne Forest in France, the Germans read to the French the preamble to the armastice terms. The proceedings took 27 minutes.
June 22: The armistice was formally signed.
June 24: In Paris Hitler visited the red porphyry containing the remains of Napoleon.
Hitler was at his peak. The New Europe was being carved out precisely the way Hitler had described it in Mein Kampf. The Nazis had surged westward across Europe.
- Poland in 26 days.
- Norway in 28 days.
- Denmark in 24 hours.
- Holland in 5 days.
- Belgium in 18 days.
- France in 35 days.
Why France fell:
- French military strength was exaggerated.
- The Germans were superior in every department of war.
- The French underrated the role of air power. In 1937 Germany was producing 1,000 planes a month, France only 38 a month.
- The French had political corruption. The Left and Right fought.
- French reluctance to pay taxes.
- Industry was weakened by strikes.
- Psychologically they were tired and demoralized.
- A generation of French writers had preached pacifism to sections of the population.
- Before the war, a subversive fifth column did its work in France: propaganda, Nazis disguised as tourists, salesmen. Once the war started gave false information, encouraged sabotage and desertions, signalled German planes.
Fighting Hitlerism was now left to the British, the Americans, and later the Russians.
Chapter 6 - Their Finest Hour: Britain Stands Alone
The British were worried that the French fleet would be used against them.
- French ships in British ports were no problem.
- the greater part of the French fleet lay off the French North African port of Oran in Algeria. In Oran on July 3, 1940 the British sunk or disabled the French battleships, a seaplane carrier, and two destroyers rather than let them possibly fall into German or Italian hands.
Hitler gave the British one last chance to surrender.
- He wanted recognition of his conquests.
- He wanted Germany's colonies returned.
- He wanted acknowledgement of his role as the arbiter of Europe.
- Above all, he wanted Churchill kicked out of office.
- It might have been good logic and common sense to accept Hiter's offer and avoid the disastrous fate of the their conquered allies.
- To Hitler's offer Britons were silent, but not Winston Churchill:
"Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."
After Hitler conquered France he paused for six weeks. During that time the British trasformed their island into a fortress.
- every man in the country was placed at the disposal of the government.
- possible fifth colum agents were arrested.
- they organized like crazy.
- American stockpiles of WWI were shipped in.
- the British had 1,475 first-line planes, Hitler had 2,670 aircraft set aside for his campaign against England.
- their most important weapon was the British determination to fight to the death.
- British engineers and physicists had already developed radar.
August 6, 1940: Field Marshall Hermann Goering issued orders for the first great mass attack on England. Several days later the Luftwaffe bombed the coastal towns of southern England.
- the 1st day 53 Nazi airmen died.
- in one week the Luftwaffe lost 256 planes to the British 130.
- Hitler was frustrated, began striking at the heart of London. The first mass onslaught began on Sept. 7, 1940.
- 430 Britons killed, about 1,600 seriously injured.
- continued bombing for 23 consecutive days.
- the British were stubborn and kept fighting.
The Germans unveiled a new weapon, the British called it the UXB, or unexploded bomb. It buries itself into the ground and explodes later.
October 1940, because of heavy losses, Hitler shifted from daylight to night bombing.
By the end of October the air bombing began to slow down. The air attacks continued into June 1941, when most of the Luftwaffe was transferred to the Russian front.
November 14-15, 1940: German bombers smashed the heart of Coventry in Britain's smokey Midlands, the city through which Lady Godiva had ridden nearly 900 years earlier to end a more local oppression.
December 25-30, 1940: London received the worst bombing, more than 1,500 fires started.
In the first 3 months 12,696 Londoners were killed.
During the war the Germans dropped about 12,222 tons of bombs on London, killing 29,890, injuring more than 120,000.
The Germans caused much damage but failed to halt industrial production or the flow of overseas shipping. The U.S. and Canada helped supply planes, munitions, and supplies.
The major factor in winning the Battle of Britain against the Germans was the development of a new device that became the heart of all radar equipment: the resonant cavity magnetron.
- developed by a team of British physicists from Birminham University.
- it sparked the development of microwave radar.
- caused Hitler to lose a good portion of the Luftwaffe.
December 1940: a motion was made in Parliament to consider peace, and it was voted down 341 to 4, they wanted to fight.
Hitler's plan to invade Great Britain was called "Operation Sea Lion".
- began preparations June 22, 1940, immediately after signing the armistice with France.
- July 16, 1940, Hitler's directive to the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces made it clear that the preparation must be completed by the middle of August.
- August 10, Hitler changed the date of Sea Lion to Late September.
- Sept. 15, the R.A.F. (Royal Air Force) shot down 56 Nazi planes. Two days later Hitler again postponed the date for Sea Lion.
- Oct. 21, Hitler postponed Sea Lion for the rest of the year.
- The next date was set for spring of 1941.
- June 22, 1941, Hitler turned on Soviet Russia (Operation Barbarossa); Sea Lion was forgotten.
Chapter 7 - Lifeline Neptune: War on the Seas
Sept. 3, 1939: 12 hours after the British declared war a Nazi submarine sank an unarmed British passenger ship "Athenia" 250 miles off the coast of Ireland. A majority of the 1,102 passengers were Canadians and Americans. 112 died.
When war broke out in 1939, the Allied naval resources were overwhelming:
Great Britain France Germany Battleships 12 5 3 Battle cruisers 3 2 2 Cruisers 62 19 4 Aircraft carriers 7 2 - Destroyers 178 69 21 Submarines 56 75 57
In combined tonnage the British fleet was 9 times that of Germany.
Both sides knew they would have to revert to the strategy of 1914 blockade and counterblockade to strangle and starve the enemy.
Nov. 27, 1939: The British extended the blockade by prohibiting the importation of German goods into neutral countries.
In WWI the Allies convinced the Norwegians to plant mines in their territorial waters, but this time they remained neutral. Churchill regarded Germany's free use of Norway's territorial waters as the greatest obstacle to an effective blockade of Hitler's Reich.
As in WWI, the British planted mines from Scotland to Norway and across the English Channel. The Germans countered with magnetic mines that exploded near any large mass of iron. These mines sunk many British ships but the British discovered the "deguassing" belt to neutralize the ships' magnetic fields.
For the Germans there was only one answer to the blockade: U-boats (submarines), U-boats, and more U-boats.
The British surface fleet outnumbered the Germans, so the Germans concentrated on attacking from below the surface and the air.
During the first week of the war at least a dozen British merchant ships were sunk. Within the first 2 months about 67 Allied ships were destroyed. The Germans lost about 20 submarines.
During the first 6 months German submarines numbered 101. During the first 6 months Germany sank 585 ships, totally over 3 million tons.
Early in 1943 they sank 96 ships in 20 days.
May 1943 the Allies gained the upper hand in the U-boat war with new detection technology and a massive anti-submarine effort utilizing thousands of ships, hundreds of thousands of men, and billions of dollars in equipment.
In the six years of the war, the Germans destroyed 2,700 British, Allied, and neutral ships on the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Germans lost 783 U-boats and 32,000 men.
Churchill said: "The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril. [It] was our worst evil."
The German raider "Altmark" in February 1940 had 300 British prisoners aboard and was detected by British planes along the Norwegian coast. In the ice-filled Norwegian fiord the British cruiser "Cossack" went after her. The Altmark rammed the "Cossack". Sailors from the Cossack leaped to the deck of the Altmark and overcame the enemy in hand-to-hand fighting and rescued the prisoners. The Nazi government protested because it was in neutral waters.
Sept. 16, 1939: Off the coast of Ireland the Germans sank the British navy's 22,500-ton aircraft carrier "Courageous".
October 14, 1939: The German U-47, commanded by Leutnant Prien, penetrated Scapa Flow, the great naval base at the southern Orkneys, Scotland, and sank one of Britain's 12 capital ships, the "Royal Oak". More than 800 of the 1,200 men died.
The Graf Spee
- the third and last of Germany's pocket battleships. Fast, light, heavily armored warship. For 2 months in the South Atlantic sank 9 ships.
- as long as 3 New York City blocks, wide as a four-lane superhighway. A crew of 1,107 men.
- commanded by Kapitän Hans Langsdorff.
- Dec. 13, 1939, off the coast of Uraguay came up against 3 British cruisers, the Exeter, the Achilles, and the Ajax. Sought safe haven in Montevideo harbor, which was neutral waters, but on Dec. 15th the Uraguayan government told Langsdorff to leave within 2 days.
- on Hitler's orders, rather than risk British capture and compromise the ship's secret construction and weapons, Langsdorff sank his ship.
- Dec. 20, in a Naval Arsenal in Buenos Aires Langsdorff shot himself in the head.
May 27, 1941, after a 1,750 mile chase from the coast of Greenland to 400 miles off the French coast, the pride of Germany's navy, the Bismark, was sunk by the British.
Shortly after the outbreak of WWII Germany made their first secret weapon, the magnetic mine. They exploded when an iron hull passed by.
Every vessel in British waters were in danger; sinkings were increasing. Old mine sweepers were ineffective.
The British figured out that they could reduce the ship's magnetic field by "degaussing" it. Suddenly the ships were immune to the magnetic mines.
The Germans used a magnetic mine in torpedos which heard the sound of a ship and headed toward it. The British towed behind their ships "noisemakers" to confuse the brain of the torpedo and it would miss the ship.
Thanks to improved radar, the Allies began sinking many German U-boats. July 1942, a dozen U-boats were sunk, in August another 15, most by air attacks. May 1943 43 U-boats were sunk.
Ther Germans learned that the British air and sea power were too strong in the Battle for the Atlantic. The assault on Britain's lifeline would have to be made by U-boats.
1942, Hitler completed shifting his main naval strength to Norway. The plan was to cut the Allied convoy route to Russia.
Christmas Day 1943, the German Scharnhorst, a 26,000-ton battle cruiser, faster than any British battleship, off the north of North Cape was sunk by the British. The British rescued only 36 of the 1,970 crew.
Nov. 12, 1944: the 42,000-ton "Tirpitz", the only surviving German battleship, was sunk by 29 British bombers in Tromsö Fiord. About 1,400 were killed or drowned, 397 saved.
The British Admiralty could now move its capital ships to the Far East where they were desperately needed.
Chapter 8 - The Struggle for the Mediterranean
When France fell their troops were withdrawn from the Middle East, leaving oil fields open to Axis assault.
For the British the Mediterranean, and its strategic arc of Gibralter-Malta-Suez, was a lifeline to India and the Far East. Soon the Mediterranean was closed to British shipping and instead had to go around the southern tip of Africa.
Commander of British forces in the area was General Sir Archibald Wavell. In 1939 in that area their defenses were weak. Autumn of 1940 Churchill sent reinforcements to Wavell from other parts of the World.
After Italy entered the war against France, the picture in the Mediterranean changed. Mussolini's plan was to overthrow Eqypt and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. For this he had half a million troops in Africa, 10 battleships, and ships and squadrons based in Libya. He wanted to eventually force the British out of Africa altogether.
In Eritrea and Italian Somaliland (in East Africa) Italy had 200,000 troops ready to invade Anglo-Egyption Sudan and Egypt from the South.
Aug. 4, 1940: At the entrance to the Red Sea, Italian armies moved against both British and French Somaliland.
Aug. 19: The British completed evacuation of Somaliland.
Aug. 20: "Duce" (Mussolini) announced the "total blockade" of British possessions in the Mediterranean and Africa.
Sept. 14, 1940: A second army of 250,000 Italians moved from Libya and across the Egytian border.
Nov. 11, 1940: Off Taranto Bay, 9 planes from the British aircraft carrier "Illustrious" torpedoed 3 Italian battleships, 2 cruisers, and 2 auxiliaries. The British were now in complete control of the Mediterranean.
The Axis now turned to the Balkans (Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Rumania, Hungary) source of oil, grain, butter, hogs.
- At first Mussolini and Hitler tried the usual diplomatic pressures: propaganda, threats, use of economic pressure.
- Oct. 7, 1940, German troops entered Rumania. October 14, Italian troops entered Rumania. Rumania was brought into the new Axis order.
- Under threat of annihilation, Hungary joined the Axis.
- Nov. 24, 1940, Slovakia joined the Axis.
- In the interim, diplomatic pressure was put on Yugoslavia and Bulgaria to join the Axis.
- Only the Greeks remained adamently opposed to the Axis in the Balkans.
Mussolini thought conquering Greece would be easy 43 million Italions against 9 million Greeks.
- Aug. 1940, King George II and Premier Joannes Metaxas refused Mussolini's demand that Greek renounce their guarantee of independence made by Britain in 1939.
- Oct. 28, 1940, 200,000 fascist troops moved across the border of Albania.
- The Italians bombed Patras.
- The British mined the Greek waters.
- Nov. 6, the British loaned £5,000,000 to Greece.
- British troops were landing on Greek soil.
- The Italians blew it by advancing through the mountains the wrong time of the year. They were wiped out by the Greeks.
- By the end of the year the small Greek army possessed a quarter of Albania.
The Italian army which had invaded Egypt in September 1940 stood at Sidi Barrani waiting to build up for an assault on Alexandria. The British General Sir Archibald Wavell built up his Army of the Nile with Australia, New Zealand, Indian, Polish, and Free French troops, numbering 40,000. Dec. 9, 1940, Wavell hit the Italians by surprise and captured Sidi Barrani.
By the middle of December the Italians were driven out of Egypt.
January 5, 1941, Bardia, the Italian stronghold in Libya, together with 30,000 troops, fell.
Jan. 22: The Italians capitulated to the Australians.
Wavell went westward, on January 30 struck at Derna, and won an important water supply.
Feb. 6: The Australians took the town of Bengazi, which was the most important city in Libya after Tripoli. Six senior Italian generals surrendered.
In the two months the Army of the Nile had conquered the entire northern coast of Africa and captured 113,000 prisoners. This was the first great British land victory of World War II. The pressure now lifted from Suez.
Jan. 1941: On the mountaintops of Eritrea the Italians gave up the the British.
Jan. 29: The British entered Italian Somaliland.
May 16, 1941: The Duke of Aosta capitulated at Amba Alagi, and Ethiopia, the first of Mussolini's conquests, was liberated.
Gone was Axis control of the Red Sea coast. Now American Lend-Lease supplies could reach Egypt.
Feb. 9, 1941: The British bombarded Genoa, destroying power plants, railroad stations, and stores accumulated on the docks.
Feb. 9: Churchill broadcast a message to the U.S.: "Give us the tools and we shall finish the job."
March 27, 1941: An Italian naval force tried to intercept a British convoy carrying troops and supplies to Greece, but were destroyed by British planes.
Mussolini was losing. Hitler stepped into the Mediterranean picture by sending General Erwin Rommel to North Africa. Rommel began his offensive on April 3, 1941.
- Immediately the balance in Libya altered in favor of the Axis.
- April 11: The British announced the loss of 2,000 prisoners.
- In 10 days Rommel had recovered most of North Africa.
- Once again the Axis was poised on the threshold of Suez, but while waiting for reinforcements Germany invaded Russia (June 22, 1941) and the matériel Rommel needed halted.
- The opening struggle for Egypt had ended in a draw.
Before attacking the Soviet Union, Hitler wanted to take care of the Balkans so Germany wouldn't be invaded from the south.
- He would tie up with French Vichy forces in Syria and the pro-Axis elements in Iran and Iraq.
- Rumania and Hungary were already under Axis domination.
- March 1, 1941: Bulgaria signed an alliance with the Axis.
- Only Yugoslavia and Greece remained.
- March 25, 1941: Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite Pact which made her a part of Hitler's New Order. The Yugoslav people were pissed.
- March 27, a cabal of army officers under General Dusan Simovic pulled of a coup d' état and replaced Prince Paul with 18-year-old Prince Peter as king.
- April 6, Hitler invaded Yugoslavia. A thousand Nazi planes, 20 divisions of almost 65,000 troops. Italy also helped.
- In 11 days it was over. April 17th, R.A.F. Sunderland evacuated King Peter from Kotor.
- Yugoslavia was carved into slices, portions going to Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria, while the rest was frozen into a satellite state.
- Until the end of the war, guerrillas took to the hills and fought, especially against the Italians. Hitler's troops found themselves in a hornet's nest.
April 6, 1941: Hitler sent columns into Greece from both north and east.
- The British helped a little by sending 56,657 troops, mostly Anzacs from Libya, against the half million Germans. (this weakened the British force in Libya and they were forced to retreat there.)
- The Germans were too strong, the British had to get out. The Greek government told the British: "You have done your best to save us. We are finished. But the war is not yet lost. Save as much as you can of your army to help win elsewhere."
- About 43,000 men, including Britons, Australians, and New Zealanders, were evacuated, about half to Crete and half to Egypt.
- The British were forced to destroy their own guns and tanks before they left.
- About 15,000 Imperial troops were lost.
- For the British it was another setback to keep the Germans away from Suez.
- The U.S. froze Greek cash and credits of about $45 million.
The Island of Crete
- The main island which divides the Greek archipelago from the eastern basin of the Mediterranean.
- For the British, Crete was a vital point on the lifeline to India, it protected both Palestine and Eqypt, it threatened Italian communications with the Dodecanese Islands, and its harbor at Sunda Bay sheltered elements of the Royal Navy.
- May 20, 1941: The Germans attacked Crete. The first large-scale airborne attack in history. They came by the hundreds, including Max Schmeling, former heavyweight boxing champion. Many came by gliders. Some wore New Zealand battle dress. Some parachutists were dummies to fake out the allies.
- Most of the 3,500 German shocktroops were killed by the British, New Zealand and Greeks, but it was too overwhelming and by the end of May the Allies withdrew.
- With Crete, Hitler could protect Greece, hamper the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, and once again threaten Egypt, Suez, and the Middle East for the air.
The Middle East
- Hitler wanted its oil fields and it was a strategic point for an attack on Suez.
- The Allies needed the Middle East for its oil and it was a land bridge for supplies to the Soviet Union after she was attacked by Germany.
- The British were ordered to leave Iraq by Rashid Ali Beg Gailani, its pro-Nazi ruler. In April the British threw him out and established a pro-Allied regime.
- Early May 1941, Nazi agents stimulated disorders in Iraq that endangered oil supplies that were vital to the British Mediterranean fleet. General Sir Archibald Wavell rushed armored cars 400 miles across the desert and crushed the revolt on June 1. That day British entered Bagdad and the oil supply was protected.
- The French-mandated states of Syria and Lebanon were key positions to the Axis. After the fall of France, pro-Vichy French officers under German control plotted to hand them over to the Axis. June 1941, British and Free French forces entered Syria and Lebanon. The British ousted pro-Axis administrations from both countries, securing one flank in the Middle East.
- One of Hitler's big mistakes after conquering Crete was not throwing all his power into the Middle East, instead of turning against Russia.
- August 1941, after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, British and Soviet troops moved into Iran to keep it from falling into German hands.
- Turkey was a problem for the allies; sold supplies to both sides. June 18, 1941, signed a friendship treaty with Germany and let Axis ships pass through the Dardanelles.
Chapter 9 - "Fissure: Germany Attacks Russia"
May 10, 1941: Without Hitler's permission or knowledge, Nazi Rudolf Hess attempted a ridiculous peace mission by parachuting into England (near Dungavel) and made the British an offer:
- Briton would have a free hand in her own Empire, Hitler would control Europe.
- Germany's colonies must be returned.
- Iraq must be evacuated.
- There must be an armistice with Italy.
- Churchill is impossible for Hitler to deal with and should be replaced.
Hitler put out a press release saying Hess was nuts and they had nothing to do with his offer. Hess was imprisoned in London until October 6, 1945, then transferred to Nuremberg.
June 22, 1941: Using the Blitzkrieg, Germany attacked Russia. The invasion was called "Operation Barbarossa" and the plan was to take only 6 weeks. The Third Reich would obtain the granary of the Ukraine, the industrial Donetz basin, the Caucasian oil fields, and add almost 200,000,000 slave laborers to their war machine. But because of the Russians' ability to fight, and bad Russian weather, Germany eventually failed.
- The most savage duel in the annals of warfare, tremendous masses of men collided head-on, along 1,800 miles of front, hell on earth, dead bodies everywhere.
- Stalin's available manpower was 12,000,000.
- Minsk was captured quickly.
- The Ukraine: Because Ukrainians hated Stalin, they were glad, at first, to see Germany "liberate" them. Hitler should have formed an alliance with them and treated them fairly, but instead he killed and enslaved them, forcing them to fight. (Hitler blew it.)
- Moscow: November 1941, the Germans were just about to capture Moscow but the weather stopped them. Eventually they quit.
- Leningrad: November 1941, Leningrad was under siege by Germany for 16 months. The Germans tried to choke the 3 million people to death by cutting all access to the city. The Russians were stubborn and fought. Eventually the Germans quit.
- one of the largest and important cities in Europe.
- was St. Petersburg but because of its German name was changed to Petrograd after WWI. In 1924 was change to Leningrad named after Lenin, father of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
- The Finns helped fight against Leningrad.
Many similarities between Hitler's invasion of Russia and Napolean Bonaparte's invasion in June 1812:
- The Russians used space and time to their advantage; lured them deep into their land, destroyed by Russian winter.
- Napolean and Hitler both went against the advise of their generals.
- Both underestimated the Russian enemy.
Chapter 10 - The United States: Arsenal of Democracy
If anything, much of American opinion was more anti-British and pro-German in 1914, but a combination of circumstances eventually caused the U.S. to side with the Allies during WWI.
After 1918 the U.S. felt they had been tricked into getting involved in the war. From 1918 to 1939 most Americans were isolationists. George Washington had said avoid entanglements in European affairs.
In 1934 Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota began to examine the record of the munitions industry during WWI.
With the rise of Hitler many Americans believed it was inevitable that the U.S. would be attacked. There were isolationists on one side, and others who believed in "collective security" that aiding the Allies was necessary. FDR was an advocate of collective security.
1939 most of America was anti-Hitler. There were 3 choices: retreat into isolationism and pray for an Allied victory; give aid to the Allies but don't join the war; or prepare for participation in the war.
After the outbreak of war in Sept. 1939 FDR said the U.S. would remain neutral.
Most Americans thought the Royal Navy was indestructable, but after the fall of France in June 1940 the U.S. began to really worry. If Hitler takes over Latin America, won't the U.S. be next?
In the U.S. were debates between the isolationists and the interventionists. Advocates of isolationism included Senator Burton K. Wheeler, of Montana; Senator Gerald P. Nye, of North Dakota; the two La Follette brothers, of Wisconsin; Representative Hamilton Fish, of New York; William Randolph Hearst and his newspaper chain; Colonel Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune; Norman Thomas, the Socialist leader and pacifist; and especially the popular aviator Charles Lindbergh, Jr. and the America First Committee.
By the end of June 1940 the U.S. was shocked to see Hitler take over Denmark and Norway, the Low Countries, and France.
January 1940 FDR requested $1,800,000,000 for national defense and new appropriations of $1,182,000,000.
May 1940, FDR asked Congress for production of 50,000 planes a year! The Nazis thought this number was ridiculous and the U.S. must be bluffing. (It turned out that the U.S. produced an average of 60,000 planes a year.)
Sept. 3, 1940: Roosevelt made a deal with Britain; the U.S. provided the British with 50 destroyers in exchange for a 99-year rent-free lease of naval and air bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua, and British Guiana.
Roosevelt and Churchill feared Hitler would takeover Greenland. April 9, 1941, American naval forces took over Greenland, and later Iceland. From these areas the U.S. could patrol the western half of the Atlantic, and the British the eastern half.
The FBI cracked down on fifth columnists in the U.S.
November 1940, FDR was elected to a 3rd term, defeating Republican Wendell L. Willkie. In FDR's campaign he said "your boys and not going to be sent into any foreign wars." The plan was to aid the Allies. Isolationists were opposed, but most Americans were not neutral, they hated Hitler.
Roosevelt's "good neighbor policy united the Westen Hemisphere against the Axis.
The Pittman Resolution, June 16, 1940.
- Strengthened military defenses in Latin-American republics.
- This new interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine was endorsed by delegates of 21 republics at the Pan-American Conference in Cuba on July 30, 1940.
- Took measures to counteract Hitler's fifth-column activities in the Americas.
Without the U.S., Britain would have lost the war. From Sept. 1939 to August 1940 the British ordered 95% of all American exports of planes and 90% of its firearms, munitions, and explosives.
Britain was going broke, so in March 1941 Congress passed "H.R. 1776", the Lend Lease measure.
- This gave FDR authority to sell, lend, lease (or whatever he wanted), matériel to allied countries. Isolationists were pissed! Said it was tyranny.
- Lend-Lease saved Britain, and was probably the most important innovation of the war with the possible exception of the atomic bomb.
August 1941, FDR and Churchill met in Newfoundland and signed the Atlantic Charter, which stated that all countries will be treated fairly, equally, can chose their own form of government, will have sovereign rights, etc. The Soviet Union soon endorsed the Atlantic Charter.
July 1941, the American Navy reached Iceland to supplement, and ultimately replace, the British forces. In September German U-boats began torpedoing American warships. Congress repealed parts of the 1939 Neutrality Act, authorizing the arming of American merchant ships. (became law 11/17/41). The U.S. was on the verge of complete participation in the war.
Chapter 11 - "The Rising Sun of Japan"
Dec. 7, 1941, 8:10 am - Japan bombs Pearl Harbor.
- A complete surprise.
- The Japanese task force consisted of 72 warships.
- The relations between the U.S. and Japan had steadily deteriorated.
- Japan had been the first of the "have-not" nations to embark on a program of expansion. Invaded Manchuria in 1931.
- 1939, Japan wanted French Indo-China with its rice, coal, tin, and zinc; and the Dutch East Indies with their rubber, oil, and tin. Great Britain, traditional policeman of the Far East, had its hands full fighting the Nazis; and the Dutch and French had fallen to the Nazis; the U.S. were apparently concerned with only European affairs. This was a good time for Japan to launch their "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere".
- The aggressive designs of Japanese militarists had been indicated as far back as 1927.
- There had been widespread economic distess inside Japan.
- 1938, the U.S. halted the sale of American aircraft to Japan.
- July 1939, Washington placed trade on a day-to-day basis.
- July 16, 1940, FDR froze all Japanese assets in the U.S., and the nations of the British Commonwealth of Nations did the same thing.
- A blockade by the ABCD powers (American, Britain, China, and the Dutch East Indies) soon cut off some 75% of imports to Japan.
- Japanese militarists were pissed! War preparations began.
- The attack on Pearl Harbor was engineered by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.
- Sept. 1941, Tokyo tried to get Roosevelt to attend a meeting somewhere in the Pacific. Some believe this was a plot to kidnap him.