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.

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.