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World War 2 - the Main Battles

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Oliver Drakenhammar

Dr. Elena-Kosmach        

History 104

Final Essay


WWII: The Main Battles

The World War II was one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history after the American Civil War. The large part of the world was in war and countries suffered terrible losses in human lives and constructions. After the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the participants hoped that it would lead to a long period of peace where countries could mourn their dead and rebuild from the destruction. However, everybody was not happy with the agreements and a growing global economic crisis created a higher unemployment level with hungry people. This led to totalitarian leaders that were unsatisfied with the settlements wanting to extend their country territories and enhance their own international prestige. As a result, 20 years after the WWI ended, the war that was supposed to end all wars, the battles of WWII began. The war included several large battles and this essay will cover some of the most important and influential battles and the results of them.

The Battle of Britain

According to the book “The West Point History of World War II”, the British government started to invest money already in 1936 for defense against potential air attacks. Germany had a fighter plane called Messerschmitt Bf 109E which was one of the strongest fighter planes, too strong for either the Poles or the French to resist in the German invasions. Britain on the other hand had the British Supermarine Spitfire MK 1A which matched the German BF 109E and played an important part in defending Britain. The fighter plane combined with skills of the British pilots, number of pilots available, and tactics helped Britain to success. A German pilot named Adolf Galland described the British fighter plane as indestructible, “I can only express the highest admiration for the British fighter pilots who, although technically at a disadvantage, fought bravely and indefatigably. They undoubtedly saved their country in this crucial hour.” (The West Point History of World War II, p.108-110)

        The Germans under command of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, wanted to start an all-out assault against the British Fighter Command and its organization in an operation they called “Eagle Day.” However, the weather postponed their planned attacks on August 5, 1940 which led the Germans to fall back several times, but when they finally could attack on August 18, they made severed damage to a large number of the British Fighter Command stations. In the end of August, thinking that most of the Fighter Command stations where about to collapse, the Germans stopped their attacks on the Fighter Command stations and started to bomb London on September 7. On September 15, Germany attacked with 200 bomb planes but were met by a great defense. Even if Britain did suffer from severed damage on several fighter planes, they managed to sustain their air strength by producing a large number of new planes and keeping enough pilots available for battle. This lead to Britain managing to defend London as the Germans couldn’t keep up with producing new Fighter planes that were lost in the bombings. In total, 1900 British fighter planes were supplied in the same 4 months interval where only 775 German flights were made. September is now celebrated as “Battle of Britain Day.” (The West Point History of World War II, p.112-114)

An interesting point to mention is that if Britain would have been concurred, Hitler could have focused all German military on the Soviet. This would have meant that Soviet together with the Americans would have had to fight the Axis (Germany, Japan, Italy) alone without the availability of the British Isles as a staging point for “Operation Overlord” that we will cover later. Moreover, the Battle of Britain can have been the most important battle of WWII. (Allen)

Operation Barbarossa

Germany gained an unexpected quickly victory over France in June 1940 which presented the Nazis with new opportunities and the Soviet in new risks. Joseph Stalin, Soviets leader, knew that his own forces were not ready for a war with Hitler’s Germany after looking back at the “Winter War” with Finland (1939-1940), where the Soviets had a hard time battling the smaller Finnish army. Stalin decided that sucking up to Hitler and follow all his commands was the best idea to try postpone an attack from Germany. At this time, Germany and Soviet had a peace agreement, but Stalin was convinced that Hitler was going to break it. (The West Point History of World War II, p.140-141)

        Before Hitler even came to power, he had dreamt about the need for Germany to crush the Soviet. He had two different motives, to eliminate Communism, and to gain territorial expansion in the west. Hitler claimed that the German nation needed more land and raw material to expand the German population. Hitler had a primitive desire to conquer and also had a special hatred for the Communism, because he believed that Communism was an outgrowth of an Jewish conspiracy and that the Jewish people secretly had power over Russia. (Griess, p.102)

        To prepare a quick operation, Erich Marcks was assigned to prepare a road map for the war with Soviet where his plan was submitted on August 5, 1940. His plan would require 9-17 weeks and they would be done before the winter was coming. The Germans knew that Stalin and his Soviet had problems with their troops in WWI and against Finland in the “Winter War”, which lead the Germans to think that Soviet would be less of an opponent than France that was easily conquered by the Germans. The plan was in operation and their main objective was Moscow. However, Marcks plan did not turn out as he wanted where he had not planned for bad roads and geographical problems with maps, also, if they had problems already, Germany was not ready to battle in a winter campaign. With this plan, Hitler also still had troops in the air against Britain which made him to fight on a two-front war. (Griess, p. 107) The battles did not go as smoothly as the Germans first thought and in December they were about 19 miles away from their main target Moscow. As mentioned before, the Germans did not have winter clothing which made the Soviets to counterattack and push the Germans back on December 5 with help from Siberian troops who also were specifically trained for war in the winter. The Germans ended up retreating while both sides suffered from severe losses. Hitler ended up taking personal charge for the military losses and “Operation Barbarossa” (code-name for Directive Number 21 that Hitler signed for invasion of Russia), was officially a huge failure. (Allen)



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