When did Britain withdraw its last battleship?
Hitler's seizure of power
On January 30, 1933, after the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party) came to power, Reich President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor. First of all, the National Socialists want to incorporate traditional values. First of all, they appear to be peaceful. There are two things that Germans have been very concerned about in recent years. On the one hand it is unemployment and on the other hand it is the conditions of the Versailles Treaty (1919) that hit the Germans very hard. Through various measures such as B. the construction of the autobahn should reduce unemployment. Fight is declared on the Treaty of Versailles. The Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933 gave Hitler an excuse to introduce the emergency ordinance. This rejects all previously known basic human rights. The Jews are also slowly being attacked by dismissing many Jews and various activities of social life are forbidden for Jews. The first concentration camp was built on March 20, 1933: Dachau near Munich. Thousands of people who do not want to bow to the National Socialist regime are imprisoned here right from the start. None of these people were convicted by a court. On March 23, 1933, Hitler received the Enabling Act from the Reichstag. On May 10, 1933, books were burned in Berlin. The SPD is banned on June 22nd, 1933. In 1934, the SA leader Ernst Röhm wanted to expand the SA (Sturmabteilung) so that it would replace the military. Röhm had a lot of influence and could be dangerous to Hitler. Therefore Ernst Röhm and other important SA men were killed on June 30, 1934. On August 1, 1934, Hitler now also combined the office of Reich President. Paul von Hindenburg dies the following day. On this day the Reichswehr is no longer sworn in on the constitution, but on Adolf Hitler. On October 19, 1934, Germany left the League of Nations. With the construction of the submarine in 1935, the Treaty of Versailles was violated for the first time. In the same year other areas of the armed forces were expanded and general conscription was reintroduced, followed by labor service. On September 15, 1935, another law was passed which severely restricts and is supposed to oust the Jews. In the same year, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini annexed Abyssins (Ethiopia). Slowly, Hitler and Mussolini are getting closer, from which the Berlin-Rome axis emerges. In 1936, Hitler again violated the Versailles Treaty by marching into the Rhineland. On July 19, 1936 a civil war broke out in Spain. General Franco fought the leftist republican government. Germany as well as Italy helped General Franco with troops and weapons. Germany sent the "Condor" legion to Spain. This should represent a trial of the weapons, which has also proven to be successful. On May 28, 1937, Neville Chamberlain becomes British Prime Minister. He is conservative and advocates the appeasement policy. This envisages no longer restricting Germany through the Versailles Treaty, because Great Britain and France have now agreed that the conditions of the Versailles Treaty were too strict. Germany now produces a lot of tanks. Hitler wanted Austria to join the German Reich. However, the Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was against the National Socialists. On July 25, 1934, the National Socialists attempted a coup in Austria. This failed, but Engelbert Dollfuss was killed in the process. His successor was Kurt von Schuschnigg and he too was against National Socialism. On March 12, 1938, Hitler occupied his home country Austria and incorporated it into the German Reich. Arthur Seyß-Inquart took over the government in Austria. In September 1938 the Munich conference took place. In addition to Hitler Chamberlain and the French Prime Minister Daladier were present here. In Munich, Hitler asked for permission to immigrate to the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. He justified this with the fact that only Germans lived in this part and it also belonged to the German Empire before World War I. Hitler assured Chamberlain and Daladier that it would be the last occupation of any part of Europe. Chamberlain had been very convinced of Hitler from the start. He thought he was a man of honor and therefore he appeared very confident after the Munich conference and was convinced that there would be no further war in Europe. Daladier, on the other hand, was skeptical. Ultimately, both countries agreed to the occupation of the Sudetenland and this took place in October 1938. On November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynszpan shot and killed the counselor Ernst vom Rath in the German embassy in Paris. Then Dr. Joseph Goebbels raised the German population against the Jews on the night of November 9, 1938 to November 10, 1938. As a result, Jewish facilities such as synagogues, shops and Jewish homes are destroyed and set on fire. This went down in history as the Reichskristallnacht. On March 15, 1939, Hitler occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia. Now it looked like Poland would be the next target. After the First World War, East Prussia was surrounded by Poland and thus separated from Germany. Great Britain and France now saw that Hitler was not a man of honor, but initially they did not intervene. In Great Britain, however, many people got gas masks because they were afraid of chemical warfare agents that were used in WWI. In addition, air raid shelters were built as air raids were feared. However, there were still some politicians in Great Britain who approved of Hitler's course and the upswing of Germany combined with national pride. In addition, Great Britain did not want to take action against Hitler together with the Communists and Great Britain was more interested in the problems of the British Empire than in the danger in Europe. The economic crisis of 1930 was also an economic obstacle and France did not want another war on its territory. In the meantime there have already been meetings between Germany and Japan. After long hesitation, Great Britain and France tried to come to an agreement with the Soviet Union. Hitler communicated secretly with Stalin and these two made a non-aggression pact. Even if one of these countries should go to war, the other should not attack. With that, Hitler had nothing to fear in a war in Poland. Britain and France were shocked that the Soviet Union made a pact with Germany and not with them as planned. As a direct cause for the attack on Poland, Hitler took some dead people, put them in Polish uniforms and put them on the Gleiwitz radio station, near the border with Poland. It should look like Poland attacked this radio station and this served Germany as a pretext for war.
The attack on Poland
On September 1, 1939 at 4.45 am, the ship "Schleswig-Holstein" begins to bombard the Westerplatte in Danzig. This attack is not preceded by a declaration of war. The main focus is on Gdansk and the strip of land between Germany and East Prussia, which has belonged to Poland since 1919. This is where the Blitzkrieg begins for the first time. This is a quick attack with a lot of military equipment that quickly leads to victory. There are many attacks with tanks (Panzerkampfwagen I, II and III) and the so-called Ju-87 Stukas (dive bombers). These can descend very deeply in a dive and thereby drop their bombs accurately. They started bombing strategic things like bridges and railroad tracks. During this attack, Hitler was protected by the non-aggression pact with Stalin, so that he did not have to lead an intervention by the Soviet Union. However, the German population did not go into this war as satisfied as they did in the First World War. In comparison, Poland only had old military equipment that could not withstand the German and the defense was widely scattered over the entire border with Germany and could therefore not do anything against this attack. The border was broken and all of Poland was now overrun by German tanks. Great Britain and France were shocked, but Chamberlain still wanted to conclude another agreement with Hitler, but this was not approved. On September 3, 1939, Germany received an ultimatum from Great Britain to withdraw German troops from Poland and that otherwise there would be a declaration of war. Within the next few hours there was no answer and so Britain and France entered the war. The already occupied areas of Poland were now visited by the SS in order to brutally liquidate all possible groups of people who stood in the way of the Nazi regime. In addition to Jews, it was mainly intellectuals. Poland put up strong resistance despite the fact that it had no tanks. In addition to infantrymen, Poland even had cavalry. Despite all these efforts, Warsaw (capital of Poland) fell at the end of September 1939. The Allies do not come to the aid of Poland, although France had previously tried to involve Germany in a war in the west, but this attempt quickly came to an end. Thousands of Polish civilians and soldiers died in the raid and even more were taken prisoner. The Soviet Union also invaded Poland in September, because Hitler and Stalin agreed that there should no longer be a Poland like the one that had existed since the Treaty of Versailles. On September 30, 1939 General Sikorski fled with thousands of Polish soldiers to the West to form a government in exile there. In addition, these soldiers later fought together with the Allies. Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland. The Nazis set up ghettos for Polish Jews, such as B. the famous Warsaw Ghetto. Many Poles were deported to forced camps in Germany. Stalin also had thousands of Poles deported to labor camps in the Soviet Union. He had several thousand Polish officers killed in the Katyn forest. After this victory in Poland, Hitler was very confident.
The winter war in Scandinavia
Britain and France were preparing for war in their own country, but first of all there wasn't much going on in the West. This is known as a "seated war" because the troops were ready and could attack at any time. The British also sent soldiers to France to reinforce them. Chamberlain wanted to continue building a naval blockade against Germany rather than actively participating in the war. The French built the Maginot Line after World War I. It was supposed to protect France from future German attacks. During this time, however, food rationing was already taking place in Germany and Great Britain. Germany put everything in the arms industry and Britain had to do the same in defense. So one introduced ration cards. Winston Churchill, at that time first Lord of the Admiralty, proposed attacks against Germany which, however, did not come to fruition. In 1939, Germans disrupted shipping between the United States and Europe. Hitler wanted to attack the West right after Poland, but the bad weather did not allow this attack so quickly. On November 30, 1939, Stalin attacked Finland without prior notice. Finland was ruled by the tsars until 1917 and the Finns didn't want it to repeat itself. Stalin wanted to consolidate his power. Many civilians died in the sudden bombing raid on Helsinki (capital of Finland). Stalin hoped for a quick victory against Finland. Despite the numerical inferiority of the Finns, they were much better equipped than the Soviets for a winter war. The Finns relied primarily on acts of sabotage. So they could sneak up unnoticed and blow up a tank. After this attack, the Soviet Union was excluded from the League of Nations and Finland received help from the West. Despite all these facts, Finland could not win. In March 1940 there was a treaty in which Finland had to cede some of its territories to the Soviet Union. However, many more Russians fell than Finns. On April 9, 1940, Hitler attacked Norway. The first units were parachutists. It was about ice-free ports and securing iron ore transport from Sweden to Germany. Germany's armaments industry was dependent on this ore. The Allies therefore mined the Norwegian ports. With this measure, Chamberlain was certain that Norway could not be taken by the Germans. This would later be the undoing before the British House of Commons. Denmark was also attacked on April 9, 1940 and surrendered on the same day. The Norwegians were able to partially defend their coasts, but after a while they too had to withdraw to the north. In Oslo (capital of Norway) Vidkun Quisling seized the opportunity and seized power. He was friendly to Hitler. The allied troops helping Norway were poorly organized. The British House of Commons considered this disorganization irresponsible and therefore Chamberlain was ousted. Winston Churchill became the new Prime Minister. Norway could not be saved at the moment and the Norwegian king formed a government in exile in London.
The campaign in the west
The campaign in the west began on May 10, 1940. Hitler invaded France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The invasion happened very quickly. Once again, parachutists were on duty who took important strategic points and fortresses. With several thousand tanks and airplanes, this should also be a blitzkrieg. Before the African campaign, Erwin Rommel was involved in this invasion. Anglo-French defense attempts in Belgium were unsuccessful. Breaking the Maginot Line was difficult, but part of the army made its way through Belgium. The Ardennes in particular were easy to cross. According to the French strategists, it would take a long time for the Germans to cross the Meuse, but this was not the case and the French were not prepared for such a rapid attack. The Netherlands was heavily bombed and eventually had to surrender. Winston Churchill went to Paris to see the situation for himself, but it was by no means good. Slowly they prepared for an occupation of Paris. The French commander in chief could not do anything about it. Daladier's successor, Reynaud, appointed Philippe Pétain as his successor. The Deutschahne now headed west and reached the English Channel on May 21, 1940. The French suspected that Paris was the destination. The British troops were cut off from their supplies. The British and French had to withdraw further and further. Eventually they landed in the important French port of Dunkirk. An evacuation of the British troops was being prepared here, because if the Germans storm Dunkirk from Belgium, many British soldiers would go into German captivity. British soldiers supported Belgium so that the rest had enough time to evacuate. This evacuation in Dunkirk was associated with many risks because theoretically the British were defenseless against the Germans. Nevertheless, Belgium had to capitulate on May 28, 1940. Before Dunkirk the German tanks had problems because they are swamp areas.The Air Force now had to attack the British, but the Royal Air Force was able to repel these attacks successfully. Many French could also be evacuated to prepare for the counterattack. Hitler was able to continue the campaign in France without major resistance. The British were reluctant to support them because they did not want to weaken their own defenses. On June 15, 1940, Paris was finally taken. Attempts were made to involve the USA in the war, but they remained neutral. The bad memories from World War I spoke against entering the war. Nevertheless, the United States supplied the Allies with a great deal of war material. Even before that, the French government fled. Mussolini wanted to take advantage of this too and declared war on France as well. On June 22, 1940, Pétain negotiated with Hitler that he could continue to rule in the south of France. The seat of government was now in Vichy. Charles de Gaulle, who also fled to Great Britain, tried to build resistance there against the Germans in France and organized a government in exile.
Battle of Britain
Great Britain was now in the unfavorable position that it had to take on Germany itself. Winston Churchill motivated the people to fight. However, there were still Chamberlain and other politicians who considered a victory against Germany to be impossible. They wanted to make peace with Hitler. Soldiers displaced from Dunkirk were also demotivated, and many weapons had to be destroyed or left behind in Dunkirk. Hitler believed that Britain had no chance and offered them a peace treaty. This was ignored and so Hitler began in July 1940 with the operation "Seelöwe", the air raid on Great Britain. The Royal Air Force was quite powerful, and the English Channel also gave Great Britain an advantage. Herrmann Göring wanted to prove this time that his air force was completely sufficient for an invasion and that the Wehrmacht and the Navy are unnecessary. Hitler hoped for a victory over Great Britain within a few months. The most famous British fighter was the "Spitfire". On the German side, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the fighter that was mainly used in the Battle of Britain. Of course, these German fighters primarily had to escort the bombers. Above all, the German planes needed bombs. Their major disadvantage was that they could not stay over Great Britain as long as the British fighters, because they still had to fly back to their French airports. First of all, ships, factories and civilians were bombed. Great Britain's air defenses were improved with new radar stations and they also had modern aircraft. In addition, many new aircraft were also built so that Britain had more aircraft than Germany. The next thing they realized was that one had to fight the Roxal Air Force and therefore their bases were also bombed. This of course brought heavy losses to Great Britain and the pilots had to be trained much faster. Many planes were shot down on both sides. Many pilots had to fly several missions a day. On September 7, 1940, Germany adopted a new strategy. It was hoped that the attack on London would bring victory. On that day, London was attacked by a large number of bombers. The Royal Air Force was not prepared for this and London was unprotected. These attacks then continued until 1941. The invasion of Great Britain was no longer Germany's main target because the Royal Air Force put up too much resistance. The people of London tried to organize and persevere. For example, the subway was used as an air raid shelter. Small steel boxes were also built for apartments in which one could protect oneself. Other major industrial cities in Great Britain were also bombed. The bomb attacks stopped in mid-1941.
Campaign in the Balkans
After the defeat of France, Benito Mussolini decided to expand his influence in the Mediterranean. He planned a campaign in the Balkans and North Africa. Libya was already under Italian rule. Now Mussolini invaded Egypt on September 2, 1940. The Suez Canal was heavily guarded by the British, however, as it was absolutely necessary for the transport of supplies from the colonies of the British Empire. Italy suffered great losses in this campaign. In addition, several Italian ships were sunk by British planes. The Italians could be pushed back as far as Libya and Great Britain was even able to occupy parts of Libya. Due to this fact, Mussolini attacked Greece on October 28, 1940. He did not want to be solely dependent on Hitler's victories and also thought that Greece would not offer much resistance. Italian soldiers marched into Greece from Albania, which was occupied by Italy. Hitler warned Mussolini beforehand about a Balkan campaign and was actually proved right. Above all, Greece is very mountainous and the temperatures during these months were also very low. You weren't prepared for a winter war, so you didn't have winter uniforms with you. Many soldiers froze to death. Bulgaria did not help Italy in this invasion and Greece received British support, so the Italians quickly withdrew. Hitler felt threatened by the Royal Air Force in Greece and, above all, that it could spread to neighboring countries. He was of course very angry about Mussolini's campaign. First of all, Hitler wanted Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Romania to join the three-power pact between Germany, Italy and Japan. Hungary and Romania immediately consented, but Bulgaria had to occupy Germany for this purpose. Yugoslavia refused and so Hitler decided not only to occupy Greece, but also Yugoslavia. The invasion of Yugoslavia began on April 6, 1941, but the Yugoslav soldiers could not do anything about it because they were not well equipped. At the same time, the German invasion of Greece began. More British troops rushed to aid Greece. All that was not enough and so the British had to withdraw. On April 21, 1941, Greece surrendered. The Greek island of Crete still had to be occupied. Despite Allied resistance, Crete was also captured by Germany. Parts of Greece and Yugoslavia went to Mussolini. However, resistance movements quickly emerged in Greece and Yugoslavia. That became a problem for Italy. Mussolini proceeded very brutally and had many resistance fighters killed. Both campaigns were a disaster for Italy and, above all, they represented a humiliation. Once Mussolini had been Hitler's role model, but with all these defeats Mussolini was once and for all dependent on Hitler.
Campaign in the Soviet Union
Hitler had been planning this campaign for a long time. Above all, this should give Germany more living space and new resources. Hitler thought that he would be victorious within a few months. He was convinced that a blitzkrieg would be very successful here too. The "Barbarossa" company began on June 22nd, 1941. The German armed force, which already consisted of a few million soldiers, was supported by Italian, Hungarian, Croatian and Romanian divisions. The Finns wanted to use this time to recapture the territories conquered by the Soviet Union. They came from the north. The German armed forces were divided into several army groups. The Soviet Union was completely surprised. Due to the non-aggression pact, business relationships were maintained and Stalin was therefore very surprised that a German invasion suddenly took place. The Soviet armed forces were not organized at all and therefore Hitler was able to quickly overrun the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had more soldiers, more tanks, and more planes than Germany, but many of them were out of date and, most importantly, lacking in organization. In the beginning, Soviet soldiers marched against the Germans without any plan. However, this resulted in thousands of them dying. This campaign therefore seemed unstoppable. Finally, over the radio, Stalin urged the population to resist. As a result, the population destroyed their houses when they had to leave them. During this campaign, the Germans were also able to capture many tanks. However, Stalin weakened his armed forces to a large extent himself, as he had many officers who were against him executed. Other opponents of his regime were also imprisoned, just like in Germany. Churchill was of the opinion that Stalin should be helped in this German attack. They wanted to fight Hitler together, even if they had different views. However, parts of the Russian population were against the Stalin regime and therefore helped the Germans. Officially, every adult Soviet citizen was supposed to defend himself against the German advance. As in Poland, the SS was also deployed here, killing thousands of Jews and deporting many Russians to concentration camps. The Russians were viewed as an inferior race. Because of this German brutality, more and more Russians resisted and there were also many acts of sabotage. However, towards the end of 1941, the Russian winter set in. Temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius were nothing unusual. Many military equipment was not prepared for this. Thousands of German soldiers froze to death. The Russian soldiers were well prepared for such a winter. As a result, the war dragged on and the German soldiers were demoralized. The Soviet Union quickly built many new tanks and the Allies also supported them. Many Soviet factories were relocated to the east and continue to produce. Finally, in late 1941, more organized attacks began on the part of the Russians. First of all, the Germans were able to hold their positions. On June 7th, 1942 a very interesting battle began on the Crimean peninsula under the leadership of Colonel General Erich von Manstein. On that day the Germans attacked Sevastopol, the strongest fortress in the world. As early as the Crimean War (1853-1856), the heaviest guns at that time were used against Sevastopol. It's not just a walled city, but first of all the area around Sevastopol is very mountainous. Around the city there are several forts with cannons, miles of trenches, sniper holes and many machine gun positions. The seaside (Black Sea) of Sevastopol is also so strongly defended. Several German and Romanian divisions stood ready to conquer Sevastopol. The Germans use their two giant guns in this battle. These two guns are described below under the weapons. Sevastopol fell on July 1, 1942 and Erich von Manstein was promoted to field marshal that same day.
The attack on Pearl Harbor and the US entry into the war
It is important to first look at the history. Japan annexed Korea in 1910, occupied Manchuria in 1931, and occupied parts of northern China in 1937. This increased political tensions between the US and Japan. Japan reached its climax in 1940 when it occupied Indochina (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam). Thereupon the American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put an oil embargo on Japan and made it impossible for Japan to get at its assets in the USA. Tensions intensified and a future war was certain. The Japanese pointed out several times to the US that a raid on the American Pacific Air Force Base, Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, was not impossible. Even the USA did not expect this attack after such a short time. For this reason it was also a nasty surprise for them when on December 7th, 1941 Japanese fighter planes shot at and bombed Pearl Harbor. The whole attack lasted 3 hours, 3,300 Americans died and many American planes and ships were destroyed. The leader of this attack was called Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and was the commander in chief of the Japanese fleet. After this attack, Japan was delighted because Japan was two years ahead of the US. At the time, Japan had a much larger fleet than the US and owned the largest battleship in the world, the Yamato. The only one who was a little skeptical was Admiral Yamamoto, because he was a man who thought realistically and who knew that the USA was a world power and that Japan, despite this lead, would now have to conquer more areas quickly. Just as Hitler wanted to build a huge German Empire in Europe and Mussolini wanted to restore the old Roman Empire in the Mediterranean, Japan also wanted to build an empire in Asia. The Japanese wanted to expand their living space and have access to more resources. For the USA, Pearl Harbor was really a disaster, because the damage was huge. The Japanese Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo was behind the war against nations that had colonies in Asia. On December 7, 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, American President Roosevelt declared war on Japan. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded Thailand on the Malacca peninsula, which was British. British ships came to the rescue, but they could be sunk by the Japanese. In February 1942 the British had to evacuate the entire Malacca peninsula, including Singapore. Hong Kong was also taken by the Japanese. The Japanese invasion of the Philippines began on December 22nd, 1941. General Douglas MacArthur did not defend Manila (capital of the Philippines) and so the Japanese were able to occupy it. Instead, he withdrew to a Filipino fortress. In 1942 he received the order to leave the Philippines but wanted to come back. This Filipino fortress eventually fell into the hands of the Japanese. The Japanese did not treat prisoners of war well because they believed that prisoners of war should commit suicide. Traditional Japanese people committed suicide ("hara-kiri") when captured.
The naval battles in the Pacific Ocean
After Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto worked out two plans for expanding the Japanese empire. The first Japanese general offensive was to occupy Midway, Guam, Burma, the Philippines and Papua. The USA was able to decipher the Japanese radio messages and thus knew what Japan was planning. For the USA, however, Papua was particularly important, because Port Morestby was located there and the American General Douglas MacArthur wanted to develop Port Morestby into an air force base. The other danger was that Japan could have conquered Australia and so the US would have to give up the Pacific. So the commander in chief of the US fleet in the Pacific, Admiral Chester Nimitz, decided to send ships and, above all, aircraft carriers to the Coral Sea (east of Papua). He himself was not involved but the direct leader was Rear Admiral Frank Fletscher. In the Yorktown aircraft carrier and escort ships were made available. Another porter, the Lexington, was under the command of Rear Admiral Fitch. The commanding officer on the Japanese side was Admiral Takagi. On May 7th, 1942, American ships were sighted for the first time by a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft. With that began the battle of the Coral Sea.Admiral Takagi dispatched too many fighter planes because these ships sighted were just a tanker and an escort ship. When he found out about this he was afraid that the Americans might attack him during this time and he was defenseless. In the meantime, another reconnaissance aircraft spotted the real position of the American ships. Some time later the USA also made this mistake, because a reconnaissance aircraft reported several carriers, but that was a mistake, they were only battleships. The warplanes that were sent off sank this battleship and returned. An American reconnaissance plane also found out the position of the Japanese ships. On the evening of that day there was an incident that the Japanese wanted a night attack, but this failed because they did not have the technical means to do so. Now that the opponent's position was known, both opponents expected a more difficult battle the next day. The next day, Rear Admiral Fitch on the American side and Admiral Hara on the Japanese side took over the tactical command of this battle. As expected, the climax of this battle actually took place on May 8th, 1942. The flight deck of a Japanese aircraft carrier was so bent by a bomb from an American fighter that aircraft could no longer take off. The Lexington was badly damaged and sinks after a while. Yorktown was also badly damaged and had to be repaired. Japan withdrew from the Coral Sea to recover from this battle as it also suffered losses. This battle was the first battle where the enemy ships never faced each other, only planes took over the attacks. Admiral Yamamoto was satisfied with this battle management and also campaigned for the air force to be expanded. After the start of the first general offensive failed, Yamamoto had already worked out the next idea on May 10th, 1942, but the USA was able to decipher it again. Japan wanted to occupy the US Air Force Base Midway. Midway was important to Japan because it would strengthen Japan's power in the Pacific, it would be a way to refuel Japanese submarines, and it would have been a good line of defense. So Yamamoto developed a distraction plan. This plan provided that parts of the Japanese fleet would attack the Aleutians first. He expected that American ships would go from Hawaii to the Aleutian Islands to help there. In the meantime, Admiral Nagumo should bomb the defense Midway so that Admiral Kondo's landing forces could occupy the island without major resistance. Yamamoto himself, on his flagship the Yamato, stayed about 500 kilometers behind Kondo and wanted to step in in an emergency. Knowing about this plan, the US was repairing Yorktown in just two days instead of being repaired in three months. Almost the entire Japanese fleet was mobilized for this operation. On June 4th, 1942, Nagumo began the attack on Midway. The Midway defense was much better than the Japanese had thought. Thus, the Japanese fighter planes had to return and to be refueled and armed again. Since Japan was convinced that the American ships were in the Aleutian Islands, the reconnaissance flights were superficial and imprecise, but a reconnaissance plane was finally able to spot American ships. This was reported immediately and Admiral Nagumo now had to prepare his fighter planes for an air battle. During this air battle, many American bombers and torpedo planes launched by Rear Admiral Spurahnces Hornet and Enterprise were shot down and no hit was landed. After that, however, Vice Admiral Fletschers Yorktown took off fighter planes, which after a short time sank three Japanese aircraft carriers. A fourth carrier was so badly damaged that it sank after a few hours. Yorktown has also sunk. Nagumo radioed Yamamoto that the battle was over, but Yamamoto, unaware that all four Japanese porters had sunk, replaced Nagumo and filled his position with Admiral Kondo. Only when he found out about it did he give up the battle in the night of June 5th, 1942. He ordered the fleet to withdraw, leaving a few ships behind as a defense so that the Americans could not pursue them. These defense ships, which of course were not aircraft carriers, could be sunk without any problems. Nevertheless, Spurance did not decide to pursue the Japanese, which he was right about. After this battle, Japan had to recover for a long time because it eventually lost four aircraft carriers and several other ships. This enabled the US to stop Japan's plans to continue conquering the Pacific. On April 18, 1943, Admiral Yamamoto wanted to personally see an exercise in the Solomon Islands and flew from one island to the other. The US knew when and where this flight would take place and they started Operation Vengeance. Yamamoto flew with a bomber and an escort of 6 fighters and yet the Americans were able to shoot him down without major problems. In 1944 the US decided to recapture the territories it had previously administered and which were still in Japan's hands. They mainly started with it on the Pacific islands, such as B. Wake and recapture Guam. But the US also wanted to secure a place from which to attack Japan itself. First people thought about Taiwan, but then they decided to recapture the Philippines. American General Douglas MacArthur had this idea because when Japan conquered the Philippines, he swore to return. President Roosevelt approved of this idea and let the Army and Navy work together. At that time the army and navy were enemies and everyone wanted to be the better. In October 1944 the Japanese positions in the Philippines began to be bombed. When many Japanese positions had been eliminated, the Americans landed in the Philippines with General Douglas MacArthur at their head. The Japanese Navy came to the rescue, of course, and on October 23, 1944 the battle in the Luzon Gulf began. It was the greatest of all naval battles. The new commander in chief of the Japanese Navy was Admiral Toyoda. He wanted to encircle the Americans on all sides, but did not succeed. That day there were losses on both sides, but they weren't that serious. It was not until the next day, when the Japanese tactics had completely failed, that the USA gained the upper hand. And on the night of October 25, 1944, Admiral Kinhaid and Admiral Oldendorf set a trap for the Japanese in which many Japanese ships were sunk. On that day there was still a battle where American and Japanese ships were sunk. However, since the USA retained superiority, this battle ended on October 26th, 1944. This battle marked the final end for the Japanese fleet. On March 3, 1945, Manila (capital of the Philippines) was American again. It was also the last naval battle in history, because today there are submarines that cross the oceans and aircraft carriers attack the ground positions.
Other naval battles
On September 3, 1939, after the declaration of war by Great Britain, a British ship was sunk by a German submarine. It was mainly about the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel. The English Channel was mined by the British. Great Britain had a larger naval fleet than Germany. Great Britain relied on shipping because this was the only way to bring the necessary resources into the country. Resources came mainly from the British colonies and the USA also helped Great Britain. The Germans also laid mines around Great Britain. In the first months of the war, German battleships sank several British merchant ships. The rear admiral Karl Dönitz was responsible for this submarine war. He believed that submarines were very effective and therefore called for many more submarines to be built. The British were trying to better escort the trade convoys and they should be able to change course quickly. However, the German submarines were able to travel over ever greater distances. After France was occupied, the Germans also had ports there and these were closer to Great Britain than the German ports. At night, submarines could get very close to the trading ships, so that a hit was very likely. Many merchant ships could be sunk in this way. There were also trade routes to the Soviet Union. Most of the time, northern ports such as Murmansk and Arkhangelsk were called at. Here, too, these ships were at risk. Large German ships like the "Bismarck" and the "Tirpitz" also posed a great threat to British merchant ships. They had 38 cm cannons. Thousands of British sailors lost their lives in this entire naval war. In March 1941, several German submarines were sunk. On May 27, 1941 the "Bismarck" was sunk by several torpedoes from British ships. At the end of 1941 the USA also defended part of the Atlantic route. When the USA began to use their ships against the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean in 1942, the number of sunk British merchant ships increased again. Now that the radar was invented, one could better protect oneself against the attacks. With the help of new techniques and depth charges it was possible to take better action against submarines and therefore the number of British ships sunk in 1943 was minimized. The "Tirpitz" was sunk by British Lancaster bombers.
38 cm ship cannon on the "Tirpitz"
The desert war in North Africa
After the Italians had not had any success in North Africa either, Germany had to help. In February 1941 one of the best German strategists arrived in North Africa - Erwin Rommel. Rommel received the honorable nickname "Desert Fox" from his opponents because he was also a very good strategist in the eyes of the opponent. Italy, on the other hand, is slowly being pushed out of Africa by the British. B. from who conquered Ethiopia in 1935. From Libya, Rommel launched an attack against the British on March 30, 1941. They could be pushed back into Egypt and Cyrenaica fell into Rommel's hands. However, Tobruk could not be taken. A British general is even taken prisoner. Rommel's advance was rapid. It would have been important for the Axis powers to advance to the Suez Canal in order to prevent shipping between Great Britain and its colonies. The British fleet in Alexandria was also in danger. Tobruk was still besieged by the German Africa Corps. In June 1941 the British tried to end the siege of Tobruk, but the German tanks outnumbered them. Then there was the 8.8 cm flak. Although this is actually an anti-aircraft gun, this gun was much more successful as an anti-tank gun. At the end of 1941 Cyrenaica could be conquered again by the British and the Germans were pushed back. In mid-1942 the British had to defend the island of Malta from a German invasion, which they succeeded. Rommel conquered Bir Hacheim on June 10, 1942 and Tobruk on June 21, 1942. For the victory in Tobruk, Rommel was promoted to field marshal general. Rommel had supply problems and the climate and the environment made the fight more difficult. Rommel now marched towards Egypt. On October 23, 1942 there was a battle for the Egyptian city of El Alamein. Here Rommel was supposed to meet the British General Montgomery, who had studied Rommel's tactics. Rommel could be defeated in this battle and for the British this was a very decisive victory. Now Rommel had to withdraw. After that, the Allies planned an invasion of Algeria and Morocco. These two countries were under the rule of the French Vichy government. This company started on November 8, 1942 under the leadership of US General Eisenhower. Allied soldiers went to the beach everywhere, but there was also resistance. An agreement between the Allies and Admiral Darlan, who sided with Vichy, ended the French resistance. Hitler wanted to prevent this and marched into southern France (Vichy). The Allied troops, however, advanced into Tunisia. The Americans had no combat experience and without British help they would have defeated Rommel. Rommel could now be stopped under General Patton and at the beginning of 1943 he had to return to Germany. The German Africa Corps then only suffered losses in Africa and in mid-1943 it was finally over.
The German defeat in the Soviet Union
The German invasion of the Soviet Union continued in mid-1942. They finally wanted to secure more resources for themselves and the second important point was Stalingrad. Stalingrad is an industrial city. The aim of the attack was to paralyze industry. This means that no replenishment of Soviet military equipment is to be expected. The attack on Stalingrad began in August 1942. This attack was led by General Friedrich Paulus. Hitler was completely confident of victory. However, the Soviet General Chuikov involved the German soldiers in house-to-house fights and thus the air force could not arbitrarily bomb the entire city, because as many Russian as German soldiers would die in the process. The fights were very difficult because they were limited to infantry only. The battle for Stalingrad would last for months. German tanks had problems moving in Stalingrad and Russian snipers were also a great danger. At the end of 1942, German troops were advancing from the south. When the winter came, the Germans began to have problems with supplies. In November 1942 the Soviet general Zhukov was able to enclose Stalingrad with a large force. This city, which is important for the German victory, should of course be held by the Germans. Hitler has forbidden a retreat. Field Marshal Erich von Manstein came to the rescue, but he was stopped in front of Stalingrad and withdrew. Only the Luftwaffe could still supply the Germans. Many Germans froze to death without winter uniforms. In early 1943 the Soviets were able to recapture parts of Stalingrad. Then the German soldiers surrendered. Hitler was extremely dissatisfied with this. It was a heavy blow for him that he could not forget for a long time, because Stalingrad really represented a turning point. Now the German and Italian armies could be pushed back from the Soviet Union. The Russians now recognized the extent of the occupation. A great many people were killed by the SS. In March 1943, the Germans were able to advance again. In July 1943 it was hoped that taking the city of Kursk would give them a chance to subdue the Soviet Union after all. Many tanks were made available for this. It was now the biggest tank battle in history. The Soviet Union won this battle in August 1943 and there was no longer any doubt of a German defeat. The Soviets now advanced further west and Hitler withdrew his army from the Soviet Union. In 1944 Leningrad could be retaken from the Soviet Union. In the same year Sevastopol could be recaptured and the Germans had to flee across the Black Sea, just as the British had to withdraw from Dunkirk. That year the Germans were completely expelled from the Soviet Union.
The Allied invasion of Italy
In 1943 the Allies discussed an invasion of Europe. The Soviet front should be relieved.A ruse was used to lure the Germans into Greece, but the invasion was to take place in Italy. On June 10, 1943, General Montgomery and General Patton made an Allied landing in Sicily. Nevertheless, Sicily was also defended by German and Italian troops. After this landing, Benito Mussolini was ousted by his own supporters. He was being held prisoner. However, he was soon liberated by Hitler. The new Italian government surrendered, but they waited because they wanted to keep the conditions as good as possible. However, further Allied attacks forced unconditional surrender. However, Germany immediately occupied Italy and resistance continued here. Nonetheless, the Allied invasion progressed and made considerable gains by October 1943. On October 13, 1943, Italy declared war on Germany. Now Germany wanted to stop the Allies in the Apennia. The focus here was the Monte Cassino mountain with an old monastery. To get north you had to pass here. This battle went on for a long time, with many soldiers dying on both sides. The monastery was bombed in early 1944, but the Germans were also able to hide in the ruins. It was not until a few months later that an Allied victory was achieved here. On June 4th, 1944 the Allies conquered Rome. The Germans therefore had to withdraw further. The Allies slowly built up a government in Italy and tried to restore the infrastructure. Italians who fought together with the Allies, if found in German areas, were executed. Sometimes entire villages were wiped out or burned. In the winter of 1944/1945 the Allied advance was stopped, but Italians continued to sabotage the German Wehrmacht. In April 1945 the Allies marched on and together with the Italians they had more and more successes. On May 2, 1945 the Wehrmacht surrendered in Italy. Mussolini tried to flee to Switzerland with his lover. However, in one village they were executed by Italians. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers died in this campaign.
The Allied invasion of France
This invasion should also relieve the Soviet Union. Several locations between Norway and France were considered for invasion. Normandy was chosen. A landing in Calais was also considered as it was much closer to Great Britain than Normandy. The Germans also had Calais fortified because they feared an invasion here. The Allies tried many tricks to encourage the Germans to believe in this. The German radar was also fooled so that Hitler was sure that the invasion would take place in Calais. On the night of June 6, 1944, many bombs were thrown on Normandy and many parachutists were deployed. That morning, Normandy saw the largest landing in history - Operation Overlord. Over a hundred thousand soldiers were involved. The beaches of Normandy were not as heavily defended as Calais. However, the brilliant strategist Rommel was convinced of an invasion of Normandy. He advised to defend Normandy better but they did not comply. All the troops for this attack were stationed in Britain. The German soldiers were very surprised and couldn't believe their eyes when they saw thousands of ships landing. The Allies landed on five stretches of beach named: "Gold", "Juno", "Omaha", "Utah" and "Sword". Some ships were also loaded with tanks, but the problem was that not all ships got close enough to the beach and some tanks and soldiers sank as a result. This whole invasion was pretty daring and especially in "Omaha" there was too much loss on the Allied side. The Allied soldiers were exposed to the German machine gun fire and therefore had to leave the beaches as quickly as possible. In addition, the beaches were blocked by obstacles so that tanks could not go well. The Allies were able to advance into France and recapture it. In Caen there was a serious confrontation with thousands of dead soldiers. The Allies won this battle. French who also took part in this invasion were now able to liberate Paris.
The end for Germany and the end of the war in Europe
The Allies were now advancing inexorably. Field Marshal General Gerd von Rundstedt was convinced of a German defeat after the invasion of Normandy. On September 17, 1944, the Germans won a victory near Arnhem in the Netherlands, but that didn't stop the Allies either. The Soviet Union now invaded Poland. Women were now also used to produce war material in Germany and younger and younger children were sent out as soldiers. The Allies now also bombed German industry. Only now could the German population convince themselves of the war. In all major German cities, there was severe damage from the bomb carpets of the Allies. Dresden was particularly hard hit. However, these bombings killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, making them controversial among the Allies. Hitler demanded retaliation for this and so the Peenemünde research team, headed by Wernher von Braun, was instructed to use rockets as weapons. From mid-1944, first the V1 rocket and later the V2 rocket were produced. Both were used against Germany's neighboring countries. But even these missiles could no longer help Germany. In Germany there was also a resistance against Hitler but all attempts to murder Hitler failed. On July 20, 1944, a bomb exploded in Hitler's headquarters in Rastenburg which was supposed to kill him. This failed, however, and Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and the other co-conspirators were shot on the same day. Many officers were involved and that is why Hitler wanted to restructure the Wehrmacht. Erwin Rommel also indirectly supported this attack. Hitler offered him to commit suicide, otherwise he would be brought before a people's court. On October 14, 1944, Rommel committed suicide in Herrlingen. There were also other opposition groups such as B. the "White Rose", which was formed by students. It consisted of the siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and a few other students. They were discovered by the caretaker at Munich University and betrayed to the Gestapo. The Scholl siblings were then executed. With many speeches, Goebbels tried to portray the Russians as monsters to the Germans and thus to induce them to resist the Allies. At the end of 1944, Hitler began the Ardennes offensive in the west, but this could be defeated by the Allies in early 1945. The Russians are now approaching Berlin. Many Germans are afraid of them and try to flee. However, Hitler is disappointed by the Germans and the defeat and orders the complete destruction of Germany, but nobody obeys this order. On February 4th, 1945 a conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin took place in Yalta in the Crimea. Here Europe was divided. Berlin was initially to be administered exclusively by the Russians. As early as 1943, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin held a conference in Tehran at which the division of Europe was discussed. In April 1945 the Soviets reached Berlin. Hitler was still hoping for a victory when Roosevelt suddenly died on April 12, 1945. Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler fled, but was arrested by the British and committed suicide. Hitler appointed Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor. In addition, Hitler expelled Göring and Himmler from the NSDAP in April 1945 because they had negotiated peace with the Allies. On April 29, 1945, Hitler shot himself in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery and his lover Eva Braun took poison. On April 30, 1945, Joseph Goebbels poisoned his children and then himself and his wife. Germany surrenders on 8 May 1945. This ends the war in Europe, but not against Japan.
The end for Japan and the end of WWII
Despite the Japanese defeat at Midway, the Japanese tried to capture Port Moresby (capital of Papua New Guinea) in order to be able to take action against Australia. The Americans wanted to drive the Japanese from the Solomon Islands and on August 8th, 1942 they launched an offensive in Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. An important Japanese airfield was located here. In October 1942 the Japanese wanted to recapture it and there was a heavy battle. American and Japanese ships also fight against each other here. In early 1943 the Japanese withdrew. At the end of 1942, the Japanese were driven out of Papua New Guinea. After these victories, the US is confident. The USA now occupied many small islands that Japan had conquered in order to be able to take effective action against Japan itself in the end. As already mentioned with the naval battles, the USA was able to recapture the Philippines after the battle in the Luzon Gulf. Tokyo is bombed in March 1945. On April 1st, 1945, the USA began the invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa. The USA won this battle on July 24, 1945. In 1948 the Japanese Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo was executed. The US wanted to speed up the war, so American President Harry Truman decided to drop two atomic bombs on Japan. The development happened in Los Alamos, New Mexico. It was called the "Manhattan" project. The head of this project was the atomic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. The result was a weapon that was unknown until then. It reached a temperature of 15 million degrees Celsius (as hot as the core of the sun). The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Japan still did not surrender and so the next atomic bomb was thrown on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Over 100,000 people died instantly. Many people continued to suffer from radiation damage for years and died, for example. T. on it. Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945. With that the 2nd World War came to an end.
The Nuremberg Trials and the escape of many Nazis
The main war criminals trial began in Nuremberg on November 20, 1945. 24 people were charged. There were four charges: conspiracy against world peace, planning and conducting a war of aggression, violations of martial law, crimes against humanity. It was an international court and the judges came from Great Britain, France, the USA and the Soviet Union. The judgments were announced on September 30, 1946 and October 1, 1946. The following 12 people were sentenced to death: Bormann, Frank, Frick, Göring, Jodl, Kaltenbrunner, Keitel, von Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Sauckel, Seyß-Inquart and Streicher. Martin Bormann fled in 1945 and at the time of the trial one was not sure whether he had gone into hiding somewhere. Despite this, he was sentenced to death in absentia. However, it was later proven that he died while trying to escape. Funk, Hess and Raeder were sentenced to life imprisonment. Dönitz, von Neurath, von Schirach and Speer were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Fritzsche, von Papen and Schacht were acquitted. The convicts were executed on October 16, 1946. The day before, Hermann Göring committed suicide with the help of potassium cyanide. In addition to the Nuremberg Trials of Major War Criminals, there were other trials in Germany, but also in the countries where the Nazi persons were active. Many death sentences were also carried out during these trials. Rudolf Höss, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, was sentenced and executed in Poland, for example. Lesser known Nazi people tried to move abroad and z. Sometimes with success. However, there were private Nazi hunters who tracked down a large number of Nazi people long after World War II. These Nazi people were also convicted. However, there were also people who were never found or people who were not extradited. The Vatican also helped many fugitive Nazis. In 1950 Adolf Eichmann fled to Argentina. The Israeli secret service was only able to track him down years later and kidnapped him from Argentina in May 1960. In a court case in Israel he was sentenced to death in December 1961 and executed on June 1, 1962. In 1949 Josef Mengele fled to Argentina. He was never caught. On July 2nd, 1979 he died in a swimming accident in Brazil. Neither Argentina nor Brazil wanted to extradite Eichmann and Mengele. In 1983, for example, Klaus Barbie, the head of the Lyon Gestapo, was found in Bolivia and extradited to France. In 1987 he was sentenced to life imprisonment and died in 1991. The whereabouts of Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller, like many others, is still unclear.
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