European Theater of World War II

World War II began on September 1st, 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. During the first 8 months, referred to as the Phoney War, the British and French armies prepared for a war with Germany, but did not actually fight. They focused on building a defensive line along the France-German border. The war in Europe is also called the European theater of World War II.

In May 1940 Germany surprised the Allied powers and attacked France and Belgium from the north, overrunning both countries. The German assault was so quick that the British Expeditionary Force, located in Northern France, was forced to retreat mainland Europe in the famous Dunkirk Evacuation. Germany maintained control over France with the help of its ally, Italy.

Germany had a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, so Hitler turned his attention towards Britain. The British air force fought the German air force in the skies over Britain. Britain withstood the German attacks, but there was significant bombing damage to British cities and towns.

Unable to defeat Britain, Nazi Germany broke the terms of the non-aggression pact and attacked the Soviet Union as part of Operation Barbarossa. Germany made massive territorial gains against the USSR. German forces finally stalled at the edge of Moscow. Then Hitler diverted his troops to the Soviet city of Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad was a major turning point. Germany lost its entire 6th Army and was never able to recover from the loss. Germany spent the rest of the war being pushed back to its capital of Berlin.

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States joining the fighting of World War II alongside the other Allied nations. The Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy was successful, opening the Mediterranean Sea to Allied merchant ships for the first time since 1941. Mussolini’s leadership collapsed in Italy, and Nazi Germany was forced to divert troops from the Soviet Union.

The Normandy Invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord, began on June 6th, 1944. It involved a large attack on northern France, including amphibious landings, naval bombardment, and an assault by airborne forces. The United States, Britain, and Canada were the main forces, and they faced difficult resistance from Nazi soldiers. The Allies were successful and opened the beaches for Allied reinforcements and heavy weaponry. The invasion opened a second front in Europe and began the process of liberating France. It led to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

As the Allies swept through France, Germany prepared an offensive push, known as the Battle of the Bulge, one of the last major battles of World War II in Europe. Britain, the United States, and Germany were the main armies involved. The Battle of the Bulge was a major loss to German, and it significantly loosened the Nazi’s control over parts of Europe.

Following the Battle of the Bulge, the Allies pushed into Germany from all sides. The British, Canadians, and Americans assaulted the country from the south and west. The Soviet Union invaded from the east all the way to Berlin. Hitler committed suicide by a gun shot on April 30th, 1945 in a bunker underneath Berlin. The Battle of Berlin ended Nazi Germany and World War II in Europe.

Source: European Theater of World War II
© Copyright History Crunch 2015-2022.

Back to top