The Second World War in Europe 1939–1945 Part VI
Hitler’s plans to attack the USSR: The preparations for an attack on the Soviet Union that began in the summer of 1940 on Hitler’s orders led to a first “Operation Draft East” of August 5, 1940, to Hitler’s “Directive number 21: Barbarossa case” of August 18, 1940 12. 1940; this set the task of the Wehrmacht “to overthrow Soviet Russia in a quick campaign even before the end of the war against England.” In the v. a. by General F. Paulus Guided attack planning was planned to smash the main forces of the Red Army in the west of the USSR with a surprise advance in three main directions (Leningrad, Moscow, Kiev) using strong armored groups and to occupy the Soviet territory in a blitzkrieg as far as the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line. The military preparations for Operation “Barbarossa” were to be completed by May 15, 1941, but on April 30, 1941, the start of the attack, delayed by the Balkan campaign, had to be postponed to June 22, 1941.
The German military, misjudging the actual Soviet potential, assumed that they would be able to end the war against the USSR before the onset of winter. Hitler and the National Socialist leadership intended to conduct the campaign against the Soviet Union, planned as a blitzkrieg, as a “war of annihilation” against the “Jewish-Bolshevik system”, as a “war of two world views” for the implementation of the program to gain “living space in the east”, the brutal “Germanization” of the conquered areas (forced resettlement of large parts of the Slavic population with the planning of high losses, murder of the Jews by Einsatzgruppen) and provided for the territorial fragmentation of the country. Therefore, the military planning was accompanied by orders and preparatory measures for the economic plunder of the conquered Soviet territory (creation of the economic staff e.g. “Oldenburg”, later Economic Staff East) and for the “reorganization” of Eastern Europe (working out the basis for the General Plan East). Hitler demanded that in the Eastern War “move away from the standpoint of soldierly comradeship”. The commissioner’s order of June 6, 1941 ordered the destruction of the communist ruling class. A decree from Hitler of May 13, 1941 on martial law stipulated that actions by German soldiers against enemy civilians “are not compulsory to prosecute, even if the act is at the same time a military crime or misdemeanor”. The involvement of the Wehrmacht in National Socialist crimes in the eastern regions to be conquered was inevitable. These should be subdivided into several Reichskommissariats.
On Hitler’s orders, Japan was not to be informed of the impending attack on the USSR, but was to be encouraged in its expansion efforts in the direction of Southeast Asia.
According to smber.com, the Japanese war in East Asia: Japan, poor in raw materials, had occupied almost a third of China by 1941 in its endeavor to become the supreme power of a Greater East Asian “New Order”. The US-supported Chinese resistance and the risk of a major conflict with the USSR (including fighting with Soviet troops on the Manchurian-Mongolian border from May to September 1939) prompted the Japanese to turn more south. In September 1940 they took northern Indochina from France, weakened by the defeat against Germany. By means of a non-aggression treaty with the USSR (April 13, 1941), Japan kept its back free for further expansion into the resource-rich south and the Pacific; From July 24, 1941, South Indochina was occupied.
After a failed Italian attack on Greece, German troops conquered Yugoslavia and Greece in the Balkan campaign; Crete was occupied by paratroopers. On June 22nd, 1941, Hitler’s troops invaded the Soviet Union and smashed large parts of the Red Army in various kettle battles; Only shortly before Moscow did the German advance come to a standstill due to counterattacks and collapse in the cold of the Russian winter.
During this time the Japanese attacked the American base at Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941). The German and Italian declarations of war on the USA took place on December 11, 1941. The Japanese conquered large parts of the East Asian and Pacific region, which could only be recaptured by the American troops after the Japanese defeat in the naval battle of the Midway Islands (4-7.6.1942).
The turning point on the Eastern Front brought the Battle of Stalingrad (August 1942 to February 2, 1943), in which the 6th German Army (around 280,000 men) was defeated. In view of the Soviet troops now advancing westward, a Polish uprising broke out in Warsaw on August 1st, 1944, but failed due to a lack of Soviet support.
In the meantime the Allies had landed in Morocco and Algeria and, after conquering North Africa, crossed over to Sicily. Thereupon Italy left the war on September 8, 1943 and was then occupied by German troops. On June 6, 1944 the Allies landed in Normandy and on August 15. in the south of France; they pushed the German troops back from France, a German counter-offensive on December 16, 1944 in the Ardennes got stuck.
The German military resistance now collapsed on all fronts; the Allies crossed the Rhine on March 24th, 1945, Berlin (where Hitler had committed suicide on April 30th) capitulated on May 2nd. the armistice came into force. After the first American atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, World War II also ended in the Far East with the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945. It had cost the lives of more than 55 million people.
The result of the war was, among other things. the division of the world into two blocks under the leadership of the USA and the Soviet Union and thus also the division of Europe, especially Germany (until 1989/90; East-West conflict).