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World War Two
World War Two in Europe, a brief outline
Sept. 1939, German invasion of Western Poland
1939-April 1940, "phony war"
April 1940, German invasions of Denmark and Norway
May 1940, German invasions of Netherlands, Belgium, France
June 1940, Surrender of France
June 1940-June 1941, Battle of Britain
June 1941, German Invasion of USSR
1941, beginning of US "Lend Lease" program to provide aid to England and the USSR
December 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, US at war with Japan, Germany, and Italy
Feb. 1943, Battle of Stalingrad, first major German defeat; beginning of series of major Red Army victories on the Eastern Front
May 1943, Allied victories over German and Italian forces in North Africa
July 1943, Allied invasion of Italy, opening of "second front"
December 1943, Mussolini overthrown, Italy joins Allies vs Germany
Feb. 1944, Red Army reaches Poland, pushes toward Germany
June 1944, D-Day (Allied invasion of France) begins series of battles that push Germany back on the Western Front
April 1945, Red Army in Germany, closing on Berlin from the East; US forces closing on Berlin from the West
30 April 1945, suicide of Hitler
7 May 1945, German surrender to "western" Allies; 9 May 1945, German surrender to USSR
WWII was a War of Mobilization of Resources—the side best able to mobilize and sustain its economic and human resources would ultimately prevail.
USSR Re-located resources to the East, away from the German invasion. 2/3 of able bodied men drafted, therefore great increase in number of
women in “male” professions. Use of nationalist rhetoric—fight in the name of saving the Homeland, not a fight in the name of Communism.
Great Britain. War meant end of unemployment, brought higher wages and a larger number of women in the workplace; also an increase in taxes;
blurring of class distinctions.
USA. Mass mobilization of economic resources—by December 1942, the US was producing more war materials (guns, tanks, bombs, uniforms,
etc.) than Germany, Italy, and Japan combined; high levels of employment, in particular for women and for African-Americans; restrictions of civil
liberties, for instance, detention of Japanese-Americans in detention camps in the western states.
Germany. Rationing had begun in 1939, as a means of preserving limited resources; the failure to seize control of Soviet oil fields and general
turn of war vs in 1943 led to much greater economic hardships. Hitler assigned Albert Speer to increase centralized controls over the economy,
which created conflicts between the Nazis and the industrial elite for the first time. As a result of increased government controls, production did
increase, despite heavy allied bombing. Nazi mobilization of labor resources included massive use of slave laborers, mostly from Eastern Europe
(Russians, Poles, and Jews). These were worked (often to death) in factories, mines, and in concentration camps. Many of the largest concentration
camps included factories run by private industry. The massive work and extermination camp at Aushchwitz included an arms factor run by the Krupp
corporation, a chemical plant run by the cartel I. G. Farbin, and a coal mine.
The Nazi policy toward Jews moved to the “final solution”—mass killings, first in the winter of 1941-42 (in occupied Soviet territory), then in
extermination camps (in Poland and in Germany), beginning in 1942. Jews, Poles, Gypsies, Magyars, and other “inferior races” were murdered in
these camps, as were homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists and Socialists, and other groups defined by the Nazis as enemies. By the end
of the war, millions of Jews and Poles had died in these camps. The Nazi regime stripped their corpses of anything that might be used for the war
effort—they tore out gold fillings and used human ashes for fertilizer, etc. German “doctors” in the camps used captives in hideous “experiments.”
The fact that their were death camps was widely known in Germany, yet the German people pretended that they did not exist—even people who had
regular contact and business with the camps refused to admit their existence.