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The Second World War

By TomásF
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    The "Phoney War"

    During the period between September 1939 and May 1940, the main acts of warfare against the Third Reich occurred in naval battles in the Atlantic Ocean. Even the Winter War between Finland and the USSR (December 1939-March 1940) passed without France or the United Kingdom launching an attack against Germany.
  • The Ocupation of Poland

    The Ocupation of Poland
    Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany on 1 September 1939 and by the Soviet Union on 17 September.
    When the Russians invaded eastern Poland, resistance collapsed. On 29 September Poland was divided up between Germany and the Soviet Union.
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    The Battle of the Atlantic

    World War II's longest continuous campaign takes place, with the Allies striking a naval blockade against Germany and igniting a struggle for control of Atlantic Ocean sea routes. The Axis, with its U-boats, responds with a counter-blockade that is at first successful, but the Allies' use of convoys, aircraft and technology eventually turns the tide.
  • The Occupation of Denmark and Norway

    The Occupation of Denmark and Norway
    German forces occupied Denmark and Norway.
    On 9 April, German troops landed at Oslo,
    Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, and Trondheim; although British and French troops arrived a few days later, they were unable to dislodge the Germans, who were already well
  • The attacks on Holland, Belgium and France

    The attacks on Holland, Belgium and France
    The attacks on Holland, Belgium, and France were launched simultaneously on 10 May, and again Blitzkrieg methods brought swift victories.
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    The Dunkirk Evacuation

    Evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and other Allied troops from the French seaport of Dunkirk to England. Naval vessels and hundreds of civilian boats were used in the evacuation, about 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops had been saved.
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    Battle of Dunkirk

    German invasion around the French coastal town of Dunkirk separates the French and British armies, marooning Allied forces. But with Adolf Hitler halting Germany's advance there, the Allies are able to perform a daring—and successful—evacuation, called Operation Dynamo.
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    Western Desert Campaign

    In February he sent Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps to Tripoli, and together with the Italians, they drove the British out of Libya. After much advancing and retreating, by June 1942 the Germans were in Egypt approaching El Alamein, only 70 miles from Alexandria
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    The Battle of Britain

    This was fought in the air when Goering's Luftwaffe tried to destroy the Royal Air Force as a preliminary to the invasion of Britain. The Germans bombed harbours, radar stations, aerodromes and munitions factories; in September they began to bomb London, in retaliation, they claimed, for a British raid on Berlin.
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    The Opening Moves

    The occupation of Poland, Denmark, Norway.
    The attacks on Holland, Belgium, and France.
    The Battle of Britain.
    The invasion of Mussolini to Egypt and Greece.
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    The Blitz (Lightning War)

    300 German bombers raid London, in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing. This bombing “blitzkrieg” (lightning war) would continue until May 1941.
  • Italy invades Egypt

    Italy invades Egypt
    Mussolini sent an army from the Italian colony of Libya that penetrated about 60 miles into Egypt.
    Hitler had offered to aid Mussolini in his invasion, to send German troops to help fend off a British counterattack.
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    To the anti-Semitic Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, Jews were an inferior race, an alien threat to German racial purity and community. After years of Nazi rule in Germany, during which jews were consistently persecuted, Hitler’s “final solution” came to fruition under the cover of World War II, with mass killing centres constructed in the concentration camps of occupied Poland.
  • The German Invasion of Greece

    The German Invasion of Greece
    The long-anticipated German attack (Unternehmen Marita) began on April 6, 1941, against both Greece and Yugoslavia. The resulting "Battle of Greece" ended with the fall of Kalamata in the Peloponnese on April 30, the evacuation of the Commonwealth Expeditionary Force, and the complete occupation of the Greek mainland by the Axis.
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    Battle of Crete

    Nazi paratroopers invade the Greek island of Crete, marking history's first mostly airborne attack. Day one of the campaign results in heavy losses for the Germans, but fearing a sea assault, Allied forces soon withdraw and evacuate in defeat.
  • The German invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa)

    The German invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa)
    Hitler's motives seem to have been mixed: He feared that the Russians might attack Germany while his forces were still occupied in the west. He hoped that the Japanese would attack Russia in the Far East. The more powerful Japan became, the less chance there was of the USA entering the war (or so Hitler thought). But above all, there was his hatred of communism and his desire for Lebensraum.
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    Operation Barbarossa

    On June 22, 1941, more than 3 million German and Axis troops invaded the Soviet Union along a 1,800-mile-long front, launching Operation Barbarossa.
  • The USA enters the war

    The USA enters the war
    The USA was brought into the war by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
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    Pacific War

    The theater of World War II that was fought in Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and Oceania.
  • Midway Island

    Midway Island
    At Midway Island in the Pacific, the Americans beat off a powerful Japanese attack, which included five aircraft carriers, nearly 400 aircraft, 17 large warships and an invasion force of 5000 troops. The Americans, with only three carriers and 233 planes, destroyed four of the Japanese carriers and about 330 planes.
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    The Gennans had reached Stalingrad at the end of August 1942, but though they more or less destroyed the city, the Russians refused to surrender. In November they counter-attacked ferociously, trapping the Germans, whose supply lines were dangerously extended, in a large pincer movement. With his retreat cut off, the German commander, von Paulus, had no reasonable alternative but to surrender with 94 000 men (2 February 1943).
  • El Alamein

    El Alamein
    At El Alamein in Egypt Rommel's Afrika Korps were driven back by the British Eighth Army, commanded by Montgomery. This great battle was the culmination of several engagements fought in the El Alamein area: first, the Axis advance was temporarily checked (July); when Rommel tried to break through he has halted again at Alam Halfa (September); finally, seven weeks later in the October battle, he was chased out of Egypt for good by the British and New Zealanders.
  • The fall of Italy

    The fall of Italy
    The first stage in the Axis collapse. British and American troops landed in Sicily from the sea and air (10 July 1943) and quickly captured the whole island. This caused the downfall of Mussolini, who was dismissed by the king.
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    Battle of Monte Cassino

    Advancing in Italy toward Rome, the Allies attack the Gustav Line, held by the Axis, at the mountain town of Monte Cassino. Evacuated by the Germans, both sides tell the Vatican it will not be attacked or used in military operations
  • Battle of Monte Cassino

    Battle of Monte Cassino
    Monte Cassino and the Gustav defences were assaulted four times by Allied troops. On 16 May, soldiers from the Polish II Corps launched one of the final assaults on the German defensive position as part of a twenty-division assault along a twenty-mile front.
  • D-Day

    Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the go-ahead for the largest amphibious military operation in history: Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of northern France, commonly known as D-Day.
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    Operation Overlord

    Operation Overlord - the invasion of France (also known as the Second Front) - began on 'D-Day', 6 June 1944. It was felt that the time was ripe now that Italy had been eliminated, the U-boats brought under control and Allied air superiority achieved. The Russians had been urging the Allies to start this Second Front ever since 1941, to relieve pressure on them.
  • Battle of Okinawa

    Battle of Okinawa
    The Navy’s Fifth Fleet and more than 180,000 U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps troops descended on the Pacific island of Okinawa for a final push towards Japan. The invasion was part of Operation Iceberg, a complex plan to invade and occupy the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa. Though it resulted in an Allied victory, kamikaze fighters, rainy weather and fierce fighting on land, sea and air led to a large death toll on both sides.
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    Battle of Okinawa

    Final major battle—and one of the war's bloodiest—begins Easter Sunday as U.S. Army and Marine forces invade Okinawa in the Ryukyus island chain southwest of Japan with the orders of taking the island to execute airstrikes against Japan and create a blockade.
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    Battle of Berlin

    Soviet forces, with support from American and British aircraft, launch an offensive against the German capital of Berlin in one of World War II's final major battles. As the Red Army encircles the city, capturing Gestapo headquarters, Hilter commits suicide April 30 in the Führerbunker and Germany surrenders a few days later, essentially ending the war.
  • The fall of the Third Reich

    The fall of the Third Reich
    Allies insisted upon unconditional surrender, and this was signed at Reims on May 7, 1945, to take effect at midnight May 8–9. With the unconditional surrender, Hitler’s “Thousand-Year Reich” ceased to exist, and the responsibility for the government of the German people was assumed by the four occupying powers—the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France.
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    Bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    An American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion immediately killed an estimated 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.
    Three days after Hiroshima, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people.
  • Surrender of Japan

    Surrender of Japan
    Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s surrender in a radio broadcast. The news spread quickly, and “Victory in Japan” or “V-J Day” celebrations broke out across the United States and other Allied nations.
    The formal surrender agreement was signed on September 2, aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.