The war in Europe 1939-45 can be broken down into three phases:
1) Conquest 1939-42: 1939 Germany crushed Poland, 1940 occupied Norway Denmark then Holland, Belgium and France.
• 1940-41 Hitler prepared attack on Soviet Russia, code named 'Operation Barbarossa' launched June 1941.
2) Decisive reverses 1942-43:
German armies suffered two big defeats on 'Eastern Front' during Stalingrad (Aug 1942- Jan 1943)AND Kursk (July 1943).
• Also defeated by British at El Alamein (Oct 1942)- the 'Desert War' diverted German resources away from the Eastern Front.
POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS DURING THE WAR: RADICALISATION-
• 1937-8 Hitler removed non-Nazi conservatives like Schacht from positions of influence in his government as they voiced doubts about his plans to wage war in the near future.
• In 1939 Hitler embarked on the war non-Nazi conservatives had warned him against.
• Under cover of war Nazis launched genocidal policies (see other cards.)
• Limited in 1930s due to Hitler's popularity and the effectiveness of Himmler's Gestapo- exception to their effectiveness record was the Communist spy ring 'Red Orchestra' which managed to survive until 1942.
• Later years of war saw an increase in resistance:
1) Members of the communist resistance re-emerged in working-class heartlands such as the Ruhr.
2) 'White Rose Group' based at Munich University consisted of idealistic uni students horrified by Nazi ant-Jewish atrocities= its members distributed anti-Nazi leaflets but leaders Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested in 1943 and arrested.
GERMAN ECONOMY IN WARTIME:
The use of foreign resources:
• Gained access to new food supplies and to some key raw materials as a result of its conquests (France provided coal and iron ore, Romania oil.) Germany was also able to exploit industrial facilities located in the conquered territories.
• Germany captured large quantities of military equipment.
ALBERT SPEERS CONTRIBUTION:
• 1942 made Armaments Minister- Goering's position had been weakened by repeated failure (Dunkirk 1940, Battle of Britain, Allied bombing) so Hitler lost confidence in him.
• Had no military experience or background in industry, but was a first-class organiser and a realist- saw Germany had to reorganise itself for prolonged 'total' war.
IMPACT OF WAR ON GERMAN SOCIETY:
• 1939-45 16 million men in army, 3 million killed, 1.5 million prisoners of war.
• More German soldiers died in last four months of war than previous 2 years combined.
• In 1944 Hitler ordered the creation of a ‘People’s Army’, (home guard to protect Germany from enemies) made up of normal civilians.
• German armies invading Soviet Russia 1941 treated the civilian population in a ruthless and savage manner and the same thing happened when Russian troops entered the eastern districts of Germany in 1945.
• Between January and May 1945 five million Germans left their homes and since eastern Germany remained under Communist control at the end of the war few of them ever returned, leaving authorities in Western Germany having to deal with huge numbers of displaced people.
WHY DID GERMANY LOSE THE WAR?
1) Economic resources:
• 1941-45 Germany was fighting all of Britain, Soviet Russia and the USA, three of the world’s most powerful economies which had access to abundant supplies of raw materials and huge manufacturing potential.
• Germany had fewer people, fewer factories and fewer raw materials.
• Stalin 1941: ‘The war will be won by industrial production.’
• Main reason for Germany’s defeat was its inability to match the combined economic resources of Britain, Russia and USA.
WHY DID GERMANY LOSE THE WAR?
2) Effective Allied fighting forces:
• German army was a formidable fighting machine- 1939-42 won quick and spectacular victories and on the retreat 1942-5 it proved stubborn and resilient.
• Germanys enemies were far less superior in early WW2 but by the end of the war British and Russian forces were better trained and better led than they had been at the start- after poor performance in 1941 Russia changed army training, organisation, tactics and leadership.
4) The Bombing of Germany:
• Cut output from Germany’s factories in later stages of the war by about 20%.
• Germany had to use scarce resources to build new factories in areas less likely to be bombed.
• Germany forced to use much of its air force to combat the Allied bombers- by 1944 over 80% aircraft used meaning they were not available to give support to German ground forces in the battle zones, e.g. 1944 200 warplanes facing 12,000 Allied aircraft in France invasion.