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Content Reading Guide: WW II: Europe and North Africa
Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain,and Franklin Delano Roosevelt agreed to attack in Europe first, even though it was Japan that attacked the USA at Pearl Harbor. France, Britain, the USA, China, and the USSR formed the Allies. Germany, Italy, and Japan formed the Axis Powers. In the Battle of the Atlantic, Hitler used submarines to attack USA ships, like Germany used in WW I. This hurt Britain by cutting off aid from the USA. Eventually, despite the submarines, the USA’s intervention turned the moment of the Battle of the Atlantic in favor of the Allies.
In the Eastern Front of World War II, in 1941, Germany broke the Nonaggression Pact with the USSR and invaded the Soviet Union. Yet, the winter weather stopped the Nazis from advancing. In the summer of 1942, Hitler tried to go further and take Russian oil field areas. At the Battle of Stalingrad, in 1943, the Nazis became trapped by the USSR. Hitler wanted the industry of the city to be controlled by the Nazis. Stalin ordered troops to surround the city and cut off supplies to the Nazis. Over one million soldiers were lost by the Russians. Yet, after this incident, Russia was on the offensive and the Nazis tried to retreat back to Germany.
Joseph Stalin urged Britain and the USA to invade Western Europe. However, the USA and Britain were not ready for such an assault against Nazi occupied Europe. Instead, they launched Operation Torch. The Allies invaded Northern Africa and were led by Dwight D. Eisenhower. They entered through Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers. General Erwin Rommel led the Afrika Korps for Nazi Germany. He was defeated by the Allies in May of 1943. After taking Northern Africa, in the summer 1943, the Allies gained Sicily, an island off the coast of Italy. Now, they were ready to take the Italian peninsula. In June of 1943, King Victor Emmanuel II removed Mussolini from power. The 99th Pursuit Squadron, called the Tuskegee Airmen, an all African American squadron, helped to take Italy. Italy quickly surrendered to the Allies. Mussolini tried to escape, but was captured by the Allies and executed.
Eisenhower also led Operation Overlord, the invasion of Nazi occupied Europe, starting in France. On 6/6/1944, D-Day, the invasion of Normandy, commenced. Allied troops stormed the beaches of France to liberate the French from Germany. Over one million troops landed within one month. General Omar Bradley led Operation Cobra, the Allies’ march beyond Normandy. George Patton led his Third Army and took the Seine River area south of Paris. By September of 1944, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg were free from Nazi control. The Allied invasion of Europe was working, Hitler’s soldiers were being pushed back to Germany. Hitler sent troops to the Belgian port of Antwerp to break supply lines. He was trying to violently rush into the region and take it. This was called the Battle of the Bulge. Germany lost over 100,000 troops and they never took Antwerp. This was a failure for the Nazis and it was clear the Allies were going to push them all the way back to Germany. When this battle was over, the Allies began to advance forward. They started to liberate those trapped in concentration camps. The Soviets were the first to discover the death camps. Massive crematories, dead bodies, and other proofs remained of the wicked actions of the Holocaust. In April of 1945, the Soviets invaded Berlin and attacked. Hitler left a suicide note. However, his body was never found. On 4/12/1945, FDR died. He had complications with polio for much of his life and had a stroke. Harry Truman became president. On 5/8/1945, Victory in Europe Day “V-E Day” was celebrated as the Allies successfully crushed the Nazi Regime. However, Japan still had to be defeated to completely end World War II.
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