World War II
On 20 April 1889 in a small town in Austria, was born a person who was destined to do something like any other person. However, this person changed the history of mankind forever and to date, people tend to fear this certain personality for the tragedies he perpetrated. This tyrannical man was none other than Adolf Hitler.
Adolf Hitler was born to Alois Hitler and Klara Hitler. Hitler as a child was quite bright and smart. He used to score well academically and was very popular amongst other children.
Hitler had a turbulent relationship with his father Alois. Both of them were strong-willed and often argued and Alois punished Adolf often. Hitler’s dream had always been to become a painter but Alois was a customs officer and he wanted his son to pursue the same but as we can figure out they didn’t agree over this.
After the death of his father, Adolf joined an Art School and was soon kicked for not being good enough but I think the people in charge of the art school were mad because Hitler was an excellent painter.
Hitler couldn’t make a lot out of his life but he soon joined the German army as a soldier in WW1. Hitler could get paid and found people there who were like a family to him. Despite the horrors of the First World War, Hitler said that the times of WWI were the best in his whole life. He served as a dispatch runner (a person responsible for sending messages by foot) at the western front of the war near France and Belgium. Hitler had been injured by an exploding shell and later on, he was temporarily blinded by a gas attack. For his bravery in the war, he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class.
After WWI, all the leaders of various countries that participated in WWI came to Versailles in France to discuss the punishment for Germany.
- Germany lost all of its overseas colonies.
- Germany lost 1/10 of its population.
- Germany lost 13% of its land.
- It lost 75% of its iron and 26% of its coal to Poland, France, Denmark, and Lithuania.
- To weaken Germany, the allies demilitarised it and only 100,000 people were allowed in the army.
6. Germany was not allowed to have an airforce.
7. The War Guilt Clause held Germany responsible for the damage to the countries and Germany was forced to pay an enormous amount of
8. The Allies occupied the resource-rich Rhineland for much of the 1920s.
9. A new big country named Poland was dividing Germany into 2 parts.
We can’t discuss the rise of Hitler now because that is a vast topic but this is a summary:
After WWI, there was a party named German Workers Party, and Hitler was asked to investigate it. He found it great and soon became its leader. Over here Hitler developed the majority of his antisemitic beliefs (antisemitic: prejudiced against Jewish people). Hitler was a powerful orator and motivated many to support antisemitism. Hitler renamed the party from the German Workers Party to German Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeitpartei or NAZI party for short.
Hitler was an avid racist. In the past few centuries, anti-semitic feelings had been brewing and when Hitler joined the German Workers Party, he bought into the antisemitic ideals and developed racist ideas. Hitler believed in a sort of racial system which was quite similarly arranged in the form of our country’s caste system as well. Hitler believed that the Nordic Germany Aryans with blonde hair and blue eyes are the purest race while Jews are impure and are the lowest race. All the other races lie in between based on their skin color, eye color, etc.
As soon as Hitler took power in Germany by passing out the Enabling Act in 1933, the law gave him the power to become a dictator and he could rule by decree. Hitler started by taking out the so-called ‘impure people’ like Jews, Gypsies, Blacks, Gays, etc. They were taken away from their families and various racial ideals were introduced. More on this further in the article.
Hitler wanted a little something called Lebensraum or living space to make space for the Nordic Germany Aryans to live in and for them to have places to live. So to fulfill his megalomaniac thoughts, Hitler would have to take over the world but for then, Europe was fine so he started eyeing his neighbors. He occupied the resource-rich Rhineland back from the allies with little to no resistance.
As we can see here, there is a blue striped area in the west of Germany. That is Rhineland and there is a skin-colored country separating Germany into 2, and that country is Poland.
After taking Rhineland back, Hitler decided to invade Sudetenland, a portion of Czechoslovakia that was inhabited by many ethnic Germans.
However, when Hitler was doing so, somebody intervened, not violently but diplomatically. This, somebody, was the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. He proposed to let Hitler take over Sudetenland but they wouldn’t go beyond and annex Czechoslovakia. Hitler agreed then and signed the Munich Agreement which stated that Hitler wouldn’t annex Czechoslovakia and Chamberlain came back to Britain feeling victorious and felt that war had been averted. However, Hitler being Hitler didn't keep his promise and annexed Czechoslovakia.
Some time ago, Hitler sought allies who had similar ideals as him and he found 2 countries- Japan and Italy. Japan at that time was an imperialist country and wanted to annex as much of the east as they wanted and joined forces with Hitler to do so. Italy however at that time was being ruled by the creator of fascism and the man who inspired Hitler, this man was Benito Mussolini. Benito Mussolini was originally a socialist but after being rejected by the Socialist Party, he got upset and came up with ‘Fascismo’ or Fascism which is a One Party dictatorial rule.
In 1938 on 11 March, Hitler invaded Austria-Hungary under the slogan One People, One Empire, and One leader. The invasion of Austria is also known as Anschluss.
As we discussed before, Hitler’s prime motive was Lebensraum, or living space for the Nordic Germany Aryans to live in. If we want lebensraum anywhere in or near Europe, what place would it be? Czechoslovakia? No. Austria-Hungary? No. France? No. If you seek lebensraum, you need to look at the Eastern front of Europe and your eyes would meet a supergiant. This supergiant for most of the 1900s was the Soviet Union or The USSR.
The Soviet Union was a communist country that comprised present-day Russia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
The USSR was almost a superpower with a huge military and Hitler couldn’t afford to fight it. So Hitler decided to keep some positive relations with them by signing the Non-Aggression Pact also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in 1938 with them and they both decided to remain friends. This pact was signed by the foreign minister of both countries; Joachim Von Ribbentrop from Nazi Germany and Vyacheslav Molotov from the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was at that time being ruled by the greatest(in an evil way) dictator of all time, presenting to you Joseph Stalin. He was a Georgian born in 1878 and died in 1953. He was initially a fund gatherer for the Bolshevik Communist Party in Russia and after the death of the founder of the Soviet Union- Vladimir Lenin, Joseph here took over and became the ruler of the largest country in history.
After signing the Non-Aggression Pact, Hitler went back to his old tactics by continuing to annex other countries. The country next in Hitler’s vision was Poland and lucky for Hitler, it bordered the Soviet Union. Hitler organized an invasion of Poland with Joseph Stalin in 1939. Just a few days before the invasion, 2 countries, France and the UK stated that they would declare war on Germany if Germany invades Poland. Hitler thought that they were joking and didn’t take the statement seriously.
Now for the World War
On 1 September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the western side and the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the Eastern side. The Poles fought quite hard to their death but they were overwhelmed by both the powerful tyrants. In response to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, both Britain and France declare war on Germany.
Many declare 1st September 1939 as the date which started the Second World War.
Hitler was terrified that war had been declared on him because Nazi Germany was in no state to fight the world’s 2 out of 3 superpowers. They were still struggling with the economy and the German military was not advanced or strong enough to fight them. Because at that time the French and the British military was the largest and best in the world.
Hitler planned to attack France but after WW1, the French had set up a super military border at the Belgian and German border known as the Maginot line. It was constructed to avoid a repeat of WW1 where Germany attacked France through Belgium. However, the French were a little overconfident about one such geographic location. This was known as the Ardennes, an area full of forests and hills. The French considered it impenetrable and left it lightly defended but Hitler’s one general Manstein proposed that they should go through the Ardennes to attack France. Being very sparsely protected, the plan gets approved.
Now the Germans need to think of ways to overpower the French army.
Step 1 — They get a factory to start producing a drug named Pervitine or meth. This got produced in huge numbers and soldiers change. Many soldiers in the German army were traumatized from the First World War and didn’t want to fight as they were depressed but the drug Pervitine removes the feelings of tiredness and empathy. The soldier ends up becoming a super soldier and can fight for up to 3 days without sleep. But the side effect was that the soldiers became quite reliant on it.
However, drugs alone couldn’t take out the French army.
Step 2 — The army had militarised itself quite well and had been developing super speed tanks to move at high velocities. These tanks were the Panzer tanks and were tough and fast. These tanks became the most intimidating asset of the German army and scored a lot of victories.
The French army was receiving help from the British expeditionary forces which were sent from the British isles to aid the French army. While the French army was grouping, the Germans decided to take them on by steamrolling a lot of his tanks and troops. The French and the British expeditionary force were taken out by the super-fast German forces.
Quite soon, France was taken out. What Germany in WW1 aimed for, Hitler managed to do that in a few weeks by annexing France. Soon, they annexed neighboring countries as well such as Luxembourg and Belgium. After annexing France, Hitler let a part of France remain free and they let it mind its own business, but don’t be fooled, the Nazis were in charge. The free portion is also known as Vichy France.
Currently, in 1940, we just have Britain all alone fighting the Nazi war machine and the Nazis wouldn’t stop there and we will see how the Britishers quell the series of attacks and survive.
This topic is quite long so I will end the article here. I will finish this topic in the next few blogs. Thank you for reading, please clap, follow and share.