German Battles | World War 2
Germany Won Early Battles of Poland & France, But Lost Later Battles of London Blitz, North Africa, Stalingrad, D-Day, & Battle of the Bulge
The German battles of World War 2, are reviewed. The German battles of World War 2 include battles on the Western Front involving Poland, France, Britain and the U.S.; battles on the Eastern Front involving Russia; and battles on the North African front.
World War 2 Causes.
After Germany was defeated in World War I, they were forced via the Treaty of Versailles to pay heavy reparations to the victors. As a result of the Treaty of Versailles (the official end of World War 1) and the economic disasters that followed, the German people became very resentful towards the victors of World War 1, namely France and Great Britain. See Germany in World War 2 for a more complete description of the causes of World War 2.
The path to World War 2, a war that would claim 50 million lives, lay ahead. Winston Churchill of Great Britain tried desperately to warn the world of the approaching conflagration but few listened.
World War 2 war games have become very popular. The next section reviews World War 2 war games.
World War 2 Games
War games based on World War 2 have become very popular. Since the war was the greatest, most vicious, war in history, it is not surprising that World War 2 games should have become so popular.
For the war games buff, the World War 2 games offer an opportunity to simulate events of the great war. Tactics can be practiced, strategy can be developed. The War Games player can even study alternative outcomes of World War 2, for example, what would have happened had Germany invaded and conquered Britain before attacking Russia.
The World War 2 war games player can also "go" on combat missions. A nice point about the war games is that it is likely that playing war games will sharpen the player's skills for the real "games" of life - education, work, sports, disaster planning, etc. So the war games are important!
Bloodless German Battles - Austria & Czechoslovakia.
Once Hitler assumed power in Germany, and felt his armed forces were ready, he moved into action. He bullied Britain and France into giving him a free hand in Austria and Czechoslovakia, two neighboring countries he quickly overcome without a battle. The Munich Pact of 1938 gave Czechoslovakia, with its fine armaments industries, to Hitler for his pledge not to take over more countries. Again, no German battle was necessary.
Many in Britain rejoiced when the Munich Pact was signed but Winston Churchill grasped the essence of what had happened and what lay ahead:
"I do not begrudge our loyal, brave people.....the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth....this is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor we arise again and take our stand for freedom." - Winston Churchill quote, taken from "Earth in the Balance" by Al Gore
The last chance to stop Hitler without a major war ended with the Munich Pact.
Poland - Early German Battle of World War 2
Greatly strengthened by the peaceful takeover of Austria and Czechoslovakia (Czechoslovakia provided Germany with some of the world's finest tanks) , Hitler now was spoiling for a real war and, after signing a non-aggression treaty with Russia, attacked Poland (September 1939).
The attack on Poland was the real beginning of World War 2.
Poland put up a brave fight but its armed forces were antiquated and were no match for Germany's modern army and air force and the country fell in one month (Russia also moved against Poland from the east). The attack on Poland had brought Britain and France into the war but they were unable to provide direct aid to Poland and were unwilling to attack Germany from the west.
A lull in the German battles of World War 2 then occurred.
Blitzkrieg - The German Battles of Denmark, Norway, the Lowlands and France.
The war lull ended with a bang in spring of 1940 when Hitler moved first against Norway and Denmark for quick victories against those weak countries (unfortunately for the German's later plans to invade Britain, Germany lost half her small Navy in the battle for Norway), and then launched what became known as a Blitzkrieg (lightning war) against the lowland countries - Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg - and France.
The German's strategy made heavy use of tanks and other mobile elements, i.e., Panzer divisions, and made the main thrust through the Ardennes, where the terrain was considered impassable to armor. The German Panzer General, Guderian, was the German superstar in the attack. The surprise flank attack worked and, after a brief campaign, the lowland countries were forced to surrender and large elements of the French Army were trapped. The British expeditionary army, cornered at the coast city of Dunkirk managed to escape to Britain via a massive sea rescue effort. Unfortunately, they had to leave the bulk of their arms behind and, for a time, Britain stood vulnerable to an attack.
Shortly after Dunkirk, the French, who had been totally outsmarted and outfought by the Germans sought peace. It is somewhat ironic that a French general - General DeGaulle - was a pioneer in the development of tank warfare yet, in the war, the French seemed not to have a clue when confronted with the German Blitzkrieg. Western Europe now lay in Germany's hands. The German Battles had been very successful!
World War 2 continued, but Britain now stood alone against the Nazis. The United States was not yet in the war even though Roosevelt was very sympathetic toward Britain and provided them with aid. He knew that eventually the U.S. must fight Germany but he faced great opposition to the war at home as some right-wingers even wanted the U.S. to join Germany and attack communist Russia. America's "Greatest Generation" had not yet made their move.
Fortunately for America and the free world, Britain's "Finest Hour" was at hand. What a glorious time for Britain! She stood up to the most fearsome military force the world had ever seen and did not back down.
As the Battle of Britain began, British children living in London and other large cities were evacuated to the country. Air raid shelters were made ready. Britain was getting ready to face the full fury of the Nazis!
German Battle Against Britain. - The London Blitz
For some time after France fell, Hitler waffled as to whether to attempt an invasion of Britain (Sea Lion) but finally agreed to do so when Goering assured him that he could achieve air supremacy over Britain. Hitler never really had much interest in the attempt because he was already focusing on Russia and, in actuality, was more interested in making peace with Britain. Goering had reason to be confident since, at the time, Germany had over 2,500 planes available for the attack on Britain while Britain had only about 700 planes for defense.
The air battle over Britain (Battle of Britain) then began. This was one of the great battles of World War 2 and one of the most decisive battles in history. The German Luftwaffe first concentrated on British air ports and communications but eventually turned the attack toward the cities. Wave after wave of German planes attacked London. This was a mistake since the Germans needed to knock out the British Royal Air Force (RAF) for the invasion of England to occur. Terror attacks would not get them a victory against the tenacious British.
The RAF, though small in numbers, was much more competent than Hitler and Goering had thought and forced heavy losses on the German air force, particular the bombers, as the British cleverly concentrated on destroying the bombers while avoiding combat with the German fighters, e.g., the Messerschmitt-109 fighters.
The German Stuka dive bomber, an effective terror weapon in earlier campaigns, was found to be too slow for the fine Spitfires and Hurricanes of the RAF and were decimated. England also had the advantage of having an effective radar system and made good use of it.
As summer of 1940 ended, it became apparent that England was going to be a tough nut to crack and Hitler finally called off the invasion plans. The Battle of Britain was over.
A considerable number of military experts and most military strategy amateurs feel that Hitler should have gone ahead with an invasion of Britain anyway even without air supremacy. If the Germans could have established a beachhead, odds would have been fair that they could have defeated the weakened British Army most of whose weapons still lay in the sands of Dunkirk.
That a landing would have succeeded for Germany is a plausible conclusion but it does not take into consideration the still-powerful British Navy which, with the homeland at stake, would have been thrown into the battle even though they would have been targeted in the narrow English Channel by every submarine in the German navy and every air plane in the German air force. It also does not take into proper consideration that most German troops would have had to be transported across the channel in thin-hulled river barges, steamboats, etc., which would have been duck soup for the very professional British Navy and Air Force. German losses in such a crossing would have been horrendous---but still, enough troops might have gotten across the channel that, when combined with paratroop drops and some luck, the invasion of Britain might have succeeded.
In retrospect, an invasion of Britain would have been the decisive land/sea/air battle of all time. The fate of the entire world could have rested on the outcome of the battle because, Hitler, if he could have conquered Britain at that time, might not have been stoppable anywhere in the world.
In any event, Hitler, as he sometimes did at moments like this, lost interest in Britain and turned East toward Russia. The attack on Russia was scheduled for summer of 1941. The bad news for Hitler is that he left a determined Britain with Winston Churchill at the helm on his backside. He had also left more than a thousand of the best pilots the world had ever seen in Britain either dead or as prisoners. He could have used those pilots in the Russian campaign.
It should be noted that one year passed between the German victories of 1940 and the attack on Russia in 1941. During most of this time, the Germans generally took it easy, basked in the light of their Blitzkrieg victories and did not build up their war production machine as rapidly as they could have although General Milch worked hard to get airplane production up to speed. At the time, the British were actually producing more airplanes than Germany!
A large part of the German Wehrmacht (armed forces) was even disbanded. Hitler was afraid that a rapid military buildup would be too costly and would have detrimental effects on civilian morale. Not too wise a move with war coming up with Russia. For more on this stage of World War 2, see the blog, World War 2 Questions.
Was Hitler over confident because of his easy victories in the early battles of World War 2? Hitler should have taken a long look at the rapidly rearming British and the slowly awakening American giant. He might have had second thoughts about taking it so easy. The toughest German battles and campaigns were still ahead.
The German Balkan Battles - Yugoslavia, Greece, Crete.
Hitler had planned to invade Russia in 1941 but the preparations for the invasion had to be delayed a few months while he took care of business in the Balkans where his incompetent Italian allies were taking a beating from Greece with whom they had foolishly blundered into a war. To finish Greece, Hitler had to move through Yugoslavia which resisted. Both Yugoslavia and Greece fell but the German army suffered thousands of casualties in the battles including many of his crack paratroop forces lost in the savage battle to capture Crete.
(Max Schmeling, the former German world heavyweight boxing champion was one of the paratroopers landing on Crete that was wounded. Schmeling, the first boxer to defeat Joe Louis, survived the battle of Crete. He died recently at age 99. Schmeling never joined the Nazi movement.)
The Eastern Front - German Battles in the Russian Campaign
As Hitler massed the German army on the Russian border in June 1941, the evidence should have made it apparent to the Russians that their time was at hand. For example, the noise from the mobilizing tanks and other armor on the border was said to be deafening. Stalin refused to believe the impending attack at first. As vicious a dictator as he was, he was naive about the Germans. Did not he and Hitler have a ten-year non-aggression pact?
Even after the German attack started, Stalin delayed a full Russian response because he just couldn't believe the Germans were attacking. The Russians quickly lost entire armies and much of their air force in the early battles. The end looked near. The German army drove toward Moscow but the Russians increased their resistance as they finally faced the fact that they were being destroyed.
Winter finally stopped the Germans before they could capture Moscow. Hitler refused to let the German army retreat for some time and they took heavy losses as the fierce winter hit them. The first year of the Russian campaign was over and Russia had survived.
(It should be noted that in December 1941, the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor and Hitler felt obligated to declare war on the United States. A terrible mistake! He should have left the United States alone and they might have delayed declaring war on Germany. Instead, the United States might have concentrated on finishing off Japan first. This could have given Hitler time to finish off Russia before he had to face the United States.)
The next summer in the year 1942, the Germans again attacked but split their forces for campaigns against the oil fields of southern Russia, Leningrad to the north, and Moscow. They again made rapid progress, however, winter caught them again and a large German army (6th Panzer Army) was stopped after attacking Stalingrad. Again, Hitler refused to let the German army retreat until it was too late and eventually the trapped army was forced to surrender after a savage battle.
Stalingrad was the end of any hope the Germans had for defeating Russia and for winning the war. Hitler should have made an attempt to negotiate an end to the war at this point. (See Guderian, German Panzer General for more details on the German campaign in Russia during World War 2).
The second year of the Russian campaign ended and Russia now had the dominant hand.
Could The U.S. and Britain Have Defeated Germany Without Russia Being in the War?
This is an easy question for me to answer. I strongly believe that had Russia remained out of the war, the result would have been a draw between Germany and the Allies (U.S., Britain, etc.). The war would have been similar to a whale fighting an elephant. You would never have a result since the two opponents could never get their hands on each other. For example, there is almost no chance that the U;S. and Britain would have invaded France (D-Day) if Germany were not engaged in Russia. Allied losses in such an invasion would have been staggering and the invasion would likely have failed.
The above "draw " prediction assumes no use of nuclear weapons. Otherwise, all bets are off.
World War 2 Military Weapons.
In the early campaigns and battles of World War 2, the Germans had a small advantage in military weapons. Part of this was due to the splendid tanks obtained when they took over Czechoslovakia. Mainly, however, the German advantage with World War 2 weapons was in their knowledge of how to use the armament. Their tactical expertise was superior. The Allies, and particularly the French, didn't have a clue.
An example of the German's advantage in how to use military weapons was their use of the Stuka dive bomber. The Stuka was one of the slowest military aircraft around in 1940. But when it dove at an incredibly slow speed, it made a loud screeching noise which struck terror in those on the ground. It was a great terror weapon in the battle for France. Only months later, when the Stuka was challenged during the Battle of Britain, losses were so great, the Germans withdrew the Stuka from the battle. But the terror weapon had worked in the battle for France!
Later, the Allies began to catch up in armament. When Germany attacked Russia, they were surprised by the capability of the Russian T-34 tanks and German tanks were no match for it. The Germans did have a 88 mm anti-aircraft weapon that could act as an anti-tank weapon, also, and could stop the T-34 tank. The quick-thinking Germans soon mounted the 88 on a newly designed tank and the Tiger tank was born. The powerful Tiger tanks ruled the roost for most of the war although, late in the war, the German Panther tank arrived and was considered superior to the Tiger tank.
One account of World War 2 weaponry rates the German 88 mm weapon as the best weapon of the war.
A big surprise in World War 2 weapons was the Russians who had lost a large area of their country to the Germans in the early battles. Somehow, the Russians had been able to move their armaments factories east, as the Germans advanced and they built tens of thousands of the T-34 tank along with other weapons. Combined with the American Sherman tanks, the T-34 tanks simply overwhelmed the Germans by sheer force of numbers.
As far as infantry goes, the German infantry, early in World War 2, had no equals. They were the ultimate warriors. As their losses mounted, however, the quality of the German soldiers dropped, considerably. Here again, the Americans and Russians troops simply overwhelmed the Germans by brute force in the later battles of the war.
In regards to air power, the American B-17 Flying Fortresses plus the British bombers began making rubble pile of Germany as the war progressed. Hitler's misguided emphasis on bombers and "secret weapons" left the Germans short of fighter planes and, even if the planes had been there, there was little aviation fuel available (see discussion below). Germany was also running out of skilled pilots and couldn't spare fuel to properly train replacement pilots.
It should be noted that the German fighter, Messerschmitt 109, was the dominant fighter very early in the war and was active throughout the war (33,000 of the fighters were produced during the war). However, the British Spitfire and Hurricane fighters along with the American fighters were very fine fighters and, later in the war, were equal, if not superior, to the Messerschmitt 109.
Although the V-2 rocket caused the British some misery late in the war, it was never a decisive military weapon and it's chief claim to fame was that it represented a major step in the road to mankind's coming exploration of space.
At sea, the battle of the Atlantic was also going against the Germans due largely to the superiority of Allied naval armament. German submarines had been effective early in the war and tens of thousands of tons of Allied vessels had been sunk. Later the powerful American and British navies were too much for the out-manned German U-boats and the U-boat campaign virtually ceased. Convoys of ships carrying supplies crossed the Atlantic in huge numbers and the Germans could do little to stop the flow.
North Africa Battles
As the lost battle for Russia was going on, the Germans were also beginning to retreat elsewhere. After almost winning a total victory in Egypt, the German Afrika Korps in North Africa eventually had to retreat after a see-saw series of chess-like battles between the German army under the brilliant German general, Erwin Rommel, Desert Fox and British forces under several generals including General Montgomery. The battle that turned the tide was the battle at El Alamein in Egypt in July 1942 while Rommel was in Germany for medical treatment. General Montgomery's troops had turned the tide.
To add to the problems of the Afrika Korps, American troops soon landed in Northwest Africa and rapidly advanced toward Tunisia to the east. Eventually 250,000 - 300,000 Germans had to surrender in Tunisia. In retrospect, the Germans should have evacuated their African forces for more effective use in defending Italy and could have done so if the effort had been made earlier.
German Battles in Italy, D-Day, and Battle of the Bulge.
The Germans now suffered reverse after reverse. The British and American air forces were decimating the German cities and hundreds of thousands of Germans were killed in the bombings. As the war went on, the Allies targeted the German synthetic fuel plants and loss of these fuel supplies hurt the German war effort (See German Fuel Shortage of World War 2)
The Allies were now winning most of the battles with Germany winning few. Sicily was captured by the allies and Italy was invaded and Rome eventually fell. Soon, the allies were racing up the Po Valley. Finally, in the summer of 1944, D-day arrived and American and British forces stormed ashore in northern France despite taking heavy losses. Hitler had been slow to respond to the invasion and did not move aggressively until it was too late. The Allies had won the battle to land their armies in France. The Allies then raced across France and captured Paris and headed for Germany.
Meanwhile, the Russians were making great progress in their campaign and were approaching Germany from the East.
The end for Germany was rapidly approaching. The German army made a last gasp attack on the western front at the Battle of the Bulge when American forces were rolled back in a surprise counter attack. This battle soon ended unsuccessfully unsuccessfully for the Germans as the town of Bastogne held and Patton's tanks led a successful counter attack for the Allies.
Nothing could stop the allies now. After an initial attempt to capture a bridge across the Rhine failed, one was eventually captured and battle activity reached Germany. Americans from the west and Russians from the east then converged on the doomed country. The final battle for Germany was on!
Hitler in the Last Days of World War 2.
As the end approached, Hitler retreated to the Bunker with Martin Bormann, Paul Goebbels and his personal staff. In April, 1945, the Russian forces approached the heavily defended German capital and the savage battle for Berlin began, the final battle of World War 2 in Europe. Hitler was determined to never surrender but the Russian forces were too strong.
End of World War 2.
The war finally ended with Hitler's suicide in the Bunker in April 1945 followed by Germany's surrender two weeks later in May 1945. The war that had taken the lives of tens of millions of lives was over. The US and Britain still had to complete the Pacific War against Japan, but the main tyrant, Hitler, was gone.
The German Battles were over!
German Battles of World War 2: Web Sites.
1. German Generals World War 2 . Who was the greatest German general: Guderian? Rommel? Von Manstein? Or was Hitler the military genius that led to so many early victories.
2. Guderian, German Panzer General, Won Many Battles But May Have Cost Germany a Victory in Russia. Guderian, Hitler's favorite general, knew all the theories and tricks of Blitzkrieg warfare but his massive ego cost Germany a lot.
3. American Generals of World War 2. American generals - Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, etc., - gave a good account of themselves in World War 2. British & Russian military commanders are also discussed.
4. World War 2 Information. For information on German battles, German leaders, and other Germany-related World War 2 information.
5. France in World War 2. Rush Limbaugh loves to talk about the cowardly French in World War 2 but read the real story! The French were not cowards but they were outsmarted and outfought every step of the way in World War 2. The French wanted to fight a World War 1 static-type war but the Germans would have none of that. They used mobility featuring tanks to beat hell out of the French. The French fought stupidly but now cowardly.
6. National Debt Management. The opposite US national debt management strategies of Paul Krugman and David Ramsey are discussed. Which is the better economic approach at this time: cash-only (Dave Ramsey) or free-spending (Paul Krugman)?
7. World War Z by Max Brooks. The Battles of World War 2 were nothing compared to the mythical battles between humans and zombies in World War Z! Excellent discussions of battle strategy.
German Battles of World War 2: Conclusions
In regards to the German battles of World War 2, Germany had their share of battle victories - Poland, France, Balkans, etc - in the early part of the war but, as World War 2 wore on, the later battles began to go to the Allies due the mammoth resources of the U.S. and Russia. The later German battles of World War 2 - Russia, D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, and Battle of North Africa - were all lost by Germany.
Last updated: 04/17/13