The Second World War
Clockwise, starting from the upper left corner: the Chinese troops in the Battle of Wanjiang, the Australian 25-pounder gun during the first battle at El Alamein, the German bombers Ju 87 (winter 1943-1944), the US naval forces in Lingayen Bay , The Philippines, Wilhelm Keitel signs the act of surrendering Germany, the Soviet troops in the battle for Stalingrad
The Second World War (September 1, 1939 - September 2, 1945) - the war of two world military-political coalitions, which became the largest armed conflict in the history of mankind.
It was attended by 62 states out of 73 that existed at that time (80% of the world's population). The fighting took place on the territory of three continents and in the waters of the four oceans. This is the only conflict in which nuclear weapons were used.
- Date: September 1, 1939 - September 2, 1945
- Location: Eurasia, Africa, World Ocean
- Reason: The conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, which were severe for Germany, of 1919; National socialist ideas and the policy of A. Hitler; policies of other states; the consequences of the Versailles-Washington system; world economic crisis.
- Result: The victory of the anti-Hitler coalition. The creation of the UN. The prohibition and condemnation of the ideologies of fascism and Nazism. The USSR and the US become superpowers. Reducing the role of Britain and France in global politics. Split the world into two camps; the Cold War begins. Decolonization of vast colonial empires.
"Never again" This year in Ukraine, at official events dedicated to the Victory Day, will use the European symbol of the memory of the fallen in the war - the red poppy.
The Anti-Hitler Coalitionmain participants:
(since June 22, 1941)
(since December 7, 1941)
The states that emerged from the Nazi bloc:
States that supported
Declared war on Germany,
Axis countries and their allies
Collaborative military formations:
States that supported the Axis:
| Joseph Stalin
| Adolf Gitler †
The forces of the parties
|About 16,000,000 military, 30,000,000 civilians||About 9,000,000 military and 8,000,000 civilians|
The Second World War  (September 1, 1939  - September 2, 1945  ) - the war of the two world military-political coalitions, which became the largest armed conflict in the history of mankind. It was attended by 62 states out of 73 that existed at that time (80% of the world's population  ). The fighting took place on the territory of three continents and in the waters of the four oceans. This is the only conflict in which nuclear weapons were used.
- 1 Participants
- 2 Territories
- 3 Prerequisites for War
- 4 The first period of the war (September 1939 - June 1941)
- 4.1 Soviet-German relations (autumn 1939)
- 4.2 The invasion of Poland
- 4.3 The Battle of the Atlantic
- 4.4 The Soviet-Finnish War
- 4.5 European blitzkrieg
- 4.6 Accession of the Baltic States, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the USSR
- 4.7 The Battle of Britain
- 4.8 Battles in Africa, the Mediterranean and the Balkans
- 4.9 Changes in the composition of the fighting coalitions
- 4.10 Battles in the Balkans and the Middle East
- 4.11 Asia
- 5 The second period of the war (June 1941 - November 1942)
- 5.1 Prehistory of the invasion of the USSR
- 5.2 Invasion of the USSR
- 5.3 Japanese offensive in the Pacific Ocean
- 5.4 The second stage of the battle for the Atlantic
- 5.5 Mediterranean-African campaigns
- 5.6 Creation of the Anti-Hitler Coalition
- 5.7 Eastern Front: Second German Large-Scale Offensive
- 5.8 Pacific Front: A Fracture
- 6 The third period of the war (November 1942 - June 1944)
- 7 The fourth period of the war (June 1944 - May 1945)
- 8 The fifth period of the war (May 1945 - September 1945)
- 9 Opinions and assessments
- 10 Results of the war
- 11 Contribution of various states of the anti-Hitler coalition to victory over Nazi Germany
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
- 15 External links
The number of participating countries changed during the war. Some of them conducted active military operations, others helped their allies supply food, and many participated in the war only nominally.
The anti-Hitler coalition included:
- Poland, the British Empire (and its dominions: Canada, India, South African Union, Australia, New Zealand), France - entered the war in September 1939;
- Ethiopia - Ethiopian troops under the command of the Ethiopian government in exile continued guerrilla warfare after the annexation of the state in 1936, officially recognized as an ally on July 12, 1940;
- Denmark, Norway - on April 9, 1940;
- Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg - since May 10, 1940;
- Greece - October 28, 1940;
- Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941;
- USSR, Tuva, Mongolia - June 22, 1941;
- The United States, the Philippines - since December 1941;
- China (the government of Chiang Kai-shek) - was fighting against Japan since July 7, 1937, officially recognized as an ally on December 9, 1941;
- Mexico - May 22, 1942;
- Brazil - August 22, 1942 year.
The Axis countries also declared war on Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Nepal, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Iran, Albania, Paraguay, Ecuador, Turkey, Venezuela, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Liberia, Bolivia, but these countries did not take part in the hostilities.
In the course of the war, several states that came out of the Nazi bloc joined the coalition:
- Iraq on 17 January 1943;
- The Kingdom of Italy - October 13, 1943;
- Romania - on August 23, 1944;
- Bulgaria - September 5, 1944;
- Finland - September 19, 1944.
On the other hand, the Axis countries and their allies participated in the war:
- Germany, Slovakia - September 1, 1939;
- Italy, Albania - June 10, 1940;
- Hungary - 11 April 1941;
- Iraq - 1 May 1941;
- Romania, Croatia, Finland - June 1941;
- Japan, Manchukuo - December 7, 1941;
- Bulgaria on 13 December 1941;
- Thailand - January 25, 1942;
- China (Wang Jingwei's government) - January 9, 1943;
- Burma - August 1, 1943;
- The Philippines - September 1944.
Nor was he a member of the Nazi bloc of Iran (until 1941). In the territory of the occupied countries, puppet states were created that were not participants in the Second World War and joined the fascist coalition: Vichy France, Greek State, Italian Social Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Pinda-Meglen Principality, Mengjiang, Burma, Philippines , Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Azad Hind, Wang Jingwei regime. In a number of German Reich commissariats, autonomous puppet governments were created: the Quisling regime in Norway, the Mussert regime in the Netherlands, the Belarusian Central Rada in Byelorussia. On the side of Germany and Japan, many collaborative forces, created from the citizens of the opposing side, also fought: ROA, foreign divisions of the SS (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Estonian, 2 Latvian, Norwegian-Danish, 2 Dutch, 2 Belgian, 2 Bosnian, French, Albanian ), a number of foreign legions. Also, in the armed forces of the Nazi bloc countries, the volunteer forces of states that formally remained neutral: Spain (Blue Division), Sweden and Portugal, fought.
|Who declared war||To whom the war was declared||date|
|Germany||Poland||September 1, 1939|
|Slovakia||Poland||September 1, 1939|
|United Kingdom||Germany||September 3, 1939|
|France||Germany||September 3, 1939|
|Australia||Germany||September 3, 1939|
|New Zealand||Germany||September 3, 1939|
|British India||Germany||September 3, 1939|
|South African Union||Germany||September 6, 1939|
|Canada||Germany||September 10, 1939|
|Italy||United Kingdom United Kingdom||June 10, 1940|
|Germany||the USSR||June 22, 1941|
|Italy||the USSR||June 22, 1941|
|Romania||the USSR||June 22, 1941|
|Slovakia||the USSR||June 23, 1941|
|Finland||the USSR||June 26, 1941.|
|Hungary||the USSR||June 27, 1941|
|USA||Japan||December 8, 1941|
|United Kingdom United Kingdom||Japan||December 8, 1941|
|Germany||USA||December 11, 1941|
|Italy||USA||December 11, 1941|
|the USSR||Japan||August 8, 1945|
All military operations can be divided into 5 theaters of military operations:
- Western Europe: West Germany, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Great Britain (air bombardment), Atlantic.
- Eastern European theater: the USSR (western part), Poland, Finland, Northern Norway, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Austria (eastern), East Germany, the Barents Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea.
- Mediterranean theater: Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, Italy, the Mediterranean islands (Malta, Cyprus, etc.), Egypt, Libya, French North Africa, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, the Mediterranean Sea.
- African Theater: Ethiopia, Italian Somalia, British Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, Madagascar.
- Pacific theater: China (eastern and northeastern part), Japan (Korea, South Sakhalin, Kuril Islands), USSR (Far East), Aleutian Islands, Mongolia, Hong Kong, French Indochina, Burma, Andaman Islands, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak , The Dutch East Indies, Sabah, Brunei, New Guinea, Papua, Solomon Islands, Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, Wake, Midway, Marianas, Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, Gilbert Islands, many small islands of the Pacific, part of the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean.
Background of war
Prerequisites for war in Europe
The Treaty of Versailles severely limited Germany's military capabilities. From Germany's point of view, the conditions dictated by Versailles were unfair legally and impracticable economically. Moreover, the amounts of reparations were not agreed in advance and doubled. All this created international tension and confidence that, no later than 20 years later, the world war will be resumed. 
In April-May 1922, the Genoese Conference was held in the northern Italian port town of Rapallo. Representatives of Soviet Russia were also invited: Georgii Chicherin (chairman), Leonid Krasin, Adolf Ioffe, and others. Germany (Weimar Republic) was represented by Walter Rathenau. The main theme of the conference was the mutual refusal to nominate claims for compensation for damage caused during the fighting in the First World War. The result of the conference was the conclusion of the Rapallo Treaty on April 16, 1922 between the RSFSR and the Weimar Republic. The treaty provided for the immediate restoration of the full diplomatic relations between the RSFSR and Germany. For Soviet Russia, this was the first international treaty in its history. For Germany, which was outlawed in the field of international politics to this day, this agreement was of fundamental importance, as it thereby began to return to the number of states recognized by the international community.
Soon after the signing of the Treaty of Rapallo, on August 11, 1922, a secret cooperation agreement was concluded between the Reichswehr and the Red Army  . Germany and Soviet Russia had an opportunity, though insignificantly, to support and mutually develop the military-technical potential accumulated during the First World War  . As a result of the cooperation, the Red Army gained access to the technical achievements of the German military industry and the methods of operation of the German General Staff, and the Reichswehr was able to begin training pilots, tankmen and chemical weapons specialists in three schools on the territory of the USSR, and, on the basis of subsidiaries of the German military industry, officers with new models of weapons, banned in Germany  .
July 27, 1928 in Paris signed the Pact Briand - Kellogg - an agreement to abandon the war as an instrument of national policy. The pact was to enter into force on July 24, 1929. On February 9, 1929, before the official entry into force of the pact, the so-called "Litvinov Protocol" was signed in Moscow - the Moscow protocol on the early imposition of the obligations of the Brian-Kellogg Pact between the USSR, Poland, Romania, Estonia and Latvia. April 1, 1929 he was joined by Turkey and on April 5 - Lithuania.
On July 25, 1932, the Soviet Union and Poland concluded a non-aggression pact.
With the advent of the National Socialist Workers Party headed by Adolf Hitler in 1933, Germany, without meeting any special objections from Britain and France, and sometimes with their support  , soon begins to ignore many of the limitations of the Versailles Treaty - in In particular, it recovers the conscription into the army and rapidly increases the production of weapons and military equipment. October 14, 1933 Germany withdraws from the League of Nations and refuses to participate in the Geneva Conference on Disarmament. January 26, 1934 is the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and Poland. July 24, 1934 Germany is attempting to implement the Anschluss of Austria, having instigated an anti-government coup in Vienna, but is forced to abandon its plans because of the sharply negative attitude of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who has nominated four divisions to the Austrian border.
In the 1930s, Italy pursued an equally aggressive foreign policy. On October 3, 1935, she invaded Ethiopia and by May, 1936, seized it (see: Italian-Ethiopian War). In 1936 the Italian Empire was proclaimed. The Mediterranean Sea is declared "Our Sea" (Latin Mare Nostrum ). The act of unreasonable aggression causes discontent among the Western powers and the League of Nations. The deterioration of relations with the Western powers pushes Italy toward rapprochement with Germany. In January 1936, Mussolini gives the principal consent to the annexation of the Germans by Austria, provided they refuse to expand on the Adriatic. March 7, 1936 German troops occupy the Rhine demilitarized zone. The United Kingdom and France do not offer this effective resistance, limiting themselves to a formal protest. November 25, 1936 Germany and Japan conclude the Anti-Comintern Pact on the joint struggle against communism. November 6, 1937, the pact is joined by Italy.
In March 1938, Germany unhamperedly annexed Austria (see Anschluss).
September 30, 1938 British Prime Minister Chamberlain and Hitler signed a declaration of non-aggression and the peaceful settlement of disputes between Britain and Germany - a treaty known in the USSR as the Munich conspiracy. In 1938, Chamberlain met three times with Hitler, and after the meeting in Munich he returned home with his famous statement "I brought you peace!". In fact, this agreement, concluded without the participation of the leadership of Czechoslovakia, led to its partition by Germany, with the participation of Hungary and Poland. It is considered a classic example of appeasement of the aggressor (see Causes of the Second World War), which subsequently only prompted him to further expand his aggressive policies and became one of the reasons for the outbreak of World War II.
W. Churchill, October 3, 1938:
Britain was offered a choice between war and dishonor. She chose dishonor and will get war.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic Georges Bonnet and German Foreign Minister Joachim Ribbentrop signed the Franco-German declaration on December 6, 1938.
In October 1938, as a result of the Munich agreement, Germany annexed the Sudetenland that belonged to Czechoslovakia. The consent to this act is given by England and France, and the opinion of Czechoslovakia itself is not taken into account. March 15, 1939 Germany in violation of the agreement occupies the Czech Republic. On the Czech territory a German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia is being created. Hungary and Poland participate in the division of Czechoslovakia: Slovakia (except for the predominantly Hungarian southern regions that went to Hungary) is declared an independent pro-Nazi state, Polish troops join the city of Cesky Teshin, and the self-proclaimed Carpathian Ukraine, previously partially captured by the Hungarian troops, after heavy fighting with the local militia (see Carpathian Sich), passes completely under the occupation of the troops of Admiral Horthy. February 24, 1939 to the Anti-Comintern Pact is joined by Hungary, March 27 - Spain, where Franco Franco came to power after the end of the civil war.
Until now, Germany's aggressive actions have not met with serious resistance from Britain and France, who are hesitant to start a war and are trying to save the Versailles Treaty system with reasonable concessions (from their point of view) (the so-called "appeasement policy"). However, after Hitler's violation of the Munich Treaty, both countries are increasingly becoming aware of the need for more stringent policies, and in case of further aggression of Germany, Britain and France give military guarantees to Poland. After the seizure of Italy by Albania on April 7-12, 1939, Romania, Turkey and Greece receive the same guarantees.
According to MI Meltyukhov, objective conditions also made the Soviet Union an opponent of the Versailles system. Due to the internal crisis caused by the events of the First World War, the October Revolution and the Civil War, the level of the country's influence on European and world politics has significantly decreased. At the same time, the strengthening of the Soviet state and the results of industrialization stimulated the leadership of the USSR to take measures to restore the status of a world power. The Soviet government skillfully used official diplomatic channels, the illegal opportunities of the Comintern, social propaganda, pacifist ideas, anti-fascism, assistance to some victims of the aggressors to create the image of the main fighter for peace and social progress. The struggle for "collective security" became Moscow's foreign policy tactics aimed at strengthening the weight of the USSR in international affairs and preventing the consolidation of the other great powers without their participation. However, the Munich agreement clearly showed that the USSR is still far from becoming an equal subject of European politics  .
After the military alarm of 1927, the USSR actively began to prepare for war  . The possibility of an attack by a coalition of capitalist countries was replicated by official propaganda. The military, in order to have a trained mobilization reserve, began actively and everywhere to teach the urban population military specialties, training parachutism, aircraft modeling, etc. (see OSOAVIAHIM) became massive. It was honorable and prestigious to pass the standards of the TRP (ready for work and defense), to deserve the title and the icon "Voroshilovsky Shooter" for the well-aimed shooting, and, along with the new title "ordenosnotsets", the prestigious title "badge" also appeared.
As a result of the Rapallo agreements reached and subsequent secret agreements, an aviation training center was established in Lipetsk in 1925, in which German instructors trained German and Soviet cadets. Under Kazan in 1929, a training center for commanders of tank formations (the secret training center "Kama") was established, in which German instructors also trained German and Soviet cadets. For the German side, 30 Reichswehr officers were trained during the functioning of the school  . In 1926-1933 in Kazan, also tested German tanks (the Germans for secrecy called them "tractors")  . A center was set up in Volsk for training in the handling of chemical weapons (the Tomka facility)  . In 1933, after Hitler came to power, all these schools were closed.
Since the beginning of the 1930s, the "basic theory of a deep operation" has become de facto the basic military concept in the Red Army. The main emphasis is on the creation and implementation of highly mobile mechanized parts. In accordance with the concept of theory, the role of impact force was assigned to mechanized corps. The main idea of the theory consisted in striking the entire depth of the enemy's defense with the use of artillery, aviation, armored troops and airborne assault forces in order to defeat the entire operational grouping of the enemy. In the course of the deep operation, two goals were achieved: the breakthrough of the enemy's defense front by a simultaneous strike to its entire tactical depth and the immediate entry of a grouping of mobile troops to develop a tactical breakthrough into operational success. 
On January 11, 1939, the People's Commissariat of the Defense Industry was abolished, the People's Commissariat of Ammunition, the People's Commissariat of Armament, the People's Commissariat of the Shipbuilding Industry, and the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry were created instead. All the people's commissariats produced only military products  .
In 1940, the USSR began to toughen the labor regime and increase the working hours of workers and employees. All state, cooperative and public enterprises and institutions were transferred from the six-day week to the seven-day week, counting the seventh day of the week-Sunday-the day of rest. The responsibility for absenteeism has become tougher. Under penalty of imprisonment, dismissal and transfer to another organization were forbidden without the permission of the director (see "Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR of 26.06.1940").
In the army they hastily enter service and begin mass production of the new Yak-1 fighter, even without completing the state tests. 1940 is the year of mastering the production of the newest T-34 and KV tanks, the completion of the SVT rifle and the adoption of the PPSh submachine gun in 1941.
During the political crisis of 1939 in Europe, there were two military-political blocs: Anglo-French and German-Italian, each of which was interested in an agreement with the USSR.
Poland, having concluded allied treaties with Great Britain and France, which were obliged to help it in case of German aggression, refused to make concessions in negotiations with Germany (in particular, on the issue of the Polish corridor).
On August 15, the German ambassador to the USSR Schulenburg read Molotov a message from German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, in which he expressed his readiness to personally come to Moscow to "clarify German-Russian relations." On the same day, the directives of the USSR NKO No. 4/2 / 48601-4 / 2/486011 on the deployment of an additional 56 divisions to the already existing 96 rifle divisions are sent to the Red Army.
On August 19, 1939, Molotov agreed to accept Ribbentrop in Moscow for signing an agreement with Germany, and on August 23 the USSR signed the Non-Aggression Treaty. The secret supplementary protocol provided for the division of spheres of interest in Eastern Europe, including the Baltic states and Poland.
Background of the war in Asia
Japan's occupation of Manchuria and northern China began in 1931. July 7, 1937, Japan begins an offensive deep into China (see Japan-China War). Slightly stalled, however, Japan's expansion in East Asia, internal conflicts - as problems associated with accelerated economic development (for example, deformation of the structure of the economy), and conflicts in military and financial elites divided in opinions about the direction of expansion. It is characteristic that pacifism of support at that time in Japan had practically no effect.
The expansion of Japan met with the active opposition of the great powers. The United Kingdom, the United States and the Netherlands imposed economic sanctions against Japan. The USSR also did not remain indifferent to the events in the Far East, especially since the Soviet-Japanese border conflicts of 1938-1939 (from which the fights at Lake Khasan and the undeclared war at Khalkhin-Gol became the most famous) threatened to degenerate into a full-scale war.
After all, Japan faced a serious choice in which direction to continue its further expansion: northward against the USSR or south against China and European and American colonies in Asia. The choice was made in favor of the "southern option". April 13, 1941 in Moscow, an agreement was signed between Japan and the USSR on neutrality for a period of 5 years. Japan began preparations for a war against the US allies in the Pacific (the United Kingdom, the Netherlands).
December 7, 1941 Japan strikes at the US naval base Pearl Harbor. Since December 1941, the Japan-China War is considered part of the Second World War.
The first period of the war (September 1939 - June 1941)
Soviet-German relations (autumn 1939)
Invasion of Poland
May 23, 1939 in the office of Hitler in the presence of a number of senior officers held a meeting. It was noted that "the Polish problem is closely linked to the inevitable conflict with England and France, a quick victory over which is problematic. At the same time, Poland is unlikely to play the role of a barrier against Bolshevism. At present, Germany's foreign policy objective is to expand the living space to the East, ensure a guaranteed supply of food and eliminate threats from the East. Poland must be captured at the first opportunity. "
August 23, Germany and the USSR signed a non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, in which the parties agreed on non-aggression against each other (including in the case of the outbreak of hostilities by one of the sides against third countries, which was the usual practice of German treaties in that time). In a secret supplementary protocol to the treaty of the USSR and Germany, the division of spheres of interest in Europe was fixed.
On August 31 the German press reported: "... on Thursday at about 20 o'clock the radio station in Gleiwitz was captured by the Poles." In reality, these were SS men dressed in Polish uniforms, led by Alfred Naujoks  .
On September 1, 1939, the troops of Germany and Slovakia invade Poland, this provokes the declaration of war against England, France and other countries that had an alliance with Poland.
On September 1, at 4:45, arrived in Danzig on a friendly visit and enthusiastically received by the local population, a German training ship - an outmoded Schleswig-Holstein battleship - opens fire on Polish fortifications on Westerplatte. The German Armed Forces are invading Poland. In the fighting on the side of Germany, the troops of Slovakia are taking part.
On September 1, Hitler is in the military uniform in the Reichstag. To justify the attack on Poland, Hitler refers to the incident in Gliwice. However, he carefully avoids the term "war", fearing the entry into conflict of England and France, which gave Poland the appropriate guarantees. The order issued by him spoke only of "active defense" against Polish aggression.
Mussolini proposed to convene a conference for a peaceful solution of the Polish question, which was met with support from the Western powers, but Hitler declined, saying that it was unwise to represent what he had won as weapons received by the diplomacy  .
On September 1, the Soviet Union introduced universal military service. At the same time the draft age is lowered from 21 to 19 years, and for some categories - to 18 years. The law immediately came into force, and in a short time the strength of the army reached 5 million people, which amounted to about 3% of the population.
September 3 at 9 o'clock in England, at 12:20 France, as well as Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany. Within a few days, they are joined by Canada, Newfoundland, the Union of South Africa and Nepal. The Second World War began  . Hitler and his entourage to the last day hoped that the Allies would not dare to enter the war and the matter would end with the second Munich. The main interpreter of the German Foreign Ministry, Paul Schmidt, describes the state of shock that Hitler came when British Ambassador Neville Henderson, having appeared in the Reich Chancellery at 9 am on September 3, handed over his government's ultimatum demanding to withdraw troops from Polish territory to their original positions. Only when present, Goering could say: "If we lose this war, we can only hope for the mercy of God"  .
September 3 in Bydgoszcz (formerly Bromberg), the city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship (the former West Prussia), which passed under the Treaty of Versailles to Poland, there was a massacre on a national basis - the Bromberg pogrom. In a city whose population was 3/4 made up of Germans, several hundred civilians of German descent were killed. Their number varied from one to three hundred deaths - according to the version of the Polish side  and from one to five thousand according to the version of the book published in the German right-wing extremist publishing house DSZ  .
The offensive of the German troops developed according to plan. The Polish troops as a whole turned out to be a weak military force in comparison with the consistently operating German tank formations and the Luftwaffe. At the same time, on the Western Front, the allied Anglo-French troops do not take any active action (see Strange War). Only at sea the war began immediately, and also by Germany: on September 3, the German submarine U-30 attacked the British passenger liner Atenia without warning.
On September 5, the United States and Japan announce their neutrality in the European war  .
On September 7, German troops under the command of Heinz Guderian begin an attack on the Polish defensive line near Vizna. 720 Polish soldiers and officers held back the 40,000-strong grouping of the enemy until September 10.
In Poland, during the first week of the fighting, German troops in several places cut the Polish front and occupy part of Mazovia, West Prussia, the Upper Silesian industrial region and Western Galicia. By September 9, the Germans have succeeded in breaking the Polish resistance along the entire front line and approaching Warsaw.
On September 10 the Polish Commander-in-Chief Edward Rydz-Smigly gives the order for a general retreat to Southeast Poland, but the bulk of his troops, unable to retreat beyond the Vistula, are surrounded. By mid-September, without receiving support from the west, the armed forces of Poland cease to exist as a whole; Only local resistance centers remain.
September 14, the 19th Corps Guderian throwing from East Prussia captures Brest. Polish troops under the command of General Plisovsky for several days defend the Brest Fortress. On the night of September 17, her defenders in an organized order leave the forts and retreat for the Bug.
On September 16, the Polish Ambassador to the USSR was told that since the Polish state and its government ceased to exist, the Soviet Union takes under its protection the life and property of the population of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia.
On September 17, fearing that Germany would refuse to comply with the terms of the secret additional protocol to the non-aggression pact, the USSR began to deploy troops to the eastern regions of Poland  . Internal propaganda declares that "the Red Army takes the fraternal peoples under protection." On September 17 at 6 o'clock in the morning the Soviet troops by two military groups cross the state border. On the same day Molotov sends to the Ambassador of Germany in the USSR Schulenburg a congratulation on the "brilliant success of the German Wehrmacht"  . Despite the fact that neither the USSR nor Poland declared war on each other, some historians (for example Nekrich AM) consider this day the date of the USSR's accession to World War II.
In the evening of September 17, the Polish government and the supreme command fled to Romania.
On September 28, the Germans occupy Warsaw. On the same day, the Treaty of Friendship and the Border between the USSR and Germany was signed in Moscow, establishing a line of demarcation between German and Soviet troops in the territory of the former Poland along the Curzon Line.
On October 6, the last units of the Polish army capitulate.
Part of the western Polish lands becomes part of the Third Reich. These lands are subject to the so-called "Germanization". The Polish and Jewish population is deported from here to the central regions of Poland, where the governor-general is being created. Mass repressions against the Polish people are being carried out. The situation of the Jews, driven into the ghetto, becomes the hardest.
Territories that have moved into the zone of influence of the USSR are included in the Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR and Lithuania, which was independent at that time. In the territories included in the USSR, Soviet power is established, socialist reforms are being carried out (nationalization of industry, collectivization of the peasantry), which is accompanied by deportations and repressions against former ruling classes-representatives of the bourgeoisie, landlords, rich peasants, part of the intelligentsia.
October 6, 1939, after the end of all military operations, Hitler proposes the convening of a peace conference with the participation of all major powers to resolve the existing contradictions. France and the United Kingdom declare that they will agree to the conference only if the Germans immediately withdraw their troops from Poland and the Czech Republic and return these countries to independence. Germany rejects these conditions, and as a result, the peace conference never took place.
The Battle for the Atlantic
Despite the rejection of the peace conference, Britain and France from September 1939 to April 1940 continue to wage a passive war and do not attempt any offensive. Active military operations are conducted only on sea communications. Even before the war, the German command sent 2 battleships and 18 submarines to the Atlantic Ocean, which, with the opening of hostilities, began attacks on merchant ships of Great Britain and its allied countries. From September to December 1939, Britain lost 114 ships from the attacks of German submarines, and in 1940 471 ships, while in 1939 the Germans lost only 9 submarines. The attacks on maritime communications in the UK led to the loss by the summer of 1941 of a third of the tonnage of the British merchant fleet and created a serious threat to the country's economy.
During the Soviet-Finnish talks of 1938-1939, the USSR was trying to obtain from Finland concessions to the Karelian Isthmus (the transfer of these territories tore the Mannerheim Line at the most important, Vyborg direction), and the lease of several islands and parts of the Hanko Peninsula (Gangut) under military bases, offering in exchange territory in Karelia with a total area twice as much as the Finnish one  . Finland, unwilling to make concessions and assume military obligations, insists on concluding a trade agreement and consent to the remoralisation of the Aland Islands.
Three months before the incident in Maynil, Finnish Prime Minister Kayander at a review of Finnish reservists states:
We are proud that we have few weapons rusting in arsenals, few military uniforms, rotting and moldy in warehouses. But we in Finland have a high standard of living and an education system that we can be proud of  .
In turn, Joseph Stalin several months before the war in Moscow, said:
We can do nothing with geography, just like you ... Since you can not move Leningrad, you will have to push the border away from it  .
November 30, 1939, the USSR invades Finland. On December 14, for the unleashing of the war, the USSR was expelled from the League of Nations. When the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations, of its 52 states that were members of the League, 12 representatives were not sent to the conference at all, and 11 did not vote for an exception. And among these 11 - Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
From December to February, Soviet troops in the 15 Soviet infantry divisions have made many attempts to break through the Mannerheim Line, defended by 15 infantry divisions of the Finns, but they do not achieve much success. Failure Suomussalmi ends the attempt to cut the territory of Finland and go to Oulu  .
In the future there was a continuous build-up of the forces of the Red Army in all directions.
The United Kingdom and France decide to prepare an assault on the Scandinavian Peninsula in order to prevent Germany from seizing Swedish iron ore deposits and at the same time to provide the way for the future transfer of its troops to Finland's aid; also begins the transfer of long-range bomber aircraft to the Middle East for the bombing and seizure of Baku's oil fields in the event of England's entry into the war on the side of Finland. However, Sweden and Norway, in an attempt to maintain neutrality, categorically refuse to accept Anglo-French troops on their territory. On February 16, 1940, British destroyers attacked the German Altmark ship in Norwegian territorial waters and released British seamen on board from the prize ships. On March 1, Hitler, who had previously been interested in maintaining the neutrality of the Scandinavian countries, signed the directive on Operation Vezeryubung: the seizure of Denmark (as a trans-shipment base) and Norway to prevent a possible landing of the Allies.
In early March 1940, Soviet troops break through the Mannerheim Line and capture 3/4 Vyborg. On March 13, 1940, a peace treaty was signed in Moscow between Finland and the USSR, according to which Soviet demands were met: the border on the Karelian Isthmus in the Leningrad region was moved to the northwest from 32 to 150 km, a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland left the USSR  .
Despite the end of the war, the Anglo-French command continues to develop a plan for a military operation in Norway, but the Germans manage to get ahead of them.
April 9, 1940 Germany invades Denmark and Norway.
In Denmark, Germans by sea and airborne forces unimpeded occupy all the most important cities and in a few hours destroy Danish aviation. Under the threat of bombing civilians, Danish King Christian X is forced to sign a capitulation and orders the army to lay down their arms.
In Norway, the Germans seize the main Norwegian ports of Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen, Narvik on April 9-10. On April 14, the Anglo-French landing was disembarked at Narvik, on April 16 - in Namsus, on April 17 - in Ondalesnes. On April 19, the Allies launched an offensive on Trondheim, but they fail and in the beginning of May are forced to withdraw their forces from Central Norway. After a series of battles for Narvik, the Allies in the beginning of June are also evacuated from the northern part of the country. June 10, 1940 capitulate the last part of the Norwegian army. Norway is under the control of the German occupation administration (Reichskommissariat); Denmark, as declared by the German protectorate, was able to maintain partial independence in internal affairs.
After the occupation of Denmark, the British and American troops, in order to prevent Germany's invasion of the Danish non-continental possessions, occupied its overseas territories of strategic importance - the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland (see The Faroe Islands in World War II, Invasion of Iceland (1940) ), Greenland during the Second World War (English) ).
On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg with 135 divisions. The 1st group of allied armies advances to the territory of Belgium, but does not have time to help the Dutch, as the German Army Group "B" carries out a swift attack to South Holland and on May 12 captures Rotterdam. On May 14, Rotterdam is subjected to massive bombardment, which leads to huge destruction and casualties among civilians. After the threat of similar bombing of Amsterdam and The Hague on May 15, the Dutch government capitulates.
In Belgium, German paratroopers seize bridges on May 10th through the Alberta Canal, which enables large German tank forces to force it to the allies' approach and to reach the Belgian plain. May 17, Brussels fell.
But the main blow is inflicted by Army Group "A". Occupying May 10 Luxembourg, three tank divisions Guderian cross the Southern Ardennes and on May 14 cross the Meuse River west of Sedan. At the same time, the Goth's tank corps breaks through the Northern Ardennes, which are difficult for heavy equipment, and on May 13 it forces the Maas River north of Dinan. The German tank armada is heading west. Belated attacks by the French, for whom the blow of the Germans through the Ardennes is a complete surprise, can not contain it. On May 16, parts of Guderian arrive at Oise; May 20, they go to the coast of the Pas-de-Calais near Abbeville and turn to the north, to the rear of the allied armies. 28 Anglo-French-Belgian divisions are surrounded.
The Allied Command's attempt to organize a counterattack on Arras on May 21-23 could have been successful, but Guderian stops the almost completely destroyed tank battalion. On May 22 Guderian cuts off the path of the retreat to Boulogne for the Allies, May 23 - for Calais and goes to Gravlin 10 km from Dunkirk, the last port through which the Anglo-French troops could be evacuated, but on May 24 he is forced to stop the offensive for two days on personal order Hitler ("Miracle under Dunkirk") (according to another version, the reason for the stop was not Hitler's order, but the entry of tanks into the zone of the British artillery fleet's operational artillery, which could shoot them practically with impunity). The respite allows the allies to strengthen the defense of Dunkirk and begin Operation Dynamo to evacuate their forces by sea. On May 26, German troops break through the Belgian front in West Flanders, and on May 28th Belgium, despite the demands of the Allies, capitulates. On the same day in the district of Lille, the Germans surround a large French grouping, which surrenders on May 31. Part of the French troops and almost the whole of the British army (224 thousand) were transported by British ships through Dunkirk. The Germans seize all British and French artillery and armored vehicles, vehicles abandoned by the Allies in retreat. After Dunkirk, Britain was almost unarmed, although it retained the army's personnel.
On June 5, the German troops launched an offensive on the Lan-Abwil section. Attempts by the French command to hastily repair the gap in the defenses of unprepared divisions are unsuccessful. The French lose one battle after another. The defense of the French is disintegrating, and the command quickly leads troops to the south.
June 10, Italy declares war on Britain and France. Italian troops are invading southern France, but they can not go far. On the same day, the French government is evacuated from Paris. On June 11, the Germans crossed the Marne at Chateau-Thierry. June 14, they enter Paris without a fight, and two days later they leave for the valley of the Rhone. On June 16, Marshal Petain forms the new government of France, which already on the night of June 17 turns to Germany with a request for a truce. On June 18, French General Charles de Gaulle, who fled to London, calls on the French to continue their resistance. On June 21, the Germans, without encountering practically no resistance, reach the Loire on the Nantes-Tour section, the same day their tanks are occupied by Lyon.
On June 22, in Compiègne, in the same car in which German surrender was signed in 1918, a Franco-German armistice was signed, under which France agreed to occupy most of its territory, demobilized almost the entire land army and interned the navy and aviation. In the free zone, as a result of the coup d'état, on July 10, Peten's authoritarian regime (the Vichy regime) is established, and has embarked on a close cooperation with Germany (collaborationism). Despite the military power of France, the defeat of this country was so sudden and complete that it could not be explained rationally.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Vishite troops Francois Darlan gives the order for the withdrawal of the entire French fleet to the shores of French North Africa. Because of the fear that the entire French fleet could fall under the control of Germany and Italy, on July 3, 1940, the British naval forces and aviation within Operation Catapult strike the French ships at Mers-el-Kebir. By the end of July, the British destroyed or neutralized almost the entire French fleet.
Accession of the Baltic States, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the USSR
In the autumn of 1939, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania concluded mutual assistance agreements with the USSR, also known as base contracts, according to which Soviet military bases were deployed on the territory of these countries. On June 17, 1940, the USSR presents an ultimatum to the Baltic states, demanding the resignation of governments, the formation of popular governments, the dissolution of parliaments, the holding of early elections and the consent to the introduction of an additional contingent of Soviet troops. In the circumstances, the Baltic governments were forced to accept these demands. With active support from Moscow in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, coups are simultaneously taking place. Governments that are friendly to the Communists come to power.
After the introduction of additional units of the Red Army into the territory of the Baltic, in mid-July 1940, in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in conditions of a significant Soviet military presence, there are no alternative elections to the supreme authorities. Communist parties were the only parties allowed to vote. In their pre-election programs, they did not mention a word about plans to join the USSR  . On July 21, 1940, the newly elected parliaments, which included a pro-Soviet majority  , proclaim the creation of Soviet socialist republics and send petitions to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to join the Soviet Union. August 3, the Lithuanian SSR, August 5 - the Latvian SSR, and August 6 - the Estonian SSR were admitted to the USSR.
On June 27, 1940, the government of the USSR sent two ultimatum notes to the Romanian government, demanding the return of Bessarabia and the transfer of the Northern Bukovina to the USSR as "compensation for the enormous damage inflicted on the Soviet Union and the population of Bessarabia by Romania's 22-year rule in Bessarabia." Bessarabia was annexed to the Russian Empire in 1812 after the victory over Turkey in the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-1812; in 1918, taking advantage of the Civil War in the territory of the former Russian Empire, Romania introduced troops to the territory of Bessarabia, and then included it in its composition. Bukovina was never part of the Russian Empire (historically, almost the entire Bukovina, except for its southern part, belonged to Russia in the X-XI centuries), but was inhabited mainly by Ukrainians. Romania, not counting on the support of other states in the event of war with the USSR, was forced to agree to meet these requirements. On June 28, Romania withdraws its troops and administration from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, after which Soviet troops are introduced there. On August 2, the Moldavian SSR was formed on the part of the territory of Bessarabia and part of the territory of the former Moldavian ASSR. The south of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina are organizationally included in the Ukrainian SSR.
The Battle of Britain
After the capitulation of France, Germany offers the UK to make peace, but is refused. July 16, 1940 Hitler issued a directive on the invasion of Britain (operation "Sea Lion"). However, the command of the German Navy and the ground forces, referring to the power of the British fleet and the lack of experience of the Wehrmacht's landing operations, requires the Air Force to first ensure air supremacy. Since August, the Germans have begun bombing Britain in order to undermine its military and economic potential, demoralize the population, prepare an invasion and ultimately force it to surrender. The German Air Force and the Navy are systematically attacking British ships and convoys in the English Channel. Since 4 September, German aviation has embarked on a massive bombing of English cities in the south of the country: London, Rochester, Birmingham, Manchester.
Despite the fact that the British suffered heavy losses in the course of the bombings among civilians, they, in fact, manage to win the battle for Britain - Germany is forced to abandon the landing operation. Since December, the activity of the German Air Force has been significantly reduced due to worsening weather conditions. To achieve its main goal - to withdraw Great Britain from the war - the Germans did not succeed.
Battles in Africa, the Mediterranean and the Balkans
After Italy's entry into the war, Italian troops begin fighting for control of the Mediterranean, North and East Africa. On June 11, Italian aviation strikes at the British naval base in Malta. On June 13, the Italians bombard British bases in Kenya. In early July, Italian troops invade from Ethiopia and Somalia to the British colonies of Kenya and Sudan, but due to hesitant actions they can not go far. On August 3, 1940, Italian troops invade British Somalia. Using numerical superiority, they manage to force British and South African troops across the strait into the British colony of Aden.
After the capitulation of France, the administrations of some French colonies refused to recognize the Vichy government. In London, General de Gaulle formed the "Fighting France" movement, which did not recognize shameful surrender. The British armed forces, together with the detachments of the "Fighting France", begin their struggle against the Vichy troops for control of the colonies. By September, they managed to peacefully establish control over virtually all of Equatorial Africa in France. October 27 in Brazzaville formed the supreme governing body of the French territories occupied by the troops of De Gaulle, - the Defense Council of the Empire. On September 24, British troops and parts of the "Fighting France" are defeated by the Vichy troops in Senegal (the Dakar operation). However, in November they manage to seize Gabon (Gabon operation).
On September 13, the Italians invade Libya in British Egypt. After occupying Sidi Barrani on September 16, the Italians stop, and the English depart to Mersa Matruh. To improve their position in Africa and the Mediterranean, the Italians decide to seize Greece. After the refusal of the Greek government to allow the Italian troops to enter its territory on October 28, 1940, Italy begins an offensive. The Italians manage to capture part of the Greek territory, but by November 8 they are stopped, and on November 14 the Greek army passes into a counteroffensive, completely liberates the country's territory and enters Albania.
In November 1940, British aviation strikes at the Italian fleet in Taranto, which makes it extremely difficult for sea freight for Italian troops to North Africa. Taking advantage of this, on December 9, 1940, British troops launched an offensive in Egypt; in January they occupy the whole of Cyrenaica, and by February 1941 they leave for the area of El-Ageyla.
In early January, the British are also undertaking an offensive in East Africa. Having beaten Kassalu on January 21, they invade Sudan in Eritrea, capture Karen (March 27), Asmara (April 1) and the port of Massawa (April 8). In February, British troops from Kenya penetrate Italian Somalia; On 25 February, they occupy the port of Mogadishu, and then turn north and enter Ethiopia. On March 16, the British landing landed in British Somalia and soon defeated the Italians there. Together with the British troops, Emperor Haile Selassie, deposed by the Italians in 1936, arrives in Ethiopia. Numerous groups of Ethiopian partisans join the British. On March 17, British and Ethiopian troops occupy Jijig, March 29 - Harar, April 6 - the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. The Italian colonial empire in East Africa ceases to exist. The remnants of the Italian troops continue to resist in the territories of Ethiopia and Somalia until November 27, 1941.
In March 1941, in a naval battle near the island of Crete, the British inflict another defeat on the Italian fleet. On March 2, British and Australian troops begin their landing in Greece. March 9, the Italian troops are undertaking a new offensive against the Greeks, but during the six-day fierce battles they are completely defeated and by March 26 are forced to retreat to their original positions.
After suffering a complete defeat on all fronts, Mussolini is forced to ask for help from Hitler. In February 1941, a German expeditionary corps arrived in Libya under the command of General Rommel. On March 31, 1941, the Italo-German troops launched an offensive, defeated Cyrenaica from the British and reached the borders of Egypt, after which the front in North Africa was stabilized until November 1941.
Changes in the composition of the fighting coalitions
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Gradually, the US government begins to review its foreign policy course. It is increasingly supporting Britain, becoming its "non-belligerent ally" (see Atlantic Charter). In May 1940, the US Congress approved an amount of $ 3 billion for the needs of the army and navy, and in summer - $ 6.5 billion, including $ 4 billion for the construction of a "fleet of two oceans." The supply of weapons and equipment for the UK is increasing. On September 2, 1940, the United States transferred the British 50 destroyers in exchange for the rental of eight military bases in the British colonies in the Western Hemisphere. According to the law passed by the US Congress on March 11, 1941, 7 billion dollars were allocated to the law on the transfer of military materials to the belligerent countries on loan or lease (see Lend-Lease). Later Lend-Lease extends to China, Greece and Yugoslavia. North Atlantic declared a "patrol zone" of the US Navy, which simultaneously begins to escort the merchant ships heading to the UK.
In talks on October 12 and 13, 1940, German diplomats suggest that the USSR accede to the "Axis Pact" in the hope that the Union will take part in the creation of a powerful "Continental Bloc" (German Gewaltigen Kontinentalblock ) and will consider India and Iran its area of interest and control in Asia , which in the long run will lead to the surrender of England and its allies.
Before the negotiations, the German General Staff had drawn up on July 13 a plan of military operations against the USSR. Then it became clear to Hitler that Britain was seriously counting on the help of the USSR. Also, until November 12, Hitler signed an order (German Weisung Nr.18 ), according to which all previous verbal orders to prepare for war should be fulfilled regardless of the results of the negotiations  .
At the talks in Berlin on November 12, Molotov stressed that at that time the Soviet Union was weakly interested in manifesting activity in Asia and did not object to joining the "Axis Pact" as a partner, but not an instrument for the exercise by the powers of the axis of their private interests . At the same time he is interested in, first of all, the annexation of Finland and the then owned Romania of Southern Bukovina. In addition, he demanded Germany's consent to the dissolution of the Vienna agreement of 30 August 1940, which gave Romania certain guarantees, and confirmed the interests in Bulgaria and demanded the consent for the long-term presence of Soviet troops in the straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.
In addition to these specific requirements, it was suggested that Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Yugoslavia are areas of state interests of the Soviet Union. Hitler categorically did not like this, and the talks ended on November 14 with nothing, and in a "cold atmosphere".
On November 25, Stalin relaxed the demands, pointing out that the condition for the USSR's accession to the pact was the agreement to declare Finland and Bulgaria the zone of interests of the USSR, as well as the right to establish strong points in Turkey. But the German side did not respond at all.
After that, Hitler approves a plan of attack on the USSR. For these purposes, Germany is beginning to seek allies in Eastern Europe. November 20, Hungary joins the Triple Alliance, November 23 - Romania, November 24 - Slovakia, in 1941 - Bulgaria, Finland and Spain. On 25 March 1941 Yugoslavia joins the pact, however on March 27, a military coup takes place in Belgrade, and Simovic's government comes to power, which proclaims the king of young Peter II and proclaims neutrality of Yugoslavia. On April 5, Yugoslavia enters into an agreement with the USSR on friendship and non-aggression. In view of the unfavorable developments for Germany, Hitler decides to conduct a military operation against Yugoslavia and help the Italian troops in Greece.
Battles in the Balkans and the Middle East
[en] . April 10, the Germans seize Zagreb. On April 11, the leader of the Croatian Nazis Ante Pavelic proclaims Croatia's independence and calls on Croats to leave the Yugoslav army, which further undermines her fighting ability. On April 13, the Germans seize Belgrade. On April 15, the Yugoslav government fled the country. On April 16, the German troops enter Sarajevo. April 16 Italians occupy the Bar and the island of Krk, and April 17 - Dubrovnik. On the same day, the Yugoslav army surrenders, and 344,000 of its soldiers and officers are taken prisoner.
After the defeat of Yugoslavia, the Germans and Italians throw all their forces into Greece. On April 20, the Epirus army capitulates. An attempt by the Anglo-Australian command to set up a defensive line at Thermopylae, in order to close the Wehrmacht's way to central Greece, was unsuccessful, and on April 20 the command of the Allied forces decided to evacuate its forces. On April 21 Yanina was taken. On April 23, Tsolakoglu signed an act on the general surrender of the Greek Armed Forces. On April 24th, King George II, along with the government, flees to Crete. On the same day, the Germans seized the islands of Lemnos, Pharos and Samothrace. April 27 captured Athens.
On May 20, the Germans land an assault on Crete, which is in the hands of the British. Although the British fleet also thwarts the Germans' attempt to deliver reinforcements by sea, on May 21 the paratroopers seize the airfield at Maleme and provide reinforcements through the air. Despite the stubborn defense, British troops are forced to leave Crete by May 31. By June 2 the island was completely occupied. But in view of the large losses of the German paratroopers, Hitler refuses the plans for further landing operations to seize Cyprus and the Suez Canal.
As a result of the invasion, Yugoslavia is dismembered. Germany annexes Northern Slovenia, Hungary - Western Vojvodina, Bulgaria - Macedonian Macedonia, Italy - Southern Slovenia, part of the coast of Dalmatia, Montenegro and Kosovo. Croatia is declared an independent state under the Italo-German protectorate. In Serbia, the collaborative government of Nedic was created.
After the defeat of Greece, Bulgaria annexes East Macedonia and Western Thrace; the rest of the country is divided into Italian (western) and German (eastern) occupation zones.
April 1, 1941 as a result of the coup in Iraq, the power is seized by the pro-German nationalist group Rashid Ali-Gailani. By agreement with the regime of Vichy, Germany on May 12 begins to transport through Syria, France's trust, military equipment to Iraq. But the Germans engaged in preparing for war with the USSR are not in a position to render substantial assistance to the Iraqi nationalists. British troops invade Iraq and overthrow the government of Ali-Gailani. On June 8, the British, together with the parts of the "Fighting France" invade Syria and Lebanon and by mid-July force the Vichy troops to capitulate.
According to the estimates of the leadership of Great Britain and the USSR, there was a threat of involvement in 1941 on the side of Germany as an active ally of Iran. Therefore, from August 25, 1941 to September 17, 1941, a joint Anglo-Soviet operation was conducted to occupy Iran. Its goal was to protect the Iranian oil fields from the possible capture by their troops of Germany and the protection of the transport corridor (the Trans-Iranian route ), through which the Lend-Lease supplies for the Soviet Union were allied. During the operation, the Allied armed forces invaded Iran and established their control over Iran's railways and oil fields. At the same time, British troops occupied South Iran. The troops of the USSR occupied northern Iran.
In China, the Japanese in 1939-1941 captured the south-eastern part of the country. China because of the difficult domestic political situation in the country could not seriously rebuff (see: Civil War in China). After the capitulation of France, the administration of French Indochina recognized the Vichy government. Thailand, taking advantage of the weakening of France, made territorial claims to part of French Indochina. In October 1940, Thai troops invaded French Indochina. Thailand managed to inflict a number of defeats of the Vichy army. On May 9, 1941, under the pressure of Japan, the Vichy regime was forced to sign a peace treaty over which Laos and part of Cambodia left Thailand. After the loss of a number of colonies by the Vichy regime in Africa, there was also a threat of the capture of Indochina by the British and the de-voters. To prevent this, in June 1941 the fascist government agreed to the introduction of Japanese troops into the colony.
The second period of the war (June 1941 - November 1942)
Prehistory of the invasion of the USSR
The tragic beginning of the war for the Red Army is one of the most encrypted pages of our history. It is already possible to talk about generations of historians trying to find out the true causes of our failures at the beginning of the war, but this problem has not been solved yet.
- P.N. Bobylev, candidate of historical sciences, associate professor, leading researcher of the Institute of Military History of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation  .
Thus, both Germany and the USSR carefully prepared for war. Since January 1941, this process has entered the final stage, which made the beginning of the Soviet-German war inevitable in 1941, whoever initiated it. As is now known, both sides, unaware of this, calculated in their calculations that the war would begin on their own initiative. [...]
Unfortunately, almost all these documents (Soviet military plans) remain secret, and it is unlikely that historians will soon be able to investigate them.
In June 1940, Hitler ordered the preparation of an attack on the USSR, and OKH July 22 begins to develop an attack plan, code-named "Operation Barbarossa." On July 31, 1940, at a meeting with the supreme military command in Berghof, Hitler declared:
[...] The hope of England is Russia and America. If hope for Russia falls away, America will fall away, for the fall of Russia in an unpleasant way will strengthen the importance of Japan in East Asia, Russia - the East Asian sword of England and America against Japan. [...]
Russia - this is the factor that most of all puts England. Something like that happened in London! The English were already completely down *, and now they rose again. From listening to conversations it is clear that Russia is unpleasantly struck by the rapid development of events in Western Europe. [...]
But if Russia is broken, the last hope of England will fade. The ruler of Europe and the Balkans will then be Germany.
The solution: in the course of this clash with Russia should be done away with. In the spring of the 41st. [...]
* Below (English)
- F. Halder. "Military Diary." A summary of Hitler's speech on July 31, 1940  .
November 29 - December 7, 1940 the General Staff of the Wehrmacht land forces conducted an operational-strategic game on maps on the plan of aggression against the USSR. On December 18, 1940, the Barbarossa plan was approved by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Directive No. 21. The approximate date for completing military preparations is May 15, Since the end of 1940, the gradual transfer of German troops to the borders of the USSR began, the intensity of which increased sharply after May 22. The German command tried to create the impression that this was a distracting maneuver and that "the main task for the summer is the operation to invade the islands, and measures against the East are only defensive in nature and their scope depends only on Russian threats and military preparations"  . A disinformation campaign against Soviet intelligence began, which received numerous contradictory reports on the dates (late April-early May, April 15, May 15-early June, May 14, late May, May 20, early June), and war conditions after and before the outbreak of the war with England, various demands on the USSR before the outbreak of the war, etc.).
At the end of December 1940 (announced at the end of September 1940), the largest meeting of the top leadership of the Red Army secretly takes place in Moscow, focusing on the nature of offensive operations, and two operational and strategic games on cards under the general title "Offensive Front Operation with a Breakthrough of the UR "  . The materials of the meeting were classified until 1990, and the course of games and the correlation of forces were not disclosed or were distorted to the directly opposite  . In fact, the games dealt with the actions of a large strike group of Soviet troops from the state border of the USSR in the direction of (respectively) Poland-East Prussia and Hungary-Romania. The USSR, on the instructions of the games, was the defending side, but the course of the games itself began with the offensive of the Red Army, and in the second game the army of the USSR began the offensive 90-180 km west of the border  . Planning and development of defense operations in the Red Army on a strategic scale from the autumn of 1940 until the beginning of the war were not carried out  .
On March 8, 1941, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU (B.) Decided to hold training camps at the end of May or beginning of June of the same year, according to which 975,870 military liable for a period of 30 to 90 days were to be called up (the vast majority is called for 45 days and more). Some historians see this as an element of hidden mobilization in a complex political situation - thanks to them, infantry divisions in the border and interior districts received 1900-6000 people, and the number of about 20 divisions practically reached the military time schedule. Other historians do not associate fees with the political situation and explain their retraining of the composition "in the spirit of modern demands". Historians MI Meltukhov, VA Nevezhin, publicists Viktor Suvorov and others find in the collections signs of preparing the USSR for an attack on Germany.
March 27 in Yugoslavia is a coup and the power comes anti-German forces. Hitler decides to conduct an operation against Yugoslavia and help the Italian troops in Greece, postponing the spring attack on the USSR in June 1941.
On June 10, the commander-in-chief of the German Army, Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch, issued an order on the date of the outbreak of war against the USSR - June 22.
On June 13, directives were sent to the western districts ("To increase combat readiness ...") about the beginning of the advancement of the first and second echelon units to the border, at night and under the guise of exercises. On the night of 13 to 14 June (Friday-Saturday), an operation is launched in the western territories of the USSR to evict a "socially alien element" deep into the country. In total, about 100 thousand people were deported. On June 14, TASS reported that there is no reason for a war with Germany and that rumors that the USSR is preparing for war with Germany are false and provocative. Simultaneously with the TASS message, a massive hidden transfer of Soviet troops from the so-called second strategic echelon to the western borders of the USSR begins. June 18 issued an order to bring operational readiness No. 1 parts of the western districts. On June 21, after several reports of tomorrow's attack, at 11.30 pm, Directive No. 1 was sent to the troops, containing the likely date of the German attack and orders to be on alert and at the same time "not succumbing to any provocative actions".
Some sources (Viktor Suvorov, Meltyukhov) consider the movement of Soviet troops to the border not as a defensive measure, but as preparation for an attack on Germany, calling various dates for the attack: July 1941, 1942. Apart from this statement, there is a thesis about Germany's preventive war against the USSR. Opponents of the version about the preparation of the USSR for an attack on Germany state that there is no clear evidence of preparation, and all signs of preparation allegedly for an attack are a preparation for war as such, without regard to an attack or repulsion of aggression.
Invasion of the USSR
Early Sunday morning, June 22, 1941, Germany, with the support of its allies - Italy, Hungary, Romania, Finland and Slovakia - suddenly  and without warning  attacked the USSR. The Great Patriotic War began.
German forces inflict a powerful surprise blow on the entire western Soviet border by three army groups: "North", "Center" and "South". On the very first day, a significant part of Soviet ammunition, fuel and military equipment was destroyed or captured; destroyed about 1200 aircraft. On June 23-25 the Soviet fronts are trying to strike counterstrikes, but they fail.
By the end of the first decade of July, German troops have seized Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, a significant part of Ukraine, Moldova and Estonia. The main forces of the Soviet Western Front were defeated in the Belostok-Minsk battle.
The Soviet North-Western Front was defeated in the border battle and abandoned. However, the Soviet counterblow under Soltsy on July 14-18 led to the suspension of the German offensive against Leningrad for almost 3 weeks.
On June 22, at 6.05 am, Soviet planes bombed Finnish battleships at Sottunga Naval Base, in 6.15 - strengthening of Alsher Island in the archipelago in front of the city of Turku, and at 6.45 - transport ships in the port of Korpo. At 7.55 the batteries of Soviet artillery began to operate from Cape Hanko. In Petsamo, one of the ships was fired across the border  .
On June 25, Soviet planes bombed Finnish airfields. June 26, Finland declares war on the USSR, Finnish troops are on the counterattack and soon the Karelian Isthmus, previously captured by the Soviet Union, has returned to the old historic Russian-Finnish border on the Karelian Isthmus (north of Lake Ladoga, the old boundary was crossed to great depths). June 29, German-Finnish troops are making an offensive in the Arctic, but the advance into the interior of the Soviet territory is stopped.
In Ukraine, the Soviet South-Western Front is also defeated and thrown out of the border, but the counterblow of the Soviet mechanized corps does not allow the German troops to make a deep breakthrough and capture Kiev.
In a new offensive on the central section of the Soviet-German front, launched on July 10, the Army Group Center on July 16 seizes Smolensk and surrounds the main forces of the reconstituted Soviet Western Front. On the wave of this success, and also taking into account the need to support the offensive against Leningrad and Kiev, on July 19, Hitler, despite the objections of the army command, gives the order to shift the direction of the main attack from the Moscow direction to the southern one (Kiev, Donbass) and northern (Leningrad)  . In accordance with this decision, the tank groups advancing on Moscow were withdrawn from the group "Center" and sent to the south (2nd Panzer Group) and to the north (3rd Panzer Group). The offensive against Moscow is to continue the infantry divisions of Army Group Center, but the battle in the Smolensk region continued, and on July 30 the Army Group Center was ordered to proceed to defense. Thus, the offensive against Moscow is postponed.
August 8-9 Army Group "North" resumed its offensive on Leningrad. The front of the Soviet troops is split, they are forced to withdraw in divergent directions to Tallinn and Leningrad. The defense of Tallinn pinned down part of the German forces, but on August 28 Soviet troops are forced to begin evacuation. On September 8, with the capture of Shlisselburg, German troops take Leningrad into the ring.
On September 4, General Jodl, Chief of the General Staff of the German Armed Forces, receives a categorical refusal from Marshal Mannerheim to attack Leningrad  .
On September 6, Hitler, by his order ( Weisung Nr.35 ), stops the advance of the group of forces "North" to Leningrad and orders Field Marshal Leib to give all the tanks and a considerable number of troops in order to "begin the attack on Moscow as soon as possible" ] . Having abandoned the assault on Leningrad, Army Group North has been making an offensive on October 16 on the Tikhvin axis, intending to connect with the Finnish troops east of Leningrad. However, the counterattack of Soviet troops near Tikhvin frees the city and stops the enemy.
In Ukraine, in the beginning of August, the troops of Army Group "Yug" cut off from the Dnieper and encircle near Uman two Soviet armies. However, they were not able to seize Kiev again. Only after the rotation of the troops of the southern flank of Army Group Center (2nd Army and 2nd Panzer Group) to the south did the position of the Soviet South-Western Front deteriorate sharply. The German 2nd Panzer Group, reflecting the counterblow of the Bryansk Front, forces the Desna and on September 15 it joins the 1st Panzer Group advancing from the Kremenchug bridgehead. As a result of the battle for Kiev, the Soviet South-Western Front was completely defeated.
The catastrophe near Kiev opened the way for the Germans to the south. On October 5, the 1st Panzer Group marched to the Sea of Azov near Melitopol, cutting off the forces of the Southern Front. In October 1941, German troops captured almost the entire Crimea, except for Sevastopol.
The defeat in the south opened the way for the Germans to the Donbass and Rostov. October 24, Kharkov fell, by the end of October the main cities of Donbass were occupied. On October 17, Taganrog fell. On November 21, the 1st Panzer Army entered Rostov-on-Don, reaching the objectives of the Barbarossa plan in the south. However, on November 29, Soviet troops knock out the Germans from Rostov, and until the summer of 1942 the front line in the south is set at the turn of the river. Mius.
On September 30, 1941, German troops launched an offensive against Moscow. As a result of the deep breakthroughs of the German tank formations, the main forces of the Soviet Western, Reserve and Bryansk Front were surrounded by Vyazma and Bryansk. In total, more than 660 thousand people were captured.
The remains of the Western and Reserve Fronts are united on October 10 into a single Western Front under the command of Army General G. Zhukov.
On November 15-18, German troops, with the end of the mudslide, resume their offensive against Moscow, but by December they were stopped in all directions.
On December 1, the commander of the forces of the "Center" group, General Field Marshal von Bock, reports that the troops are exhausted and unable to continue the offensive. 
December 5, 1941 Kalinin, Western and South-Western fronts go on the counteroffensive. The successful advance of Soviet troops forces the enemy to move to defense along the entire front line. In December, as a result of the offensive, the troops of the Western Front are liberated by Yakhrom, Klin, Volokolamsk, and Kaluga; The Kalinin Front liberates Kalinin; The south-western front is Efremov and Yelets. As a result, by the beginning of 1942, the Germans had been driven back to the west by 100-250 km. Defeat near Moscow was the first major defeat of the Wehrmacht in this war.
The success of the Soviet troops near Moscow prompts the Soviet command to move into a large-scale offensive. January 8, 1942 the forces of the Kalinin, Western and North-Western Front go on the offensive against the German army group "Center". They fail to complete the task, and after several attempts, by mid-April, we have to stop the offensive, bearing heavy losses. The Germans retain the Rzhev-Vyazma bridgehead, which is dangerous for Moscow. Attempts of the Volkhov and Leningrad fronts to unblock Leningrad were also unsuccessful and led to the encirclement in March 1942 of part of the forces of the Volkhov Front.
The Japanese offensive in the Pacific Ocean
December 7, 1941 Japan strikes at the US naval base Pearl Harbor. During the attack, which involved 441 aircraft, based on six Japanese aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, 6 cruisers and more than 300 US aircraft were sunk and seriously damaged. Thus, in one day, most of the battleships of the Pacific Fleet of the United States were destroyed. However, the main force of the fleet - the carrier-based connection - is absent on the base.
In addition to the United States, the next day, the Great Britain, the Netherlands (the government in emigration), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela are also declaring war on Japan. December 11, Germany and Italy, and December 13 - Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria - declare war on the United States.
On December 8, the Japanese block the British military base in Hong Kong and begin an invasion of Thailand, British Malaya and the US Philippines. The British squadron that flew to the interception is subjected to air strikes, and two battleships - the strike force of the British in this region of the Pacific - go to the bottom.
Thailand after a short resistance agrees to conclude a military alliance with Japan and declares war on the US and Britain. Japanese aviation from the territory of Thailand begins the bombing of Burma.
On December 10, the Japanese capture an American base on the island of Guam, on December 23 - on the island of Wake, on December 25, Hong Kong fell. On December 8, the Japanese break through the British defenses in Malaya and, promptly advancing, push the British forces back to Singapore. Singapore, which the British had previously considered an "impregnable fortress," fell on February 15, 1942, after a six-day siege. About 70 thousand British and Australian soldiers are taken prisoner.
In the Philippines in late December 1941, the Japanese captured the islands of Mindanao and Luzon. The remnants of American troops manage to gain a foothold on the Bataan peninsula and the island of Correchidor.
On January 11, 1942, Japanese troops invade the Dutch East Indies and soon seize the islands of Borneo and Celebs. On January 28, the Japanese fleet defeats the Anglo-Dutch squadron in the Yavan Sea. Allies are trying to create a powerful defense on the island of Java, but by March 2, capitulate.
On January 23, 1942, the Japanese seized the Bismarck archipelago, including the island of New Britain, and then seized the northwestern part of the Solomon Islands, in February - the Gilbert Islands, and in early March invade New Guinea.
On March 8, attacking in Burma, the Japanese capture Rangoon, at the end of April - Mandalay, and by May they have captured almost all of Burma, defeating the British and Chinese troops and cutting off southern China from India. However, the beginning of the rainy season and lack of strength do not allow the Japanese to develop their success and carry out an invasion of India.
May 6 capitulates the last grouping of American and Philippine troops in the Philippines. By the end of May, 1942, at the cost of insignificant losses, Japan managed to establish control over Southeast Asia and North-West Oceania. American, British, Dutch and Australian troops suffer a crushing defeat, having lost all their main forces in this region.
The second stage of the battle for the Atlantic
Since the summer of 1941, the main purpose of the actions of the German and Italian fleets in the Atlantic is the destruction of merchant ships, in order to impede the delivery of weapons, strategic raw materials and food to Britain. The German and Italian command uses in the Atlantic mainly submarines that operate on communications linking Great Britain to North America, African colonies, the South African Union, Australia, India and the USSR.
From the end of August 1941, in accordance with the agreement of the governments of Great Britain and the USSR, mutual military deliveries through the Soviet northern ports begin, after which a significant part of the German submarines starts operating in the North Atlantic. In the autumn of 1941, before the US entered the war, attacks of German submarines on American ships were noted. In response, the US Congress on November 13, 1941, adopts two amendments to the law on neutrality, according to which the ban on the entry of American ships into the war zones is lifted and it is permitted to arm merchant ships.
With the strengthening of anti-submarine defense on communications in July-November, losses of the merchant fleet of Great Britain, its allies and neutral countries are substantially reduced. In the second half of 1941 they make 172.1 thousand gross tons, which is 2.8 times less than in the first half of the year.
However, soon the German fleet intercepts the initiative for a short time. After the entry into the US war, a significant part of the German submarines begins to operate in the coastal waters of the Atlantic coast of America. In the first half of 1942, the loss of Anglo-American ships in the Atlantic is once again increasing. But the improvement of anti-submarine defense methods allows the Anglo-American command from the summer of 1942 to improve the situation on Atlantic maritime communications, to launch a series of retaliatory strikes against the German submarine fleet and push it back into the central regions of the Atlantic.
German submarines operate virtually throughout the Atlantic Ocean: near the coast of Africa, South America, the Caribbean. On August 22, 1942, after the Germans sank a number of Brazilian ships, Brazil declared war on Germany. After this, fearing an undesirable reaction from other countries in South America, German submarines are reducing their activity in this region.
In general, despite a number of successes, Germany has not been able to disrupt Anglo-American shipping. In addition, in March 1942, British aviation began strategic bombing of important economic centers and cities in Germany, the allied and occupied countries.
In the summer of 1941, all German aviation operating in the Mediterranean was transferred to the Soviet-German front. This facilitates the tasks of the British, who, taking advantage of the passivity of the Italian fleet, seize the initiative in the Mediterranean. By mid-1942, the British, despite a number of setbacks, completely violated the sea traffic between Italy and the Italian troops in Libya and Egypt.
By the summer of 1941, the situation of British forces in North Africa was improving considerably. This is largely contributed to the complete defeat of the Italians in Ethiopia. The British command now has the opportunity to transfer forces from East Africa to the North.
Using advantageous conditions, the British troops on Nov. 18, 1941, go on the offensive. November 24, the Germans are trying to strike back, but it ends in failure. The British release Tobruk and, developing the offensive, occupy El-Ghazal, Dernu and Benghazi. By January, the British are again taking Cyrenaica, but their troops are spread out over a vast space, which Rommel took advantage of. On January 21, the Italo-German troops go on the offensive, break through the British defenses and rush to the northeast. At El-Ghazal they, however, are stopped, and the front again stabilizes for 4 months.
On May 26, 1942, Germany and Italy resume their offensive in Libya. The British have great losses and are again forced to retreat. June 21 surrenders the British garrison in Tobruk. The Italian-German troops continue to advance successfully and on July 1 approach the English defensive line at El Alamein, 60 kilometers from Alexandria, where they are forced to stop because of large losses. In August, the British command in North Africa is replaced. On August 30, the Italian-German forces again try to break through the British defenses near El-Half, but they fail completely, which is the turning point of the entire campaign.
October 23, 1942, the British go on the offensive, break through the enemy's defense and by the end of November they liberate the entire territory of Egypt, enter Libya and occupy Cyrenaica.
Meanwhile, in Africa, fighting continues for the French colony of Madagascar, which was under Vichy control. The reason for fighting against the colony of the former ally for Great Britain was the potential threat of using Madagascar by German submarines as a base for operations in the Indian Ocean. On May 5, 1942, British and South African troops landed on the island. French troops are stubbornly resisting, but by November they are forced to capitulate. Madagascar passes under the administration of "Free France".
On November 8, 1942, an American-British landing began a landing in French North Africa. The next day, the commander-in-chief of Vichy François Darlan negotiates with the Americans about the alliance and the cease-fire and assumes the full power in the French North Africa. In response, the Germans, with the consent of the Vichy government, occupy the southern part of France and begin the transfer of troops to Tunisia. On November 13, the Allied forces launched an offensive in Tunisia from Algeria, on the same day the British took Tobruk. The allies reached Western Tunisia and by November 17 encountered German troops, which by that time managed to occupy the eastern part of Tunisia. By November 30, due to bad weather, the front line had stabilized until February 1943.
Creation of the Anti-Hitler Coalition
Immediately after Germany's invasion of the USSR, representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States expressed their support for the Soviet Union and began to provide it with economic assistance. January 1, 1942 in Washington, representatives of the USSR, the United States, Britain and China signed the Declaration of the United Nations, thereby putting the beginning of the Anti-Hitler Coalition. Later, it was joined by 22 other countries.
Eastern Front: the second German large-scale offensive
Both the Soviet and German sides waited from the summer of 1942 to implement their offensive plans. Hitler aimed the main efforts of the Wehrmacht on the southern sector of the front, pursuing primarily economic goals.
The strategic plan of the Soviet command for 1942 was to " consistently implement a number of strategic operations in different directions in order to force the enemy to spray its reserves, not to give him a strong grouping to repel an offensive in any of the points "  . The main efforts of the Red Army, according to the plans of the Supreme High Command, were to be concentrated on the central sector of the Soviet-German front. It was also planned to carry out an offensive near Kharkov, in the Crimea and break through the blockade of Leningrad.
However, the offensive undertaken by the Soviet forces in May 1942 near Kharkov ended in failure. German troops managed to fend off a blow, defeated the Soviet troops and themselves went on the offensive. Soviet troops suffered a crushing defeat also in the Crimea. For nine months, Soviet seamen kept Sevastopol, and by July 4, 1942 the remnants of Soviet troops were evacuated to Novorossiysk. As a result, the defense of the Soviet troops in the southern sector was weakened. Taking advantage of this, the German command undertook a strategic offensive in two directions: to Stalingrad and to the Caucasus.
After bitter fighting near Voronezh and in Donbas, the German troops of Army Group "B" managed to break into the great bend of the Don. In mid-July, the Battle of Stalingrad began, in which the Soviet troops were able to pin down the enemy's strike group at the cost of large losses.
The army group "A" that came to the Caucasus on July 23 took Rostov-on-Don and continued its offensive on the Kuban. August 12 was taken by Krasnodar. However, in the battles in the foothills of the Caucasus and under Novorossiysk Soviet troops managed to stop the enemy.
Meanwhile, in the central sector, the Soviet command undertook a major offensive operation to defeat the Rzhev-Sychevite grouping of the enemy (the 9th Army of the Army Group Center). However, the Rzhev-Sychevskaya operation, conducted from July 30 to the end of September, was not successful.
Nor was it possible to break through the blockade of Leningrad, although the Soviet offensive forced the German command to abandon the storming of the city.
The Pacific Front: A Fracture
The third period of the war (November 1942 - June 1944)
Fracture on the Eastern Front
On November 19, 1942, the Red Army passes into a counter-offensive at Stalingrad, where, at the cost of incredible efforts, it inflicts a decisive defeat that has taken away the strategic initiative of the German troops, as a result of which it succeeds in surrounding and destroying two German, two Romanian and one Italian armies; a total of 330 thousand soldiers were destroyed, about 92 thousand were taken prisoner  .
From November 25 to December 20, 1942, the Soviet offensive in the central sector of the Soviet-German front (Operation Mars) ended unsuccessfully.
At the beginning of 1943, Soviet troops were taking up a counteroffensive along the entire front. Kursk and many other cities were liberated. In February-March Field Marshal Manstein once again intercepts the initiative of the Soviet troops and discards them in some sectors of the southern direction, but he can not develop success.
In July 1943, the German command for the last time tried to regain a strategic initiative in the battle of Kursk, but it ends with a serious defeat of the German troops. The retreat of German troops begins all along the front line - they have to leave Orel, Belgorod, Novorossiysk. Battles for Belarus and Ukraine begin. In the battle for the Dnieper, the Red Army inflicts another defeat on Germany, liberating the left-bank Ukraine and the Crimea.
At the end of 1943 - the first half of 1944 the main military operations take place on the southern front. The Germans leave the territory of Ukraine. The Red Army in the south goes to the border of 1941 and enters the territory of Romania.
Anglo-American landing in Africa and Italy
November 8, 1942 in Morocco landed a large Anglo-American landing. Having broken the weak resistance of troops under the control of the Vichy government, by the end of November, having crossed 900 km, they entered Tunisia, where by that time the Germans had transferred part of their troops from Western Europe.
Meanwhile, the British army launched an offensive in Libya. The Italo-German troops that were here could not keep Al-Alamein and by February 1943, after suffering heavy losses, retreated to Tunisia. On March 20, the combined Anglo-American forces launched an offensive into the interior of Tunisia. The Italian-German command tried to evacuate its troops to Italy, but by that time the British fleet had completely mastered the Mediterranean and cut all the ways to retreat. On May 13, the Italo-German troops capitulated.
On July 10, 1943, the Allies landed in Sicily. The Italian troops here surrendered almost without a fight, and the German 14th Tank Corps provided resistance to the allies. July 22, US troops captured the city of Palermo, and the Germans retreated to the north-east of the island, to the Strait of Messina. By August 17, the German units, having lost all armored vehicles and heavy weapons, crossed to the Apennine peninsula. Simultaneously with the landing in Sicily the forces of "Free France" landed on Corsica (operation "Vesuvius"). The defeat of the Italian army sharply worsened the situation in the country. Discontent with the Mussolini regime has grown. King Victor Emmanuel III decided to arrest Mussolini and put the government of Marshal Badoglio at the head of the country.
In September 1943, Anglo-American troops landed in the south of the Appennine peninsula. Badoglio signed a truce with them and announced the withdrawal of Italy from the war. However, taking advantage of the confusion of the allies, Hitler released Mussolini (see Operation "Oak"), and the puppet state of the Republic of Salo was established in the north of the country.
In the fall of 1943, US and British troops moved north. October 1, the allies and Italian partisans liberated Naples, by November 15, the Allies broke through the defense of the Germans on the Volturno River and crossed it. By January 1944, the Allies had reached German fortifications