The Second World War was one of the most important moments in human history. It started in 1939 and ended in 1945. The conflict became a two sided affair that included the Allies and the Axis powers. It involved mass murder and nuclear weapons use. When it was over, 60 million people were dead, making it the most lethal conflict of all times. The Allies prevailed in 1945 thus putting an end to the conflict. The UN was founded in order to prevent future such displays of violence. The winning side was represented by the world`s biggest economic powers. The US, Soviet Union, China, the UK and France created a Security Council and vowed to protect the world from future conflicts.
It all started on the first of September when Germany decided to invade Poland. France and Britain declared war on Germany in a matter of days. After six years of combat and casualties, the war ended on the 14th of August 1945. Throughout this period, many battles were fought. Some remained in history because of their importance and intensity.
These are our top 5 conficts in Europe during World War II:
5. Battle of Crete
This battle will be remembered in history as the first ever airborne invasion seen within a war theater. It was also the the first time the German Army had seen mass resistance from a civilian population. The allies fought valiantly for 10 days before being defeated. Many of the Greeks civilians fought with clubs and knives. One man even killed a German paratrooper with his walking stick! The Germans managed to capture an important airfield which allowed them to fly in reinforcements but only after suffering heavy casualties. Hitler never again allowed large scale airborn invasions.
4. Battle of Berlin
The fourth important battle worth mentioning is the Battle of Berlin. This moment will always be remembered as the conflict that caused Hitler and some of his closest followers to commit suicide. The Germans were so desperate they used young children and old men to help defend the city. The Soviets pushed through from the North, South and East and Allies attacked from the West. The entire affair lasted for two weeks.
3. Battle of Stalingrad
Why Hitler thought invading Russia was a good idea is anyone’s guess. This battle lasted from the 23rd of August 1942 until the 2nd of February 1943 and is remembered as one of the bloodiest encounters the world has ever seen. It produced the most civilian casualties and marked the decay of German forces. It had a massive moral impact on both Russian and German armies. The Russians eventually won but suffered 1.1 million casualties and the Germans close to 800,000. After this victory, Russia gained the momentum needed to eventually defeat Germany.
2. Battle of the Bulge
This surprise attack by German troops happened between the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945 in an area delimited by Trier and Monschau. It is noted in the history books under the name of the Von Rundstedt Offensive or the Ardennes Offensive. This was Germany’s last attempt to push back the Allies in the west and secure a peace treaty in favor of the Germans. The Allies were caught by suprise and the American forces suffered 89,000 casualties, the bloodiest battle for American forces in the war. The Germans were eventually pushed back thanks in large part to General George Patton. This set the stage for the Allies to invade Germany and end the war.
1. Normandy Invasion
This is probably the most renowned moment in the world, when thinking about the Second World War. It resulted out of strong tensions accumulated between the United States and Germany. The French invasion made it clear that Hitler must be stopped and Europe must be saved. Defeating the German leader became a priority, and the USA decided to help their overseas allies. A total of five different beaches were attacked with special amphibious forces that held Great Britain, Canada and the United States flags up high. An additional three airborne divisions made sure things were in place and protected their water and land brothers in arms. The Omaha division took on the worst conditions, and troops suffered a lot. Inaccurate mapping and challenging terrain made their march almost impossible. Although having to deal with the worst possible situations, they managed to secure the area and step by step reach Paris. Casualties included 209,000 Allied troops and 159,000 German troops.