Invasion of Normandy
June 6, 1944. This was a very carefully planned operation under the command of General Eisenhower. False intelligence reports led the Germans to expect the landings to be at Calais. In fact, they came at several locations on the Normandy coast. 130,000 troops landed on D-Day itself with waves more following on subsequent days. Some 1 million arrived in the first month. Paris was liberated by August and by September allied troops had crossed into German territory.
In France, Italy and Belgium members of these movements, which had undertaken espionage and sabotage of the German occupation forces, came out into open resistance of the Germans and collaborateurs with Germans. There was no widespread resistance movement to Hitler in Germany itself though one underground network did attempt to assassinate him in 1944.
Plot of July 20, 1944
Small German underground plotted against Hitler and planted a bomb in his military HQ in Prussia. The plot failed and Hitler took brutal revenge on any he thought associated with the plot.
The planned genocide of the Jewish people in response to the Jewish Question considered at Wannsee Conference in January 1942. The Holocaust gathered in intensity towards the end of the war as Jewish slave laborers became less productive and the war economy began to unravel.
Battle of the Bulge
In the Belgian sector of the front in the Ardennes Forest, the Germans, under Hitler's direct orders attempted to break out into an offensive against the allies in December of 1944. They had selected a thinly held American section of the line and appeared to make headway leading to heavy losses and confusion. But allies recovered and continued moving forces eastward into Germany.
Strategy was to maintain a bombing campaign of German cities to help wear down German resistance. The bombing of this city was organized so as to create a massive fire. Some 50,000 civilians were killed there in February of 1945.
Rising of the Polish Underground
As the Russians were approaching Warsaw to liberate it from the Nazis, the underground rose up against the retreating Germans. However, the Soviet army did not want the liberation to be by non-Communist peoples and refused the give the uprising any support. It was therefore crushed by the remaining Nazis. The loss of Polish life in WW II was severe. Indeed, they seemed to have been martyred by both sides. In post-war years it was revealed that..
Katyn Forest Massacre
the early stages of the war when the Nazi forces advanced across Poland towards Russia, the Soviet army had gathered 12,000 offices from the Polish army and massacred and buried them in a forest in Poland as they retreated.
In March 1945 the Allies found an intact bridge over the River Rhine and established a bridgehead there. These were the first troops to cross the Rhine since those of Napoleon.
Was designated as Hitler's successor and went through the surrender process to the Allied forces (after Hitler's suicide in the bunker in Berlin) on May 8th, 1945.
On August 6, 1945 the Americans(then under presidency of Harry Truman) dropped the first Atomic Bomb on this Japanese city which contained the nation's army headquarters and munitions - killing 78,000 people and injuring 50,000 others. Two days later the Soviets declared war on Japan and entered Manchuria. On August 9th a second bomb was dropped on the Japanese industrial and shipbuilding city of Nagasaki. Japan then surrendered unconditionally. The emperor was allowed to remain head of state but a U.S. army of occupation was established.
In 1941 FDR and Churchill met at sea off the coast of Newfoundland to plan strategy and post-war actions. They negotiated in the spirit of the Fourteen Points - sovereign rights, self-government, equal access to world trade and resources, improved standard of living and economic security. They wanted to end the use of force and aggression in international affairs. Thus they proclaimed the ideological basis for peace.
In January of 1943, following allied invasion of N. Africa, FDR and Churchill met in Casablanca in French Morocco. Agreed would accept nothing but unconditional surrender of Axis powers. They intended to avoid ambiguity surrounding armistice of 1918. Criticized later of taking this stance, but probably had little impact on events since the prolonged German resistance was because of Hitler's obstinacy, not the Casablanca Conference. This agreement was also done to reassure the Soviets that the Allies would not make a separate peace with Hitler.
In December 1943, FDR, Churchill and Stalin (for first time) met in the first of two meetings to discuss postwar occupation and demilitarization of Germany, plan postwar international organization and debate war strategy. FDR wanted to postpone postwar political/territorial decisions but Churchill more apprehensive about Russians - recognized Soviet dominance over Eastern Europe and concerned by impact on Balance of Power. Being European, likely that he was simply more sensitive to BoP politics than FDR. Churchill had wanted an invasion through the Mediterranean, FDR said it should be cross-Channel and Stalin promised to pursue and Eastern front simultaneously. THUS SOVIETS HAD AN "IN."
In February of 1945 when Allies close to victory FDR, Churchill and Stalin met at Yalta in the Crimea. FDR acted as the "mediator" between Churchill and Stalin. (FDR was suspicious of Churchill's imperialistic ties, Churchill much less trusting of Stalin than was FDR )
-Stalin agreed to enter war against Japan after Germany defeated (A-Bomb not yet
complete in Manhattan Project so a long campaign was feared)
-In return, Soviets would acquire Southern half of Sakhalin Island, Kurile Islands ,
a sphere of influence in Manchuria, and an occupation zone in N. Korea.
-Defeated Germany to be in 4 occupation zones - U.S., Brit, French and Soviet.
-Agreed on voting procedures in Security Council of new United Nations with
five permanent members (US,GB, Fr, Soviets and China - each with veto power).
-Stalin agreed to let some of London Poles (been in exile) into Communist govt of
Poland -( were later let in but outnumbered and no free elections would take place.)
-Agreed on text of DECLARATION ON LIBERATED EUROPE - postwar govts to be
established on basis of FREE ELECTIONS. (HOWEVER, STALIN WOULD DISREGARD).
All at Yalta agreed to this . Great powers would provide an international police to preserve peace and security. Great Powers would be on the Security Council and permanent members with veto power. Soviets wanted 16 votes in the General Assembly, 1 for each of 16 Republics but a compromise was reached. There were to be 3 each for Britain (and its Dominions) and Russia (and its Republics).
Russian/Polish or Eastern Boundary of Poland set (as in 1919) at Yalta. Poles compensated in North and West at expense of Germany.
Plan to transform industrial Germany back into 18th century pastoral economy. This plan was conceived in 1944 by an American but discarded at Yalta. It is important as symptomatic of the desire to disarm Germany.
July 1945 - after the German collapse (in May) - Truman(FDR had died), Attlee(Churchill lost election in midst of conference to Attlee) and Stalin participated. It was now evident that there were deeper disagreements between the Soviets and the other Allies.
-Did reach agreements on demilitarization, disarmament, de-Nazification and war crimes trials.
-Each power to take reparations from its respective zones of occupation with extra going to the Soviets because of their tremendous losses.
-Four Power Allied Control Council to set policies in Germany - didn't function and
each power set policy in own zone.
-Agreed should sign separate peace treaties with former German satellite states.
-Negotiations to be handled by Foreign Minister of US,GB, Fr., S.U. and China. ->
stormy negotiations -> new age of crisis.