The Germans were very successful in their invasion of Russia at first as they advanced west into the Soviet Union. However the Russians used clever tactics and Marshal Zhuukov ordered the Russian soldiers to retreat in an orderly fashion and not to counter-attack until the winter.
The Russians used a policy of Scorched Earth tactics destroying everything that could be of any use to the Germans.
The German invasion was divided into 3 army groups;
1. Army Group North; went to Leningrad and surrounded it for 900 days. The people of Leningrad suffered terribly from the cold and hunger. Over one million of them died during the siege but they held out and in the end the Germans gave up.
2. Army Group Centre; reached Moscow in December 1941. the Germans were not prepared for the winter and when the cold set in many German soldiers died from frostbite.
3. Army Group South- was set to capture Russian oilfields near the black sea but the city of Stalingrad stood in the way.
Hitler broke the Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939) when he invaded Russia because; 1. Germany needed vital oil supplies to keep its war machine going. The Soviet Union had a large supply of oil. 2. Hitler had always wanted to extend Germanys border eastward to create Lebensraum for his German master race. 3. Hitler hated Communism and made no secret of his wish to destroy the worlds only Communist Country, Russia. Stalin believed Hitler would not break the Nazi-Soviet Pact and ignored warnings of Hitler’s plans. On 22nd of June 1941 3 million German soldiers invaded Russia. The Red Army (Russian Army) actually outnumbered the Germans but they were very disorganised and were poorly led. The Germans were very successful and captured millions of Soviet soldiers.
After his failure to capture Britain, Hitler turned his attention to the USSR. He saw the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact as temporary measure (as did Stalin). He dreamed of an empire in the east populated by German settlers. He had not lost his hatred of communism and felt the time was right for the destruction of the Soviet Union. When the USSR attacked Finland in the Winter of 1939, the Red Army had preformed poorly, convincing Hitler and most of his generals that an invasion would be successful. The attack, codenamed Operation Barbarossa was intended for the spring of 1941 but was delayed by the German invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia. On the 22 of June 1941 over 3 million soldiers supported by 3,500 tanks and 2,500 planes unleashed blitzkrieg warfare on the soviets. Although warned by numerous sources, Stalin refused to believe that the Germans would invade and the Russians were caught by surprise.
France was now divided into two with the Germans in control in the north-east of the country and a puppet government in the south, Vichy France ruled by Marshal Pétain
by the summer of 1940 most of Europe was under German control
Hitler attacked France through the Ardennes Region, the French were not expecting the Germans to attack from here as it was a very mountainous region so they had left a gap here in the Maginot Line. This attack took the allies by surprise causing them to retreat towards the English Channel. The British were now trapped between the coast and the advancing Germany army. Churchill quickly planned to evacuate British troops from the French port of Dunkirk. With the Royal Air Force (RAF) defending the skies, in 10 days over 338,000 soldiers were rescued using warships, trawlers and sailboats. This was seen as a major success by the allies claiming the British forces had survived to fight another day.
On the 10th of May 1940 German troops invaded Belgium. Holland and Luxemburg (these were neutral countries). French and British troops marched north to meet the Germans and fell right into Hitler’s trap. Coming through the Ardennes Region German tanks using Blitzkrieg tactics trapped the British BEF (British Expeditionary Forces) and French forces at Dunkirk. The British launched a rescue operation called Operation Dynamo. Using all sorts of crafts, including yacht they succeeded in rescuing over 300,000 men from Dunkirk 100,000 of whom were French
The Germans knew they could not attack the French through the formidable Maginot Line so they came up with a brilliant military plan; they would send forces to through Belgium and Holland to make the allies think that this was the direction of their invasion. While the allies sent troops to meet this German threat, the main blow from the Germans would come through a hilly wooded area called the Ardennes Region. This was lightly fortified and thought to be impassable for tanks.
the government felt children were safer in the countryside
many children returned to their parents in the cities despite the dangers
in Sept 1939 on the outbreak of war the government launched Operation Pied Piper, which was the removal of children from the cities to the countryside for their safety
when people emerged from the bomb shelters in the mornings they would return home to see if their house was still standing after a nights bombing
when Belham station was bombed a bus fell into the crater and burst a water pipe which flooded the station killing 66 people
tube stations were used as air raid shelters
the RAF used searchlights to try identify oncoming Luftwaffe planes
ARP’s had the role of keeping people off the street and ensuring darkness during blackouts
Luftwaffe planes dropped lighted flares to light up the sky so they could see if there was a city below
cars could have no lights, houses had to have heavy drapes and absolute darkness