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6 octobre 2011 4 06 /10 /octobre /2011 03:24

Start of World War II

In private discussions in 1939, Hitler described Britain as the main enemy that had to be defeated. In his view, Poland's obliteration as a sovereign nation was the necessary prelude to that goal by securing the eastern flank and also adding to Germany's Lebensraum.Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CYS Battery

As part of his anti-British stance, Hitler wanted Poland to be either a German satellite state or otherwise neutralized to secure the Reich's eastern flank and to evade the effects of a possible British blockade. Initially, Hitler favoured the idea of a satellite state, which was however rejected by the Polish government. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92DS Battery

Therefore, Hitler decided to invade and destroy Polish sovereignty and independence, and he made this the main German foreign policy goal of 1939.  Hitler was offended by the British "guarantee" of Polish independence issued on 31 March 1939, and told his associates that "I shall brew them a devil's drink".Sony VAIO VGN-AW92JS Battery

 In a speech inWilhelmshaven for the launch of the battleship Tirpitz on 1 April 1939, Hitler first threatened to denounce the Anglo-German Naval Agreement if the British persisted with their "encirclement" policy he perceived by the British guarantee of Polish independence.Sony VAIO VGN-AW92YS Battery

On 3 April 1939, Hitler ordered the military to start preparing for Fall Weiss (Case White), the plan for a German invasion on 25 August 1939. This was followed by a speech before the Reichstag on 28 April 1939, in which Hitler renounced both the Anglo-German Naval Agreement and the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93FS Battery

In August 1939, Hitler spoke to his generals that his original plan for 1939 had to "... establish an acceptable relationship with Poland in order to fight against the West" but since Poland refused to become a German satellite, Hitler believed he had no choice other than wiping Poland off the map.Sony VAIO VGN-AW93GS Battery

Hitler was initially concerned that a military attack against Poland could result in a premature war with Britain.  However, Hitler's foreign minister—and former Ambassador to London—Joachim von Ribbentrop assured him that neither Britain nor France would honour their commitments to Poland, and that a German–Polish war would only be a limited regional war.Sony VAIO VGN-AW93HS Battery

Ribbentrop claimed that in December 1938 the French foreign minister, Georges Bonnet, had stated that France considered Eastern Europe as Germany's exclusive sphere of influence, and Ribbentrop also showed Hitler diplomatic cables that supported his analysis.Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZFS Battery

The German Ambassador in London, Herbert von Dirksen, supported Ribbentrop's analysis with a dispatch in August 1939, reporting that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain knew "the social structure of Britain, even the conception of the British Empire, would not survive the chaos of even a victorious war", and so would back down.Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZGS Battery

Accordingly, on 21 August 1939 Hitler ordered a military mobilization solely against Poland. 

Hitler's plans for a military campaign in Poland in late August or early September required Soviet tacit support, resulting in the Munich agreement on 23 August 1939.Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZHS Battery

The non-aggression pact (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) between Germany and the Soviet Union led by Joseph Stalin, included secret protocols with an agreement to partition Poland between the two countries. In response to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact—and contrary to the prediction of Ribbentrop that the newly formed pact would severe Anglo-Polish ties—Britain Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11EN Battery

and Poland signed the Anglo-Polish alliance on 25 August 1939. This, along with news from Italy that Mussolini would not honour the Pact of Steel, caused Hitler to postpone the attack on Poland from 25 August to 1 September. In the days before the start of the war, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11MN Battery

Hitler tried to manoeuvre the British into neutrality by offering a non-aggression guarantee to the British Empire on 25 August 1939 and by having Ribbentrop present a last-minute peace plan with an impossibly short time limit in an effort to then blame the war on British and Polish inaction.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11XN Battery

As a pretext for a military aggression against Poland, Hitler claimed the Free City of Danzig and the right for extraterritorial roads across the Polish Corridor, which Germany formerly had ceded under the Versailles treaty. Despite his concerns over a possible British intervention, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ12VN Battery

Hitler was ultimately not deterred from his aim of invading Poland, and on 1 September 1939, Germany invaded western Poland. In response, Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September. This surprised Hitler, prompting him to turn to Ribbentrop and angrily ask "Now what?"Sony VAIO VGN-BZ12XN Battery

 However, France and Britain did not act on their declarations immediately, and on 17 September, Soviet forces invaded eastern Poland.

The fall of Poland was followed by what contemporary journalists dubbed the "Phoney War," or Sitzkrieg ("sitting war"). Sony VAIO VGN-BZ31VT Battery

Hitler meanwhile instructed the two newly appointed Gauleiters of north-western Poland, Albert Forster and Arthur Greiser, to "Germanize" the area, and promised them "There would be no questions asked" about how this "Germanization" was accomplished.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ31XT Battery

Forster and Greiser held different views on how to interpret Hitler's orders. Whereas Forster had local Poles sign forms, stating that they had German blood with no further documentation, Greiser carried out a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign on the Polish population in his purview.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560 Battery

 Greiser then complained to Hitler that Forster was allowing thousands of Poles to be accepted as "racial" Germans thus, in Greiser's view, endangering German "racial purity". However, Hitler merely told Himmler and Greiser to take up their difficulties with Forster, and not to involve him.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560N24 Battery

 Hitler's handling of the Forster–Greiser dispute has been advanced as an example of Ian Kershaw's theory of "Working Towards the Führer", namely that Hitler issued vague instructions, and allowed his subordinates to work out policies on their own.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560N30 Battery

Another dispute broke out between different factions, with one represented by Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler and Arthur Greiser championing and carrying out ethnic cleansing in Poland, and another representing Hermann Göring and Hans Frank, calling for turning Poland into the "granary" of the Reich.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P Battery

The dispute was initially settled in favour of the Göring-Frank view of economic exploitation, which ended economically disruptive mass expulsions, at a conference held at Göring's Karinhall estate on 12 February 1940.  On 15 May 1940, however, Himmler presented Hitler with a memo entitled "Some Thoughts on the Treatment of Alien Population in the East",Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P20 Battery

 which called for expulsion of the entire Jewish population of Europe into Africa and reducing the remainder of the Polish population to a "leaderless class of labourers". Hitler called Himmler's memo "good and correct", scuttling the so-called Karinhall agreement and implementing the Himmler–Greiser viewpoint as German policy for the Polish population.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P22 Battery

Hitler commenced building up military forces on Germany's western border, and in April 1940, German forces invaded Denmark and Norway. In May 1940, Hitler's forces attacked France, and also conquered Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium. These victories prompted Benito Mussolini to have Italy join forces with Hitler on 10 June 1940. France surrendered on 22 June 1940.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P28 Battery

Britain, whose forces were forced to leave France by sea from Dunkirk, continued to fight alongside other British dominions in the Battle of the Atlantic. Hitler made overtures for peace to the British, now led by Winston Churchill, and when these were rejected Hitler ordered bombing raids on the United Kingdom.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P30 Battery

 Hitler's prelude to a planned invasion of the UK were widespread aerial attacks in the Battle of Britain on Royal Air Force airbases and radar stations in South-East England. However, the German Luftwaffe failed to defeat the Royal Air Force.

On 27 September 1940, the Tripartite Pact was signed in Berlin by Saburō Kurusu of Imperial Japan, Hitler, and Ciano, and was later expanded to include Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P34 Battery

They were collectively known as the Axis powers. The purpose of the pact was to deter the United States from supporting the British. By the end of October 1940, air superiority for the invasion Operation Sea Lion could not be achieved, and Hitler ordered the nightly air raids of British cities, including London, Plymouth, and Coventry.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561 Battery

In the Spring of 1941, Hitler was distracted from his plans for the East by military activities in North Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East. In February,German forces arrived in Libya to bolster Italian presence. In April, Hitler launched the invasion of Yugoslavia, quickly followed by the invasion of Greece. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561N20 Battery

In May, German forces were sent to support Iraqi rebel forces fighting against the British and to invade Crete. On 23 May, Hitler released Führer Directive No. 30.

A major historical debate about Hitler's foreign policy preceding the war in 1939 centred on two contrasting explanations:Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561P20 Battery

 one, by the Marxist historian Timothy Mason, suggested that a structural economic crisis drove Hitler into a "flight into war", while another, by economic historian Richard Overy, explained Hitler's actions with non-economic motives. Historians such as William Carr,Sony VAIO VGN-BZ562P Battery

 Gerhard Weinberg and Ian Kershaw have argued that a non-economic reason for Hitler's rush to war was Hitler's morbid and obsessive fear of an early death, and hence his feeling that he did not have long to accomplish his work. 

Path to defeat

On 22 June 1941, contravening the Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact of 1939,Sony VAIO VGN-BZ563P Battery

 three million German troops attacked the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. The invasion seized a huge area, including the Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine. However, the German advance was stopped barely short of Moscow in December 1941 by the Russian Winter and fierce Soviet resistance. The invasion failed to achieve the quick success Hitler had wanted.Sony VAIO VGN-BZAAFS Battery

Some historians, such as Andreas Hillgruber, have argued that Operation Barbarossa was merely one stage of Hitler's Stufenplan(stepwise plan) for world conquest, which Hitler may have formulated in the 1920s.Others, such as John Lukacs, suggest that Hitler did not have a Stufenplan, and that the invasion of the Soviet Union was an ad hoc move in response to Britain's refusal to surrender.Sony VAIO VGN-BZAAHS Battery

Lukacs has argued that Winston Churchill had hoped that the Soviet Union might enter the war on the Allied side, and so to dash this hope and force a British surrender, Hitler had started Operation Barbarossa. On the other hand, Klaus Hildebrand has maintained that both Stalin and Hitler had planned to attack each other in 1941.Sony VAIO VGN-BZAANS Battery

Soviet troop concentrations on its western border in the spring of 1941 may have prompted Hitler to engage in a Flucht nach vorn("flight forward", to get in front of an inevitable conflict). Viktor Suvorov, Ernst Topitsch, Joachim Hoffmann,Ernst Nolte, and David Irving have argued that the official reason for Barbarossa given by the German military was the real reason,Sony VAIO VGN-BZAAPS Battery

 i.e., a preventive war to avert an impending Soviet attack scheduled for July 1941. This theory, however, has been faulted; the American historian Gerhard Weinberg once compared the advocates of the preventive war theory to believers in "fairy tales". Sony VAIO VGN-CR11H/B Battery

The Wehrmacht invasion of the Soviet Union reached its peak on 2 December 1941 when the 258th Infantry Division advanced to within 15 miles (24 km) of Moscow, close enough to see the spires of the Kremlin. However, they were not prepared for the harsh conditions brought on by the first blizzards of winter, and Soviet forces drove German troops back over 320 kilometres (200 mi).Sony VAIO VGN-CR11S/L Battery

On 7 December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Four days later, Hitler's formal declaration of war against the United States officially engaged him in war against a coalition that included the world's largest empire (the British Empire), the world's greatest industrial and financial power (the United States), and the world's largest army (the Soviet Union).Sony VAIO VGN-CR11S/P Battery

On 18 December 1941, the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler met with Hitler, and in response to Himmler's question "What to do with the Jews of Russia?", Hitler's replied "als Partisanen auszurotten" ("exterminate them as partisans").The Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer has commented that the remark is probably as close as historians will ever get to a definitive order from Hitler for the genocide carried out during the Holocaust. Sony VAIO VGN-CR11S/W Battery

In late 1942, German forces were defeated in the second battle of El Alamein, thwarting Hitler's plans to seize the Suez Canal and the Middle East. In February 1943, the Battle of Stalingrad ended with the destruction of the German 6th Army. Thereafter came the Battle of Kursk. Sony VAIO VGN-CR11Z/R Battery

Hitler's military judgment became increasingly erratic, and Germany's military and economic position deteriorated along with Hitler's health. Ian Kershaw and others believe that Hitler may have suffered from Parkinson's disease. Syphilis has also been suspected as a cause of at least some of his symptoms.Sony VAIO VGN-CR120E/L Battery

Following the allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) in 1943, Mussolini was deposed by Pietro Badoglio, who surrendered to the Allies. Throughout 1943 and 1944, the Soviet Union steadily forced Hitler's armies into retreat along the Eastern Front. Sony VAIO VGN-CR120E/P Battery

On 6 June 1944, the Western Allied armies landed in northern France in what was one of the largest amphibious operations in history, Operation Overlord. Objective observers in the German army then knew that defeat was inevitable, and some plotted to remove Hitler from power.Sony VAIO VGN-CR120E/R Battery

Attempted assassination

There were seventeen planned attempts or plans to assassinate Hitler from 1939–1945, some of which proceeded to significant degrees. The most well-known assassination attempt on Hitler's life came from within Germany during World War II and was at least partly driven by the prospect of an increasingly imminent defeat of Germany in the war.Sony VAIO VGN-CR120E/W Battery

In July 1944, as part of Operation Valkyrie or 20 July plot, Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in Hitler's headquarters, the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) atRastenburg. Hitler narrowly survived because someone had unknowingly moved the briefcase that contained the bomb by pushing it behind a leg of the heavy conference table. Sony VAIO VGN-CR125E/B Battery

When the bomb exploded, the table deflected much of the blast away from Hitler. Later, Hitler ordered savage reprisals, resulting in the executions of more than 4,900 people. 

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